29 Oct Pick 1: Carolina vs. New Orleans and New England vs. Denver
The Teaser: Pair Carolina and New England
Game 1: Carolina vs. New Orleans
The Initial Line:
Carolina +3 home vs. New Orleans
Add 8.5 points to Carolina’s line
The Final Line:
Carolina fell late to the defending Super Bowl champs, losing 13-9 to Seattle at home. Russell Wilson marched his offense 80 yds and threw a 23 yd TD pass with 0:47 seconds left to seal the victory. This game was a defensive battle, as both teams forced 2 turnovers and neither team gained more than 310 yds of total offense. Cam Newton was only 12/22 for 171 yds, but was effective on the play action as he was 9-12 for 110 yds on those plays. New Orleans was able to run away with a victory on Sunday Night Football, defeating Green Bay 44-23 in the Superdome. The game was tied at halftime, but New Orleans offense scored 28 points in the second half to earn the victory. Brees was very effective, going 27-32 with 311 yds and 3 TDs. Mark Ingram was also a force in the ground game, rushing for 7.2 yds/play, 172 yds and a TD.
Carolina and New Orleans will battle it out on Thursday Night Football for sole possession of first place in the NFC South. There’s a lot at stake for both teams, so expect a tight one here. Over the last 2 seasons, Carolina is 9-3 at home (75% Win %) and has not lost a game by more than 5 points with the exception of Pittsburgh in week 3. In that same stretch, New Orleans is 3-9 on the road (25% Win %) and cannot find a way to put 60 minutes together. Expect Cam Newton to have a breakout game against a NO defense that ranks 31st in pass yds allowed/game. I expect this one to go a lot like last week’s Carolina-Seattle game, with someone emerging as the winner in the final minutes. Take Carolina at +11.5 to ensure we are still covered with a TD loss.
Game 2: New England vs. Denver
The Initial Line:
New England +3 home vs. Denver
Add 8.5 points to New England’s line
The Final Line:
New England +11.5
New England turned in their most impressive victory of the season Sunday, defeating Chicago 51-23 at home. Tom Brady was almost perfect on the day, going 30-35 with 354 yds and 5 TDs. Rob Gronkowski and Brandon LaFell were large parts of the offensive attack, with 4 combined receiving TDs (3 for Gronkowski) and over 100 yds each. The defense was also able to force 2 turnovers, despite their recent injuries to stars Jerod Mayo and Chandler Jones. Denver kept their momentum rolling on Thursday Night, defeating division rival San Diego 35-21. Peyton Manning threw for 286 yds and 3 TDs, while Hillman was able to contribute over 100 rushing yds. The defense was also able to force 2 INTs against the usually mistake-free Philip Rivers. Denver now sits at 6-1 overall, and 4-0 at home for the season.
This is the matchup everyone waits to see these past few years: Manning vs Brady. Both are first ballot hall of famers, and are still so dominant at a QB position filled with talent. It’s hard to say who has performed better this year. On one hand Manning is leading the league in TD passes (22) and QB rating (119.0). On the other hand Brady has the 5th most TDs (18), the least INTs thrown for a regular starting QB (2), and has done all of this without an “elite” WR. Here are the facts about New England as a team at home: Since the beginning of the 2009 season, they are 41-3 at home (93% win%)! They are always ready to win no matter who the opponent at home, and even if this is a close one there’s no way they lose by more than 10 points. There always value with NE as a home underdog, take them at +11.5 here.