NFL Tipsheet Week Seven: Eagles to cover the handicap against the Panthers
It was a winning best bet for Mike Carlson at Wembley last week, and our NFL pundit and tipster returns with three bets from the week seven matches...
"...but my biggest reason for optimism here is that Carson Wentz really seems to be returning to his pre-injury form, and making the best of his somewhat limited offensive options."
Finally! My best bet came through, though it took Wembley Stadium and my standing on the sidelines (albeit with the BBC broadcast team) to make it happen. Seattle covered -2.5 easily, though the Raiders failed to cooperate in coming even close to the 48.5 over. Pittsburgh covered and Baltimore and Tennessee went under 21 for my other perceptive picks.
The guys at Football Perspective came up with an interesting stat this week. In week one of the NFL season, the average over/under was 44.8, and nine of the 16 overs covered. By week five, however, the average O/U had gone up to 47.3, before dropping to 46.8 for week six. Yet despite the fast rises, the over is still hitting more often than not, not by a huge margin, but given the bigger overs, it's still a surprise. Because consider facts like this: in week four, when 9 of the 15 overs hit, you still could have won going under in two games with 50+ point totals!
This week a massive five games have the O/U at 50 or above (and a sixth, New England at Chiacgo, is 49.5). Consider this: Cleveland scored 14 and Tampa 29 last week, but the O/U on their match against each other is 50.5. Or consider this: the Bengals scored 21 against Pittsburgh, and for their game in Kansas City the O/U is 57.5. Of course last week the Chiefs/Pats was 59.5 and they combined for 83. It could be that over/under is the most exciting way to go this season: kind of like a video game football come to life.
Wentz form can help Eagles cover handicap
Best Bet: Philadelphia (-5 at evs) vs Carolina
As we saw last week the Panthers do not tend to travel well, and their offensive options can be limited. I'd say the Eagles' D is better than Washington's, but my biggest reason for optimism here is that Carson Wentz really seems to be returning to his pre-injury form, and making the best of his somewhat limited offensive options. I'm also optimistic that Jacksonville (-5 at 19/20) vs Houston is a home cover. The Texans have scraped through games against not very good teams, while the Jags seem to have suffered a let down after celebrating what they thought was their Super Bowl win over New England in week 2. They aren't that good, but mostly if they can play with a lead they can win. Blake Bortles and all.
Early lead for New Orleans should get the job done
Value Bet: New Orleans (+2.5 at evs) at Baltimore
I'd like this one better if it were 3 points, but I feel like the road problem for the Saints will be mitigated by their extra week's rest coming off the bye, and that their offense will be good enough not to be bottled up by the Ravens' good D. The big question is whether the Saints can keep the Ravens' offense in check: the best way for them to do that is to take an early lead, because Baltimore is not a catch-up kind of team either, but I'm guessing the Saints' D will be better than we think. The over (50 at evs) here is attractive too; the higher the score the more it favours the Saints.
Unders the play Kansas
Outside Bet: Kansas City vs Cincinnati under (57.5 at evs)
Although both teams can score, and the Chiefs defense is somewhat challenged, I think home field advantage helps the Chiefs hold the Bengals to 21 or thereabouts, while the Bengals keep them to 31. That's 52.
If you're worried about what I wrote to start the column and want something even more outside, try LA Rams (-10 at 11/10) at San Francisco. And consider the under (52 at 19/20) as well.