San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis Rams (+3, 41.5)

Less than eight months removed from a Super Bowl appearance, the San Francisco 49ers are immersed in controversy on and off the field heading into Thursday night's matchup at the St. Louis Rams. San Francisco has dropped two straight, including a stunning 27-7 defeat at home to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. No team played the 49ers tougher last season than the AFC West rival Rams, who battled to a 24-24 tie in San Francisco and beat them in overtime in St. Louis.

The 49ers' issues go beyond back-to-back inept performances - the team is under siege for allowing sack specialist Aldon Smith to play in Sunday's game only two days after he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. Smith, who has a history of off-field issues, will enter a rehab facility to receive treatment and will miss Thursday's game. St. Louis is seeking a bounce-back effort after it was demolished by the Dallas Cowboys 31-7.

TV: 8:25 p.m. ET, NFL Network.

LINE: The 49ers opened as a 3.5-point road favorites and have been bet down to -3. The total opened as high as 43.5 and has been moved down to 41.5.


49ers (-2.5) + Rams (+5.0) + home field (-3.0) = St. Louis +4.5

ABOUT THE 49ERS (1-2, 1-2 ATS): Losing in Seattle in Week 2 wasn't a surprise for San Francisco, but getting bulldozed by the Colts on both sides of the ball sent shock waves through the league. Colin Kaepernick turned in a breathtaking performance by throwing for 412 yards in the season opener but has tossed four interceptions and been limited to a combined 277 yards while leading the 49ers to only 10 points in the past two weeks. The absence of tight end Vernon Davis (hamstring) hurt versus the Colts, while the normally stout defense saw All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis exit Sunday's game with a groin injury.

ABOUT THE RAMS (1-2, 0-3 ATS):
St. Louis posted a gritty comeback victory over Arizona in its season opener but has fallen behind by at least 21 points in back-to-back road losses to Atlanta and Dallas. Quarterback Sam Bradford threw for a season-low 240 yards and was sacked six times against the Cowboys while receiving little help from a ground game that saw starting running back Daryl Richardson play only one snap due to a foot injury. Rookie wideout Tavon Austin, the team's first-round draft pick, has six receptions in each of the first three games but is averaging only 6.6 yards per catch.


* Home team is 4-1 ATS in their last five meetings.
* Under is 5-2 in the last seven meetings in St. Louis..
* 49ers are 1-5 ATS in their last six meetings.
* Rams are 7-1 ATS in their last eight vs. NFC West.


1. Kaepernick made his third career start at St. Louis last season and had a safety and lost a fumble that was returned for a TD.

2. The Rams tied for the lead league with 52 sacks last season, but have only seven through the first three games.

3. LB Smith was second in the league with 19.5 sacks in 2012 and has registered 37 in 35 games.
Sandy Orellana 49ers Body Paint

NFL Week 3 Cheat Sheet and Betting Trends & Analysis

Sunday NFL Football Betting
Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens (+1, 45)

Star receiver Andre Johnson suffered a concussion in the game against the Titans but is expected to be cleared to play. Johnson is tied for the NFL lead with 20 receptions and Houston appears to have found a sensational complement in first-round pick DeAndre Hopkins (12 receptions, 183 yards).

Baltimore has a key player ailing in running back Ray Rice, who injured his left hip flexor in the contest against Cleveland and hasn’t participated in practices. “He’s not going to need the practice to play in the game,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said.

LINE: Houston opened -2.5 and moved to -1.5. Total moved from 44.5 to 45.
PRIME WAGERS POWER RANKINGS: Houston (-5.0) - Baltimore (-1.0) + home field (-3.0) = Ravens +1
WEATHER: Temperatures mid 70s, partly cloudy, winds NNW 11 mph.

* Road team is 5-2 ATS in their last seven meetings.Road team is 5-2 ATS in their last 7 meetings.
* Texans are 0-4 ATS in their last four road games.
* Ravens are 5-1 ATS in their last six games overall.

New York Giants at Carolina Panthers (+1, 46.5)

New York's 10 turnovers - seven of which have been Eli Manning interceptions - are a major cause for concern and have put the defense in a tough spot. The offense has been effective at moving the ball, mostly through the air, and ranks fifth in the league in total yards, but the ground game has to come along and the Giants need to hang onto the ball.

The Panthers find themselves in an 0-2 hole after losing their first two games by a combined six points, including a 24-23 defeat against Buffalo last week. The Panthers have been balanced on offense but they've been far from explosive, ranking 27th in the league with 280.5 total yards per game.

LINE: Carolina opened -1 and moved to +1. Total moved from 45.5 to 47.
PRIME WAGERS POWER RANKINGS: New York (-1.0) + Carolina (+3.0) + home field (-3.0) = Panthers +1
WEATHER: Temps mid 70s, 22 percent chance of early showers, winds 5 north 5 mph.

* Giants are 4-1 ATS in their last five meetings.
* Over is 4-1 in the last five meetings.
* Road team is 5-2 ATS in their last seven meetings.

Detroit Lions at Washington Redskins (Pick, 48.5)

Detroit is 2-0 against Washington under coach Jim Schwartz, with both victories coming at home. Calvin Johnson had 101 yards and three touchdowns in a 37-25 triumph over the Redskins in their last meeting on Oct. 31, 2010.

