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JOE GAVAZZI

Pointspread Prognosis

NFL WEEK 6

Denver Broncos (-4) at Cleveland Browns 1:00 ET
The Denver Broncos travel east to face the Cleveland Browns for this 1:00 ET kickoff on Sunday. It is a battle of the 5-0 SU, 4-1 ATS Broncos with the 2-3 SU, 2-3 Cleveland Browns. Plenty of naysayers among NFL analysts when talking about the Denver Broncos! Lots of banter about QB Manning being a bit long in the tooth and ready for retirement! That is reinforced by the fact that, for perhaps the first time ever, Manning has a 6/7 ratio after 5 games of the regular season. As a result, the offense is struggling at only 23 PPG and 303 YPG. The run game averages just 22/72/3.3, while Manning is completing just 64% of his passes. With an 11 am body time start, some may question whether the old bones of Manning will even be able to get out of bed. Through all of this, the Broncos have still managed an undefeated record with 4 covers in 5 games. Last week was tough, as the Broncos did not score an offensive TD but still managed to squeeze by an improved Oakland team (16-10) with a Key INT return. Broncos ran it just 18 times for 43 yards. As in all their other contests this year, the defense has been the shining light. For the season, only the Jets have allowed fewer than the Broncos 16 PPG. No one has allowed fewer than the Broncos’ 278 YPG and the 4.6 defensive YP play is tied with the Jets for the best mark in the league. This is a good week for the Broncos to go all out, as they have a bye next week. History tells us that non-division road chalk, prior to a bye week, is 11-2 ATS. And, despite the decline in the offensive numbers, the Broncos are still 31-15 ATS as chalk.

Cleveland comes off a successful 2-game road trip, including a (33-30) OT win vs. the rival Ravens. A closer look finds they were outrushed by Baltimore 181-83. It took 422 PY for them to get the job done. That doesn’t happen against the Denver defense. The Browns may still be celebrating that win, as under HC Pettine, they are just 2-6 ATS following a victory. The last 6 times they have faced the Broncos, they have come away a loser. But, Cleveland’s real problem in this game is a defense that is ultra-dichotomous to that of the Broncos. Cleveland is allowing 26 PPG on 400 YPG, including 149/5.0 overland. That number is better than only Miami. As well, their 6.4 defensive YP play average is better than only San Francisco and New Orleans.

Cincinnati Bengals (-3) at Buffalo Bills 1:00 ET

If the 5-0 SU, 4-0 ATS Bengals did not lose last week, when they trailed Seattle (24-7) at home, will they ever lose?! History says most probably not against the Buffalo Bills. You see, the Bengals are 29-11 ATS vs. non-division foes. But, the Bengals did show some chinks in the defensive armor last week, when they allowed Seattle to run 30 times for 200 yards. Ouch! The Bills’ running game is more than decent with one of the stronger profiles in the NFL. They run 30 times per game, while allowing their foes to run just 22 times per game. That is an over 80% indicator of pointspread success. It has also translated into them outrushing their foes 128/4.3 to 82/3.8. Yet another indicator of success! When combined with the role of home underdog due to the public perception of the Bengals, it provides us with some nice value. A further stat aiding our selection is the Bengals’ 6.2 defensive YP play. When you consider that the other two 5-0 SU teams (Denver 4.6 defensive YP play and Green Bay 5.4 defensive YP play) are well below that standard, it will be no surprise when the Bengals are the first of those teams to lose.

Kansas City Chiefs at Minnesota Vikings (-4) 1:00 ET

Kansas City Chiefs travel to play the Minnesota Vikings for this 1:00 ET kick in this NFL non-conference game. Minnesota 2nd year HC Zimmer and his Vikings have become everybody’s new best friend. Why not? These Vikings are doing it the old fashioned way with a ground game averaging 137/4.9 overland and a defense allowing just 18 PPG. Vikings enter today’s game on an 11-3 ATS run, including 3-1 ATS this season. In addition, they are recently 15-4 ATS in non-division contests. RB Peterson has returned, is in good health and is leading the way. Surely, they will have no problems playing off a hard-fought loss at Denver and with an extra week to prepare for an ailing, inept KC team. Chiefs went 9-7 SU last year, but missed the playoffs because of another sleepwalking December. It was pretty clear they wanted to make amends early on, when they dominated opposition in August. That carried over to a Week 1 win (27-20) vs. Houston. The next 3 weeks, they fell to Denver, Green Bay and Cincinnati, who are only 15-0 SU! The rebound seemed imminent last week, when as 9 point chalk, they led the Chicago Bears (17-3) at the half. But a 2nd half meltdown included the loss of RB Charles (knee) and resulted in a total meltdown at home in an (18-17) loss. Under veteran NFL mentor, HC Reid, you, me and the LONE RANGER are the only ones who expect the Chiefs to regroup. Should they do so, credit will surely be given to the motivational abilities of Reid, who is 76-48 ATS when installed as underdog in NFL play. As well as the Vikings appear to have played, a closer inspection tells us that they are actually being outgained 358-302 this season, while gaining just 5.3 YP play and allowing 5.7 YP play. Perhaps, Minnesota backers are celebrating a bit too soon? It’s the perfect spot to back contrary underdog, KC, for the outright victory.

Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars (-1) 1:00 ET

The Jags exploded for 31 points at Tampa Bay last week, but still lost (38-31). Before you get too excited, note that those 31 points came while being outrushed 40/183 to 17/55 and that the Jags gained a total of only 325 yards. The other numbers for the Jags are more in line with that ineptitude. Under current HC Bradley, they are just 8-29 SU. They have seldom been strong in this role of late, going 6-18 ATS as home dog. With RB Yeldon (groin) less than 100%, it is tough to count on QB Bortles alone to run this offense. Though Houston is 1-4 SU ATS and off a (27-20) Thursday home loss to Indy, they do have the good vibes of winning the yardage battle in that contest 444-323. A (-2) in the net TO column went a long way into sealing that defeat. Houston has now outgained 4/5 of their opponents with a yearly mark to date of 396-340 yards. A (-8) net TO margin begs for reversal. Other positive indicators are the return of RB Foster and the change from QB Mallett to QB Hoyer. The uncatchable fastballs of the former are a main reason why the Texans are completing just 59% of their passes. That will change with the more reliable Hoyer at the controls. The Texans are the better team and get this victory today.

Washington Redskins at NY Jets (-6-) 1:00 ET

Time for the 3-1 SU ATS Jets to come back to earth! For starters, NFL home teams, following a win in London and a week off to rest on their laurels, have rarely produced a profitable outcome. Besides, how much credit can be given to a victory over a Miami team who is currently in shambles? One thing we must acknowledge is a top-rated NFL defense, under 1st year HC Bowles. He is doing what perceived NFL defensive specialist, Buddy Ryan, was unable to do with the Jets’ stop unit. After 4 games, the Fly Boys are holding the opposition to just 14 PPG (lowest in the league), only 280 YPG (2nd only to Denver) and just 4.6 YP play (tied with Denver for the best number in the league). Playing against the Washington team, whose profile has become very similar, makes one believe that this projected, low-scoring game could well be decided by the TO column. Last week, the Redskins went out of character being outrushed 32/176 to 24/51. But, they still got the pointspread cover, losing just (25-19) as (+8) to Atlanta. Today, they look to return to the origins that have seen them outgain their first 4 opponents using an improved run game and defense. QB Cousins can manage the game just as well as the Jets’ QB Fitzpatrick. If so, this figures to be a low-scoring, defensive battle with points at a premium, making the Washington Redskins and this generous impost a value play.

Miami Dolphins at Tennessee Titans (-1) 1:00 ET

There was little question that former Miami HC Philbin was failing to do his job. It came to a head in London, when Miami was embarrassed (27-14) by the Jets, being outrushed 43/207 to 11/59. When the cord was cut with Philbin, Miami chose to hire HC Campbell who, along with DC Anarumo, will run a much tighter, more disciplined ship. That is certainly a positive for the 1-3 SU ATS Dolphins, but makes them hard to back until the proof is in the pudding! Currently, Miami is being outrushed 37/161 to 16/69, easily the worst deficit in the league. Furthermore, they are allowing 25 PPG on 400 YPG. The turnaround does not seem imminent. We must far prefer the Titans, who also enter on a 3-game losing streak at 1-3 SU. But how they got there is oh so different! Take last week, when they outgained the Bills 276-209 (the 4thconsecutive game they had outgained the opposition) but suffered a narrow (14-13) loss on this field. That should bring them very hungry, knowing that they have blown a double digit lead on this field in their 2 previous home games. Rarely do you find a 1-3 SU team, who is outgaining the opposition 351-284 (the 3rd best defensive yardage team in the league). Still believe there is tremendous upside for this Titan team with the offensive combination of HC Whisenhunt and QB Mariota teaming with long-time NFL great, LeBeau, as assistant HC in charge of the defense.

