Against the Spread: Week 6
By Chris, the Impaler, Patriots Insider
Professional football players grumbling and complaints about head coaches are as prevalent these days as hearing Who's your daddy chants at Yankee Stadium.
Whether it is the entire NY football Giants team wailing that Tom Coughlin worked them too hard over the summer sessions to Kansas City Chiefs' first round pick Larry Johnson pouting about Dick Vermeil's diaper comment, the character of the pro player in the NFL seems to have eroded over time into that of an uber-spoiled child.
Enter School of Hard Knocks' Dean of Discipline Bill Belichick. Last week he proved yet again why I love this guy; by benching returner/WR Bethel Johnson for what was reported as not giving 100% in practices leading up to the Miami Dolphin game.
While perhaps this was Belichick's way of motivating his sophomore receiver, players generally view their benching in more selfish terms. Typically, the disciplined player responds with a disgruntled comment on these motivation techniques that, while it might work for other players it doesn't work with me.
Bethel Johnson had a similar response when asked about being left off the active roster last week (his second in two seasons). While a benched Johnson may have hurt you if he was your WR in fantasy football last week, I must assume that Belichick picked his spot wisely to bench the upstart receiver. Rather than waiting for a more offensively minded team such as the Seattle Seahawks where points will come in bunches and it will be up to Brady and his favorite receivers (not the radio types either) to match the birds point for point.
We all remember what Ty Law said about his head coach after winning the Championship last year. However, by this spring workout sessions the once highest paid CB in the league returned to the team with nary a disrespect uttered about his head coach.
Hopefully, the same will hold true with Johnson during this week's practices before the Seattle Seahawks fly into town. The Patriots receiving corps has been decimated this year and another benching for Johnson (or any of the healthy WRs) might prove costly for the Patriots. They cannot afford to lose another WR to something as avoidable as disciplinary reasons.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (-4) v Seattle Seahawks (O/U 42)
The Patriots host the Seattle Seahawks at the Razor to kick off this weekend's wagering fun. A game that some have billed as a preview to this year's Championship game in Jacksonville, Las Vegas Sports Consultants opened the Patriots as a 4 point favorite with the total planted at 42. The number has not moved since.
Last week was a comedy of errors for Chris, the Impaler. Beginning last Sunday with the early game as the Patriots/Dolphins game ended in a 14-point push and ending with Seattle blowing a monumental 17-point lead in the final 10 minutes at home against the St. Louis Rams and losing outright. Sometimes things happen and leads are blown. However, Seattle also managed to drop seven passes, two of which would have been TDs.
Now the Seahawks will face the New England Patriots who, in case you missed the fuss, managed to win their 19th consecutive game under head coach Bill Belichick. Despite major issues on offense (Dillon with an injured foot is questionable while Troy Brown also is healing) the Patriots managed to win despite their play. This is fine when playing a Wannstedt coached team, but playing Mike Holmgren's Seahawks is another matter entirely. And with the Seahawks boasting 13 takeaways in four games points will be at a premium for the Patriots.
By the end of this game we will know if the Patriots are legit or imitators to the crown. Meanwhile Seattle brings their 9-2-1 record ATS in their last 12 games and an angry team to Foxborough. This one will get ugly in a hurry.
IMPALER PERSPECTIVE: I'm betting a dime that the Hawks recover from last week and win this one outright and end the Patriots streak at 19, but I am grabbing the 4 points as insurance.
CLEVELAND BROWNS (3) v Cincinnati Bengals (40.5 o/u)
Baby you and me were never meant to be, but maybe think of me once in a while,should have been the refrain Corey Dillon used when he left Cincy. While not all of us are living on the air in Cincinnati, there are still a few guys named Palmer, Dunn and Johnson hoping to end their woes against the Browns this week in Cleveland. Unfortunately they'll meet an improved Browns team that clobbered the Baltimore Ravens in Week 1 this year.
Until Carson Palmer sorts out his INT difficulties (1 TD to 6 INTs in last three games) and MLB Webster recovers from his injuries, Cincinnati will resemble the Bungles we're used to seeing. On the other side of the ball, stud RB Lee Suggs and William Green should find enough open gaps to pound the ball all afternoon. Word from Cleveland staff is that Garcia is becoming more comfortable with the complicated offensive schemes. He should be able to exploit the Bengals' weak secondary.
