Archive for September, 2008

NFL Preview: Washington at Philadelphia

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

NFC East rivals collide this Sunday afternoon when the 3-1 Washington Redskins, fresh off an impressive upset of the Dallas Cowboys, visit Philadelphia to take on a 2-2 Eagles team coming off a tough Sunday night loss in Chicago.

OddsMaker is listing the Eagles as 5.5-point home chalk for Sunday’s game vs. the ‘Skins (1 pm Eastern, FOX), with the total at 43 points.

Washington opened this season, and the Jim Zorn era, with a lackluster loss on the road to the New York Giants. But since then the ‘Skins have won three straight games, over New Orleans, Arizona, and Dallas.

On the other side of this matchup, Philadelphia opened the season with a rout of St. Louis, then lost a high-scoring game at Dallas. The Eagles then rebounded with a tough win over Pittsburgh, but got stuffed on a goal-line situation late in the game in a 24-20 loss to the Bears on Sunday night.

Washington got outrushed by the Giants on opening night by 70 yards, but the ‘Skins out-grounded their next three foes by 94, 20, and 117 yards. Philly, meanwhile, has outrushed all four of its opponents this season, by an average of 35 yards per game.

These two division rivals split their two meetings last season. In September, Washington won 20-12 as 6-point road underdogs in Philly, and the Redskins led the second game at home in November by five points with four minutes to go. However, the Eagles scored two TDs in the next two minutes of that game and left Landover with a 33-25 win as 3-point road dogs.

Last season, Washington went 7-7-2 against the spread, 4-3-1 ATS on the road, and 4-2 vs. the numbers when dogged by more than a field goal. The totals went 7-9 in ‘Skins games last season, which averaged 40 total points. This season, Washington is 3-1 against the spread, and 1-1 ATS as underdogs. As well, the totals are 2-2 in Redskins games this season, which have averaged 42 points.

Philadelphia went 8-8 vs. the lines last season, but just 2-6 ATS at home, and 3-3 against the spread when favored by more than a field goal. Also, the totals went 7-9 in Eagles games last season, which averaged 40 total points. This season, Philly is 3-1 vs. the numbers, and 2-0 ATS when chalked by more than a field goal. The totals are 2-2 in Eagles games this season, which are averaging – with the help of that shootout down in Dallas three weeks ago – 46 total points.

OddsMaker is also listing Philly at +500 on the NFC Championship betting board, with Washington getting +1,200. As well, the Eagles are listed at +1,200 on the updated Super Bowl betting board, with the Redskins sitting at +2,500.

College Football: Key Weekend Matchups

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

A weekend after several of the Top 10 teams in the land went down to defeat, the next set of top-ranked teams will try to avoid being upset themselves as the college football season rolls into October.

Nine ranked teams lost last weekend, six of them to unranked opponents. But several of those teams who lost last week, and even one or two that lost before that, still have legitimate national title chances. Remember, LSU got to the BCS championship game last year, and won it, after losing twice during the regular season.

The Missouri Tigers, 4-0 so far this season, are now ranked No. 3 and No. 4 in the two major polls, and could move up if they can get by the 3-1 Nebraska Cornhuskers this Saturday night in Lincoln.

The Tigers are rolling up the yardage and lighting up the scoreboard again this season. And the Nebraska defense looked pretty porous in a 35-30 upset loss at the hands of the Virginia Tech Hokies last Saturday. So that will be the main battle line when the teams meet Saturday.

OddsMaker is listing Mizzou as 11-point road favorites for Saturday’s game (9 pm Eastern). OddsMaker also lists the Tigers at +180 on its updated Big 12 Conference championship betting board, with the Huskers getting +4,000.

The Ohio State Buckeyes and Wisconsin Badgers have both already experienced defeat this season. And yet, because of the convolution that is college football in 2008, neither can be definitively counted out of the race for BCS bowl spots – at least until after this weekend’s matchup between the Bucks and Badgers at Camp Randall in Madison (8 pm Eastern).

OSU began this season ranked in everybody’s Top 5, but they got their butt kicked in that showdown vs. USC a couple of weeks ago. Meanwhile, Wisconsin started out 3-0 this year, and led Michigan at the Big House last week 19-0 in the third quarter. But the Badgers let the Wolverines off the hook, and lost to a Big Blue rally after having a late, game-tying two-point conversion negated by a silly penalty.

