NFL Predictions: Expert 2020/21 NFL Tips

Our NFL guru will be sharing his NFL predictions right throughout the 2020/21 season. The NFL Analyst will have comprehensive previews for each prime-time match in the regular season, as well as the Playoffs and the Super Bowl.

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Arizona Cardinals at Dallas Cowboys

The last game of the week sees the Arizona Cardinals visit the Dallas Cowboys. The Cardinals come into the week after a win against the Jets but trail the Rams and Seahawks in the division with a record of 3-2. The Cowboys had another come from behind win in week five but lost quarterback Dak Prescott to a season-ending injury.

The Cardinals started the season strong with two wins but fell to disappointing losses to Detroit and Carolina in weeks 3-4 before their win last week against the hapless Jets. The Cardinals used that win against the Jets to get their offence back on track, with quarterback Kyler Murray posting season highs in completions, passing yards and yards per attempts.

Wide receiver Deandre Hopkins is currently leading the league in targets, receptions and receiving yards and comes up against a Dallas defence who has given up big games to opposing number one receivers. The Cardinals rushing attack has been effective to start the year, ranking in the top ten for both rushing yards per game and yards per attempt. The Cowboys have allowed 5.29 yards per carry over the last three weeks and looks like an area the Cardinals can attack.

The Cardinal defence has allowed the leagues fifth-fewest points to start the season and rank in the top ten for sacks. They have been strong against the pass, but come up against a Dallas defence that leads the league in passing yards. The Arizona defence has been weak against the run in the first five games, giving up 157 rushing yards per game. They haven’t encountered a running back as talented as Ezekiel Elliot, who sits fifth in total rushing yards and could become the focal point of the offence with Prescott’s injury.

The Cowboys signed ex Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton as an insurance policy in the offseason amidst the contract negotiations with Prescott, and will now turn to Dalton to take over their offence for the remainder of the year. Dalton spent eight years as the starting quarterback in Cincinnati, taking the Bengals to the playoffs in five seasons before struggling in his last few years.

There was a lack of offensive weapons in his last few Bengals seasons, but he shouldn’t have that problem in Dallas. The Cowboys start arguably the best group of wide receivers in the league and one of the top rushers in Elliot. Dalton went 9-11 for 111 yards to set up the comeback win against the Giants last week, giving some optimism that he can step into the role and guide the Cowboys to the playoffs.

The Dallas defence has struggled to defend the pass all year and is allowing the most points per game to opponents. Creating pressure on the passer should be key for the Cowboys, with Murray’s QB rating dropping from 107.5 in a clean pocket to an atrocious 24.2 when under pressure.

The Cowboys are in the top ten for pressure percentage but are struggling to convert that into sacks, only recording 10 in their five games. Murray is notoriously hard to get a hold of once scrambling, so keeping him in the pocket will be the Cowboys best bet in limiting his effectiveness.

This game looked like it would be one of the seasons biggest shootouts prior to last weeks game, with the two offences ranked in the top few for no-huddle rate, neutral pace and passing plays in neutral situations. While the Cowboy offence slowed considerably after Prescott’s injury last week, the Cardinals look to have made a more deliberate effort to slow down after two losses. Their no-huddle rate dropped from 45% to 21% and ran the ball at a rate of 46% in the win and this tactic could be used again this week against the poor Dallas run defence.

Betting Strategy

BACK — Under 55.5


LA Rams at San Francisco 49ers

The late Monday game sees a divisional matchup between the LA Rams and The San Francisco 49ers. The Rams have started the season 4-1, but all wins have come against the dismal NFC East. The 49ers season continues to fall apart, losing to the Miami Dolphins in week five and sitting at 2-3. The two wins have come against the two New York teams who currently hold a combined record of 0-10. Another loss would make the winning the division almost impossible for the 49er’s, so a lot will be on the line in this one.

The Rams offence improved after a disappointing week 4, led by QB Jared Goff who threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns. The running game continues to have success, spreading the load across their three backs for around 130 yards in week 5 and sit 7th for rushing yards per game for the year.

The offence has been dependant on the offensive line play, with Goff leading the NFL in pass yards per attempt from a clean pocket at 10.6 yards, with that figure dropping to 3.7 yards when under pressure (32nd in the league). The 49ers pass rush has still been able to generate pressure at a decent rate despite all their injuries, so this matchup could be pivotal to the outcome of the game.

The Ram defence is one of the league leaders in points and yards allowed, but as mentioned above, have faced some underperforming teams. Of the strongest they faced, they were able to hold Dallas to 17 points in week one but gave up 35 to the Bills in their only loss. The success on defence has started with the defensive line, currently leading the NFL in sacks. Aaron Donald has been the stand out again this year, leading the league with 7.5 sacks of his own, which is more than eight teams have in total.

