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Between the 20s

   by ASA - 11/03/2006


Highest Total

According to the Sports Books:
Indianapolis at New England (48.5 total).

In Reality: Atlanta at Detroit (47 total). This game has all the makings of a shootout. Here are the four reasons why: 1) The game is on turf, which allows both offenses to utilize their great team speed; 2) Atlanta’s top-ranked rushing offense is going up against a Detroit stop unit – minus All-Pro defensive tackle Shaun Rodgers – that allowed 221 rushing yards to the Jets; 3) The Falcon passing game, which has flown to new heights in the passing game the last two weeks, will be taking on the Lions’ 29th-ranked pass defense and; 4) The underrated Detroit passing attack, which is fifth in the NFL with nearly 250 passing yards per game, is going up against a suspect Atlanta secondary that is 27th in the league against the pass. Enough said.

Lowest Total

According to the Sports Books:
Denver at Pittsburgh (37 total).

In Reality: Oakland at Seattle (37.5 total). This game could be downright ugly. Oakland has, by far and away, the worst, most eye-gaugingly putrid offense in the league and would struggle to score against a high school defense. Oakland’s offense has been so bad it has overshadowed the surprisingly strong performances the defense is putting together. The Raiders lead the league in pass defense and are tied for third with 10 interceptions. Seattle will struggle to put together long drives against Oakland. The Seahawks will again be without Matt Hasselbeck and Shaun Alexander and will be forced to go with career backups Seneca Wallace and Maurice Morris. Seattle’s run game has taken a major step backward from past seasons and Wallace will have a tough time against the Raider secondary.

Largest Spread

According to the Sports Books:
Chicago (-13.5) vs. Miami

In Reality: Chicago (-13.5) vs. Miami. Not high enough odds-makers. This game could be very similar to Chicago’s 41-10 shellacking of San Francisco a week earlier. Both games are at Soldier Field. The Dolphins also own a turnover-prone offense. And Miami’s defense won’t give much more resistance than San Francisco’s did. The Bears are back at the top of the league’s leaderboard in scoring offense with nearly 32 points a game. The Dolphins are way on the other end of that same leaderboard in 29th at less than 15 points a game. Chicago has dominated opponents on its home turf, winning by an average margin of 30.5 points per game at Soldier Field. It looks to us like the dominance may continue.

Most Impactful Injury

Shaun Rodgers’ suspension: While Rodgers’ absence isn’t due to an actual injury, his failed drug test – and subsequent suspension – is just as bad and will have significant ramifications in Detroit’s battle with Atlanta this week. Before Rodgers was lost for four games, the Lions were allowing just 93 rushing yards a game, good for ninth in the league. In the one game he has sat out so far, Detroit allowed 221 yards on the ground to a Jets team that hasn’t topped 136 rushing yards in any of its seven other games. Rodgers’ absence will be dramatically felt when the Lions host Atlanta and its top-ranked run offense this week. His 350-pound frame will be sorely missed against a Falcon running attack that is averaging over 210 yards per game on the ground. The Detroit secondary could be tackling Warrick Dunn, Mike Vick and Jerious Norwood at least 10 yards down field all game.

Most Glaring Mismatch

Joey Harrington vs. Chicago’s defense: Harrington has always struggled against the Bears. In seven games as a Lion versus Chicago, he owned just a 62.9 quarterback rating while throwing 10 interceptions to just four touchdowns. Things won’t get any easier for the former 2002 No. 3 overall draft pick this time around. The Bears lead the league in scoring defense, total defense and turnovers forced and are second in pass defense. Meanwhile, Harrington boasts a putrid 64.1 quarterback rating for the season highlighted by seven interceptions and just three touchdowns. Look for the former Oregon Duck to have a long day, with most of it probably being spent on his back or chasing down defenders on interception returns.

Most Important Player(s)

Cincinnati wide receiver Chad Johnson: The off-field Chad Johnson of old has reappeared, holding impromptu press conferences in his locker and talking all kinds of trash. Now it’s time for the on-field Johnson to reappear and back up his talk. Johnson has finished third, sixth and fifth in receiving yards in the NFL the last three years. This year, he’s 23rd in receiving yards with just two touchdowns and not a single 100-yard receiving game to his name. The Bengals need him to snap out of his funk if they are to beat Baltimore on the road and retake the AFC North’s top spot. Cincy has lost three of four but a big game from “Ocho-Cincoâ€쳌 could put an end to the slump.

Potential ATS Upset of the Week

Kansas City (+2.5) over St. Louis: The battle of Missouri has belonged to Kansas City in recent years, with the Chiefs winning the last three meetings dating back to 1997. And the Chiefs haven’t just beaten the Rams, they’ve destroyed them, winning those three games by an average margin of over 22 points. These two squads are heading in opposite directions at this point of the season. St. Louis was one of the big surprises in the league early in the season after jumping out to a 4-1 start. But the Rams have faltered since, losing their last two. Kansas City, on the other hand, lost its first two games of the year, but has since won four of its last five. Kansas City and St. Louis have shared the same opponents the last two weeks, with the Chiefs beating both Seattle and San Diego while the Rams have lost to those same teams. Kansas City has all the momentum in this matchup, and that could make all the difference.

Best of luck and check back next week!

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