Panthers (3-3) @ Buccaneers (0-6)—Carolina has yet to allow first half TD, outscoring foes 68-17 before halftime this season; their three wins are by average score of 34-8, but their only win in three road games was 35-10 at dysfunctional Minnesota. Panthers picked off pass on opponents’ first series in each of last three games, scoring defensive TD on first play last week against Rams. Winless Bucs are 1-5 vs spread, losing home games by 2-3-11 points; since ’09, Tampa is 4-13-1 as home underdogs. NFL-wide, divisional home underdogs are 6-3 vs spread so far this season. Bucs won four of last six series games, winning 16-10/27-21 in LY’s meetings, but Carolina is 7-3 in last ten visits here, albeit 1-2 in last three. In their last five games, Panthers have three TDs/FG on their first drive of second half, so they’re making solid halftime adjustments. Rookie QB Glennon is 0-3 as a starter, but they’ve scored 17.7 ppg in his three starts, compared to 11.3 in Freeman’s starts. Oddity: Bucs have been even in turnovers every game this season.
Jaguars (0-7) vs 49ers (5-2) (London)—Our condolences to Jaguar coach Bradley, who just lost his dad, will re-join team later this week in London. Niners won/covered last four games by average score of 33-13, figure to squash hideous Jaguar squad that lost first seven games by double figures, something that hasn’t happened in 30+ years. Only game Jax covered was 35-19 loss in Denver when they were getting 27 points; their offense has improved last three games, averaging 359.3 ypg, after averaging 224 ypg in first four losses, but their closest loss this year was 19-9 (+6) at Oakland in Week 2. 49ers are 5-1 as favorites this year, 21-8-1 in Harbaugh era; they’re +8 in turnovers in last three games (10-2) and have won field position by average of 12 yards per game during 4-game win streak- they were held to 3-7 points in their two losses. Six of Jags’ seven opponents scored 24+ points. NFC West non-divisional favorites are 7-3 vs spread, 3-1 on road; AFC South underdogs are 7-9 vs spread, 5-4 on road. Three of last four 49er games went over the total.
Cowboys (4-3) @ Lions (4-3)—Dallas is 6-1 vs spread this year, 3-0 when getting points; in two games since 51-48 loss to Denver, Cowboys allowed only one offensive TD on 25 drives, no TDs/four FGs on five red zone drives, so their defense has improved since then. Pokes are in Motor City for first time in six years; they’re 5-2 in last seven series games, with average total in last four meetings, 60.8- their win in Philly last week was their first in three road games. Detroit’s special teams cost them in close loss to Cincy last week, giving up blocked 34-yard FG and then shanking punt in last minute that sent them to first loss in three home games- they’re 2-1 as home favorite this year, 10-7 in last 17 such games. In last five games, Dallas has scored TD on first drive in seven of 12 halves- impressive!!! Lions have been outscored 20-0 on first drive of games this season. Average total in Detroit’s three home games this year is 60.3, with all three going over total. NFC North non-divisional favorites are 4-8-1 vs spread, 2-5-1 at home; NFC East underdogs are 3-4 vs spread, 2-3 on road.
Giants (1-6) @ Eagles (3-4)—Vick is starting QB for Iggles here, who have now lost nine home games in a row; they’ve won eight of last ten games in this series, beating Giants 36-21 (+2.5) three weeks ago, outrushing them 140-53 with four takeaways (+4) in game where Giants had 136 penalty yards. Am guessing Vick starts after Foles was knocked silly last week by Dallas. NY lost three of last four visits here, losing by 23-10-2 points. Big Blue is on short week after getting first win in 23-7 snoozer over inept Vikings, game where Giants had only 64 rushing yards and averaged 4.7 yards/pass attempt, with TD/three FGs in four red zone drives- in their seven games, Giants are a total of -4 yards on 20 plays with two turnovers in their first drive of third quarter, so they’re not making good adjustments at halftime. Giants are 0-4 on road, 1-3 as road dogs, giving up average of 33.5 ppg away from home. Five of seven Eagle games, four of seven Giant games went over the total. NFL wide, divisional home favorites are 15-7 vs spread so far this season, 3-3 in NFC East.
