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JOE GAVAZZI

NFL WEEK 3 – POINTSPREAD PROGNOSIS

San Diego Chargers at Minnesota Vikings (-2-) 1:00 ET

Bad situation for the Chargers who are playing consecutive games at 10 AM body time. Last week, San Diego got run over by the Bengals, who motored 36 times for 175 yards in the 24-19 victory where they shut the back door. Far prefer a Minnesota side who bounced back under second year HC Zimmer with a resounding victory over the Lions that far belied the final score of 26-16. The Vikings proved the week 1 MNF loss at San Francisco was an aberration when they ran 42 times for 199 yards, while allowing Detroit just 16 carries for 38 yards. Under Zimmer, the Vikes are on an 8-1 ATS run vs non-Cons, and it sure helps that Vikings’ OC Turner is well acquainted with the patterns of Chargers’ QB Rivers, whom he mentored for 6 years as HC of the Chargers. Hey, every little edge helps.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Houston Texans (-6-) 1:00 ET

Where do you think I’m going to line up on this one? Last year’s 2-14 SU Buccaneers come off a straight up road dog win as double digit pup at New Orleans. Now they take to the road to face a hungry 0-2 SU ATS Houston team. Even with RB Foster remaining doubtful for his return, I am still on board with the Texans here. This is a Texans team who made major strides under first year HC O’Brien when they went from 2-14 SU, 4-12 ATS in 2013 to 9-7 SU, 10-6 ATS last season. Missing the playoff with a winning record makes this team even hungrier. The 0-2 SU ATS start is not nearly as bad as it sounds. They were competitive in each game, losing by 7 points to each Kansas City and Carolina. There will be clear intensity from this team against an inferior opponent, realizing their 12% chance to make the playoffs if they drop to 0-3 SU. The euphoria of his first win as an NFL QB will be short lived for Winston when he meets a far hungrier foe than he did against a New Orleans team who appears to be regressing rapidly.

Philadelphia Eagles at New York Jets (-3) 1:00 ET

It’s the 0-2 SU ATS Eagles against the 2-0 SU ATS Jets. No surprise to long term readers that I favor the better team as underdog with the greater motivation. After losing their opener on MNF in Atlanta, the Eagles got skunked by the Dallas defense last week. But Philly is 11-1 ATS to bounce back after scoring 10 or fewer points the previous week. Not that it will be easy against the Jets team whose superb corners in Revis and Cromartie will make life miserable for new Philly QB Bradford. Working hand in glove with a Philly embarrassment is the Jets’ MNF outright victory at Indy, which leaves them mentally and emotionally vulnerable after their 2-0 SU ATS start. Jets beginning in no small part a function of the +4 net TO margin, a figure that begs for correction, if not now, then in the near future. Play the better team as underdog in an NFL game that has reversal from last week’s results written all over it.

LONE RANGER PLAY OF THE WEEK … New Orleans Saints (+3-) (TENTATIVE/check QB Brees status)

CONFIRMED – DREW BREES IS OUT = NO PLAY

Each week in this space, I isolate the NFL LONE RANGER CONTRARY PLAY OF THE WEEK. It is a blend of statistical, situational and technical analysis that will result in an outstanding opportunity for you to cash a winning ticket on a team for whom little love is being shown by the linemaker or public.

New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers (-3-) 1:00 ET

New Orleans visits division rival Carolina for this 1 PM Eastern start. The two teams have had dichotomous beginnings to the season. The Saints have started 0-2 SU ATS, while the Panthers have begun 2-0 SU ATS. This is one of 4 games on the Week 3 NFL card, in which 0-2 SU ATS teams face 2-0 SU ATS opponents. As such, this is the most contrary selection of the 4, making it my PICK as the NFL LONE RANGER PLAY OF THE WEEK.

