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NFL NOTES

   by Larry Ness - 11/13/2004

Week 10 begins the second-half push of the 2004 NFL season and exactly HALF of last year's 12 playoff teams are .500 or worse at the year's mid-point. The list includes Carolina (1-7), Dallas (3-5), Kansas City (3-5) and Tennessee (3-5). Green Bay and St Louis are both 4-4....

SIX teams that lost 10 or more games last year have reached the mid-point of the 2004 season with winning records. Pittsburgh leads the way at 7-1, followed by Atlanta and the NY Jets at 6-2, San Diego at 6-3 plus Jacksonville and the NY Giants at 5-3....

Another high-scoring week was concluded last Monday night with the Colts' 31-28 win over the Vikings as the 14 games of Week 9 averaged 47.9 PPG. After NONE of the first four weeks saw weekly averages of higher than 39.0 PPG, the last FIVE weeks have all had weekly averages of more than 40 PPG with Week 8's average of 48.6 PPG just edging last week's average for the highest scoring week of the season....

Despite the high scores, seven games were decided by seven points or less and four were decided by three points or less. That follows Week 8 in which just three games were decided by seven points or less and NONE were decided by three points or less!...

Favorites went just 4-10 ATS (just 5-9 SU!) with home dogs starting to 'bite' again after a slow start. Through Week 6 home dogs were just 9-16 SU and 10-14-1 ATS but after a 4-1 SU and ATS week, home dogs are now 9-3 SU and 10-2 ATS the past three weeks....

Favorites may have done poorly last week and they MAY do poorly in Week 10 but I have ONE that will CRUSH! It's my NFL Favorite of the Year! Also, on Sunday, I'm featuring my NFL Total of Month (Nov), after going 2-0 this year upping my record with my NFL Totals of the Month since 2002 on the net to 8-2!

On to Week 10....

Bal Ravens at NY Jets....The Ravens remain the lone NFL team that runs for more yards (133.6 YPG) than they pass for (123.8 YPG). QB Kyle Boller has just three TD passes this year, while there have been 32 times this season in which an individual QB has thrown for three TDs or more in a single game. Baltimore's defense is tops in the league allowing just 14.1 PPG and has accounted for SEVEN of the team's last 10 TDs! After opening at 5-0 and averaging just four penalties per game, the Jets have lost two of their last three games while committing 19 penalties. That better stop here, as Quincy Carter makes his first start for the Jets with Pennington sidelined....

Pit Steelers at Cle Browns....How do you get to 7-1, including back-to-back wins over New England and Philadelphia? Simple, you own the league's top rushing offense (160.8 YPG) and its top rushing defense (81.0 YPG)! Staley may sit out again for Pittsburgh and it's hard to imagine "the Bus" getting 149 yards rushing again, so "Big Ben" best be at his best. The Steelers beat Cleveland earlier this year in Pittsburgh 34-23 but the Browns are 3-1 SU and 4-0 ATS at home in 2004. QB Jeff Garcia has a QB rating of 53.8 in Cleveland's road games this year but his QB rating in homes games is 106.3!....

Hou Texans at Ind Colts....The Colts rank dead-last in the league in passing yards allowed (286.9 YPG) and David Carr and Co. are starting to come into their own. That being said, the Texans' pass defense (ranked 25th) may just have their hands full with Indy's passing game, as Peyton Manning has thrown 36 TD passes and just six interceptions in his last 13 regular season games! However, the Colts are just 8-22-1 ATS as a division home favorite as of late and they are off a Monday win. The previous EIGHT Monday night winners this year have gone just 1-7 SU the following Sunday!...

Chi Bears at Ten Titans....Watch out "Big Ben", Chicago QB Craig Krenzel is now 2-0 as the Bears' starter! However, the Bears' offense didn't exactly 'light-up' the Giants last week in their 28-21 win. Chicago's first seven possessions totaled minus-three yards and for the game had just 231 yards, converting just two-of-15 third downs! The Titans are off a bye but it still doesn't look as if McNair is ready to go. At 3-5, the Titans can't afford a loss at home to the Bears! While Chicago's defense in 2004 won't remind anyone of the Bears of 1985, the team does have 21 sacks already, after accounting for just 18 all of last season!...

TB Bucs at Atl Falcons....Tampa Bay has won three-of-four after opening 0-4. Brian Griese is completing 69.0 percent of his passes, averaging 234.8 YPG passing and has thrown just one interception in 116 attempts (has six TD passes)! The Falcons lead the division at 6-2 but with 170 points scored and 170 points allowed, may not be as good as their record indicates. While Tampa Bay has won four straight in Atlanta, it should be noted that the Falcons are 11-0 SU and 10-1 ATS as a division home favorite!...

Det Lions at Jax Jaguars....Leftwich is out and David Garrard will make his eighth career appearance in the NFL and his second-ever start! He needs RB Fred Taylor (averaging just 63.8 PPG) to finally snap out of his funk! The Lions lead the NFL with a plus-11 turnover ratio and lucky for them, as the Lions own the league's second-worst offense overall (258.4 YPG) and its worst rushing offense (75.0 YPG). Jacksonville is 5-3 but the Jags are the ONLY winning team that has allowed more points (146) than they've scored (128). That's NOT a good indicator! By the way, the 4-4 Lions have scored just 147 points while allowing 171....

