Broncos, Bengals Hook Up With a Lot to Play For Tonight

Dalton
Dalton
Andy Dalton must play well in order for the Bengals to beat the Broncos tonight.

Playoff implications abound as the Broncos head into Cincinnati for a Monday night battle.

Denver (-4) at Cincinnati (O/U 48) – Here’s where these two teams sit heading into tonight’s game in Cincinnati: The Denver Broncos are 11-3 and have won the AFC West. They trail the New England Patriots who are 12-3 in the race for the top seed in the AFC. The Pats own the tie-breaker with Denver because of their win over the Broncos earlier this season. They can clinch at worst the two-seed with a win or tie this evening.

For the Bengals, they are 9-4-1 and can get a playoff berth with a victory tonight or a tie. Regardless of what happens though this evening, next Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh will determine the champion of the AFC North. At this time that can mean two things; either a home game or a wild-card game on the road.

Fox
John Fox has been relying heavily on running back C.J. Anderson to power the Broncos rushing attack.

Both teams come in tonight with pretty good offenses. Denver ranks fifth overall and Cincinnati ranks 14th. The difference between the two units however is consistency. The Broncos have found a running game behind C.J. Anderson and that has taken some of the pressure off of Peyton Manning to do every, single thing for the team.

The Bengals’ offense has seen some success with both the running and passing game but the consistency has been lacking. One week they are a house of fire and the next they can’t seem to find their way to the line of scrimmage. It goes without saying that they’ll need to bring their ‘A’ game against the Broncos.

Defensively, the Broncos are among the best in the NFL and have sacked opposing quarterbacks 38 times so far in 2014. They are actually better against the run though limiting teams to just 3.4 yards per rush.

The Bengals have struggled to find consistency on defense just like they have on offense and now they are without tacking machine Vontaze Burfict for the season. The major problem for Cincy has been the lack of pass rush. They have just 18 sacks on the season which ranks them second to last behind Atlanta.

To be utterly honest here, Andy Dalton needs to play well. This offense cannot function at a high level unless he takes care of the ball and can distribute it to his playmakers. Most notably among those of course is A.J. Green who will need to be a part of Dalton’s “good game.”

Key injuries: DEN LB Brandon Marshall OUT/Foot, CIN TE Jermaine Gresham PROB/Toe

Trends: Denver is 5-2 straight up in their last seven games on the road at Cincinnati… The Bengals are 12-4-1 against the spread in their last 17 games at home… The total has gone UNDER in six of the Broncos last nine games when they play the Bengals… The total has gone OVER in four of the Bengals’ last five games at home.

The Pick: The last time the Bengals were at home they were blitzed by the Steelers 41-21 but have since gone on the road to gain two wins. Denver has won four in a row despite very “normal” stats by Manning. I think they ride Manning a bit more tonight as Cincy loads up to stop the run and the Denver defense gets after Dalton.

Take the Broncos to cover and the OVER.

Three Late NFL Games Plus the Monday Night Game are Here for the Taking

Ryan
Ryan
Matt Ryan knows he and the Falcons are under .500 but they still lead the division heading into today's game with Arizona.

Arizona (-1.5) at Atlanta (O/U 44.5) – The Cardinals finally cam back to Earth last Sunday with a very humiliating loss to Seattle. Arizona was dominated in each facet of the game and now has to travel across the country to Atlanta where the Falcons are waiting.

Atlanta will know the fate of New Orleans when they kickoff so a win would give them a game lead in the NFC South should the Saints lose in Pittsburgh and the Falcons take care of business against Arizona.

The question is simply this; can Drew Stanton shake off last week’s poor performance? If he can, the Cards can maintain their lead in the NFC West but if not thing could start to unravel for them with Seattle breathing down their necks.

Trends: Arizona is 5-2 straight up in their last seven games on the road… The total has gone UNDER in six of Atlanta’s last seven games… The Cardinals are 2-4 against the spread in their last six games on the road in Atlanta… The Falcons are 5-0 straight up in their last five games at home against the Cardinals.

The Pick: Everything tells me to go with Arizona here but I’m not. Take the Falcons to win at home and take the UNDER.

Lacy
Eddie Lacy may be the most important Packer on offense today against the Patriots.

