The Teaser: Pair Baltimore and Indianapolis
Game 1: Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh
The Initial Line:
Baltimore +3 home vs. Pittsburgh
Add 8.5 points to Baltimore’s line
The Final Line:
Baltimore got embarrassed on the international stage this past weekend, getting trounced by Jacksonville 44-7 in London. Neither Baltimore’s offense or defense got it going as they tied for their worst loss in team history, with Joe Flacco only throwing for 28 yds and 2 INTs before being replaced in the 4th quarter. Pittsburgh looked shaky on the road as well with an OT loss to Chicago, 23-17. Pittsburgh tried to come back from a 17-7 deficit at halftime, but Big Ben’s performance (22-39, 235 yds, 1 TD) and their defense wasn’t enough to hold down Chicago at Soldier Field.
Baltimore was brought back down to reality a bit on Sunday, but let’s not forget that they had 10 turnovers and were the best defense over the first 2 week of the season. Everyone’s entitled to an off game in the NFL and I believe that Baltimore had theirs with the international travel possibly playing a factor. Joe Flacco also had the worst game of his career, which is not likely to continue. They get to renew a division rivalry Sunday with Pittsburgh, and these games usually make for tight competition with the last 4 contests ending in one-score games (Baltimore winning 3 out of 4). Pittsburgh and Roethlisberger also have a history of struggling on the road vs at home, as they lost in Chicago and only won by 3 in Cleveland in week 1. Big Ben’s career splits tell us this as well – he’s 71-22 at home compared to just 55-40 on the road. The same can be said about Joe Flacco, who’s 54-16 at home vs 31-40 on the road. Baltimore will be ready to rebound at home against a division rival, but since you can’t underestimate Pittsburgh’s potent offense let’s grab some insurance points here. An 11.5 pt cushion should be more than plenty.
Game 2: Indianapolis vs. Seattle
The Initial Line:
Indianapolis +13 away vs. Seattle
Add 8.5 points to Indianapolis’ line
The Final Line:
Indianapolis was able to hold on for their first victory of the season, winning at home vs Cleveland 31-28. Jacoby Brissett has been a nice surprise in the absence of Andrew Luck and had a strong performance, going 17-24 for 259 yds, with 1 pass TD and 2 rush TDs. Seattle’s road struggles continued, as they fell at the hands of Tennessee 33-27. Russell Wilson finally found an offensive rhythm (29-49 for 373 yds, 4 TDs) but it wasn’t enough to overcome the defense, which allowed 33 points when they were supposed to be one of the best units in the league.
If it weren’t for a late comeback in the 4th quarter by Cleveland (down 31-14), Indianapolis would have had a convincing win and could have been 2-1 if they hadn’t let Arizona climb back in and beat them in week 2. Despite not having their leader in Andrew Luck, Brissett has taken the reigns after being traded from New England and done a quality job. Seattle has looked very shaky to start the year, and sits at 1-2 with their only win coming against San Francisco at home by 3 points. Wilson had his best offensive game of the season, but now WR Baldwin (10 catches for 105 yds and a TD in week 3) has a groin injury and his status is unknown for the Sunday night game. Indianapolis has actually managed to outscore Seattle through the first 3 weeks (17.7 PPG vs 16 PPG). Now we’re not saying that Indianapolis will pull the huge upset at CenturyLink Field, but they should be able to stay in the game given Seattle’s offensive line issues and suddenly average defense. Taking Indy with a 3 TD cushion seems like a good bet at this stage of the season, as Seattle will heat up at some point but is historically slow to start seasons the past few years.