OddsMaker is listing the Buckeyes as 2.5-point road chalk for Saturday’s game. OddsMaker is also listing Ohio State at -120 on its updated Big 10 championship betting board, with Wisconsin getting +250.

On our BCS national championship betting board, Missouri is listed at +700, Ohio State at +1,500, Wisconsin at +15,000, and Nebraska at +40,000.

And on the OddsMaker 2008 Heisman Trophy betting board, Missouri QB Chase Daniel is the current favorite at +200, followed by, among others, Wisconsin RB PJ Hill at +2,000, and Ohio State RB Chris Wells at +4,000.

NFL: Eagles at Bears

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

A couple of NFC teams that missed the playoffs last year but have high hopes of returning to the postseason this year hook up when the Philadelphia Eagles hit Second City to take on the Chicago Bears on Sunday night at Soldier Field.

NBC will provide the live television coverage of this game, beginning at 8:15 pm Eastern Sunday.

OddsMaker opened Philadelphia on Wednesday night as 3.5-point favorites on the road for Sunday’s game, with a total of 41. OddsMaker waited to put out a line on this game because of the injury status of Philly QB Donovan McNabb and RB Brian Westbrook, and Bears WR/KR Devin Hester.

The Eagles are also listed at -165 on the OddsMaker moneyline, with Chicago getting +145 as the home underdogs.

Early reports indicate McNabb, who’s got a sore chest after getting battered a bit last week vs. Pittsburgh, will probably play Sunday. But Westbrook, with a bad ankle, and Hester, who missed last week’s game with sore ribs, are both questionable for this Sunday.

Philly opened this season with a blowout of St. Louis 38-3, then got outgunned at Dallas on a Monday night 41-37. Last Sunday, the Eagles out-uglied the Steelers, carding nine sacks and forcing three turnovers and a safety on their way to a 15-6 victory.

Philadelphia easily covered the spread as 9.5-point chalk over the Rams in the season opener, cashed in as 6.5-point road dogs at Dallas, and beat the number as 3.5-point faves over Pittsburgh.

Also, Philly’s romp over the Rams stayed under its total of 43, and Sunday’s win over the Steelers never came close to even approaching its total of 44. But the loss at Dallas went over its total of 46 in the second quarter.

Chicago opened its season with an upset of the Colts in their new stadium in Indianapolis 29-13. The Bears followed that up by blowing a 17-3 third-quarter lead at Carolina and losing to the Panthers 20-17. Then last Sunday Chicago coughed up a 10-point lead in the final three-plus minutes and lost at home to Tampa Bay 27-24.

So Chicago is 1-2 so far this season, but could easily be 3-0.

The Bears covered the spread as 9.5-point road dogs in the win over Indy, pushed the line in that 3-point loss to the Panthers, and coughed up the cash as 3-point chalk Sunday vs. Tampa.

Also, Chicago’s win over the Colts and its loss at Carolina both stayed under their totals of 43 and 38, while Sunday’s loss to the Bucs went over its total of 35.

The much-traveled Brian Griese led the rally for Tampa against the Bears on Sunday. And while some of his numbers Sunday were impressive, including the 38 completions on 67 attempts for 407 yards, others were not, such as the three INTs Chicago made and the 6.1 yards-per-attempt average, which is low.

These two teams rank 1st and 4th in the league so far this season in stopping the run. The Eagles are tops at just 46 YPG, while the Bears are allowing just 71 YPG.

On the other side of the ball, Chicago, led by rookie RB Matt Forte, ranks 8th in the league so far in rushing at 152 YPG, while the Eagles rank just 27th at 84 YPG.

Kyle Orton has done just about what we’d expected of him as the starter at QB for the Bears. He’s been OK, completing 62% of his passes this season for a 6.5 yards-per-attempt average, which ranks in the lower middle, and a 2/2 TD/INT ratio. But he hasn’t necessarily been an upgrade over what Rex Grossman had been doing the last couple of seasons.

Meanwhile, McNabb has performed well so far this season, hitting on 67% of his throws for an 8.0 YPA average and a 5/1 TD/INT ratio.

