To steal a line from Forrest Gump, the NFL “is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you are going to get.” Week 2 certainly played out that way with Tampa Bay, Washington, Jacksonville, Dallas and Oakland all pulling off big upsets, much to the delight of bookmakers everywhere. This week’s slate sets up in similar fashion as teams like New England, Seattle, Arizona, Houston and Green Bay are expected to take care of their opposition with relative ease. Will the reaper show up at their respective doors as well?
Thursday, September 24 –
Washington Redskins at New York Giants (-4, Over/Under 44, 68% backing Giants ATS): Washington has played solid football through two weeks and its defense, which ranks first in yards per game allowed, is the reason why. While the Redskins have turned heads with their surprising start, the Giants have done so with their inability to finish games. New York held a 23-13 fourth quarter lead over Dallas in its opener only to lose 26-27 and it squandered a 10-point fourth quarter lead in last week’s 20-24 loss to Atlanta. Perhaps the Giants need to spot the Redskins a few points tonight and see how that pans out for them.
Sunday, September 27 –
Atlanta Falcons at Dallas Cowboys (+2, Over/Under 45, 80% backing Falcons ATS): Atlanta is getting some love after underdog wins over the Eagles and Giants, but its favored status in Sunday’s game has a lot more to do with the Cowboys injury situation. But buyer beware here. Yes, Dallas is more than a few good men down, but teams have a way of rallying around the backup quarterback for a game or two. And while the Cowboys have folded like a cheap suitcase as a home favorite under Jason Garrett, they are 6-2 against the spread as a home dog on his watch.
Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans (+3.5, Over/Under 45.5, 80% backing Colts ATS): Chuck Pagano might as well have set his hair on fire earlier this week when he proceeded to blame Monday night’s loss to the Jets on Andrew Luck. Granted, Luck was not sharp, but it is difficult to throw the ball accurately when one is under duress at the snap of the ball. He should be used to it, I guess. At least that’s what Pagano thinks. That kind of thinking, though, will lead to a fast track out of Indy, especially if this thing implodes on the Colts. And a loss to the Titans this weekend would probably qualify as such.
Oakland Raiders at Cleveland Browns (-3.5, Over/Under 42.5, 65% backing Raiders ATS): Are the Raiders on the brink of becoming something respectable? It would appear so. They certainly have some nice pieces in place with young playmakers like David Carr, Latavius Murray, Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack dotting the roster. But the odds makers are not ready to jump aboard the Silver and Black train just yet. Oakland is getting 3.5 points from a Browns team that has produced one winning season in the last 12. And this is the same Cleveland squad that was a home underdog to the Titans last Sunday.
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens (-3, Over/Under 44.5, 64% backing Bengals ATS): Birds of a feather flock together and right now the Ravens are among the ranks of the winless. That puts Baltimore in full-blown desperation mode against the Bengals and based on Cincinnati’s play through two weeks, that is not a good thing. John Harbaugh will have his troops ready to play, but it may not matter. At the very least, the Bengals have a tremendous amount of appeal at +3 with Baltimore having covered the number just one time in its last six games playing as a home favorite against Cincinnati.
Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots (-14, Over/Under 48, 78% backing Patriots ATS): What’s that you say? The Jaguars are leading the AFC South? It’s true, it’s true. I know, we’re only two games into the season, but a lot of people would have bet a lot of money against such an occurrence, even this early. But Jacksonville and its tens of fans should enjoy it while it lasts because its divisional reign will probably end on Sunday. The Patriots have a way of embarrassing pretenders and the line in this game says the Jaguars are wearing fake fur. Meanwhile, the Colts and Texans are both expected to get off the schneid, and the former at the expense of the division’s second place team, Tennessee.
New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers (-6.5, Over/Under 43, 73% backing Panthers ATS): The team that calls the city of New Orleans home looks as though it is riding a train into the football abyss. The Saints had major issues before Drew Brees suffered a shoulder injury and now Luke McCown may get the opportunity he was pining for in his Verizon TV spot. Brees is officially listed as questionable for this week’s showdown with 2-0 Carolina, but New Orleans chances of pulling off a win seem worst than that.
