Super Bowl 50 – Preview and Betting Selections

THE BIG PICTURE

The Carolina Panthers arrive in Santa Clara as the favourites to round off a memorable season and lift their first ever Vince Lombardi. Ron Rivera’s squad finished the season 15-1 and with probable MVP Cam Newton in control of the offence, they are well fancied to win Super Bowl 50.

sb 50

They carried their regular season form into the playoffs too. Against Seattle, Carolina raced out to a 31-0 lead, eventually holding on to win 31-24 after a sloppy second half. However against Arizona it was a complete blowout, a 49-15 beatdown of the NFC West Champions.

Denver meanwhile have had a rollercoaster ride to arrive in the big dance. Peyton Manning was very ineffective early in the season as seemingly his age caught up to him, throwing 17 interceptions against only nine touchdowns before he excited the starting lineup due to a foot injury. The defence however has carried the Broncos right through the year, with a dominant defensive line led by superstar pass rushers DeMarcus Ware and Vonn Miller. In their conference win against New England, Wade Phillips was able to deploy just a three-man rush against Tom Brady and even then they were still getting to the Michigan-alum.

The offensive problems are well documented for Manning and the Broncos in what could be the future-hall-of-famer’s final game on an NFL gridiron. The medium to deep ball power has extremely diminished for the former Colt, while his receivers had a bout of the drops last time out against the Patriots. Because of their dominant, top-ranked defence however, Manning has become a game-manager, looking after the ball and not forcing throws or turning the ball over. Field position will be a huge factor to this game and Denver have a very capable punter in Britton Colquitt.

16703_Cam_Newton_during_the_2011_NFL_season

POINT SPREAD

Onto the selections then and first up the spread. Initially the line opened at 3.5, but that is long gone and has now climbed to 5.5 as all the public money has come steaming into Carolina. The advice would be to wait till Sunday and hope for more support for Carolina. If the line reaches 6.5 or hopefully a straight 7, you’d have to take the points as it is. The best defence in the league shouldn’t be such a big ‘dog in such a huge contest.

TOTAL POINTS

When we talk of Denver’s fantastic defence, the Carolina squad is barely a step behind. Luke Kuchely’s name was certainly in the Defensive MVP talk and though Thomas Davis has a broken arm, he will still be lining up alongside Kuchely. We should get a good grasp on how the game is going to go early doors. If Denver can control the strong run game of Carolina (which I think they can) then the under 44.5 certainly comes into play. A scorline of 24-20 or 23-17 is in the realms of possibility here and that would see the under click.

TOUCHDOWN SCORER

More of a fun interest bet than anything else, this gives non-serious punters a way to cheer on one team or player so let’s select one per side. Before we do however, get a few quid on each Defence/Special Teams to score first. Given the strength of each defence and the possibility of early nerves we could get a run for our money. Add in the fact that Ted Ginn is one of the best returners in the game, then we have a number of chances. A defensive/special teams score in the game is also in play. Anyway for Denver, it was Owen Daniels who opened the scoring a fortnight ago and he is capable again. With Manning’s lack of arm strength he looked down the seam a lot and if he can get matched up with a banged up Davis he could come through. For Carolina, we’ll go with their tight end Gregg Olsen. He is Newton’s favourite target and outside of Gronkowski, has been the best player at his position all season.

PLAYER PROPS

You’re not going to get rich on the props market with most selections 10/11 but it does give you a player interest in the game. Let’s start with the Panthers and their rushing attack. Jonathan Stewart has tallied 19 rushing attempts or more in 10-of-11 games following Carolina’s Week 5 bye, including both playoff games, so take the over 18.5 attempts. SuperCam finished with double-digit rushing attempts in each of Carolina’s first two playoff games, while only three NFL teams allowed more yards per quarterback run than the Broncos this season, so the over 38.5 yards is in play. Passing-wise, Greg Olsen notched 6 catches in each playoff game so far and Hills have evens about 6 or more again on Sunday. With a tough pass rush Cam will be looking to get the ball out quick and given the tight matchups on the outside, Olsen should once again be his favoured target.

GAME WINNER

Another tough Super Bowl to pick after last year’s contest which started as a pick em. Much like the players for the Broncos, punters need to forgot the memory of the Super Bowl two years ago against Seattle if you are with Peyton Manning and co. That day the Broncos were favoured against the upstart Seahawks and were blown away. Many people are doubting Carolina and trying to crab the form so to speak but they feel eerily similar to that Seattle team two years ago. However that said, after seeing the Denver defence control Brady and learning off their past experiences of Russell Wilson, they will be able to control Newton enough to manage the game and send Peyton Manning into retirement with his second Super Bowl ring.