In week 1, New Orleans was soundly beaten by Arizona 31-19, being outrushed 120-54. In week 2, the Saints were a double digit favorite at home vs Tampa Bay. Many look for a bounce back, both after the New Orleans victory, and to reverse their 0-5 SU ATS home finish of last year (which was preceded by a 20-0, 18-2 ATS run at home). We confidently stepped in with “Tampa Bay + the points” and watched New Orleans again get outrushed 139-109 in a 26-19 loss. That means for the two games, that New Orleans is being outrushed 130/4.3 to 79/3.4.

The beginning for Carolina is totally dichotomous. The Panthers broke from the gate with an expected 20-9 win a Jacksonville in a workman like fashion. In last week’s 24-17 home victory against Houston, they controlled the line of scrimmage, outrushing the Texans 172-61. Neither of the wins have been dominant (that is seldom Carolina’s style), but Carolina is outrushing opponents 139/4.1 to 79/3.6.

From a defensive perspective, the Panthers allow just 13 PPG, only 283 YPG, and 4.0 defensive YP play. Compare those numbers to New Orleans’ 29 PPG defense that allows 380 YPG, and 6.7 YP play, better only than New England and San Francisco. All of those reasons above, including the fact that Carolina is on a 7-1 SU run (lost only to Seattle in the playoffs), and New Orleans is on a 2-8 SU slide, make one scratch his head at this line. In addition, what if QB Brees (rotator cuff) is unable to make post?

But all the above are exactly the reasons why this contrary play might just work. Certainly, it is not because HC Rivera is 12-5-2 ATS as home chalk, or because the Panthers are 8-3 ATS home in divisional frays. Or that Panthers’ LB Kuechly may possibly return. Looking for support for a New Orleans team who no one will back this week? Consider the bounce back number for Saints’ HC Peyton, who is 20-5 ATS vs greater than .500 teams who are off consecutive victories, and the fact that the Saints are 15-2 ATS as road dog when sandwiched between home games. It’s very tough to pick up the phone this week and say, “ give me the Saints +3-.” No book maker is going to hear much of that this Sunday, which is why you, me, and the Lone Ranger are virtually assured of this victory again this week. No hurry to make this play, as QB Brees continues to be listed as questionable (rotator cuff). Should he not make post, Luke McCown will get the start with the line zooming to a TD or more. Be patient, as this would put the ODDS in our favor even more with the extra value.

BIG DOG OF THE WEEK……Jacksonville Jaguars (+13-)

Each week in this space, I will isolate the NFL BIG DOG OF THE WEEK. It will be on an NFL team that is an underdog of 6 or more points. This selection will be a blend of statistical, situational, and technical analyses that will result in an outstanding opportunity for you to cash a winning ticket.

Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots (-13-) 1:00 EST

The Jacksonville Jaguars travel to New England to meet the Patriots for this 1:00 PM Eastern kick. Wasn’t I just saying to myself that it’s impossible to back the Jags, who are averaging 16 PPG which is right on their four year average? And wasn’t I just saying to myself that no one in their right mind would fade New England and Brady, who are averaging 34 PPG, and seem to be on a mission after being exonerated from Deflate Gate? Yet here we are fading the Patriots at home, and using, of all people, the Jacksonville Jaguars as my PICK as NFL BIG DOG OF THE WEEK.

Yes, this is the same Jacksonville team who is on negative runs of 23-48 ATS in non-divisional games, and 11-21 ATS as underdog. Can we barely find a shred of evidence to offer support to the Jags? Look no further than last week, when the offense seemed to come to life, outrushing Miami 33 times to 16 for a 123-42 overland edge. A very conservative passing attack piled up 273 yards on only 18 attempts. That’s a whopping 396 YPG, a 100 more than the Jags have averaged the past three years combined. Is there light at the end of the tunnel? Is there an old proverb, what goes down must come up? That will need to be the case if the Jags are going to hope to have any reason for success against New England.

