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Week 17 Recap

Shortly before the Bookies were ringing in the New Year with Crystal and Belluga, the Packers were taking care of business as a three point dogs to the once invincible Monsters of the Midway as the Bears were sent freefalling into the postseason as Green Bay came away with a one sided 23-7 victory in what may have been Brett Favre’s swan song. It was a fitting end to the NFL regular season as 9 dogs got the cash on New Years Eve thus putting an exclamation point on a year that saw the house rake in enormous profits.

Saturday nights’ festivities saw the Giants dampen the holiday spirits of Packer, Panther, Falcon, and Ram fans as Tiki Barber ran wild in leading the Giants to a 34-28 win over the Redskins at RFK. The victory all but locked up the final NFC playoff berth for the G Men and gave the always personable Tom Coughlin at least a temporary stay of execution in joining the much deserved Dennis Green and Jim Mora Jr. on the coaches’ unemployment line.

Not to be outdone by their stadium roommates, the Jets opened up a can of whupass on the Raiders as they defeated Oakland 23-3, and locked up a playoff spot of their own. The house was heavy on New York though the number took a sharp drop on Friday from 12 ½ to 11 in most spots, which has to be a mystery considering Oakland’s abysmal performance this year.

Joining the Jets in the post season will be their former mentor, Herman Edwards, as his Chiefs held off the hard charging Jaguars, 35-30. The KC win put the Broncos in a must win situation at home versus the 49ers, a game that started simultaneous to the Chief game going final, but Denver failed in their quest to reach the playoffs for the 4th consecutive year as they went down 26-23 in overtime. As KC was on the verge of victory, the action on the Broncos was fast and furious giving the house a big win and leaving the Denver fans in stunned disbelief.

No less stunned were Cowboy fans that saw their team fall to the downtrodden Lions 39-31. Jon Kitna dissected the Dallas secondary for 305 yards while tossing 4 TD passes while counterpart Tony Romo threw for 321 but accounted for 3 Cowboy turnovers. The Simpson Underwood effect is clearly taking its’ toll on the previously unflappable Dallas signal caller who has looked anything but invincible the last few weeks. The Cowboy loss was a windfall for the house as the side went down along with those that named Dallas on their super teasers figuring the Cowboys would keep their division hopes alive with an easy win, though they had already nailed down at least the wildcard.

With the result in Big D locking up the division title for the Eagles, many of the Philly starters were given the day off as their contest with the Falcons was relegated to that of a meaningless game. The 24-17 Eagle win was a clear decision for the house as those that laid the 8 point number came up short, which constituted the majority of the early action.

As the Cowboys neared defeat, the line was reset to 6 and the money came in on the Falcons as the sharps figured Andy Reid to rest his starters. He complied, but the Eagles still prevailed in a game that saw Michael Vick sustain an injury in the 3rd quarter. Matt Schaub replaced Vick and had decent numbers in what was to be Jim Mora Jr.’s final game as Falcon coach.

The Ravens locked up the AFC second seed by holding off the Bills 19-7. Money was heavy on Baltimore as it was the Chargers, who prevented the Ravens from earning the top seed, by defeating Arizona, 27-20. San Diego, a 14 point favorite, opened up a 27-10 lead, only to allow the Cardinals to climb back into the game. The Colts, hoping to steal the second seed with a Raven loss, also failed to protect a spread covering 12 point cushion as they prevailed 27-22 as a 9 point choice.

Shayne Graham’s miss of a potential game winning field goal at the end of regulation prevented the Bengals from entering the post season as the Steelers closed out their season with a 23-17 overtime win. Though Cincy was in a must win spot, the game saw steady two sided action as the number stayed steady at 6 for the entire week.

New England came in as a field goal underdog versus the Titans, with Tennessee still harboring faint playoff aspirations. Coach Bill surprisingly played Tom Brady well into the second half and the Pats defeated Jeff Fisher’s team by a score of 40-23. In that game the Pats lost safety Rodney Harrison to an injury and he will likely be lost for the duration of the post season.

In another meaningless contest for a team headed to the post season, Seahawks’ coach Mike Holmgren also opted not to rest the starters and paid in the form of a broken ankle to CB Kelly Herndon. Seattle defeated the Buccanneers 23-7, and as in the case of the Pats, came in as a 3 point dog. Both games saw solid two way action.

The players did pull out two small wins as the Rams overwhelmed the Vikings 41-21, while the Texans, with but 177 yards of total offense, defeated the Browns 14-6. The Texans opened a 4 point choice and closed at 6 while the Rams went off a 2 ½ point choice after opening a 1 point favorite on Sunday night.

The mover of the week had Carolina defeating the Saints 31-21, as coach Sean Peyton wisely pulled his starters after just a few series. The Saints opened an 8 point choice on Sunday night in anticipation of a Christmas Day Cowboy win over the Eagles, which would have left New Orleans in a position of having to defeat the Panthers to secure the second seed in the NFC. The Dallas loss rendered Sunday’s game meaningless, thus bookmakers reset the line and Carolina went off a 3 point choice.

As the players recoup from this very difficult betting year in the NFL, one is reminded how quickly the tide can turn. Champagne and caviar is oh so nice, but it was only one year ago that the books were ringing in the New Year with Saltines and Ripple.

Let the playoffs begin.

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