October 11, 2015 (11:00 AM ET)
There are 3 picks today.
1) Take Tennessee Titans at +1 spread against Buffalo Bills for 3% of the bankroll.
The Bills had one of the best defenses in the league last year but Rex Ryan has brought in his own philosophy to this franchise and that hasn't necessarily made them better. The Buffalo D has regressed in fact and ranks 29th in passing yards allowed (nearly 300 YPG)! This is still a formidable unit however and the Titans O-line needs to be wary of Mario Williams and company at all times. Nonetheless, QB Marcus Mariota has been excellent thus far and is currently tied with the legendary Dan Marino for most TD passes thrown by a rookie in first 3 NFL games! He has mostly stood in the pocket and thrown strikes but can be as elusive as Russell Wilson and can use his legs to get first downs and more. The Bills defense has faced some good quarterbacks already this season BUT none of them were anything like Marcus Mariota in terms of speed and ability to move the chains with their legs. Tom Brady and Eli Manning are hard to face but trying to contain a dual-threat QB is a new test for this defense and one that may surprise them in level of difficulty. Mariota has 8 TDs and 2 INTs this season and may well need his legs against an angry Bills pass rush to scramble and make plays out of nothing. The rookie has shown poise beyond his years and has been very accurate (62.9% completion) and currently ranks #5 in passer rating among QBs!
Tyrod Taylor may be a few years older than Mariotta but he isn't necessarily more experienced at this level. While he has served as a backup NFL quarterback in previous seasons, he has only 4 starts in his career and is also learning the ropes. He has shown some promise of his own but in our opinion, there's no doubt that last year's Heisman Trophy winner is the more talented of the two. Taylor's numbers are starting to regress after a couple of very promising starts as scouting reports have gotten bigger on him.
The Buffalo Bills regularly shoot themselves in the foot with indiscipline and had 17 penalties last week! While we expect a more mature display from them today, last Sunday wasn't a one off since this squad has 47 total penalties on the season which makes them the most penalized team since 1950! Now facing a QB as mobile and quick as Mariotta, there may be more holding and illegal plays that once again give the opponents an advantage.
The Titans may not have a great recent history at home but the tide is about to turn. They are a much improved team this season and have actually outgained all 3 previous opponents this season by an average of 68 yards! Their 1-2 record doesn't do them full justice since they've largely outplayed the competition and are +12 in points differential. Let's not forget that this team is coming off a bye week which means they are well rested and have been preparing exclusively for this matchup against the Bills for two weeks! Guys like Kendall Wright have had time off to rest nagging injuries while the Bills have a long list of players that were 'limited in practice' or did not feature at all. Off a disappointing home loss to NY rivals, Giants with a banged up squad that is again without LeSean McCoy and couuld also be missing Sammy Watkins, they had to travel to Music City to face an entirely different offensive scheme. Ken Whisenhunt on the other hand has had ample time to get his players healthy for this contest with no travelling (another home game) and will have a fired up team aiming for its first home win of the season!
Other notable facts to consider:
- Rex Ryan's team is 1-11 ATS after an upset loss as a favorite!
- The Titans defense ranks #2 in NFL on 3rd downs holding teams to just a 30.6% conversion!
- The Bills have failed to cover any of their last 9 games after a double-digit home loss!
2) Take the UNDER 43 total points in Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens for 3% of the bankroll.
This is a matchup that we believe is going to be a low scoring battle where points are hard to come by. The Ravens are a team that has been decimated by injuries, mainly on the offensive side of the football. Breshard Perriman, Michael Campanaro, Crockett Gilmore and Steve Smith are all dealing with injuries and will not feature in this matchup with Cleveland. The loss of Steve Smith is a huge blow to this offense as he has been a one-man show on the field for the Ravens. Due to their limitations in the passing game, we expect them to put their focus on the ground game and Justin Forsett.
Forsett could be primed for another huge game against a Browns run defense that he dominated season ago and is among the worst in the NFL this season. Forsett averaged 6.5 yards per carry in two games against Cleveland last year, including a 119-yard effort in the most recent matchup in December. This season the Browns have allowed the second most rushing yards in the league (566) and the fourth-most yards per rush (4.8).
The Cleveland Browns have their own issues on the offensive side of the ball as well, McCown, Manziel, this franchise just can't see to decide who they want leading this team. That causes quite a few issues on the offensive side of the ball as it likely splits the locker room in terms of who the other players want to lead the time. There are some who would rather have McCown under center, while others prefer Manziel. That kind of dissention affects performances on the field and we have already seen flashes of that in the Browns' performances this season. The Browns will however receive a boost on the defensive end as top cornerback Joe Haden is expected to take the field after missing last Sunday's game!