In the first two contests, New England QB Brady has led a passing attack that has totaled 754 passing yards. But there is cause for concern in the fact that they have been dominated overland. In those two games, New England has been outrushed 147/5.7 to 68/3.5. Defensively, they are allowing 27 PPG, 407 YPG, and 6.8 YP play, with only the 49ers having a worse number in that category. Meanwhile, the Jags have outrushed the opposition 110/4.1 to 74/2.9.

With New England just 1-8 ATS of late laying double digits, and clearly having the inferior defense, there is solid reason to believe the Jags come inside this number if they can establish the running game, much like the Bills did last week when they ran for 160 RYPG. Hidden fact in this game is the turnover numbers; the Jags and the -2 net TO ratio to New England’s +2 net TO ratio. Anytime we have a team whose negative turnover ratio is greater than or equal to the number of games they played, and is playing a team whose positive turnover margin is greater than or equal to the number of games they played, we know we have a good chance for a winner. No question New England could win this in a blowout, but it’s more likely that the Jags come in under this number. It is clear that we have the ODDS in our favor using Jacksonville as THE NFL BIG DOG OF THE WEEK.

Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens (-2-) 1:00 ET

This is one of 4 games on the NFL card this week featuring a 0-2 SU ATS team vs. a 2-0 SU ATS opponent. Baltimore was sent west for the 1st two weeks of the season to play at Denver and Oakland. That’s a bad draw! It resulted in a 0-2 SU ATS start. Though the Ravens were statistically even with the Raiders last week, they fell 37-33 on a last minute Oakland score. Expect results to turn around against the 2-0 SU ATS Bengals, who dispatched those same Oakland Raiders in Week 1 in a dominating 33-13 victory. The public will love that comparative score. Last week, the Bengals proved their mettle by hanging on for a 24-19 home win vs. the Chargers. Expect things to turn around for Baltimore on a field where they are 35-7 SU of late. Baltimore also sports a record of 13-1 ATS in divisional play, if they are playing today as a losing team in a lose/win set. Undoubtedly, it is a concern that the Ravens are just 1-10 ATS as home chalk prior to facing Pittsburgh (on Thursday). But, the Ravens have far too much urgency to consider that look ahead. The Bengals have become one of the most consistently good teams in the NFL. Making the playoffs 4 consecutive years, the 2-0 SU ATS start is a harbinger of that success for this season. In addition, the Bengals are 13-8 SU, 14-6 ATS in this series and sport an amazing record of 28-7 ATS L10Y under HC Lewis, as underdog of 3 or less points. No doubt, the line of scrimmage fundamentals point to the Bengals, who are running an average of 34 times per game for 151 YPG, while holding the opposition to 21 attempts per game for only 97 RYPG. Though the Ravens are not running the ball as well, the rush defense is even better allowing just 22/83/3.8. Final major factor favoring this selection is a (-5) net TO margin favoring the Ravens. A consistent indicator that TOs will turn around.

Oakland Raiders at Cleveland Browns (-3-) 1:00 ET

The Oakland Raiders travel east for the dreaded 10 a.m. ET body time start. Not quite ready to anoint Oakland as a playoff contender, following their 37-33 last second home win vs. the Ravens. They did allow a whopping 448 yards in that game. We will give them their offensive due, however, as the offensive triplets of QB Carr to his receivers, Crabtree and Cooper, give the Raiders far more offensive pop than in years gone by. Still, however, cannot overlook the fact that the Raiders are running an average of only 18 times per game for 80 yards, while allowing 118 RYPG and 6.6 YP play. Those are bad defensive numbers. Confirming the Raiders’ inconsistency over the seasons is their long term record of 4-21 SU, 6-18 ATS, following exactly 1 win. That includes a mark of 0-8 SU ATS recently. And, remember the Raiders’ record on the road where they are 0-11 SU of late. This would be a good place for the weekly warning to not get too hung up on the betting line (until you are searching for value in making your plays). In the 16 NFL Games of Week 2, THE POINTSPREAD NEVER CAME INTO PLAY. That is a microcosm of the fact that in the NFL, where the opening line is 6 or less, the team who wins the game covers the pointspread 90% of the time. Like the Oakland Raiders, the Browns evened their record at 1-1 SU ATS with a 28-14 win against the Titans. Before you get too excited about that victory, note that the Browns were outrushed 166-116 and outgained 385-274 in that contest. It was a (+3) net TO margin that gifted them their victory. In the final analysis, it is tough to trust 2nd year Cleveland QB Manziel to play as clean a game as he did last week. But, the Browns do have the home field advantage, the better running game and the better overall defense. A weak vote for Cleveland!

