Not a lot of luck last weekend – one win from three, but several iffy performances from the teams I backed, which was disheartening for me!
Philadelphia Eagles -3 @ 20/21 vs Detroit Lions (6pm)
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the NFL season so far for me has been the performances of the Philadelphia Eagles. The decision right before the season started to trade quarterback Sam Bradford and put their faith in rookie Carson Wentz seemed like a signal of a long, hard season for Philly. In reality though Wentz has shown the poise of a wily veteran, leading the Eagles to victory in their opening three games while he is yet to turn the ball over in his short career. Equally impressive and just as important has been the performance of their defence who lead the NFL in scoring.
The Lions may be a better team this year than their record suggests and have the ability to put up points but they have now dropped three games on the trot. In contrast to the Eagles defence they have had just one takeaway all season and will struggle to get meaningful pressure on Wentz. The Eagles match up to well all over the field for the Lions in this one and being fresh coming of their bye week this should be a routine victory by more than the 3. Much like Denver last week this handicap is a gift.
Pittsburgh Steelers -7.5 @ Evens vs New York Jets (6pm)
Pittsburgh went up against a very good opponent in Kansas City last weekend and simply blew them away in a victory that sound warning bells around the rest of the league. Running back Leveon Bell returned from his three game suspension to put in a massive performance for this juggernaut offence which also has arguably the best wideout in the league in Antonio Brown. Their often criticised defence also stepped up to the mark with 4 sacks and two turnovers. That is bad news for opposing Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Since winning the big contract he seems to have reverted to the player we saw while he was in Buffalo and leads the league in interceptions thrown. Given the Steelers ability to put up points the Jets chances seem to rest in his hands and he is playing too poorly right now to believe there is any way to keep the Jets close in this one. The Steelers are 6-1 in home contests against the Jets and that gap will widen today. If you can find the handicap at an even 7 points take it but the extra half point does not overly worry me.
Another that I like from this week is the New York Giants (+7.5) at 10/13 against the Green Bay Packers. Yes, it’s a second road game at a tough opponent in less than a week and the Giants have struggled offensively this season but the prospect of getting more than a touchdown in this one is too good to turn down. The Giants have too much talent not to click eventually and they’ll have a good opportunity to bounce back against a poor Packers secondary that is missing its best cornerback in Sam Shields. The Giants have a decent record here in the Eli Manning era winning in the playoffs during both their Superbowl seasons. They might not win this one outright but should be able to keep it close and within the touchdown.
Normally I steer well clear of backing double-digit favourites on the handicap especially in road games but it’s hard to look beyond the New England Patriots (-10) @ 20/21 when they travel to the Cleveland Browns. Talisman Tom Brady is back from suspension after missing the first four weeks and will be licking his chops at the prospect of facing the 0-4 Browns. Last weeks debacle against Buffalo aside, this Patriots team has retained big scoring ability in his absence and with the pieces of the offence coming back together this game should be over in the first half.
The preferred double is the Eagles and Steelers at odds of 3/1 while the four fold would return a very nice 13/1.
Best of luck!