The NFL Report

FALCONS BLUDGEON THE BUCS 56-14 PLUS THERE’S MORE NFL WEEK 3 QUICK-HITTER PREVIEWS AHEAD

COLLEGE FOOTBALL’S UNDER-THE-RADAR TEAMS

Heck, with all the build-up by both CBS and the NFL, we thought these Thursday Night games were gonna be compelling TV … so far that’s not exactly been the case. Last week we were “treated” to Baltimore’s 26-6 battering of Pittsburgh and last night it was an epic blowout as the 6 ½-point favored Atlanta Falcons brutalized the hapless Tampa Bay Bucs 56-14 and wasn’t it great how CBS play-by-play man Jim Nantz called out the losers on that one Falcons’ TD where each/every T-Bay defender appeared to quit on the play? Hmmm.

The fact that Atlanta scored five touchdowns even before Tampa Bay garnered its initial first down was all you really needed to know about this one but have to add that the Bucs now are 0-3 SU (straight-up) and 0-3 ATS (against the spread) under new head coach Lovie Smith and you gotta know that Greg Schiano is having a good old laugh right about now – do you miss him yet, Buc fans? There’s bigger/better things on the Sunday docket in this NFL Week 3 schedule and so let’s dive right on in:

DENVER (2-0) at SEATTLE (1-1) – 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS
There’s no turning back the clock for the Denver Broncos some eight months after that ugly-as-sin 43-8 loss in Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey – but it sure would feel good for John Fox’s crew here to get a small measure of “revenge” here … no?

The Broncos – one of the seven NFL teams sporting a 2-0 SU record at this young stage of the season – have been far from picture-perfect despite the back-to-back home non-cover wins against Indianapolis and Kansas City. Last week’s late-minute goal-line stand against the Chiefs was scary stuff as Terrance Knighton – a/k/a “Pot Roast” --  batted down the QB Alex Smith game-tying attempt and that Broncos’ defensive line here starring DE DeMarcus Ware must keep Seattle QB Russell Wilson in the pocket and as stationary as humanly possible.

Note that the Seahawks really showed lots of warts in last weekend’s 30-21 road loss in San Diego as the red-zone defense was porous and the Seattle defense allowed Chargers’ QB Philip Rivers to register a 124.2 QB rating (the highest allowed by Seattle in a game since 2010).

Note this is only the sixth time in league history that Super Bowl participants will play one another the following season.

Spread Notes – Seattle is 19-7 ATS in all non-divisional games since the start of the 2012 season (that’s a .731 winning rate) and take note that the Seahawks are 26-10 vig-wise at home since the start of the Pete Carroll Era back in 2010 (and that’s a .722 winning rate). Denver, meanwhile, has failed to cover four of its five games when in the underdog role since the start of the QB Peyton Manning Era in 2012 and the Broncos enter this marquee matchup with a decent 10-7 ATS away mark those past two-plus seasons.

SAN DIEGO (1-1) at BUFFALO (2-0) – 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Has it really been 15 years since the Buffalo Bills were last part of the NFL playoff party? Go back to 1999 and that’s the last time the Bills made it to the post-season and even then the “Music City Miracle” sunk ‘em in that year’s playoffs and so forgive the good/loyal fans of western New York for getting all geeked regarding this club that’s posted season-opening back-to-back 23-20 (in OT) and 29-10 win/covers at Chicago and home to Miami.

If Doug Marrone’s Bills – a 2 ½-point (and growing) favorite here against the SD Chargers – are gonna get off to its first 3-and-oh start since 2011 than scoring TDs when they get into the red zone is critical as last week the Bills registered just one touchdown in six red-zone trips.

The Buffalo defense has been way better than anyone knows – see five forced turnovers and six sacks – but let’s see here how the Bills handle the born-again pass/catch combo of the aforementioned Rivers-to-TE Antonio Gates that registered three scoring strikes in last weekend’s stunning triumph over Super Bowl champion Seattle.

