by Robert Ferringo - 11/01/2005
Halloween is a custom started by the Celtic people back in the 5th century. To them it was like our New Year's, only they believed that the disembodied spirits of those who had died throughout the preceding year would come back looking for living bodies to posses. For those poor souls, this was their only hope for securing a spot in the afterlife.
The Celtic people believed that laws of space and time were suspended during this time, allowing the spirit world to intermingle with the living.
Apparently, the general betting public didn't keep in mind this concept - that this football weekend would feature the complete suspension of the laws of space and time - when they were making their wagers over the weekend. If you came out alive when the dust settled Tuesday morning, consider yourself lucky. And that statement has nothing to do with pagan rituals or a brush with disembodied.
In nine of the 14 games this weekend the lines moved - sometimes as much as two or three points - in one direction, only to see the action on the field go the completely opposite way. For instance:
- The Jacksonville/St. Louis line was off for most of the week, but when it hit the boards the Jaguars were laying 2.5. That number skyrocketed, bumping to 4.5 in less than two days. St. Louis won outright.
- Carolina, coming off a bye, is hosting a Minnesota team that's 9-32 away from the Metrodome since 2000. The Panthers begin as nine-point favorites, but the number creeps down to just seven by noon on Sunday. Carolina cruised to a 38-13 win.
I have at least five other perfect examples of this phenomenon (New England/Buffalo, Pittsburgh/Baltimore), and we watched as one double-digit favorite (Tampa Bay) lost, and another (Pittsburgh) won by a single point. Since the lines follow the heavy action, what exactly happened? How could the general betting public be so off? I'm not exactly sure, other than to say that it was most likely an anomaly, and not enough people reading the Ferringo Report!
But, as always, there's a twofold lesson here. First, don't just think that you can wait on the numbers all week, get a read on where the action is going, and follow it to the bank. That's not how it works. Even I began second-guessing myself with Carolina (was I missing something?), but eventually followed my own instincts to the bank.
Here are my random thoughts from Week 8:
-- All interdivisional games last week were won by the home team, except Detroit's overtime loss to Chicago. Not a shock, you say? Well, both the Washington/New York and Kansas City/San Diego lines moved towards the visitor this week.
-- Jacksonville is a team I just can't figure out. They run the ball, play solid defense, have a charismatic quarterback, and have a knack for pulling out close games. Why then are they just 18-21 since the start of the 2003 season, and just 13-10 since the beginning of last year? They definitely play to the level of their competition, and are just lethargic against weaker foes.
That revelation about the Jags makes them a tough bet over the rest of the season since eight of their last nine games are against teams with a losing record (the Indy rematch is the only game against a winner). Jacksonville truly controls its own destiny. What team will they decide to be?
-- Two plays on Monday night told you everything you need to know about the Baltimore offense. The first was Jamal Lewis spinning to avoid getting tackled for a safety, only to fumble at his own 10-yard line. The second was the Anthony Wright-Derrick Mason exchange after Wright didn't see Mason wide open in the end zone.
-- I've been dogging him since draft day, but Cedric Benson came up big for Chicago on Sunday. With Thomas Jones injured, Benson managed 35 yards on three carries during a drive in overtime. The Bears had started that drive at their own 13, and Benson helped them flip field position and pin the Lions at their own 13. Charles Tillman's game-ending INT return occurred just three plays later.
Oh, and Garcia is going to be feeling the Bears for awhile. They punished him.
-- Alex Barron, the rookie tackle for the Rams, was a one-man wrecking crew on Sunday. The only problem was that he was wrecking his own team's drives. Check out this hilarious sequence from St. Louis's two-minute drill:
2nd-and-8, Jags 20, 48 seconds left - Barron called for holding, -10 yards 2nd-and-18, Jags 30, 43 seconds left - Barron actually steps in front of Marshall Faulk and intercepts a screen pass. Illegal touching, -5 yards 2nd-and-23, Jags 35, 38 seconds left - Barron called for a false start, -5 yards
The crowd didn't even boo him because they were in such shock.
