The Tennessee Titans remain the last of the unbeatens in the NFL, and the last of the perfect ATS squads for bettors. Kerry Collins and the Titans have a strong challenge on their hands this week at home in Nashville when Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers come to town in one of three solid matchups that includes the Cowboys at the New York Giants and the Colts hosting the New England Patriots.
Happy Birthday, Jon Kasay. Happy Birthday to you. The last of the original Carolina Panthers turned 39 on Monday, and the team gave him one hell of a gift: a four-year contract extension.
Kasay’s been kicking field goals since 1991, so the Panthers are definitely making an investment, considering the minimum salary escalates for every season of NFL service. It’s a smart investment – Kasay is 16-for-16 this year, and Carolina is 6-2 (4-3-1 ATS).
While Kasay takes the week off to celebrate, let’s look at the three headline NFL matchups for Week 9.
Green Bay Packers at Tennessee Titans (-4½)
Sunday, Nov 2, 1:00 p.m. (ET) CBS
The betting odds have yet to catch up to the Titans at 7-0 SU and ATS. Last week’s 31-21 win over the Indianapolis Colts (+4) was close for a while, but Tennessee poured on the pressure at the end and finished the day with a pair of Peyton Manning interceptions.
The Titans defense is rated third in the league in efficiency. Green Bay’s offense is No. 16 despite the efforts of first-year starter Aaron Rodgers. He’s performing at the same very high level Brett Favre did after seven games in 2007:
- Rodgers 2008: 145-for-221, 1668 yards, 12 TD, four INT
- Favre 2007: 181-for-274, 2046 yards, 11 TD, six INT
Those are two excellent lines, but Rodgers has done more with less and has done a better job of keeping possession. Each QB had eaten 13 sacks after seven games, so the offensive line isn’t necessarily to blame. The problem is in the running game, which is good for only 3.7 yards per carry after collecting 4.1 yards last year. That adds up with Green Bay running the ball more often.
Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants (-9)
Sunday, Nov 2, 4:15 p.m. (ETO FOX
The Cowboys (5-3 SU, 3-5 ATS) have confirmed that Brad Johnson (60.3 passer rating) will start at QB against the Giants, but TE Jason Witten will be a game-time decision with a broken rib. Witten has a history of playing hurt, and he’s very eager to play this Sunday. He’s the leading receiver on the team and in the conference with 46 catches. Witten was injured in last week’s 13-9 win over Tampa Bay (+1) that saw the Cowboys gain a total of 192 yards on offense.
New York is coming off a bruising 21-14 win at Pittsburgh (-3), who handed the Giants two points when LB James Harrison (subbing for injured long-snapper Greg Warren) hiked the ball over punter Mitch Berger’s head and through the end zone. That tied the game at 14-14 in the fourth quarter – further proof of how important special teams are. Dallas is at a huge disadvantage in that department with return specialists Felix Jones (hamstring) and Adam Jones (suspension) on the sidelines.
New England Patriots at Indianapolis Colts (-6)
Sunday, Nov 2, 8:15 p.m. (ET) NBC
With the loss to the Titans, Indianapolis falls into a three-way tie for second (or last, depending on your point of view) in the AFC South at 3-4 SU and ATS. The Colts probably don’t get a lot of comfort from being the favorites in this matchup; the Patriots (5-2 SU, 3-4 ATS) have won two straight, while Indy has dropped a pair. Reports from the market suggest 70 percent of moneyline bettors are on New England as high as +240.
The Colts are expecting both safety Bob Sanders and CB Kelvin Hayden back this week, but the injury bug bit again when CB Marlin Jackson tore his ACL during Wednesday’s practice. Jackson was put on injured reserve; he was third on the team with 47 tackles, and his versatility in the secondary will be difficult to replace.
Indianapolis will be content to have Sanders back in the fold. Taking away his defense left the Colts at No. 21 in the league in efficiency against the run. The Patriots, thin in the backfield with injuries, only managed 90 yards rushing against the Rams with Kevin Faulk and BenJarvus Green-Ellis splitting the carries. Sanders can exploit this matchup, repeat his 2006 comeback story and take the Colts to a higher level on Sunday night.