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October 14, 2018

Today's two NFL picks were both released on Saturday.

 

#1: Take New England Patriots -3 spread against Kansas City Chiefs for 3% of the bankroll.

The Chiefs have been on fire this season opening the year not only undefeated with 5 straight wins. As if that wasn't impressive enough, they have also covered the Vegas spread all five times making them the only team to do so! For that reason, they are a bit over-rated right now as no one dares to go against them. You almost never see the Patriots laying just a field goal at home but that is the case here due to the Chiefs' incredible start to the season and the fact that New England has two losses on the year. It's not uncommon for the Pats to start in mediocre fashion in September however before rolling through the competition in the following months! They often make some mistakes in the first few games and then identify and correct those issues as they gear up for a playoff run, after all if there's a time to lose games without as much consequence, it is early in September. 

The Chiefs' offense is legitimate. They are, along with the Rams, the most efficient and dangerous offense in the league! Andy Reid is an offensive genius and has got his sophomore QB playing like a legendary signal-caller. They have so many weapons on this offense that it's a matter of pick your poison more than anything else. However, while everyone is lost in the 'Showtime' Pat Mahomes hype and the KC offense, they aren't talking enough about just how terrible this defense has been! Because as impressive as this offense is, the defense is equally as bad. They rank dead last in a number of categories and are right at the bottom in nearly every defensive facet. Bob Sutton's group hasn't managed to stop teams on the ground or through the air, as they are regularly gashed by opposing rushers and receivers!

New England's offense is rolling now with Julian Edelman back and playing in what will be his second game of the season. After missing the first four contests due to suspension, he naturally had a bit of rust to knock off in the opener but now Tom Brady's best friend will be there to execute as will Josh Gordon, who's now had a few games to get acclimated with the Patriots' way of doing things and the complex playbook. Perhaps more importantly however, the Pats have gotten Sony Michel going in the last couple of games and the rookie has found his confidence. It's very important to establish the run game, something Bill Belichick's crew didn't do a good job of in the first 3 games leading to a surprising 1-2 start but since then they have Michel getting the bulk of the carries and he's responded with rushing touchdowns and 100+ yards in each game!

The fact that New England now has a running game and has playmaking receivers at its disposal means Tom Brady will be able to pick apart defenses as he has for over a decade and the person it'll benefit most in our opinion is Rob Gronkowski. Earlier in the year, he was being double and sometimes even triple covered! But that's before James White and Sony Michel established the run game or Edelman was playing and there was no deep threat in Josh Gordon either. Now with all the other offensive weapons at their disposal, teams can't just focus on Gronk and that means he's likely to become a big factor in the passing game. He's been relatively quiet to start the season but we think he's in a great spot to erupt tonight. Kansas City's porous defense would have a tough time anyway but the fact that veteran pass rusher, Justin Houston is out makes things more difficult. To add to their woes, Eric Murray who had been filling in for pro-bowler Eric Berry to start the season is also out for thsi game. So a defense that has greatly struggled and is facing their biggest test in hostile environment is also missing two of its most important starters!  We believe New England will hand the Chiefs their first loss of the season and cover the short spread in the process. They want to show that they are still the team to beat and that the AFC runs through Foxborough, to do so, they have to get this 'W' otherwise the Chiefs will walk out extremely confident (6-0) while the Pats will fall to a .500 record with three wins and three losses. We believe it is much more likely that the Pats win this game and to get them at this cheap of a price presents good value. 
 

#2: Take Baltimore Ravens -2.5 spread against Tennessee Titans for 3% of the bankroll.

These two teams are both coming off disappointing losses. The Titans were stopped in Buffalo losing a low-scoring affair 13-12 after a Stephen Hauschka field goal won it for the Bills in the final seconds! The Ravens, on the other hand, went to Cleveland to play a much improved Browns squad and fell just short in overtime. Baltimore had chances to win that game but ultimately suffered a defeat while the Titans were in a let-down spot after knocking off the defending Super Bowl champs, Eagles, in their prior game and were disappointing from start to finish against the Bills, settling for 4 field goals with no touchdowns! Both squads will be eager to bounce back but the visitors are much more likely to do so in our opinion and that's why they are listed as favorites despite being on the road.

Everyone jumped on Tennessee's bandwagon after seeing a couple of gutsy calls from new coack Mike Vrabel in their victory over Philadelphia but we weren't sold on them and are still not. This is a tenacious team and they do play with heart. They deserve credit for that and also do own a stout and under-rated front seven on the defensive side. However, they are still a work in progress and leave a lot to be desired in other areas. Their offense has struggled to run the ball effectively this season despite having Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis, two capable backs of different styles. Neither is having an efficient average in yard-per-carry this year while Lewis is at least part of the passing game and contributes that way. All in all however, their rushing game has often left them in unfavorable down and distances meaning Mariota needs to do a lot in the passing game but the former Oregon signal-caller is still not 100% and lost his security blanket in Delanie Walker early in the season. Walker had long been the chain-mover and heart and soul of this offense for the Titans and his absence has been felt. 

Not only are the Titans a below average offensive team, they are now going up against the very best defense that the AFC conference has to offer. The Ravens have allowed only 77 points this season! That ranks them second behind the Chicago Bears in the entire NFL world. This is a defense that consistently puts pressure on quarterbacks thanks to Terrell Suggs and company and then has the playmakers in the secondary to shutout opposing receivers. In Brandon Carr, Jimmy Smith and good-looking youngster Humphrey, the Ravens have three of the better cornerbacks in the league and have rode that to their advantage this season. They've had much tougher tests like Antonio Brown and Juju Smith-Schuster and kept them in check! Now they have to face off against talented but young players in Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor in an offense that is often out of synch and one step behind. 

This is a game that could come down to field position and field goals and it's befitting that two of the more consistent kickers in the league will be participating in it. Ryan Succop has been great this season but ultimately he's not at the same level as Justin Tucker who may well go down as the greatest kicker in NFL history when it's all said and done. Tucker is an offensive weapon in a league that has had a lot of kicker miscues recently. He's been the epitome of consistency and is frequently relied on for long kicks around 50-yards or so! In spite of the fact that the Ravens use him quite often on long-range field goals, he's the most accurate kicker in history and a weapon that Jim Harbaugh loves at his disposal. We believe Baltimore has the advantage on offense and a better defense and they might just be the better team in Special Teams as well, meaning they have an edge in all three phases. Look for them to pull away at some point and cover this short spread in the process.




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