Packers Host Falcons in Wintry Green Bay

Eddie Lacy and the Packers host the Falcons tonight in Monday Night Football.

As of right now, the forecast for Green Bay, Wisconsin for tonight is ice pellets. For those of you that are weather-challenged, ice pellets are larger versions of freezing rain. Let’s put it this way; ice pellets generally mean that the conditions are conducive for just about any type of winter weather there possibly could be.

Tonight in Lambeau Field, the elements will provide us with whatever they choose, I’m here to provide you with the knowledge you need to do well should you throw some money down.

Atlanta (O/U 56) at Green Bay (-13) – Before we get too far into this match-up, let’s discuss what’s at stake for each team based upon games played yesterday. For Green Bay, they need a win to keep their one game lead over the Detroit Lions in the NFC North. The Lions defeated Tampa Bay yesterday to move to 9-4 on the season and a loss by the Packers tonight would drop them into a tie although the Lions won the first game between the two teams.

For Atlanta, the Falcons got a nice surprise with New Orleans getting smoked at home (the fourth straight time) by Carolina. That drops the Saints to 5-8 on the season. A win by the Falcons would get them to 6-7 and a full game up on the Saints. They can’t sleep on the Panthers though who moved to 4-8-1 with their win in New Orleans.

Julio Jones needs a big game in order for the Falcons to win on the road tonight.

Now that we know what the stakes are, let’s get down to business.

Neither team is overwhelming on defense with the Packers ranking 24th in the league and the Falcons ranking 31st. Green Bay is respectable against the pass ranking 11th while Atlanta really struggles and ranks 31st. Green Bay’s Achilles’ Heel is against the run where they rank 28th. Atlanta does a decent job comparatively speaking by ranking 19th.

Offensively, the stats for Green Bay shouldn’t be surprising. They rank eighth overall, 19th in rushing and ninth in passing. For the Falcons, they rank ninth in total offense, 25th against the run and sixth in passing.

Common sense tells us that both Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan will thrive on the passing game but the difference is likely to be the rushing attacks. The Packers’ Eddie Lacy has picked up his play considerably in recent weeks and his ability to run the football only makes Rodgers more dangerous.

Ryan has largely had to depend on himself to move the ball and score points this year. With Roddy White dealing with an ankle issue, he isn’t going to be 100% so the pressure falls on Julio Jones to make big plays. Atlanta still has to try and look like they are going to try and run the football. If they don’t then the Packers and Dom Capers can dial up the pressure without fear of the run.

Key Injuries: ATL WR Roddy White Probable/Ankle, GB CB Sam Shields Questionable/Concussion

Trends: The Falcons are 7-15 straight up in their last 22 games… Green Bay is 0-5 against the spread in their last five games at home against Atlanta… The total has gone OVER in four of Atlanta’s last six games when playing at Green Bay… The Packers are 5-0 straight up in their last five games at home.

The Pick: Rodgers has been just tremendous at home so it’s hard to go against him. As much as I hate giving up all those points, Green Bay has been just too good at Lambeau. Take them to cover and the OVER.

Odds to Win the NFC South for 2014

I expect Jimmy Graham and the Saints to capture the NFC South in 2014.

With the NFC North and NFC East already knocked out, it’s time to focus on the NFC South where I can listen to valid arguments about all four of these teams winning the division. Off we go…

New Orleans -150 – Jimmy Graham has his new deal and regardless of what position he actually plays, he’ll be the number one threat for Drew Brees and Head Coach Sean Payton. The offense will be good but if Mark Ingram can prove to be an effective runner in 2014 then the offense will be even better. The addition of speedster Brandin Cooks will help with the loss of Darren Sproles as well.

The defense improved a ton in 2013 under Rob Ryan and that should continue this year with more experience in some of the younger guys. The Saints’ season may come down to a stretch of games between October 19th and December 15th. That span includes road games at Detroit, Carolina, Pittsburgh and Chicago. Home dates during this span include Green Bay, San Francisco, Cincinnati, Baltimore and Carolina. They will need to come through this above .500 or they could be in trouble.

Season Projection: 11-5

I'm just not sold on Matt Ryan and the Falcons this year.

