Four NFL teams (Atlanta, Denver, New York Jets, and San Diego Chargers) take their annual week off during Week 11. The Falcons and Broncos are playing well and resting up for the playoff drive. At 3-7, the Jets would need a miracle to qualify for the postseason. The Chargers (4-6) probably need to win out, and even a 10-6 mark in the AFC might not be enough. But the playoffs aren’t our main concern; betting is.
Let’s look at this quartet and see if we can find an angle when they return to action.
(Before this Sunday arrives, get the lay of the land for the four teams that rested last week.)
The Falcons started the year 4-1, losing their opener at home to Tampa Bay, 31-24, and rebounding to beat the Raiders, Saints, Panthers, and Broncos, with all but the Carolina game on the road. After tight losses to Seattle and San Diego, the Falcons narrowly got by Green Bay and smacked Tampa in the rematch. Last Sunday, they fell in Philadelphia, 24-15. Though they’re 6-4 ATS, they have covered five of six road games. They’ve also hit the over in eight of ten, including all four on the road.
Through ten weeks, the Falcons are the highest scoring team in the NFL thanks in large part to the second-best passing offense in the league. While they tally 32 points a game, Atlanta gives up 28.3 a contest, fifth worst in the NFL. Coach Dan Quinn is in his second year. Last season the Falcons lost to Indianapolis 24-21 after their bye.
The Falcons will host Arizona and Kansas City following their week off. Both games are significant tests, but if Atlanta is a field goal favorite or less, they should be supported. If the line on either game is between three and seven, unless there is a major injury I’d probably stay away. If the Falcons are giving a touchdown or more I’d happily take the points.
After beginning the campaign 4-0, Denver dropped two straight, but have rallied to win three of four. They opened the year with a 21-20 win over Carolina, beat the Colts, 34-20, and won road games at Cincinnati and Tampa Bay easily. The Broncos lost at home to Atlanta, 23-16, in Week 6, and then fell at San Diego, 21-13. They rebounded with a 27-9 win over Houston, and then avenged the loss to the Chargers, 27-19. Their last two were a loss in Oakland, 30-20, and a miracle 25-23 win in New Orleans, which saw them block an extra point and return it for a game-winning two point tally.
The defending champs are in the top half of the league in scoring despite ranking 24th in both passing and rushing. The defense remains strong, holding opponents to 18.9 points a game, which is top-ten in the NFL. But it’s a bit vulnerable on the ground.
Coach Gary Kubiak led the Broncos to an easy win over Green Bay following a bye last year. Denver’s previous coach, John Fox, never lost after a bye week in his Denver tenure.
A home game with Kansas City is on the docket for Denver when they return to the field. Then they travel to Jacksonville and Tennessee. Though we think of the Broncos as a defensive team that plays close games, only two of their seven wins has come by seven points or less. If you think the Broncos are going to win, they stand a good chance of covering, particularly right after their week of rest.
The Jets have used three different starters under center this year and the most recent, rookie Bryce Petty, failed to rev up the offense; New York managed just six points in a field goal setback at home against the Rams on Sunday. That followed a 27-23 loss to the Dolphins two weeks ago. New York started the season 1-5, losing a close game to Cincinnati and getting beaten badly by the Chiefs, Seahawks, Steelers, and Cardinals. Their wins include two one-score contests against the Ravens and Browns in Weeks 7 and 8, plus an anomalous Week win in Buffalo, 37-31.
In his first season with the Jets last year, coach Todd Bowles led the Jets past Washington, 34-20, after the bye. They lost their previous three under Rex Ryan.
While the Jets are an above average rushing team, they struggle in the passing game. Because of that, they tally only 17.9 points a game, which is bottom-six in the NFL. The defense is great against the run, but terrible against the pass and allows 24.4 points a game, 20th in the league.
The Jets host New England and Indianapolis after the bye week. The Jets have struggled to defend the pass all year, and facing Tom Brady and Andrew Luck is no bargain. If you get ten points or more against the Patriots, the Jets will be the call. Anything under a seven-point spread is an automatic wager on New England. The Colts game could very well be a shootout and considering the over seems like a good plan.
Inevitably, tight losses will kill a team. The Chargers started the year 1-4 with all four setbacks by less than a touchdown, and three of four decided by four points or less. San Diego blew a big lead in their season debut falling at Kansas City, 33-27. After dominating the Jaguars, they lost close games to Indianapolis, New Orleans, and Oakland. Following wins over the Broncos and Falcons, they proceed to lose in the rematch with Denver, beat the Titans, and then fall in a crucial game to Miami last time out, when Philip Rivers got picked off four times in the second half. They’re better than their 4-6 record would suggest, and eight of their ten games have gone over the total.
With Mike McCoy as head coach, San Diego has been a mixed bag after their bye. In 2013, they lost a close, high-scoring game to Washington; two years ago, they beat the Raiders, 13-6; and last season, they were punished 33-3 by the Chiefs.
The Chargers score 29 points a game, third-best in the NFL. Their defense has showed flashes, but allows 27.8 points per contest, which is bottom-six in the league.
The Chargers host Tampa Bay around trips to Houston and Carolina when they return to action. Expect more close, high-scoring games from San Diego after the bye.
Photo credit: Keith Allison (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/].
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