- September 25, 2015 at 11:30 am #5474
Preview: New Orleans at Carolina
When: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, September 27, 2015
Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina
A preseason full of promise has quickly fizzled for the New Orleans Saints, who have opened the season with two straight losses and may be without quarterback Drew Brees this week. Brees is questionable with a bruised rotator cuff as the winless Saints visit undefeated Carolina in a crucial NFC South matchup on Sunday.
Carolina edged Houston 24-17 last week despite the absence of All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly, who remains questionable with a concussion. Cam Newton played the role of Superman once again, hurdling into the end zone for the go-ahead score and throwing two touchdown passes. The Saints are in disarray and will start veteran Luke McCown if Brees can’t go. While New Orleans was among the preseason favorites to win the division, a loss will knock them three games behind the Panthers who once again appear to have one the league’s top defensive units.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Panthers -3.5. O/U: 45.
ABOUT THE SAINTS (0-2): Durability has never been a question for Brees, who has not missed a game in his 15-year NFL career due to injury. Brees, who said he is pretty confident he will play on Sunday, ranks fifth in the NFL with 610 yards passing but has just two touchdowns in losses to the Cardinals on the road and at home versus the Buccaneers last week. New Orleans dropped its sixth straight at home last week, a game in which running back C.J. Spiller made an inauspicious debut with just nine yards on a three carries and was seen with his knee wrapped on the sidelines.
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (2-0): Kuechly wasn’t ruled out until a day before last week’s game and his status for this week is still uncertain, but his replacement, A.J. Klein, had an interception and four tackles against the Texans. Carolina followed a 2-0 start last season with a dreadful 1-8-1 mark but still reached the playoffs with a sub-.500 mark. Carolina ranks fifth in the NFL in total defense, but offensively they’ve struggled as Ted Ginn leads all receivers with just 95 yards over two games.
1. Saints free safety Jairus Byrd, who had knee surgery last October, remains questionable.
2. Carolina is riding a six-game regular-season winning streak.
3. New Orleans is averaging just 79 yards rushing on the season, which ranks 26th in the league.
PREDICTION: Panthers 23, Saints 21September 25, 2015 at 11:30 am #5475
Preview: Philadelphia at N.Y. Jets
When: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, September 27, 2015
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey
Chip Kelly’s offense will be under the gun when the Philadelphia Eagles visit the New York Jets on Sunday in a battle of teams headed in different directions. The Eagles are off to an 0-2 start, have struggled mightily on offense and those problems could be compounded if running back DeMarco Murray is unable to play in the crucial contest.
Murray pulled a hamstring on Wednesday and is listed as questionable for what will be a tough task against the powerful Jets defense. On Monday, New York shut down Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts to move to 2-0 and it could have a field day against the Eagles, who are last in the NFL in rushing with just 70 yards in two games. “If we can’t run the football we’re not going to win many games,” Kelly said. One positive for the Eagles is they are 9-0 all-time against the Jets.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Jets -2.5. O/U: 46.
ABOUT THE JETS (2-0): Todd Bowles has even the most pessimistic New York fans believing after Monday night’s 20-7 dominant performance against Luck and the Colts. Paced by defensive back Darrelle Revis, the Jets turned the Colts over five times in a victory but Revis, who accounted for three of those turnovers, appeared on the injury list with a groin pull suffered during this week’s practice. Ryan Fitzpatrick, who will remain the starter even when Geno Smith returns, has thrown four touchdown passes but running back Chris Ivory is questionable with a groin injury of his own.
ABOUT THE EAGLES (0-2): Philadelphia was miserable in last week’s 20-10 loss against the Cowboys, gaining just seven yards on the ground. Even if Murray plays, he’s been ineffective in netting 11 yards on 21 carries in two games after leading the NFL in rushing last season. Sam Bradford has admitted to frustration and has looked lost in Kelly’s spread offense, throwing four interceptions in the first two games with a quarterback ranking of 72.3, which ranks 31st out of the 34 quarterback who have made a start this season.
1. Philadelphia last started a season 0-3 in 1999.
2. Jets WR Eric Decker, who had eight catches Monday night, is questionable with a knee injury.
3. Jets WR Brandon Marshall needs 65 yards to become the 45th player with 10,000 career receiving yards.
PREDICTION: Jets 20, Eagles 17September 25, 2015 at 11:31 am #5476
Preview: Tampa Bay at Houston
When: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, September 27, 2015
Where: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
Fresh off earning his first NFL win last week, No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston now gets the pleasure of going up against J.J. Watt, 2014 No. 1 pick Jadeveon Clowney and Vince Wilfork. Winston will try to avoid one of the best defensive lines in the league when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers visit the Houston Texans on Sunday.
“I have tremendous confidence, but it’s still a privilege for me just thinking like a kid, not even thinking about going against him,” Winston told reporters. “I’m just like, ‘Wow, we get to play J.J. Watt.’” Winston shook off a disappointing debut in Week 1 by being more efficient in the win at New Orleans last week, completing 14-of-21 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown without an interception. “You want to rattle him,” Watt told reporters of the plan against Winston. “You want to lay some hits on him. You want to get him off the spot. You want to get him feeling your presence early in the game.” The Texans could use some of that intimidation as they attempt to avoid falling into an 0-3 hole.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Texans -6.5. O/U: 40.5
ABOUT THE BUCCANEERS (1-1): Winston has been sacked seven times and lost a fumble in two games, but the offensive line is confident it can protect the young quarterback against Watt and company. “We have a plan,” right tackle Gosder Cherilus told reporters. “Hopefully, the plan will be good enough. If it’s not, we’re going to have to do what we’ve got to do. That’s the game – show up, be at your best, and hopefully your best will be good enough.” An improvement from a rushing attack that has produced one touchdown – by Winston – would help as well.
