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Bears cover spread, if not Packers receivers

Jeff Fogle  
VSiN City newsletter

September 9, 2018 11:45 PM

USATSI_11218053_168384654_lowres
Aaron Rodgers schooled the Bears and Mitchell Trubisky.
© USA Today Sports Images

Green Bay rallied to win from 20-0 down after Aaron Rodgers returned from a first half injury. Bears get the money (helping Brent Musburger go 5-0 in the Westgate contest!). Numbers and notes from a huge sports weekend are coming your way right now in VSiN City. 

NFL: What a Sunday night opener! 
Hope you didn’t go to bed at halftime. Aaron Rodgers was carted off the field in the first half, with a facial expression suggesting a serious injury. Chicago led 17-0…on the way to 20-0 before Rodgers came back to work his magic. 

Green Bay (-7) 24, Chicago 23
Yards-per-Play: Chicago 4.5, Green Bay 6.3
Total Yardage: Chicago 294, Green Bay 370
Third Down Pct: Chicago 41%, Green Bay 38%
Turnovers: Chicago 1, Green Bay 2
Rushing Yards: Chicago 139, Green Bay 69
Passing Stats: Chicago 23-35-0-153, Green Bay 24-37-1-301
TD Drive Lengths: Chicago 86, Green Bay 81-75-75

Don’t get the idea that Rodgers came back at full strength. He was still hobbled by a leg injury. But, he found open receivers who did the rest of the work. 

Important to remember that Chicago was helped on the scoreboard by an interception return TD against GB backup QB Deshone Kizer. One very sharp Bears drive was followed mostly by offensive sluggishness. Definite promise for the future. But, on this night, less than 300 total yards on 4.5 YPP, and only 153 passing yards on 35 attempts. 

Now, we’ll have to see what’s wrong with Rodgers’ knee. Packers aren’t out of the woods yet. Bears get an extra day to recover from the gut punch because they don’t play until Monday night against Seattle.

Congrats to Brent Musburger for his 5-0 start in the Westgate pro football handicapping contest! Hope those of you entered had strong opening weeks as well.   

NFL: Cleveland won’t go 0-16 again! Tampa Bay shocks New Orleans as biggest dog of the day
It wasn’t a win. But it wasn’t a loss! You’ll see in the key stats that it should have been a loss. Cleveland was dominated in most areas but the turnover category. Six Pittsburgh giveaways in difficult conditions prevented the favorite from winning. Cleveland did perform well on the ground, and its defense deserves some credit for forcing those turnovers. Still…the Browns have some work to do, particularly in the passing game. 

Cleveland (plus 3.5) 21, Pittsburgh 21 (in overtime)
Yards-per-Play: Pittsburgh 5.9, Cleveland 3.8
Total Yardage: Pittsburgh 472, Cleveland 327
Third Down Pct: Pittsburgh 47%, Cleveland 28%
Turnovers: Pittsburgh 6, Cleveland 1
Rushing Yards: Pittsburgh 159, Cleveland 177
Passing Stats: Pittsburgh 23-41-3-313, Cleveland 15-40-1-150
TD Drive Lengths: Pittsburgh 88-74-39, Cleveland 86-1-55

Cleveland had a 1-yard touchdown drive, which might as well be a defensive score. Credit the hosts for a great effort. Wait for better stats before you back them with much confidence in the future. 

Tampa Bay (plus 10) 48, New Orleans 40 
Yards-per-Play: Tampa Bay 8.5, New Orleans 8.1
Total Yardage: Tampa Bay 529, New Orleans 475
Third Down Pct: Tampa Bay 62%, New Orleans 44%
Turnovers: Tampa Bay 0, New Orleans 2
Rushing Yards: Tampa Bay 112, New Orleans 43
Passing Stats: Tampa Bay 21-28-0-417, New Orleans 37-45-0-432
TD Drive Lengths: Tampa Bay 68-75-78-74-65, New Orleans 71-74-75-75-66

Wild game. The New Orleans defense apparently thought it would have an easy time here. Saints had improved on that side of the ball last season. Amazing passing lines for both quarterbacks, particularly on a week where many offenses were sluggish. That’s over 400 passing yards for both, with only seven incomplete passes from Ryan Fitzpatrick, and eight for Drew Brees. More than 1,000 total yards for the two offenses combined. Biggest favorite of the day loses, which kills a lot of money line parlays and “survivor” pool hopefuls. Betting all the favorites in parlays is NOT a shortcut to riches! 