-- I know that everyone is excited about Heath Miller in Pittsburgh. However, an unintended consequence of having a pass-catching tight end is that Big Ben is taking a lot more shots in the pocket. The Steelers have a lot of slow-developing passes in their system, and that lack of an extra blocker is leaving Ben exposed.
-- Yeah, OK. The Giants are better than I thought. They're second in the league in turnovers (22) and they pitched the shutout against what had been a very strong offensive team. With that talent, and a favorable schedule, the Giants are nearly a lock for the postseason.
That being said, I still think the G-Men are a dicey bet on the road. This theory won't be tested this week when they face the Cody Pickett-led 49ers in San Francisco. However, Manning is 0-5 on the road and I don't think that New York will beat a team of equal talent outside of the Meadowlands (see: Week 12 in Seattle).
-- In recent years, the United States Supreme Court has had 193 votes that passed by a 5-4 margin. Sandra Day O'Connor was the swing vote in 143 of those instances. And that is why it's so important (and utterly terrifying) whom George W. Bush chooses to replace her.
-- I've never seen a team look more stunned and disoriented with a three-touchdown lead as I did in that Denver/Philadelphia game. If it hadn't been for that McNabb interception at the start of the fourth quarter (the score was 28-21, and the Broncos were teetering on the verge of total collapse), who knows if the Eagles could have pulled out another garbage win against the AFC West.
-- Steve Smith just abused Fred Smoot this weekend. It wasn't even just the 11 catches for 201 yards that Smith had, but the other 40 yards Smoot gave the Panthers with his five penalties.
-- Remember when everyone was pointing to Arizona and screaming about what a "great" draft they had? First-round pick Antrel Rolle was done for the year after just three games, second-round selection J.J. Arrington has 76 running yards, a 2.3-yard average, and no TD's, and fourth-rounder Darryl Blackstock had one tackle in five games.
-- Donovan McNabb's first half line: 0-for-12, 0 yards. Huh?
-- Cincinnati didn't impress me that much with that win over Green Bay. They let the Pack hang around way too long.
-- Best costume I saw this weekend: Hitler in drag.
-- I'm proud of Tedy Bruschi and all, but let's be honest. He looked lost and hesitant out there. It's like Bodi said in "Point Break". "Fear causes hesitation. And hesitation causes your worst fears to come true."
I'm not saying that Bruschi doesn't have good cause, I'm just simply pointing out that if people expect him to step in and return the Pats defense to its 2004 form, it's not going to happen.
-- Yes Oakland has won three of its last four games. Yes they lost some games early in the year by pretty small margins. But no, they're not for real. They're the Raiders, and this is what they do. They tease. They're at Kansas City, host Denver, and they travel to Washington. I guarantee that they lose two of those games.
-- Those soulless bloodsuckers over at Exxon Mobile are the only people making more money that those of us who continue to bet against Minnesota on the road. They are P-A-T-H-E-T-I-C.
-- The only team that Chris Simms should be giving 11 points to on the road is Baylor.
-- Those three Kansas City defenders bit pretty hard on LaDainian Tomlinson's touchdown pass on Sunday, didn't they? I mean, it's not as if the Chargers have been hiding that play or anything. LT has three touchdown passes. That's more than any New York Jets quarterback this year.
-- Here are a few very funny moments from this weekend, all having to do with idiot broadcasters:
1) While running through USC-Washington State highlights, TNT's Ernie Johnson - possibly the whitest man in America - said that big-time Trojan fan Snoop Dogg was striking his "Hei-zizlle pose".
2) Dan Dierdorf, after Jacksonville's Josh Scobee missed his second field goal of the day to the right: "There must be a strong left-to-right wind down there. But I got news for you, Dick. We're in a dome. There is no wind!" Thanks, genius.
3) Randy Cross twice referred to Charles Woodson as Rod Woodson. 4) Al Michaels said that Baltimore wideout Randy Hymes gave Steelers cornerback Chris Hope "a reach-around" while touching him down after an interception.
Questions or comments for Robert? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out his Insider Page here.