Three teams – Cincinnati, Denver and Green Bay – have reached the 6-0 mark so far in 2015. Carolina (5-0) and New England (5-0) aim to join that list in Week 7, as the Panthers travel to San Francisco and the Patriots host the New York Jets.
MyClubBetting handicapper and Lindy’s Sports UK Editor Simon Milham takes a look at the betting trends and some of the best bets ahead of Week 7 of the 2015/16 NFL season. The odds are correct at the time of writing and are industry average.
(Handicap is denoted by +/- for the home team)
SEATTLE at SAN FRANCISCO
(+5.5, Total Points 41.5)
The NFC champion Seahawks are in a 2-4 hole after allowing yet another fourth-quarter lead to slip and are now two games behind the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC West.
The 49ers have a similar record, despite outlasting the disappointing Baltimore Ravens.
Yet these two teams are still miles apart, talent-wise. The Seahawks have won the last three meetings and five of the last six. However, they have lost five of the last six clashes in San Francisco.
The winner can still win the division but the loser can start thinking about next season’s draft order.
First season head coach Jim Tomsula has been under pressure from day one in San Francisco, and speculation is swirling that Seattle head coach Pete Carroll will return to the college ranks before too long.
That is a ready-made excuse for Seattle’s players to tank but, in reality, they will only beat themselves if they fail to deal with the Niners. With little wiggle room, taking San Francisco too lightly is an excuse not on the agenda.
VERDICT: SEATTLE 28 SAN FRANCISCO 13
BEST BET: SEATTLE -5.5 @ 1.80
BUFFALO at JACKSONVILLE
(+4.5, Total Points 41.5)
Buffalo did as we predicted they would last week – they lost 34-21 at home to Cincinnati. It leaves them at 3-3 for the season and chasing the unbeaten New England Patriots in the AFC East division.
The Jacksonville Jaguars fell to 1-5 for the year, following a 31-20 home defeat by the Houston Texans. Both are looking to bounce back at Wembley, as the Jaguars ‘host’ the second of three International Series games in London this autumn.
Jacksonville have lost on both previous trips to London, having failed to cover the handicap on each occasion, but this presents by far their easiest opportunity.
The Bills flew in on Monday and while the Jags left it until Friday to arrive, that may not necessarily be to Buffalo’s benefit.
Jaguars’ quarterback Blake Bortles is growing in confidence and while the ‘home’ team has won just three of the last 12 London games, we think this game has upset potential. Take the Jaguars at 1.90 in receipt of 4.5 points and if you can get on, have a speculative punt on this being the first game in London to enter overtime.
VERDICT: BUFFALO 23 JACKSONVILLE 26 OT
BEST BET: JACKSONVILLE +4.5 @ 1.91
ATLANTA at TENNESSEE
(+4.5, Total Points 42.5)
Atlanta dropped their first game of the season last week, as the trends suggested they would, at New Orleans.
Tennessee were woeful at home against the Miami Dolphins, losing 38-10. The trends suggest that the Falcons could be upset again, having lost six of their last eight against the Titans and five of the last six trips to Houston/Tennessee.
Costly turnovers (three fumbles, two in the red zone) a poor third-down conversion ratio (3-of-12) and a blocked punt returned for a touchdown were largely to blame for the Falcons’ 31-21 defeat to the Saints.
Yet Devonta Freeman, their second-season running back, is proving a force that can’t be stopped. He had 156 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns against the Saints.
And he could be key, given that the Titans are giving up 139 yards a game on the ground. They failed to stop Miami’s woeful ground game last week and there is no quick fix, since they are riddled with injuries.
What worries us about this game the handicap. The Falcons are asked to concede just four points to a vastly inferior team that is going nowhere.
It looks an obvious game to swerve for betting purposes, yet we would be all over Atlanta if they were giving up a touchdown. We think the Falcons will cover and Freeman will score again, but we take a chance on Marcus Mariota exposing an Atlanta secondary that has its problems.
VERDICT: ATLANTA 31 TENNESSEE 23
BEST BET: TENNESSEE OVER 20.5 POINTS @ 1.91
HOUSTON at MIAMI
(-4.5, Total Points 43.5)
Miami (2-3) looked like the team we thought they were going to be at the start of the season when dismantling Tennessee last Sunday, as the Dan Campbell era began with a bang.
Miami’s defense, which had slumbered through the first four games, sparked to life and limited the Titans to 10 points. Ryan Tannehill still threw two interceptions, however, and still does not appear to be able to carry the team on his shoulders.
The Texans (1-5) won their first game of the season, outlasting Jacksonville after a 21-point fourth-quarter blitz, led by dominate wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who ended the afternoon with 148 yards and two touchdowns.
Miami’s secondary has struggled all year and Brian Hoyer has thrown three touchdowns in each of the last three games, obviously helped by the confidence he has in Hopkins.