Facing a large deficit, the Redskins have been offensive juggernauts in the fourth quarter, outscoring Philadelphia and Green Bay by a combined 26-0 over the final 15 minutes.

LINE: Open pick bounced between -1 and +1. Total moved from 48 to 49.
PRIME WAGERS POWER RANKINGS: Detroit (+1.0) - Washington (+2.5) + home field (-3.0) = Redskins -1.5
WEATHER: Temps mid 70s, partly cloudy skies, winds NNW 12 mph.

* Under is 6-1-2 in the last nine meetings.
* Home team is 8-2 ATS in their last 10 meetings.
* Lions are 0-4 ATS in their last four meetings in Washington.

San Diego Chargers at Tennessee Titans (-3, 43.5)

Philip Rivers leads a rejuvenated offense that is averaging more than 30 points per game. The only problem: San Diego has allowed as many points as it has scored, thanks to a defense that has surrendered the most passing yards in the league through two weeks.

The Tennessee Titans' defense has helped compensate for a sluggish offense through the first two games of the season. Titans RB Chris Johnson comes into the week ranked sixth in rushing yards (166) but second in attempts (50), averaging just 3.3 yards per carry.

LINE: Opened Tennessee -1 and moved to -3. Total steady at 43.5.
PRIME WAGERS POWER RANKINGS: San Diego (+2.0) - Tennessee (+3.0) + home field (-3.0) = Titans -2
WEATHER: Temps mid 70s, clear skies, winds NNE 7 mph.

* Chargers are 8-0 ATS in their last eight meetings.
* Over is 5-1-1 in the last seven meetings.
* Favorite is 5-1 ATS in their last six meetings.

Arizona Cardinals at New Orleans Saints (-9, 49)

Carson Palmer has injected some life into Arizona's passing game, but the ground game hasn't been as effective and running back Rashard Mendenhall (toe) is questionable. Palmer should have tight end Rob Housler back in the lineup after missing the first two games with a sore ankle, and the Cardinals have eased receiver Larry Fitzgerald along in practice in hopes he can play through a hamstring injury.

While the Saints' offense has struggled to find the end zone, coordinator Rob Ryan's revamped defense has limited its first two opponents to 320 yards and 15.5 points per game. The overhauled defense did a solid job against Atlanta in Week 1 but was dominant in a 16-14 win versus Tampa Bay, allowing 273 total yards - the Saints' lowest total since Week 15 of the 2011 season.

LINE: Arizona opened -9.5 and moved to -7. Total moved from 48.5 to 49.
PRIME WAGERS POWER RANKINGS: Arizona (+3.5) + New Orleans (-3.0) + home field (-3.0) = Saints -9.5

* Over is 4-0 in the last four meetings.
* Home team is 4-0 ATS in their last four meetings.
* Cardinals are 2-5 ATS in their last four meetings.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New England Patriots (-8.5, 43.5)

Quarterback Josh Freeman is under siege after consecutive subpar outings - he was only 9-for-22 for 125 yards with one touchdown and one interception against the Saints - to spark speculation that he could lose his starting job to rookie Mike Glennon. The Buccaneers have dangerous weapons in second-year running back Doug Martin (209 yards rushing) and wideout Vincent Jackson (231 yards receiving), and the defense has been stout in allowing an average of 17 points.

With wideout Danny Amendola (groin) and running back Shane Vereen (wrist) set to miss a second straight game and tight end Rob Gronkowski still rehabbing from multiple offseason surgeries, Tom Brady has been forced to lean on Julian Edelman (20 receptions) and untested rookies in the receiving corps. Starting running back Steven Ridley has rushed for only 86 yards in two games while the defense has forced six turnovers to tie for second in the league.

LINE: Open New England -7 and moved to -8.5. Total moved from 45 to 43.5.
PRIME WAGERS POWER RANKINGS: Tampa Bay (+4.0) + New England (-4.5) + home field (-3.0) = Patriots -11.5
WEATHER: Temps low 70s, 83 percent chance of rain, winds WSW 7 mph.

* Buccaneers are 7-2 ATS in their last nine road games.
* Patriots are 2-5 ATS in their last seven games overall.
* Over is 7-3 in Patriots' last 10 home games.

Green Bay Packers at Cincinnati Bengals (+2.5, 49)

While Aaron Rodgers' Week 2 performance was typical, the Packers got a surprising 132-yard effort on the ground from running back James Starks, who replaced Eddie Lacy after the rookie left the game with a concussion. The Packers were forced to juggle their secondary last week after three DBs suffered hamstring injuries. All are questionable for Sunday.

Cincinnati has won the past two meetings against Green Bay and sacked Rodgers six times in its most recent game (2009) but it will be without veteran defensive end Robert Geathers who joined three Bengal linebackers on injured reserve. While questions still abound on Andy Dalton's deep passing ability, he has thrown for 280 and 282 yards in his first two starts and unveiled a new weapon in athletic rookie tight end Tyler Eifert on Monday.

LINE: Cincinnati opened +1 and moved to +2.5. Total moved from 46.5 to 49.
PRIME WAGERS POWER RANKINGS: Green Bay (-6.0) - Cincinnati (-1.5) + home field (-3.0) = Bengals +1.5
WEATHER: Temps high 60s, clear skies, winds NNE 6 mph.

* Packers are 1-4 ATS in their last five road games.
* Bengals are 7-1 ATS in their last eight games in Week 3.
* Over is 5-1 in Packers last six games overall.