Divisional games are typically hard fought; closely contested matchups and we don't expect this one to be any different. Both offense have shown their inability to finish drives off with touchdowns and often has to settle for their punts or field goals. Both head coaches have shown their preference for implementing conservative game plans and would rather roll their respective kickers on the field, trying to put points on the board and it’s that type of mindset which makes for low scoring games.
This likely won't be a game full of big plays downfield and will be a battle that is played in the trenches. We expect to see a lot of running of the football by both sides and a lot of stalled drives resulting in both punts and field goals. If you are a fan of offense, this likely isn't the game to watch as there likely won't be many trips to the endzone for both teams. This is the Ravens 3rd consecutive division game and its worth mentioning that 12 out of the last 14 matchups with divisional rivals have gone Under the total. Also, 8 of the last 9 times these two teams have faced off, the total has gone Under with just an average of 35 points scored between both teams. As it has been in the past, this will be a game decided by field goals and will fall Under the Total.
3) Take Cincinnati Bengals at -3 spread against Seattle Seahawks for 3% of the bankroll.
The Cincinnati Bengals have a chance to start the season 5-0 for the first time in nearly 30 years with a victory over the Seattle Seahawks at home this afternoon. For years the Bengals have been rebuilding the franchise and this is the year where all of the moves are starting to pay off.
While there has been a lot of criticism in the past about QB Andy Dalton and his inability to win under pressure, he is quietly having a very impressive season and has matured and grown in confidence. On the season Dalton is averaging 10.23 yards per attempt, which is the second best mark in the league. The Cincinnati offense has 25 pass plays of 20 yards and longer which tops the league and their five plays of 40+ yards plays ties them for second. Dalton has a bevy of weapons at his disposal and with all his receivers finally healthy, Cincy is poised to make a run this season. Dalton has done a nice job spreading the football around as well. AJ Green has 25 catches, Tyler Eifert has 16, Marvin Jones has 10 and Mohamad Sanu has nine. The three outside receivers are all averaging over 16 yards per catch, with Sanu leading the way at 17.9 per reception. While the Seattle secondary is one of the best in the league, they will certainly have their hands full with Cincinnati in this one.
The Bengals also have a pretty bruising ground game as well which sets up the pass. Both Jeremy Hill and Giovanni Bernard are a one-two combo in the backfield that keeps opposing defenses having to hour the run. Both have breakout speed and the ability to cut and change direction on a dime. The Bengals are extremely balanced on offense so they have the ability to make in game adjustments depending on what the defense gives them. They should be able to have success in moving the ball this afternoon.
There is no doubt the Seattle Seahawks are a solid team. They've been to the Super Bowl the last 2 seasons but like all good teams, a regression is imminent and that is what we believe is going on at the moment. Seattle has struggled this season and whether that contributed to a Superbowl handover, or an opening game loss to the Rams; this is not the same Seattle team as in years past and a big reason for that is the offensive line.
The elusive Russell Wilson was sacked 6 times in their Monday Night contest with the Lions. That performance brought his sack total up to 18 on the season and a tie for most in the league! As elusive as Wilson is, the fact that defenders are getting past the line and into the backfield with ease, shows that there is an issue there. They are currently the statistical 3rd worst O-line in the league ranking 29th and 28th in pass and run blocking respectively and are 24th in offensive penalties. We feel that they will be severely overmatched in this contest against a very stout defensive line that includes Geno Atkins who already has 3 sacks on the season and Carlos Dunbar who has 3.5 himself. The Seahawks also won't have workhorse Marshawn Lynch in this contest and while Jackson and Rawls can be used as backups, there is no one in the league who can take the place of Lynch on the field. Not only that Fred Jackson is actually questionable himself and may not feature. Cincy on the other hand has Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill as running backs and has a very balanced team overall.
Something else we believe is worth noting is that the Cincinnati Bengals have the fastest starting offense in the NFL and have scored on all of their opening drives this season, with 3 of those being touchdowns. Seattle, on the other hand, has been one of the slowest starting teams in the leagues and has yet to score any points on the opening drive. Their offense typically doesn't get going until the second half of games. If the Bengals can continue to play as they have been, get off to a fast start and keep their foot on the gas for the entire 4 quarters, they should walk out of the stadium 5-0 and cover the spread in the process.
Other notable facts to consider:
- Cincinnati is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games.
- Seattle is 1-5-1 ATS in its last 7 games.
- Cincinnati is 15-4-1 ATS in its last 20 home games!
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