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NFL Close Calls Week 1

NFL Close Calls – Week 1


Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are some of the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread in the fourth quarter last week in Week 1 of the NFL regular season.

Philadelphia Eagles (-10) 32, Washington Redskins 27 (44): Case Keenum hit several big plays early in his Washington debut as the Redskins stunned the Eagles with a 17-0 lead 20 minutes into the game and held on to a 20-7 edge at halftime. Philadelphia erased that lead in a three-minute span in the third quarter with back-to-back scores to lead by one heading into the fourth. The Eagles kept the momentum with an early fourth quarter touchdown and then a field goal with about three minutes remaining put the Eagles past the heavy home favorite spread for the first time in the game leading by 12. Having punted on its first three possessions of the second half with a total of five yards gained, Washington put together a 16-play, 75-yard drive that ended with an underdog cover saving touchdown with six seconds on the clock.

Buffalo Bills (+2½) 17, New York Jets 16 (41): The Jets took the lead early on an interception return touchdown but missed the PAT and that was the only scoring of the first half with Josh Allen having four turnovers for the Bills. The Jets led 8-0 after a safety on Buffalo’s first offensive snap of the third quarter and with good field position they added a touchdown to lead 16-0. Buffalo finally answered with a field goal and then in the fourth quarter produced an impressive touchdown drive to trail by only six with about 10 minutes to go. The Jets picked up a first down but opted to punt short of midfield rather than risk going for it on 4th-and-2. Allen led an 8-play, 80-yard touchdown in just three minutes as the Bills took a 17-16 lead with about three minutes to go. The Jets got close to midfield on its next drive but couldn’t convert for a one-point loss in a game where new kicker Kaare Vedvik missed two kicks.

Tennessee Titan (+5½) 43, Cleveland Browns 13 (44): The Browns crept back in this game with a touchdown to trail by only two late in the third quarter but a 75-yard touchdown followed to put the Titans in commanding position leading 22-13 through three quarters. Those on the ‘under’ still had some room to work with but back-to-back Baker Mayfield interceptions handed the Titans short fields and Tennessee scored quickly on drives of only 35 and 34 yards to push the total ‘over’, eventually adding a Malcolm Butler pick-6 later in the game for good measure to create the blowout 30-point final margin.

Arizona Cardinals (+3) 27, Detroit Lions 27 (48½): Laying just a few points against 2018’s worst NFL team seemed too good to be true but the Lions got out to a 17-0 edge in the second quarter and after the defense held Arizona to a pair of field goals, wound up in front 24-6 early in the fourth quarter. Zane Gonzalez added a field goal to trim the margin to 15 points and Detroit had a 3-and-out. Kyler Murray then led his first NFL touchdown drive with David Johnson going in from 27 yards and the Cardinals were within a single score with six minutes to go. Detroit should have been able to put the game away, but Arizona exhausted its timeouts and ultimately the Lions had to punt from midfield, with a poor effort going only 11 yards. With a short field Arizona was able to work its way down the field and Murray again delivered a touchdown as well as a two-point conversion to tie the game. Arizona went first in overtime and reached the Detroit 8-yard-line but had to settle for a short field goal. The Lions likewise couldn’t get through to the end zone and tied the game at 27-27. Arizona faced a dilemma on 4th-and-7 from the Detroit 46 with the risky options to try an extremely long field goal or go for the 1st down both likely to hand the game to the Lions if they failed. The Cardinals played for the tie and punted to the Detroit 5-yard-line where the Lions didn’t offer much of a threat to deliver a miracle late score.  

