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Archive for the ‘ NFL ’ Category

This week NFL fans are treated to a great matchup as the 5-2 San Diego Chargers travel to Colorado to take on the 5-1 Denver Broncos in the 110th meeting of AFC East division rivals. Denver leads the series 59-49-1, and won two of the three meetings last year – including their first-ever post-season game, ending San Diego’s 2013 season with a 24-17 victory at Mile High – in games that were all decided by no more than eight points.

 

San Diego has burned through Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead and Donald Brown at running back already this year, but Brandon Oliver has given the Chargers a boost, averaging 4.7 yards per carry and 128 yards from scrimmage in the last three games as a starter. Philip Rivers has been absolutely on fire, completing 67.4% of his passes (5th best in the NFL) with 17 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Rivers ranks third in passing yards (1,961) and is third with a 113.0 passer rating.

As great as Rivers has been at quarterback this season, his counterpart for Denver has been just as good if not better. Peyton Manning has thrown 19 touchdowns to only three interceptions, leads the NFL with a 118.2 passer rating, and is second in the league with 8.52 yards per pass attempt – just a hair behind Rivers 8.53 ypa.

Injuries could have a profound effect in this game. San Diego’s top corner Brandon Flowers is not expected to play due to a concussion he suffered last week, and CB Jason Verrett may also miss the game with a shoulder injury.

 

Team Records: Broncos 5-1 (4-0 at home); Chargers 5-2 (2-1 away)

Last Year: Broncos 28-20 at San Diego (Nov 10); Chargers won 27-20 at Denver (Dec 12); Broncos won 24-17 (Jan 12)

Last Week: Broncos beat San Francisco at home 42-17; Chargers lost to Kansas City 23-20 at home

 

Turnovers – Per Game Averages and League Ranks
Giveaways: Chargers 0.4 (1st); Broncos 0.7 (T-3rd)
Takeaways: Chargers 1.3 (T-20th); Broncos 1.0 (T-25th)
Differential: Chargers +0.9 (4th); Broncos +0.3 (T-9th)

Penalties per Game: Chargers 5.9 (8th); Broncos 8.0 (26th)
Penalty Yards per Game: Chargers 55.1 (15th); Broncos 68.5 (26th)
Opponent Penalties: Chargers 8.1 (5th); Broncos 5.7 (T-27th)
Opponent Penalty Yards: Chargers 65.0 (10th); Broncos 37.8 (32nd)

 

Offense – Per Game Averages and League Ranks

Points: Chargers 26.3 (9th); Broncos 31.5 (1st)
Yards: Chargers 360 (11th); Broncos 394 (4th)
Plays: Chargers 64.0 (20th); Broncos 64.2 (18th)
Yards per Play: Chargers 5.6 (12th); Broncos 6.1 (3rd)
First Downs: Chargers 20.6 (16th); Broncos 21.8 (7th)
Third Down Conversions: Chargers 7.6 (2nd); Broncos 5.8 (10th)
Third Down Percentage: Chargers 51.5% (2nd); Broncos 44.3% (8th)
Time of Possession: Chargers 32:37 (5th); Broncos 30:07 (14th)

Passing Yards: Chargers 271 (6th); Broncos 299 (3rd)
Completion Percentage: Chargers 67.1% (5th); Broncos 68.3% (2nd)
Passer Rating: Chargers 112.5 (3rd); Broncos 117.7 (1st)
Gross Yards per Pass: Chargers 8.5 (1st); Broncos 8.5 (2nd)
Net Yards per Attempt: Chargers 8.2 (2nd); Broncos 8.2 (1st)
Touchdown Passes: Chargers 17 (4th); Broncos 19 (T-1st)
Interceptions: Chargers 3 (T-6th); Broncos 3 (T-6th)
TD-Interception Differential: Chargers +14 (3rd); Broncos +16 (2nd)
Completions: Chargers 22.1 (17th); Broncos 24.8 (5th)
Incompletions: Chargers 10.9 (5th); Broncos 11.5 (8th)
Sacks Allowed: Chargers 1.6 (T-8th); Broncos 1.3 (6th)
Sack Yardage Lost: Chargers 66 (10th); Broncos 55 (7th)

Rushing Yards: Chargers 89.3 (29th); Broncos 95.2 (25th)
Yards per Rush: Chargers 3.0 (32nd); Broncos 3.6 (28th)
Rushing First Downs: Chargers 5.1 (T-24th); Broncos 5.2 (23rd)

Yards per Point: Chargers 13.7 (7th); Broncos 12.5 (3rd)
Points per Play: Chargers .411 (7th); Broncos .491 (1st)
Red Zone Chances: Chargers 3.6 (T-9th); Broncos 3.2 (T-18th)
Red Zone Scores: Chargers 2.0 (T-13th); Broncos 2.5 (T-3rd)
Red Zone TD Percentage: Chargers 56.0% (17th); Broncos 78.9% (1st)

 

Special Teams

Field Goals Made: Chargers 2.0 (T-4th); Broncos 1.0 (T-27th)
Punting Gross Yards: Chargers 45.7 (15th); Broncos 45.8 (13th)
Punting Net Yards: Chargers 43.0 (8th); Broncos 43.0 (10th)
Opponents FG Made: Chargers 0.9 (T-1st); Broncos 1.3 (T-8th)
Opp Gross Punting: Chargers 48.9 (30th); Broncos 47.4 (27th)
Opp Net Punting: Chargers 45.1 (29th); Broncos 45.1 (30th)

 

Defense – Per Game Averages and League Ranks

Points: Chargers 16.3 (3rd); Broncos 20.2 (T-6th)
Yards: Chargers 316 (5th); Broncos 317 (6th)
Plays: Chargers 59.0 (4th); Broncos 68.0 (24th)
Yards per Play: Chargers 5.4 (12th); Broncos 4.7 (2nd)
First Downs: Chargers 17.9 (3rd); Broncos 20.7 (19th)
Third Down Conversions: Chargers 5.7 (T-19th); Broncos 5.5 (18th)
Third Down Percentage: Chargers 45.5% (21st); Broncos 37.1% (8th)
Time of Possession: Chargers 27:22 (5th); Broncos 29:53 (14th)

Passing Yards: Chargers 210 (3rd); Broncos 243 (18th)
Completion Percentage: Chargers 61.2% (12th); Broncos 58.5% (2nd)
Passer Rating: Chargers 90.0 (14th); Broncos 80.6 (5th)
Gross Yards per Pass: Chargers 6.8 (7th); Broncos 6.3 (2nd)
Net Yards per Attempt: Chargers 6.3 (7th); Broncos 5.8 (2nd)
Touchdown Passes: Chargers 11 (T-12th); Broncos 9 (T-6th)
Interceptions: Chargers 4 (T-18th); Broncos 5 (17th)
TD-Interception Differential: Chargers -7 (T-18th); Broncos -4 (T-8th)
Completions: Chargers 20.3 (6th); Broncos 24.7 (T-28th)
Incompletions: Chargers 12.9 (T-14th); Broncos 17.5 (2nd)
Sacks: Chargers 2.1 (T-16th); Broncos 3.5 (1st)
Sack Yardage: Chargers 108 (14th); Broncos 135 (2nd)

Rushing Yards: Chargers 107 (13th); Broncos 74 (3rd)
Yards per Rush: Chargers 4.5 (24th); Broncos 3.3 (5th)
Rushing First Downs: Chargers 5.4 (T-16th); Broncos 3.5 (1st)

Yards per Point: Chargers 19.4 (2nd); Broncos 15.7 (15th)
Points per Play: Chargers .276 (3rd); Broncos .297 (4th)
Red Zone Chances: Chargers 1.9 (1st); Broncos 3.3 (T-17th)
Red Zone Scores (TD): Chargers 1.4 (T-4th); Broncos 1.7 (T-8th)
Red Zone TD Percentage: Chargers 76.7% (32nd); Broncos 50.0% (T-6th)

 

Odds

As of Thursday morning:
Broncos -9
Over 52½
Denver -450
San Diego +350

Denver opened up as a 6½ point favorite, but that has zoomed up to nine points as nearly all the early money went with the Broncos. Similarly the majority of the early money went with the over, though the early delta was not as dramatic. As of Thursday morning a lot of late money sided with the Chargers, resulting in their being about a 60-40 split in favor Denver. Meanwhile more money came in on the over rather than that balancing out, with their being about 80% going with the over as of Thursday morning.

San Diego (5-2 ATS, 3-4 over) has failed to cover the last two weeks after doing so in each of their first five games; they have going under and over in each of their seven games this season. The Chargers are 2-1 ATS on the road this year, covering at Arizona and Buffalo before failing to cover in a three-point victory at Oakland two weeks ago. San Diego has done well over recent years at Denver versus expectations: the Chargers are 7-0-4 against the spread in their last eleven games at Mile High.

Denver (3-3 ATS, 4-2 over) has covered in each of their last three games after not doing so in their first three games prior to their bye week. The Broncos also went over in each of those three covers – convincingly twice (in home games by 11 last week versus the Niners, and by 14 three weeks ago against Arizona), and just barely two weeks ago – by one point on a last-minute pick-six against the Jets.

 

Pick • Broncos 31, Chargers 24
San Diego +9
over 51

 

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publisher of this website. Neither the author nor this website promote or advocate gambling. This is solely for entertainment purposes only. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, please call 1-888-ADMIT-IT.

 

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2014 NFL Calendar and Key Dates for the New England Patriots

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Week 8 NFL and College Television Coverage and Odds

Any complaints about poor matchups being scheduled on Thursday night should be put to rest this week as the 5-2 San Diego Chargers travel to Colorado to take on the 5-1 Denver Broncos in a battle for supremacy in the AFC West. The game kicks off at 8:25 pm ET and will be broadcast on both CBS and the NFL Network. Jim Nantz will announce the game with Phil Simms as the analyst in the booth, and Tract Wolfson reporting from the sideline.