St. Louis Rams at Dallas Cowboys (-3.5, 47)

St. Louis is attempting to start 2-1 for the first time since 2006. The Rams will look for more consistency out of high-priced free agent signing Jared Cook, who caught seven passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns in Week 1 but managed only one grab last weekend.

The last time the Cowboys faced the Rams, DeMarco Murray rushed for a franchise-record 253 yards on Oct. 23, 2011. However, Murray only managed 25 yards on 12 attempts in last week's loss to the Chiefs, a game in which Dallas was unable to force any turnovers after creating six miscues against the New York Giants in Week 1.

LINE: Dallas steady at -3.5. Total moved from 46.5 to 47.
PRIME WAGERS POWER RANKINGS: St. Louis (+2.5) + Dallas (-2.5) + home field (-3.0) = Cowboys -3

* Under is 4-1 in the last five meetings.
* Rams are 6-1 ATS in their last seven road games.
* Cowboys are 2-10 ATS in their last 12 home games.

Cleveland Browns at Minnesota Vikings (-6.5, 40.5)

Cleveland was already struggling to produce offense with just 16 points in two games and trading RB Trent Richardson, who recorded 950 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns as a rookie, gives an offense starting a third-string quarterback even fewer options. Brian Hoyer starts in place of Brandon Weeden, who injured his thumb in last week's loss to Baltimore.

Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder, who was 16-of-30 against Chicago, is reportedly on the hot seat and could lose snaps to backup Matt Cassel unless his play improves. Ponder is 88-for-127 passing with five touchdowns and two interceptions in his last four games against AFC opponents.

LINE: Minnesota opened -4 and moved to -6.5. Total moved from 41 to 40.5.
PRIME WAGERS POWER RANKINGS: Cleveland (+5.0) - Minnesota (+2.5) + home field (-3.0) = Vikings -5.5

* Browns are 0-5 ATS in their last five games overall.
* Vikings are 5-1-1 ATS in their last seven home games.
* Under is 5-1 in Browns last six road games.
Breaking Bad Sunday Night Football

The Final season of Breaking Bad has been so popular that many NFL fans are choosing to watch it live and tape their favorite games. This phenomenon is causing the NFL to lose valuable primetime advertising revenue because you can skip the commercials while watching the game in pre-recorded mode. What will you be watching tonight? Breaking Bad or Sunday Night Football?

When NBC launched its Football Night in America package in 2006, it avoided the last Sopranos season but overlapped with Season 4 of The Wire for 13 solid weeks. Back then, most people couldn't record two shows at the same time, and you didn't have to worry about an unexpected moment being spoiled on Twitter — you know, like OMAR AND BROTHER MOUZONE KILLING STRINGER.1 So you simply recorded The Wire and watched the game live. And that became the habit on Sunday nights, at least for me — record the good Sunday-night show (Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Dexter, whatever), avoid it until the football game finished, then throw that episode down like television dessert. It's always more fun to watch sports live, right?

Or so we thought.

Because this final season of Breaking Bad changed the rules. (Don't worry, I won't spoil anything if you aren't caught up yet.) It's the greatest final season of any television show. At least so far. Two different times this season (including last week), the show ended in such an electric way that I didn't even know what to do with myself. After last Sunday's episode, I somehow ended up in my backyard — I don't even know how I got there. And there are three episodes left! I know we'll see other gripping television seasons, but will we ever see one that painstakingly laid out the finish line over the course of a few years, then hit the final turn and broke into a Usain Bolt–like sprint?

An even better sports analogy: It's the one show that may have figured out how to hit a walk-off grand slam. Whether that happens or not, it has already made history: For the first time, I find myself choosing an already-filmed, can-watch-it-whenever-I-want television show over live football. Last week, I watched the first quarter of Cowboys-Giants, then jumped into my DVR library at 6:17 p.m. (Pacific Time) and cranked up the still-recording episode of Breaking Bad. At this point, my kids could have said, "Hey, Dad, we're gonna go outside and play in traffic," and I probably would have grunted, "OK, sounds good."

I spent the next 45 minutes inhaling the show, ripping through commercials and finishing in real time at 7:01. Sixty seconds later, I was standing outside and wondering how I got there. I regained a grip by 7:05, restarted the Cowboys game from my jumping-off point, zipped through the commercials (and there were a million of them) and caught up a little after halftime ended. So, really, I missed ONE live quarter.

Now here's where you say, "I thought you were one of those ADD sports fan weirdos who built an office with multiple TVs so you could watch four games every Sunday. Why wouldn't you watch Breaking Bad while monitoring the Sunday-night game?" Simple answer: I don't want any distractions during these last few episodes. I don't want to look at e-mails or glance at texts, much less divide my attention between a great TV show and a football game. Not happening. You'd do that with forgettable shows like Ray Donovan and MTV's The Challenge, not the walk-off grand slam season of Breaking Bad. Actually, who am I kidding? I wouldn't do that with The Challenge, either.

