We’re going to try another new feature for the football season. Each Monday we are going to look back at some of the teams that the large majority of people weren’t backing that nonetheless managed to cover the spread. We’ll look back at their stats or their performance coming in to see what could have tipped us off to the eventual outcome. In other words, we’ll go back and make a case for betting on the eventual winners. This is my way of saying ‘I knew it all along’, even when I didn’t necessarily. This isn’t to suggest that the underdogs were always the right pick. It’s just that doing this can fulfill two important roles – it can potentially help us learn for next time, and it can be therapy to ease the pain of losses. Without further ado:
Tampa Bay (+3) at Chicago – Two thirds of bettors were on the Bears. They were wrong. The Bears made it into overtime, but they couldn’t pull it off in the end. Finding reasons to have backed the Bucs is easier than it will be in some cases. Brian Griese was getting the start, and he kew the Bears defense well from practicing against it. There was no way of predicting that he would throw the second most passes in NFL history, but it did seem reasonable to think that he would be fine. The Bears offense had been fine, but not great. Tampa Bay showed in week two that they could contain and frustrate a quarterback who has some talent but isn’t necessarily ready for prime time.
Carolina (+3.5) at Minnesota – Again two-thirds of bettors went the wrong way by backing Carolina. Again you could make a compelling case that they made the wrong decision (results aside). Minnesota needed a win badly, and has the talent and character to perform when their backs are against the wall. Gus Frerotte isn’t the best player in the league, but he has shown the ability in the past to step in in his first game and manage the game calmly. The Panthers had two nice wins coming in, but they hadn’t been dominant in either, their chemistry was going to be changed by the addition of Steve Smith this week, and they hadn’t faced a front seven this good yet. The Panthers would have been happy before the season if someone said that they would be 2-1, bu the Vikings wouldn’t have been at all pleased with 0-3, especially the way it had happened.