Sport

NFL: Cowboys lose heartbreaker, as Patriots punish Rams in London

By Tony Scott

Friday, November 02, 2012    

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I am not a Dallas Cowboys fan and I want to make that perfectly clear. I can't stand their owner and I can't stand the manufactured mystique about them being "America's Team".

They are the NFL's version of baseball's New York Yankees and their fans and indeed the media focuses on them intensely. They are expected to win and when they lose it's the end of the world. Well, the world did not come to an end last week, when with only six seconds left on the clock during the Cowboys' game against the New York Giants, Cowboys' wide receiver Dez Bryant made what looked like an impossible catch in the end zone for an apparent game winner.

The official signaled a touchdown and the celebrations began only to be halted after the play was reviewed and replays showed that Bryant's fingers were out of bounds even though his body landed in bounds. What was thought to be the game winner was nullified and the Cowboys lost again this time 29-24 to the "G-Men". Like I said at the outset, I'm no fan of Dallas, but on this occasion, my heart went out to them.

In any event, the Cowboys did not deserve to win after falling in a big 23-0 hole in the first quarter of the game. You always hear NFL analysts talking about protecting the ball. Well, someone should have mentioned it to the 'Boys'. They committed six turnovers (four by Cowboys' quarterback Tony Romo), mistakes that helped set up the Giants for the win. This victory for Eli Manning and the Giants puts them comfortably on top of the NFC East with a 6-2 record. Not so comfortable in that same division are the Dallas Cowboy with a 3-4 record and looming large on the horizon is the possibility of them missing the post season.

In an effort to increase the popularity of the NFL globally, they play a few games overseas. For the last couple of years, London has played host to NFL teams. This year it was the Patriots of New England, the birthplace of the American Revolution, up against the Rams of St Louis, the birthplace of the Blues. The Patriots gave the Brits their money's worth in a somewhat one-sided game as they completely dominated the Rams 45-7.

Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady for his part put on quite a show passing for 304 yards and four touchdowns. His favourite receiver was tight end Rob Gronkowski who snagged eight receptions for 146 yards and two scores. His end zone celebrations went down very well with the Brits.

Meanwhile, back in the USA, the Denver Bronco's Payton Manning put on a display to ram home the point that he is back and up to his old tricks. One wonders whether or not he went anywhere. Here is the guy that sat it out for a whole year recuperating from numerous operations to his neck. Here is a guy who never missed a game during the 13 seasons he was quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts. Here is the guy who they, whoever they are, thought was over the hill and could not regain his old form. Well, they were wrong. And, despite hurting his thumb on his throwing hand, he went on the guide the Broncos to a convincing 34-14 win over the New Orleans Saints. It was his best performance as a Bronco, passing for 305 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. The win put the Broncos on top the AFC West with a 4-3 record and with a favourable schedule the rest of the way, it's very likely they will make the playoffs, and maybe even get a first round bye.

Some are saying it out loud that it is time for the Philadelphia Eagles to make a change at quarterback and I'm beginning to agree with them. Michael Vick simply is not cutting it. Not his fault entirely, but the bottom line is that he is not winning games. Maybe it's time for the rookie Nick Foles to start. He can't be any worse and he could be a hell of a lot better. I saw him manage a couple of downs in a game in which Vick got injured and had to miss a few plays, and Foles looked pretty calm and collected to me. The Eagles need to do something drastic if they are serious about getting to the playoffs and they have to do it now.

They are 3-4 in the NFC East after getting pounded by the Atlanta Falcons 30 -17. Inevitably it will be head coach Andy Reid's decision regarding benching Vick and starting Foles instead. I get the distinct impression that whichever way Reid decides to go with Vick, his job as head coach is also on the line if the outcomes are not positive. The NFL is a tough place to work and play.

