NFL Week 4 Recap and MNF Preview
Guess no one out there in NFL-land has been able to say "call off the dogs"!
The league's Week 4 menu featured wagering pups going 10-3-0 ATS (against the spread) with a Pick 'Em game (see Chicago 16, Minnesota 6) tossed into the proverbial mix while heading into tonight's tilt between the winless Cincinnati Bengals at the winless Pittsburgh Steelers.
It all really started last Thursday Night when the 3.5-point road underdog Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Green Bay Packers 34-27 and it rolled into an avalanche state on Sunday with the following dog covers - check 'em out:
Carolina (+ 5.5) def. Houston 16-10
Cleveland (+7) def. Baltimore 40-25
Oakland (+ 5.5) def. Indianapolis 31-24
Kansas City (- 7.5) def. Detroit 34-30
New England (- 7) def. Buffalo 16-10
Tennessee (+ 3) def. Atlanta 24-10
Tampa Bay (+ 9) def. Los Angeles Rams 55-40
Jacksonville (+2.5) def. Denver 26-24 and
New Orleans (+ 2.5) def. Dallas 12-10
Okay, so here's the lowdown: NFL Underdogs are - at this very moment - a collective 36-23-0 ATS this year with three Pick 'Em games (that's a sizzling .610 winning rate) and you gotta be in SMH (as in shaking my head) mode when grasping the fact the likes of the Ravens, Rams and Cowboys all were beaten outright on the very same day and toss into the equation that the Chiefs, Patriots, Rams and 'Boys all failed to cover on this final Sunday in September, so gotta believe a whole bunch of parlays were blown up big-time.
Meanwhile, in some quick-hitter commentary regarding play on the field in NFL Week 4 ...
The aforementioned Dallas Cowboys simply couldn't get anything going on offense in that 12-10 loss inside the Louisiana Superdome: Megastar RB Ezekiel Elliott finished with just 35 yards rushing on 18 carries (say what!) while QB Dak Prescott rolled up just six fantasy points while throwing for 223 yards but with zero touchdowns. So, maybe there was something to be said about "America's Team" crushing the likes of the pre-QB Daniel Jones New York Giants, hapless Washington Redskins and sad-sack Miami Dolphins by a composite score of 97-to-44 the first three weeks of play ...
The mucho-hyped Cleveland Browns may indeed be the most polarizing team in the NFL that "hasn't won anything" but hats off to the Brownies for the Week 4 battering of Baltimore 40-25 as RB Nick Chubb - yes, maybe the best pure running back in the league right now - busted free for 165 yards rushing and 3 TDs including that 88-yard gallop to pay dirt. Cleveland's biggest plus in this game was the defense's ability to hold Ravens' WR "Hollywood" Brown to a mere four catches for 22 yards ...
Finally, what do you think the Denver Broncos (0-4) are feeling like one day after getting beat 26-24 by Jacksonville on a last-second 33-yard field goal by PK Josh Lambo? The Broncos - who blew a 14-point lead at home for the first time in 13 years - were run over by sledgehammer RB Leonard Fournette (29 carries for 225 yards) and there's already ugly rumors making the rounds that claim first-year head coach Vic Fango might not make it to the team's bye week on Nov. 10th.
Tonight, it's ...
CINCINNATI (0-3) at PITTSBURGH (0-3) - 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN
You know the ESPN folks have been doing a real "hard sell" of this prime-timer - now let's see if this clash can beat out "Dancing with The Stars" in the ratings!
The Steelers - minus QB Ben Roethisberger (elbow) for the year - look to avoid the franchise's first 0-and-4 start since 1968 and the game plan here is to play smash-mouth against a Bengals' defense that ranks next-to-last in the league in rushing defense (allowing 168.7 yards per game). Still, hard to believe that Pittsburgh's top RB James Conner has only 97 yards rushing on 34 carries ... egads.
If the 3.5-point pup Bengals are gonna keep up this dog week in the NFL, then getting the ball deep to WR John Ross (292 yards receiving / 3 TDs) is key.
Spread Note - Pittsburgh's covered eight of the last 11 games in this series.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL'S WEEKEND NOTEBOOK
Just a couple of items from this past Saturday's action ... While we applaud North Carolina head coach Mack Brown's mindset for trying to beat #1 Clemson in regulation, gotta say - and it was a "first guess" - that we would have preferred the Tar Heels to kick the PAT and send the game to OT at 21-21. Brown's team came up with a run-option play that wound up shortening the field and thus allowed Clemson's cat-quick defense to smother frosh QB Sam Howell before he could even gain an inch. Okay, so Brown said afterwards that he believed his own team's defense to be "tired" and didn't want to have to go one or more OTs but truth is Clemson totaled 59 offensive plays while Carolina totaled 63 plays from scrimmage - was UNC's defense really gassed or did Brown just want to be a "hero" if the two-point try play worked? ...
Okay, so soon enough we'll begin our Jim Sez Heisman Trophy Watch but one name that should get some Heisman recognition is SMU slinger Shane Buechele who threw three second-quarter TDs for a Ponies bunch that is now 5-0 after that 48-21 blowout win at USF. Buechele - the former Texas Longhorns' co-quarterback - has completed 69 percent of his throw worth 1,385 yards with 10 TDs. Sure, he's considered way behind a couple of other quarterbacks out there but an 11- or 12-win season for this gunslinger could get 'em loads of Midwest and southwest votes this year.