Against the Spread: Week 14

<p>The season winds down, and the odds improve that one of the top teams will lockup home field advantage in the playoffs. Other teams will play for pride, and others still will barely show up. This is what makes picking weekly winners such a challenge. The Impaler provides a look back at last weeks picks, and look ahead at the upcoming weekend's top five best bets.</p> <p>Sit back and enjoy this weeks rendition of Against the Spread, by Chris Shepard.</p>

Against the Spread: Week 14
By Chris, the Impaler

Last weekend's drubbing by the New England Patriots of the Cleveland Browns was unexceptional as far as wins go. By now Patriots fans' expect, rather than hope for, wins. Are we, the fans, at the point of winning ennui? Following the Patriots in the Kraft-Belichick era we now not only expect our favorite team to win, but to cover the spread as well. And this is why we have not succumbed to winner's ennui; because a gambler's life has everything but ennui.

I am sure Belichick does not call up Las Vegas Sports Consultants for the number on the weekend's game, however, somewhere in the vapor mists of coaching the #1 football team in the nation, he has to hear the occasional, Pats are giving 11 points to the Cincinnati Bengals, perhaps not.

However, as a gambler you wonder. Gamblers have a tendency to take final scores personally (not me, but some). Last weekend's game against the Browns was significant in one way for total season wins bettors since it marked the second time in two years that the Patriots cashed their "Patriots winning over 10 games" ticket.

For most followers of our Sunday afternoon heroes this comes as little surprise. In fact, the refrain I hear most often is, "how could you not bet the over?"

"Championship game hangover year," I respond typically.

If we look deeper into our browser cache, beyond the pornographic images, we see that the Impaler actually recommended an under 10 wins play in our inaugural column in August. But then we were wrong about a few games this year.

NEW ENGLAND (-11) v Cincinnati (44 o/u)

New England kicked so many butts up and down the field last week against the Browns that Tom Brady was rested with a 42-7 lead late in the third quarter. While his numbers look pedestrian at best, the team did enough to belie his weak numbers. He finished 11-of-20 for 157 yards, one touchdown and one interception in Week. Just enough. Standouts in this game were the New England defense/special teams. They got it rolling from the outset, when WR/KR Bethel Johnson set the tone with a 93-yard kickoff return for touchdown to open the game. On defense the Patriots allowed 15 points and 287 total net yards. New England also had three sacks; two fumble recoveries and two interceptions. CB Randall Gay also scooped up a RB William Green fumble for a touchdown. Wow, if you are into defense this was the game to watch.

Last week, Cincinnati's Carson Palmer was 29-of-36 for 382 yards and three touchdowns and one interception in week 13 against Baltimore in the Bengal's tremendous come from behind win. This week they'll not have it as easy as the Patriots do enough on both sides of the ball to make it a tough afternoon for the Bengals in Foxboro. It seems that Palmer is finally hitting his stride but will really get tested by the Patriots this weekend. However, with Rudi Johnson running the ball well and his WR's Houshmandazeh and Johnson catching anything thrown within ten feet of them Cincinnati has a real chance of keeping this game within ten points. On the injury front, Cincinnati S Rogers Beckett (neck) and DL Carl Powell (knee) are both questionable for Week 14.

Impaler Perspective: I don't like this number at all, ten maybe, but eleven? Fagedaboudit. Take the Bengals and grab the 11 points for 330 Johnson's.

CAROLINA (-6) v St. Louis (44 o/u)
Carolina WR Muhsin Muhammad continued his amazing play in Week 13 at New Orleans. The receiver caught 10 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown. Third string RB Nick Goings rushed 36 times for 122 yards and one touchdown against the porous Saints' defense. Goings also added six catches for 46 yards. That's three weeks in a row that Goings has gone over 100 yards rushing. Jake Delhomme was 22-of-29 for 294 yards and one touchdown in Week 13 at New Orleans.

Because of their four games win streak, Carolina is one of the hottest teams in the NFC. They have moved to second place behind the over-rated Falcons and have improved their record from 1-7 to 5-7. Thanks to the play of QB Jake Delhomme, WR Muhammad and Colbert and RB Goings the Panther in my opinion are the best team in the NFC South. And since the Falcons failed to clinch last week at Tampa Bay the South is not decided as of yet. Don't think for a second that the Panthers aren't considering the Playoffs once again.

Last week St. Louis really started to fall apart. You might not see it in the box score, but St. Louis is effectively toast. The St. Louis DST allowed only six points and 160 total yards to the 49ers last Sunday. The DST unit also had one interception and four sacks. But the Rams lost Marc Bulger to injury. He will miss at least one or two games with a bone bruise in his right shoulder. Chris Chandler will assume the top spot on the depth chart in Bulger's absence. Uh-oh. I think a great prop bet is in what quarter will Chandler get injured? I'll take the third.

Impaler Perspective: Playoffs? Thanks to the low caliber of play of most NFC teams, Carolina is now talking playoffs one game at a time. Carolina laying the sixer at home for 2200 Delhomme's.

