Panthers may be going into Thanksgiving undefeated… but Tony Romo is back!

NFL Thanksgiving betsAs American sports fans prepare for a four day weekend of football and food, the Carolina Panthers are hoping to give their fans a real Turkey Day treat with yet another win in Dallas.  Thanksgiving Day betting is always heavy and this game – one of three NFL games on Thursday — is seeing a whole lot of action. 

“The Panthers are still undefeated, but Tony Romo just returned from an injury,” noted one Intertops’ bet manager.  “The win at Miami after 7 straight losses in Romo’s absence has kept Dallas’ slim playoff hopes alive, but can the Cowboys stop the still-perfect Panthers, that’s the question.”

“Cam Newton’s career-high 5 TD passes against Washington showed that he has no intention of letting up with a perfect season in his sights.”

On Thanksgiving Day both QBs will be keen to use their arm and if one of them throws for over 300 yards in the game, Intertops Sportsbook customers betting on “Total Team Points” get losing stake back.

Along with pages of other NFL bets this holiday weekend, Intertops Sportsbook has the Carolina Panthers as an early one-point favorite over the Dallas Cowboys.

“That could change by Thursday, of course,” reminded the Intertops bookie.  “It could easily move a point either way.”

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NFL Week 17: Panthers and Chargers can sneak into Playoffs

Does Philip Rivers have what it takes to carry the Chargers into postseason?

Does Philip Rivers have what it takes to carry the Chargers into postseason?

Week 17 of the NFL season is a minefield for those betting on the NFL. Sure, picking the Broncos over the Raiders in Denver looks like free money. But nothing rivals the feeling of panic when you tune into the game and see Brock Osweiler towering over everyone in Denver’s opening huddle and Peyton Manning sat with his feet up on the sidelines. You check Osweiler’s stats for the season and realise he’s only thrown 8 passes this year, 2 of which were completed. Now you’re seriously worried (although after blowing their Monday night game against the Bengals, Denver still have the first round bye to play for).

In the final week of the season it’s just impossible to trust good teams who have already wrapped up their division and want to use this week to rest players, especially if they are playing a bad team coming off a win who want to finish the season strong (read: Oakland and Washington).

 

The key game in the playoff picture this week is the the de facto NFC South Championship game between the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers. It has taken 17 weeks but finally one team must begrudgingly accept the title of NFC South champion and they will enter the playoffs as a 7 win team. If you are a supporter of chaos then it’s your duty to root for the winner of this game throughout the playoffs, because who doesn’t want to see a team who finished the season with a losing record become the Super Bowl Champion?

 

Carolina Panthers @ Atlanta Falcons Betting Odds:

Panthers +3.5 -105

Falcone -3.5 -115

All odds provided by AllYouBet.ag are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

With Atlanta coming off a 30-14 road win in New Orleans and Carolina only managing to scrape past the shambolic Cleveland Browns at home you would expect this game to be Atlanta’s for the taking, and the with the line favouring Atlanta by -3.5 the bookies seem to expect the same.

But even though the Panthers aren’t blowing teams out, they are looking very reminiscent of the team that won the NFC South last year; grinding out victories by playing suffocating defense and scoring as few points as possible but enough to somehow win the game.

 

In last year’s game against Atlanta in the final week of the season, the Panthers squeaked out a 21-20 victory in the must win game, and a similar spectacle is on the cards this week. The Panthers defense is well suited to handle the Falcons’ high power offense, as for all the wealth of talent that the Falcons have at the skill positions, their offensive line is still one of the most repulsive units in the league. And for a Panthers front seven, which has finally recovered from the mid-season loss of Pro Bowler Greg Hardy, this spells good news. Rookie Kony Ealy has come on strong late into the season, notching a sack in each of his last 2 games and will be eager to be match-up up opposite rookie left tackle Jake Matthews.

Even if Matt Ryan and Julio Jones manage to get into a rhythm, the Panthers are going to keep this close and I can’t see the Falcons covering the 3.5 point spread, especially given the rejuvenated way that the chronically injured Jonathan Stewart has been playing in the past few weeks for Carolina.

The Falcons are currently undefeated at home against the NFC South, and the Panthers are undefeated on the road against the NFC South, so one of these team’s records and playoff hopes will be blemished come Sunday, and all signs point to the game being won by Graham Gano or Matt Bryant on the final kick of the game. Given the way that Ron Rivera’s teams traditionally close out seasons and Mike Smith’s utter incompetence as a head coach in important games, I would give Carolina the edge this weekend.

 

Another game with clear playoff implications and an underdog who seems primed for a victory is the AFC West match-up between the San Diego Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs. For some reason the line in this game is Chargers +2.5. Whoever set that line must not have seen how Philip Rivers was playing last Sunday in the overtime thriller against the 49ers. He was a man possessed. After throwing 2 interceptions and gifting the 49ers a comfortable 21-0 lead at the start of the 2nd quarter, Rivers become intent on dragging his team into the playoffs by any means necessary as he tossed 4 TDs against the 5th ranked passing defense in the league.

