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New York Jets (-1-) vs. Miami Dolphins 9:30 AM ET (London, England) CBS TV
If you are thinking about making a meaningful play on this game, and I AM NOT, please note that it starts at 9:30 am ET and is played in London, England. Under 1st year HC Bowles, the Jets are off to a 2-1 SU ATS start. The loss came last week to a fired-up Eagles team, who used a (+3) net TO margin (3 INTs by QB Fitzpatrick, who finally returned to form) and a 123-47 overland edge as they ran 39 times to the Jets’ 16. But, the Jets still have a (+5) net TO margin based on the fact they have forced an NFL high, 11 TOs. At 1-2 SU ATS following back-to-back losses, there is far more urgency for Miami. Last week, we used Buffalo as our STEAMROLLER OF THE WEEK, the Bills combined a (+3) net TO margin with a 151-102 overland edge to obey my command in a 41-14 victory against Miami. That puts the onus on HC Philbin, who has been at his best when he has his back to the wall. As a losing team, his Dolphins are 9-3 SU, 10-2 ATS, following a defeat. Tough to trust a ground game that is being outrushed 145-73 and a defense that is allowing 6.0 YP play. But, I a make them a contrary bounce back SIDE in a low value play.
New York Giants at Buffalo Bills (-5-) 1:00 ET
Under 1st year HC Ryan, the Buffalo Bills are a hot property in the NFL. Sandwiched around the perennial loss to New England have been victories of 27-14 on this field over Indy and 41-14 at Miami last week. In that game, as my STEAMROLLER OF THE WEEK, the Bills combined a (+3) net TO margin (10-0 ATS TY), and a 92% long-term winning situation, with an overland advantage of 151-102, in which they ran 34 times to 20 for Miami. Teams who rush 30 or more times in a game, while their opponent does not, have an historical 84% chance to win the game. That has ballooned to 27-4 ATS this season to date, including 11-1 ATS last week. Conversely, teams who run the ball 22 or fewer times in a game, if their opponent does not, have a similar 84% chance to lose to the pointspread. That record has zoomed to 21-4 ATS this year, including a perfect 9-0 ATS last week. The Bills are doing an outstanding job controlling the point of attack. After 3 games, they are running 32 times per game for 153 YPG, while allowing opponents to run just 17 times per game for only 74 YPG. The offense is averaging 33 PPG behind 1st year QB Taylor on 6.4 YP play (5th in the league). That makes this a very contrary play on the NY Giants, who broke through for their first victory of the season last week, after a (27-26) loss to Dallas and (24-20) loss to Atlanta. Each of those games were events in which the Giants snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Last week, they righted the ship with a 32-21 win vs. Washington on Thursday night. It was aided in no small part by a (+3) net TO margin and the fact they outrushed the Skins 31-20 in attempts. After consecutive losing seasons, totaling 13-19 SU, 12th year HC Tom Coughlin is directly on the hot seat. They will have far more urgency in this game. In a contrary setting and in the underdog role, I like them to win this game outright against a Buffalo team that is quickly becoming a public darling.
Oakland Raiders (-3) at Chicago Bears 1:00 ET
This is the 2-1 SU ATS Raiders (after going 11-37 SU the previous 3 years) as road chalk against a Chicago Bears team who is struggling to retool. Can the first year coach and leadership of HC DelRio really be making that much of a difference? After a 20 point home loss to Cinci in opening week, the Raiders rebounded for a 37-33 home win vs. Baltimore then went into Cleveland and won 27-20 last week. It was a game in which they rushed 30 times for 155 yards, while holding the Browns to 13 carries for 39 yards. With a (+1) net TO margin and virtually even passing stats, the 27-20 victory by Oakland was no surprise. In those 3 previous seasons, the Raiders averaged just a combined 18 PPG. But the new aerial assault, featuring QB Carr to WRs Cooper and Crabtree, has resulted in 26 PPG and 388 YPG. But beware a struggling defense that is allowing 29 points, 415 yards and 6.3 YP play. We are certainly not interested in an Oakland team, who is on a run of 3-22 SU away, 3-15 SU away/victory and 1-5 SU ATS as road chalk. But, the public loves passing statistics like the above and is certainly not enamored with a Chicago team who is 0-3 SU ATS. Chicago figures to start replacement QB Clausen in place of injured QB Cutler (hamstring), who has been downgraded to doubtful for this contest. Note that Clausen is 1-11 SU, 4-8 ATS as an NFL starter. This week, however, he may be aided by the return of WR Jeffrey (hamstring). Though the Bears have started with 3 defeats, they have come against quality teams Green Bay, Arizona and Seattle. That includes last week, when they lost 26-0 at Seattle, being outgained 371-146. With respected 1st year HC Fox at the controls, I see improvement in the Bears’ future. That is especially true in an underdog role where they are 7-18 ATS of late. First signs come with a running game that is averaging 132/4.5 on an average of 29 carries per game. The second is hidden defensive improvement which sees the Bears allowing just 331 YPG. The bottom line is I like the Bears’ running profile more than the Raiders’ passing profile, and get them as a contrary home dog at a value price.