New England (+3) at Green Bay (O/U 58.5) – This one is being touted as a potential Super Bowl preview as only the media can do it. I’m not ready to go that far just yet but it’s clear these are two of the better teams in football at the moment. Regardless of the elements, the Patriots are used to the same weather the Packers are so throw that out the window.

Look for both teams to establish the run by throwing early. Limiting pressure on their respective quarterbacks will go a long ways towards victory.

Trends: The total has gone OVER in four of New England’s last five games on the road… The Packers are 4-0-1 against the spread in their last five home games… The Patriots are 5-10-1 ATS in their last 16 road games… Green Bay is 5-0 in their last five games at home.

The Pick: This is the type of game where Bill Belichick and Tom Brady thrive at home but on the road? I’m not so sure. Take the Packers to cover with a late score and the UNDER is a good way to go here too.

Denver (-1.5) at Kansas City (O/U 49.5) – The Broncos are dinged up at key positions and have struggled in recent weeks but they put things together in time to come back and beat Miami in the fourth quarter last week. The Chiefs are coming off of a sobering loss to the Oakland Raiders which was their first win of the season.

With a difficult remaining schedule, that loss could prove especially costly if they drop this one at home today. Look for Andy Reid to get the running and play-action game going early. The real key is whether the Chiefs pass rushers can get to Peyton Manning.

Trends: Denver is 14-5 straight up in their last 19 road games… The total has gone UNDER in six of the Chiefs’ last eight games at home against Denver… The Broncos are 4-1 SU in their last five meeting s with the Chiefs in KC… The Chiefs are 1-4 against the spread in their last five games at home against the Broncos.

The Pick: Take the home dog Chiefs and the UNDER.

Monday Night

Miami (-7) at NY Jets (O/U 42) – The Jets are going back to Geno Smith at quarterback but I don’t think it really matters. Miami is really good defensively and unless the Jets run the ball well early I expect multiple turnovers from Smith.

Trends: The total has gone UNDER in six of Miami’s last seven games on the road against the Jets… The Jets are 1-5 against the spread in their last six games at home… The Dolphins are 5-1 straight up in their last six games against the Jets… New York is 1-5-1 ATS in their last seven home games against Miami.

The Pick: That’s a huge number on the road and it scares me enough to take the Jets and the points although Miami wins and take the UNDER.

Getting You Ready for Some Good Thursday Night Action

Pouncey
Pouncey
Mike Pouncey's return has helped stabilize the Dolphins' offensive line.

Buffalo (O/U 50) at Miami (-6) – Back in week two of the 2014 NFL season, the Miami Dolphins headed to Western New York fresh off of a season-opening win over New England. Buffalo was returning home following an overtime win Chicago to open the season. Oddly enough, the two AFC East rivals meet for the final time this season and again have identical records.

At 5-4 the stakes couldn’t be any higher in an incredibly deep AFC Playoff race. New England controls the division at 7-2 and both the Dolphins and Bills still have road trips to Foxboro in their future plans. Miami is 1-1 in the division while Buffalo is 2-1 but the pressure is really on the Bills here.

Their conference record is just 2-4 while Miami’s is 4-2. With so many teams still alive in the AFC tie-breakers are crucially important. In order for the Bills to win, they must get something out of their 26th ranked offense. Miami boasts the fourth-best defense in the league right now so the task will not be easy.

Conversely, Miami has to deal with Buffalo’s fifth-ranked defense so I don’t expect a whole lot of scoring in this one.

Key Injuries: BUF RB Fred Jackson QUEST/Groin, WR Sammy Watkins QUEST/Groin… MIA TE Dion Sims OUT/toe, RB Lamar Miller QUEST/Shoulder

Trends: The total has gone UNDER in six of Buffalo’s last eight games when playing on the road in Miami… The Dolphins are 4-2 straight up in their last six games at home against Buffalo… The Bills are 2-4 against the spread in their last six trips to Miami… The Fins are 4-2 SU in their last six games

The Pick: I like Miami to win but I think that number is too much. Take Buffalo getting the points and take the UNDER.

Kiel
Gunner Kiel has been impressive as the Bearcats' starting QB this season.

