Sunday, September 26, 2004

Jaguars not expected to gain ground against Titans


NFL Best Bets

By BOB MATTHEWS
Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle

The Jacksonville Jaguars are 2-0 despite averaging an NFL-low 200.5 offensive yards per game. The lack of firepower figures to catch up with them Sunday on the road against the Tennessee Titans.

All of the historical trends favor the Titans. They lead the series 12-7 and have won the last five meetings, including a sweep last year: 30-17 on the road and 10-3 at home. They're 9-3 against the spread (ATS) in the last 12 meetings and 4-1 ATS in the last five games at Tennessee. They're 15-6 ATS in the last 21 games against teams with winning records.

Struggling Jaguars quarterback Byron Leftwich is due for a big game, but it probably won't happen against the hard-nosed Titans. He figures to be outgunned by Steve McNair in this matchup.

The Titans are favored by 6 and this week's "Best Bet": TENNESSEE 24, Jacksonville 10.

Sunday's games

(home teams in CAPS)

MIAMI 17, Pittsburgh 10 - The 1-point favored Dolphins are short on firepower but have the defense to frustrate Steelers rookie QB Ben Roethlisberger in his first NFL start.

NEW YORK GIANTS 24, Cleveland 12 - The 3-point favored Giants are 4-13 ATS in their last 17 games as home favorites and 1-5 ATS in the last six home games against the AFC, but they haven't faced many opponents as banged up as the Browns are now.

Baltimore 20, CINCINNATI 13 - The 3-point favored Ravens are 11-3 ATS in the last 14 games against the Bengals and Jamal Lewis is due for his first 100-yard rushing game of the season. Bengals QB Carson Palmer hasn't faced a defense nearly as tough as Baltimore's in his life.

KANSAS CITY 23, Houston 10 - The 0-2 Chiefs catch a break in the schedule against the winless Texans but they're no cinch as 7.5-point favorites, particularly if multipurpose running back Priest Holmes is sidelined or plays sparingly.

ST. LOUIS 24, New Orleans 21 - The 7-point favored Rams clearly have slipped but the inconsistent Saints are coming off a win and will miss injured star running back Deuce McAllister.

MINNESOTA 30, Chicago 14 - The 9-point favored Vikings will appreciate a return to their familiar artificial turf. The Bears are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 trips to Minnesota but they're also 14-23 ATS coming off upset wins since 1992 and 6-25 straight up in their last 31 games in September.

Philadelphia 21, DETROIT 20 - The surprising Lions are 8-2-1 ATS as home underdogs in September and benefit from a 4.5-spot from an Eagles team that could be flat coming off an emotional home win over Minnesota.

ATLANTA 28, Arizona 13 - The Falcons are favored by 10 and figure to roll as long as QB Michael Vick stays healthy. Warning: Arizona is 7-3-1 in the last 11 meetings and was 0-8 on the road ATS in 2003 but beat the spread in Week 1 this season in St. Louis.

DENVER 30, San Diego 10 - The 10-point favored Broncos should be fired up coming off a 7-6 loss in Jacksonville last week. Denver swept the Chargers last season, 37-13 on the road and 37-8 at home. San Diego is 2-9 ATS in the last 11 games as a double-digit underdog.

INDIANAPOLIS 33, Green Bay 17 - The 6-point favored Colts are 21-40 ATS as home favorites since 1992 but the Packers are 1-8 ATS in their last nine dome games and 0-3 ATS in their last three road games against the Colts.

SEATTLE 27, San Francisco 13 - The 10.5-point Seahawks figure to be ready to play in their home opener coming off two road wins. Warning: The 49ers are 0-2 in the standings but 2-0 ATS this season and played the Seahawks tough last year, losing 20-19 in Seattle and 24-17 at home.

OAKLAND 24, Tampa Bay 13 - The Raiders are favored by 3.5 points and benefit from the revenge motive after losing Super Bowl XXXVII 48-21 to the underdog Buccaneers.

Monday night

Dallas 28, WASHINGTON 17 - The Redskins are favored by 2, but the historical trends all favor the Cowboys: 12-1 straight up in the last 13 meetings; 6-0 ATS in the last six trips to Washington; 17-10 on "Monday Night Football" since 1991 (Washington is 2-6 since 1997); Redskins 34-57 ATS vs. NFC East opponents and 29-53 ATS as favorites since 1992. More significantly, Dallas QB Vinny Testaverde is healthy and Washington QB Mark Brunell is hurting.

LAST WEEK'S RESULTS: 7-9 picking winning teams straight up (17-15 this season); 6-10 picking winners against the spread (13-19 this season); the "Best Bet" is 2-0 straight up but 0-2 ATS after 5-point favored Cincinnati beat Miami by only 16-13.




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