DENVER BRONCOS (9-1) at NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (7-3)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Denver -2.5 & 54.5
Opening Line & Total: Broncos -3 & 56
The Patriots try to shake off their controversial Monday night loss when they host the 9-1 Broncos on Sunday night.
New England lost to Carolina 24-20 on Monday, but on the game’s final play, TE Rob Gronkowski was clearly held in the end zone but the referees deemed the ball uncatchable. Denver, on the other hand, took down the undefeated Chiefs 27-17 to win their third straight game (SU and ATS). This game features a pair of future Hall of Fame quarterbacks with Tom Brady going 9-4 in his career when facing a Peyton Manning-led team. These two franchises last met in October of last year, when Brady threw for 223 yards and scored two touchdowns (1 passing, 1 rushing) in leading his team to a 31-7 cushion late in the third quarter before Manning threw two of his three touchdowns to make the final score 31-21. This marked the Patriots’ third straight double-digit home win over the Broncos. But since 1992, Denver holds the 10-7 advantage (SU and ATS) in this series. In the same span, New England is 20-8 ATS (71%) as a home underdog. The Patriots are also 6-0 ATS against AFC West division opponents over the past three seasons. However, in the past two years, Denver is 16-5 ATS (76%) as a favorite and 9-1 ATS in the second half of the season. The Broncos have two key injuries on offense with WR Wes Welker (concussion) and TE Julius Thomas (knee), but both are expected to play on Sunday night. But S Rahim Moore (leg) is out indefinitely and top CB Champ Bailey (foot) is questionable. New England has even more major concerns in the secondary though, with CB Aqib Talib (hip) questionable and both CB Alfonzo Dennard (knee) and S Steve Gregory (thumb) out.
Denver came away with a big victory over the Chiefs last game despite tallying its lowest point total of the year (27 points). But the Broncos have now won three straight despite QB Peyton Manning (ankles) not being 100 percent healthy. Manning threw for 323 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions against a strong K.C. defense, and continues to the lead the NFL in both passing yards (3,572) and passing touchdowns (34) while ranking second to Nick Foles in passer rating (118.3). He’s thrown just six picks all year. Including playoffs, Manning is just 5-9 in his career versus New England, but has still put up strong numbers with 291 passing YPG, 29 TD and 19 INT in these 14 meetings. With two of his top receivers, WR Wes Welker (concussion) and TE Julius Thomas (knee) slowed by injuries, he will lean heavily on WR Demaryius Thomas, who has 304 receiving yards and 4 TD over the past three games to give him 914 yards and nine scores on the year. With the Patriots secondary banged-up, Thomas should have another huge game like he has in the previous two meetings in this series, racking up 296 receiving yards on 16 catches. The Broncos passing game is outstanding, but they rank 28th in the NFL in rushing yards per carry (3.6). However, rookie RB Montee Ball rushed for two touchdowns last week, and top RB Knowshon Moreno has eight rushing touchdowns this year, which is a big reason with Denver leads the NFL in red zone efficiency (79%). The Broncos boast a run defense that has allowed just 92.7 yards per game (4th in NFL) and 3.7 yards per carry (5th in league) this season. They do, however, struggle against the pass, surrendering 279.1 yards per game (28th in NFL). Especially if CB Champ Bailey (foot) can’t play, Denver will have its work cut out for them going against Tom Brady and the Patriots offense.
The Patriots have gotten their passing game going over the past two games with QB Tom Brady throwing for 728 yards and five touchdowns in those weeks. In the past two home meetings with Denver, Brady has completed 75.4% of his passes for 586 yards, 7 TD and only 1 INT. A big part of the Patriots sudden passing success is the return of TE Rob Gronkowski. Since returning from back and forearm injuries, Gronkowski has 343 receiving yards in four games and a touchdown in each of the past two weeks. The healthy return of RB Shane Vereen (wrist) last week was also a boost to the passing game, as Vereen led the Patriots in targets (11), catches (8) and receiving yards (65) in the loss to Carolina. RB Stevan Ridley has also gotten himself going for New England as of late. Despite a costly lost fumble against the Panthers last week, Ridley has rushed for 414 yards and seven touchdowns over the past five games. The Patriots defense has been decimated by injuries all season, and could really miss top CB Aqib Talib (hip) in this one. New England allows just 229.2 passing YPG (12th in NFL), and they will need to continue to defend the pass well facing Peyton Manning’s offense. The Patriots have really struggled against the run (125.7 rushing YPG allowed, 27th in NFL), but a solid red zone efficiency (52%, 11th in NFL) has led to just 19.9 PPG allowed (7th in NFL). Turnovers have also saved this defense, as they have tallied 19 takeaways this season.
CAROLINA PANTHERS (7-3) at MIAMI DOLPHINS (5-5)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Carolina -4.5 & 41.5
Opening Line & Total: Panthers -4 & 41.4
The sizzling-hot Panthers put their six-game winning streak (SU and ATS) on the line when they pay the Dolphins a visit Sunday.
