I had a tough week in week seven as both of my picks came up short, and in reality, they weren’t even that close. The Atlanta Falcons continued their descent down the league standings and were embarrassed by the Baltimore Ravens while the Chicago Bears completely failed to show up and were also the subject of embarrassment in a home loss to the up-and-down Miami Dolphins.
The Falcons came out of the gates with two extremely impressive games in weeks one and two, however since then this team is starting to resemble the one of last season. Matt Ryan has the ability to be one of the league’s top Quarterbacks, but his banged up offensive line continues to desert him as he faces constant pressure from whoever Atlanta plays in any given week. This week it was the Baltimore Ravens who were all over Ryan, holding the Falcons to a single touchdown while scoring 29 points of their own in a 29-7 victory, sending the Falcons to their fifth straight loss.
The Bears loss to Miami at Soldier Field got more attention this week as apparently the locker room was a tense place to be post-game which is fuelling speculation that this team is lacking in the chemistry department. The Bears were booed off of their own field after scoring zero points in the first half and trailing Miami 14-0 at the time. The Bears did outscore Miami in the second half but at the end of the day it wasn’t even that close and Chicago dropped below .500 again after a 27-14 loss to the Dolphins. Things better turn around in a hurry for a Chicago team that had much higher expectation of themselves than what is being produced on the field.
A rebound week is strongly in order here so let’s get at the week eight action.
Detroit Lions @ Atlanta Falcons (In London, England)
Lines – Detroit -3.5 (-110) @ 5dimes.eu
OVER 46.5 (-110)
London, England is the scene for this week’s matchup between the high-flying Detroit Lions and the struggling Atlanta Falcons. These teams are coming off of complete opposite emotions as the Lions scored two touchdowns in the final four minutes of their week seven contest against the New Orleans Saints, and as noted above, the Falcons are coming in off of their fifth straight loss and fifth straight poor performance on the season. With Calvin Johnson remaining on the sideline for now, the Lions offense is noticeably not quite as potent as we have been accustomed to, however with this defence, you only need to score some points to win football games. This is an opportunity for the Lions run game that averages just 82 rushing yards per game to break out against a sub-par Atlanta run defence. Detroit is averaging just 17 points since scoring 35 in their season opening win over the Giants, however their defence surrenders just 15 points per game, good for second best in the NFL. Their run defence is just ridiculous as they give up 73 yards per game on the ground and a league-best 290 per game overall. Compare those numbers to the Atlanta Falcons defence that is giving up 412 yards per game overall, 137 yards per game on the ground, and have surrendered a league-worst 13 rushing touchdowns on the year. The key to Atlanta’s defensive success this week has to be to stop the newly formed duo of Mathew Stafford and Golden Tate, who got together for 154 yards and a touchdown last week against the Saints. However, the the reason for this pick almost solely lies upon the fact that the dismal Falcons offensive line, who can’t stop anybody’s defensive line, is going to be absolutely dominated by the Lions defensive front. Ndamukong Suh is having his best season as a pro so far and Nick Fairley has silenced his off-season critics in a big way. Nobody can run against this defensive front and the secondary has gotten in on the action as was displayed late in last week’s game with an interception from safety Glover Quinn that lead to a Lions score. Atlanta has lost six straight games and 11 of their last 12 away from the Georgia Dome, and even though this is technically a home game, it is not being played at the Dome. The Lions are only favoured by 3.5 points here because it is a road game, however the fact is that this is a road game for both teams so they won’t have to deal with crowd noise and all the advantages that home teams can have. Let’s go with the Lions to stay hot here and take advantage of an Atlanta team that simply does not win football games outside of Atlanta.
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Houston Texans @ Tennessee Titans
Lines – Houston -1 (-125) @ 5dimes.eu
OVER 42.5 (-110)
The Houston Texans were certainly kicking themselves over the last couple days as they beat themselves this past Monday night against Pittsburgh. Houston came out strong and held a 13-0 lead late in the second quarter, and that is when everything fell apart. A steelers touchdown, a Texans fumble on their own 3 yard line that turned in to a steelers touchdown, and on their next play a Ryan Fitzpatrick interception that lead to another Steelers score basically was the difference in the football game. All told, the Texans turned a 13-0 lead into a 24-13 halftime deficit. However, they were resilient and came within recovering a recoverable onside kick from an opportunity to tie the game in the final minute. What I am getting at here is Houston was the better team even in a loss, and they are definitely the better team heading in to this week’s tilt against the Titans. The Titans are one of the worst teams in the NFL and that was on display in the past two weeks as Tennessee edged Jacksonville at home 16-14 thanks to a last-second fieldgoal block, and clearly gained no momentum as they were dumped 19-17 by the lowly Washington Redskins last week. Charlie Whitehurst has done nothing since replacing the injured Jake Locker and rookie third string QB Zach Mettenberger is likely to get the nod to start this week against Houston. The return of another rookie, Jadeveon Clowney to the Texans defence will certainly boost a unit that J.J. Watt is currently carrying on his back. Clowney and Watt are sure to make things difficult on the rookie, who’s game plan is likely to get the ball out of his hands quickly in the form of a screen pass or a hand off. The Texans offensive philosophy is a bit different as Ryan Fitzpatrick is a veteran who knows the pocket fairly well and has a new favourite target in DeAndre Hopkins. Along with Andre Johnson, these two form a nice 1-2 punch and give Fitzpatrick plenty of options in the pass game to go along with Arian Foster. Foster has been running well lately as he went over the century mark on the ground against last week to go along with a touchdown catch. The dynamics of this Houston offense are head and shoulders above that of the Titans, their defence is now more formidable with the return of Clowney, and the Texans have won five of their last six meetings with Tennessee. You can sell a point here or even a point and a half to get a better price, but nonetheless go with the Texans here to be all over the Titans and cover a small spread in Tennessee.