Posted 10/01/2012 at 05:15 PM
There will be two top 10 showdowns this week as the SEC stronghold with five teams in the top 10 will be broken up. Georgia goes to South Carolina and LSU goes to Florida in two huge elimination games. Six SEC teams are still undefeated but that number will be down to at least four this week. The Big XII still has five undefeated teams but that will change this week as Texas and West Virginia face off after both teams survived wild finishes last week. Texas Tech and TCU will also be tested this week.
The ACC has only Florida State left in the national title hunt but Miami has surprisingly taken control of the Coastal division, with a 3-0 ACC start. The Hurricanes have a big opportunity this week in Chicago to get back in the national rankings. It appears unlikely that there will be a BCS buster from a smaller conference but don’t shocked if Louisiana Tech or Ohio finishes undefeated. Both have cleared through some of the toughest games on the schedule and could be favored or just a very slight dog in every game the rest of the way. Another surprise undefeated team is Oregon State who has won outright in three straight games as an underdog. Northwestern remains the last hope for the Big Ten with Ohio State on probation and the Wildcats cracked the national rankings this week. In a weak Big Ten anything could happen this season.
Atlanta and Arizona both maintained perfect starts in the NFL but both teams deserved to lose last week. Atlanta won due to a fumble from Cam Newton after he passed a first down marker that would have sealed the game had he held on to the ball. Arizona hit a long fourth down play to tie the game against Miami and then in overtime completed an improbable comeback in a game they were dominated in statistically.
Kickers will get some heat this week as Dan Carpenter for the Dolphins missed key kicks for a second straight week. Billy Cundiff had three misses in Washington before getting redemption with a game winner. Garrett Hartley missed to keep the Saints winless as the opportunity to beat the Packers was there and Lawrence Tynes failed in Philadelphia after the Giants were pushed back after a critical offensive pass interference penalty. Despite those marquee misses, kickers were on a record completion rate at better than 92 percent through three weeks. The season record is just over 84 percent and rookie kickers have played a big role with Justin Tucker, Blair Walsh, and Greg Zuerlein delivering strong starts.
It is very easy to make judgments a fourth of the way through the NFL season but all schedules are not created equal. Strength of schedule ratings is far from an exact science but the weakest schedules have belonged to a some of the hot starters like San Diego and Houston but also a couple of playoff teams from last year that are off to slow starts including the Saints and the Giants. The toughest schedules so far belong to struggling teams like Tennessee and Jacksonville but also contenders that have had slower than expected starts like Philadelphia, New England, and Green Bay.
Underdogs have done well in the NFL this season at 37-23-2 for nearly 62 percent through the near completion of four weeks. Home teams went just 4-10 ATS last week heading into Monday night but on the year home teams are 39-23 S/U. The NFC is 10-4 S/U vs. the AFC but just 6-8 ATS in those games. Best of Luck, on to this week’s slate…