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Joe Nelson - Blogs

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BETWEEN THE LINES - SEP. 26

By Joe Nelson
Posted 09/27/2011 at 11:21 AM

Sunday afternoon presented some wild finishes in the NFL last week. With the Noon start schedule seven of eight games had the eventual losing team leading entering the fourth quarter and the eighth game was a tie entering the final frame making for some very exciting finishes and nervous spread moments. Sunday’s games certainly illustrated the importance of timing when making wagers as a couple of games had different results depending when the wager was made. The line move picks went 8-4 so they may be worth following but specifically the early season NFL results have been owned by underdogs. Only two NFL games on Sunday were settled by more than ten points and there were spread changing plays late in several games. The most reviewed of those late game changing plays may have been the brilliant punt return by Johnny Knox for the Bears with Devin Hester serving as an incredible decoy. The Bears were a long shot to win the game given the circumstances but the spread and total result would have shifted had the play not been called back by a phantom holding call, made on the opposite side of the field and called on a player that did not make contact with another player on the play.

 

There was nearly major carnage in survivor pools last week with the Eagles and Patriots losing and the Steelers and Chargers on the ropes, sneaking out three point wins. Had both of those teams lost many such contests would have been over or close to it just three weeks into the season. Washington has a chance to join the party Monday night but there are just three 3-0 teams. Green Bay’s mark has not been a surprise but Buffalo and Detroit have to be considered mild surprises, both passing big tests in comeback wins last week. How they handle the attention and success in the coming weeks will make or break the playoff hopes as the schedules are from easy in the weeks ahead.

 

On the other end of the spectrum, 2010 division winners Indianapolis and Kansas City are joined by Miami, Minnesota, and St. Louis at 0-3. Minnesota has been the most competitive of the five teams with three blown halftime leads but the Vikings may have the toughest time turning things around given the quality of the division. It likely won’t take a great record to win the NFC West, AFC West, or AFC South so there still could be hope for some of the others though it will certainly be an uphill battle. Along with Green Bay, Philadelphia and Atlanta seemed to be the consensus favorites in the NFC but the Eagles and Falcons are both reeling at 1-2, Dallas another popular team could join that group Monday night.

           

College football delivered some shuffling in the polls this week and there are a couple of huge undefeated showdowns this week. The Big Ten opens with Nebraska and Wisconsin and the winner will certainly emerge as the favorite in the conference. Both Michigan State and Ohio State have a non-conference loss but their game this week could also prove pivotal in the division races. Florida and Alabama face off in a key SEC battle and while they could conceivably meet again in the SEC championship, only one can maintain the undefeated track. Florida could go either way, the Gators have really been impressive but the schedule is brutal in the coming weeks so a tough loss could linger and turn into a losing streak. Iowa State/Texas and Kansas State/Baylor will not bring the attention that the wild Texas A&M/Oklahoma State game had last week but both games feature pairs of undefeated teams in the now stabilized Big XII. Clemson vs. Virginia Tech will also determine who the ACC’s last hope is for a national title game threat.

           

Last week three college teams lost to FCS opponents, something that seems to be happening more frequently in recent years. New Mexico lost to Sam Houston State but actually covered as six-point underdogs at the books brave enough to offer the game. North Dakota State won by 13 at Minnesota and UNLV lost 41-16 against Southern Utah. Historically teams that lose to FCS teams are good spread propositions the next week as they will often get inflated underdog spreads and usually have plenty of motivation following up an embarrassing loss. Best of Luck, on to this week’s slate…

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