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September 25, 2016

There are 3 NFL picks on Sunday.
 

#1: Take Tampa Bay Buccaneers -4 spread (buy half a point) against LA Rams for 3% of the bankroll.

This matchup proves to be an interesting situation for both teams. The LA Rams opened the season by getting destroyed by the San Francisco 49ers in a 28-0 shutout beatdown! They then responded last week by picking up a somewhat surprising victory over the Seattle Seahawks 9-3. Meanwhile, the exact opposite has happened for Tampa Bay. In Week 1, Jameis Winston looked like the league MVP, tossing 4 touchdowns en-route to a road victory over the Atlanta Falcons. They followed up that impressive performance with a complete dud falling 40-7 against the Arizona Cardinals in what was Winston's worst performance as a starter.

While the Rams victory over Seattle was impressive, this is a team that still has a ton of issues. Their offense is a complete mess at the moment! They had the number 1 pick in the draft and picked up what many believed to be their franchise quarterback, yet he is sitting on the sidelines. Todd Gurley was expected to be the leader of this offense, however he has struggled out of the gate and has yet to amass 100 yards this season! The offense struggles to move the ball and that will likely hurt them against what should be a very motivated and offense minded Tampa Bay team.

The Rams defense was solid last week against Seattle, however they did allow 28 points to a rather mediocre San Francisco offense. Jameis Winston will look to rebound from his poor performance against Arizona and if his O-line can provide him enough time in the pocket, he should be able to shred this Rams secondary as the 49ers did. Keep in mind that teams have historically been ‘tired’ and in a flat spot after facing the former champs, Seahawks. That is especially true when facing a team coming off a loss as NFL-wide teams are just 9-30-2 ATS following a battle against Pete Carroll’s Seattle!

There was a lot of talk about the much improved Tampa Bay defense heading into the season, however they have yet to settle in. If there is one area however that the Bucs have been solid on D, it has been against the run. They managed to hold dynamic RB, David Johnson, to just 54 yards on 16 carries last week. If they can contain Gurley in this contest, we find it hard to believe that career backup QB, Case Keenum will be able to have continued success in the passing game. LA has yet to find the endzone this season, which doesn't inspire confidence heading into this matchup! Look for Bucs to stack the box against Todd Gurley and force Keenum to make mistakes.

The motivation heading into this contest is different for both teams. There is no question that the Rams were elated to come away with a victory over the Seahawks and that could inspire a false sense of confidence in their players. Meanwhile, the Bucs will likely be looking to atone for their poor performance last week and have the luxury of doing so at home in front of their fans. At the end of the day, the Rams are not as good of a team as they gave the impression of last week. They are simply not a good team. On the other hand, Tampa is not as poor a team as they showed in their loss last week either. We expect both teams to revert back to the mean in this contest and there is no question that Tampa, at home, is the much better team. On a side note, bettors should know that the Bucs have covered the spread 6 straight times since 2014 after a double-digit loss in which they had 2 or more turnovers! This is a reasonable line to lay with a team that we expect to have a bounce-back performance this afternoon against one that has had to fly all the way from West coast to the East coast and has yet to score a TD this season!
 

#2: Take Indianapolis Colts -1 spread (buy half a point) against San Diego Chargers for 3% of the bankroll.

The Chargers were going to be a decent team this season but injuries have evaporated all legitimate hopes of making the playoffs. They did bounceback with an inspired performance last week but we believe that 'W' will be shortlived and not something they'll be able to build on here. First they lost Keenan Allen, undoubtedly their best receiver and one of the top ones in the NFL to a season-ending injury and then last week, Danny Woodhead went down with an ACL injury! Woodhead is a key piece of the puzzle for this offense as the former Patriots RB is not only a rushing threat but a pass-catching one. The talented back does a number of different things for Phillip Rivers and this system and his absence will make San Diego a lot more predictable. Add in the fact that veteran TE Antonio Gates is also doubtful to play in this contest with hamstring inssues and you suddenly have the Chargers without their 3 best offensive weapons!

The Colts have lost their opening two games of the season but still harbor playoff aspirations. Chuck Pagano realizes better than most however that teams that have gone 0-3 to start the year have made it to the post-season less than 3% of the time! It's now or never for Indy. This is a must-win game, at home, against an injury-plagued squad that has had to travel across the country. We believe the Colts will find a way to win what should be a high-scoring game to keep their season alive, at least temporarily.