The 49er’s received some positive news on the injury front on offence, almost back to full strength with the return of Jimmy Garoppolo and Raheem Mostert. But that didn’t stop the struggles, with Garoppolo being pulled at half time in the 43-17 loss to the Dolphins. Coach Kyle Shanahan claimed the move was to protect the injured ankle of Garoppolo, so his status will need to be monitored up until game time.

The 49ers switched between reserves in Garoppolo’s absence without any real success, if he were to sit again this week it would move the Rams into heavy favouritism. The 49ers should continue to try and lean on the run game, where they ran in the top ten for rushing yards per game and rushing yards per carry. The Rams defence has been solid against the run but avoided Donald, and the pass rush would be the preferred option for the 49ers.

The 49ers defence was torched in the passing game by the Dolphins last week, giving up 350 yards and three touchdowns to Ryan Fitzpatrick. They have been able to post respectable defensive numbers considering all the talent missing via injury. Still, some of this will be propped up by the dysfunctional New York offences they faced. The injuries on the defensive line have highlighted the deficiencies in the 49er’s defensive backfield though, who are now dealing with their own injuries. This is a defence that can be attacked through the air and should be targeted by Goff.

The Rams defence should be too strong for a 49ers offensive line that has struggled to protect their quarterback, even if Garoppolo can make a start. I can see the Rams covering the line comfortably in this one.

Betting Strategy

BACK — Rams -3

Los Angeles Chargers at New Orleans Saints

The LA Chargers visit the Superdome to take on the New Orleans Saints in Tuesday’s game. The Chargers enter the game at 1-3, but have seen enough of rookie quarterback Justin Herbert in the last few weeks to name him the starter moving forward. The Saints have started 2-2, but have an opportunity to draw level with the division-leading Bucs after their loss earlier in the week.

Justin Herbert had some luck in getting his first chance at NFL football, a misplaced injection from the Chargers medical team left QB Tyrod Taylor with a punctured lung just minutes before week two’s kickoff, but he has shown enough promise for the Chargers to commit the rest of their season to the rookie.

Herbert has averaged 310 yards passing at a completion rate of 72% and 8.7 yards per attempt in his three starts, all in the top seven in the league. All three starts have resulted in losses, but tight games against the Chiefs and Bucs will give Chargers fans some hope.

They will be without one of their most exciting weapons, with running back Austin Ekeler missing up to a month with knee and hamstring issues.

The Chargers entered the season with one of the strongest defensive lines in the league, but have struggled with injuries in the first month of football. They have been able to create pressure on the quarterback at the 8th highest rate in the league while blitzing a league-low 10.3% of snaps, but have not been able to convert that to sacks, recording only six through four games.

After a slow start by his standards, Drew Brees has seen his yards per attempt and depth of target increase of the last few weeks. In Michael Thomas’ absence, running back Alvin Kamara has been the focal point of the passing attack, ranking in the top ten for receiving yards and top five for receptions in the league.

The depleted Chargers defensive line has allowed 4.32 yards per rushing attempt and the sixth most receptions to running backs, so another big game for Kamara is on the cards. The Saints defence has been middle of the road at both levels this year and are allowing the 8th most points in the league. The Saints have given up 283 yards and four TDs to opposing tight ends over the last three weeks, setting up Hunter Henry as the probable number one target for the Chargers with Saints CB Marshon Lattimore likely to shadow Keenan Allen.

The Saints defence have allowed opponents to stay in games and Justin Herbert has shown enough to make me think he will hang around in this one, losing by one score or less in all his starts. Can see Herbert and the Chargers making this more interesting than the 8.5-point line suggests.

Betting Strategy

BACK — Chargers +8.5


Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks

Monday’s late game sees the undefeated Seattle Seahawks hosting the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings are coming into the game in some improved form, off the back of their first win for the season against Houston last week and a 1 point loss to Tennessee in week three. The Seahawks stumbled a little in last weeks win against the Dolphins, but had too much firepower in the end and continued their streak of 30+ point games to start the season.

The Vikings started the season with two big losses, but have improved in the last two outings. The offense has come to life off the back of two huge rushing performances from Dalvin Cook, averaging 155 yards rushing per game with three touchdowns in the last two games. The improved rushing has opened up things for Kirk Cousins and the passing attack, with rookie wide receiver Justin Jefferson posting back to back huge games.

Over 70% of the completions Seattle allow are to wide receivers, which bodes well for Cousins who targets his receivers at a high rate (around 66%). The Viking defense has struggled to create any pressure on opposing quarterbacks, ranking in the bottom 10 in sack and QB hit rate. The lack of pass rush has left the secondary exposed, allowing the fourth-most passing yards for the season.

