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A Handicapper's Guide to the First Six Weeks of NFC Football, 2007...By Jay Graziani
Green Bay (5-1 SU, 4-1-1 ATS): Favre can only disguise the lack of a running game for so long. A lucky run to their current record leaves them overvalued and a good fade when Favre eventually comes back to earth. Lots of public backing will leave some good lines to be gobbled up the next few weeks. Recommendation: Strong Underperform.
Dallas (5-1 SU, 4-2 ATS): Dallas is strong fundamentally but a little too large in the public eye to wager on, and some potential upsets are looming on the horizon. Worth going against with the public driving the lines up. Recommendation: Underperform.
Carolina (4-2 SU, 4-2 ATS): Carolina has struggled in the passing game, and Testaverde is no solution to that issue, his performance this week aside. The defense has been just average against some weak competition, so look for Carolina to struggle the rest of the way, particularly against the spread. Recommendation: Underperform.
New York Giants (4-2 SU, 4-2 ATS): With a top 6 offense and a reinvigorated defense, the Giants should continue to surprise the rest of the season. The return of Brandon Jacobs will keep the offense fresh, but a fairly light schedule should keep the lines high enough to avoid betting on them. Recommendation: Neutral
Tampa Bay (4-2 SU, 4-2 ATS): Fundamentally much more solid of a team that expected this season, but their winning record has turned everyone else on to that fact as well. Fairly easy schedule ahead of them should make it tough to keep covering. Recommendation: Neutral.
Arizona (3-3 SU, 4-2 ATS): Another team that has faced quarterback woes this season, Arizona will need to quickly fix their passer situation, with neither Rattay nor Warner being viable long-term options. They are overrated at this point, but a cupcake schedule the rest of the way means the rest of the season could go either way. Recommendation: Neutral.
Washington (3-2 SU, 2-1-2 ATS): Washington is another team that has played surprisingly good football while staying somewhat under the radar. An effective passing game and very strong defense should keep them in most games. Worth taking a look at the next few weeks, especially when getting points. Recommendation: Strong Outperform.
Minnesota (2-3 SU, 2-1-2 ATS): NFL-leading rushing game and 2nd best rushing defense should lead to good things. Public attention to Peterson's efforts might sap some of the value out of betting the Vikings tough. Facing 3 of the NFC's top teams in the next six weeks means the linesmakers might throw us a few extra points each week. Recommendation: Outperform.
Detroit (3-2 SU, 2-2-1 ATS): Detroit has some offensive razzle-dazzle, but not much on the other side of the ball. If Kevin Jones is able to get the running game going, they might be able to keep putting up enough points to win, but the defense can certainly be exploited in the coming weeks. Recommendation: Neutral.
Atlanta (1-5 SU, 3-3 ATS): Atlanta has been downright bad, owing a large part of that to the shenanigans of Ron Mexico. They have been able to cover the spread by forcing turnovers, but that golden goose will keel over sooner rather than later. Yet they are so poorly regarded the spreads will be too large to bet against them. Recommendation: Neutral.
Philadelphia (2-3 SU, 2-3 ATS): Stumbled early, but strong defense and continued performance on offense should see them improve down the stretch. Recommendation: Outperform.
San Francisco (2-3 SU, 2-3 ATS): Hard to see too much improvement forthcoming with the quarterback situation and lack of production on offense thus far. The defense has been average, so maybe worth backing in some select spots. Recommendation: Neutral.
Seattle (3-3 SU, 2-4 ATS): The running game has vastly underperformed and should improve, though the passing game could be hurt if Deion Branch is out for any length of time. After getting crushed by a very poorly-regarded New Orleans team on Sunday Night Football, might have some value with some real weak teams on the upcoming schedule. Recommendation: Outperform.
New Orleans (1-4 SU, 1-4 ATS): To say New Orleans hasn't lived up to expectations would be an understatement, especially considering that just days ago they won, and covered the spread, for the first time this season in a shocker over Seattle. You'd think the offense should finally click at some point this season, but the holes in the defense are enough to stay away from them. Recommendation: Neutral.
Chicago (2-4, 1-5 ATS): Chicago has been downright awful on offense, and their once-terrifying defense has taken a step back. Regardless, they are likely undervalued at this point. But until Devin Hester manages to stay off the highlight reels, there likely won't be enough line value to bet them. Recommendation: Neutral.
St. Louis (0-6, 1-5 ATS): The Rams are losing by an average more than 2 TDs per game due to numerous injuries on the offensive line and at skill positions. The offense was highly regarded coming into the season, and will likely pick up down the stretch, giving them some covering opportunities, but this team is just too far in the gutter to think about backing regularly. Recommendation: Neutral.
Recommendation for Weeks 7-12:
Strong Outperform: Washington
Outperform: Minnesota, Philadelphia, Seattle
Underperform: Dallas, Carolina
Strong Underperform: Green Bay
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