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    Clover Luck NFL KICK-OFF!!! Thursday Service Plays 9/5/2013

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    Today's NFL Picks

    Baltimore at Denver

    The Broncos are seeking revenge from last years playoff loss to the Ravens and look to build on their 4-0 ATS record in their last 4 Thursday games. Denver is the pick (-8) according to Dunkel, which has the Broncos favored by 11.
    Dunkel Pick: Denver (-8)

    THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 5

    Game 451-452: Baltimore at Denver (8:30 p.m. EST)
    Dunkel Ratings: Baltimore 131.325; Denver 142.477
    Dunkel Line: Denver by 11; 44
    Vegas Line: Denver by 8; 48
    Dunkel Pick: Denver (-8); Under

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    Thursday Night Football

    Ravens at Broncos

    Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos (-7.5, 48)


    The Denver Broncos have had nearly eight months to stew over a stunning season-ending loss in January - one that propelled the Baltimore Ravens on their surprising run to a Super Bowl championship. Denver has a chance to exact some revenge when they host the Ravens on Thursday night in the NFL's season-opening game. Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning had won nine straight against the Ravens, including a 17-point rout a month earlier, before Baltimore's 38-35 double-overtime playoff victory.

    Much has changed for both teams since Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco averted a certain defeat with a 70-yard tying touchdown strike to Jacoby Jones with 31 seconds to play in regulation. Baltimore has undergone a dramatic roster overhaul, with future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis sliding into retirement, perennial Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed lost to free agency and the trade of Super Bowl hero Anquan Boldin to San Francisco. Flacco became the league's highest-paid player, while Denver added some key pieces to fortify Manning's offense.

    TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC.

    LINE:
    The Broncos opened at -9 and were bet up as large as -10.5 at some books. Recent action has been on the Ravens and has dropped the spread to as low as -7 at some markets. The total opened at 49.5 and has been bet down to 48.

    WEATHER: There is a 16 percent chance of thunderstorms in Denver with temperatures in the mid 80s and winds blowing south at 5 mph.

    ABOUT THE RAVENS (2012: 10-6, tied for first AFC North, 6-9-1 ATS): Flacco's regular-season numbers were ordinary - 3,817 yards with 22 TD passes and 10 interceptions - but he was off the charts in the postseason with 11 scoring passes and zero picks en route to winning Super Bowl MVP honors. Third-year speedster Torrey Smith heads an inexperienced receiving corps that suffered a jolt when starting tight end Dennis Pitta dislocated his hip, putting his season in jeopardy. Ray Rice has rushed for at least 1,143 yards in four straight seasons and leads all NFL backs with 278 receptions during that span, but questions abound on a defense that surrendered nearly five points more per game in 2012 than in the previous season.

    ABOUT THE BRONCOS (2012: 13-3, first AFC West, 10-6 ATS): Manning guided Denver to the No. 1 seed in the playoffs and 11 consecutive wins to close the regular season after sitting out 2011 due to multiple neck surgeries. Wideouts Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker both went over 1,000 yards and combined for 179 catches and 23 touchdowns and will be joined by reception machine Wes Welker, who had at least 111 catches in five of six seasons with New England. Rookie running back Montee Ball set the FBS record for career touchdowns but will open the season as the backup to Ronnie Hillman. Denver also has a huge void to plug on defense after sack-master Von Miller was suspended six games for violating the league's drug policy.

    TRENDS:

    * Ravens are 8-2-1 ATS in their last 11 meetings.
    * Favorite is 4-1 ATS in their last five meetings.
    * Ravens are 3-1-1 ATS in their last five meetings in Denver.
    * Under is 5-1 in Broncos' last six Thursday games.

    EXTRA POINTS:

    1. Manning's 37 TD passes and 4.659 yards last season were both the second-highest totals of his storied career.

    2. Baltimore's John Harbaugh is the first coach to win a playoff game in each of his first five seasons.

    3. Ravens DE Elvis Dumervil, a three-time Pro Bowler with Denver, wound up signing with Baltimore in March after his signed contract agreement with the Broncos arrived just minutes after the league deadline.

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    NFL Odds: Week 1 Opening Line Report

    The NFL Week 1 odds are about as fresh as your gym bag, having been on the board since the middle of summer.

    While these spreads and totals have taken action over the past few months, the majority of money is still to come. We talk to oddsmakers at Sportsbook.com about some of the more intriguing opening NFL odds, line adjustments and where these numbers could close come kickoff.

    Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos – Open: -9, Move: -9.5, Move: -7.5

    The Thursday night opener has been up and down over the summer, with the latest wave of action coming in on the Ravens following Broncos LB Von Miller’s suspension and injuries to the Denver offensive line.

    “On Sunday, we moved the line in Baltimore’s favor again to +7.5 as 70 percent of current action on the spread is backing the Super Bowl champs,” Mike Perry of Sportsbook. “I think this line stays at -7.5 until kickoff on Thursday. Seven is too important a number and we don’t want to get middled by people who could buy off this number.”

    Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers – Open: +3, Move: +2.5, Move: +4

    The Seahawks were the sexy offseason pick after a brilliant 2012 effort. Carolina, however, turned heads down the home stretch of the season, going 5-1 SU and ATS in the final six games.

    Early action saw sharp money take Seattle but some books dropped this spread with money on the Panthers at home. Perry says this could end up being the biggest decision for the books in Week 1, with 86 percent of money siding with the Seahawks.

    “We moved the line to -4 Sunday, as we are exposed so much on Seattle,” he says. “This line should stay at -4, until Sunday morning, where I could see us going to -4.5 to try and get some money on the Panthers.”

    Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers – Open: -5, Move: -4.5, Move: -4

    Up until last season, when New England trounced Tennessee in Week 1, the Super Bowl loser had failed to cover the spread in their opener in 12 straight seasons. Action has sided with San Francisco for this playoff rematch with the Packers, including early sharp money. According to Perry, nearly 70 percent of handle is on the 49ers.

    New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys – Open: -3, Move: -2.5, Move: -3

    This Sunday Night Football grudge match has hovered around a field goal most of the summer. According to Perry, about 60 percent of the action is on the Cowboys at home. Dallas won the season opener in New York last season but went a dismal 1-7 ATS as a host in 2012.

    “When talking NFL spreads, the three is stronger than Matt Cushman’s word - played by Beau Bridges in Jerry Maguire. Cushman’s word was stronger than oak,” jokes Perry. “I will tell you that we won’t move off -3 until game time. Oh yeah, Cushman lied."

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    NFL Top 4: QB Battles Bettors Need to Watch

    Like pitchers in baseball and goalies in hockey, quarterbacks can singlehandedly win or lose a game – or even more important, a bet.

    Plenty of NFL teams are still waiting to put their official depth chart in ink and QB battles have been numerous this spring. We look at four teams with some big quarterback questions to answer this offseason and how they’ll impact football bettors.

    Philadelphia Eagles (2012: 4-12 SU, 3-12-1 ATS, 9-7 O/U)

    QB options: Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Matt Barkley
    Season win total: 7.5 wins

    At first glance, Vick seems like the logical fit into Chip Kelly’s up-tempo attack. But eyebrows arched when it was reported that Kelly needed to teach Vick how to properly hold a football. That’s some Pop Warner bread and butter for a coach who some believe is about to revolutionize NFL offenses.

