Wednesday, November 02, 2005

NFL week 9: Pats/Colts and Eagles' worries

I just cruised through an online gambling site that has the lines for this week's NFL action. A lot of people in New England are making a big deal out of the Patriots being underdogs to the Colts, and I have little doubt the poster boy of New England homers, the Boston Sports Guy, will take the Pats and the 3.5 points. I think if you're going to take the Pats with that line, you might as well just bet on them to win it outright. I have a strong feeling that the game is going to go one of two ways.

1. The Patriots duplicate the Cleveland Browns' gameplan from their 13-6 loss to the Colts and manage to score more than 6 points because they are the defending champs not the Browns. This will result in a Patriots victory.

2. The Colts defense contains the Patriots, who have no real running game right now. The Colts offense finish drives with points rather than turn the ball over in the red zone like last season's opener and win by at least 7.

My recommendation is that if you are going to gamble on this game and think about taking the Patriots moneyline rather than the points. I do not think the Colts will win a tight game against the Patriots. This is because I am also of the mindset that if the Pats are down by 3 or less and can get the ball with 60 seconds left, Adam Vinatieri will win the game for them. Get the ball to the 35 and he will win it for you. My money would be on the Colts, who should get some official NFL "help" in this one.

I think the most interesting spread is the Eagles/Redskins spread. Right now, it is Eagles +2.5, but oddsmakers are waiting on TO's injury status to move the line. I am impressed with the Redskins defense, but something feels phony about their victories this year. If TO is healthy, I would go with the Eagles, and I would play the moneyline for the bigger payout rather than the points. If TO is a scratch, put your money with the Redskins and get ready for the Eagles' NFC championship futures odds to drop.

If TO misses this game and they lose and he is rumored to be a scratch for the Cowboys game, the Eagles futures odds will most likely drop. They currently are 7/2 and I could see them moving to 5/1 or 7/1 if they lose. They still have a schedule that they could breeze through and end up 10-6. That is going to be good enough for the playoffs and it will mean a 1st round matchup with a weak division winner (NFC north or West). TO will not miss two games in a row because he is too much of a competitor...or will he?

TO is listed as doubtful for the Redskins game. It is mentioned he might not be able to play against the Cowboys (woohoo). TO cried this offseason for more money. He made a spectacle of himself during the Eagles' preseason. As exemplified in San Francisco and recently in Philadelphia, TO thinks only of himself and what helps him. What would help him more than to show the Eagles cannot win without him? This could help turn the public relations tide in his favor for that contract renegotiation. He has that opportunity right now. The very ankle that he hurt last year is the one sprained now. Here's Drew Rosenhaus' line: "that ankle could have been rested in the Super Bowl, but he still played on it, and didn't he play marvelously for the team, risking...his future...in the league". If he misses two Eagles' losses, he suddenly appears more valuable. Last year, he missed playoff games, and they still won without him. The Eagles have no running game, a franchise QB at 50%, no other WR threats, and most importantly, could be 4-5 overall & 0-3 in division games 2 Sundays from now. Right now, he accounts for 27% of Philadelphia's receptions & 37.5% of the receiving yards, but it will appear much larger after 2 losses.

TO is smart. He knows that his return timed with the Eagles rolling through the rest of the schedule to make the playoffs would boost his image and worth that much more. This could be the sabotage that causes his trade in the offseason. Reid and ownership will not ruin their cap space for a self absorbed WR who turns 32 this December. I can see him with the Jags, Falcons or the Seahawks next season. The Jags as one destination because they need a number 1 WR as Jimmy Smith calcifies. The Falcons because they desperately need someone besides Alge Crumpler who can catch. My respect for Vick as a QB rose after I saw Matt Schaub watch pass after pass bounce off of his receivers' hands. The Seahawks because they need a WR who can catch, too. Either way, the Eagles will pry draft picks from both teams and reload. I think that the window for the Eagles is closing, but they depth they have in their secondary and on their defensive line makes me believe that their scouting will find solutions to their offensive problems in the draft. As a fan of another NFC east team, I wish them bad luck.

Update: TO shows more of his true colors in this interview.

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