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NFL Revenge Games

   by Al McMordie - 07/24/2008

One of the great things about sports wagering is the growth of creativity over the last decade. Futures wagers, prop bets, halftime wagering has all seen an increase, adding to the challenge and enjoyment of the industry. Other examples are “Games of the Yearâ€쳌 and “Revenge Gamesâ€쳌 which crop up before the college and pro football seasons. Oddsmakers have various numbers posted on key games during the season, such as rivalry games like Oklahoma/Texas and NFL regular season showdowns. Let’s examine some of revenge situations on which to keep tabs long before the week of the contest.

Week 5, Steelers at Jaguars (-3): A key AFC clash and a rematch of last year’s playoff meeting. The Steelers enjoyed a successful campaign under first-year head coach Mike Tomlin, but it ended badly in the first round of playoffs, a 31-29 loss at home to these Jaguars. Pittsburgh also lost the regular season meeting, 29-22, at home to Jacksonville. Jacksonville became the first opponent to win twice in Pittsburgh in the same season in the Steelers' 75-season history.

It was a game that Steelers felt they should have won, and maybe even were robbed. Steelers linebacker Larry Foote argued emphatically that Jacksonville's offensive line held on QB David Garrard's fourth-and-2 32 yard run to the Steelers 11 with 1:56 left. "I don't want to get fined, but watch the long quarterback sneak," Foote said. "Watch the middle of the defensive line and you'll see. Watch what happens in the middle of the field. You see a big old hole open up and you'll see the reason why." Sounds like bad blood between these physical defenses.

Week 6, Patriots at Chargers: And speaking of bad blood…The Patriots shocked the 14-2 Chargers in the playoffs two years ago, 24-21, despite getting outplayed, then the two met twice last season. The Pats flogged the Chargers, 38-14, in the regular season, then won a more competitive AFC Championship game, 21-12.

San Diego was without its two biggest offensive stars in the playoff game, RB LaDainian Tomlinson and WR Antonio Gates, while QB Philip Rivers was hobbled with a bad knee. That ended an 8-game win streak for San Diego and first-year coach Norv Turner. This will be the first meeting in San Diego since the playoff game, when the Pats stomped all over the 50-year line bolt, prompting an outburst from Tomlinson. No doubt the players and fans will be into this one.

Week 6, Packers at Seahawks (-8): This is a rematch of a very ugly playoff game in a Green Bay blizzard. Brett Favre frolicked in the flurries the entire afternoon, throwing three touchdown passes as the Packers whipped the Seahawks 42-20 to reach the NFC Championship Game. Seattle jumped out to a 14-0 lead, then fell completely apart.

The Packers posted their biggest point total in postseason history. RB Ryan Grant set a team postseason record by running for 201 yards, and scored three times. It was the 7th straight playoff road loss for the Seahawks, but the rematch here will be in Seattle. Oh, and that kind name Favre has retired.

Week 9, Patriots at Colts: It’s always fun when QBs Tom Brady and Peyton Manning hook up. This is the only home game during a tough four-week stretch for the Colts, playing at Green Bay, Tennessee, home here, then at Pittsburgh. The Colts had won 3 in a row over Bill Belichick and knocked the Patriots out of the playoffs in the AFC Championship game before last season’s 24-20 Pats comeback win also in Week 9 at Indy.

That game was even more significant as both teams came in undefeated. It went way under the total, too, as the defensives were better than the high profile offenses. The last two meetings have been thrillers, with the Colts winning a 38-34 late comeback in the 2007 AFC title game.

Week 12, Colts at Chargers: The defending champion Colts were dethroned by the Chargers in a stunning playoff loss in January, 28-24. It was even more embarrassing for the Colts because the Chargers won with LaDainian Tomlinson and Philip Rivers on the sideline because of injuries. Billy Volek and Michael Turned had to step in.

Also, star tight end Antonio Gates wasn’t 100%, playing much of the day on a dislocated toe. "What happened last year doesn't make it any easier this year," Manning said after the game. "When you come back and commit yourself to the '07 season and you don't finish it like you want to, it hurts." They will probably think about it leading up to this one.

Week 15, NY Giants at Cowboys: It’s too bad the NFL scheduled this one so late in the season. It’s an NFC East rivalry game and teams always get up to play the defending champs. But the fans should REALLY be into this one. The Cowboys throttled the Giants twice last year in the regular season, 45-35 and 31-20, then went belly-up at home in the playoffs, losing 21-17.

Dallas tied the most wins in team history with 13, but followed it by tying an NFL record with a sixth straight playoff loss. Dallas was also the first No. 1 seed in the NFC to lose in this round since the NFL went to the 12-team playoff format in 1990. "It hurts," said QB Tony Romo, who was 18-of-36 for 201 yards. "It's tough right now." It was a gut wrenching defeat, as "America's Team" seemed headed toward a ninth trip to the Super Bowl, and maybe even a sixth championship. It must have hurt even more to see the Giants go on to win the Super Bowl. Good luck, as always this upcoming football season...Al McMordie.

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