The New York Giants notched their first victory of the season last week, 27-21 in New Orleans. It was a game that featured some impressive stats for Big Blue, topped by Daniel Jones’ 402 passing yards and Kenny Golladay’s 116 receiving yards. Also of note were Kadarius Toney’s six catches for 78 yards and John Ross’ 52-yard touchdown bomb. Even with Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton out, the Giants hardly were bereft of weapons.
There were two stats that were depressing for the Giants, though. On 26 pass attempts for Saints quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill, the Giants had zero sacks and zero quarterback hits. If those numbers repeat late Sunday afternoon in Arlington, Texas, New York will get blown out of Jerry World by Dak Prescott and friends. But I don’t think that will be the case. The Giants were averaging two sacks a game before last week, and now every defensive player wearing blue will have a fire lit under his saddle.
The Giants’ season thus far includes three final margins of six points or less. Dallas has played three close games out of four, and has Ezekiel Elliott (knee) and Amari Cooper (hamstring) on its midweek injury list. I’m looking for Jones to have a chance to win this one at the end and am happy to take the generous touchdown head start.
The pick: Giants, +7.
New York Jets (+3) over Atlanta Falcons
Having seen quite a few of these London games in recent years, I’ve gotten the idea that the team with more enthusiasm will have an edge, given the long trip and unfamiliar surroundings. I’m figuring that team will be the Jets, coming off their first victory last week against Tennessee. Not only did they sack Ryan Tannehill seven times, the way C.J. Mosley and Quincy Williams were launching into Derrick Henry looked like a “Madden” video game. Atlanta is dangerous on screens and slants, but Matt Ryan doesn’t have the big horse at running back that the Jets will have to worry about, and also will be without top wideout Calvin Ridley. If the Jets can play from in front, this could be another high sack total and possibly a very happy flight home across the pond for Gang Green.
Detroit Lions (+9) over MINNESOTA VIKINGS
This is the type of game where you plug your nose and take the big points. The Lions are 0-4 but covered spreads against the 49ers and Ravens, and were leading at halftime in Green Bay. They lost by 10 in Chicago last week after coming up empty on two early first-and-goal situations. Dan Campbell’s team still looks like a live big ’dog.
New Orleans Saints (-2) over WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM
Saints should be better focused after squandering an 11-point, fourth-quarter lead vs. the Giants. WFT won on a late comeback at Atlanta but could be without TE Logan Thomas and OG Brandon Scherff, two key pieces of its offense.
New England Patriots (-9) over HOUSTON TEXANS
I’ve been burned quite a few times giving large points with the Patriots in recent years, but don’t see the alternative here. Houston has been outscored 64-9 in Davis Mills’ two starts and I don’t see Mac Jones helping them out with too many turnovers here.
Miami Dolphins (+10) over TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Another nose-plugger. In the past three weeks, Miami has a 35-0 loss to Buffalo and a 27-17 loss to Indianapolis, which was 27-3 before two late scores. But the Dolphins are 2-0 ATS on the road, so maybe they can refocus enough to stay close to a Bucs team that’s hurting in the secondary and is coming off a close, emotional prime-time win at New England.
CINCINNATI BENGALS (+3) over Green Bay Packers
This line has dropped from 3.5 to the key number of 3 despite lopsided public support of the Packers, so perhaps there’s a rat to smell in this reverse line movement. Joe Mixon could miss the game, but the Bengals have been good on defense all season and have a few extra days to prepare off a Thursday night win over Jacksonville.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS (-1) over Denver Broncos
I try to incorporate as much “sharp” handicapping as I can in these picks, but this one’s straight from the “square” school. The Steelers’ offense has been awful so far, but I’m looking for this team to perk up and score some points and win games eventually. Teddy Bridgewater’s concussion protocol will be key to line movement before kickoff.
CAROLINA PANTHERS (-3) over Philadelphia Eagles
After three wins, the Panthers got smoked by the Cowboys before a few late touchdowns made the score look respectable. Sam Darnold did have two rushing touchdowns in that game and will have his whole playbook open against the Eagles, who have given up 83 points the past two weeks.
Tennessee Titans (-4.5) over JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
The Jaguars already were 0-4, and now you have to wonder what kind of an effect Urban Meyer’s barroom antics will have on his authority. Titans will be angry after their loss to the Jets and will be able to pound away at the Jaguars’ defense with Henry.
Cleveland Browns (+2.5) over LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
This line has risen quickly from Chargers -1 after the nation saw what Justin Herbert did to the Raiders. The Browns have a much better defense — they rank second in yards per game and fourth in points per game allowed. Back-to-back wins over the Chiefs and Raiders and the short week could take a bit of a toll on the Bolts, and these few extra points may end up being meaningful.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (-5.5) over Chicago Bears
Wish I could make this a live betting selection, because I’d like to know if the Raiders can avoid their seemingly obligatory 14-0 hole. If so, it would be hard for Justin Fields and the Bears to hang with them. Looking for Jon Gruden to get that fixed and for the Raiders to play a full 60 minutes this time.
San Francisco 49ers (+5) over ARIZONA CARDINALS
Arizona was the only team in the NFL that even made it to 4-0, which tells you how hard it is to win every week in this era. We’re getting a few extra points because Trey Lance likely will start for the 49ers, but this pick is more about a Cards clunker.
Buffalo Bills (+3) over KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
The Bills are my Super Bowl pick, so if they’re going to be the best, you have to back them against the team that some still believe is the best. Even the small spread might matter with the Chiefs on a 3-12 run ATS.
BALTIMORE RAVENS (-6.5) over Indianapolis Colts
This line has come down from 7.5 through the key number of 7, so that could indicate some pro action on the Colts. Going to side with the Ravens, though, as their defense has been lights out, and Lamar Jackson is hitting some long throws to augment his other mad skills.
Best Bets: Saints, Jets, Titans.
Lock of The Week: Saints (Locks 1-2 in 2021).
Last Week: 8-8 overall, 2-1 Best Bets.
Thursday: Rams (W).
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