Wagering on NFL games is not guesswork. It requires time, patience, and careful analysis. Here are some notes to keep an eye on regarding NFL games this weekend.
Ravens at Bengals: Emotion and interest are more important than raw stats for analyzing this game. For instance, the Ravens have had a terrible season, especially offensively. If you look at their schedule, they’ve only got “up" to play just a few times this season. Pittsburgh is a big division rivalry game for this club. They got fired up to play at Pittsburgh last month and lost 20-19 as a two touchdown underdog. Then the Ravens went flat, losing 21-9 to Cincinnati and 30-3 to Carolina (0-2 ATS). Then last week they got fired up again when the Steelers came to town, pulling off a 16-13 upset in overtime. So will they pack it in on Sunday? After all, Baltimore is 3-7 overall and going nowhere. Their opponent, Cincinnati, is off an emotional game, losing a 45-37 thriller at home to the unbeaten Colts. Will they be up? Or emotionally spent? More likely they’ll be up, and the Bengals certainly have far more offensive versatility and balance than does Baltimore. Notice that the Ravens have really only played against three versatile offenses (Colts, Bengals, Jaguars) and went 0-3 ATS. I left out their two games against Pittsburgh because the Steelers were without QB Ben Roethlisberger both times. Baltimore is also 0-5 SU, 1-4 ATS on the road where they are getting beat by a 24-11 average.
Patriots at Chiefs: New England has a two game win streak, but they needed goal-area stands in the final seconds to top both Miami and New Orleans. And this secondary is still banged up, surrendering a ton of yards. The Patriots will be without Corey Dillon once again, the offensive line is still playing without its starting center and has two rookies in there. The Pats are also very thin at wide receiver, with David Givens missing last week's game and out of practice this week. Kansas City is 4-2 SU/ATS the last six games and, at 6-4, there is a sense of urgency if they want to make the playoffs. Also note that Pats coach Bill Belichick hasn't been with the team this week, tending to his father's funeral.
Panthers at Bills: An interesting betting line, as Carolina is 2-3 ATS on the road and 3-5 ATS as a favorite. Public perception is certainly a huge part of this, as the Bills were embarrassed 48-10 at San Diego last week. Still, notice that Buffalo is 0-5 on the road, but 4-1 SU/ATS at home! They allow just 13 ppg at home.
Bears at Bucs: The reason to pay attention to this game is the Tampa Bay defense. They are still ranked very high in the NFL, but the last three games they've surrendered a mind-boggling 34, 35 and 27 points! What gives? Perhaps just as amazing is that they've won 2 of those games.
Dolphins at Raiders: One game does not a season make! Miami is 2-7 SU/ATS since upsetting Denver in the opener. Public perception has certainly caused Miami to be overvalued because of that season-opening win and the reputation that new coach Nick Saban brings after winning the national title at LSU just two years ago. By the way, as up-and-down as Oakland has been, the Raiders are 2-0 SU/ATS as a favorite.
Steelers at Colts: Best game of the weekend takes place Monday night. Pittsburgh is ranked ahead of the Colts in total defense, No. 6 vs. No. 8. What will be interesting will be the Steelers’ offensive line and deep running game behind Jerome Bettis, Duce Staley, Willie Parker and Verron Haynes. They’ve been rotating all four, a la Denver, and Indy has been weak against the run at times this season. Notice that the Bengals ran for 164 yards on the Colts, 6.3 yards per carry last week! If the Steelers want to upset the 10-0 Colts, they will need offensive balance, which means they need a healthy QB Ben Roethlisberger to return. Tommy Maddox is useless. The Colts are the 17th team in the 86-year history of the NFL to open a season 10-0, and only the ninth since 1970. Still, it's hard to believe Indy is only 1-3 against the spread at home, but they are. Enjoy the post-Thanksgiving platter of games! Good luck, as always. . . Al McMordie.
Al McMordie is a documented member of the Professional Handicappers League. Read all of his articles at http://www.procappers.com/Al_McMordie.htm