October 31, 2011

Week 8: San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs

Vegas Line: Chiefs + 3.5

Rob’s Line: Chiefs + 1.5

I love this sport and this league. Unashamedly, I love it. The NFL is built around the Draft and the film name Any Given Sunday wasn’t just plucked out of thin air by some Hollywood producer. No, we need to thank Bert Bell for that, who was NFL commissioner between 1946 and 1959. Bell was often quoted as saying, “On any given Sunday, any team in our league can beat any other team.”

Week 8: New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers

Vegas Line: Steelers + 3

Rob’s Line: Steelers + 2.5

Mouth watering. How can you not want to watch this one? Along with the Indianapolis Colts, these two franchises have dominated the AFC landscape for the past decade and not much has changed this season either, the Colts’ meltdown notwithstanding. Naturally, this game dominates the Week 8 landscape too and it deserves some very serious attention.

Week 8: Cleveland Browns at San Francisco 49ers

Vegas Line: Browns + 8.5

Rob’s Line: Browns + 9.5

Are Cleveland the worst 3-3 team in football right now? You wouldn’t find me arguing with you. They won the ugliest game of the season (probably of any season!) last week when they crawled their way past Seattle 6-3. If you’d have told me before the game that the Browns would only score six points, I would’ve been certain of my Seahawks being 3-3 come Sunday evening, assuming you can’t score 36 points in New York against the Giants and then very next game fail to score more than six against a team inferior in class to the Big Blue.

Week 8: Cincinnati Bengals at Seattle Seahawks

Vegas Line: Seahawks + 2

Rob’s Line: Seahawks + 2.5

As I wrote when previewing this week’s Browns/49ers matchup, the Seahawks were unfortunate participants in the worst game of the season so far when they left Cleveland last Sunday on the wrong end of a 6-3 score. It was ugly on many levels and that includes the officials calling back an 81 yard punt return for a touchdown from Leon Washington in the third quarter that would’ve given Seattle the lead and, more than likely, the win and that one play has affected how I see the spread for this one.

Week 8: Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles

Vegas Line: Cowboys + 3

Rob’s Line: Cowboys + 4.5

This is the weekend’s second juggernaut matchup. A ‘juggernaut’ contest between teams with 3-3 and 2-4 records? Yes, you’d better believe it. OK, it’s not quite orbiting the same stratosphere as the Patriots/Steelers contest, but this one has an added twist to it that’s lacking in the former…a divisional interest.
Dallas and Philadelphia both harboured playoff aspirations as the season began and this was especially the case in Philly after they plundered the marker in post-lockout free agency.

Week 8: Detroit Lions at Denver Broncos

Vegas Line: Broncos + 3

Rob’s Line: Broncos + 3.5

Few players, no, hang on, no player divides opinion quite like Tim Tebow. The column inches are endless and I won’t be adding my tuppence worth here on whether I like him or not as he’s questioned on too many levels for my liking, from his mechanics down to the very soul of the man himself. Throughout his footballing life though, he’s found a way to win and last week in Miami…he found a way to win.

Week 8: Washington Redskins vs. Buffalo Bills (in Toronto)

Vegas Line: Redskins + 6

Rob’s Line: Redskins + 7.5

Buffalo heads for its annual ‘home’ game in Toronto on the back of offering quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick a six year contract extension (the dollars are irrelevant as it’s extremely unlikely he’ll see all of the $59 million he’s reportedly signed for) so all is rosy in the Bills’ camp. They didn’t commit to drafting a QB in this year’s draft, believeing Fitzpatrick to be the guy and that decision is looking solid right now as Buffalo sits at 4-2 having already beaten Oakland, New England and Philadelphia this season, albeit all at home.And that’s where home field advantage raises its head here.

Week 8: Miami Dolphins at New York Giants

Vegas Line: Dolphins + 9.5

Rob’s Line: Dolphins + 10.5

This is Miami’s second trip to MetLife Stadium in two weeks, following their 24-6 loss to the Jets on Monday Night Football, an outcome that did flatter Mark Sanchez and co. somewhat as Dolphins’ QB Matt Moore couldn’t convert when in the red zone and that includes Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis returning an interception 100 yards for a touchdown.

