It was a party weekend for the House as five heavily backed teams crashed and burned on the NFL gridiron. The public party crashers included the Steelers and Falcons, but the biggest disappointments were the Bills, Colts and Chargers. Those three clubs entered Week 7 as four or more point favorites, but each was the victim of an outright upset on Sunday.
Buffalo, even with second-string quarterback E.J. Manuel at the controls, was favored by 4.5 points in their London showdown with the Jaguars. And the public liked the Bills at that number (63 percent were on Rex Ryan’s squad to cover the spread) largely because Jacksonville owned just one win and had lost its other five games by an average of 13.2 points per contest.
Buffalo out-gained the Jags by 80 yards, but 10 penalties and four turnovers, including two picks by the aforementioned Manuel, resulted in a 31-34 loss.
Indy and San Diego bit the dust in similar fashion, combining for five turnovers in 21-27 and 29-37 losses to New Orleans and Oakland, respectively. They were both getting nearly 70-percent of the public’s money.
While Atlanta squeaked out a 10-7 win in Nashville, it hit NFL Week 7 bettors the hardest. The public saw stars with the rested Falcons at -4, fully expecting them to rebound from an unexpected Thursday night loss to division rival New Orleans. Atlanta drew 90-percent of the betting share and it broke a lot of heart as a result.
Early Week 8 lines have the public leaning heavily on the Patriots, Vikings, Falcons, Cardinals, Titans, Jets, Seahawks and Packers. Tennessee is drawing a whopping 97-percent of the early share while the other seven clubs are getting 70-percent or better.
News and Notes from around the League:
Whatever happened to parity?
The NFL has routinely been billed as the league of parity; one where a team can rise from the ashes in a relatively short period of time without having to completely bankrupt its future. In other words, it has operated largely as an entity without the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’. That moniker has been turned on its head this season. Through seven weeks of play 11 teams are above the break even point and five of those are without a loss while 12 teams are 2-5 or worse. That disparity can be explained — at least partially anyway — by the early struggles of teams many believed would field good, if not great, squads. See the Ravens, Chiefs, Chargers, Colts, Lions, Seahawks, Saints, Dolphins, Bills and Cowboys.
Greg Hardy further validates his status as a Grade-A A-hole
Hardy’s reputation precedes him and it often clears the room as a result. The long time off-the-field disaster (found guilty of assault and threatening to kill his former girlfriend), manages to maintain employment in the NFL thanks to his pass rushing ability, but his act has grown tiresome. Hardy had many clamoring for a suspension after his on-the-field outburst in the Cowboys loss to the Giants over the weekend. Shoving and shouting at assistant coaches and teammates, Hardy looked completely incapable of controlling his emotions. Some labeled his behavior as passionate, I’ll just call it what it was: pathetic.
AFC South has a double meaning
Last season the NFC South sent a losing team to the playoffs. This year its AFC counterpart looks as though it will do the same. The Colts, who have been one of this year biggest disappointments, lead the division with just a 3-4 record but they will probably hang on to their top dog status with the other three clubs a combined 5-15. However, with the Panthers, Broncos, Falcons, Steelers and Dolphins still on Indy’s docket, a sub .500 finish is a strong possibility. Talk about Deflategate.
Sunday’s potential Super Bowl preview
The Green Bay Packers and Denver Broncos will square off a Sports Authority Field on Sunday night, which means the league will have one fewer unbeaten team come Monday. More than that, though, is what the matchup could come to represent. The Packers look like the NFC’s best team and home field advantage is a strong possibility for Aaron Rodgers and company. The Broncos have some holes and surprisingly one of them seems to be under center, but there is no denying their football prowess. Denver owns the league’s best defense, one that could potentially propel a team to and through the postseason. Sunday will tell a lot about both teams as Green Bay has yet to face a stop unit like the one Denver will trot out Sunday night.