Get the best handicapping articles and gambling advice throughout the football, basketball and baseball seasons from the world's top sports handicappers, as well as from Bovada (Bodog) Sportsbook and Casino.
Sunday, Jan 15
by Larry Ness - 01/15/2006
All good things come to an end and so it did Saturday night for the Patriots and Tom Brady. After 10 consecutive playoff wins, the Pats lost in Denver, 27-13. New England had made just six turnovers in its 10 postseason wins, posting a ratio of plus-21. However, in Saturday's loss, the Pats made FIVE turnovers leading to 24 Denver points. Over in the NFC, Seattle, despite losing Shaun Alexander to a concussion in the first quarter, beat the Redskins 20-10. The win ended Seattle's 21-year drought between playoff wins, the longest of any team in NFL history.
My free play on Sunday is Ohio St over Michigan St at 4:30 ET. Don't miss my latest LEGEND Play in Sunday's NFL, as my LEGEND Plays have gone 14-2 in FB '05, including EIGHT consecutive winners! Sunday's BKB plays will be available by 9:00 ET.
The Washington/Seattle game was hardly a classic as for the second straight weekend, the Redskins failed to do much on offense. Washington had 'lived' off forcing turnovers it its six-game winning streak (had forced 20!) but although the team did get THREE takeaways against Seattle, it wasn't enough to overcome another pathetic offensive performance.
Seattle became the second playoff team to lose a star player early in a game (Cincy lost Carson Palmer on its second offensive play of the game LW), when Alexander left with just over four minutes remaining in the first quarter. Earlier in the quarter, Alexander (untouched!) had lost a fumble at the Washington 11-yard line.
Seattle seemingly had the game wrapped up after a FG made it 17-3, early in the 4th quarter. However, Washington went 76 yards in just four plays to cut it to 17-10. When Seattle fumbled the ensuing KO, Washington was back in it. Hall missed a 36-yard FG though and Seattle capped a long drive with a FG. At 20-10, Brunell's long 4th-down heave into the end zone was batted down with about 45 seconds left.
The win allows Seattle to advance to the franchise's second-ever conference championship game next Sunday (lost AFC title game at the LA Raiders in 1983). As for Washington, the Redskins were a No. 6 seed and the loss makes it 10 straight losses for No. 6 seeds in the divisional round of the playoffs. Note: Pittsburgh will try to break that 0-10 run by No. 6 seeds today at Indy.
Getting back to New England, things fell apart quickly for the Pats on Saturday night. Leading 3-0 at the two-minute warning of the first half, the Pats seemed poised to at least get in FG range before the half. However, Faulk fumbled and then a RIDICULOUS pass-interference call on the Pats, gave Denver a first down at the New England. After Mike Anderson scored, New England's Hobbs fumbled the KO on a hit by Denver's kicker! A 50-yard Elam FG made it Denver 10-3 at the half.
The Pats were all set to take control in the third quarter. After closing to 10-6 on a FG, New England had a 1st-and-goal at the Denver 10-yard line. On a third and five play, Brady was 'picked' in the end zone by Champ Bailey. Bailey was run down just before scoring and he lost the ball at either the New England one-yard line, or through the end zone. The play was reviewed but it just wasn't New England's night, as the ruling on the field stood (Denver ball at the one).
A Denver TD made it 17-6. Vinatieri, the best clutch kicker in NFL playoff history, then missed a 42-yarder and later on, Troy Brown fumbled a punt at the New England 15. That led to a Plummer TD pass and a 24-6 Denver lead. Brady passed for 341 yards, while Plummer had just 197. The Pats gained 420 yards while the Broncos had 286. However, New England's FIVE turnovers (Denver had just one!), were the difference.
Both home teams won and covered on Saturday, making NFC home teams in this divisional round 28-3 SU and 23-6-2 ATS since 1990. AFC home teams are 23-8 SU and 15-15-1 ATS. Sunday's games are Pittsburgh at Indianapolis (1:00 ET) and Carolina at Chicago (4:30 ET). The Colts are favored by 10 points with a total of 47 1/2, while the Bears are a three-point favorite with a total of 30 1/2.
No. 1 Duke and No. 2 Florida both won on Saturday, upping their records to 16-0. The Blue Devils won 87-77 at Clemson and the Gators won at home against Auburn, 69-57. The nation's only other unbeaten team, Pittsburgh (13-0), plays at 13-2 Louisville today (1:00 ET). The Panthers are three-point road underdogs.
Illinois and Gonzaga both won home games on Saturday, Illinois beating Michigan 79-74 and Gonzaga beating Pepperdine, 102-73. Both schools now own 31-game home winning streaks, tying them with Southern Illinois for the longest current home streaks in college basketball.
The other day, I had reported that Southern Illinois' home streak was just 30 games. I was never all that good in math and I want to apologize to all the folks in Carbondale as well as to Walt Frazier and ALL his descendants!