East Carolina (-2.5) at Cincinnati (O/U 68.5) – The Pirates are coming off a 20-10 loss to Temple where they committed seven turnovers. The Bearcats are just a game behind ECU and would jump ahead of them with a victory.

Cincinnati has won three-straight following a three-game losing streak that saw losses to Big Ten leader Ohio State, AAC leader Memphis and Miami, FL. Gunner Kiel has thrown 20 touchdown passes to just three interceptions.

Both teams have proven they can score but I think the Pirates defend better.

Trends: East Carolina is 1-4 against the spread in their last five games… The total has gone UNDER in six of Cincinnati’s last eight games when playing ECU… The Pirates are 5-1 straight up in their last 6 games… The total has gone UNDER in four of the Bearcats last six games at home.

The Pick: In a close one, take ECU to cover and the UNDER.

Cal (O/U 72) at USC (-14.5) – Sonny Dykes has the Bears a win away from being bowl-eligible which is a big step forward from last year’s 1-11 record but the Trojans have had their number of late. Cal doesn’t have any problem scoring as they rank fourth in the nation but their defense is almost dead-last.

That should open up things form Trojans’ QB Cody Kessler who I expect will have a big game.

Trends: Cal is 8-17 against the spread in their last 25 games… USC is 5-0 straight up in their last five games at home against Cal… The total has gone UNDER in four of the Bears’ last five games when playing on the road at USC… The total has gone UNDER in 14 of the Trojans’ last 20 games at home.

The Pick: Because Cal can score, I like them getting the points and take the OVER here.

Several NFL Games for You to Think About for Tomorrow

Johnson
Johnson
Calvin Johnson returns in the nick of time as the Lions host the red-hot Dolphins.

I’m giving you some extra time to mull over these NFL games for tomorrow so consider carefully.

Miami (+3) at Detroit (O/U 43.5) – This is the most intriguing match-up of the week because Miami is red-hot and the Lions are winning close games and get back Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush. The Lions have one of the best defenses in the league but now they face Ryan Tannehill is playing perhaps the best football of his career right now.

The Dolphins are playing great defensively as well illustrated by their 37-0 waxing of San Diego last week. This one may likely turn on turnovers and whether the Miami offense can handle the crazy fans sure to be in Detroit tomorrow.

Trends: The total has gone UNDER in 10 of Miami’s last 15 games… Detroit is 3-7 against the spread in their last 10 games at home… Miami is 5-2 straight up in their last seven games on the road… The Lions are 1-5 in their last six games against the Dolphins.

The Pick: I love the Dolphins getting the three and I’ll take the UNDER.

Gore
Frank Gore has guaranteed a playoff trip for his Niners. Now he has to deliver.

San Francisco (+6) at New Orleans (O/U 49) – Could two teams be any different despite the fact they have the same 4-4 records? New Orleans leads the NFC South after winning two-straight while the 49ers are staring up in the NFC West standings at both Seattle and Arizona. Because their division is the worst in football, there is less pressure on the Saints to win this one.

San Francisco has to face the reality that falling another game behind the Cardinals would mean a division title is out of the question. Therefore they have to play well in order to beat the Saints in the Superdome. If they go with large doses of Frank Gore I think they can pull this one out but that’s always a big “if.”

Trends: The 49ers are 10-4 straight up in their last 14 games on the road… The total has gone OVER in four of the Saints’ last six games against San Francisco… The Niners are 5-10-1 against the spread in their last 16 games against the Saints… New Orleans is 7-2 SU in their last nine games against the 49ers.

The Pick: I like the Niners getting the points in a game of much needed urgency. Take the UNDER as well.

Atlanta (-3) at Tampa Bay (O/U 46) – This game was a “pick’em” game early in the week and frankly this one is tough to call because Atlanta can’t win on the road and Tampa can’t win at home. When Matt Ryan gets outside of the Georgia Dome his numbers slip dramatically so why should we think differently here?

I think the running game of Tampa Bay is the difference today.

Trends: Atlanta is 0-5 straight up on the road in their last five games… Tampa Bay is 3-8 against the spread in their last 11 games… The total has gone UNDER in four of the Falcons last six games at Tampa Bay… The Bucs are 0-5 SU in their last five home games.