Atlanta +450 – The Falcons suffered from Murphy’s Law last year which was really bad as they came off a year in which they were just yards from the Super Bowl. Atlanta is a bit healthier this year, but did lose starting left tackle Sam Baker to a knee injury this past weekend. I don’t know how many more opportunities Matt Ryan will have to prove he belongs in the upper echelon of quarterbacks. Until he gets his team to the Super Bowl I’m not buying the hype.

The defense should be better. The pass rush was poor at best last season and of course the injuries didn’t help there either. Like New Orleans, Atlanta will need to start well because the schedule down the stretch is loaded. They finish with Arizona, at Green Bay, Pittsburgh, at New Orleans and Carolina at home in the finale.

Season Projection: 7-9

Carolina +450 – The Panthers were the surprise winners of the NFC South last season edging out the Saints in the final weeks. In order to repeat they’ll need to replace Steve Smith who anchored the receiving corps for years. Cam Newton will need a running game for him to flourish and that’s possible behind a nice stable of backs.

The defense should be excellent again despite the loss of safety Mike Mitchell to the Steelers. If they continue to get pressure on the quarterback and create turnovers then the division is within their grasp once again. The Panthers’ tough stretch comes through the month of October when they have Chicago, at Cincinnati, at Green Bay, Seattle, New Orleans and at Philly. That portion of the schedule should define their season.

Season Projection: 10-6

Tampa Bay +550 – Let me be frank here even though my name isn’t Frank; this will be one of the most improved teams in the NFL in 2014. Lovie Smith’s presence will have that kind of impact. Talent has never really been the problem. Putting it all together with good quarterback play has and that should be solved with the addition of Josh McCown. He will have monster receivers to throw to in Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans.

The defense will move to the Tampa 2 which should fit their personnel a little better and should compliment a good front four. The Bucs have a three-week stretch on the road following two home games to start the season. Those three games are at Atlanta, at Pittsburgh and at New Orleans. They then have Baltimore at home before their bye week. If they can start in the .500 range they should be in contention all season.

Season Projection: 9-7

Overall: I like the Saints to win the division but the surprise may be that I see the Falcons under .500. I expect the Buccaneers to challenge Carolina for second.

My Division Series Picks for MLB

Manager Jim Leyland did the right thing in giving the game one ball to Max Scherzer.

The National League playoffs got underway last night and the junior circuit gets going tonight. Here are my picks to advance to the respective league championship series.

American League

Tampa Bay vs Boston – What more can you say about the Rays? They win a must-win game in Toronto, then travel to Texas to win a tie-breaker only to fly north again to play Cleveland where the Indians were on a 10-game winning streak. Now they had back to familiar territory where the Red Sox and their top-hitting ball club await.

Boston defeated Tampa Bay 12 of the 19 times they played this season and while I think the Rays have tremendous momentum going forward I think the Red Sox have a major advantage when it comes to both hitting and the bullpen where closer Koji Uehara has been rock solid. Tampa will need to get early runs and the starting pitching needs to go deep each game in order for the Rays to have a shot. I like Boston in four games.

Detroit vs Oakland – The Tigers and Athletics finished second and their respectively in batting in the American League this season so we can somewhat call hitting a ‘push’ in this series. In pitching, Oakland and Detroit finished second and third respectively so we can call that a push as well.

I think basically what we can flat-out say is that this has the potential to be the best of the four series. Tigers’ manager made the right call in starting Max Scherzer in game one over Justin Verlander. Scherzer has had an extremely special year while Verlander has been very average and will start in game two.

Veteran Bartolo Colon takes the hill for Oakland in game one so I expect a very tight game to open this series. The difference will be two things; Miguel Cabrera is not 100% and the Oakland bullpen is tremendous. Take the A’s in five games.

National League

The Cards hope Molina can carry his great regular season into the playoffs.

Pittsburgh vs St. Louis – Despite winning the series 10-9, most people thing the Pirates just don’t have the horses to get past the Cardinals in this series. What we know is that both teams have very good pitching both in the rotation and in the bullpen but St. Louis has a sizeable advantage when it comes to hitting.

The Cards rank first in hitting in the NL while the Bucs are ninth. Andrew McCutchen can be a dominant force for Pittsburgh but he needs help. Former Twin Justin Morneau has yet to get hot offensively and he is more than due. St. Louis will just keep doing what they do and that means catcher Yadier Molina will need to continue his fantastic season.

The story in Pittsburgh this year has been nothing short of amazing and the fans deserve it but I just think the Cards will have a little more offense and that will be the difference. Take St. Louis in 5.

