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2014 NFL Week 9 Bettor’s Guide

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2014 NFL Week 9 Bettor’s Guide
M.D. Wright
10.30.2014

An awful week ATS, with wild 50-point games, and puzzling performances by certain teams leading the way. A typical .667 week SU, however.

Last Week:
SU: 10-5
ATS: 5-10

Season:
SU: 75-46
ATS: 62-58-1
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New Orleans Saints vs. Carolina Panthers
Bank of America Stadium
Charlotte, North Carolina
Carolina Panthers 3

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
My Call: CAR +3
Over/Under: Over 49.5

Analysis:
The Saints’ entire game on both sides of the football is not portable. They lit up the Superdome (against an already creaky defense missing two starters in the secondary), but the Saints have not even been average on the road. They have been terrible. The Panthers will press the edges with their running game, and give Greg Olsen and Kelvin Benjamin every opportunity to make plays against what is at best, a porous New Orleans secondary. If the Panthers can mount even a semblance of a pass rush, they will disrupt everything the Saints like to do. Mark Ingram had his cursory 100 yard game in primetime on Sunday night. Unlikely he even gets half of those 170 yards in this game.

Call:
New Orleans                      23
Carolina                             27
FINAL
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San Diego Chargers vs. Miami Dolphins
Sun Life Stadium
Miami Gardens, Florida
Miami Dolphins 12

My Call: SD +2.5
Over/Under: Over 45

Analysis:
The Bolts have done well in their 1 PM/10 AM body games of late, but the Fins are so difficult to figure out for bettor’s purposes. The likelihood is that the Chargers, missing Jason Verrett and possibly Brandon Flowers, will be shorthanded in their secondary. This could lead to a couple of coverage breakdowns, if Ryan Tannehill has the time (and accuracy) to find Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline or Jarvis Landry downfield. This is not likely to be the case all game, however. The Bolts stuff the run relatively well, and the thinking is that Philip Rivers will make more plays than Tannehill in the end.

Call:
San Diego                      27
Miami                             20
FINAL
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Arizona Cardinals vs. Dallas Cowboys
AT&T Stadium
Arlington, Texas
Dallas Cowboys 2

My Call: ARZ +3
Over/Under: Over 45

Analysis:
Most sportsbooks are withholding lines on this game until a pronouncement on Tony Romo’s status is definitively made. In this sphere, however, Romo isn’t as integral to what Dallas does as DeMarco Murray. So whether Romo or Brandon Weeden plays is relatively irrelevant. The Cards stuff the run better than any team in the NFL, and they have Calais Campbell back to assist with both run stuffing and pass rushing. Cards defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is married to blitzing, and likely would have blitzed Romo on about 30+ snaps, just as he will Weeden. Weeden does not have Romo’s feel in the pocket in the face of a blitz, but if Dallas thought the Redskins’ blitz packages confounded them, they are in for even more of it, against a better secondary. All Carson Palmer has to do is continue doing what he has done since the midway point of last season: not turn over the football, and (mostly) win. The Cards offense is the type that gives Dallas’ defense fits. And without Justin Durant (muscle tear; out for season), part of the glue that has held Dallas’ defense together is now liable to make it into a sieve once again in this game.

Call:
Arizona                            31
Dallas                              17
FINAL
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Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Paul Brown Stadium
Cincinnati, Ohio
Cincinnati Bengals 13

My Call: JAX +11
Over/Under: Under 44

Analysis:
Cannot trust the Bengals with that many points, but otherwise…

Call:
Jacksonville                     13
Cincinnati                        20
FINAL
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Cleveland Browns
FirstEnergy Stadium
Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland Browns 14

My Call: CLE -6.5
Over/Under: Under 43.5

Analysis:
The Browns have been consistent on defense all year. It is their offense that has been spotty at times. The Bucs are already waving the white flag, by giving up on prized safety Mark Barron. Their coverage issues will continue.

Call:
Tampa Bay                         10
Cleveland                           20
FINAL
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Washington Redskins vs. Minnesota Vikings
TFC Stadium
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minnesota Vikings 15

My Call: Pick ‘em (MIN)
Over/Under: Under 44

Analysis:
It really does not matter who the QB is for Washington, with the way the Vikes play defense. Will Teddy Bridgewater be able to read Jim Haslett’s all-or-nothing blitz packages is the question? We say yes, when it matters the most, anyway.

Call:
Washington                           17
Minnesota                              19
FINAL
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Philadelphia Eagles vs. Houston Texans
NRG Stadium
Houston, Texas
Houston Texans 12

My Call: HOU +2
Over/Under: Under 48.5

Analysis:
The Eagles will wish that Jadeveon Clowney sat out more games when this is over. This is the type of game where he will finally make an impact in the NFL.

