Last week saw both the Nap and next best landing but sadly the treble falling with the 49ers defeat to the Chicago Bears. After I had sang the praises of Colin Kaepernick he frustratingly turned in one of the worst performances I’ve ever seen from a Quarterback and was pulled from the game at halftime. Hopefully we can go one better this week.
Pittsburgh Steelers -3 @ 20/21 vs Buffalo Bills (1800 KO – NAP)
With the Bills defeat to the Oakland Raiders last weekend their hopes of ending the NFLs longest run without a playoff appearance are now hanging by a thread. They only have themselves to blame after blowing a 24-9 third quarter lead. That leaves this contest as very much a must win however the problem for the Bills is recently that is exactly the type of game they invariably lose! Recent history is not on their side either. They have lost 5 straight games against Pittsburgh by a combined score of 117 to 56 and last tasted victory against them back in 1999.
The Steelers after some indifferent early season form are now rolling having won their last 3. They are back in control of their own playoff destiny but with a couple of vital divisional game coming up in the next couple of weeks victory here is imperative for them also. The defence has found its way again over this last month while Leveon Bell has rushed for over 100 yards in each of the last three weeks. This looks to be one of the best balanced teams in the NFL right now and with a slim margin of error I expect them to once again win and cover the spread.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers -2 @ 20/21 vs New Orleans Saints (2125 KO)
The Saints have dominated in recent years against their divisional rival Bucs, winning 8 out of the last 9 contests. Last weekend however Saints Quarterback Drew Brees put up his worst game of the season throwing 3 interceptions and 0 Touchdowns as they crashed to defeat against Detroit. That defeat essentially ends their season as they now trail both the Bucs and Falcons by two games and with Tampa being right in the playoff mix i expect that to be vital here. Brees is too good of a player to put up another performance like that here but opposing Quarterback Jameis Winston has been playing great himself and this one looks like it will shape up to be a shootout.
Tampa is now on a 4 game winning streak which included wins over both the Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs both of whom will be playing in the postseason. Most impressive for me is that over the course of those four games they have conceded an average of less than 14 points. This is a defensive unit that has really stepped up its game and it is here where they hold a big advantage over a woeful Saints secondary. This should go score for score for a while but at some point this Bucs D will make the big plays to swing the game in their favour.
Atlanta Falcons -5.5@20/21 Vs Los Angeles Rams (2125 KO)
The other team competing for the NFC south with Tampa is the Atlanta Falcons. Last week they lost a heartbreaker against the Chiefs and are now tied with the Bucs at the top of the standings. To add injury to insult star receiver Julio Jones suffered turf toe and will be a game time decision for this week. Despite this and the long road journey to L.A. I think they can bounce back here and cover this spread.
Atlanta has one of the most explosive offences in football who can put up points in bunches and regardless of Jones availability the have many other playmakers who can cause damage. They will face a L.A. Rams team who have struggled to score points all year and who now have a rookie QB at the helm. They have covered the handicap just once in the last 8 weeks and if this game was being played in Atlanta i’d expect the Falcons to be favoured by around two TDS.
These three combine to make up a 13/2 treble and the Steelers/Buccaneers combo would be my preferred double. As you may have noticed I haven’t included the 0-12 Cleveland Browns this weekend. As i said a few weeks ago I still fancy them to win at least one game before the season is out and for me this could be the one! They have RG3 back at Quarterback while Joe Haden will also return to shore up the defence that faces a Bengals offence with numerous injury problems and with nothing left to play for. At 2/1 to win this straight up there are a lot worse bets you could have!
Best of luck,