This week’s lines are from USAToday.com (as of Thursday night).
ATS – Against the Spread
SU – Straight Up
O/U – Over/Under
New England @ Seattle (+3.5)
The Patriots are the top ranked offense in the league, ranking 1st in points scored (33 PPG) and total yards (439.4 YPG). Last week they opened up to a 31-7 lead over the Denver Broncos and ended up winning 31-21.
They will get a key piece of their offense back this week with TE Aaron Hernandez expected to play after injuring his ankle in Week 2.
The Seahawks have one of the best defenses in the league. They rank 1st in holding opponents to 158.6 yards per game, 2nd in points allowed (14 PPG) and are 3rd against the run (66.6 YPG).
It’s a different story on the other side of the ball as the offense has struggled under rookie QB Russell Wilson. In his first five games, Wilson has thrown for five TDs versus six interceptions and has passed for an average of 163 yards per game. It’s no secret that Coach Pete Carroll is bringing Wilson along slowly. Carrol is depending on his team’s defense and run game to keep them in games. RB Marshawn Lynch is 3rd in the league in rush yards with 508.
The Patriots are 8th in the league against the run, holding opponents to 82.8 YPG. Some of this may be a result of the Patriots building a big lead early, forcing teams to abandon the run. They rank 30th in the league against the pass, giving up 290 YPG.
The Patriots two losses this season have come by a combined three points while they have won their three games by an average of 18 points.
This game comes down to the Patriots offense simply being better than the Seahawks defense. The Seahawks offense won’t be able to keep up with the Pats’ high powered offense. Seattle’s only chance to win the game is to run early and often in order to keep the clock running and the ball out of Tom Brady‘s hands. I doubt this will happen as the Patriots defense will be focused on stopping Coach Carroll’s one dimenensional offense.
Gimme the Patriots minus the points.
Oakland @ Atlanta (-9)
The Falcons remain undefeated this season after winning in Washington last week 24-17. QB Matt Ryan threw for 345 yards and 2 TDs with one interception. On the season Ryan has thrown for over 1,500 yards and 13 TDs with only three interceptions. He has a QB rating of 106.1.
Ryan has plenty of weapons on offense. Last week, future Hall of Famer TE Tony Gonzalez had 13 catches for 123 yards and a TD. WR Julio Jones chimed in with 10 catches for 94 yards and a TD. The previous week Ryan focused on Roddy White who went for 169 yards and 2 TDs. The Falcons rank 6th in the league in points scored at 29.6 PPG while ranking 7th in total pass yards (281.6 YPG).
The Raiders are coming off a bye in Week 5. In Week 4, they were blown out in Denver, 37-6. You can bet that they spent last week working on their defense, which ranks 30th in the league in points allowed (31.2 PPG).
The Raiders have trouble stopping both the run and the pass giving up 128.5 YPG and 283 YPG respectively. On the offensive side of the ball, the Raiders are dead last in rushing yards (60.8 YPG) and 29th in points scored (16.8 YPG).
Look for the offense to continue with their struggles against the Falcons, who rank 8th in the league in points allowed (18.6 PPG).
The Falcons are 4-1 ATS on the season while the Raiders are 1-3 ATS.
Gimme the Falcons minus the points.
Green Bay @ Houston (O/U 47.5)
The undefeated Texans (5-0) are averaging 29.8 PPG, good for 4th in the league. The focal point of the Texans offense is RB Arian Foster, who has 532 rushing yards for the season, ranking 2nd in the NFL. He also has a receiving TD. QB Matt Schaub has done a fine job as a game manager, throwing for eight TDs versus two interceptions with a QB rating of 99.2.
The Packers (2-3) offense started the season slowly but seems to have turned a corner, scoring 27 points in each of their last two games. Green Bay lost RB Cedric Benson last week due to a foot injury as he was placed on the “designated for return” injury reserve. In the meantime, the Packers will use a combination of Alex Green and James Starks to replace Benson. If anything, I see the Packers throwing even more with Benson out. It also doesn’t hurt that the Texans will be without one of their top defensive players in linebacker Brian Cushing who tore his ACL last week and was placed on the injured reserve list.
These two teams have a lot of playmakers on offense and I expect it to be a high scoring game.
Gimme the Over.