St. Louis Rams at Arizona Cardinals
A big chance for the Cardinals to move to 4-0 here against a Rams team who have been brought back down to earth after their week 1 win over the Seahawks. The Rams offense couldn’t get anything going against the Steelers last week and I believe they’ll find things even tougher against Arizona in this one. Cardinals -7 for me here.
It’s not just St. Louis’ ineptitude on offense in recent weeks that has me liking this bet – The Cardinals have been torching teams this season. They currently lead the NFL in scoring with 42 points a game and all these points haven’t just been coming from their offense. Their defence has also been chipping in, with 3 defensive TDs so far.
To put that stat into perspective, 20 teams haven’t managed a single one this season. Indeed, 23 points (3 TDs + a safety) have been scored by the Arizona defence in the last two gamese scored in the last two games giving the, which is more than the St. Louis offense has managed – just 16 points.
St. Louis’ defence could cause the Arizona offense some problems, but the differing forms of the two offenses combined with a very opportunistic Cardinals defence should hopefully mean this is a one-sided game in Arizona’s favour.
Handicap Betting Recommendation: Arizona Cardinals -7 at 2.08
Oakland Raiders at Chicago Bears
I can’t remember the last time a team was shut out, but that’s what the Chicago offense managed against Seattle last week. They didn’t look great when Jay Cutler was in at QB, but with Cutler injured and Jimmy Clausen taking his place last week, they looked awful. WR Alshon Jeffrey is still out for this game too, so I’ll be going with Under 44.5 points in this matchup.
To emphasise how poor the Bears offense has been, here are some stats from the first three games of the season: They’ve averaged 15.3 points a game, which puts them at 31st in the league with only San Francisco scoring less. They’ve only scored 1.3 TDs a game – last in the league – and have only managed to put up 294.3 yards a game (28th in the league). Simply, they’re a mess. Oakland’s defence is nowhere near as formidable as Seattle’s, but Chicago with Clausen at the helm don’t seem like they’ll be troubling the scoreboard too much.
Clausen was poor against a very good Seahawks defence, completing only 9 passes for 63 yards, but these days it’s what you expect from Clausen. He’s a below-average backup and I can’t see him and the rest of Chicago’s offense being able to score many points in this one.
Handicap Betting Recommendation: Under 44.5 points at 1.92
Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Compared to the performances that Marcus Mariota has been putting in for the Titans, it’s been a fairly underwhelming start for the #1 overall pick Jameis Winston. His first ever pass in the league was a pick-6 and although he has improved since then (the only way being up after that you could argue), his Buccaneers sit joint 29th in terms of scoring this season with only 16.3 points a game. They now face a Carolina side who are only allowing 16 points a game themselves. This could be another ugly outing for Jameis and the Tampa Bay offense, so I’m backing the Panthers -3 in this one.
Carolina’s defence has been excellent so far this season, summed up by only allowing 16 points a game, and a lot of this is down to how well they have been blitzing. When the Panthers blitz, they are holding opposing QBs to a rating of under 70 and opposing RBs to 16 yards on 10 carries. I fully expect this trend to continue against Tampa Bay as rookie QBs, generally, get quite flustered when put under pressure. Winston has completed only 52.2% of his passes this season and not all of this will have been against the blitz.
Carolina QB Cam Newton, however, has been playing superbly this year and really looks to have developed quite a lot from last season. He’s doing it all really; the OL has not been brilliant, the running game has not put up huge numbers (Newton has only 26 fewer yards than RB Jonathan Stewart) and he’s without his #1 WR Kelvin Benjamin. The only reliable weapon he has is TE Greg Olsen and you can’t expect him to be open on every play.
There’s talk of Newton being in the MVP discussion at this early point in the season and I can certainly see that argument. I expect him to add more fuel to that by leading the Panthers to a win over the Buccaneers.
Handicap Betting Recommendation: Carolina Panthers -3 at 1.90
Prices correct at the time of writing.
Eastbridge Sports Betting Broker, huge limits, winners welcome!