The house and the players tussled their way to a virtual stalemate in week 8 of the NFL season though a few well placed shockers managed to unravel the bulk of the teasers that were in play.
Although out gained 360-98 in terms of yardage, the Raiders gifted an early Halloween present to their rabid fans by delivering a second straight home victory, this one by the score of 20-13 over the defending Super Bowl champion Steelers. The side money went down hard with Pittsburgh while any teaser that was still breathing by the late games also had their hopes dashed by the 9 point upset. In earlier action and also damning to the teaser action, the Jaguars made mincemeat of the Eagles run defense as they stifled Donovan McNabb and company as Philly was held without a touchdown in the 13-6 decision. That line closed at 8 after being driven off of the Sunday night opening number of 6, much of that the result of injured QB Byron Leftwich being replaced David Garrard, who filled in admirably.
The Bears coasted to a 41-10 win over the 49ers as the 16 point spot proved to be a bargain for the masses that backed the now 7-0 Monsters of the Midway. Chicago need only defeat Miami this week to head undefeated into a week 10 Sunday night showdown with the Giants, who will have had the luxury of being home 3 straight weeks by the time that game is played on November 12th. The G Men did their part on Sunday in stuffing the Buccaneers in the wind engulfed Meadowlands. The 14-3 decision triggered a split for the late money as the number was driven from 10 to 8, while the total plummeted from 40 to 37.
Two other contests that padded the players’ bankrolls had the Packers cruising to a 31-14 win over the Cardinals, who have managed just one win this year, and the Chargers 38-24 victory over the Rams, who were unable to contain RB LaDainian Tomlinson, who scampered through the St Louis defense for 183 yards.
Games that saw solid 2 way action included the Falcons 29-27 road victory over the Bengals, a contest that saw Michael Vick put up stellar numbers (20-28 290 yards 3 TDs) for the second straight week, and the Chiefs 35-28 win over the Seahawks as Damon Huard rolled to 312 yards passing, and Kansas City piled up 499 yards of offense. Rounding out the more neutral affairs were the Titans 28-22 wire to wire win over the Texans, who benched David Carr in favor of Sage Rosenfels, and the Browns 20-13 victory over Jets as Cleveland got their second overall win of the year. In the former contest, Rosenfels threw 3 TD passes the final 17 minutes as the Texans roared back from a 21-3 deficit only to come up short. The Browns and Jets combined for just 225 yards passing as the Jets only touchdown came courtesy of a 99 yard Justin Miller kickoff return, while an apparent touchdown pass that would have brought the Jets within a PAT of tying the game with 59 seconds remaining was disallowed.
One of the stronger games for the house saw the Ravens march into New Orleans and emerge with a 35-22 victory, helped in large part by two interceptions of Drew Brees’ passes that were returned for scores. The Saints opened a 2 point favorite, and closed at 2.5 by game time, but not before the number moved down to 1 before it reversed itself to the closing number.
In the marquis match up of the day, the immovable force proved anything but impenetrable as Peyton Manning lit up the Broncos secondary for 345 yards on 32 of 39. Reggie Wayne was the beneficiary of all three of Manning’s touchdown tosses. Adam Vinitieri drilled a last second 37 yard field goal which gave Indy a 34-31 mile high upset and their seventh straight victory in their quest for an undefeated season, which last year was foiled by the Chargers. The Colts take on the Pats this Sunday night in what will be a highly anticipated match up between two of the AFC elite.
The Sunday night affair saw the late action side with the Tony Romo led Cowboys who managed to blow past the Panthers en route to a 35-14 win. Carolina’s 14-0 lead proved very surmountable as the Cowboys scored 35 unanswered as Romo energized Dallas and posted solid numbers.
Monday night’s contest between the Vikings and Pats was anything but as New England was clearly the dominant team in rolling to a 31-7 victory. Tom Brady displayed precision like accuracy in spreading the ball to 10 different receivers while further dispelling the notion that the Patriots will not be a force to be reckoned with come January. New England closed a 2 point favorite with the majority of late money decidedly biased the Patriots’ way. Over bettors came up short as the 31-7 win left the 38 point total one short of the closing number with neither team scoring in the final stanza.
Almost at the halfway point, the house is maintaining their edge, but a few hefty wins by the chalks has the players feeling that the tide is turning. Until next week.