NFL Week 4 Report

Patriots (-1) cap off the week with a record-setting thumping of the Dolphins 41-14. They score by interception return, blocked FG return, kickoff return, by run and by pass...and they blocked a punt! Just like Jim Hurley's Network, they win every which way!


Okay, so when exactly can we start referring to this underdog thing as a 'trend'?

For the third week in a row and the third time this NFL 2010 season the point-grabbers out there had a real party as pups covered nine of the 13 games played on Sunday (a .692 winning percentage) and so heading into tonight's AFC East showdown game between the New England Patriots at the Miami Dolphins, the NFL Underdogs are a collective 37-21-3 ATS (against the spread) this year and that equates into a mind-numbing .628 winning rate through nearly four full weeks of play.

Here's the week-by-week pointspread rundown this NFL season:

Week 1 Dogs go 7-7-2 spreadwise
Week 2 Dogs register a 10-5-1 spread mark
Week 3 The dogs keep barking while going 11-5 versus the vig
Week 4 So far, NFL dogs are 9-4 with the one MNF game remaining

Maybe the TV folks at CBS, Fox and ESPN all just keep jabbering on about 'parity' but in a sport where wagering rules it's become impossible to ignore the fact that NFL Favorites are getting crushed! Heck, in the 1 p.m. ET (or early games) played on Sunday, only one of the eight favorites covered the Las Vegas number the 6-point favored New York Jets smoked hapless Buffalo 38-14 otherwise there were four outright upsets (Denver, Baltimore, Cleveland and St. Louis) and three other games where the dog covered the price tag without winning the whole game (see Carolina, San Francisco and Detroit).

Will it turn around anytime soon?

Well, we basically hinted last week that the law of averages was against NFL Underdogs rollin' on like this but roll on they did in Week #4.

Stay tuned.

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We lead off our NFL Week #4 re-caps with two teams that put the 'foot' back in football on Sunday:

JACKSONVILLE 31, INDIANAPOLIS 28 Let's just say the odds weren't real great that the Jacksonville Jaguars would be winning a game on a 59-yard field goal after getting torched by 25 points in each of their last two games (see games at San Diego and home to Philadelphia).So, when veteran PK Josh Scobee boomed his franchise-record FG with no time left it was a case of shock waves times two being felt throughout the stadium and hope you caught the entire highlight where the Jaguars mascot caught the ball as it fluttered over the goal post, funny stuff.

The Jags who now are 5-14 lifetime against the Colts when Peyton Manning plays scored four touchdowns on this day but it was Scobee's one-and-only field goal that stole the show and thus kept Jacksonville (2-2) alive after reports circulated 'round the team that QB David Garrard would be benched sooner rather than later and that head coach Jack Del Rio might be walking the gangplank if his team fell too far out of the AFC Playoff race.

As it turned out, Garrard threw for two touchdowns and ran 25 yards for another score and RB Maurice Jones-Drew chipped in 105 rushing yards as the Jags pumped new life into their offense one week after the local boo-birds got all over Garrard and Company in a hard-to-watch 28-3 loss to Philadelphia.

If the Colts want to pardon the pun kick themselves for this road loss than they can look at two dropped passes by usually-reliable TE Dallas Clark or the key lost fumble by WR Reggie Wayne (career-high 15 catches for 196 yards).

ATLANTA 16, SAN FRANCISCO 14 No question that the single-biggest play in the Falcons' win in Week 4 was that WR Roddy White strip of interceptor Nate Clements on Atlanta's late-game drive but hats off to kicker Matt Bryant who banged home a 43-yard field goal with two seconds remaining in this game.

Hey, isn't that the same guy who booted Atlanta to its 27-24 overtime win at New Orleans the week before with a 46-yard FG? Bryant may be your ultimate journeyman placekicker in this league where they play for pay but he's having more than just 15 minutes of fame these days with what may become the magical team in the NFC this year. Consider that the Falcons (3-1) rallied from a 14-0 first-quarter deficit to steal this one inside a raucous Georgia Dome on a day when QB Matt Ryan aired a pair of picks and RB Michael Turner rushed for only 50 yards.

