Week 1 Handicapping Preview

Miami Dolphins +4 (-108) +185 over 43.5 (-108)

at Atlanta Falcons -4 (+100) -205 under 43.5 (-102)

 

QBs: Even

 

RBs: Even

 

WRs: advantage Falcons

 

TEs: advantage Falcons

 

OLs: Even

 

Defense: advantage Dolphins

 

Special Teams: advantage Falcons

 

Falcons at home last season 7-1

Dolphins on road last season 6-2

 

Although I do like the Falcons, this is too high a price to pay for a team that really isn’t very good on defense. I actually kind of like the Dolphins to win outright, and it is great value. Even with the Falcons having the advantage in most of the match ups, I think that Miami winning the defensive match up is a key. Both of these teams love to run the ball, and where as I can see Miami being able to slow down Atlanta’s rushing attack, I don’t see the Falcons being able to stop the Dolphins. If the Falcons can move the ball through the air, however, it would give them an advantage, as the Dolphins struggled against the pass, but have taken measures to improve their secondary. As far as the total, most of Atlanta’s home games were high scoring, with the exception of one. The only way I can see the total going under is if Miami gets a lead and controls the clock with their ground game.

 

Injuries:

 

Atlanta – WR Harry Douglas (I.R.; torn ACL)

 

Miami – TE David Martin (I.R.)

 

Side: Miami; take the points with sprinkle on the money line

 

Total: Over

 

Kansas City Chiefs +13 (-103) +670 over 36 (-108)

at Baltimore Ravens -13 (-105) -850 under 36 (-102)

 

QBs: advantage Ravens

 

RBs: advantage Ravens

 

WRs: even

 

TEs: advantage Ravens

 

OLs: advantage Ravens

 

Defense: advantage Ravens

 

Special Teams: even

 

Ravens home record last season: 6-2

Chiefs road record last season: 1-7

 

There is no argument to be made for the Chiefs in this game, other than if they can cover such a large number. Add to it the fact that Matt Cassel is a game time decision, and it’s almost a foregone conclusion. The Chiefs defense may be scrappy enough to keep them in the game for awhile, but whoever it is playing QB on offense will be under a ton of pressure and will probably turn the ball over a few times. Of note, besides two blowouts at Atlanta and Carolina, the Chiefs kept almost all of their road games within a touchdown or less margin. The total is a little high and I can’t see it going over unless there are a ton of Kansas City turnovers, which could easily be possible.

 

Injuries:

Ravens – TE L.J. Smith (doubtful; monitor status later in week)

  • LB Jason Phillips (I.R.)

  • T Adam Terry (I.R.)

  • CB Samari Rolle (PUP)

 

Chiefs – QB Matt Cassel (questionable; looks like game-time decision)

 

Side: staying away

 

Total: staying away; Chief point spread backers should take a look at the under

 

Philadelphia Eagles -1 (-109) -116 over 43.5 (-103)

at Carolina Panthers +1 (+101) +106 under 43.5 (-107)

 

QBs: advantage Eagles

 

RBs: advantage Panthers

 

WRs: advantage Panthers

 

TEs: advantage Eagles

 

OLs: advantage Panthers

 

Defense: even

 

Special Teams: even

 

Panthers home record last season: 8-0

Eagles road record last season: 3-4-1

 

This game is basically a pick-em, with odds makers giving Phili the slight edge. In my opinion, the Eagles come into this season a little overrated, because of their playoff run, whereas the Panthers are somewhat underrated after their poor showing in the playoffs. Both of these teams come in with injuries to key players, and Panther backers should closely monitor the status of LBs Jon Beason and Thomas Davis, as well as RB Jonathan Stewart. The thing that worries me about the Eagles, is their lack of continuity. The Eagles lost their defensive leader, Brian Dawkins, and completely revamped their offensive line, which looked shaky in the preseason. On the contrary, the Panthers return almost every starter from last season’s team. The only thing that worries me is their defensive injuries, and the psyche of Jake Delhomme.