The Seattle offense continues to fire with Russell Wilson moving into early MVP favouritism, who leads the league in touchdowns, completion percentage and quarterback rating. The main beneficiaries of this hot start to the season has been wide receivers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, who both rank in the top 15 for receiving yards and have 7 touchdowns between them. Metcalf could be one to watch in this matchup, leading the league with 25.2 yard per reception against a Vikings secondary that has allowed a league high 13 receptions on passes thrown 20 yards or further.

The Seattle defence have struggled to stop opposing passers all year, giving up a league-worst 401 yards per game, 60 more than any other team. All-pro safety Jamal Adams looks set to miss another week with a groin ailment, setting up Cousins for a big passing day.

With both teams really struggling to create any pressure on the opposing quarterbacks, this one is set up for a shootout and currently has the highest point total for the week. With his hot start to the season, betting on Wilson in any shootout looks to be the safe bet.

Betting Strategy

BACK — Seattle -7


Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Chicago Bears

This week’s early game sees the Tampa Bay Buccaneers visiting Chicago to take on the Bears. The Bucs enter this game off the back of a big second-half comeback against the Chargers last week and sit atop their division on a record of 3-1.

The Bears are coming off their first loss of the season, going down 19-11 to Indianapolis last week in a game where their offense struggled to get firing. They will be looking for a win to keep up with the unbeaten Packers in the NFC North.

Tom Brady’s move to Tampa Bay has started well, averaging close to 300 yards passing per game with 11 touchdowns and four interceptions, with only 1 in the last two weeks. But he looks set to lose more weapons, with Chris Godwin and Leonard Fournette set to be joined by LeSean McCoy and O.J Howard on the injury list.

Star receiver Mike Evans has also been limited during training this week, which would leave the Bucs extremely thin at the offensive skill positions. The offensive line has improved since week one, only allowing 2 sacks in the last three weeks and allowing Brady the time he needs in the pocket. This doesn’t bode well for the Bears pass rush who have been below average this year, ranking in the lower half in sacks and both QB hurry and pressure ratings.

History has shown Brady can pick apart the best secondaries if given enough time and space, so the Bears will need to have some success in the pass rush if they are to win this one. The Bucs defense on the other hand ranks in the top five in all the above pass-rushing metrics and is arguably one if the best defensive lines in the league. They come up against an average Chicago offensive line who struggled to generate offense against a similarly strong Colts defensive line last week.

The Bears benched quarterback Mitch Trubisky during their week 3 game, bringing on Nick Foles who led them to the comeback win over Atlanta. Foles was named starter for week 4, but struggled against the much tougher defense of the Colts.

The Bears lost third down back Tarek Cohen to an ACL injury in week three, but head into this game with little other injury worries on offense. The Bucs defense has been one of the best against the run, allowing opposing rushers to only 2.43 yards per carry and a total of three touchdowns, so whoever ends up at quarterback will be relied on to attack the Bucs secondary.

The Bears secondary has started the year as strong as any, yet to allow a touchdown to an opposing wide receiver and forcing opposing passers to one of the lowest quarterback ratings in the league. But the run defense and defensive line has performed below expectations areas they have excelled in over the last two seasons.

Tampa Bay hold the advantage on both sides of the line in this one. With the offensive line giving Tom Brady the time he needs to utilise his running backs and avoid the strong secondary of the Bears, the Bears O-line might struggle to contain the Bucs defense which has been surging in the last few weeks.

The Bucs have averaged just under 33 points per game after their week one loss and should have too much firepower for the Bears.

Betting Strategy

BACK — Tampa Bay -3.5

Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers

The Tuesday game sees the high-flying Green Bay Packers hosting the winless Atlanta Falcons. The Packers head into this game leading the league in scoring, against a Falcons team that is allowing the most points to opponents. Atlanta has shown they are capable of scoring themselves, having double-digit fourth quarter leads in high scoring games the last two weeks before finding spectacular ways to lose.

Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn will be feeling the pressure after starting 0-3 and blowing two big last quarter leads, bringing back memories of the infamous Superbowl collapse. The offence have performed well, averaging 30 points per game to start the year. This has mainly been off the back of the passing game, with Matt Ryan third in passing yards and Calvin Ridley second in receiving yards. They should also get back star Julio Jones from a hamstring injury, which will add to passing attack.

The Packers have been vulnerable to the running game, allowing 5.5 YPC and allowing the NFL’s second-most receiving yards to running backs. Atlanta’s best chance may be to try and control the game on the ground and establish running back Todd Gurley early, keeping the Packers offense off the field.

Which brings us to the Falcons defense, which hasn’t been to stop anyone this year. After allowing 38 and 40 points in their first two games, against MVP candidate quarterbacks, they continued the trend last week giving up 4 passing touchdowns and 30 points to the tandem of Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles.