Denver, USA - JANUARY 19: Denver Broncos vs New England Patriots AFC Championship at Sports Authority Field. The Denver Broncos defeat the New England Patriots. Peyton Manning celebrates after the win. (Photo by Anthony J. Causi)

SELECTIONS (at time of writing):

Denver +6 pts @ 4/5 – Bet 365

Under 44.5 pts @ 20/21 – Ladbrokes

Denver D/ST 1st Touchdown @ 25/1 – Sky Bet

Carolina D/ST 1st Touchdown @ 22/1 – Sky Bet

Owen Daniels 1st Touchdown @ 16/1 – Ladbrokes/Coral/William Hill

Greg Olsen 1st Touchdown @ 10/1 – Paddy Power/Ladbrokes/William Hill

Jonathan Stewart over 18.5 Rush Attempts @ 10/11 – William Hill

Cam Newton over 38.5 Rushing yards @ 5/6 – Paddy Power

Greg Olsen Over 5.5 Receptions @ Evs – William Hill

Denver To Win @ 2/1 –Ladbrokes

Could Carolina Clinch Its First Super Bowl?

Following the New England Patriots loss against the Denver Broncos, the Carolina Panthers are the last remaining undefeated team in the NFL. The team had a solid season in 2014 with a 12-4 record but this year the Panthers are experiencing their best season in franchise history. With its Thanksgiving stomping of the Dallas Cowboys, the Carolina Panthers have joined the elite club of a dozen teams in the history of the NFL that have started a season with a record of 11-0.

Despite releasing Pro Bowl defender Greg Hardy (for good reason), the Panthers have been unfazed. The team boasts one of the strongest defenses in the NFL this season with quality play coming from the likes of star Pro Bowl linebacker Luke Kuechly and cornerback Josh Norman. Now Sports Illustrated reports that the team has signed an additional cornerback in veteran Cortland Finnegan. He is best known for his fiery temper and had been punished multiple times for unnecessary roughness prior to retiring from the Miami Dolphins in March 2015. He will act as a replacement for Panthers cornerback Charles Tillman, who has been sidelined for the last two games as a result of a knee injury and is expected to take several more weeks to return to action.

The surprise success of the Carolina Panthers has also given the team it’s best shot at winning the Super Bowl since its only appearance in the big game back during the 2003 season. Those looking to make sense of this year’s absolutely insane NFL season can find some tips on Betfair Betting concerning the team’s potential for a championship. So far, the site has the team currently listed as the second favourites to win the Super Bowl, hot on the heels of the reigning champs, the New England Patriots. Given the current performance of both teams, it wouldn’t be unrealistic to see a rematch of Super Bowl XXXVIII this year.

The fact that Carolina is even in the discussion for the Super Bowl and that Cam Newton is being considered an MVP candidate has taken many by surprise. That’s especially true when you consider that despite the team’s unbeaten streak, the Panthers are statistically the worst team to ever achieve an 11-0 record. While the 2014 season wasn’t a bad year for the Panthers by any means, few fans expected the team to perform at the level they have, much less remain undefeated this late into the season.

The team has had a noticeably easy schedule and the only particularly tough games have been against the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers. Add in the relatively weak competition coming from the NFC South, and you’ve pretty much got a guaranteed playoff spot for the Panthers. In fact, the only way that Carolina doesn’t win the NFC South outright would be if they proceeded to lose their next five games in a row. Even then, the worst that could happen could be a tie for first with the Atlanta Falcons.

Author bio: This is a guest post by Brian Evans. He’s an online freelance writer who can’t get enough of the NFL this year and hopes to see Carolina vs. New England in the Super Bowl

NFL Betting Preview – Divisional Saturday

A fantastic slate of games to look forward to on divisional weekend in the NFL. We’ll start by taking a look at the Saturday night games, which should both be great spectacles.

BALTIMORE RAVENS @ NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Baltimore went into Pittsburgh a week ago and knocked off an out-of-sorts Steelers to set up another clash with Tom Brady and co in Foxboro. Despite only putting up 17 pts , Ben Roethlisberger was able to move the ball through the air, throwing for over 300 yards, so look for Brady to do work against a below-average Raven secondary. The former Michigan man will likely to be looking to get the ball out quick to negate the pass rush of Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata. This means Julian Edelman could come into play, with screens and routes from the slot. It could also be tough sledding for the New England run game against a Ravens defence that finished 4th best in the NFL in rushing yards per game.

Baltimore’s offence is built around the run, with play action passes and moving the pocket all stemming from success on the ground in Gary Kubiak’s system. However again it could be tough for Justin Forsett to get going, especially after a slow game last week in Pittsburgh. From Weeks 9-16 the Pats held opposing backs to 405 yards with just one touchdown on 129 carries (3.14 YPC), before resting starters against Buffalo in week 17. In the secondary, Darrelle Revis has regained the form he had when with the Jets and he could shadow Torey Smith, allowing Brandon Browner to try and out-muscle Steve Smith on short and intermediate routes. With not much else it could be tough work for this Ravens offence in what is set to be a pumped up Gillette Stadium.