The Eagles are juggling their offensive line with Jason Kelce iffy, and Todd Herremans tearing a shoulder muscle during the Arizona game. With JJ Watt, Jared Crick, Whitney Mercilus and Clowney lurking, this is not the time for injuries on the line. The Texans secondary is miles better than the Eagles’ also, so there’s that. An easy under lurks. Take the Texans and the points.

Call:
Philadelphia                     17
Houston                            23
FINAL
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New York Jets vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Arrowhead Stadium
Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City Chiefs 13

My Call: KC -9.5
Over/Under: Under 42

Analysis:
The Jets make a QB change (lateral movement), with offensive line woes, against one of the best pass rushes in the NFL (led by the NFL leader in sacks, Justin Houston), in arguably the loudest stadium in the NFL. What could go wrong here for the Jets?

For bettors? Not much, being one of the safest picks of the week.

Call:
NY Jets                             9
Kansas City                    27
FINAL
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St. Louis Rams vs. San Francisco 49ers
Levi’s Stadium
Santa Clara, California
San Francisco 49ers 18

My Call: STL +10
Over/Under: Under 43.5

Analysis:
The 49ers get Glenn Dorsey back this week, but NOT Aldon Smith. For the Rams, Robert Quinn is finally untracked, after failing to notch a single sack through six games. He has three in the past two games. He will have his chances against Joe Staley, who he made look like a fool just a couple of weeks ago. The Rams’ problem is playing a complete game for 60 minutes (without trick plays and ref help), which is why it is difficult to pick them on a Money Line basis. However, you can safely pick them to cover those 10, as SF is simply not explosive enough to be trusted with that many points.

Call:
St. Louis                                     16
San Francisco                            20
FINAL
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Denver Broncos vs. New England Patriots
Gillette Stadium
Foxborough, Massachusetts
New England Patriots 15

My Call: DEN -3
Over/Under: Over 54.5

Analysis:
This was written about the Patriots heading into Week 9’s Power Rankings:
3. New England Patriots (6-2).
Doesn’t New England seem flimsy? Yes, they have dominated in three of their last four games, and won four straight, but it seems like smoke and mirrors.

Well, it will be windy at Gillette, and the Patriots have several starters gone for the season, facing a team that they can ill-afford to face shorthanded. Denver’s defense is the focal point of this game, however. If they play like they have to this point, the Patriots have no chance. However, you can never count out the Patriots at home.

Side Note: With Daylight Savings Time coming to an end this weekend, we are entering that time of year that, if you have always watched games in New England, you notice that it begins getting dark there earlier than any other venue in the NFL on 4 PM+ games. In the old stadium in December, when the Patriots kicked off at 4 PM, they would often by kicking off just before it got dark. Given how windy it will be Sunday night, it will feel like old “Sullivan Stadium” both with the early sunset and, yes, the outcome of the game.

Call:
Denver                            34
New England                  24
FINAL
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Oakland Raiders vs. Seattle Seahawks
CenturyLink Field
Seattle, Washington
Seattle Seahawks 3

My Call: OAK +15
Over/Under: Under 43

Analysis:
Let’s not even entertain this. Only intrigue is will the Raiders cover. The Raiders played Seattle’s starting defense very well in preseason, for what it’s worth, and two of those starters on Seattle’s defense are still out (Wagner, Maxwell). Seattle isn’t consistent enough on offense to cover 15 points.

Call:
Oakland                       10
Seattle                         20
FINAL
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Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Heinz Field
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh Steelers 17

SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
My Call: PIT +2
Over/Under: Under 48

Analysis:
This series is boring and played out, but there is a division lead at stake. The winner would be alone in first place in the AFC North. The Steelers have seemingly hit their stride offensively. The Ravens, however, are difficult to peg. You never know which team will show up one week to the next, and the Steelers hitting somewhat of a stride defensively (mostly through blitzing) certainly does not make it easier to figure the Ravens. However, this won’t be 13-10 FINAL.

Call:
Baltimore                      20
Pittsburgh                     23
FINAL
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Indianapolis Colts vs. New York Football Giants
Giants Stadium
East Rutherford, New Jersey
Dallas Cowboys v New York Giants***MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL***
My Call: NYG +3
Over/Under: Over 50.5
Analysis:
The Giants have had 15 days to right the ship with their offensive line, and concoct a defense against the Colts; who gave up 51 points last week themselves. Indianapolis’ offense is relentless and never quits, even when they are down by multiple scores, so the Giants cannot let off the gas pedal if they manage a lead early. Vontae Davis’ health is key here, because if he cannot go, the Giants will have even more opportunities to utilize Odell Beckham and Rueben Randle downfield.
 
