After an opening two weeks in the NFL that saw the house take a commanding lead, the players were once again rebuffed in their attempt to scratch their way back into fray.
The Sunday matinee was marked by nine underdogs either coming in under the number, or in the case of Atlanta, Jacksonville, and Miami, delivering outright upsets.
In Atlanta’s victory, the books managed to benefit by a late surge in Buffalo money, no doubt due to the Falcons’ vulnerability on defense as a result of injuries to CB Kevin Mathis and DE Brady Smith. In the end, QB JP Losman (10-23 75), proved to be ineffective for a third straight game, and Buffalo failed to capitalize on a late DeAngelo Hall fumble as the Bills were dumped in Orchard Park, and in the process lost last years’ second leading tackler Takeo Spikes to a season ending injury.
|The Jets lost Chad Pennington for another season last Sunday. (Getty Images)
Speaking of season ending casualties, Chad Pennington suffered a torn rotator cuff, the second serious shoulder injury in as many years, as the Jags upended the Jets by a score of 26-20. Byron Leftwich connected with Jimmy Smith on a touchdown pass in overtime to win it, after a Jets touchdown was overturned in regulation and they were forced to kick a game tying field goal. With newly acquired home boy Jay Fielder also having his feathers ruffled, the Jets have summoned Vinny Testarverde out of his Lazy Boy for another round of futility as the Mean Green try to salvage the season. If Vinny is the man, then back up the truck, and bet the other way. The books needed the Jets as the Jags took steady money throughout the week and into game day.
The house also prevailed in Miami’s upset of the Will Witherspoon less Panthers, as the running of rookie Ronnie Brown (123 yards), and the late game heroics of former 49ers, Lance Shulters, who stepped in front of a Jake Delhomme aerial intended for Keary Colbert, were enough to preserve a hard fought 24-21 victory for the home team, thus dealing the Cats their second loss of the season, both in the role of the favorite.
Other early action saw the teaser money stand up, but the straight money go down in the Colts’ 14-6 victory over the Browns, the Eagles’ 23-20 squeaker over the Raiders, the Bucs’ 17-16 nail biter over the Packers, and the Rams seesaw victory over the Titans, a game which saw St. Louis take 14-point lead, only to end up squandering the cover on a disputed call involving what was determined to be a lateral pass. This was to lead to a late Titan field goal thus making for a 31-27 final, and enabling Tennessee to cover the seven-point number. In the Philadelphia victory, kicker David Akers made like the Karate Kid, and came hobbling off the bench to kick the winning field goal, with what turned out to be a torn hamstring.
Other early action had the Bengals whip up on the interception prone (five picks) Kyle Orton and the Bears, and the Vikings getting back on track with a 33-16 demolition of the Saints, a game in which Joe Horn was held to but one catch for 11 yards.
Going into the late action, with the books once again in control, over bettors were given reason to smile as all three contests surpassed the total, while the house was a clear winner in both the Patriots controversial upset of the Steelers, and the Cowboy non covering comeback win over the 49ers. In the former game, a clock operator gaffe early in the final quarter added what turned out to be a precious 50-plus seconds, which is consistent with the time it took the Pats to drive the field for the winning field goal in the final minute of the game.
In the only other late game, the Cardinals continued their ineptitude in the red zone as, for the second consecutive week, they were forced to settle for four Neil Racker field goals as their only scoring, and the Seahawks and Shawn Alexander ran roughshod over the Cardinals by a score of 37-12. Arizona’s futility caught the public by surprise as bookmakers once again eked out a gain on the Seahawk victory. In that game, the Cardinal demise began with an injury to QB Kurt Warner with just over three minutes remaining in the first half. Josh McCown, his replacement, proved to be ineffective as he completed 10 passes in 23 attempts for less then 100 yards, with a costly fumble that led to a Seahawk touchdown.
The Sunday night game provided some salvation for the players as the Chargers were able to exploit what was a clearly overrated Giant defense in delivering a much needed 45-23 victory, though the game was not without its tense moments as the Giants overcame an early 21 to 3 deficit with 17 unanswered points to close to within a point at halftime.
Bettors that laid the Chargers as a 3 ½-point first half favorite, perhaps hoping for a good nights sleep, saw their dreams turn to nightmares when Jay Feeley booted a three-pointer with only 11 seconds to go in the first stanza. The second half was all SD, and the bettors were able to hit the sack with a win under their belts as the Chargers completed their demolition. Strong Charger action drove the opening number of five to a solid seven, with some venues even forcing backers of San Diego to lay 6 to 5 (minus-120) at the closing number.
On Monday night, bookmakers held firm on the opening number of 3, and solid 2-way action on both side and total was the order of the day as Denver made short work of the Chiefs, thus extending their home field dominance over Kansas City to nine out of the last 10 games.
Week 3 is in the books, and the house has taken yet another decision. Stay tuned as the players continue to stand tall in the face of an early pummeling.