Statistics tell only part of the story when looking at totals. Some times, it’s the pace of the game or even the history of the series. Take the Arizona State-California game. The total is a moderate 53 points. The over for Arizona State is only 2-2, but the Sun Devils have posted some good offensive numbers. They score 32.8 points and gain 455 yards on 76 plays. They allow 21.7 points and 403 total yards. Cal also posts some decent numbers as it scores 32.2 points and gains 378 total yards on 64 plays a game. It allows 21.2 points. Historically, the over has not fared well as in their last five meetings; the over is 1-4. Only twice in that span did they combine for more than 50 points.
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When the Patriots travel to face the Chargers, you will see of the highest totals of the weekend at 46 ½. That’s for good reason. Normally, these teams can light up the scoreboard. The Patriots started the Moss-less era by beating the Baltimore Ravens, 23-20. That game barely went under, but posting 23 points against the stingy Ravens is a good accomplishment. That was the Patriots first under this season. The Patriots score 30.8 points a game, while giving up 23.2 points. Look for those trends to continue.
The biggest news on the injury front is that the Bears will be without Jay Cutler. He took a beating at the hands of the New York Giants last week, who had xx sacks. He suffered a concussion and is out for this week, meaning Todd Collins will get the start. Carolina receiver Steve Smith (ankle) is questionable to play this week
When looking at the totals, you have to take a lot of things into account. Not only offense, but defense, special teams, but also account for style of play and history of the series. When Alabama travels to face South Carolina, it may be hard for them to get to the over for 48. Two of their last three meetings have gone under the total. The over is 1-4 for Alabama, mainly because of their suffocating defense. The Tide scores 37.8 points a game, but gives up only 9 points game and 292 total yards. The Gamecocks average 30.7 points, but rely on the ground game. They average 39 rushes and 168 rushing yards. For them to have success against Alabama, they will rush the ball and shorten the game. That points to an under.
When you look at a game, something has to give. Such is the case with the Kansas City Chiefs and the Indianapolis Colts. The total is 44, which is low for a Colts game, especially at home, but a little higher than you like with the Chiefs. The over for the Chiefs is 1-2, while for the Colts is 3-1. The Chiefs have been relying on defense and special teams, giving up 12.7 points and 313 total yards. The Chiefs, thanks mostly for the 31 points they scored against the 49ers average 22.7 points a game and 322 yards.
The Atlanta Braves return to the playoffs for the first time in four years and gave retiring manager Bobby Cox one more in the playoffs. The team the Braves are taking to the playoffs comes hobbling in as the Braves lost two key figures to season-ending injuries, infielders Chipper Jones and Martin Prado.
In making their 15 appearance in the playoffs in 16 years, the defending champing Yankees appear vulnerable heading into the postseason. The Yankees, who are trying to be the first team to repeat since they did it in 1998-2000, finished the season 13-17 and missed winning the division by one game to the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Cincinnati Reds, who won the NL Central, are making their first playoff appearance since 1995. And, for that effort, they get to face the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies have won their fourth straight NL East title, and are trying to win the pennant for the third straight time. The Phillies were seven games back of the Atlanta Braves in July, but made a push and won the East by six games. The Reds were not expected to hang on, but the St. Louis Cardinals faded in the second half of the season and were not a threat in September.
The Tampa Bay Rays finished the American League with the best record and that gives them home-field advantage in the first two rounds of the playoffs. But because the wild-card team is in their division (Yankees), the Rays do not get to face the wild-card team. They get the Texas Rangers and left-handed ace Cliff Lee in the opener. It hardly seems fair.
One of the big story lines for Week 4 of the NFL season is the Washington-Philadelphia match-up and the soap opera that is Donovan McNabb, Andy Reid and Michael Vick But if you can get by the made-for-TV drama, there are some trends to consider when handicapping the game. The Eagles, a 5 ½-point home favorite, are 136-96 ATS (+30.4 Units) against conference opponents since 1992. The over for the Eagles is 7-0 (+7.0 Units) off 1 or more consecutive unders over the last 2 seasons. Eagles coach Andy Reid is 23-8 ATS (+14.2 Units) against a team that allows more than 350 yards a game. The Redskins are 30-14 ATS (+14.6 Units) as a road underdog of 3.5 to 7 points since 1992. The over for Washington is 6-0 (+6.0 Units) after 2 or more consecutive losses over the last 2 seasons.