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The second stanza of the NFL season began with a flurry of jabs and ended with the house delivering a decisive blow as the Washington Redskins emerged from a state of comatose to defeat the Dallas Cowboys by a score of 14-13 in a stunning turn of events on Monday. Teasers, parlays and sides were flushed down the toilet, as were the remains of Bill Parcells’ pre-game meal as the ‘Skins rallied to turn a 13-0 deficit late in the fourth quarter, into a Monday Night affair to remember by ringing up two touchdowns in the final five minutes.
Earlier, the Giants proved too much for the Saints as the bettors were on the right side, but were thwarted from collecting on the total as Joe Horn fumbled as he tried to stretch out as he attempted to score with just under four minutes remaining.
Leading up to Monday’s doubleheader, in which both games went ‘under’ the total, was a Sunday dominated by low scoring (10-4 under) affairs, thus bolstering the books’ bankrolls on the strength of the publics’ bias towards over betting. San Diego vs. Denver, Atlanta vs. Seattle, and KC vs. Oakland, were all sound totals decisions for the house as these three steam movers failed to clear both their opening and closing numbers
In Sunday’s early contests, the bettors took a major hit as Tennessee’s surprising victory over the listless Ravens caught even the sharp players by surprise. Backup QB Anthony Wright, heralded all week as the savior for an ineffective Kyle Boller, was unable to lead the team to even a single first down in the initial half of football. The Titans and their new look defense, shredded by the Steelers in week one, held the Ravens to 14 rushing yards for the entire game.
Other victories for the house were found in Chicago’s demolition of the Lions and the Panthers upset of the Patriots. Aided by a 73-yard punt return and five Joey Harrington picks, the Bears found their ground game as Thomas Jones rang up 139 yards against the Lions, temporarily derailing Detroits’ chances of snagging home field advantage of this years’ Super Bowl to be played in Ford Field.
Not to be outdone, Dante Culpepper threw five picks in the Bengals’ near whitewash of the defenseless and inept Minnesota Vikings. Dante, with an 0-8 TD pass to pick ratio, is well on his way to threatening Ryan Leaf’s 2-15 mark put up in his rookie year. Not even a team record 17 penalties committed by Cincinnati could help the Vikings who were unable to force a first half punt in spite of the Bengals’ miscues. It is clear that the loss of Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan is illuminating the incompetence of the current coaching staff. Sources tell me that a loss to the Saints this week will result in the immediate termination of Mike Tice, as new owner Ziggy Wilf is growing impatient. This contest, in addition to the Steelers victory over the offensively challenged Texans, who fired their Offensive Coordinator in the aftermath of a second consecutive dismal performance, and Tampa Bays’ defensive masterpiece over the Buffalo Bills, were three contests which gave the players the confidence and the bankroll they needed as they headed to the late afternoon games.
Other early games, which brought about a more neutral outcome for the books, were the Eagles thrashing of the 49ers, although bettors came in heavy on teaser action, and the Colts victory over the Jaguars, in a defensive, hard fought, and testy struggle in which Jacksonville QB Byron Leftwich and Colt DL coach John Teerlinck could be seen exchanging hand gestures.
Side betting on the late games was decidedly neutral as each game had two-way action, and the Chargers Broncos tilt landed on three, which was a hard number the entire week. Sharp bettors were all over the Browns at plus-six, but the public was of the opinion that Brett Favre would find a way in Green Bay’s opening game at Lambeau Field. The public proved to be incorrect as Favre struggled early, and Trent Dilfer enjoyed a career day by completing 21 of 32 attempts for 336 yards. This week, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the bulging eyes of Brian Griese take on the generous Packer stop unit, or lack thereof.
Other late games saw the Dolphins and quarterback Gus Frerotte come back to earth in their 17-7 loss to the Jets, the Seahawks hold on by a score of 21-18 against the Falcons, and the Cardinals lose to the Rams 17-12 in a game that ended on a clock run off due to Arizona being flagged for a false start penalty with seven seconds to go. In that contest, the Cardinals had over 400 yards of offense, but were unable to crack the end zone on four trips inside the Rams’ red zone. Look for the Cards to rebound this week against an overrated Seahawk team.
By night fall, with the bettors down but not out, the side play was a decided lean towards the Chiefs with heavy wagering on the over. Bettors, apparently unimpressed with the Chiefs week one lockdown of the Jets, were wagering on a high scoring Chiefs victory.
With 13:15 left in the half, the game looked up for grabs as the Chiefs led only 14-7, but the total seemed well on its’ way to eclipsing the 54 closing number. Missed opportunities, a called back touchdown catch by Rand Moss on a disputed play, as well as strong defensive play by both teams, caused a scoring slowdown and the Chiefs led but 23-17 as the Raiders threatened to pull out a last second victory with a first down from Kansas City’s 14-yard line. Four pass attempts by Kerry Collins could muster only one completion for four yards, and the books would give a little ground as the Chiefs defeated the Raiders as a slight road favorite.
When it was all said and done, the books took it to the players again and landed the biggest blows, but it is a long season and there is sure to be some counter punches. Stay tuned!