While not all of the games depicted below are guaranteed riveting football watching, all are relatively safe bets when it comes picking against the odds.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Carolina Panthers (-3.5)
: For their surprising deficiencies in the running game and depleted linebacker corps, the Panthers have yet to win but managed to hold leads in each game this season. Buying fully into what rookie Cam Newton brings to the table, Carolina just doesn’t look like a team which earned the No. 1 overall draft pick the year before. From a numbers standpoint, the Jaguars defense isn’t terrible, but it will crumble often enough this Sunday that Carolina will cruise to its first win of the Ron Rivera era with relative ease. It certainly doesn’t help matters for Jacksonville that rookie Blaine Gabbert will make his first NFL start on the road and with no better a supporting cast of receivers than is afforded him. Only reason this game isn’t being plugged with three- or four-star status is that Maurice Jones-Drew could conceivably approach some of his single-game milestones against Carolina’s front seven.
Give me the Panthers minus the points.
Miami Dolphins @ Cleveland Browns (-2)
: Listen, you take Brandon Marshall out of the game, or limit his effectiveness in any way – you win the battle against Miami’s offense. This is precisely what will unfold versus Cleveland this weekend. As for the Dolphins defense, considered by many to be an upper echelon unit in the preseason, opposing teams are having success running and passing the ball against them. Also something you may as well expect will happen in this contest. In his second season, quarterback Colt McCoy fits the Browns offensive system quite well, distributing the ball with accuracy to several receivers, both tight ends and his running back. Speaking of whom, Peyton Hillis will undoubtedly get the job done versus Miami and then some.
Give me the Browns minus the points.
Detroit Lions @ Minnesota Vikings (+3.5)
: To say the Lions are doing some things well, through two weeks, would, of course, be an understatement. He has a lot more games to play before durability concerns are laid to rest, but Matthew Stafford is to Lions fans the most promising quarterback since … Bobby Layne in the 1950s? Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Jahvid Best between them will continue their roll in Minnesota, while the Vikings will be able to rely on Adrian Peterson and that’s about it. Nothing against Peterson, by the way, but one nearly superhuman running back does not a quality football team make. Detroit’s fearsome front seven will prove this by the final bell.
Give me the Lions minus the points.
New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills (+9)
: While it’s tough to bet against New England in any form or fashion right now, the odds setters really made a statement against the Bills here. Obviously Tom Brady and the slew of weapons at his disposal have the potential to bury any team, especially one whose defense has coughed up the big plays Buffalo has. But are we to believe Ryan Fitzpatrick, Stevie Johnson, David Nelson and Fred Jackson aren’t going to gouge New England’s defense in some of the same ways the Miami Dolphins and San Diego Chargers did? The nice thing is one needn’t boldly pronounce that the Bills will finally beat New England outright, after losing 15 straight; one need only talk one’s self into the Patriots being kept from winning soundly.
Give me the Bills plus the points.