False favorites abound


This could be called the weekend of the NFL false favorite.

Of the 13 scheduled games, I count four in which I think the wrong team is favored. The two that stick out are the Jaguars-Buccaneers and Bills-Jets games, and the others on the cusp are the Eagles-Vikings and Packers-Broncos.

Start with the Jaguars-Bucs. When the Las Vegas Hilton put up its opener for this game last Sunday, the Jaguars were minus-21/2. That was before the Jags hosted the Colts on Monday night, and I felt that was a cheap number and laid the points. Oops.

On Monday, Jacksonville QB David Garrard got hurt, Quinn Gray (who?) replaced him, and the Colts won 29-7. On Tuesday, the number was adjusted around town to the Bucs minus-4. Double oops.

That line is overadjusted, and I'll make the Jaguars plus-4 my top play of the week.

Looking at the NFL Power Poll created by the oddsmakers at Las Vegas Sports Consultants, the power ratings on the two teams, even after Garrard's injury, have the Jaguars favored by 2.3 points. The Bucs' home field should make this pick 'em at the most.

We're talking about the Jags having to replace Garrard. We're not talking about Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. Gray will benefit from a week of practice with the first-team offense, and the defense, which is allowing 14.5 points per game, should step it up versus the Buccaneers' offense, which averaged 14.3 points the past three weeks.

Projecting the Bucs around 14 points, maybe as high as 17, the Jags can get at least two touchdowns to get within the number and are likely to win.

Here are the rest of my plays (home team in CAPS):

VIKINGS (+1) over Eagles --Except for their 56-21 blowout of the Lions five weeks ago, what have the Eagles done to warrant being a road favorite here? They've averaged fewer than 12 points in three game since the Detroit game. The Vikings defense has been giving up a lot of yardage (359 per game) but has come up with big plays (an NFL-best four TDs), and the offense has a star in rookie running back Adrian Peterson.

Bills (+3) over JETS -- The Bills beat the Jets 17-14 four weeks ago. That was at home, when the Jets were favored by 3, so it appears this line is right if you assume the teams are equal and each should win by 3 at home. But these are teams heading in opposite directions. The Jets looked awful in losing their three games since that meeting. The Bills outplayed and should have beaten the Cowboys, then upset the Ravens.

Texans (+91/2) over CHARGERS -- The Chargers aren't a false favorite, but this line appears too high. Uncertainty surrounded the game with the wildfires in Southern California. But even if the circumstances don't distract the Chargers, I'm not convinced they're back to the team they were last year.

Packers (+3) over BRONCOS -- The Packers defense has been the key to their 4-1 start and should contain the Broncos. The Denver defense has allowed 27.3 points per game. The Packers might get their league-worst run offense going against Denver's league-worst rushing defense.

Part of this line is based on the Broncos' home-field advantage, but I'm hearing a lot of Denver fans have sold their tickets to Green Bay fans in hopes of watching their Rockies in Game 5 of the World Series. As many Packers backers as Broncos fans might be in the stands.

Last week: 3-2 against the spread

Season: 16-18-1

Las Vegas-based handicapper Dave Tuley also writes for the Daily Racing Form and ViewFromVegas.com.

 

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