For those that can’t get in front of a television set, the game will also be broadcast on the radio nationally via the Westwood One Sports affiliates; Ian Eagle (play-by-play), Boomer Esiason (color analyst) and Laura Okmin (sideline reporter) will be the voices for terrestrial radio.

Denver opened as a 6½-point favorite, and that total has moved up to as high as eight points in some venues, with most currently at 7½. Denver’s offense is leading the league in points scored (32.5 points per game) and is fourth in yards (394 per game), and their defense isn’t far behind at 20.2 points per game (tied for sixth best with Kansas City. San Diego owns the the league’s third-best scoring defense (16.3 ppg) while allowing only 316 yards per game (5th). The Chargers have also done a very good job of protecting the ball (3 turnovers, 2nd fewest), which has led to an NFL 4th-best plus-6 turnover differential.

The over/under on this game ranges from 50½ to 52 depending on where you shop, and the money line ranges from +285 to +320 for San Diego, and -360 to -400 for Denver. More on this game later this week, which right now appears as if it should be a gem.

 

For those that have trouble getting up for work Monday morning following a Pats game on Sunday night, here’s some good news: neither the week nine game versus Denver nor the week 13 game at Green Bay will be flexed to Sunday night. CBS has opted to protect Miami at Denver week 12, New England at Green Bay week 13, Pittsburgh at Cincinnati week 14, Denver at San Diego week 15, Indianapolis at Dallas week 16, and leave all of their week 11 games unprotected. FOX protected Philadelphia at Green Bay week 11, New Orleans at Pittsburgh week 13, Seattle at Philadelphia week 14, San Francisco at Seattle week 15, Detroit at Chicago week 16, and left their week 12 games unprotected.

As mentioned previously, there is also some of the new ‘cross-flex’ scheduling in effect this week, as two NFC teams (Seattle and Carolina) will play a game that will be broadcast on CBS. We saw the reverse recently when the Patriots-Bills aired on FOX to help that network fill their inventory of games when they had a doubleheader, with three late games. CBS will be broadcasting the Seahawks-Panthers game over almost all of the US except in the northeast and Florida. In exchange FOX got the Texans-Titans game, which is certainly the short end of the stick in that trade.

 

Here is a look at the rest of the week eight games. It is a CBS double header on Sunday afternoon, with the final two night games featuring all NFC teams – and kicks off with a very early (9:30 am ET) game that is being played in the United Kingdom. Since the Lions-Falcons game will be available everywhere, fans are in essence getting a double header (two games) on both networks. As always, keep in mind that individual stations can and will request changes of specific games being broadcast, resulting in some changes by Sunday.

Detroit Lions (5-2) at Atlanta Falcons (2-5)
Very Early game on FOX
Announcing crew: Thom Brennaman, Troy Aikman, Charissa Thompson
Lions favored by 3½, with a point total of 47
Detroit -190, Atlanta +165
Broadcast in all markets

Minnesota Vikings (2-5) at Tampa Bay Bucs (1-5)
Early game on FOX
Announcing crew: Justin Kutcher, David Diehl, Laura Okmin
Bucs favored by 3, with a point total of 42
Minnesota +130, Tampa Bay -150
Broadcast in central Florida, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota

Chicago Bears (3-4) at New England Patriots (5-2)
Early game on FOX
Announcing crew: Sam Rosen, John Lynch, Pam Oliver
Patriots favored by 6, with a point total of 50
Chicago +230, New England -270
Broadcast in New England, Pittsburgh, Ohio (except Cincinnati), West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Iowa, Colorado, Wyoming, Las Vegas, southern California, San Francisco, Hawaii, West Palm Beach

St. Louis Rams (2-4) at Kansas City Chiefs (3-3)
Early game on FOX
Announcing crew: Dick Stockton, Donovan McNabb, Kristina Pink
Chiefs favored by 6½, with a point total of 43½
Kansas City +250, St. Louis -300
Broadcast in Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska

Seattle Seahawks (3-3) at Carolina Panthers (3-3-1)
Early game on CBS
Announcing crew: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Jenny Dell
Seahawks favored by 4½, with a point total of 44½
Seattle -240, Carolina +200
Broadcast in Philadelphia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and everywhere west of the Mississippi River with the exception of Houston, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming

Buffalo Bills (4-3) at New York Jets (1-6)
Early game on CBS
Announcing crew: Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon, Otis Livingston
Jets favored by 3, with a point total of 41
Buffalo +135, NY Jets -155
Broadcast in Vermont, Springfield, Connecticut, New York and northern New Jersey

Miami Dolphins (3-3) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6)
Early game on CBS
Announcing crew: Andrew Catalon, Steve Beuerlein, Steve Tasker
Dolphins favored by 5½, with a point total of 43
Miami -255, Jacksonville +215
Broadcast in Florida (except Tampa) and Savannah GA

Houston Texans (3-4) at Tennessee Titans (2-5)
Early game on FOX
Announcing crew: Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa
Texans favored by 1, with a point total of 43½
Houston -120, Tennessee +100
Broadcast in Tennessee and southern and central Texas

Baltimore Ravens (5-2) at Cincinnati Bengals (3-2-1)
Early game on CBS
Announcing crew: Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Evan Washburn
Bengals favored by 1, with a point total of 46
Baltimore +105, Cincinnati -125
Broadcast in Maine, western Pennsylvania, Maryland, DC, northern Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee (except Nashville), Houston, Missouri (except Kansas City), Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming

Philadelphia Eagles (5-1) at Arizona Cardinals (5-1)
Late game on FOX
Announcing crew: Chris Myers, Ronde Barber, Jennifer Hale
Cardinals favored by 2½, with a point total of 48
Philadelphia +130, Arizona -150
Broadcast in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, DC, Virginia, North Carolina, Jacksonville, Miami, Cincinnati, Arkansas, Oklahoma, northern Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Montana, Idaho, Reno, northern California (except SF), Oregon, Washington, Alaska

Indianapolis Colts (5-2) at Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3)
Late game on CBS
Announcing crew: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson
Colts favored by 3, with a point total of 49
Indy -150, Pittsburgh +130
Broadcast everywhere except Ohio, Arizona, Reno, northern California and Oregon

Oakland Raiders (0-6) at Cleveland Browns (3-3)
Late game on CBS
Announcing crew: Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcots, Chris Fischer
Browns favored by 7, with a point total of 43½
Oakland +270, Cleveland -330
Broadcast in Ohio, Reno, northern California and Oregon

Green Bay Packers (5-2) at New Orleans Saints (2-4)
Sunday night game on NBC
Announcing crew: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya
Saints favored by 1½, with a point total of 55
Green Bay -105, New Orleans -115
Broadcast in all markets

Washington at Dallas
Monday night game on ESPN
Announcing crew: Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters
Cowboys favored by 9½, with a point total of 49½
Washington +445, Dallas -530
Broadcast in all markets

 

As far as college football games go, this week’s schedule does not look quite as good as the last two weeks, but there are still some interesting matchups. All times listed are for the eastern time zone.

Thursday Oct 23
7:00 – UConn at #18 East Carolina (-28, 54½)
8:00 – Miami (-2½, 49) at Virginia Tech [espn]

Friday Oct 24
7:00 – South Florida at Cincinnati (-10½, 60) [espn2]
9:00 – Brigham Young at Boise State (-7, 59) [espn]

Saturday Oct 25
12:00 – Texas at #11 Kansas State (-10, 49) [espn]
12:00 – Rutgers at #16 Nebraska (-17½, 58) [espn2]
12:00 – North Carolina at Virginia (-7, 65½)
12:00 – Minnesota (-6½, 55½) at Illinois
12:00 – Maryland at Wisconsin (-11, 56)
2:00 — #25 UCLA (-13½, 69) at Colorado
2:00 — UMass at Toledo (-16½, 70½)
3:30 — #1 Mississippi State (-13½, 59) at Kentucky [cbs]
3:30 — Michigan at #8 Michigan State (-17, 49½) [abc]
3:30 — Texas Tech at #10 Texas Christian (-23, 71½) [fox]
3:30 — #22 West Virginia at Oklahoma State (-1, 65) [espn]
3:30 — Boston College (-12½, 40) at Wake Forest
5:00 — #15 Arizona (-2½, 71½) at Washington State
7:00 — Syracuse at #21 Clemson (-14½, 47½)
7:15 — #3 Mississippi (-3½, 44½) at #24 Louisiana State [espn]
7:30 — #4 Alabama (-17, 46½) at Tennessee [espn2]
7:30 — South Carolina at #5 Auburn (-17½, 65)
8:00 — #13 Ohio State (-14, 51½) at Penn State [abc]
10:00 – #20 Southern Cal (-1, 56) at #19 Utah State [fs1]
10:45 – #14 Arizona State (-3½, 61½) at Washington [espn]

 

 

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2014 NFL Calendar and Key Dates for the New England Patriots

2014 New England Patriots Transaction Tracker

 

 

Week 7 NFL Game Previews and Predictions, Straight Up and ATS

Week 7 kicked off with the Jets at the Pats and finishes off with the Texans at Steelers. In between there are several compelling games, starting with the Bengals at Colts, Carolina at Green Bay, Atlanta at Baltimore and New Orleans at Detroit early. The big late afternoon game is an NFC East matchup between the Giants and Cowboys, followed up by the Niners and Broncos on Sunday night.

