We’re starting to get a feel for which NFL teams are looking to make a long-term run for the playoffs and who are likely to flounder. There are several key games that may help prove the case for some teams, including Carolina (3-0) at Dallas (2-1), Arizona (3-0) at the Los Angeles Rams (3-0), and Baltimore (2-1) at Denver (3-0).
However, the prime slate this week may be as good as its going to be as Tom Brady makes his historic appearance returning to Gillette Stadium. The week ends with what looked like a forced divisional matchup when the schedule came out but turns out to be the Las Vegas Raiders (3-0) at the Los Angeles Chargers (2-1 and fresh off a road win over Kansas City). Get your popcorn ready.
Jacksonville (+290) at Cincinnati (-380)
The Bengals are going to begin getting the respect they deserve. Being favored by 7.5 points (-110 for both teams) is a start. If Jacksonville wants to win, the Jags will need to run the ball. But, Cincinnati has allowed just 235 rushing yards (a 3.3-yard average) and that was against Dalvin Cook, David Montgomery and Najee Harris. If Jacksonville can’t run and rookie Trevor Lawrence is forced to throw, a brief history has illustrated that things will get ugly. Take the Bengals and lay the 7.5 points (-110).
Indianapolis (+110) at Miami (-135)
Indy has made the playoffs two of the last three years but has started 0-3 and their season is on the brink of collapse. But, it should be noted that they played against Seattle, the Rams and Tennessee. So far, I’m 3-0 betting against the Colts, because they were the inferior team in all three matchups. They’re not inferior to Miami, which is a 2.5-point favorite. Take the Colts on the Moneyline (+110).
Cleveland (-135) at Minnesota (+110)
Minnesota is a home dog, but the Browns are the best they’ve faced to date this season. The Browns are a 2.5-point favorite (Cleveland -112, Minnesota -108). The Browns have the best 1-2 rushing punch in the league in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Cleveland has rushed 102 times for 524 yards and eight touchdowns. The Vikings’ run defense is allowing 4.8 yards per rush. Minnesota’s offense is playing extremely well, but the Browns run game will dictate the pace. Take Cleveland and the lay the 2.5 points (-112).
Houston (+750) at Buffalo (-1400)
When you have the potential for a smackdown of this proportion, you have to give a college football number for a non-conference creampuff. The oddsmakers obliged – Buffalo is a 16.5-point favorite (-110 for both teams). If I’m going to bet on a coin flip, I’m going with the team capable of winning by 35, which Buffalo has already done this season. Take the Bills and lay the 16.5 points (-110).
Kansas City (-290) at Philadelphia (+225)
Kansas City is currently in sole possession last place in the AFC West with a home division loss and a loss to a team that could have a tie-breaker edge in January as a result (Baltimore). The Eagles are coming off a short week after a humbling 20-point road loss to Dallas. While this one screams of taking the Chiefs and laying the points, the Over/Under of 54.5 points (Over -110, Under -110) is the safer play. Kansas City’s defense isn’t good, but Patrick Mahomes will supply 35 of the points needed. If the Eagles can get to 20 with a late garbage-time TD, it hits. Take the Over (-110).
Tennessee (-320) at New York Jets (+250)
This is one the head-scratchers of the week. The Titans bring too little return to bet the Moneyline. The Over/Under is a tough call, because you have to ask how many points the Jets need to score to hit the Over. All that’s left is the point-spread, where the Titans are favored by 6.5 points (Tennessee -112, New York -102). Give me Derrick Henry and less than a touchdown? Yes, please! Remember the Titans and lay the 6.5 points (-122).
Detroit (+122) at Chicago (-150)
We are three weeks into the season and Chicago has been beaten by 20 points twice. I don’t care about the ghosts of Soldier Field. This team is a mess, and the jackals were calling for the coach’s head in Week 3. Detroit is winless (No! Really?). But, they hung with the 49ers, gave a blueprint for how to force Aaron Rodgers to run the ball and, if not for a NFL record-setting miracle, would have beaten the Ravens last week. I think I want to roll with the second of those two crews. Take the Lions on the Moneyline (+122).
