It’s week 3 of the regular season and the dust is finally starting to settle on who’s good and who’s, well let’s just say ‘rebuilding’. What better way to do that than with the NFL Ireland Team of the Week? Continue reading “NFL Ireland Team of the Week: Week 3”
A list of all the NFL on the telly in Ireland and the UK this week! Continue reading “NFL Week 4 TV Listings”
The first two games of Wildcard Weekend are in the books, with the Panthers rolling over the Cardinals, while Baltimore went into Pittsburgh and pulled out the upset thanks to another impressive defensive display. Onto the next batch of games, with plenty of opportunities available, and a better showing needed tonight on our part.
CINCINATTI BENGALS @ INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
First and foremost AJ Green will be a huge miss for the Bengals. The former Georgia man is set to miss out with a concussion, so look for running back Jeremy Hill to feature heavily, as the Marvin Lewis team looks to control the game through their running attack and defence. During the eight weeks where Hill handled 17-plus touches this season, the Bengals went 7-1.
Indianapolis will no doubt have replayed the tape of their 27-0 beat down of this same Bengal squad from earlier this year numerous times this week. Again the Bengals were AJ Green-less then, and it could be even harder for Andy Dalton with it all on the line now. In his three career playoff games, Dalton is 70-of-123 (56.9%) for 718 yards (5.84 YPA) with a 1:6 TD-to-INT ratio, without notching a win.
The Colts two post-season games a year ago saw a combined 154 points, but with some health problems for both units, this might not be as wild as predicted. TY Hilton was hampered down the stretch with a hamstring, while Dwayne Allen and Reggie Wayne also struggled with niggles. With no run game to speak of, it will once again all be on the shoulders of the former #1 pick from Stanford, Andrew Luck.
One Bengals beat writer expects Hue Jackson to ride Jeremy Hill for 20-30 carries at Indy tomorrow: http://t.co/iI1qLz8Se9
— Adam Levitan (@adamlevitan) January 3, 2015
Main Selection: Cincinnati +4 pts @ 10/11 (Various) – If Jeremy Hill can have success and keep Dalton in manageable third down situations, the Bengals may be able to get a strong foothold in this game. A field goal game either way sees the bet click.
First Touchdown: Jeremy Hill @ 7/1 (BetVictor, Coral, Hills) – The former LSU man has to carry the Bengal squad today and is an obvious choice to cross first, if the coin toss falls our way.
Additional Selections: Jeremy Hill over 19.5 rush attempts @ 10/11 (Lads) – Keeping on the same theme, for Cinci to win Andy Dalton has to hand it off. Hill must see over 20 carries.
DETROIT LIONS @ DALLAS COWBOYS
Arguably the game of Wildcard weekend as Dallas hosts Detroit in a strength v strength encounter. DeMarco Murary led the league in rushing during the regular season, but he meets a stern Detroit front that finished No. 1 in run defense and No. 1 in yards-per-carry allowed (3.17). The Lions have also been boosted by the news that Ndamukong Suh will be available after having his ban overturned.
Scott Linehan has rare ability to tailor offenses to his team's strengths. 2014 #Cowboys ranked No. 1 in time of possession/No. 2 in rush O.
— Evan Silva (@evansilva) January 4, 2015
Don’t expect the Cowboys to deviate from their gameplan too much despite the tough opposition. Murray is very adept at grinding out the ‘dirty yards’ as put by coach Jason Garrett, which helps open things up for Tony Romo who forced himself into MVP contention with a lights out December. In fact Romo led the NFL in 2014 in completion percentage (69.9%), touchdown rate (7.8% of his throws went for a score), yards per attempt (8.5), and quarterback rating (113.2).
For Detroit’s offence it all comes down to Matthew Stafford. While he has put up nice numbers over his career with the help of Calvin Johnson, Stafford is 0-17 against teams that ended with winning records on the road. Will he be able to get it down with all the marbles on the line?
Main Selection: Detroit Lions +6.5 @ 10/11 (Various) – As a Cowboy fan hopefully its straightforward, but from a logical view this game could well turn into another shootout with the offensive weapons on display. In that scenario, it could well be a field goal or two that seals it either way.
First Touchdown: Cole Beasley @ 16/1 (BetVictor) – Beasley has turned into Wes Welker lite this season, working the middle of the field very well and starting a nice rapport with his quarterback.
Additional Selection – Lance Dunbar over 15.5 Rush & Receving Yards @ 10/11 (Lads) – Dunbar gets some work as the third down and passing back. The screen game could be useful to keep the Detroit pass rush at bay and one screen pass to Dunbar could very well see this bet land.