These two teams met last season, when Brian Griese, then with Chicago, led a desperation drive to a touchdown in the final minute as the Bears upset the Eagles in Philly 19-16.

Last season, Philly went 8-8 against the spread, but 6-2 ATS on the road. Also, the totals went 7-9 in Eagles games last year, which averaged 40 total points.

Chicago went 7-9 vs. the numbers last season, and only 3-5 ATS at home. And the totals went 9-7 in Bears games last year, which averaged 43 points.

On the updated OddsMaker NFL futures betting boards, Philly is listed at +450 to win the NFC East this season, +500 to win the NFC Championship, and +1,000 to win the Super Bowl.

Meanwhile, Chicago is listed at +350 to win the NFC North this season, +2,500 to win the NFC, and +5,000 to win the Super Bowl.

NFL: Redskins at Cowboys

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

The Cowboys have breezed to a 3-0 start this season, and have looked impressive in doing so. Meanwhile, the Redskins have won two of their first three games under their new head coach. So Dallas will be looking to remain undefeated, while Washington will be looking to pull off the upset when the two NFC East rivals meet Sunday afternoon in Texas.

OddsMaker is listing Dallas as 11.5-point home favorites for Sunday’s game, with a total of 46.5.

The Redskins opened this season under new head coach Jim Zorn with a 16-7 loss to the New York Giants. But the ‘Skins have since beaten New Orleans 29-24 and Arizona 24-17 the last two weeks. And after getting outrushed by New York 154-84, Washington out-grounded the Saints 149-55 and the Cardinals 136-116.

Dallas is off to a 3-0 start after winning at Cleveland 28-10, at home over Philadelphia 41-37, and, Sunday night, 27-16 at Green Bay. Through those first three games, the Cowboys are averaging 440 yards per game on offense, and are holding foes to 84 rushing yards per outing. Sunday night at Lambeau Field, Dallas outrushed the Pack 217-85.

Washington couldn’t cover the spread as 4 1/2-point road dogs at New York in the season opener, although they had chances to do so. The Redskins have since then covered as 1- and 3-point home chalk over New Orleans and Arizona.

The ‘Skins season opener stayed under its total of 41 quite easily. Their win over the Saints went over its number of 43, while Sunday’s victory over the Cards stayed under 43. Overall, Washington’s three games this season have averaged 39 total points.

Dallas covered six points at Cleveland and three points at Green Bay, but couldn’t cover 6 1/2-points at home vs. the Eagles. And even though the Cowboys themselves are averaging 32 PPG, only one of their games has gone over this year, the win over Philadelphia. The victory over the Browns stayed under 48, as did the victory over the Packers at 51.

Dallas QB Tony Romo wasn’t great Sunday night, and threw a dumb INT in the Green Bay end zone, but made several key throws in key situations after that. On the season, Romo has hit 67% of his throws for 9.7 yards per attempt, which ranks second in the league behind only San Diego’s Philip Rivers at 9.9, with a 5/3 TD/INT ratio.

On the other side of this quarterback matchup, Jason Campbell, in running a new version of the West Coast offense, has completed 66% of his passes this season for a 7.0 YPA average, with four TDs and zero INTs.

These two long-time rivals split their two meetings last year, but under very different circumstances. In November, with Dallas fighting for a division title and home-field advantage in the playoffs, and the Redskins trying to track down a Wild Card berth, the Pokes beat Washington 28-23 in Texas. But Dallas couldn’t cover the spread as 11-point chalk. Neither team ran the ball very well that day, but Campbell and Romo combined to throw the ball for 650 yards and six TDs.

Six weeks later, in the regular-season finale, with the division title and home-field advantage wrapped up, the Cowboys rested most of their key people and lost at Washington 27-6.

Last season, Washington went 7-7-2 against the spread, and just 1-1 ATS as an underdog of a touchdown or more. Also, the totals went 7-9 in Redskins games last season, which averaged 40 total points.

Meanwhile, Dallas went 9-7 vs. the numbers last season, but only 4-5 ATS when favored by a touchdown or more. And the totals went 10-6 in Cowboys games last season, which averaged 49 points.

On the injury front, the Redskins will be without LB Jason Taylor on Sunday, after he had blood drained from his calf earlier this week. Cowboys S Roy Williams is out for at least another month after breaking a bone in his arm last week vs. Philly.