New York Giants (+280) at New Orleans (-370)
Is there such a thing as two teams in a game you want nothing to do with? The Saints are a much different team at home – especially when you had to vacate home because a hurricane locked in on your town. This is the type of emotional return that Steve Gleason a legend. Pandemic and now this? The storybook says the Saints crush the Giants. But, I don’t trust Jameis Winston. The Over/Under is a scant 41.5 points (Over -108, Under -112). The Saints should march in a deafening way, but Winston will throw the Pick 6 that clinches low number getting hit. Take the Over (-108).
Washington (-115) at Atlanta (-105)
Both teams are relative disappointments. Washington’s defense was one of the best in the league last year but has disappointed this year. Atlanta’s defense is heinous as always. Washington’s defense should be better, and the Over/Under is 47.5 points (Over -105, Under -115). Neither team should be able to completely dominate each other, which could lead to longer drives or field possession games. Take the Under (-115).
Carolina (+170) at Dallas (-210)
The Cowboys are overrated (as usual) and every wins gets someone else jumping on the bandwagon. The truth is, they are what they are and, in the end, are mediocre. The Panthers are 3-0, but two of the wins have come against the Jets and Texans. The Panthers have only allowed 30 points, which takes doing even against lesser competition. The Cowboys are 4.5-point favorites (Carolina -115, Dallas -107). While the Cowboys are capable of dominating at home, the Panthers are solid enough defensively to keep it close and competitive. Take the Panthers and the 4.5 points (-115).
Seattle (+122) at San Francisco (-150)
The 49ers are 2.5-point favorites, but nobody has told that to Russell Wilson. He has been extremely successful against a 49ers defense he has played for a decade. Many are predicting the Seahawks are going to be the also-ran of this division. But, with San Francisco so depleted in the run game, they can’t control the tempo as they’re used to. Seattle will find a way. Take the Seahawks on the Moneyline (+122).
Arizona (+175) at Los Angeles Rams (-220)
The addition of Matthew Stafford has changed a lot of things in the NFC West. The best thing for those interested in taking the Over of 54.5 points (Over -117, Under -103) is that both teams are capable of coming back from 10 points down. Both teams have the defenses to keep this well under the point spread, but both teams force the issue on offense and enough big plays follow that style of play. Take the Over (-117).
Baltimore (-108) at Denver (-112)
Denver is a 0.5-point favorite, which is saying the unbeaten Broncos aren’t the better team – despite being 3-0 to start the season. Ironically, the Broncos are a 0.5-point favorite (Baltimore -108, Denver -112). The Ravens are the better team on both sides of the ball, so getting a half-point is a bonus as the same price on the Moneyline is a must-take. If you have a tie, bets on the Moneyline are a push. If given 0.5-point at the same odds, if the game ends tied, you win getting the half-point for the same price. Take the Ravens and the 0.5 points (-108).
Pittsburgh (+230) at Green Bay (-300)
The Steelers have the look of the team that wheezed down the stretch of last season. But, they went in and won in Buffalo in Week 1 and won’t be afraid to throw 50 times against a middle-of-the-road Packers defense. The Over/Under is 45.5 points (Over -110, Under -110). The Packers have the ability to put up 31 of their own, so it isn’t a stretch to think the Steelers can keep this tight one way or another. Take the Over (-110).
Tampa Bay (-320) at New England (+250)
I quit betting against the G.O.A.T. in a big game some time ago, which did good by me in the playoffs last year. Tommy Boy is coming home and the entire Bucs organization is going to do what it can to make a happy homecoming. The Bucs are favored by 6.5 points (Tampa Bay -122, New England -102). I would lay 10 points and Brady, whose legacy just keeps adding chapters. Take the Buccaneers and lay the 6.5 points (-122).
Las Vegas (+135) at Los Angeles Chargers (-170)
The Chargers are coming off a huge win against Kansas City, but the Raiders are 3-0, including wins against the Ravens and Steelers. Both teams have played a lot of one-score games, which makes the Chargers being favored by 3.5 points (Raiders -122), Chargers (-102). The Chargers have every reason to think they will win this game, but they’re aren’t in a position to be giving away too many points. Take the Raiders and the 3.5 points (-122).
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