 

Injuries:

Eagles – LB Stewart Bradley (I.R.; replacement Omar Gaither has starting experience)

-G Todd Herremans (I.R.; Nick Cole is adequate replacement)

-QB Michael Vick (suspended)

 

Panthers – DT Maake Kemoeatu (I.R.; was key to stopping run)

-LB Jon Beason (questionable; likely game time decision)

-LB Thomas Davis (questionable)

-RB Jonathan Stewart (questionable)

 

Side: Panthers money line; don’t love it, especially if Beason doesn’t play

 

Total: staying away; tough to say, but a slight lean to the over

 

Denver Broncos +4 (-110) +179 over 43 (-103)

at Cincinnati Bengals -4 (+102) -197 under 43 (-107)

 

QBs: advantage Bengals

 

RBs: even

 

WRs: even

 

TEs: advantage Broncos

 

OLs: advantage Broncos

 

Defense: advantage Bengals

 

Special Teams: advantage Broncos

 

Bengals home record last season: 3-5

Broncos road record last season: 4-4

 

To say the Broncos offseason was tumultuous would be putting it lightly, as the Josh McDaniels era began in Denver with plenty of drama. However, the fact that the line hasn’t really moved that much at all since it came up shows that the public isn’t to thrilled with Cincinnati as a 4 point favourite either. If I were to bet this game (which I probably won’t), I would take the points with Denver, but there are just too many question marks. Brandon Marshall is supposedly going to play and has learned his lesson according to McDaniels, take that for what it’s worth, while starting running back Knowshon Moreno hasn’t played much in the preseason, not to mention Kyle Orton is still getting settled into the offense. I wouldn’t mind taking the Bengals, but not at that price, and I worry about how well their line can protect Carson Palmer. As for the total, the under intrigues me, as both defenses are improved, but I could also see a last second TD or field goal pushing it over the number.

 

Injuries:

Broncos – WR Jabar Gaffney (out; not as critical with Marshall returning)

 

Bengals – T Andre Smith (out indefinitely with broken foot)

  • TE Ben Utecht (I.R.; this means rookie Chase Coffman will be the starter)

  • TE Reggie Kelly (I.R.)

  • CB David Jones (out; was the nickel corner, leaves untested rookie Morgan Trent to have to face Brandon Stokley)

 

Side: staying away; Broncos may be worth a sprinkle on the money line

 

Total: staying away

 

Minnesota Vikings -4 (+102) -197 over 40 (-108)

at Cleveland Browns +4 (-110) +179 under 40 (-102)

 

QBs: even

 

RBs: advantage Vikings

 

WRs: advantage Vikings

 

TEs: advantage Vikings

 

OLs: advantage Vikings

 

Defense: advantage Vikings

 

Special Teams: advantage Browns

 

Browns home record last season: 1-7

Vikings road record last season: 4-4

 

This line comes as a bit of a shock to me, and leaves me scratching my head. I want to pound the Vikings at minus 4, but something doesn’t seem right about lines makers setting the spread at such a low number. Then again, the Vikings could easily come in and roll them by double digits, which wouldn’t surprise me at all. Sure the Vikings weren’t great on the road last season, but that was with Tarvaris Jackson and Gus Frerotte under center. Every match up favors the Vikings, with the exception of special teams, but I am afraid of this being one of those crazy games where everyone is on the Vikings and they just end up squeaking out a field goal win, or lose outright. I have no opinion on the total, as I have no faith in the Browns offense to put up points. If you like the Vikings a lot I would advise you to already have taken them by now, because the spread will only go up as game time approaches.

