A bettor's guide to Week 5
I don't like the way the line has been abused this season. Overlays have triumphed, which is why you see so many of the handicappers' records in your paper above .500. The consensus of writers' panels always leans to the favorite. I said it after the first week, and then again after the second and the third: Look out for the dog. There is a great week of upsets coming. And so they did last week -- for the first half. Then things settled down.
So, right now I am desperate for an upset. I mean, even though there were few of them last weekend, the ones that happened Sunday were such juicy ones -- Washington over Dallas, Chicago over Philly, weirdest of all, K.C. big over Denver -- that I was jealous. Why couldn't I have been bright enough to see one of them coming?
Well, the ranks of the unbeaten are thinning noticeably, and I think that on Sunday we're going to see another one go down. Tennessee, 4-0, is now considered an Elite Team. The Ravens are a gang of roughnecks with a rookie quarterback. Score one for the roughnecks.
The Titans' 30 points last weekend was a score inflated by turnovers. Nothing against being able to force them -- coaches love it -- but it creates a misleading impression. I don't think the Titans can put together the kind of quick-strike offense a team needs to contain the Ravens' defense, once it gets aroused. Kerry Collins' passing game is a methodical kind of thing that needs time to get working correctly. The action in the attack comes from the running of Chris Johnson, who was contained pretty well Sunday, despite his dazzling speed.
I think this kind of an offense is made to order for the Ravens' attacking defense. The only thing that could mess things up is the fear of turnovers when we turn the page and get to the Baltimore attack, with rookie Joe Flacco trying to get things going against a Titans defense that's pretty formidable itself. I think he'll have a short field to work with, though. I see the Ravens forcing a few turnovers and cashing in on them, exactly the thing Tennessee is good at.
It will be one of those bruising defensive games that seem so common these days. Score one for the bruisers from Baltimore.
Sure, I was impressed by the way the Chiefs ran the ball last weekend, but I don't think it will happen on Sunday against Carolina. Denver was a division rival. The Panthers are just another opponent, and I don't like K.C. against an NFC team on the road. I'll take the Panthers and give the points.
I have an inordinate number of formula games this weekend -- four of them, actually, and I'll present them without any deep analysis. They are quirky and illogical, and I promise you this: If I don't go at least 3-1 with this thing, I will stop torturing you and walk more well trodden paths. And go back to the drawing board to try to figure out why my formula isn't kicking in with its usual supply of WW's (Weird Winners). Here's the quartet.
Lions getting 3 1/2 (was 2 1/2) against Chicago. Makes no sense. Bears are a rising power. Lions are ... well, the Lions. Perfect.
Chargers giving away 6 1/2-7 at Miami. Logic says it should be closer, but logic, as you know, takes a trip when we're talking formula.
Bucs getting 3 at Denver. The one and only time Tampa Bay ever won at Mile High was 15 years ago, when my wife was still a toddler.
Cowboys giving away ... hold your breath ... 17 1/2 to Cincinnati. My own line last Sunday night was 13. This one tells me that the guys who set the price believe that Palmer is definitely out. I never gave away that many points in my life -- until now.
Last week: 1-2