 

Cincinnati Bengals (3-1-1) at Indianapolis Colts (4-2)
Early game on CBS
Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts & Jenny Dell
Colts favored by 3, with a point total of 49
Bengals +145, Colts -165
Broadcast in New York (except Buffalo), New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana (except New Orleans), Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Wyoming, Utah, Reno, San Francisco, Alaska and Hawaii

On offense Cincy is not at all the same team without A.J. Green, and their vaunted defense is 29th against the run (4.8 yards per carry, 141 yards per game). If Indy can get their run game going (not a given), that would set up Andrew Luck on play action passes.
Pick • Colts 30, Bengals 24
Colts -3
over 49½ (one unit)

 

Tennessee Titans (2-4) at Washington (1-5)
Early game on CBS
Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon
Washington favored by 4½, with a point total of 46
Tennessee +190, Washington -220
Broadcast in Maryland, DC, Virginia, Tennessee and Tupelo

The Titans lost four in a row before barely defeating Jacksonville last week. Washington crushed the Jaguars in week two, and have lost four straight since. Commence the battle for a top-five draft pick behind the Jags… and Bucs, and Raiders.
Pick • Washington 23, Tennessee 20
Titans +5½
under 46½

 

Miami Dolphins (2-3) at Chicago Bears (3-3)
Early game on CBS
Greg Gumbel, Trent Green & Evan Washburn
Bears favored by 3½, with a point total of 49
Miami +160, Chicago -180
Broadcast in New England, Florida (except Jacksonville and Orlando), Michigan, Illinois, St. Louis, North Dakota, South Dakota and Arizona

The Bears lost in overtime in week one to Buffalo, then had to play four of the next five games on the road. Although the Fins played well against the Packers last week, they don’t have enough firepower in their passing game (6.2 yards per attempt, 30th; 217 yards per game, 25th) to keep up with Chicago.
Pick • Bears 27, Dolphins 24
Dolphins +3½
over 48 (one unit)

 

Cleveland Browns (3-2) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-6)
Early game on CBS
Andrew Catalon, Steve Tasker, Steve Beuerlein
Browns favored by 4½, with a point total of 45
Browns -250, Jaguars +210
Broadcast in Jacksonville, Orlando, Savannah and Cleveland

A year ago this game looked like it would be the worst game of the year, but thanks to Tennessee and Washington it’s not even the worst game of the week. I just wonder of Cleveland is in for a letdown after a huge 31-10 victory over their biggest rival, Pittsburgh, last week. While that’s a very real possibility, it’s still tough to go with the Jags, even at home against a team that is not used to winning.
Pick • Browns 24, Jaguars 17
Browns -5
under 45½

 

Seattle Seahawks (3-2) at St. Louis Rams (1-4)
Early game on FOX
Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston & Tony Siragusa
Seahawks favored by 6½, with a point total of 43
Seattle -300, St. Louis +250
Broadcast in southern Illinois, Missouri, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Reno, northern California, Utah, Arizona and Alaska

Seattle gets fired up and exacts some revenge for last week’s loss on an over-matched St. Louis team. The Rams are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Pick • Seahawks 24, Rams 10
Seahawks +6 (two units)
under 43½ (three units)

 

Carolina Panthers (3-2-1) at Green Bay Packers (4-2)
Early game on FOX
Sam Rosen, John Lynch & Pam Oliver
Packers favored by 7, with a point total of 49
Carolina +265, Green Bay -315
Broadcast in New England, eastern New York, New Jersey, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida (except Jacksonville and Tallahassee), Tennessee (except Memphis), Kentucky, Minnesota, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Las Vegas, southern California, Hawaii

Green Bay has played better recently, and the weaknesses they still have (pass protection, defensive secondary) are ones that Carolina does not seem to be in a position to exploit. This is an under-hyped game that could go either way and should be well worth watching.
Pick • Packers 27, Panthers 23
Panthers +7
over 48½ (one unit)

 

Atlanta Falcons (2-4) at Baltimore Ravens (4-2)
Early game on FOX
Justin Kutcher, David Diehl & Laura Okmin
Ravens favored by 7, with a point total of 49½
Atlanta +260, Baltimore -310
Broadcast in Maryland, DC, western Pennsylvania, Georgia and Alabama

Atlanta is allowing 419 yards per game (31st) and 6.2 yards per play (32nd). They are over rated based on a beat down of Tampa Bay – a team which, coincidentally, Baltimore proved that beating easily means very little. On the other hand, it’s tough to feel to good about backing a mediocre Baltimore pass defense against the Falcons passing game.
Pick • Ravens 27, Falcons 24
Falcons +6½
over 49½

 

Minnesota Vikings (2-4) at Buffalo Bills (3-3)
Early game on FOX
Tim Brando, Brendon Ayanbadejo & Peter Schrager
Bills favored by 4, with a point total of 43
Minnesota +170, Buffalo -195
Broadcast in western New York, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota

Buffalo will rebound and take out their aggressions against a rookie quarterback making his first road start. Welcome to the NFL and an angry defense, Teddy Bridgewater.
Pick • Bills 24, Vikings 13
Bills -5 (two units)
under 42½

 

New Orleans Saints (2-3) at Detroit Lions (4-2)
Early game on FOX
Chris Myers, Ronde Barber & Jennifer Hale
Lions favored by 3, with a point total of 50
New Orleans +130, Detroit -150
Broadcast in Michigan, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas

The Saints are a really bad road team in comparison to how well they play at home, but just like in New Orleans, this game is in a dome on a carpet. However, I can’t go against a Detroit team that is allowing an NFL-fewest 13.7 points per game when they are playing at home.
Pick • Lions 24, Saints 20
Lions -2
under 49½ (two units)

 

Kansas City Chiefs (2-3) at San Diego Chargers (5-1)
Late game on CBS
Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcots
Chargers favored by 4, with a point total of 44½
Kansas City +170, San Diego -195
Broadcast in Buffalo, Charlotte, Atlanta, New Orleans, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, California (except SF), Oregon, Washington

After home games against the inept Jaguars and Jets, San Diego’s (then) top-rated defense was exposed last week when they allowed 28 points to the lowly Raiders. While KC’s defense looks better than it did last year, I’ll stick with Philip Rivers – a guy who deserves MVP consideration at this point – over the Chiefs’ 29th-ranked passing offense.
Pick • Chargers 27, Chiefs 20
Chargers -3½
over 44½

 

New York Giants (3-3) at Dallas Cowboys (5-1)
Late game on FOX
Thom Brennaman, Troy Aikman & Charissa Thompson
Cowboys favored by 5½, with a point total of 48
New York +210, Dallas -250
Broadcast everywhere except Arizona, Reno, San Diego and northern California

After years of hype, we finally have an NFC East game that looks like it will live up to the pre-game marketing. The Cowboys are clicking on all cylinders after beating the Seahawks in Seattle, and the Giants – despite last week’s 27-0 loss at Philadelphia – are playing better than expected. Is this going to be a letdown game for Dallas after beating the Super Bowl champs on their home turf? It’s tough to imagine that being the case against your biggest division rival, and the Giants’ defense (4.4 yards per carry, 22nd; 23.0 points per game, 17th) doesn’t look strong enough to stop DeMarco Murray and Tony Romo.
Pick • Cowboys 27, Giants 24
Giants +6½
over 47½

 

Arizona Cardinals (4-1) at Oakland Raiders (0-5)
Late game on FOX
Dick Stockton, Brady Quinn & Kristina Pink
Cardinals favored by 3½, with a point total of 43½
Arizona -175, Oakland +155
Broadcast in Arizona, Reno and northern California

At some point this season the Raiders will win a game, but I don’t see it happening when their 31st-ranked run defense (149.8 yards per game) attempts to control a game against a third-ranked rushing defense (75.8 yards per game). However, Arizona’s offense and pass defense is such that an Oakland win would not shock me.
Pick • Cardinals 23, Raiders 20
Raiders +4½
under 44½

 

San Francisco 49ers (4-2) at Denver Broncos (4-1)
Sunday night game on NBC
Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth & Michelle Tafoya
Broncos favored by 6½, with a point total of 51½
San Francisco +260, Denver -320

Denver is starting to look as if they are in synch, while San Francisco is looking as if they are just a bit too old and slow. Regardless, this is a must-see game, and best matchup of the week.
Pick • Broncos 24, Niners 20
Niners +6½
under 50½

 

Houston Texans (3-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3)
Monday night game on ESPN
Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden & Lisa Salters
Steelers favored by 3½, with a point total of 44½
Houston +160, Pittsburgh -180

I wasn’t expecting a whole lot from the Steelers this year, but I wasn’t expecting this: a loss at home to a one-win team, a 20-point loss to the Ravens, and a 21-point loss to the Browns. Houston adds to Steel Town’s misery on Monday Night Football.
Pick • Texans 24, Steelers 21
Texans +3½ (one unit)
under 44½

 

Bye Week: Philadelphia Eagles (5-1), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-5)

 

 

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publisher of this website. Neither the author nor this website promote or advocate gambling. This is solely for entertainment purposes only. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, please call 1-888-ADMIT-IT.

 

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Week 7 NFL Television Coverage and Odds

NFL week seven kicks off at 8:25 pm ET on Thursday night as the 4-2 New England Patriots have a short week to recover from season-ending injuries to two of their starters, and host their biggest rival, the 1-5 New York Jets. The game will be broadcast on both CBS and the NFL Network, with Jim Nantz handling the play-by-play calls. Phil Simms will serve as the color analyst and Tracy Wolfson will be the sideline reporter. The NFL Network will commence their pre-game show at 6:00 pm for those that just can’t get enough, waiting for the game to start; a better alternative in my opinion would be to shut the television off until kickoff and listen to Christopher Price and WEEI’s pre-game show.

The game will also be broadcast on the radio nationally via the Westwood One Sports affiliates, with Ian Eagle calling the plays, Boomer Esiason adding analysis and Laura Okmin as the sideline reporter. Locally the game will also air on 98.5 the Sports Hub and 40 other radio stations in the northeast; Bob Socci will call the play-by-play while Scott Zolak adds the color(ful) analysis, which may or may not include unicorns and ponies.