Atlanta incidentally is the only remaining undefeated team with a record of 7-0 sitting atop the NFC South, and this week they face Romo and the Cowboys in a game that the Falcons will certainly feel confident that they can win. In other Week Nine games to keep an eye on, rookie sensation Robert Griffin III leads the Redskins against the visiting Cam Newton-led Carolina Panthers, the New York Giants are at home to the Pittsburgh Steelers in what should be a cracker of a matchup, and on Monday Night Football, the New Orleans Saints will look to revive their dangling playoff hopes against the under-the-gun Philadelphia Eagles.

As far as our weekly picks against the spread went, Andrei Roper was top dog again last week with a 9-5 record, which saw him reclaim the overall season lead from Andre Hutchinson. It's been a tough season so far but it's not over yet!

That's it for now folks, enjoy all the games, and remember to place your bets on the NFL with JustBet!

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NFL WEEK 9 SCHEDULE

Thur, Nov 1

SD Chargers v KC Chiefs +8.5, U/O 43.5

Sun, Nov 4

Cin Bengals +4.5 v Den Broncos, U/O 48.5

Cle Browns +4.5 v Bal Ravens, U/O 42.5

GB Packers v Ari Cardinals +10.5, U/O 44.5

Hou Texans v Buf Bills +11.5, U/O 47.5

Ind Colts +2.5 v Mia Dolphins, U/O 43.5

Jac Jaguars +3.5 v Det Lions, U/O 44.5

Ten Titans +4.5 v Chi Bears, U/O 43.5

Was Redskins v Car Panthers +3.5, U/O 46.5

Oak Raiders v TB Buccaneers +2.5, U/O 44.5

Sea Seahawks v Min Vikings +4.5, U/O 39.5

NY Giants v Pit Steelers +3.5, U/O 47.5

Atl Falcons v Dal Cowboys +5.5, U/O 47.5

Mon, Nov 5

NO Saints v Phi Eagles +1.5, U/O 52.5

*Handicaps and Under/Over included*

*Teams on a bye: St. Louis Rams, New England Patriots, NY Jets, San Francisco 49ers

*Handicaps and Under/Over subject to change without notice, prior to kick-off

EXPERTS' PICKS AGAINST THE SPREAD

Andrei Roper's

Week 9 Picks (in bold)

Chargers v Chiefs

Bengals v Broncos

Browns v Ravens

Packers v Cardinals

Texans v Bills

Colts v Dolphins

Jaguars v Lions

Titans v Bears

Redskins v Panthers

Raiders v Buccaneers

Seahawks v Vikings

Giants v Steelers

Falcons v Cowboys

Saints v Eagles

Last week: 9-5

Season to date: 62-56

Andre Hutchinson's

Week 9 Picks (in bold)

Chargers v Chiefs

Bengals v Broncos

Browns v Ravens

Packers v Cardinals

Texans v Bills

Colts v Dolphins

Jaguars v Lions

Titans v Bears

Redskins v Panthers

Raiders v Buccaneers

Seahawks v Vikings

Giants v Steelers

Falcons v Cowboys

Saints v Eagles

Last week: 5-9

Season to date: 59-59

Tony Scott's

Week 9 Picks (in bold)

Chargers v Chiefs

Bengals v Broncos

Browns v Ravens

Packers v Cardinals

Texans v Bills

Colts v Dolphins

Jaguars v Lions

Titans v Bears

Redskins v Panthers

Raiders v Buccaneers

Seahawks v Vikings

Giants v Steelers

Falcons v Cowboys

Saints v Eagles

Last week: 5-9

Season to date: 54-64

Peter Lindo's

Week 9 Picks (in bold)

Chargers v Chiefs

Bengals v Broncos

Browns v Ravens

Packers v Cardinals

Texans v Bills

Colts v Dolphins

Jaguars v Lions

Titans v Bears

Redskins v Panthers

Raiders v Buccaneers

Seahawks v Vikings

Giants v Steelers

Falcons v Cowboys

Saints v Eagles

Last week: 5-9

Season to date: 50-68

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