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Joe Nelson - Blogs

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BETWEEN THE LINES - SEP. 30

By Joe Nelson
Posted 10/01/2013 at 06:26 PM

Some things never change as the top of the AFC features teams led by Peyton Manning and Tom Brady with both Denver and New England 4-0. Denver has certainly been the most impressive team in the league with 179 points scored in four games while New England has been squeaking by. Denver has played teams with a combined record of 4-12 however and New England has played four teams that are a combined 5-11. The other 4-0 AFC team, the Kansas City Chiefs, has played teams that are just 3-13. Whoever wins the 3-0 vs. 3-0 Monday night matchup will be the only undefeated team with a win over a winning team this season as Seattle has defeated teams with a combined 5-10 record, though 2-2 San Francisco and 2-2 Houston command some respect. All four of those 4-0 teams have challenging road tests in week 5 so there could certainly be some changes at the top next week. The Saints also have a tough road test next week as Miami will be the only potential undefeated team playing at home next week, hosting the 2012 Super Bowl champions.

Should Denver survive the trip to Dallas this week they could be the biggest favorite in NFL history in week 6 as they host Jacksonville with a spread that could climb to four touchdowns. Only nine times since 1980 has a NFL line closed as high as +20 with the underdog going 7-2 in those games. New England was favored by 24½ when the 10-0 Patriots hosted a 5-5 Philadelphia team in 2007 for the largest spread since 1980. The Eagles lost by just three in that game in one of the narrow escapes for the eventual 16-0 team that lost the Super Bowl. Jacksonville is -98 in point differential through four games while Denver is +88 but the line would certainly be inflated given that Seattle was only favored by -19½ two weeks ago. Denver may be better than Seattle but not almost 10 points better and the Seahawks have the stronger home field edge. Value will be on Jacksonville just about every week but until they actually cover in a game they will not get much support and the lines will keep growing.

In college football the mighty SEC only has two undefeated teams remaining, Alabama of course, who dispatched of Mississippi last week, and 4-0 Missouri. The ACC and Pac-12 have four undefeated teams left while the Big Ten and Big XII each have three. This may be the year that a one-loss SEC champion could actually be left out of the BCS title game as the potential ACC and potential Pac-12 champions probably have enough ammunition on the schedules to sway the rankings. The Big XII and Big Ten champions probably would not have that opportunity even if they are undefeated so they will need to rely on being the only undefeated team outside of the SEC to have a shot at getting into the title game in most scenarios.

 The first BCS rankings will be out in two weeks but if they were out this week they would mirror the polls with Alabama and Oregon 1 and 2. Stanford, Clemson, and Ohio State would be the next three with Georgia at 6th, the first one-loss squad checking in ahead of Florida State and Oklahoma. UCLA, Washington, and Northwestern would figure to be in the low-teens for the biggest surprises on the list. Overall the rankings are supporting a strong Pac-12 with four teams in the top 14 but as those teams start to play each other the ratings could deteriorate. Those hoping to avoid a SEC vs. SEC title game need to cheer for Alabama to beat LSU in November and stay undefeated as LSU still controls its destiny despite the loss to Georgia, but the Alabama game is certainly not the only tough game left on the LSU schedule, while it is the only big test left for the Tide until the potential SEC championship. Best of Luck and on to this week’s slate…

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