In other Sunday action (going in Nevada Rotation order)…

*Minnesota (-6.5) beat San Francisco 24-16. Vikings won the smash-mouth elements with a 116-90 edge on the ground, 41-38% on third down conversions, and 4-1 on turnovers (including an interception return for a TD). SF won yards-per-play 5.4 to 4.8 and did have three long scoring drives (one TD, two field goals). 

*Cincinnati (pick-em) won at Indianapolis 34-23. Bengals won rushing yardage 101-75 and yards-per-play 6.6 to 4.9. Andrew Luck of the Colts threw for over 300 yards, but on 53 passes. Bengals padded a late lead with a fumble return TD. 

*Baltimore (-8) beat Buffalo 47-3. Ravens win total yardage 369-153, and yards-per-play 5.0 to 2.5. Nathan Peterman was benched after another inept performance. Josh Allen isn’t ready. Buffalo’s combined passing line was 11-33-2-70. Bills will be in huge trouble vs. good defenses (or possibly against everybody). 

*Jacksonville (-3) won at the NY Giants 20-15. Even game largely swung by an interception return TD for the Jaguars. Neither offense sparkled. Jags did win rushing yardage 137-114. And, a lot of NYG’s rush yardage came on a big play by Saquon Barkley. 

*New England (-6) beat Houston 27-20. Both teams had cheap TD drives. Houston scored on a 16-yard drive, New England on a 19-yarder. Was more like a 20-13 game in that light. Patriots won yards-per-play 5.4 to 4.6 but lost turnovers 3-2. 

*Miami (pick-em) beat Tennessee 27-20. Two long weather delays. Both teams returned a kickoff for a touchdown. So, this was almost more like a 20-13 game. Miami won yards-per-play 5.9 to 5.0 and turnovers 3-2. Only 20% on third down conversions though. Mariota of Tennessee injured his elbow. Blaine Gabbert had to finish. 

*Kansas City (plus 3) won at the LA Chargers 38-28. Weird stats. KC had a long punt return touchdown and won turnovers 2-0. Because Philip Rivers was playing from behind all day, he led the team to 418 passing yards and 541 total yards (and 7.3 to 6.6 on yards-per-play). Chiefs weren’t as good as the final score made it look, but were better than the stats made it look. 

*Denver (-3) beat Seattle 27-24. Denver dominated stats…winning yardage 470-306, rushing 146-64, yards-per-play 6.5 to 5.6, while only allowing 17% on third downs to the Seahawks. But, somehow, the three giveaways in a 3-3 turnover tie hurt Denver much more. 

*Carolina (-3) beat Dallas 16-8. Neither offense could get much going. Carolina won yardage 293-232, yards-per-play 4.8 to 4.1, and rushing yardage 147-94. 

*Washington (plus 1.5) won at Arizona 24-6. Bettors hit Arizona hard through much of the day. Wasn’t justified. Washington won total yardage 429-213, yards-per-play 5.7 to 4.2, rushing yardage 182-68, and third down conversions 46% to 13%. Alex Smith looked ready to roll for Washington. Cards managed just 145 passing yards on 34 attempts with Sam Bradford. 

MLB: Boston and Houston had good weeks despite playing a series against each other
Not much change to report in our weekly looks at the “Magnificent 7” teams who were tabbed by betting markets to win at least 90 games this season. Only Washington is a sure thing to miss the playoffs (barring a few miracles). The Dodgers aren’t in yet. The other five teams will be playing in October. 

Current records entering the new week…
Boston 98-46…plus 31.5 units after a 4-2 week
Chicago Cubs 83-59…plus 2 units after a 2-3 week
NY Yankees 89-54…minus 5.5 units after a 3-3 week
Houston 89-54…minus 7.5 units after a 5-1 week
Cleveland 81-62…minus 19 units after a 4-3 week
LA Dodgers 78-65…minus 25.5 units after a 3-3week
Washington 71-72…minus 26 units after a 3-3 week

Cubs picked a bad time to have an off week. They have a return bout with Milwaukee coming up. None of the “Mag 7” play each other this week. Let’s jump into the head-to-head battles matching playoff contenders. 