The Giants will struggle to run the football for most of the night, however, as the Colts will be inclined to send extra pressure at Eli Manning. Provided those blitzes are picked up regularly enough, the Giants will have a big game offensively. Reggie Wayne should be back for this game, to go along with all-world T.Y. Hilton, and the emerging Donte Moncrief. Hakeem Nicks, for all his bluster, is a mere afterthought, as Dwayne Allen is next in line for targets after the first three, as well as Ahmad Bradshaw, who is having a historic season for catching touchdown passes as a running back; on his way to breaking the all-time record of nine — something that Ronnie Harmon, Larry “Self” Centers and others never managed. Whoever has the ball last wins, and the gut pick is the Giants. But it could go either way.
 
Call:
Indianapolis                                   27
NY Giants                                      31
FINAL
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BYE: Atlanta (2-6), Buffalo (5-3), Chicago (3-5), Detroit (6-2). Green Bay (5-3), Tennessee (2-6).

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Gentification: Coming Full Circle Where It Began

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Gentification: Coming Full Circle Where It Began
M.D. Wright
10.30.2014

Gentrification is a land mine of a subject, for a myriad of reasons. For one, while there are superficial positives (better policing — albeit at the expense of the “unsavory” and “dispensable” indigent groups who occupy the to-be gentrified areas — more healthy eating options, better healthcare, schools, shopping, etc.) there are many more profound negatives that not only do not get addressed with action, but often go unspoken; except among those who are displaced and adversely affected.

Which brings us to the Bronx, in New York City.

Gentrification as it is known in the 2010s did not begin in the Bronx. However, a great deal of what led to what BECAME gentrification DID begin there. Most people who either lived in, visited, or know of the history of the Bronx post 1975 knows how negatively affected the Bronx became after mass exoduses down south and out of the country on the part of factories, manufacturing and other like jobs. Whether it is a cart before the horse situation or the reverse, White Flight (a phenomenon with which most people are aware) was concurrent. Whites left the Bronx (and several areas in Brooklyn, Harlem and parts of Queens) and fled for Long Island, Westchester/Rockland/Orange/Putnam counties, New Jersey, or clear across country to get away from the impending development of ghettos.

We all know what happened in the late 1970s and into the 1980s in the Bronx, thereafter. Here are several images and a documentary that gives you great insight into what was actually taking place at the precise time when life in the Bronx bottomed out completely:

80 Blocks from Tiffany’s (1979):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDb8Nr_gVcw

The Bronx in the 1980’s (1984; Several Part Series):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgUsEVwXch0

Bronx 227

Bronx 225

Bronx 226

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For those who lived in these areas throughout the 60s and 70s, there were not many options; higher education was virtually a myth, with no means to fund it, in many peoples’ cases, jobs were scarce, the ability to move was borderline out of the question. It became a way of life for those who remained after the White Flight Era of the late 1960s and 1970s. Those who left also took the jobs with them. This left the area with no real tax base, relegated many to welfare and subsidized housing — whether by their own volition or because of lack of opportunity elsewhere — and most of what you see in those images and documentaries became what the Bronx was known for until the late 1990s.

One thing that often gets lost in this generation of time between the 60s and 90s is how a certain culture rose from the concrete, almost in the manner that “succession” occurs in nature’s forests, rivers and lakes, when left to decay uninterrupted: Hip Hop. As poverty, lack of jobs, lack of outlets for entertainment became the way of life in the early 1970s, adolescents and young adults began crafting ways to entertain and express themselves. For years, even before ghettos developed (which were arguably forced by Robert Moses’ overzealous desire to build expressways carving up most of the Bronx almost ensuring that secluded areas would form later), “Rent Parties” were the norm. These parties included people inviting neighbors from the block, friends and whoever wanted in to come to the home of someone looking to raise money to pay their rent in a given month. With a donation to the cause, the admittee could then dance the night away with good music and food. That concept lent itself to the beginnings of Hip Hop, which incorporated elements of gathering and enjoying music, while developing other ways to express one’s self through art, rapping over older records, which were scratched, interpolated and mashed together to create a new sound never before seen on the music landscape. The rest was history from there.

Only one thing, those who left via White Flight were long gone (besides an underprivileged few who remained, those who stayed because of pride and they desire to not leave their homes, and helped develop the burgeoning Hip Hop culture that began to engulf the Bronx). This left Blacks, Puerto Ricans and a few of the aforementioned Whites who remained to become the forefathers of Hip Hop. While Hip Hop grew, the ghettos did not improve at all until the late 1990s in most areas.