Philadelphia Eagles (-3) at Washington Redskins 1:00 ET
It does not take much to turn the head of the fickle public. At the start of the season, they were in love with the Eagles and had the Skins on their PLAY AGAINST list. Following a0-2 SU ATS start by Philly, including 26-24 loss at Atlanta and a 20-10 home loss to Dallas, they began to lose faith. But after last week’s victory against the Jets, which came in dominating fashion with a (+3) net TO margin and a 123-47 overland yardage edge, the love affair has returned. And why not with the Eagles being 13-7 SU, 14-6 ATS in this series on this field. Historically, however, there is danger ahead for this team, as 1-2 SU favorites who are off a win are in a 74% PLAY AGAINST situation. Unlike Philly, the Redskins were left for dead after a tumultuous preseason in which RG3 was ousted as starting signal caller. The Skins complied with public opinion, when they blew a 10-0 lead on this field in a 17-10 Game 1 loss to Miami. In week 2, public opinion was strongly against them, as they were in the same role of home dog against a St. Louis team who had just whipped Seattle. It was no surprise to this bureau that Washington emerged with a 24-10 SU victory. But, their dismal performance in NY last week has maintained the public’s distaste for this team. Last Thursday night, the Skins had a (-3) net TO margin and despite outgaining the Giants 393-363, lost the game 32-21. With 10 days’ rest, I see good things for the Skins in this game. A (-5) net TO margin is a solid indicator of a turnaround in that area. But, the greatest area of interest is the Redskins’ running game. Washington worked hard in the last 2 seasons to rebuild their lines. It has clearly paid off this year, despite the 1-2 SU ATS start. For the season, the Skins are outrushing their opposition 144/4.6 to 75/3.6. That dominance is confirmed in the rushing attempt column which is 31 to 21 in favor of the Skins. After 3 games, Washington is outgaining their foes 372-277, while Philly is BEING OUTGAINED 360-285. Why would the Redskins be a home underdog in this game?
KC Chiefs at Cincinnati Bengals (-4) 1:00 ET
After Week 1, a 27-20 KC win in Houston, it looked like the Chiefs were going to roll to one of their winning first half’s under 3rd year HC Reid. But, there has been a detour in recent weeks, when they lost to NFL powers, Denver (31-24) and last week on Monday Night Football at Green Bay (38-28). The Chiefs were surprisingly mauled at the line of scrimmage, being outrushed 32-18 times and 123-75 in yards. Now, they must travel for consecutive road games on a short week against another emerging NFL power. Yes, that would be a Bengals team who has been to the playoffs each of the last 4 years under 13th year HC Lewis. In the last 3 seasons, the Bengals have double digit victories. Their success last year came despite being bitten by the injury bug. This year, they are close to full strength and are led by QB Dalton, who is coming into the prime of his NFL career. The 3-0 SU ATS start is for real! The last 2 weeks have seen the Bengals record a 24-19 home victory vs. San Diego, then hold on for a 28-24 victory in Baltimore. In that contest, they totally dominated the line of scrimmage 86 to 36 in running yards, while toting the ball 31 times to only 18 for the Ravens. Now, they return home to a field where they are on a 14-3 ATS run. With the momentum of 3 consecutive wins and covers, a balanced offensive attack averaging 414 yards, and a defense allowing just 19/333, they are more than capable of extending their winning streak against a KC team who is in a tough scheduling spot.