Atlanta vs Los Angeles – If the other series offers good pitching in the National League then this one offers top-notch pitching. Atlanta and LA rank 1-2 in the NL in this department. The Braves have done it despite injuries to Tim Hudson and lingering issues with Paul Maholm. Atlanta won the season series 5-2 but the last time they played was early June and a lot has happened since then.

Despite that advantage, Atlanta stumbled to the finish line and has several guys struggling at the plate. The Dodgers were extremely close earlier this season to firing Don Mattingly but they stuck with him and he produced a tremendous surge that captured the division. The Braves have home-field advantage but I like the Dodgers to win in four games.

World Series Odds as the Playoffs Get Set

Big Papi and the Red Sox await the winner of the AL Wild-Card game.

Here are the latest odds for the remaining teams in Major League Baseball. I have one key question for each team heading into the playoffs.

Boston 15/4 – The Red Sox will await the winner of the Cleveland Wild-Card game from Wednesday evening and in doing so will have plenty of rest. The BoSox surprised many this year with their impressive season. Perhaps it was an indicator of just how badly Bobby Valentine screwed this team up.

The big question I have for Boston is can the starters hold up in these series and get the game to their top notch closer?

LA Dodgers 17/4 – There really isn’t much to say regarding the Dodgers. The pitching should be able to carry the Dodgers a long way in the playoffs but what about the loss of outfielder Matt Kemp? Personally, I don’t think they’ll miss him all that much. With that said…

The big question I have for LA is can Yasiel Puig be a performer in the playoffs?

Detroit 5/1 – The Tigers limped into the playoffs having been swept by the Miami Marlins. Granted they didn’t exactly put their best line-up on the field each day, but going into the playoffs stumbling seems to work for this team. Miguel Cabrera had another fantastic season but he isn’t 100% and needs to get his bat going again.

The big question I have for the Tigers is what can they expect from Justin Verlander?

St. Louis 6/1 – The Cardinals will be facing a very familiar foe in the division series whether it’s Pittsburgh or Cincinnati. St. Louis struggled against the Pirates this season so I’m guessing they’d prefer the Reds. The Cards are in the top five in runs scored and in team batting average so if they can get solid starting pitching they should be OK.

The big question I have for the Cardinals is will the pitching match the offense?

Can the starters get the game to Kimbrel against the Dodgers?

Atlanta 7/1 – The Braves stumbled to the finish line but survived because of a huge lead they built all season. The outfield could be an issue because B.J. Upton is batting well below the Mendoza line so I believe he’ll be sitting. We know the Braves have a tremendous closer in Craig Kimbrel, but can the starters get to him without having to go through some shaky middle relievers?

The big question I have for the Braves is who is your ace?

Oakland 15/2 – Another magical season out in Oakland has landed the A’s home-field advantage for their first-round series with Detroit. The A’s most recent series against the Tigers saw them absolutely tear them up in Comerica Park so going east should not bother them a bit. The Athletics have always had good pitching but now the seem to have some hitting too.

The big question I have for the A’s is simple; can they finally get ‘moneyball’ to the World Series?

Cleveland 14/1 – The Indians get to sit back and watch the Rangers and Rays battle it out for the chance to fly into Cleveland for the AL Wild-Card game. Cleveland has won 10 straight games and is easily the hottest team going into the playoffs. Cleveland is going with rookie pitcher Danny Salazar who has just ten starts under his belt. He does however have an impressive 11.25 strikeouts per nine innings rank to his credit.

The big question I have to the Indians is can they stay hot? Going from the regular season to the playoffs is not the easy transition many make it out to be.

Cincinnati 18/1 – The Reds are limping into the NL Wild-Card game with Brandon Phillips having struck himself with a foul ball against Pittsburgh this weekend. The all-start second baseman will be less than 100% at game time tonight but should play. Mat Latos was expected to be the starter tonight but has a bone chip in his elbow. Johnny Cueto will get the ball instead.

The big question for the Reds is can they overcome the injury to a key player and handle the raucous crowd that will be on hand tonight?

Pittsburgh 18/1 – What can you say about this team? For the last two years they teased their fans with strong first-halves only to let them back down to Earth with slumping second-halves. There was no such slump this time around for the Buccos. They went into Cincinnati for the final three games of the season knowing they needed two of three to host the very same Reds tonight in PNC Park and they did just that and more sweeping the Red Legs.

