by Robert Ferringo - 11/03/2005
There are home dogs everywhere in Week 8. When the original lines were posted for the Week 9 games, nine of the 14 games featured a home underdog.
Home dogs are 14-11 against the spread this year, and home teams in general are 63-53 ATS. I'm not going to lobby for any picks, but some of these dogs that are worth a second look are Minnesota, New Orleans, Miami and Baltimore.
Here are some of the key games going down in Week 9:
Carolina at Tampa Bay (-1.5), Sunday at 1 p.m.
Big-time game in what is the most underappreciated division in football. They are the only division with three five-win teams, and those three NFC South clubs are a combined 10-3 against the rest of their conference.
Tampa Bay is fading, but they are in a good spot here to drag down Carolina a bit and stay in the race a little longer. Statistically, they possess the top defense in the NFL, and are allowing just 75.7 rushing yards per game. The Bucs are 3-4 ATS this season, 6-3 ATS in their last nine at home, and 25-16 SU in the month of November since 1995.
Carolina has won four in a row, and has beaten Tampa Bay the last two times they've met. The Panthers are an incredible 11-3-1 ATS in their last 15 on the road. While the Bucs have the league's No. 1 run defense, the Panthers are second (78.3 per). These are two very evenly matched teams, but the Panthers have an edge with a more accomplished quarterback and a more explosive playmaker (Steve Smith).
Oakland at Kansas City (-5), Sunday at 1 p.m.
If Kansas City can defend its home turf, they'll pull a game within Denver for the top spot in the NFC West. If the Raiders can steal a victory, it will make three in a row and vault them back into the mix.
The numbers all favor Kansas City here. The Chiefs are 17-7-1 ATS in their last 25 games against he Raiders. They've won five in a row versus Oakland, with each victory coming by five points or less. Also, K.C. is 23-12 SU at Arrowhead since 2001.
As of Thursday, the Raiders are getting 77 percent of the overall betting action on this game, including 55 percent of the money line plays. Randy Moss is still listed as questionable on the injury report, but even without him Oakland should be able to victimize the NFL's 31st-rated pass defense.
The total on this game was originally posted at 51, and has already shifted upwards to 52. Each team is allowing 23 points per game, and scoring between 23 and 24 points.
Indianapolis (-3.5) at New England, Monday at 8:30 p.m.
Over the last few seasons, if the only game all year you bet was New England over Indianapolis, you would still be sitting on a nice chunk of change. The Patriots are 8-0-1 ATS versus the Colts, including six consecutive SU wins.
But the betting public (once again) is riding the high-flying Colts. At this point in the week, Indy has 83 percent of the spread play, and 77 percent of the overall action. Sixty-three percent of people betting on the money line are going for New England.
Indianapolis is in a commanding position as it rolls into Foxboro. They are undefeated and unchallenged thus far in 2005, and have the benefit of coming off a bye. However, Indy may have all the numbers going for it, but they still haven't faced anyone yet this year. New England, on the other hand, has faced several tough opponents and is battle-hardened.
Don't forget about the mammoth mental block that Manning and the Colts have when it comes to the Pats. That will be as much for Indy to overcome as Belichick and Brady. However, this clearly isn't the same New England team that has dispatched the Colts in each of the past two playoffs.
Keep an eye on the New England weather, which changes by the moment. As of right now the kickoff temperature should be around 40 degrees, with a 40 percent chance of rain.
And without further ado, Doc's Sports Week 9 Power Rankings:
1) Indianapolis (7-0) - Manning should be able to chew up the league's 24th-rated pass defense. However, they don't want to play too soft. That's what has cost them in the past.
2) Atlanta (5-2) - A healthy T.J. Duckett will only bolster that already dominating running game.
3) Denver (6-2) - The Broncos are a league-best 6-2 against the spread this season.
4) Pittsburgh (5-2) - They were a couple plays away from losing three in a row at home, and are 1-4 ATS at Heinz Field. Even without Big Ben they should be able to handle the Pack.
5) Carolina (5-2) - They've now won four in a row, but still need a convincing win over a divisional opponent.
6) Cincinnati (6-2) - Everyone points to their 28 turnovers as proof of defensive prowess. What's underreported is that even with all of those takeaways, the Bengals are barely in the top 20 in overall D (19th, 320 ypg).
7) Seattle (5-2) - There's something very odd about their line (-4) at Arizona. This is the same Cardinals team that the Seahawks ripped 37-12 in Week 3.
8) Dallas (5-3) - The Cowboys lost starting strong-side linebacker Al Singleton (collarbone) for the season. That will have an impact on a pretty thin corps.
9) New York Giants (5-2) - Going back to the end of last season, the Giants are 7-2-1 ATS in their last 10 games.
10) New England (4-3) - The Patriots will have to run some type of misdirection or max protect. If Brady has time he can abuse that secondary. But that's a big "if".
11) Jacksonville (4-3) - The Jaguars remaining opponents have a combined record of 21-43. Indianapolis has seven of those wins.
12) Philadelphia (4-3) - When the Titanic hit that iceberg there was still several hours before the ship actually sank.
13) Chicago (4-3) - The media has loved Chicago all week, which is the Kiss of Death. That, a banged up TJ, a rookie QB on the road, and facing an offense that can stretch the field, has me terrified about this New Orleans game.
14) Tampa Bay (5-2) - The Bucs defense is allowing just 12 first downs and 229 total yards per game.
15) Washington (4-3) - The Redskins are No. 25 against the run, and are allowing 4.5 yards per carry. But Philly doesn't run so who cares!
16) San Diego (4-4) - The Chargers are an amazing 55-2-1 ATS when they win straight up on the road.
17) Kansas City (4-3) - It's time for Surtain and Knight to earn their money, and their reps.
18) Oakland (3-4) - Norv Turner has never beaten the Chiefs as a head coach.
19) Buffalo (3-5) - It was at this point last year that the Bills ripped off an 8-2 ATS run.
20) Miami (3-4) - Gus Frerotte is on a very short leash. In his last six starts he has either completed less than 50 percent, or thrown more INT's than TD's.
21) Detroit (3-4) - Their past 12 games against the Vikings have been decided by less than 10 points. The Lions have lost six straight against Minnesota.
22) Baltimore (2-5) - Brian Billick is 9-3 in his career against the Bengals, and Anthony Wright has won seven consecutive home starts.
23) St. Louis (4-4) - Can you believe, with all the injuries and off-field nonsense, that these guys are at .500?
24) Cleveland (2-5) - The Browns are now 6-1 on the Under. There's an average of 29 points scored in their games.
25) New York Jets (2-5) - The last time this club faced the Chargers, they took overtime to earn the win. Now they meet in New York, and one of these teams is significantly weaker.
26) Arizona (2-5) - Denny Green has now changed his starting quarterback 10 times in 15 games.
27) Tennessee (2-6) - This team showed some fight early in the year, but now it's all downhill.
28) New Orleans (2-6) - The Bears are getting 90 percent of the spread action so far this week, but the Saints are getting 96 percent of the money line plays.
29) Minnesota (2-5) - As much as I hate it, if the Vikings can beat Detroit they're still in the NFC North hunt.
30) Green Bay (1-6) - They are 1-6, but they've outscored their opponents 158-139 this season.
31) San Francisco (2-5) - Cody Pickett.
32) Houston (1-6) - The last time they played Jacksonville, they shut the Jags out (21-0) and helped keep them out of the playoffs. This week the Jags get revenge.
Questions or comments for Robert? E-mail email@example.com
The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of Doc's NFL picks service.