Looking Ahead in Rearview Mirror in the NFL

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by - 12/2/2008 5:13 PM Share

Go ahead, I dare you to guess what the Denver Broncos season ending record will be, let alone how they will perform over the next four weeks against the spread. The 2008 Broncos seem to be a mix of Britney, Lindsey, and Paris all wrapped into one. A closer look at the team is more confounding than Mike Shanahan having a darkly tanned face in December living in Rocky Mountain country.

Denver is in first place in the AFC West, which is akin to Arizona being in the top spot in the other West division. The list of division contenders is null and void. This would take more research time than presently available, but I'm quite comfortable in saying it's been awhile since a division leader has failed to cover a spread AT HOME (0-6, same as Detroit) this late in the season. All the more incredible when you consider those six opponents are 33-38 on the season. Of equal or possibly greater lunacy, Denver has a seven game spread losing streak this season, this is not something normally associated with good teams headed for the playoffs, no matter the division. Quarterback Jay Cutler's up and down efforts seem to match the Broncos play and so does the sometimes brilliant and indifferent gameplans Shanahan puts together. For wagering purposes, M.C. Hammer has the best advice, "Can't touch this".

The San Diego Chargers are more done than bacon left in the microwave too long. The reasons are varied, but here are the nuts and bolts (slight play on words). General Manager A.J. Smith wanted to be in charge. He's done a good job in assembling a team presumably destined for the Super Bowl. Along the way, Smith also wanted to play coach and he and Marty Shottenheimer couldn't work together, thus he made Norv Turner, the architect of the offense, his head coach. Problem is this team was built to play Marty-ball, tough, physical and aggressive. Turner who would best described as nice guy; he doesn't fit the A-personality type that many teams need. The Chargers have turned into a soft, finesse-styled squad under Turner and it's no coincidence it would appear this is why they can't close out games. Hard decisions for GM Smith in the off-season, since L.T. seems to have reached his peak and this team needs a new direction.

Just asking, did you think the Detroit Lions thought maybe their Thanksgiving game was supposed to be two-hand touch instead of tackle football?

The Indianapolis Colts have won five in a row, by a grand total of 20 points, explaining why they have covered twice in that stretch. I thought playing against the Colts was the second best bet on the board this past week, since they don't have the look of a team that can cover many numbers. Injuries are a big reason, missing center Jeff Saturday and safety Bob Sanders for too many games. I'd like to throw out the idea that all the fast, light (weight-wise) players Tony Dungy prefers, breakdown quicker being undersized, having given or taken too many hits. Call it an observation, not an indictment and worth consideration.

There is no doubt the best team in the NFL is the New York football Giants and I'm amazed at one subtle difference that has happened over the last few years. Coach Tom Coughlin, now in his fifth season, had a locker room filled with outspoken players and wild antics his first three years. Jeremy Shockey, Michael Strahan and Tiki Barber were all worth a few quotes each week and not always to the positive of the team. As the leaders, they didn't like his rules and Coughlin always ended up defending many of his actions both on an off the field. Is it a coincidence, after Barber leaves, Strahan quiets down and Shockey gets injured and the Giants roll to Super Bowl win? Is it more striking that even with Plaxico Burress doing everything to be a distraction, a group of committed football players are more like their coach and are seemingly immune to distraction? Think about this, in a different style of play; are the Giants any less dominant than New England was a year ago? Since losing to Cleveland on Monday night, they are 7-0 SU and ATS. The G-Men are very much like the Patriots teams of 2003-06, they just win games and cover spreads, not getting pinned with unrealistic spreads from oddsmakers.

Aaron Rodgers has been a pretty solid first year quarterback, with "first year" being the operative two words. He's become more inconsistent as the season progressed and has shown the lack of patience in crunch time, like throwing the off-balance 30-yard interception into triple coverage in Carolina loss.

Matt Cassel will still likely make a lot of money in the free agent market, but he should come with -buyer beware- tags as was shown in Pittsburgh losses. He's made great strides since being thrown into the fire with Tom Brady's injury; however the Steelers showed the world, Cassel still has work to do.

Should Mike Singletary be the next coach of San Francisco? He still has four games to go to prove himself, however no questioning the visible difference in how the 49ers are playing. Singletary knows what he wants and will not settle for less and that attitude is showing in how the Niners are playing, being 3-1 ATS.

Quick Hits - Teams that commit five or more turnovers are 7-2 ATS in next game this season. The four NFC South teams are matched against each other this week. Strongly contemplate the home teams, who are 21-2 and 16-6-1 ATS this season. How bad are home underdogs bets? In the last six weeks they are 6-19-1 ATS with only TWO outright upsets. Foxsheet or Power Search customers are reaping the rewards of playing 80+ percent systems on side action, with 27-17 ATS record, 61.3 percent.

By: Doug Upstone - StatFox

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