Which is when Gentrification began throughout New York City.

Many buildings in neighboring Harlem were sold for $1 beginning in the mid-1990s; unbeknownst to many Harlem natives. To those who knew, they had long been redlined from employment, lines of credit or any other legal means to save money to afford the costs of not only buying shells of abandoned buildings from the 70s and 80s, but the means to renovate these buildings (which was a key caveat that prevented many in Harlem from ever owning the buildings that their families had occupied for sometimes three or four generations prior). This led to many buildings being sold right from underneath those who not only inhabited the buildings, but contributed to what became known as the culture in Harlem and, similarly, the Bronx.

Cities began revitalization initiatives in the 1990s, with an eye on increasing the respective tax bases throughout the Uptown neighborhoods, and bettering the quality of life in general (often under the guise of “bringing jobs to the area”; but not for those who inhabited the area, rather for those who these new building owners sought to come in and displace the “undesirable welfare recipient maggots” — as many were referred to in those times). Some even received tax abatements, grant funding, and other incentives to “come back” to the areas that they willfully vacated and took jobs and opportunities with them to begin with. Hip Hop and other beautiful aspects of indigenous culture have often sprung up in place of an abandoned and marginalized group. Without White Flight and the subsequent poverty and marginalization that occurred, it is doubtful that Hip Hop would have taken hold in the way that it did, or would have even been birthed to begin with. In other words, one event begat the other, and vice versa.

The grand irony now is those who fled (literally, in some cases) for their lives from the Uptown areas in New York City, and specifically, the Bronx, are coming back in droves; coming back to areas that are — in some cases — virtually unchanged from their conditions when White Flight initially occurred over 40 years ago. It is a stark and amazing event. Areas where Whites wanted no parts of after intentionally torching buildings for insurance money to fund their lives after leaving the Bronx are often the same people (or their children/grandchildren) returning to reclaim what they willfully left behind to rot, with the people who were left to do the same.

It is as if a full-circle solar return of sorts has occurred. This is not written to be antagonistic or racist in any way, shape or form, but to utilize euphemisms and dance around the realities of what occurred in the 70s and 80s is to neglect how profound the effects were, and still are, today.

People who fled in droves out of fear for their welfare and lives are returning even bolder than the people who remained for the past 40 years, and are now buying up old shells (like the ones pictured above), and developing new housing galore: right in the backyard of people who still find themselves redlined from opportunities that would afford them the financial wherewithal to do the same. Naturally, this produces conflict. And most recently, this is what is happening in the Grand Concourse/Mount Eden/University Heights sections of the Bronx — the newest cabal of gentrification:

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/bronx/plan-new-cromwell-jerome-neighborhood-draws-bronx-jeer-article-1.1990538

A people protesting the “invasion” of gentrifiers. Indigenous people would welcome better healthcare, food options, living conditions, etc., if they were not being so systematically displaced in the process. This is becoming commonplace in New York City; not just in the Bronx, but in areas of Brooklyn, as well.

Given that White Flight led to the area falling into disrepair, the polar opposite is now occurring; White Influx now leads to Indigenous Exile. Amazing how these social constructs work, is it not?

You have to give credit to those who have seen the double-talk and lies that gentrifiers have promised elsewhere in New York City and refuse to leave their area without a fight, or at least a fair piece of the pie. Far be it to take a stand against people who willfully left an area unprovoked to come back and bully their way back in at the expense of the very people they fled to the suburbs to get away from in the first place.

 

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2014 NFL Week 8: What We Know

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2014 NFL Week 8: What We Know
M.D. Wright
10.29.2014

The Raiders are still winless. The Saints still don’t matter. The Lions are suddenly the cardiac cats this year. Cracks in the dam are forming with the Dallas Cowboys. What else did we learn in Week 8?

– We already knew the refs love Denver in Denver, so what happened last Thursday wasn’t news.

– Emmanuel Sanders and Ronnie Hillman emerging only makes Denver even more dangerous later in the season.

– Uncharacteristic forced throws for turnovers by Philip Rivers for the first time all season.

– Keenan Allen finally finds the end zone halfway through the season. Fantasy owners who dropped him fling a vase.

– Golden Tate is saving the Lions’ season.

– Can we stop calling Matt Ryan “Matty Ice”? Please?

– Jamaal Charles did what Jamaal Charles does (when Andy Reid does not interfere with his number of touches, that is.)

– Arian Foster is one of the slowest backs in the league, but somehow outruns LBs and even some DBs every week.

