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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, September 30, 2012 at 11:52 AM

Hey, is that standing ovation for us?

Ohh, it's for the NFL officials who were given a rousing round of applause prior to the Baltimore Ravens' 23-16 non-cover win against the Cleveland Browns this past Thursday night and - all kidding aside - it's great to have the men in stripes back and here's hoping they are a major improvement against those clowns that helped to sabotage the pro game the past three weeks.

Let us never hear a single thing about the "Lingerie League" officials again ... okay?

While normalcy has been finally restored on NFL playing fields in terms of the above-mentioned officials, it's hardly been a normal start in the NFL wagering world:

Did you realize that following Cleveland's pointspread cover the other night that NFL Betting Favorites now are 17-30-2 ATS (against the spread) and that equates into a .362 winning rate for chalk-siders.


We've seen NFL Underdogs have their days -- and their pointspread runs too in this league where they play for pay - but we simply cannot remember a time where three-plus weeks into a regular season the pups are covering nearly two-thirds of the plays.

Here's the week-by-week breakdown in chart form so far in this 2012 NFL regular season:

Week #1 7-9-0 .438
Week #2 7-8-1 .467
Week #3 3-12-1 .200
Week #4 0-1-0 .000
Total 17-30-2 .362

Note that the Arizona Cardinals and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the NFL's only teams that have covered all of their games while placed in the underdog role while the New Orleans Saints and the Philadelphia Eagles both are 0-3 spreadwise as betting favorites so far - and we'll keep you posted with all the key NFL Pointspread News/Notes all throughout this current campaign.
As far as this week's action, here's a look at the NFL Week 4 Key Sunday afternoon previews:

SAN FRANCISCO (2-1) at NEW YORK JETS (2-1) - 1 p.m. ET, Fox
Let's just say that the San Fran 49ers probably spent a bit too much time reviewing their press clippings following that fantastic 2-and-oh start that featured wins against Green Bay and Detroit.

The come-back-to-earth game happened last Sunday in Minnesota where - among other things - Jim Harbaugh's team turned the ball over three times and scored just one offensive touchdown en route to a 24-13 loss. If the Niners are not able to peck away at a Jets secondary missing mega-star CB Darrelle Revis (knee) here, than the home dogs could have a serious shot but there's plenty on the NYJ fix-it list too including get the running game healthy as RB Shonn Greene is averaging a meager 2.8 yards a carry so far and also tighten up matters along the O-line.

Who cares that C Nick Mangold and LT DeBrickashaw Ferguson are considered Pro Bowl players - they haven't looked the part the first three weeks this year!

Spread Notes - Despite last week's double-digit loss at Minnesota, did you know that San Francisco still is 14-6-1 ATS since the start of last year and the 49ers are 9-5 vig-wise as betting favorites in the Harbaugh Era. On the other hand, the J-E-T-S are 1-1-1 spreadwise so far this 2012 season and they've failed to cover six of their last eight underdog appearances.

CAROLINA (1-2) at ATLANTA (3-0) - 1 p.m. ET, Fox
The NFL's unbeatens now stand at just three with the Falcons, Arizona Cardinals and Houston Texans the only 3-and-oh squads out there and one thing we've all learned about this here-and-now Atlanta team is it's the "king of the AFC West" by virtue of season-starting wins against Kansas City, Denver and San Diego.

Now Mike Smith's squad gets into divisional play with NFC South rival Carolina comin' to town and keep in mind the Panthers have been stewing for more than a week following last Thursday's 36-7 blowout loss to the NY Giants and think there won't be some QB comparisons going on here?

Atlanta slinger Matt Ryan - who leads the NFL in QB Rating after three weeks -- has thrown 8 TDs and just 1 INT and last year he led a clean sweep against Carolina with 31-17 and 31-23 wins/covers.

P.S., here's hoping we see some better "body language" from Carolina QB Cam Newton whose 2-TD, 5-INT stat line thus far ain't exactly reserving him a place in this year's Pro Bowl!

Spread Notes - Atlanta's covered all three of its out-of-the-chute games this year and the Falcons are a tidy 9-4-1 vig-wise since the middle of last year. Note the Birds enter this clash with a solid 11-7 ATS mark in NFC South play the past three-plus seasons. On the flip side, Carolina is just 8-15 odds-wise when placed in thee underdog role while dating back to the start of the 2010 season. The Panthers also are just 5-9 ATS in divisional duels the past two-plus years.

NEW ORLEANS (0-3) at GREEN BAY (1-2) - 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox
We know, we know. What are we doing getting you a preview of two teams with a combined 1-5 SU (straight-up) record?

Well, for one thing this just might be the last time we mention the now-hapless N'Orleans Saints who rank dead-last in the league in rush defense (allowing 215 ground yards per game) and somehow have not won a game despite averaging nearly 28 ppg.

No doubt QB Drew Brees (5 INTs) simply hasn't been himself so far but if he wants to spring the upset at Lambeau Field here than getting it to TE Jimmy Graham (4 catches for only 15 yards in last week's 27-24 OT loss to Kansas City) is an absolute must.

Meanwhile, what can you say about the GB Packers coming off that highway robbery 14-12 loss in Seattle this past Monday Night?

Head coach Mike McCarthy has told his troops to stay focused on what's straight ahead but how about the lack of production from this offense that ranks 21st in the NFL in passing and 25th in rushing ... and when is someone gonna block for QB Aaron Rodgers who was sacked eight times in the first half alone on MNF?