ABOUT THE TEXANS (0-2): Running back Arian Foster (groin) returned to practice but is unlikely to make his season debut this week, and the Texans really could use his contribution after averaging 79.5 yards on the ground in the first two weeks. The lack of a rushing threat puts more pressure on quarterback Ryan Mallett, who is expected to get his second straight start after supplanting Brian Hoyer. Mallett needed 58 pass attempts to reach 244 yards at Carolina last week, and coach Bill O’Brien believes the Arkansas product will get better with more experience.
1. The Texans are playing their first home game since switching the field at NRG Stadium from natural grass to an artificial surface for the remainder of the season.
2. Tampa Bay TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (shoulder) could miss the next four-to-six weeks.
3. Houston T Duane Brown (thumb) sat out last week and is questionable for Sunday.
PREDICTION: Texans 27, Buccaneers 17September 25, 2015 at 11:31 am #5477
Preview: San Diego at Minnesota
When: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, September 27, 2015
Where: TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota
After being gashed for 175 rushing yards last week, the San Diego Chargers will try to rid themselves of bad memories when they visit the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. Adrian Peterson trampled the then-Norv Turner-led Chargers for an NFL single-game rushing record of 296 yards with three touchdowns in their last visit to Minnesota in 2007.
Fast forward back to 2015 and Peterson moved past a small workload in the season opener to erupt for 134 rushing yards in the Vikings’ 26-16 triumph over NFC North rival Detroit last week. “Every week, I feel like I’m going to have a great game. I’m not going to lie,” Peterson said. San Diego’s Philip Rivers has completed 80.9 percent of his passes and has thrown four touchdowns this season and a franchise-best 256 in his career to move past Dan Fouts, who will be in the broadcast booth to call the game. Wideout Keenan Allen reeled in 15 receptions for 166 yards in a season-opening 33-28 win over Detroit and running back Danny Woodhead had a team-leading six catches in a 24-19 setback to Cincinnati last week.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Vikings -2.5. O/U: 45
ABOUT THE CHARGERS (1-1): Tight end Ladarius Green has practiced on both Wednesday and Thursday as he attempts to overcome his second concussion in two weeks. Green has reeled in 10 passes for 121 yards and a touchdown while playing in place of veteran Antonio Gates, who is serving a four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Veteran Stevie Johnson has caught 11 of the 12 balls thrown his way for 127 yards and two touchdowns.
ABOUT THE VIKINGS (1-1): Second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is completing 74 percent of his passes (37-for-50) but has thrown for just 384 yards with a touchdown and an interception in two games this season. The second-year quarterback has flourished at home, recording 10 scores (nine passing, one rushing) in his last five starts. Tight end Kyle Rudolph has proven to be his most consistent receiver with a club-high 10 receptions.
1. Turner served as San Diego’s coach from 2007-12, helping the club reach the AFC Championship Game in his first season.
2. Minnesota WR Charles Johnson has just five catches for 37 yards and zero touchdowns in 2015.
3. The Chargers’ primary opponent has been themselves as they have turned the ball over six times – second only to Indianapolis (eight).
PREDICTION: Vikings 20, Chargers 16September 25, 2015 at 11:32 am #5478
Preview: Pittsburgh at St. Louis
When: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, September 27, 2015
Where: Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis, Missouri
The Pittsburgh Steelers lead the NFL in total offense through two games, and they have another weapon on the way. All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell returns from a two-game suspension Sunday when the visiting Steelers face the St. Louis Rams for the first time since 2011.
Bell, who led the AFC with 1,361 rushing yards a year ago, sat out the first two games while serving a suspension for a marijuana conviction, but new acquisition DeAngelo Williams ran for 204 yards and three TDs in his absence. “(Williams) has been a good asset and acquisition for us,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin told reporters. “He’s working hard to compete and contribute in all areas. … We are excited about having both guys.” St. Louis was impressive on both sides of the ball in a 34-31 win over Seattle in Week 1 but sputtered in last week’s 24-10 loss at Washington. Facing Pittsburgh’s beefed-up rushing attack will be a concern for the Rams, who rank 30th in the league against the run – allowing 153 yards per game.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Steelers -1. O/U: 47.5
ABOUT THE STEELERS (1-1): Ben Roethlisberger has put up big numbers through two games, ranking second in the NFL with 720 passing yards, and needs 223 more to become the fifth active quarterback to surpass 40,000 career passing yards. Antonio Brown (18 receptions, 328 yards, two TDs) has been Roethlisberger’s favorite target, but five players have at least five receptions and Bell is an excellent receiver out of the backfield. The Steelers had a tough time stopping Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the season opener, but the whopping 385 total yards per game they have given up is skewed by the large chunks allowed late in last week’s 43-18 rout of San Francisco.
ABOUT THE RAMS (1-1): After passing for 297 yards and a touchdown and rushing for a score against Seattle, offseason acquisition Nick Foles took a step backward versus Washington, going 17-of-32 for 150 yards and a TD. The running game has stalled while awaiting the debut of first-round pick Todd Gurley (knee), as receiver Tavon Austin leads the team with 57 rushing yards. The Rams boast a strong pass rush led by Pittsburgh native Aaron Donald, but they were gashed for 182 yards on the ground last week and will have to be much stronger against the run to be successful in stopping the Steelers.
