NFL Matchup Predictions

New England Patriots are a “pick ’em” at Jacksonville. OK, we’ll pick ’em! [UPDATED]

Saturday, 15 September 2018 13:36 EST

[UPDATE/Editor's note: Since posting, the line has this game has moved to New England Patriots -1. But we're not changing our pick. We got in earlier enough, but we're still advising to take the New England Patriots -1 at Jacksonville.]

[UPDATE #2: On the morning of gameday, that line is now Patriots -1½ points. We're still saying take the Patriots -1½ at Jacksonville. By the way, does Jalen Ramsey know about this...?]

As far as excitement goes, this may be the game to watch in week 2: A rematch of last year’s AFC title game when the Jacksonville Jaguars nearly dethroned the New England Patriots in a close match. Will this game end with Jacksonville getting their revenge, or will New England prove they still are a Super Bowl contender? Even the oddsmakers don’t know, as the point spread has been reduced to “pick ’em”. The over/under is currently at 44½ points, which in my opinion is much too low.

Jacksonville Jaguars offense vs New England Patriots defense

Jacksonville Jaguars betting logoThe Jaguars have offensive talent and loads of it. Unfortunately, if the captain of your ship is bad at his job, no amount of first mates will right that ship. Yes, I’m talking Blake Bortles, the enigma of the NFL.

Is Bortles a starting NFL QB? No. Will he once again be the starter for Jacksonville this season even though there were a plethora of better options available via trade and free agency? Unsurprisingly, yes.

In week 1, Bortles completed 18 of 33 passes for only 54.5% accuracy. Luckily for the Jaguars and Bortles, their strength lies in their running game. Having one of the best young RBs in Leonard Fournette is huge and he is the key to a Jaguars win Sunday.

Star players are overrated, right? The New England Patriots defense, while stocked with a lot of talented players such as Stephen Gilmore or Dont’a Hightower, does not have any marquee talent. Instead, they have opted for a defense that succeeds based on system and committee. Their defensive stats for week 1 speak for themselves: Three Patriots had 7 or more tackles, and seven players had 5 or more. The key to the Patriots winning is to just keep the ball rolling. If they can keep Bortles pressured, he will throw at least one interception, and probably more like three.

New England Patriots offense vs Jacksonville Jaguars defense

New England Patriots betting logoI don’t understand how the Patriots continue to make decent receivers out of nothing, Brady has a superpower or a cheat code somewhere, as he elevates his teammates’ performances. Phillip Dorsett, who last season had 194 total yards and has so far peaked at 528, is now the Patriots #1 wideout (until Julian Edelman returns). Dorsett kicked that off by catching 7 passes, as many as Rob Gronkowski, and had 66 offensive yards. Gronk came back with a vengeance-netting 123 yards.

At running back, Rex Burkhead and James White once again form a powerful duo. The Patriots offense should hold up well against the Jaguars defense. *Should.*

Myles Jack had himself a game last week, didn’t he? The budding MLB had an astonishing 7 solo tackles and scored himself a pick six. Teamed with Jalen Ramsey, these two are quickly becoming one of the best defensive duos in the NFL. If Jack can continue to dominate in the MLB position and clog the middle, Ramsey will have a much easier time dealing with Dorsett. This could be the key that wins the game for the Jaguars: Stopping the passing game will largely make the Patriots offensive machine extremely ineffective.

New England Patriots at Jacksonville: The pick

In a “pick ‘em” scenario like this, anything goes. The numbers tell me to bet on the Patriots because Bortles will most likely falter against a well-run Patriots defense. On the flip side, however, if Ramsey and Jack, along with the rest of their defense, can force Brady not to pass the football, it will give Jacksonville a huge advantage.

Make the safe bet and take the New England Patriots in a “pick ’em” at Jacksonville; they are the more well-rounded team and betting on a very good defense to hold the Patriots is never a good strategy – just ask the Falcons. [Not to mention all those NFL bettors who covered Atlanta Falcons +3 in that game! –Ed.]

As far as the over/under goes, we’re advising to take the over on an O/U of 44½ points.

