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Falcons will fly again in Week 1

Apr 27, 2004 1:56 AM

NFL fans have their annual opportunity to cut to the chase for winners and pick the opening week odds they like.

Placing wagers now assures that the betting lines on your tickets won’t change no matter what may occur between now and the actual game. That means injuries, trades, the draft, holdouts, weather, Kobe’s trial and the Atkins diet have been rendered irrelevant — unless you opt to wait for the actual Thursday night, Sept. 9 season opener.

The wiseguys making early bets are probably trend players. After all what else can they go on ”” last year’s results and current rosters? Trends from past years involving season openers is a logical method to determine value. Therefore, we will examine all 16 games from that angle at this early date, along with our reaction to the Draft.

Thursday, Sept. 9

Patriots (—3) vs Colts: Possibly no Ty Law to stop Peyton Manning this time. New England 3-3 in last six openers, Indy is 4-2.

Sunday, Sept. 12

Falcons (+1) at 49ers: Michael Vick vs Tim Rattay. Remember, Jeff Garcia is gone. Atlanta is 6-0 in openers since 1998. The Niners are a woeful 1-5.

Rams (—9) vs Cards: Marc Bulger is Rams man. Josh "Hail Mary" McCown eliminated the Pack. St. Louis just 1-4-1 in last six openers.

Eagles (—7) vs Giants: Too soon for Eli Manning to start? We think not. Giants 3-2-1 in openers since ’98. Philly 2-3-1 and worries about McNabb’s failures

Jaguars (—4) at Bills: Huge value with Bills as a home dog. Jacksonville is 5-1 ATS in recent openers, but Buffalo blanked the Patriots in 2003 opener, 31-0.

Texans (—3½) vs Chargers: David Carr and Houston are 2-0 SU and ATS in openers. Chargers are 5-1 in last 6. Will Flutie or rook David Rivers open at QB?

Dolphins (—3) vs Titans: Miami in September is a dynamite combo. Fish 5-1 ATS in last 6 openers. Tennessee is 3-3.

Ravens (—1½) at Browns: Cleveland looks like an inviting home dog. Both teams struggle in recent openers. Ravens 2-4 ATS, Browns 1-3-2.

Saints (—1½) vs Seahawks: Does Matt Hasselbeck guarantee a score on the first Seattle drive? Seahawks 2-4 ATS in last 6. Saints 4-2 and at home.

Redskins (-1) vs Bucs: Tampa Bay has dumped aging baggage. Skins have Joe Gibbs and are home. Look for 1-4-1 record in openers to change. TB is 2-4.

Panthers (—1) vs Packers: Delhomme vs Favre. Neither team impressive in openers. Carolina is 3-3 ATS, Green Bay is 2-4.

Bears (—4) vs Lions: You know how bad Lions are on the road. Both teams 3-3 ATS. May want to look at "under" here. Points should be scarce.

Jets (—4) vs Bengals: Pressure on Cincy QB Carson Palmer to produce. Jets good if Pennington stays healthy. NYJ 3-2-1 in recent openers. Bengals 2-4.

Steelers (—4½) vs Raiders: Most intriguing opener on board. Will Oakland run more behind OL Gallery and Grove. Steelers 3-3 ATS in last 6 lifters, Raiders 2-3-1.

Vikings (—3½) vs Cowboys: With Vikes, you know Culpepper is the QB. Does Drew Henson start for Dallas? Both teams 3-3 ATS in last 6 openers.

Broncos (—3) vs Chiefs: Denver dealt star back Portis to Skins for DB Bailey. Chiefs can score, but where’s the D? Broncos 4-2 in openers, KC 3-2-1.