The Pick: I like the Bucs getting the points and I’ll go with the UNDER.

Other Games I like This Week

Pittsburgh (-6) at NY Jets – Until the Steelers offense hits a speed bump I’ll take them to cover.

NY Giants (+10) at Seattle – In their last eight games against Super Bowl winning QBs the Seahawks are 8-0. Enter Eli Manning and take the Seahawks to cover.

Chicago (+7.5) at Green Bay – More than a TD dogs are tough to pass on but I will here because the Packers have Jay Cutler’s number. Take the Pack to cover.

Battle of Ohio Round One On Tap for Tonight

Hoyer
Hoyer
Can Brian Hoyer find some consistency tonight on the road in Cincinnati?

Two games for your Thursday night football experience.

Cleveland (+7) at Cincinnati (O/U 45) – At 5-2-1, the Cincinnati Bengals lead the AFC North. Their rivals to the North are 5-3. Thus for the first time in a long time these two teams are playing a very crucial game. Also in the division is 6-3 Pittsburgh and 5-4 Baltimore making the AFC North the only division in football with all four teams above .500.

Besides these four teams, there are six others in the AFC that are above .500 as well which means every game for these teams is even more crucial. Falling even a game behind can spell doom not just for the division title but for the wild-card as well.

Neither team is heading into to this game at 100%. The Bengals are without leading tackler Vontaze Burfict and will also be without top cornerback Leon Hall. Meanwhile the Browns are without their top tight end Jordan Cameron so both teams are without key parts of their teams.

The Bengals’ A.J. Green will give it a go with his bad toe and could finally make an impact for the Bengals’ offense after weeks on the sidelines. My gut feeling tells me he will see some action but I don’t know how much of a factor he’ll be.

Both teams are scoring just over 20 points per game and both teams are surrendering about 20 points per game as well. The seven-point spread therefore I find a little large but the Bengals are pretty good home. The major question for Cleveland is Brian Hoyer who has been inconsistent of late. If he gets off to a rough start tonight, could Johnny Manziel finally get his shot?

Key Injuries: CLE TE Jordan Cameron OUT/CONCUSSION, CIN LB Vontaze Burfict OUT/Knee, RB Giovanni Bernard DOUBT/HIP

Trends: The total has gone UNDER in four of Cleveland’s last five games… The Bengals are 12-2-1 against the spread in their last 15 games at home… The Browns are 5-14 straight up in their last 19 games against the Bengals… The total has gone OVER in eight of the Bengals last 11 games at home.

The Pick: I think this game is played in the 20’s and I’ll take the Browns getting those seven points. Take the OVER as well.

Dabo
Dabo Swinney and the Tigers head to Wake Forest as heavy favorites.

Clemson (-21) at Wake Forest (O/U 42.5) – The Demon Deacons come into this one averaging barely over 14 points per game while they give up almost 25 points per game defensively. Despite having to replace Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant on offense, the Tigers have managed to piece together a 6-2 record to this point.

The Tigers have won five in a row in this series and they’ve beaten Wake in eight of their last 10 games. The Deacons have lost four straight games by an average margin of 19.7 points per game. In the meantime, Clemson has won their last five games by an average margin of 15.2 points per game.

Key Injuries: CLEM QB Deshaun Watson OUT/Hand

Trends: Clemson is 6-3 straight up in their last nine games at Wake Forest… The total has gone UNDER in four of the Demon Deacons last five games at home against Clemson… The total has gone UNDER in 17 of the Tigers’ last 25 games on the road… Wake Forest is 2-4 against the spread in their last six games at home.

The Pick: With QB Watson out, I think the Tigers’ offense struggles a bit so take Wake Forest getting the points and take the UNDER as well.

[UPDATE]: Clemson HC Dabo Swinney says that QB Desean Watson will start at QB. If this holds true than take the Tigers to cover.

Two Great Rivalries are the Focus of Today’s NFL Late Games

Manning Brady
Manning Brady
The two long-time rivals meet for the 16th time in Foxboro today.

St. Louis (+10) at San Francisco (O/U 44) – The Rams head west giving up 30 points per game and now have to play the Niners who are scoring only 22 points per game. Obviously something will give here.