IMPALER PERSPECTIVE: Cincy is 0-8 verses the spread in their last 8 games. That is good enough for the Impaler to lay third of a dime on the home team to cover the three points.
DETROIT LIONS (-2) v Green Bay Packers (44.5 o/u)
This match-up of the old NFC Black and Blue Division stalwarts is your basic system play. This system dictates that when you have a team on the road after a Monday night game, wager on the home team, no matter what. The Monday night team is at a basic disadvantage since they are playing on the road on a short week. Then we factor news that Favre's daughter wants him to quit, the Packers have no defense and Head Coach Mike Sherman is experiencing dissention in the ranks, the play seems obvious. The Lions are a team on the upswing.
Certainly Mooch has made Detroit fans believe in their team. No longer the NFC whipping boy, the Detroit Lions come complete with a lethal receiving corps and a QB who can get them the ball.
IMPALER PERSPECTIVE: I'm laying the 2 points and 220 on "these are not" George Plimpton's Paper Lions.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (-8.5) v Carolina Panthers (42)
I am sure Andy Reid and the entire Eagles team has waited for this game since the NFC title game last year. While revenge might be on the minds of the dominant Eagles, they still have a hard fighting Carolina Panther team to beat to move to 5-0, the first time since 1983. While these are the same teams in name, some of the players have changed. However, at the key hands positions, they are relatively the same as the teams we saw in the title match.
Carolina is bruised and battle torn early this year. Lost to injuries are speedy receiver Steve Smith, Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kris Jenkins and last week DeShaun Foster broke his leg and is out for the next 6-10 weeks. Also out is returner Rod Smart (He Hate Me) while MLB Mark Fields is listed as questionable. This places the burden on RB Stephen Davis (missed three games with a knee injury), who at deadline was still listed as questionable for Sunday's tilt in Philly. Conversely, for the Eagles, McNabb is having his best season in recent memory and the Eagles look virtually unstoppable against this depleted Carolina Panther's team.
IMPALER PERSPECTIVE: We'll be eating our dinner cold in the city of brotherly love for 220 units laying the 8.5 points.
MONDAY NIGHT BONUS
ST. LOUIS RAMS (-6) v Tampa Bay Buccaneers (42.5 o/u)
Both of these teams should feel a bit smug about themselves after last weekend. Brian Griese's resurrection to bring the Buccaneers back to the win column over the defenseless New Orleans Saints and St. Louis with their miraculous 17 pt comeback in the fourth quarter in Seattle. This week, though, things should return to normal for the offensively inept Buccaneers and the defensively bereft Rams. The Buccaneers won last week, but more troubles loom ahead for Head Coach John Gruden since their offense is not scoring enough touchdowns. This will produce a huge headache for Chuckie when he faces the Rams who seem to have found their scoring proficiency once again.
IMPALER PERSPECTIVE: Bet this game early because all the loser money will be on St. Louis about 1 am Monday morning trying to recuperate significant losses. I already figured 440 on the Rams laying the six.
Week 5 RECRAP
One of Murphy's Laws states that, all skill is in vain when an Angel pisses down the barrel of your rifle. Nowhere was that more apparent in last weekend's Pats-Dolphins game. While we handicapped the game correctly, certain failures by Miami (lets say three times inside the five yard line in the second half and not one point scored, and a particularly brutal last stalled drive from the Patriot's 1 yard line) and the fact that PK Olinde Mare came up lame minutes before the game doomed our wager to a 24-10 final score. The fourteen-point margin of victory gave both sides bettors a push. The Impaler's record now stands at 1-3-1 ATS with a deficit of 100 points.
Don't forget to get those picks in for the weekly picks contest Deadline Friday by 3pm!
Chris Shepard, aka The Impaler, writes a weekly piece for the patriots insiders titled "Against The Spread," written as if it were from a gamblers perspective on the upcoming game(s). You will find The Impaler in the forums under the screenname ChrisTheImpaler He'd like nothing better than to hear from you on why you agree/disagree or take issue with his perspectives.
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