The big question I have for the Pirates is can they get the big hit when they need it most?

Tampa Bay/Texas 25/1 – The winner of the 163rd regular season game will not have been decided until I after publish. The winner of the game will travel to Cleveland to play the Indians in the official AL Wild-Card game.

Will Howard Remain a Laker and Who I like in the Playoffs Tonight

Kobe Bryant


Kobe Bryant
Could Bryant's injury impact whether or not the Lakers keep Dwight Howard around?

Already underway in the media speculation department is will Dwight Howard remain in Los Angeles next season with the Lakers or will he be elsewhere? It’s an intriguing situation to be sure because there are several angles which of course point in both directions. If Kobe Bryant had suffered a severe ankle sprain and not the ruptured Achilles’ tendon, perhaps the Lakers’ front office vie things differently. Maybe Bryant’s injury has no bearing on their decision about Howard at all.

Here is the best I can figure; Howard will explore other options when free agency kicks in after the season ends and will look for a smaller market than the one he currently is in. Howard has never looked comfortable for even a second in La-La land and perhaps the glare of the big city lights have just been too much for him to handle. What the Lakers have to decide is is Howard a guy worth building the future of the franchise around?

Athletically he is certainly the real deal but my question is can he deal with the pressure? I really believe his comments of the whole season being a ‘nightmare’ following their loss the other night spoke volumes. I would strongly wager Howard goes elsewhere in the fall.

Games on Tab for Tonight


J.R. Smith
Smith’s return should provide the Knicks with enough to end the series tonight.

Boston at New York (Knicks Lead Series 3-1) – The Celtics were able to stay alive with a 97-90 overtime win this past weekend and push the series back to New York. The Knicks were playing without J.R. Smith who was suspended following his elbow to the face of Boston’s Jason Terry in game three.

I expect Smith to return with a vengeance in tonight’s game. Not that his elbow wasn’t a stupid move, because it was, but if I’m I don’t want this series going any further. If by some miracle the Celtics push this to seven games, Smith will be the villain who jump-started their comeback effort.

That sounds easier than it is however because I expect not only a big game from Smith but from Carmelo Anthony as well. Boston had to do everything they could just to steal a game and I just can’t see them grabbing one in Madison Square Garden.

Atlanta at Indiana (Series Tied 2-2) – Talk about a tale of two series wrapped into one… The Pacers took care of business on their home court in games one and two and will thankfully return home. I say ‘thankfully’ because the Hawks put an absolute whipping on the Pacers in Atlanta in games three and four.

What we now have is a best of three series with Indiana having two of the three at home. Common sense says this is their series but I’m not ready to go there just yet. Atlanta seems to have found a nice game-plan against the Pacers. I’ll go with Indiana tonight who’ll be happy to be home, but this one is going seven.

Houston at Oklahoma City (Thunder Lead Series 3-1) – I thought all along that Houston would be able to steal at least one game in this series although I didn’t see it happening with Russell Westbrook out for the season.

It will be short-lived excitement however because the Thunder understand the need to get this series over with as soon as possible. With Westbrook out, getting the team and Kevin Durant as much rest as possible is crucial for long-term playoff success.

I like the Thunder to put the Rockets away tonight in OKC.

Week 10 NFL Betting Tips

Charles Tillman and the Chicago Bears will welcome the Houston Texans on Sunday Night Football.

Week 10 in the NFL is accompanied by a slew of match-ups that will have a big-game feel to them and a whole host of postseason implications resting on them. Here’s a look at the big three, if you will, and how they are likely to pan out come the end of Sunday’s slate.


Atlanta Falcons @ New Orleans Saints

Atlanta (8-0, 4-0 road) will take its undefeated streak on the road this weekend, traveling to the Superdome to take on New Orleans (3-5, 2-2 home).

Until the Falcons beat a quality opponent, their unbeaten record will come with an asterisk. Unfortunately for the Falcons, as it stands, only one team (NY Giants) is left on the schedule with a winning record. That being said, four division games remain, each of which will pose a tough threat.

New Orleans is looking for win for the fourth time in five games, a statistic that would certainly suggest the Saints are finally righting the ship. That makes New Orleans a dangerous team this weekend.