1. Roethlisberger has recorded 107 wins as a starter, tying him with Terry Bradshaw for the most in franchise history.
2. Rams LB James Laurinaitis (914) needs two tackles to surpass Merlin Olsen as the franchise’s all-time leader.
3. Brown has at least seven receptions in an NFL-record 13 consecutive games, averaging 8.7 catches and 116.5 yards with 10 TDs during the streak.
PREDICTION: Steelers 31, Rams 24September 25, 2015 at 11:32 am #5479
Preview: San Francisco at Arizona
When: 4:05 PM ET, Sunday, September 27, 2015
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
Carson Palmer hasn’t missed a beat since a season-ending ACL injury in 2014 and the Arizona Cardinals have continued their success with the veteran under center. After throwing for seven touchdowns in the first two weeks, Palmer looks to guide the Cardinals to their second consecutive 3-0 start on Sunday when they host the NFC West rival San Francisco 49ers.
The 35-year-old has been the good-luck charm for Arizona, which has won eight straight with the veteran at the helm since a 23-20 setback to San Francisco in the 2013 season finale. Like Palmer, NFC Offensive Player of the Week Larry Fitzgerald is defying the aging process with a three-touchdown performance in the Cardinals’ 48-23 triumph over Chicago last week. Arizona will look to light up the scoreboard versus a 49ers club that was shelled 43-18 in a loss to Pittsburgh last week after surrendering just three points in the season opener. After rushing for a career-high 168 yards against Minnesota, Carlos Hyde was slowed by a leg contusion and a head injury versus the Steelers, but he is expected to play on Sunday.
TV: 4:05 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Cardinals -6.5. O/U: 44
ABOUT THE 49ERS (1-1): Colin Kaepernick put up gaudy statistics (335 yards passing, 51 yard rushing) with last week’s tilt out of hand, but was held under 250 yards passing in both meetings with Arizona in 2014. The fifth-year quarterback found some chemistry with former Baltimore wideout Torrey Smith, who reeled in a 75-yard scoring strike among his six receptions. Former Ravens and Cardinals wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who had a 14-yard touchdown grab last week, raced 76 yards for a score in San Francisco’s 20-17 victory over Arizona on Dec. 28.
ABOUT THE CARDINALS (2-0): Arizona has traditionally struggled to run the ball but David Johnson showed such a burst during his franchise-best 108-yard kick return for a touchdown last week that coach Bruce Arians stressed that he’d grant the rookie a larger role on Sunday. The jaunt also earned Johnson NFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors to boot. Veteran Chris Johnson stepped in admirably for the injured Andre Ellington (sprained knee) and amassed 72 yards on the ground last week.
1. San Francisco has won five of the last six meetings in Arizona, but the Cardinals have emerged victorious in 14 of their last 18 overall at home.
2. Arizona S Tony Jefferson, who leads the team with 14 tackles, returned an interception 26 yards for a touchdown last week.
3. 49ers TE Vernon Davis has eight catches already after mustering just 26 in 14 games last season.
PREDICTION: Cardinals 24, 49ers 16September 25, 2015 at 11:33 am #5480
Preview: Buffalo at Miami
When: 4:25 PM ET, Sunday, September 27, 2015
Where: Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida
After coming up short in last week’s litmus test, the Buffalo Bills look to measure up with another AFC East foe when they visit the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. Buffalo coach Rex Ryan saw his vaunted defense shredded by Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in a 40-32 setback last week, and faces Ryan Tannehill on the heels of a 359-yard performance in a 23-20 loss to Jacksonville.
Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor showed plenty of both positives (three touchdowns) and negatives (three interceptions) in a losing effort last week. The outcome notwithstanding, Buffalo felt confident enough in Taylor to trade veteran Matt Cassel to Dallas on Tuesday and promote 2013 first-round pick EJ Manuel to a backup role. While the Bills have won four of their last six meetings with Miami, they would be wise to keep a keen eye on Jarvis Landry. The slot receiver has reeled in eight receptions in each game this season after catching five balls in both contests versus Buffalo last season.
TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Dolphins -3. O/U: 43.5
ABOUT THE BILLS (1-1): Plagued by a nagging hamstring injury, LeSean McCoy returned to practice on Thursday and is prepared to battle both the Dolphins and possible dehydration when he takes the field on Sunday. The electric back rolled up 89 yards on the ground and added three receptions for the second straight week to lead Buffalo, which puts its third-ranked rushing attack (153.5 yards per game) against Miami’s 27th-ranked rush defense (142 yards per game). Tight end Charles Clay caught one of Taylor’s touchdown passes last week and faces a Dolphins team with which he spent the first four seasons of his NFL career.
ABOUT THE DOLPHINS (1-1): Miami hasn’t received much bang for its buck with Ndamukong Suh, who has just three tackles and zero sacks after signing a six-year, $114 million deal in March. “It’s still not quite where I want it to be,” Suh told ESPN.com while deflecting a recent report of “freelancing” toward coach Joe Philbin’s denial on Monday. Speaking of struggling Dolphins, running back Lamar Miller mustered just 14 yards on 10 carries last week and his 67 thus far this season is well off the pace of the career-high 1,099 he amassed in 2014.
1. Buffalo G Richie Incognito returns to Miami for the first time since being suspended in 2013 following a bullying scandal.
