Paul Higham has this week's NFL preview and four best bets from the pick of the action, with a big touchdown fancy.
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Raiders @ Chiefs
The Raiders are a much better team this year, but QB Derek Carr is historically awful in away games in Kansas City – he’s 0-6 with four touchdown throws against seven interceptions for a rating of 14.4 at Arrowhead, that’s barely registering on the scale. The Raiders haven’t won here since 2012 and Patrick Mahomes has roasted them 75-12 on aggregate in two home games against these divisional foes.
Mahomes has 11 TDs against Las Vegas, more than against any other team, so he loves to feast on John Gruden’s side – who have been playing much better football recently and will again try the usual script against KC of running the ball and controlling possession. Nobody has yet found a way to stop Mahomes’ offence other than keeping them off the field.
All four Raiders games have gone over the points spread and this could be another one, although the line is pretty high at 56 and there’s always the chance the Chiefs could totally blanket Carr and this offence once again.
So with skinny odds on anything but a wide-margin and high-scoring Chiefs win, we're looking at the touchdown market here, and in the direction of tight end Travis Kelce. He's a constant threat and has twice had 100 yards and a score in the last four games against the Raiders.
Eagles @ Steelers
The battle of Pennsylvania is another interesting contest this week, as we’re still trying to work out what both of these teams are, probably more so with the Steelers than the Eagles as Pittsburgh have started 3-0 but against teams with just one win between them.
Philly’s win in San Francisco last week was an impressive effort from their defence, but Carson Wentz and the offence is shaky at best – he ranks 29th in the league in QB rating with just four TDs against a league-worst seven interceptions.
He’s rushed for a score in the last three games but the fact he’s scored almost as many himself as he’s thrown shows just how poor his quarterback play has been – and now he faces Pittsburgh who topped the QB pressure charts after three weeks.
The Steelers have the top rush defence the second-best pass defence and allow just 19.3 points per game – yes that’s been against three bad teams but the Eagles have been pretty bad on offence themselves.
Pittsburgh has also had an impromptu week off last week as well to prepare.
Panthers @ Falcons
The 2-2 Carolina Panthers go into this game against the winless 0-4 Atlanta Falcons as underdogs for some reason, and that just seems wrong on both the records and the performances of the two sides.
Carolina have lost star man Christian McCaffrey but won their last two games against the Chargers and Cardinals as underdogs, while the Falcons have suffered a couple of heart-breaking late losses and a couple of blow-outs, showing versatility in finding different ways to lose games.
Atlanta hasn’t been able to keep a single team scoring fewer than 30 points at all this season, and the Panthers are improving with Teddy Bridgewater at QB, so they’re certainly capable of keeping that scoring run up.
Colts @ Browns
The Colts have the top defence in terms of yards and points per game, and they've allowed fewer than 12 points in three straight games - that's some test for these improving Cleveland Browns to pass this week.
Cleveland stunned a few of us by beating Dallas last week, but when you look at the defensive efforts of the Cowboys throughout the season it puts that result into perspective. Dallas have been woeful defensively, Indy have been excellent.
There's still questions to answer for both teams and many of those will come on Sunday as they are each facing their toughest opponent to date, and a lot of bookies can't split them.
With close games like this I always like to go for the better defence, and with Cleveland allowing 31.5 points a game and the Colts just 14.5 it's clear who holds that advantage. Indy are also decent against the pash rush, which is Cleveland's main defensive strength.
Odds correct as of 2131 BST on 09/10/20
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