Against the Spread: Top 5 for week 9

<p>The Impaler is back at it yet another week. For a look back at the top five picks of last week and a look forward to this weekend's matchups, check out The Impaler's perspective on the odds and the odd balls.</p> <p>Who's going to win this week? Your guess is as good as mine, but the Impaler can shed some light on the subject if you're considering a friendly wager with a rival, or if you just need some help with this week's office pool.</p>

Against the Spread: Week 9
By Chris, the Impaler, Patriots Insider

With my apologies to Charles Dickens, for die-hard New England sports fans, the memorable lead from A Tale of Two Cities seems apropos. Indeed it was the best of times as both the Patriots and Red Sox won their respective Championships this year and the past two weeks were the worst of times as a young woman was killed celebrating the Red Sox victory on Yawkee Way and both the New England Patriots and Democratic Presidential Candidate John Kerry both lost their bids for greatness.

I am sure, however, Senator Kerry will not make like the French aristocrat Charles Darnay and move to Montreal because he cannot bear to deal with the injustices of the American Electoral College. Nor will Patriots head coach, Bill Belichick, much like Jarvis Lorry, succumb to a man with a prominent jaw.

Life as a sports and politics fan in New England parallels Dicken's theme of resurrection in A Tale of Two Cities. If true, then that makes the Impaler a modern day Jerry Cruncher, an odd jobs man that writes for the Patriots Insider; known as a short tempered, brusque chap with a penchant for weakness in the line who supplements his income by being the gambler's equivalent of what was once known as a 'resurrection man'.

This week, like our friend Cruncher, we look to resurrect our record and while we won't be selling cadavers any time soon to scientists, we figure that five plays gratis should nourish our wagering jones and keep at least one odds job man in business playing another week courtesy of Mr.Tagliabue.

ST. LOUIS (+2.5) v New England (48.5 o/u)

The game after losing their 21 in a row win streak, the Patriots face another stiff road test at the St. Louis Rams. And for the offensive minded Rams they couldn't catch the wounded Patriots at a better time. Last week we saw how important RB Corey Dillon is to the Charlie Weiss engineered offense. Thin at best at running back, the Patriots can ill afford to be without their marquee starter. Last week, against a second string NT Hoke, the Patriots were dominated on the line of scrimmage and were hard pressed to do anything successful on offense. While the Patriots offensive fortunes should not rise and fall with one running back, in this league, the run is essential to setting up the short passes that Weiss loves as well as deep bombs. But if there is no run game then, as I mentioned in last week's column, it is easy to set up your 3-4 package and then make the QB, Brady make the plays, which did not happen against the amped up Steel curtain.

This week, however, the danger is not with the Pats offense. It is the major losses at the corner back position; especially stud CB Ty Law who broke a bone in his foot in the Patriots' loss to the Steelers last week. Rookie Randall Gay replaced him, but the drop off is severe when your next assignment is to cover Torry Holt. Also injured is Tyrone Poole who has missed two games with a bad knee. Both these defensive injuries will be too much for the Patriots to overcome. Meanwhile the Rams are coming off their Bye week and should be rested and ready to win this game outright.

Impaler Perspective: Rams at home grabbing 2.5 points with one of the best kickers in the league, and that you beat us in the Big Dance revenge thing coupled with this week's resurrection theme for 330 V-chips.

BUFFALO (+3) v NY Jets (36.5 o/u)

Impaler Perspective: This week we are not going against the MNF winner on the road system. Grabbing 3 points with the home Bills; we've learned our lesson for $330 units.

CINCINNATI (+1.5) at Dallas (43.5 o/u)

Impaler Perspective: While I don't like either side, and since we got burned in Music City last weekend. With the new lethal combo of old Jets, Vincenzo and Key seem like long lost cousins hooking up for a fun game of backyard football. Now with the injury to Terry I deed it Glenn, this should open up more opportunities for both Bryant and Johnson. Meanwhile, George seems slightly effective at running the ball, so Parcells should air it out for some more long scores against a suspect Cincinnati D. On the other side of the Ball, Palmer is still the starting QB (barely) but both of his Johnson's seem to be having a difficult time with YAC and RAC. While it won't get much easier against Dallas, we still love watching high scoring games and on the road Dallas' defense isn't as solid as at home. This home barnburner for the Bengals should push over the total in the first half for 330 V-chips.