I have no doubt that San Francisco Head Coach Jim Harbaugh has paid close attention to the surging Cardinals and somewhat dysfunctional Seahawks in his own division. Dropping a game here could be a death blow if Arizona continues playing well.

Trends: St. Louis is 8-14-1 against the spread in their last 23 games against San Francisco… The total has gone UNDER in in five of the 49ers last seven games at home… The Rams are 0-4-1 straight up in their last five games at San Francisco… The 49ers are 5-1 SU in their last six games at home.

The Pick: Look for a lot of Frank Gore early and Colin Kaepernick off of him. Take the Niners to cover and the OVER.

Denver (-3.5) at New England (O/U 54) – Tom Brady and Peyton Manning hook up for the 16th time in their careers and this time around Manning’s Broncos are favorites on the road in a place where Brady doesn’t lose very often.

The biggest injury concern I have in this game is that New England will be without defensive end Chandler Jones who is out with a hip injury. His ability to get to Manning and create problematic throwing lanes will be sorely missed.

My gut feeling tells me the Bill Belichick and the Pats will establish the run early to keep Manning and his receiving weapons on the sidelines.

Trends: Denver is 1-4 against the spread in their last five games against New England… The Patriots are 8-17 straight up in their last 25 games against the Broncos… The total has gone OVER in four of Denver’s last five games against New England… The total as gone OVER in eight of the Patriots’ last nine games at home.

The Pick: Take the home underdog Pats and the OVER too.

Lynch
Expect to see early doses of Marshawn Lynch in today's game against the Radiers.

Oakland (+14.5) at Seattle (O/U 43) – Heavy doses of Marshawn Lynch plus the play-action ability of Russell Wilson equals too much for the Raiders. Oh and need I mention the struggling Raiders’ offense against a defense searching for its’ groove?

Trends: Oakland is 1-5 straight up in their last six games on the road against the Seahawks… Seattle is 19-2 SU in their last 21 games at home… The total has gone OVER in seven of the Raiders last eight games when playing on the road in Seattle… The Seahawks are 2-4 against the spread in their last six games.

The Pick: Seattle will pull away late so take them to cover and take the OVER.

Baltimore (-1) at Pittsburgh (O/U 47.5) – The best rivalry in pro football goes primetime again as the Ravens invade Heinz Field. Both teams stand at 5-3 but the game is arguably ore important to the Steelers because they stand 1-2 in the division with two games remaining and both are with Cincinnati.

The Ravens are 2-2 in the division with tonight’s game and then a date with Cleveland remaining so it’s vital for the Steelers to get the win and even the season series with Baltimore at a game apiece.

The Steelers come off an offensive explosion in the win over Indy last week while the Ravens dropped a tough game in Cincinnati to the Bengals who own two victories over the Ravens this season.Look for Baltimore to take shots early against an average Steelers’ secondary while Pittsburgh will look to Le’Veon Bell to carry the load

Trends: Baltimore is 2-3-2 against the spread in their last seven games on the road in Pittsburgh… Pittsburgh is 11-4 straight up in their last 15 games against the Ravens in Pittsburgh… The total has gone OVER in four of the Ravens’ last six games… The total has gone OVER in nine of Pittsburgh’s last 13 games.

The Pick: The Ravens have the Steelers number of late. Take them to cover and the OVER.

Really Good Match-Ups in Your NFL Late Games

McCoy
McCoy
LeSean McCoy and the Eagles invade Arizona for a battle of 5-1 teams.

As is usually the case, the National Football League offers us some great games in the late time slots so let’s get to them.

Philadelphia (+3) at Arizona (O/U 48.5) – There are several god games on the Sunday schedule but I’m hard-pressed to find a better match-up than this one. Both teams are 5-1 but the Cards lead their division while the Eagles find themselves behind the surging Cowboys who are 6-1.

The match-up to watch is when the Eagles are on offense against the Cardinals’ defense. The secondary for Arizona is among the best in the league and they’ll depend on the front seven to limit LeSean McCoy and get pressure on Nick Foles.