Both teams have excelled at passing the football this season, so expect more of the same. However, both sides are porous when it comes to defending the rush, so were one to take advantage of the running game – as New Orleans dis last week against Philadelphia – sufficient progress could be made.

Odds: Atlanta has become a three-point favorite after the spread opened at evens. The over/under is 54, up one-half point on opening.

Take: New Orleans – Can you ever remember an undefeated team this late in the season that wasn’t favored over a team with a 3-5 record? That’s how this one opened, and although Atlanta is a narrow favorite now, New Orleans is worth the gamble, particularly as the side has won 10 of the last 12 meetings. There’s little chance that this will be anything but a tight finish though. Take the total to go over; both teams rank in the top eight in the league in scoring.


Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles

It’s do-or-die time in the NFC East already, as the Dallas Cowboys (3-5, 2-3 road) visit the Philadelphia Eagles (3-5, 2-2 home).

These two long-term rivals are both desperately in need of a win if they’re to catch the Giants in the NFC East or book a Wild Card spot in the playoffs. Both coaches may well be on the hot seat also, as the teams have underachieved.

For Dallas the major problem has been turnovers. For Philadelphia, consistent play calling and protecting the quarterback have turned a promising start into a miserable season.

There’s a certain amount of parity between the sides that goes beyond the team’s records. Dallas is 14th in the league in scoring, while Philadelphia is 15th. Dallas is 18th when it comes to opponents scoring while Philadelphia is 19th.

Dallas leads the all-time head-to-head 59-47 but Philadelphia has won three of the last four including two straight.

Odds: After opening as two-point favorites, the Eagles are now two-point underdogs. The over/under is 44½, one point lower that at opening.

Take: Dallas – Philadelphia hasn’t won three straight against the Cowboys since 2004, and won’t buck that trend this weekend. The lack in face of bookmakers, who have adjusted the favorite in this one, is just. The Eagles are 1-6-1 ATS this season, so take the Cowboys to cover the spread. Take the under; 10 games involving the Cowboys and Eagles have seen the total go under.


Houston Texans @ Chicago Bears

And finally, the biggest game of the weekend, and perhaps the season so far.

Houston (7-1, 3-0 road) takes its AFC best record into Soldier Field to take on a Chicago (7-1, 4-0 home) team that trails only Atlanta in the NFC.

Like Atlanta, Chicago has faced some criticism for a soft opening schedule, having only beaten one side with a winning record. Unlike the Falcons, Chicago’s road to the Super Bowl gets much tougher, with seven of its last eight coming against opponents with a winning record.

Chicago has gotten a lot of offensive assistance from its defense this season. The Bears’ have returned seven interceptions for touchdowns and forced 28 turnovers in total. Charles Tillman forced four fumbles by himself last week against Tennessee. But Houston will not be as easy a mark as the Titans.

The Texans have turned the ball over just six times this season, complimenting what is one of, if not the most balanced team in the league. The side ranks fourth in scoring and third in opponents’ scoring. Believe it or not, the Texans defense, which ranks fourth and second in pass and rush defense, is better on paper than the Bears.

Odds: Chicago is one-point favorites after the spread opened even. The over/under has dropped from 43 to 40.

Take: Chicago – Homefield advantage may be the only factor separating these two sides so it’s worth taking the Bears to win a very close one. With the spread at one point, the Bears will cover. This one has all the markings of an epic defensive struggle, so take the total to go under.


Week 10 Schedule

Thursday: Indianapolis 27-10 Jacksonville

Sunday: (1 PM ET) Oakland @ Baltimore | Denver @ Carolina | NY Giants @ Cincinnati | Tennessee @ Miami | Detroit @ Minnesota | Buffalo @ New England | Atlanta @ New Orleans | San Diego @ Tampa Bay; (4:05 PM ET) NY Jets @ Seattle; (4:25 PM ET) Dallas @ Philadelphia | St. Louis @ San Francisco; (8:20 PM ET) Houston @ Chicago

Monday: (8:30 PM ET) Kansas City @ Pittsburgh

Bye: Arizona, Cleveland, Green Bay, Washington

Atlanta Hosts Dallas on Sunday Night Football

Tony Romo's 13 interceptions have been a huge problem for the Cowboys this season, but his 19-2 record in November will give the unbeaten Atlanta Falcons something to think about on Sunday Night Football.

As Sunday Night Football rolls around again this week, viewers will get their chance to see the unbeaten Atlanta Falcons host the reeling Dallas Cowboys.