OK, so what about this Sunday? Why would any self-respecting NFL fan want to miss one live second of a Niners-Seahawks game in 2013? Especially when …

• It's the best rivalry in football right now. (Hold on, I'm pouring out a belated 40 for Colts-Patriots and Ravens-Steelers, our last two joint holders of the Rivalry Championship Belt. At least Colts-Patriots transferred its feudal energy to Broncos-Patriots. That Ravens-Steelers rivalry fell apart faster than the Freebirds vs. the Von Erichs.) Beyond the NFC West title stakes and the added animosity from playing twice (and this season, maybe even three times), consider that these are the league's two most physical teams — especially because the Seahawks take tons of PEDs. (I'm kidding, I'm kidding. Only a FEW of the Seahawks take PEDs.)2

• It's early, and I'm sure this will change 10 million times over the next 16 weeks, but the Niners and Seahawks are two of the NFL's three best teams at this moment. The other: New England. (Just kidding, it's Denver. I just wanted to pretend one last time that the Patriots are still good.)

• They're playing the game in Seattle, which matters because Seattle and Green Bay are the two best NFL stadiums for television viewers (and probably in that order). I love the crazy Seahawks fans. I love seeing the sea of dark green. I love when the cameras vibrate because it's so deafeningly loud. I even love when they incessantly show that goofy noise instrument that tells us how loud it's getting, even though I have no concept of what 112 decibels really means. Oh, it's almost as loud as a Boeing 747 jet? Um … sure! What Seattle's home-field advantage accomplished in that 2011 playoff game against New Orleans — when they won outright as double-digit underdogs and murdered thousands of three-team teasers — was really one for the ages. I love all big football games in Seattle if they have even a half-decent team. But THIS team? And against THIS Niners team?

• If that's not enough, Seahawks fans have decided that they're going to break the Guinness world record for "loudest crowd" on Sunday night, which is currently held by …

(Hold on, I'll give you a couple of seconds to guess.)

(And … )


Did you guess that it happened in the Ali Sami Yen Sport Complex Turk Telekom Arena two years ago, by fans of Turkey's Galatasaray S.K. soccer team? You did? That's amazing! Apparently, they reached 131.76 decibels — which is probably the sound a Boeing 747 makes if it's flying over a football stadium filled with shrieking teenage girls at a One Direction concert. But given that David Stern let the Sonics bolt from Seattle five years ago for a much smaller market that restricts their revenue and forces them to make decisions like trading the NBA's best 2-guard for two bench players and a six-pack of diet soda, if it's all right with you, I'm going to root for these embattled Seattle fans to break this obscure decibel record.

• Colin Kaepernick vs. Russell Wilson … a.k.a. Brady vs. Manning for the Twitter Generation. And it still has that new-car smell to it. Just 11 months ago, Kaep was fetching Perrier for Alex Smith and Wilson looked 15.2 percent overmatched as Seattle's unexpected starter. Today, Kaepernick has turned into Randall Cunningham 2.0, while Wilson has evolved into a possible hybrid of Young Brady, Young Montana and Young Brees (only if that hybrid could scramble for a first down whenever he wants).

In general, it's almost stupefying how entertaining Kaepernick, Wilson, Robert Griffin and Andrew Luck are on a play-to-play basis in a suddenly safety-conscious league. It's flag football with pads and they're the big winners. (Well, them and Peyton Manning, who's on pace to throw 112 touchdowns this season.) Only one downer for the Kaepernick-Wilson rivalry: By rule, all quarterbacks like each other and feel bonded by such a frighteningly complex position. There's no chance for a Kaep-Wilson beef. This week, a rumor even circulated that they made a friendly "Sunday's loser has to shave his eyebrows" wager. It turned out to be false, which made me wish the fake bet had been more ridiculous — something like, "Loser has to pretend publicly for two weeks that he thinks Aaron Hernandez was framed and would absolutely 'take Hernandez as a teammate.'" Maybe there's still time.

• Pete Carroll vs. Jim Harbaugh … a.k.a. the feud that started when they were college coaches and keeps on going and going. Last spring, Harbaugh even called out Seattle's multiple PED suspensions and quoted Bo Schembechler by saying, "If you cheat to win, then you've already lost." I thought that was a low blow — not bringing up the PED stuff, but quoting Bo Schembechler. If we could wager on any pair of coaches to trade punches during a postgame handshake, Harbaugh and Carroll would be the overwhelming favorite.

• The fan bases can't stand each other, either. Did you know that Seahawks fans on Reddit were conspiring to buy sponsored bricks for San Francisco's soon-to-be-done Levi's Stadium and put "GO HAWKS!" on them, causing the Niners to announce that they were exercising veto power on the wording for any purchased brick? Did you know they apparently had to ask for additional moderators to help police SB Nation's Seahawks and 49ers pages because it was getting so ugly on their message boards?

Let's just hope WE never have to choose between them, because I love both cities … but if I ever have to choose, I'm siding with fresh coffee, grunge music, Singles, Citizen Dick, legalized marijuana, Xavier McDaniel posters, Stephen and Irene, Junior Griffey, Safeco, Steve Largent, the '87 All-Star Game, Microsoft Windows, serial-killer movies, Gus and DJ, Kemp and GP, Mr. Russell's House, Rip City beefs, and fresh coffee a second time over Alcatraz, Steph Curry, Pac Bell, trolleys, Twitter, Montana and Rice, Puck and Pedro, the great Warriors crowds, Chinatown, 48 Hrs., Reggie Hammond and Jack Cates … wait a second, I need to think about this more.