On a side night, Thursday’s game ‘Ty Law Night’ at Gillette Stadium. Law was voted in to the Patriots’ Hall of Fame earlier this year, and will be honored during halftime of Thursday’s game. Coincidence or not for the New York fans in the audience, Law spent two seasons with the Jets after leaving the Patriots – but after plating in twelve playoff games with the Pats, he never saw the post-season with the Jets.

Despite the injuries to Jerod Mayo, Stevan Ridley and Dan Connolly, as of Monday the Patriots are being listed as 9½ point favorites over the Jets, with an over/under of 46½. The money line is currently set at Jets +415 while the Patriots are -485.

 

In case you were wondering why Sunday’s game at Buffalo was broadcast on FOX rather than CBS even though it was between two AFC teams, here’s the deal. For several years now the NFL has had ‘flex’ scheduling late in the season, where games are moved in and out of the Sunday night slot based on what has occurred during the season, to place a more better and more competitive game on Sunday night – in order to capture a larger television audience.

Starting this season the NFL instituted ‘cross-flex’ scheduling, again in the attempt to gain a larger television audience for their broadcasting business partners. Four weeks in advance of each Sunday’s games, FOX and CBS make a preliminary report of what games will be broadcast in to each of their television markets. If a game is not scheduled to get much distribution, then the other network may opt to pick it up, to help fill their own schedule and distribution.

In this case the Pats-Bills were scheduled to only be broadcast in their own television markets (New England and western New York), just as has been the case for years in games between these two teams. At the time the network suits did not envision Buffalo being a quality team or this setting up to be a compelling game – which in their defense is understandable, given the history of the Bills this century. FOX on the other hand not only had the doubleheader (needing games to air in almost every market in both the early and late time slots), but they also had three late games. That left them a bit light on early games to choose from, so they added the Pats-Bills game as part of the cross-flex program. End result was that the game was broadcast in several western states in addition to being seen in New England and western New York.

From what I have been reading the week eight October 26th game between Seattle and Carolina will be cross-flexed from FOX to CBS, with FOX getting the short end of the stick by receiving the Tennesse-Houston game as a trade-off. FOX had a season-high 19.2 rating for their late games Sunday, which was the highest for either network since 2011 and the highest for FOX since 1996. To put it in perspective, that 19.2 rating – based primarily on the Seahawks-Cowboys game – was nine percent better than what FOX had for the Pats-Saints game last year.

 

One other item of note: last week I raised an eyebrow when I saw that Mike Goldberg would be announcing the Detroit-Minnesota game. As expected his NFL broadcasting debut was apparently a bit uneven. That is not really newsworthy; however, his responses to criticism on social media may result in his career as an NFL play-by-play announcer being over soon after it began.

 

Here is a look at what is currently being scheduled to be broadcast for the rest of week seven. FOX has the double header again this week, and as they so often do, will showcase a pair of NFC Est teams. The Giants-Cowboys will be the primary late afternoon game, and then NBC broadcasts San Francisco at Denver on Sunday night.

I’m not thrilled with the same team playing consecutive games on Monday and Sunday nights (the Niners here; the Pats just did the same at KC and then versus Cincinnati. As an NFL fan I would rather see different teams, and from the team’s perspective that is most likely a bit tougher to prepare for.

Cincinnati Bengals (3-1-1) at Indianapolis Colts (4-2)
Early game on CBS
Colts favored by 3, with a point total of 49
Bengals +145, Colts -165
Broadcast in New York (except Buffalo), New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana (except New Orleans), Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Wyoming, Utah, Reno, San Francisco, Alaska and Hawaii

Tennessee Titans (2-4) at Washington (1-5)
Early game on CBS
Washington favored by 4½, with a point total of 46
Tennessee +190, Washington -220
Broadcast in Maryland, DC, Virginia, Tennessee and Tupelo

Miami Dolphins (2-3) at Chicago Bears (3-3)
Early game on CBS
Bears favored by 3½, with a point total of 49
Miami +160, Chicago -180
Broadcast in New England, Florida (except Jacksonville and Orlando), Michigan, Illinois, St. Louis, North Dakota, South Dakota and Arizona

Cleveland Browns (3-2) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-6)
Early game on CBS
Browns favored by 4½, with a point total of 45
Browns -250, Jaguars +210
Broadcast in Jacksonville, Orlando, Savannah and Cleveland

Seattle Seahawks (3-2) at St. Louis Rams (1-4)
Early game on FOX
Seahawks favored by 6½, with a point total of 43
No money line yet, pending MNF result
Broadcast in southern Illinois, Missouri, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Reno, northern California, Utah, Arizona and Alaska

Carolina Panthers (3-2-1) at Green Bay Packers (4-2)
Early game on FOX
Packers favored by 7, with a point total of 49
Carolina +265, Green Bay -315
Broadcast in New England, eastern New York, New Jersey, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida (except Jacksonville and Tallahassee), Tennessee (except Memphis), Kentucky, Minnesota, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Las Vegas, southern California, Hawaii

Atlanta Falcons (2-4) at Baltimore Ravens (4-2)
Early game on FOX
Ravens favored by 7, with a point total of 49½
Atlanta +260, Baltimore -310
Broadcast in Maryland, DC, western Pennsylvania, Georgia and Alabama

Minnesota Vikings (2-4) at Buffalo Bills (3-3)
Early game on FOX
Bills favored by 4, with a point total of 43
Minnesota +170, Buffalo -195
Broadcast in western New York, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota

New Orleans Saints (2-3) at Detroit Lions (4-2)
Early game on FOX
Lions favored by 3, with a point total of 50
New Orleans +130, Detroit -150
Broadcast in Michigan, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas

Kansas City Chiefs (2-3) at San Diego Chargers (5-1)
Late game on CBS
Chargers favored by 4, with a point total of 44½
Kansas City +170, San Diego -195
Broadcast in Buffalo, Charlotte, Atlanta, New Orleans, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, California (except SF), Oregon, Washington

New York Giants (3-3) at Dallas Cowboys (5-1)
Late game on FOX
Cowboys favored by 5½, with a point total of 48
New York +210, Dallas -250
Broadcast everywhere except Arizona, Reno, San Diego and northern California

Arizona Cardinals (4-1) at Oakland Raiders (0-5)
Late game on FOX
Cardinals favored by 3½, with a point total of 43½
Arizona -175, Oakland +155
Broadcast in Arizona, Reno and northern California

San Francisco 49ers (4-2) at Denver Broncos (4-1)
Sunday night game on NBC
Broncos favored by 6½, with a point total of 51½
No money line yet, pending MNF result

Houston Texans (3-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3)
Monday night game on ESPN
Steelers favored by 3½, with a point total of 44½
Houston +160, Pittsburgh -180

 

 

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NFL Week 6 Previews and Predictions, Straight Up and ATS

Some quick thoughts, insightful analysis and wild guesses for the NFL’s week six games after consulting the magic 8-ball on Friday night.

 

Denver Broncos (3-1) at New York Jets (1-4)
Early game on CBS; Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts
Broadcast in New England (except Boston and Providence), New York (except Buffalo), New Jersey, West Palm, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Indiana, Illinois, and everywhere west of the Mississippi (except Minnesota, California and Reno)

Denver will be without RB Montee HBall and they’ve only covered once, but despite the long road trip it’s very difficult to find a reason to not go with the Broncos. Normally I would consider this to be a bounce-back game for the home team, but I can’t rationalize how that would be the case with this Jets team.
Pick • Broncos 34, Jets 13
Broncos -7½ (two units)
under 48½

 

Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2) at Cleveland Browns (2-2) ★★★
Early game on CBS; Greg Gumbel, Trent Green
Broadcast in Pennsylvania, Ohio (except Cincinnati), West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina (except Charlotte) and South Carolina

The Pittsburgh defense has started to show some positives, with the young blood making some productive strides. This is an early season rematch; the two teams met in week one when the Steelers jumped out to a huge lead early with Cleveland tying the game late before Pittsburgh won on a field goal as time expired. Pittsburgh should be able to do enough on the ground against a Cleveland defense that is allowing 5.1 yards per rush (30th in the NFL) and 153 yards per game (29th) to gain a road win here.
Pick • Steelers 24, Browns 23
Steelers +1½
under 47½

 

Jacksonville Jaguars (0-5) at Tennessee Titans (1-4)
Early game on CBS; Andrew Catalon, Steve Tasker
Broadcast in Tennessee, Tupelo, Savannah, Jacksonville and Orlando

Rookie quarterback Blake Bortles has just one touchdown pass and four interceptions in two starts, thanks to an empty cupboard to work with for the Jacksonville offense. The Jags are averaging only 272 yards per game (31st) and 13.4 points per game – which is how much seven other teams are averaging in a half. Tennessee isn’t much better with a 29th ranked 17.6 points per game. Maybe the two defenses can score a few times.
Pick • Titans 17, Jaguars 13
Jaguars +4½
under 43½ (one unit)

 

Green Bay Packers (3-2) at Miami Dolphins (2-2) ★★★★
Early game on FOX; Sam Rosen, John Lynch
Broadcast in Philadelphia, DC, eastern Virginia, Florida (except Tampa), Wisconsin, Illinois, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, eastern Missouri, Texas (except Houston), Oklahoma (except Tulsa), Utah, Montana, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Anchorage

Since their week one victory over the Patriots the Dolphins have a pair of 19-point losses (at Buffalo and at home to Kansas City), plus a victory over one of the leagues’s worst teams (Oakland). The Packers meanwhile have recovered from two road losses to good defenses (Seattle and Detroit), hitting their stride with two division victories by a cumulative score of 80-27. Miami may have the worst home field advantage in the NFL; cheesehead transplants will be filling Sun Life Stadium to the point where there will be times that you forget who the home team is. Despite Green Bay’s woes stopping the run (4.6 yards per carry and a league-worst 163 yards rushing per game), Aaron Rodgers should be able to win the 15th of his last 16 October games.
Pick • Packers 28, Dolphins 24
Packers -3
over 48½

 