Early Week Series Matching Contenders (both start Monday)
Milwaukee (82-62) at the Chicago Cubs (83-59)
Arizona (76-67) at Colorado (78-64) 

Brewers are just TWO games behind the Cubs now for first place in the NL Central. Chicago will be looking to sweep to rebuild what had seemed like a comfortable lead. Arizona has the same opportunity/challenge Milwaukee does in terms of making up ground away from home against a division leader. 

Late Week Series Matching Winning Teams
LA Dodgers (78-65) at St. Louis (79-64) (starts Thursday)
Arizona (76-67) at Houston (89-54) (starts Friday)

Brutal week for Arizona at the worst possible time! As always, we’ll keep an eye for you on key box scores in the divisional and wildcard races all through the week. Here’s a stage-setter…

MLB: Pennant races in shorthand
Let’s see how the races have changed over the past week. The numbers you see below are games over .500. This is a handy shorthand for monitoring divisions and the Wildcard picture without having to constantly figure “games behind.” If you’re wondering about that, simply divide the distance you see by two (Philadelphia is 4.5 games behind Atlanta, because they’re nine back in this measure).

NL East: Atlanta plus 15, Philadelphia plus 6
NL Central: Chicago plus 24, Milwaukee plus 20, St. Louis plus 15 
NL West: Colorado plus 14, LA Dodgers plus 13, Arizona plus 9 
NL Wildcard: Milwaukee plus 20, St. Louis plus 15, LA Dodgers plus 13, Arizona plus 9

Philadelphia’s road woes may have taken them completely out of the playoff picture unless Atlanta falls apart. Milwaukee’s recent surge has put them in great shape to get at least a Wildcard. If the Brewers play .500 ball the rest of the way, that’s a 91-71 finish. Arizona starting to lose some distance in the West, though that’s only two games behind LAD, 2.5 behind the Rockies. Nobody can afford an off week. Remember that the top two runner-up records play each other in a one-game knockout to join the main brackets. 

AL East: Boston plus 52, NY Yankees plus 35 
AL Central: Cleveland plus 19
AL West: Houston plus 35, Oakland plus 30, Seattle plus 15
AL Wildcard: NY Yankees plus 35, Oakland plus 30, Seattle plus 15

Tampa Bay has surged up to plus 14…but we’re not going to include the Rays yet. We’re closer to dropping Seattle off the list than adding Tampa Bay. The two likely Wildcard teams are in unless they lose at least two-thirds of their remaining games. New York’s lead over Oakland for home field in the knockout is just 2.5 games.

US Open and WNBA Finals: Osaka, Djokovic win championships, Storm one game away
Because we’ve been following the market angles on these events in recent days, we wanted to update what happened over the weekend.

Saturday’s Women’s Championship
Naomi Osaka (plus 220) beat Serena Williams 6-2, 6-4

You surely heard all about the drama. Osaka was the superior player until everything exploded. For the match, six aces with only one double fault (compared to three aces and six double faults for Serena). Plus, 73% on potent first serves (winning 73% of those points), compared to 55% for pressing Williams (who won 63% of those points). Osaka is the first Japanese player, female or male, to win a grand slam.

Sunday’s Men’s Championship
Novak Djokovic (-260) beat Juan Martin Del Potro 6-3, 7-6, 6-3

No drama here, or suspense. Major #14 for Djokovic. Very strong tournaments for both. Novak just too good the whole fortnight. 

WNBA Finals
Friday’s Game One 
Seattle (-4.5) beat Washington 89-76

Sunday’s Game Two
Seattle (-5.5) beat Washington 75-73

Though a 2-0 start is very strong (well, 2-0 straight up, 1-1 against the spread), it’s also only “holding serve for Seattle in this format. Pressure will be on the series underdog to do the same. Game Three is Wednesday in Washington. Game Four if necessary will be Friday. If the series goes the distance, the finale will be Sunday in Seattle.

Remember that Seattle couldn’t win either game in Phoenix last week. For its part, Washington’s long overdue to start making some treys after going 3 of 37 (!) from long range out West. 

Back with you Tuesday to run the numbers from Monday Night Football, and to check in on some college highlights (like Clemson/Texas A&M). Thanks for being a citizen of VSiN City!

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