 

Injuries:

Vikings – none

 

Browns – T Ryan Tucker (I.R.; this means John St. Clair will get the start at RT)

 

Side: Vikings -4; just too soft a line for a team as good as the Vikings

 

Total: staying away, but slight lean to the under

 

New York Jets +4.5 (-104) +214 over 43.5 (-105)

at Houston Texans -4.5 (-104) -240 under 43.5 (-105)

 

QBs: advantage Texans

 

RBs: advantage Jets

 

WRs: advantage Texans

 

TEs: even

 

OLs: even

 

Defense: advantage Jets

 

Special Teams: advantage Texans

 

Texans home record last season: 6-2

Jets road record last season: 4-4

 

The Jets will be without their top two pass rushers from last season, Calvin Pace and Shaun Ellis, when they open up on the road against the Texans. Both are suspended, Ellis for one game, Pace for four. This means that Rex Ryan will have to blitz his inside linebackers and defensive backs more than normal in order to pressure Matt Schaub. This could open their defense up for a few big plays that could possibly swing the game. Offensively, the Jets will try to pound the ball on the ground against a Texan defense that gave up a ton of yards in the preseason. By doing this it should help protect rookie Mark Sanchez, who will no doubt have some nerves in his first ever start, not to mention, they were one of the better rushing teams in the AFC a season ago. I expect the Texans to come out victorious in a high scoring affair. The over is a safe bet, but I wouldn’t lay the points in case Thomas Jones and Leon Washington run wild against a shaky run defense.

 

Injuries:

Jets – QB Kellen Clemens (out; Jets will have to resort to Erik Ainge if Sanchez struggles)

  • LB Calvin Pace (suspended)

  • DL Shaun Ellis (suspended)

 

Texans – WR Kevin Walter (questionable; monitor status, could be a big loss for offense)

-CB Jacques Reeves (Out; not as a major now that Dunta Robinson has reported)

 

Side: staying away

 

Total: Over 43.5

 

Jacksonville Jaguars +7.5 (-113) +275 over 40 (-106)

at Indianapolis Colts -7.5 (+104) -315 under 40 (-104)

 

QBs: advantage Colts

 

RBs: even

 

WRs: advantage Colts

 

TEs: advantage Colts

OLs: even

 

Defense: advantage Colts

 

Special Teams: advantage Jaguars

 

Colts home record last season: 6-2

Jaguars road record last season: 3-5

 

These two teams split the season series last season, with the Jags catching Manning and the Colts at home early in the season when the Peyton wasn’t himself after struggling with the lingering effects of offseason surgery. In their second meeting, Manning was superb and the Colts won by a touchdown. Historically the games between these two are high scoring, so I would definitely take a look at the over, which is sitting at a relatively low number. Neither defense is very strong, and the Colts will be without starting safety Bob Sanders and possibly starting corner Kelvin Hayden, as well as versatile defensive lineman Raheem Brock. As far as a side, the Jags plus the points, if you can get it at 7.5, with maybe a sprinkle on the money line may be worth a look. Obviously 7.5 is a key number, and both games between these two teams last season were decided by a touchdown or less.

 

Injuries:

Jags – DT Rob Meier (I.R.)

 

Colts – S Bob Sanders (out; reserve Melvin Bullitt is a very capable fill-in)

-Kelvin Hayden (questionable)

-Raheem Brock (questionable)

 

Side: Jaguars +7.5

 

Total: Over 40

 

Detroit Lions +13 (-107) +630 over 48.5 -110

at New Orleans Saints -13 (-101) -760 under 48.5 +100

 

QBs: advantage Saints

 

RBs: even

 

WRs: advantage Saints

 

TEs: advantage Saints

 

OLs: advantage Saints

 

Defense: advantage Saints

 

Special Teams: even

 

Saints home record last season: 6-2

Lions road record last season: 0-8

 

If it was Daunte Culpepper, and not Matthew Stafford, starting in this game I would consider taking the points with the Lions. Culpepper would not get flustered by the hostile environment and is more than capable of leading his team to an upset, whereas Stafford is going to be nervous and the defense will lose confidence when he fails to move the chains, or throw interceptions. 13 points is a lot to lay, especially with a Saints team that is always hyped up before the season, but then fails to produce. However, New Orleans pasted the Lions last year, and I don’t see why they can’t do it again, especially in front of their home crowd in the season opener. As far as the total, Drew Brees and the Saints offense may put the game over the number on its own, but even if they don’t, I do think the Lions offense will score some points in this contest, especially once the game gets out of reach and the defense stops trying.