College Football: Week 5 Preview

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

The college football season is really just getting rolling. And this week’s set of games is probably the best slate of contests we’ve had so far this year, featuring a couple of good conference clashes and an interesting inter-regional bout.

In another tale of an old coach re-visiting his old stompin’ grounds, Butch Davis takes his North Carolina Tar Heels back to his former employer, the University of Miami at Florida, for what could prove to be a key outcome in the ACC’s Coastal Division (noon Eastern, Saturday).

This matchup could be severely affected by the ankle injury suffered by Heels QB TJ Yates last Saturday. He’s out for what could be most of the rest of the season, and will be replaced as the starter Saturday by either junior Cameron Sexton (five starts two seasons ago) or red-shirt freshman Mike Paulus.

This will be the conference opener for the ‘Canes, who are looking to rebound off the program’s first losing season in 30 years. Miami won its opener over Charleston Southern 52-7, then lost to Florida 26-3, nearly letting the cover of a 23-point spread slip completely away in the fourth quarter. But last Saturday the Hurricanes blew into College Station and swept past Texas A&M 41-23, outrushing the Aggies 159-87 in the process.

OddsMaker is listing North Carolina as 7.5-point home chalk for Saturday’s game over UM. But it was the Tar Heels who were 7-point road dogs when they pulled off the first upset of the Davis era last season at Miami 33-27.

The Heels went 4-8 last season, but have won two of their first three this year. North Carolina beat McNeese State 35-27 in the season opener, even though they got outgained by the Cowboys and trailed in the third quarter in a game that wasn’t even lined. The Heels then notched themselves a nice road victory when they won at Rutgers on a Thursday night 44-12. But they then proceeded to give away any momentum that win may have produced by losing, at home, as 3.5-point favorites, to Virginia Tech last Saturday 20-17. NC blew a 17-3 third-quarter lead to the Hokies in ruining what could have been a 3-0 start.

Speaking of V Tech.

In another of what’s been an interesting string of early-season, cross-conference matchups, the Hokies go West to take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers under the lights in Lincoln Saturday night (8pm Eastern). OddsMaker is listing 3-0 Nebraska as 7-point home-town faves over the visiting 3-1 Hokes.

And in another of the continuous series of very important and vastly entertaining Southeastern Conference bouts, Nick Saban and his Alabama Crimson Tide roll up against the Georgia Bulldogs down between the hedges in Athens on Saturday night (7:45 pm Eastern). OddsMaker is listing the ‘Dogs as 7-point home chalk over the Tide.

Alabama is 4-0 now in Saban’s second season, off to a 1-0 start in the SEC West, and ranked No. 8 and No. 10 in the two main polls. Georgia is 4-0 overall, 1-0 in the SEC East, and ranked No. 3 in both the polls.

NFL: Jaguars at Colts

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

Neither the Colts nor the Jaguars, who were expected to battle it out for supremacy in the AFC South this season, have had great starts to the year. Indianapolis looked lousy in a season-opening loss to Chicago, and they had to rally to win in Minnesota on Sunday. Meanwhile, Jacksonville has lost its first two games of this season, both in lackluster fashion.

So the Jags will look to avoid starting 0-3 this season, and the Colts will try to avoid starting 1-2, when the two teams meet for a key AFC South bout Sunday afternoon at the new Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

OddsMaker is listing Indy as 5.5-point home favorites for Sunday’s game, with a total of 42. The Colts are also listed at -240 on the OddsMaker moneyline, with J’Ville getting +200 as road underdogs.

CBS will provide the live television coverage of this game, beginning at 4:15 pm Eastern Sunday.

Jacksonville began this season with a 17-10 loss at Tennessee, then fell at home to Buffalo last Sunday 20-16. The Jags were favored in both games, by 3 points vs. the Titans and by 4 over the Bills. And both those games stayed under the totals.

J’Ville, with its supposedly strong running game, has been hit hard by injuries along the offensive line. Consequently, the Jaguars got outrushed by Tennessee 137-33, and managed just 98 ground yards vs. Buffalo.

And Jags QB David Garrard, who threw three INTs all of last season, has already been picked off three times this season.