Unfortunately for Atlanta, they will be visiting former MVP Aaron Rodgers and a Packers offence that has scored 122 points through 3 games, the sixth most in NFL history. The Falcons defense have fared slightly better on the ground, but this is more likely due to opposing teams focusing on possibly the league’s worst secondary.

Rodgers will get his favourite weapon back this week, with Davante Adams likely to suit up after missing last week. That didn’t stop him taking apart a solid Saints defense in week 3, putting up 37 points after scoring 40+ in the first two weeks. Running back Aaron Jones has averaged over 100 yards rushing per game and scored four rushing touchdowns, having success early in games which has opened up the play action passing game for Rodgers.

The Packers also have one the best offensive lines in the NFL, allowing the fewest sacks in the league. The Atlanta pass rush has been middle of the road at best and has had two defensive lineman missing practice throughout the week. Rodgers has been under pressure a league-low of 16.9% this season, any Atlanta injuries could see that number drop lower.

The Packer defence has been below par for the season, but has been put in an advantageous position by the offense for the most part. They are amongst the leaders in yards per carries allowed art 5.5, but have seen the second-lowest rushing attempts against. The pass rush has been amongst the worst in QB hurry and pressure percentages, but has been able to finish for sacks when getting to the quarterback.

The Packers come into this game averaging over 40 points a game, against possibly the worst defense in the league. But Matt Ryan hasn’t been shy in airing it out to his star receivers either, all signs point to a shootout in this one. The bookies have set the total line high, but Packers games have averaged a league-high 69 points per game, with the Falcons not far behind at 66.

Betting Strategy

BACK — Over 56.5


Philadelphia Eagles at San Francisco 49ers

Monday’s late game sees the winless Philadelphia Eagles Visiting the San Francisco 49er’s. The 49ers have started 2-1, defeating the two New York teams in back to back weeks. They’ll look to keep pace in the competitive NFC West, currently sitting fourth will all teams at 2-1 or better.

The Eagles on the other hand have struggled to just one draw in their three games, with that coming against the lowly Bengals. But a win for the Eagles would put them back in the mix in the NFC East, with the favourite Cowboys only sitting on 1-2.

Philly comes into this game off the back of an overtime draw with the Bengals, their only points of the season. Questions have been raised over quarterback Carson Wentz’s play, leading the league in interceptions and sporting the league’s worst quarterback rating.

Some of these struggles could be attributed to injuries on offence, with a number of key pass catching options and linesman out and set to miss this match. But he may have even lost the confidence of his coach, with the ball taken from his hands on a crucial 4th down in last week’s game, instead opting to settle for a draw.

The Eagle defence has started the season strong against the run again, after being one of the best in 2019. The pass rush has also started strong, one of the league leaders with 12 sacks. They’ll look to attack second-string quarterback Nick Mullens, who should make his second straight start with Jimmy Garoppolo out with an ankle injury.

Mullens performed well in his first start since 2018, passing for 343 yards and a touchdown while picking apart the woeful Giants defence. Mullens will get back the 49er’s top pass catching weapons, with tight end George Kittle and wide receiver Deebo Samuel both set to return from injury.

The 49ers have remained a run-first offence in 2020, but may be forced to pass more due to the stout Philly defensive front and injuries to their two starting running backs, Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman.

While the injury front has started to ease on the offensive side, the defence is still missing key starters. 49er’s will be missing starting DE’s Nick Bosa and Dee Ford, CBs Richard Sherman and Emmanuel Moseley, DT Solomon Thomas, and SLB Dre Greenlaw. The defence held up in the wins over the two New York teams, but the growing injury list just may be what the Eagles need to get their offence back on track.

The 49er’s offence has been rolling in the last couple weeks and should continue against Philly defence allowing 29 points per game, while the Eagles will hope the banged-up 49er’s defence will allow them to get their season back on track. This one looks to have some shootout appeal and should cover the moderate points total on offer.

Betting Strategy

BACK — Over 45


Denver Broncos at New York Jets

Friday 2 October, 10:20am AEST

This week’s early game sees two teams without a win up against each other, with the Denver Broncos visiting the New York Jets. Both teams have struggled offensively to start the year, ranking in the bottom few of most offensive metrics. Only one team has ever made the playoffs after starting 0-4, so both teams will be desperate to a win on the board.

Denver continue to be decimated by injuries, with backup QB Jeff Driskel forced off the field in week 2, replaced by undrafted second-year player Brett Rypien. Rypien looks likely to start on the short break, but will be without his best wide receiver in Courtland Sutton and behind an offensive line that is dealing with injuries of its own, allowing 13 sacks and 29 QB hits in the first three weeks. The defensive side of the ball hasn’t fared much better, with starters Von Miller, Jurrell Casey and A.J Bouye amongst those missing.

