Fun and gaming for NFL Week 5
By ROB LONGLEY, RANDALL THE HANDLE & DAN BILICKI, QMI Agency
|Rams receiver Danny Amendola will miss at least a month with a shoulder injury. (Reuters)
Is it a case of over-reaction from last week that the San Francisco 49ers are 9½-point home favourites to the Bills or is Buffalo that bad? The Bills, of course, collapsed to New England in the second half after getting dominated on both lines of scrimmage while the 49ers went on the road and blew out the Jets. While it’s a big chunk of points to lay, consider that since he became head coach of the Niners, Jim Harbaugh has failed just once to cover at home and that was in last season’s NFC Championship game. The Bills, as usual, are impossible to get a handle on week to week ... With their win over Arizona in the Thursday nighter — and a dominant defensive effort at that, the St. Louis Rams pushed the record of home underdogs to 15-9 vs. the spread this season, which would net you a healthy profit if you backed each of them blindly. There’s five more of them left this week ... One of those home dogs that might get some serious attention this week is the Kansas City Chiefs, who are getting six points from the visiting Ravens. The problem is, Baltimore is coming in off a nice 10-day rest and when the Chiefs go down, they go down hard — losing handily to Buffalo (of all teams) San Diego and Atlanta. And more and more, the big comeback win against the Saints looks less impressive given New Orleans’ fate thus far ... If the Chiefs turned it over six times against the Chargers, how many times will they do it against the Ravens? ... Depending on what you use as the closing number, underdogs have been good money going 38-23-2 vs. the spread so far ... And finally a nugget for the game of the week, where so much attention is focussing on Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady. In their past seven visits to New England, the Broncos are 5-2 vs. the spread — and that’s without Manning calling the shots behind centre.
RANDALL THE HANDLE’S ODDS ON
One quarter through this topsy-turvy season, there have been as many surprises in the won-loss columns as there have been in the cover and fail to cover categories. Not many thought that the Detroit Lions, off an inspiring 10-6 year, would have to wait until at least Week 6 before they covered their first spread after a 0-4 start versus the number and having this week off. Nor would many believe that the 15-1 Packers, the Super Bowl champion Giants and the high-octane Saints would collectively be 3-9 against the spread.
Conversely, teams that we consider to be doormats are actually money-making machines. Most notably, the Cleveland Browns have lost 10 in a row straight up. However, if you backed them in every game during that streak, you’d have seven covers, two losses and one push. Ching ching. St. Louis was 2-14 a year ago and covered only three of 16 contests all season. This season, it is a lucrative 4-1 ATS after five games while Tampa Bay, 4-12 last season, sits at a handsome 3-1 mark versus the spread. All of this points out just how powerful the pointspread is, equalizing all contests once the teams take the field and allowing the public to opportunity to figure it out.
— An unusually high amount of rookies earned starting quarterback positions this season. Considering the difficulty of the position and in most cases, taking over for a troubled team, their current 6-13 straight up mark isn’t terrible. Of course, oddsmakers are on top of it and the same group is 9-9-1 versus the spread. Not surprisingly, the young quintet is 9-4-1 ATS as underdogs and 0-4 ATS as the favourite.
— Sports and politics don’t mix. Except that, you can bet on both of them. If you believe all the hyperbole and polls conducted this week, suggesting that Mitt Romney is in the driver’s seat after clearly winning the Presidential debate, guess again. President Barak Obama remains a heavy favourite at a mere +1.25 while Romney will return nearly 3-1 if elected.
DAN BILICKI’S BE A SURVIVOR
If you haven’t been burned by the Packers yet, you won’t be this weekend against the Colts. Andrew Luck and Co. are coming off their bye week, but they’ll be down their head coach. Even if Chuck Pagano was at the helm, I don’t see Indy staying with Green Bay and its surprisingly effective pass defence.
The Bears are coming off their dismantling of the Cowboys and now get to visit Jacksonville. The Jaguars have trouble enough moving the ball against average defences, what will they do against a team that just picked off Tony Romo five times?
If you’re feeling brave, take the Vikings over Titans. Minnesota has looked strong at home and the Titans are starting Matt Hasselbeck. Tennessee’s only win came in a game where it scored five TDs of 60 yards or longer – that won’t happen again.
DAN BILICKI’S FANTASY UPDATE
The Rams got some bad news coming out coming out of Thursday’s big win over the Cards. Top receiver Danny Amendola will be out for at least a month after injuring his shoulder. Reports having him out as little as a month and as many as two. He has been a reliable WR2 or WR3 so far and his production will be missed.
n Since taking over the feature back duties in Arizona, Ryan Williams has done little to impress. He is sporting a weak 2.8 yards per carry and has yet to score a TD. Even worse, on Thursday he hurt his shoulder, but it won’t keep him out of any games.