Los Angeles Chargers (-6½) 30, Indianapolis Colts 24 (44½): Side and total results faced a dramatic finish in the battle of 2018 AFC playoff teams. The Chargers had a 17-6 lead at halftime after Adam Vinatieri missed a PAT and a field goal to cost the Colts. He hit for three on the first drive of the third quarter, but the Chargers answered with a touchdown to lead by 15. In two plays the Colts answered back to get back within a single score down eight, just short of a spread that bounced between 7 and 6½ before even sliding to just 6 at some outlets by kickoff. The Colts got the break they needed late in the third quarter with a muffed punt return catch but Vinatieri would miss again from just 29 yards early in the fourth to keep the margin at eight. The Chargers moved to 1st-and-goal with a chance to put the game away but an interception in the end zone gave the Colts new life. 16 plays later the Colts found the end zone while converting a 4th down along the way. The two-point conversion with less than a minute on the clock could have ended the spread uncertainty but Marlon Mack got through and tied the game to force overtime. The Chargers got the ball first and hit a big early play that withstood review. On 3rd-and-1 the Colts needed a stop to stay in the game but the Chargers converted and ran into the end zone on the next play. With no PAT needed in OT most on the Colts still covered while the late Indianapolis touchdown secured the ‘over’ as well.

New Orleans Saints (-6½) 30, Houston Texans 28 (51½): With a 14-3 halftime lead the Texans underdog cover appeared on track on a line that dipped from +7 to +6½. New Orleans scored quickly out of halftime, but the Texans were able to answer to maintain an 11-point lead. A late third quarter touchdown put the Saints down by four and a few plays later Deshaun Watson was intercepted giving the Saints the ball back near midfield. On the first play of the fourth quarter the Saints took their first lead by three. Both teams had to punt before Houston appeared to climb into scoring range reaching the New Orleans 44. Watson took an 11-yard sack and Houston had to punt. Pinned deep the Saints got 41 yards on a huge 3rd-and-2 play and eventually had a new set of downs on the 33-yard-line of Houston, with those on the Saints and the ‘over’ eagerly awaiting a score. Houston’s defense held leaving the Saints to kick a field goal with 50 seconds left, leading by only six. Watson needed only two plays to find the end zone with completions for 48 and 37 yards as the Texans stunned the Superdome crowd. The game was tied ahead of the PAT which Ka’imi Fairbarin incredibly missed right, a controversial flag came out as Fairbairn was contacted well after his kicking leg came back down and on the retry Houston went up by one to take overtime out of the picture and confirm the underdog cover. New Orleans would use the final 37 seconds to go 35 yards and Will Lutz came through with a 58-yard field goal for a dramatic win for the Saints.

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Eliminator Contest is Live!

This week’s ELIMINATOR CONTEST SINGLE PLAYS can be found on our Eliminator Contest page!

18 national handicappers are facing off in this year’s contest submitting two picks each week until the last man is standing. Points are awarded for losses and the weekly picks will be posted every Thursday afternoon at and on our Free Pick Phone Line (608) 283-3132. The single plays are free, the double plays can be purchased for $9 each week or $50 for the full duration of the contest.

Scott Rickenbach was the 2017 champion. Check out this week’s picks and best of luck to this year’s field!

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NFL Close Calls Week 1

NFL Close Calls – Week 1


Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are some of the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread in the fourth quarter last week in Week 1 of the NFL regular season.

Philadelphia Eagles (PK) 18, Atlanta Falcons 12 (44): An Eagles favorite spread that consistently fell wound up with the defending Super Bowl champions not even a favorite in the opening game. Atlanta led just 6-3 at the half with three field goals as the ‘under’ was in great shape the entire way. Philadelphia completed a 63-yard touchdown drive late in the third quarter to lead by four but Atlanta answered after an interception, getting a touchdown on a two-play drive for only 27 yards to lead 12-10. A facemask penalty on a late punt return handed the Eagles great field position and Philadelphia converted a pair of big third downs en route to the game winning score with just over two minutes remaining, getting the conversion for an 18-12 edge. As they did in the playoffs in Philadelphia last season Atlanta had a new set of downs in the red zone in the final minute but they once again could not find the end zone as the Eagles held on despite posting only 232 yards in game with a combined 236 penalty yards.

Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) 21, Cleveland Browns 21 (41): The Steelers led 21-7 through three quarters for a typical result for the Browns and hopes for a comeback fizzled with a fourth down failure inside the Pittsburgh 20-yard-line halfway through the final frame. James Conner fumbled on the next play and the Browns scored quickly to close to within seven points. Ben Roethlisberger would fumble just a few plays later and after an exchange of punts Cleveland struck two quick pass plays for the game-tying touchdown at the two-minute-warning. The tying touchdown sealed the ‘over’ on the closing line of 41 though early week totals were as high as 46½. With fewer than two minutes remaining in overtime Chris Boswell missed from 42 yards for Pittsburgh and in the final seconds Cleveland had a 43-yard kick blocked following Pittsburgh’s sixth turnover as the Browns held the cover with a tie but couldn’t break the losing streak.

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Cincinnati Bengals (+1) 34, Indianapolis Colts 23 (47½): The Colts led 23-10 late in the third quarter in the return of Andrew Luck but Cincinnati took control from there, eventually scoring 24 unanswered points to close the game with a late 83-yard fumble return sealing the minor upset for the Bengals.

Jacksonville Jaguars (-3) 20, New York Giants 15 (42½): The Giants trailed by just four into the fourth quarter before Myles Jack returned an interception 32 yards for a touchdown that put the Jaguars up by 11. Rookie Saquon Barkley delivered a 68-yard run to put the Giants back in the game but New York missed on the two-point conversion that was certainly meaningful for those involved on this game. New York reached the Jacksonville 36-yard-line in the final two minutes but came up short on downs.

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New England Patriots (-6½) 27, Houston Texans 20 (49): The Patriots led 24-6 late in the third quarter but the Texans made things interesting late, scoring a touchdown with just over two minutes remaining following a muffed punt. Down seven the Texans had the ball back in the final minute near midfield as those on the underdog and the ‘over’ hoped for a miracle but Deshaun Watson couldn’t deliver a late score to extend the game.

Miami Dolphins (PK) 27, Tennessee Titans 20 (43½): Those on the ‘under’ had a difficult finish in this AFC battle that endured a long weather delay. Miami led just 10-3 heading into the fourth quarter before a wild first five minutes of the final frame featured four touchdowns with both teams getting kickoff return scores. Miami added a field goal with about four minutes remaining to lead by 10 and putting the total ‘over’ on the closing number. Those that played a number as high as 45 earlier in the week got what they needed as the Titans cashed the ‘over’ with a 53-yard kick with 11 seconds left on the clock.

Denver Broncos (-3) 27, Seattle Seahawks 24 (42½): The Broncos held a slight lead most of the way in this sloppy opener that featured three turnovers on each side. Denver wound up with a massive yardage advantage but Seattle took the lead on a 51-yard pass play early in the fourth quarter. Denver went 75 yards for a touchdown just a few minutes later to lead by three, sitting even with the common spread on the game. Four straight punts followed before Russell Wilson was intercepted in the final seconds on a desperation throw to end the game right on the number.

Carolina Panthers (-3) 16, Dallas Cowboys 8 (42): Carolina was in control of this contest with a 16-0 edge after Dallas had missed a late third quarter field goal. The Cowboys finally found the end zone in the fourth quarter and a successful two-point conversion gave Dallas a window to tie the game. The Cowboys quickly got the ball back and crossed midfield but failed going for it on 4th-and-10 with more than two minutes remaining and all three timeouts remaining as a punt was still viable option for Dallas. The Cowboys in fact got the ball back only seconds later using two timeouts and two-minute-warning but in much worse field position and a fumble ended the final threat.