With a starting three-man receiver group that have a total of 68 receptions for their careers, Rypien will look to lean on his tight end and running backs in this game. Second-year tight end Noah Fant has starting the season strong, averaging over 60 yards per game and finding the end zone twice.

The Broncos should get running back Phillip Lindsay back from injury, joining Melvin Gordon in the backfield. The Broncos will likely look to utilise their two pro-bowl running backs with Rypien making his first start, against a Jets defence that has struggled to contain the run all year.

The Jets have been awful on both sides of the ball to start the season, but will see this as their best opportunity to get a win for the foreseeable future. They rank last in yards per game, points scored per game and have yet to run a single offensive snap with the lead this season. This is all while allowing opponents to score over 30 points per game.

Quarterback Sam Darnold struggled with turnovers last week, throwing three interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. The Broncos have only forced one interception all year and rank in the lower half of the league in QB pressure and hurry percentages, so Darnold may have some time to sit in the pocket after facing elite pass-rushing teams in the last two weeks.

The Jets should get wide receiver Jamison Crowder back from injury, improving a pass-catching group that has been struggling with injuries. The Jets defensive line will hope to have more luck this week after coming up against two of the best offensive lines in the past fortnight. The Jets were still able to post acceptable pressure rates in these games and will hope to have a much better time against a beaten up Bronco’s O-line.

There isn’t a lot to like about either team in this one, but the injuries on both side of the ball for Denver have seen the Jets move into favouritism. A loss for the Jets could see the end of head coach Adam Gase’s reign in New York, but I see them just getting over the line against the banged up Broncos.

Betting Strategy

BACK — Jets -1.5

Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens

Tuesday 20 September, 10:15 am AEST

Tuesday’s game brings us a matchup between arguably the NFL’s two best teams, with the Kansas City Chiefs visiting the Baltimore Ravens. Both teams have started 2-0 and will be looking to get the upper hand in the race of the AFC Championship.

The Chiefs come into this game off the back of an overtime win against the Chargers, led by rookie quarterback Justin Herbert in his first NFL start. The Chiefs offence failed to fire early against the talented Charger defensive front, but Patrick Mahomes was able to find some rhythm in the last quarter and put up more points than the first three quarters combined to tie the game up. An overtime drive set up a long field goal for what was an unconvincing win.

The Ravens have had success limiting speed receivers in their first two games and will look to contain Tyrek Hill, who has hit the endzone in each of his first two games. Tight ends on the other hand have had success against the Ravens in 2020, putting up a total of 148 yards and two touchdowns.

Travis Kelce has been the best receiving tight end in the NFL over the last four years and had success against the Ravens in their last two meetings, so he should be targeted frequently in this one.

The Chiefs defence continues to create pressure on opposing quarterbacks after finishing strong in that department last year. They rank in the top three in QB hurry and QB pressure percentages, while staying around the middle of the pack in blitz percentage. This is largely due to linesman Frank Clark and Chris Jones, who will look to target rookie right guard Tyre Phillips to attack Lamar Jackson.

The Ravens have been dominant in both their victories to start 2020, leading from start to finish in both games. In week one, Lamar Jackson did the majority of the damage passing from the pocket, going for 275 yards and 3 touchdowns. Week two saw the Ravens go back to the rushing attack that served them so well last year, rushing for over 200 yards.

The Chiefs have looked more vulnerable against the run this year, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Ravens to attack on the ground early. The Ravens defence has started 2020 strong, limiting opponents to only 22 total points. This comes after limiting opponents to just over 13 points per game in the second half of 2019, after acquiring cornerback Marcus Peters in a midseason trade.

The Ravens blitz at one of the highest rates in the league and will hope to create pressure on Mahomes, but he continues to be one of the most dangerous passers outside of the pocket. If he is able to escape the blitz we may see more of the highlight reel plays Mahomes is known for.

With both offences amongst the league’s best, we could be in line for a shootout. The Ravens go into this game in better form to start 2020 and deserve to start favourites at home, but the value looks to be with a Kansas City team who have won their last 11 games dating back to mid last season.

Betting Strategy

BACK — Chiefs at $2.64


Green Bay Packers at New Orleans Saints

Monday 28 September, 10:20 am AEST

Monday’s late game sees the Green Bay Packers visiting the Saints in New Orleans. A battle of two future hall of fame quarterbacks, their respective starts to the 2020 season have been contrasting.

