These are definitely unusual times, for sports in general and certainly for gambling and prognosticating. We have seen less of these teams this summer than ever before and more is left to chance then arguably ever before. Which makes me seek out a few extreme examples this early in the season to try to bank upon. As much as it's a league of parity, this has always been a league of disparity as well. The difference between the Haves and the Have Nots is generally fairly significant and I expect that to be even more the case this year. Hence the games I'm focused on for this weekend. In full disclosure, the game I like the most of any this week was the Chiefs covering at home against the Texans. And these other games I believe are in a similar mode.
Steelers -6 at Giants
The Pittsburgh Steelers are legit Super Bowl contenders and justifiably so. The Giants will be competing for the first-overall pick. The Steelers get back a Hall of Fame quarterback, they have one of the top defenses in the NFL that has playmakers at every level and a pass rush that won't quit. They are a turnover machine and they're facing a quarterback who fumbles seemingly every other snap and who has a weak offensive line in front of him and has a defense that has been a failure for years. Big Ben will be out to put on a show on Monday Night Football to show that he is back, and the Giants will put up almost no resistance. Getting this game at less than a touchdown is extreme value to me. Once we get a few weeks into the season, if these teams were to meet again this is definitely a double-digit spread.
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Bills -6.5 vs. Jets
The other downstate New York team is in almost as much chaos as the Giants. The Jets have no weapons to speak of in terms of pass catchers -- at least proven weapons -- and their second-round pick took almost no snaps in the preseason as a rookie receiver. That's not good. The Jets have no pass rush and no playmakers in the secondary, which is bad news against Josh Allen, who might make a game of this if the Jets had either. Buffalo's defense is among the best in the NFL and it has a strong book on the Jets. I believe this game could be over at halftime as long as Buffalo avoids a run of turnovers.
Two-team teaser: Eagles +0.5 at Washington / Colts -2 at Jacksonville
I'll be honest with you, I would pretty much be fine with laying a little coin on either of these teams to just win against the spread. But the opportunity to tease them I just couldn't resist. Maybe the Eagles turn the ball over a ton and maybe Washington's defensive front gives them some issues, but I just can't see Philadelphia losing this football game. Even with some of their issues on the offensive line and at the receiver position, they should be able to hold Washington in the teens in terms of their offensive scoring. And the only reason I'm not taking the Colts outright is because they're playing in Jacksonville. The weather could be an issue and Philip Rivers tends to throw a fair amount of picks; he might come out wanting to show how much he still has left in the tank and play a little hero ball, which is what got him into trouble in recent years. But even saying all that, I can't fathom a scenario where the Colts manage to actually lose this game. There are just too many viable scenarios for them to win it by at least a field goal.