RECCOMENDATIONS

Main Selection: Under 47.5 pts @ 10/11 (Various) – Can see this Patriots defence coming out all guns blazing. Couple that with the success Baltimore had against one of the best offences in the league last week, we could have the makings of a low-scoring affair in Foxboro.

First touchdown: Tim Wright @ 16/1 (BetVictor, Paddy Power, Coral) – New England went away from their heralded two tight end sets somewhat this term, but Timothy Wright still has six touchdowns on the year and could benefit from a lot of attention on Gronk.

Additional selection: Justin Forsett under 70.5 Rushing Yards : 10/11 (SkyBet) – Forsett was bottled up last week and as mentioned above could find it hard for running room against a tough Pats run D. Factor in the potential for Baltimore to be playing from behind and it could be a hard day for the Ravens feature back.

8024994

CAROLINA PANTHERS @ SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

Carolina squeaked into the playoffs, winning the disastrous NFC South, before overcoming an offence-less Arizona Cardinals on wildcard weekend. Now though they travel to Seattle to take on the Seahawks in front of the 12th man, in what could be a long evening for Cam Newton’s crew. Seattle held their opponents to single digit point totals in five of their final six games and with a nice week to rest over the bye, the Legion of Boom should continue their dominant play against a middle of the road Carolina offence.

The Seahawks offence continues to rely heavily on the legs of Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson. Beast Mode should be relatively fresh coming into the playoffs this time around, having his smallest carry total in the regular season since 2010. Carolina lost DT Star Lotuleilei during the week and he will be a huge miss, meaning Lynch will see clearer running room in front of him.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Main Selection: Carolina +11 pts @ 10/11 (Various) – A very large handicap for Seattle to cover here. Carolina’s defence got back to somewhere near their 2013 level during the stretch and that continued over to last week. Cam Newton’s legs could provide the key and it’s difficult to see Seattle running away with it.

First Touchdown: Russell Wilson @ 12/1 (BetVictor, Paddy Power) – Wilson is always a threat with his legs, especially on read options plays in the redzone.

Additional Selections – Marshawn Lynch over 18.5 Rush Attempts @ 11/10 (Ladbrokes) – As mentioned above Lynch is well rested and ready to go. He carried it 28 times in this round of the playoffs last year, before getting 22 totes in the Championship game with San Francisco, so he should get plenty of looks in what could be a tight running affair.

NFL Wildcard Saturday – Betting Preview

NFL BETTING PREVIEW – WILDCARD SATURDAY

A brief respite from the final fortnight of the season has us well and truly pumped for the playoffs. A nice antepost ticket on the Dallas Cowboys @ 16/1 has us cheering on Jerry’s boys, so let’s dive straight into Wildcard Weekend, with numerous thoughts and selections.

ARZIONA CARDINALS @ CAROLINA PANTHERS

So it was the Panthers who emerged from the shockingly bad NFC South, though their play significantly improved down the stretch going 4-0 over their last four, highlighted by the shellacking they gave rivals Atlanta in the playoff-showdown last week in the Georgia dome. Finally resembling last year’s stellar defence, Ron Riveras crew notched 14 sacks in their last 4 games, with five interceptions so it could be hard work for the lifeless Arizona unit.

Ryan Lindley again has to take charge of the anemic Cardinal offence in the absence of Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton. He linked up well with Michael Floyd last week in San Francisco, so look for that partnership to have the most success for Arizona, given Larry Fitzgerald’s injury troubles. However it will still be tough sledding for a team will once again rely on it’s defence. Even with below-par offensive play, this is very much a winnable game for Arizona thanks to mastermind schemer Bruce Arians and their talented defence.

Recommendations:

Main selection: Under 38 pts @ 10/11 (Various) – Two dominant defences with less than explosive offences could see a tight battle with all the marbles on the line.

First touchdown: Cam Newton @ 10/1 (Various) – Cam has ran for a touchdown in his last 3 and will need his legs against a tough Cards front.

Additional selection: Arizona FG 1st Scoring Play @ 4/1 (BetVictor) – As mentioned two tough D’s could turn this into a field goal game.

BALTIMORE RAVENS @ PITTSBURGH STEELERS

Another huge AFC North playoff battle between these two, with the huge news that Le’Veon Bell will miss out for Pittsburgh. Bell is a huge loss for Mike Tomlin’s side, with Josh Harris filling in. Bell’s patience and burst saw him to second in the NFL in rushing and it remains to be seen what kind of game plan the Steelers will go for in his absence. Antonio Brown and Ben Roethlisberger have been fantastic this season, with Brown ending the regular season atop the receiving charts. Expect him to feature even more heavily in Bell’s absence.