• With apologies to Ndamukong Suh and Clay Matthews, Seattle has the NFL's best villain: Richard Sherman, the talented cornerback who became semi-infamous last season for trash-talking Tom Brady, drawing a four-game PED suspension (and then somehow getting it overturned), then making an intentionally heated, willfully loathsome First Take cameo that inadvertently got me suspended from Twitter by ESPN. Now he's trying to reinvent himself as a weekly columnist for Peter King's new football site. I don't want to jinx it, but he's on pace to pass Bill Laimbeer and Kareem as my least favorite athlete of all time.

I mention this because San Francisco now has Anquan Boldin, a proud veteran with a ring who doesn't take shit from anyone and once broke his face going over the middle for a touchdown catch. Again, HE BROKE HIS FACE. And came back a few weeks later! He's going to like it when Richard Sherman starts barking at him? I'm already nominating this as the NFL's best player-versus-player feud and it hasn't even officially started yet. Prediction: This Sunday night, either Walt and Jesse or Sherman and Boldin fight to the death.

• Even in Week 2, it's a must-win for the Seahawks because they can't win the NFC West (and, potentially, go for a no. 1 seed and home-field advantage) without beating the Niners at least once. After Kaepernick played so spectacularly last weekend, Vegas got freaked out and made Seattle just 2.5-point favorites. If they win by a field goal, you cover. Maybe five lines per season leave me totally perplexed — this is one of them. (Only possible explanation: Seattle's offensive line looked uncharacteristically wobbly against Carolina's excellent front seven last Sunday.) I think the crowd carries the Seahawks on Sunday night, and that anything less than a field goal with these guys at home makes me feel like I'm in a Christmas commercial in which someone is surprising me with a brand-new Lexus covered in a big red ribbon. I'm laying the points.

The bigger question: What's the TV game plan for Sunday night? I'm watching a quarter, flipping over to Breaking Bad at 6:17, banging it out, then catching up on the DVR'ed second quarter and watching the second half live. It's a foolproof plan. And it's going to work next week for the Pittsburgh-Chicago game too. And forget about Week 4 — I don't care who's playing, the final episode of Breaking Bad gets priority unless the Patriots are involved.

Article By: Bill Simmons


NFL Week 1 Cheat Sheet and Betting Analysis

NFL Sunday Football Frenzy
New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills (+9.5, 51)

The Bills are beginning a new era with first-year head coach Doug Marrone and rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel. Manuel underwent knee surgery on Aug. 18 but is ready to go for the season opener, pushing rookie free agent Jeff Tuel back to the bench.

Tom Brady lost most of his receiving corps with Aaron Hernandez in jail, Wes Welker in Denver and Brandon Lloyd off to free agency. The perennial Pro Bowler has a slew of rookies at wide receiver to go along with import Danny Amendola until Rob Gronkowski recovers from back and forearm surgeries.

LINE: Buffalo opened as a 6.5-point home underdog but has been bet up as high as +9.5.
Patriots (-6.0) + Bills (+6.0) – home field (-3.0) = Bills +9.0
WEATHER: Temperatures in the mid 60s, 29 percent chance of rain, winds NNE 7 mph

* Over is 4-0 in the last four meetings.
* Patriots are 19-8-1 ATS in their last 28 meetings.
* Road team is 7-2 ATS in their last nine meetings.

Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7, 42)

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has taken the Steelers to three Super Bowls - winning two - in his nine seasons, but he missed three games to injury in 2012 and starts the year with questions in the receiving corps and running game.

Titans counterpart Jake Locker sat out five games a year ago and has yet to prove he is the answer after being drafted No. 8 overall in 2008. Both teams have major questions on defense - the Steelers allowed nearly 100 points more last season than in 2011 and Tennessee was shredded for an NFL-worst 471 points.

LINE: Pittsburgh opened a 7.5-point favorite and has moved to -7. The total has dropped from 43.5 to 42.
PRIME WAGERS POWER RANKINGS: Tennessee (+4.5) + Pittsburgh (-2.0) + home field (-3.0) = Steelers -9.5
WEATHER: Temperatures in mid 70s, 27 percent chance of showers, winds NNW 5 mph

Over is 8-2 in the last 10 meetings in Pittsburgh.
Over is 7-3 in the last 10 meetings.
Underdog is 4-1 ATS in their last five meetings.

Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints (-3, 54)

The Saints have dominated the series in recent years, winning 11 of the past 14 meetings, but they missed the playoffs last year for the first time since 2008. With head coach Sean Payton returning after being suspended last season for his role in the team's bounty scandal, New Orleans hopes to regain its supremacy over the division.

Granted, the Saints handed the Falcons their first loss last year, a 31-27 defeat in Week 10 in New Orleans, and it did little to slow Atlanta on its way to the NFC Championship Game. The Falcons returned the favor in Week 13 in Atlanta, picking off Drew Brees five times in a 23-13 win. Atlanta upgraded its offense by signing running back Steven Jackson and also coaxed tight end Tony Gonzalez back for one more season.

LINE: New Orleans opened as a 2-point favorite and moved to -3. The total has remained steady at 54.
Atlanta (-4.5) - New Orleans (-2.5) + home field (-3.0) = Saints -5

* Over is 5-0 in the last five meetings in New Orleans.
* Falcons are 1-4 ATS in their last five meetings.
* Underdog is 6-2 ATS in their last eight meetings.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Jets (+3.5, 39.5)

New York coach Rex Ryan looks to exploit a Buccaneers pass defense that allowed an NFL-worst 297.4 yards per game last year with rookie quarterback Geno Smith, who earned the starting nod after Mark Sanchez injured his shoulder during the fourth quarter of a preseason game .