 

Injuries:

Lions – S Daniel Bullocks (I.R.; Anthony Henry will more than likely start opposite rookie Louis Delmas)

 

Saints – RB Pierre Thomas (questionable; rumors are that he will not play, but back up Mike Bell has played very well in the preseason)

-T Jamaal Brown (out; back up Jermon Bushrod has played nicely filling in)

-K Garrett Hartley (suspended; the ageless John Carney returns)

 

Side: Saints -13

 

Total: Over 43.5

 

Dallas Cowboys -6 (-106) -270 over 39 (-103)

at Tampa Bay Buccaneers +6 (-102) +238 under 39 (-107)

 

QBs: advantage Cowboys

 

RBs: advantage Cowboys

 

WRs: even

 

TEs: advantage Cowboys

 

OLs: even

 

Defense: advantage Cowboys

 

Special Teams: even

 

Buccaneers home record last season: 6-2

Cowboys road record last season: 3-5

 

When these two teams faced off last year it was with two different starting QBs than the ones that will play this Sunday. Brad Johnson was in for the injured Tony Romo, while Jeff Garcia was the Bucs’ signal caller. The Cowboys edged out a win in a 13-9 squeaker, but I have a feeling that this year’s game might be won by a wider margin. DeMarcus Ware and the Cowboys’ defense will be all over Byron Leftwich, as they know that his slow release gives them another split second to get in his face. On offense, Dallas will test the Bucs run defense, which was just awful down the stretch, with their three headed monster, running backs Marion Barber III, Felix Jones, and Tashard Choice. A strong running game should allow Romo to utilize play action fakes, and hit either Jason Witten in the flat, or Roy Williams for a long gain. The only argument I can see made for the Bucs, is if the get their own trio of running backs, Cadillac Williams, Derrick Ward, and Earnest Graham, moving the chains. What I think will be the difference, however, is that the Bucs are going to be too one dimensional just rushing the ball, whereas the Cowboys have had a lot of success through the air as well as on the ground. Also, Dallas’ defense is far more talented and deep than the Bucs’.

 

Injuries:

Cowboys – LB Jason Williams (Out; not a starter, but provided depth)

  • LB Brandon Williams (Out; also was being counted on for depth)

 

Buccaneers – LB Angelo Crowell (I.R.)

  • S Tanard Jackson (suspended 4 weeks)

  • G Aaron Sears (questionable)

 

Side: Cowboys -6

 

Total: staying away

 

Sun 1:15 start time

 

San Francisco 49ers +6.5 (-110) +233 over 46 (-105)

at Arizona Cardinals -6.5 (+102) -265 under 46 (-105)

 

QBs: advantage Cardinals

 

RBs: advantage 49ers

 

WRs: advantage Cardinals

 

TEs: advantage 49ers

 

OLs: advantage Cardinals

 

Defense: advantage 49ers

 

Special Teams: even

 

Cards home record last season: 6-2

49ers road record last season: 3-5

 

The Cardinals went winless in the preseason, and have not really shown any promise coming off their loss in the Super Bowl. Part of me wants to take the points with the Niners, as they seem to be heading in the right direction under Mike Singletary, but the Cardinals are at home and still boast an explosive offense. The Niners lost both contests last season, however, they were much more competitive in their second meeting after Singletary took over, losing by only five points on the road. I’m probably going to stay away from this game, as I just don’t know which Cardinals team is going to show up. Will it be the team that went winless in the preseason, or will it be the group that was firing on all cylinders throughout the playoffs. As far as the total, I will once again stay away, but Niner backers should probably take a look at the under, while Cardinal supporters might want to take the over. It’s going to take me at least a week to get a feel for this year’s Cardinals, and they’re going to have to prove to me that they are capable of lifting the Super Bowl loser curse.