This marquee match-up between the team with the only perfect record in the league and America’s favorite team will have bettors on the edge of their seats. It’s highly likely that they’ll remain on the edge of their seats until the very end as well.

If you’re unsure who to pick in this one and need a few pointers, read on to find a few nuggets of truth that may sway you one way or another.


Unbeaten Falcons Looking for More

There’s still an air of criticism surrounding the Atlanta Falcons (7-0, 3-0 home), and rightfully so.

The Georgia side may well be perfect but that is a record achieved against a very soft schedule. Atlanta has faced just one team (Denver) that currently has a winning record. The team’s opponents have gone a combined 19-33 (.365), hardly a record that is going to be imposing to any semi-decent side. But, as the old adage goes, you are what your record says.

Atlanta will look to ride this unbeaten streak further towards the playoffs. And ride the Falcons can. At this point in time, the schedule going forward is almost as soft as that which has passed. Future opponents have a record of 27-38 (.415), and only one team with a winning record (NY Giants) lies in wait.

Of course there’s a big difference between what happens on paper and what happens on the gridiron. With five games remaining against divisional rivals, Atlanta can expect the run to the postseason to be tougher than it appears. And it might not take until next week’s showdown with New Orleans for the Falcons to chalk one up in the loss column.


Dire Times in Big D

Anyway you slice it up, Dallas (3-4, 2-2 road) has had a bizarre season so far. It’s not that the Cowboys’ 3-4 record is that strange. The team has certainly played like a 3-4 team for much of the year. It’s not even that there is a huge imbalance between the almost non-existent running game and the passing game. It’s the fact that this is a team with obvious talent, but nothing to show for it.

Dallas has the number three passing offense in the league in terms of yards per game (297.3). It also has the number three pass defense in the league (187.7 YPG). Those two statistics should translate to a high-scoring offense akin to New England or New Orleans. It doesn’t.

Dallas scores just 19.6 PPG (25th). Part of this is down to a weak rushing game that has seen neither DeMarco Murray nor Felix Jones put in any kind of consistent play. Murray (foot) will be missing for the third straight game Sunday. Part of it is down to Tony Romo.

Romo has thrown a completion rate of 65 percent this season with nine touchdowns. He’s even ran one in, putting him one behind Murray for the team lead in rushing touchdowns. But he’s thrown 13 interceptions! Far too many drives have finished with Romo giving the ball to the other side.

If the Cowboys are to achieve anything against the Falcons on Sunday night it starts with looking after the football. In an ideal world, Romo would hand the ball off and let the Cowboys’ running game punish a weak Atlanta rush defense. That perfect world wouldn’t include Murray out and Jones trying to cope with a niggling injury. Come kickoff time, the Cowboys may have no option but to put all of their eggs in the basket that is Romo’s inaccurate arm.

But then again, Tony Romo is 19-2 in the month of November!


Looking for an Edge

Dallas leads the all-time head-to-head 16-8 and has been dominant in recent years. The Cowboys have won seven of the last 10 meetings, including the last time the two sides met, a 37-21 victory in October 2009. Dallas is 7-5 all-time when playing the Falcons in Atlanta.

Atlanta is favorite heading into this one. A three-point advantage has risen to four points as kickoff approaches.

Dallas has gone 3-4 ATS this season while Atlanta is 5-2 ATS. The two games dropped by Atlanta came in close wins over Oakland and Carolina, and go some way to suggesting that the Falcons are not as dominant as their record might suggest.

The over/under is 47½. The last two times the sides met, the total exceeded that number, but neither has rewarded bettors taking the over this season. Both sides have seen the total go under four times in seven games. Dallas has also seen the total go under in seven of its last 10 games and six of seven on the road. All signs point to taking the under this Sunday in Georgia.

Week 8 NFL Betting Tips

Giants-Cowboys round two will not only be must-see TV but also an absolute toss up when it comes to betting.

With just one upset last week, oddsmakers are hoping normal business has resumed in the NFL. That one upset came in the form of a Tennessee victory over Buffalo that didn’t really surprise anybody – other than the offensive output that smashed the over.

But what oddsmakers want, they might not get. Normal business could well take a smack to the chops this week, as no fewer than seven games feature pointspreads under three. This is going to be a very interesting week for football bettors.