Carolina held on to beat the Patriots 24-20 on Monday night behind 3 TD passes from Cam Newton, while Miami gave up 435 yards to the Chargers last week, but still won 20-16. The Panthers have outscored opponents 154 to 88 during their win streak, and have not turned the ball over in four of those wins. The Dolphins have a weak 26:40 time of possession at home this year, where they are 3-2 (SU and ATS), but are a perfect 4-0 (SU and ATS) all-time versus Carolina, which includes a 24-17 victory in the most recent matchup in 2009. However, Panthers head coach Ron Rivera is 21-11 ATS (66%) in games played on a grass field, and has led his team to an 8-1 ATS mark (89%) in the past two seasons versus teams allowing 350+ total YPG, outscoring them by 10.7 PPG. Miami is 6-0 ATS at home after having lost 4 or 5 out of their last six games over the past three seasons, and all NFL underdogs (or pick) in a game involving two teams with +/- 0.4 yards per play after 8+ games, after allowing 400+ yards in their previous game are 108-64 ATS (63%) since 1983. Miami’s offensive line is decimated with OT Jonathan Martin on personal leave, OG Richie Incognito suspended, C Mike Pouncey (kidney) doubtful and OT Will Yeatman out for the season with a torn ACL. Carolina is mostly healthy, but DE Charles Johnson (knee) is doubtful to suit up on Sunday.
Carolina QB Cam Newton is having his best season of his career, tallying a 91.8 passer rating with a 63.2% completion rate, 2,179 yards (7.3 YPA), 16 TD and only 8 INT. During the current six-game win streak, he has completed 67.4% of his throws for 1,294 yards (7.5 YPA), 10 TD and 3 INT. Although this offense ranks 22nd in the league in total yards (321.2 YPG), Newton has orchestrated the NFL’s best third-down offense (48.4% conversions) while chewing up more clock than any other offense in the league with a hefty 33:20 time of possession. Newton has helped to achieve these statistics by rushing for 328 yards on 4.7 YPC and 4 TD. The Panthers also have three other capable running backs in DeAngelo Williams (579 rush yards, 4.1 YPC, 2 TD), Jonathan Stewart (94 rush yards, 3.6 YPC) and Mike Tolbert (230 rush yards, 3.5 YPC, 4 TD), giving them the 10th-best rushing offense in the league at 125.3 YPG. As strong as Carolina has been on the ground, the club has been even tougher defending the run, allowing only 84.5 rushing YPG (3rd in NFL) on 3.8 YPC (8th in league). Teams have struggled to throw on the Panthers as well, gaining just 209.5 YPG through the air (5th in NFL). This equates to the league’s third-best total defense (294 YPG allowed) and the NFL’s top scoring defense (13.5 PPG allowed). Carolina has a strong pass rush (31 sacks, T-9th in NFL), and has been incredibly stingy both on third downs (35.2% conversions, 7th in league) and in the red zone (37.5% efficiency, 3rd in NFL). The Panthers have also done a great job creating mistakes, totaling 23 takeaways with at least one forced turnover in all 10 games.
Miami’s offense has been terrible this season, compiling the second-fewest yards in the league (308 YPG) and ranking 23rd in scoring offense with 21.3 PPG. Both the passing game (219.1 YPG, 20th in NFL) and rushing game (88.7 YPG, 24th in league) have been subpar, and a lot of that has to do with the poor play from the offensive line. The Dolphins have taken an NFL-high 41 sacks this year, with QB Ryan Tannehill hitting the turf at least two times in all 10 games, including 21 sacks absorbed in five home games. Tannehill has still been able to improve from his rookie season though, increasing his passer rating from 76.1 to 81.5 with a 61.2% completion rate, 2,474 passing yards (6.8 YPA), 14 TD and 11 INT. However, he has really struggled in the fourth quarter of games, compiling a woeful 60.2 passer rating (2 TD and 5 INT). The Dolphins have no receivers with even 600 yards this year, and TE Charles Clay (4 TD) is the only healthy Miami player with more than two receiving touchdowns this season. The running game has been a bit inconsistent, but it does have 100+ yards in four of the past five contests. However, both RBs Lamar Miller (467 rush yards, 4.5 YPC, 2 TD) and Daniel Thomas (271 rush yards, 3.7 YPC, 3 TD) will have a difficult time gaining yards on this stout Panthers run defense. Speaking of defense, Miami’s stop-unit has been below average this year both in rushing defense (122.6 YPG, 25th in NFL) and passing defense (242.3 YPG, 19th in league). But a strong red zone defense (50%, T-8th in NFL) has led to a quality scoring defense (22.5 PPG, 12th in league). And despite being average in third down defense (37.6% conversions, T-24th in NFL), Miami’s defense has logged 32:38 per game, the fourth-most of any NFL defense. But on the positive side, the Dolphins have been able to force at least one turnover in every game, totaling 17 takeaways this season.