In contrast, look for Baltimore to employ a control game plan, playing field position and keeping Pittsburgh dynamic passing game off the field. Justin Forsett had a breakout year and ended the season well against Cleveland last week. He now takes on a Steelers defence that gives up 4.31 YPC to opposing running backs. Quarterback Joe Flacco had success in his two games against Pittsburgh earlier this term, throwing four touchdowns.

Recommendations:

Main Selection: Under 44.5 pts @ Evens (Boylesports) – Maybe missed the boat here, but with Bell’s absence and a brutal weather forecast, this could turn into a defensive slugfest, with one Raven fan I talked to earlier this week declaring whichever team gets to 20 wins the game.

First Touchdown: Martivis Bryant @ 10/1 (BetVictor, Hills, Coral) – Bryant is the deep threat for Pittsburgh and can get in behind a very shaky Raven secondary if Ben is given time.

Additional selection: Justin Forsett over 70.5 Rushing Yards @ 10/11 (Lads) – We could see a heavy dose of Forsett if the conditions take a turn for the worse at Heinz Field.

NFL Betting Preview – Week 14

A busy mix of work and football last weekend prevented a Sunday Betting Preview, but we did hammer out some Thanksgiving Day selections that were a mixed bag. But with the regular season winding down, it’s time to get a few winners in the bag to give us some playoff spends!

PITTSBURGH STEELERS @ CINCINNATTI BENGALS

A huge game this week on the banks of the Ohio River, as the Bengals look to extend their divisional lead over the visiting Steelers. This could very well turn into a slug fest with so much at stake, with UNDER 47 PTS @ 10/11 the first selection of week 14.

Andy Dalton was poor last week in Tampa Bay, but his Bengals squad managed to squeeze out a vital win. He has a 7:10 TD-to-INT ratio over the past six weeks, while the former TCU man has faced Pittsburgh six times now entering his fourth year in the league, throwing just seven touchdown passes against five picks. Look for the Steelers to load the box to stop a decent Bengals running attack and make Dalton beat them.

Despite Pacman Jones and Terrance Newman being some of the elder statesmen in terms of defensive backs in the NFL, they’ve done a nice job this term limiting opposing passing attacks, as neither Vincent Jackson or Mike Evans passed 50 yards receiving last week. Antonio Brown has had a fantastic year so far for Pittsburgh but he may face a tougher task this week against the pair. Le’Veon Bell has carried the Steelers running game, touching the ball 64 times over the past two games, but again he could find life more difficult this week going against a Bengal unit that has held opposing running backs to 373 yards on 114 carries (3.27 YPC) over their last four games.

Look for defences to step up in this one. UNDER 47 PTS @ 10/11 opens this week’s selections, as Pittsburgh grinds out a clutch 23-20 win on the road. AJ Green to score the first touchdown @ 13/2 appeals given the struggles Ike Taylor had on his return last week against New Orleans.

CAROLINA PANTHERS @ NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Gonna roll the dice here in the Superdome with another divisional match up in which the Saints finally stake their claim for the NFC South division. NEW ORLEANS -10 PTS @ 10/11 is next.

Maybe last week was the game that finally broke the Saints out of the sleepwalking state they’ve been in all season. With the NFC South there for the taking, New Orleans snapped a three-game losing streak, as well as winning on the road for only the second time all year in Pittsburgh. The Saints now return home looking to build on that momentum ahead of a potential division-winning showdown with Atlanta in a fortnight’s time.

In the last three meetings between these two squads, Carolina has failed to score more than 17 points on each occasion. A similar total this time means Brees and co need four touchdowns and a couple of boots from Shayne Graham for the bet to click, easily within their range. Brees has thrown multiple touchdown passes in all but one of his six 2014 Superdome games, completing 71.5% of his throws with a 7.56 YPA, 14 touchdowns, and six interceptions. Look for more success against the Panthers for Jimmy Graham. The former hoops man has scored a touchdown or passed 100 yards in each of his seven outings against this defence.

Look for the boys from the Bayou to grab a hold of this division by the scruff of the neck this week, as NEW ORLEANS -10 PTS @ 10/11 is next on the slip, Nola taking it 31-17, with the main man Graham crossing first @ 13/2.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS @ ARIZONA CARDINALS

Cutting straight to the chase here, these two teams are offensively challenged. Despite the low line, we’ll take the UNDER 40.5 PTS @ 10/11 to round off week 14.