2. Miami WR Rishard Matthews had six catches for 115 yards last week, marking his most for both categories since he reeled in 11 receptions for 120 yards versus Tampa Bay on Nov. 11, 2013.
3. The Bills have surrendered 811 total yards in two games, which is fifth-worst in the league.
PREDICTION: Bills 23, Dolphins 17September 25, 2015 at 11:33 am #5481
Preview: Chicago at Seattle
When: 4:25 PM ET, Sunday, September 27, 2015
Where: CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Washington
Only five teams in NFL history have made the playoffs after an 0-3 start – a fate that awaits the loser when the Seattle Seahawks host the Chicago Bears on Sunday in a clash of winless teams. It’s the home opener for the Seahawks, who lost only twice at CenturyLink Field in the past three seasons.
The Seahawks’ slow start is especially surprising after playing in the last two Super Bowls, as their once-vaunted defense has allowed 61 points through two games. There’s help on the way, as safety Kam Chancellor ended his holdout this week, but it’s unclear whether or not he will play Sunday. The Bears have looming questions of their own with Jimmy Clausen likely to make only his second start since the end of the 2010 season due to Jay Cutler’s strained hamstring. Clausen is 1-10 as a starter, with 10 outings coming as a rookie in 2010 with Carolina.
TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Seahawks -14.5. O/U: 43.5
ABOUT THE BEARS (0-2): In addition to Cutler’s injury, the Bears could be without receiver Alshon Jeffery (hamstring) for a second consecutive game. Those absences would put more pressure on Matt Forte, who ranks third in the NFL in both rushing (202 yards) and yards from scrimmage (271). The defense hasn’t given up much yardage, ranking seventh in the league at 311 yards per game, but is last in scoring defense (39.5 points).
ABOUT THE SEAHAWKS (0-2): The Seahawks have topped 100 yards rushing in a franchise-record 13 consecutive games thanks to Marshawn Lynch, but he has yet to find the end zone this season and has recorded only 114 yards on the ground through two games. Russell Wilson has enjoyed success running the ball but has to find a way to get tight end Jimmy Graham more involved in the offense after the former New Orleans star was limited to two targets and one reception against the Packers. Seattle has had a tough time stopping the pass without Chancellor but might load the box against Forte to force Clausen to beat them through the air.
1. Wilson is 26-2 as a starter at home, including the playoffs.
2. Seattle DE Michael Bennett, who leads the team with two sacks, will square off against his brother, Chicago TE Martellus Bennett, who leads the Bears with nine receptions.
3. Graham (178) and Martellus Bennett (164) rank first and second among tight ends, respectively, in receptions since the start of the 2013 season.
PREDICTION: Seahawks 27, Bears 19September 25, 2015 at 11:33 am #5482
Preview: Denver at Detroit
When: 8:30 PM ET, Sunday, September 27, 2015
Where: Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan
Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos have not looked overly impressive in the young season, but they still have a chance to improve to 3-0 when they visit the winless Detroit Lions on Sunday night. The Broncos remained unbeaten by scoring a pair of touchdowns nine seconds apart in the final minute last week to eke out a stunning 31-24 victory at Kansas City.
“I’m not quite sure I’ve ever been in one quite like that,” Manning said after Bradley Roby returned a fumble for a touchdown with 27 seconds to play in Denver’s great escape against the Chiefs. Playing away from home shouldn’t faze the Broncos, who set a league record with their 13th straight division road win last week. Detroit has dropped its first two games – both on the road – and is coming off a lackluster performance in a 26-16 loss at Minnesota a week ago. “We’ve got to be more consistent,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. “We’re going to make sure that we get ourselves headed in the right direction.”
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC. LINE: Broncos -3. O/U: 44.5
ABOUT THE BRONCOS (2-0): After failing to produce an offensive touchdown in the season opener, Manning threw for three scores and 256 yards to join Brett Favre as the only quarterbacks with more than 70,000 passing yards. The biggest concern for Denver is getting a dismal ground game untracked – running back C.J. Anderson has rushed for only 56 yards on 24 carries and the Broncos ranked 29th in the league with an average of 65.0 yards per game. The Broncos’ defense has played superbly in the first two games, registering seven sacks and four interceptions while leading the league with an average of 133.5 passing yards allowed.
ABOUT THE LIONS (0-2): Detroit blew a 21-3 lead in a season-opening defeat at San Diego and trailed the entire way against Minnesota as quarterback Matthew Stafford was hit early and often, requiring X-rays on his ribs and chest afterward. Calvin Johnson was invisible in the opener before hauling in 10 catches for 83 yards and a TD last week, but rookie running back Ameer Abdullah was held to nine yards after an impressive 94-yard rushing performance in his NFL debut. Plugging the void left by tackle Ndamukong Suh has been a huge issue for the Lions, who are yielding 147.5 yards on the ground after leading the league (69.3) last season.
1. Manning needs 23 completions to join Favre (6,300) as the only players with 6,000.
2. Johnson has 30 receptions for 470 yards and four TDs in his last four home games.
3. Broncos WRs Demaryius Thomas (16) and Emmanuel Sanders have combined for 31 catches in the first two games.
PREDICTION: Broncos 23, Lions 20September 25, 2015 at 2:58 pm #5543
Brees ruled out for Sunday’s date with Panthers
By ANDREW AVERY
The New Oreleans Saints will be without quarterback Drew Brees for Sunday’s game versus the Carolina Panthers, according to head coach Sean Payton.
According to Katherin Terrell of NOLA.com and The Times-Picayune, the Saints will now look to backup Luke McCown.
