Here is a 5-Pack of NFL value plays for this Sunday to build your bankroll on Week 3, highlighted by the Sunday Night Football matchup between the Steelers and Panthers.
Two weeks are already in the books for this 2014 NFL season, and we personally went 4-4 across all of our NFL picks last week for a tiny -0.10 loss. We are still off to a good start though as we are currently 12-9 for a pick-up of +3.55 units, as documented right in the Sportsbook Review Forum! We now look to keep things going in Week 3, as just like every week for the rest of the regular season, we are back again with another of our customary Friday 5-Packs.
This week began with one of the most lopsided games in recent history on Thursday Night Football, where the Atlanta Falcons absolutely obliterated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 56-14, at one point leading 56-0 before the Bucs scored twice in the fourth quarter! It was a good night for the betting public as not only did the favored Falcons cover as 6½-point favorites, but the game also easily sailed ‘over’ the closing total of 47.
We had no action on that Thursday game, but we do have three sides and two totals for Sunday. Two of the three sides are underdogs (yes Virginia, we have one favorite) and the totals are split between one ‘under’ and one ‘over’. And as has become our norm, all NFL odds come from Pinnacle Sports.
Sunday, September 21st
Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles ‘under’ 50 (-105) (1:00 ET): Both of these teams come off of high scoring affairs. Then again, it did not surprise many people when the Eagles put up 30 points in their Monday night 30-27 win at Indianapolis. The real surprise was the performance of the Washington offense in a 41-10 romp over the Jacksonville Jaguars. That performance may be adding a couple of points of value to the ‘under’ here though and we will bite as we do not expect a repeat performance from the Redskins with Kirk Cousins starting at quarterback after Robert Griffin III dislocated his ankle in that victory. Remember that the Redskins finished 3-13 last season with Cousins going winless as a starter late in the year after Griffin was shut down, and the Skins were woeful in an opening week loss to the Houston Texans. We will not overreact here following a win over one of the worst teams in the league. Now there is no doubt that the Eagles are capable of blowing up this ‘under’ on their own, but remember that Philadelphia leads in NFL in rushing offense after two weeks and we do not expect the Eagles to fall well behind again like they did their first two games. Thus, look for them to use their lethal two-headed rushing attack of LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles to protect a lead this time and actually use some clock for a change.
Minnesota Vikings +10 (-109) over New Orleans Saints (1:00 ET): And in other Vikings news this week, the team has a game to play! Many are writing the Vikings off here due to the suspension of Adrian Peterson, but what is interesting is that this line opened up at Saints -9½, went up to -11 with even a -11½ available soon after AP’s deactivation was announced, but has since turned back around and is almost back where it started! That could be an indictment of the New Orleans defense, which after showing remarkable improvement last year in its first season with Rob Ryan as the defensive coordinator, he regressed this year to the porous Saints defense of old. Things got so bad last week during a 26-24 loss in Cleveland that Head Coach Sean Payton and Ryan were seen arguing on the sideline! New Orleans is dead last in the NFL in total defense through two weeks yielding 446.0 yards per game, and the Saints are 30th in yards per play allowed overall at 6.4, surrendering an ungodly 4.5 yards per rush and 7.7 yards per pass attempt. That defense alone makes giving double-digits a dicey proposition, even with the great Drew Brees leading the offense. Speaking of the offense, it suffered a big blow when Mark Ingram, who had finally turned a corner and starting to fulfill the potential the Saints envisioned when they drafted him in 2011, broke his hand and was lost for about a month.
Tennessee Titans +7 (-105) over Cincinnati Bengals (1:00 ET): The Bengals have become a trendy “sleeper” team after two impressive wins over the Baltimore Ravens on the road and the Atlanta Falcons at home, and holding the Falcons to 10 points last week looks even more impressive in light of what Atlanta did on Thursday. However, we still have questions about what the Cincinnati offense will do here. You see, the Bengals were supposed to undergo an offensive transformation this year with the run-oriented Hue Jackson taking over at offensive coordinator for the more pass-happy Jay Gruden, who left to become head coach of the Redskins. However, the first two weeks have resembled the 2013 Bengals with Andy Dalton ranking sixth in the NFL in passing yards and the Cincinnati running game producing only 3.5 yards per rush. There are now two reasons why we think the Bengals will put an increased emphasis on the run here, with one reason being Jackson wanting to impose his will to run on the offense and the other being the injury to superstar receiver A.J. Green. We also feel that the Titans are a better team than they showed in a 26-10 home loss to the Dallas Cowboys, as we expect them to more closely resemble the team that went into Kansas City and won by that same 26-10 score in Week 1 this week. Tennessee could not get its running game in motion after falling behind vs. Dallas, but like the Bengals, we look for the Titans to establish the run early here, much like they did while piling up 162 rushing yards vs. the Chiefs. Thus, we expect a close game throughout, making this touchdown worth taking.
Baltimore Ravens -1½ (-106) over Cleveland Browns (1:00 ET): We do not take many favorites usually, and we are especially not fans of taking road favorites, but the Ravens appear to be undervalued to us in this spot. For starters, Baltimore had had extra preparation time for this game not playing since last Thursday night, and the Ravens’ defense seems well equipped to shut the Browns down even with equal rest, let alone with extra days to prepare. Conversely, a Cleveland defense that was supposed to be a team strength has been nothing but through two weeks, as the Browns are second to last in the NFL in total defense allowing 443.5 yards per game, ahead of only the Saints’ team that the Brownies nipped 26-24 last week, and Cleveland is dead last in yards per play allowed overall at 6.8. That means that the Ravens should have little trouble protecting a lead, which we expect they will have, as they have gotten by the release of Ray Rice by averaging 124.0 rushing yards per game on 4.4 yards per carry, a stark improvement over last season when the Ravens finished 30th in the league with 83.0 rushing yards per contest and dead last in rushing average with 3.1 yards per attempt.
Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers ‘over’ 42 (-108) (4:25 ET): This could be a surprise to many as Carolina is fifth in the NFL in total defense through two weeks allowing 293.5 yards per contest and the Panthers have certainly passed the eye test on that side of the ball so far. However, the deactivation of Pro Bowl defensive end Greg Hardy looms large vs. a diverse offense like the Steelers possess, and we actually like Pittsburgh to put some points on the board here after the Panthers allowed only 21 points their first two games. The Steelers are sixth in the league in total offense and they have done that with excellent balance, averaging 113 rushing yards on a whopping 4.9 yards per carry led by Le'Veon Bell, and also 282.5 passing yards on 7.8 yards per attempt led by the connection of Ben Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown. At the same time however, the Pittsburgh defense is showing its age and had been abysmal vs. the run allowing a disgraceful 170.0 rushing yards per game on 5.2 yards per carry, and that unit figures to have its hands full vs. a mobile quarterback like Cam Newton. Effective running by the Panthers can also set up Newton for another good passing day like he had in his season debut last week, as his ribs did not appear to bother him while throwing for 281 yards vs. the Lions.