The Colts began this season with a somewhat shocking 29-13 home loss to Chicago, then had to come from behind to squeak out an 18-15 win at the Metrodome last Sunday. Indy fell as 10-point home chalk to the Bears, but managed to cover the spread as 1-point road faves vs. the Vikings. And both of the Colts games so far this season stayed under the totals.

Indy got outrushed by the Bears 183-53, and got outgrounded by Minnesota 180-25.

The Colts have taken five of the last six meetings from their division rival Jacksonville, and swept two games from the Jags last season by scores of 29-7 and 28-25. But Indianapolis has only covered the spread in two of those last six meetings between these two teams.

Also, the totals have gone 3-3 in those last six meetings in this series, which have averaged 40 total points.

On the injury front, the Colts will be without the heart and soul of their defense for at least the next month, as safety Bob Sanders will be nursing a bad ankle. And Indy has also suffered hits along the O-line, although center Jeff Saturday may return to action this weekend after missing the first two weeks of play with a knee injury.

Last season, Jacksonville went 11-5 against the spread, 6-2 ATS on the road, and 5-3 vs. the numbers as underdogs. Also, the totals went 11-4-1 in Jags games last year, which averaged 45 total points.

Meanwhile, the Colts went 9-7 against the spread last year, 5-3 ATS at home, and 3-3 ATS when favored by less than a touchdown. Also, the totals went 7-9 in Indy games last season, which also averaged 45 total points.

OddsMaker is also listing Jacksonville at +150 on its updated NFL futures betting boards to win the AFC South this season, +1,200 to win the AFC, and +2,500 to win Super Bowl 43 in Tampa in February.

Indianapolis is listed at -140 on the OddsMaker NFL futures betting boards to win the AFC South again this season, +300 to win the AFC, and +800 to win the Super Bowl.

NFL: Steelers at Eagles

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

The battle for professional football bragging rights in the state of Pennsylvania matches up a couple of Super Bowl hopefuls when the Pittsburgh Steelers of the AFC take on the Philadelphia Eagles of the NFC on Sunday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field in Philly.

OddsMaker is listing the Eagles as 3-point home favorites for Sunday’s game, with a total of 45. CBS will provide the live coverage of this game, beginning at 4:15pm ET.

Pittsburgh (2-0 straight up, 1-1 against the spread) opened this season with a 38-17 rout of Houston, then beat the Browns in the rain and wind at Cleveland on Sunday night 10-6. The Steelers easily covered the spread as 7-point home chalk vs. the Texans, but couldn’t cover the 6 points as road faves in Cleveland.

Also, while Pittsburgh’s opener breezed by its total of 43 during garbage time in the fourth quarter, the wet and windy conditions helped keep Sunday’s game vs. the Browns well under its identical total of 43.

Philadelphia (1-1 SU, 2-0 ATS), meanwhile, kicked St. Louis 38-3 on opening day, then lost a shootout at Dallas on Monday night 41-37. The Eagles covered as 10-point home chalk vs. the Rams, and did the same as 6.5-point road underdogs vs. the Cowboys.

And while Philly’s opener stayed under its total of 43, Monday’s game, thanks to a series of big plays, flew over its total of 46 before halftime even arrived.

These two teams met, as they have each of the last six years, during this summer’s exhibition season. For what it’s worth, Pittsburgh won that preseason opener 16-10 at Heinz Field. But the Steelers lost their backup QB that night when Charlie Batch went down with a broken collarbone. They then signed Byron Leftwich to replace Batch as Ben Roethlisberger’s backup.

And now Big Ben is aching, too, nursing a sore shoulder, but he is expected to play Sunday.

The last time these two teams met in a game that mattered was in November of 2004, when Pittsburgh pounded the Eagles 27-3.

Last season the Steelers went 8-8 against the spread, just 3-5 ATS on the road, and coughed up the cash in their only outing as underdogs, a loss at New England. And the totals went 8-8 in Pittsburgh games, which averaged 41 total points.

Philly also went 8-8 vs. the numbers last season, but just 2-6 ATS at home, and 3-7 vs. the lines when chalked. The totals went 7-9 in Eagles games last year, which averaged 40 total points.

On the updated OddsMaker NFL futures betting boards, Pittsburgh is listed at –1,000 to win the AFC North, +400 to win the AFC, and +1,000 to win Super Bowl 43. Philadelphia is listed at +300 to win the NFC East, +500 to win the NFC, and +1,000 to win the Super Bowl.