After a perceived down year from Aaron Rodgers in 2019, 2020 has started with back to back games of 40 plus points for the Packers. Rodgers has looked like his old self on the way to 600 yards and six touchdowns with no interceptions, but may be without his favourite weapon Davante Adams. Adams left the week 2 game early with a hamstring strain and is looking unlikely to suit up or the game. Rodgers isn’t the only Aaron firing for the Packers offense, with running back Aaron Jones currently leader the league in rushing yards.

The Packers have been a little suspect against the run themselves, allowing 4.87 yards per carry to opponents in the first two weeks. Rodgers and the offense have ensured the opponents have been forced into passing situations to mitigate this, and will hope they can keep this trend going.

Drew Brees on the other hand, is starting to look every bit of his 41 years. Brees currently has the lowest average depth of target in the league at 5.4 yards and has struggled with accuracy on deeper balls, this partially caused by loss of number one receiver Michael Thomas. One beneficiary of the short passing game has been running back Alvin Kamara, who is leading the league for targets, receptions and receiving yards amongst backs.

The Saints defense continued their run of not allowing a 100 yard rusher, a run that dates back to 2017, so may be the team to slow down Aaron Jones.

The Saints will start this game favourite, even after a surprise loss to the Raiders last week. The strength of the Packers first two opponents will be a big part of this, but I see Rodgers to continue to roll against a Saints defense that has struggled to pressure the quarterback.

Betting Strategy

BACK — Packers +3


Miami Dolphins at Jacksonville Jaguars

Friday 25 September, 10:20 am AEST

Week three kicks off with the Jacksonville Jaguars hosting the Miami Dolphins. Miami has started 0-2, losing two tough divisional games against New England and Buffalo. A third loss would all but end any playoff hopes for the Dolphins. The Jaguars have exceeded what were fairly low preseason expectations, beating the Colts in week one and competing to the last drive in a 33-30 loss to Tennessee.

The Dolphins offence improved on their week one showing, with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick playing mistake-free football after three interceptions in week one. He accounted for 328 yards and two touchdowns, with tight end Mike Gesicki the main benefactor of the improved display with 130 yards and a touchdown.

The defence has struggled to limit opposing quarterbacks this year, allowing efficient passing games (72% passing completion rate) from two historically inaccurate passers. Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew has started the season passing the ball well and will be looking to attack the Dolphins secondary.

After trading Nick Foles and Leonard Fournette in the offseason, along with a number of defensive starters, the Jaguars projected to be one of the NFL’s worst teams. But second-year quarterback Gardner Minshew has led the team to point totals of 27 and 30 in the first two weeks, helped by rookie running back James Robinson who is in the top 10 for rushing yards.

The Jaguars are yet to allow an opposing wide receiver to reach 75 yards in a game, but have allowed tight ends to catch 13-15 targets for 198 yards and two touchdowns. The Jags will need to tighten up the middle of the field to limit the effectiveness of Gesicki if they are to slow down the Miami passing attack.

The surging Jaguars offence should be too strong for Miami in this one, with Minshew having success against the soft Miami secondary.

Betting Strategy

BACK — Jaguars -3

New Orleans at Las Vegas

Tuesday 22 September, 10:15 am AEST

The final game of the week sees the New Orleans Saints visiting the Raiders in their new home town of Las Vegas, the city’s first-ever NFL game. Both teams are coming off a win in week one, with the Saints able to ruin Tom Brady’s Bucs debut with a 34-23 win at home, while the Raiders held off a late Carolina run for a 34-30 win.

The Saints offence struggled to get going against a strong Tampa Bay defence in week one but were able to play turnover-free football; something Drew Brees excelled at last year. The offence will take a further hit this week with wide receiver Mike Thomas suffering an ankle sprain.

Thomas led the league in receptions and receiving yards last year and will leave Saints relying on offseason addition Emmanuel Sanders and the unproven Tre’Quan Smith at receiver. Star running back Alvin Kamara will likely see more action in the passing game after posting five catches for 51 yards and a touchdown in week one.

The Saints defence were one of the league leaders in stopping the run in 2019 and showed that again in week 1, limiting Tampa Bay to 86 rushing yards. They will look to keep Raiders running back in check after a monster week one.

The Raiders leaned on the Jacobs as mentioned earlier in week one, the second-year back posting 93 yards and three touchdowns on 25 attempts. Quarterback Derek Carr spread the ball between his receivers in week one, with six different players posting 20+ receiving yards. But this was all against a Carolina defence that projects to be one of the worst in the NFL, the Raiders should expect more pressure on Carr this week from the Saints.

The Raiders defence allowed star running back Christian McCaffrey 135 total yards with two touchdowns, this will need to be addressed with another dual-threat in Kamara coming to town. The Raiders pass rush also struggled to create any pressure in week one, with only two QB hurries and one sack, the type of environment Brees thrives in.

