Just Two Games on the NBA Docket This Evening

Dirk Nowitzki continues to push the Mavericks into the playoffs.

The National Basketball Association may be winding down the regular season but tonight’s schedule is light. Although there are just two games on the schedule this evening, both have playoff implications. At this current point, there are still teams fighting for a spot in the playoffs and there are teams already in yet battling for seeding.

Tonight’s games feature exactly that scenario.

San Antonio (+2) at Dallas – The Spurs have been in the playoffs since sometime in 1996. OK, maybe not that long but you get the picture.With five games to go, they hold a 3.5 game lead over second seeded Oklahoma City. What that means is that the Spurs will be the number one seed. They are already resting Tony Parker and I think you’ll see similar activity with Tim Duncan and several others.

The Mavericks have a game lead over Phoenix right now with three games to play. Memphis is currently on the outside looking in but gets shots at both teams in the next week. Normally catching the rival Spurs right now would not be such a good break but considering they are resting starters, the timing couldn’t have worked out better.

If you had to look twice at the line for this game then you can point to both the situation and the fact Gregg Popovich is resting his studs. Oddsmakers are expecting great effort from the Mavericks and much less than that from San Antonio.

One thing we must consider here is who would the Spurs rather see in the first round? Of the Mavs, Suns and Grizzlies, I’m guessing Memphis would be the least desirable team for the Spurs. Those things in mind, take Dallas this evening even giving the points.

Despite the turmoil, Mark Jackson has the Warriors in the playoffs.

Denver (+12) at Golden State – The Nuggets come to Northern California having lost their last two and seven of their last ten. It’s been a less than stellar year for Denver who will need serious work in the offseason to get back into the swing of things in the Western Conference.

The Warriors are headed to the playoffs and trail Portland by one and a half games for the fifth seed. Trailing them in the standings are the aforementioned Mavericks who are just a game back. Basically, the Warriors are looking at being the road team in any potential first round match-up. Should the Warriors stay in the sixth spot, they’ll likely face the LA Clippers.

If they slip into the seventh spot then that means a meeting with the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round and that has to be something they’d like to avoid. So far this season, the Warriors and Nuggets have split their two meetings with each winning on the other’s home court.

Despite some turmoil in Golden State that has seen Mark Jackson under fire and an assistant coach fired, the Warriors will still be a difficult out for anyone in the first round and they’ll be a difficult challenge for the Nuggets this evening.

With all things considered, I like Golden State to win but I can’t get past the 12 points they are giving. Take Denver and the points.

Free Agency Period in the NFL Brings All Kinds of Ups and Downs

Red Bryant takes his enormous talent to Jacksonville as a free agent in 2014.

Later today, the National Football League will formally enter its’ free agency period. At 4pm Eastern time today, players who are not under contract with teams may pursue contracts with any team of their liking.

Mutual interest is always a good idea as is having a team that appears to be in the upper echelon of the league. As much as players want to be paid in this generation, they also do want to win championships too.

It’s not about the ring or being able to say “we are the champions” it’s about attention and opportunity (see Richard Sherman). Free agency isn’t just for those from losing teams though because past Super Bowl Champions have used that to make big bucks through free agent deals.

Want proof? Think Larry Brown. No, not the basketball coach who has coached nearly every team in America, but Larry Brown the defensive back.

Larry Brown was a classic example of one game earning an average player a huge free agent contract.

Brown was a good cornerback who played opposite a much better cornerback in Dallas named Deion Sanders. In Super Bowl XXX, Brown was the beneficiary of two passes from Pittsburgh’s Neil O’Donnell. Brown intercepted both and those two turnovers turned out to be the difference in the game.

Fast-forward to the free agency period of that following year and boom! Brown gets a monster deal from the Oakland Raiders. He would go on to do very little for Oakland starting just one game and playing in just 12 total over two years there.

He finished his career in Dallas by playing in just four games.