Week 8: New Orleans Saints at St. Louis Rams


Vegas Line: Rams + 13.5

Rob’s Line: Rams + 11.5

I don’t believe that New Orleans should be asked to cover by two touchdowns on Sunday. Should you wish to place your hard earned on them doing so, I commend your bravery. There’s no question that the Saints are two touchdowns better than the Rams and some of what went on last week only reinforces that opinion, but I’ll put down why I’m siding with the home side and the points on offer.

Week 8: Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers


Vegas Line: Vikings + 3.5

Rob’s Line: Vikings + 4.5

Have I underrated Minnesota? The honest answer is that I don’t know. I like both teams with their rookie quarterbacks and this is the second time this season where Cam Newton finds himself facing up to a fellow first round QB. In Week 3, Newton collected the first W of his NFL career at a sodden Bank of America Stadium when the Panthers beat the Blaine Gabbert led Jacksonville Jaguars 16-10 and this week that very same stadium welcomes the Vikings, led by Christian Ponder, drafted eleven places below Newton in April.

Week 8: Arizona Cardinals at Baltimore Ravens

Vegas Line: Cardinals + 12.5

Rob’s Line: Cardinals + 10.5

All I can say after the disaster that was Baltimore’s offense on Monday night in Jacksonville is Heaven help Arizona this week. They travel to a city probably still in football shock to face a team who are going to be fired up to the hilt. The all-conquering defense avoided the flak in the fallout from that 12-7 defeat, but they remain the heart and soul of this team and also the voice and Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb should be calling on his faith right up until kickoff…and beyond if truth be told.

Week 8: Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans

Vegas Line: Jaguars + 9.5

Rob’s Line: Jaguars + 9.5

There’s big news surrounding both of these teams this week, but let’s cut to the biggest of them first. Did you see the way the Jaguars outmuscled and ultimately outfought the Ravens on Monday Night Football? Special mention goes to cornerbacks Rashean Mathis and Derek Cox and outside linebacker Daryl Smith. They were simply outstanding and did what a good football player must always do: do it when it matters most.

Week 8: Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans


Vegas Line: Colts + 9.5

Rob’s Line: Colts + 7.5

It may seem ludicrous to ask Tennessee to give up ‘only’ 7.5 points at home to Indianapolis after the Colts were burned for 62 points by New Orleans last week, but I do have reasons for this, if only a couple. Being on the end of a 62-7 drubbing and giving up the most points by any team since 1985 will hurt and do you think they’ll want to look as bad as that again this season?

October 26, 2011

Week 7: St. Louis Rams at Dallas Cowboys


Vegas Line: Rams + 13

Rob’s Line: Rams + 12.5

How do you think the Dallas Cowboys feel at finally having a chance to face a team where it’s safe to assume the game won’t go down to the final play? They’re fresh off two heartbreaking losses to the Lions and Patriots and the bye week, sandwiched as it was between those games, was probably the least beneficial bye any team will experience this season.

Week 7: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings


Vegas Line: Vikings + 8

Rob’s Line: Vikings + 9.5

I was sorely tempted to give the Vikings a bigger start and, let’s face it, probably should have, but I’m relying on the old adage of not underestimating an underdog at home to a powerful divisional rival, so, if I’m happy to ask the Packers to win by eleven to cover the spread, quite why Vegas are only asking them to win by nine leaves me scratching my head.

Week 7: Washington Redskins at Carolina Panthers


Vegas Line: Redskins + 2.5

Rob’s Line: Redskins + 5.5

The best 1-5 team in years at home to the one who let themselves down the most last weekend. Washington were in prime position to put an end to practically the last hopes the Philadelphia Eagles had of reaching the playoffs and blew it with some aplomb. They got banged up in the process and head to Carolina with enforced changes they wouldn’t have foreseen.

Week 7: Indianapolis Colts at New Orleans Saints


Vegas Line: Colts + 14

Rob’s Line: Colts + 12.5

I have to confess that this game doesn’t excite me from the perspective of the teams starting from scratch as New Orleans really ought to win this outright with relative ease. However, a closer look at the statistics tells a different story of this Saints team, who are still, in my opinion, the team most likely to travel to Lambeau Field for the NFC Championship Game.