Cleveland Browns at San Diego Chargers (-7-) 4:05 ET
A pair of 1-2 SU ATS teams meet with the Browns traveling to the left coast following their home loss to Oakland. In that game, the Browns were dominated overland 155-39, when the Ravens carried the ball 30 times to the Browns 14. That was the K.O.D. for Cleveland! This is still an emerging Cleveland team, who is being outrushed 158/4.9 to 86/3.6 by their opponents. But, the Chargers may not have the ability to capitalize on that weakness, as they are averaging just 105/3.8 overland. In addition, multiple injuries to their OL may further inhibit their running ability. The Chargers finished the year 1-3 SU ATS in 2014. Combined with this year’s start, that makes a current 2-5 SU ATS run, including consecutive losses at Cinci and Minnesota. Last week, they were never really in the game at Minnesota. They were outrushed 163-90 with the Vikings dominating the line of scrimmage. In short, Chargers may be a team at the beginning of a downward spiral. At the very least, I would not back them as a greater than 7 point favorite. Even against the Cleveland Browns!
Green Bay Packers (-8) at San Francisco 49ers 4:25 ET
The Green Bay Packers visit the San Francisco 49ers for this 4:25 PM kick. It is a battle of teams who appear to be headed opposite directions. That is what in part makes this such a contrary pick, and why it will be a point spread winner.
San Francisco hosted a quickly improving Minnesota team in week 1 of MNF. The line maker looked brilliant when he opened the Niners as a small favorite. By kickoff, the Vikings moved to 3 point road chalk. Final: San Francisco 20, Minnesota 3, in a game totally dominated by the home standing Niners. In week 2, the public was eager to back the Niners, as they traveled cross country on a short week to face a Pittsburgh team, who had lost game 1 in New England. That wait was too much for the Niners to bear, as they were blown out by the Steelers (43-18). It was a contrary selection last week on these pages to back San Francisco as 6 point pup when they traveled to Arizona, a field where they had much success. On the first two offensive plays, QB Kap threw consecutive pick sixes, and the rout was on. The eventual score was Arizona 47, San Francisco 7, in a game where Arizona out yarded the Niners 447-156. A (+3) net TO margin sealed the deal. That was part of a 4-0 ATS record for (+3) net TO teams last week, running the YTD total to 10-0 ATS, just slightly above the long term mark of 92%. At this point in the season, it is starting to look like the Niners will be the NFL team who is playing like they have the biggest roster change in the league. As first year HC Tomsula stands on the sideline with a quizzical, puzzled, confused, and at times frustrated look on his face, he must surely be thinking he is in over his head. On the 49ers behalf, however, is the fact that they are controlling the line of scrimmage, rushing the ball an average of 33 times a game for 148/4.5, numbers that are second only to the Buffalo Bills. They allow 98/3.7 overland, yielding a strong differential. Fly in the ointment is a defense allowing 70% completions and 6.7 YP play. Not good when facing the strong right arm of Aaron Rodgers. Supporting our positive stance is an over 80% success rate of home dogs who gave up 40 or more points in their previous game. All the 49ers’ struggles are reflected in this line…and more. Now the 49ers catch a Green Bay team who is traveling in a poor situation.
After cruising by Chicago (31-23), the Packers returned home to double avenge Seattle (27-17). Last week on MNF, Green Bay hosted Kansas City. In what turned out to be a shootout, the Packers won 38-28. QB Rodgers led a passing attack that gained 333 yards, but the meaningful edge came at the point of attack, where Green Bay rushed the ball 32 times for 123 yards to 18/75 for Kansas City. This puts the Packers in a negative situation as they travel west with little respect for the 49ers. In that regard, I note that the Packers are 0-5 ATS following their last 5 MNF appearances.
St Louis Rams at Arizona Cardinals (-7) 4:25 ET
This is a division matchup of the 1-2 SU ATS St Louis Rams, losers of two straight, as they travel to face the 3-0 SU ATS Arizona Cardinals. It is a selection that no one in his right mind would make, which is why you and I are the only ones who will have this point spread winner.
