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September 17, 2017

There are two picks today.

#1: Take NY Jets +14 spread (buy the half point) against Oakland Raiders for 3% of the bankroll.

No one is expecting anything from this New York squad. Not this season and certainly not in this game, on the road against what many consider a good team in the Oakland Raiders. Do we believe the Jets win this game? No. They most likely will not. Do we believe they can keep the final score within two scores, however? Yes, we do. This is still the NFL and even though there is a talent mismatch in this one, there are proud professional players on either side. Blowouts don't happen as often in this league as they do in college football, and certainly not as often when they are 'expected'. Given the point-spread in this one, everyone anticipates a humiliation of the Jets and that's where we believe they could be wrong.

Oakland was installed as an underdog last week in Tennessee and yet now is laying two touchdowns! That's a shift of more than 15 points from Week 1 to Week 2 and if you look at that kind of change from a historical context, from one week to next, it's rarely worked out for the favorites. Our trusted database shows that such teams have covered the inflated number only about 37% of the time, meaning the edge in such contests is often on the undervalued underdogs. The Raiders are also a team that plays up and down to the level of their competition. Last week, on the road, against a team that many think highly of after a promising off-season in the Titans, they knew they had to play well. Now against what is arguably the weakest squad in NFL, at home, they might just take this one for granted and take their foot off the gas pedal. Complacency could be an issue in this one and when that's the case, covering large point-spreads becomes a daunting task.

The Jets made a lot of mistakes in the games against Buffalo last week and we expect them to have learned from some of those. Josh McCown attempted a couple of very questionable passes for such an experienced quarterback and will be more careful this afternoon. He's not exactly a quality starter at this level but he's not an inexperienced rookie either. He's been around the league for over a decade now in various different teams and a better performance should be expected from him and the rest of this offense. We believe they will struggle but not so much that they get blown out. Whether it's New York's defense or offense keeping them in the game, this will likely be a more closely contested battle than casual NFL fans expect. Keep in mind that the Raiders don't exactly care whether they win this one by 10 points of 20 points, all they want is to record a 'W' without risking injuries for tougher upcoming games. That adds additional value on the underdogs here in this matchup since it means even if they do fall behind by a large margin, they may always sneak in through the backdoor.

The Raiders won only one game by more than two touchdowns last season! That was a 17-point victory. Now they are being asked to roll over the Jets in what could be a trickier matchup than it looks on paper. Todd Bowles and his team have something to prove and don't wanna be a punching bag for each and every team they face. After getting whooped in the first game of the season, everyone is completely writing them off. They aren't gonna like that and if they can get more touches for Bilal Powell and Matt Forte, they might have a bit of success. Take the generous points in this and fade the public as Oakland wins but falls short of covering this big spread.

#2: Take Tennessee Titans -1 spread against Jacksonville Jaguars for 3% of the bankroll.

The AFC South division is going to be real interesting this season. You have 4 teams in there that are all mid-level sides, neither good enough to be a legitimate conference contender nor bad enough to be a bottom-feeder. We expect them to beat up on each other with regularity to keep the standings fresh and ever-changing. It could go right down the wire into the final weeks as we don't necessarily see any of these teams running away with it! This afternoon, you have a 0-1 Titans squad travelling to Florida to take on the 1-0 Jaguars and we believe by the time it's over, both teams will be sporting 1-1 records.

Only 11% of teams that have started the season 0-2 have gone onto make the playoffs and that is a fact that Mike Mularkey will have been preaching about to his players all week long! That means the Titans' lofty preseason hopes will all but fade, if they fail to leave Jacksonville with a victory. In that case, should they lose, their situation would be even worse than the average 0-2 team because they will quickly find themselves two games behind the division leading Jags and a game behind the Texans who managed to get a tough road win in Cincy and may have found their QB after an abysmal start by Tom Savage in the opening week! Expect the Titans to be fired up right from the start and be the aggressors in this matchup. We see Marcus Mariota and company to outduel Blake Bortles and his offensive weapons and come out with a much-needed 'W' to save their season.

The Jax' defense ran wild on the Texans last week but that was among much uncertainty in the key quarterback position for Houston and led to a quick hook by Bill O'Brien to replace Tom Savage. Unlike the Texans, Tennessee does not have a question mark at its QB position with Marcus Mariota being the present and the future for this franchise. Jacksonville recorded a ridiculous 10 sacks against an offensive-line that was missing veteran leader Duane Brown (contract holdout) and was in complete shambles! There was a lot of miscommunication by the Texans in that game and they also had their fair share of bad luck with the likes of JJ Watt and their Tight-Ends going off injured. All in all, it was a forgettable performance from Houston that made the Jags look better than they are.

We do think the Jaguars are an improved team and we do believe they have a good defense, but not as good as their Week 1 performance indicates. Against a mobile quarter-back like Mariota that can extend plays with his legs, they won't have as much success. Mariota is no longer a rookie or a sophomore and although he still has a lot of room for improvement, he's a much better signal-caller than what the Jax faced in Savage and Watson last week. Not only that, he has good running backs in DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry to utilize to keep defenses honest. His receiving core has also gotten a boost this off-season making for an impressive overall offense. Blake Bortles, on the other hand, has not developed the way Jacksonville hoped when they took him with a high draft pick. The former UCF Knight showed promising early signs but had a terrible campaign last year which really affected his confidence. Now without his best wide-receiver (Allen Robinson), who happens to be one of the best in the NFL without getting as much credit as he deserves, his task will be even tougher. Look for the Titans' front-7 to make life difficult for him as the visitors walk away with the win and cover the spread in the process.

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