So, yeah. I guess we are on a heater. Went 2-0 with our best bets last week and they both covered with ease. Took a bit for the Seahawks to take that game by the throat but once they did it was one-way traffic. And the Saints pulled away big time in the second half as well.
No sweats there. No chance of a bad beat.
That brings us to 19-13 on the season with the best bets and also makes us 37-21 ATS the last four weeks. We all could live with that. For what it's worth, I like the slate of games this week much more than a week ago but, as always, buyer beware in this scenario with so much uncertainty with COVID and now it's even more difficult to ascertain when a player might be coming back with the new protocols put in place.
Surprises abound and the abundance of players put on the COVID reserve list is both staggering, and not surprising given the state of affairs with the virus in this country and the NFL's unwillingness to put universal enhanced protocols in place sooner.
Variables abound to say the least. But with that said, here is what I like the most this week:
Arizona Cardinals -13.5 at Detroit Lions
It's the year of the big spread, but I don't think this is big enough. The Lions had their Super Bowl beating the Vikings but they are dealing with major virus issues and they don't have much talent to begin with. Kyler Murray will give them fits and I don't see Kliff Kingsbury taking his foot off the gas on offense here at all. They will be looking to pile up the points and the yards.
Arizona will get off defensively as well and I suspect they get at least one pick-six off Jared Goff, a limited QB they know all too well. Cardinals can both control the clock and also score quickly with explosive plays. ... They will do plenty of both in this affair. This has the makings of a true blowout by three scores or more and I don't see much hope for a backdoor cover given the Lions' personnel limitations.
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New Orleans Saints +11 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
New Orleans is a solid team with an excellent defense, and has seen plenty of Tom Brady. Saints beat them once with Trevor Siemian at QB and Taysom Hill provides more stability there. New Orleans is getting healthier. We have seen the Bucs allow teams to do a bunch in garbage time to make games closer than they need to be.
This is the very definition of a rivalry game -- which tend to be close -- and New Orleans really needs this to create a true playoff push. Saints will generate some pressure. Saints will play ball control to keep this close enough and keep Brady off the field. Many advanced analytical models point to the Saints as being an undervalued team that is better than its record and that has had to endure more outsides variables (relocation) and key injuries than most teams. But they are getting healthier now and Sean Payton will have them geared up and believing they can pull another upset.
Green Bay Packers -5.5 at Baltimore Ravens
These are two teams going in very different directions. Baltimore keeps losing vital starters and the Packers keep finding ways to score points. The Ravens' entire starting secondary from Week 1 is out of this game and Aaron Rodgers will expose their weaknesses. Baltimore gets no pressure without blitzing (and not enough when blitzing) and lacks the secondary to risk it now.
The QB on defense, safety Chuck Clark who wears the helmet dot, is on the COVID list and the very young secondary will likely be a mess without him. Green Bay is one of the best big-play defenses in the NFL and Baltimore is just about the worst big-play defense. And the Ravens will almost certainly be playing a backup QB in his second NFL start (and first at home). This could get ugly, and fast.
Tennessee Titans PK at Pittsburgh Steelers
Titans are too strong in the trenches for the Steelers. They can eat up the Steelers' O-line with their front four, and they will run the ball down Pittsburgh's throat, because everyone who tries runs the ball down the Steelers' throat. Outside zone will give Pittsburgh fits. Ryan Tannehill will feast on the underbelly of a bad secondary and this is precisely the kind of defense that can beat and batter Big Ben without blitzing and despite his quick release.
The Steelers are not as good as their pedestrian record, and I expect the bottom to fall out for them as well in the final weeks of the regular season. The extra time off from last playing on a Thursday might help some, but not enough. The Titans had a virtual bye last week against a Jags team praying their coach would be fired (mercifully, he was) and Mike Vrabel will have them up for this challenge.