During this current free agency period, new Super Bowl Champion and former Seattle Seahawk Red Bryant is now a Jacksonville Jaguar. Bryant will sign a four-year $18 million deal tomorrow when the free agency period formally begins.

Bryant has actually seen his playing time decrease in recent years as he saw just 561 snaps last year. In the two previous years in Seattle he saw over 700 plays per year. Does this suggest that Bryant could be another ‘Larry Brown-type signing?’

Not necessarily but if we’ve learned anything in free agency over the past couple of decades it’s that more often than not, big name free agents who sign for huge amounts of money don’t always work out as we thought they would. This would be a good time to research Daniel Snyder’s free agent signings in Washington by the way.

One thing that has changed about this period is the new ‘legal tampering’ that is allowed three days prior to the actual free agency period beginning. The NFL knew that agents and team officials were talking in secret anyways prior to this rule so why not implement something that allows it? With money always goal number one, the NFL also recognized that the three-day period would create more interest by fans.

They’d be able to follow Twitter and see just what players their particular team was interested in. Therefore, another win-win for the NFL. What fans need to be cautious of in free agency though is being able to separate contact with a player and actual interest in a player. Just because Detroit for example is interested in Emmanuel Sanders because of a report from an NFL Network guy, that doesn’t mean it’s a foregone conclusion that Sanders is the Lions’ ‘must-have’ player.

Every team is interested in kicking the tires on available players but fans have to keep in mind that salary cap implications may limit the chances of those players even being considered. In other words NFL fans, don’t jump the gun on every rumor you hear because more often than not they won’t be true.

Enjoy free agency!

Manning and Brady Renew Acquaintances Plus Other NFL Action

Brady and the Patriots welcome Denver and snow could be in the forecast as well.

The Broncos and Patriots may be the highlight of the NFL schedule but there are two other games I really like on this weekend before Thanksgiving. Take a look at Indy and Arizona as well as Dallas visiting the Giants for more action.

Indianapolis (+2) at Arizona – Cardinals’ Head Coach Bruce Arians welcomes the Colts to Arizona. It was the Colts who Arians helped get to the playoffs last season while coach Chuck Pagano dealt with his leukimia treatment. Arians has the Cardinals at 6-4 and in the hunt for a playoff spot. The NFC West is Seattle’s to lose right now but that won’t happen. Arizona is currently tied with San Francisco for second in the division.

The Colts come to the desert with a 7-3 record and a strangle-hold on the AFC South. Their most recent game saw them come back from a second half deficit to defeat Tennessee. Indy has still not gotten anything out of Trent Richardson since trading for him back in September, but Donald Brown has done a great job running the ball.

For Arizona it’s about playing great defense and not turning the ball over on offense. The Colts are 4-1 straight up in their last five games against Arizona and will be looking to pad their AFC South lead. I like Arizona to make some big plays behind their defense and cover in this one.

Eli Manning must take care of the ball in order to beat Dallas.

Dallas (+3) at New York – Right now the NFC East is led by Philadelphia at 6-5. Behind them is Dallas at 5-5 and then the Giants at 4-6. If you had told me five or six weeks ago the Giants would still have a shot for the division title I’d have said you were crazy. That’s exactly where we find things today which makes today’s game in MetLife Stadium so crucial.

The Giants’ defense has made tremendous strides during their four-game winning streak. They have moved up to seventh in the league in stopping the run which means they’ll make the Cowboys one-dimensional early. If Dallas finds itself having to throw at will, that usually means a few mistakes from Tony Romo.

The Cowboys are 8-17 against the spread in their last 25 games at New York. The over/under of 46 has me thingking over because I can see both teams benefiting from some turnovers. With Dallas having issues in the secondary I like the Giants to cover.

Denver (-2.5) at New England – I don’t know the last time the Patriots were an underdog at home but it can’t have happened very often in the last ten years. New England finds itself in that situation tonight hosting 9-1 Denver and Peyton Manning.  At 7-3, the Patriots have lost two games this year on the final play of the game despite having lesser talent than in previous years.