Arizona has held opposing quarterbacks to a 9:11 TD-to-INT ratio over their last eight games while play caller Todd Bowles’ blitz-heavy defense has racked up 18 sacks over the past four outings. Going against a Chiefs side that incredibly has still yet to have a wide receiver catch a touchdown pass. Patrick Peterson was embarrassed by former SEC foe Julio Jones last week, but look for a bounce back by the former LSU man back in Phoenix.

Carson Palmer is already on the shelf for the year, while Larry Fitzgerald’s age has finally caught up with him and Andre Ellington will also miss this week’s tilt, leaving a void in the playmaking areas of this Cardinals offence. Palmer’s replacement Drew Stanton is stinking the place up. He’s thrown five interceptions over his last three games and led just the one solitary touchdown drive across the last 11 quarters of football.

Not one for fantasy players, or neutrals, but we’ll dive right into this one with UNDER 40.5 PTS @ 10/11 rounding off the week, as Kansas City breaks their mini-losing streak with a 23-13 win in the desert. A bold pick of Alex Smith to run one in for the first score @ 20/1 isn’t the worst price in the world.

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS

  • Top cover man for the Indianapolis Colts Vontae Davis is out for the meeting with Josh Gordon and the Browns. Could this be the week Gordon gets his first touchdown of the year. Over 85.5 yards @ 10/11 is interesting, with Gordon to score the first touchdown @ 9/1 some decent value.
  • The Seattle D has returned to last year’s standards that carried them to the Super Bowl. Now the acid test against Chip Kelly’s uptempo offence in Philly, a test I think they’ll pass. Seahawks for the upset win at 11/10 could be a nice odds booster on any accumulators this weeekend.
  • JJ Watt to score the first touchdown is worst priced 14/1! Madness. Shorter price than half of the Jacksonville skill players. MVP.

NFL Ireland Team of the Week: Week 7

We’re almost at the halfway point for the season and a lot of 2014’s top performers are starting to make multiple appearances on these hallowed pages. We still have plenty of debutantes in the NFL Ireland Team of the Week though, as plenty of fresh players made a big impression on us this week. Here’s the NFL Ireland Team of the Week!

Offense | Defense

 

 

TOTW-Offense-7

Quarterback: Peyton Manning – Denver Broncos

It’s not just that he set the all-time NFL passing TD record, which was an achievement worthy of a lady on a horse with a flag, but Manning this week also went 22 of 26 for 4 TDs, topping 300 yards and running out with an almost-perfect QB rating of 157.2 in the win against San Francisco. He didn’t just break the record, he did it with one of the best performances of his career. That’s what legends do.

Running Back: Denard Robinson – Jacksonville Jaguars

A Jaguar hasn’t graced these pages since Allen Hurns in Week 1, but Robinson finally brought some semblance of order to the chaos that has been the Jacksonville backfield this season. In the team’s first win of 2014, Robinson went for 127 yards and a TD on 22 carries – behind a very questionable offensive line – as they cruised to victory over the Browns. The former ‘offensive weapon’ looked every inch a starting NFL running back, and the Jaguars will be hoping he can continue this fine form from here on out.

Tight End: Greg Olson – Carolina Panthers

The Panthers’ problems on defense have been well documented, but on offense Cam Newton has always been able to rely on Greg Olsen. Even as the team struggled last week, the former Bears tight end continued to show that he’s one of the most underrated players at the position, racking up 105 yards on 8 receptions. He’s the best weapon the Panthers have outside of Newton, and an invaluable cog in this offense.

Wide Receiver: Golden Tate – Detroit Lions

With Matt Stafford struggling and the Lions staring down the barrel of a home loss to the Saints, Golden Tate stepped up and took a short pass 73 yards past the Saints secondary for a touchdown. The score breathed new life into the Lions, setting up a come-from-behind victory that keeps the Lions on pace with the Packers in the NFC North, and contributed to Tate’s 154 yards on ten receptions.

Wide Receiver: Demaryius Thomas – Denver Broncos

Thomas makes his second appearance of the season here as he not only hauled in 8 passes for 171 yards and 2 TDs, but he also caught the all-important no. 509 from Peyton Manning’s hand. He’s found his feet in the end zone after a slow start to the season, and on this form he looks set to continue posting monster numbers as the season progresses.

Offensive Line: Dallas Cowboys

They’ve been consistently good all season, so it’s about time we put them in our team. The Cowboys offensive line has been so good, leading DeMarco Murray to a historic first 7 games with 100 yards rushing, that the RB surprised them all with presents this week. The real reward for the Cowboys has been a 6-1 start to the season with all of their star players performing above expectations, and creating an offensive juggernaut that will be hard to stop in the NFC.

 

Defense | Offense

 

 

TOTW-7-Defense

Defensive Line: Denver Broncos

It’s not just on offense that the Broncos are playing well this year. The D has been strong and against the 49ers they managed to give up just 62 yards rushing to the 49ers and getting to the QB four times for sacks. When you include Von Miller this defensive front is one of the most fearsome in football, and with the offense as dominant as it has been it’s difficult to see a weakness in this team for other AFC sides to exploit.