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.
- 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.
First off, apologies for the lack of column last week. This column is written every Friday, however last week was taken up by the wedding of the best running back in Ireland, while the weekend was spent getting skint in London seeing the future Super Bowl Champion Dallas Cowboys dismantle a hapless Jaguars outfit. Anyhow let’s back on the horse this weekend!
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS @ WAHSINGTON REDSKINS
This is a sneaky matchup in terms of points. Robert Griffin III returned for Washington last time out against Minnesota and did well, engineering five scoring drives. Meanwhile, Josh McCown was drafted back in under centre for the Bucs last time and also did well, finishing with 340 all-purpose yards. OVER 45 PTS @ 10/11 kicks off this week’s treble.
The usual Alfred Morris stat gets rolled out each time Griffin makes his return from any injury problem but it’s worth highlighting. With Griffin under centre, Morris has 4.86 yards per carry as opposed to 3.69 yards per carry without him. The threat of the read option with the former Baylor Bear calling the shots allows more room for Morris and he should run well. Griffin should also go well against a Tampa defence that has allowed a 103.7 passer rating to opposing QB’s – third worst in the NFL.
Washington’s defence has been badly affected by injuries with pass-rusher Brian Orakpo and top cover man DeAngleo Hall done for the year. Bashaud Breeland has been a rookie success, but David Amerson has been poor and big targets Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans could have success.
OVER 45 PTS @ 10/11 opens this week’s bet, with a scoreline somewhere in the region of 27-24 either way predicted here. V-Jax to score the first touchdown at 9/1 makes do.
HOUSTON TEXANS @ CLEVELAND BROWNS
Not the most attractive match on this week’s NFL slate, but we’re here to make money. Ryan Mallet is in at quarterback for Houston, but he has to take on a Cleveland defence that hasn’t given up more than 17 points over last three games. Coming off the back of a huge divisional win in Cincinnati, a 3 point spread at home looks to small for this Browns team. CLEVELAND -3 PTS @ 10/11 is next on the slip.
Over the last 5 games, the Browns unit has allowed only five touchdowns, while intercepting 10 passes and sacking the quarterback 12 times. Joe Haden has rediscovered his shutdown cornerback status and with an immobile quarterback under centre, it could be a long afternoon for the Texans offence.
Cleveland’s success on offence has come on the ground. The Browns ran it an NFL-high 52 times last week, with Crowell, Tate and West all getting involved. Brian Hoyer has been the stereotypical game-manager getting the ball out quickly, until the Browns take the Lamborghini out of the garage next week, with Josh Gordon’s return. Houston are allowing 4.38 yards per carry to opposing backs so expect plenty of the three-headed monster this week.
CLEVELAND -3 PTS @ 10/11 is next with a low-scoring Browns win in the region of 21-14. Ben Tate went in first last week, he’ll do again this week at a price of 9/1.
DENVER @ ST LOUIS
St Louis has finally generated a pass rush from it’s heralded linemen over the past two weeks, sacking the opposing trigger man 11 times over the last 2 games. However the Rams take on Peyton Manning under a roof, and that spells trouble for St Louis. DENVER -9 PTS @ 10/11 rounds off this week’s selections.
Manning and co bounced back from their loss to the Pats, with a win over the Oakland Raiders last week. Despite their pass rush success the last fortnight, expect Peyton to know this and a gameplan to revolve around getting the ball out quickly to a host of playmakers. Also as we mentioned the game is indoors. Manning has played three games indoors over the last two seasons with Denver, where he threw for 1200 yards (8.45 YPA) and an 11:2 TD-to-INT ratio.
Shaun Hill is under centre for the Rams, with coach Jeff Fisher finally losing patience with rookie Austin Davis, after a drop-off in play the last few months. Hill has played a total of 73 offensive snaps since the end of the 2010 season and is knocking on a bit – turning 35 by season’s end.
DENVER -9 PTS @ 10/11 with Denver handling St Louis by a score of 31-17. Touchdown machine Julius Thomas once again will do for first touchdown at 11/2.
- Minnesota has given up 55 receptions to running backs, good for 6th most in the NFL. They go up against the best pass-catching back in the league tomorrow in Matt Forte. Big day expected for the former Tulane man.
- Mark Ingram has been straight balling, finally showing his Heisman-winning talent despite a bum shoulder. He’s rushed for over a tonne his last 3 games, and now goes up against a Bengals D that was gashed to the tune of 169 yards and 3 touchdowns last week against a previously-terrible Browns running attack.