Spread Notes – Buffalo is a spiffy 11-5 ATS at home the past two-plus seasons and that includes a 10-3 spread log when hosting fellow AFC foes. On the flip side, San Diego is 7-1 versus the vig overall since late last season including back-to-back covers against Arizona and Seattle to start off this year.

MINNESOTA (1-1) at NEW ORLEANS (0-2) – 1 p.m. ET, Fox
No Adrian Peterson for the Vikings? Heck, the N’Orleans Saints don’t want to hear about anybody else’s problems as they sit here awaiting this Week 3 clash at 0-2 SU and – as veteran QB Drew Brees said following last weekend’s painful 26-24 loss at Cleveland – his team is merely two or three total plays away from being 2-and-oh … ahh, the fates and fortunes of the NFL.

Brees has thrown for 570 yards so far but that hasn’t been enough and we’re still wondering whatever happened last week to WR Marques Colston who didn’t catch a single pass in that loss in Cleveland.

Without the troubled Peterson, the Minny game plan is simple: Get the ball in the hands of WR Cordarelle Patterson as often as possible and that likely means three or four runs off reverses, pitches and the like – can he be a 150-yard type player here and make 10-point fav New Orleans sweat it out here?

Spread Notes – New Orleans may be winless in two pointspread verdicts thus far this year (spread losses in Atlanta and Cleveland) yet still the Saints are a tasty 25-15 versus the vig as betting favorites since the start of the 2011 season. Minnesota is 22-13-1 spreadwise as underdog sides the past three years and that includes a spread split as pups so far this season with a 34-6 win at 3-point fav St. Louis followed by a 30-7 lsos against 3-point fav New England last Sunday.

The college kids are back on the gridiron tonight and Jim Hurley and his veteran Handicappers and Bloggers are all revved up for a monster weekend beginning here with UConn at South Florida (8 p.m. ET on espn2) And note the Saturday card is full of big games including Florida at #3 Alabama, Clemson at #1 Florida State and #4 Oklahoma at West Virginia. Plus plenty more big-shot showdowns!

Yes, America’s #1 Handicapper is all revved up for another monster showing in Week 3 of NFL play – so make sure you’re banging out lots of winners all this weekend including San Diego at unbeaten Buffalo, 2-0 Houston at the New York Giants and the Sunday Night clash between the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Carolina Panthers. Plus there’s still lots to cash in too with Major-League Baseball as it heads down the final week-plus of this 2014 MLB regular season with a batch of meaningful games still on the daily dockets.

Check with us right here online for all of our weekend selections or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 any time after 1 p.m. Eastern time for weeknight action and after 10 a.m. ET for the Saturday and Sunday NFL. NCAA and MLB winners!

THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL REPORT
Hey, don’t let everyone get you all caught up in the fact that Florida State, Oregon, Alabama and Oklahoma (or some combination thereof) will be battling it out all this autumn for the four playoff berths in this year’s College Football Playoff – there’s other “under the radar” teams that must be watched closely when it comes to “cashing” and so and here’s a couple of teams that surely deserve your attention:

TCU – Some folks warned us back in the summertime that the Horned Frogs were “back” after last year’s 4-8 SU season and Gary Patterson’s club has barged out of the starting gate with wins/covers against Samford and Minnesota. You won’t find TCU in the Top 25 right now but odds are the Frogs will swallow up lots of pointspread wins and keep an eye on ‘em when taking points against Oklahoma (Oct. 4th) and at Baylor (Oct. 11th).

PITTSBURGH – Here’s another major-college team from a “Power 5” conference (the ACC) that may not yet be inside the Top 25 but could get there soon enough and might collect a batch of spread wins along the way. The Panthers – starring bullish RB James Conner who only seemingly rushes the ball 30-to-35 times a game – already have cashed two-of-three plays so far in 2014 with covers against Delaware and Boston College and we’ll be eyeballing Pitt later this year when in the dog role against the likes of North Carolina and Miami … you heard it here first!

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