The Broncos come in after beating previously unbeaten Kansas City last week at home in Denver. They were able to keep Peyton Manning upright and clean as they completely diminished the Chiefs’ pass rush. Bill Belichick will find more creative ways to get Manning’s jersey dirty tonight because if he doesn’t it will be a long night for his defense.

The Broncos are 2-4 against the spread in their last six games against New England. Tom Brady owns the head-to-head record against Manning and I think you’ll see Brady put the ball in the hands of his backs and slot receivers. This game has all the hallmarks of a New England victory in my opinion. The over/under is 53 and I like the under. Expect both teams to play well defensively.

NFC Predictions for the NFL’s Second Half

Can Romo and the Cowboys hang on to win the mediocre NFC East?

The National Football Conference is much more balanced than it’s’ counterpart the AFC. There are certainly favorites at the top but I think you’ll see more teams involved in the final push for the playoffs in the NFC as the top teams take aim at each other. Check out a few predictions for the second half of the season.

NFC EAST – Trying to figure out who will emerge from this division may be like trying to solve the great mysteries of the world. Dallas sits atop at 4-4 but can’t get out of their own way when it comes to getting wins in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys have blown leads in their last two games. Philadelphia is 3-5 but has a revolving door at quarterback due to injuries. If Nick Foles can stay healthy, don’t count them out.

The Redskins and Giants are 2-5 and 2-6 respectively. I look for the G-Men to actually finish ahead of Washington because New York is playing defense again and that is something that the ‘Skins are sorely lacking. Look for either Dallas or Philly to emerge but this is clearly a one-playoff team division.

NFC NORTH – This division could and should go right down to the wire. We can go ahead and put a fork in Minnesota because at 1-6 they are going nowhere especially with an unsettled QB situation. That leaves Green Bay (5-2), Detroit (5-3) and Chicago (4-3). All three of these teams will tangle with each other down the stretch.

The question is who emerges? I have to go with the Packers because they have the best balance on offense and defensively, they’ll get Clay Matthews back as well. The Lions rely too much on their front seven defensively and on the arm of Matthew Stafford on offense. Chicago will push but I don’t see them lasting long with issues on defense and a less than 100% Jay Cutler. Look for Green Bay to take the division and the Lions to grab a wild-card.

I think the Saints and Drew Brees will hang on to win the NFC South.

NFC SOUTH – The Saints have a firm grasp on the division as of right now but there are challenges ahead. The only competition New Orleans faces is from Carolina who is two games back. Atlanta and Tampa Bay are already looking ahead to 2014. The Panthers and Saints will hook twice in a three week span in December. I look for those two games to decide who wins the division.

November offers a tough stretch for New Orleans as they’ll travel to Seattle and host San Francisco. The December slate has the two games with Carolina but also dates with St. Louis and Tampa Bay. For Carolina, they have San Francisco and New England the next two weeks but then the schedule gets easier save for the two dates with the Saints.

I like New Orleans to win the South but I’m not totally sold on the Panthers making the playoffs. Their wins have come against some of the weaker teams in the league and I’m just not convinced they’ll hang with the big boys.

NFC WEST – The West is likely to come down to a matter of three dates remaining on the schedule. On December eighth, the Seahawks (7-1) will travel to San Francisco (6-2) to play the Niners. Seattle already defeated San Francisco back in week two. There are two other dates that may come into play however and those are the final two of the season.

Arizona (4-4) plays week 16 at Seattle and then hosts San Francisco in week 17. The division title could very well be settled by then especially if Seattle wins at San Francisco but I have a feeling the Cardinals are not going to go quietly.

My gut feeling tells me that the 49ers and Seahawks will tie for the division title with one obviously taking the wild-card. Arizona will threaten but will fall just short of a playoff spot.

Back Half of NFL’s Week Four Schedule Has Potential

Peyton Manning has been on fire and now the Eagles have to face him in Denver today.

