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September 16, 2018

There are 3 NFL picks on Sunday.

 

#1: Denver Broncos -6 spread (buy the half point) against Oakland Raiders risking 3% of the bankroll.

This is a matchup where we feel the hosts have an advantage both offensively and defensively. It might be close for the most part but we do eventually expect the Broncos to pull away and not only win this game but cover the spread. The Raiders put up a good fight in the first half of their Monday Night Football game but had a meltdown in the second half as it was only a matter of time before their deficiencies get the better of them. At some stage of this game, we believe something similar might happen due to certain fundamental weaknesses and a lack of overall confidence.

Oakland has no pass rush after trading away their best player, Khalil Mack. They had only one sack against Jared Goff on Monday but perhaps more telling was the fact that they only had 2 QB hits and few hurries or genuine pressures. Goff had all day to sit in the pocket and while we don't expect Keenum to have as much time, we do believe the Denver offense should do enough. On the other side of the ball, Von Miller, Derek Wolfe and the rest of the Orange Crush gang should put pressure on Derek Carr for much of the game. They get to the quarterback better than most defenses and should hurry him into mistakes. It doesn't help that Gabe Jackson is dealing with a pectoral injury and might not be 100%. That makes this Raiders O-line even more vulnerable. 

Case Keenum is a boyhood Bronco fan and was understandably nervous in his home debut. To wear the Broncos uniform is a lifelong dream for the local native and dealing with nerves leading up to the season debut was a factor in him getting off to a somewhat slow start. Now with the first start of the season behind him, he and the rest of the team should be more relaxed and confident heading into this given that they got that first 'W' of the season and aren't dealing with additional unnecessary pressure. That's important for a team that features two rookie running-backs in Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay. This youthful 1-2 punch combo might surprise some people this season as Freeman is a bruising back who can push through tackles while Lindsay is a short nifty speedster who can catch passes from the backfield as well as burst through as a change-of-pace back! Lindsay was a Colorado university star and is another local kid who dreamed of playing for the Broncos! There is no shortage of passion on this squad and if they can hold their nerves, we believe they'll find a way to win.

It's not often that a head coach publicly criticizes his signal-caller but that's what Jon Gruden indirectly did when talking about Derek Carr in the post-game press conference. He said: "Amari Cooper was wide open a couple of times and that for some reason we didn't go there... " Read between the lines but we already see a bit of friction there between the highly-paid QB and his new head coach, who also happens to be extremely well-paid and traded away Carr's best friend, Khalil Mack. Gruden is a no-nonsense guy and has the right to criticize Carr after a poor performance but that doesn't mean Carr will suddenly start playing much better. In fact, he might be feeling the pressure more and in hostile territory, against a vicious defense, that may not bode well for his confidence. The fact is that Amari Cooper and the rest of this team (short of Jared Cook) aren't exactly playing with high confidence right now either. Meanwhile Keenum has three capable receivers at his disposal in Emmanuel Sanders, Demaryius Thomas and rookie Courtland Sutton! Their rookie tandem backfield along with Booker also gives them options there. In our opinion, this is the better offense and defense and should find a way to win and cover this spread.
 

#2: Houston Texans -3 spread against Tennessee Titans risking 3% of the bankroll.

Both of these teams lost their opening game of the season but we believe the Texans are much better equipped to bounce back and go 1-1 by the time the game is over. That's because the Titans not only lost the game but also much of their offense in that Week 1 loss to the Dolphins. In a game that took 7 hours to complete due to multiple lengthy thunderstorm delays, they lost key players! Delanie Walker has been the security blanket for Marcus Mariota since he came into the league. The ever-reliable TE has been the most targeted player for Tennessee in recent years and has cleared 800 receiving yards in 4 straight seasons! To say he'll be missed would be an understatement.

What makes matters even much more difficult for the Titans offense is that they won't have more than half of their starting offensive line! Taylor Lewan is one of the best in the business but he'll sit this one out due to concussion. Meanwhile Jack Conklin, their starting right tackle has also been ruled out! To almost add insult to injury, Dennis Kelly will also sit out after dealing with a viral infection that had him hospitalized in recent days! So who exactly will be protecting the quarterback against JJ Watt and company? A bunch of backups who will likely struggle with the task.

Tennessee's offense is therefore likely to limp in this matchup. Not only do they have their most reliable pass-catcher out for the rest of the season, they are playing behind a below average O-line that has its work cut out for them. But doesn't end there... Marcus Mariota himself got injured in Miami and may or may not play in this one. He's questionable to play and last we heard, he was having a hard time gripping the football! That means Blaine Gabbert will likely start the game or get some snaps. The Titans might somehow pull this one out but if they do it'll be behind a backup O-line with a backup QB and some new stars emerging. In all likelihood then, it'll be the Texans that win this game and if they do so, the 3 points are a short number to lay with them. DeShaun Watson can do a lot better than he did in Week 1 and has vowed to play better. And with Will Fuller back to stretch the field, we believe he and Hopkins will do enough damage to put Houston ahead. They may have lost their opening game but they did so by just a touchdown to Tom Brady and the Patriots in Foxborough! That is a lot more impressive than losing to the Dolphins. We believe Bill O'Brien's side has a big advantage here and should win this game and cover the spread in the process.
 

#3: LA Chargers -7 spread against Buffalo Bills risking 3% of the bankroll.

This game has blowout written all over it. No, we don't expect another 47-3 demolition like the Bills suffered in the opening week of the season in Baltimore but we do believe this offense will greatly struggle again. The visitors, on the other hand, have a very potent offense and desperate off a Week 1 loss in which they outgained their opponents, they will make easy work of Buffalo. Phillip Rivers and company have their sights set on a playoff berth this season after narrowly missing out last year due to a slow start out of the gate and the last thing they want to do is fall in an early 0-2 hole! Look for them to bounce back after an opening week loss and do so in style, likely winning by double-digits against a team that just won't be able to keep pace with them on the scoreboard.

Buffalo fans might be excited to see high draft pick Josh Allen sit in the pocket today but if they believe that'll fix their problems, they're sadly mistaken. Allen is a rookie and has a lot to learn. He does have a good arm and is suprisingly mobile for his size, so the upside is there in the future but at present moment, he's still very green and is likely to find his first NFL start a tough one. He might be a bit of an upgrade over Nathan Peterman but Buffalo's problems go far beyond the signal-caller. Their offensive line is the worst in the league and their receivers are also collectively perhaps the weakest one in the league! Tom Brady would have a tough time performing as a Bill right now let alone a rookie QB! The O-line looked atrocious in preseason and their Week 1 performance showed they are indeed a miserable unit. They can't protect anyone right now and throwing a rookie kid in there who has to get rid of the ball very quickly before the game has yet to slow down for him is not a good idea.

To make matters worse, his receivers rarely get good separation. Kelvin Benjamin has been a disappointment as have others. We believe Josh Allen might be one for the future but the odds are stacked against him in his NFL starting debut. The circumstances are simply not favorable for the young man especially since he's going up against a Chargers defense that was embarrassed last week! They were shredded by Tyreek Hill and company in their home opener in Week 1 and will want to show they are much better than that. Luckily for them, the competition couldn't be more different. They go from facing arguably the best offense in the league to the very worst one! It wouldn't surprise us if the Bills fell behind early and then tried to catch up. And when they do so, there will likely be mistakes increasing the chance of a pick-6 or something like that. Look for LA to bounce back and retain its playoff hopes and short of a backdoor cover or something miraculous, we believe they'll do so easily by more than one possession. This has the look of a 31-10 type of game in which Rivers, Gordon and company should pull away and win by double-digits.




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