According to a tweet from Sports Insights, McCown has not fared well against the spread in his career.
The Panthers began the day as 3.5-point home favorites, but a couple of shops have posted Panthers -7.September 25, 2015 at 9:47 pm #5582
NFL’s 2-point trend has Over bettors on high alert
By Jason Logan
The NFL’s new extra-point rule is forcing teams to take a good, long look at the 2-point conversion this season. It should also have football bettors taking a good, long look at the Over.
With the league pushing the point after touchdown from the 2-yard line to the 15-yard line, NFL teams are opting to try for the two points – which is still snapped from the two – more often in the first two weeks of the season since the NFL instituted the 2-point conversion in 1994. Heading into Sunday’s Week 3 schedule, teams have attempted 16 2-point conversions, making nine of those, and the league is on pace for 56 2-point conversion attempts – double the amount from last season.
In those seven games in which a team scored a successful 2-point conversion, the Over has gone 4-3 so far in 2015. While that won’t turn heads at the sportsbook, looking back further at the impact of those added two points and an incredible totals trend presents itself.
Since 2003, NFL regular season games in which there were at least one successful 2-point conversion are an astonishing 223-93-3 Over/Under – a 70.5 percent winning clip for Over bettors. Games with two or more successful 2-point converts are 21-1-1 Over/Under, for a 95.4 percent Over rate.
Jason Simbal, vice president of risk management for CG Technology in Las Vegas, says that while they are aware of the sudden surge in 2-point tries, they have yet to make any adjustments to the way they set their weekly NFL odds.
“We may have to if (NFL teams) start making it a trend,” Simbal, who says 2-point conversions will not only impact totals but also have a big impact on so-called “dead numbers” with the pointspread, like two and five.
The one team that is rolling the dice on the 2-point conversion is the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have already attempted three and converted each for an additional three points when measured against taking the standard PAT.
“Oh, we’re going to keep doing it,” Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger told ESPN. “We don’t practice it this much to not do it. We practice it every single day. … I tried to tell you guys early on that we would do it, and I think you guys kind of didn’t quite believe it. But it’s something we feel comfortable with.”
Last season, there were 25 regular season games in which NFL teams scored a 2-point convert, with those contests finishing the year 15-10 Over/Under with an average of 55.92 points scored versus a betting total of 46.88 points. The season before that, 2013, the 29 games with a 2-point conversion in the boxscore went 23-6 O/U, averaging 53.75 points per contests against an average total of 45.64. Going back over the past 13 NFL season, games with a 2-pointer boast an average of 51.76 points versus an average betting total of 43.36 – a massive difference of 8.4 points per game.
“It’s going to show up eventually,” Scott Kaminsky, sportsbook director for TheGreek. “The totals will get adjusted as more coaches realize and start going for two more than one. But you will have to wait and see if the coaches wake up.”
Heading into the weekend, the Steelers are joined by the Washington Redskins, Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, Indianapolis Colts, and Houston Texans as teams that have successfully converted two points – whether that be a planned strategy or playing to their games situation.
As for Pittsburgh’s Over/Under number for Week 3’s road game against the St. Louis Rams, the total opened at 47 points and has since climbed to 48 as of Friday night.September 25, 2015 at 10:01 pm #5584
The Muffed Punt: How NFL fans should bet the double-digit diss
By Jason Logan
The NFL loves to turn a blind eye to gambling. And we’re talking the “real” gambling, like spreads and totals. Not what the league decides is or isn’t sports betting – depending on the size of the checks coming through the door (You think the DFS sites pay the NFL with oversized “Grand Prize” checks for those endorsement deals? That would be hilarious).
But in the locker rooms – the throbbing, blood-pumping, beating heart of the NFL – the players, coaches, front office executives, and even the damn water boys know the spread. It’s on the team bulletin board right next to meeting times, travel itineraries and internal memos. And while NFL franchises will rarely admit it, the pointspread is a major motivational factor.
Need to give your crumby team a kick in the pants? “Hey, guys. Listen up: Las Vegas isn’t giving us any respect this week.” Ohhhhhh, snap! Nothing stirs the pot like good ol’ fashioned disrespect. And when it comes to Week 3 of the NFL schedule, two teams are getting the ultimate slap in the face – Rick James style! HA, HA, HA! COLD BLOODED!
The Jacksonville Jaguars and Chicago Bears are dreaded double-digit underdogs this Sunday, and for good reason:
The Jaguars… well … they’re the Jags, and they happen to be heading up the coast to play the still-pissed Patriots in Foxborough. So no one, including Jacksonville’s entire organization, is surprised that they’re getting 13.5 points from bookies. It’s a spot the Jaguars have been in before and one they’ll likely see again before 2015 is over, but not one they’ve been terribly bad in – at least against the spread. Going back to 2010, Jacksonville is a breakeven 9-9-2 ATS as a double-digit underdog in the regular season (3-17 SU).
As for the Bears, they offer backup QB Jimmy Clausen as a sacrifice to the infamous 12th Man in Seattle, where oddsmakers have installed Chicago as a 14.5-point pup. The winless Seahawks are hungry as hell and welcome Kam Chancellor back. Whether he plays or not may not matter in the end. As bad as the Bears have been at times, this is a rare spot for them. And it’s also been a profitable spot as well, with Chicago boasting a 6-3 ATS mark as a Triple-D over the past 10 seasons.