Key Injuries: PHI Darren Sproles Quest-knee, ARI Calais Campbell, Quest-knee

Trends: Philadelphia is 6-2 straight up in their last eight games on the road… Arizona is 7-1 SU in their last eight games at home… The total has gone OVER in seven of the Eagles’ last 10 games when playing in Arizona… The Cardinals are 4-1-1 against the spread in their last six games against Philly.

The Pick: I like Philly getting the points and the OVER.

Luck
Andrew Luck has been red-hot and now plays a vulnerable Steelers' defense.

Indianapolis (-3.5) at Pittsburgh (O/U 49) – The Colts enter this game as hot as any team in the league. They shut out Cincinnati last week and have beaten AFC North leader Baltimore as well. Andrew Luck has put himself in the MVP conversation with spectacular play.

The Steelers have been inconsistent all season winning every other game on the schedule to stand at 4-3. They won Monday night over Houston with a three-minute barrage that ended with 24-straight points. Outside of that, they didn’t play particularly well.

Key Injuries: IND Reggie Wayne OUT Elbow, PIT Marcus Gilbert Doubt Concussion

Trends: Indianapolis is 3-6 against the spread when playing on the road in Pittsburgh… The Steelers are 11-2 in their last 13 games against the Colts… The total has gone OVER in five of the Colts’ last seven games when playing in Pittsburgh… The Steelers are 7-3 straight up in their last 10 games.

The Pick: The Steelers tend to play to the level of their competition so I expect a good game but take the Colts to cover and I like the OVER.

Green Bay (+1) at New Orleans (O/U 56) – Remember when Packers’ Quarterback Aaron Rodgers told the fans to “R-E-L-A-X?” He was mocked by some for that but all he and the Packers have done since then is win. Winning has been important with good play of Detroit who is atop the division with them. Rodgers has been spectacular in the last few weeks and now he gets to go up against a Saints’ defense that has been abysmal through the first six games.

Last week, New Orleans blew a 13-point lead in the final four minutes to the Lions. Part of that was the defense and part of that was the offense. Drew Brees will be happy to be at home as the Saints have spent most of the early part of the season on the road.

Key Injuries: GB Sam Shields Doubtful Knee, NO Jimmy Graham Quest shoulder

Trends: The total has gone OVER in six of Green Bay’s last seven games… New Orleans is 8-1-1 against the spread in their last ten games at home… The Packers are 6-3 straight up in their last nine games against the Saints… The total has gone OVER in five of New Orleans’ last five games against Green Bay.

The Pick: Take the Packers because the Saints just haven’t proven anything to me yet and take the OVER.

Bonus Pick: Oakland (+6.5) at Cleveland (O/U 43.5)  Take the Browns to cover and the UNDER

I Really Like These Sunday Late Games

Rivers
Rivers
Why shouldn't Philip Rivers be getting some MVP consideration?

I’m taking a look at the late games today which may be capped by the best game of the day when the Giants visit Philadelphia. Let’s go!

San Diego (-7.5) at Oakland (O/U 43.5) – The Chargers are a fourth quarter letdown in the opener  away from being 5-0 right now. QB Philip Rivers is having an MVP-type season and the defense is really coming together. In Oakland, the Tony Sparano era is underway. I can guarantee you that the Raiders will give maximum effort today.

San Diego has to be careful not to rely too much on Rivers with both of their top running backs out of the game with injuries.

Trends: San Diego is 3-7 against the spread in their last ten games against the Raiders… Oakland is 4-17 in their last 21 games against the the Chargers… The total has gone OVER in five of San Diego’s last seven games when playing on the road against Oakland.

Key Injuries: SD RBS Ronald Brown, Ryan Mathews OUT… OAK G Khalif Barnes OUT

The Pick: Take the Raiders getting the points and I like the UNDER.

Murray
DeMarco Murray cannot afford to fumble the ball the way he has against Seattle.

Dallas (+9) at Seattle (O/U 47) – There used to be an old saying that Monday night’s winners were Sunday’s losers. This came about because of less time to prepare and heal up before the next game. I don’t think that’s going to be the case here. Pete Carroll will have his team ready to go because this isn’t the normal Dallas team they’ve seen in recent years.

The Cowboys are running the ball behind DeMarco Murray and their much-maligned defense is doing just fine.

