There are some absolute rip-snorters of games this week, starting off in Minnesota on Friday morning our time. The Vikings have surprised all and sundry by starting off 5-2, while the Bucs have slumped to a 2-4 start and are coming off a 7 point defeat to New Orleans. The Bucs started hot in that game, but after a 14 point first quarter, proceeded to concede 21 in the second and go into the break 28-21 down. From there, one touchdown apiece in the fourth kept the margin intact, but simply delayed the inevitable. The dome-field advantage that the Vikings have restored may have some overestimating their overall ability, but if they can continue to keep the Dome as a fortress, there is no reason why they can’t continue their 100% record there this season. This is not as simple as the odds may suggest though; while the Vikings are $1.33 favourites, they have not beaten the Bucs since 2001. There is also a small matter of pride; the Bucs would go to their worst start since the infamous 0-7 in 2009 if they don’t get up here. The Bucs have actually played a lot better in season 2011 than their record suggests. All four of their losses have been by seven points or fewer, but they have let themselves down in their pass defense – they are currently ranked 31st in the league in that crucial stat. Vikings second year QB Christian Ponder has the opportunity to show what he is capable of. After throwing six interceptions in their last 3 games, the consistency he showed in the first month is wavering and doubters are starting to whisper. If he struggles against such a poor pass defense, those whispers could well increase in volume. We back Ponder and the Vikings to get up and keep their great home form intact. This will be a bit of a shootout we think, and the Over 42.5 @ $1.88 seems value. Click here to check out our Buccaneers v Vikings market.
WILL ATLANTA CONTINUE TO STRUGGLE IN PHILLY?In a game which is live on Fox Sports at 4am on Monday, the only undefeated side in the NFL (Atlanta) come up against a Philly outfit who are tougher to read than the Twilight saga. Both sides come into this clash off the bye, but whereas Matt Ryan’s Falcons are 6-0, Vick’s Eagles are 3-3 and two games behind the Giants already in the NFC East. They will see this week as a perfect opportunity to steal a march on their divisional rivals, as the Cowboys look to make it a double over the Giants in season 2012-2013. A massive stat in this one is that since 2000, Atlanta is 0-7 when traveling to Philly, including losses in the 2003 Divisional Playoff and 2005 NFC Championship games. Indeed, the Eagles have won 4 of the last 5 regular season match-ups going back to 2006. Michael Vick has a similar skill-set to Robert Griffin III, a gun QB who the Falcons defense managed to contain enough to limit his impact. While Griffin’s Redskins still scored 17 points against Atlanta, that was their lowest return of points for any regular season game this year. If the Atlanta defense can limit the impact of Vick to the same degree, they could find themselves 7-0 and the Eagles would be firmly entrenched in the doghouse (no pun intended). This is a game that Andy Reid will be expecting his troops to win, and it is going to be a real arm wrestle. We can’t split ‘em, but we like the Under 45.5 @ $1.86 in this one. Click here to check out our Falcons v Eagles market.
Dallas Cowboys v New York GiantsThis is an inter-divisional clash between two NFC East Rivals – arguably one of the toughest divisions in the league. The Giants are still smarting from Jerry Jones telling the fans to come watch the Cowboys “beat they (Giants) butts” in training camp. That the Cowboys won in Week One, and in doing so spoilt the homecoming of the World Champion Giants, will also grate on Thomas Coughlin and his team. A massive blow for the Cowboys is the loss of their leading tackler, linebacker Sean Lee. A big blow to his big toe means he is a no-go for the rest of the season. They will need their defense to put pressure of epic proportions on a red-hot Eli Manning, determined to resist any work from his brother to steal the headlines this season. But there will be chances for the cowboys to score, with the Giants Defense pretty poor; particularly against the pass. If Tony Romo gets some protection, then the Cowboys are a chance. Another tough one to call, with the Cowboys having never beaten the Giants at the new Cowboys stadium. We like the Giants to gain their revenge on the Cowboys, $1.81 at the line (-1). Click here to check out our Giants v Cowboys market.
SUPER BOWL FUTURES MARKET – THE WEEK’S MOVEMENTThe Ravens thrashing at the hands of the Texans sees Houston move to $6, as short as anybody has been this season, and the Ravens drop from $11 to $17. Will they continue to slide without Ray Lewis & Lardarius Webb? The Patriots ($7.50), Packers ($8.50) and Giants ($10) all shortened this week, while the 49ers and Falcons went a little longer, to $9 and $10 respectively. The Bears tight win over the Lions saw them stay at $13, while the Broncos were $15 both before and after the bye. It’s when you get over $30 that you look to see where the best value might be. The Chargers ($31) and Eagles ($34) are both 3-3, and coming off the bye, and if they can turn it around this week will be a lot shorter than they currently are. The Steelers will be expecting to go to a 4-3 record this week with a win at home to Washington, and will definitely come in from their current $34 if that is the case. The Cowboys round out the under $50 chances at $41. Minnesota are still a massive $51 despite a genuine change to go .750 this week, with the Saints and Seahawks also the same price. The Jets, Dolphins, Bengals and Lions are all $81, with the rest in three of even four figures! Click here to see our Super Bowl market.
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