The 1972 Dolphins have just one team to root against in their hopes of remaining the lone team to win the Super Bowl and complete a perfect, unbeaten season.
Entering last week three teams were unbeaten. Following their Bye week 3-0 Philadelphia lost at Detroit 24-23 to end the Eagles’ pursuit of perfection. A few hours later 4-0 Denver was upset at home by red hot Atlanta, 23-16, ending their perfect season. The win was Atlanta’s fourth in a row following an opening week home loss to Tampa Bay.
While Philadelphia was losing the Minnesota Vikings improved to 5-0 with a dominating 31-13 home win over Houston. The Vikings are almost a complete team with an average offense complemented by an elite defense and outstanding special teams.
The Falcons need to be taken seriously as Playoff contenders. Atlanta just completed the very rare feat of defeating the two defending Conference Champions in back to back weeks, racking up nearly 600 yards in their 48-33 home win over Carolina and then gaining over 370 yards in their win at Denver. Their defense was impressive in holding the Broncos to just 267 yards of total offense, 4.1 yards per play.
Of course Denver was starting rookie QB Paxton Lynch in place of the injured Trevor Siemian. Let’s see if that performance was a fluke or an indicator of things to come. In their first 4 games Atlanta’s defense allowed between 5.9 and 6.4 yards per play – a rather narrow range that may be more indicative of their true abilities.
Through Sunday favorites were 6-6-1 ATS for the week bringing the season to date results to 35-35-1, with 5 games closing Pick ‘em at the Westgate.
The lone game to push likely hurt the Books as it was the Sunday night game between the Packers and Giants which closed with Green Bay a 7 point favorite, winning the game 23-16. The Patriots covered at Cleveland as 10 point favorites. For the season double digit favorites are 3-2 ATS.
Five Underdogs won their games outright which brings the season total 30 outright underdog winners in the 71 games that were not Pick ‘em. That is slightly more than 42 percent of games being won outright by underdogs.
Seven games went OVER the Total with 6 staying UNDER.
For the season there have been 42 OVERS and 34 UNDERS. Through the first 5 weeks of the season there has not been a single week in which there have been more UNDERS than OVERS. Teams are combining to average 45.6 total points per game.
Only two teams have Byes this week, Minnesota and Tampa Bay, Here’s a preview of the 15 games on the schedule.
Denver -2.5 at San Diego (45): Denver’s defense will present a challenge to a San Diego offense that has struggled to run the football in their last three games. The stadium situation also suggests significant crowd support for the visitors. DENVER.
Cincinnati +8 at New England (47): QB Tom Brady showed little rust as he returned from his 4 game suspension to pass for 406 yards and 3 touchdowns in their win at Cleveland. Both defenses have been average at best. Bengals QB Andy Dalton has developed chemistry with some of his new receivers and still has the big play threat of A J Green. OVER.
Baltimore +3 at NY Giants (44.5): Both defenses rank in the top 10 in yards per play allowed and both offenses have been prone to turning over the football. These are ingredients for time consuming drives that come up empty, making this a game of field position. UNDER.
Carolina at New Orleans (No Line): Carolina is off Monday night’s game against Tampa Bay in which QB Derek Anderson started in place of the injured Cam Newton whose status for this game won’t be known until later this week. New Orleans is off their Bye week. The Saints defense has been typically poor but the severe decline in Carolina’s defense has been startling. Both offenses have the edges in this contest. OVER.
Pittsburgh -7.5 at Miami (48): In past seasons this situation and matchup would make a case for the home underdog. Until proven otherwise, the Dolphins (1-4 ATS) remain a “go against” team whereas the Steelers (4-1 ATS) remain a “play on.” PITTSBURGH.
Jacksonville +2 at Chicago (47): Neither team is projected to have a winning season which makes it difficult to take less than a FG with the Jags on the road. In their only true road game they were blown out at San Diego and the Bears have the weapons to translate those passing yards into points against a young and still developing opponent. CHICAGO.
San Francisco +7.5 at Buffalo (44.5): Buffalo’s wins have all been by double digits including their 33-18 win over Arizona that started this streak. The defense has played well in those wins and present several challenges for a 49ers offense that has topped 190 passing yards just once (237) and a defense that has allowed 3 of their last 4 foes to top 170 rushing yards. BUFFALO.
Los Angeles +3 at Detroit (43.5): The Rams have the edge on defense and the Lions have been much better at avoiding turnovers. With a pair of one dimensional offenses a better case can be made for the defense which translates to a lower scoring game. UNDER.
Cleveland +6.5 at Tennessee (45.5): Both defenses are average at best with each team poised to show slow but steady improvement on both sides of the football as the season wears on. With neither team having an explosive passing game but each running the football well, ball control with sustained drives and short passes should unfold. UNDER.
Philadelphia -1.5 at Washington (44.5): The Eagles have shown a much better ability to run the football, have the better defensive stats and have been better at avoiding turnovers. Washington has struggled to stop the run, allowing over rushing yards in all 5 games this season. PHILADELPHIA.
Kansas City +1.5 at Oakland (46.5): KC coach Andy Reid has long excelled following a Bye and given their effort two weeks ago and Oakland’s penchant for close game a case can be made to back the underdog which should be well prepared for their Divisional foe against which Reid is 5-1 SU as Chiefs coach. KANSAS CITY.
Atlanta +6 at Seattle (45.5): The time off should have enabled the Seahawks to address that issue while also allowing nagging injuries more time to heal. The tough travel situation, perhaps a bit of overconfidence and Seattle’s strong home field could all contribute to a decline in the Falcons’ performance in this spot. SEATTLE.
Dallas +4.5 at Green Bay (47): It looks too easy to take the points in a game Dallas looks as though it can win. But this is the week when the Packers offense should have success against a defense more like that of Detroit rather than the three other foes Green Bay has faced. GREEN BAY.
Indianapolis +3 at Houston (46): Houston is 3-0 at home, 0-2 on the road. This is just the second true road game for the Colts. Yes, Indianapolis has the edge at QB with Andrew Luck, but virtually every other edge is with the Texans. The Colts have yet to rush for 100 yards in any game this season. HOUSTON.
NY Jets +7.5 at Arizona (47): Arizona QB Carson Palmer is expected to return after missing last Thursday’s game due to concussion protocol not being passed in the shortened week. The Jets’ defense matches up well against the Arizona offense and coach Todd Bowles has familiarity with the Arizona personnel, hired away from the Cardinals after 2 seasons as defensive coordinator. NY JETS.
Last week: 6-7 (w/o MNF)