What a disaster of a handicap betting week that was! Some truly strange results, but these things happen in the NFL and I’m looking to get back to winning ways in week 4.
Detroit Lions @ Chicago Bears
I think the road back to profit starts in Chicago where the Lions will be facing off against the Bears. This game features two of the worst defences in the league, but there’s only one offense that looks like they can take advantage and that belongs to Detroit. They weren’t able to keep pace with an (annoyingly) revitalised Green Bay offense, but are clearly better than a limited Chicago offense.
As I outlined, both of these defences are bad – they are 27th and tied 23rd in terms of points allowed – but I feel this one comes down to how much better Detroit’s offense is compared to Chicago’s, especially at the QB position.
Lions QB Matthew Stafford has been playing very well this season, continuing his form from the latter half of last season when Offensive Coordinator Jim Bob Cooter took over. Since Cooter has been in charge of the offense (week 8 last year), Stafford has thrown 27 TDs to just 6 INTs, while throwing for just over 281 yards a game. Safe to say that Cooter has had a real impact on Stafford’s game.
So with Stafford playing well and directing his offense to 4th in yards a game (413.7) and 5th in points (27) this season it’s hard to see how this Chicago offense (27th in yards with 310.7 and 30th in points with 15) can keep up even with the Lions’ poor defence on the other side of the ball.
I believe that if Stafford continues to play well, this should be a comfortable victory for Detroit.
Handicap Betting Recommendation: Detroit Lions -3 at 1.87
Denver Broncos @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I don’t think anyone is surprised with how well Denver’s defence is playing this season, but the play of QB Trevor Siemian, especially last week, will have come as a shock to everyone who doesn’t work for the Broncos. They’re firing on both sides of the ball, unlike the Buccaneers who are struggling to put it together. I don’t see Tampa Bay fixing their issues against a strong Denver team.
After an opening week 1 win, the Buccaneers offense has regressed dramatically and a lot of this is down to RB Doug Martin being on the side-lines. Without him, they are struggling to run the ball and QB Jameis Winston is being forced to throw it far too much – over the last two games, he has attempted 110 passes, resulting in 5 INTs and 2 lost fumbles.
If he is forced to again, it could be a very long day against a Denver defence that is ranked 4th in the league against the pass, giving up just 178.3 yards a game through the air, allowing no passes of over 40 yards and securing more INTs (3) than TDs given up (2). They are also 2nd in the league for sacks (12) and have limited opposing QBs to an average rating of 68.5, which is 4th best mark.
Given that Tampa Bay’s defence is the worst in the league in terms of points allowed (101 given up already) you have to think that Siemian and the Broncos offense won’t be taking a step back this week. If they do continue to roll, I think this excellent Denver defence will force Winston into yet more mistakes and allow the Broncos to get another win.
Handicap Betting Recommendation: Denver Broncos -3 at 1.99
Los Angeles Rams @ Arizona Cardinals
My final pick comes from a matchup between two NFC West foes that have not been performing to people’s expectations thus far this season – the Rams surprisingly lead the division at 2-1 and the Cardinals are a disappointing 1-2. The common theme between them at this point is an inability to perform consistently on offense.
Both teams have managed to drop a hammer on the Buccaneers, with the Cardinals beating them 40-7 in week 2 and the Rams beating them 37-32 last week, but aside their matchups against Tampa Bay they haven’t managed to put up a lot of points. The vaunted Cardinals offense has been held to 21 points or under in their other two games (including the dud against the Bills last week to sink a pick) and the Rams best total was 9 points.
A lot of this comes down to their respective stars struggling. Rams RB Todd Gurley has not had a lot of room to run as defences key on him, resulting in him averaging just 2.9 yards a carry so far this season. Until the Rams prove they can challenge teams down the field, teams will continue to line up to stop Gurley. With Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson eliminating one WR I don’t think they’ll be able to do it this week and Gurley will once again be faced with a lot of defenders crowding the line of scrimmage – defenders looking to prove a woeful run defence against the Bills was an aberration.
From Arizona’s point of view, they have to be a little concerned about QB Carson Palmer’s performances this season, specifically on intermediate to deep throws. He’s completing under 45% of passes over 10+ yards through the air, putting up just 1 TD and 4 INTs. He’ll need to improve on this as that’s where the Rams are weakest, but it remains to be seen if he’ll have the time against a very good Rams DL.
Both teams possess the defences to keep the opposing offenses struggling and I’m backing them to do so.
Handicap Betting Recommendation: Under 43 points at 2.00
Prices correct at time of writing.