Live TV NFL Tips: It is back the underdog Sunday in the NFL

Calvin Johnson looks primed for a big game at Wembley
Calvin Johnson looks primed for a big game at Wembley

With one more Wembley game to round out the international series, Neil Monnery once more previews that game as well as the later offerings on Sky and is looking away from the short prices and completely ignoring the spread...


"Quarterback Alex Smith threw for three scores on opening day against the pathetic Houston Texans but in the six games since then, he's only been responsible for four touchdowns. That is abject in the modern day NFL, which is geared for the quarterbacks."

Detroit Lions @ Kansas City Chiefs (in London)
Sunday, 14:30
Live on Sky Sports 2 and BBC Red Button
 

Sunday's 14 odd hours of live NFL kicks off with another Wembley game. Going into the season this looked like a match-up of two teams who could be real contenders for the play-offs. Instead they are deeply disappointing franchises who have only mustered three wins between them.

On the Kansas City side of the ball, they've lost Jamaal Charles to a season ending injury and it took them until last week to finally get a win without him on the field. Instead the feature running back will be Charcandrick West. The former undrafted free agent out of Abilene Christian has caught the attention of many after a 110 yard outing last week over the Pittsburgh Steelers, averaging 5.0 yards per carry. This is a huge statistical high for the 24-year-old and I'm certainly not at all sold on him.

Quarterback Alex Smith threw for three scores on opening day against the pathetic Houston Texans but in the six games since then, he's only been responsible for four touchdowns. That is abject in the modern day NFL, which is geared for the quarterbacks. His problem is whilst he is accurate throwing the ball short, everyone knows he can't throw the ball deep with any confidence so the secondary can fly up the field and the squeeze the space.

When you look at the Lions roster, you struggle to see how they've only won one game so far this season. Looking at the schedule though and it becomes easier to find reasons for the 1-6 record. They don't have a terrible loss on their resume. They've lost in San Diego, they've lost home and away to the Vikings (which are their worse losses and they aren't a bad team) then the other three reverses have been to the Broncos, Cardinals and by three points in Seattle. I'm not saying the Lions are any good but I don't think their record is a truly accurate representation of their quality.

Matt Stafford is the anti-Alex Smith. He's a vertical passer who is better going deep than he is dinking and dunking his way down the field. His quarterback rating has been over 100 in the past two weeks and when you consider his coach has been promoted to the offensive coordinator this week after the previous guy got fired (coupled with the offensive line coaches getting the sack this week) then this offense will be playing with a renewed impetus and belief. Players do react when coaches go in every sport and the NFL is no different.

Oh and one more thing. Megatron. They have #81.

As you might be starting to sense, I'm taking the upset here and ignoring the spread and being a man by tipping the Lions to win straight up at 2.6413/8 on the exchange. I really don't believe in Kansas City at all and think Detroit have the playmakers to spread the field and win.

Yes I know Kansas City have Justin Houston and the great (and former Nittany Lion) Tamba Hali who will pressure Matthew Stafford but I still think the Lions get it done and I think Ameer Abdullah has his coming out party and runs for 100 yards.

I love a small bet each game on first touchdown scorer and #81 isn't the favourite on the Sportsbook. Not sure whose banged their heads in the office but if Calvin Johnson is available at 8/1 like he is then it is worth it. He's the same price as Jeremy Maclin. That is plain nuts.

Recommended Bets:

2pt Back Detroit to win straight up @ 2.6413/8 on the Exchange
1pt Back under 41.5 points scored at 27/20 on the Sportsbook
1pt Back Calvin Johnson to score the first touchdown at 8/1 on the Sportsbook


Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Start-time: Sunday 18:00
TV: Live on Sky Sports 2
 

I have given some stick to Sky Sports over their choices of live games so far this season in these columns but this week they've nailed it. They have picked the best two games in both time slots for me, both of which will be close and interesting. The undefeated Bengals go into Pittsburgh who have their talisman and two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Ben Roethlisberger back. This should be great.

We'll start with the Bengals and Andy Dalton is now a trustworthy quarterback (in the regular season). The way he brought his team back from down 17 to the Seattle Seahawks to win in OT has shown us all that. He has weapons all over the field in AJ Green, Tyler Eifert and Mohamed Sanu. When you consider than Brandon Tate will also be active on Sunday then you are starting to see why Andy Dalton's numbers are so good.

Pittsburgh though have receivers of their own, Martavis Bryant, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Antonio Brown are also first rate. Brown has gone over 100 yards in every game that Big Ben has started so far this season including a 195 yard outing against San Francisco, averaging 21.7 per catch. Expect plenty of offense in this one.

