Brady, Patriots laying big number at Cleveland

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When you pick up your copy of GamingToday or get it online either on Tuesday or later in the week all but Green Bay and Philadelphia will have completed one quarter of the regular season. Four games down and 12 to go for most of the league with the Packers and Eagles returning from the first set of byes this week to complete their first quarters.

Just three teams remain unbeaten as both New England and Baltimore were upset at home by Buffalo and Oakland respectively.

Minnesota might have joined Denver at 4-0 if they defeated the Giants Monday night. Philadelphia is also unbeaten at 3-0 as they had their bye this past weekend. Three of the four winless teams got their initial 2016 wins as Jacksonville held on to defeat Indianapolis in London and, several hours later, Chicago defeated Detroit at home and New Orleans staged a late comeback to win at San Diego.

Only Cleveland remains winless and their prospects of gaining their first win this week do not bode well. The Browns host New England with QB Tom Brady back from suspension. He likely brings an entire Patriots team with attitude into this game following their home shutout loss to Buffalo. Oakland and Atlanta are the early season surprises with 3-1 starts.

Underdogs won six games outright heading into Monday night bringing to 25 the number of upsets this season. The pointspread has mattered in just four of the first 62 games as underdogs continue to win outright and winning favorites cover their lines.

Overall favorites are 28-29 ATS with five Pick ‘em games.

OVERS are outpacing UNDER 35-27. The margins have been slim with the first three weeks each producing 9 OVERS and 7 UNDERS with this past weekend resulting in 8 OVERS and 6 UNDERS heading into Monday night.

The average total points per game has been 45.7

Here’s a preview of the 14 Week 5 games with Jacksonville, Kansas City, New Orleans and Seattle having their Byes.

Thursday

Arizona -2.5 at SF (42): Cardinals QB Carson Palmer was injured in their loss to the Rams and backup Drew Stanton is expected to start. Arizona’s defense is a strength and will face a 49ers offense struggling to adapt to coach Chip Kelly’s offense. The situation favors Arizona but the offense will likely have to rely more on the run than the pass. Both defenses appear to be the best units in their respective matchups which suggests both offenses will be challenged to sustain drives and create big plays. UNDER.

Sunday

Houston NL at Minnesota: Both teams have rewarded backers with a combined 6-1 ATS mark prior to Minnesota’s Monday night game against the Giants. Both teams’ strengths are on defense with each allowing less than 4.0 yards per play. Minnesota’s offense has struggled to run the football but has excelled in avoiding turnovers. Fundamentally this handicaps as a low scoring game, barring special teams or defensive touchdowns. UNDER.

Tennessee +3.5 at Miami (43.5): Both teams have started slowly at 1-3. The defenses have been roughly average but both offenses have had trouble protecting the football. Tennessee has been much better at running the football. Both teams have first year coaches as Tennessee seeks to avenge an ugly 38-10 home loss to the Dolphins last season. It’s hard to justify either team being favored by a FG or more so the first inclination is to take the points with the team better able to run the football. TENNESSEE.

New England -10.5 at Cleveland (46.5): No game will receive more media scrutiny this week as QB Tom Brady returns for the Patriots who, despite starting 3-1, are off of their first home shutout in more than two decades. Brady might be rusty and TE Rob Gronkowski is still not 100 percent which could hamper the offense. And the Pats are playing their first road game after three straight at home. Both teams have top five running games. The Pats are in a negative scheduling situation but the other intangibles are in their favor. But laying double digits on the road can be dangerous. UNDER.

NY Jets +7.5 at Pittsburgh (48.5): Pittsburgh if off a dominating win over Kansas City that followed their stunning 34-3 loss at Phily. The Jets are off two ugly losses in which they lost a total of 11 turnovers, the first of which was their 24-3 loss at KC. This is the NFL. Logical reasoning might hold that since in back to back weeks the Chiefs routed the Jets and were themselves then routed by the Steelers this should be an easy win for Pittsburgh. History has shown that makes a case for the ugly underdog. NY JETS.

Washington +3.5 at Baltimore (47): Washington is off back to back wins whereas the Ravens suffered their first loss to Oakland after opening with three wins. Both teams have struggled to run the football although each had their best rushing game of the season last week. The most significant statistical edge in this matchup favors the Ravens and their 1.7 yards per play edge on defense. BALTIMORE.

Philadelphia -2.5 at Detroit (46.5): The only thing capable of stopping the Eagles’ early season momentum has been the schedule maker as Philly is off their Bye week following a 3-0 start. Rookie QB Carson Wentz has looked very comfortable in running the offense and has yet to lose a turnover. The defense is much improved over last season and is allowing 1.1 fewer yards per play than the Lions. Detroit was case in the rare role of road favorite last week and was predictably upset in Chicago, falling to 1-3. So why did the Eagles open at less than a FG? DETROIT.

Chicago +4.5 at Indianapolis (47.5): The Colts opted not to have their Bye following last week’s game in London and it will be interesting to observe if there is any impact on their performance in this spot. Chicago got its first win against Detroit with backup QB Brian Hoyer having a solid performance. Both offenses have struggled to run the football. Perhaps surprisingly, Chicago has the statistically better defense by a full yard per play. That Indianapolis defense makes it difficult to support laying more than a FG. CHICAGO.

Atlanta +4.5 at Denver (47): Atlanta has won 3 in a row following their opening loss to Tampa Bay. Denver is a perfect 4-0 and returns home following wins at Cincinnati and Tampa Bay. Atlanta will be hard pressed to repeat their record setting performance at Carolina last week and following extraordinary performances a regression does not surprise. Their task will be tough in the Denver altitude against the NFL’s best defense that is allowing just 4.3 yards per play, nearly 2 ypp less than their defense allows (6.1). DENVER.

Buffalo +2.5 at Los Angeles (40): Both teams have positive momentum following key road wins over Division rivals. The Rams have won 3 in a row following that opening Monday night loss to San Francisco and that has generated massive interest in their return to LA. Both teams remain question marks concerning the long run although the signs are positive. The preference is to take any points available and this line appears likely to reach a field goals. BUFFALO.

San Diego +4.5 at Oakland (50): Oakland has 3 wins, all on the road, including fourth quarter comebacks at New Orleans and Baltimore. This has the makings of an old fashioned shootout from these long time rivals dating back to the days of the wide open AFL. OVER.

Cincinnati (Pick ‘em) at Dallas (45): Dak Prescott has been a very capable replacement for Tony Romo and recall that before Romo missed most of last season Dallas was 12-4 the season before. Which is why their 1-7 home record last season is meaningless right now. DALLAS.

NY Giants NL at Green Bay: Both offenses do have big play capability with gifted receivers to play catch with New York’s Eli Manning and the Pack’s Aaron Rodgers. This often can make the case for taking generous points but the better play would be the Total with both QBs liking to air out the football. OVER.

Monday

Tampa Bay at Carolina: Power Ratings and other indicators likely will point to the underdog but the intangibles strongly favor a strong defensive effort from the favorite. CAROLINA.

Last week: 5-9; Season: 37-24-1

(not including MNF)

About the Author

Andy Iskoe

Owner and author of “The Logical Approach,” Andy Iskoe has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football.

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