SAN FRANCISCO (+7) v Seattle (39.5 o/u)

Over the past two weeks teams that were listed as a seven point chalk went 1-7 ATS with the lone win coming last Monday Night when the Jets hosted the Dolphins. Is this the end of a trend that has made a lot of money for gamblers who have been paying attention? I am not sure. And while San Francisco looked worse than a high school team in the Windy City, even worse is the Seahawks ability to cover a spread. Last week against Carolina at home, the Hawks seemed to have a lock on a thirteen-point victory until shades of St. Louis appeared and they allowed the Panthers a last minute score to destroy the 8-point spread. I am sure Seattle will lead by two TDs until the waning moments of the game when they allow SF a silly TD and blow another spread for Hawks backers.

Impaler Perspective: Have you noticed a trend yet? Home cookin' tastes so much better when there is a reversal at stake. Like a person in an abusive relationship coming home for more give me the seven points for 110 V-chips.

Monday Night Bonus

INDIANAPOLIS (-5.5) v Minnesota (60 o/u)

Looking to improve on our Monday Night Bonus that now stands at 2-1 against the spread, the Vikings travel south to Indianapolis for what should be another high scoring game. The Colts are coming off a tough, high scoring loss to the resurgent Kansas City Chiefs. In fact, the Edge Edgerrin James was held to a paltry 34 yards rushing by a defense not noted for their ability to repel invaders. Of course James made up for his rushing by gaining 90 yards receiving, but even with the Vikings inability to stop the run, they should be able to control James, who has not been the same RB since his injury several years ago. Both teams are woeful on defense and should both be able to score at will-especially on the national television program that has me longing for memories of Howard Cosell, now that was one good football broadcaster. Meanwhile, something has happened with Colts PK Mike Vanderjagt who has started missing FGs, something that the Colts are unaccustomed to watching. Last week he was 0/1 on FG attempts. Meanwhile, the old warhorse Mort Anderson has had his share of difficulties. And unfortunately, or fortunately, for one of these teams the outcome of this game will probably rest on the place kicker's foot.

Impaler Perspective: While the over looks like a lock in this match-up, Minnesota does not travel well on Monday Night, look what happened when they went to Philly earlier this season. However, Indianapolis does not have the same freaky D as the Eagles. For this reason we love the Vikings to cover the 5.5 points for 220 V-chips.

WEEK 8 RECRAP

2-3 is not the way I figured week 8 to end. However, when you're stuck in the gulag playing Russian roulette you should expect to get your brains blown out of the side of your head sooner or later. While actually our losses we're not as fatal as losing a few crucial bits of the old gray matter, we lost and that stinks. We'll look at Monday Night and then go back from there. Oops probably is not the strongest word we can use to describe Miami's 41-14 shellacking at the hands of the tied with Patriots for first place J-E-T-S, but the word about covers it to the tune of 330 limp noodles. Fate found us on the wrong side of two systems last week. First was the MNF reversal game and then in the second we went against the system play by taking the MNF winner on the Road (Bengals) at the Titans. This cost us 220 units. Our third loss of the weekend had us staring down the barrel of some of the worst football we've seen in a long time, Da'Bears-'Frisco pukefest. I won't go into it, but when your starting QB is out and the replacement won't throw the ball to the best active tight end in football, how do you expect to win? I don't and didn't. Wiping myself with another 330 sheets of toilet paper.

But all was not lost, not quite, we actually won the two most obvious games of the weekend-which should shame the hell out of me. Even my dead dog Spanky would have picked Houston for 220 units over Jacksonville, while New England fans everywhere now know just how special that Corey Dillon pick up was this year. Wow, dare I say it, but this offense blows when they can't run the ball. Sure, we loved the Steel City Bergers in this one but we didn't pick our spot wisely enough and took home one paltry unit offsetting our three losses with a minus 580 figure for the week eights NFL football pain. 9-11-1 against the spread is the creepy record for the YTD. This left me only one option this week. I called the Kerry Campaign and asked them how to deal with last week's heavy losses as I fingered my IOU pad that is at an alarming minus 740. The angry woman on the phone hung up on me. But as they say wagering is a sprint not a marathon. Actually they don't say that, I do. Reverse what I said since we plan on a serious return for our sports wagering investment in the second half of the season.

You can find The Impaler's weekly column here each week as he contemplates the odds and provides perspective for the top 5 picks for the week. Have a bone to pick, want some more insights, just want to talk football odds? You can reach Chris in the forums, under the screenname: christheimpaler.

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