Philip Rivers has somehow become one of the more underrated quarterbacks in the game, and he knows that if he wants to be mentioned in the discussion for who the best QB of the 2004 NFL Draft was, then he needs make like Eli and Ben and win a ring (or two). Rivers may have gone through a horrible spell towards the middle of this season when the Chargers lost 3 games in a row, but he has been on fire in his last two road games, throwing for over 700 yards and 7 TDs in games against the 49ers and Ravens.

 

The Chiefs are a team who have won 1 of their past 5 games (and that lone win was against the Raiders who they also lost to in that 5 game spell). Their offensive line is falling apart; no longer opening up huge running lanes for Jamaal Charles and failing to protect Alex Smith from the pass rush. And their plan to consistently win games without having any legitimate wide receivers has been fully exposed. They may have some impressive victories against Seattle and New England on their résumé, but this is also the same team that lost to Tennessee and Oakland, who have a combined total of 5 wins. The Chiefs have been a sloppy football team in this final stretch of the season, and with the Chargers coming off an emotional overtime victory and with all to play for, it’s hard to bet against a fired up Rivers in this game.

Betting Instinct tip – Chargers +2.5 is +100 with Intertops.eu

 

mattm MATT MCGRATH writes about American football, be it college or NCAA (because betting on unpaid student athletes is fun and definitely ethically correct). Follow him on Twitter.

 

Detroit Lions can bounce back by mauling Bears this Thanksgiving

Like cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie, a Lions home game is a Thanksgiving staple

Like cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie, a Lions home game is a Thanksgiving staple

It is the longest-running annual series in the NFL, and this Thanksgiving the encounter between the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears could be a make or break game for Jim Caldwell’s Lions side.

 

Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions Betting Odds:

Chicago Bears +250

Detroit Lions -300

(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

After back-to-back reverses against tough opposition in conference leaders Arizona and New England, Detroit has a chance to get its playoff charge back on track against a Bears side that hasn’t won away from Soldier Field since October 12th.

An opening-day demolition of the New York Giants led to cautious optimism around Ford Field, and the Lions have already matched last season’s seven wins with five rounds to spare. However their participation in the playoffs hangs by a thread, meaning they will look to make the most of home-field advantage in their remaining outings. They may be helped by the return of Reggie Bush, who hopes to feature after sitting out the last two weeks with an ankle problem.

 

The Bears narrowly missed out on top spot in NFC North in 2013, but this year trail their divisional rivals going into round 12. Their last road game ended in a heavy defeat against NFC North leaders Green Bay, and they may struggle to contain in-form Golden Tate this week.

This is the first Thanksgiving match-up between the Bears and the Lions since 1999, but a repeat of the 28-10 Chicago win that day seems unlikely. The last six regular-season meetings between the sides have been split three apiece, and this week marks a great chance for the home team to record three wins in a row against the Bears for the first time since 2004.

 

Betting Instinct tip – Chicago’s slow starts see no sign of letting up, and if you fancy a repeat it could be worth backing Detroit -7 at +100 with Intertops.eu

 

Intertops Sportsbook is running a number of special promotions this Thanksgiving, including a special no-juice line on the Lions-Bears game. Head to www.intertops.eu for more information

tv TOM VICTOR (editor) is the editor and co-founder of Betting Instinct. He has written for a variety of    sports sites in the past, including JustFootball, Footy Matters and BeNeFoot. You can follow him  on Twitter or Google+.

NFL: The Cowboys bring more than just a big name to London

DeMarco Murray has been this season's stand-out performer for the Cowboys

DeMarco Murray has been this season’s stand-out performer for the Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys are coming to London, and this year, they are far more than just a big name. The Cowboys have been the brunt of many jokes over the past few seasons, as the richest team in football suffered disappointment after disappointment from the hands of a seemingly inept Tony Romo, a quarterback who many believe is simply not good enough to be the poster-boy of arguably the NFL’s most famous franchise. This season, the story could not be more different. Eyebrows have been raised everywhere as the Cowboys have stormed to a 6-3 record. Doubters were well and truly silenced in week 6 as the Cowboys put the defending Super Bowl champs to the sword, and it seems like they have the players to have a decent shot at the Super Bowl themselves this season, as long as owner Jerry Jones and his infamous ego avoid throwing a spanner in the well-functioning Cowboys’ works…

 

NFC East Betting Odds: To Win Outright:

Philadelphia Eagles -189

Dallas Cowboys +160

New York Giants +2000

(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

The key to their dramatic turnaround in fortunes is an offense that poses a far more dynamic threat. Running back DeMarco Murray has rushed for more than 100 yards in seven consecutive games, an NFL record that will put him well in the hunt for the MVP award come the end of the season. Whilst Murray has undoubtedly been the highlight, this is also a team with the incredibly talented Dez Bryant at wide receiver, and rock-solid tight end Jason Witten. It has taken seven weeks for any team to figure out how to stop this offensive machine, and this has coincided an injury to Tony Romo, who may well have a greater effect on the team than his many doubters might like to think. With his return imminent for the Wembley showdown, this game may provide the perfect platform for the Cowboys to showcase their talent and lay a marker down to their NFC East rivals at 7-3.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have raised few eyebrows too, but this has been due to their incredibly poor start rather than Superbowl potential. Every season has a team or two that is already looking to the new season at the halfway mark, and the Jaguars are now in that category. They now sit at 1-8 and have been fairly shambolic throughout this season. Jaguars’ quarterback Blake Bortles and leading receiver Allen Robinson were only drafted last year, so their poor season can probably be attributed to the fact that this team has no proven NFL performers.

