Posted 12/08/2008 at 06:06 PM
Home teams rallied back last week in both the NFL and college last bucking season-wide trends. If you played all the home teams last week you would have gone 20-5 ATS. On the season in the NFL home teams are hitting just 44% but last week only three home teams failed to cover. The changing weather might be a factor but consider that Green Bay hosted one of the furthest south teams in the league and lost while the Giants and Broncos also failed to cover at home. Double-digit favorites also covered in three of four games last week after horrible early season numbers. Favorites of ten or more are still hitting just 33% on the year but late in the season with motivation being vastly different for some teams that trend could turn around.
At what point does Dallas have to reconsider how happy they are with QB Romo? He puts up huge numbers, appears to be a great teammate, and earns lost of points in the PR department for helping change tires and taking homeless guys to movies but he continues to fail to deliver in clutch situations late in the year. After back-to-back playoff flops the past two years Romo gave a key game away by himself on Sunday as Dallas blew a 10-point lead late in the 4th quarter despite the Cowboy defense dominating the game. Given the ball back with a tie-score, three time outs, and plenty of time to deliver a game winning drive, Romo promptly threw a pick-6, one of four turnovers by the QB on the day.
Although many would argue he had it coming, Vikings DE Jared Allen got hit with a cheap shot with a helmet to the knee from a Lions offensive linemen well away from the play. That shot made the hit he was questionably fined for against Matt Schaub look tame. Allen appeared to be somewhat seriously injured on the play but he did return. Had Allen not been injured he likely would have earned more fines and a possible suspension as he limped towards the offender looking to take action before being corralled by a teammate. Allen has some obvious issues but the impact he makes on the field is pretty remarkable.
Back when Miami was 3-3 and trailing each of the other three AFC East teams we said the Dolphins had a very good shot at the playoffs. Move forward and Miami has now won six of the past seven games and is in a three-way tie with the Patriots and Jets. Miami gets to play the Jets still but New England has the easiest remaining schedule of the three teams. What is incredible is that despite going 1-15 last season and now sitting at 8-5 Miami has not been a strong ATS team. Some of that has to do with Miami being a rather competitive 1-15 last year if there such a thing. Also the changes in the organization in the off-season led to expectations that Miami would be significantly improved so there has not been great value on the Fish. Miami has lost ATS in four of the last five games despite losing outright in just one of those games, something that is not common in the NFL as S/U winners typically cover at a very high percentage in recent years.
At first glance it does not appear that an AFC East team will take a Wild Card spot but consider that either Baltimore or Pittsburgh will lose next week as the teams play each other. Coming off that huge game the Ravens go to Dallas on a shot week and the Steelers go to Tennessee, so there is a very good chance that one of those teams will lose its next two games. All three teams in the AFC have a good chance to finish 10-6 and at least two teams could win out and finish 11-5 which would be tough for both Baltimore and Pittsburgh to match. Penciling in the Colts for a wild card spot is a pretty safe bet with the Lions on deck and then Jacksonville before hosting the Titans.
It might sound crazy but do not rule out Washington or the winner of this week’s Bears/Saints game for a Wild Card spot. Dallas has an incredibly tough remaining schedule including a game against Philadelphia at the end of the year that could be an elimination game. The Panthers also have a very tough closing schedule, which would be even more daunting if they lose Monday to the Bucs. Atlanta has two tough games coming up the next two weeks while the Redskins face two losing teams on the road with a home game against the Eagles in between. The Bears and Saints would both have good opportunities in the final two weeks so this week’s winner could get to 10-6. Tie-breakers would be problematic for either team however as the Bears are 0-3 against the three other NFC South teams and New Orleans lost to Washington. Minnesota’s division lead is essentially two games given the tiebreakers.