– Ryan Fitzpatrick did just enough to not blow this game. Then again, he was opposed by a third-string QB.

– Anthony Barr is paying dividends; justifying his lofty draft status with the Vikes.

– TREE. Over Richard Sherman AND Earl Thomas.

– Russell Wilson just knows how to win. He proved it again vs. Carolina.

– Andy Dalton with a game-winning QB sneak?

– The Ravens got robbed on the flop by George Iloka on what WOULD HAVE BEEN another game-winning TD catch by Steve Smith.

– The Fins are maddeningly inconsistent with the amount of talent they possess on offense.

– What in tarnation is going on with the Bears? They have no defense to speak of, andn when Jay Cutler is being Jay Cutler, they almost always lose.

– “Tawwwwm Braaaady.”

– The Bills actually played a terrible game for the most part offensively, and still hung 43 on the Jets (due to a half dozen turnovers total by both Jets QBs, Smith and Vick).

– Buffalo could have scored 43 in the FIRST HALF if Kyle Orton weren’t just as bad as those two.

– Samuel J. Watkins.

– Nick Foles passing the ball 62 times portends doom for the Eagles.

– John Brown. What a Jim Crow Era name.

– Jeremy Maclin with some of the most hollow numbers imaginable (ironically, mostly compiled AGAINST Patrick Peterson, while doing nothing after Peterson exited the game with a concussion).

– Fantasy owners are betwixt and between with Maclin every week.

– Larry.

– Derek Carr continues to prove that he is legit. Give him an offensive line, WRs who actually played FBS (and not FCS) football, a healthy backfield, and an NFL-level defense, and you have something.

– The Raiders barely spent money last offseason. And have gotten nothing from most of the guys they acquired in free agency. You would have to think that they will be major players in free agency, since they have their first real QB since Rich Gannon.

– Hoyer continues to make people yawn, but get the job done.

– Andrew Hawkins does not need to throw his son out of the house any further. He should be his son’s favorite player by the end of this season.

– Roethlisberger actually could have broken both the single-game passing yardage and touchdown passes record vs. Indianapolis had the Steelers not left some big plays on the field, and had been attempting to score when they were up three touchdowns at one point.

– T.Y. Hilton is a boss.

– Andrew Luck is relentless. Even in a loss, you cannot relax against the Colts’ offense. If the Football Giants are smart, they won’t be foolish and let off the gas if they manage to have a lead against Indianapolis in Week 9.

– Mark Ingram got his annual “where did that come from” 100+ yard game out of the way. Back to being another overrated Alabama product he goes.

– Brandin Cooks/Kenny Stills can potentially make up for what the Saints lost in Darren Sproles, but still, not really.

– Colt’s Revenge. America’s Victory.

– How can a team be called “America’s Team” when 90% of people who tuned in Monday Night were happy that said team lost?

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2014 NFL Week 9 Powre Rankings

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2014 NFL Week 9 Powre Rankings
M.D. Wright
10.28.2014

The league is showing a level balance in talent (not necessarily parity), but there is a typical bell curve that exists in every area of life, and the NFL is no different. There are two or three very good to potentially great teams, about 27 teams with about the same record +/- one game, and two or three atrocious teams.

1. Denver Broncos (6-1).
The Broncos have drawn all but one of their toughest matchups at home, in primetime, with dubious officiating. That changes in Week 9, as the Broncos travel to Foxborough.

2. Arizona Cardinals (6-1).
People still scoff, but the Cards are for real.

3. New England Patriots (6-2).
Doesn’t New England seem flimsy? Yes, they have dominated in three of their last four games, and won four straight, but it seems like smoke and mirrors. But wins are wins.

4. Detroit Lions (6-2).
The Lions are winning games that they routinely blew under Jim Schwartz (and let’s face it, just about every coach they’ve had since the 1950s). Kudos to Jim Caldwell for instilling discipline and focus.

5. San Diego Chargers (5-3).
The Bolts were robbed of two turnovers forced against Denver, which swung the game. They will not take a huge hit after losing several key guys due to injury for a game on a short week, in which they were erstwhile tied before the dubious officiating ensued in Denver’s favor.

6. Green Bay Packers (5-3).
The same in New Orleans on Sunday Night for Green Bay as it was for San Diego on Thursday.

7. Dallas Cowboys (6-2).
The first crack in the dam occurred with Tony Romo taking a massive hit to his surgically-repaired back, and the other, less-discussed major hit: LB Justin Durant is out for season.

