Last week wasn’t great with some bizarrely sub-par performances from the top offenses I talked up.
I’m looking to bounce back this week.
Arizona Cardinals @ Miami Dolphins – 18:00
The Cardinals kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a win over the Redskins last week, but the Dolphins suffered a blow to their own chances as they were pummelled by the Ravens. It wasn’t what people were expecting from a team riding a 6 game win streak, but the Dolphins are a flawed team that got a bit lucky once or twice during their run.
Baltimore exposed one of Miami’s flaws badly last week – their LBs struggle both in coverage and against the run. TE Dennis Pitta had 90 yards and 2 TDs, while the Ravens’ RBs averaged 5 and 9 yards a carry. This is not good news for the Dolphins when you now get Cardinals RB David Johnson coming to town. It seems like a nightmare matchup to me, so I’m backing Arizona in this one.
Johnson has been one of the few bright spots in a lost season for the Cardinals and has put up over 100 scrimmage yards in every game so far. I think it would be a major upset if he didn’t continue that streak against a Dolphins defence that is 30th in the league against the run (130.3 yards a game) and, as referenced earlier, have LBs that struggle in coverage against TEs and RBs.
With them only putting up 6 points last week, I think it’s safe to say Miami’s offense was found out a bit by Baltimore too. The Ravens field one of the best and toughest defences in the league, giving up the least yards a game on average (296.1 a game), but who’s right behind them? The Cardinals(297.2).
I have no doubt that Johnson will do his part, but if the Cardinals defence can live up to their ranking and slow the Dolphins offense down like the Ravens did then this should be a comfortable victory for Arizona.
Handicap Betting Recommendation: Arizona Cardinals -2 at 1.95
Houston Texans @ Indianapolis Colts – 18:00
Last week I once again picked against the Brock Osweiler-led Texans and despite one of his better outings, the offense could only generate 13 points against the Packers. With that result, Houston’s AFC South lead was finally eroded by Indianapolis and Tennessee. I see it getting worse this week as they face an ascending Colts team that hammered the Jets on Monday night. For the 3rd week in a row I’ll be opposing them and backing Indianapolis -5.5 here.
Colts QB Andrew Luck was so good against a poor Jets pass defence that, after building Indianapolis an insurmountable lead behind 4 TD passes and an almost-perfect rating, he was pulled for most of the 4th quarter. As they field one of the league’s better defences I doubt the Texans will be as compliant as the Jets were but, as with Aaron Rodgers last week, I don’t think they’ll be able to contain Luck all game.
Unfortunately for Houston’s defence, this is what they’ll be asked to do as their offense has been inept behind Osweiler. They only average 17.2 points a game and are one of five teams that hasn't been able to score 30 points this season.
With the Texans being so poor offensively coupled with their struggles on the road (1-5 this season), I can’t look past the Colts in this one. They’re at home against a team they’ve dominated with a serious edge at the game’s most important position, so I don’t expect Houston to improve on the 1 win they’ve managed in their history in Indianapolis.
Handicap Betting Recommendation: Indianapolis Colts -5.5 at 1.83
Cincinnati Bengals @ Cleveland Browns -18:00
To the AFC North now as the two teams at the bottom of the division face off. It’s been a season to forget for both teams, but a divisional matchup always means something and so despite the rather talent-poor rosters we should hopefully be in for a lively game. With this belief, I find the line for the total points to be surprisingly low and will be looking for this one to go over 41 points.
It starts with the Browns defence, or lack thereof, for me. To this point in the season they sit at 31st in both yards a game (400) and points (29.3). If Cincinnati QB Andy Dalton can build off his performance from last week, where he had his best game of the season, then it could be a long day for Cleveland’s secondary.
When these teams met earlier in the season, Dalton did just that as he threw for 308 yards against them. This did come when the Bengals still had their best player in WR A.J. Green on the field, but given the Browns’ defensive deficiencies I don’t think Dalton will struggle to put up big numbers again – especially with TE Tyler Eifert looking back to his best combined with Cleveland’s struggles against TEs (791 yards and 9 TDs allowed).
Cleveland are turning back to Robert Griffin at QB this week and whilst it remains to be seen if he can survive the whole 4 quarters, he could provide a bit of a spark to an otherwise lacklustre Browns offense. When he’s been healthy, Griffin and WR Terrelle Pryor have shown they can connect on deep throws and they’ll need to do so this week if the Browns are to have a chance of getting their 1st win of the season.
I don’t see the Browns getting their first win, but I do see a lot of points being put up as we’ll be seeing two poor defences on show in Cleveland.
Handicap Betting Recommendation: Over 41 points at 2.03
Prices correct at the time of writing.