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NFL Revenge Games

   by Al McMordie - 08/11/2009

One of the great things about sports wagering is the growth of creativity over the last decade. Futures wagers, prop bets, halftime wagering have all seen an increase, adding to the challenge and enjoyment of the industry. Other examples are “Games of the Year” and “Revenge Games” 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.

A year ago in this column I told you to watch for revenge in Week 6 when the Patriots went to San Diego. The Patriots shocked the 14-2 Chargers in the playoffs three years ago, 24-21, despite getting outplayed, then the two met twice in 2007. 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. I wrote, “This will be the first meeting in San Diego since the playoff game, when the Pats stomped all over the 50-yard line bolt, prompting an outburst from Tomlinson. No doubt the players and fans will be into this one.” They were, as the Chargers stomped on the Pats, 30-10. Let’s examine some of the better revenge situations to keep tabs on long before the week of the contest (I put in a potential point spread for fun.)

Week 2, Pats (-7) at NY Jets: This is always a rivalry game, but expect even more fur to fly this time. The teams split two games in 2008, with the visitor pulling the upset each time. The Pats lost a tough game in OT at home when they last met, which tripped up their division title hopes. The Jets have a new coach in Rex Ryan who a few months ago said, “I’m not afraid of Bill Belichick.” Bad blood, history, a division rival and a new coach all make this an explosive emotional/revenge situation.

Week 8, Carolina at Arizona (-3): No one remembers Carolina going 12-4 last season with a No. 2 seed in the NFC. Everyone remembers its huge playoff flop to Arizona, a 33-13 blowout while turning it over 6 times. How bad was it? Consider that the Panthers gave up 145 yards rushing to the Cardinals! Entering as a 10-point underdog and ridiculed for their 0-5 record in the Eastern time zone, Arizona raced to a 27-7 halftime lead and cruised past the mistake-prone Panthers, who were the league's only unbeaten team at home in the regular season. All of that success was wiped away in a few hours. Bet the Panthers will be focused for this one, even if it is on the road.

Week 8, Miami at NY Jets (-2): The Jets had a chance to make the playoffs with Brett Favre in the finale last season hosting Miami. They flopped in a 24-17 home loss, with four turnovers. They lost to former QB Chad Pennington and missed the playoffs because of it. And the Dolphins went from 1-15 to division champs, while the Jets let Eric Mangini and Favre walk.

Week 9, Dolphins at Patriots (-10): This game is always a rivalry contest, but here we have the last two AFC East champs. It was the Dolphins who stunned the Patriots in their last meeting here in 2008, winning 38-13 as a big dog. That ended the Patriots' NFL record of 21 straight regular season wins. The Dolphins rushed for 216 yards, and the term “Wildcat offense” made its way into the NFL lexicon. Fans booed the Patriots and many left early. The Dolphins went on to win the AFC East while the Pats missed the playoffs for the first time since 2002.

Week 14, Philadelphia at NY Giants (-4): The defending champion Giants were the dominant team in the NFC in 2008, until the Eagles stunned them in the playoffs, a 23-11 upset. Five times New York got inside the Eagles 20, for just three field goals. The Giants were the first No. 1 seeded defending Super Bowl champion to lose their first playoff game. "I am very, very disappointed," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "I am sorry to see the season come to an end. There is remorse for opportunities lost." He will likely roll the game film again for this one.

Week 17, Eagles at Dallas (-4): It’s too bad this one is in Week 17. These teams battled in the 2008 regular season finale to see who would go to the playoffs, and the Cowboys decided not to show up, humiliated in a 44-6 embarrassment. Terrell Owens said, "I don't have all the answers, but I'd love to be part of the solution." The Cowboys also hope he is –- so they shipped him out of town! By the way, this game is the first week of January: Tony Romo is 5-8 in December starts, 22-4 in all other months. Good luck, as always...Al McMordie.

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