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NFL Fool's Gold

   by ASA - 09/16/2008

Every week I will give you a report on the NFL from the previous week from a bettor’s perspective. Many times teams score “meaninglessâ€쳌 touchdowns or field goals late in the game which to the untrained eye, might seem irrelevant. We know better. To those of us that wager on these games, we know all to well that many times those late scores are the difference between cashing in and dancing in your living room OR losing late and sitting on your couch with a blank stare on your face.

My report will focus on some teams that should have covered that didn’t and vise versa. The “bad beatsâ€쳌 or “lucky winsâ€쳌 of the business which we’ve all encountered many times. It also recaps some misleading finals where simply looking at the final score does not tell the entire story.

Week one didn’t offer many games that were decided late. However, week two was a different story with many games being decided late, including one that came down to a mistake by the officials. Here we go…

Denver 39 – San Diego 38 (*closing line was San Diego +1 or pick-em with a total of 45.5): Anyone who had San Diego (us included) got royally &*)%@ in this game. The Chargers led 38-31 after scoring a TD with about 4:30 remaining in the game. Denver then drove the ball down inside the 5-yard line with 1:17 to go. On second and goal, Bronco QB Jay Cutler rolled out and clearly fumbled the ball which was recovered by the Bolts at the 10-yard line. However, it was ruled that official Ed Hochuli inadvertently blew his whistle saying it was an incomplete pass. Because he blew the play dead, it could not be over turned and Denver kept the ball at the 10-yard line. They scored on fourth down two plays later with just 24 seconds left in the game. Mike Shanahan then went against the grain and went for two points rather than extend the game to overtime at home. Denver converted and won the game 39-38 costing us and many others a win we should have had. San Diego is now 0-2 losing to Carolina 26-24 on a Hail Mary on the last play of the game and then this situation in week two. That’s tough!

Pittsburgh 10 – Cleveland 6 (*closing line was Pitt -6 with a total of 44.5): The Steelers have owned the Browns winning eight straight in Cleveland and 23 of the last 26 meetings overall. They didn’t get the cover here however. They were leading 10-3 late in the game when the Browns mounted what they had hoped to be their game tying drive. Cleveland got down to the Pittsburgh 20-yard line with just 3:22 left in the game. On fourth and 7, Brown’s head coach Romeo Crennel decided to kick a field goal rather than go for it and a potential tie. The strategy came through with flying colors for Brown bettors but backfired on Crennel. While he cut the lead to 10-6 with the field goal, Cleveland didn’t get the ball back until very late (26 seconds left) and dropped to 0-2.

Green Bay 48 – Detroit 25 (*closing line was GB -3 with a total of 46): For those of you who simply saw this final score scroll across the bottom of the screen on ESPN, it didn’t tell the whole story. This was actually a close game midway through the fourth quarter. In fact, after trailing 21-0 to open the game (for the second straight week mind you), Detroit actually took the lead 25-24 with 7:51 left in the game. The Packers went onto score 24 points in the last five minutes of the game with help from THREE Jon Kitna interceptions, two of which were returned for TD’s. So what looked like a blow out, was actually a tight contest with less than half of the fourth quarter left to play.

NY Giants 41 – St. Louis 13 (*closing line was Giants -8.5 with a total of 41.5): “Underâ€쳌 players were counting their money in fourth quarter here before the wheels came off. These two had just 26 combined points (Giants led 20-6) with under 11 minutes left in the game. Thus, the “underâ€쳌 players had a nice cushion of 15.5 points with 82% of the game already in the books. The two offenses then seemed to figure things out as they went on a 28-point scoring binge in just a seven and a half minute span in the fourth sending this one nearly two TD’s over the total.

Indianapolis 18 – Minnesota 15 (*closing line was Colts -2 with a total of 43.5): Oh my do the Vikes ever struggle to get the ball in the end zone. It’s not saying much when your MVP so far this season is your kicker. Ryan Longwell blasted another 5 field goals through the uprights last Sunday which gives him 7 on the year. Minny has scored just two offensive TD’s in two game so far on the season. The Vikings led this one 15-0 with under three minutes to go in the third looking solid as a 2-point home dog. Indy had done nothing on offense netting just 87 total yards at halftime. The Colts finally got on the board with just 1:30 left in the third quarter cutting the lead to 15-7. Peyton Manning came alive in the fourth hitting Reggie Wayne for a 32-yard TD pass with just 5:54 left in the game. The two point conversion was good tying the game at 15-15. Adam Vinatieri then hit a 47 yard field goal with 8 seconds left to give Tony Dungy’s team a 3-point win and unexpected cover.

Washington 29 – New Orleans 24 (*closing line was Skins pick’em with a total of 42): This 5-point win by Washington did not tell the whole story of just how dominating they were here. The Redskins out gained New Orleans by a whopping 255 total yards and had 9 more first downs. Washington didn’t have to punt until the 1:54 mark of the third quarter and they TRAILED 17-15 at that point. They had great scoring opportunities on their first SIX offensive possessions of the game. Here’s what happened. The Skins missed a FG on their opening possession. Next, they drove down to the New Orleans 4-yard line and settled for a FG. They then took the ball to the Saints 19-yard line and came away with another FG. On their fourth possession they moved it to the N.O. 12-yard lined and missed their second FG of the game. On their final drive of the half they were halted at the 17-yard line and made a FG but trailed 10-9 at half. The Redskins initial drive of the second half final took them to the end zone. Even after all of those opportunities, they needed a 67-yard TD pass with just over 3 minutes left in the game to get the 29-24 win. The moral of the story is, Washington could have and should have won this one big.

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