DALLAS COWBOYS (5-5) at NEW YORK GIANTS (4-6)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Giants -2.5 & 45.5
Opening Line & Total: Giants -2 & 47.5
The sizzling-hot Giants seek their fifth straight win on Sunday when the rival Cowboys pay a visit.
Dallas was humiliated 49-17 in New Orleans before last week’s bye, dropping the team to 1-4 SU (but 3-2 ATS) on the road. New York has allowed just 11.8 PPG with 11 takeaways during its four-game win surge. When these teams met in Week 1, the Giants outgained the Cowboys 478 to 331, but committed six turnovers and lost 36-31. New York is 8-4 (SU and ATS) in this series since 2008 behind QB Eli Manning’s 279 passing YPG and 25 TD in this span. But Dallas QB Tony Romo has 323 passing YPG and 12 TD in the past six meetings in this series. Both clubs have both positive and negative betting trends. The Cowboys are 15-4 ATS (79%) on the road after allowing 35 points or less in their last game since 1992, but are 0-7 ATS versus poor rushing teams (90 rush YPG or less) in the past three seasons. New York is 14-4 ATS (78%) off two straight home wins since 1992, but is just 30-54 ATS (36%) in November games in this same timeframe. Although Dallas star LB Sean Lee remains out with an injured hamstring, DE DeMarcus Ware (quad) and WR Miles Austin (hamstring) are both ready to return to action. The Giants are relatively injury-free, and expect both WR Hakeem Nicks and CB Corey Webster, who are listed as questionable with groin injuries, to suit up on Sunday.
Dallas QB Tony Romo has the second-best passer rating of his career at 98.3, as he has completed 65% of his passes for 2,681 yards (7.2 YPA), 21 TD and just 6 INT. In the season-opening win over New York, he threw for only 5.4 YPA (263 yards on 49 attempts) with 2 TD and 1 INT. WR Miles Austin led the team that game with 10 catches, but he has totaled just five receptions since then, missing five of the past seven games with a bad hammy. WR Terrance Williams has been able to step up in Austin’s absence, gaining 438 yards on 18.3 yards per catch and 5 TD in his past seven contests. But the go-to wideout remains WR Dez Bryant (749 rec. yards, 8 TD), who has been facing double and triple teams recently, catching just one pass at New Orleans in the last game. His career numbers versus the Giants are strong (495 rec. yards, 4 TD in seven games), but he has been held scoreless for four straight meetings, and managed only 22 yards in the Week 1 matchup. Dallas ranks 13th in the NFL in passing offense with 250.8 YPG, but is tied for 28th in rushing offense (77.0 YPG). RB DeMarco Murray has 56% of his team’s carries this year, and has been very efficient, rushing for 548 yards on 4.9 YPC with 4 TD. He has also dominated the Giants the last two times he has faced them, piling up 265 total yards in these pair of wins. Defensively, the Cowboys have the NFL’s worst total defense, allowing an eye-popping 439.8 total YPG. This includes a league-worst 313.0 passing YPG and 126.8 rushing YPG (4th-worst in NFL) on 4.9 yards per carry (2nd-worst in league). Dallas is allowing 25.8 PPG (25th in NFL) due largely to a porous red zone defense (62%, 27th in league) and a subpar third-down defense (41%, 24th in NFL). The one positive for this defense is that it has forced multiple turnovers in a game six different times this season, including six in that Week 1 win over the Giants.
New York has evolved into a much different team since that Sept. 8 loss in Dallas. After committing 3+ turnovers in each of their first six games, they have a total of six giveaways during their four-game win streak. The ground game has also come to life since RB Andre Brown has returned from a broken leg, as he has piled up 181 yards (3.8 YPC) and a touchdown in his two games. Establishing the run has been a key because QB Eli Manning has his lowest quarterback rating since his rookie year at 70.8. He has thrown just 12 TD and 17 INT over 10 games, while absorbing 26 sacks, just four shy of his career high. But despite his three picks in Week 1, Manning still dropped 450 yards and four touchdowns in Dallas, and will look to air it out again versus this generous Cowboys defense. WR Victor Cruz (824 rec. yards, 4 TD) is still his top receiver, but WR Rueben Randle is having a great second NFL season with 460 receiving yards and six touchdowns which have all come in the past six games. Randle’s emergence has lessened Hakeem Nicks’ role on the team, as Nicks has averaged a paltry 44.5 receiving YPG during the four-game win streak, and has yet to score a touchdown this season. But Nicks has had some big games in this series, piling up 627 yards and 3 TD in the past seven meetings with Dallas. New York’s defense has played exceptionally well during the win streak, allowing just 253.3 total YPG. This includes 60.0 rushing YPG on 3.1 YPC in the four victories. The Giants’ pass rush is also improving, amassing eight sacks over the past three weeks, and this pressure has led to multiple takeaways in each of the four wins.