The Arizona Cardinals are on a major roll. Last week, they picked off the first two passes from the right arm of San Fran QB Kaepernick for a quick 14-0 lead. It snowballed from there into a 47-7 victory on this field. That makes the Cards 3-0 SU ATS for the season, outscoring opponents 42-16. At last, they are doing it the right way. Arizona was 11-6 SU, a playoff team, last season. But they were outgained by an average of 64 YPG. This year, they are +91 YPG, but that is just a microcosm of the other dominating numbers they have posted. After years of a miserable running game-Arizona had not rushed for more than 96/3.6 per season in any of the previous 3 years-the Cards are now running the ball an average of 30 times per game (a long term 85% point spread indicator, which is now 27-4 ATS this season). Combined with a defense allowing 16/300 and a (+3) net TO margin, their 3-0 SU ATS record is warranted. That is just a microcosm of their recent success. Under third year HC Arians, they are 26-9 ATS MRT; their current run in this role is 11-2 ATS as home chalk. Adding to the prowess of their running game and defense is veteran QB Palmer, who has a record of 18-3 SU, 17-4 ATS in his last 21 NFL starts, including 8 consecutive spread covers. But what goes up in the NFL, must come down! The Cards are clearly due for a downer this week. With the confidence that they defeated St Louis each of the three previous times they faced them, it is hard to see them getting stoked for this matchup.
St Louis appeared to be an improved team, when in game 1 they held on in OT to defeat perennial Super Bowl contender Seattle (34-31). The bottom fell out the next week at Washington, a 24-10 loss. Many expected a bounce last week as they returned home in their preferred role of home dog. Such was not the case as they fell (12-6) to Pittsburgh in what turned out to be a surprising defensive struggle, with each team gaining only 250 total yards. Now they travel west in what has been a negative role for them, 5-15 ATS as divisional road dog. But they will do so with great hunger after totaling just 16 points in their previous two games. Veteran HC Fisher will not lose this team, and he is clearly in a great spot with more profit than any other coach in the NFL in this role. Teams coached by Fisher are 97-67 ATS as underdog.
The public will be all over the Cards in this one. Be patient! Wait for the line to rise. Then join me in one of the week’s best contrary spots.
Minnesota Vikings at Denver Broncos (-7) 4:25 ET
The Minnesota Vikings travel to Denver for this 4:25 ET as one of four late games in Sunday action. The Vikings are one of the improving teams in the NFL. After laying a giant egg on opening night MNF at San Francisco (lost 20-3), the Vikings returned home to take care of business against the 0-3 SU Lions (26-16) and the 1-2 SU Chargers (31-14). Not many credit points there. This is a team, who under second year HC Zimmer, is working to establish a running game and play great defense. The Vikings finished the 2014 season on a 5-1 ATS roll, went 4-1 SU ATS in this year’s preseason, and have started strongly in the regular season. A measure of their success is that they are rushing the ball an average of 30 times per game for 144/4.8. History tells us that teams who run the ball 30 times a game, while their opponent does not, are an 85% ATS winner. This year, that number is 27-4 ATS, including 11-1 ATS last week. The defense continues to be solid at 17 PPG, allowing just 5.4 YP play. But, there are negatives for the Vikings franchise, which reflect a league wide trend. Minnesota is just 4-20 ATS following a home win in which they scored 30 or more points. In the inevitable ebb and flow of the NFL, the Vikings are due for a downer week. In last week’s victory vs the Chargers, Minny outrushed San Diego 163-90, toting the ball 31 times. They were (+1) in the TO margin, a positive indicator of victory. Long-term teams with a (+1) net TO margin in a game are a 65% point spread winner. This year, after 3 weeks of play, that number is 18-4 ATS. But, as much as the Vikings would like to believe they are reaching their goal of successfully rushing the ball and playing defense, they do not have a QB named Peyton or the best defense in the league.
That #1 defense in the league belongs to Denver. The Broncos began their superiority on that side of the ball last season when they allowed only 309 YPG and just 81/3.6 overland. They have continued that defensive superiority this season, allowing just 16 PPG, as well as a league best 259 YPG and 4.5 YP play. They also have a rushing defense, which allows 82/3.5 to shut down what the Vikings and RB Peterson do best. In going 3-0 SU ATS, the Broncos have beaten Baltimore, Kansas City, and Detroit. That most recent victory against the Lions came on SNF, when they allowed the Lions to rush the ball just 19 times for 28 yards. And we haven’t even touched on QB Manning, who at age 40, is winning games with his brain just as much as with his right arm. The Broncos are 17-7 ATS as home chalk of late. At 3-0 SU ATS they are in a positive situation when playing at home in a non-divisional game. The recent record of those teams is over 80% ATS.
Will back the strong home field of the Broncos, the brain and arm of Manning, the best defense in the league, and a positive situation for my NFL pick today on Denver.
78-33-3 (70%) ATS Joe’s FREE Plays this Season