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NFL (Week 7)

   by Larry Ness - 10/21/2006

Six teams had byes last weekend in the NFL, leaving us with just a 13-game schedule (same situation for this week too). However, eight games were decided by three points or less in Week 6, the most in any week this season, despite the shortened schedule. Home teams, after going 22-6 SU and 21-7 ATS in Weeks 4 and 5, were just 7-6 SU and 8-5 ATS. Home dogs were just 3-3 SU but 5-1 ATS!

Four teams entered last week winless, but three teams won for the first time in 2006. Detroit held on for a 20-17 win over Buffalo, Tampa Bay edged Cincinnati 14-13 on a TDP with 35 seconds left in the game and Tennessee came back from an early 14-3 deficit to beat Washington 25-22, on a 30-yard FG with 5:11 remaining. Only Oakland failed to win, as the Raiders lost 13-3 in Denver on Sunday night. The loss gives the Raiders an 0-5 mark in 2006 (last time the franchise started 0-5 was in 1964 when Al Davis was the team's head coach!) and an 11-game losing streak going back to last year. Oakland did cover in last Sunday's night's loss, for the first time during the team's current drought (1-10 ATS!).

The 5-0 Colts (3-2 ATS) were off last week and the league's only other unbeaten, the Chicago Bears, escaped with a miraculous comeback win on Monday night, to move to 6-0. The Colts have struggled all season, trailing in each of their last three contests. They've needed late fourth-quarter scores in each of their last two wins (Jets and Titans) and four of the team's five wins this year have come by seven points or less. The Bears, before a late rally on Monday (trailed 23-3 before winning 24-23), had won their first five games while outscoring opponents 156-36.

Chicago and Indy own the longest active winning streaks in the NFL at six straight wins but the Bears get the week off. However, the Colts are in action and will host the Redskins (Colts are favored by 8 1/2 points). Could this be the week the Raiders finally win? Oakland tries to break its 11-game losing streak (no other team is close after the Titans ended their eight-game losing streak last week) Sunday when it hosts the Cardinals. One has to wonder how the Cards will recover from Monday's devastating loss but then again, the Raiders are PITIFUL!

Despite their 1-5 record, the Cardinals are favored by three points at Oakland on Sunday, one of seven road favorites in Week 7. Last year, road favorites were "money in the bank,' finishing the year 48-29-4 or 62.3 percent ATS. Traditional "home dog" bettors got 'killed' last year but last week's 5-1 mark has helped home dog bettors to a solid 19-12 mark in 2006. At least so far, home dogs have their 'bite' back. However, as we all know, things can change very quickly.

Denver has won 13 straight regular season games at home, the longest active streak in the NFL. While the Broncos will be at Cleveland this week (Denver is favored by 4 1/2 points), the Seahawks (winners of 12 straight home games) will host the Minnesota Vikings. The Seahawks beat the Rams last week in St Louis 30-28, making a 54-yard FG with no time remaining on the clock. Despite their 4-1 record, the Seahawks have been outscored by their opponents this year, 108-11. The Vikings come in at 3-2 but Minnesota has scored just FIVE offensive TDs this year, one of which came on a fake FG attempt. The Seahawks, 8-4 ATS during their winning streak, are favored by 6 1/2 points.

Getting back to Denver, the Broncos' defense has gotten a lot of publicity for allowing just one offensive TD in 2006 through five games. However, what has happened to Denver's offense? Denver has scored just 62 points through five games, an average of 12.4 PPG. The team is 4-1, which is a winning percentage of .800. Over a 16-game schedule, the Broncos should win 12 or 13 games at that rate. For the sake of argument, let's say 12. I went back 10 years and found 44 teams have won 12 games or more since 1996 and the average 12-win (or better) team has scored 26.1 PPG! The fewest points scored by one of those 44 teams was the 2000 NY Giants, who scored 328 points (20.5 PPG). Currently, the Broncos are on pace to score 198 points in 2006! Remember though, things change quickly.

Joining the Seahawks as the only winning teams to be outscored by their opponents are the Panthers. Carolina is 4-2 on the season (four straight wins after an 0-2 start) but has allowed 111 points while scoring just 109. Carolina visits Cincinnati on Sunday, where the 3-2 Bengals are favored by three points. Carolina's win streak has of course coincided with the return to health of WR Steve Smith (31 catches while averaging 112.5 YPG) and the Panthers are the league's best underdog, going 18-3 ATS in that role since 2003 (including the postseason). Meanwhile, the Bengals are 3-10 ATS their last 13 at home. Can it really be this easy?

The defending champs (Pittsburgh for those of you with short memories), snapped a three-game losing streak last week by pounding the Chiefs, 45-7. That lopsided win makes the 2-3 Steelers, the lone losing team in the NFL in 2006 to have scored more points (106) than it has allowed (84). The Steelers, who won 16 of 19 road games in 2004 and 2005 (including the postseason), are 0-2 on the road in 2006. They've lost at Jacksonville 9-0 and at San Diego 23-13 (led 10-0). However, Pittsburgh is one of this week's seven road favorites, as currently the Steelers are listed as a 2 1/2-point choice in Atlanta. Big Ben is 7-0 vs NFC teams in his career, while Vick is 6-0 vs AFC teams at home. Your move!

The league's two-best pointspread teams are the Rams and the Saints (yes the Saints!), both at 5-1. While neither of them are in action this weekend, the league's lone winless pointspread team is, the Miami Dolphins. Miami takes its 1-5 SU mark (but 0-6 ATS record) into a home game vs the Green Bay Packers. The Pack are 1-4 both SU and ATS on the season but Packer fans should take note that not only are the Dolphins 0-6 ATS this year but they own an abysmal 2-15 ATS mark over their last 17 games as a home favorite. Miami is favored by 5 1/2 points on Sunday.

Week 7 concludes on Monday night, when the Cowboys host the Giants. Both teams are 3-2 (the Eagles lead the NFC East at 4-2 pending their game in Tampa where Philly is favored by 5 1/2 points) and needless to say this is a big game for both teams. History says the Giants are just 16-29-1 all-time on Monday nights and that the Cowboys are 7-1 vs the Giants on Mondays but as we all know, history doesn't decide the outcomes of games! The Cowboys are favored by three points but some 3 1/2s have begun to pop up.

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