There will be a new NFL champion this year. The Indianapolis Colts (-11) had the better of the visiting San Diego Chargers on offense Sunday, but two tipped Peyton Manning passes for interceptions were the difference in a 28-24 Chargers victory. San Diego won despite in-game injuries to Philip Rivers and LaDainian Tomlinson.
Indy wasn’t the biggest chalk on the Divisional board. That was the New England Patriots (-13.5) in Saturday’s matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Tom Brady was 26-of-28 for three touchdowns, and Laurence Maroney rumbled for 122 yards and a score, but the Jags were sufficiently pesky to grab the cash in a 31-20 loss.
The Pats will now prepare to host the resilient Chargers in the AFC Championship game. It was unknown at press time how the knee injuries suffered by both Rivers and Tomlinson would affect their status for Sunday’s matchup. New England reported no significant injuries.
You’re going to see it mentioned time and again this week. I was among the many who got burned last year picking the home team in the Divisional round of the NFL playoffs. They were 0-4 ATS.
I certainly won’t be shying away from taking the home side in the two AFC Divisional games this weekend. These are two of the best teams ever assembled: the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts. They are so good that I have no problem taking New England (-13) over Jacksonville and Indianapolis (-9) over San Diego.
The bye week is the reason home teams (last year notwithstanding) have traditionally done well in this round. It’s going to be of particular use to the Colts, who had a number of nagging injuries on offense and needed the rest. And it’ll be very difficult indeed to out-coach Bill Belichick and Tony Dungy when they’ve had an extra week to prepare.
The NFL never ceases to amaze. We saw some amazing things happen both on and off the field in 2007. Some of what we saw, we wish we hadn’t. The Top 10 list of the league’s biggest stories of the year proves that truth is stranger than fiction.
Michael Vick arrested and jailed on dogfighting charges, suspended by NFL New England Patriots go 16-0 during 2007 regular season Sean Taylor shot at his home by intruder, dies at hospital Marquise Hill dies in jet-ski accident Indianapolis Colts beat Chicago Bears at Super Bowl XLI Bobby Petrino signs with Atlanta Falcons, leaves for Arkansas after 13 games Bill Parcells retires for third time, comes back as top exec for 1-15 Dolphins Tom Brady (50 TD passes) and Randy Moss (23 TD catches) set league records Brett Favre breaks Dan Marino’s career records for TDs and yards passing Pac-Man Jones suspended for entire season following strip-club riot
Brady’s chances of breaking Manning’s record are very closely related to Moss’ chances of breaking Rice’s record. With 48 scoring throws through the Pats’ first 15 games, and with the team chasing down a perfect season, New England will play for history Saturday night vs. the Giants. And to win, the Patriots must throw the ball.
One factor that could work against Brady and Moss might be the elements on a late December evening in Jersey, where the wind can make throwing the ball very tough. The Giants gave up big yardage and points to Dallas and Green Bay early this season, but since then the G-Men defense hasn’t been too bad, and they rank in the top 10 against the pass.
Of course, they haven’t run up against anything like the Brady bunch. Given any chance whatsoever, Belichick will get both his QB and his slender WR their records.
So the New England Patriots are laying 24 points to the New York Jets. No problem. That makes a lot more sense than when the Pats were –24 against the Eagles, who nearly pulled off the upset in Week 12. Philadelphia has talent. The Jets don’t. They’re 3-10 SU, 4-8-1 ATS and the worst defensive team in the league in terms of efficiency. I’ll eat that chalk, and I’ll like it.
I’ll also take the big favorite in the Indianapolis Colts–Oakland Raiders matchup. That, of course, would be the Colts at –11. The Raiders are playing at a worse level than the Jets despite their 4-9 record (5-8 ATS). That’s because they’ve gotten to play other teams in the awful AFC West so often. Indy is not far behind New England among the league’s elite. A line of anything under two touchdowns seems like a blessing compared to what New England has to cover this week.
Ah yes…a classic match up if ever there was one. The Indianapolis Colts vs. the Baltimore Ravens. It should be interesting to see what Colts QB Peyton Manning can pull out of his bag of tricks this Sunday night against a team that nearly pulled of the upset of the season last week against the unbeaten New England Patriots. I’m thinking that with his crappy game already out of the way (against the Chiefs), I’m thinking Manning is determined to stand tall and win this one on the road.
The Baltimore Ravens (one of the leagues lowest scoring teams) are having a piss-poor season, losing their last 6 games in a row making this their worst season since Brian Billick stepped into the picture as head coach. The Ravens are 4-8 SU overall and out of the playoff picture, their offense is struggling and so is their defense.
The Indianapolis Colts, on the other hand, had to live through the hell that was losing to the New England Patriots in what has been the most-watched game of the season thus far, are coming into this game 10-2 Su overall and are primed for a bye into the AFC playoffs. They’re riding a three-game win streak and coach Tony Dungy’s outlook remains positive.
“I feel great about where we are right now,” Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy said. “Going into the fourth quarter of the season, we’ve got a good lead in the division and we’re second in the conference. If we’d lost, we’d have felt we’d have to win all four of our last games.”