    Foles stepped in for the final seven games of 2012 and led Philadelphia to a 5-2 over/under mark in that span, breathing life into an offense that couldn’t get out of its own way. If Kelly goes with Foles, the Eagles will have a more predictable attack which is better than rolling the dice with Vick each week, at least as far as bettors are concerned.

    New York Jets (2012: 6-10 SU, 7-9 ATS, 7-9 O/U)

    QB options: Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith
    Season win total: 6.5 wins

    Last year, it was Sanchez versus Tim Tebow. Now, the Jets’ default setting is fighting off a rookie QB who nearly left the NFL Draft after getting snubbed in the first round. Reports out of camp aren’t great for either passer, but at least Sanchez knows what he’s getting into with three road stops in the first five games of the schedule.

    Smith is hoping to follow in the footsteps of last year’s rookie QB class, like Luck, RG3 and Wilson, who all played beyond their years. However, those guys had some talent around them. New York’s receiving corps hasn’t been able to stay healthy this offseason, which means fewer reps for Smith and his targets to get familiar. The offense could continue to stall with a first-year arm under center.

    Buffalo Bills (2012: 6-10 SU, 7-9 ATS, 8-8 O/U)

    QB options: Kevin Kolb, E.J. Manuel, Tarvaris Jackson
    Season win total: 6.5 wins

    Buffalo may not even have a choice at quarterback the way Kolb has held up in recent years. Injuries limited him to just 15 games during his brief tenure with Arizona, including six games of lifeless ball in 2012. The Cardinals played under the total in all but one of those games before finishing the year 3-4 over/under with Kolb out of action.

    Some reports out of camp say Manuel is merely being groomed and will serve as the No. 3 QB on the depth chart. Others state that the lone QB taken in the first round of the draft has a chance to start Week 1, which unfortunately is against New England. And then there’s Jackson, who is actually a nice safety net all things considered. Although, he hasn’t thrown a pass that matters in over a year.

    Pittsburgh Steelers (2012: 8-8 SU, 6-9-1 ATS, 7-9 O/U)

    QB options: Ben Roethlisberger, Bruce Gradkowski, Landry Jones
    Season win total: 9 wins

    The No. 1 job in Steel Town is Big Ben’s, and forever will be as long as the two-time Super Bowl winner can peel himself off the turf after taking crushing blow after crushing blow. But just how long can Roethlisberger keep that up? He’s currently sidelined after minor knee surgery, making people in Pittsburgh sweat a little when watching Gradkowski take snaps with the first team.

    Roethlisberger has played all 16 games just once in his nine-year career, missing three games with shoulder and rib injuries in 2012. The Steelers lost two of those three games, including loss at Cleveland. Pittsburgh’s roster is getting older by the snap and if this knee injury turns into a Peyton Manning 2011 situation, the Steelers would be smart to eventually give rookie Landry Jones a shot under center.

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    Fastest & Slowest Starters to the NFL Betting Season

    Week 1 of the NFL schedule is quickly approaching and teams and coaches are fine-tuning their games, looking to peak just before the season opener.

    Some NFL teams have been consistent strong starters while others have stumbled out of the gate each year. Here are the best and worst bets in the first three games of the season over the past three years:

    Quickest starters

    Houston Texans (7-2 SU, 7-2 ATS over first three games since 2010)

    The Texans were a profitable 3-0 SU and ATS through the first three weeks of the 2012 schedule, taking cake-walk wins over Jacksonville and Miami before holding off the Broncos in Denver in Week 3. This season, Houston plays two of its first three contests on the road – at San Diego on Monday night in Week 1(-3) and at Baltimore in Week 3 (+2.5) – bookending a home date with Tennessee in Week 2 (-7.5).

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-4 SU, 7-2 ATS over first three games since 2010)

    The Bucs started 1-2 SU last year but covered in all three of those games, prompting a profitable year for Tampa Bay bettors, who finished 10-5-1 ATS. The Buccaneers were underdogs in losses at New York and Dallas in Weeks 2 and 3 and opened the schedule with a home win over Carolina. Tampa Bay kicks off 2013 with a road trip to play the Jets (-2.5), at home to the Saints in Week 2 (+1.5) and at New England in Week 3 (+7.5).

    Atlanta Falcons (6-3 SU, 6-3 ATS over first three games since 2010)

    The Falcons are classic fast starters but have fallen on their faces at the end of the season and playoffs. Atlanta was 3-0 SU and ATS to open 2012 thanks to some short spreads, winning at Kansas City as a 1-point fave, beating Denver at home as 3-point chalk and knocking off the Bolts on the road as a field-goal dog. The Falcons’ first three weeks of 2013 feature an opener at New Orleans (+2.5), a home game vs. St. Louis (-7), and a visit to Miami in Week 3 (+1).

    Slowest starters

    Philadelphia Eagles (5-4 SU, 2-7 ATS over first three games since 2010)

    Philadelphia’s struggles in 2012 were well documented by the media, going 2-1 SU and 0-3 ATS versus the likes of Cleveland, Baltimore and Arizona in the first three weeks. The Eagles only managed to come through for bettors three times all season. This time around, Philly visits Washington (+4.5) on Monday night in Week 1 then is back home to host San Diego (-2.5) and Kansas City (-3) on Thursday Night Football. With a new head coach and system in place, the Eagles could be doomed for another slow start.

    Denver Broncos (3-6 SU, 3-6 ATS over first three games since 2010)

    Even with Peyton Manning under center, the Broncos couldn’t avoid a third straight 1-2 SU and ATS start to the season in 2012. Denver needed an epic comeback versus Pittsburgh in Week 1, and lost at Atlanta and vs. Houston the following weeks. Peyton & Co. have another tough go-around to open 2013, hosting Baltimore in the Thursday night opener (-8.5), visiting the Giants for the “Manning Bowl” in Week 2 (-1) and welcoming Oakland to Mile High on Monday night in Week 3 (-13.5). That’s a lot of chalk for Broncos bettors to deal with.

    New Orleans Saints (4-5 SU, 3-6 ATS over first three games since 2010)

    New Orleans is putting 2012 in the rearview, opening the schedule in the shadow of “Bounty Gate” with a 0-3 SU and ATS blemish. The Saints didn’t have the biggest uphill climb either, losing to Washington, Carolina and Kansas City. Sean Peyton is back on the sideline and game planning for a Week 1 home showdown with Atlanta (-2.5), a trip to Tampa Bay in Week 2 (-1.5), and a home date vs. Arizona in Week 3 (-7.5). Books are expecting big things in the Big East this year.

    Other notables:

    Carolina Panthers (2-7 SU, 3-6 ATS)

    San Diego Chargers (5-4 SU, 3-6 ATS)

    San Francisco 49ers (4-5 SU, 5-3-1 ATS)

    Cincinnati Bengals (5-4 SU, 5-3-1 ATS)
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    Three NFL Teams Drawing Sharp Action this Offseason

    Not one single snap has been taken in the 2013 NFL season but plenty of sharp handicappers already have their minds made up on a handful of teams.

