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BETWEEN THE LINES 9/17

By Joe Nelson
Posted 09/21/2007 at 01:15 PM

Between the Lines 9/17...

Between the Lines...

We warned you last week that the underdogs would be barking in the NFL after the opening weekend saw almost all the big favorites cover. We hope you listened, as dogs went 11-3 on Sunday’s schedule including six outright victories. Home underdogs went 4-1 last week after going 2-2 in week one. Surprising outcomes have left several preseason favorites in rough shape, most notably the New Orleans Saints who have had major struggles on offense despite great results last season. Denver easily could be 0-2 but the Broncos have caught major breaks in the first two games and are 2-0. Oakland had the winning field goal kicked but the Broncos got a timeout in just before the snap and the re-kick failed. This was after a miraculous last second field goal in week one against Buffalo.

The Jaguars were fortunate to avoid the 0-2 hole despite also receiving considerable preseason attention. The Jaguar defense has been very average despite high expectations. Many considered the Rams to be a sleeper team but St. Louis fell to 0-2 and it won’t get any easier with four of the next five games on the road. San Francisco was the latest to beat St. Louis and the 49ers are 2-0 despite being severely out-gained in both games. The Browns and Bengals delivered the most exciting match-up of the week with an incredible 96 points combined. The Vikings and Lions offered an ugly look into the NFC North race by combining for ten turnovers.

In college football Notre Dame fell to a historic 0-3 with horrendous offensive numbers. Given the upcoming schedule and the level of play displayed from the Irish, 0-3 may not be the worst of it. The next five games are all against quality opponents and in reality, 0-8 wouldn’t be all that surprising although the best chance for a win likely comes this week. One of the opponents is Boston College who moved to 3-0 last week overall and in the ACC with a peculiar opening schedule. The Eagles have smoothly gone through a coaching change and continue to be a team that has been underrated early in the season despite a great run of success the last several years.

A few years ago the MAC received a lot of press after a couple of teams upset major conference schools early in the season. This season the MAC is struggling although there have been five outright non-conference victories delivered. The Sun Belt should get a little bit of attention with three outright wins in non-conference play last week as well as a few strong showings this season against big-name teams. The blowout win for Troy on national TV over Oklahoma State was a huge step for the conference that was really struggling fairly recently. It has been a rough start for the independent schools with Army, Navy, and Notre Dame combining for a 2-7 record (1-7 ATS), with narrow wins over Temple and Rhode Island. The Conference with the best collective non-conference ATS record is the Big 12, going 18-12. The worst is the ACC, sitting at 7-13. Good Luck.

FREE PICK FOR SATURDAY:

Army + over Boston College

The Eagles faced an unusually difficult opening schedule with three ACC games to start the year. BC passed all tests however with a perfect 3-0 start for Coach Jagodzinksi. This could be a flat spot for the Eagles after coming off a huge road win and now playing at home against an inferior opponent. Army has posted very solid numbers on defense despite very limited production on offense this season. Through three games the Cadets are allowing just 269 yards per game and fewer than 17 points per game. Clearly BC has a talented team but after three intense conference games this will be a tough spot to cover an inflated spread.

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