NCAAF: Week 4 Preview Brief

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

With a ton of intriguing matchups on the college football board this week, there are two that have bettors talking. While all the squares gear up for No. 6 LSU against No. 10 Auburn, make sure you get a handle on these two potential moneymakers:

No. 18 Wake Forest at No. 24 Florida State – Saturday 7:30 PM EST

The Florida State Seminoles (2-0, 0-0 ATS) get their first test of the season and then some when they host the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (2-0, 1-1 ATS) in ACC action on Saturday night.

OddsMaker have the Seminoles as 4-point favorites for the contest, with the total currently off the board. Florida State has yet to play anyone of significance this season, evidenced by their wins over Western Carolina and Chattanooga.

The Seminoles slammed the Mocs 46-7 last Saturday, as Corey Surrency caught three passes for 87 yards and two touchdowns in the blowout. Florida State gets a tougher ride against Wake Forest, which overcame a tough challenge from Mississippi two weeks ago.

Sam Swank’s 41-yard field goal with 0:03 remaining was the difference, as the Demon Deacons slipped past the Rebels 30-28. Wake Forest couldn’t cover as 7-point home faves, while wide receiver Demir Boldin hauled in 11 receptions for 123 yards in the victory.

The Demon Deacons upset the Seminoles last October in a 24-21 triumph as 4.5-point home underdogs. The payday was the fourth straight for Wake Forest against Florida State.

No. 3 Georgia at Arizona State – Saturday, 8 PM EST

Bettors are looking at a strong under trend for Saturday night’s tilt between the Georgia Bulldogs (3-0, 1-0-1 ATS) and the Arizona State Sun Devils (2-1, 1-1 ATS).

The under is 22-7 in Georgia’s last 29 September games, and is 13-5 in Arizona State’s last 18 games overall. While the total has not yet been set for the game, the Sun Devils are listed as 7-point home dogs at sportsbooks.

Arizona State was stunned 23-20 in overtime by UNLV last Saturday, as the Runnin’ Rebels blocked a field goal and then kicked one of their own in the extra period. Quarterback Rudy Carpenter went 13-for-23 for 242 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, as the Sun Devils blew a 10-point second half lead to lose as 25-point home faves.

Georgia edged South Carolina 14-7 in Week 3, failing to get past the 7-point fave tag earned earlier in the week. Knowshon Moreno’s four-yard TD run in the third quarter stood up, as the Bulldogs held the Gamecocks to 18 yards rushing in the defensive struggle.

NFL: Pittsburgh at Cleveland

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

Two of the AFC North’s expected title contenders clash when the Pittsburgh Steelers hit the road for a Week 2 bout against the Cleveland Browns at Browns Stadium on NBC’s Sunday Night Football this weekend.

OddsMaker is listing Pittsburgh as 6.5-point road chalk for Sunday night’s game, with a total of 44.5. The Steelers are also posted at -270 on the OddsMaker moneyline, with Cleveland getting +230 as home dogs.

Cleveland opened its season with a disappointing showing in losing to the Dallas Cowboys 28-10 as 6-point home underdogs. Dallas outgained the Browns 487-205, outrushed Cleveland 167-91, and held a 37/23 time-of-possession advantage.

And Cleveland QB Derek Anderson, who missed the last half of the exhibition season this summer after suffering a concussion, looked off, going just 11/24/114 with a TD Sunday vs. the Pokes.

Pittsburgh opened its season in fine fashion, whipping the Houston Texans 38-17 Sunday as 6.5-point home chalk. The Steelers led 35-3 at one point in the third quarter, and ended up outrushing Houston 183-75. The game also went over its total of 43 during garbage time in the fourth quarter.

The Steelers have won nine straight games in the series vs. the Browns, sweeping two games from Cleveland last season by scores of 34-7 and 31-28. Pittsburgh covered the spread in the first of those two games as 4.5-point faves on the road, but the Brownies covered the second game as 10-point road dogs. And both games went over their totals. The Steelers outgained Cleveland in those two games together 766-384, outrushed the Browns 365-86, and held the ball for 36 and 38 minutes in the two games, respectively.