Brees should utilise his running backs and tight ends in the passing game with Mike Thomas out, slowing the game down and controlling the tempo. The Raiders are coming up against a much better defence in week 2, with the Saints not allowing a 100-yard rusher all of last year.

I see this slowing the Raiders offence down, with Carr being one of the more conservative passers last year. I have the Saints winning this one, with the Raiders’ big score from last week not being repeated.

Betting Strategy

BACK — Under 49.5


New England at Seattle

Monday 21 September, 10:20 am AEST

Monday’s late game sees the New England Patriots visiting the Seattle Seahawks. The post-Brady era started with a win for the Patriots, with Cam Newton leading the way in a convincing win against the Dolphins. But they will be coming up against much more formidable opponents in Seattle, who had a victory over Atlanta in week one.

The Patriots used a run-heavy approach in their week one victory, utilising their superior offensive line against an outmatched Dolphin defensive front for a 21-11 win. Quarterback Cam Newton led the way, rushing 15 times for 75 yards and two touchdowns, with the 15 carries the second-most in his career.

The Patriots called run or play-action on 83% of their offensive snaps, which may hint at the style of play they will look to implement this year. While the offence was much changed, the defence seems to have picked up where they left off. With three interceptions on only 30 pass attempts, the Patriots’ defensive backfield looks to be one of the NFL’s best again this year.

In contrast to the Patriots, the Seahawks had too much firepower for the Falcons in a shootout, winning 38-25. Seattle coach Pete Carroll may have been listening to NFL fans everywhere who have been screaming out for Russ Wilson to be unleashed, with the Seahawks passing the ball on 16 of 21 early-down snaps.

The usually run-heavy Seahawks passed the ball on 60% of snaps in the first half to build a lead, with Wilson passing 31 of 35 for 322 yards and four touchdowns for the game. Wilson showed his elite accuracy when attacking the undermanned Atalanta cornerbacks, with none of his 35 passing attempts going to a receiver with a defender within one yard.

This year’s Seattle defence is a far cry from the Legion Of Boom heyday, but they do have the hard-hitting Bobby Wagner and Jamal Adams. If Cam Newton runs the ball 15 times again in this contest, he should expect a lot of attention from these two.

With Wilson coming up against arguably the best defensive backfield in football, the game should come down to whether the Seahawks can get their passing game going. Wilson has had success against Belichick led defences in the past, completing 64% of his passes for a 6:0 TD to INT ratio at over 10 yards per attempt in four contests. If Wilson gets going early, I don’t see Cam Newton being able to keep up.

Betting Strategy

BACK — Seattle -3.5


Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns

Friday 18 September, 10:00 am AEST

Week two kicks off with a divisional game between the Cleveland Browns and the visiting Cincinnati Bengals. Both teams are coming off week one losses and will be looking to get a win on the board, going 0-2 in this division will make reaching the playoffs difficult for the loser.

The Bengals’ loss came against the Chargers and their highly-rated defence, with the game ending at 16-13. Rookie quarterback Joe Burrows showed composure in his first game under what seemed like constant pressure from the Chargers, and he will be hoping his offensive line can provide a bit more time and space this week.

He took the Bengals 80 yards on their final drive, having a game-winning touchdown called back for an offensive pass interference penalty. The following 31-yard field goal was missed by kicker Randy Bullock, so the Bengals will be disappointed not to get the win or at least a chance in overtime.

The Browns were convincingly beaten by the Ravens in week one, with the offence, in particular, struggling in the 38-6 loss. With new head coach Kevin Stefanski having success running the ball during his time as the Vikings offensive coordinator, he will be hoping to establish the running game early after falling behind against the Ravens and resorting to a more pass-happy approach.

The Browns defence were torched through the air by Lamar Jackson, but this may have been by design to stop last year’s leading rushers. They held the Ravens to 107 rushing yards, which is the lowest total they have posted since the 2018 season.

Cleveland’s struggles on offence should give the Bengals a chance to stay in this one, with more expected from Burrows in his second start. The Bengals defence had success in the two matchups with the Browns last year, forcing more interceptions than passing TD’s allowed. I’m seeing this being closer than the bookies are predicting, with the Bengals a chance at taking the win.

Betting Strategy

BACK — Bengals +5.5

Tennessee Titans v Denver Broncos

Tuesday 15 September, 12:15am AEDT

The season’s first Monday Night football game has the Tennessee Titans visiting the Denver Broncos. The Broncos won last year’s match up 16-0 at homer, but a lot has changed for the two teams since then.

The Broncos enter the season with some optimism, going 4-1 to finish the season after moving to rookie quarterback Drew Lock, the only loss coming against the Superbowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs. But a lot of this success was built around the defence (19 points against in those wins), which will be much changed for the 2020 season.