Turning our attention to the other side of this coin, the double-digit favorite, and football bettors have reason to be a little cautious when it comes to laying those heaping piles of points. Teams giving 10 or more points are just 177-203-10 ATS (339-51 SU) since the 2010 regular season campaign, covering those ambitious spreads only 46.6 percent of the time.
New England is the biggest culprit when it comes to not only warranting double-digit love but also falling short of those expectations. The Patriots are a collective 17-27 ATS as double-digit favorites the past 10 seasons (40-4 SU), covering only 38.6 percent of the time. And if you look at their ATS prowess in recent years, Brady & Co. are a deflating 7-15 ATS since 2008 (20-2 SU). Even in that magical 2007 campaign, New England was a perfect 11-0 SU but 6-5 ATS when giving Raisin Bran-sized scoops of points to opponents.
Seattle, which has become the Patriots’ NFC equal (expect for the ability to move the ball one yard), has only been a double-digit fave 20 times in the past decade, with half of those games coming in the past two seasons. The Seahawks are at least better than the Pats at one thing, posting a 10-8-2 ATS mark when giving 10 or more points. Last year, Seattle was 1-2-1 ATS as a big favorite in the regular season.
If being a double-digit underdog isn’t enough to motivate teams these days, what about staring 0-3 start to season? There are eight NFL clubs currently hanging a goose egg in the win column (Seattle, New Orleans, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Houston, and Baltimore) heading into Sunday, and if you think the threat of a winless September will spark some extra betting value with those teams… think again.
• 0-2 teams are just 107-114-8 ATS (48.4 percent) and 94-135 SU in third game
• 0-2 favorites are 35-38-2 ATS and 0-2 underdogs are 71-76-6 ATS in third game
• 0-2 teams are 50-62-4 ATS at home and 57-52-4 ATS on the road
• 0-2 teams are 56-57-6 ATS since 200
• 0-2 teams went 5-2 ATS in Week 3 last season (hmmm…)
The Madden Project
If you’ve been following along these last three weeks, welcome back. If not, here’s what we’re doing: Basically using Madden 16 on Xbox One to predict the outcomes of real life games for betting purposes.
Last week, Madden 16 killed it. Going 4-1 ATS with its only loss coming by 1.7 points in the Patriots-Bills game. The craziest thing: One of the three simulations run for the Niners-Steelers game finished 45-14 – a very random score compared to the other two. Final score of the actual San Fran-Pittsburgh game: 43-18. This can only mean one thing. The machines are taking over and SkyNet is about unleash hell.
Ah well. There’s no fate but what we make, right?
This week, I only did three sims because I have a busy job and three kids. To quote the infinite wisdom of Kimberly “Sweet Brown” Wilkins, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” Plus, the less power we give the machines at this point, the better.
Facebook went down for 10 minutes this week and every oversharing, newly-single, 30-something lost their mind because they couldn’t broadcast their latest workout pics and vague status updates to people they haven’t seen since Grade 7. “Sometimes you just have to say enough is enough…” WTF does that mean?! Bah, on with the show.
This week’s sims:
Pittsburgh at St. Louis: 35-10/17-37/35-10 – Average: Steelers win 29-19
Cincinnati at Baltimore: 19-31/26-16/17-20 – Average: Ravens win 23.3-20.7
Denver at Detroit: 35-17/21-37/34-10 – Average: Broncos win 30-21.3
Madden 16 ATS record: 6-4 (I’m watching you Xbox!)
Completely ridiculous thing to base a bet on
As sports bettors, we’re always looking for the inside track, and speaking of inside tracks the Houston Texans have washed their hands of the sectional natural grass tray system at Reliant Stadium and replaced that troublesome turf with regular ole artificial grass.
Not only does that banish the worst playing surface in the NFL – one that claimed more than a few victims – back to hell, but it makes for a faster track in Houston for this week’s home stand against the Bucs.
Here are some interesting grass/turf comparisons involving the Texans since the 2003 season:
• 105-93-6 ATS (100-104 SU) on grass (53% ATS success)
• 15-30-1 ATS (11-35 SU) on turf (33% ATS success)
• 104-95-5 Over/Under on grass (42.4 average total points scored)
• 25-21-0 Over/Under on turf (45.1 average total points scored)
Biggest line moves
If you had said the Jets would be 2-0 hosting the 0-2 Eagles in Week 3 before the season started, and be a betting favorite, you would’ve received one of the following: 1. An overly aggressive high five from Fireman Ed. 2. A battery whipped at your head. But here we are, with the J-E-T-S opening as big as 2.5-point underdogs before being steamed all the way to -2.5 following their gritty win over Indianapolis on Monday Night Football.
The other line move of note comes courtesy of Drew Brees’ bum shoulder. The Saints were cagey about their QBs’ status, which had the opening spread of Panthers -3 balloon to -10 before wiseguys bought back the Saints all the way down to +7. Then sharps took advantage of a possible middle and bought back Carolina giving the touchdown, dropping the game to -6.5. After New Orleans officially announced that Brees was out, books moved this line back to Carolina -9.
Books are sweating…
The Falcons. Everyone and their dog is betting against the Brandon Weeden-led Cowboys in Week 3. According to Jason Simbal, vice president of risk management for CG Technology in Las Vegas, there’s been almost nothing on Dallas in this game with both public players and sharps taking Atlanta, which went as big as -2 at some markets.
The Bills and the Chiefs. Simbal says sharps hit both underdogs at the key number, taking Kansas City +7 and dropping them to +6.5 for the Monday nighter with Green Bay, and betting Buffalo +3 and moving that spread to +2.5 against Miami.