 

It could be argued that they have been slightly unlucky not to win a game though, and it’s fair to say they haven’t had the easiest schedule either. The Jaguars also have the added incentive of a will to establish a support in England. They have signed a deal to play one game in England every year until 2016, and will be keen to make an impression in what could be considered their second home. Their season may already be a write-off, but a lot is at stake in this fixture, so don’t totally rule them out.

With the tower of statistical and tactical evidence pointing to a Cowboys rout, it would be foolish to back anything but a Dallas victory here. Simply put, one team is producing the goods, and one team is not. However, with the added incentive for Jacksonville to perform well, and the fact the Cowboys are on a losing streak of two coming into the game, it may not be the rout many will be predicting….

 

Scott AvatarSCOTT SIMPKIN is a young sports journalist from the UK with a growing interest in sports in the US, particularly American football and Baseball. He has previously contributed to publications including Palatinate Online and FourFourTwo

AFC Wild Card Sunday: Bengals earning their playoff stripes at last?

Sunday sees Cincy handed another chance to put their nightmare behind them when they host the San Diego Chargers in an AFC Wild Card encounter.

Cincy hosts the San Diego Chargers in an AFC Wild Card encounter on Sunday.

Why is January 6th 1991 a date that might stick in the minds of long-time Cincinnati Bengals fans? It was the last time that they experienced their team win an NFL playoff game! A long period of postseason abstinence then followed and although the franchise eventually managed to brush off its “Bungles” image in the mid 2000’s, four playoff appearances since 2005 have seen four straight defeats. Sunday sees Cincy handed another chance to put their nightmare behind them when they host the San Diego Chargers in an AFC Wild Card encounter. Things are looking good for the home team after running up a perfect 8-0 home record during the regular season. The Bengals will be hoping that their maddeningly inconsistent quarterback Andy Dalton has one of his better days, and the fact that they beat the Bolts on the road on December 1st will also prove to be a pre-game confidence booster.

The Chargers, who have a long-standing reputation for not liking cold north-eastern winter weather, sneaked into the postseason at the last minute. They did, however, close out the regular season with four straight wins, led by QB Philipp Rivers, who threw for nine TDs and 845 yards during that streak. After missing out on the playoffs for three straight years, the visitors will be looking to take their chance at Paul Brown Stadium, but it doesn’t really look likely that Rivers will succeed where the likes of Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady, Joe Flacco and Aaron Rodgers have all failed this year.

AFC Wild Card Game: San Diego Chargers @ Cincinnati Bengals Betting Odds

San Diego Chargers         3.40
Cincinnati Bengals            1.36

(Odds provided by AllYouBet Sportsbook current of today, but subject to change)

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chrisives-50CHRIS I. (tipsterchris) is a European sports blogger who’s hooked on football — both NFL American football and European football.  Chris discusses betting tips and trends and includes betting odds in his regular posts at BI.

Rodgers back to bash the Bears

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Will the return of Rodgers prove to be the decisive factor in what promises to be a thrilling finale to the regular season?

It was just like Christmas and birthday rolled into one for fans of the Green Bay Packers this week when the franchise announced that star quarterback Aaron Rodgers would be fit to lead his team in Sunday’s crucial NFL encounter at the Chicago Bears. The two deadly NFC North rivals go toe to toe at Soldier Field with the winner claiming the division crown and a place in the playoffs, whilst the loser is likely to be on the outside looking in on the postseason.

Green Bay has gone a dismal 2-5-1 in the eight games that Rodgers has been sidelined since breaking his collarbone in the first meeting with the Bears on November 4th, but his return will mean a massive boost to the team that has dominated the division in recent years. The Bears, on the other hand, somehow need to put last week’s amazing 11-54 mauling at Philadelphia behind them and concentrate on the task at hand. Home field advantage is on their side, and a tie would also be enough – but will the return of Rodgers prove to be the decisive factor in what promises to be a thrilling finale to the regular season?

Betting Odds: Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears, December 29th

Packers 1.67

Bears 2.30

(Odds provided by Intertops Sportsbook are current as of today, but subject to change)

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chrisives-50CHRIS I. (tipsterchris) is a European sports blogger who’s hooked on football — both NFL American football and European football.  Chris discusses betting tips and trends and includes betting odds in his regular posts at BI.