- Carolina allowed Mark Sanchez to pass for 300+ yards last week. They get Matt Ryan this week with the Falcons finally getting the monkey off their back and winning on the road for the first time in over two years. Expect a big day for Matty Ice.
- Two runners who should have plenty of touches – Frank Gore and Marshawn Lynch. The last 4 games the New York Giants have allowed 680 yards and four scores on the ground, while Marshawn Lynch is all the Seahawks have on offence at the moment. Pair that with Kansas City’s top ranked pass defence, it could be tough-sledding for Russell Wilson in Arrowhead.
- Litmus-test for Mark Sanchez this week. On the road at Lambeau against a white-hot Green Bay squad. Will the real Mark Sanchez please stand up? It’s a tough ask for the former Jet, as he’ll be going toe-to-toe with the best player in football at the moment Aaron Rodgers. A-Rod has video game numbers at home – he’s not thrown a pick at home since December 4th 2012, and has 15 td’s already this year at Lambeau. Green Bay will win this football game.
Week 8 marks the halfway point for most teams and it’s a good time to sit back, take stock and appreciate what we’ve got. The NFL Ireland Team of the Week has been dishing out the most-sought after honours in sport for half a season now, and the players keep making plays, each one desperate to get their name on the teamsheet! Whether it’s a quarterback making history or a veteran DB revisiting his island, Week 8 saw great performances from some of the top players in the league. Here’s your NFL Ireland Team of the Week!
Offense | Defense
Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger – Pittsburgh Steelers
In case you were living under a rock this weekend, on Sunday Ben Roethlisberger gave us one of the greatest QB performances of all time. He was completely error-free, with a box score full of numbers so good they’d make Rachel Riley blush: 40 of 49, 6 passing TDs, 522 passing yards, 0 INTs, 0 sacks. Although he finished a TD shy of tying the single game record, and just 32 yards short of the all-time single-game passing record, Big Ben’s performance made him the first player in NFL history to have TWO games with over 500 passing yards. And this Colts team came into the game looking like one of the better defenses in the NFL. Ben, we salute you.
Running Back: Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints
Mark Ingram is often the victim, sometimes of injuries, more often of the many-headed running back committee in New Orleans. With Darren Sproles now injured in Philly and Pierre Thomas and Khiry Robinson both forced to sit out the Saints’ Sunday matchup against the Green Bay Packers, Ingram was finally used as the featured back his Heisman-winning college career promised he could be. The 4-th year veteran didn’t disappoint, carrying the rock 24 times for 172 yards and a touchdown as the Saints got their season back on track with a 44-23 win. Have they finally found how to use the talented back?
Tight End: Rob Gronkowski – New England Patriots
We’ve said it before: Gronk is back and when he works, the Patriots work. The tight end and Tom Brady were partying like it was, well, 2011, as they hooked up on 9 passes for 149 yards and 3 TDs in a blowout win against the misfiring Bears in Foxboro. With Gronk in this kind of form, he only needs to stay healthy to keep the Patriots offense firing. Of course that’s always been his problem, but he is the key to New England booming or busting.
Wide Receiver: Jeremy Maclin – Philadelphia Eagles
Maclin is putting any fears about his ACL recovery to bed this season. Having hauled in a scary 12 passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles’ painful loss to the Cardinals this week, he’s also showing why Chip Kelly had no problem in letting DeSean Jackson walk this offseason. Maclin’s performances have made Nick Foles look good and saved Philadelphia’s blushes on a couple of occasions. It wasn’t enough this time, but if he maintains this form the Eagles will always be in with a chance.
Wide Receiver: Mohamed Sanu – Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals improbably top the AFC North despite putting in some absolute stinkers since their bye week. A big reason for these bad performances has been the continued injuries of A.J. Green, but in his absence, Mohamed Sanu has stepped into his considerable shoes and performed admirably. In a tight divisional game against the Ravens, Sanu caught five balls for 125 yards, adding another 27 yards on two rushing attempts. Plays like this bobbling catch-and-run reception to bring the Bengals into scoring range are a big part of what Sanu does every week, and to do it in this tough a matchup was impressive.
Offensive Line: Denver Broncos
The Broncos managed to keep Peyton Manning’s jersey clean all day Thursday against the Chargers. As well as keeping their QB sack-free, they made the holes for Ronnie Hillman’s second rushing game of at least 100 yards this season. The Broncos O-line has been a strong base from which this offense is able to get downfield and score, which they do better than anybody.
Defense | Offense
Defensive Line: Tennessee Titans
Looking for bright spots as a Titans fan is tough right now, but their D-line is starting to click again having faded after a promising start to the season. Jurell Casey, Sammie Lee Hill, Mike Martin, Al Woods and Ropati Pitoitua served as a reliable rotation in the hybrid fronts of Roy Horton on a team struggling for reliability on both sides of the football. Now if only they could get some help.
