Atlanta Falcons (2-1) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2) (Jaguars -2.5)
The NFL returns to London in the first of this year’s international games but who would have anticipated it being the Atlanta Falcons who arrive with a winning record?
No doubt this is a better team than we saw in 2022 and the chance to see rookie running back, Bijan Robinson in the flesh will no doubt excite UK fans. Both of the Falcons wins this season have come on home turf and with QB Desmond Ridder still looking to record a first road win as a starting QB in the NFL, this poses a problem, on the back of last weekend’s defeat in Detroit.
The Jaguars aren’t in good form though. Head Coach, Doug Pederson, earlier this week sighting pre-season expectations as potentially being an issue. Well, the Jaguars need to focus on the business at hand. They arrive in the UK, for the first of back-to-back games, having lost 2 straight. While last weekend’s loss to the Texans was poor, it’s not indicative of the way they’ve generally played this year. In fact, had the endzone been just a few inches deeper, there’s a strong argument to be made that they beat the Kansas City Chiefs 2 weeks ago and the picture looks altogether different.
The Jags are veteran overseas performers – this will be their 10th game in the UK. This is a game where QB Trevor Lawrence needs to be the leader we all think he is, and the offense needs to assert itself on the game. It won’t be easy. The Falcons defense is quietly effective, led by former Jaguar, Calais Campbell but when you look at the players on the field – man for man – Jacksonville are the better team. Look at the weapons they have – Calvin Ridley (playing against his former team – expect him to have a big day), Even Engram, Travis Etienne. They have playmakers! This is where they need to show it and I think they do.
PICK: Jacksonville Jaguars -2.5
Miami Dolphins (3-0) @ Buffalo Bills (2-1) (Bills – over 27.5 points)
This is the game of the week! The red hot Miami Dolphins heading up to Buffalo to face their divisional rival, Buffalo Bills – who themselves are coming off back to back wins!
Miami played a near perfect game last weekend, dismantling the Broncos as they put 70 on the board. Scoring 10 touchdowns – 5 through the air and 5 on the ground. Rushing for 350 yards, while passing for 375. So, how on earth are they the underdogs heading into this matchup? Well, the Bills are 8-2 against the Dolphins in their last 8 meetings BUT Miami beat them in Miami when they met this time last year and although Buffalo won both games played in Buffalo last season, they were extremely competitive games.
Buffalo also come into this game on the back of a defense which secured 5 turnovers in last weekend’s win in Washington and that may well have been the week 3 headline, were it not for the spectacular showing by Miami.
After all the accolades showered on Mike McDaniel and his Dolphins team this week, could this be a let down game? Maybe, but I doubt it. What’s more likely is that we see a shootout on Sunday. None of the 3 meetings between these two teams last season disappointed and there’s no reason to suspect this AFC East rivalry won’t entertain again.
Buffalo are narrow favourites by virtue of having homefield advantage but there’s not a hotter team in football right now than these Dolphins. Expect plenty of points. Expect an intense battle and expect Buffalo to put up at least 30 points for the 3rd straight game.
PICK: Buffalo Bills – over 27.5 points
New England Patriots (1-2) @ Dallas Cowboys (2-1) (Total Points – under 43.5)
Last weekend the Cowboys went to Arizona as double-digit favorites, but not only did they not cover that spread, they didn’t even win!
Yes, Arizona played well but Dallas were bad in every aspect of that game. Bad on offense, bad on special teams, committed a boat load of penalties and they were bad on defense. If this was a wakeup call for a team which had been widely lauded for the way they played in their first 2 games, then we need to see a reaction this weekend!
The Patriots, meanwhile, chalked up their first win of the year last weekend in New Jersey, against the Jets. However, the fact that they still had to defend a Hail Mary with the last play of the game despite facing an inept offense which barely found it’s way into Patriots territory the entire game will be cause for concern.
They limited the Jets to just 10 points but New England’s biggest issue through 3 weeks is scoring points themselves. That didn’t change on Sunday when 15 proved to be enough but they haven’t scored more than 20 in any game yet this season.
Dallas were ineffective in the redzone last weekend – scoring just 1 touchdown from 5 visits despite moving the ball effectively between the 20s. However, after a sloppy 1st half, their defense only allowed a further 7 points in the 2nd half. Aligned with conceding just 10 points in the first two games, it’s tough to see New England passing their season high of 20 points against this unit. Expect Dallas to return to winning ways but it won’t be a shootout.
PICK: Total Points – under 43.5