Great to have a profitable week last time out for Eastbridge, but very disappointed with how the Lions performed to deny the treble. Let’s see if I can’t go one better with my handicap betting previews for week 5!
New York Jets @ Pittsburgh Steelers
First up is a game between two teams that have responded very differently to setbacks in week 3. After being embarrassed by the Eagles, the Steelers dropped a hammer on a good Chiefs team the following week. The Jets on the other hand, responded to a dismal showing against the aforementioned Chiefs by being easily beaten by at home by the Seahawks. The difference in QB play is too stark to ignore in this one.
Indeed, while Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was throwing up 3 INTs to the Seahawks to go with his 6 against the Chiefs, Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger responded to his 0 TD, 1 INT performance against Philadelphia by blowing away Kansas City with 5 TDs and 0 INTs. I can see Roethlisberger putting up a similar performance this week too, as the Jets look very thin in the secondary and gave up a number of big plays to the Seahawks the week before.
Of course, Roethlisberger’s big performance coincided with the return of RB Le’Veon Bell – one of, if not the, best RBs in the league. He had 178 total yards in his return and, with opposing defences now having to focus on him and not just WR Antonio Brown, it really opens up the field for deep shots.
The Steelers don’t have the best defence in the league, but if their offense manages to put on anything close to the performance they had last week, I can’t see the Jets offense (especially with their struggles of late) being able to keep up.
Handicap Betting Recommendation: Pittsburgh Steelers -7 at 1.95
Philadelphia Eagles @ Detroit Lions
As mentioned at the beginning of this week’s piece, the Lions put up a complete dud against one of the league’s poorer teams to sink a bet last week. Now they get to face one of the league’s better teams in the Eagles, who will be nicely rested as they’re coming off a bye. I love the way Philadelphia are playing on both sides of the ball at the moment and I feel they’ll be more than a match for Detroit. Throw in a nice stat told to me by the indomitable @DarkDyson that, since 2003, teams coming off a bye that are favoured by 3 or more points on the road have gone 38-13 (74.5%).
Whilst I like how the Eagles offense has been performing – especially the level that rookie QB Carson Wentz has been playing – it’s their defence that is why I’m confident in this pick. In the first two games of the season you could have levelled the “quality of opposition” criticism at them, but they completely shut down the Steelers’ potent offense in week 3. They currently sit 3rd in the league for yards allowed and 1st in points allowed (albeit having played a game less than most teams). Given last week’s showing against a bad Bears defence, I can’t envision the Lions pushing them too far down the table in either of these categories.
After praising Lions QB Matthew Stafford’s improvement under a new Offensive Coordinator in last week’s betting preview, he promptly put up just 213 yards, 0 TDs and 2 INTs against the Bears. Yes, Chicago’s D is well coached, but they aren’t the same talent-level as the Eagles. Given Detroit has no running game of late (37 RB carries for 88 yards over the last two games), I think Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz is going to give Stafford all he can handle in this game.
With a superior defence and their offense going up against a team ranked 26th in the league defensively, this game should be Philadelphia’s.
Handicap Betting Recommendation: Philadelphia Eagles -3 at 1.89
New York Giants @ Green Bay Packers
It’s been a rough couple of weeks for the Giants. First they find a way to lose to the Redskins in week 3 and then get easily handled by the Vikings on Monday. This week they face the Green Bay Packers, who are also coming off their bye, and I don’t see their struggles ending at Lambeau Field. Green Bay are still a work in progress at this point (as evidenced by letting Detroit back in during their game in week 3) but they are improving each week and should prove too much, especially at home, for a Giants team heading in the opposite direction.
In my opinion, the Giants are far too adept at shooting themselves in the foot for this to be a close game. They’ve already given the ball away 9 times this season and because they can’t take the ball away either (just once so far), they sit at 30th in turnover differential. All these giveaways have resulted in the rather bizarre situation of the Giants sitting 6th in terms of yards per game (382.2), but 27th when it comes to points per game (just 18.2).
The Packers on the other hand may not have hit their offensive stride just yet, but they are not giving the ball away – just 3 times so far – and are still managing to put up 25 points a game. The 31 1st half points that they dropped on Detroit in week 3 was evidence as to what they can do and I believe that they really took their foot off the gas in the 2nd half. I believe we’ll see the 1st half version of Green Bay against the Giants and given that they should be well rested coming off a bye and are playing at home, they should dispatch a weaker Giants team.
Handicap Betting Recommendation: Green Bay Packers -6.5 at 1.87
Prices correct at time of writing.