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Books bounce back
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There won’t be any bookmakers popping any Prozac this Tuesday as the New Orleans Saints stifling of the listless Falcons capped a weekend marked by a resurgence of the NFL home underdog, four of whom covered the spread, all defying the wave of public money that poured in on the respective favorites.

In Monday’s contest, the public bet heavily off of the opening number of 2, as they did to the over, only to witness the exposure of the Falcons’ offense as little more than a second rate operation. The closing number varied from 4.5 to 5 depending on the shop, while the ‘over/under’ closed at 44.5 off an opening total of 42.

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In another contest that padded the bookmakers’ bottom line, the Browns came within an eyelash of securing their first win versus the undefeated Ravens, who tallied 12 fourth quarter points capped off by Matt Stover’s 52-yard FG with 20 seconds remaining. That pressure kick provided no relief to those bettors who laid anywhere from 6.5 to 7.5 points, but did salvage the majority of the teasers, the only exception being those 6 pointers that came in after the move off the opening line.

In Minnesota, the Bears remained undefeated and in the process established themselves as the clear frontrunner for the NFC Crown, though they did disappoint those supporters who spotted the Vikings anything more than the opening number of three, which became history by Saturday. The later action came in at 3.5 to 4, thus rendering Rex Grossman’s game-winning late touchdown pass to Rashied Davis as merely frustration by way of procrastination, as the Bears won the battle for first place in the NFC North by a score of 19-16.

In Tampa, the Buccaneers emerged from an offensive comatose, but the defense could not overcome the return of Steve Smith, who hauled in seven passes for 112 yards. The Panthers, by virtue of a John Kasay 46 yard field goal with two seconds to go, kept the Bucs winless with their 26-24 non-spread covering victory and in the process lost QB Simms to a ruptured spleen.

Only in Houston did the road favorite hold up as the Redskins secured their first victory of the season with their 31-15 domination of the Texans, a contest that saw Washington roll up almost 500 yards of offense and Mark Brunnell break a record with 22 consecutive completions.

The NFL line mover game of the week was not kind to the house as the Jaguars versus Colts contest saw the opening number of 9.5 drop to 6.5 by game time, with a comparable move in the total, which plummeted from 47 to a closing number of 42. Both drops were the result of Jacksonville’s impressive Monday night shutout (9-0) of the Steelers which triggered an immediate overhaul in the line.

By virtue of the Colts 21-14 victory, the ‘under’ money proved damaging to the house, as did the 7 since the early Jaguar bettors got the money as did the bargain hunters who laid the late number of 6.5 with Indy. The Eagles shellacking of the 49ers also cut into the books’ profits, as Philly easily waxed the six-point spread in their 38-24 victory.

Games that proved neutral to the house were the Ram’s defeat of the Cardinals and turnover prone, and soon to be bench ridden Kurt Warner, the Bengals’ 28-20 victory over the Steelers, who dominated Cincy in yardage but managed to undue themselves with five costly turnovers, including three within the final seven minutes of the game.

Also a stalemate was the Seahawks' defeat of the penalty plagued Giants, who were flagged seven times in the first quarter, and the Jets’ upset of the Bills, who managed to rack up 475 yards in windy Ralph Wilson Stadium, but lost the turnover battle 3-0.

Other contests that were strong for the house were Miami’s three-point win (13-10) over the Titans, a contest in which the prohibitively favored Dolphins were lucky to hang on courtesy of an interception and a fumble deep in Miami territory, as well as an illegal block that negated a punt return by Pacman Jones.

The other battle that provided the house their edge was Green Bay’s 31-24 upset of the home standing Lions, who are now winless after three games. In that contest Brett Favre torched the Lion secondary for 340 yards and 3 TDs. So much for retirement.

Finally, the NBC Sunday night affair proved a wash in the straight betting, but the Broncos outright victory did manage to foil those teaser backers looking to end the week on a high note by punching a ticket with a straight up New England victory. It was not to be as the Patriots offense looked anything but formidable as they were held to a mere 7 points in defeat.

Week 3 of the NFL season had its’ moments for the players, but the heavy blows were landed by the house. See you next week.

  
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