Carolina Panthers at Seattle Seahawks (-7) 4:05 ET

These two have played some ferocious defensive battles in recent years. In the last 3 years, Seattle traveled to Carolina where they won by counts of 16-12, 12-7 and 13-9. They met again in the playoffs, this time in Seattle, where the Seahawks emerged with a (31-17) victory. That was purely a function of a (-3) net TOs for the Panthers, as Carolina outgained Seattle in that game 362-348. That was also the only loss for Carolina in their last 10 NFL games. Today, the Panthers enter at 4-0 SU, 3-1 ATS with 2 weeks to prepare. Do you think they care that the Seahawks are just 2-3 SU, 1-3 ATS and are off a loss? Absolutely not! They are simply focused on getting their playoff revenge. It has been a historical positive for these 4-0 SU rested teams in Game 5. I am well aware that Seattle has the strongest home field in the NFL, where they are 19-8 ATS as home chalk. But, I have consistently written, since the opening week of the season, that this will be an overpriced Seattle team this year in no small part because of the manner in which they lost the Super Bowl. To date, Seattle has won only on this field vs. lowly Chicago and Detroit. Their 3 defeats have come in OT at St. Louis, as well as to undefeated Green Bay and Cincinnati. Last week against the Bengals, they led by 17 in the 4th before bowing in OT. Seahawks may be good enough to bounce back from that defeat on their strong home field under the leadership of HC Carroll. But, a more probable scenario is that this is an inflated number for that very reason, making the value on a visiting 4-0 SU rested Carolina team with playoff revenge for their only loss in the last 11 months.

Baltimore Ravens (-2) at San Francisco 49ers 4:25 ET

This is a battle of 1-4 SU teams which finds the Ravens at 1-4 ATS and the 49ers on a 4-game losing streak. The Ravens have faced arguably the NFL’s toughest road schedule. In just the 6th week, they have been asked to play 4 of their 6 games away, while playing 3 games out west. They opened the season by losing to Denver and Oakland. They have also lost to undefeated Cinci and last week at home to Cleveland. That defeat came despite the fact they outrushed the Browns 181-83 in a TO free game. But, it came because the allowed the Browns to pass for 422 PY. No such issue today against the San Fran offense, led by QB Kaepernick, who has completely lost his confidence. As a result, the 49ers are passing for just 178 PYPG. Following their shocking MNF, Game 1, home victory vs. Minnesota, the 49ers have gone 0-4 SU losing by 14 points or more in 3 of those games. Last week on SNF, there were signs of hope. They covered the number in a 30-27 loss to the Giants, outrushing the GMen 124-84. But, 441 PY by the Giants more than offset that overland excellence. And unlike the 49ers passing game, the Baltimore attack, led by QB Flacco, can do plenty of damage against the 49ers’ secondary that is allowing 72% completions and nearly an average of 300 PYPG. After blowing a (21-9) 3rd quarter lead against Cleveland last week and with their season on the brink of disaster, must favor the Baltimore Ravens one more time to save their season.

New England Patriots (-10) at Indianapolis Colts 8:30 ET NBC

The New England Patriots travel to Indianapolis for this SNF 8:30 ET kick, as televised on NBC. There will be plenty of emotion in this one, in no small part because of a multitude of references to “Deflategate” that have flooded the airwaves this week. For those who believe that Patriots’ QB Brady is on a mission this year, their beliefs are certainly being upheld. With passing statistics that include a league best 73% completion and 331 PYPG, Brady is leading the Patriots to 37 PPG and 424 YPG. Along with an NFL best 6.7 offensive YP play, no one is arguing this is the most prolific offense in the league. Neither is it a surprise that the Patriots are 4-0 SU, 3-0 ATS. Following an Opening Night push in their (28-21) victory over the Steelers, New England has scored 121 points in covering the number by 45 points in blowout wins vs. Buffalo, Jacksonville and Dallas. Is there any wonder that the opening number of New England (-7) has been quickly bet up to (-10)? History is also on the Patriots’ side, as recent meetings with the Colts have been of blowout proportions. The last 4 wins are by scores of 59-24, 43-22, and last year 42-20 and 45-7. That’s part of a 6-game series win streak for the Patriots. For the Colts, it has been somewhat of an ominous beginning. Opening Week losses of (27-14) at Buffalo and (20-7) vs. the Jets may have had something to do with opposing defenses. More accurate cause may have been an ailing throwing shoulder of QB Luck, who is scheduled as probable to return for this game, after missing the last 2 contests. Indy survived with a pair of narrow victories in those games, thanks to 40 year old backup QB Hasselbeck, who did a yeoman’s job to overcome illness on a short week for the Colts’ Thursday Night victory vs. Houston. A closer review of the Indianapolis stats shows they have lost the yardage in every game by a count of 399-335. For the season, they are being outrushed 112-92, completing only 59% of their passes, while allowing 65% of their passes. But, the Colts are a solid 10-4 ATS as home dog, have a world of value working for them and meaningful double revenge, including playoff revenge from last year’s Championship game loss. Too good to pass up at this big dog price point!

120-58-3 ATS (67%) ATS Joe’s FREE Plays this Season.