Bucs RB Doug Martin looks for an encore after rushing for an impressive 1,454 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns during his rookie campaign. Greg Schiano's first year with Tampa Bay also saw Josh Freeman throw for a franchise-record 4,065 yards and 27 touchdowns - although nine of his 17 interceptions came in the final three games.

LINE: New York opened as 1.5-point underdogs and moved to +3.5. Total opened at 41.5 and moved to 39.5.
PRIME WAGERS POWER RANKINGS: Tampa Bay (+3.0) - New York (+6.0) + home field (-3.0) = Pick
WEATHER: Temperatures in mid 70s, 15 percent chance of early showers, winds NNW 14 mph

* Buccaneers are 0-4 ATS in their last four meetings.
* Buccaneers are 18-7-1 ATS in their last 26 road games.
* Under is 4-1 in Jets’ last five games overall.

Kansas City Chiefs at Jacksonville Jaguars (+3.5, 41)

Sunday is the debut of two new head coaches, as Gus Bradley takes over in Jacksonville and Andy Reid guides the Chiefs after a long tenure in Philadelphia. It's the first meeting since 2010, when the Chiefs clobbered the Jaguars 42-20 in Kansas City, avenging a 24-21 loss in Jacksonville a year earlier.

Both did their best to address issues through the draft and free agency and have playoff hopes - however unrealistic they are. Among the key matchups will be Jacksonville's ability to establish the run and take some pressure off quarterback Blaine Gabbert and the Jaguars' ability to slow down Jamaal Charles and force quarterback Alex Smith into third-and-long situations.

LINE: Jacksonville opened as a 1.5-point underdog and has moved to +4.5. The total climbed from 41 to 41.5.
PRIME WAGERS POWER RANKINGS: Kansas City (+2.0) – Jacksonville (+7.5) + home field (-3.0) = Jaguars +2.5
WEATHER: Temperatures in mid 80s, partly cloudy skies, winds East 8 mph

* Chiefs are 2-5 ATS in their last seven games in Week 1.
* Jaguars are 12-2 ATS in their last 14 games in Week 1.
* Under is 4-0 in Jaguars’ last four home games.

Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers (+3.5, 44.5)

The Seahawks won their final five regular-season games and even notched a playoff win behind quarterback Russell Wilson and now face high expectations. Carolina finished with a flurry last season with four consecutive wins and the pressure is on third-year quarterback Cam Newton to deliver the franchise’s first playoff spot since 2008.

Carolina coach Ron Rivera needs a winning season in his third year at the helm after going 13-19 over his first two seasons. Mike Shula is the Panthers’ new offensive coordinator after Rob Chudzinski left to become head coach of the Cleveland Browns.

LINE: Carolina opened as a 3.5-point underdog and moved to +4.5. Total opened at 45.5 and moved to 44.5.
PRIME WAGERS POWER RANKINGS: Seattle (-8.0) + Carolina (+1.5) + home field (-3.0) = Panthers +6.5
WEATHER: Temperatures in the high 80s, partly cloudy skies, winds ENE 9 mph

* Seahawks are 4-0 ATS in their last four road games.
* Panthers are 2-5 ATS in their last seven home games.
* Over is 6-2 in each Panthers and Seahawks’ last eight games overall.

Cincinnati Bengals at Chicago Bears (-3, 41.5)

With a brand new coach and a healthy Cutler on board, the Bears begin the slow climb back to playoff contention. Replacing Lovie Smith is offensive guru Marc Trestman, who is coming off a successful coaching stint with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League.

Bengals QB Andy Dalton and the offense faded down the stretch in 2012 and was held to 198 total yards in a first-round playoff loss to the Houston Texans.. The Bengals have won five of their last six on the road against NFC teams and are 4-1 all-time at Chicago.

LINE: Chicago opened as a 3.5-point favorite and has moved to -3. The total opened at 43.5 and moved to 41.5.
Cincinnati (-1.0) – Chicago (-2.0) + home field (-3.0) = Bears -4
WEATHER: Temperatures in low 70s, partly cloudy skies, winds NE 13 mph

* Bengals are 1-4 ATS in their last five games in Week 1.
* Under is 7-2 in Bears last nine games in Week 1.
* Bears are 1-5 ATS in their last six home games.

Miami Dolphins at Cleveland Browns (Pick, 41)

This game marks the debut of Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski, who spent the last two years as the Carolina Panthers’ offensive coordinator. Chudzinski and new offensive coordinator Norv Turner could rely heavily on RB Trent Richardson with top WR Josh Gordon suspended for violating the league’s drug policy.

Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw 12 touchdown passes as a rookie, though only three of those scoring aerials were to wide receivers. There will be no excuses for that this season, as the Dolphins signed former Steelers wideout Mike Wallace to generate big plays in the passing game.

LINE: Game opened pick and some books are dealing Cleveland -1.5. The total has moved from 41 to 40.5.
Miami (+1.5) – Cleveland (+4.0) + home field (-3.0) = Browns -0.5
WEATHER: Temperatures in the low 70s, 25 percent chance of thunderstorms, winds NNE 13 mph

* Under is 4-1 in the last five meetings.
* Dolphins are 0-4-1 ATS in their last five meetings.
* Browns are 1-7 ATS in their last eight games in Week 1.

Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions (-5, 46.5)

Vikings RB Adrian Peterson has vowed to shatter the single-season rushing mark this season. Minnesota’s offense is still a major question mark. Christian Ponder, who has surpassed 300 yards only twice in 26 starts, may be on a short leash. Minnesota swept the season series a year ago, including a 20-13 victory in Detroit.

Detroit added Reggie Bush to bolster a backfield that's been non-productive for several seasons. Bush's dual-threat presence should take some of the onus off the oft-weary shoulders of quarterback Matthew Stafford, who threw just 20 touchdown passes last season after tossing a career-high 41 in 2011. Detroit enters the season riding an eight-game losing streak.

LINE: Detroit opened as a 3-point favorite and has moved to -5. The total has moved from 47 to 46.5.
PRIME WAGERS POWER RANKINGS: Minnesota (+1.0) – Detroit (+1.0) + home field (-3.0) = Lions -3

* Vikings are 3-0-1 ATS in their last four meetings.
* Under is 7-3 in the last 10 meetings.
* Underdog is 3-0-1 ATS in their last four meetings.

Oakland Raiders at Indianapolis Colts (-10.5, 47)

The athletic but unproven Terrelle Pryor has reportedly won the Raiders QB competition with Matt Flynn and is poised to establish himself for a squad that ranked 26th in the NFL in scoring last year. Pryor threw for 150 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 49 yards and a score in Week 17 last season in his only career start.

Colts QB Andrew Luck was 7-1 at home in 2012, winning the last six. Seven of the eight home contests were decided by a touchdown or less, giving Luck plenty of time to display his abilities in the clutch. Luck's favorite target again figures to be 13-year standout Reggie Wayne, who amassed 106 catches and 1,355 yards last season.

LINE: Indianapolis opened as a -8.5 favorite and moved to -10.5. The total moved from 49 to 47 points.
Oakland (+8.0) - Indianapolis (+1.0) + home field (-3.0) = Colts -10

* Colts are 6-0 ATS in their last six home games.
* Raiders are 2-7 ATS in their last nine games overall.
* Under is 11-2 in Colts last 13 home games.

Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers
(-4.5, 48.5)

Green Bay fell 45-31 to San Francisco in the NFC divisional round but is in good shape heading into 2013 with QB Aaron Rodgers in his prime and a host of receiving weapons at his disposal. He'll be put to the test in Week 1 against a vaunted 49ers defense that finished second in the league in fewest points against.

The San Francisco offense belongs to quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The Green Bay defense is ready to go after the nimble QB, who racked up 181 rushing yards and two touchdowns against Green Bay in their playoff showdown.

LINE: San Francisco opened -5 and has dropped to -4.5. The total has been adjusted from 50.5 to 48.5.
PRIME WAGERS POWER RANKINGS: Green Bay (-6.5) – San Francisco (-8.0) + home field (-3.0) = 49ers -4.5
WEATHER: Temperatures in low 70s, clear skies, winds WSW 6 mph

* Over is 5-0 in the last five meetings.
* Packers are 5-1-1 ATS in their last seven meetings in San Francisco.
* Packers are 9-3-2 ATS in their last 14 meetings.

Arizona Cardinals at St. Louis Rams (-4.5, 41.5)

Longtime Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher is back for his second season with the Rams while Bruce Arians takes the reins for the Cardinals. He will be charged with reviving a team that produced an NFC-low 250 points and lost 11 of its final 12 games after bolting out to a 4-0 start last season.

St. Louis, surprisingly, had the best record within its division and looks to continue its ascent behind a youthful squad that features electrifying rookie receiver Tavon Austin. Daryl Richardson gets first crack at replacing free-agent departure RB Steven Jackson in the backfield and will run behind a beefed-up line that added former No. 1 overall pick Jake Long.

St. Louis opened as a 5-point favorite and moved to -4.5. The total has moved from 41 to 41.5 points.
PRIME WAGERS POWER RANKINGS: Arizona (+5.0) – St. Louis (+2.5) + home field (-3.0) = Rams -5.5

* Under is 4-1 in the last five meetings in St. Louis.
* Under is 8-2 in the last 10 meetings.
* Rams are 7-0 ATS in their last seven vs. NFC West.

New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (-3.5, 48.5)

The New York Giants attempt to continue their dominance at Cowboys Stadium Sunday night. New York has won all four of its games in Dallas' new stadium since it opened in 2009, including a 29-24 triumph on Oct. 28. The Giants have captured six of the last eight overall meetings between the NFC East rivals.

New York hopes to have Victor Cruz in the lineup as the wide receiver suffered a bruised heel in the second week of the preseason and just returned to practice on Monday. Dallas looks to improve upon the 19th-ranked defense in the league in 2012. In an effort to accomplish this goal, the club replaced defensive coordinator Rob Ryan with Monte Kiffin and switched to a 4-3 alignment.

LINE: Dallas opened as a 3-point favorite and has moved to -3.5. The total has moved from 49 to 48.5.
PRIME WAGERS POWER RANKINGS: New York (-3.0) - Dallas (-1.5) + home field (-3.0) = Cowboys -4.5

* Giants are 4-0 ATS in their last four meetings in Dallas.
* Giants are 6-2 ATS in their last eight meetings.
* Over is 6-2 in the last eight meetings.

