Keep the faith with Andrew Luck and his offense, says Romilly Evans in his late live profile, as they entertain an admittedly improving New York outfit...
"Keystone safety Kam Chancellor is still involved in a pathetic if protracted game of blink-first with Seattle's powers-that-be"
Seattle Seahawks @ Green Bay Packers
Start-time: Monday, 01:30
TV: Live on SS1
Make no mistake, regardless of another high-profile failure to merely gain a yard (the time Marshawn Lynch did get the ball, but his side came up short again in St Louis) the Seattle Seahawks endure as a decent unit with big-game credentials. However, issues persist which could count them out of Super Bowl contention this year.
Old Father Time is finally catching up with Lynch (he's been running for so long, even his Beast Mode looks tired). The doubts persevere about the receiving corps of QB Russell Wilson, gleaming new deal and all. And keystone safety Kam Chancellor is still involved in a pathetic if protracted game of blink-first with Seattle's powers-that-be over his contractual negotiations.
Now throw in an increasingly competitive division, and whisper it but the NFC West champions may even struggle to make the postseason. Their predicament certainly adds an added premium on top-tier trips like this one to Lambeau Field to face the Packers. It's far too soon for must-win matches, yet this one already feels like a tone-setter.
The Pack, of course, will be desperate to atone at home for last year's botched job away to the Seahawks. Aaron Rodgers and Co should've punched their ticket to the Super Bowl but were instead left facing an agonizing off-season lamenting what might've been. Such is the continuity, strength of mind and sense of togetherness in Green Bay, though, that this team is well equipped to make swift recompense to fans this term.
The Pack's offense is an eloquent case in point. They lost lead wideout Jordy Nelson with a torn ACL before the season began, while their other go-to guy, Randall Cobb, was sore and slow to go. But with Rodgers at the controls, he simply went old-school to veteran receiver James Jones (with two of his three touchdowns). Elsewhere, stalwart Eddie Lacy will continue to move the chains on hand-offs. While on defense the holy trinity of Clay Matthews (another crucial pick against Chicago), Mike Daniels and Mike Neal represents a dependable bulwark.
The Hawks, however, lack such cohesion and leadership at present, especially among their feared Legion of Boom. It should cost them here on a few lines.
Back Green Bay Packers (-3) to win on the Match Points Spread @ 1.728/11 or better
Back Green Bay Packers (-1.5) to win on the First Half Points Spread @ 1.84/5 or better
Back Under 48.5 Total Points @ 2.01/1 or better
Back R. Cobb to score First / Anytime Touchdown 9.08/1 or better
New York Jets @ Indianapolis Colts
Start-time: Tuesday, 01:30
TV: Live on Channel 4
A week ago, those good folks in Vegas would've set a two-TD bar for the New York Jets to scale at Lucas Oil. However, couple the Jets' strong opener to a misfiring performance from Andrew Luck's cannon arm, and the Indianapolis Colts now have a contest on their hooves.
However, the tendency is to grant Luck a free pass for his two interceptions and generally anomalous effort. His overall graph of dazzling numbers suggests that last Sunday was an erroneous point. True, TY Hilton remains hurt and rookie Phil Dorsett still has to prove himself as a legitimate alternative at wide receiver. But Indy have some other new additions who failed to launch on their seasonal bow - step forward Frank Gore and Andre Dawson - so to expect another complete no-show is to back a longshot scenario.
On the other side of the ball, there was much to like about the Jets' new combination of Ryan Fitzpatrick (two touchdown tosses) and Chris Ivory (another two on the ground for 91 yards off 20 carries). Yet to call it a knockout combo would be premature, seeing as its bow came against the beleaguered Browns of Cleveland. The New York defense also accounted for five turnovers in their 31-10 victory. Impressive, although surely not to be repeated here methinks.
New York's Lorenzo Mauldin (neck) and Antonio Cromartie (knee) also picked up serious blows, so all the margins remain in favour of Indianapolis to exceed their supposed superiority. The Colts can even muster a little D (pivotal pass rusher Robert Mathis should return from the sidelines) and Lucky can do the rest.
Luck is so accomplished and poised that it's easy to forget he's just 25 years old. He's at the wheel of a largely improving outfit which just needs to bed in a few bolts. Where better to tune up for a Super Bowl push than in your own back yard? The Colts should be purring down that highway again in no time.
Back Indianapolis Colts (-7) to win on the Match Points Spread @ 1.9520/21 or better
Indianapolis Colts (-14) to win on the Match Points Spread @ 3.55/2 or better
Back Indianapolis Colts (-3.5) to win on the First Half Points Spread @ 2.01/1 or better
Back Over 26.5 Total Indianapolis Colts Points @ 1.9110/11 or better