Nothing is more thrilling than watching your wager fight for its life in the final two quarters. And, on the other hand, nothing is as painful as watching your “sure thing” come unglued in the second half.
Here’s a look at four teams that either turned it on or shut it off in the final two frames of football games.
Second half stars
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-4 SU, 6-2 ATS)
The Buccaneers are one of the best bets in football strictly because they do not stop fighting. Tampa Bay is fourth in the NFL in second-half points, averaging just over 15 points over the final two quarters. The Bucs hung 35 points on Oakland in the second half Sunday, holding on for a 42-32 win as 1-point underdogs. On defense, Tampa Bay is allowing opponents an average of just 11.2 points, helping the Bucs cover as pups five times this season.
Detroit Lions (4-4 SU, 4-4 ATS)
The fact the Lions are .500 is a little shocking, considering just how bad they’ve been at times this season. But, as was the case with that backdoor cover against the Bears in Week 7, Detroit does its best work in the second half, averaging 14.6 points – or 60 percent of its offense. The Lions have needed strong second-half offensive performances in three of their wins (St. Louis, Philadelphia and Seattle) to keep its head above water. On defense, Detroit has limited foes to 11.4 points in the final two frames. Even better, it’s trimmed that to just eight points over the last three outings – all of which were ATS paydays.
Second half slobs
Green Bay Packers (6-3 SU, 4-5 ATS)
For a team listed among the favorites to win the Super Bowl, Green Bay certainly has a problem closing out games. The Packers are getting outscored by 0.1 points per game in the second half this season after outscoring foes by close to six points in the first half. Taking their foot off the gas has cost gambling Cheese Heads in games against Indianapolis and New Orleans. Green Bay has a week off this Sunday to develop some killer instinct before the playoff race heats up.
New England Patriots (5-3 SU, 5-3 ATS)
New England’s defense has been particularly mediocre in second halves this season. With a secondary that has been by many standards worse than last year’s, the Patriots have given up more points in the second half than the first in six of their eight games – and in one (Buffalo) they gave up the same (14 in each half). Pats coach Bill Belichick often greases the machinery for opposing offenses in the second half with loose pass coverage that allows teams to move the ball at the expense of taking time off the clock.