Banker game of the week
Colts-Titans. All the money is riding on Indianapolis to not only pick up its first win of the season but also cover the 3-point spread on the road at Tennessee. Simbal says a lot of parlays will have the Colts, meaning a win for the Titans – either SU or ATS – would kill off a lot of action tied together with the late afternoon and night games.
Daily Fantasy Player of the Week
If only I could return my defective Week 2 daily fantasy pick of Davante Adams as easily as I returned my broken vacuum to Wal-Mart last weekend. Adams suffered an ankle injury in the Sunday nighter against Seattle and finished with only 5.8 DFS points.
Despite two duds in two weeks (Owen Daniels with 1.5 points as my Week 1 pick), I’m not playing it safe. To quote Yogi Berra – which is something just about every sports writer with a sense of humor has done this week – “Slump? I ain’t in no slump… I just ain’t hitting.”
DFS Player of the Week: Cecil Shorts III, WR Houston Texans ($5,200)
Texans top WR DeAndre Hopkins is undergoing concussion protocol and is still up in the air for this weekend’s tilt with Tampa Bay. That could open the door for Shorts, who had 7.7 DFS points in Week 1 and just 6.4 in Week 2. He’s been targeted 20 times, including 12 in the loss to Carolina last Sunday.
Shorts mainly runs shorter, underneath routes but that could come in handy if Houston gets inside the 20-yard line. Tampa Bay has be a dismal defense in the red zone, allowing its first two opponents – Titans and Saints – to go a perfect 7-for-7 on red-zone touchdowns.
Injury you should know
Each week I’ll point out an injury that may not register with the oddsmakers, as far as importance to the spread, but could still have a huge impact on how the game trickles out. This week’s injury you should know…
C.J. Mosley, LB Baltimore Ravens
Mosely suffered an ankle injury against the Raiders last Sunday and while he isn’t listed on the team’s injury report for Week 3 he did sit out practice Thursday. If Mosley doesn’t play or even if he’s limited, it’s a major hit to the Ravens, who are still getting over the loss of LB Terrell Suggs. He’ll be needed to stop the Bengals’ two-headed running back monster of Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill.
We know how to pick’em
Each week, we take a game sitting at pick’em and put the hardcore analysis away, leaving it up to which team has the hottest cheerleaders. This week, with my beloved-but-beleaguered Cowboys hosting the Falcons, books opened this game pick’em, with money on Atlanta swaying the odds in the Falcons favor.
Before the season began, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett showed the movie Rocky 3, telling his team not to get complacent with last year’s winning campaign – like Rocky did when he got his ass waxed by Clubber Lang.
After two weeks, I would say my Cowboys look less like a rejuvenated, Apollo Creed-trained “Italian Stallion” from Rocky 3 and more like the punch-drunk, broke as a joke Balboa from Rocky V. And if you know that movie, it’s one of the worst insults you can throw at a team.
Comfort food this Sunday. I’m making ribs.September 25, 2015 at 10:16 pm #5590
NEWSLETTER NFL Football Prediction From Indian Cowboy
Take Under 47.5 Jacksonville vs. New England (1 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 27)
Jacksonville and that defensive line is going to give Tom Brady and the Patriots everything they can handle this weekend. That defensive line is vastly underrated, and to them, frankly this is the Super Bowl. This team comes off their first win, and certainly they have arrived even though others are not giving this team enough credit, we certainly are per our models. And how excited will the Patriots be to play the likes of the Jaguars with so many other teams on the horizon? Note, that this team scored 40 points in their last game and are in for a classic letdown spot here and with the Jaguars strength as their defense, on a low total to begin with for quite the reason, we expect this to be a closer than expected contest and a low-scoring game. The Under is 8-3 for the Jaguars against the AFC and the Under is 3-1-1 in the last 5 meetings in New England as well to boot. We have this contest at about 43 points per our models this Sunday afternoon with Jacksonville likely staying inside the number as well.September 26, 2015 at 3:04 pm #5757
Sunday’s Week 3 NFL Betting Cheat Sheet
We preview the Week 3 NFL action to bring you the need-to-know facts and figures in order to make a wager on the gridiron.
Atlanta Falcons at Dallas Cowboys (+1, 44)
* Wideout Julio Jones has been limited in practice this week due to a sore hamstring, but he has been unstoppable in the first two games, scoring twice while tying to the league lead with 22 receptions and ranking second with 276 yards.
* Dallas turned in a superb performance in limiting Philadelphia to 226 yards of total offense and seven yards rushing behind a 14-tackle effort from linebacker Sean Lee, who was named the NFC’s Defensive Player of the Week.
Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans (+3, 45.5)
* The Colts have gone 7-0 straight up and against the spread in the previous seven meetings with the Titans.
* Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota will receive his first taste of AFC South play, as the second overall pick came back to earth following a scintillating four-touchdown performance in the season opener with two fumbles in a 28-14 loss to Cleveland. When asked how he can improve, Mariota matter-of-factly stated that he needed to “keep two hands on the football.”
Oakland Raiders at Cleveland Browns (-3.5, 42.5)
* Oakland has lost 11 straight (5-6 ATS) and 19 of its last 20 on the road (9-10-1 ATS).
* The Cleveland Browns turn back to Josh McCown as they search for their second consecutive victory. Cleveland posted a 28-14 triumph over Tennessee last week behind Johnny Manziel, who threw two touchdown passes for the first time in his brief career as McCown was sidelined with a concussion.
