Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, October 22, 2011 at 2:30 PM
Hey, lost amidst all this "handshake" talk is the fact the Lions last weekend lost their first game of the 2011 season as they failed to salt away a second-half lead and then their trade deadline move to acquire RB Ronnie Brown blew up when RB Jerome Harrison - who was supposedly headed to the Philadelphia Eagles - was detected with a brain tumor and thus that squashed the deal.
If the Lions are gonna get back on the winning track here than a sorry ground game that's averaging only 90.8 yards rushing per game - that ranks 25th in the NFL and might well be playing here without RB Jahvid Best (concussion symptoms) - must pick up the beat and QB Matthew Stafford (15 TDs and 4 INTs) needs to be super-sharp in the red zone.
Note the Falcons are fresh off a sound 31-17 win against 3.5-point pup Carolina last Sunday as RB Michael Turner rushed 27 times for 139 yards and two TDs and don't be shocked if he gets 35-or-more totes here.
Spread Notes - Detroit is 4-1-1 ATS (against the spread) this 2011 season and that means the Lions are a composite 16-5-1 versus the vig overall since the start of last season. Meanwhile, Atlanta's failed to cover four of its first six spread verdicts this year and the Falcons are 0-3 ATS this season away after compiling an 11-5 spread mark away in 2009-10.
SAN DIEGO (4-1) at NEW YORK JETS (3-3) - 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Lots to chew on here when AFC West meets AFC East in MetLife Stadium: For starters, how about the schedule? The SD Chargers may be playing a "body clock" game at 10 a.m. PT but the Bolts did have two weeks to prep for this clash while the Jets are operating on a short week following Monday's unimpressive 24-6 win/cover against 7-point underdog Miami. The Jets needed a 100-yard INT return by mega-star CB Darrelle Revis to turn around their fortunes in the MNF game while everyone in Gotham City wonders when QB Mark Sanchez and Company gets this offense in gear - the J-E-T-S were three-and-out on their first four possessions against the Fish.
On the flip side, the Chargers also are hoping QB Philip Rivers cuts back on his mistakes (see 6 TDs and 7 INTs) but there's hope here that tight end Antonio Gates can play after missing his team's last three games with right foot woes.
Spread Notes - San Diego has covered its last two games after staggering out of the 2011 starting gate with back-to-back-to-back spread setbacks. Note the Chargers are a ho-hum 10-9-1 vig-wise in their last 20 non-divisional games. The Jets, meanwhile, are 2-4 ATS to start off this season and NYJ's a respectable 16-13 spreadwise in non-AFC East games under boss-man Ryan.
KANSAS CITY (2-3) at OAKLAND (4-2) - 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS
Interesting to note here that the Las Vegas line on this AFC West battle has leaped from Raiders (- 4) to (-6) since it was announced that newly-acquired QB Carson Palmer would start here - can the former Cincinnati Bengals really be sharp after sitting out the first six weeks of the season?
If there is a game plan that makes sense here for the silver-and-black than it's to let Palmer'get his feet wet' with short tosses to RB Darren McFadden and mates and only let him cut it loose deep once he gets his footing. Meanwhile, there's nothing wrong with having the aforementioned McFadden get 15-or-so first-half carries while Palmer gets into the swing of things - McFadden's averaging a haughty 5.5 yards a carry so far and he's already rushed for 610 yards.
Spread Notes - Oakland's 4-1-1 vig-wise through the season's first six weeks but note the Raiders are a shabby 2-10-1 ATS as betting favorites while dating back to the start of the 2006 season. Kansas City, meanwhile, has covered its last three consecutive games following an 0-2 spread start this year. The Chiefs are an electric 8-2 ATS in their last 10 visits to Oakland.
Sunday be sure to cash in our NFL Triple Crown during the day and our Sunday Night Showdown on prime-time. And if that's enough you've got the World Series going on both Sunday night, and forward-thinking bettors will check out our Breeders' Cup package for November 4-5.
NFL NEWS & NOTES: WE WEIGH IN ON THE QB CHANGES
DENVER (1-4) - TIM TEBOW
Hey, the Dolphins love the fact the announcement of Tebow as the Broncos' starting slinger here meant more than 10,000 tickets sold in the matter of mere hours and there's no question that Denver had to bench ineffective Kyle Orton but anyone thinking the Broncs will go on some type of winning streak now just ain't being realistic.
MINNESOTA (1-5) - CHRISTIAN PONDER
Count us among the minority of folks not in favor of this move... hey, Donovan McNabb didn't look bad in last week's 39-10 loss to Chicago and he should have been given at least another game or two to straighten things out. Ponder will have major growing pains and this Sunday's home game against Green Bay won't be easy. Of course!
WASHINGTON (3-2) - JOHN BECK
Let's just say neither Beck nor former'Skins starter Rex Grossman are true Grade-A quarterbacks in this league as Washington head coach Mike Shanahan tries to get lemonade out of these lemons. Beck may be less mistake-prone than Grossman (see his four INTs in last week's home loss to Philadelphia) but if he's so good than why did Miami cut'em loose?
NOTE: Get the NFL Week 7 Sunday Night Football Game Preview - that's the Indianapolis Colts at the New Orleans Saints - in the next edition of Jim Sez.