Underdogs ruling NFL landscape

Underdogs ruling NFL landscape

September 26, 2018 3:01 AM
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The big story, Vegas style, defining the early part of the season thus far has been the performance of underdogs. Through three weeks and the first 48 games of the 256 game regular season schedule underdogs are a very strong 27-19-1 ATS using closing lines from the Westgate (there has been one pick ‘em game).

There have been very few true blowouts as just four of the 48 games have been decided by 21 or more points. And one of that quartet was Buffalo’s 27-6 road upset at Minnesota last Sunday with the Bills closing as 17-point pups!

Thursday, September 27

Minnesota (+6.5) at LA Rams (Over/Under 49): It’s hard to find any fault with the Rams’ performance thus far but they have suffered some key defensive injuries. Minnesota is still a solid defensive team and defense travels, especially on short rest. MINNESOTA

Sunday, September 30

Miami (+7) at New England (47.5): The Patriots have overcome slow starts numerous times in the Brady/Belichick era, including 2-2 starts in three of the last six seasons. This is, however, an early season critical game as Miami is off to a surprising 0-3 start and a loss here would have the Pats three games behind the Dolphins in the AFC East. Miami has been efficient but hardly dominant. NEW ENGLAND

Houston (+1) at Indianapolis (47.5): Indy QB Andrew Luck continues to shake off the rust of having missed all of last season but his lack of arm strength is becoming a concern. Houston still has the more talented roster and will be playing with a sense of desperation and the price is reasonable. HOUSTON

Cincinnati (+6) at Atlanta (51): The Falcons are in a favorable scheduling spot, playing their third straight home game whereas the Bengals are playing a second straight road game and their third in four weeks. ATLANTA

Buffalo (+10) at Green Bay (45): Buffalo pulled off the biggest upset in more than two decades by defeating Minnesota last week and the win was no fluke. Green Bay was badly outplayed in a 31-17 loss at Washington. The Bills have shown modest improvement each week with rookie QB Josh Allen getting comfortable directing the offense. Packer QB Aaron Rodgers appears still bothered by injury but should have success against a defense that struggled in its first two games. OVER

Detroit (+3) at Dallas (44): At 0-3 Dallas is in a similar position as was the team they lost to on Sunday, Seattle. The Cowboys are still one dimensional on offense, relying way too much on the run. But with so many personnel changes since last season, the passing game should show modest progress week by week. DALLAS

NY Jets (+7.5) at Jacksonville (38): The Jets have extra rest following their loss at Cleveland last Thursday in which the Jets were unable to protect an early 14-0 lead in their 21-17 loss. Jets’ rookie QB Sam Darnold has struggled in his last two games and will now face an elite defense capable of forcing young QBs into mistakes. JACKSONVILLE

Tampa Bay (+3) at Chicago (46.5): Both teams are off to surprising 2-1 starts. Tampa’s is especially surprising given they’ve faced three Playoff teams from last season whereas the Bears have faced none. Tampa likely sticks with QB Ryan Fitzpatrick notwithstanding Monday night’s loss to Pittsburgh and the return of former starter Jameis Winston from suspension. Tampa has the edge on offense with Chicago boasting the better defense. Tampa’s big play ability and Chicago’s attacking defense, combined with Tampa’s shaky defense suggest this could turn into a shootout. OVER

Philadelphia (-3.5) at Tennessee (41.5): Both teams have shown an ability to run the football, which suits both head coaches well. Philly’s Carson Wentz works himself back into shape and the Titans have QB issues of their own with Marcus Mariota probable to return from an elbow injury and backup Blaine Gabbert undergoing concussion protocol. UNDER

Seattle (-3) at Arizona (38.5): Arizona’s offense has struggled in all three games this season, each of which has stayed UNDER the Total with their games producing 30, 34 and 30 total points. Seattle has stayed UNDER in its last two games with their offense averaging under 4.5 yards per play in each. Arizona will give rookie QB Josh Rosen his first NFL start and he will face a Seattle defense that held the Bears to 271 total yards and Dallas to 303. Be aware that 38 is a key number in playing NFL Totals. UNDER

Cleveland (+2.5) at Oakland (45): The Browns are headed in the right direction while the Raiders appear stuck in neutral. The spot favors the hosts and coach Jon Gruden should finally get that elusive first win in Phase 2 of his Raiders coaching career and the price is cheap. OAKLAND

San Francisco (+10.5) at LA Chargers (47): 49ers Backup C. J. Beathard takes over for the team that also lost its starting RB in preseason, all but ending their hopes for a successful season. The 1-2 Chargers lost to perhaps the two best teams in the NFL – Kansas City and the Rams. Laying double digits is usually hazardous but these circumstances make it tough to make a case for the 49ers with just a week to prepare for a team seemingly much better than their 1-2 record suggests. LA CHARGERS

New Orleans (-3.5) at N Y Giants (50): For the Giants to be successful they will have to use their developing running game to keep Saints QB Drew Brees on the sidelines, even if their hopefully sustained drives result in field goals rather than touchdowns. The Giants still have not scored 30 or more points since 2015 and these teams played a 16-13 game on this field two seasons ago. UNDER

Baltimore (+3) at Pittsburgh (51): These long time AFC North rivals have a history of close games. And the Ravens have excelled as underdogs versus the Steelers, covering four of the last five, all since 2015. BALTIMORE

Monday

Kansas City (-5) at Denver (55.5): This has been a very cyclical series as the Chiefs have won and covered the last five games against Denver after the Broncos had won seven straight (5-2 ATS). If the Chiefs are not going to go 16-0 this is an ideal spot that suggests a loss, or at least a below average performance, with Denver having a top tier defense. DENVER

Last week: 11-5

Season: 25-22-1