One of this handicapper's prime NFL betting factors originates in the recognition that most teams are subject to almost weekly ups-and-downs, and the belief that some of these team bio-rhythms can be forecast. With that being said, here are three potential game reads for NFL Week 9.
On the Fade
Tampa Bay bounced back from that come-from-ahead defeat at Washington a couple weeks ago to pull a divisional road upset last week at Atlanta, 23-20 in overtime, as an eight-point underdog. The Bucs got outgained by 206 yards, but also got help from the Falcons, who turned the ball over four times, once deep in their own territory, and twice deep in Tampa's.
This week the Bucs host the Giants, who are coming off that crazy 52-49 loss at New Orleans last week. New York, despite getting outgained by almost 200 yards, led by a touchdown late, but allowed the Saints to score 10 points in the last half-minute to snap defeat from the jaws of victory.
But the Giants are a veteran team, and should be able to shake last week off; they're 2-1 both SU and ATS following losses this season.
The Raiders, meanwhile, are 4-3 on the season, with two straight victories, including a convincing 34-20 decision over the Jets last week. Oakland grabbed an early 21-3 lead and put the clamps on from there, as QB Derek Carr tossed four touchdown passes, without a pick.
Two weeks ago the Raiders won at San Diego 37-29, and that game was nowhere as close as that score might indicate. So suddenly Oakland is a hot item. But hot items tend to cool, and sometimes quickly.
This week the Raiders visit a Pittsburgh team that just lost at home to undefeated Cincinnati 16-10 but got Ben Roethlisberger back.
Is Oakland good enough to follow up two impressive performances with a third, on the road in a tough environment against a tough foe? They might be getting there, but at the moment we still feel the Raiders are subject, as are most teams in the league, to that week-to-week roller-coaster ride.
As of Friday afternoon the best NFL odds we could find on Pittsburgh was the -4.5 offered at Heritage, while Oakland was getting five points at GTBets.
On the Rebound
Miami turned into a disaster under Coach Philbin, then won it's two first games under interim Coach Campbell in grand fashion, blowing out Tennessee and Houston by a combined score of 82-36. But the Dolphins then turned in a dud last week at New England, losing 36-7. This week Miami goes up to Buffalo to take on a Bills team that embarrassed the hell out the 'Fins on their home field back in September.
Before this season began Miami was supposed to contend for a playoff spot in the AFC; unfortunately, those plans went a little off-track, with three straight bad losses. But at 3-4 the Dolphins aren't dead yet; they're only a game off the pace in the AFC wild-card race.
Buffalo, meanwhile, has lost two games in a row, to the Bengals and Jaguars, giving up 34 points both times out. The Bills re-installed EJ Manuel at QB, then watched as he had two turnovers turned into Jags defensive scores two weeks ago, as Buffalo fell down 27-3. The Bills rallied to take a late lead, but lost on a Blake Bortles touchdown pass with two minutes to go.
Miami has played better under the new coach, while Buffalo seems an eternal work-in-progress. Also, the Bills laid a 41-14 loss on the 'Fins in their first meeting this season, thanks in large part to three Miami turnovers. Might the Dolphins have revenge in mind for Sunday?
As of Friday Miami could be found getting three points at Heritage, and +131 on the NFL moneyline at Pinnacle.
NFL Picks: Giants, Steelers and Dolphins