Week 7: San Diego Chargers at New York Jets


Vegas Line: Jets + 2

Rob’s Line: Jets + 1.5

This promises to be a tremendous matchup between a team that have pretty much coasted all season so far and one that’s fighting for its playoff life in a tough division.
The San Diego Chargers have barely reached third gear in accumulating a 4-1 record and that solitary defeat came in New England so no disgrace there and you do sense that a chance at revenge could be looming come January, even at this early(ish) stage. The New York Jets won a messy one on Monday Night against the Dolphins and they’ll be mightily relieved at being afforded the opportunity to remain at home after a short week.

Week 7: Seattle Seahawks at Cleveland Browns


Vegas Line: Seahawks + 3

Rob’s Line: Seahawks + 3.5*

This could be a low scoring affair, borne out by the plain fact that these two teams boast offenses ranked 28th in the league (Cleveland) and 32nd (Seattle) and defenses ranked 5th (Cleveland) and 9th (Seattle). This could be football of old school order…a blue collar city on a cold day with defense dictating matters as each team try to wear down the other in search of victory.

Week 7: Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans


Vegas Line: Texans + 3

Rob’s Line: Texans + 3.5

These two currently own the AFC South and one of them will wind up as division champion and that’s the easiest of predictions, even after just six weeks of the season. However, it’s Tennessee in the box seat and with the first opportunity to stake a claim for a home playoff game, albeit in the wildcard round as they’re up against the Patriots, Ravens, Chargers and Raiders to claim one of the top two seeds, which guarantees a home game in the divisional round of the playoffs, thus avoiding wildcard weekend.

Week 7: Denver Broncos at Miami Dolphins


Vegas Line: Broncos + 1.5

Rob’s Line: Dolphins + 1.5

There’s a couple of big quarterback stories this week and has Carson Palmers’s upcoming debut for the Raiders usurped the Tim Tebow media circus? Not if you drown in either Bronco or Dolphin orange…yes, that’s right, even Dolphin orange. This is the ultimate homecoming for Tebow, returning as he is to the state where he played his college ball and being named Denver’s starter, but who writes these scripts? I mean, he becomes the Broncos’ immediate, undoubted main man and his very first game is in Florida??? Puh-lease!!!

Week 7: Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions


Vegas Line: Falcons + 3.5

Rob’s Line: Falcons + 3.5

Are the Detroit Lions really at home again? They are, but with different expectations than they would’ve anticipated before last week’s loss to those fightin’ 49ers. I watched that game, fully expecting the Lions to come out in the second half full of their usual verve and tenacity, but they didn’t and it’s not as though they should have been intimdated by the Niners’ pass defense, which is pretty shoddy when you boast receiving targets of the calibre of Calvin Johnson and Brandon Pettigrew.

Week 7: Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders


Vegas Line: Chiefs + 6

Rob’s Line: Chiefs + 6.5

What is happening around Oakland of late? Rightly so, they were the focus of a lot of media attention after the passing of the greatest Raider of them all two weeks ago and last week’s visit of Cleveland coincided with the expected outpouring of emotion, both celebratory and reflective. The team themselves even decided to get in on the act, sending Al Davis off happily ever after as they pulled off a fake field goal to push their lead to 23-7, a play Al would’ve wholeheartedly approved of.

Week 7: Pittsburgh Steelers at Arizona Cardinals


Vegas Line: Cardinals + 4

Rob’s Line: Cardinals + 4.5

This rematch of Super Bowl XLIII promises nothing of the drama of that most classic of Super Sunday finishes and both teams enter proceedings on not very much of a high, despite Pittsburgh sitting at 4-2 and on the back of two consecutive wins at home, the first where they gave everything against Tennessee and last week where the expected drop off occured, but they still had too much in the end for Jacksonville.

Week 7: Chicago Bears vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (in London)


Vegas Line: Buccaneers + 2

Rob’s Line: Bears + 0.5

When is a home game not a home game? This is Tampa’s second ‘home’ game in three seasons at Wembley Stadium, with much talk recently of the Bucs being shipped over here once a season to help generate a fan base for them before they possibly become the London Lord Nelsons, or are bequeathed some other such seafaring connotation. Look for this not to happen until at least 2025, but cogs have begun to turn.