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NFL: Buy or Sell

   by ASA - 12/02/2008

BUY – Chicago Bears OVER the total

As mighty as some feel the Bears defense is, I’ll throw in my opinion on that topic. They are over rated. Chicago is constantly mentioned among the leagues best stop units yet the numbers simply don’t “bearâ€쳌 that out. This team has now allowed 21 points or more in six of their last seven games. They are 17th in overall defense and opposing teams light them up through the air for an average of 240 YPG (29th in the NFL). The Bears are very good against the run, however this forces teams like the Titans a few weeks ago (41 pass attempts) to throw the ball much more than they normally would. That leads to lengthening games and definitely favors higher scoring affairs for the most part. Overall, however this team is not the shut down unit some, for whatever reason, consider them to be. I’ll take a strong look at the “overâ€쳌 in their upcoming games.

The Chicago offense has slowed down to a crawl in three of their last four games, however two of those were against very stout defenses in Tennessee and Minnesota. They scored just 14 in each of those, yet had chances to up those numbers in both games. Now with the opponents they have on their upcoming schedule, I look for them to get back to the “scoring machineâ€쳌 that put up at least 20 points in seven of their first eight games.

The Grizzlies just finished a three game road trip and now they turn around and host three in a row. They host Jacksonville, New Orleans and Green Bay the next three games. The defenses for those three opponents alone should get the Chicago offense back on track. Jacksonville has talent on defense but they appear to have quit. Now at 4-8 and off a Monday night loss @ Houston, their playoff chances are shot. I don’t see this Jaguar team coming out with a lot of fight next Sunday. A Jacksonville defense that was solid at times this year has now given up 84 points in their last three games (28 PPG). New Orleans then comes to the Windy City with playoff hopes still dancing in their heads. The Saints are the #1 passing team in the NFL which bodes well for a high scoring game vs. the porous secondary the Bears put out on the field. Not only that, the New Orleans’ defense doesn’t scare anyone and has allowed at least 29 points in seven games already this season. Finally, Green Bay darts south to Soldier Field on December 22nd. The Packer offense has been humming averaging 31 PPG over their last four. The defense, however, has also been lit up for at least 28 points in all but one of those four games. The one team that did not keep the scoreboard operator working was Chicago. The Bears tallied only three points a few weeks ago vs. Green Bay. Expect that to change as Chicago rids themselves of that offensive embarrassment and rolls up big numbers in their second meeting with the cheeseheads.

The one thing we must watch this time of year is, of course, the weather. It can get mighty windy and cold this time of year in Chicago. I’ll keep a close eye on that each week before determining whether or not to play the total. However, if things go smoothly, I expect Chicago will be a nice “overâ€쳌 play the next few weeks.

SELL – Dallas Cowboys

The bandwagon for the Dallas Cowboys was empty just a few weeks ago. Now that same wagon is so full the tires are about to burst. While many people I know are firmly back on that wagon, I’m staying off of it. Despite the fact that Tony Romo is back and the offense seems to have kicked back into high gear, I’m selling America’s team.

Just because Romo is back and the Boys have rolled up over 30 points in each of their last two games, I’m not so sure that will continue. In fact, I’m quite positive it won’t based on their upcoming schedule (I’ll get to that in a minute). Romo has now been back for three games. In his first outing, Dallas struggled to just 198 total yards and only 14 points. That was against a solid Redskin defense. After that game, a quick glance at their scores and one may think that this offense is back to the dominating ways that we all have come accustomed to. Not so fast my friends, to steal a line from Lee Corso. Their most recent two wins were both at home and they came against two of the worst teams in the NFL. Two weeks ago the Cowboys put up 35 points on a San Francisco defense that ranks 23rd overall in the NFL, 28th against the pass and 28th in points allowed. That was already the sixth time this season the Niner defense has allowed at least 30 points. Last Sunday Dallas scored 34 on a Seattle defense that ranks 30th in overall defense, 28th vs. the pass and 26th in points allowed. The Seahawks have allowed 20 or more points in every game this year but two. Nothing special putting up points on those two teams.

Look for those high scoring ways to come to a screeching halt. Talk about taking a huge step up in competition. The Cowboys schedule from here on out is brutal to say the least. How about facing the #1, #2 AND #3 ranked defense all in the next three weeks? You couldn’t draw that up any worse for Dallas but that’s the scenario they now have laid out in front of them. Next week’s it’s @ Pittsburgh where the Steelers are 32-11 SU their last 43 games. Oh yeah, and there’s this little tidbit. The “Steel Curtainâ€쳌 is now ranked 1st in the NFL in total defense, 1st in pass defense, 1st in rush defense and 1st in points allowed! After that, it’s back home to the friendly confines of Texas Stadium for two games. However, those two home games are against the 11-1 Giants and the 8-4 Ravens. They currently sit at #3 and #2 in total defense in the NFL respectively. That means the Boys opponents for the next three games currently have a combined record of 28-8! Definitely not teams you’d choose to face when fighting for your playoff lives.

I’ve made my case and while many will be clamoring for the Cowboys as a playoff team now with Romo back at the helm, I’m taking the other side on this. Sell this team now because the going only gets tougher over the next few weeks.

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