AFC North Pointspread Updates and MLB's Top Free Agents



By Jim Hurley:

Excuse us for just a moment ... we're hoping to pop the cork on an announcement any day now regarding the National Football League and this silly/stupid lockout that continues to drag on and on.

Hey, memo to the media that's reporting the day-to-day talks between owners and players (and their representatives):

Stop giving us the blow-by-blow that means absolutely nothing - nada! - and just tell us when the two sides have come to an agreement. Here's hoping it happens by the Fourth of July and than sports fans from coast-to-coast will have real reason to shoot off some holiday fireworks.

In the meantime, there's NFL goodies on our Jim Sez docket here as we close out the merry month of June while continuing to bring you the NFL Spread Reports plus there's Major-League Baseball free-agent stuff to tackle - like what's exactly gonna happen to cream-of-the-crop free-agents-to-be St. Louis Cardinals injured 1B Albert Pujols, Milwaukee Brewers 1B Prince Fielder and New York Mets SS Jose Reyes.

We'll get to those folks shortly but here's our next installment of NFL Spread Reports:


We fully trust that there will indeed by a 2011 NFL season and so let's get off the lockout talk and instead discuss recent Pointspread Trends. Now, let's take a look at the AFC North:

BALTIMORE - The Ravens have strung together back-to-back 9-8-1 ATS (against the spread) seasons these past two years but did you realize that Baltimore's just 5-6 versus the vig in all playoff games since winning the Super Bowl back in the 2000 NFL campaign? Overall, the Ravens are 14-10 ATS as hosts and 18-11-2 ATS away the past three years and that includes a 4-3 ATS mark in road playoff games (and you thought the New York Jets had played a lot of road playoff games the past couple of years!). Note that the Ravens have cranked out pointspread wins in four of the last five season-openers and that includes last year's rain-filled 10-9 triumph at the one-point favored Jets.

CINCINNATI - Give the Bengals credit for consistency: They've covered seven games in each of the past three NFL seasons but the down side here is that Cincy's just 21-28 ATS during this three-year span (a lowly .428 winning rate). Still, the Bengals can be encouraged by the fact they covered their final three regular-season games last year - pointspread"W's"versus Cleveland, San Diego and Baltimore - and you might be interested in knowing that Cincinnati is a solid 8-5 vig-wise in divisional play while dating back to late in the 2008 campaign. Keep in mind the Bengals have failed to cover their last three season-opening games including last year's 38-24 setback versus 5-point road favorite New England. Finally, here's the stunner spread stat when it comes to Cincinnati: The Bengals are 12-19-1 ATS away the past four years and that figure includes 10 different appearances as road chalk in which this AFC North club went 2-8 against the odds. Ouch!
CLEVELAND - The Browns truly have been a Jekyl-and-Hyde bunch spreadwise these past four years as Cleveland's gone 12-4, 6-9-1, 10-6 and 5-10-1 against the odds since the 2007 season and add that all up and Cleveland's a collective 33-29-2 ATS ... not all that bad, right? Note that the Browns failed to cover all three of their games last year when in the favorite role (or at pick ‘em) and so that makes Cleveland 2-7 ATS in non-favorite roles the past three seasons. Believe it or not, the Browns are a rotten-to-the-core 0-5-1 ATS in season-opening games the past six years and that includes last year's Week One"push"when Cleveland was a 17-14 loser at three-point fav Tampa Bay.

PITTSBURGH - Let's see ... The Steelers have been in three Super Bowls in the past six years and so the post-season spread mark has to be great, right? Well, it's been better than great as Pittsburgh's a collective 9-2 versus the vig in all post-season games since the start of the 2005 season and one of those two spread setbacks occurred in Super Bowl 45 last February - the 31-25 loss against 3-point betting favorite Green Bay. Note that the Steelers are a rather ordinary 37-33-1 spreadwise in the Mike Tomlin Era that began in 2007 and that includes a tasty 9-4 spread log whenever in the point-grabbing role. Last year's Steelers enjoyed both a three-game and a four-game spread winning streak during different points in the season and just once fell back-to-back weeks spreadwise (a 23-22 non-cover win against 3-point home dog Miami in Week 7 followed by a 20-10 loss at 1-point fav New Orleans).



What is exactly gonna happen with the"big three"of this year's MLB Free Agent class? Here's some thoughts on the subjects without getting too much into the dollars-and-sense business end of it:

ALBERT PUJOLS, 1B, ST. LOUIS - The word on the street is that the currently-injured Pujols (wrist/out another five weeks) isn't going anywhere although there's some reports he will be asking (demanding?) up to $30 million a year beginning with the 2012 season. Pujols may tinker with the idea of heading to the archrival Chicago Cubs but - if you ask us - that's simply radio talk chit-chat that's going nowhere fast. If he takes off the Redbirds' uniform for anyone than note there has been some under-the-radar talk that (believe it or not) the oft-frugal Oakland A's could make a run at Sir Albert.

PRINCE FIELDER, 1B, MILWAUKEE - One of only four MLB players to appear in each/every big-league games this year. Fielder's big stick (that's a .306 batting average with 21 HRs and 68 RBIs) could throw around lots of weight in the middle of some already-solid batting order such as the New York Yankees (talk of him being the Bombers' full-time DH) or perhaps the Texas Rangers (he could split DH and 1B time with the defending American League champs). There was a New York City tabloid story earlier this week that quoted Fielder's daddy Cecil (note the two are barely on speaking terms these days, the elder Fielder confirmed) as claiming his son wants to play for the New York Mets but that's not likely considering NYM's money woes these days. One final guess: Fielder could be a truly wonderful fit on the left coast with either the Los Angeles Angels or the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants.

JOSE REYES, SS, NEW YORK METS - Ahh, the $64,000 question in the Big Apple is should the Mets ink him for"Carl Crawford money"(that's in the neighborhood of $142 million) or should they let him walk at year's end and get a mere couple of draft picks and the consensus belief is that Reyes is gonna make the Mets"pay"for not giving him top dollar a few years back with his last contract although insiders say Reyes really would like to stay put with the National League East team. If Reyes flies the coop than anything can happen and that - of course - includes plenty of talk that he'll go cross-town to the Yankees with now-injured SS Derek Jeter bolting to a corner outfield spot. The reality of the situation is that if the Mets don't ink him for mucho dinero than he will wind up either in Boston or San Francisco. Odds are the more the Mets win the more apt Reyes will want to stay in Queens.

Note: More NFL Spread Reports comin' your way in tomorrow's Jim Sez - it's the NFC South.


Today’s Hot Plays