New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys

In one of this weekend’s most anticipated encounters, the New York Giants (5-2, 2-1 road) head to Cowboys Stadium to take on a Dallas (3-3, 1-1 home) side that took an upset victory in New York to open the season.

The Giants arrive in Texas with a four-game winning streak and a burden of expectation. Despite leading the NFC East comfortably, the Giants have yet to hit form and are currently 1-2 within the division, a record that needs to improve to prevent the Cowboys, Eagles, and Redskins keeping it close.

Dallas has been a hotchpotch of solid play and big mistakes. The number seven passing offense in the league is hindered by an inability to score touchdowns (eight) and an over ability to throw interceptions (nine). A loss for the Cowboys on Sunday could really make any hopes of making the postseason fade.

Odds: The Cowboys opened as two-point favorites but the line has shifted in favor of the Giants (33). The over under is 48.

Take: Dallas – Dallas has not won two straight games against the Giants since 2007 and hasn’t beaten their division rivals at Cowboys Stadium since it opened in 2009. Everything points in favor of the Giants. So why the Cowboys? The way this season has gone, an upset here wouldn’t feel like that much of an upset. They’ve had both awful and impressive performances this year – it’s a crapshoot as to which you’ll get – and have shown they have the ability to beat the Giants. What’s more, the Giants have yet to really roll, and looked very beatable against Washington last week. Take the total to go under.


Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets

The Jets stink. Let’s get that out of the way before we go any further. The green side of New York (3-4, 2-2 home) is an absolute car wreck of a football team, something that’s not all that surprising.

What is surprising is that Miami (3-3, 1-2 road) does not stink. Ahead of the season, few positive words were written about the Dolphins, but a 3-3 record represents an overachiever. Consider this then: two overtime losses stand between Miami and a 5-1 record!

The Dolphins head to MetLife Stadium with a two-game winning streak and an extra week of rest. The Jets return home having lost three of four games and looking very much like a lost side. Sure, injuries have taken a toll, but this is the worst Jets team to take the field in years. And that’s saying something.

Odds: Despite the team’s inadequacies, the Jets will be favorites come kickoff. That being said, an opening three-point advantage has fallen to just one point, a sign that nobody has faith in this side. The over/under is 38.

Take: Miami – Kings of the close game, expect the Dolphins to get the better of what is almost certain to be an ugly game. Don’t be surprised if the Jets do something stupid and hand the Fins the game. Take the total to go under; Miami doesn’t score big and the high-scoring Jets have shown up two weeks in a row, which suggests an off week is imminent.


Atlanta Falcons @ Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia (3-3, 2-1 home) has lost three of the last four games and welcomes an unbeaten Atlanta (6-0, 3-3 road) to The Link on Sunday and yet is somehow favorite.

This particularly anomaly stems more from Atlanta’s schedule than Philadelphia’s abilities. En route to a 6-0 record, the Falcons have beaten the entire AFC West (‘Big deal,’ I here you say) alongside Washington and Carolina. A soft schedule like that is not going to get you any props.

In many ways, the Eagles could be the Falcon’s toughest challenge. Andy Reid’s side has lost the last two games by a combined five points, five points that are the difference between 3-3 and 5-1. The Eagles were able to find ways to win in early season games, and if they do the same, they’ll pose a big threat to Atlanta.

Odds: Philadelphia is a three-point favorite. The over/under is 43, having fallen from 48.

Take: Philadelphia – This is going to be a close one, and like so many of the other games on this week’s schedule, an upset would not necessarily feel like an upset. You may as well go with the better moneyline. Both teams have had an extra week to plan for this one, so expect a very close game. A loss is a much bigger deal for the Eagles so expect them to come out as though they’re fighting for their lives. Take the total to go under.


Week 8 Schedule

Thursday: Tampa Bay 36-17 Minnesota

Sunday: (1 PM ET) Carolina @ Chicago | San Diego @ Cleveland | Seattle @ Detroit | Jacksonville @ Green Bay | Miami @ NY Jets | Atlanta @ Philadelphia | Washington @ Pittsburgh | New England V. St. Louis (London, UK) | Indianapolis @ Tennessee; (4:05 PM ET) Oakland @ Kansas City; (4:25 PM ET) NY Giants @ Dallas; (8:20 PM ET) New Orleans @ Denver

Monday: (8:30 PM ET) San Francisco @ Arizona

Bye: Baltimore, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Houston