Spread Notes - Green Bay is 15-10 spreadwise as betting favorites since late in its Super Bowl-winning season of 2010 and did you know the Packers are 23-13-1 ATS when going outside the rough-and-tumble NFC North? New Orleans, meanwhile, not only is winless in three tries versus the Las Vegas prices this year but the Saints are just 7-12 ATS away the past two-plus seasons and they've allowed an average of 40.3 ppg in their last three trips into Lambeau Field while dating back to 2005.

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have all the NFL Week 4 Side & Totals Winners this weekend plus there still are lots of key Major-League Baseball Winners and College Football games too and so go ahead and climb aboard right now with America's #1 Handicapper! Check in with us on Game Days either right here online or at our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 for all the winners and note the check-in times are after 11 a.m. ET for the weekday Baseball Winners and than after 1 p.m. ET for weeknight NFL, NCAA and MLB action and than after 11 a.m. ET on Saturdays and Sundays. So, let's go ahead and pile up the profits together right thru Super Bowl XLVII ... okay?



Tell you what: More folks this past week/weekend have written about/talked about the "demise" of Philadelphia Eagles QB Michael Vick than we ever could have imagined.

Is the now 32-year-old Vick finished or something?


No doubt his Philly Eagles have staggered around at season's start despite the winning record (the Eagles are 2-1)- but note the Birds do lead the NFL in turnovers (12) with Vick airing six interceptions and losing three fumbles so far but blame must be shared here between Vick and a mix-and-match offensive line that simply has missed a slew of blocking assignments.

You saw what happened at the very end of the first half last weekend in Arizona, didn't you?

The Eagles didn't pick up blitzer Kerry Rhodes and he crunched Vick, caused a fumble and the Cardinals took that fumble all the way for a back-breaking touchdown.

Maybe Philadelphia head coach Andy Reid is thinking about benching Vick for rookie Nick Foles- but gotta believe that is "last resort" stuff for a team that still shares first place in the NFC East with the Giants and Dallas Cowboys.
Tonight, it's...NEW YORK GIANTS (2-1) at PHILADELPHIA (2-1)- 8:25 p.m. ET, NBC
No question that Vick remains the central character for this key divisional duel but do keep in mind the Eagles boast 16 offensive plays of 20-or-more yards and so the explosiveness to this offense is still here and WR DeSean Jackson figures to get targeted plenty in this game- providing Vick has enough time to throw.

On the flip side, the Giants have had plenty of prep time for this clash as Tom Coughlin's crew has been idle ever since that 36-7 win in Carolina back two Thursdays ago.

In that tilt, Giants QB Eli Manning discovered a new favorite target" in WR Ramses Barden who snared nine balls worth 138 yards as he filled in brilliantly for an injured Hakeem Nicks. Now, Nicks- who hoped to be back here but has experienced late-week swelling in his left knee- might miss a second straight game and so Barden better stop chatting with the media folks and be ready to make some catches.

The X-factor here- at least the way we see it- is the Eagles must get a big ground game from chatty RB LeSean "Shady" McCoy who has averaged 104 yards-per-game and 5.9 yards a carry in his last four meetings with the Giants. The Twitter-happy McCoy must bust a few big plays to keep Vick in the upright position or else the Giants will officially be on a "run".

Spread Notes- The NY Giants have lost seven of their last eight head-to-head showdowns with the Eagles and that includes the 23-11 Philly playoff win back in 2008 in New Jersey. Overall, the G-men are 9-3 ATS (against the spread) in their last dozen tilts dating back to last year while Philadelphia's dropped all three of its 2012 spread verdicts and enters this prime-timer at 7-11 odds-wise at home since the start of 2010.


Hey, were they pinball scores or actual College Football finals that we all kept seeing on the final Saturday in September?

To put things into perspective, how about the fact Ball State, Marshall, Tennessee, Akron, UAB and- course- Baylor all scored more than 40 points and lost although you could look at things from a different perspective here and claim that the Baylor Bears actually covered a Las Vegas pointspread in which they allowed 70 points!

No doubt West Virginia's wacky 70-63 non-cover win against 11 ½-point underdog Baylor in Big 12 action received the most play on the various highlight shows yesterday and last night as Mountaineers QB Geno Smith threw 8 touchdown passes while completing 45-of-51 passes for 656 yards but hope you heard CBS game analyst Gary Danielson moan-and-groan when it came to that final- and then the funny thing is Danielson was there in Athens to call Georgia's wild 51-44 non-cover win against 14-point pup Tennessee.

More post-game groaning, Mr. Danielson?

Guess a football purist such as Danielson isn't exactly enthralled with this "defense optional" world of College Football but look all around on Saturday and there were skyrocketing scores all over the land- 44-38, 45-31, 51-41 and 51-44 paled in comparison to that Baylor-WVU game -- and can you believe that there actually was a 12-0 game out there too (San Jose State over Navy) but that one was hard to watch because the silly Midshipmen folks in the stands kept blaring those soccer World Cup-type horns ... has everyone gone mad?

Hey, all we can tell you is that lack of defense really came back to bite the likes of N.C. State who somehow allowed Miami to score beyond State's three deep defensive backs in that 44-37 Hurricanes win and what about the lack of "D" with hopeless/hapless Arkansas as the Hogs surrendered 31 second-half points in that 58-10 loss at Texas A&M while 24 ½-point fav Georgia Tech yielded some 28 second-half points in an inexplicable 49-28 home loss to Middle Tennessee State.

The $64,000 question is will we see defense take center stage at any point this 2012 NCAA Football season or will games with 80-plus points predominate? Stay tuned (if you can take it!).

NOTE: Get the Monday Night Football Preview- that's the Chicago Bears at the Dallas Cowboys- plus lots of post-NFL Week 4 News & Notes in the next edition of Jim Sez.

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