It took us ten weeks – TEN WEEKS – to find a game in the NFL of real quality. The Niners and Seahawks was a blockbuster of an NFC West battle that played into the last seconds of overtime until Russell Wilson and co came out victorious.
This was the first matchup of supreme quality in a season where we just haven’t seen enough of it. But the stakes become clearer now, and narratives tend to be more specific and meaningful.
I believe this time of year is known as ‘the crunch’, so it’s about time we crunched some numbers and found you the early value.
Make a play on the NFL with PaddyPower.com
Atlanta Falcons @ Carolina Panthers (-5.5) – (9/10)
We should all be very grateful to the New Orleans Saints for their lack of competence when it comes to divisional matchups.
There’s now a theory being floated around that Atlanta, as a team, may not be as bad their record suggests. Well, I’ve news for you, my friends – they’re absolute dogs**t.
They cannot stop the run, they’ve no standout defensive backs, Deion Jones looks like he’s lost a step and they were just a terrible playcall luckily working out – the screen to Julio on 4th-and-7 against the Eagles – away from being winless prior to last week.
There is no matchup here for McCaffrey, and when there’s no matchup for McCaffrey, you can bet your life the Panthers will be winning by north of a touchdown.
Dallas Cowboys (-4.5) @ Detroit Lions (9/10)
What do you get when you combine, at best, a quarterback with a dodgy spine, a defence that plays man coverage almost exclusively, and an offence with no running back to speak of, against the best offensive line in football, countless mismatches and a running game that can blow anyone out of the water?
A lot more than a 3.5-spread usually.
I am very much aware that playing at Ford Field when you’re used to the home comforts of Arlington is a tough ask – but being this poor a team up against a must-win Dallas front is even tougher.
Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup are nightmares for man coverage, and Zeke can catch the ball if they want to beat them with formations, too.
Expect the Cowboys to ride to victory here.
New England Patriots (-3.5) @ Philadelphia Eagles (9/10)
Fool me once, win a Super Bowl. Fool me twice? Unheard of.
That isn’t strictly how to best utilise that saying, but it describes the predicament that Philly find themselves in pretty well. Their offence hasn’t changed at all under Frank Reich which is a key contributor to their not-so-gracious slide from the two previous seasons.
And Bill is back with a brand new attack.
These Eagles simply don’t do enough schematically to fool teams and if you try the same thing against these Patriots again, they’ll analyse it to death before taking you apart.
The smart play is New England. In fact, the only play is New England.