When it comes to the running game then the edge goes to the Steelers. Le'Veon Bell should go for over 100 yards as the opposition will have to respect the passing game, therefore opening up holes for Bell to burst through. Cincinnati have third year RB Giovani Bernard, who is a good solid player but with only two scores to his name and only one 100 yard rushing outing (against the porous Chargers in week 2) then again you see why this team on offense will go as far as Andy Dalton and his receivers will take them.

Pittsburgh's D is giving up a tonne of yardage but they keep the opposition out of the end zone to the tune of only 18.7 points/game. If they can keep the explosive Bengals' offense to three touchdowns then I think they are very much in this one.

When I first looked at the market on Tuesday, the Steelers were trading at 1.84/5 but at the time of writing they have drifted to 1.9620/21. So the exchange is really thinking that this is a pick 'em game and I'm with them. I think Pittsburgh get the win that they need and knock that zero off of the Bengals losing record but I'm not emptying my bank account for it.

The Sportsbook has an over/under 51.5 points scored market open and the over is at 13/10. Tempting. Very tempting. Stayting on the Sportsbook and they'll be a point a piece for Martavis Bryant (10/1) and six TD man Tyler Eifert (12/1) in the first touchdown scored market. Both offer good value at that price.

Recommend Bets:

1pt Back Pittsburgh winning straight up at 1.9620/21 on the Exchange
2pt Back over 51.5 points scored at 13/10 on the Sportsbook
1pt Back Martavis Bryant to score the first touchdown at 10/1 on the Sportsbook
1pt Back Tyler Eifert to score the first touchdown at 12/1 on the Sportsbook


New York Jets @ Oakland Raiders
Start-time: Sunday, 21:05
TV: Live on Sky Sports 2
 

Another good game for Sky viewers, this one between two teams who are fighting over wildcard spots. The Jets won't win their division because of the Patriots and the Raiders are in the same position as they won't be beating out the Broncos. So this is a huge game for both franchises.

We'll start with the home team and Derek Carr. The second-year QB is starting to really show signs of becoming a better than league average player. In his first year he looked completely over-matched by the league and was arguably not the best person for the job, with former Penn State walk-on and undrafted FA Matt McGloin being the best option. Yet those growing pains were worth it.

On opening day he left the game with a hand injury in the second quarter, but since then he's played well enough in four of the five games. The game where he didn't look good was against Denver and no-one is looking good against that defense.

He is helped by Amari Cooper. The first round pick out of Alabama is averaging 15.7 yards per catch and has three 100 yard games. I saw a lot of Cooper in his college days and whilst I didn't think he was as good as another former Alabama WR, Julio Jones, I did think he'd be a first class receiver on Sundays.

We saw the New York Jets last week against the 16-0 chasing Patriots and what I wrote then holds up still this week. Heck I've written about them in the last two trends pieces too. Four pieces in a row talking about the Jets. I can promise you they won't be in the midweek column this week.

Todd Bowles' men are what they are. A really strong defense with a serviceable offense. If Nick Mangold can't go it'll be a big blow to the boys in green as he is the leader of that offensive line. They won't blow out any decent team and they won't get blown out by anyone either.

I wrote on Tuesday that I saw this game as being key to the Jets as I thought this was the swing game. win at they are play-off bound, lose and I think it is no better than a 50/50 shot. I have done a lot of research to come up with my pick here as it is a close one.

The spread has been set as the Jets -2.5 points on the Sportsbook. Yet after ignoring the spread and being bold in taking Denver straight up in my Tuesday column, taking Detroit in the same circumstances earlier in this column, I'm once more taking the significant underdog straight up and backing the Raiders at 2.285/4 on the exchange. The under 43.5 points is available at Evens on the Sportsbook, which is value for me as this will be a low-scoring tight affair.

Staying there and looking at the first touchdown market, after writing great things about Amari Cooper I should probably tip him at 8/1 and what about the Jets defense/special teams at 20/1? Might be a nice one for a small bet.

Recommended Bets:

1pt Back Oakland winning straight up at 2.285/4 on the Exchange
2pt Back under 43.5 points at Evens on the Sportsbook
1pt Back Amari Cooper to score the first touchdown at 8/1 on the Sportsbook
1pt Back NY Jets Defense/Special Teams to score the first touchdown at 20/1 on the Sportsbook


Neil Monnery NFL P/L 2015 Season

Staked - 67pts
Returned - 126.34pts
P&L - +59.34pts

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