Cleveland was never really in that first game last year vs. Pittsburgh, trailing 17-0 after one quarter of play. But the Browns led the second matchup between these two teams 21-6 late in the second quarter, before the Steelers rallied in the second half for the victory.

Last season, Pittsburgh went 8-8 against the spread, and 3-4 ATS as chalk on the road. Also, the totals went 8-8 in Steelers games, which averaged 41 total points.

Cleveland went 12-4 vs. the numbers last season, the second-best mark in the league, and 2–1 ATS as home dogs. Also, the totals went 9-6-1 in Browns games, which averaged a healthy 49 points.

On the injury front, Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger got banged up on opening day, hurting his shoulder and knee, but is expected to play Sunday night. On the opposite sidelines, Cleveland is a bit thin in the defensive secondary, with S Sean Jones going down with a knee injury. And Browns WR Donte’ Stallworth, who missed the season opener, is questionable for Sunday’s game with a lingering sore quad.

On the updated OddsMaker NFL futures betting boards, Pittsburgh is listed at -400 to win the AFC North this season, +400 to win the conference championship, and +1,000 to win the Super Bowl.

OddsMaker is also listing Cleveland at +700 to win the division this season, +6,000 to win the AFC, and +12,500 to win the Super Bowl.

NFL: Indianapolis at Minnesota

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

The Indianapolis Colts, the favorites to win the AFC South for the sixth straight season this year, opened their campaign with a loss. The Minnesota Vikings, poised to take over as the best team in the NFC North, also opened the year with a defeat.

That is the situation as the 0-1 Colts ready themselves to take on the 0-1 Vikings on Sunday afternoon at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.

OddsMaker is listing Indy as a two-point road favorite for Sunday’s game, with a total of 43.5.

The Colts opened their new stadium Sunday with a thud of a performance, falling to the Chicago Bears 29-13 as 9-point home chalk. The game also stayed under its total of 43 by one point.

Indianapolis QB Peyton Manning missed the entire exhibition season this summer, and it showed Sunday night. Manning went 30/49/257 with a TD passing, but just missed on what would have been at least a couple of big plays. And the veteran QB uncharacteristically used several timeouts with the play clock running down.

The Colts got outrushed by the Bears 183-53, and the Chicago defense score nine points on a fumble return and a safety.

The Vikes opened their season with a 24-19 loss at Green Bay on Monday night, and failed to cover the spread as 2-point road underdogs. Also, the game slipped over its total of 37 on a late Minnesota catch-up TD.

Minnesota outrushed the Pack 187-139, and held a 32-28 time-of-possession advantage. But in probably the key play of the game, a few minutes after a Ryan Longwell FG pulled the Vikes to within 10-6 early in the third quarter, Green Bay’s Will Blackmon returned a punt 76 yards for a score, giving the Packers a 17-6 lead.

Minnesota QB Tarvaris Jackson again showed flashes of his talents Monday night, running for 65 yards and leading the Vikings on two fourth-quarter scoring drives. But Jackson went just 16/35/178 passing, with a costly late INT, and missed several open receivers, some at key times.

Indianapolis and Minnesota last met four years ago, when the Colts beat the Vikes in Indy 31-28.

On the injury front, Colts RB Joseph Addai left Sunday night’s loss to Chicago after getting hit in the head, and his status for Sunday is uncertain. TE Dallas Clark also left Sunday’s game, with a knee injury, and is listed as day-to-day. And C Jeff Saturday is expected to be out about six weeks with his own knee injury, suffered in Indy’s final exhibition game. Meanwhile, the Vikings escaped any major injuries Monday night.

Last year, Indianapolis went 9-7 against the spread, and 4-4 ATS as favorites on the road. Minnesota, meanwhile, went 7-7-2 vs. the numbers last year, and 1-1 against the spread when dogged at home.

Also, the totals went 7-9 in Colts games last season, which averaged 45 total points per, while the O/U went 8-7-1 in Vikings games, which averaged 42 points.

On the updated OddsMaker NFL futures betting boards, Indianapolis is posted at -140 to win the AFC South again this season, +350 to win the AFC championship, and +800 to win Super Bowl 43 down in Tampa in February.

Minnesota is listed at +150 to win the NFC North on the OddsMaker NFL futures boards, +700 to win the NFC, and +1,800 to win the Super Bowl.