    With the release of early odds, like win totals, Games of the Year, and futures, bettors can voice their opinion well before Week 1 of the schedule. We talked to sportsbooks and pro handicappers about which NFL teams are being bet by the wiseguys this summer.

    Sharps like…

    New Orleans Saints

    Win total: 9.5 (Over -130)
    Divisional odds: +200
    Super Bowl odds: +2,500

    The Saints forget about 2012 and “Bounty Gate”, returning head coach Sean Peyton to the sidelines. New Orleans has one of the most lethal passing attacks in the league, headlined by QB Drew Brees, and a move to the 3-4 should wake up the defense.

    Expert opinion: Teddy Covers, pro handicapper, “Last year was a wasted season for the Saints, with all of their coaching upheaval, but Sean Payton and his complete staff are poised for a return to the playoffs in 2013. Wiseguys have been betting on New Orleans all summer, driving up their pointspreads and season win total while driving down their odds to win the NFC South and/or the Super Bowl.”

    Miami Dolphins

    Win total: 7.5 (Over -160)
    Divisional odds: +450
    Super Bowl odds: +5,000

    The Dolphins enter Year 2 under QB Ryan Tannehill and gave the second-year passer some new toys. Miami added WRs Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson along with TE Dustin Keller. The AFC East is weak with even the Patriots looking shaky this offseason.

    Expert opinion: Aron Black, Bet365, “Not surprisingly, as with other future markets, this play is also based on the perceived weakness that many feel New England will have, given the tight ends’ situations. If they get nine or more wins, then they will be right in the mix for the Super Bowl.”

    Kansas City Chiefs

    Win total: 7.5 (Over -115)
    Divisional odds: +800
    Super Bowl odds: +5,000

    The Chiefs went through the ringer last year but have come out the other side looking like a different team in 2013. New QB Alex Smith and new head coach Andy Reid can breathe life into a franchise that still has a ton of talent – six Pro Bowlers last year.

    Expert opinion: Michael Stewart, CarbonSports, “The team we've seen the most ‘over’ money so far on are the Chiefs. After only winning two games last year, no way this team isn't going to see more success this season. New coach and new QB should bring a winning attitude. We opened (their win total at) 7 (Over -130) and are dealing 7.5 (-115) right now."

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    Three NFL Teams Sharps are Fading this Offseason

    Not one single snap has been taken in the 2013 NFL season but plenty of sharp handicappers already have their minds made up on a handful of teams.

    With the release of early odds, like win totals, Games of the Year, and futures, bettors can voice their opinion well before Week 1 of the schedule. We talked to sportsbooks and pro handicappers about which NFL teams are being faded by the wiseguys this summer.

    Sharps don’t like…

    New England Patriots

    Win total: 11 (Over +115)
    Division odds: -400
    Super Bowl odds: +800

    It’s been a crappy offseason for the Patriots. Wes Welker jumped ship to Denver, Rob Gronkowski is still not 100 percent, and the less we say about Aaron Hernandez’s summer the better. Tom Brady lost his three favorite targets. Can Bill Belichick “Belichick” New England out of this mess?

    Expert opinion: Michael Stewart, CarbonSports, “Our biggest move so far is the Pats, for all the reasons you think of. They've lost two of their best receivers in Hernandez (jail), Welker (Broncos) and with Gronk not 100 percent going into Week 1, many people are down on them. We've gone from 11.5 (Under -130) to 11 (Under -145), which is a monster move for an NFL season win total.”

    Baltimore Ravens

    Win total: 8.5 (Over -140)
    Division odds: +200
    Super Bowl odds: +3,000

    Sharps are treating the Ravens Super Bowl title as lightning in a bottle – a one-time run. Ed Reed and Ray Lewis are gone, leaving an aging Terrell Suggs and QB Joe Flacco to pick up the leadership slack. Baltimore did add LB Elvis Dumervil to improve the pass rush but loss eight starters from that championship roster.

    Expert opinion: Bruce Marshall, “We’ll see if the subtle adjustment made by offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell, allowing QB Joe Flacco more audible freedom after Cam Cameron’s December dismissal, keeps Flacco soaring as he was late last season when tossing 15 touchdowns and only one pick in the last seven games during the Ravens’ Super Bowl run.”

    Indianapolis Colts

    Win total: 8.5 (Over -125)
    Divisional odds: +240
    Super Bowl odds: +4,000

    The Colts proved everyone wrong in 2012, riding rookie QB Andrew Luck and drawing inspiration from head coach Chuck Pagano’s battle with leukemia to win 11 games and make the postseason cut. Indianapolis was lucky in a lot off those close games, something sharps aren’t counting on in 2013.

    Expert opinion: Marc Lawrence, “Indy ran into all sorts of good 'Luck' last season winning nine of their 11 games by a touchdown or less, including seven victories by four or less points. A nine-game improvement from a two-win team in 2011 far exceeded expectations. Expect a combination of sophomore blues by Andrew Luck and a serious bounce to leave the Colts losers in 2013."

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    NFL Top 3: Run-Happy Teams Looking to Pass More

    You’ve got to throw the pigskin to keep pace in the NFL these days. Only three teams ran the ball more than 50 percent of the time in 2012, and even those clubs are looking to pass a lot more in 2013.

    Total bettors should keep a close eye on teams turning up the intensity and airing it out, finding added value in betting the over in their early games. Here are three run-heavy offenses looking to the skies.

    Seattle Seahawks (11-5 SU, 8-8-0 over/under)

    Pass offense: 27th (189.4 ypg)
    Rush offense: 3rd (161.2 ypg)

    The Seahawks were the most rush-heavy offense in the NFL last season, handing the ball off on 54.24 percent of their plays. Marshawn Lynch rumbled for 1,590 yards and 12 TDs while QB Russell Wilson threw only 393 passes.

    Wilson proved himself worthy of more touches down the stretch and was awarded for his efforts by the acquisition of speedster Percy Harvin and a more wide open playbook. He joins breakout WR Golden Tate and Sidney Rice in an impressive Seahawks receiving corps. Seattle went 4-6 over/under in its first 10 games before Wilson got hot and led them to a 5-1 over/under mark after the bye.

    San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1 SU, 9-6-0 over/under)

    Pass offense: 23rd (206.1 ypg)
    Rush offense: 4th (155.7 ypg)

    The Niners went 10-1 over/under when Colin Kaepernick took over for the fallen Alex Smith last season. The dynamic dual-threat passed for 1,814 yards but the 49ers still called for the run in 51.51 percent of their offensive plays – third most in the NFL. That helped San Francisco average 155.7 yards on the ground, which was fourth in the league.

    This offseason, the Niners are looking for a lot more from Kaepernick under center. The 49ers added Anquan Boldin and still have Mario Manningham and TE Vernon Davis downfield, despite losing Michael Crabtree for the season. Running back Frank Gore could get limited carries with speedy backs LaMichael James and Kendall Hunter catching balls in the flat.

