October 22, 2016

NFL Handicap Betting Previews Week 7 – Sunday 23rd October by @tom_selwyn

You can’t legislate for a star player like Roethlisberger going down with an injury. But with the Rams faltering in the late stages of their game too, it was still a disappointing week. I’m looking to get back on track with this week’s betting previews for Eastbridge.

Indianapolis Colts @ Tennessee Titans

The Colts have been very poor this year and seem intent on wasting QB Andrew Luck’s prime years with subpar talent around him. Yet, thanks to a weak division, even at 2-4 they’re still in the hunt, but a matchup against the Titans this week is not one that suits them. They’re winless on the road this season having lost all 3 games, including last week’s heartbreaker to the Texans. I see Tennessee extending that to 4 games. Titans -3 for me.

Indianapolis is a team that has a reputation of being easy to push around and they have done nothing to alleviate this notoriety so far this season. Their performance in the trenches on both sides of the ball has been bad again and this is something Tennessee should be able to exploit.

Offensively, the Titans want to run the ball with their quality RBs DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry and have been doing so effectively behind a good OL that ProFootballFocus has ranked as the best run blocking unit. They are currently 3rd in the league for rush yards a game with 146.7 and 2nd in yards an attempt with 4.9. The Titans should continue to sit around the top of the table after this game as the Colts are one of the worst at stopping the run, sitting at 25th in the league after giving up 117.7 yards a game on the ground this season.

If anything, the OL for the Colts has been worse. They have given up a league-high 23 sacks of Luck so far this season and he’s also been hit 46 times (the 2nd highest total). This is another weakness that the Titans look like they’ll be able to exploit as their 18 sacks so far this season is good for 5th in the league.

If you can’t win up front on either side of the ball, it’s very tough to win games and I think this will be another long day for Indianapolis.

Handicap Betting Recommendation: Tennessee Titans -3 at 1.91


Minnesota Vikings @ Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles have come back down to Earth a little bit after their excellent start, losing their last two games against Detroit and Washington. I don’t see them arresting this slide just yet either as they have not faced a defence that comes close to the Vikings in terms of dominance this season. Rookie QB Carson Wentz has played extremely well this season, but I can see Minnesota really clamping down on him here so it has to be Vikings -3 here.

It starts up front for the Minnesota defence and they, despite having played a game less, sit tied for 3rd in the league when it comes to sacks. Last week was the first game that Eagles RT Lane Johnson missed due to suspension and it showed – Redskins DE Ryan Kerrigan was credited with 2.5 sacks last week going predominantly against Johnson’s replacement. The Vikings possess a superior rush to the Redskins so Wentz could be under pressure early and often.

It’s not just sacks of course. Minnesota leads the league in points allowed, with just 12.6 being given up a game, and are also first in yards per play with 4.4. They are also 1st in TDs allowed (just 7) and 2nd in yards allowed (287.6).

Minnesota have made far more experienced QBs than Wentz look bad this season – they held Cam Newton and Aaron Rodgers to a combined 24 points – so their offense should be able to put up enough points against an Eagles defence that has come back to the pack in recent weeks.

Handicap Betting Recommendation: Minnesota Vikings -3 at 2.0


New England Patriots @ Pittsburgh Steelers

What should have been the game of the week is now without Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger and it completely changes the complexion of this matchup. New England has swept all before them since QB Tom Brady returned from suspension and they now get to face a Landry Jones led Steelers team. I dislike backing my own team, but the line seems far too short here – Patriots -7 in this one.

Since his return, Brady has completed 76% of his passes while throwing for 782 yards, 6 TDs and 0 INTs. These numbers could continue to grow as the Steelers don’t have a great pass rush in general, having logged just 8 sacks so far this season (tied for 28th in the league), and they will be without DE Cameron Heyward again this week. The best way to stop the Patriots is to pressure Brady and if they can’t they are going to struggle to contain TE Rob Gronkowski et al.

Offensively, missing Roethlisberger is huge for Pittsburgh. Without him, it allows Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick to focus solely on taking away RB Le’Veon Bell as WR Antonio Brown just isn’t the same without Roethlisberger throwing him the ball. In the 4 games without him since 2013, Brown has only 4.3 receptions a game, 58.8 yards a game and 0 TDs. That is a significant drop-off from the sort of numbers he normally puts up.

I think the Patriots would be seen as the better team even with Roethlisberger, but I don’t think handicap line accurately reflects how much of a drop-off going from him to Jones is. If Brady has a time, he should carve through the Steelers.

Handicap Betting Recommendation: New England Patriots -7 at 2.0

Prices correct at the time of writing.

By @tom_selwyn

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