The Indianapolis Colts and San Diego Chargers are having disappointing seasons so far, with the two preseason favorites a combined 10-10. Philip Rivers hopes to show up Peyton Manning on Sunday.
So Cincinnati Bengals wideout Chad Ochocinco (né Johnson) was deactivated for Thursday night’s 27-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers (-11½) for violating an undisclosed team rule. But the NFL won’t even refer to him by that name in print, let alone allow him to put it on the back of his uniform.
The league continues to call him Chad Johnson, while most others call him Chad Ocho Cinco. Here’s a copy of the legal document, according to The Smoking Gun – who are more than familiar with the Bengals.
It’s not quite Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali, but we’re talking about a man’s name here. If I changed my name to Chance Chick-fil-A, you’d better believe I’d want it spelled right – two c’s, lowercase f, thank you.
New York Jets at Tennessee Titans (-5½, 40½)
Sunday, Nov 23, 1:00 p.m. (ET) CBS
The Titans (10-0 SU, 9-1 ATS) are an incredibly good football team, and they’re getting better. Kerry Collins is no mere “manager” at quarterback, throwing five TD passes with just one interception in his past two games. If Collins can keep up that vertical efficiency, the Titans will be close to a complete team, given their running attack and their No. 2-ranked defense. Special teams are still a concern with punter Craig Hentrich turning 37 this year and posting a career-low 36.9 net yards per attempt.
The betting public doesn’t seem to care all that much for Collins. They’re on Brett Favre and the Jets (7-3 SU, 6-4 ATS) by about a 60-40 margin, according to market reports. New York is 3-0 SU and ATS in its last three, including upsets at Buffalo (+5) and New England (+3). And the Jets are pretty good against the run – No. 7 in the league in efficiency, with NT Kris Jenkins getting the lion’s share of the credit. Leon Washington (29.6 yards a pop) is the best kick returner in the league right now. The public might get this one right.
Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos (-10, 43)
Sunday, Nov 23, 4:05 p.m. (ET) CBS
This used to be a solid AFC West rivalry until the Raiders franchise went into the commode. Oakland is 2-8 SU and 4-6 ATS this season; rookie QB JaMarcus Russell is completing just 50.4 percent of his passes with six TDs and four picks. But Russell is hamstrung by a lack of quality receivers, and Oakland’s running game has been slowed by injuries to both Darren McFadden and Justin Fargas.
The Raiders will have McFadden and Fargas in the backfield Sunday against the No. 20-ranked rush defense in the league. But the Broncos (6-4 SU, 3-6-1 ATS) surprised last week by holding Atlanta (-6½ at home) to 3.3 yards per carry in a 24-20 upset. And they did it without all three of their starting linebackers – fullback Spencer Larsen filled in and played both ways. Denver may or may not have stud CB Champ Bailey (groin) back in action this week after missing the last three games.
Indianapolis Colts at San Diego Chargers (-1, 49)
Sunday, Nov 23, 8:15 p.m. (ET) NBC
The betting odds at some books have Indianapolis priced at +3, but with -130 juice. That’s still cheaper than paying the extra 25 cents to buy the half-point. The Colts (6-4 SU, 4-6 ATS) have cashed in just once in their last five games, so they need every half-point they can get. But they have managed to win three in a row SU to salvage their season – Peyton Manning didn’t throw a single interception in that span.
San Diego (4-6 SU, 4-5-1 ATS) has beaten Indianapolis in each of their last three meetings, all three as underdogs. The Chargers were able to limit Indy’s ground attack every time; that ability has been compromised by the groin injury DT Luis Castillo suffered last week against Pittsburgh. He’s been held out of practice all week and is expected to be a game-time decision. With LB Shawne Merriman out for the season and CB Antonio Cromartie playing with a bad hip, Manning and the Colts have a great shot at a +115 payday against the moneyline.