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens (-2.5, 44.5)
* Andy Dalton enters Week 3 as the only quarterback in the league who has started each of his team’s first two games and has yet to be sacked or throw an interception.
* Visiting Baltimore in September has not been a pleasant experience of late. Joe Flacco has been nearly unbeatable at home in the month, guiding the Ravens to a 13-1 record. The Ravens are 10-4 ATS in those games.
Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots (-13.5, 48.5)
* Blake Bortles could be missing one of his biggest weapons with running back Denard Robinson (knee) questionable, but rookie T.J. Yeldon is ready to step up. The Alabama product took on the extra workload with 25 carries in last week’s 23-20 triumph over Miami and managed 75 yards.
* Tom Brady has yet to throw an interception in a league-high 91 pass attempts and threw for seven touchdowns in leading the Patriots to wins over Pittsburgh and Buffalo to begin the campaign. “He has high expectations and high goals for himself,” New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels told reporters. “He knows that it’s going to take a tremendous amount of work to continue performing at the level that he wants to play at, and he deserves a lot of credit for that.”
New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers (-8, 42.5)
* A bit of anomaly for the Saints as quarterback Drew Brees will miss his first game in his 15-year NFL career, meaning Luke McCown has been thrust into the starting role. According to a tweet from Sports Insights, McCown is 2-7 ATS in his NFL career when starting under center.
* The Under has gone 10-2 in the last 12 meetings in Carolina between the Saints and Panthers, including 2014 and 2013.
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Jets (-2, 46)
* The Eagles are off to an 0-2 start SU and ATS, have struggled mightily on offense and those problems could be compounded if running back DeMarco Murray is unable to play in the crucial contest. Murray participated in practice Friday but, according to Jeff McLane of The Philadelphia Inquirer, “has to pass a more strenuous session Saturday”.
* New York shut down Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts to move to 2-0 and it could have a field day against the Eagles, who are last in the NFL in rushing with just 70 yards in two games.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Houston Texans (-7, 40.5)
* Jameis Winston has been sacked seven times and lost a fumble in two games, but the offensive line is confident it can protect the young quarterback against Watt and company. “We have a plan,” right tackle Gosder Cherilus told reporters. “Hopefully, the plan will be good enough. If it’s not, we’re going to have to do what we’ve got to do. That’s the game – show up, be at your best, and hopefully your best will be good enough.”
* The Texans are playing their first home game since switching the field at NRG Stadium from natural grass to an artificial surface for the remainder of the season.
San Diego Chargers at Minnesota Vikings (-2, 44.5)
* The Chargers’ primary opponent has been themselves as they have turned the ball over six times – second only to Indianapolis (eight).
* Second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is completing 74 percent of his passes (37-for-50) but has thrown for just 384 yards with a touchdown and an interception in two games this season. The second-year quarterback has flourished at home, recording 10 scores (nine passing, one rushing) in his last five starts.
Pittsburgh Steelers at St. Louis Rams (-1, 48)
* The Steelers have led the way in two-point conversions this season, hitting on all three attempts including two last week versus the 49ers. Games with two or more successful 2-point converts are 21-1-1 Over/Under, for a 95.4 percent Over rate. Oh yeah. All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell returns from a two-game suspension Sunday.
* After passing for 297 yards and a touchdown and rushing for a score against Seattle, offseason acquisition Nick Foles took a step backward versus Washington, going 17-of-32 for 150 yards and a TD. The running game has stalled while awaiting the debut of first-round pick Todd Gurley (knee), as receiver Tavon Austin leads the team with 57 rushing yards.
San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals (-6.5, 45)
* After rushing for a career-high 168 yards against Minnesota, Carlos Hyde was slowed by a leg contusion and a head injury versus the Steelers, but he is expected to play on Sunday.
* Arizona has traditionally struggled to run the ball but David Johnson showed such a burst during his franchise-best 108-yard kick return for a touchdown last week that coach Bruce Arians stressed that he’d grant the rookie a larger role on Sunday.
Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins (-2.5, 41.5)
* Plagued by a nagging hamstring injury, LeSean McCoy returned to practice on Thursday and is prepared to battle both the Dolphins and possible dehydration when he takes the field on Sunday. The electric back rolled up 89 yards on the ground and added three receptions for the second straight week to lead Buffalo, which puts its third-ranked rushing attack (153.5 yards per game) against Miami’s 27th-ranked rush defense (142 yards per game).
* The favorite is 7-1 ATS in their last eight meetings between the two AFC East rivals. Books opened the Dolphins as 2.5-point home favorites, but that is now -2.5.
Chicago Bears at Seattle Seahawks (-14.5, 43.5)
* The absences of Jay Cutler and Alshon Jeffery will surely put more pressure on Matt Forte, who ranks third in the NFL in both rushing (202 yards) and yards from scrimmage (271).
* The Seahawks’ slow start is especially surprising after playing in the last two Super Bowls, as their once-vaunted defense has allowed 61 points through two games. There’s help on the way, as safety Kam Chancellor ended his holdout this week, but it’s unclear whether or not he will play Sunday.
Denver Broncos at Detroit Lions (+3, 44.5)
* The Broncos remained unbeaten by scoring a pair of touchdowns nine seconds apart in the final minute last week to eke out a stunning 31-24 victory at Kansas City.
* Detroit blew a 21-3 lead in a season-opening defeat at San Diego and trailed the entire way against Minnesota as quarterback Matthew Stafford was hit early and often, requiring X-rays on his ribs and chest afterward.September 26, 2015 at 4:46 pm #5762
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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