    Kansas City Chiefs (2-14 SU, 6-9-0 over/under)

    Pass offense: 32nd (169.6 ypg)
    Rush offense: 5th (149.7 ypg)

    The Kansas City Chiefs didn’t do much well in 2012, besides run the football. They rushed for 149.7 yards an outing, which was fifth best in the league. Kansas City ran 49.26 percent of the time and only threw for 6.2 yards per pass attempt with Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn sharing snaps. An injury to star WR Dwayne Bowe also compounded the passing issues in Arrowhead.

    The Chiefs made some of the biggest splashes this offseason, picking up spurned QB Alex Smith and bringing in former Eagles head coach Andy Reid, who ran the ball just 38.28 percent of the time during his last year in Philly. Bowe is back and healthy and Jon Baldwin showed he could be a real weapon. Running back Jamaal Charles will be split carries and catches in the backfield in Reid’s pass-happy playbook.

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    NFL Top 4: Offensive Lines Holding Their Teams Back

    For most teams, upgrading the offensive line is a high priority in the offseason. Yet, no matter how much retooling takes place, some clubs simply can't improve their fortunes enough to prevent opposing defenses from exposing them.

    Here are four teams that could struggle on the o-line this coming season:

    Jacksonville Jaguars (+3 vs. Kansas City; O/U: 41)

    The Jaguars are expected to get better play from their offensive line this season - largely because it's hard to envision this unit being much worse. Jacksonville's banged-up, inexperienced o-line surrendered 50 sacks a season ago, and while adding first-rounder Luke Joeckel and seeing steady improvement from left tackle Eugene Monroe, the group still lacks the skill set to compete with the majority of opposing defensive lines. Expect a long season for Maurice Jones-Drew, Blaine Gabbert and the rest of the Jaguars' skill players.

    Arizona Cardinals (+ 4.5 at St. Louis; O/U: 41)

    The selection of standout left guard Jonathan Cooper in last spring's NFL draft was supposed to bolster a shaky Cardinals offensive line that had all sorts of problems protecting its quarterbacks and opening holes for the running game. But Cooper broke his leg earlier in the preseason, leaving Arizona with a gaping hole in its interior as it looks to improve upon last year's league-worst offense. Cooper will return later in the season, but the Cardinals will likely struggle until then with their linemen going through another year of growing pains.

    San Diego Chargers (+3 vs. Houston; O/U: 44)

    Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has taken the brunt of the criticism for his team's recent offensive woes, but he's certainly not alone in the blame department. The Chargers had one of the lowest yards-per-carry in the league last season, though that may have been remedied by offseason upgrades at both tackle positions, and the pass protection was abysmal all season long, allowing the fourth-most sacks. Add in the implementation of a new offensive system and the Chargers may be hard-pressed to score many points in the early going.

    Oakland Raiders (+9.5 at Indianapolis; O/U: 47)

    The Raiders limiting opponents to just 27 sacks in 2012 was about the only bit of good o-line news all season. Oakland ranked 27th in yards-per-catch average as its receiving corps failed to find any openings against opposing defenses. The switch from a zone to a power-blocking scheme should make things easier for starting running back Darren McFadden, but adjusting to a new philosophy will take time, and should lead to some early breakdowns that will make life miserable for whichever quarterback claims the starting role.

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    NFL Top 3: Teams Shallow at Skill Positions

    With cut day now behind us, all 32 NFL teams have settled on their initial 53-man rosters for the coming season. And while most clubs had little trouble purging their rosters, the cuts - combined with a lack of initial depth - have left a handful of teams short at key offensive positions.

    Here are three units in need of a few extra skill players:

    Buffalo Bills quarterbacks

    With E.J. Manuel expected to miss the opener with a left knee injury and Kevin Kolb's career possibly over due to concussion issues, undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel is slated to start under center in the Bills' season opener against the New England Patriots. Manuel is considered Buffalo's QB of the future, but it might not hurt to find an experienced backup to replace Kolb.

    Free-agent options: Vince Young, John Skelton, Tim Tebow

    Baltimore Ravens running backs

    It isn't that the Ravens will struggle in the backfield - Ray Rice is one of the most talented running backs in the league, and Bernard Pierce is a capable backup. But here's the problem: As of Sunday's 53-man roster deadline, Rice and Pierce are the only running backs on the Baltimore roster. Expect a depth addition in the coming days.

    Free-agent options: Michael Turner, Lance Ball, Jonathan Dwyer

    Detroit Lions receivers

    When you boast the league's most explosive receiver in Calvin Johnson, it's hard to consider the position a weak spot. But with the ordinary Nate Burleson and project Ryan Broyles behind him, Detroit could stand to benefit from having another elite pass-catcher - particularly if Johnson struggles or suffers an injury.

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    Cappers Share Lessons Learned from NFL Preseason

    Most NFL handicappers treat the preseason like it never existed. Basing September bets on what you watched in August is like giving the Academy Award to a film after only watching the trailer.

    However, while preseason results should be written in pencil there are a handful of lessons learned from the exhibition slate. We asked some of Covers Experts cappers what they will take from the preseason when wagering on game that really count.

    Marc Lawrence – “First impression from the preseason is that with a plethora of scoring, a new standard will likely be set on NFL totals this season. In a pass-happy league, the oddsmakers were forced to raise the bar last season. With other teams now toying with the pistol, the roof could be blown open this season.”

    Steve Merrill – “The quarterback position is more important to winning and losing in the NFL than ever before. Therefore, I keep a close eye on how teams play at the quarterback position during the preseason. Teams that I thought had particularly bad QB play from both starters and backups in this preseason were the Jets, Raiders, Cardinals, Jaguars, and Vikings. If that poor QB play continues in the regular season, those teams will struggle this year.”

    Bruce Marshall – "Pittsburgh's running game was already a question mark before Michigan State rookie Le'Veon Bell's latest injury. Mike Tomlin had never gone 0-4 in preseason before, either. The Steelers accomplished little in August, it would seem, other than keeping Big Ben healthy."

    Teddy Covers – “No. 1: Yes, the Raiders are that bad. No. 2: Yes, the Redskins might be that good. Oakland was positively inept in all three phases of the game. Washington was tremendous on offense and defense, by far the most impressive team in August. We already knew Seattle was really good.”

    Jesse Schule – “We can learn a lot about rookies coming in to play key roles on certain teams, such as Eddy Lacy in Green Bay, Jeff Tuel in Buffalo and Tyrann Mathieu in Arizona. Lacy and Mathieu appear to have a bright future, while Tuel has an unexpected opportunity.”

    Doc’s Sports – “One of the main things I looked for was how are the teams with new coaches and new schemes taking to their new assignments. Teams like the Bears, the Cowboys, the Chiefs, the Browns and the Colts looked great while implementing new offenses and defenses.”

    What lessons did you learn during the NFL preseason that will carry over to your regular season bets?

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    Does High-Scoring NFL Preseason Give Value to Week 1 Overs?

    If the high-scoring preseason storm clouds are any indication, NFL teams will be raining down points during the 2013 regular season.

    The NFL’s exhibition schedule has produced an unusual amount of high-scoring games in August, helping fans of the Over cash in at a near 60 percent rate (60.32%) during the preseason. That flood of “overs” has caught the eye of one NFL handicapper, who is bracing for a surplus of scoring this season.

