Monday Night Football Preview
THE NFL WEEK 4 MENU WRAPS UP WITH GIANTS AT VIKINGS TONIGHT PLUS WE DIG DEEPER INTO THOSE SUNDAY "BAD LINE MOVES" ...
COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEKEND NOTEBOOK AND OUR AL WILD CARD PREVIEW AS ORIOLES-BLUE JAYS CLASH NORTH OF THE BORDER
Hey, the next time one of your buddies tells you that NFL line moves "always win", you bring 'em back to the Week 4 schedule ...
In case you didn't check such things, there was what we'd call "significant" line movement on a handful of games this past Sunday and most of 'em lost including the Tennessee Titans, Arizona Cardinals and the Kansas City Chiefs:
Take note that the Titans were taking 6.5 points at Houston to start the week and it got whittled down to a 4-point price by game time.
The result: Houston (- 4) beats Tennessee 27-20;
Then there's the Cardinals who had their price tag driven up by 1.5 points - from 8 to 9.5 - on game day and all 'Zona did was lay an egg at home en route to a 17-13 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. For good measure, the Cards might have lost QB Carson Palmer (concussion and likely out for a while and note they have the Thursday Night game at San Francisco).
Then we next get to the Sunday Night game between Kansas City at Pittsburgh - the Chiefs gobbled up the cash all day long as the Vegas number was chopped down from 5.5 points to 3.5 (the game day move itself was more like a point or 1.5 points). End result: The ornery Steelers (- 3.5) clubbed the Chiefs 43-14 in a rainy night in "The Burgh".
No question that line move "winners" including Jacksonville over Indianapolis (went to Pick 'Em" after the Colts were a two-point fav last Friday) and Buffalo which grabbed the cash but only when it was announced New England would not play QB Jimmy Garoppolo - the Bills cruised 16-0 as 3.5-point dogs after the Pats were favored by as much as 6.5 points some 48 hours earlier.
The proverbial bottom line is some line moves are "sharp", others not so much and the moolah wagered on the Titans, Cardinals and Chiefs would have been better spent taking your mother-in-law out to dinner!
The NFL Week 4 wraps up tonight, it's ...
NEW YORK GIANTS (2-1) at MINNESOTA (3-0) - 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Let's just say that much of this past week the famed New York City media did its very best to prod Giants WR Odell Beckham, Jr. into saying something negative/nasty following last week's sideline meltdown in the 29-27 loss to Washington ... okay, so Beckham didn't "bite" but now he's in a something-to-prove state on the field and going against the league's top-rated defense.
Minnesota has allowed 16, 14 and 10 points thus far while scoring a pair of defensive TDs in wins against Tennessee, Green Bay and Carolina. Simply put, if Beckham cannot be a game-breaker here and stretch the field - let's say he probably needs 7-to-10 receptions for 125-plus yards - then Ben McAdoo's Jints are gonna suffer a second straight setback and the Vikes' ever-growing Super Bowl hopes will continue to blossom.
One major key for the Vikes: QB Sam Bradford - the ultimate "game manager" so far in 2016 - has not thrown a single INT yet and his rapport with TE Kyle Rudolph (already targeted 26 times in three games) in the red zone could be the key in a game that otherwise might be filled with FGs.
Spread Notes - Minnesota has charged out of the starting gate with a 3-and-oh ATS (against the spread) mark and the Vikings are a composite 27-9 ATS under third-year boss Mike Zimmer. The NY Giants, meanwhile, have failed to cover two of their first three games this year but "Big Blue" is a dynamic 7-3-1 versus the vig away since late 2014.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEKEND NOTEBOOK
Clemson's amazing 42-36 see-saw win against 1-point favorite Louisville was "Game of the Year" stuff even though Tigers' QB Deshaun Watson aired three INTs and lost a fumble - the 'Ville had the time of possession advantage 37:29-to-22:31 but the inability to haul down kick returner Artavis Scott on his 77-yard burst in the final quarter was the game's biggest play. Talk about line moves, remember Clemson opened as a 2.5-point fav there and went off the home dog ...
And ask us and we'll tell you the weekend's "biggest winner" was LSU's interim head coach Ed Orgeron who took over last week for the fired Les Miles. The Bayou Bengals thumped 11-point road dog Missouri even though star TB Leonard Fournette (ankle soreness) didn't suit up. Everyone's clamoring for a "name coach" in Baton Rouge - and we get it -- but maybe Orgeron will be the "permanent" hire with some more big wins. Note LSU is at Florida this weekend and still has remaining road games at Arkansas and Texas A&M, so stay tuned.
AMERICAN LEAGUE WILD CARD GAME
On Tuesday, it's ... BALTIMORE (89-73) at TORONTO (89-73) - 8 p.m. ET, TBS
The Blue Jays get the all-important home field advantage here thanks to winning the season series 10 games-to-9 ... and any self-respecting Orioles fan knows Buck Showalter's club plays a heckuva lot better at Camden Yards (50-31) than it does on the road (39-42) but Blue Jay bats have been uncharacteristically quiet for weeks now - just 33 runs in their last 10 games, for example - and it's Baltimore's 251 dingers that leads the bigs with Mark Trumbo's 47 home runs the best in all of baseball. One thing's for sure: Don't look for this AL Wild Card Game to come down to "small ball" - who is gonna out-homer who is the key.