Browns (3-4) @ Chiefs (7-0)—Cinderella Chiefs are last unbeaten in NFL, can get to halfway mark 8-0 with win here; they’re 2-2 as home favorites this year (5-16-1 since ’07) with pair of 17-16 wins (Cowboys/Texans) at Arrowhead- they’ve given up only 7.5 ppg at home (four TDs on 46 drives). KC was minus in turnovers last week for first time this season; they’re still +11 for season. Browns are 0-4 when Weeden starts, 3-0 with Hoyer (out for year), which is why Jason Campbell might get nod here; in their last five games, Browns were outscored 35-0 on first drive of each half, outgained 467-83 on those ten drives. AFC West non-divisional favorites are 8-5 vs spread, 4-3 at home; AFC North underdogs are 6-4-1, 3-2-1 on foreign soil. Cleveland won three of last four series games, splitting pair (20-41/41-34) in last two visits here, but this is their first visit here since ‘09. Six of KC’s seven games stayed under the total. NFL-wide, non-divisional home favorites of 4+ points are 16-10 vs spread this season.
Bills (3-4) @ Saints (5-1)—Saints won/covered last four post-bye games, scoring 42 ppg; they’re 3-0 as home favorites this year, winning 23-17/31-7/38-17 scores, and are 11-0 vs spread in last 11 home games coached by Payton (suspended in ’12). Only one of Buffalo’s seven games (37-24 loss in Cleveland on a Thursday) was decided by more than seven points; Bills are 5-2 as a dog this season, but home side covered six of their seven games (1-2 as road dogs). Buffalo scored 20+ points in every game this year, despite starting two rookie QBs (Lewis has been around a little, but had only one start before this year). NO won last three games vs Buffalo by average score of 23-7, as home side won last five series games, but this is Bills’ first visit to Bourbon Street since ’98 (they lost 19-7 to Saints in Alamodome in ’05, when Saints were displaced by the hurricane). NFC South non-divisional home favorites are 4-2 vs spread; AFC East road dogs are 2-4. Five of last six Buffalo games went over the total.
Dolphins (3-3) @ Patriots (5-2)—Miami had ball and 21-20 lead with 3:00 left last week, when sack/fumble in Fish territory set Bills up for winning FG, bitter loss for Miami team that hasn’t won since Week 3, losing last three games while allowing 29 ppg, with two of three losses by FG each (missed tying 57-yard FG at gun vs Ravens in Week 5). Dolphins lost six in row and 10 of last 12 games vs Patriots, losing last four visits here by 10-31-3-28 points. Miami is 2-1 as road dogs this year, losing 38-17 in Superdome, after opening season with mild upset wins at Cleveland/Indy. Since ’03, Belichick is 24-9 vs spread in game following a loss; NE has only one win (23-3 over winless Bucs) by more than seven points; three of its five wins are by 2 or 3 points- they’re 2-1 as home favorites, 20-15 in that role since ’09, but they’re just 10-15 vs spread in last 25 games as a divisional HF (30-19-2 as non-div. HF). Fish are 25-12-1 in last 38 games as a road dog, 9-4 in last 13 divisional games. Last five Miami games and three of last four Patriot games went over the total.
Jets (4-3) @ Bengals (5-2)—How will Cincy handle prosperity of two-game lead in AFC North? Bengals are 3-0 at home, winning by 10-4-7 points; they’re 5-2-1 in last eight games as a home favorite, 18-8-1 in game following their last 27 wins. Five of Jets’ seven games this year were decided by 7 or less points; they’re 4-2 as underdogs and are coming off home upset of Patriots, where they outgained Pats by 88 yards and were 11-21 on third down (NE was 1-12). Jets won four in row, nine of last ten games in this series, with last four wins all by 10+ points, but teams haven’t met since ’10 and Gang Green hasn’t been here since 24-14 win in ’09 playoffs. Bengals are 5-2 despite being plus in turnovers in only one game; they’ve had three takeaways in last four games, but they did block a short FG in Detroit last week. Jets are -10 in turnovers in their three losses, -1 in the four wins, but they also haven’t won two games in a row yet- their losses are by 3-25-13 points. AFC North non-divisional favorites are 3-4 this year, 2-2 at home; AFC East underdogs are 6-5, 2-4 on road.
Steelers (2-4) @ Raiders (2-4)—Pitt allowed only 22 points in two post-win byes (one TD on 18 drives) after being 0-4 before bye; they’re 1-2 away from home, beating Jets 19-6, losing to Cincy by 10, by 7 to Vikings in London. Since ’06, Steelers are 7-17-1 as a non-divisional road favorite. Raider QB Pryor is from western Pennsylvania, so this is special game for him, but Oakland lost its last ten post-bye games (1-9 vs spread); last time they won post-bye game was last year they made Super Bowl, ’02. Home side won five of six Raider games; they’re 2-1 at home, losing only to Redskins- they’re 2-4 as home underdog under Allen, 1-1 this year. Oakland lost three of last four games before its bye; they allowed 9-17 points in their wins, 21+ (average of 26.5) in losses. Home team won five of last six series games; Steelers lost 20-13/34-21 in last two visits here- their last win here was 1995. Three of four Oakland losses (Ind-Den-KC) are to elite teams in league, while Steelers lost to Titans/Vikings. Under is 4-1-1 in Raider games, 4-2 in Steeler games this season.
