A summary of the week that was in the NFL as it pertains to betting, the book, and the landscape ahead.
The Line Moves are Right – But Only Some of the Time
Big line move on game day saw the New York Giants plummet from a -3 -120 favorite for most of the week all the way down to -1 before settling at -1 1/2 at kickoff. Injuries to the Giants were largely the cause of the move rather than some great trust by the bettors in the Redskins. The G-Men looked like they missed their walking wounded as Washington pulled away after halftime to win 28-14.
Line moves don’t always point the way to the betting winner as Jacksonville went from a small home favorite to a small dog versus the Tennessee Titans on game day. Whether is was the lack of faith in coach Jack Del Rio for releasing Jaguars QB David Garrard the week of their first game, or the fact that super runner RB Chris Johnson was back on the field with Tennessee, the Titans closed a -1 1/2 favorite but lost outright as Jacksonville took the final 16-14.
Buffalo however proved to be the right side of another big move as the unsung Bills closed at just a 4-point dog after Kansas City was favored by -6 1/2 for much of the week. Kansas City was never in the game as Dexter McCluster fumbled the opening kickoff and that set the tone for the day. The Chiefs made one mistake after another while Buffalo continued to capitalize.
Is Cam Newton that good, or the Arizona Cardinals defense that bad? I’m thinking it is a combination of both but it would be nice to see Newton do well in response to so many questions and concerns about the technical aspects of his game. His accuracy was a huge concern but he is so athletic that he is going to cause problems for the opposition at times this season and should get better with experience. After one look he doesn’t appear on his way to becoming the next Jamarcus Russell by any means. One thing I really liked about his game (Newton that is, not Russell), and something that frustrated me about his predecessors, is that he continually looked to super-pesky WR Steve Smith. The Panthers receiver can cause a lot of problems and Newton was smart to seek Smith.
The Seattle Seahawks have the competitive drive, but not the talent to match.
Vikings QB Donovan McNabb is occupying a position, nothing more than that. Seven completions . . . 7!
The New England Patriots are that good.
Indianapolis is that bad without Peyton Manning. The Colts running game was not impressive to start with and QB Kerry Collins won’t keep defenses honest.
Maybe the Cleveland Browns aren’t quite Super Bowl ready just yet.
In case we didn’t know already, the Baltimore Ravens have an elite defense and a very good, balanced offense.
Carolina goes from facing the Arizona defense to meeting one of the league’s best as the Panthers host Green Bay on Sunday. I think the Packers might know who Cam Newton is now. Green Bay is currently a -9 1/2 point favorite on the road after their impressive showing opening night.
Speaking of the Cardinals, they head out to Washington where the Redskins are now a 4-point favorite. This game may tell us a lot about both teams. Arizona’s QB Kevin Kolb will get more settled as the season goes on while the defense must improve off last week. Washington harassed Giants’ QB Eli Manning and ended up with 4 sacks and an interception that was returned for a touchdown. The Redskins rushing game with former Arizona back Tim Hightower didn’t impress however as Hightower averaged just 2.9 yards per carry on 25 rushes. One carry went for 22 yards so his average without that scamper was a mere 2.1.
Kansas City looked terrible with all of their miscues against Buffalo and committed 3 turnovers. The Bills now host Oakland and stud RB Darren McFadden who is coming off 150 yards on the ground Monday night at Denver. Buffalo-3 1/2 seems like a high number to me in what looks to be closer to a Pick ‘Em type of contest.
My Games of the Week
1:15 Pacific: San Diego Chargers (54) at New England Patriots (-7)
5:25 Pacific: Philadelphia Eagles (-2.5) at Atlanta Falcons (49)
Games I Won’t Be Watching
10:00 Pacific: Seattle Seahawks (40) at Pittsburgh Steelers (-14 1/2)
10:00 Pacific: Cleveland Browns (-3 +110) at Indianapolis Colts (38)