The NFL returns to London as the Atlanta Falcons take on the New York Jets at Tottenham's stadium and Ross Williams picks out his best bets.
2pts Atlanta Falcons to beat the New York Jets at 4/6 (General)
2pts Over 45 match points at 10/11 (General)
1pt Kyle Pitts anytime touchdown scorer at 9/5 (Paddy Power/Betfair)
After a two-year Covid-enforced hiatus, the NFL finally returns to British shores this weekend to the delight of thousands of fans who will be making a pilgrimage to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
The National Football League haven’t exactly spoiled the UK fanbase with a blockbuster of a contest on Sunday, with two 1-3 outfits doing battle in the shape of the New York Jets and the Atlanta Falcons. However, the game does throw up some interesting betting opportunities.
First and foremost, despite the significant pitfalls of the two teams in question, I do anticipate plenty of points on Sunday. The 'TOTAL MATCH POINT' LINE STANDS AT 45 and I fancy the Jets and Falcons to go OVER that at a price of 10/11.
The combined points average in Atlanta’s games this season stands at 49, which provides some obvious assurance. Meanwhile, Jets games are averaging 42.8 points, largely due to their lack of effectiveness with the ball.
New York have the worst scoring offense in the NFL through four weeks (11.8 points per game) and don’t fare much better when stacked up in the offensive yardage charts. However, this doesn’t scare me too much.
These first four games of the season have also been the first four games of quarterback Zach Wilson’s NFL career, and he’s naturally requiring time to bed in. The week four victory over Tennessee was easily Wilson’s most accomplished display so far, and he’s only likely to improve as the season progresses.
Plus, the Jets' offense will take heart from the matchup in front of them. No team in the NFL concedes more points on a weekly basis than the Falcons. When New York have the ball on Sunday, we could see a perfect storm of bad football, which usually results in thrills, spills and (crucially) points.
It’s also worth noting that at least 45 points have been scored in each of the international games hosted at Spurs thus far – a stadium, with artificial turf, that is much better suited to NFL action than Wembley, which traditionally has seen lower-scoring matchups.
There will be a significant quality increase on Atlanta’s possessions, on both sides of the football. The Jets' defense is considerably better than their counterparts, but they do have to face former MVP Matt Ryan, coming off a four-touchdown performance that had elements of vintage Matty Ice.
Critics will – rightly – call out the omissions of receivers Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage Jr. from the teamsheet this Sunday as major flaws in the Falcons’ arsenal. But, there’s still plenty of hope in the Atlanta camp.
Former first-round pick Cordarrelle Patterson is having a revival to remember and he’s responsible for 50% of Matt Ryan’s touchdown passes this season.
This fact won’t be lost on the Jets and they will almost certainly give the utility back plenty of extra attention, but this does open up the prospect of the UK fans witnessing a breakout performance.
Kyle Pitts – the Falcons’ 2021 fourth-overall draft pick – has been steadily building over the first month of the season and, with Ryan’s passing options limited this week, it’s time for the rookie to step up and take a game by the scruff of the neck.
The long, athletic tight end is a matchup nightmare for any defense and I expect head coach Arthur Smith to take the stabilisers off at Tottenham, in the hope that the former Florida standout can make some magic happen.
We know Ryan’s got the ability to make the throws to him, so I love the price of 9/5 for PITTS TO SCORE A TOUCHDOWN ANYTIME.
A Pitts breakout game sets the table for the high-scoring shootout I’m predicting and, in that instance, it will come down to pure football drama in the closing stages with the scores tight.
When push comes to shove with the seconds ticking down, I always opt with the men who have been there and done it.
Ryan isn’t the greatest game manager of all time, but he’s played in 215 more NFL games than the rookie stood across from him on Sunday, and you can’t underestimate the value of experience when the world is watching.
Favouritism will win out on Sunday, so back the FALCONS TO WIN at 4/6, but the London crowd should be treated to a feast of drama right until the very end.
Odds correct as of 2030 BST (08/10/21)
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