Cleveland Browns at New Orleans Saints: Is NFLbets really going back to that well…?

Friday, 14 September 2018 09:23 EST

With an interesting week 1 of the 2018 NFL season now in the books, let’s look at some matchups in week 2. The Cleveland Browns now have a second opportunity to get that elusive win after a heartbreak finish week 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Meanwhile, the New Orleans Saints also look to get one in the win column after an embarrassing loss to the Ryan Fitzpatrick-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The point spread unsurprisingly has the Browns as 9-point underdogs. As far as the under/over, it’s currently sitting at 49.5 points.

Cleveland Browns offense vs New Orleans Saints defense

Betting on the Cleveland Browns doggieIn one of the biggest shockers so far of this young season, the Saints defense (a strong suit in 2017) imploded on them, giving up a whopping 48 points. Luckily for the Saints, the Browns’ offensive unit was not great, either. Largely due in part to Tyrod Taylor’s rough outing wherein he completed only 37.5% of his passes. For comparison, Drew Brees completed 82.2% of his passes

One main way that the Saints can properly stop Cleveland is from the defensive line. If Taylor once again struggles to pass and is forced to run, he’ll be very vulnerable. If Taylor is forced to run, it will be up to the Saints defensive line to haul him in – though in week 1, the Saints defense was an absolute turnstile. Pro Bowl DE Cameron Jordan was near invisible after posting an impressive 13 sacks and 48 solo tackles in 2017, managing 3 solo tackles and 3 assists.

The Browns offensive machine did not do well in week 1. This may sound counterintuitive, considering the score against Pittsburgh, but the numbers don’t lie. To go along with Taylor’s bad passing numbers the receivers suffered as well. Luckily for them, the Steelers had Jarvis Landry’s 106 yards because the next best receiver had 38…

Yes, while Landry had 7 receptions, Josh Gordon, Antonio Callaway and Rashard Higgins had a combined 2. To put it bluntly, if Cleveland can right their passing game they have a good shot at winning. [Hey, here’s a great idea. Why don’t they try out that first-round draft pick that dudes like Tony Romo and Drew Brees dig so much…? –Ed.]

New Orleans Saints offense vs Cleveland Browns defense

New Orleans Saints retro logoThis is a toss-up. Both Cleveland’s defense and New Orleans’s offense were firing on all cylinders in tehir week 1 games. This battle is going to largely dictate who emerges on top in this matchup. Cleveland’s defense led the way for them on week 1 with an impressive 6 turnovers generated from fumbles and interceptions. New Orleans on the other hand put up 40 points in a losing effort against Tampa Bay.

Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas were very impressive in week 1. Kamara earned 112 receiving yards to go along with his 29 rushing yards, he also led the team in touchdowns with 3. Thomas was very impressive in racking up 180 receiving yards and a touchdown. Brees continues to defy age, as he was a model of efficiency in completing 37 of 45 passes and three TDs. If the Saints offense stays this hot, they have a good chance to win.

As for Myles Garrett and Denzel Ward … holy crap, they both had themselves a game in week 1. Ward especially impressed as a rookie going up against Antonio Brown, with not 1 but 2 interceptions. He only really got beat by Brown clean on one touchdown pass. Garrett was a monster; while only having 6 tackles on the day, 2 were sacks, and one led to a fumble recovery by the Browns. The injury to Emmanuel Ogbah will hurt them, but they are still going to be tough for the Saints to crack.

Cleveland Browns at New Orleans Saints: The bets

This game is all going to come down to how well the Browns can limit the Saints’ high-powered offense. Taking the Cleveland Browns +9 at New Orleans and hoping for a close game seems like the safe bet, especially with Cleveland on a 4-1 run ATS against the Saints. In terms of the over/under, we’re hedging on that Browns offense. Even if Taylor and his offense don’t go off the rails and can’t convert points, not much is going on the scoreboard in this game. Take the under on an O/U of 49½ points.

