NFL Week 8 Key Previews and World Series Recap

THE WORLD SERIES RE-CAP & NFL WEEK 8 SUNDAY MATINEE MATCHUPS

By Jim Hurley:

Say it loud and say it proud, St. Louis Cardinals ...You are the champions of the Baseball world following last night's World Series Game 7 win against the Texas Rangers and while folks wax poetic about Series MVP 3B David Freese - who doubled in two runs to allow St. Lou to "hold serve" in a wacky first inning on Friday night - we're sitting here in utter amazement considering all the Las Vegas odds this NL Central club defied along the way.

How about the fact the Redbirds were (based on $100 per-play wagers) + 245 in their NLDS win against heavy-duty favorite Philadelphia, they were + 115 in their NLCS win against Milwaukee and were + 135 in their just-completed World Series triumph over Texas.

Hey, $100 wagers on all of the above would have netted you $495 and how about if you grabbed St. Louis at the bloated 12-to-1 "win it all" odds prior to the start of this 2011 MLB post-season and threw $100 on that play ... that's a cool $1,200.

Maybe you would like to send a "thank you" card than to the likes of Freese, OF Allen Craig, RHP Chris Carpenter, closer Jason Motte and manager Tony LaRussa.

Go ahead and venture a guess:

What do you think the dozen teams in the NFL have done spreadwise with their post-bye games so far in this here-and-now 2011 season?

If you thought they were "knocking 'em dead" spreadwise, than guess again!

The truth is the first 12 NFL teams that played a game following their bye week churned out a less-than-ordinary 5-6-1 ATS (against the spread) mark and now let us break down that figure a bit better for you here:

NFL post-bye Betting Favorites so far are 2-2 against the odds while NFL post-bye underdog sides are 3-4-1 ATS - maybe the fact most/all NFL teams take almost an entire week off prior to getting back to practice before playing their next game is starting to show.

After all, shouldn't most NFL teams fare better spreadwise when coming off an idle week where bodies can heal up and where video study is key? Just sayin'!

THE NFL WEEK 8 KEY SUNDAY AFTERNOON GAMES

Okay, so before we get to the NFL Week 8 Sunday matinee game previews, check out the "streaking" teams spreadwise ...

The Arizona Cardinals have lost their last four consecutive pointspread verdicts - they're at Baltimore here in Week 8

The Cincinnati Bengals have covered three in a row - they're at Seattle on this final October Sunday.

The Indianapolis Colts - proud owners of the worst loss in the league this year thanks to last Sunday's 62-7 thrashing at the hands of New Orleans - have dropped their last three in a row spreadwise and they're at Tennessee to wrap up a dreadful three-game road swing/

The Kansas City Chiefs have reeled off four consecutive spread "W's" - and they're home to San Diego on Monday Night Football.

The Miami Dolphins have lost all six of their pointspread verdicts this season - and they're at the Meadowlands now for the second time in 13 days with a date this time against the host New York Giants.

The St. Louis Rams (see below) have lost six in a row to the vig - now they're double-digit home dogs against New Orleans.

The San Francisco 49ers have covered four in a row while going 5-0-1 ATS so far this year - and now they're hosting the up-and-down Cleveland Browns.

And the Seattle Seahawks have notched four consecutive pointspread wins - now they're home dogs to Cincinnati;

Now, here's three key Week 8 games ...

NEW ENGLAND (5-1) at PITTSBURGH (5-2) - 4:15 p.m. ET, CBS
Speaking of byes, the NE Patriots come off theirs for this high-profile clash with the Steelers at Heinz Field (yes, the field is in its usual torn-up state following Pitt's mid-week win against UConn) and you wonder if that will play into Pittsburgh's hand here while slowing down the Pats' downfield passing game ... or might a shredded-up field help the Pats' prodigal so ground game?

