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It is safe to say that this is an essential game for each of these division foes. Philadelphia still has the edge as the overall better team. However, it has yet to put together a full four-quarter effort. The Giants have played teams tough, but they have forgotten how to win. In what should be a hard-fought battle for all four quarters, whichever team makes the fewer mistakes should win.
My lean for Thursday night is towards the Eagles, but my ‘best bet’ pick is the UNDER on the current 45-point betting line.
The Chiefs offense has been balanced this season, but they haven’t faced a defense that not only can stop the run (11th in RYPG) but the pass (2nd in PYPG) as well. The forecast is calling for steady rain for this game which may make them one dimensional. The Jags will be without star RB Leonard Fournette, and it’s significant downgrade to T.J. Yelton, but they do have the superior running QB in Blake Bortles who has 132 yards and a 7.3 YPC average this season. Jacksonville will also be facing one of the weakest run defenses in the league allowing 123 yards per game on a league-worst 5.6 yards. Taking the points backing a team with the vastly superior defense is the way to go here.
The Browns can confirm that the culture is changing in Cleveland with a win here against a rival that has had their number. This team is hungry, and it is worth noting that this team also has not lost a game in Cleveland yet this season. They will endeavor to keep that trend up and running and should do so as well here. Take the Browns outright.
The Jets have a penchant for sneaking up on teams when they are off the radar. The same situation unfolded after all when they were a touchdown-pup on the road at Detroit. No one though the Jets could get the win and they dominated. This game has a similar feel, and the outcome may end eerily the same. Jets win.
You have to give Dallas credit for pulling out last week's win against Detroit, but there are still some significant issues with this team in all three phases of the game. The Cowboys have played their best ball this season in Big D, so winning SU on the road could be a reach. Houston is far from out of the woods in a disappointing start, but playing this game at home coming off a big win is a major plus.
Home field will be a significant factor between two teams that are not all that familiar with one another. I will lay the three points and take the Texans both SU and ATS.
The Colts continue to play hard each week with Luck back at the helm, and they should be able to keep this game closer than the current 10-point spread. New England needed to make a statement against Miami in a crucial division game, but it could struggle to dial up that same intensity this week.
I have New England winning this game SU, but I will take my chances on another solid showing by the Colts to cover.
Betting against a team as hot as Kansas City does not make all that much sense, but there has to be some concern with a defense that has allowed an average of 30.7 points in those first three wins. The recent betting trends work against Denver in this matchup, but the Broncos know just how important a victory on Monday night would be in the process of turning things around.
My lean is actually towards the Broncos on Monday night with the five points, but my ‘best bet’ pick is the OVER 55.5 on the current total line.
Both teams have done an outstanding job against the pass using the yards per game metric Detroit ranked leading the league and Dallas in fourth spot. That said on paper this will be the biggest test for the Cowboys’ pass defense facing the number 8th aerial attack of the Lions. That’s the opposite scenario the Lions have facing the 31st ranked Dallas pass offense. Some bettors may be worried about the Detroit run defense that has been gouged for a league-worst 5.4 yards per carry, but that is skewed by a few big runs. Ezekiel Elliot indeed can manufacture some big runs, but with the limited threat from the passing game, I expect the Lions to have the safeties up to help. Detroit has too much offense for the Cowboys.
In the times we have seen Josh Allen take the field in both the pre-season and last week, he has emerged as an impact player. As long as Allen is on the field, the Bills are a different team, and he is a dangerous guy to give a touchdown plus a field goal to. Expect Buffalo to menace Green Bay this week in what will likely be an offensive-oriented affair.
New England’s primetime loss was seen by all and that makes the public reluctant to get on board with the Patriots here this week, especially against a team that is undefeated. The points seem quite appetizing here with the Dolphins, but it is assuredly fool's gold. Bill Belichick is better than anyone that coaching up his teams when the road gets bumpy. New England will respond to their last two losses with fury and take it out on the Dolphins. Swallow the points.
The Jets have a penchant for playing up to the level of elite teams. It’s what they are known for. New York loses games they should win and wins games they should lose. This is one of the latter scenarios and an upset perhaps is not out of the realm of possibility. Be that as it may, there is plenty of equity in taking the points. The Jets cover in another defensive-oriented game.
Games between these teams tend to be close, hard-fought battles that do not get decided until late in the game. The gap in talent between these two familiar foes does not appear to be as wide as it has been over the past few seasons, which could easily make this a three-point game either way.
I do not see Baltimore slowing down the Steelers all that much on offense, but the Ravens should be able to put some points on the board against a very porous Pittsburgh defense. That sets the stage for a play on the OVER against a total line of 51 points.
The Vikings are a far better team than the one that took the field at home last Sunday, but a lopsided loss to possibly the worst team in the league cannot be overlooked. Putting aside just how well the Rams have played in the first three weeks, it is hard to see how Minnesota can correct its issues in a short week against the NFC’s top team.
With the half-point on the current spread favoring the home team, I am going to lay the 6.5 points and take Los Angeles both SU and ATS in Thursday night's contest.
When the line opened, I considered playing the Jaguars -6.5, but the consensus line of -10 is way too much for me to feel comfortable laying. Jacksonville I coming off an emotional win over New England and could come up flat in this game. That doesn’t mean that I’m backing the Titans getting the double-digit point spread line. Marcus Mariota is apparently available for this game, but Gabbert is getting the start, and for anyone who hasn't read my analysis in the past, I place him in the last spot in rankings for experienced backups. His numbers this season certainly don't change my opinion with him hitting under 57.1% of his passes this season and to make matters worse the Titans are forced to go with a makeshift offensive line today.
The Packers secondary was exploited for 412 yards last week, and I expect much more of the same this week against the Redskins. Washington has passed the ball well this season with Alex Smith completing 71% of his attempts with no INTs. He’ll be facing the beat up secondary of the Packers who will be without the services of starting CB Kevin King and may be without SS Josh Jones and backup CB Davon House. Green Bay is fortunate to be undefeated this season with a late comeback against the Bears at home to escape with a win and a poor performance by the Vikings kicker to salvage a tie last week, but I believe the luck runs this week in their first road start.
Conventional wisdom dictates that Pittsburgh returns to form on Monday night and Tampa Bay returns to earth. I think it will be a bit of both in a game that is still too close to call. The Steelers continue to add off-field distractions to their plate, while the Buccaneers have built up quite a bit of momentum heading in this prime-time tilt.
Each team has shown the ability to put points on the board, and I believe that continues to be the case in a game that goes OVER the 53.5-point total line.
New England has been faced with some issues early in the season both on and off the field, but this is still one of the premier teams in the NFL with a solid history of bouncing back strong following a bad loss. The Lions are off to a rough start and it is hard to see them turn things around on short notice against a quality opponent.
The Patriots know how to shine bright in prime-time games and the current half point on the spread in New England’s favor make the road team my ‘best bet’ pick to win and cover Sunday night.