Baltimore Ravens @ Atlanta Falcons: Atlanta to win – 8/11
This one is a real contender for value pick of the season. Atlanta, at home, against a rookie quarterback.
While I firmly believe home-field advantage isn’t worth half as much as some would have you believe (the Chargers went 4-0 during a month away from LA), to basically write this game off as a scratch is wild.
Jackson’s arm is middling at best and Baltimore’s game management has kept him from looking overly exposed right now. That ends in Georgia.
Matt Ryan’s motion might look more and more awkward as the weeks pass by, but Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones are one of the best duos to watch in football. The Falcons’ route concepts are enough to nullify the brilliance of Jefferson and Weddle on the back-end, and their pass-run balance keeps them unpredictable.
Chalk this down as a win for the hosts, and with a bit to spare.
Carolina Panthers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Carolina to win – 4/7
The most dynamic offence in football is ready to roll again. And while Norv Turner’s antics aren’t everyone’s cup of tea in terms of play-calling, you have to hand it to his erratic nature for the way in which he has crafted Newton and McCaffrey’s potent dual threat.
Granted, their defence may be a shambles, but we’re very close to the Buccaneers giving up on 2018 and tanking in the hope of picking up a skill position player that they so desperately need in order to resemble a functional football team.
Their 4-7 record probably overstates their ability levels, which in a way, is a hat-tip to their coaching staff – but in another way, losing outright would be more beneficial for this franchise.
There’s a real sense that the process to get that higher draft pick starts this week against a multi-faceted opponent.
Kansas City @ Oakland Raiders: Points Total Under 55pts – 5/6
Kareem Hunt has been released by the Kansas City Chiefs and while that action in and of itself is noble and correct, it doesn’t take away from the fact that their offence has just become a lot less balanced.
Tyreek Hill grabs all the headlines, as does Patrick Mahomes – the gunslinger from Texas Tech. But as is always the case with Andy Reid-coached teams, they need an incisive running game between the tackles to ensure time in the pocket to get those chunk plays to develop.
Without Hunt picking up the hard yards, the easy ones become a lot more ominous.
This once-high-powered unit led by Hunt will now take some time to find their feet again, and while they figure that out, they’re certainly not likely to hit their lofty totals in the high 30s and low 40s.
The only saving grace for them is that they’re playing an NFL team that barely resemble a top-tier college side. Oakland may struggle to put up 20, and with that in your back pocket, this under line looks about four weeks old.
* All odds correct at time of posting.