Superstar Von Miller has suffered a possibly season ending ankle injury in training, with emerging edge-rusher Bradley Chubb still recovering from an ACL tear. This is in addition to offseason departures of cornerback Chris Harris, defensive ends Derek Wolfe and Adam Gotsis and safety Will Parks. The Broncos did add running back Melvin Gordon in the off season, along with drafting wide receiver Jerry Jeudy in the first round. Jeudy joins emerging pass catchers Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant, giving the young quarterback some promising weapons.

The Titans made a midseason quarterback change of their own, moving to veteran Ryan Tannehill during the 16-0 loss to the Broncos. The move prompted a commitment to the running game and in particular Derrick Henry, who ended the season as the league’s top rusher. The Titans finished the regular season 7-3 after the change, followed by victories over the more fancied Patriots and Ravens in the playoffs, before bowing out to the eventual Champion Chiefs in the AFC title game.

Signing both Tannehill and Henry to new contracts in the offseason, the Titans look to be keeping the same strategy this year. Much of the offence remains the same, with offensive lineman Jack Conklin being replaced by Dennis Kelly and rookie Isaiah Wilson the only major change. The Titans did sign former number one pick Jadeveon Clowney and Vic Beasley to their defensive line, but also lost All-Pro defensive tackle Jurrell Casey.

The depleted Broncos defence should struggle with the power running game of the Titans, who are now favourites after the injury to Von Miller. The Titans covered the line in all 7 of their wins after the change in QB last year and should do so again.

Betting Strategy

BACK — Titans at -2.5


Dallas Cowboys v Los Angeles Rams

Monday 14 September, 10:20am AEDT

The Dallas Cowboys visit the LA Ram to debut the brand new SoFi Stadium. The Rams will be looking to make their way back into the playoffs after missing out last year, but will need to contend with the toughest division in the league. The Cowboys on the other hand will contest one of the weakest and start favourites to top the division after winning last year.

The Rams have lost a couple of key offensive pieces from last year, with Brandin Cooks and Todd Gurley departing in the offseason. They will look to replace both from within, only rookie running back Cam Akers looking like breaking into the rotation in the skill positions. On the defensive side of the ball, they did resign cornerback Jalen Ramsey to the richest contract in the positions history. They also return Aaron Donald, arguably the best defensive lineman in the league, but lost Dante Fowler Jnr and Clay Matthews from that defensive line.

After a protracted contract saga over the offseason, the Cowboys keep Dak Prescott at quarterback. They also add first round draftee CeeDee Lamb to an already strong wide receiver group. With superstar running back Ezekiel Elliot and a strong offensive line, the Cowboys offense looks to be among the leagues best. On the defensive side of the ball, Pro Bowler Everson Griffen has been added to a defensive line that already included Demarcus Lawrence. They’ve also added pass rushers Aldon Smith and Randy Gregory, who both spent time out of the league with suspensions.

The new additions to the pass rush could prove key in this matchup, with Rams quarterback Jared Goff showing he was susceptible to pressure last year. His QB rating dropping from 99.5 when in a clean pocket, to 60.4 when under pressure. With the Rams not upgrading their below average offensive line from last year, Goff should continue to see pressure in this match, which will make keeping up with this Cowboys offence tough.

Betting Strategy

BACK — Cowboys at -3


Houston Texans v Kansas City Chiefs

Friday 11 September, 10:20am AEDT

The season kicks off with the defending champs playing host to the Texans, who split their two meetings last year, the second being a huge comeback from the Chiefs in the playoffs where they trailed 24-0.

With the starting QBs Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson well settled within their offensive schemes, the interruptions to training camp and preseason may impact the defensive side of the ball more so than the offense. All signs are pointing towards an entertaining, high-scoring game.

The Chiefs are returning most of their key offensive personal from last year, though starting running back Damian Williams opted out of the season, replaced by explosive first-round draftee Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

The Texans have lost superstar wide receiver Deandre Hopkins in trade during the offseason, receiving running back David Johnson in return.

After a couple of injury-affected seasons, the Texans will be hoping he can reclaim his previous form. Hopkins was replaced by speedster Brandin Cooks, who will offer further deep ball threat to the Texan wide receivers but isn’t the true number 1 receiver Hopkins is.

The Chiefs’ high-powered offense shouldn’t have any issues scoring against this Texans defense that projects to be middle of the road again this year. The Texans have shown they are capable of scoring when chasing the game, covering the total points line in five of their seven losses last year. With all the makings of a shootout, I expect the total points line to be covered.

Betting Strategy

BACK — Over 54.5


Current Results

Total Units Staked: 16.00

Total Units Returned: 11.36

ROI: -29.01%


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