Philadelphia’s defence came out far too slowly against Detroit and so the treble came up short again, but it was still a profitable week for Eastbridge. Let’s see if we can keep this run going with my week 6 handicap betting previews.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Miami Dolphins
I backed Pittsburgh to deliver against a team they were clearly superior to last week and I’m going to be doing so again. They may not be at home this week, but Miami are not only worse than the Jets, they are playing terribly too. Ran over by Tennessee last week, they are definitely in the discussion to be the worst team in the league at this point and so, once again, I’ll be backing Pittsburgh -7.
If it wasn’t for a Cody Parkey missed FG, it would be the Dolphins who are the sole winless team in the league, not the Browns – this is how poorly the season has gone for Miami thus far and I see no reason why this week’s matchup against Pittsburgh will be the game they turn it around. We’re already hearing players’ effort being questioned and that isn’t what you want when one of the league’s better teams are coming to town.
The difference between the two teams on both offense and defence is stark – On offence, Pittsburgh are scoring an average of 27.8 points a game (including the off-game they had against Philadelphia where they only put up 3 points), which is over 10 points more than Miami’s average of 17.6. Defensively, the Steelers are giving up 18.6 to the Dolphins’ 23.8.
Miami have shown they are susceptible to both the run and the pass so far this season. Whether it was Bengals WR A.J. Green going off for 173 yards or the Titans running all over them last week for a combined 235 yards, they haven’t shown the ability to stop the opposing team’s strength.
Given the Steelers possess one of the league’s best QBs, RBs and WRs in Roethlisberger, Bell and Brown, they should be able to do what they like against this struggling Miami side.
Handicap Betting Recommendation: Pittsburgh Steelers -7 at 2.00
Cleveland Browns @ Tennessee Titans
Two of the league’s lesser lights here (a combined 2-8), but I feel this is an excellent value pick. Yes, Cleveland remain winless as they got the dubious prize of being the sacrificial lamb for Patriots QB Tom Brady’s return, whereas Tennessee got a win over Miami, but I don’t see them as being that far apart – certainly not a TDs difference on the handicap. I’ll be backing Cleveland +7 in this one.
The Browns have been soundly beaten by two of the NFL’s better teams (Philadelphia in week 1 and New England last week), but against Ravens, Dolphins and Redskins – combined record of 7-8 – they have kept it competitive and have actually led in each of them. It seems strange to say it, but having rookie QB Cody Kessler fit for this game is big for the Browns. He led Cleveland on a nice TD drive against the Patriots before getting knocked out of the game and will mean that Tennessee can’t just focus on the run.
Speaking of the running game, it is the strength of both teams. The Titans and the Browns both rank in top 5 for rushing – Tennessee with 148.6 yards a game (2nd) and Cleveland, even after a sub-par day against New England, with 124.8 (5th). Compare this to their passing ranks – Tennessee at 209.4 yards a game (28th) and Cleveland at 224.6 (26th) – and you can see the way these teams like to play.
When both teams struggle to pass and so want to run the ball often, it generally lends itself to close games. Tennessee are the better team here, but not by a TD in my opinion.
Handicap Betting Recommendation: Cleveland Browns +7 at 1.92
Los Angeles Rams @ Detroit Lions
The Lions came out of the gate fast against the Eagles last week to scupper one of my picks, but I still feel they are a vulnerable team that can be had. The quick start last week owed a lot to RB Theo Riddick who has now been ruled out of this game and I also feel this is a good matchup for the Rams’ rushing attack. If they can finally get RB Todd Gurley going, Los Angeles should be able to grind out a win in Detroit. I was tempted with the Rams on the handicap (and wouldn’t blame anyone for taking it), but the injury reports are leading me to taking the Rams outright in an upset.
It’s not just Riddick who will be missing for the Lions. They will also be without starting TE Eric Ebron, LB DeAndre Levy and DT Haloti Ngata. That’s a lot of starting players at key positions, but missing Riddick as well as Abdullah hurts an already poor rushing attack (89.8 yards a game and 65.3 in the last 3 games). If they aren’t able to run the ball, the Rams talented DL (who got 3 players, including Robert Quinn, back to practice this week) led by Aaron Donald will be able to focus on putting pressure on QB Matthew Stafford.
The Rams are actually fielding a statistically worse running game this season and just aren’t able to open up any running lanes for one of the league’s most talented runners in Gurley. I feel that this is the week they can finally start moving some defenders and getting him going as the Lions are allowing an average of 4.9 yards a carry, which is the 2nd worst mark in the league.
I don’t see the Rams beating up on the Lions here, but if they can establish Gurley and force Detroit to be one-dimensional, then they stand an excellent chance of winning this game.
Handicap Betting Recommendation: Los Angeles Rams to win at 2.60
Prices correct at time of writing.