Miami Dolphins @ Kansas City Chiefs (Dolphins +2.5)
After 3 games in London in October, Germany throws open its doors to the NFL in November. Everybody remembers the incredible atmosphere in Munich last year. Now Frankfurt plays host in back to back weeks, starting with the Super Bowl champion, Kansas City Chiefs taking on the electric Miami Dolphins.
Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce against Tua Tagovailoa and Tyreek Hill. Of course, these players don’t directly go head to head on the field, but they are the star attractions that a sold out Deutsche Bank Stadium are turning up to see.
One key player missing, might not be a player who immediately springs to mind, but is a key component of the Chiefs defense – Nick Bolton. The line-backer was placed on IR following wrist surgery last week and the Chiefs missed him in their defeat to the Broncos. The middle of the field will be a key battleground against the speed of this Dolphins offense.
The Dolphins themselves have been impressive this season but following defeats in Buffalo and Philadelphia, the question now being asked is, can they beat Super Bowl calibre opponents? This will likely be a source of some frustration for them but until they win a game like this, that question will hang out there. This is an ideal opportunity to put it to bed.
Kansas City were less than impressive in Denver. The Broncos took away Travis Kelce and the Chiefs’ receiving corps failed to stand up. Well, Miami now have a fit again Jalen Ramsey in their starting line-up. He made his Dolphins debut last week and immediately recorded an interception.
So, it could be a game of cat and mouse on Sunday with Patrick Mahomes no doubt, desperate to atone for his poor outing last week. On paper it’s intriguing…
Miami are the best in the league when it comes to overall offense, passing, rushing and points scored – averaging an incredible 33.9 points per game.
The Chiefs perhaps surprisingly good on defense – in the top 4 this season for overall defense, passing defense and points allowed. Giving up just 16.1 points per game – 2nd best defensive record in the NFL.
The surprise comes when you look at the Chiefs ranking 12th in points scored – 23.4 per game! So, do you subscribe to defense wins championship games or do you go with the high powered offense?
As I’ve already mentioned, LB Nick Bolton is as big loss for this KC team. He’s a leader – both in stature and with his play on the field. In contrast, the Dolphins have just got one of the best DBs in the league back. Align that with the contrasting offensive production and this is the stage where Miami get the monkey off their back.
PICK: Miami Dolphins +2.5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Houston Texans (Buccaneers +2.5)
This is a huge game for both teams. Both sit at 3-4 but the Buccaneers find themselves just half a game out of first place in their division while the Texans are still in the hunt for a wild card spot.
Tampa Bay are coming off a mini bye after their Thursday night loss to the Buffalo Bills. Houston, desperate to get back to winning ways after a disappointing road loss in Carolina.
Tampa’s key to success lies in not turning the ball over. Offensively, their numbers are nothing to shout about. They struggle to run the ball (30th), they don’t light up the scoreboard – averaging a mere 17.3 points per game (23rd) and they average fewer than 300 yards per game BUT they don’t turn the ball over. They’re the 2nd best team in the NFL this year with 6 giveaways and they rely on their defense playing bend but don’t break football to get results. They give up 18.3 points per game (6th) and are tied with Dallas on 13 takeaways (5th).
All of this points to an attritional game against a Houston team which could be described as the biggest surprise of the season so far. They’ve already beaten the Jaguars, the Saints, and the Steelers BUT they’ve also lost star cornerback Derek Stingley and veteran WR Robert Woods to injury and after being limited to just 13 points by the Panthers, this Buccaneers defense poses more problems for rookie QB CJ Stroud. The Texans will take their shots deep and TE Dalton Shultz will be a regular target, but the Bucs are stout against the run (10th) and David and White make the middle of the field a dangerous place to operate.
If the Texans can get turnovers in this game, it’s one they can win. If not, it’s likely the type of game where experience counts. Remember they allowed a 15 play drive in Carolina for the Panthers to convert a walk off field goal attempt. It won’t be pretty, but Baker Mayfield is the more experienced QB in this matchup and the Buccaneers defense has shown the ability to close out games for the Buccaneers.
PICK: Tampa Bay Buccaneers +2.5
Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles (Total Points +45.5)
This is the game of the week! An NFC East battle between the two top teams in the division – both harbouring aspirations of claiming the no. 1 seed in the NFC.
If the Eagles win, they take a firm hold of the division and solidify their best record in football. If the Cowboys win, they move to within half a game of the Eagles, knowing they still have to host them later this season, back in Dallas.
I’ve mentioned it before but, it appears the only knock anyone has had on the Eagles is that they’re haven’t been winning games in a flashy enough manner this season. That maybe so, but the only thing that ultimately matters in football is whether you win or lose, and the bottom line is Philadelphia have lost fewer games and won more games this season than anyone else in football. They’ve also posted 69 points in their last 2 games and have a wide receiver in AJ Brown who looks nigh on unstoppable! In his last 6 games Brown has 49 catches, he’s scored 5 touchdowns and had no fewer than 127 receiving yards in each game. He’s the first player in NFL history to have 125 or more receiving yards in 6 straight games. This man is a beast and presents the biggest challenge the Cowboys have faced this season!
The Dallas defense is seen as one of the best in football. It’s certainly opportunistic. They have 13 takeaways this year. 3 of them returned for touchdowns – all 3 scored by 2nd year defensive back, Daron Bland. They rank in the top 4 for overall defense, passing defense and points allowed. It is the strength of this team but if there are question marks, they lie with stopping the run. In their 2 defeats this year, both the Cardinals and the 49ers gashed them on the ground and that leaves cause for concern against an Eagles team which has a mobile QB and has a top 10 rushing offense. If you can run the ball on Dallas, you take away this team’s biggest strength – pressuring the quarterback.
On the other side of the ball Philadelphia are not good at defending the pass – ranking 26th in the NFL this season. Coming out of their bye week, Dak Prescott and the Cowboys offense looked a little different. More deep throws and in the last 2 games a change in emphasis with WR CeeDee Lamb heavily featured. He’s coming off a career day with 12 receptions for 158 yards and 2 TDs.
Dak Prescott is 7-1 in his last 8 outings against Philadelphia. Jalen Hurts has never beaten a Cowboys team with Prescott starting at QB. In fact, the only time Hurts has beaten the Cowboys was when Cooper Rush was at QB for Dallas in October last year.
Philadelphia are rightly favourites heading into this matchup but be warned. All time against Dallas, Jalen Hurts averages 274 yards per game with a completion percentage of just 59.3. He has 5 touchdown passes and 4 interceptions and has yet to score a rushing TD against them.
In short, everything points to an entertaining, physical NFC East battle. The atmosphere inside the Linc will be electric! Dallas are averaging 28.1 points per game. Philadelphia are at 28. Only one of their last 5 meetings have had fewer than 54 total points.
PICK: Total Points +45.5