Indianapolis Colts (-3) at Tennessee Titans 1:00 ET

I still believe the Titans are going to be a far better team than their 2-14 SU record of last year. The offensive tandem of HC Whisenhunt and rookie QB Mariota should improve their fortunes consistently through the season. With DC LeBeau at the controls, the Titans will also have a solid defense. After holding Tampa Bay to 14 points in Week 1, the 28 point allowance of Cleveland last week was more a function of a (-3) net TO margin. They outgained the Browns 385-274. It’s a good spot for a bounce back by the Titans, IF THEY WERENT PLAYING THE DIVISION RIVAL 0-2 SU ATS INDIANAPOLIS COLTS. Talk about TOs! The Colts are now at the bottom of the NFL TO chart with a (-7) net TO margin after 2 games. On Monday night, they gift wrapped the game to the Jets, handing them 5 TOs in a 20-7 home loss. That sets the stage for a repeat of what happened in 2014. After last year’s 0-2 SU ATS start, the Colts rebounded to win 12 of their next 16 games, before losing in the playoffs. That run was jump started by game 3 and 4, in which they beat division rivals Jacksonville (44-17) and these Titans (41-17). That latter score helped extend the Colts’ record in this series to 20-4 SU, 16-8 ATS, including 7-0 SU ATS recently. QB Luck has also been his best in this role, posting a 14-2 SU ATS record as NFL starter off a loss, a mark of 11-0 ATS recently vs. division rivals and 6-0 ATS, if the Colts are road chalk. Even with their cover vs. Tampa Bay in Week 1, the Titans are still just 5-19 ATS of late including 1-9 ATS as a home dog and 1-12 ATS following a loss. Those powerful trends combine with the Colts’ 0-2 SA situation make this a powerful bounce back play on Indy.

San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals (-6-) 4:05 ET

Few will choose to fade the Arizona Cardinals this week, who have now added a running game to their passing excellence and quietly improving defense. In 2 games, the Cards have outrushed New Orleans and Chicago by a combined 118-82. Combined with the passing of Palmer, Arizona is averaging 6.7 YP play, tied with San Diego and New England for the 2nd best mark behind the Pittsburgh Steelers. In the 2 games to date, the Cards are outrushing their foes 118/4.4 to 82/3.4. QB Palmer’s numbers are becoming well publicized, as he is now 17-3 SU, 16-4 ATS as a starter. That’s all part of the Cards’ recent run, which finds them to be 25-9 ATS in 2+years and 10-2 ATS as home chalk. There is, however, that nagging Achilles Heel. After being outgained by 64 YPG last season, Arizona is again negative yards vs. their opponents this year. Today, they welcome a Jekyll and Hyde San Fran team. Under 1st year HC Tomsula, who knows which version of the 49ers will show up for Game 3. The one who shocked the public on MNF with their Game 1 (20-3) shocker over Minnesota or the team who again shocked the public last week in laying a gigantic egg in a (43-18) loss to the Steelers. In an unusual statistic profile, the 49ers lost by 25 points, while still running 31 times for a 111 yards. That means for the season, their numbers at the line of scrimmage are a 2 game average of 35/171/4.9 to their opponents 21/78/3.7. Those are mighty fine numbers for a 6 point underdog, who despite the biggest roster change in the NFL still sports a history in which they are 10-2 SU, 8-4 ATS in this series.

