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October 8, 2017

There are two NFL picks today.

#1: Take the UNDER 47.5 total points in Seahawks vs. Rams risking 3% of the bankroll.

The total in this matchup is inflated due to the recent high-scoring exploits of these two respective offenses. We believe it is an over-reaction to their last couple of games and doesn't quite take everything into account. Let's start with the fact that Seattle has a much better defense than offense and a blowout of the lowly Colts (46-18 final score) shouldn't make anyone forget that. In that prime-time contest, Pete Carroll knew the Andrew Luck-less Colts simply couldn't keep up with them on the scoreboard and so they went for a more gung-ho approach than usual. Indianapolis couldn't stop them offensively and Seattle didn't particular care to play top-notch defense, given that they still won by nearly 30 despite allowing 18 points!

This matchup against the Rams today is an entirely different one for a number of reasons. First of all, it is a divisional rivalry as the two teams battle it out for first place! Secondly, the Seahawks know that unlike Indy, Los Angeles can put up points in a hurry and so they must go back to their roots with the 'Legion of Boom' and play stout defense. Their strategy last week worked for them but Pete Carroll and the coaching staff will demand a different level of defensive intensity this afternoon in their quest to contain Todd Gurley and Jared Goff. They've seen Sean McVay's team run teams over including the Cowboys last week and will bring their 'A' game. These two franchises have often sparred in low-scoring contests as evidenced by the fact that 3 of their last 4 and nine of the last 15 meetings between the two has stayed under the Vegas total.

As for the Rams themselves, they are a good offensive side but we don't think they will finish the season ranked #1 in that category, where they are right now. A lot has gone right for them in the first quarter of the season but there will be a regression soon and it wouldn't surprise us if it came today against the likes of Bobby Wagner, Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman and company. On the other side of the ball, Wade Phillips, the new defensive co-ordinator can't be happy with the way his team has played thus far this season. The Broncos won the Super Bowl with him as their DC thanks to a very formidable stop-unit that made life difficult for offenses. Yes, having talent like Von Miller helped but the Rams have pretty good players like Aaron Donald themselves and it's only a matter of time before they figure things out. We knew it would take Phillips time to teach this team how to play with his schemes and aren't surprised by their early-season impotence. Moving forward however, we do think Los Angeles will have an improved defense than the unit that has allowed big points in almost every game this season. In short, we believe the Rams defense will get a bit better while their offense won't continue to burn each and every opponent.

The aforementioned factors above combined with the fact that this is a rivalry game will make for a lower-scoring affair than the public anticipates. When it comes to division games, teams tend to play much tighter defense. Not only that, offenses tend to be more methodical and less explosive. Look for Seattle to get back to its roots by playing solid D and the Rams to contain Wilson better than the Colts could. It helps that this defense has faced the elusive Russell Wilson many times before and at least knows what to expect. It's also worth noting that Greg Zuerlein made 7 field goals last week against the Cowboys! Our trusted database shows that teams that have attempted more than 5 field goals have historically gone on to play low-scoring games the following week. The 'Under' is 145 compared to 102 in such contests! That's because the bookmakers adjust the total a lot after a shootout knowing the average bettor will 'take the bait'. Look for a more scrappy game than this high total suggests as it sneaks under the 47.5 total points and cashes sharp tickets.

#2: Take Cincinnati Bengals -3 spread against Buffalo Bills for 3% of the bankroll.

The Bills are 3-1 on the season and travel to Cincy to take on a Bengals squad that has only one win on the year. And yet the find themselves not only installed as underdogs but by a reasonable amount (a field goal)! What makes this even more interesting is that Buffalo is coming off two impressive outright victories against quality opponents like the Falcons and the Broncos. Do we believe the line is a strange one? No. It may look a bit odd at first glance but we think Cincinnati is the team to back here and not the visitors.

Rumors have it that Marvin Lewis might retire as an NFL head coach after this season. The veteran coach has given a lot to this franchise over the years and doesn't want to limp out. His team did get off to a poor 0-3 start but they still have enough talent to challenge for a playoff spot if they can avoid costly penalties. What this team lacks sometimes is discipline as the likes of Adam 'Pacman' Jones and Vontaze Burfict frequently get flagged for bone-headed plays. If they can stay focused, there are enough playmakers in this squad on both sides of the ball to turn things around.

Bills are riding high after beating the Falcons in Atlanta and having taken care of Denver at home but find themselves in a tricky place this afternoon. This is a classic 'let-down' spot from a handicapping perspective and one that will likely see them falter. We don't see Buffalo heading into their bye week with a 4-1 record. What is much more likely in our opinion is that Bengals secure a victory and head to their bye with a 2-3 record to keep post-season hopes alive while the Bills go into their week of rest with a still respectable 3-2 mark. They reguarly don't show up this game and already Cincinnati players know that a defeat here at home would all but end their playoff hopes. They can't afford to fall to a 1-4 record and also have a point to prove to their disgruntled fans who were booing them in their last home game! The hosts will have more 'urgency' about them today than the visitors and that added motivation should see them come out on top.

This offense is finally playing better after Bill Lazor took over as the offensive-coordinator and simplified things. They comfortably put up points in Green Bay and then followed it up with a demolition of in-state rivals Cleveland Browns! A matchup against the lowly Browns was just what the doctor ordered for Andy Dalton and company. It gave them the confidence-boost they've been lackling in the early part of the season and made everyone in this offense feel involved as he connected with 9 different receivers! Add in the fact that Lazor has three capable running-backs at his disposal in Jeremy Hill, Giovani Bernard and promising rookie Joe Mixon and he can give opposing defenses different looks depending on the situation. We believe this is a well-balanced offense that has found its groove and is capable of putting up points today.

On the other side of the ball, people forget that Cincy's defense is ranked #4 in the NFL and has allowed an average of just 273.2 yards per game! Geno Atkins and company wreak havoc on most quarterbacks and collapse the pocket. The Bills' O-line will have a tough time on their hands today in protecting Tyrod Taylor. Luckily for them, Taylor is a mobile QB who can scramble and move the chains with his legs at times. Nonetheless, this is an under-rated defense that got Burfict back last week after suspension in the first few games of the season and is starting to play well. We expect them to contain a Buffalo offense that doesn't have any star players. Jordan Matthews was their best receiver this season and he went down with an injury in the last game. He'll be out for this contest and outside of LeSean McCoy, they simply don't have many playmakers. One final factor that means Cincy will be fully up for this as that they remember what the Bills did to them last year when they met. Buffalo ran out winners as road underdogs and we don't believe they'll allow them to do so again. Look for them to pull away and cover this short spread in the process.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Bills have lost 12 straight games against non-division opponents right before their bye-week!
  • Andy Dalton's team has covered the spread 12 of 14 times when facing an opponent off an underdog win!
  • Bengals are 10-0 ATS over the last 5 years when the total is under 50 points and AJ Green had 5+ receptions in the last game!

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