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NFL: Buy or Sell
by ASA - 10/31/2008
Each week I will focus on teams you might want to â€œbuyâ€쳌 or â€œsellâ€쳌 in the short term based on a number of factors including scheduling, how they are currently playing, injuries, etcâ€¦ Here are my recommendations in this weekâ€™s article.
BUY â€“ Cleveland Browns
I probably should have recommended this buy last week, however I wanted to wait one more week to make sure the Browns were a solid investment. It looks like they are. This was a solid 10-6 team a year ago that simply struggled out of the gate in 2008. They began the season 0-3, however each loss was somewhat â€œexpectedâ€쳌 as they were a dog in each and played three solid teams in Dallas, Pittsburgh and Baltimore. However since their 28-10 loss @ Baltimore back on September 27th, this team has ripped off three wins in their last four games. Two of those wins came against impressive opposition as the Browns crushed what many consider to be the best team in the NFL, the NY Giants 35-10. Their other impressive win during their most recent stretch was last Sunday when they topped Jacksonville on the road 23-17. Clevelandâ€™s only loss since September 27th came at the hands of a very good Washington team 14-11. Believe it or not, the Browns have been an underdog in all seven of their games this year. That is about to change in the near future. This Sunday in fact.
The Dog Pound has a revenge game at home vs. Baltimore this weekend and the Browns are listed as a 1.5 point favorite. The first battle of these AFC North rivals was at the end of September and the Ravens dominated 28-10. The Cleveland offense was completely baffled in that game netting just 169 total yards. QB Derek Anderson had been playing awful football up to that point and it didnâ€™t change vs. Baltimore as he completed just 14 of his 37 passes for 96 yards. After that embarrassing loss, they really made a push to turn around their season. So far it has worked. Anderson is playing much better with 830 yards passing 5 TDâ€™s and just 1 interception since that loss. This team was averaging just 8.6 PPG after their loss to Baltimore and since then this offense has generated 22.2 PPG. The defense has also stepped up as they were allowing 22 PPG through their loss to the Ravens and since then they have not allowed an opponent to top 17 points. This team was very close to making the playoffs last year and they are looking more like a potential post season team each week.
Clevelandâ€™s upcoming schedule fits very nicely for a potential run. They play 4 of their next 5 games at home. After their revenger against Baltimore this Sunday, their home games look like this: Itâ€™s a game vs. a â€œdefense deprivedâ€쳌 Denver team, a tilt against an up and down Houston team and finally facing off vs. an over rated Indianapolis squad. The Browns have been a nice money maker as a home chalk (77% since 2004) and it looks like that may continue over the next month or so.
SELL â€“ Tennessee Titans
Yes itâ€™s true. Iâ€™m selling the undefeated Titans over the next few weeks. This isnâ€™t a long term thing, none of these are, however in the short run watch for this team to struggle covering the number.
Scheduling is obviously a huge variable each week when in comes to predicting which teams might start doing well and who might turn south for a few weeks. The Titans have played just three road games this season and two of them have come against Kansas City and Cincinnati who have a combined record of 1-14 straight up this year. Their other roadie was vs. Baltimore and Tennessee had to score a TD with just 1:56 remaining to escape with a 13-10 win in that one. The Ravens actually had 8 more first downs and 75 more total yards in that contest so the Titans were actually very fortunate to get out of Baltimore unscathed.
Now the only undefeated team in the NFL has a tough stretch over the next three weeks. They host Green Bay on Sunday which is a tricky spot coming off their huge Monday Night AFC South battle against Indianapolis. A short week and potential letdown spot will be dangerous vs. a pretty good Packer team. After that its back to back road games @ Chicago and Jacksonville. If you can shut down Tennesseeâ€™s running game and make Kerry Collins put the team on his shoulders, you have a good chance to beat them. He has hit on just 58% of his passes this year and has only 3 TDâ€™s (along with 3 interceptions). The Bears can do just that ranking 6th in the NFL in rush defense allowing only 86 YPG. Jacksonville will be waiting in the wings with revenge on their minds after their 17-10 loss @ Tennessee to open the 2008 season. The Jags also are pretty good at stopping the run so theyâ€™ll have a shot to pull the upset at home.
The Bears are historically, one of the most dangerous home dogs in the league with a long term spread record of 42-25 (62.6%) in that role since 1980. The Jags are 9-2 ATS in the home dog spot since the 2003 season. Both of those will be very tough games and our bet is the Titans go down in at least one of those two. With a dangerous home game and two road games against solid opponents coming up, Iâ€™ll sell this team in the short run.