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Jets (-2.5, Over/Under 45.5, 75% backing Jets ATS): We might as well label this the ‘For Real’ game. No one is quite sure what to make of these two teams with the Eagles face planting out of the blocks and the Jets rising to heights not necessarily expected prior to the season’s start. But is would probably be safe to say New York is, indeed, for real with a win on Sunday. At the same time, a Philly loss would be nothing short of a dumpster fire for Chip Kelly and his offseason reboot.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Houston Texans (-6.5, Over/Under 40.5, 55% backing Buccaneers ATS): Houston and Indianapolis were supposed to be the cream of the crop in the AFC South, but they are a combined 0-4 thus far. The odds makers expect that to change this weekend, making the Texans a -6.5 favorite over the Bucs. Obviously, they believe Jameis Winston will have a much more difficult time dealing with J.J. Watt and company than he did the Saints soft, banged up defense.
San Diego Chargers at Minnesota Vikings (-2.5, Over/Under 44.5, 52% backing Vikings ATS): Adrian Peterson and the Vikings recovered nicely from their poor Week 1 showing in San Francisco, topping division rival Detroit 26-16. They will face a team with a little more firepower this week, though, in San Diego. The Bolts, who are making a long trip East for a second consecutive weekend, posted 354 yards in last week’s loss to the Bengals in spite of turning the ball over three times. Suffice it to say Minnesota’s 19th ranked defense is about to get its stiffest test of the young season.
Pittsburgh Steelers at St. Louis Rams (+2, Over/Under 47.5, 87% backing Steelers ATS): Ben Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown has become the most lethal combination in the NFL, but it could, at least in theory, become more dangerous going forward with the return of running back Le’Veon Bell from suspension. The Rams do, however, possess a quality defense and one that puts a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. It will need to do so early and often in order to slow down Pittsburgh.
San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals (-6.5, Over/Under 44, 71% backing Cardinals ATS): Perhaps no team in the league looked more different from Week 1 to Week 2 than San Francisco. The Niners were dominant in their season opener against the Vikings, winning 20-3, but they were depants-ed by the Steelers last Sunday, losing 43-8 at Heinz Field. The Cardinals, meanwhile, were the model of efficiency, averaging 6.7 yards per play (second only to Pittsburgh’s ridiculous 7.8 average) in easy wins over the Saints and Bears. If things go as predicted on Sunday, pundits may harken back to Denny Green and declare the 49ers, “are who we thought they were” prior to the start of the season.
Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins (-3, Over/Under 43, 65% backing Bills ATS): What a difference a week makes. Fans of the Bills and Dolphins were both left thinking that after Week 2. Buffalo floated into last week’s meeting with the Patriots on Cloud 9 after its humiliating Week 1 upset of the Colts, but its ethereal chariot quickly disappeared when subjected New England’s sun. Miami’s fate was a much worse one, though. The Fins were a near touchdown favorite at Jacksonville, but they suffered a 20-23 loss to the Jaguars. The loser of this game will be facing an uphill battle the rest of the way in the AFC East with both the Patriots and Jets sitting on 2-0 records and both are expected to move to 3-0 on Sunday.
Chicago Bears at Seattle Seahawks (-15, Over/Under 43.5, 73% backing Seahawks ATS): Not the start to the season the Seahawks envisioned, but the Bears should cure all that ails Russell Wilson and company. Chicago somehow ranks seventh in the league in yards per game allowed (311) and eighth in total offense (368.5 yards per game), but it is averaging 23 points per game while giving up 39.5 per contest. Those numbers will straighten themselves out as the season progresses and the corrections should start on Sunday at CenturyLink Field.
NBC Sunday Night Football:
Denver Broncos at Detroit Lions (+3.5, Over/Under 45, 81% backing Broncos ATS): The Broncos offense has been utterly anemic through two weeks, but they, nonetheless, enter this somewhat odds marquee game with a 2-0 record. Denver’s defense is, of course, the reason for the undefeated start and it is the same reason the Lions are probably looking at a 0-3 open to their season. And Matthew Stafford’s sore ribs are likely to suffer more tenderizing at the hands of Von Miller and his cohorts on Sunday night.
ESPN Monday Night Football September 28 –
Kansas City Chiefs at Green Bay Packers (-7, Over/Under 49, 59% backing Packers ATS): Arrowhead Stadium is noted for its legendary tailgating aroma, but a different smell emanated from the venue last Thursday night. Chiefs fans were treated to a near epic stench as Denver pulled off a most improbable come-from-behind, deal with the Devil 31-24 victory. This week Kansas City will be treated to a heavy dose of cheese as it attempts to recover from last week’s debacle, but, unfortunately for Andy Reid’s crew, the kind Aaron Rodgers usually serves visitors to Lambeau sports its own special blend of stink.