October 29, 2016

NFL Handicap Betting Previews Week 8 – Sun 30th/Mon 31st October by @tom_selwyn

Washington Redskins @ Cincinnati Bengals

First up is the final London game of the year where the Redskins and the Bengals will face off. Washington come into this game with the better record, but I feel that Cincinnati are actually the better team. Last week they got one of their key players back in TE Tyler Eifert and finally established the running game. With the Redskins also suffering from a number of injuries, I’m backing the Bengals -2.5 here.

It’s this re-emergence of Cincinnati’s running game that I feel will be one of the keys to this game. They piled up 271 yards on the ground against the Browns last week, headlined by RB Jeremy Hill’s 168. Now this was against Cleveland, who rank dead last against the run, but Washington are not that much better and only rank 25th themselves.

Conversely, the Redskins are looking very light at the RB position with Matt Jones ruled out for this game – it could make Washington’s offense a bit more one-dimensional than they would like.

One of the other important injuries on the Redskins side is that of CB Josh Norman. He’s been limited during training and if he’s out or not at 100% it could be a long day for Washington’s secondary against one of the best WRs in the game, A.J. Green. Green is averaging over 110 receiving yards a game and could have another big game if Norman isn’t right.

The Bengals have not been great defensively this season, but I think they have the edge on the offensive side of the ball and should be able to outscore an injury hit Redskins team.

Handicap Betting Recommendation: Cincinnati Bengals -2.5 at 1.85

Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys

We’ve got a big NFC East matchup for SNF this week and with the division being so close and competitive this year, every divisional game could end up being crucial. It’s going to be fascinating to see a good Philadelphia pass rush go up against Dallas’ monster OL that’s for sure, and it’s a battle I think the Cowboys are going to win – Cowboys -4 for me.

As we all know, the Eagles have a good defence and although their rush defence is the weakest aspect of their game, they are still ranked a respectable 14th against the run, giving up 102.7 yards a game. They won’t have faced a running game like Dallas’ however and Washington showed people that Philadelphia can be ran on as they totalled 230 yards on the ground.

The Cowboys have the #1 ranked running attack (161.2 YPG) and they are averaging 48 yards a game more than the Redskins are. In the league’s leading rusher (despite already having had a bye week), rookie RB Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas has a considerably more talented backfield than what Washington, or any of the other teams Philadelphia has faced.

Elliot and the rest of the Cowboys have already shown they can make a mockery of rush defence rankings as they pummelled the (still!) first ranked Green Bay Packers to the tune of 191 yards on the ground.

The Eagles will know exactly what the Cowboys are going to want to do to them, but I’m not sure they’ll be able to do much about it. Dallas has ran on whoever they’ve faced this season and I see the same here. Additionally, their defence has not been as good on the road – giving up 21.6 points a game, compared to 7.6 at home.

Handicap Betting Recommendation: Dallas Cowboys -4 at 1.98

San Diego Chargers @ Denver Broncos

Riding a 2 game win streak, the Chargers have put themselves right back into the race for the AFC West and can gain further ground by completing the sweep of their divisional rival, the Broncos.

They are on the road this time around and, as per usual, the performance of the Chargers will come down to QB Philip Rivers. It’s a tough ask to go against Denver’s defence, especially when they’re at home, but with the Broncos’ offense sputtering (and now missing RB C.J. Anderson for the year) I’ll be taking San Diego +4.5 in what I think will be a close game.

Losing Anderson is a big blow for Denver who looked like they were finally primed to operate Head Coach Gary Kubiak’s zone-running and play-action scheme at full power. Without him, they will have to rely on rookie RB Devontae Booker to carry the load. Booker is a talented player, but as it’s just him now they may have to give him a break at times and throw it more than they’d like to.

On San Diego’s side, it all about how well Rivers is playing. Despite losing his 3 favourite targets earlier in the season (WRs Keenan Allen and Stevie Johnson, and RB Danny Woodhead), Rivers is still putting up big numbers against whoever he comes up against – he is currently averaging 288 yards a game and has 13 TDs to just 4 INTs this season.

Denver’s defence is still Denver’s defence and it will be a tough game for the Chargers, but Rivers will keep them in it to the end. They haven’t lost by more than 6 points in their 4 losses (and that 6 point loss was in OT) and I think they’re going to be involved in another close game.

Handicap Betting Recommendation: San Diego Chargers +4.5 at 1.96

Prices correct at the time of writing.

By @tom_selwyn

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