Our new contributor has stones enough to pick the Cleveland Browns versus Pittsubrgh in his first NFLbets piece

Saturday, 08 September 2018 09:48 EST

NFLbets welcomes a new staff writer coming aboard just in time to give some outrageous advice to bettors for the 2018 NFL season. Readers, meet Ryan Boonstra, who fearlessly starts his ternue with this website by arguing the case of none other than the Cleveland Browns against those world-beating Pittsburgh Steelers...

First off, no, I'm not crazy. But I believe that you absolutely should take the Cleveland Browns +4½ vs the Pittsburgh Steelers. I know the Browns have a long long long history of not winning opening week: They are a staggering 1-18 SU since returning to Cleveland in 1999. However, I firmly believe that this Browns team is the sleeper team to watch this season, and it starts in week 1.

Steelers: Lots of receiving, but who’s running?

Sad Pittsburgh Steelers fansPittsburgh's offense has been nothing short of brilliant on the field for the past couple of campaigns. Ben Roethlisberger headlines an offense consisting of Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster and new draftee James Washington. That receiving duo must be among the best since Welker and Moss were catching bombs from Brady. Adding Washington to that mix gives the Steelers some dynamic options at receiver. This is key because it will be the biggest way they can pull out a big win against the Dog Pound.

At running back, Pittsburgh has a big problem, Le’Veon Bell once again has entered a contract dispute with the Steelers, resulting in him holding out week 1. This is a huge blow to their offense because it eliminates some of their mismatch capabilities against a young Browns defense. If they can exploit that defense in the air, they have a good chance of winning. Be that as it may, the Steelers’ lack of running game might prove the Achilles heel that prevents a victory.

On defense, some lingering questions and concerns remain. The loss of Ryan Shazier to a devastating neck injury was a big blow, and Pittsburgh made a stop-gap acquisition of Jon Bostic but will that band-aid hold? The Steelers defense is very youthful, with a staggering seven of 12 starters under the age of 25. While that sets them up well for the future, it raises questions about how well they'll be able to produce over a season and right out of the gate.

Cleveland Browns: Changing for the better

The much-maligned Cleveland Browns enter a new season after coming off another embarrassing 2017 in which they went winless. Big changes were necessary and for the first time they actually went ahead and made drastic changes over the summer that should make an immediate and noticeable difference on the field and in the future.

On offense the Browns added veterans Jarvis Landry, Tyrod Taylor and Carlos Hyde to a group of young offensive talent and draftees that includes Antonio Callaway, Josh Gordon, David Njoko, Nick Chubb, Rashard Higgins, and Baker Mayfield. This represents an actual NFL team's starting offense. If Tyrod gets in a groove, he can be very dangerous,and this team has the weapons in its arsenal to do some damage. Look for the Browns to test the inexperienced Steelers secondary early and do some damage with their passing game.

Defensively the Browns, much like the Steelers, have questions. They have talent oozing out of their defensive line and secondary with players like Denzel Ward, Myles Garrett, Jabrill Peppers, Damarious Randall, and Emmanuel Ogbah, but it's young talent – extremely young. In spite of the youth, though, the coaching staff seems to believe they can get the job done, as most outside additions have been for depth purposes. These young players are all slated to be starters in 2018 and it will be interesting to see if that youth will be their strength or fault.

Al Villanueva: He can see Myles

At least one Steelers player appears worried about the Browns defense going into week 1:

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns: The bet

Statistically speaking while the Browns have a terrible week 1 winning percentage SU, the numbers for the Steelers aren’t great either. in 2017, the Steelers did not do well on the road, going 4-4 ATS (3-4 as a favorite) which to me suggests that may be susceptible to a possible Cleveland upset. they also have not had a good betting record as of late against Cleveland.

date Spread Result (w/spread)
Jan. 1, 2017 PIT -3 Cleveland 27, Pittsburgh 27
Sep. 10, 2017 PIT -10 Cleveland 18, Pittsburgh 11
Dec. 31, 2017 PIT -5 Cleveland 24, Pittsburgh 23

The uncertainty of the Steelers roster combined with their record against the Browns this past season suggests, believe it or not, to take the Browns plus the points in week 1.