    “First impression from the preseason is that with a plethora of scoring, a new standard will likely be set on NFL totals this season,” Marc Lawrence says. “In a pass-happy league, the oddsmakers were forced to raise the bar last season. With other teams now toying with the pistol, the roof could be blown open this season.”

    Scoring has steadily climbed the past few seasons, from teams averaging 21.5 points per game in 2009, 22.0 in 2010, 22.2 in 2011, and 22.8 in 2012. More NFL teams are turning to up-tempo, pass-heavy attacks, leaving only three teams that ran more than passed last year. Eleven teams threw the ball on more than 60 percent of their plays, compared to just three the previous season.

    Oddsmakers are making the necessary adjustments to the 2013 totals. The average over/under on the 2012 Week 1 board was just below 44 points, with teams posting a 9-7 over/under count in the opening slate. This season, the average Week 1 total is almost 45.5 points.

    “Totals have gone up quite a bit overall,” Mike Perry of Sportsbook. “This is the first season that I can remember that every game has a total of at least 40 points. Main reason behind this is that more and more teams are pass-first type offenses.”

    Perry says the eye-opening Over trend in the preseason doesn’t have any impact on the regular season totals, stating that these results are coming with third and fourth-string players on the field. He also notes the common belief that Week 1 totals are usually lower compared to the rest of season, due to the fact that many offenses are still working out their timing in the opening weeks of the schedule.

    “We do consider that some teams are still fine tuning their offense, so we may not have the total as high as you may think,” he says, pointing to the New York Jets’ QB troubles.

    New York hosts Tampa Bay in Week 1 with a total between 39.5 and 40 points on the board – the lowest Week 1 number. The highest over/under goes to the NFC South showdown between Atlanta and New Orleans, which has garnered a total of 54 points.

    According to Michael Stewart, an oddsmaker with CarbonSports, there hasn’t been a significant lean toward the Over when it comes to the early Week 1 action. Of the 16 games on the board, only seven have taken more money on the Over than the Under with one game split down the middle.

    The New England Patriots were the top Over bet in the NFL last year, posting an 11-5 over/under mark. The Patriots passed the ball on 57 percent of their offensive plays and ran a league-high 74.3 plays per game with their no-huddle offense. The total is set at 49 for their opening game against the Buffalo Bills, despite the Bills QB issues this summer.

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    Broncos seek payback vs. Ravens Thursday
    by Brian Graham


    Kickoff: Thursday, 8:30 p.m. ET
    Line: Denver -9.5, Total: 48


    The 2013 NFL season gets underway Thursday night with the defending champion Ravens visiting a Broncos team favored to win this year’s championship.

    These teams played a classic in last year’s playoffs. Baltimore QB Joe Flacco threw a game-tying, 70-yard TD pass to Jacoby Jones with 31 seconds left in regulation before eventually winning 38-35 in double overtime to advance to the AFC Championship game. Flacco is back to lead his team that parted ways with several starters, including retired LB Ray Lewis, but the Ravens signed DE Elvis Dumervil away from Denver. The Broncos inked former Patriots star WR Wes Welker to give QB Peyton Manning another weapon, but pass-rushing monster LB Von Miller is suspended for this game, while starting CBs Champ Bailey (foot) and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (ankle) are both questionable. Denver was a whopping 10-2 ATS (83%) as a favorite last season and 6-2 ATS (75%) at home. But the Ravens are also 17-11 ATS (61%) on the road in the past three seasons and 7-4 ATS (64%) in the underdog role in the past two years. Also, head coach John Harbaugh has also been a strong bet since arriving in Baltimore, sporting a 51-38 ATS mark (57%), including 39-25 ATS (61%) in games played on grass.

    The Super Bowl champions have steadily moved away from the running game as they’ve gone more no-huddle the past two seasons. This is an Air Coryell offense that attacks downfield with QB Joe Flacco looking for speedy WRs Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones. These two wideouts combined for 175 receiving yards and 3 TD in the miracle win at Denver on Jan. 12. Because TE Dennis Pitta (hip) will miss the 2013 season, Flacco is left with TEs Ed Dickson and Dallas Clark for the short stuff. RB Ray Rice continues to be used as a security blanket and screen option to create mismatches, but in last year's playoff meeting with the Broncos, he carried the ball 30 times for 131 yards (4.4 YPC) and a touchdown. Baltimore ranked 10th in the NFL in scoring last year with 24.9 PPG. On defense, LBs Ray Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe, and DBs Ed Reed, Bernard Pollard and Cary Williams are all gone from the 17th-ranked total defense (351 YPG allowed) and the tied for 12th-ranked scoring defense (21.5 PPG allowed). However, DT Haloti Ngata, LB Terrell Suggs and a healthy CB Lardarius Webb are still Pro Bowl defenders. Replacing Lewis and Ellerbe will be ILBs Daryl Smith and Josh Bynes, who has outplayed rookie Arthur Brown in training camp. Newcomers DE/LB Elvis Dumervil, DL Chris Canty and DB Michael Huff will all help fill these gaping holes.

    This is basically QB Peyton Manning’s offense, featuring a lot of pre-snap adjustments and more quick hitters. Manning threw for 290 yards and 3 TD in the playoff loss to Baltimore last year, but threw two picks, the last of which set up the game-winning field goal in double overtime. WRs Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker will work on the outside as receiver 1 and 1A. They’ll go to a three-receiver base with WR Wes Welker coming in, and the former Patriots star will likely take over as Manning’s No. 1 target. The potent passing attack was a big reason the Broncos scored 30.1 PPG (2nd in NFL) with 398 total YPG (4th in NFL) last year. Rookie RB Montee Ball should get a few more carries than either RBs Ronnie Hillman or Knowshon Moreno. On defense, the Broncos tied the NFL lead with 52 sacks in their first year under defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio in 2012, but departed with DE Elvis Dumervil (11 sacks), and OLB Von Miller (18.5 sacks) is suspended four games for violating the league's substance-abuse policy plus another two games for further violation during the appeal. This will be a huge void for the Broncos early this season. Denver's defense allowed a league-low 4.58 yards per play last season and finished second in total defense (291 YPG)

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    JIMMY BOYD

    NFL

    3* Baltimore Ravens+8

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    NFL Prop Shop

    Thursday Night Football's Best Prop Bets
    by Sean Murphy


    The NFL Prop Shop opens its doors for another season of alternative wagers, starting with a look at the best prop plays for Thursday’s opener between the Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos.

    Total gross passing yards: Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens (248.5 yards)

    Most are expecting a significant dropoff in production from the Ravens offense this season. I'm not so sure.

    Even with the departure of Anquan Boldin and the season-ending injury to Dennis Pitta, this is still a team that can thrive in the passing game with Joe Flacco even more comfortable in his second season running Jim Caldwell's offense.

    With Elvis Dumervil suiting up in purple and Von Miller suspended, Flacco should have a little extra time to operate Thursday night. I expect him to throw early and often on the uneven Broncos secondary.

    Take: Over 248.5 yards (-110)

    Total receiving yards: Eric Decker, Denver Broncos (65.5 yards)

    Much of the attention is being focused on two Broncos' receivers, Wes Welker and Demaryius Thomas. I think it's important that the Ravens don't forget about Eric Decker, who could settle into a very productive role in the Denver offense this season.

