Tua returns for the Fins against Pittsburgh. The Chargers host the Seahawks and will the Ravens defense continue to be generous when Cleveland visit Baltimore?
Cleveland Browns (2-4) @ Baltimore Ravens (3-3) (Browns over 17.5 points)
With Deshaun Watson suspended for the first 11 games of the season, Cleveland were always expected to find it tough sledding early on. Baltimore’s struggles through the first 6 weeks have been much more surprising though. QB Lamar Jackson has played well, and the offense is ranked 8th in the NFL. Their defense though has been surprisingly poor – unable to hold leads and uncharacteristically generous. They’re ranked a lowly 20th in scoring defense – giving up 23.5 points per game.
That gives all opponents cause for hope – especially if their own defense is generous as well. That’s certainly the case with the Cleveland Browns, who are ranked 30th – giving up 27.2 points per game. For the neutral this may give rise to hope of a high scoring match up. Unfortunately, the Browns aren’t so potent on offense. While they run the ball better than any other team in the NFL, their passing game is not so threatening, and this gives the edge to Baltimore, who also boast a top 10 run defense.
That being said, Cleveland have only scored fewer than 20 points once this season. The Ravens have only held an opponent to under 20 points once in the past 5 games – and surrendered 24 last weekend, in defeat to a Giants team with the 25th ranked offense.
Baltimore are rightly favourites to win this AFC North battle, but the Browns should expect to score at least 18 points.
PICK: Cleveland Browns Over 17.5 Points
Seattle Seahawks (3-3) @ Los Angeles Chargers (4-2) (Chargers -5.5)
The LA Chargers enjoy playing against NFC West. They’ve won 4 of their last 5 match ups against NFC West opponents and now face a Seahawks team with one of the worst defensive records in the NFL – ranked 31st, giving up 27.2 points per game. Despite also having a raft of injuries to contend with, they’re tied at the top of their own division with the Chiefs, with a 4-2 record.
Seattle though, have been competitive this year and that’s reflected in their 3-3 start to the season. QB Geno Smith has been impressive in leading a top 10 ranked scoring offense (24.2 points per game). Their Achilles heel is their defense – only the Detroit Lions give up more points.
Expect the Chargers to take advantage in what may well be a high scoring game. Despite investing in their defensive through free agency, that’s not translated yet into a frugal unit. The Chargers still give up 21 points per game. That said, the Chargers are the better team and are rightly favourites heading into this matchup. They’re riding a 3 game winning streak; confidence is rising and they should handily beat the Seahawks.
PICK: Los Angeles Chargers -5.5
Pittsburgh Steelers (2-4) @ Miami Dolphins (3-3) (Total Points Under 45)
The Steelers come into this game on the back of a huge win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Dolphins are on a 3 game losing streak – but all is not as it may first appear.
While Pittsburgh’s defense remains the strongest unit on this team, their offense is anaemic – ranked 30th in scoring (16.2 points per game). Miami opened up with 3 straight wins before losing QB Tua Tagovailoa with a concussion. This weekend he returns to the team and that transforms this offense. He has great chemistry with WR Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill is one of the premier deep threats in the NFL, as we witness when they pulled off a stunning come from behind win in week 2 at Baltimore, scoring 42 points.
Even so, the Dolphins, with Tua at QB don’t tend to be involved in high scoring games. Align that with a Steelers team who have only scored more than 20 points in a game once this season and have scored fewer than 18 points in 3 of their games and the line for total points appears high. Miami will certainly be hopeful that Tua’s return signals a return to winning ways but don’t expect fireworks on the scoreboard.
PICK: Total Points Under 45