NFL Tipsheet Week Five: Keep faith in Cam and go big on points when Pittsburgh host Atlanta
Mike Carlson goes through the Sunday games every week to bring you his pick of the bets and he's back with selections involving Carolina, Kansas City and Pittsburgh...
"The big question will simply be keeping the Giants' receiving corps under control; rookie corner Donte Jackson is out, but I think a well-rested Cam Newton and Christian McCaffery prove too much for the G-men on the road, and less than a TD won't help."
Watching the offense crazy NFL the past few weeks, I am starting to wonder if I need to re-evaluate my long-standing bias against large spreads and really high ceiling overs. Certainly a 30 point game isn't as unusual as it once seemed to be, and a league where Mitch Trubisky throws for five TDs and the Bears (picked here giving three to the Bucs) win 48-10, thus dousing Fitzmagic once and for all, does suggest a re-think. You'll note the preliminary result of that thinking in the outside bets below...meanwhile...
Cam and crew can cruise past NY
Best Bet: Carolina -6.5 at evens vs NY Giants
The Panthers are at home coming off a bye, meaning they have had lots of time to prepare for the Giants' defense, and to research ways of getting to Eli Manning in a hurry. Julius Peppers ought to be healthy which might help; the Panthers also get back guard Trai Turner and speedy Curtis Samuel, whom they haven't really been able to find a use for when he is on the field. The big question will simply be keeping the Giants' receiving corps under control; rookie corner Donte Jackson is out, but I think a well-rested Cam Newton and Christian McCaffery prove too much for the G-men on the road, and less than a TD won't help. I'm also a bit partial to Cincinnati -6 at 19/20 vs Miami. I think the Pats exposed the Dolphins last week in Foxboro, and with Miami on the road for the second straight week against a Bengals' offense that's looked pretty good, there could be a TD's difference here as well.
Chiefs' O can keep up against Jags' D
Value Bet: Kansas City -3 at 21/20 v Jacksonville
The Jags' D against the Chiefs' O is the glamour matchup, arguably the NFL's best from Jax and one of the best from the Chiefs. The fact that KC's attack relies on mis-matches and not on standard wide receiver matchups works in the Jags' favour: they can do to Travis Kelce what they did to Rob Gronkowski a few weeks ago, with Jalen Ramsey often helping out; they are also very strong against guys like Kareem Hunt, as the front four stops the run and Telvin Smith and Myles Jack chase down backs catching passes. But the big weakness of the Chiefs' D is mitigated by the stuttering of the Jags' offense: keep Blake Bortles in the pocket and bad things happen to Jacksonville, as the Titans showed. Losing Leonard Fournette is not that bad a thing for the Jags; although he brings big-play capability, their offense tends to run better with TJ Yeldon in, because they feel compelled to mix things up.
Back a saucy points total at the Heinz
Outside Bet: Atlanta at Pittsburgh Over 58 at 19/20
Why not? This is the highest O/U I can recall outside college ball, but if ever a situation suggested two teams that could combine to clear it, this is it. Atlanta has put up historic numbers for a team that lost their last two games at home, and Pittsburgh is not the strongest D they will face. Plus they will have RB Devonta Freeman back to create a little balance in the attack. The Falcons' D will have trouble holding the Steelers in check, especially with DT Grady Jarrett added to the injury list, which might make James Connor more of a threat. If Big Ben Roethlisberger can regain his magic with Antonio Brown, on top of Juju Smith-Schuster, both teams could cross the 30 point mark, and Robert Alford is your uncle.
A slightly different proposition would be taking the LA Rams at Seattle Over 50.5, because Seattle doesn't have an offense to match up with the Rams. But I'm not convinced Pete Carroll's defense can stop the Rams, whose attack with Brandin Cooks is more high-powered than it was when the Rams won 42-7 last year in Seattle. But the Rams' D isn't quite so good against the pass this year, and Russell Wilson does have Doug Baldwin back. See where this is going?