Handicapping the 2007 NFL Schedule
by Robert Ferringo - 08/08/2007
At the start of each season - before training camp, before preseason games, before fantasy drafts, and even before Sean Salisbury starts making completely obvious comments concerning the league and its teams (example: "Tom Brady just flat out gets it done." or "With Urlacher and that defense the Bears are tough to score against.") - I have a sort of betting ritual in regards to the National Football League schedule. While I do my preseason research, in which I backtrack through the injuries and free agent injections of each NFL team, I make a list of teams that I think will be overvalued and a list of teams that I think will be undervalued throughout the year. Next, I go through the official NFL schedule and write down games in which I expect there to be either a major upset or at least a solid cover of a huge line. This is how I predicted that the Texans would beat the Colts last year. It's just a first-impression, gut-reaction to situations that I anticipate as profitable spots.
Is this the list of my games for this year? No. Sorry. Finding potentially juicy gambling situations is my first goal when I look at the NFL slate. However, the second thing that I do is try to pinpoint which contests will see the greatest level of attention from the mainstream media and general betting public (and thus see the most action). And I'd be more than happy to share that info with you. Believe me, while I was combing through the 2007 NFL schedule trolling for ripe gambling opportunities I realized that the people who concocted this gridiron agenda did an incredible job. There are a slew of high profile games that will entice square and sharp bettor alike to risk life and limb on a game of violence and chance.
Below is a look at the top games for each week of the 2007 NFL regular season from the perspective of a fan and a handicapper. Again, this isn't a listing of the top games to bet on over the course of the 2007 NFL season, but it is certainly a primer for the games that will get the blood flowing in the stands, at the bars, on the couches, and at the windows this year:
Week 1: Chicago at San Diego (4 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 9)
The defending NFC champ and the defending regular season champ square off on the Left Coast. The Chargers wideouts shouldn't put the fear into Chicago's secondary, and you never know what you'll get from Rex, so I would look for a low-scoring slugfest.
Week 2: San Diego at New England (8 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 16)
Yeah, so after getting Chicago at home in what should be an exceptionally physical game, the Chargers have to head east to take on the team that ended their season so unceremoniously last year. I wonder if San Diego is going to rue talking smack about the victorious Pats last January?
Week 3: Jacksonville at Denver (4 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 23)
Two of the hardest hitting teams will tussle in the Mile High atmosphere. Defenses should dominate here and whoever can get the least shaky play out of their quarterback should earn a statement win.
Honorable Mention: San Francisco at Pittsburgh
Week 4: Pittsburgh at Arizona (4 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 30)
Former Pittsburgh offensive coordinator and new Arizona head coach Ken Wisenhutt and spurned coach Russ Grimm will host their former team in the desert. These two coaches know the Steelers inside and out, so if the Cards are getting dog numbers here you should be prepared to pounce.
HM: New England at Cincinnati, St. Louis at Dallas, Denver at Indianapolis
Week 5: Carolina at New Orleans (1 p.m., Monday, Oct. 1)
The NFC South is going to come down to these two organizations, and whichever team can claim victory here will be in the driver's seat. The Saints have a tremendous advantage in that they'll be coming off a bye week. Whereas this will be Carolina's third straight divisional tilt.
Week 6: New England at Dallas (4 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 14)
The Cowboys get up for big games, and if the Patriots are somehow still unbeaten after their trip to Cincinnati the week before I would expect a bit of a letdown. Oh, yeah, and there's the little Moss vs. T.O. sideshow that will dominate the week leading up to the game.
HM: New Orleans at Seattle
Week 7: Chicago at Philadelphia (4 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 21)
I suppose you can debate about whether or not these are the two best teams in the NFC, but there's no question that they are the two strongest. The Eagles have owned the Bears (5-0 since 1999) recently and if D-Nabb is still healthy I see no reason why they won't make it six in a row here.
Week 8: Pittsburgh at Cincinnati (1 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 28)
Even without Joey Porter on the Steelers sideline this one is still going to be intense, with cheap shots and smack talk flying around the field. The Steelers have won and covered in six straight against the Bengals at Heinz Field.
HM: Indianapolis at Carolina
Week 9: New England at Indianapolis (4 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 4)
This annual Love Fest has become a rite of passage for the NFL. Indianapolis hammered the Pats in Foxboro last year and ended New England's season with a wild comeback in the AFC Title Game. I smell payback.
HM: Dallas at Philadelphia, Baltimore at Pittsburgh
Week 10: Indianapolis at San Diego (8 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 11)
By now you should see why I don't like the Colts' odds to earn another AFC South crown. Their schedule is grueling, with this game marking the end of a Carolina-New England-San Diego trifecta. Ouch.
Week 11: Chicago at Seattle (8 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 11)
The Bears humiliated the Seahawks during the regular season and then scored a dramatic overtime win against them in the playoffs. Both of those scuffles were in Soldier Field. I think things could work out a bit differently once the 12th Man gets involved.
HM: San Diego at Jacksonville
Week 12: Baltimore at San Diego (4 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 25)
As with the Colts, you may notice a pattern here. The Chargers have an absolutely brutal schedule, and we're going to see if Norv and the boys are tough enough to handle it. This game is a rematch from an exceptional regular season meeting last year in Baltimore.
HM: Denver at St. Louis (1 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 25)
Week 12: Philadelphia at New England (8 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 25)
A possible Super Bowl preview? Well, at the very least it's a Super Bowl rematch from three seasons ago. Only this time it's the Pats who are going to battle with the selfish, malcontent wideout.
Week 13: San Francisco at Carolina (1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 2)
If the 49ers are for real - as everyone is assuming that they are - then this will be an intriguing match-up. San Fran is a pathetic 2-13 in games played east of Chicago over the past five seasons. This contest will also be the fourth road game in five weeks for the Niners.
Week 14: St. Louis at Cincinnati (1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 9)
Points, points, and more points. That's what we're going to get with this one. Weather should be a factor. And by that I mean that some wind and/or snow could be the only thing keeping this total under 70 points. This is usually the first weekend of fantasy football playoffs as well, so keep that in mind when you're drafting!
HM: Carolina at Jacksonville
Week 15: Philadelphia at Dallas (1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 16)
If you don't know why this is going to be a big one you shouldn't be reading this article. In fact, if you don't know why this game is on the list I want you to get off this site and never, ever return.
HM: Arizona at New Orleans, Seattle at Carolina
Week 16: Denver at San Diego (Monday, Dec. 24)
Alas, we finally have a Monday Night Football game targeted. This is a can't miss for ABC, as these two should be slugging it out for the division crown - and possibly home field advantage - as Santa makes it down our chimney.
HM: Philadelphia at New Orleans, Dallas at Carolina
Week 17: St. Louis at Arizona (4 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 30)
Could it be? Could the Cardinals be playing meaningful football this deep into the season? I'm still a skeptic, but it's worth putting them on the list. After all, it's August. Everyone's a title contender right now.
HM: Dallas at Washington, New Orleans at Chicago, Pittsburgh at Baltimore
Questions or comments for Robert? E-mail him at email@example.com or check out his Insider Page here.