8. Indianapolis Colts (5-3).
Despite the all-world performance by Ben Roethlisberger, the Colts were in the game until a fluke safety put the Colts down by 10 points in the 4th quarter.

9. Seattle Seahawks (4-3).
All of Seattle’s losses have come by one score, and two came with several key defensive players out. They are likely to win 5-6 straight games.

10. Philadelphia Eagles (5-2).
As the Eagles’ offense continues to be feast and famine, their defense has proved to have the worst safety combination in the NFC, which doomed them once again in Week 8.

11. Cincinnati Bengals (4-2-1).
A gutty performance by Andy Dalton, in a game the Bengals HAD to win, in order to have a potential tiebreaker over Baltimore (swept the season series) should the two teams end up tied; particularly with the Bengals’ tie on the resume.

12. Kansas City Chiefs (4-3).
Jamaal Charles runs, the Chiefs win.
Jamaal Charles doesn’t run, the Chiefs lose.

It’s that simple, yet Andy Reid struggles to see this week in, week out.

13. Buffalo Bills (5-3).
The Bills head into their bye in good shape, and potentially just 1 game out  of the AFC East lead (with a head to head loss accounting for the other half game, should New England lose to Denver).

14. Baltimore Ravens (5-3).
You just never know which Ravens team will show up on a given week.

15. San Francisco 49ers (4-3).
San Francisco’s offense is too inconsistent to be relied upon every week. They MAY get Glenn Dorsey and Aldon Smith back this week, however, and NaVorro Bowman by Thanksgiving.

16. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3).
The Steelers are in good shape heading into the 2nd half of the season.

17. Miami Dolphins (4-3).
The Fins offense comes and goes, depending on which Ryan Tannehill decides to show up in a given week.

18. Cleveland Browns (4-3).
The Browns have the ability to win 9 or 10 games, but they have to remain consistent on defense.

19. Houston Texans (4-4).
The Texans needed the Titans on their slate to right the ship.

20. New York Football Giants (3-4).
The Giants have a brutal slate in November, but they have every bit of personnel and scheme to win at least three of the four games.

 

21. New Orleans Saints (3-4).
The Saints still do not matter.

22. Carolina Panthers (3-4-1).
What happened to the Panthers’ defense? It made somewhat of a reemergence in Week 8, against an uneven Seattle offense, but overall, it is a shell of what it was in 2013. They miss Greg Hardy and SEVERAL OTHERS.

23. Minnesota Vikings (3-5).
The Vikes waited until they blew a weak 10-0 lead before attempting to play football. I’ll never understand why teams go into full conservative/play-not-to-lose mode, instead of continuing to attack; particularly with the way rules aid offenses nowadays.

24. Chicago Bears (3-5).
It was bad enough that the Bears can’t win at home, but after going 3-0 on the road, they have lost their last two on the road as well. They now find themselves in last place. 

25. Washington Redskins (3-5).
The Skins did the nation a favor on Monday night.

26. St. Louis Rams (2-5).
What are the Rams going to do in order to generate offense? Other than their fluky win against Seattle, all they’ve had is near-misses, and racking up garbage time yards and points when games are well out of hand.

27. Tennessee Titans (2-6).
Ken Whisenhunt is just one of those guys who is best suited to be an offensive coordinator, and not a head coach.  

28. Atlanta Falcons (2-6).
Man, the Falcons are fading into “bolivion” (Mike Tyson Voice); looking a lot like they did last year, after all the hype in the preseason and early into the regular season.

29. Oakland Raiders (0-7).
The Raiders try hard, but they just do not have enough ammo on either side of the ball. Derek Carr is for real.

30. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-7).
Blake Bortles has to cut down on the interceptions.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-6).
Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat once again with a late fumble, recovered for a touchdown in overtime.

32. New York Jets (1-7).
The Jets barely beat the Raiders in Week 1, or else they’d be 0-8, and they look less cohesive than the Raiders at this point.

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2014 NFL Week 8 Bettor’s Guide

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2014 NFL Week 8 Bettor’s Guide
M.D. Wright
10.23.2014

A much better week; on par with my historical averages dating back to the mid-1990s. Only two teams with a BYE week this week: the Football Giants, and 49ers.

Last Week:
SU: 11-4
ATS: 9-6

Season:
SU: 65-41
ATS: 57-48-1
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San Diego Chargers vs. Denver Broncos
Sports Authority Field at Mile High
Denver, Colorado
Denver Broncos 11

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
My Call: SD +9
Over/Under: Over 51

Analysis:
The Bolts will seek to employ their ball-control strategy (emphasis on Branden Oliver) against a stingy Broncos’ front. San Diego, while potentially capable of matching Denver tit for tat offensively, would rather avoid potential shootouts with Peyton Manning. Seemingly, the Broncos are in primetime and at home every week. The Bolts aren’t really bothered when they play on the road, however. This game will come down to how well the Bolts can shorten the game and maximize their offensive possessions, while defending Denver’s pass offense (without Brandon Flowers). Denver has appeared borderline invincible of late, but the type of passing attack that San Diego employs gives them fits. Expect this game to be close and lower scoring than most Denver games.