There are many games on the docket today that offer interesting possibilities but I’m looking at the late games on the slate for some wagering action. This also happens to be the first week in which teams have their bye-weeks which if I were a fan or coach would drive me nuts having it this early. Either way, let’s get to the games.

Philadelphia (+11) at Denver -Chip Kelly and the Eagles bring their fast-paced offense to Denver to take on the top team in the National Football League in the Broncos. There was much ado about the Eagles after their fast-paced first half in the opener against the Redskins. Since then, they have been electric at times but have also struggled with turnovers.

Peyton Manning might be playing as well now as at any point in his hall of fame career and if the Eagles are giving the ball away that spells doom for Philly. The Eagles’ defense is 30th in the NFL and now they have to face Manning? While 11 points is a lot to give in the NFL, it isn’t enough today. The Eagles are 1-5 against the spread in their last six. Take the Broncos with confidence.

Dallas (-2) at San Diego – This line to me is nothing more than an over-reaction to the dominance of the Cowboys last week in their win over St. Louis. The Rams basically proved that with their pathetic performance on Thursday night. San Diego meanwhile is very close to being 3-0 on the season with a win over Philly and two last-second losses to Houston and Tennessee.

Tony Romo has looked good in recent weeks and part of that has been due to a better running game. He will look to take advantage of a San Diego defense that is ranked 31st in the NFL. The flip-side is that Philip Rivers also looks pretty good and perhaps as good as any time in his recent career. The Chargers are 1-4 against the spread in their last five games at home which worries me, but I really like the Chargers today.

Smith has done some good things but must cut down on the turnovers for the Jets to win in Tennessee today.

New York Jets (+3.5) at Tennessee – Each team has key players out today and several who are banged up yet will play. Both team are surprisingly 2-1 on the season and each could argue they should be 3-0. The Jets have ridden an outstanding defense which ranks third in the league while the Titans are pretty good as well ranking eighth.

So what will this game boil down to? Turnovers and special teams in my opinion. Even thought he Jets’ offense is significantly better than the Titans, the Jets are also -6 in the turnover department while the Titans are +5. Tennessee is also 4-1-1 in their last six games against the spread. Give the points and take the Titans.

Washington (-3.5) at Oakland – If you told me one of these teams would be 0-3 when they met in week four I would have without hesitation said Oakland. The Redskins enter with the worst defense in the NFL. They are struggling against both the run and the pass and are getting very little pressure on the quarterback.

Matt Flynn will get the start today for the Raiders due to a concussion to Terrelle Pryor. Flynn was very shaky throughout the preseason which is why they went with Pryor. I look for huge doses of the Raiders’ running game today. Washington enters with the third best offense in the NFL but that is very misleading as they have trailed in their first three games.

RGIII has looked better and better over each successive game, but he still isn’t himself in my opinion. I like this one to go down to the wire but I just can’t see the ‘Skins going 0-4. Take Washington.

Re-Visiting NFC Win Totals

The firepower of Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense should get them 'over' the top.

Earlier this week I re-visited win totals for the AFC and today I’m doing the same for the NFC. You’ll note a couple of significant changes. Let’s get to it.


Dallas 8.5 (-105 over/-125 under) First Time: Over, Today: Under I really thought this could be the year that Dallas could put it together and make the playoffs but I’ve seen too many issues offensively in the preseason.

New York 9 (-115 over/-115 under) First Time: Under, Today: Under The Giants backfield is a mess with Andre Brown down with a broken leg for the next 4-6 weeks. I’m not sure there enough behind the front four defensively either.

Philadelphia 7.5 (-105 over/-125 under) First Time: Under, Today: Under I think Michael Vick will have a bounce-back year but I worry about his health and the shots he’ll take in this offense. The defense is a major concern as well.

Washington 8.5 (+105 over/-135 under) First Time: Over, Today: Over I think the ‘Skins are the class of the division on both sides of the ball. RGIII will learn to play smarter and the defense is much improved from last year.


