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In a week that saw the public and the house fight it out to a standstill on the sides and totals, it was the teaser money that proved to be the deciding factor in giving the players a much needed respite from an early season pummeling.
With the offensively challenged 49ers succumbing easily to the new look defensive minded Indianapolis Colts, New England’s last second victory over the Michael Vick-less Falcons, and Green Bay’s annihilation of the displaced Aints, who have now lost Deuce McAllister to a torn ACL, the house was rocked as solid public action on all three games inflicted heavy damage.
Quarterback Matt Schaub, subbing for Vick due to his hurtin hammy, resurrected a lethargic Falcons passing game and nearly overcame strong anti Atlanta betting sentiment as the spread moved a full five (-3 to +2) points to correspond with the Saturday afternoon release that Vick’s playing status was in jeopardy. Only a fraction of the Patriot backers did not participate in the bonanza as the final line closed with the Super Bowl champs a three-point favorite, as the Pats prevailed 31-28.
In the late public game, the Colts continued their defensive dominance as they permitted the 49ers only three points while scoring 28 in game which had San Francisco in the role of a 16 point home dog, up from 14 earlier in the week. Indy has permitted an average of 5.8 points per game, allowing only Tennessee to penetrate double digits as the Titans managed but a touchdown and a field goal.
House victories included Detroit’s 35-17 victory over the self destructive Ravens, who committed 21 penalties while having two players ejected, the Titans shellacking of the woeful Texans, who moved from a 1.5 to a three-point favorite, despite the fact that they came into the game winless, and the Cowboys comfortable win over the Eagles in a contest that reaffirmed why it is wise never to wager against Bill Parcells in a divisional encounter in which his team is getting points. In Houston, the Texans were helpless on offense, and only a late drive allowed David Carr to eclipse 100 yards passing against arguably the worst secondary in the league.
In both the Bucs at Jets, and Panthers at Cards, a surge of sharp money on the home teams caused a late drop in the three-point number, which applied to both contests.
Vinny Testaverde, in his first game since emerging from his Lazy Boy, was quietly effective and near mistake free as the Jets overcame the lack of a running game, as they eked out a 14-12 win over the Bucs, who were without the services of rookie running back sensation Cadillac Williams. The public was strong on the Bucs early, though the sharps wiped out a chunk of those gains.
In the Arizona game, the Cards came up just short in spite of receivers Boldin and Fitzgerald combining for 19 catches, and Josh McCown throwing for almost 400 yards as the Panthers held on and came away with a 24-20 victory. Neil Rackers continues his flawless kicking extending his string to 18 of 18 this year, but unfortunately, it was McCown’s three interceptions that Arizona could not overcome.
While the sharps split those live dog plays down the middle, they managed to escalate a neutral decision on the part of the house into a backbreaker as the Bills, under QB Kelley Holcomb, managed to secure a 20-14 victory at Rich Stadium, largely on the strength of a late Ronnie Brown fumble deep in Buffalo territory in the waning stages of the game. Replays appeared to show that Brown’s knee had contacted the turf prior to the ball being dislodged, but the referees upheld the call in spite of what appeared to be conclusive visual evidence, which would have supported the Dolphins retaining possession.
In the only other afternoon contests, Denver hung on to victory as the Redskins were unable to force overtime when a two-point conversion attempt was foiled by the outstretched arm of LB Ian Gold, thus preserving the 21-19 win. In that victory, Denver was dominated on both sides of the ball, as Jake Plummer mustered only 92 yards passing, but managed to pull out the non-covering victory, which frustrated the chalk players but preserved the teasers. Denver action was plentiful at 6.5, but bettors took the Skins back at plus-7 making the late Redskin TD critical for the house.
In Cleveland, the Browns tallied 2 TDs in the final three minutes to defeat the Bears, and in St. Louis, the Seahawks further exposed the Rams futility on defense. Despite the loss of two top receivers, Seattle moved the ball with relative ease as replacement WR Joe Jurevicious snagged nine Hasselback aerials for 137 yards. In that game, the total moved from 49.5 to 46.5 late, as bettor’s over estimated the effect of Darrell Jackson and Bobby Engram’s absence from the Seahawks offense, as the Hawks prevailed by a score of 37-31.
The late game between the Bengals and Jags featured solid two-way action on the side, but the late money was on the over, which proved to be a bad decision for the house as the Jags squeaked out a 23-20 decision, thus eclipsing the closing number of 38. The odds makers proved to be accurate as the game landed on the number, but the exotic players closed out in fine fashion as the final score was accommodating to all teasers as it involved the total and the spread. CaChing!
Week 5 is in the books and it was fairly even with the players landing the bigger blows, but the house landing more punches. The season heats up. Stay tuned!