“Our NFL games of the year have been up for over two weeks with light action so far,” stated Kornegay. “We are seeing mostly general fans betting small amounts on their favorite teams early on. Our future action will pick up when the preseason starts in early August.”
NFL divisional games are always fun to forecast and the Hilton has posted some debatable numbers. Let’s take a look from the second week of the season all the way up until the half-way point.
The New York Giants are traveling down Interstate 95 to square off against Philadelphia in a NFC East battle at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles are listed as three-point home favorites. Last year, the Giants stopped Philly 26-23, but failed to cover as healthy nine-point road ‘chalk’. The Eagles where the most banged-up team in the league last season and if they are to dethrone the division champion, this would be a big win.
Another NFC East matchup has the Washington Redskins going down to the Lone Star State to face Dallas. Head coach Bill Parcells and the Cowboys are listed as 3 ½-point home favorites. These games have been tight, including last year’s Monday Night Football contest, which saw the Redskins edge the ‘Boys 14-13, courtesy of two late touchdowns from quarterback Marc Brunell to wide receiver Santana Moss.
The Cincinnati Bengals are five-point underdogs at the World Champion Pittsburgh Steelers on September 24th. The Bengals won the AFC North division last season but the Steelers won and covered both games in Cincinnati. The biggest question for the improving Bengals will be the health of QB Carson Palmer. With former back-up Jon Kitna now a Lion, Palmer will be the key to Cincinnati getting to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons.
Football returns to New Orleans in a NFC South battle when the Saints host the Atlanta Falcons on MNF. Mike Vick and the Falcons are 2 ½ point road favorites. Atlanta’s offense was clicking vs. the Saints last season, scoring a combined 70 points in a pair of victories. If the Falcons want to return to playoff form, they’ll need to win divisional games like this one. The new look Saints will be much improved over a season ago on offense with QB Drew Breeze, a healthy RB Deuce McCallister and all-purpose back Reggie Bush, who fell into their lap in the draft. The Saints will put up points but can they play any defense will be the question. This total could be as high as 48 to 50 points come game time.
Week 5 turns our attention to the AFC East with the upstart Miami Dolphins listed as six-point underdogs at New England. The 'Fins closed out their season with six straight wins including a victory at New England in a game that will be remembered for Doug Flute’s drop kick on an extra point. If the Dolphins are to overtake the Patriots and win the division, an early road win in Foxboro would be huge.
Week 7 gives bettors Monday night football from Dallas with the Cowboys laying four vs. the New York Giants. The Cowboys came away with a hard fought victory at home last season in a low scoring 16-13 affair. The Giants secondary was a weak spot last season and the addiction of T.O. will help the Cowboys score more points though the air.
Week 8 leaves us with no divisional games on the board but brings us another great Monday night matchup. The New England Patriots will travel to Minnesota as 3 ½ point 'chalk' vs. the new look Vikings. New England won its only game indoors last season, capturing a 31-28 win at Atlanta. The Vikings have a new coach in Brad Childress, who will look to get this team back into the playoffs.
Look for Part II of this report soon when we will cover weeks 9-17 of the Hilton’s NFL games of the year.
NFL Games of the Year, Part II
Looking for value for the upcoming NFL season over the summer is not an easy task for handicappers, but the Las Vegas Hilton SuperBook has given us a betting menu to ponder while we’re on our summer break.
There are many lingering questions for teams heading into training camps and the pre-season and we all know the injury bug can bite any team at anytime. Selecting games that will be played in November and December can be both risky and rewarding.
Let’s take a look at games posted for the NFL’s second half starting with Week 9 though the end of the season.
November 5th could bring us one of the best games of the year when the Indianapolis Colts head to Foxboro to take on the New England Patriots. This line opened last year with the 8-0 Colts favored by three at New England. Bettors reacted with Colts money pushing the closing number to -4 ½. The books got beat with Indianapolis finally handing the Pats a rare home beating 40-21 in a game that was never close after the first quarter. This year’s battle has a line of pick ‘em for NBC’s Sunday night telecast.
The Denver Broncos will visit their hated rival the Oakland Raiders with Art Shell back at the reins for the silver and black. We know that Denver has made a splash in the off season after losing the AFC championship game to Pittsburgh. Mike Shanahan traded for WR Javon Walker (off a major knee injury) and moved up in the draft to nab a top QB prospect, Jay Cutler out of Vanderbilt. Will the Raiders be better off with Aaron Brooks at the QB controls? I don’t think so. I like the Broncos on the road minus four.
Peyton Manning will lead the Colts into Texas to take on the Dallas Cowboys on November 19th in what could be a preview of Super Bowl XLI. Mike Vanderjagt was run out of Indy after missing the biggest kick of his life, but he’ll get a chance to beat his former team as a member of the Cowboys. The Big Tuna’s head almost exploded a number of times last season when it came to the their kicking game. A fair question for this game is: Will T.O. keep his mouth shut this far into the season? The Colts come in listed as the 2 ½ point road chalk.
Thanksgiving Day gives us a triple header to feast on with Miami -1 ½ at Detroit, Tampa Bay +4 ½ at Dallas and Denver +2 ½ at Kansas City in the night cap.
Looking for value? The Bucs plus the points on the road looks tempting as they had big wins at Atlanta and Carolina last season. QB Chris Simms now has one full year under his belt as a starter and should be able to keep this game close with the Cadillac running behind him.
An explosive Monday night matchup happens on December 18th as the Cincinnati Bengals visit the Indianapolis Colts. If you like offense, last season’s game was one of the best of the year with a total of 943 total yards in the Colts 45-37 road victory. This matchup could bring more of the same on the carpet as both teams will bring their air attack. The Bengals did add free-agent defensive tackle Sam Adams. The Colts are a touchdown favorite with an anticipated total in the 50’s.
The Minnesota Vikings head to Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers in a game that could decide the NFC North. Both teams have new coaches and should have their systems solidly in place by this late in the season. Brett Favre coming off his worse season (4-12) as a starter gets one more shot at another title or at least a playoff game. The Vikings won both games by a field goal last season but the Packers are the one-point home favorite in this divisional game.
The Washington Redskins are three-point favorites hosting the New York Giants to close out the regular season. This is another crucial divisional game that could determine the NFC East or a wild card spot. The Skins’ ran rough shot over the Giants last year in FedEx field by a score of 35-20. I’d give the nod to the improved Redskins at home.
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