BUFFALO (-10.5) v Browns (42 o/u)
Just when they were writing his obit (Bledsoe had thrown seven interceptions in his three previous games) the Bills OL starts to get it, Magahee starts and all is well in Bills land. We know Bledsoe as well as his own parents so we know that last week's game at Miami did a lot for his confidence. Drew Bledsoe completed 19 of 30 passes for 277 yards and four touchdowns at Miami Sunday. Wow, four TDs for Bledsoe. I am happy for the guy. He's been really abused these past few years and so it was nice to see him finally have a game we all know he is capable. Buffalo WR Lee Evans caught four passes for 110 yards and two scores at Miami. Willis McGahee rushed 23 times for 91 yards at Miami Sunday. Second year CB, Terrence McGee, also returned a kickoff a team-record 104 yards for a touchdown against the Dolphins.

As for the Browns, we saw enough of them last weekend to last a lifetime.

Impaler Perspective: Bad enough getting slaughtered at home and now the Browns travel to Buffalo in December? Bills are on a mission to win for 1300 Bledsoe's (we are buying down the half-point to ten).

Jets (+6) v PITTSBURGH (39.5 o/u)

The Jets with QB Chad Pennington and without Chad Pennington are two different animals. While his play was hardly up to his normal numbers, Chad Pennington (shoulder) completed 20 of 27 passes for 155 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions against Houston in the Jets win on Sunday. RB Curtis Martin rushed 23 times for 134 yards and a touchdown against the Texans. He also caught four passes for 20 yards and another score. Indeed Martin is still a force to reckon with and should be well tested against a very tough Pittsburgh Steeler run D.

However, there is a chink in the steel curtain. LB Kendrell Bell (groin) is out for Week 14. DEs Brett Keisel (hamstring) and Kimo von Oelhoffen (knee) are both questionable. In other news, LB Clark Haggans (groin) and CB/ST Chidi Iwuoma (shoulder) are probable. These injuries should be a factor when the Jets run the ball and maybe I am the only person who thinks this but Martin should run in two TDs this week at 57 Flavors.

Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger completed 14-of-17 passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns in Week 13 at Jacksonville to lead the Steelers to another win. However, he did not look very good while doing it. The Jets CBs should give Big Ben difficulty this week and may lead to a few coverage sacks. Still bitten by the injury bug is Plaxico Burress (hamstring) who is getting closer to returning to action but is still listed as questionable for Week 14 against the New York Jets.

Impaler Perspective: You know Pittsburgh must lose another game before the Patriots secure home field advantage in the playoffs. This is the game they lose. Jets grabbing the sixer will be the play for 1100 Pennington's.

Monday Night Bonus

TENNESSEE (-3) v Kansas City (47 o/u)

We won again last Monday while continuing to own Monday Nights we see no reason for not winning again. Tennessee started well against the Colts last week grabbing the quick lead early in the first quarter. And if games were played for 15 minutes then the Titans would have won 24-17. But only fifteen minutes later and the Colts were up a TD 31-24 and would never look back thrashing the Titans by 26 points!

Brown rushed for 104 yards against the Colts in Week 13 before leaving early in the second half when his toe acted up on him. Antowain Smith replaced him and will start in Week 14 if Brown can't play. RB Chris Brown (toe) said nothing will keep him out of Week 14's game when the Titans face the Chiefs at home. Like it matters, but it is good to see the rookie's spunk this early in his career.

For Kansas City, WR Eddie Kennison had eight receptions for 149 yards and a touchdown in Week 13 at Oakland. This included his 70-yard TD jaunt with about two minutes left in regulation to beat the Raiders. QB Trent Green (ribs) completed 23-of-35 passes for 340 yards, three touchdowns and an interception against the Raiders.

This week Coach V got some bad news. It looks like Priest Holmes (knee) is now definitely out for the season that will put the running onus on Blaylock and Larry Johnson. Looks like Coach will finally have to play Larry Johnson at some point. While this might be a great opportunity for Johnson, I don't know that it helps the Chiefs.

Impaler Perspective: Take the home team and lay the three points in a high scoring affair that had the ABC program schedulers giddy earlier this year, but now with both of these teams out of it, there should be little to no interest in this game. So we'll play 550 on the Titans superior defense..


Well it took 13 weeks, but we knew eventually the tide would turn as we recorded our third consecutive winning week with a 4-1 record against the spread. Our play of the year, Tampa Bay crushed Atlanta (as we knew) 27-0 for 2k we also hit on another game that was never in question, Carolina grabbing two points against New Orleans was good for another dime. We hit for 3 bills when the Patriots demolished the Browns and yet another dime when the Cowboys scored 2 TDs in the final two minutes on Monday Night. As we expected, Seattle couldn't hold onto their ten-point lead and gave away another game in the fourth. Our sole loss was five bills to Miami. Hey, we can't account for 5 INTs by Feely, as it turns out that makes it one INT for every hundred we lost on the game. However, we realized a positive cash flow of $3700 bringing our rapidly improving record to 22-24-1 ATS with 1700 greenbacks stuffed into the envelope marked for the British West Indies and the Beach Club in Turks and Caicos after thirteen weeks playing with our money it is good to finally bet with the house's money. And bet we will!

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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