Redskins (2-4) @ Broncos (6-1)—Shanahan won two Super Bowls in Mile High City, returns here with 2-4 Redskin squad that 27+ allowed points in five of six games this year and almost lost to Bears’ backup QB at home last week when they scored 45 points. Skins’ defense may be without DB Meriwether (suspension) and against #18 in altitude, you need all the DBs you can find. Denver lost for first time in ’13 last week, despite outgaining Colts by 95 years; they were -2 in turnovers and have six giveaways (-3) in last two games, after having seven in first five games (+1); since 2006, Manning is 9-2 vs spread in game following a loss. Broncos are 3-1 as home favorites this year, winning by 22-16-32-16 points, with only non-cover when they were laying 27 to Jaguars two weeks ago. Redskins have yet to score TD (four FGs, five 3/outs) on first drive of a half. NFC West non-divisional underdogs are 3-4 vs spread, 2-3 on road; AFC West favorites are 8-5, 4-3 at home. All seven Denver games went over the total; three of last four Redskin games stayed under, even with last week’s shootout.
Falcons (2-4) @ Cardinals (3-4)—Atlanta had been 22-10-2 under Smith in games with spread of 3 or less, but they’re 0-3 this year; first road game in over a month for Falcon squad that is 0-2 on road, losing both games when they failed in red zone in last 1:00, on offense in Superdome, on defense in Miami. Atlanta won six of last eight series games, but lost four of five visits here, including 30-24 loss in ’08 playoffs. Falcons won their post-bye game last week but ran ball for only 18 yards and were outgained by 46 yards by winless Bucs; they’ve been strong on first drive of a half (outscored foes 38-3) but they’ve been dreadful in clutch spots late in game. Key to Arizona offense is health of WR Fitzgerald, who caught two balls in going half-speed thru Thursday loss to SF last game; it almost makes sense for him to sit out here and get back to 100%. Cardinals outscored last three opponents 17-0 on first drive of 3rd quarter, but Arizona has yet to lead (0-6-1) at halftime this year, so they need to get off to better starts (TD/INT/4 punts on first drive of game). Last five Falcon games went over the total.
Packers (4-2) @ Vikings (1-5)—Newly acquired QB Freeman apparently got a concussion during Monday’s hideous (20-53 passing) loss in Swamp, so Ponder gets nod here, Vikings’ third different starting QB in last three games, 4th in last seven. How does team with Peterson at RB throw 53 passes and run only 14 times? Minnesota lost six of seven games to rival Packers, losing two of last three played here- they were -3 in turnovers in 24-10 playoff loss at Lambeau last January, game that Vikes outrushed Pack 167-76, but they completed only 11-30 passes as backup/current WR Webb QB’d that game. Green Bay allowed 34 points in both its losses, at SF/Cincy; they’re 3-0 since their bye, holding teams to 13 ppg (four TDs on 32 drives). Pack’s only road win in three tries was 19-17 (-3) at Baltimore when GB ran ball for 140 yards but kicked FG on both red zone drives. Minnesota had run ball for 126.8 ypg in 1-3 start, but to play so poorly in post-bye game and now to change QBs again, you have to wonder if anyone in Metrodome knows what they’re doing. NFL-wide, divisional home favorites are 15-7 vs spread this season.
Seahawks (7-1) @ Rams (3-4)—Kellen Clemens gets first Ram start under center with Bradford (knee) out for year, not exactly what is needed vs Seattle team that is 14-2 in last 16 series games, though they did lose two of last three visits here, with average total in their last three visits here, 28.7. 4th road game in five weeks for Seattle, with all four games in domes; Seahawks are 5-2 vs spread this year, 3-1 on road, with wins on foreign soil by 5-3-12 points and 34-28 loss at Indy (led 12-0 early). Popular wisdom is that Rams will try to run more with backup QB, but defenses will load up box and make Clemens try and beat them; Rams are 0-4 this year when scoring less than 27 points. On their first drive of game, St Louis has run 26 plays for 70 yards (2.7 ypp) for no points- they’ll need to get ahead early, to keep smallish crowd engaged. If Game 5 of World Series is going on couple of blocks away, this could be a very small crowd. Five of last six Seattle series wins are by 10+ points. NFL-wide, divisional home underdogs are 6-3 vs spread this season. Four of last five Seattle games, six of seven St Louis tilts went over the total.