Linebackers – Buffalo Bills
So the Bills aren’t missing Kiko Alonso as much as people might have feared. Against a hapless New York Jets side they held the opposition running backs to just 78 yards while also forcing a fumble and taking an interception. A good game for a unit that continues to impress despite injuries to key players.
Cornerback: Darrelle Revis – New England Patriots
The Patriots big offseason acquisition has been a solid performer in recent weeks. Against the Bears he was targeted 8 times but he only gave up 23 yards for 3 receptions. He also managed to catch his second pick since moving to New England. If he continues to perform like this the Patriots will be looking at another deep postseason run.
Cornerback: Antonio Cromartie – Arizona Cardinals
Cromartie landed in Arizona as the second corner behind Patrick Peterson. He’s been a good contributor at times this year, but his talents really shone on Sunday against an Eagles side who like to throw the ball. He had a pass breakup and by the end of the game Cromartie was also celebrating his first multiple-pick game since 2010. He also had this glorious juke on a red-zone interception return to leave two Eagles players smashing into each other.
Free Safety: Tashaun Gipson – Cleveland Browns
After a strong start to the season that saw him make our team in Week 2, Gipson’s form slipped slightly at the start of the month. He’s bounced back in the last two weeks with 3 passes defended, all picks. His most recent interceptions came against Derek Carr and a Raiders team who found it difficult throwing his way, and the Browns safety chipped in two tackles for good measure. With continued good all-round play, Gipson is fast being recognised as a quality safety in the NFL.
Strong Safety: D.J. Swearinger – Houston Texans
Swearinger’s return to form this season has been somewhat overshadowed by the stellar form of J.J. Watt, and his performance against the Titans was again quietly efficient. He didn’t allow a single reception into his area of coverage per PFF, breaking up one pass and picking off another. He’s always been strong against the run but his work in coverage this year has improved, and he has proven to be an excellent and consistent performer for the improved 2014 Texans.
WEEK 8 RECAP
A poor one out of three on last week’s selections but with a trip across the Irish Sea to Wembley in the offing, the same amount of work wasn’t put into the column as usually is, and for that apologies. We’ll aim to right the ship this week though in what is an entertaining looking week in the NFL, including another Brady-Manning matchup in Foxboro.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS @ CINCINNATI BENGALS
It’s been a somewhat disappointing last few weeks for the Bengals after a fantastic start to the season, but they did bounce back to form last time out against the Baltimore Ravens. However the 10.5 pt spread Cincy has to cover is somewhat large against a Jaguars team that despite still being poor on offence is playing well on defence. JACKSONVILLE +10.5 pts @ 10/11 kicks off this week’s treble.
The good news for Cincinnati is that number one pass catcher AJ Green returns to after missing the last few weeks with a toe injury. In his absence Mohammed Sanu filled in admirably, meaning Andy Dalton will have a number of weapons to attack a Jags team that is better against the run than pass. Highlighting that fact, Jacksonville have only allowed one rushing touchdown during their last five games, and with Gio Bernard questionable with a hip problem, expect Dalton to be slinging it more than handing it off on Sunday.
Despite Blake Bortles’ sloppy play under centre, the Jags have found a spark from former Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson at tail back. The dreadlocked runner has averaged over 5 yards per carry the last fortnight. Handing the ball off may be the best way to go, with the Bengals pass D performing well, given the they have picked off more passes than they have allowed touchdowns through the air with an 8:9 TD:INT ratio. Cincinnati will also feel Rey Maualuga and Vontaze Burfict’s absences in the linebacking corps, so expect a decent day from Robinson.
JACKSONVILLE +10.5 pts @ 10/11 kicks off this week’s slip and after giving him a big mention, we’ll plump for Robinson to score the first touchdown @ 11/1 with SkyBet.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS @ MIAMI DOLPHINS
Barring a magical drive from Aaron Rodgers, the Miami Dolphins could very well be in the middle of a four-game win streak. However a two-game streak isn’t to be sniffed at in this league, and they look good value to add to that against a San Diego outfit who’s season has hit somewhat of a stumbling block. MIAMI – 2.5PTS @ 10/11 is next up.