Chicago Bears at Seattle Seahawks (-14-) 4:25 ET

This is the lone battle of 0-2 SU ATS teams on the card this week. It features a Bears team, who is off a pair of seasons in which they went 13-21 SU, 11-21 ATS under now deposed HC Trestman. But, that 0-2 SU start drops the Bears to 0-7 SU recently, after they lost their final 5 games of the 2014 season. With QB Clawson filling in for QB Cutler, none of the public is going to play a Bears team who just lost 48-23 on their home field to Arizona. The shocking stat from that game is that the Bears actually played the Cards even at the line of scrimmage and won the yardage 335-300. That was the 2nd time it happened in their 2 defeats. A positive indicator that the Bears, as a team, are improving under 1st year HC Fox, whom I am certain will provide improved running and defensive numbers. Nonetheless, no one is going to back them against the 2 time Super Bowl Seattle Seahawks, who are returning to the strongest home field in America, where they are 11-1 ATS in home openers and 18-7 ATS as home chalk. But, as I have penned consistently since the start of the NFL-Ex season, this is a team who is headed for a downward spiral. In the world of what goes up … must come down, note that the Seahawks’ rushing dominance has declined, while their defense is allowing 31 PPG and a whopping 6.2 YP play. In a reversal of history, the Bears come inside this humongous number.

NFL CRUSHER OF THE WEEK…Denver Broncos (-3)

Each week in this space, I will isolate the NFL CRUSHER OF THE WEEK. It will be a blend of statistical, situational and technical analysis that will result in an outstanding opportunity for you to cash a winning ticket. Look for this favorite to dominate the point of attack, control matters overland and rush their way to a dominating victory in this week’s contest. Here is this week’s winner.

Denver Broncos (-3) at Detroit Lions 8:30 EST NBC

The Denver Broncos travel to meet the Detroit Lions for week 3 of Sunday Night Football. As usual, the game is televised by NBC at 8:30Eastern. This is a matchup of the 0-2 SU ATS Lions against the 2-0 SU ATS Broncos, each of whom were playoff teams last year. Normally in a game like this I might favor the Detroit Lions. In this case, however, I am making a momentum play based on the defensive performances of each of these teams at the line of scrimmage. That means that the Denver Broncos are my PICK as the NFL CRUSHER OF THE WEEK.

Detroit is apparently a totally different team without Suh and Fairley. Last year, the Lions allowed just 70/3.2 overland. This year, things have totally changed for the Lions’ defense. In their 0-2 SU ATS start at San Diego and Minnesota, the Lions have allowed an average of 147/4.1 overland. Last week against Minnesota, the Lions were steamrolled 199-38 at the point of attack in their 26-16 loss to the Vikings. Should you think that the Lions’ defense is going to improve, consider that in the two games they are now allowing 30 PPG, 417 YPG, and 6.3 YP play. Those are major reasons for concern when your team is 9-20 ATS in non-division contests, and you have a starting signal called in QB Stafford, who is 31-47 ATS in his career.

Match that up against the Denver Broncos who, with QB Manning at the controls, are 41-13 SU. The Broncos have been winning with a defense that is far dichotomous to that of the Lions. In a pair of contests against Baltimore at home and at Kansas City last Thursday night (yes, Manning and mates have 10 full days rest), they have allowed just 19 PPG, only 244 YPG, and 4.5 YP play, tied with Dallas for the best defensive number in that category in the NFL. Profiting from +5 net TOs in the two games begs for a reversal no doubt. And the come from behind nature of their victory against the Chiefs could potentially leave them fat with 10 days to mull their good fortune.

But the momentum of the situation far outweighs either the Denver letdown or the Detroit bounce back. And the vast difference in defense, there is none larger this week from a YP play differential, is too much to ignore, especially when you have far the better of it with QB Manning against QB Stafford. At these miniscule ODDS, the Denver Broncos are my clear choice as NFL CRUSHER OF THE WEEK.

60-22-1 (73%) ATS Joe’s FREE Plays this Season

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