Trends: The total has gone UNDER in five of Dallas’ last seven games… Seattle is 2-5 against the spread in their last seven games against Dallas… The Cowboys are 1-4 straight up in their last five games at Seattle.

Key Injuries: DAL LB Bruce Carter OUT… SEA TE Zach Miller OUT

The Pick: Take Dallas getting the points and the UNDER.

Washington (+3.5) at Arizona (O/U 45.5) – This is all going to depend on who is starting at quarterback for Arizona. There’s talk it could be Palmer, Stanton or even rookie Logan Thomas who came in last week. I think you’ll see Bruce Arians rely on the running game a bit more either way.

For the Redskins, can Kirk Cousins bounce back from a rough go against the Seahawks? I think you’ll see them go with Alfred Morris and the running game a bit as well but the Cardinals’ defense is tough so he’ll have to throw at some point.

Trends: Washington is 2-6 against the spread in their last eight games on the road… The Cardinals are 1-5 ATS in their last six games when playing the Redskins at home… The total has gone UNDER in four of Washington’s last five trips to Arizona.

Key Injuries: WAS QB Robert Griffin III OUT… Qbs Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton QUESTIONABLE

The Pick: Take the Cardinals to cover and the UNDER.

NY Giants (+3) at Philadelphia (O/U 51) – With Dallas playing earlier in Seattle, this becomes a monster game for both of these teams. A Cowboys’ loss means the winner of this game takes first-place in the NFC East. The Giants will be hurting without running back Rashard Jennings but don’t be a bit surprised if rookie Andre Williams has a big game in his place.

For the Eagles it’s quite simple; they need to get LeSean McCoy going. He’s averaging less than three yards per carry right now and that’s not going to cut it.

Trends: The Giants are 3-9 against the spread and are 3-9 straight up in their last 12 games against Philadelphia… The Eagels are 7-1 SU in their last eight games at home… Philly is 5-12-1 ATS in their last 18 games at home.

Key Injuries: NYG RB Rashard Jennings, OUT… PHI C Jason Kelce OUT

The Pick: Take the G-Men getting the points and I like the OVER.

Here are Your Late Game Numbers in the NFL today.

Bortles
Bortles
Blake Bortles makes his first career start today in San Diego.

Jacksonville (+14) at San Diego (O/U 45) – A week after knocking off defending champion Seattle, the Chargers went on the road and beat previously unbeaten Buffalo in Western New York. If you take away that blown 11-point lead in the opener at Arizona, then the Chargers would be the talk of the league right now.

For the Jags, Blake Bortles makes his first career start at quarterback after most of us thought this would be a ‘red-shirt’ season for him. I think he’ll play decently but I think he’ll make mistakes too and that will lead to points for the Chargers.

Trends: Jacksonville is 3-13 straight up in the their last 16 road games… The Chargers are 4-1 SU in their last five games against Jacksonville… The total has gone OVER in five of the Jags last six games when playing the Chargers… The total has gone UNDER in four of San Diego’s last five games.

The Pick: 14 is a huge number but the Bolts are clicking right now so I like them to cover and take the OVER.

Philadelphia (+4.5) at San Francisco (O/U 50.5) – The Eagles are 3-0 but have not exactly played a full game yet and LeSean McCoy hasn’t really gotten it high gear yet either. They’ll look to take advantage of a suddenly struggling 49ers’ defense.

San Francisco meanwhile needs to get things right and in a hurry. At 1-2, they can’t afford to fall behind Arizona (3-0) and Seattle (2-1) in the NFC West if they expect to make the playoffs.

Trends: The Eagles are 6-1 straight up on the road in their last seven games… The Niners are 1-4 against the spread in their last five games against the Eagles at home… The total has gone OVER in four of Philly’s last five games at San Francisco… The 49ers are 18-6-1 SU in their last 25 games at home.

The Pick: I expect a close game so take the Eagles and go with the OVER as well.

Bridgewater
Bridgewater will also make his first career start today.

Atlanta (-3.5) at Minnesota (O/U 47) – The Teddy Bridgewater era is underway in the Twin Cities and he obviously will have to make due without Adrian Peterson in the backfield so much of the offense will be on his shoulders.

The Falcons are coming off a 10-day break after they whipped Tampa Bay 56-14 on a Thursday night. While the offense is certainly clicking, the defense is picking things up a bit too.

