October 11, 2009
Bad NFL teams starting to annoy
By ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA
It is still early, but boy does the NFL have some ugly blemishes leading to a bunch of games this week that a dog wouldn't have for breakfast.
While a handful of teams are off to strong starts, the bottom of the league is as unsightly as it has been in years. After four weeks, there are currently a dozen teams with one win or less. And pity the pitiful NFC South which has two teams -- Carolina and Tampa Bay -- which have yet to earn a victory.
One of the winless teams over in the AFC, Cleveland, is so bad that it is 6.5-point underdogs today to the one-win Buffalo Bills. The Detroit Lions, hot off that historic 0-16 season, may be the best of the worst after that big win two weeks ago.
Want more? The Steelers and Cardinals, who met in Tampa in the Super Bowl are a combined 3-4 and six reigning division winners are at .500 or worse. The St. Louis Rams have been shut out twice and are unwatchable and the other Missouri resident, Kansas City, is just as bad.
So what gives? Different things in different places, obviously, especially when even among the five unbeaten teams there are none that look like runaway favourites.
But as it stands now, with the heap of poor teams, there are more contenders for the top draft pick next spring as there are for a Super Bowl this winter.
BET ON IT
The abundance of weak teams has led to point spreads drifting higher and higher as we see this week with five teams favoured by nine points or more.
There are multiple reasons for this, not the least of which is the fact sportsbooks have been taking it on the chin lately as favourites are on a 21-9 run versus the spread the past two weeks, padding the wallets of the public players.
Then there are what is known as teasers, which allow bettors to "tease" the spread, usually six points either way, on multiple-game wagers. If a favourite is in the seven, to eight-point range, the line can be manipulated enough to take both the dreaded three and seven-point margins out of the equation for bettors. So far, bookies have been getting hammered on teasers, another potential reason oddsmakers are adjusting by inflating the line on favourites.
UNDER THE HOODIE
Unlike the departure of Eric Mangini a few years back, Patriots coach Bill Belichick has no problems with his latest protege to land a head coaching job.
Maybe it's because Josh McDaniels, who left his post as New England offensive coordinator to lead the Broncos, didn't try to pull a fast one on the old boss.
The two will be reunited today in Denver as the 4-0 Broncos meet the 3-1 Patriots.
"Most, if not all, of the things that we try to do to win in terms of the big picture come from my experience in New England," McDaniels said.
Belichick will try to school his former pupil today but is not surprised at McDaniel's success.
"He has great insight into the game, so it doesn't surprise me," Belichick said. "It's reflected in their record."
Or as New England quarterback Tom Brady puts it: "He learned from the best coach in the NFL."
Speaking of Brady ... he went all soccer player last week when he dove then whined to the refs, eventually drawing a flag on Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs for a phantom roughing the passer call.
No apologies from the pretty-boy quarterback, however.
"I want the penalty call, I want 15 yards," Brady said this week. "I don't care whether they hit me or not, that's an advantage for our offence. I go hug the ref before the game, ask about his kids and stuff like that. I'm trying to get him on our side."
The hugging the refs part was a joke. We think.