Have I ever mentioned how much I hate garbage time in NFL games? Football is a difficult sport to play at less than full tilt: when you take your foot off the pedal you run the risk of getting manhandled, mauled and maladjusted by your opponents. But teams with big leads sometimes will start to play their reserves, something I thought the Cowboys should have done earlier in their game at Wembley, particularly with Tony Romo playing with cracked bones in his spine, and DeMarco Murray an injury worry with the workload they give him.
When you've bet the under, and one team is up big at half-time, you root for the bench. And even though Romo played into the third quarter, the urgency was out of the Dallas offense and that 45.5 under bet looked pretty good.
But the Jaguars, to their credit, are not like the Bears, who visibly began their hibernation somewhere during the second quarter in Green Bay Sunday night. They kept playing hard, working for points, with Cecil Shorts and Allen Robinson making catches like they'd been inspired, not intimidated, by Dez Bryant, and Denard Robinson running like he had something to prove. Robinson's second TD was the nail in the Coughlin, so to speak, for that bet, and a little off-camera moan from yours truly.
That and the Newark Airport Jest and Justin Bieber conspiring to turn the Steelers into some aluminium foil for Rex Ryan. Best bet?
BEST BET: MINNESOTA (+3 at 1.95) at Chicago: You might call me crazy for taking the Vikings with a losing record on the road as a best bet. OK, I am crazy. But the Bears defense right now doesn't seem to be very much involved in the game, and the Vikings' D might pose enough problems for Jay Cutler to not only keep them in check but also generate a turnover or two that put a few points on the board. I'd expect it to be close, and the three points could well help. I also like the over of 46.5 at 2.00.
VALUE BET: NEW ORLEANS (-7.5 at 2.03) vs Cincinnati. The Saints have turned into such prima donnas they onlyplay well if they are both at home AND on national TV. I'm sort of counting on them dropping the latter requirement here. If you don't like that you might consider WASHINGTON (-7.5 AT 2.00) vs Tampa Bay. The Skins are not very good, but they ought to be better than the Bucs at home by more than a touchdown.
OUTSIDE BET: HOUSTON (+3 at 2.06) at Cleveland If you don't like that you might try PITTSBURGH (-6 at 1.87) at Tennessee or NY GIANTS (+3.5 at 1.89) vs San Francisco. The Steelers owe me one after last week's stinker, and ought to be able to win on the road. The Niners are a better team than the Giants, but they're making their second big road trip in two weeks. I'm not sure a field goal is enough spread, but San Francisco's offense has sputtered recently. I'd hesitate because of the turnover potential of the Giants' own offense, but that's what outside means.
ONE TO AVOID: Philadelphia (+6) at Green Bay. I was tempted by the Eagles getting 3.10 straight up to win in Green Bay, but I can see a number of scenarios where the Packers' D makes a quick start against Mark Sanchez, who didn't play badly last week, but that was against the Panthers, whose defense is not very good. The Eagles' D and special teams have been the keys to most of their wins, and could turn the tables, but in the end I like the Packers by a touchdown, and the 54.5 over at 1.97 might be tempting.