Call:
San Diego                      24
Denver                           28
FINAL
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Detroit Lions vs. Atlanta Falcons
Wembley Stadium
London, England
Wembley Stadium 1

My Call: DET -3.5
Over/Under: Under 46.5

Analysis:
This is technically a home game for the Falcons, but it won’t feel like it, since they are not on their fast track with the reverb stadium noise in the Georgia Dome. And with the Lions’ relentless pass rush being in Matt Ryan’s face all game, don’t bet on it having home-team outcomes for the Falcons. Calvin Johnson made the trip, and most likely will play Sunday.

Call:
Detroit                         27
Atlanta                        17
FINAL
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Minnesota Vikings vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Raymond James Stadium
Tampa, Florida
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4

My Call: MIN +2.5
Over/Under: Under 41.5

Analysis:
First of all, does anyone even care? The Vikes’ pass rush has gotten home all year. This will be no different.

Call:
Minnesota                      20
Tampa Bay                    17
FINAL
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Chicago Bears vs. New England Patriots
Gillette Stadium
Foxborough, Massachusetts
New England Patriots 11

My Call: CHI +6
Over/Under: Over 50.5

Analysis:
The Bears have been (surprisingly) road warriors this season. They will need to continue that trend to avoid the NFC North basement with the Vikes. The Patriots have had several key injuries to Stevan Ridley, Jerod Mayo and others, which has left them lacking on both sides of the football. Kyle Fuller appears to be in line to play in this game, which the Bears desperately need. In the words of Kobe Bryant to Julius Randle, regarding Jay Cutler this week in a favorable matchup, “If you fuck this up, you’re a huge idiot.”

Call:
Chicago                               31
New England                     27
FINAL
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St. Louis Rams vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Arrowhead Stadium
Kansas City, MissouriKansas City Chiefs 13

My Call: STL +7
Over/Under: Under 44

Analysis:
The Chiefs generally win when Jamaal Charles gets 20+ touches. They almost always lose when he does not. The Rams have had a leaky defense, since teams can double Robert Quinn (who finally notched his first sack of the season in Week 7). If the Chiefs do as they should, they should win rather handily. But this is Andy Reid, who gets away from the run game/short passing game to Charles (and Knile Davis) in crucial moments. The Rams have comeback abilities, so the Chiefs definitely won’t run away with this game unless the Rams have several turnovers.

Call:
St. Louis                             15
Kansas City                       24
FINAL
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Seattle Seahawks vs. Carolina Panthers
Bank of America Stadium
Charlotte, North Carolina
Carolina Panthers 3

My Call: SEA -4.5
Over/Under: Over 45

Analysis:
If the Panthers hadn’t forgotten how to play defense without Greg Hardy, the perspective on this game changes rapidly. However, Charles Johnson is missing in action, and the Panthers have been playing musical chairs with their secondary all year, to no avail. Cam Newton does not have enough weapons to consistently attack the Seahawks’ defense, which is missing CB Byron Maxwell and MLB Bobby Wagner. An intriguing matchup is WR Kelvin Benjamin vs. CB Richard Sherman. They will be matched up a good bit during the game. Russell Wilson will have to be on lookout for LBs Tom Davis and Luke Kuechly when he decides to take off and run, but Seattle SHOULD be able to get most of what it wants offensively in this game.

Call:
Seattle                         27
Carolina                       20
FINAL
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Buffalo Bills vs. New York Jets
Giants Stadium
East Rutherford, New Jersey
New York Jets 4

My Call: BUF +3
Over/Under: Under 40.5

Analysis:
The Bills are down their two top running backs. It won’t  matter all that much. Their ferocious front seven (which is virtually matched by New York’s) is more opportunistic with forcing turnovers, against a QB who is the worst in the league at turning it over. It will likely be the difference in the game.

Call:
Buffalo                               20
NY Jets                              17
FINAL
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Miami Dolphins vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
EverBank Field
Jacksonville, Florida
Jacksonville Jaguars 12

My Call: JAX +6
Over/Under: Under 42.5

Analysis:
The Jags lost MLB Paul Posluszny for the season, sliding Telvin Smith into action. Smith has more speed, and the Jaguars need it in covering Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline and Jarvis Landry. The Jags will keep it close, and may even win it. The world knows that Ryan Tannehill has rarely had back to back good games, and the Fins generally do not handle prosperity well (and a chance to move into a tie in the division, with a head to head win vs. New England in the bag qualifies as “prosperity.)