 

Side: staying away; I have a feeling Cards could blow them out, but still not convinced

 

Total: staying away

 

Washington Redskins +6.5 (+101) +248 over 37.5 (+100)

at New York Giants -6.5 (-109) -280 under 37.5 (-110)

 

QBs: advantage Giants

 

RBs: even

 

WRs: even

 

TEs: advantage Redskins

 

OLs: advantage Giants

 

Defense: even

 

Special Teams: advantage Giants

 

Giants home record last season: 7-1

Redskins road record last season: 4-4

 

Because this is a divisional game, a large point spread is always intriguing. On paper, it looks as though the Giants are the superior team, but the Redskins should come out motivated for this one, and in the end, I believe it will come down to the offenses. Both teams boast excellent defenses, so I don’t think there is going to be many yards to be had on the ground. That means its going to be the quarterbacks, and the passing attack, that decide this contest. Eli Manning is the superior QB, but Jason Campbell is fighting for his job this year, and knows that if he has a bad year, his days as a starting pivot might be over. There is also the pass rush factor, and it may come down to which quarterback gets time to throw, rather than whoever plays better. The Giants defensive line is deep, and capable of generating a ferocious pass rush. However, don’t discount the Redskins line, which brings in Albert Haynesworth, and will have rookie sack specialist, Brian Orakpo, blitzing from linebacker, as well as occasionally lining up in a three point stance. In the end, I believe this game could come to down to a late field goal or touchdown drive, and it should stay under the number.

 

Injuries:

Giants – CB Kevin Dockery (questionable)

  • CB Aaron Ross (out; big loss, especially with if reserve, Dockery, doesn’t play)

  • LB Michael Boley (suspended for week 1)

 

Redskins – none

 

Side: don’t love it, but take the points with the Redskins

 

Total: under 37.5

 

St. Louis Rams +9 (-125) (+310) over 40.5 (-106)

at Seattle Seahawks -9 (+115) (-350) under 40.5 (-104)

 

QBs: even

 

RBs: advantage Rams

 

WRs: advantage Seahawks

 

TEs: advantage Seahawks

 

OLs: advantage Rams

 

Defense: advantage Seahawks

 

Special Teams: advantage Seahawks

 

Seahawks home record last season: 2-6

Rams road record last season: 1-7

 

Both of these teams are coming off disappointing seasons, the Seahawks especially, who got suffered a rash of critical injuries. This year, Seattle is looking to make a run at winning the division, with all of their starters healthy again, while the Rams are still in rebuilding mold. That being said, both teams have new head coaches, who will want to make a statement in their opener, which means this should be a pretty good game. I think the home field advantage will be critical, but I don’t like laying that many points in a divisional game. If the Rams are to win this game or cover the spread, they will have to get the ground game going with Steven Jackson, as well as not turn the ball over or give up big plays, which would fire up an already raucous crowd. The Seahawks will be looking to blow this game wide open and get the crowd into it. However, the thing that worries me about Seattle is that they are missing three starters from last year’s offensive line. Walter Jones is out, so is center Chris Spencer, and left guard Mike Wahle retired. This means the Seahawks will be going with a makeshift line against a coach, Steve Spagnuolo, who has a reputation for putting enormous pressure on opposing QBs. I don’t love the Rams in this one, especially if they can’t move the ball on the ground with Jackson, but I’d still take the points. As far as the total, historically these two have played in high scoring games.

 

Injuries:

Seahawks – CB Marcus Trufant (PUP list; eligible week 7)

-WR Deion Branch (questionable)

– OT Walter Jones (out)

– C Chris Spencer (out)

 

Rams – Adam Carriker (I.R.)

  • WR Brooks Foster (I.R.)

 

Side: Rams +9

 

Total: over 40.5

 

Top Plays This week:

 

Miami Dolphins +4

Carolina Panthers ML

Indy v Jax over 40

NO v Det over 43.5

Dallas Cowboys -6


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