Linebackers: Baltimore Ravens

One side who might be contending for the AFC along with Denver is the Baltimore Ravens, and a big reason for their improvement this season has been the consistent production from their linebackers. The emergence of Pernell McPhee alongside rookie CJ Mosley and Daryl Smith, combined with Terrell Suggs and former Bronco Elvis Dumervil on the edges has created a corps with depth and impact talent. Against the Falcons they combined for 5 sacks and a fumble, alongside good coverage and shutdown performance on the ground. This Baltimore D is a serious unit, and their linebackers are the starting point for all their success.

Cornerback: Vontae Davis – Indianapolis Colts

Davis lands  a spot on our team for the second week in a row, as the Colts defense improved again to shut out the Cincinnati Bengals in a  27-0 victory at home. Davis allowed just two receptions into his area of coverage for a mere 21 yards, and his contribution to the Colts improvement this season on the defensive side of the ball can not be overstated.

Cornerback: Adam Jones – Cincinnati Bengals

One player who managed to overshadow Davis this week was playing in the same stadium. In spite of the success Indianapolis enjoyed on Sunday, the Bengals D could still rely on Pacman Jones to be strong against the run and allow just 8 yards on two receptions on balls thrown his way. The Bengals are struggling in many areas of the game at the moment, but Jones was excellent and if he can continue to perform like this, the rest of the team will have a great example to follow

Strong Safety: Robert Blanton – Minnesota Vikings

Blanton may have ended up on the losing side against the Bills on Sunday, but his performance alongside former Team of the Week-er Harrison Smith was a bright spot for the Vikings. He managed to be strong in the box against the run and also caught his first career interception. He’s earned his place as a starter this year and the Vikings’ safety duo look as good as any in the league right now.

Free Safety: Glover Quin – Detroit Lions

In a dominant Detroit Lions defense this season the secondary has sometimes been overlooked. Not so this week, as Quin managed 5 tackles and the crucial 4th quarter interception to set up his team for a win at home against the Saints. He has progressed this season into a strong starter and with the trip to London this week the Lions should be hoping to secure a big victory working off the base this D gives them.

NFL Betting Preview – Week 7

WEEK 6 RECAP

Not the best week last week, despite Geno Smith’s late pick six seeing Denver somewhat fortunately covering the spread. In our other main selections, the total was well over in Buffalo against New England, while for the luckless Jaguars, I echo Pacman Jones’ words: “Do your job” Josh Scobee!

CINCINNATI BENGALS @ INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

For the first of our week 7 selections, we go to Lucas Oil Stadium and the live Sky game between Cincinnati and Indianapolis. Andrew Luck has put the team on his back so far this season, playing upto MVP candidate level, that’s why COLTS -3PTS is the first on the betslip.

Fantasy players who own Luck (myself included) will be thrilled at the former Stanford man’s production, while it has also translated to the real world with the Colts riding a four-game win streak to bounce back from two tough losses against Denver and Philly to open the year.

On the flip side, despite starting the year 3-0, the Bengals were shellacked by the Patriots a fortnight ago, then playing out a “sister-kisser” last week – a tie with the Panthers. The Bengal defence has also followed a similar pattern to that of the team’s record. In the last two games, they let up 576 pass yards and four touchdowns to Tom Brady and Cam Newton, while Newton was also very effective running the ball. Couple that with the league’s 4th worst D in terms of yards per rush, then Andrew Luck and the Colts offence could well have their way with the Bengal unit.

The game total of 50 pts looks slightly high, but the COLTS -3PTS @ 10/11 appeals more. TY Hilton was simply unstoppable last time out against the Texans and he is a great shout to score the first touchdown at 9/1, burning veterans Terrence Newman or Adam Jones.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS @ DETROIT LIONS

Thankfully for New Orleans the NFC South is rather weak this year, but Sean Payton’s side will be hoping for an improvement in their play coming out of the bye week. However they travel to the league’s number one pass defence in Detroit, with UNDER 48 PTS the selection at Ford Field.

Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin has been a revelation so far this term, with his crew leading the league in pass defence, with a very impressive 5:7 TD:INT ratio. Add in the fact that Drew Brees could very well be without his top target in Jimmy Graham this weekend, it could be a long day at the office for the Louisiana outfit.

Matt Stafford also will be without his main man Calvin Johnson again on Sunday, as the star wideout looks to get healthy in time to entertain me and the rest of the London fans next week. Stafford has only tossed four touchdowns in his last three games, but should have Reggie Bush back this week to offer an option out of the backfield.

