Plenty of winless teams at bottom of NFL heap

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For all but Miami and Tampa Bay, whose opening game was postponed due to Hurricane Irma, the first quarter of the season will have been completed once Monday night’s Washington at Kansas City game was played.

Injuries continue to wreak havoc both with teams’ chances of having successful seasons and in posting lines on several games on a weekly basis.

Most of the injuries affecting the posting of lines deal with the uncertain status of starting quarterbacks and again there are several such situations this week.

Through Sunday only one team remained perfect on the season and that team, Kansas City, put its 3-0 record on the line Monday night.

Four teams were still seeking their first wins of 2017 through 4 games and while Indianapolis and San Francisco can’t be considered shocks, the Los Angeles Chargers being 0-4 would be considered a mild shock while the New York Giants having yet to win would have to be considered a major shock.

Barring a tie either the Giants or the Chargers will get their maiden win of the season this Sunday as they meet in New Jersey. The sidebar story surrounding this game will be that this could be the final meeting between the two quarterbacks traded for one another on Draft night when the Chargers drafted and traded Eli Manning to the Giants in exchange for Philip Rivers.

One wonders how the fates of both franchises might be different had that trade not been made. Yet barring the very unlikely the fate of both teams this season is likely to be similar with neither team making the Playoffs.

Byes begin this week and the first four teams to have a week of rest are Atlanta, Denver, New Orleans and Washington.

Here are previews of the 14 games that will be played.

Thursday

New England -5.5 at Tampa Bay (54): Tampa Bay’s defensive stats are not that much better and the Buccs also rank near the bottom in most key statistics. Playing on the road on a short week is the not the recipe for improvement and with both teams having above average offenses this should be an entertaining shootout. OVER

Sunday

LA Chargers +3.5 at N Y Giants (44.5): The Chargers play their first road game after three straight at home whereas the Giants are off of 2 road games and played 3 of their first 4 away from home. Their offense has shown some spark the past two weeks despite slow starts in both games but their defense, considered their strength, has been unable to protect late fourth quarter leads. Returning home in a desperate yet favorable scheduling situation leads to a preference for the hosts. NY GIANTS

Buffalo +3 at Cincinnati (39): After scoring just 9 points in their first two games, both at home, the Bengals have scored 55 points in their last two games, both on the road. Although the gap is narrowing the Bengals have the more talented roster which suggests laying a FG or less at home is the preferred way to play this game. CINCINNATI

NY Jets +2.5 at Cleveland (39): The Jets’ offensive strength is their running game which has been the strength of Cleveland’s defense. Both offenses have below average passing games which suggests this game should produce more field goals than touchdowns, barring scoring plays on special teams or by the defenses. UNDER

Jacksonville +8.5 at Pittsburgh (44.5): Both teams have excelled in defending the pass and rank first and second in yards per game allowed while also allowing under 8.5 yards per completion. That sets the stage for a game dominated by the run which makes taking the more than a TD with a physical underdog capable of slowing down the game an attractive option. JACKSONVILLE

Tennessee NL at Miami: This is Miami’s home opener after Hurricane Irma forced a Week One postponement followed by three straight road games including last week’s game in London. Their month of being nomads is over and we should see a much better effort from the Dolphins this week as the lives of the players and coaches return to some semblance of normalcy. In what should be close to a pick ‘em game the preference is to back the hosts in this unique set of circumstances. MIAMI

San Francisco +1.5 at Indianapolis (43): The 49ers are the better team, especially on defense, and the statistics support this contention. Although it is understandable for the Colts to be favored it is always risky to ask a bad team to win any game straight up, especially when favored to do so. The Niners have looked more like a football team than have the Colts through the first quarter of the season. SAN FRANCISCO

Arizona+6.5 at Philadelphia (45): The Arizona offense is strongly one dimensional with a running game that has rushed for 51 yards or less in 3 games and just 89 in the other. But their rush defense has been stingy, holding all 4 foes to under 100 yards on the ground. The passing game, directed by Carson Palmer, combined with that strong rush defense, enables the Cards to come from behind while also playing stout pass defense. ARIZONA

Carolina +3 at Detroit (44): We finally saw the old Cam Newton in Carolina’s 33-30 upset win at New England. Detroit’s defense, which has generally played will through 4 games, will be challenged by Carolina if Newton’s performance against the Pats is indeed a sign that he is feeling comfortable and confident. The Panthers have a strong defense of their own and make for an attractive underdog in a game that they can well win outright. CAROLINA

Seattle +2.5 at LA Rams (46): The Seahawks are 0-2 both SU and ATS on the road but those losses were at Green Bay and Tennessee. Call me stubborn but the Rams still have to prove they are a Playoff caliber team and they could suffer a bit of a letdown after their win at Dallas. We may have seen the Seattle we’ve known over the past 5 seasons in their second half domination of the Colts Sunday night. SEATTLE

Baltimore NL at Oakland: Oakland remains a talented team and that loss at Washington may turn out to have been more of a fluke in retrospect later in the season. Baltimore’s recent play may be more indicative of what is in store down the road given their depleted roster. Oakland should be favored by between a FG and a TD depending on the status of Carr and with Carr expected to play the preference will be for the Raiders. OAKLAND

Green Bay +2 at Dallas (52.5): Both teams have concerns on defense and that is reflected in the relatively high Total. The Cowboys do have slight statistical edges in most of the key categories that point towards success and with their Bye on deck while the Packers play at Division rival Minnesota the situation also sets up well. DALLAS

Kansas City -1 at Houston (47): It will be extremely tough for Houston to come close to duplicating that effort against the fundamentally solid Kansas City defense. The Houston defense is also one of the best in the league but will be challenged by the Chiefs’ newfound balanced offense. The home venue usually favors teams with strong defenses with crowd support and the ability to disrupt opposing offenses. Kansas City’s prolific offensive start and the Texans’ offensive display against the Titans has given us a bit of added value in playing this total. UNDER

Monday

Minnesota NL at Chicago: The big news surrounding this game is that Chicago will turn to QB Mitchell Trubisky to replace ineffective Mike Glennon. The status of Minnesota QB Sam Bradford,keeps this game off the boards. RB Dalvin Cook sustained a season ending injury. There is always a risk in starting a rookie QB but there are many instances in it has been successful. CHICAGO

Last week: 11-4

Season: 36-25-1

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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