Almost every pass was delivered on the money, he executed a smart game plan to perfection and he played with a raging emotional fire. It was a classic performance by the NFL’s top quarterback, Tom Brady.
Twenty-four hours later, Michael Vick topped him.
Brady has done it so many times, we know it’s no mirage. But is Vick playing tricks on our eyes?
Vick was simply phenomenal Monday night, passing for four touchdowns and running for two, in the Philadelphia Eagles’ 59-28 whipping of the Washington Redskins. Even the angry talk-show hosts and cynical writers across the country are singing his praises.
But professional sports gambler Steve Fezzik eyes Vick more skeptically, resisting to join the same song and dance routine.
“To say Vick is revolutionizing the quarterback position is ridiculous,” Fezzik said. “He’ll last about nine weeks. But for now, he’s damn good.
“As soon as he gets his new contract, he’ll be a slightly above-average quarterback in his first year, and then he’ll regress. I’ve seen this pattern before. Vick obviously responds to adversity. Let’s see how he responds to success.”
The first test of that arrives Sunday, when Philadelphia hosts the New York Giants. The Eagles are 3- to 3½-point home favorites, and you can bet the public is looking to ride the red-hot Vick.
The Giants, who turned in an uninspired effort as double-digit favorites in a 33-20 loss to Dallas, are staggering into an NFC East title fight with nobody in their corner.
“I know for sure we’ll be rooting for the Giants,” said Jimmy Vaccaro, director of operations for Lucky’s sports books. “I know the kid Vick is playing dynamic football. But he can’t be that good.
“I don’t mind booking a game when they are going to be laying 3½ or 4 points with a player who’s through the roof right now, against a team that absolutely got slaughtered last week. I don’t mind being in those spots. It’s a slightly inflated number with the Giants.”
Fezzik (LVAsports.com) is thinking along the same lines. The hook looks good with the underdog. “I think 3 is correct. I would take 3½,” he said.
With his track-star speed and rocket-launching left arm, Vick certainly appears to be the real thing. I’m not eager to bet against him. But his most recent magic act came at the expense of a phony Redskins team, and the Giants are a different animal.
It doesn’t get much better than this. The McRib is back and better than ever, and the Week 11 lineup in the NFL also features Indianapolis at New England.
Brady shredded a legitimately tough defense Sunday night in the Patriots’ 39-26 beating of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Brady connected on 30 of 43 throws for 350 yards and three touchdowns, with no sacks or interceptions.
Meanwhile, Peyton Manning was struggling to lift the Colts past Cincinnati 23-17 as 7-point home favorites. Manning’s supporting cast has crumbled, with the loss of tight end Dallas Clark partly crippling the offense.
The Patriots opened as 3-point home favorites and the line has moved to 3½. It’s always tempting to take Manning as an underdog, but Fezzik, for one, is not tempted.
He pointed to this trend: In five games in which the temperature was below 40, Manning and the Colts are 0-5, getting outscored 31-8 in those games. The forecast for Sunday calls for 38 degrees.
On top of everything else, the coaching mismatch is monstrous. New England’s Bill Belichick excels at chess and Indianapolis’ Jim Caldwell is learning checkers.
“My best bet would have been New England minus-3,” Fezzik said. “I can’t see how any rational person can say, ‘I really like the Colts.’ The Colts have been way down all year.”
Fezzik does recommend the St. Louis Rams as 3-point home underdogs against the Atlanta Falcons. Another decent bet might be the San Diego Chargers at 20-1 to win the Super Bowl. But the Chargers need another late rally just to reach the playoffs.
“I don’t think there are any very good teams. I’m not high on anybody. It’s a weak corps of contenders,” Fezzik said. “The Chargers might be the best team.”
■ BOTTOM LINES — I’m taking a bye week from college football handicapping. But here’s a tip: A $5 entry at Lucky’s, based downtown at the Plaza, is worth a shot at the $44,465 prize pool in the Progressive Carryover Football Contest. Just go 16-0 picking NFL winners, and start with the Patriots.
Contact sports betting columnist Matt Youmans at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2907. He co-hosts the “Las Vegas Sportsline” weeknights at midnight on KDWN-AM (720) and thelasvegassportsline.com.