    Decker developed a nice chemistry with Peyton Manning last season and while he does take a step back in the depth chart, I still feel that the Broncos will find a way to get him the football. The Ravens defensive strength certainly doesn't lie in their secondary and I like the fact that we don't need a monster game from Decker to cash this ticket.

    Take: Over 65.5 yards (-110)

    Total QB sacks: Both teams (4.0)

    While the Broncos gained in some areas in the offseason, they lost big time in terms of their pass rush, with Elvis Dumervil defecting to Baltimore and Von Miller suspended for a good chunk of the season. The Ravens haven't always been able to keep Flacco upright, but I expect their offensive line to hold its own in this matchup.

    Meanwhile, the Broncos know all about Elvis Dumervil's exploits and will certainly gameplan accordingly. They can ill afford to have Manning getting rattled this early in the season. A healthy dose of their ground game, along with plenty of quick hitters, should help protect Denver's prize possession.

    Take: Under 4.0 (+105)

    Total points: Baltimore Ravens (20.5)

    The Ravens offense isn't getting nearly enough respect heading into this matchup. While the Broncos possess a formidable defense, it's not an elite unit in my opinion. We saw some hiccups from Flacco in the preseason, but I'm confident he can orchestrate the three touchdown drives that are required to cash this ticket.

    We saw Baltimore reach another level in terms of offensive efficiency after ousting Cam Cameron from the offensive coordinator role last year. With a full offeseason to implement and absorb Jim Caldwell's offense, I look for Flacco & Co. to perform well early in 2013, starting on opening night in Denver.

    Take: Over 20.5 (-110)

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    NCAA Football Game Picks

    Florida Atlantic at East Carolina

    The Owls look to build on their 7-0 ATS record in their last 7 road games. Florida Atlantic is the pick (+20 1/2) according to Dunkel, which has the Pirates favored by only 10 1/2.
    Dunkel Pick: Florida Atlantic (+20 1/2)

    THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 5

    Game 301-302: Florida Atlantic at East Carolina (7:30 p.m. EST)
    Dunkel Ratings: Florida Atlantic 71.149; East Carolina 81.509
    Dunkel Line: East Carolina by 10 1/2; 48
    Vegas Line: East Carolina by 20 1/2; 54 1/2
    Dunkel Pick: Florida Atlantic (+20 1/2); Under

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    Chris Justice

    CFB
    Over 54 -
    Florida Atlantic - East Carolina

    11-4 to start.

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    2013 Marc Lawrence 2-Minute Handicap

    PLAYBOOK

    WEEK 1
    Thursday, September 5

    Baltimore

    SERIES: 6-2 L8...
    5-0 SUATS Game One...
    6-3 L9 RD's...
    1-5 dogs 7 > pts...
    1-4 in Thursday games

    DENVER
    Broncos on 11-0 SU & 9-2 ATS run LY before home playoff loss to Ravens...
    9-0 O/U vs non-div opp w/OU line < 50 pts...
    10-3 favs LY...
    6-2 L8 HF's...
    0-6 HF's 8 > pts Game 14 <

    ABBREVIATIONS LEGEND: For the most part, results are presented in this order: Series, Good Results, Bad Results, Over/Under Totals and Coaches Results. All team and coaches results are Against The Spread and pertain to preseason - unless noted otherwise. (NOTE: * = Check earlier result this season for similar situation and/or line in this game). ATS = Against The Spread, SU = Straight Up, A = Away, H = Home, Dog = Underdog, Fav = Favorite, L = Last, N = Neutral. OVER/UNDER results in Over (first) / Under (second) sequence. Site Numbers (Home One, Home Two; Away One, Away Two) designate 1st or 2nd home or road games of preseason. Dual team or coaches results - Straight-Up and Against The Spread - are separated with a ' / '. Asterisk * = check team previous game for possible similar result.
    Last edited by WINNERS_ONLY; 09-04-2013 at 12:07 PM.

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    Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos

    Tale of the Tape


    The Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos kickoff the 2013 NFL schedule Thursday night. We break down each side and let you know which team has the edge with our Tale of Tape for Thursday Night Football.

    Offense

    Peyton Manning is the biggest offensive weapon on the field Thursday and has added a new WR to his arsenal in former Patriots slotman Wes Welker. He joins downfield threats Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker on an offense that averaged 30.4 points per game.

    Denver’s rushing attack is a bit of an unknown heading into Week 1. The Broncos selected Wisconsin TD machine Montee Ball in the draft. He’ll share duties with RB Ronnie Hillman. Without a proven ground game, Baltimore could tee off on Manning with the pass rush.

    Baltimore is hoping its heavy investment in QB Joe Flacco pays off. During their improbable run to the Super Bowl, Flacco was at the wheel of an explosive attack that averaged 31 points on 275.5 passing yards a game. Anquan Bolden is no longer in the mix and TE Dennis Pitta is out for the year, but WR Torrey Smith always seems to play well in primetime.

    Ray Rice remains the backbone of the Baltimore ground game. The shifty RB rushed for 1,143 yards and is just as dangerous catching the ball. He was a beast versus Denver in the AFC Divisional Round, running up 131 yards and a touchdown.

    Edge: Denver

    Defense

    Linebacker Elvis Dumervil traded hats this offseason, signing with Baltimore after a fax fiasco in Denver. That pickup shifts the defensive edge in this Week 1 matchup drastically, even more so now that Broncos LB Von Miller is suspended for six games.

    The Ravens still have a nasty front seven, anchored by LB Terrell Suggs, who was a one-man wrecking crew with two sacks, a forced fumble and 10 tackles versus Denver in the playoffs. Baltimore’s secondary took a step back this offseason due to the loss of veteran S Ed Reed. Even with him, the Ravens surrendered some big numbers during last year’s postseason but were able to outscore their opponents.

    The Broncos’ daunting pass rush has been subdued. Denver doesn’t have Dumervil or Miller pressuring the passer, which should allow Flacco plenty of time to pick apart a secondary that has seen better days. Champ Bailey is still an elite CB and gets some help from the addition of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, however, those two haven’t been at 100 percent all summer.

    Edge: Baltimore

    Special teams

    Nothing gives those long field goals extra pop like the thin Mile-High air. Denver kicker Matt Prater is a threat for three points as soon as the ball crosses the 50-yard line. Broncos kick return specialist Trindon Holliday went for scores on punt and kickoff returns last season but has plagued his squad with costly fumbles. On the other side of the kickoff, Denver budged for a respectable average of 22.1 yards on kickoffs and just 6.2 on punts – lowest in the AFC.

    The word is out on speedster Jacoby Jones, who highlighted Super Bowl XLVII with a 108-yard kickoff-return TD. Baltimore ranked tops in the NFL with an average of 27.3 yards per kickoff and added 9.4 yards per punt return. We'll see what the new kickoff rule does to those stats this season. The Ravens were sound on return coverage, giving up 23.2 yards per kickoff and 7.8 yards per punt in 2012.