Detroit Lions (3-2) at Minnesota Vikings (2-3) ★★★
Early game on FOX; Mike Goldberg, Brendon Ayanbadejo (no, this is not a misprint)
Broadcast in Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Louisville and Tulsa

In two games Teddy Bridgewater has a 92.7 passer rating, completing 31 out of 50 passes for 467 yards. However, that was against New Orleans and Atlanta; now he and the Vikings face a Detroit defense that is allowing a league-low 282 yards per game, 15.8 points per game (2nd best in the NFL), 208 yards passing (6th) and has 12 sacks (7th). However, the Lions may be without WR Calvin Johnson, and last week were down to utilizing former Patriot training camp fodder George Winn at running back. Even with the injuries stalling Detroit’s offense, I think their defense will carry the club to victory in a gritty bounce-back game after their last second loss to Buffalo.
Pick • Lions 20, Vikings 17
Lions +2½
under 44 (one unit)

 

Carolina Panthers (3-2) at Cincinnati Bengals (3-1) ★★★★
Early game on FOX; Chris Myers, Ronde Barber
Broadcast in New Orleans, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Knoxville, Kentucky (except Louisville), Indiana, Ohio (except Toledo and Cleveland), Baltimore and western Pennsylvania

After being lit up in blowout losses to average offenses – Pittsburgh and Baltimore scored 75 points and totaled 908 yards – Carolina took a step forward by holding the Bears to 347 total yards while sacking Jay Cutler four times in last week’s victory over Chicago. The Panther offense was supposed to be focused on their running game, but injuries have depleted that unit and they are averaging a mere 3.1 yards per carry and 75 rushing yards per game. The Bengals have won 11 straight regular season home games going back to 2012; Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill should have their way against a Carolina defense that is allowing an NFL-worst 5.4 yards per carry.
Pick • Bengals 24, Panthers 13
Bengals -6½
under 44 (one unit)

 

New England Patriots (3-2) at Buffalo Bills (3-2) ★★★★★
Early game on FOX; Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston
Broadcast in New England, New York (except NYC), Houston, western Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Idaho

The Bills are allowing 17.8 points per game, which is 4th best in the NFL. DT Marcell Dareus had three sacks and a forced fumble last week, which is bad news for an inconsistent New England offensive line that may be without center Bryan Stork. After carrying DC Jim Schwartz off the field last week at Detroit, I can’t help but wonder if Buffalo will have a bit of a letdown – something I can’t recall considering very often for a team facing the Patriots this century. I’m not sold on Kyle Orton yet, even though he is an improvement over EJ Manuel; a late turnover leads to yet another victory for the Patriots at Buffalo.
Pick • Patriots 20, Bills 17
Patriots -2
under 45½ (one unit)

 

Baltimore Ravens (3-2) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-4) ★★
Early game on CBS; Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcots
Broadcast in Baltimore, Harrisburgh, DC, Tampa and Fort Myers

Tampa Bay is allowing 31.2 points per game (31st), 412 yards (30th), 8.0 yards per pass (29th) while scoring 20.6 points per game (25th). Baltimore is better in virtually every aspect of this game, and should get the victory; after seeing the Bucs defeat Pittsburgh, the Ravens have no reason to be looking past this game.
Pick • Ravens 24, Bucs 13
Ravens -3 (one unit)
under 44½ (one unit)

 

San Diego Chargers (4-1) at Oakland Raiders (0-4) ★★
Late game on CBS; Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon
Broadcast in Boston, Providence, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Buffalo, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, California and Reno

The Chargers have struggled against the Raiders recently, losing 27-17 last year at Oakland and winning only four of the last eight games between these two teams. San Diego is allowing an NFL-best 12.6 points per game, while Oakland is scoring an NFL-worst 12.8 points per game. In the battle of two teams who once played in Los Angeles, does the loser or winner get to return to the City of Angels? Philip Rivers (12 TD, 2 INT, 70.3% completions, 116.3 passer rating) is having an MVP-worthy season, and should have no trouble guiding San Diego to their fifth victory of the year.
Pick • Chargers 31, Raiders 10
Chargers -6½ (one unit)
under 44½

 

Chicago Bears (2-3) at Atlanta Falcons (2-3) ★★★
Late game on FOX; Justin Kutcher, David Diehl (who?)
Broadcast in Georgia, Alabama, New Orleans, Knoxville, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa

Atlanta has scored 93 points in their two home games, and it’s tough to pick against them in a game where they face a Chicago defense that is allowing a 23rd-ranked 26.2 points per game. Wide receiver Brandon Marshall has cooled off since his three-touchdown performance against San Francisco. In the last three games he has just six receptions for 69 yards while dealing with a bum ankle. look for he and Jay Cutler (four picks in the last two games) to get back on track against a subpar Atlanta defense. The Falcons are allowing 28.6 points and 407 yards per game (both 29th) and 8.2 yards per pass attempt (31st). The moneyline is favorable enough that I’ll put one unit on the Bears there in what is essentially a tossup.
Pick • Falcons 35, Bears 34
Bears +3
over 54
Bears +160 (one unit)

 

Dallas Cowboys (4-1) at Seattle Seahawks (3-1) ★★★★★
Late game on FOX; Thom Brennaman, Troy Aikman
Broadcast everywhere except Baltimore, DC, Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, New orleans, Knoxville, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and Arizona

Mano a mano. Seattle leads the NFL defensively, allowing a minuscule 2.6 yards per carry and 62 yards rushing per game. Dallas lead the NFL with 160 yards rushing per game, as DeMarco Murray (670 yards rushing, 5.2 yards per carry) has run for 157 more yards than any other player in the NFL. Former Bear Henry Melton has helped improve the Dallas defense, but Seattle is still the better team – especially at home.
Pick • Seahawks 27, Cowboys 17
Seahawks -8
under 47½

 

Washington (1-4) at Arizona Cardinals (3-1) ★★
Late game on FOX; Dick Stockton, Brady Quinn (I guess he really is retired now)
Broadcast in Baltimore, DC, Virginia and Arizona

Washington has now lost three in a row, while Arizona is coming off their first loss of the season at Denver. The Skins rely on Alfred Morris and the running game on offense, but the Cardinals run defense (3.0 yards per carry, 3rd; 77 yards per game, 4th) should be able to stop him, just like Seattle did last week.
Pick • Cardinals 27, Washington 13
Cardinals -3 (two units)
under 46½ (two units)

 

New York Giants (3-2) at Philadelphia Eagles (4-1) ★★★★
Sunday night game on NBC; Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth

I’ll let Jimmy Fallon preview this game:

 

Pick • Giants 31, Eagles 27
Giants +3½
over 50 (one unit)

 

San Francisco 49ers (3-2) at St. Louis Rams (1-3) ★★
Monday night game on ESPN; Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden

Two strong defenses face off Monday night: San Francisco is 2nd in yardage (283 per game) and tenth in points (21.2), while St. Louis leads the league in pass defense with 192 yards per game. Austin Davis has performed far better than I expected he would at quarterback for the Rams, but the Niner defense is a whole lot better than the Philadelphia, Dallas or Tampa Bay D.
Pick • Niners 20, Rams 17
Rams +3½
under 44½

 

Two-Game Teaser
Seahawks -2, Lions +8½

Two-Game Parlay
Cardinals -3, Ravens -3

Three-Game Teaser
Broncos +1½, Bears-Falcons over 45, Bengals-Panthers under 53

 

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publisher of this website. Neither the author nor this website promote or advocate gambling. This is solely for entertainment purposes only. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, please call 1-888-ADMIT-IT.

 

 

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Week 6 NFL Television Coverage

Over the last several seasons games between the Bills and Patriots have received virtually no distribution outside those two teams respective home markets of western New York and New England. There were some rumors that may end if both teams won last week – which they did – to set up a battle for first place in the AFC East between two clubs with winning records. However, that is not the case. The only other area that will be broadcasting the Pats-Bills game is Bronco country, in Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Idaho, Utah and Arizona.

This game will be shown on FOX even though it is between two AFC teams, as part of a new agreement to switch some games between CBS and FOX in order to bring potentially under-distributed games to wider audiences. Kenny Albert will call the play-by-play and Daryl Johnson will handle the analysis and commentary.

For the early game on CBS, most of the country will see what could be a laughable blowout of epic proportions: the Jets versus the Broncos. Pittsburgh at Cleveland will air in most of South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio (except Cincinnati), and western Pennsylvania. Two other early games will be broadcast strictly in each of the team’s home markets: Baltimore at Tampa Bay, and Jacksonville at Tennessee.

The late game on CBS is San Diego at Oakland, which will be broadcast from Boston and Providence. The reason these stations will show this game rather than the Broncos-Jets is because there is only one game on CBS this weekend, and they do not want to go head-to-head with the Pats game on FOX. The Chargers game will also air in Buffalo, Miami, Charlotte, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Reno and California.

FOX has the doubleheader this week, with four early games and three late games. Most of the country will get Green Bay at Miami early and Dallas at Seattle late. The two other early games on FOX are Detroit at Minnesota (which will be shown in Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota), and Carolina at Cincinnati (broadcast in western Pennsylvania, most of Ohio, Maryland, DC, West Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama.

Washington at Arizona is one of the three late games on FOX, and will be available only in Virginia, DC and Arizona. Chicago at Atlanta will air in Georgia, Alabama, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota; Dallas at Seattle will be shown everywhere else.

Thursday’s game on CBS and the NFL Network is an AFC South division game between Indianapolis and Houston. Sunday night it’s an NFC East game on NBC with the Giants at Philadelphia, and then Monday night it is the NFC West’s turn as San Francisco visits St. Louis.

 

 

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NFL Week 5 Previews and Predictions, Straight Up and ATS

Some quick thoughts, insightful analysis and wild guesses on the NFL’s week five games.