As mentioned the Lions defence has been impressive this season and barring the season opening win against the Giants, the game total has went under in each of Detroit’s games this season. Add in the fact that Brees has his struggles on the road, highlighted by the stat that six of the last nine Saints’ road games have went underm we have more than sufficient support to plump for the UNDER 48 PTS @ 10/11.

In the absence of Megatron, Golden Tate has jumped up to the number one wideout spot, 17/2 to find paydirt will do for first touchdown purposes.

CAROLINA PANTHERS @ GREEN BAY PACKERS

Perhaps no two hotter quarterbacks around at the minute than Cam Newton and particularly Aaron Rodgers. For that simple reason we’ll dive onto the OVER 50 PTS hoping it rains points on Sunday at Lambeau.

Rodgers has been straight up balling over the last five games – throwing 14 touchdowns against an incredible zero interceptions! When you couple that with the fact that Carolina have been stung for 38, 30, 24 and 37 point totals so far this season, you’d fancy at least four touchdowns from the Pack at Lambeau.

That leaves the Panthers looking at maybe three touchdowns to land our bet, which looks highly achievable given the form of the former number one pick under centre for Carolina. For all his improvements as a passer this season, the shackles were finally lifted from the legs of Newton, as he ran the ball 17 times for over a tonne in the overtime tie in Cincinnati. Green Bay has a history of being carved up by dual-threat signal callers, so look for the Panthers to stick with Green Bay this weekend.

As mentioned, hopefully there is a bagful of points in Wisconsin this weekend, with OVER 50 PTS @ 10/11 rounding off the treble.

One match up to keep an eye on is 6’5 Kelvin Benjamin up against 5’11 Sam Shields this weekend. The Florida State star to score first is an interesting 10/1, while an over on the receiving yards would be the way to go.

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS

  • Even the best laid plans can fall short sometimes. Jacksonville had the perfect chance to notch their first win a week ago, time expiring Josh Scobee’s boot between the Florida side and their first W, but no. His kick was blocked and with it spoiling the selection of Jacksonville last week. Fear not though, Blake Bortles is improving each week and this will finally be Jacksonville’s first win of the season against a somewhat overachieving Cleveland outfit  @ 21/10.
  • Atlanta’s offensive line is brutally bad. Halti Ngata, T-Sizzle and co could well have a field day against Matt Ryan this weekend. Baltimore jumped out to a fast start in Tampa Bay last week and again the 13/8 to lead at the end of each quarter appeals.
  • Super Bowl champions Seattle lost at home last week against Dallas, and will be rather keen to right the ship in St Louis. However the Rams are no mugs,  and have started well against Dallas and San Fran, before fading. 9/4 for St Louis to be leading at half time makes for an interesting wager.
  • Peyton has yet another record in his sight. Three more touchdowns and Manning will have thrown for the most touchdowns in NFL history. He looks to achieve the record against a 49er defence that will now be missing All-Pro Patrick Willis, as well as long term casualty Navarro Bowman. That means rookie Chris Borland will have to handle duties inside, and look for manning and Julius Thomas to abuse the former Wisconsin man in the middle of the field. The 13/2 about Thomas to score first appeals nicely.

  • Spread currently sitting at NY Giants +6.5. Jump on that now – last few games Dallas have been favourites have seen the underdog’s spread come in…

NFL Ireland Team of the Week: Week 5

In a week of big comebacks and close wins, it takes a lot to stand out from the crowd. The honour of making the NFL Ireland Team of the Week has to be earned, and this collection of heroes managed to do just that. Here’s our Team of the Week for Week 5:

Offense | Defense

 

TOTW-5-Offense

Quarterback: Peyton Manning – Denver Broncos

It was a close-run thing between Manning and Tom Brady this week, as both wily old veterans had milestone games. Brady passed the 50,000 career passing yards mark, while Manning broke 500 career touchdown passes. In the end, plumping for Manning was the only choice as he threw for 4 TDs and 479 yards against a Cardinals D that had been tough to break down so far this season. Oh, Peyton only needs 6 more TDs to hold the career total touchdown passes record. Who’d bet against him getting it this weekend at the Jets?

Running Back: Arian Foster – Houston Texans

As the Texans passing attack came shuddering to a halt, the decision to start Ryan Fitzpatrick looks as bad as we predicted in preseason. Thankfully the Texans have the return to form of their star running back to lean on. Foster hit local rivals the Dallas Cowboys for 157 rushing yards and 2 rushing touchdowns in a close game proving that, if he can stay healthy, he’s still one of the best backs in football.

Tight End: Rob Gronkowski – New England Patriots

A return to form in an offense designed around his strengths once more, the Pats star TE hit the previously stingy Bengals defense for 100 yards and a touchdown on six receptions. It’s no coincidence that the Patriots offense found a spark in their best receiving weapon, and after working slowly back from ACL injury in the offseason a healthy Gronk spells trouble for the rest of the league.