    Kicker Justin Tucker was surefooted in the Super Bowl, making two key FGs in the fourth quarter. He finished sixth in FG conversions, with his three misses coming from between 40-49 yards away. There won’t be any jitters in his boots for the season opener.

    Edge: Baltimore

    Notable quotable

    "The no-huddle offense is a great tool, a great strategy. You obviously have to be in great shape as a football team and your opponent has to be in great shape to keep up with you. But you have to execute quicker, you have to think quicker. You have to be able to operate in that kind of environment, but you force your opponent to do the same. It fits our philosophy." – Ravens head coach John Harbaugh on defending Broncos’ no-huddle in thin Denver air.

    “When we're on the field on offense -- I love our fans' excitement -- but if we can just find that controlled noise level. I believe we are going to go for it on some fourth downs this year and maybe not cheering when we're going for it on fourth down – wait and see and if we get it, cheer then. To me, it's a hard thing. These fans have so much enthusiasm, but for a receivers' standpoint, you'd love to have that homefield advantage where you wouldn't have to signal at home.” – Peyton Manning on crowd noise distracting the offense at Sports Authority Field.

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    NFL

    Week 1

    Trend Report

    8:30 PM
    BALTIMORE vs. DENVER

    Baltimore is 6-2 SU in its last 8 games on the road
    Baltimore is 7-3 SU in its last 10 games when playing Denver
    Denver is 6-1 SU in its last 7 games at home
    Denver is 9-3 SU in its last 12 games when playing at home against Baltimore

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    NFL

    Week 1

    Ravens @ Broncos
    — Baltimore hit 70-yard TD pass in last minute to force OT and stun Broncos here in LY’s playoffs, but Lewis/Reed/Boldin/Pitta are all gone, and Denver (12-1 in last 13 home openers, 9-4 vs spread) has revenge motive for season opener. Broncos will miss suspended LB Miller; they were 6-1 vs spread as HFs LY, after being 5-24-2 from ‘06-’11; addition of Welker at WR should make their offense even better. Ravens covered five of last seven road openers, are 11-6 as regular season road dogs under Harbaugh, which doesn’t include three road covers in LY’s playoffs. First time in decade Super Bowl champs open on road; ’03 Bucs won 17-0 at Philly in similar scenario decade ago. Last ten SB champs are 6-2-2 vs spread in season opener the next year.

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    Thursday's NCAAF Action

    What Bettors Need to Know


    With the NFL season opener stealing the spotlight, Thursday's two college football contests are in the dark. That could mean added value with football bettors looking elsewhere for action. Here's a quick look at this pair of games:

    FAU Owls at East Carolina Pirates (-20.5, 54)

    The Owls expect to have freshman QB Greg Hankerson back under center after he left FAU’s 34-6 loss to Miami with a rib injury. Hankerson fell on the football while being tackled, leaving passing duties to sophomore Jaquez Johnson. Johnson, who started the game and split time with Hankerson, was 11 for 20 for 83 yards passing and added 30 yards rushing. Owls offensive coordinator Brian Wright will alternate between the two Thursday.

    East Carolina won’t be rolling out the welcome mat for FAU in its first C-USA game. The Pirates put up 52 points in a warm-up win over Old Dominion in Week 1 (52-38) but failed to cover as 15-point home favorites. Quarterback Shane Carden set a school record with 447 yards passing (ECU had 481 total yards of offense) in that win, finding WR Justin Hardy for 191 of those gains and WR Davon Grayson for three touchdowns on four catches.

    Key betting stat: Over is 6-1 in Pirates’ last seven games overall.

    Sacramento State at Arizona State Sun Devils (-37)

    Arizona State and Sacramento State will be looking for their first points of the season Thursday night, but only the host Sun Devils will be playing their opener. The FCS' Hornets are coming off a 24-0 loss at San Jose State, and the opposition doesn't get any easier with Arizona State. The Sun Devils are looking to build upon an 8-5 record in coach Todd Graham's inaugural season in the desert, and with 17 returning starters Arizona State plans to contend with nationally-ranked USC and UCLA in the Pac-12 South Division.

    Of those returning starters, quarterback Taylor Kelly and defensive tackle Will Sutton stand out. Kelly had a breakout campaign as a sophomore last season, passing for 3,039 yards and 29 touchdowns against nine interceptions. Sutton is the reigning Pac-12 defensive player of the year after recording 63 tackles and 13 sacks in a dominant junior year.

    Key betting stat: Over is 7-1 in Sun Devils' last eight Thursday games.

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    THE GOLD SHEET

    NFL
    *DENVER 29 - Baltimore 26—The waiting in Denver to avenge that painful
    Jan. 12 double-OT playoff loss has been excruciating, especially for for S
    Rahim Moore after he misplayed Jacoby Jones’ game-tying 70-yard TD catch,
    and for practically (but not completely)-perfect Peyton Manning after throwing
    an int. in OT. The Broncos can get their payback, but it won’t come easy,
    especially with LY’s voracious pass rush without Elvis Dumervil (now a Raven!)
    and LB Von Miller (suspended). Baltimore compensated in free agency for its
    many departures. And sources say Joe Flacco’s ascent in the playoffs (11 TDs,
    0 ints.) had a lot to do with new o.c. Jim Caldwell allowing audible freedom at
    line of scrimmage. TV—NBC

    CFB
    *EAST CAROLINA 41 - Florida Atlantic 27—The ECU offense got off to a
    good start, with jr. QB Shane Carden (one time at Texas Tech) hurling for 447
    yards and 5 TDs vs. Old Dominion. Still, the Pirates led only 35-31 early in the
    fourth. And FAU’s Carl Pelini stretched his road dog mark to 7-1, as his defense
    hung tough at Miami and his two new QBs (juco Jaquez Johnson & true frosh
    Greg Hankerson) both got their feet wet in a big way vs. the loaded Hurricanes.
    (FIRST MEETING)

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    THE SPORTS REPORTER

    NFL
    *DENVER over BALTIMORE by 12

    The Baltimore defense has a lot to prove. In the Super Bowl, it let a young quarterback who takes a long time between snaps while he stares down the offensive
    play-caller on the sidelines nevertheless lead a big comeback against it. That unit
    now has a lot of new players on it, and is being asked to jell very quickly against
    a very good, veteran quarterback who has seen it all before and doesn’t need to
    stare down an offensive coordinator between plays like a deer in the headlights.
    In this particular match-up, the Ravens could have a tough time getting lined up
    without Ray Lewis and Ed Reed steering them. Peyton Manning gets his team to
    the line of scrimmage zip-zip-zip and he knows what he wants to do when he gets
    there. He has added what figures to be a good possession tool (WR Wes Welker) to
    help extend drives and keep Joe Flacco & Co. off the field, and force the Baltimore
    offense to drive a long way on most of its series. The Broncos are playing without
    their terrifying rush ends of the recent past. Von Miller (suspended for six games)
    and Elvis Dumervil (now on the Ravens). But good coaches with time to prepare
    can work around such nuisances. Like overloading the secondary instead, limiting
    the big play instead of trying to force one of your own (which basically blew the
    playoff loss to the Ravens last season).
    DENVER, 29-17.