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Green Bay Packers (-6½) 24, Chicago Bears 23 (44½): The Packers turned in an amazing fourth quarter comeback that burned ‘under’ tickets as well as some attractive Chicago moneyline wagers. Down 20-3 in the fourth quarter Green bay scored twice quickly and Chicago only managed a field goal to answer, leaving the door open with a six-point advantage. Aaron Rodgers was nearly intercepted late in the game with a drop from Kyle Fuller that would have effectively ended the game but an immobile Rodgers stuck Randall Cobb who weaved 75 yards for the go-ahead score just ahead of the two-minute warning. Chicago was stopped on 4th-and-9 but Clay Matthews was hit with a 15-yard penalty on a late hit and the Bears approached midfield before Trubisky was sacked on 4th down and Green Bay was able to run out the remaining clock.

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4th Quarter Covers NCAA Week 1

 4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 1

Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are some of the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread in the fourth quarter last week in the first big college football weekend. Each week there are several teams that cover despite not necessarily deserving it, as well as other teams that played much better than the final score shows.

Northwestern (+1) 31, Purdue 27 (49½): The Wildcats led 31-17 at halftime but only were up by four early in the fourth quarter on a spread that fell from +3 to just +1 by kickoff on opening night. Purdue got a big stop with the Wildcats going for it on 4th and 6 just outside field goal range but they had to punt the ball right back. From there Northwestern burned nearly eight minutes of clock over 14 plays, with a personal foul penalty negating a 3rd down stop that would have given the Boilers the ball back.

Wake Forest (-7½) 23, Tulane 17 (55½): At no point in the game was Tulane not covering the closing spread but this line was at just +6½ much of the week before a late rise. Wake Forest threw a red zone interception in the fourth quarter up by three that allowed Tulane to tie the game with a field goal with just over three minutes remaining, converting a big 4th-and-11 play along the way. Going first in overtime Tulane went backwards and came up empty after facing 4th-and-25. Wake Forest needed seven plays to score the game-winning touchdown but they didn’t need the extra-point, which saved those on the underdog Wave.

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Stanford (-14½) 31, San Diego State 10 (48½): The Cardinal trailed 7-0 early but an 80-yard pass play on 3rd-and-long put Stanford up by 14 late in the third quarter to sit on or near the spread for most with the number hovering around 14 all week. The Aztecs went for it on 4th and 1 early in the fourth quarter in Stanford territory but fell short and Stanford added another touchdown on the subsequent drive to push the margin to 21 points. San Diego State reached Stanford territory on its final possession but back-to-back sacks made for 4th and very long and the Aztecs just opted to punt and didn’t see the ball again. Those on the ‘under’ also held on with only seven points in the fourth quarter despite both teams having a pair of drives across midfield in the final frame.

Ohio State (-39) 77, Oregon State 31 (62): This matchup of OSUs from the Pac 12 and the Big Ten was never expected to be close, and it wasn’t. The Buckeyes put up 21 points in the first quarter on two Dwayne Haskins touchdown passes, compared to 7 points by the Beavers who were playing with second-string quarterback Conor Blount for most of the game. The second quarter would not get any closer as the Buckeyes put up another 21 points including a Nick Bosa fumble recovery and return for a touchdown. At the half the score was 42-14. The third quarter was unique as the Beavers outscored the Buckeyes 17-14. Beavers running back Artavis Pierce broke off touchdown runs of 78 and 80 yards to bring the score to 56-31 at the end of three quarters of play leaving those on the hefty underdog in pretty good position down 25 with two touchdowns to spare on the closing number. The fourth quarter was back to looking more like the beginning of the contest however, all Ohio State. The Buckeyes exploded for yet another 21-point quarter, putting the game away, and covering the spread with the final score coming with fewer than four minutes remaining as Master Teague broke a 33-yard run on a 4th down play.