 

Chicago Bears (2-2) at Carolina Panthers (2-2) ★★★★
Early game on FOX; Thom Brennaman, David Diehl
Broadcast in South Carolina, North Carolina, western Virginia, Kentucky, Cincinnati, Dayton, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota

Chicago (23.0 points per game, 18th; 349 yards per game, 20th) has struggled a bit on offense due to the situation with their offensive line. LG Matt Slauson and C Roberto Garza have missed three games, and to add gasoline to the fire wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery have been nicked up as well. Carolina’s defense is reeling as well, allowing 75 points in their last two games. Ironically the big question mark coming into the season was at wide receiver but Kelvin Benjamin – the fourth WR drafted last spring – has quieted that concern. Instead, the supposed strength, at running back, has become a problem, with Cam Newton less than 100% and the Panthers down to Darrin Reaves, Chris Ogbonnaya and Fozzy Whittaker replacing the injured DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert. Luke Kuechly is great, but with Greg Hardy inactive, DE Charles Johnson nursing a hip flexor and DE Frank Alexander suspended, this isn’t the same dominating defense we saw last year.
Pick • Bears 23, Panthers 20
Bears +3
under 45½

 

Cleveland Browns (1-2) at Tennessee Titans (1-3) ★★
Early game on CBS; Andrew Catalon, Steve Tasker
Broadcast in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and northern Mississippi

My first inclination was to simply go against the Titans, who have looked progressively worse after I had thought a couple months ago that they might challenge the Colts for the division title. The Browns on the other hand have defeated the Saints and lost two games on field goals as time expired, but I’m not ready to go all-in with Cleveland; their defense has regressed significantly from last year. The Browns are allowing 428 yards per game (30th in the NFL), 6.4 yards per play (31st), 154 rushing yards per game (29th), 5.2 yards per rush (31st) and 272 passing yards per game (27th). Tennessee has lost three in a row by a combined score of 100-34, but the last two games were on the road against quality opponents (Cincinnati and Indianapolis). This could easily go either way, but I’ll give a very slight lean to the Titans here.
Pick • Titans 27, Browns 24
Titans -1
over 44½

 

St. Louis Rams (1-2) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-1) ★★★
Early game on FOX; Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston
Broadcast in Missouri, southern Illinois, West Virginia and Pennsylvania (except Pittsburgh)

My initial thoughts were that Philadelphia was the obvious pick in this game, but after re-watching last week’s game between the Eagles and Niners I have my doubts. Injuries have depleted Philly’s offensive line, and the 49ers simply crushed them up front. Yes, the Eagles only lost by five on the road to a good team – but the offense did not score a single point. Three non-offensive touchdowns is an extreme rarity, and the St. Louis front seven is just as good, if not better than San Francisco’s. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the Rams win this game.
Pick • Eagles 20, Rams 17
Rams +7
under 48½

 

Atlanta Falcons (2-2) at New York Giants (2-2) ★★
Early game on FOX; Kevin Burkhardt, John Lynch
Broadcast in New England, eastern New York, New Jersey, DC, eastern Virginia, Miami, West Palm Beach, Georgia, Alabama, Memphis, San Diego and San Francisco

The Giants opened as 2½ point favorites, but based on the focus on the most recent games (Atlanta lost to Minnesota by 13 while the Giants crushed Washington 45-14), it quickly moved up two points. After a horrible game in week one where he looked just as bad as he was in 2013, Eli Manning has settled down with 811 yards passing, 8 touchdowns to three interceptions, and a completion rate above 70% over the least three games. The Atlanta defense is as putrid as it was last year: the Falcons are 29th in points allowed (28.3), 31st in yards allowed (430), 30th in passing yards (276 per game), 31st in yards per pass (8.6) and 28th against the run (154 yards per game). However, the Falcons have rediscovered their offense, with a league-best 44 yards per game and second-best 32.8 points per game. Even though Atlanta is a dome team playing outdoors on the road, I still feel they are the better team. I’m expecting a bounce-back game after last week’s debacle, while the Giants prove that they are not quite as good as they looked last week.
Pick • Falcons 27, Giants 24
Falcons +4
over 50½

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3) at New Orleans Saints (1-3) ★★★
Early game on FOX; Dick Stockton, Kirk Morrison
Broadcast in Florida (except Miami, West Palm and Jacksonville), Mississippi and Louisiana

Everyone is asking what’s wrong with the Saints, but the only problem thus far has been their schedule. In the Drew Brees era, they are a completely different team at home in comparison to on the road, with probably a larger delta in this regard than any other NFL team. New Orleans opened up with three of their first four games away from cajun country, and lo and behold, they lost all three of those away games. Now they are back at home, playing a Tampa Bay team that will probably have a top-five draft slot next spring. Focus on the teams rather than the final scores of last week’s games, and it’s easy to say that this game shouldn’t be close.
Pick • Saints 35, Bucs 13
Saints -10 (two units)
under 48½

 

Houston Texans (3-1) at Dallas Cowboys (3-1) ★★★★
Early game on CBS; Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts
Broadcast in New York (except NYC), Hartford, Springfield, North Carolina (except Charlotte), South Carolina, Georgia, Tampa, Miami, West Palm, Alabama, Mississippi, Michigan, Wisconsin, and everywhere west of the Mississippi (except Colorado and Hawaii)

One year ago the Dallas defense was historically bad, allowing 415 yards and 27 points per game, while at the same time the Texans plummeted from Super Bowl contender to a league-worst 2-14 record. Based on the 2013 season both teams were written off from discussions involving 2014 playoff contenders, but here they both are at 3-1 one quarter of the way through the season – and each club has an early-season contender for MVP. JJ Watt was the difference between a loss and a victory last week, with a crucial pick-six and an incredible nine quarterback knockdowns to defeat the Bills. DeMarco Murray has taken the pressure off Tony Romo – who has done a good job of avoiding turnovers since week one – to do too much, leading the NFL with a whopping 165 yards rushing per game. The Dallas offensive line has done a stellar job of opening up running lanes for Murray, and that could be just enough to neutralize Watt and the Houston defense.
Pick • Cowboys 24, Texans 21
Texans +6½
under 47½

 

Buffalo Bills (2-2) at Detroit Lions (3-1) ★★★
Early game on FOX; Sam Rosen, Ronde Barber
Broadcast in western New York, Toledo and Michigan

While the switch from E.J. Manuel to Kyle Orton is a positive for Buffalo, it won’t be enough for this road game this week. Detroit’s defense is allowing an NFL 4th-best 15.5 points per game and a league-best 267 yards per game. Buffalo has a good defense too, but the Lions have a much better offense – plus they are playing at home.
Pick • Lions 20, Bills 13
Lions -6½
under 44½ (one unit)

 

Baltimore Ravens (3-1) at Indianapolis Colts (2-2) ★★★★
Early game on CBS; Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon
Broadcast in New England (except Hartford and Springfield), Maryland, DC, eastern Virginia, Fort Myers, Indiana, Illinois and Colorado

Indy started the season losing to two quality teams, then beat two mediocre teams; this game should tell us more about how good they are. I wasn’t expecting much from the Ravens this year, but they have won three straight (including wins over Pittsburgh and Carolina) and are giving up just 15 points per game (second-best in the NFL). Thanks in large part to a rejuvenated running game, Joe Flacco is looking better as a passer this year. The Indy defense was already suspect, and the loss of LaRon Landry can only help the Ravens.
Pick • Colts 31, Ravens 28
Ravens +3½
over 48½ (one unit)

 

Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4) ★★
Early game on CBS; Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcots
Broadcast in Pennsylvania (except Philadelphia and Harrisburg), West Virginia, western Virginia, Orlando, Jacksonville and Tallahassee

Pittsburgh’s defense did not look good last week, unable to cover guys like Louis Murphy in their home loss to the lowly Bucs last week. Facing a dreadful Jacksonville team that is once again expected to be without wide receivers Cecil Shorts and Marqise Lee is the perfect remedy.
Pick • Steelers 31, Jaguars 17
Steelers -6 (two units)
under 47½

 

Arizona Cardinals (3-0) at Denver Broncos (2-1) ★★★★★
Late game on FOX; Joe Buck, Troy Aikman
Broadcast in Pittsburgh, Ohio (except Dayton and Cincinnati), Jacksonville, Knoxville, Nashville, Indianapolis, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, California (except San Diego and San Francisco), Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Hawaii

Arizona’s defense has been somewhat of a surprise thus far, allowing a league-best 316 yards per game and 2nd-best 15 points per game despite injuries and the loss of Karlos Dansby in free agency. Even more surprising is that they have remained undefeated with Drew Stanton as their starting quarterback, stepping in Carson Palmer (bruised nerve in throwing shoulder). After re-watching Arizona’s games, they were somewhat fortunate to have beaten both the Chargers and Giants. Denver gets WLB Danny Trevathan back for this game, which should solidify their defense. I think the Bronco offense will just be a bit too much for the current Arizona defense playing on the road at a loud Mile High Stadium.
Pick • Broncos 31, Cardinals 21
Broncos -7
over 48

 

Kansas City Chiefs (2-2) at San Francisco 49ers (2-2) ★★★★
Late game on CBS; Jim Nantz, Phil Simms
Broadcast in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Knoxville, and everywhere west of the Mississippi River (except New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, southern California and Hawaii)

Despite the week four victory over Philadelphia, I’m still not sold on the Niners; much of that can be attributed to an Eagle offensive line that has been hit hard with injuries. Kansas City did not look good in the last half of 2013, and that continued in the first two games of 2014. Is that all in the past, and are they now as good as they have been in the last two weeks – winning by a cumulative total of 75-29? I didn’t think much of KC heading into the season, but now is not the time to be stubborn. At minimum take the Chiefs and the points, with an offense that is clicking against one that has been stagnant.
Pick • Chiefs 27, Niners 23
Chiefs +6
over 44

 