But here's the lowdown: The underrated Falcons defense held San Francisco to a 2-of-11 success rate on third-down plays and didn't let the 49ers (0-4) score an offensive touchdown following that QB Alex Smith-to-TE Vernon Davis 12-yard touchdown play some nine-plus minutes into the game. Atlanta kept its cool despite a blocked punt recovered for a Niners TD a minute-and-change later and you're getting the sense a la the 2009 New Orleans Saints that something really special could be brewing in Hot-lanta ... and it's not just the Braves!

BALTIMORE 17, PITTSBURGH 14 You could say that Ravens' QB Joe Flacco had a 'Ben Roethlisberger Moment' in this key AFC North affair: The Steelers' suspended quarterback who's back at practice today has engineered his fair share of late-game winners in his pro career but with Pittsburgh (3-1) playing its fourth and final game without the sidelined Roethlisberger, it was the guy on the other side of the fence that stole the show.

Flacco completed three passes before finding wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh on an 18-yard scoring strike with just 32 seconds remaining in the game and so the 'Heinz Field Ghosts' could be a thing of the past for the Ravens. Heck, Baltimore found a way to win on a day when it was Pittsburgh PK Jeff Reed who missed a pair of field goals (from 49 and 45 yards out) as it's usually the visiting kickers who can't make a big FG at this stadium.

The Ravens who entered the game 0-4 at Heinz Field since 2006 (including that AFC Championship Game loss in 2008) lost a pair of third-quarter fumbles and blew a fourth-quarter lead and still came out on top on a day when RB Ray Rice rushed for only 20 yards. If Scobee and Bryant put the foot back in football in their NFL games Sunday than the Ravens (3-1) put their foot down in this division: Maybe Roethlisberger or not we're headed to a fantastic finish and remember these clubs meet again the first Sunday in December.

On Sunday Nite, it was ...

NEW YORK GIANTS 17, CHICAGO 3 The other unbeaten team that went down in Week 4 was the Bears but the truth is neither one of these teams deserved to win this game ... the first two-plus quarters was unwatchable junk (don't know why NBC's Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth didn't say so!).

Sure, the storyline afterwards was all those Giants sacks (10 of 'em in all) and the fact that NYG (2-2) knocked two quarterbacks out of this game in starter Jay Cutler (sacked nine times in the first half alone) and backup Todd Collins but in reality Tom Coughlin's club should have been up 20-0 at the half and instead clung to a 3-0 lead as fumbles, bad aim by QB Eli Manning and key penalties all helped to keep this ugly game close.

The most drama came when Giants rookie punter Matt Dodge took the field he botched a FG hold in the first half and had some brutal punts but one bomb late and the Bears never did get an opportunity for return specialist Devin Hester to cut it loose as he did in last Monday's win against Green Bay.

Now, Cutler and Chicago (3-1) will see how he feels after getting concussed on a first-half blitz and Collins must check all his vital organs too after getting slammed to the ground it won't be a pretty picture the rest of the way for the Bears if they don't bone up a battered offensive line.


No matter how Tennessee and LSU folks try to spin things, that ending in last Saturday's 16-14 win by the Bayou Bengals was an utter disgrace in terms of clock mis-management and player substitutions and hats off to ESPN studio analyst Mark May for hitting the nail on the head:

If Tennessee had a specific group of players in the game on a goal-line situation, why would they switch out of that with new personnel when it is the same setup one play later?

Meanwhile, everyone's now seen LSU head coach Les Miles destroy the end of close games for years more often than not LSU lucks out and wins these tilts but the man is clueless in these late-and-close deals plus he's still not developed a quarterback in his years there and wasn't that supposed to be a strong suit? ...

Hope you saw the Florida Gators attempt that 'jump pass' with freshman Trey Burton the other night in that 31-6 loss at Alabama: Not only did it not fool the Crimson Tide's well-coached defense (it was picked off) but the 'Bama coaches were signaling that's the play Florida was gonna run before they ran it. P.S., sure looks like Gators boss Urban Meyer is going to have to find a quarterback to rescue this club as John Brantley's not the answer ...

Finally, two coaches that were in 'must-win' modes that didn't this past weekend were Georgia's Mark Richt and Minnesota's Tim Brewster: Expect to be hearing lots of speculation as to who are the favorites for these jobs the Georgia Dawgs might toy with the idea of going after Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn at year's end while Minny could be eyeballing Temple's Al Golden who could be 'hot' come December.


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