Wide Receiver: Demaryius Thomas – Denver Broncos

After a comparatively slow start to the season Broncos fans must’ve gone into last week’s bye wondering when Thomas was going to show up. They didn’t have to wait long as the star wideout went for 228 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 8 receptions. He had another 77-yard TD called back for a chop block by Julius Thomas on Calais Campbell. Had it stood, Thomas would have had a day for the ages. As it stands, he had to settle for just a franchise record in yards for a wide receiver.

Wide Receiver: Vincent Jackson – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

As Mike Glennon has settled back into the starting QB role in Tampa, he’s found comfort with his old favourite target Vincent Jackson. VJ came out against the Saints for 144 yards on 8 receptions, leading the line in a narrow overtime divisional loss. If he can reproduce this form consistently the Bucs might just stand a chance of being relevant this season.

Offensive Line: Cleveland Browns

The Browns offensive line has been quietly productive all season long. Allowing just one sack on QB Brian Hoyer and creating the holes that allowed Ben Tate 124 rushing yards, Alex Mack and co. were the bedrock upon which the Browns’ historic comeback road win was based. The AFC North has a number of the leading offensive lines in the business. Might this group be the best of the best?

 

Defense | Offense

 

TOTW-5-Defense

Defensive Line: Buffalo Bills

The Bills had a last-gasp win at the Detroit Lions, continuing their good form against the NFC North. The win was based upon dominance in the trenches, as the defensive line was all over Matt Stafford. Marcell Dareus, Jerry Hughes and Mario Williams combined for 12 tackles, 2 forced fumbles and six sacks as they took the Lions line to town in a frighteningly efficient performance. More of the same and Kyle Orton will be playing with the lead a lot more in 2014.

Linebackers: Carolina Panthers

Making their second appearance on these pages the Panthers once again dominated against the Bears. Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis are the best linebacker duo in football, and while forcing Matt Forte into receptions and out of the running game, they also allowed just 67 yards combined in coverage. They’re carrying the load for a Panthers defense which is patchy at other spots.

Cornerback: Chris Harris – Denver Broncos

It wasn’t just on offense that the Broncos shone this week. Harris didn’t allow any receptions on seven attempts into his coverage, per PFF, as the Denver secondary held the combined talents of Drew Stanton and Logan Thomas under 200 passing yards on the day. A solid performance from an underrated player.

Cornerback: Alterraun Verner – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Another repeat defender on our list  Verner was once again on song as the Bucs nearly clinched a victory in New Orleans. Adding an interception on Drew Brees to two passes defended and just 42 yards allowed in his coverage, the free agent signing continues to prove shrewd business in his new home in Florida.

Free Safety: Harrison Smith – Minnesota Vikings

In an otherwise miserable loss to the Green Bay Packers, the continued good form of Harrison Smith proved to Minnesota’s lone bright spot in the rain of Lambeau. With almost no help whatsoever Smith managed a team-high five tackles with a pass defended and an interception to boot in a game with not a lot riding on it after half time. A solid performance from an improving player.

Strong Safety: Morgan Burnett – Green Bay Packers

On the other side of Thursday night’s game, Burnett was a monster for the Packers. His tackling stats and a forced fumble don’t even begin to tell the story of his performance. He was good in coverage and against the run, stopping the Vikings on five of his eight tackles, and looked like a leader for this defensive secondary. In bad weather, in divisional matchups at home you want your players to stand up and stand out, and Burnett did just that.

Who did we forget? Tell us on twitter, facebook or right here in the comments!

Week 5 Gifs

A selection of some of the best plays from week 5.

Warning: This one takes a while to load!

Seattle Seahawks 27 – 17 Washington Redskins


Cousins gets lit up


Wilson’s great escape

Chicago Bears 21 – 24 Carolina Panthers


Jeffrey’s one handed catch


Cam blocks Breeze

St Louis Rams 28 – 34 Philadelphia Eagles


Shady’s fumble

Buffalo Bills 17 – 14 Detroit Lions


Watkins’ juggle catch

Arizona Cardinals 20 – 41 Denver Broncos


Manning stops a touchdown


Ellington has get away from the cops speed

Baltimore Ravens 13 – 20 Indianapolis Colts


Luck takes a big hit and Ngata intercepts

Atlanta Falcons 20 – 30 New York Giants


Julio Jones one handed catch


Odell Beckham Jr’s touchdown catch

Houston Texans 17 – 20 Dallas Cowboys


Romo avoids JJ Watt sack


Arian Foster jukes Barry Church

Kansas City Chiefs 17 – 22 San Francisco 49ers


Brandon Lloyd’s athletic catch