New York Jets (1-3) at San Diego Chargers (3-1) ★★★★
Late game on CBS; Greg Gumbel, Trent Green
Broadcast in Hawaii, southern California, Wyoming, New Mexico, Florida, Memphis, Nashville, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, DC, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and New England

The Chargers are 4-0 ATS and 3-1 straight up, while the Jets are 0-4 ATS and 1-3 straight up – and now have to travel across three time zones. What concerns me though is that San Diego has no running game at all without Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead; they are rushing for only 69.5 yards per game (31st in the NFL) and are dead last with an atrocious 2.4 yards per carry. San Diego faces a Jets defense that is the best in the league against the run, averaging a league-best 63.3 yards per game and fourth-best 3.0 yards per rush. That makes the San Diego offense even more one-dimensional than it already is, and Rex Ryan’s defense typically thrives in those situations. I’m tempted to call an upset here, but between Geno Smith, the Jets secondary and the long road trip, I’ll stop short of that and just go with the Jets covering – but finding a way to lose on an ill-timed turnover.
Pick • Chargers 24, Jets 20
Jets +7
over 43½

 

Cincinnati Bengals (3-0) at New England Patriots (2-2) ★★★★★
Sunday night game on NBC; Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth

Usually I would say this is perfect timing for a bounce-back game, but I just can’t see that happening when I look at the disparity in talent level between the New England offensive line and the Cincinnati front seven, or between the Bengals running backs and receivers and the counterparts at those positions for the Patriots.
Pick • Bengals 24, Patriots 16
Bengals -1
under 46½

 

Seattle (2-1) at Washington (1-3) ★★★★
Monday night game on ESPN; Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden

Seattle is well known for having an audacious home field advantage, but they have also become one of the best road teams in the NFL over the lat couple of years. Washington’s defense looked good in their first two games, but that has been exposed to be an illusion based on inferior competition. The Seahawks will overcome the three-time zone travel and win this game easily – though I wish I could have grabbed it when it was 6½.
Pick • Seattle 31, Washington 13
Seahawks -7 (one unit)
under 45½

 

Two-Team Teaser
Saints (-4), Bears (+9) — one unit

Two-Team Parlay
Saints (-10), Seahawks (-7) — one unit

Three-Team Teaser
Chiefs (+15), Ravens (+12½), Texans (+15½) — three units

 

 

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Thursday Night Football:
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
Preview and Prediction

 

Thursday Night Football
Minnesota Vikings (2-2) at Green Bay Packers (2-2)
8:25 pm ET, October 2, 2014
Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin
Airs on CBS and NFL Network
Packers favored by 8½

 

Minnesota Defense versus Green Bay Offense

Last week against Chicago the Packers scored on each of their first six possessions, as Aaron Rodgers threw for 302 yards and four touchdowns. Randall Cobb caught seven passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns, and Jordy Nelson had ten receptions for 108 yards and two touchdowns as well. Green Bay does not run the ball well – Eddy Lacy is averaging just 3.0 yards per carry – but that doesn’t really matter with a Packers passing game that ic clicking on all cylinders.

Green Bay Defense versus Minnesota Offense

The Packers are allowing a whopping 176 yards rushing per game, which is nearly twenty more yards than other other club. This is the Vikings strength, and their best hope to win this game. Minnesota averages 135 yards rushing per game (6th) and 4.6 yards per carry (8th), with the thunder of 234 pound Matt Asiota (270 yards from scrimmage, four touchdowns) and the lightning of third-down back Jerrick McKinnon (152 yards from scrimmage on 18 carries and one reception last week). If Green Bay stacks the box to stop the run, that leaves Cordarrelle Patterson and Greg Jennings out wide – though if it’s Christian Ponder passing the football, that may no be a bad strategy.

Special Teams and Intangibles

Football Outsiders ranks Green Bay’s special teams 5th (+2.1%) while Minnesota is 12th (+1.4%). The Packers do better on punt returns (allowing a net of 40.6 per punt, versus 43.0 for the Vikings), but that’s pretty much a wash. Two other factors to consider though: first, the weather. It is expected to rain, and Aaron Rodgers plays well in cold or snow, but rain effects him more than it does most quarterbacks. Second is the short week for a road team on Thursday night; even though this is a short trip, Thursday night games historically favor the home team by far more than the standard three-point spread. Third, both teams are coming off much needed, big dramatic victories. The Packers are used to winning big games, and therefore are less likely to suffer as much of a letdown than the Vikings (who are coming off a five-win season) are.

Injuries
Starters or players that receive significant snaps are in bold.

Minnesota Vikings
OUT
TE Kyle Rudolph (abdomen/groin)
LB Chad Greenway (hand/rib)

QUESTIONABLE
QB Teddy Bridgewater (ankle)

PROBABLE
FB Jerome Felton (knee)
CB Captain Munnerlyn (illness)
RB Jerrick McKinnon (ankle)
CB Josh Robinson (hamstring)
LB Michael Mauti (foot)
WR Rodney Smith (hamstring)
LB Brandon Watts (knee)

Green Bay Packers
OUT
WR Jarrett Boykin (groin)

DOUBTFUL
LB Sam Barrington (hamstring)
DT Josh Boyd (knee)

PROBABLE
LB Brad Jones (quadriceps)
RG T.J. Lang (not injury-related)
OLB Clay Matthews (groin)
OLB Mike Neal (hip)

Prediction

Football is the ultimate team sport, but if Christian Ponder has to be the Minnesota quarterback, then I’m placing all my chips on Aaron Rodgers. Even if Bridgewater does go, he’ll be less than 100 percent. Despite Rodgers’ past struggles in wet weather, I’m going with Green Bay to win and cover a relatively large spread; Minnesota will be denied their third upset of the season.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Pick • Packers 27, Vikings 13
Packers -8½ (four units)
under 47½

 

College Football

Kent State at Northern Illinois
343 Pick • under 59 (one unit)

Wisconsin at Northwestern
345 Pick • under 47½ (one unit)
346 Pick • Northwestern +8½ (one unit)

Texas Tech at Kansas State
359 Pick • Kansas State -13 (one unit)

Tulsa at Oklahoma State
363 Pick • under 63 (one unit)

Stanford at Notre Dame
367 Pick • Stanford -1½ (one unit)

Louisiana State at Auburn
372 Pick • Auburn +8 (one unit)

Florida at Tennessee
377 Pick • Florida +2 (zero units)

Baylor at Texas
379 Pick • Baylor -14½ (one unit)
380 Pick • over 57½ (one unit)

Alabama at Mississippi
384 Pick • Ole Miss +6 (zero units)

Two-Team Teaser (two units)
Packers (-2½) and Northwestern (+14½)

Two-Team Parlay (two units)
Packers (-8½) and Baylor (-14½)

 

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NFL extends Sunday Ticket contract with DirecTV

For any of those that were hoping that the Sunday Ticket might become available on a local cable provider, forget it. Same goes for fans that wished that individual games could be purchased through cable television companies like Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, Charter and Time Warner. The NFL today reached an agreement with DirecTV that extends their exclusive rights to carry the Sunday Ticket into the next decade.

DirecTV currently has a four-year deal for the Sunday Ticket with the NFL that was scheduled to expire at the end of this season. That contract had an average annual value of $1 billion; the new deal will increase about five percent the first few years and the average annual rights fee will end up being in the $1.3 billion to $1.4 billion range over the next decade.

This deal means that the NFL now has all of their major broadcasting rights contracts wrapped up for several years. The NFL’s agreement with ESPN runs through 2021, while the deals with CBS, FOX and NBC go through 2022. The only contract that ends this decade is the four-year, $1 billion deal with Verizon to stream games on mobile phones through the end of the 2017 season.

So why was this contract the last one to be finalized? AT&T has been in negotiations to purchase DirecTV for $49 billion. That acquisition was obviously dependent on DirecTV having the Sunday Ticket package, as they are not worth as much without that contract. Their are currently about two million people who subscribe to the Sunday Ticket, and almost all of them would depart from DirecTV if the Sunday Ticket was no longer available. There may have also been a minor issue with mobile phone service providers AT&T and Verizon working together and playing nice, but that should not have been too much of a sticking point since they each have two quite different exclusive rights deals.

As for pay-per-view for single games rather than purchasing the season-long Sunday Ticket, forget it. That’s not going to happen – until 2023 at the earliest.

And getting the final piece of the broadcasting rights finalized with about a forty percent increase to stabilize that side of their business model, all while catching a ton of crap for how they are handling off-field issues has to make the NFL feel good – if not bullet-proof.

 

 

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NFL Week 4 Previews and Predictions, Straight Up and ATS

Some quick thoughts, insightful analysis and wild guesses on the NFL’s week four games.

