In Week 1 of the 2015 NFL season, we went 4-1 against the spread, which was a solid first-week performance. The only game we missed was Dallas, which, although they won, did not beat the spread. This week the NFL offers some major challenges in games where New England is at Buffalo and Carolina plays Houston. Here’s a look at four of this week’s contests.
New England at Buffalo
New England can be found at anywhere from -1 to -2.5 and the over/under stands at 44.5. Last year Buffalo completely surprised the Patriots at the start of the season and soundly beat them. But that was last year. Buffalo at home should have a slight advantage, but obviously not enough, as odds makers have given the Pats a bit of an edge. The Bills defense is much improved and performed well last week. Many thought Indy would handle them.
In this game, the Pats will try to establish the running game, which won’t be easy against Buffalo. However, if they can manage at least 100 yards on Sunday, that will go a long way to setting up the passing attack. Brady will, once again look for Edelman and Gronk, but, as usual, he will also seek out other receivers.
Former Jets coach and new Bills coach Rex Ryan has been obsessed over the years with beating the Pats. This year, he’s done a good job in bolstering the Buffalo defense. They should prove to be especially tough against the run. On offense, QB Tyrod Taylor did well last week, but now he has to show consistency. Expect RB LeSean McCoy to be a major factor in the ground attack.
Last week, New England left a lot of doors open for Pittsburgh. The problem was the Steelers were unable to take advantage. If the Pats do the same thing against the Bills, the results will most likely be different. This is a very tight game. The under at 44.5 is a good bet. This will be an old guard QB, Brady, versus an upstart, Taylor. Take the Bills at home on the line. They look good.
Houston at Carolina
The Panthers are favored in this Sunday 1 pm game by three points and the over/under stands at 39.5. The Texans lost last week for a few reasons. The first was their lack of an offensive line, which left both the running and passing games exposed. The second was the dismal performance by QB Brian Hoyer who was responsible for two turnovers.
Ryan Mallett replaced Hoyer and performed well. He will start this week. But even if the quarterback issue is solved, Houston will still need its O-line to step up. Let’s say the Texan offensive line does keep the team in the game, the defense, which was a shambles last week, will also need to shown marked improvement. That’s not likely to happen over the course of one week.
The saving grace for the Houston defense may lie in the Panther offense, which did not perform well last week in their victory over Jacksonville. QB Cam Newton is a major talent but he had a tough time connecting with his receivers. WR Ted Ginn Jr. is speedy but has had a hard time holding onto passes.
However, the Carolina defense was exceptional. But the loss of MLB Luke Kuechly (concussion) for this week will put a lot more pressure on that unit. Both Thomas Davis and Shaq Thompson will need to become more involved.
It’s expected that this will be a tough defensive battle. That being the case, a fairly low score is expected. The under is a sound bet. The game will be close, but we like Carolina, especially with the moneyline. That three-point spread is vulnerable to the push.
Two more games that we like are Miami at Jacksonville. The Dolphins have gone from opening at minus four to being minus 6.5. The Fins look good with the moneyline but that 6.5 spread makes the Jags the pick. Take Jacksonville and the points or the Dolphins with the line.
The Ravens travel to Oakland to play on Sunday afternoon. If you can still get Baltimore at minus 6 or minus 6.5, then they’re a good bet. They will win by seven or more against a very week Raiders team.