Call:
Miami                                    17
Jacksonville                         13
FINAL
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Houston Texans vs. Tennessee Titans
LP Field
Nashville, Tennessee
Tennessee Titans 4

My Call: HOU -2.5
Over/Under: Under 42.5

Analysis:
No one outside of those respective fanbases cares about this game, except to see whether LB/DE Jadeveon Clowney plays, and if so, how well.

Call:
Houston                      20
Tennessee                 16
FINAL
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Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Paul Brown Stadium
Cincinnati, Ohio
Cincinnati Bengals--Paul Brown Stadium

My Call: BAL -1
Over/Under: Under 45.5

Analysis:
It appears that WR AJ Green MAY be able to play in this game, which QB Andy Dalton desperately needs, as he has looked as about as inept as a QB could, in the past six quarters of football. Not even sure if Green will be enough. The Ravens are rolling, and the Bengals have once again found a way to find a division that was virtually theirs to lose… to indeed… lose it.

Call:
Baltimore                               19
Cincinnati                               17
FINAL
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Philadelphia Eagles vs. Arizona Cardinals
University of Phoenix Stadium
Glendale, Arizona
Arizona Cardinals 2

My Call: ARZ -2.5
Over/Under: Under 48

Analysis:
One thing we have learned thus far this season is that the Eagles offense is not portable, particularly against good defenses, such as the one they will face in Glendale. The Cards will actually have an easier time moving the football against the Eagles defense than the reverse.

Call:
Philadelphia                           20
Arizona                                   27
FINAL
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Indianapolis Colts vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Heinz Field
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh Steelers 4

My Call: IND -3
Over/Under: Over 49

Analysis:
The Colts are in some type of groove on both sides of the football. Vontae Davis vs. Antonio Brown will be must-see TV. The Colts will get whatever they want against a Steelers defense that may get LBs Ryan Shazier and Jarvis Jones back this week, but is still without CB Ike Taylor. The Steelers improvise a bit too much offensively to be able to engage in a shootout with the Colts, so they have to lean on their running game in order to shorten the game. The Colts have been very good (surprisingly) against the run this season, however.

Call:
Indianapolis                       31
Pittsburgh                          26
FINAL
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Oakland Raiders vs. Cleveland Browns
FirstEnergy Stadium
Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland Browns 3

My Call: OAK +6.5
Over/Under: Under 43

Analysis:
The Browns have been schitzo of late, so anything is possible. If they give back to back winless teams their first wins of the season, heads are going to roll.

Call:
Oakland                   17
Cleveland                23
FINAL
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Green Bay Packers vs. New Orleans Saints
Mercedes-Benz Superdome
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans Saints 4

SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
My Call: GB +1.5
Over/Under: Under 55.5

Analysis:
Saints backers love to point at the homefield, but the Saints have not looked good anywhere they have played all season. The Packers are red hot offensively, and playing inspired ball defensively as well. As has been repeated in this space a dozen times this year, the Saints miss Darren Sproles more than they will ever admit to themselves or the public, and that’s been the difference in their now relatively-predictable offense. The Saints DBs are in for a nightmare.

Call:
Green Bay                        31
New Orleans                   23
FINAL
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Washington Redskins vs. Dallas Cowboys
AT&T Stadium
Arlington, Texas
Dallas Cowboys--Cowboys Stadium

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
My Call: WSH +10
Over/Under: Over 49.5

Analysis:
This is about where the first wheel starts coming off the wagon for Dallas. DeMarco Murray is on pace for 430 carries, a good dozen more than anyone in history. All of those rushers were shells of themselves the seasons following such workloads. Rather than point to Murray’s injury history (as we never wish injuries on anyone, or even expect them), the moment Dallas has to shift to Joseph Randle and Philip Dunbar more frequently, and Tony Romo has to pass the football more, teams will take advantage. The Skins have nothing to lose in this game, and will play wide open offensively. Their pass rush out of the 3-4 will force Dallas’ tackles to swing out wider than they have against 4-3 teams, which will allow for rush lanes for Murray, but also pass rushing lanes to disrupt Romo’s timing with his receivers. Do not be surprised if the Redskins win this game.

Call:
Washington                         27
Dallas                                   31
FINAL
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BYE: New York Football Giants (3-4), San Francisco (4-3).

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