We'll soon find out but take note that the Steelers have won 16 of their last 21 home games but New England's won five of its last six games here and QB Tom Brady (2,163 yards passing with 16 TDs and 8 INTs this year) is looking to carve up a Pittsburgh secondary that often is the team's weak link. Game plan strategy here: Bring more defenders off the corners and make Brady throw a slew of dump-down passes and than try to pry the ball loose from the likes of WR Wes Welker (51 catches and 6 TDs) along with TEs Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

If you missed it, the Steelers have their own hot quarterback as Ben Roethlisberger has thrown nine TDs with only one pick during this three-game SU (straight-up) winning streak that includes triumphs over Tennessee, Jacksonville and Arizona.

Hey, you have to go back to Week One of the 2010 regular season to find the last time the Steelers were home dogs (see 15-9 overtime win against 1 ½-point favored Atlanta).

Spread Notes - New England has covered four of its first six games this 2011 season and did you realize the Patriots are 18-9 ATS overall in road games since the start of the 2008 season? On the flip side, Pittsburgh is 3-4 versus Mr. Vig through seven weeks of play and the Steelers are 9-4 ATS at home since the start of last year and that, of course, includes the 39-26 loss to 4 ½-point fav New England last year.

DETROIT (5-2) at DENVER (2-4) - 4:05 p.m. ET, Fox
The hue-and-cry in the Mile High City was answered last week - QB Tim Tebow got an NFL start and rallied the woeful Broncos back from a 15-point deficit with less than three minutes remaining in regulation en route to an 18-15 overtime win in Miami.

Now, will there be more "Tebow Magic" on display here?

The Broncos - who have not won back-to-back games since late in the 2009 season - know they better protect Tebow here after he was sacked six times in South Florida last weekend and now here comes an angry DL Ndamukong Suh to give the former Heisman Trophy winner a hard time.

Note that the Lions are not expected to have RB Jahvid Best (concussion) while QB Matthew Stafford has been sacked a grand total of eight times in those back-to-back home losses against San Francisco and Atlanta and he's a bit gimpy here after getting pulled down late on an incomplete pass in last week's 23-16 loss to the 4 ½-point underdog Falcons.

Spread Notes - Detroit is still a rock-solid 4-2-1 ATS this year following back-to-back home spread flubs against San Francisco and Atlanta. Overall, the Lions are 5-2-1 vig-wise as betting favorites since the start of last year. Meanwhile, Denver is 2-4 versus the vig so far this season under new boss-man John Fox and did you know that the Broncos are a composite 12-30-1 spreadwise as hosts dating back to the start of the 2006 season?

NEW ORLEANS (5-2) at ST. LOUIS (0-6) - 1 p.m. ET, Fox
Just wanted to check in here on the Saints - you know, the guys that poured it on for 62 points in last Sunday Night's rollicking 62-7 win against Indianapolis - who boast an array of stat-sheet stuffers this year notably QB Drew Brees (2,477 yards passing with 18 TDs) and TE Jimmy Graham (45 catches with 5 TDs).

You may want to know that the Rams have scored a grand total of 56 points on the year and it appears that lifetime backup QB A.J. Feeley will again get the call here.

The question is what will St. Loo do if they go 0-16 - draft Stanford QB Andrew Luck and trade Sam Bradford or ship the #1 pick to, let's say, San Francisco for a bundle of players/draft picks? It may soon be time to think about such things for the Rams.

But, what the heck, let the folks in St. Louis enjoy their World Series champs and not have to spend a moment thinking about the crummy Rams, right?

Spread Notes - New Orleans is 4-3 against the odds so far this '11 season but keep in mind the Saints have covered their last four consecutive non-NFC South games since that season-opening 42-34 loss at 4 ½-point fav Green Bay. Note that St. Louis is a dreadful 0-6 against the odds this year and that means the Rams are a collective 1-9 spreadwise in their last 10 games overall. Ugh!

NOTE: Get the NFL Week 8 Sunday Night Football Game Preview - that's the Dallas Cowboys at the Philadelphia Eagles - in the next edition of Jim Sez.

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