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Indiana (-13) 38, Florida International 28 (56): The spread on this game was -10 or -10½ most of the week before rising to -13 by kickoff. The Hoosiers were just past that number by halftime with a 28-14 advantage and turned it into a 35-14 edge midway through the third quarter. Florida International delivered a 16-play touchdown drive late in the third quarter to get back to within 14 and Indiana settled for a short field goal early in the fourth quarter to leave the backdoor open. Back-to-back defensive penalties helped the cause as FIU went the distance including getting a 4th-and-4 conversion to put the underdog in position to cover down 10. Things got interesting late as Indiana recovered the onside kick attempt and rushed down the field with the clock running out, eventually ending the game on the FIU 2-yard-line.

Auburn (-1½) 21, Washington 16 (50½): Washington traveled across the country to take on Auburn in the Chick-fil-a Kickoff this past Saturday in Atlanta and they gave us a classic. Auburn started off the game on fire, scoring the first nine points on a Jarrett Stidham touchdown pass and an Anders Carlson field goal. The Huskies would answer back with 2:59 to go in the first quarter on a Peyton Henry 31-yard field goal. Both teams would trade field goals to open the second quarter of play. Auburn’s Anders Carlson would add a 53-yard field goal at the 1:23 mark to make the score 15-6. Jake Browning took only 40 seconds to strike back on a 13-yard pass to receiver Quinten Pounds to end the half with a score of 15-13 in favor of the Tigers. Scoring would halt in the third quarter though not without chances for both teams. Missed field goals were traded early in the third quarter and Washington came away empty despite reaching 1st-and-goal after a fumble on a 3rd down sack. Washington place-kicker Peyton Henry put a 30-yard field goal through the uprights at the 14:05 mark to give Washington the lead 16-15. Scoring would pause with a pair of punts until Auburn’s JaTarvious Whitlow scored on a ten yard run with 6:15 remaining in the game. Whitlow’s carry would prove to be the deciding factor in this matchup of Top 10 teams as Auburn would take home the win 21-16 with Browning sacked for the fifth time on 4th and long after Washington had reached the Auburn 37-yard-line in the final minutes. Those on the ‘under’ were never threatened on the scoreboard but 51 first downs and 818 total yards suggested a higher scoring outcome. 22 combined penalties for more than 200 yards played a role along with settling for nine field goal attempts including three that were missed.

California (-7) 24, North Carolina 17 (57½): In a rematch from last season’s 35-30 win for California to open the season the Bears led 17-0 at halftime against a North Carolina squad shorthanded with suspensions. A 38-yard interception return touchdown was among the scores as the edge for California was more about the failures of the Tar Heels than the success of the offense for the Bears. North Carolina got on the board late in the third quarter with a field goal but California answered with a touchdown drive for a 24-3 edge heading into the fourth quarter. Pinned deep, North Carolina finally got its offense going, delivering a 19-play 92-yard touchdown drive to trim the margin to 10 points. With four minutes remaining the Tar Heels got the ball back and again drove into the end zone with just over a minute remaining to put the margin at seven, right on the number for many. Initially North Carolina recovered the subsequent onside kick but it was taken back with an early block ruling on replay review.

Washington State (-3) 41, Wyoming 19 (45): The post Josh Allen era for Wyoming started off great last weekend when the Cowboys trounced New Mexico State, this weekend was not so favorable. Mike Leach’s Washington State Cougars traveled to Laramie to face the upstart Cowboys in a game that many thought would be a close one. The game started off all Wazzu as they took a 10 point lead with 3:28 left in the first quarter. Wyoming would answer with a rare safety to make the score 10-2 at the end of one. The Cowboys outscored the Cougars 14-3 in the second quarter to take a 16-13 lead into the locker room. The second half started off slow as Wyoming added a field goal midway through the third quarter but Washington State took the lead by the end of the frame with a 75-yard drive capped off with a Max Borghi reception. The fourth quarter was where the game broke open as the Cougars exploded for 21 unanswered points to wind up with a 41-19 final result for the favorite cover as well as hitting the ‘over’ with Wyoming posting a net total of zero yards combined on its final five possessions.

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