    CFB
    *EAST CAROLINA over FLORIDA ATLANTIC by 18

    East Carolina returned eight starters on each side of the ball, 76% of their rushing
    yards, 88% of their passing yards, and guess what? They gained 120% of their
    total yards per game from last season in their opener against level-rising Old
    Dominion. On defense, ECU welcomed back 78% of its tackles (766 of 977) and
    81.8% of its turnover production (18 of 22), and guess what? They gave up 100%
    of last season’s yards per game to Old Dominion (460 on the nose), and 130%
    of last season’s scoring yield per game (38, vs. 31 a year ago). So, ha-ha, this
    coaching staff may never get their kids to play real defense. FAU was up against it
    against the Hurricanes of Miami last Friday night but can make a little more noise
    in this one.
    EAST CAROLINA, 38-20.

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    POINTWISE

    NFL KEY RELEASE
    BALTIMORE over Denver RATING: 4

    DENVER 27 - Baltimore 23 - (8:30 - NBC)
    -- Revenge rears its head, as Broncs
    were stung by 2 unbelievable TD tosses in playoff OT loss to the eventual Super
    Bowl champs. Lewis, Bolden, & Reed are gone from Raven roster, but youth just
    may prove an improvement. Manning's 105.8 QB rating & 37 were 2nd best in
    his brilliant career. But Broncs without Dumervil, & Miller, who accounted for
    27½ sacks LY. Bailey (foot) still questionable, & Welker not 100½. Thus, Flacco
    (perfect in the playoffs), Rice & Co should stay in this one all the way. Take the 8.

    CFB
    EAST CAROLINA 45 - Florida Atlantic 24 - (7:30 - FSN)
    -- Sure, Pirates have
    VaTech up next, but shouldn't be deterred from posting another large number (46
    ppg last 8 outings, but allowing 34). Ceded 26 FDs to OldDominion, but note QB
    Carden a smooth 46-of-54 (447 yds, 5 TDs). Owls just a 20-18 FD deficit at
    Miami, but allowed 53 & 63 yd TD runs. But can't run & nor contain it. Pirate call.

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    POWERSWEEP

    NFL
    Baltimore vs DENVER
    - Thursday The Defending Super Bowl champs actually open up on the road due to a scheduling conflict. The Ravens came into Denver LY and knocked the Broncos out of the playoffs so they will be confident. DEN, of course, is out for revenge and did deliver our NFL Game of the Year in this matchup in the regular season winning 34-17 at BAL (-3, cover by 2 td).
    Since 1993 the Super Bowl Champ has only been a dog 3 times all as +2’ pt dogs (Dal ‘93, NE ‘02 & TB ‘03).

    CFB
    Florida Atlantic at EAST CAROLINA
    - First meeting as this is FAU’s inaugural CUSA game. East Carolina has gone 7-1 SU (5-3 ATS) at home the L2Y vs CUSA opp including 4-0 LY (3-1 ATS) winning by 18 ppg. EC is one of the most exp’d tms in the country w/18 st’rs back from LY’s 8-5 tm and are in the midst of a 3 gm home stand. FAU is in the middle of a 3 gm road trip but were 4-0 ATS LY in B2B road gms incl a 2-0 mark in gms #2-3 LY during a 3-gm road trip. FAU cashed for us LW as a 2H Selection as an AD vs Miami. Will we go to them again or will the Pirates give them a rude CUSA awakening and continue their home dominance over CUSA foes?

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    POWER PLAYS

    NFL
    BALTIMORE
    DENVER

    The Ravens open up on the road due to a sked conflict with MLB. DEN is out for revenge with Manning a 2nd year removed from his neck inj. BAL did a nice job reloading in the offseason and their win LY gives them confidence here. This is only the 4th time since 1993 the defending SB Champ has been a wk 1 dog.
    NO PLAY: BRONCOS 30 RAVENS 19

    CFL
    FLORIDA ATLANTIC
    EAST CAROLINA

    East Carolina has gone 7-1 SU (5-3 ATS) at home the last 2 years vs CUSA opponents including 4-0 last year (3-1 ATS) winning by 18 ppg. FAU was 4-0 ATS LY in B2B road gms.
    NO PLAY: EAST CAROLINA 38 FLORIDA ATLANTIC 17

  29. #29
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    NFL
    *Denver over Baltimore by 4

    This may be the revenge game of the year, but Baltimore is too good of an organization not to field a strongly competitive team the year after winning the Super
    Bowl. The prideful Ravens lost a lot of leadership and are down key receivers, but
    their defense reloaded. It should be quicker and faster with Elvis Dumervil joining
    a slimmed down Terrell Suggs and cornerback Lardarius Webb, back from last
    year's torn ACL. Von Miller is suspended for six games and the Broncos also could
    be missing their best pass defender, Champ Bailey. Baltimore is 5-0 ATS the past
    five years in Week 1 games.
    DENVER 24-20.

    Baltimore at Denver – The Broncos defeated the Ravens, 34-17, on the road
    during the regular season last year, but lost 38-35 in overtime at home to Baltimore
    in the playoffs.

    CFB
    East Carolina* over Florida Atlantic by 18

    FAU played three quarterbacks vs. Miami – that was by design – and failed to score
    a touchdown. It’s hard to envision the Owls keeping pace with the high-octane
    Pirates, but FAU under Bo Pelini has covered the spread at a 75 percent clip.
    EAST CAROLINA 35-17.

  30. #30
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    MLB

    BEGINNING THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 5
    Boston at N.Y.Yankees (4) 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th
    This is shaping up as a critical series for the Yankees, though overtaking Boston for the AL East crown is unlikely.The team looks more representative now as they pursue a wild-card berth, with key veterans finally back in the lineup. They’ve been very profitable vs. lefthanders in 2013 (+$835 so far) and they’re expected to face both
    Felix Doubront & Jon Lester in the Bronx this weekend.The Red Sox are reasonably comfortable atop the division standings,so there’s less urgency for them to prevail here.
    BEST BET: Yankees vs. lefthanders.

    Chicago W. Sox at Baltimore (4) 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th
    The Orioles averted an ugly sweep in New York last weekend, and they remain very viable in the AL wildcard hunt. They’ve been an offensive juggernaut here at Camden Yards, particularly against righthanders (5.2 runs per game) with a nice overall profit vs. righties in 2013 (+$940). The White Sox enjoyed a decent run in late August, but they’ve resumed their losing ways, suffering a sweep at Fenway Park this past weekend.They’ve been a huge money-burner overall, and their numbers outside of US Cellular are horrendous (only 24-45, -$1605).
    BEST BET: Orioles vs. righthanders.

    Houston at Oakland (4) 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th
    The Astros rank dead last in the AL in both pitching (4.82 ERA) and hitting (.239 team BA) and they are only 3-12 vs. the Athletics in head to head play (+$455). But they’ve come up with a pair of exciting young righthanders in Brett Oberholtzer (+$780, 1.98 ERA in six starts) and Jarred Cosart (+$215, 1.59 in eight starts) who have scored huge profits when posted as heavy underdogs. Both are slated to see action at Oakland this weekend, with the Athletics no doubt posted as prohibitive favorites.
    BEST BET: Oberholtzer/Cosart.

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