Atlanta Falcons @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Buccaneers -2.5)
The Buccaneers are one of the surprise stories of the season so far. Baker Mayfield at quarterback, proving more than enough to make them a competitive force in the AFC South.
While Desmond Ridder may well have started the season as the great hope for the Falcons, confidence is surely beginning to slip in the former 3rd round pick. Disappointing decisions and drive killing interceptions were once again the Achilles heel for Atlanta’s offense on Sunday in the loss to the Commanders. The Falcons now rank 25th, with 10 giveaways through 6 weeks of the season.
That same stat is what’s been more impressive about the Buccaneers. Just 4 times have they turned the ball over on offense and that compliments a defense which is in the league’s top 8 in defending the run, taking the ball away and points allowed. They give up fewer than 18 points per game whilst the Falcons offense has slipped alarmingly in recent weeks – scoring more than 16 just once in the past 4 games, leaving them 29th in the league, averaging a poultry 16.5 points per game.
Throw into the mix that Desmond ridder has still to win a road game since entering the NFL and everything is trending towards a Buccaneers win and taking a firm hold on 1st place in the division.
PICK: Tampa Bay Buccaneers -2.5
Detroit Lions @ Baltimore Ravens (Total Points over 41.5)
This is a mouth watering matchup and the first of two games which shine the spotlight on, featuring two first place teams.
Slowly but surely, the NFL is acknowledging that the Detroit Lions are the real deal, and this is why. Since Week 9 of the last season, only San Francisco 49ers (14-1) and the Kansas City Chiefs (14-2) have better records than the Lions (13-3). In that span, only the 49ers (458) have scored more points than the Lions (448). Meanwhile, Baltimore is tied with Buffalo for the NFL lead this season with 24 sacks.
Further to that, the Lions and Ravens are two of the seven NFL teams who have held a lead at some point in each of their first six games this season.
This is where things become concern for the Ravens, since the start of last season no team in the NFL has lost more games when they’ve held a double digit lead.
It’s a mouth watering clash. If Baltimore can turn scoring drives into touchdowns rather than settling for field goals (Justin Tucker kicked 6 last weekend in London and they still score 24 points), they’ll have no issue in this game. The Lions rank in the top 8 in all major offensive categories and are averaging 28 points per game. Both teams play well on defense but this is a passing league and here we have two teams more than capable of lighting up the scoreboard. Expect an entertaining game in Baltimore…
PICK: Total Points – over 41.5
Miami Dolphins @ Philadelphia Eagles (Dolphins +2.5)
Miami were one of the featured teams last weekend, and they didn’t disappoint. Why would they? This team is red hot right now! They lead the league in total offense, passing, rushing and points scored – averaging 37.2 points per game! Are they the best team in football? Quite possibly so but this week’s opponents will have something to say about that.
The Philadelphia Eagles have been criticised for not looking perfect through the first 6 weeks – and last weekend’s loss to the Jets was certainly a surprise. Here’s the thing though…. they do keep finding ways to win. You don’t get style points in the NFL – just wins and losses. The bottom line is this, they – along with the Dolphins, Chiefs and 49ers currently share the best record in football. They find a way to stack wins together and ultimately, it’s all about plying your best football in January and February, not October.
This week they added another veteran to their ranks – another weapon on offense. Wide receiver, Julio Jones is now an Eagle, alongside AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith. This is a unit which averages over 25 points per game, and you can bet a sold out Lincoln Financial Field will provide a big gam atmosphere on Sunday night Football.
Yet, you have to ask yourself, which team looks the more impressive right now? Which team can blow the doors off opposing defenses – both through the air and on the ground – right now? There is only one…. the Miami Dolphins!
They have speed to burn. As impressive as the Eagles’ 4th ranked scoring offense might be on paper, the Dolphins are averaging just about 12 points per game more! And there’s the legacy of their lone defeat this season, when they just never got going in Buffalo. To make Philadelphia 2.5 point favourites seems a lot – and a little insulting to this Miami team.
To be frank, I expect the Dolphins to go into the Linc and win this game outright!
PICK: Miami Dolphins +2.5