October 9, 2016
There are two picks today.
#1: Take Cleveland Browns +11 spread against New England Patriots for 3% of the bankroll.
Everyone is on the Patriots this week. The fact that Tom Brady is back, means every casual bettor is betting on New England in this matchup. Going up against a winless team like Cleveland, they see this as a complete mismatch but we're not so sure about that. The Patriots are undoubtedly the much better team but they may fail to cover this bloated spread for various different reasons.
Tom Brady is unlikely to be at his best today. He hasn't appeared in an NFL game since the AFC Championship game back in January! People assume that he'll automatically be playing at a very high level again but in situations like this, it is perfectly normal for a QB to be somewhat rusy and overthrow some passes. We believe he and his offense will win this game but to expect them to do so by more than 11 is a tall order. The value is with the unfancied underdogs in this one. After all, even if the Browns find themselves down by as much as 17 in the fourth quarter, they can always get a late TD and sneak in for the backdoor cover. The Patriots meanwhile need to completely blow out the opposition and put the game beyond reach.
Hue Jackson took over the Browns head coaching job in the offseason following some successful years as the Bengals' offensive co-ordinator. He is a good coach and the players have bought into his philosophy. Cleveland might be 0-4 to start the season but they have been competitive in most of those contests and should put up a fight again this afternoon. He is still searching for his first 'W' as the Cleveland boss and the players will no doubt want to reward him as well as the home crowd, by giving them something to cheer about. The Browns may fall to 0-5 after this matchup but we don't see them getting completely blown out.
Cody Kessler showed promising signs throughout his college career and has the opportunity to establish himself as an NFL quarterback. Don't expect him to take this fortunate opportunity lightly, after injuries to Robert Griffin and Josh McCown. The talented young QB started the year as the #3 option on the depth chart but suddenly is getting meaningful playing time in a league that he long dreamed about playing in. The fact that this is NOT his debut will help, because nerves were undoubtedly a factor at that time. Having already started last week, anxiety won't be as much of a factor and of course getting all the reps in practice for the last two weeks will have aided him. We don't expect much from this offense but they should still be able to do enough to stay within this generous spread. Isaiah Crowell is in the midst of establishing himself as the workhorse running-back for the Browns and gives them a rushing game, which is pivotal to offensive balance. If the Browns can limit turnovers, this should be a closer game than most people anticipate.
#2: Take NY Jets +7.5 spread against Pittsburgh Steelers for 3% of the bankroll.
The New York Jets dropped their third straight game last week and now find themselves at just 1-3 on the season. Despite their struggles, we don't believe they are as poor a team as they have seemingly showed in through the first four weeks. Ryan Fitzpatrick has yet to find his rhythm and turnovers have plagued the veteran. He has thrown 10 interceptions through just 4 games this season and while that number is disturbing, we believe it is well above the norm for what he has shown in his career and expect the number of turnovers to lessen as the season goes on. This simply isn't a trend that we expect to continue.
Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off arguably their most impressive performance this season in a 43-14 thrashing of the Kansas City Chiefs in which QB Ben Roethlisberger tossed 5 touchdowns! While that certainly was an impressive showing by Big Ben, it has long been known that the Steelers are one of the more up-and-down teams in the league. While they can look seemingly unstoppable on offense one week, the next week they have shown their ability to play out-of-sorts. They have proven to be inconsistent at times and that could be something that plays a role in this contest against what should be an extremely motivated Jets squad.
At the end of the day, this is a much better Jets team than we have seen the last couple of weeks. They have a balanced offense and can gain yards both on the ground and through the air. We expect the issues that have plagued Fitzpatrick in the early going to resolve themselves as he comes out and has a strong showing this afternoon. He is a dangerous quarterback, not only through the air, but with his legs as well although he hasn't been able to show much of that lately. The speedy Ryan Shazier will also be missing for the Steelers this afternoon which takes away a very good tackler and leader for this defense.
The recent performances of both of these teams have skewed public perception, but these teams are much more evenly matched than recent weeks have shown. We don't necessarily need the Jets to win this game outright, although it's certainly a possibility. We simply need the Jets to keep this within one score and we expect them to do so. This game will prove to be closer than anticipated as the Jets find a way to stay within this generous spread.
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