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Close Calls - Week 9
Editor's Note: Joe Nelson is on fire in the NFL with a sizzling 39-15 (+2,207) record through eight weeks. Don't miss out on his winning selections for the rest of the season!

Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread in the 4th quarter last week in Week 9 of the NFL. Each week there are several teams that cover despite not necessarily deserving it, as well as other teams that played much better than the final score shows, get the details in this weekly column.

San Diego Chargers (-7) 31, Kansas City Chiefs 13 (41): The Chargers led just 10-6 entering the 4th quarter in an ugly AFC West clash with more scoring for San Diego missed with an interception in the end zone right before halftime. The Chargers got on the board and past the spread early in the 4th quarter and the ‘under’ certainly looked strong at that point on a total that dropped much of the week. Matt Cassel was sacked in the end zone with the fumble recovered by San Diego and then two minutes later Damorrio Williams returned an interception 59 yards for a touchdown, giving San Diego 21 points in just three minutes of game clock. The Chiefs added a late touchdown to push the total improbably ‘over’ the number.

Denver Broncos (-5½) 31, Cincinnati Bengals 23 (47½):
The Broncos led just 17-13 entering the 4th quarter and Cincinnati had a lot of momentum as the only Denver scoring in the 3rd quarter came on a 2nd half opening kickoff return. The Bengals took the lead for the first time in the game early in the 4th, and the Bengals looked to be in good shape as underdogs with a three-point lead. Denver answered to take the lead back however and then with just over three minutes to go the Broncos engineered another touchdown drive to lead by 11. Cincinnati threatened late but needing two scores, the Bengals opted to try to kick the field goal first and the three points were not enough to get back within the spread.

Indianapolis Colts (+2) 23, Miami Dolphins 20 (43½): The Colts led 20-17 entering the 4th quarter and the final margin wound up still at three points but the Dolphins did tie the game with a short field goal with 13 minutes to go. Indianapolis had far more yardage in the game but only managed three more points, taking the lead back with less than six minutes to go and putting the total right at 43, right even with the common number most of the week but just below the Sunday number that snuck up a half point. Miami did threaten on its final possession, getting past midfield but a couple of costly penalties cost the team a reasonable shot at tying the game.

Baltimore Ravens (-3½) 25, Cleveland Browns 15 (43½): The Ravens opened this game with a 14-0 1st quarter lead but the Browns would prove resilient, scoring 15 consecutive points on five field goals and holding the Ravens off the board until just over four minutes to go in the game. Four of the five Cleveland field goals were from 33 yards or less so the Browns missed opportunities to extend the lead and when Baltimore finally found the end zone again they took a seven-point lead after hitting the two-point conversion as well. The Baltimore defense stood tall on Cleveland’s last two possessions, eventually adding a field goal as the total stayed narrowly ‘under’ and Baltimore cashed as a road favorite despite playing poorly in the middle of the game.

Houston Texans (-11½) 21, Buffalo Bills 9 (48): The Bills chipped away with three field goals and entering the 4th quarter, heavily favored Houston led just 14-9. The Texans got just past the spread after an early 4th quarter touchdown but Bills backers had hope after Houston was stopped on downs, going for it on 4th down from the Buffalo 30. With over four minutes to go the Bills could take the cash with any type of scoring but a promising drive resulted in a fumble and while the Bills did eventually get another shot in the final minute they were still unable to cut into the margin.

Pittsburgh (+3½) 24, New York Giants 20 (48½): The Giants led 20-10 entering the 4th quarter despite very poor offensive production in the game. The scoring was aided by a controversial fumble return touchdown in the 2nd quarter. Early in the 4th, Mike Wallace ran away with a 51-yard touchdown to get just within the spread at 20-17 through the game was down to just +3 at several points in the week. New York could not do anything offense however as there was no 4th quarter magic for Eli Manning with New York punting on all three possessions in the final quarter. The Steelers took the lead with a touchdown with about four minutes to go and then forced the Giants to punt in their last chance, eventually being able to run out the clock with 1st downs on both sides of the two-minute warning.

Atlanta Falcons (-4) 19, Dallas Cowboys 13 (48): Dallas dominated the 1st quarter but had to settle for two short field goals, leaving Atlanta the opportunity to tie the game by halftime. The 3rd quarter was scoreless and then Atlanta took over with a touchdown run and a field goal to go up 16-6. The Dallas offense finally started to click again with a quick touchdown drive to get back within the spread and it looked like the 16-13 final margin would hold. Atlanta got the ball with over five minutes to go but the Falcons were able to melt the clock and pick up first downs. Dallas was out of timeouts with over three minutes to go in the game and it looked like the Falcons would have to punt before an egregious missed tackle on 3rd down led to another first down. Eventually Atlanta had 1st down from the Dallas 22 with just enough time left where the Falcons could not quite take a knee. After being held short on a 3rd down that would have sealed the game, the Falcons elected to kick field goal with 22 seconds left. The kick was good and Atlanta backers rejoiced to wrap a huge Sunday for favorite players.

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