Stat of the week alert: Visiting the east coast for a 1PM game, San Diego has allowed 368 yards and three rushing TDs on 79 totes, good for 4.66 YPC to opposing rushers over its last three games. Combine that fact with the form that Lamaar Miller is in top form, it could be a good day for the shifty back. Not only has the Chargers run D been struggling but also the pass defence hasn’t been doing too well. They’ve allowed 789 yards through the air in their last 3 games with eight touchdowns against one interception and they now lose Jason Verrett for at least a fortnight. The savvy may point out one of those games came against Lord Peyton, but Derek Carr accounted for four of those passes…
Phillip Rivers has continued his fine play this term but it could be tough for him in Florida this week, given the journey to the east coast and also playing against a tough ‘Phins defence, ranked third in pass D and 7th in sacks per game.
Both teams’ seasons seem to be at crossroads, so we’ll stick with the team in form – MIAMI – 2.5PTS @ 10/11 is next up, with a speculative punt on Ryan Tannehill to cross for the first touchdown @ 30/1 with BET365.
DENVER BRONCOS @ NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
No finer sight in this sport than seeing two of the finest quarterbacks ever to strap on their helmet step onto the same field. It’s Manning v Brady at Gillette Stadium and it would be rude not to offer up a selection. A quick flick through google tells us that we could have our first snowfall of the NFL season on Sunday in Massachusetts, so with potentially dodgy weather conditions coupled with a very high game total line, the UNDER 53.5 PTS @ 10/11 completes this week’s bet.
So if we do see snow and possibly high winds, both offences may prioritise ball control over explosive plays. That would play right into the hands of Denver. A mauling offensive line should be able to take advantage of the injury to Pats run stopper Jerod Mayo. In the two games Mayo hasn’t been amongst the Pats linebacking unit, they have let up 332 yards on the ground, meaning it could be a good day for San Diego State alum Ronnie Hillman, who has took the lead back role and literally ran with it since Montee Ball’s injury.
The media like to make a big deal about Peyton playing in unsavoury conditions, but he handled the cold just fine in Denver’s playoff win over New England last season, and Brady is perfectly at home in the often snowy confines of Gilette Stadium. Speaking of Tom Terrific, Gisele may not even be the hottest person in the Brady household this past month, with the ex-Wolverine lighting up defences passing for 14 touchdowns without a single turnover. In their tilt with the Chargers last week, Denver’s run D was simply dominant, but Rivers was able to throw three touchdown passes, including two to veteran tight end Antonio Gates. We may see a ball or two being spiked in the endzone if Mr Robert Gronkowski has his way.
While there will be points in this one, the possibly unsavoury conditions could see a rise in the amount of run plays, particularly by Denver, meaning we see the clock ticking away nicely. UNDER 53.5 PTS @ 10/11 rounds things off with the 20/1 about #2 tight end Tim Wright appealing for first touchdown purposes.
- A dreadful matchup on paper and it could well play out that way in Cleveland. Tampa Bay seemingly threw up the white flag earlier this week, trading away Mark Baron and Jonathan Casillas. The Browns run first approach has failed the last two games, Ben Tate only managing 62 yards on 31 carries. However, the Browns should get back on track against a Bucs outfit that has let up 380 yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground, their past 3 tilts. UNDER 43.5 PTS appeals.
- The Jets are bad. They are downright bad. They have intercepted one pass all season, yet given up 22 touchdowns through the air. Alex Smith, still hasn’t thrown a touchdown to a wide receiver yet this term, so Travis Kelce could have himself a day. 5/1 for the athletic tight end to score the first KC touchdown looks a tidy price.
- San Franciso had a nice bye week to get their banged up defence back and they look set to go against St Louis, looking to bounce back from a Peyton Manning dismantling. They played well in a win against the Rams in week 6, and with Patrick Willis back this could be a statement game from the 49ers. San Fran to be leading at the end of each quarter @ 6/5 interests.
DETROIT LIONS @ ATLANTA FALCONS (WEMBLEY)
BALTIMORE RAVENS @ CINCINNATI BENGALS
GREEN BAY PACKERS @ NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
- Unfortunately no additional thoughts section this week, as there has been no time to go through each game in the usual detail thanks to the Wembley trip this weekend. Just to recap on that game for anyone attending or viewing – Detroit -3.5, Under 46.5 pts, Joique Bell first td, Joique Bell over, any kind of bet involving sacks on Matt Ryan and interceptions involving Ryan…
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
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
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.
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.
Andrew Luck attempted 40+ passes just 4 times in 16 games last season. He's attempted 40+ passes 4 times in 6 games already this year.
— Adam Levitan (@adamlevitan) October 16, 2014
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.
- 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.
8 of the last 10 DAL-NYG games have been decided by 7 or less. Every game b/t the 2 in AT&T Stadium has been 6 points or fewer.
— David Helman (@HelmanDC) October 17, 2014
- 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…