Corner-back Vontae Davis is likely to be back on the field for this one and he should provide a boost to a secondary that's been torched so far this season! It's also worth noting that this is the type of game in which Andrew Luck and the Colts have stepped up in over the years. Luck's team is a perfect 9-0 both straightup and against the spread (ATS) after a loss by 14+ points! Pagano knows how to rally his troops and make them focused on the task at hand while keeping morale high in practices and we believe Indianapolis' experience in recent years and some other poor starts means they aren't panicking just yet.

This is a tough game for the Chargers as they are facing a desperate host that badly needs a win. We believe Dwayne Allen may have some success in the middle of the field as the tight-end for Luck but we also expect top wideout T.Y Hilton to get back in form as he has now gone 7 games without scoring a TD! In what could be a shootout, we believe the home team has the edge as they aren't as decimated by injuries. Frank Gore may not be the RB he used to be but he's still a competitive and determined back who gives it his all on every play and is a veteran presence. He might just do some damage if the Chargers focus too much on Luck and the aerial attack.
 

#3: Take Jacksonville Jaguars +1 spread against Baltimore Ravens for 3% of the bankroll.

The oddsmakers opened this game as a pick'em despite the fact that one team is undefeated while the other is winless! That, itself, should raise some eyebrows but the casual fan won't notice. All they know and care about is that the Ravens are 2-0 while Jaguars are once again in a familiar 0-2 hole. We believe that view is flawed. There are good reasons behind this seemingly 'suspicious' line and we in fact believe Jacksonville is likely to win this game!

Gus Bradley's Jaguars may have lost their first two games of the season but they actually outgained both opponents in terms of yardage! They played better than the final score shows and yet will have learned valuable lessons from those contests that should serve them well in this matchup. Keep in mind that those two games came against Green Bay Packers, when they put up a brave fight and fell just short at the end and away in San Diego after travelling from coast to coast, to face an angry Chargers team that had blown a big lead in the previous game. Baltimore is not as imposing as it used to be and should provide a less challenging task than what the battle-tested Jax have already faced in their first two games.

The Ravens, on the other hand, may be 2-0 to start the year but those wins have come against Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills. Two winless teams that are struggling immensely at the moment and yet made it close and tough for Baltimore. In the matchup against Cleveland, they fell behind by a large margin before rallying and completing the comeback. While that showed their character and tenacity, it also displayed big holes in their secondary. Backup QB Josh McCown was able to carve up this Baltimore defense with his less than stellar receivers in a dysfunctional team that is rebuilding. We believe Blake Bortles and his talented set of pass-catchers can do even better.

Over the last 26 NFL seasons, only 2.3% of teams that have started the year 0-3 have made the playoffs! That is a total of only 3 squads out of a possible 128. Don't be surprised if the Jacksonville coaching staff has that stat pinned on every bulletin board around the training facilities. The Jaguars had a good off-season and have loftier expectations this season than in years past. And they know that losing this game at home and falling to an 0-3 record basically spells doom for them. Expect more desire and urgency from the hosts in this one than the team that is comfortably 2-0 on the year already and has a history of complacency in these situations.

Chris Ivory was signed to be Jacksonville's bruising RB while TJ Yeldon provides more speed and elusiveness. Ivory has missed the first two games of the season but should be on the field for this one. Even if he's a bit rusty, his mere presence will keep the defense somewhat honest and not have to solely worry about the aerial passing attack of Blake Bortles. Both teams have had a difficult time running the ball effectively to start the season but we believe it is the Jax offense that could get the much-needed boost this week. If Ivory and Yeldon can have some success early in the game, expect passing lanes to be more open for Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, who can both trouble this secondary. Veteran TE Julius Thomas could also have an important role to play. Look for Jacksonville to win this one against a Baltimore side that was outgained (yards) in Cleveland and has made the most of an easy schedule.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Baltimore is 1-9 ATS in its second road game of the season over the last decade!
  • Jaguars have covered the spread in 4 of the last 5 meetings with Ravens.
  • Baltimore has covered the spread only 5 of 20 times against AFC South foes when coming off a win!
  • Baltimore's running backs have averaged a paltry 3 yards per carry over the first two games!



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