The power outage that stopped Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3, 2013 had a huge impact on the momentum of the game and the final spread for sports bettors. Ray Lewis who played in the game for the Ravens says it was no accident. Can you imagine Lewis singing along to "sabotage" by Beastie Boys?

Ray-Lewis-SabotageRavens' Retired Linebacker Ray Lewis
Remember when the lights went out during Super Bowl XLVII? Retired Baltimore Ravens Linebacker Ray Lewis says that was no accident.

"I'm not gonna accuse nobody of nothing — because I don't know facts," Lewis says on an upcoming installment of NFL Films’ "America’s Game" series. "But you're a zillion-dollar company, and your lights go out? No. (Laughs) No way".

"Now listen, if you grew up like I grew up — and you grew up in a household like I grew up — then sometimes your lights might go out, because times get hard. I understand that. But you cannot tell me somebody wasn't sitting there and when they say, 'The Ravens (are) about to blow them out. Man, we better do something.' . . . That's a huge shift in any game, in all seriousness. And as you see how huge it was because it let them right back in the game."

As with all conspiracy theories, the attendant circumstances did seem to fall
into a convenient narrative. At the time of the blackout, the Ravens were
beating the San Francisco 49ers by 22 points. Somebody or something needed to
stop the Ravens’ momentum or the big game was going to be a big dud. So then,
boom, the lights go out and guess what? The 49ers got back in it. All the way

Baltimore ended up winning 34-31, and Lewis got his second Super Bowl ring.

Enjoy the vintage 90's "Sabotage" music video by the legendary Beastie Boys and 
comment if you think Ray Lewis is right about his sabotage theory below.


Check out the covers.com cheat sheet for all of Thursday's NFL Week 1 preseason betting action. This is preseason Football so don't expect most teams to risk their top players. Seattle Seahawks have a great track record in the preseason and the new Chargers offense will be on display. Read our 3-step Bankroll Management Plan post learn which of these games is a Prime Wager, Action Wager or Regular Wager.

Baltimore Ravens at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3, 35.5)

In the past, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh usually played his starters for most of the first quarter but with a rash of injuries during the summer, Baltimore may limit the action of its first stringers. 

Tampa Bay is also trying to protect its key players from injury this offseason. The Bucs aren’t sold on Josh Freeman as the No. 1, so there could be plenty of snaps for him and rookie QB Mike Glennon.

St. Louis Rams at Cleveland Browns (-4, 35.5)

St. Louis is going to give RB Daryl Richardson the starting gig heading into the preseason opener. The Rams will work in their new offensive line additions Thursday, so Sam Bradford’s workload could depend on the protection.

Cleveland won’t have RB Trent Richardson in the lineup versus St. Louis and is still without Montario Hardesty, leaving rushing duties to third and fourth-stringers Dion Lewis and Brandon Jackson. 

Washington Redskins at Tennessee Titans (-2.5, 35.5)

While Robert Griffin III says he feels great, the Redskins won’t risk throwing their franchise QB out there Thursday. Washington will go with Kirk Cousins at QB and is expected to play its starters 10-15 plays.

Tennessee head coach Mike Munchak is focusing on his rebuilt offensive line this preseason, more specifically paving the way for RB Chris Johnson. The Titans first string will play between 18 and 25 plays.

Cincinnati Bengals at Atlanta Falcons (-2.5, 37)

These two teams have shared practice time the past week, so there may be some familiarity with each other Thursday. Bengals star WR A.J. Green will sit out while nursing a sore knee and fellow WR Andrew Hawkins is out with an ankle injury.

Atlanta won’t have TE Tony Gonzalez, WR Julio Jones or LB Sean Weatherspoon in Week 1 of the preseason. Head coach Mike Smith may not keep QB Matt Ryan under center long with injuries to the offensive line this week.

Denver Broncos at San Francisco 49ers (-3, 35)

Peyton Manning is expected to see limited action all preseason but he did tell reporters he was anxious to play the 49ers Thursday, hinting that he may actually take snaps Thursday. Manning didn’t play in Denver’s Week 1 preseason game last summer.

San Francisco will give its first stringers a taste of action before turning its attention to position needs. An injury to CB Chris Culliver has left a big hole in the secondary, so there could be plenty of tinkering with the pass defense. Colt McCoy will get some face time as Colin Kaepernick’s backup.

Seattle Seahawks at San Diego Chargers (+2, 35.5)

The Seahawks have become one of the best preseason bets, going 39-26-3 ATS since 1995 including a 4-0 ATS mark last summer. Seattle QB Russell Wilson, who will see limited snaps, told reporters the Seahawks are bringing a basic offense into Thursday game.

San Diego’s new head coach Mike McCoy is stressing speed this summer, so the Bolts could be full of juice Thursday night, even though they’re missing some downfield threats. The Chargers lost WR Danario Alexander for the season after he tore his ACL this week and WR Vincent Brown is still slowed with a hamstring strain.

Upcoming Matchups: Aug. 8 - Baltimore Ravens Vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cincinnati Bengals Vs. Atlanta Falcons, Washington Redskins Vs. Tennessee Titans, St. Louis Rams Vs. Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos Vs SF 49ers, Seattle Seahawks Vs SD Chargers.

2013 NFL Pre-season Football. Upcoming NFL Games and Bold Predictions