 

Miami Dolphins (1-2) vs Oakland Raiders (0-3) in London ★★
Early game on CBS; Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts
Broadcast in south Florida, Tallahassee, Reno, northern California and southern Oregon

The Raiders played about as well as they are capable of playing last week and lost; the Patriots were their Super Bowl, and could have a bit of a letdown. The Dolphins on the other hand played very poorly last week, and should be motivated to improve on that performance. The wild card that’s holding me back is that Miami looked so awful last week that I am wondering if that was the real Dolphins, and week one was an aberration – so I am only going to give the Dolphins a slight lean in this game.
Pick • Dolphins 24, Raiders 20
Dolphins -3½
over 40½

 

Green Bay Packers (1-2) at Chicago Bears (2-1) ★★★★★
Early game on FOX; Kevin Burkhardt, John Lynch
Broadcast everywhere except Hawaii, Houston, Indianapolis, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania (except Philadelphia), Baltimore, New Jersey, New York, New England and Florida

The Packers have been terrible in two road losses, but the cheese heads should snap out of their funk in this short road trip against their long-time division rival. The Bears are banged up, and losing CB Charles Tillman makes stopping Rodgers, Nelson and Cobb that much more difficult of a task.
Pick • Packers 27, Bears 24
Packers -1½
over 49

 

Buffalo Bills (2-1) at Houston Texans (2-1) ★★★
Early game on CBS; Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcots
Broadcast in Texas, New York (except NYC) and New England

Both teams took a step back towards their rightful spots in the middle of the pack with their first losses of the season last week. The Bills looked better in defeat, and there’s no shame in losing to the Chargers. Both teams like low-risk ball control offense, so let’s look at the run defenses. Buffalo is allowing 83 yards per game (5th) and 3.3 yards per carry (6th); Houston is allowing 142 yards per game (25th) and 5.2 yards per carry (31st). I’ll go with the Bills in a slight upset on the road.
Pick • Bills 20, Texans 17
Bills +3
under 41

 

Tennessee Titans (1-2) at Indianapolis Colts (1-2) ★★
Early game on CBS; Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon
Broadcast in Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Illinois and eastern Washington

Don’t be fooled by Indy’s 1-2 record; their first two games were at Denver and against Philly. Andrew Luck has thrown for 370 yards twice already, and should have no problem against and should have no problem against the Tennessee defense. The Titans don’t have the firepower (14.3 points per game, 31st in the NFL) to keep up with the Colts’ offense, and a game plan of trying to play keep away with Shonn Greene and Bishop Sankey running the ball is an iffy proposition at best.
Pick • Colts 31, Titans 17
Colts -7½ (one unit)
over 46

 

Carolina Panthers (2-1) at Baltimore Ravens (2-1) ★★★★
Early game on CBS; Greg Gumbel, Trent Green
Broadcast in Pennsylvania (except Pittsburgh, Maryland, Delaware, DC, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, West Virginia, Ohio, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, New Mexico, Arizona, Las Vegas, most of Oregon and Washington, Alaska and Hawaii

The vaunted Carolina defense took a body shot that dropped them to their knees last week. Pittsburgh ran for a mind-boggling 264 yards against the Panthers, including two runs of more than 50 yards each. Now they get to face the Ravens, another physical AFC North team that has rediscovered their running game. Baltimore is averaging 4.6 yards per carry and 137 yards rushing per game, as they have moved away from a long-pass offense that yielded inconsistent results in favor of more of the ground and pound that worked so well for them over the last several years.

The Panthers have also been a team that relies on running the ball, but that could be a problem for them Sunday. Running backs Jonathon Stewart and Mike Tolbert were injured last week, and Cam Newton is still recovering from the rib injury he suffered in the preseason game against the Patriots. That would leave Carolina dependent on DeAngelo Williams, who missed last week’s game with a thigh injury. I think the Carolina defense will have a bounce-back game here, but it’s tough to back them to win straight up on the road with their injuries – though TE Greg Olsen and rookie WR Kelvin Benjamin will help keep it very close.
Pick • Ravens 23, Panthers 21
Panthers +3½
over 39

 

Detroit Lions (2-1) at New York Jets (1-2) ★★
Early game on FOX; Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston
Broadcast in Hawaii, New England, New York, Michigan, Toledo, Miami and West Palm Beach

The Jets’ defense has performed better than I expected they would thus far, thanks to the strong play from the defensive line (10 sacks, ranked 2nd by Football Outsiders) overcoming the deficiencies in their secondary (7 touchdowns allowed, zero interceptions). The big if is Detroit’s offensive line can give Matthew Stafford enough time for Calvin Johnson (questionable, ankle) enough time to get downfield and exploit New York’s corners.
Pick • Jets 23, Lions 20
Jets +2½
under 45½

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1) ★★
Early game on FOX; Thom Brennaman, David Diehl
Broadcast in Florida (except Miami and West Palm), Myrtle Beach, West Virginia, Ohio (except Toledo) and Pennsylvania (except Philadelphia)

Even if the Steelers have a bit of a letdown after last week’s big win at Carolina, I can’t picture Tampa Bay (31st in point allowed, 31.7; 29th in points scored, 15.0) keeping this road game close.
Pick • Steelers 31, Bucs 10
Steelers -7 (four units)
under 48½

 

Jacksonville Jaguars 90-3) at San Diego Chargers (2-1) ★★★
Late game on CBS; Andrew Catalon, Steve Tasker
Broadcast in New York City, Pittsburgh, Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, Chicago, Michigan, Wisconsin, Colorado, Utah and southern California

The Chargers are coming off a pair of impressive wins, against defending champions Seattle, and then on the road against previously undefeated Buffalo. Jacksonville’s defense is awful, allowing 466 yards and 39.7 points per game. San Diego’s issues at running back may eventually catch up to them (they’re down to Donald Brown with Ryan Mathews out for a few more weeks with a sprained MCL, and Danny Woodhead on IR), but that won’t matter Sunday for Philip Rivers.
Pick • Chargers 38, Jaguars 14
Chargers -10½ (three units)
over 44½

 

Philadelphia Eagles (3-0) at San Francisco 49ers (1-2) ★★★★★
Late game on FOX; Joe Buck, Troy Aikman
Broadcast everywhere except Georgia, Alabama, Florida panhandle, Louisville, Tulsa, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota

The Niners have outscored their opponents 59-16 in the first half of their three games, then folded down the stretch by a total of 52-3 in the second half. Philly on the other hand is the first team in NFL history to rally from double-digit deficits in each of their first three games; they have been outscored 54-27 in the first half, then outscored the opposition 74-24 in the second half.

Chip Kelly’s uptempo offense is a matchup nightmare for an older defense like San Francisco’s, though the physical Niner defense is certainly capable of causing havoc with a beat up offensive line like Philly’s. Tight end Veron Davis is expected to return this week, which gives San Fran a boost. It’s tough to win when traveling across three time zones to play a solid team; Philadelphia’s good fortune runs out this week.
Pick • Niners 34, Eagles 27
Niners -4½
over 50½

 

Atlanta Falcons (2-1) at Minnesota Vikings (1-2) ★★
Late game on FOX; Chris Myers, Ronde Barber
Broadcast in Georgia, Alabama, Florida panhandle, Louisville, Tulsa, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota

The Atlanta offense ranks first in scoring (34.3 points per game), yardage (450) and passing yards (334) after posting 56 points in the first 43 minutes of last week’s shellacking over Tampa Bay. WR Julio Jones has rebounded very nicely from his second foot surgery. Jones lead the NFL with 365 yards receiving, is tied for third in receptions (23) and fifth in receiving touchdowns (3) after three weeks. Captain Munnerlyn will be tasked with covering Jones, who is six inches taller and 25 pounds heavier. Atlanta likes to use a three receiver formation, and Munnerln normally moves to the nickel in those sets; CB Xavier Rhodes has been very inconsistent, which could lead for a big day for Roddy White, Harry Douglas and Devin Hester as well.

The Vikings meanwhile will be without three starters: QB Matt Cassel and RG Brandon Fusco are on IR, and TE Kyle Rudolph is out for several weeks with a sports hernia. Their running game is non-existent without Adrian Peterson, and the offense now ranks 28th in scoring (16.7 points per game), 29th in yardage (273) and 31st in passing (174). LT Matt Kalil has struggled in pass protection, and the offense is not built to win shootouts or come from behind to win. Although the defense has held its own – they held the Saints to 20 points last week – there’s just no way the Viking offense can keep up with Atlanta, even though the game is being played in Minnesota and outdoors.
Pick • Falcons 24, Vikings 13
Falcons -2½
under 47½ (one unit)

 

New Orleans Saints (1-2) at Dallas Cowboys (2-1) ★★★★
Sunday night game on NBC; Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth

A pair of teams with good offenses (Saints are 6th at 26.0 points per game, Cowboys 8th with 25.7) and below average defenses (New Orleans is 20th at 24.0, while Dallas is 18th at 23.0) means we should probably see a high-scoring game Sunday night. Dallas has transitioned to more of a running game with DeMarco Murray (5.1 yards per carry) leading the NFL with 385 rushing yards, 25 carries per game, and is tied for first with three rushing touchdowns. New Orleans lost Darren Sproles to free agency in the off season and Mark Ingram is out with a hand injury, that means Drew Brees (288 passing yards per game, 70.9% completion rate) will be throwing often to Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston, Brandin Cooks and Kenny Stills. Opponents have focused on trying to take away the deep pass, and Brees has capitalized by taking what the defense gives him. The net result is the highest completion percentage of any full-time NFL starter thus far this year, as well as the best third down conversion rate (61.5%) of any team in the league.
Pick • Saints 34, Cowboys 27
Saints -2½
over 53

 

New England Patriots (2-1) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-2) ★★★★★
Monday night game on ESPN; Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden

Kansas City had a big win at Miami last week, but after re-watching that game that appeared to be more about how poorly the Dolphins played than how well the Chiefs performed. Jamaal Charles will apparently return to at least share the backfield load, but I wonder how effective he will be coming back that quickly from a high ankle sprain. The Patriots have forced an NFL-best eight turnovers after three games, and the Chiefs have turned the ball over five times; Alex Smith has thrown three picks and lost a fumble, while RB Knile Davis has lost one of his three fumbles.

On the other hand the New England offensive line has been putrid. LT Nate Solder has been shaky, and it won’t get any easier with a matchup against OLB Tamba Hali. Rob Gronkowski has been slowly eased into action (on the field for 108 of 226 snaps), but says that he is ready for an increased role. The Patriots are capable of playing better than they have thus far, but it will be difficult to accomplish that on the road with an offensive line in flux at what will be an extremely loud Arrowhead Stadium.
Pick • Chiefs 23, Patriots 20
Chiefs +3½
under 45

 

Two-Team Teaser
Steelers (-1 vs Bucs) and Chargers (-4½ vs Jaguars) – three units
Steelers (-1 vs Bucs) and Falcons (+3½ at Vikings) – three units

Two-Team Parlay
Steelers (-7 vs Bucs) and Chargers (-10½ vs Jaguars) – two units

 

 

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