Chicago 8.5 (-120 over/-110 under) First Time: Under, Today: Under The Bears could have two rookies starting on the O-line and you can’t replace the leadership of Brian Urlacher. Cutler is in a contract year and is just too up and down for my liking.

Detroit 8 (-105 over/-125 under) First Time: Even, Today: Over The Lions suffered from some really bad luck last season and lost a lot of close games. The front four has to stay healthy for the defense to be effective. I’m drinking the kool-aid with Detroit.

Green Bay 10.5 (-115 over/-115 under) First Time: Over, Today: Over Green Bay has a stable of capable running backs now and JerMichael Finley has had an excellent preseason. The team will overcome any defensive short-comings with a big offense.

Minnesota 7.5 (-105 over/-125 under) First Time: Under, Today: Over The Vikings can go only as far as Christian Ponder can take them with all due respect to Adrian Peterson. The defense will be OK, but health will be huge on both sides of the ball. I’ll take them to get to eight wins.

Ryan and the Falcons should reach double-digit win totals again this year.


Atlanta 10 (Even over/-110 over) First Time: Over, Today: Over The only way this team doesn’t win more than ten games is an injury to Matt Ryan. Other concern is getting to the QB which must get better. Too many weapons offensively not to like this team.

Carolina 7 (-135 over/+105 under) First Time: Under, Today: Even Cam Newton will be better this year and the addition of Ted Ginn, Jr. will help offensively and on special teams. The division and cross-conference schedule is a bear though.

New Orleans 9 (-145 over/+115 under) First Time: Over, Today: Over With an improved defense and an offense with weapons galore, this team will ride Drew Brees to a big season on what I call the “Sean Payton Revenge Tour.”

Tampa Bay 7.5 (-130 over/Even under) First Time: Over, Today: Over This is the last chance for Josh Freeman or else he’ll be looking for work elsewhere in 2014. The Bucs will ride Doug Martin and an improved defense to get to eight or nine wins.


Arizona 5.5 (Even over/-130 under) First Time: Over, Today: Over The Cards’ defense will be opportunistic with a lot of good athletes making plays. Carson Palmer will do well in Bruce Arians’ offense if he can stay healthy behind a weak O-line.

San Francisco 11 (-120 over/-110 under) First Time: Under, Today: Even The Niners will be very good again but there is just something that troubles me and I can’t put my finger on it. With an improved division and several trips East I think they win 11.

Seattle 10.5 (-135 over/+105 under) First time: Under, Today: Over I think 11 is the number for the Seahawks who will do good things on both sides of the ball but I think their maturity in some areas is still lacking. Getting home-field advantage should be their number one priority.

St. Louis 7.5 (-130 over/Even under) First Time: Over, Today: Under I’m just not sold on Sam Bradford and I have no idea who will run the ball for the Rams. The defense will get to the quarterback but the lack of consistency on offense worries me.

Monday’s NBA Betting Tips

The Grizzlies and Clippers will be involved in a knock down, drag out affair in Memphis on Monday night.

To get you off to the right start this week, Casino Review has taken a look at Monday’s NBA schedule and picked out the winners and losers for you. Let’s start in the Windy City.


Atlanta Hawks @ Chicago Bulls

8:00 PM ET

After putting together a solid run towards the end of 2012, Atlanta (21-15, 9-9 road) has come unglued over recent weeks, dropping six of eight games.

Chicago (20-15, 10-10 home) meanwhile continues to stay afloat in the Central division, eagerly awaiting the return of Derrick Rose. The Bulls have won four of the last six, including a pair of wins over conference toppers Miami and New York.

The Hawks defeated the Bulls 92-75 on Dec. 22 in Atlanta, and Chicago has gone 5-4 since. Surprisingly, the Bulls have fared better on the road (10-5) this season, and have dropped three of the last four at home. Atlanta may find it difficult to score a victory though, especially considering the side has lost four straight and five of six away from Philips Arena.

