October 15, 2017
There are two NFL picks today.
#1: Take LA Rams +3 spread (buy the half point) against Jacksonville Jaguars risking 3% of the bankroll.
This is a matchup that could go either way and yet one team is being spotted a field goal. We'll gladly take the points knowing the Rams are capable of heading to Jacksonville and walking out victorious. The Jags are flying high this season and changing perceptions but while they are an improved side, they are currently being overvalued following a road win against the Steelers. Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye are good players but they still have room for growth and are not as polished as they have looked in the first quarter of the season. Both deserve credit but won't be looked at as 'shut-down' corners come the end of the season, at best one might get that label but not both.
The Jaguars defense as a whole is being hyped up immensely right now due to all the turnovers they have created but that is another number that is likely to regress in the coming weeks. Jacksonville has benefitted from 15 turnovers this season, that is 15 takeaways in just 5 games! That ranks #1 in the NFL and means they are forcing opponents into an average of 3 giveaways per game! As impressive as that figure is, it is unsustainable and not something they're going to want to hang their hat on. And yet for a young team full of relatively inexperienced players, that is what they are doing. When the turnovers stop coming in bunches, we believe they will struggle and that could happen today.
For all their early-season defensive accolades, one key area the Floridans have struggled is in stopping the run. They rank 31st against opposing running-backs having been gashed on the ground for nearly 178 yards per game! Now they face Todd Gurley, a stud RB who's coming off a disappointing game against the Seahawks and is set to bounce back. We believe Gurley and the Rams offense can do damage against the hyped-up Jax defense. Jacksonville has a stud running-back in Leonard Fournette themselves but the difference is they are unwilling to give the ball to Blake Bortles much to operate a balanced offense. In last week's game against Pittsburgh, QB Bortles did not throw a single pass in the second half! The coaching staff clearly have little faith in the former UCF Knight having been frustrated by his numerous mistakes in recent years. On the other side, Sean McVay has plenty of faith in Jared Goff and has allowed the sophomore signal-caller to spread the ball around as well as handing it off to their bruising back. Simply put, Los Angeles has a more dangerous and balanced offense and that'll pay dividends. Fournette, on the other hand is likely to see the box stacked against him and might remain somewhat contained.
The Rams need a bounce-back game as a squad, having been beaten by division rivals Seattle Seahawks and will be in angry mood today. The Jaguars on the other hand have often been Jekyll and Hyde every other week and so having put up an impressive performance in Pittsburgh, we expect to see the 'other' version of them the following week (this Sunday). This is a team that is going through a learning process as far as building a winning culture is concerned and is still very much in transition mode. They are improved but still inconsistent. We believe they might be a bit complacent in this matchup and realize they still have a long way to go before potentially playing well again in the weeks to come. In what should be a closely-contested battle that could go right down the wire, we'll take the points with the team that is capable of winning outright.
#2: Take Miami Dolphins +14 spread (buy the half point) against Atlanta Falcons risking 3% of the bankroll.
No one is giving Miami a chance in this one and that has severely inflated the line creating value on the underdog. Yes, Atlanta does have an advantage in this matchup and is coming off a bye-week but they're not likely to completely run away with it. Spotting a team two touchdowns is a very dangerous proposition in the NFL, a league where there's more parity than the average fan realizes! The Dolphins have their issues on the offensive side of the ball but they also have their strength on the defensive side, something that seems to have gone ignored. We believe the Falcons will win this one but are laying too many points and could fail to cover the big spread.
Jay Cutler and the Fins offense has struggled but they can't play much worse than they did last week. Cutler had just 78 passing yards in the game against Tennessee! It meant he got a lot of criticism from the fans but the team easily won anyway and for the time being at least, Adam Gase will continue to keep the signal-caller on the field. Much of the criticism that comes Cutler's way is warranted but we didn't expect him to replace Ryan Tannehill with ease and it was always going to take him and his receivers a good few weeks to get on the same page. We believe they have a long way to go and they could again struggle this week but we also don't think they're likely to play as badly as they have in recent weeks. Miami's offense has been historically bad in the first few weeks of the year and is sure to show a bit of improvement going forward.
Meanwhile no one is talking about the Dolphins defense but this is a unit that ranks #1 in NFL! That's right, while everyone has focused on the anemic offense, they've completely forgotten that Cameron Wake, Ndamukong Suh and company have allowed an average of just 16.8 points per game! Unfortunately for them, we do see this diverse ATL offense giving them more trouble today but again we don't see this being as big a mismatch as the betting public makes it out to be. Miami's D ranks second best in the league among running-backs holding teams to just under 76 yards rushing per game and gives them a fighting chance. This defense has kept them in games and could do so again today, or at least keep it respectable. Cutler and the offense don't need to be anything special for the Fins to keep within this generous spread.
Last but not least, a look at the upcoming schedule should give those backing the favorite in this contest some concern. That's because the Falcons head to Foxborough to take on the Patriots next week! If you don't think that matchup has been circled on their calendar from the beginning of the season, you're mistaken. After giving up the biggest lead in Super Bowl history to fall just short in devastating fashion against Tom Brady and company, you better believe they want to atone for that. Matt Ryan and his team have a point to prove next week (unlike this week) and are likely to take off their foot off the gas pedal after building a solid lead this afternoon. To them, it doesn't matter whether they win by a TD or 3 touchdowns and yet that makes all the difference for bettors. We believe Atlanta will play down to the level of its competition, doing enough to secure the W but keeping an eye on next Sunday's Super Bowl rematch in order to avoid injuries and unnecessary risk. At this inflated spread, all the value is on the underdog especially since WR Mohamed Sanu will sit out while LB Vic Beasley and kicker Matt Bryant will play but are not 100%. Take the 14 points as they're likely to come into play.
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