Trends: The total has gone OVER in four of Atlanta’s last six games… Minnesota is 2-4 against the spread in their last six games when playing at home against Atlanta… The Falcons are 3-6 SU in their last nine games when playing on the road against the Vikings… The total has gone UNDER in four of the Vikings last five games when playing the Falcons.

The Pick: Take Atlanta to cover and take the UNDER.

New Orleans (-3) at Dallas (O/U 54) – If this game were outside I’d probably go with Dallas immediately because the Saints just don’t play well outside. That said, they’ll be inside at Jerry World and I expect a good performance from them. The Saints’ defense has to be better and the Cowboys will be a challenge in the air and on the ground.

Look for Dallas to keep getting better defensively and for DeMarco Murray to keep hauling the pigskin in order to keep pass rushers off of Tony Romo.

Trends: The total has gone OVER in four of New Orleans last five games when playing at Dallas… The Cowboys are 1-4 straight up in their last five games when playing the Saints at home… The Saints are 2-8 against the spread in their last ten games on the road… Dallas has beaten New Orleans just once in their last nine meetings.

The Pick: Call me crazy but I like the Cowboys getting the points and I like the OVER.

Your Monday Nighter Features Bears at the Jets

Cutler
Cutler
Jay Cutler leads the Bears into New York to face the Jets.

Chicago (+3) at NY Jets (O/U 45.5) – The last time the Jets and Bears played was the day after Christmas in 2010 in Chicago. The Bears jumped to a 10-0 lead before trailing 24-17 at half. Jay Cutler would throw three third quarter touchdowns to lead Chicago to the win. While Cutler is still around in the windy city, the Jets’ quarterback that day was Mark Sanchez and we know how that worked out.

Now the Jets play host to the Bears in a week three match-up that’s of vital importance to both teams. Heading into the weekend, the entire NFC North was 1-1 but now the Bears will need a victory to keep pace with the Lions who defeated Green Bay yesterday. Minnesota lost in New Orleans.

Decker
Eric Decker has a bad hamstring and that isn't good for the Jets.

For the Jets, they sit at 1-1 and now are behind the Pats and Bills who both 2-1.

The Bears enter with both of their top wideouts still banged up despite playing last week in San Francisco. They’ve also lost cornerback Charles Tillman for the season and will be without center Roberto Garza and guard Matt Slauson. Linebacker Shea McClellin and defensive lineman Jay Ratliff are also out.

New York doesn’t have nearly the issues the Bears do. Cornerback Dee Milliner is doubtful with an ankle and wide receiver Eric Decker is questionable with a hamstring.

Offensively the Jets rank 13th overall and first in rushing while the Bears rank 26th overall and ninth in passing. The glaring stat for each is the New York ranks 30th in passing while Chicago ranks 30th in rushing. In other words, this will be a battle of who can keep doing what they do best and who can do just a little better at what they do worst.

On defense, the Jets rank second in the league overall while the Bears are 21st. Both teams are obviously struggling in the secondary but the edge up front clearly goes to Gang Green. Can the Bears get enough out of Matt Forte to slow the pass rush of the Jets? Even if so, can they protect Cutler?

The Jets will look to establish the ground game early and often in effort to get the play-action game with Geno Smith going. If the Bears can make the Jets one-dimensional then that will go a long way towards their chances of winning .

Both teams will need to put last week deep in the past. The Bears made a fantastic comeback last week in defeating San Francisco on the road. As great as that win was, they have to move forward and focus on the task at hand. New York went into Green Bay and saw the Packers come back from a double-digit deficit on them only to seemingly tie the game but a timeout called by an assistant coach nixed that.

Like the Bears, they have to put the game behind them and focus on the present.

Trends: The Bears are 6-16-1 against the spread in their last 23 games… New York is 1-4-1 ATS in their last six games against the Bears… The total has gone OVER in nine of Chicago’s last 11 games on the road… The total has gone UNDER in seven of the last eight games in which they’ve played the Bears.

The Pick: Everything in my head points to a Jets’ victory considering the injuries to the Bears but I have a feeling that win last week will propel Chicago forward. Take them getting the points and take the OVER as well.