After two winning weeks, Paul Higham is back with more best bets and a selected accumulator for Sunday's NFL action.
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It was a punter’s paradise in the NFL last week with 14 of the 16 favourites winning their games, just the Rams, who we backed here, and the Raiders, who not many backed at all, defied the odds to win as underdogs.
On the points spread though it was a different story with just seven favourites covering their points handicap, so while there will have been plenty of match winner accumulators paying out, those betting on the handicaps had mixed fortunes if favourites are your thing.
This week, there are some mouth-watering contests and things look much harder to call – not least because of the injury carnage that has ravaged several teams of their star players. It’s certainly worth a look at the injury report before you place your bets this week.
Raiders @ Patriots
This fixture in recent years was a home banker but so much has changed this year - Tom Brady has gone, but Cam Newton looks excellent in his place, and the Raiders have moved to Las Vegas, and actually look like a decent team for the first time in a while.
After stunning the Saints last week are we all-in on the Raiders? Not quite, but they’ve got a great offence having scored 34 points in both games so far and they can hurt you with Derek Carr’s arm or Josh Jacobs’ legs.
Defence is New England’s weak point but they too look great with the ball with Newton scoring twice in both games and they’ve been better than expected even when going 1-1 so far. The Pats are favourites, the Raiders lively outsiders, who knows which way it’ll go, but it’ll involve plenty of points.
The 47-point line looks a bit on the low side given that three of the four games these two have played have gone well over that mark (58, 64, 65) so sit on the fence and just watch the points roll in.
Best Bet: Over 47.5 points at Evens
Panthers @ Chargers
It’s a tough draw for Carolina, having lost in Tampa last week they now go coast-to-coast to most likely lose in Los Angeles. Although records vary, sometimes we don’t make enough of the travel and time differences involved in US sports – those factors, though, are this time the least of the Panthers’ worries.
They’re without star man Christian McCaffrey as they face a side that forced Super Bowl champs Kansas City into overtime last week. LA’s defence only has four sacks this season but with 19 QB pressures they’re still upsetting opposition triggermen – and they really made Patrick Mahomes earn his win last week.
Chargers rookie Justin Herbet made an electric debut at quarterback last week after only finding out he’d be starting in the warm-up after Tyrod Taylor unbelievably had his lung punctured by his own team’s doctor when administering a pain killing injection.
Herbet will do well to match last week’s adrenalin-filled display after an entire week knowing he’s starting a game, but luckily for him the Chargers can pound the Panthers into submission with their ground game.
Austin Ekeler and Joshua Kelley both gained 100 scrimmage yards last week, the Chargers have run the ball more than anyone else so far this season (85 rushing attempts), and Carolina’s defence has already allowed six rushing touchdowns this year.
Packers @ Saints
The first thing I look for is a weekly underdog bet, the Rams did the business for us at Philadelphia last week and LA are still being underrated as they now head to Buffalo as 11/10 underdogs against the Bills.
It was a close call, but Green Bay are getting the nod to upset the odds in New Orleans and move to 3-0 for the season behind a double dose of Aarons - QB Rodgers has six TDs and zero picks, and RB Jones leads the league in rushing (234) and total (312) yards.
The caveat is that the Packers have only beaten Minnesota and Detroit, who both look bad, but the manner of those wins were impressive and by contrast the manner of the Saints’ defeat in Las Vegas was a big worry for one of the Super Bowl favourites.
Drew Brees suddenly looked 41 as he struggled without star wide receiver Michael Thomas, penalties plagued the team and Alvin Kamara had to try and do it all himself from running back as the offence stuttered.
Of course, Brees could roll back the years at the Superdome in the second meeting of future Hall of Fame QBs this season and beat Rodgers like he beat Tom Brady in week one, but the Packers have looked a powerful unit. They’re the only team to average over 500 yards a game and lead the league in scoring and rushing yards.
And it’s that dominant running game that’s the key - that not only provides control of the game, and the game clock, but opens up so many more options for Rodgers to showcase his talent. This could be a play-off game later in the season but right now the Pack look like the team on top.
Best bet: Packers to beat Saints at 7/5
NFL Sunday Accumulator
Texans @ Steelers
Pittsburgh looked pretty good in their opening two wins, and their top defence now faces a Houston side that's had to face Super Bowl favourites Kansas City and Baltimore in their opening two games. It's a brutal opening run for the Texans who will be feeling punch drunk from facing three big contenders.
Jets @ Colts
Pretty easy to sum this one up, the Colts are good, the Jets are awful. Indianapolis are the biggest favourites of the season so far with the first doube-digit handicap line so this is a must for your accumulators.
Lions @ Cardinals
The Cards were mentioned in our pre-season previews as ones to watch and they're proving us right with Kyler Murray proving to be the real deal we thought he was. Having DeAndre Hokpins helps and playing the 0-2 Lions this week helps even more.
Titans @ Vikings
The Titans have been made to work hard for their first 2-0 start in 12 years, the last time they won both opening games they went on a 10-0 run! While that may not happen, 3-0 is very achievable for a Tennessee side that was a game away from last year's Super Bowl with most of their starters back for another run.
Odds correct as of 16.33 BST on 25/9/20
More NFL content from Sporting Life
- New season NFL fixtures
- NFL Draft: Winners & losers
- Gronk joins Brady in Tampa
- Burrow goes No.1 pick
- How did Tom Brady become a legend?
- Latest Super Bowl odds
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