In the NFC there are three clear division leaders with the New York Giants, Chicago Bears and Atlanta Falcons each enjoying leads of more than one game in their respective divisions.
The 6-2 Bears are 1½ games up on both Green Bay and Minnesota, each of whom is 5-3. Atlanta remains unbeaten and its 7-0 record gives them a four game lead over Tampa Bay.
The Giants are 6-2 and the only team with a winning record in the East, up by 2½ games on Philadelphia and Dallas.
San Francisco was favored to win at Arizona on Monday night. If form held the 49ers would be 6-2 and owning a two game lead over both the Cardinals and Seattle.
Things are not quite as clear in the AFC although now seven teams have winning records, albeit four are just 4-3. New England’s London rout of St. Louis has the Patriots atop the AFC East, a half-game ahead of surprising 4-3 Miami.
Baltimore is 5-2 and leads the AFC North, a game ahead of 4-3 Pittsburgh. The Ravens have major defensive injuries to be concerned with as they return from their Bye week.
Houston has the best record in the AFC at 6-1 with a two game edge over Indianapolis in the South. The Texans return from their Bye leading the NFL in average points differential at +12.6 per game.
Denver is just 4-3 and leading the AFC West by just a game over both Oakland and San Diego. The Broncos seem poised to take charge of the division after facing the toughest part of their schedule. What might prevent them from earning the top AFC seed will be their earlier loss to Houston, giving the Texans the tie breaker edge.
Underdogs continue their strong ATS performance, going 8-5 heading into the Monday niter. For the season the dogs are 69-41-6 ATS (63%), going 23-15-1 at home and 46-26-5 on the road.
The average margin of victory in all games this season is just over 11 points per game while the average line for favorites has been just 4.9 points per game.
What accounts for the outstanding performance of underdogs is that 47 of 117 have won their games outright. Over the prior six seasons underdogs won outright 33% of the time. This season it’s 40%.
As expected, Totals results have leveled off following the high scoring games of the first two weeks. Through this past Sunday, the OVER held a slight 60-56 edge with one push.
Prior to Monday night’s game against San Francisco, Arizona was 6-1 to the UNDER. The 49ers were 5-2 and Seattle 6-2.
At the other end of the Totals spectrum, New England is 6-2 to the OVER, while five are 5-2. They include Baltimore, Buffalo, Kansas City, New Orleans and Tampa Bay.
New England, the New York Jets, St. Louis and San Francisco have Byes with two more scheduled before the league returns to a full slate of games.
Here’s a look at the 14 to be played this week.
Thursday, Nov. 1
Chiefs +9 at Chargers (43): KC has been hurt by turnovers all season, including the five they lost in their 37-20 home loss to the Chargers in Week 4. They are averaging -3.6 turnovers lost per game, last in the league and are -18 in turnover differential. Still, the Chargers have done little to suggest they should be favored by more than a TD against a division rival. CHIEFS.
Sunday, Nov. 4
Broncos -3½ at Bengals (47): The Broncos have not fared well on the road aside from San Diego’s implosion a couple of Monday nights ago, Denver’s lone road win in three tries. The Bengals return from their Bye riding a three-game losing streak that followed a 3-1 start. The losses were competitive and getting at least a FG at home makes them an attractive take. BENGALS.
Cards +10 at Packers (44): Arizona is off of Monday night’s game against division rival San Francisco hoping to have ended a 3-game losing streak that followed a 4-0 start. Green Bay is off of an uninspired effort against lowly Jacksonville that resulted in a non-covering 24-15 win. Arizona’s strength is its defense but offense is limited. Green Bay’s defense is above average . UNDER.
Dolphins -2½ at Colts (43): Miami QB Ryan Tannehill was injured against the Jets and his status for this game is questionable. Veteran Matt Moore filled in well. The teams have similar statistical profiles in many key areas but the Colts’ major shortcoming is a defense that has forced just 3 turnovers, last in the league. They do defend the pass well, not a strength of the Miami offense. COLTS.
Ravens -3½ at Browns (42): Cleveland has won two of its last three after an 0-5 start. One of those losses was a 23-16 loss at the Ravens in which the Ravens’ play can best be described as listless. Baltimore is off of a Bye that followed a 43-13 loss at Houston. We can expect adjustments to have been made. Baltimore has now won 9 in a row over the Browns with all wins by at least 6. RAVENS.
Bills +10½ at Texans (47): Both teams return from Byes. Buffalo has lost 3 of its last 4 games Houston rebounded from its loss to Green Bay with a 30 point pummeling of injury depleted Baltimore. The Texans’ defense remains one of the top ones in the league and the offense is the best in the NFL in avoiding turnovers. TEXANS.
Panthers +4 at Redskins (46): Carolina played well in defeat at Chicago last week but the loss dropped the Panthers to 1-6. In a matchup of the last two Heisman Trophy winners, the Skins Robert Griffin III is enjoying a much better season than Carolina’s Cam Newton. Washington has both the better rushing offense and rushing defense. REDSKINS.
Lions -4 at Jaguars (44): Detroit at 3-4 still plays undisciplined football which makes laying points, especially on the road, extremely risky. Jacksonville played well in losing at Green Bay as QB Blaine Gabbert performed well despite the absence of star RB Maurice Jones-Drew. They still have the league’s last ranked offense but may benefit from poor Detroit special teams play. JAGUARS.
Bears -3½ at Titans (43½): They Bears lead the league in forcing 3.3 turnovers per game. The Titans rank next to last in scoring defense, allowing 32 points per game. The Bears have won their last two road games by 16 at Dallas and 38 at Jacksonville. This may not be a blowout. but the Chicago offense should get healthy here. BEARS.
Vikings +5 at Seahawks (39½): Minnesota has had extra rest to recover from their 36-17 home loss to Tampa Bay last Thursday while Seattle returns home after losing 28-24 virtually at the final gun in Detroit. Both offenses rank in the top 10 in rushing offense and in the bottom 10 in pass offense. UNDER.
Bucs +2 at Raiders (45): Oakland has the edge in the passing game. Tampa Bay has performed better overall and that is partially reflected in their +4.4 points per game margin. Oakland’s margin is minus 6.8 ppg. Tampa has also played a more challenging schedule and is more than capable of pulling the outright upset. RAYS.
Steelers +3½ at Giants (47): Both teams are playing well. The Giants have won 4 straight and the Steelers have won their last 2. The Giants do not perform as well at home ATS as they do on the road. Pittsburgh has played high scoring games on the road over the past few seasons and the Giants rank third to last in allowing 6.2 yards per play. OVER .
Cowboys +4½ at Falcons (52½): Dallas continues to have a solid statistical profile, ranking in the top 7 in both total offense and defense. But they are second to last in losing turnovers and Atlanta has an aggressive defense, especially at home. When it comes time for a big play to be made, there is greater confidence that it will be made by the Falcons rather than by the Cowboys. FALCONS.
Monday, Nov. 5
Eagles +3½ at Saints (52½): The loser of this game will need an outstanding second half of the season to make the playoffs given the strength in the NFC. It’s more likely that the Philly offense will have success against the porous Saints defense rather than the Eagles defense be able to slow down New Orleans’ offense. OVER.
Andy Iskoe, and his Logical Approach, provides his popular and unique handicapping statistics to Gaming Today readers and online visitors. He has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football. Contact Andy at [email protected]