Odds: Chicago is favorites, with the spread at 5 and the total at 183½.

Take: CHICAGO – The Bulls are better defensively and the Hawks have had their fair share of struggles over the past two weeks, which should be enough for the Bulls to edge this one. Both Atlanta (14-21-1 ATS) and Chicago (13-21-1 ATS) have struggled against the spread this season, so you face a roulette wheel of opportunity here. Take Atlanta to cover (+5) in a close one. Take a low total (183½) to go under still.


Los Angeles Clippers @ Memphis Grizzlies

8:00 PM ET

With a 3-3 tally since the end of a record-breaking 17-game win streak, the Los Angeles Clippers (28-9, 10-5 road) will look to start another win streak on Monday with a visit to Memphis (24-11, 14-4 home).

The Grizzlies have had a solid season and have fared very well at home, losing just four games, three to teams with winning records. The Clippers however handed the Grizzlies a 101-92 loss on opening day, although that came at Staples Center.

The Grizzlies have the second best defense in the league (89.7 PPG) and will be calling upon it to stop a Clippers side that ranks No. 7 in scoring (101.8 PPG).

Odds: Memphis is favored at home, just. The spread stands at 1½, with the total at 184½.

Take: LA CLIPPERS – Memphis (21-12-2 ATS) is the best team in the league at covering the spread. Before you put your money on the Grizzlies though, consider that the Clippers (22-15-0 ATS) are third best in the league, and have covered more times than Memphis. Take the Clippers to cover (+1½) and take an upset win outright. Take the total (184½) to go under as the Grizzlies’ tough defense goes to work.


Miami Heat @ Utah Jazz

9:00 PM ET

Miami (24-11, 8-8 road) defeated the Jazz 105-89 at AmericanAirlines Arena on Dec. 22, but as we all know, Miami on the road is a very different side to Miami at home. The Heat has gone 5-3 on the road against Western Conference opponents, but only 2-3 against those teams with a winning record.

Despite currently residing just outside the top eight in the Western Conference, Utah (20-19, 11-4 home) has been solid at home this season, dropping just four games, and all to quality opposition (Memphis, Golden State, Clippers twice).

Both sides will look at this game as one ripe for the taking. A win for Utah will keep the Jazz above the .500 mark, whilst Miami will look to move to 2-2 on this current six-game road trip.

Odds: Miami is favored despite an indifferent road record. The spread is 5½, while the total is 197½.

Take: MIAMI – Take the Heat to score a second straight road victory ahead of games at Golden State and the Lakers later this week. This will be a tough one though, so take Utah to cover the spread (+5½), something the Jazz has been slightly better at this season than the Heat. Take the total (197½) to go under, as has been the case in more than 54 percent of both team’s games this season.


Quick Picks…

Having beaten both Oklahoma City and Atlanta last week, take Washington (6-28, 5-13 home) to score an unprecedented third win in a row with a victory over Orlando (13-23, 6-11 road). Take the Wizards – the sixth best team in the league against the spread – to cover (-3½) with the total (193½) going over.

Take favorite Boston (19-17, 12-6 home) to upend Charlotte (9-27, 4-13 road) in the first of four meetings between the sides this season. At 10 points, the spread may seem big but Charlotte (13-22-1 ATS) is the worst team in the league at covering the spread, so take Boston here. Take the total (190½) to go over.

As Minnesota (16-18, 6-13 road) and Dallas (15-23, 9-7 home) both look to find their winning ways, take the Timberwolves to cover the spread (+5½) but the Mavericks to win outright. Take the total (197½) to go over.

Take Oklahoma City (29-8, 11-5 road) to make short work of Phoenix (13-26, 10-9 home), covering the spread (-7½) in the process. Take the total (202) to go under.

Finally, take Sacramento (13-24, 10-10 home) to complete a season sweep over Cleveland (9-30, 5-18 road) in what will be a close game. Take Cleveland to cover the spread (+5½), with the total (203½) going over.

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