Sea Seahawks at StL Rams....When these teams last met in Seattle in Week 5, the Rams overcame a 17-point lead in the game's final six minutes or so and won 33-27 in OT! The Seahawks went on to lose their next two games after that but enter this game on a two-game winning streak with Shaun Alexander rushing for 355 yards in those wins. The Rams are the only team to lose to the Dolphins in 2004 (Martz is a TRUE genius!) and if they lose here will drop to 4-5 with the Seahawks moving to 6-3. I guess this qualifies as a MUST WIN for the Rams! Seattle's eight road games this year consist of FOUR, two-game road trips (?)....

KC Chiefs at NO Saints....The Chiefs are the only losing team (3-5) that has scored more points (237) than they've allowed (211). However, that's a bit deceiving, as 101 of those points came in back-to-back games with Atlanta and Indianapolis. How can this game NOT go 'over'? New Orleans ranks last in total defense and points allowed (29.3 PPG), while KC ranks 25th in total defense and 29th in points allowed (26.4 PPG). New Orleans has gone 'over' 32 times in its last 49 games and Kansas City has gone 'over' in 30 of its last 46 games! Watch this be a 17-14 final!...

Cin Bengals at Was Redskins....Brunell is even WORSE than I thought! Washington won at Detroit last week 17-10 but Brunell was 6-of-17 for 58 yards and not only did RB Clinton Portis rush for 147 yards but he also threw the team's only TD pass! Now Joe Gibbs has been away from the game for 12 years but I'm confident he's got this figured out. The Redskins are 3-0 in games in which Portis has run for better than 100 yards and are 0-5 in games he doesn't! Do you think this week's game-plan will feature Portis against Cincinnati's league-worst rushing defense (149.6 YPG)? Carson Palmer is 0-4 SU and ATS in road games this year as the Bengals have been outscored on the road by an average of 10 PPG and outgained by an average of almost 120 YPG. Washington owns the league's best defense at 261.0 YPG but is also scoring just 14.4 PPG, better than only Miami's 13.7 PPG!...

Min Vikings at GB Packers....It's EASY not to like Randy Moss but Daunte Culpepper sure MISSES him! Culpepper opened the year with 18 TD passes in his first five games, averaging more than 350 YPG passing. Without Moss the last three weeks, Culpepper has just three TD passes and has averaged just under 200 YPG passing! The Packers are off a bye and have recovered from a 1-4 start to win three straight games with head coach Mike Sherman calling the plays (they've averaged 425 YPG and 36 PPG). Is this deja vu all over again again for Minnesota? The Vikings opened 2003 at 6-0 but finished at 9-7 and OUT of the playoffs. They opened 5-1 this year and if they lose here, will be 5-4 and tied for first with the Packers and maybe even the Lions!...

NY Giants at Ari Cardinals....The Cardinals ended their 17-game road losing streak with a win at Miami last week and are a small home dog to the Giants this week (Cards are 9-3 their last 12 in that role!). Kurt Warner became a turnover-machine (two interceptions and two fumbles) last week in the team's loss to Chicago and the Giants better watch out! Warner's been sacked a league-high 33 times and his indecision in the pocket is starting to look VERY familiar!...

Car Panthers at SF 49ers....Two 1-7 teams meet here and one of them (Carolina), played in last year's Super Bowl! Delhomme, last year's "Comeback Kid", is struggling this year behind a re-worked OL and injuries to BOTH Davis and Foster. He could get 'well' here vs a depleted SF secondary that has allowed opposing QBs a passer rating of 102.4! Rattay will start at QB for SF and when healthy, is very dangerous (see his 417-yard effort vs Arizona in Week 5). After all, if the Raiders can beat the Panthers on
their home field (won 27-24 at Carolina last week, ending a 13-game road losing streak), anything is possible!...

Buf Bills at NE Patriots....For just the second time in his entire career, Drew Bledsoe has gone consecutive weeks without being sacked! McGahee has three 100-yard games in his three starts and the Bills are 3-0 in those games. However, there is just ONE small problem! Buffalo visits Foxboro Sunday night where the Pats have won 13 straight regular season games, going 11-0-2 ATS! New England is FAR from 100% healthy, especially in the secondary and at the wide receivers but ....

Phi Eagles at Dal Cowboys....The Eagles became the LAST team to lose in 2004 when they got CLOBBERED at Pittsburgh (27-3) last week. However, what better team to get them re-focused than the Bill Parcells-coached Dallas Cowboys. Dallas can't run and Vinny is starting to show his age (about 55, I think?). Dallas was the league's best defensive team last year but is allowing about 88 YPG more and nine PPG more in 2004 than it did in 2003. Clearly, Philadelphia needs a healthy Westbrook but can put the division away (and secure home field in the NFC) over the next six weeks with two games vs Dallas and Washington plus a game with the Giants in its next six games....


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