Houston has never lost to Miami in seven previous meetings (three in Florida), but this is a very different Dolphins team. J.J. Watt rushing Tannehill fills us with dread, and while we take the Fins to win, given their rivalry history, the points look tempting
VERDICT: HOUSTON 21 MIAMI 23
BEST BET: HOUSTON +4.5 @ 1.91
NEW ORLEANS at INDIANAPOLIS
(-4, Total Points 52.5)
Indianapolis (3-3) hung tough with New England last Sunday before eventually going down 34-27. The good news was that Andrew Luck appears to have recovered from a shoulder injury that kept him out of two games. Luck threw for 312 yards and three touchdowns, without being intercepted.
New Orleans (2-4) salvaged some price – if not their season – with a stunning upset victory over division rivals Atlanta – and now hope to win their eighth game in 10 meetings with the Colts, whom they upset (31-17) in in the 2010 Super Bowl.
There is still some uncertainty swirling over the respective head coaches, in particular Sean Payton, who could be in line for a switch to the Miami Dolphins or San Francisco 49ers at the end of the season, despite having two years of his contract still to run.
Coaching issues aside, the Saints managed to move the ball at will in the first half against Atlanta and Drew Brees was precise in throwing for 312 yards. The defense forced three turnovers and the starting tight end dominated. This was a far cry from the abject performance they produced in Philadelphia two weeks ago.
The Colts have the benefit of playing in the AFC South division that will do well to boast two teams with a winning record this year. Still, they are a better team than their record implies. With Luck back on track we expect the Colts to win a shootout.
VERDICT: NEW ORLEANS 24 INDIANAPOLIS 34
BEST BET: INDIANAPOLIS -4 @ 1.91
TAMPA BAY at WASHINGTON
(-3.5, Total Points 43.5)
Tampa Bay (2-3) go in search of a piece of history on Sunday, hoping to record their third successive win in the nation’s capital. The Redskins invariably have trouble with the Buccaneers and have come out on the wrong side of some close games, with five of the last six meetings settled by less than one score.
Though they have lost four times, the Redskins (2-4) are only a game behind NFC East leaders Philadelphia, who boast a 3-3 record, so their season is far from over.
The Buccaneers are coming off a bye week following their 38-31 win over Jacksonville. They were somewhat fortunate, having had to recover an on-side kick in the final minute to secure victory.
Tampa Bay move the chains well. They racked up 411 yards on offense against a solid (and unbeaten) Carolina team and will get a few players healthy off the bye – including tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
Washington trotted out an inexperienced offensive line – with just 14 starts combined – against the New York Jets, who boast one of the most talented defensive units in the game. They paid the penalty, managing just 34 yards on the ground without left tackle Trent Williams and centre Kory Lichtensteiger. While the line fared well in pass protection, Kirk Cousins still has accuracy issues and he has had too many games with multiple interceptions.
This promises to be one of the more intriguing match-ups of the weekend and we will take a chance on the Redskins to cover, given that Cousins has a full complement of targets for the first time in a while.
VERDICT: TAMPA BAY 14 WASHINGTON 23
BEST BET: WASHINGTON -3.5 @ 2.00
OTHER HANDICAP PREDICTIONS
CLEVELAND +5.5 over St Louis: The Browns keep losing heartbreakers and will probably do so again. We like their moxie, though. Cleveland 21 St Louis 23
DETROIT +3.5 over Minnesota: Not sure how many time we have to say it, but Minnesota are an ordinary team dressed up in a scary costume. The Lions win two of every three games at home to the Vikings. The trend is scheduled to go against them this time, but trends are not always our friend. Minnesota 17 Detroit 23
NEW ENGLAND -8.5 over New York Jets: While the Patriots have issues in stopping the run, they rarely fail to cover lofty spreads back-to-back. They let us down in Indy, but the Jets are due a let-down. A statement game from Belichick and co. New York Jets 16 New England 34
OAKLAND +3 at San Diego: The Chargers covered the handicap in defeat at Green Bay and are looking to win for the seventh time in eight meetings over their AFC West rivals. The handicap should be larger, so it is potentially a game to swerve and it would not surprise us in the least should the Raiders sneak it. Oakland 33 San Diego 28
DALLAS +4.5 at New York Giants: The Cowboys have not won six consecutive meetings or won three consecutive in New York since 1980. Dez Bryant may be back for the Cowboys, yet it may not matter. Dallas 27 NY Giants 31
PHILADELPHIA +3.5 at Carolina: The Carolina Panthers looked bigger and faster on both lines against Seattle, and that is saying something. While everyone and his dog thinks that Chip Kelly’s offense will unravel, the Eagles continue to prove the critics wrong. We like the Panthers a lot, but the pressure to go 7-0 may be all too much. Philadelphia 24 Carolina 20
ARIZONA -7.5 over Baltimore: The Ravens lost to San Francisco last week. That is a death spiral if ever there was one. The Cardinals are out to show they are among the NFC elite on Monday Night Football. This could get very scary. Arizona 41 Baltimore 17
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