The Teaser: Pair New England and Atlanta
Game 1: New England vs. Carolina
The Initial Line:
New England -8.5 home vs. Carolina
Add 8 points to New England’s line
The Final Line:
New England -0.5
New England was barely able to pull out a last minute victory as a heavy favorite at home, beating Houston 36-33. Although the defense still has some bigger issues to work out, Brady seems right on point at age 40 with an impressive performance (25-35, 378 yds, 5 TDs). Carolina was dismantled on their home turf by division rival New Orleans, losing 34-13. Cam Newton’s struggles are becoming more apparent every week and especially without go-to TE Greg Olsen, as his performance was very shaky against a poor NO defense (17-26, 176 yds, 3 INTs).
Although New England has not been as dominant as many people had expected to open the 2017 season, they still sit tied atop the AFC East with a 2-1 record. The defense is working out some major issues as they’ve given up many large passing plays, but Brady has been stellar to this point with 2 straight AFC Offensive Player of the Week titles. He currently leads the NFL in passing yards, TDs, and is 2nd in passer rating. Although their defense has struggled to prevent yards and points after 3 games, they were able to generate 2 INTs last week and have Belichick who is the master of making adjustments mid-game and mid-season. On the other hand, something just looks off with Cam Newton. He ranks 23rd in completion percentage, 25th in passing yards, and 29th in passer rating out of 32 starters. The loss of Greg Olsen surely hurt their game plan after having 3 straight 1,000 yard seasons, and they’re not finding ways to replace his production. Their defense is supposed to be their strength, but after giving up 34 points to New Orleans they’ve also showed some holes. Brady is historically dominant in home games, and even though their defense may still have some kinks to work out I can’t see a scenario where Carolina goes into Gillette stadium and secures a victory.
Game 2: Atlanta vs. Buffalo
The Initial Line:
Atlanta -8.5 home vs. Buffalo
Add 8 points to Atlanta’s line
The Final Line:
Atlanta was able to walk away with the road victory on a controversial call at the end, beating Detroit 30-26. Matt Ryan made some mistakes but still ended with a decent performance (24-35, 294 yds, 2 TD, 3 INTs), and running back Freeman is helping to balance the offense, running for106 rush yds and a TD. Buffalo pulled out the home upset over a strong Denver squad, as they got the convincing win 26-16. Tyrod Taylor had one of his better performances at home (20-26, 213 yds, 2 TDs) while K Steven Hauschka had a strong day going 4/4 on FG attempts with his longest occurring from 55 yds out.
Atlanta now sits at 3-0 and has seem to have shaken any notion of a Super Bowl hangover, although their road performances have been a little shaky. However, they get to head back to their new home stadium this week, where they were able to dominate Green Bay in convincing fashion 34-23 in week 2. Buffalo is also a team that’s had more home success than road success, where in 2 home games they’re 2-0, have averaged over 20 PPG and have a +19 point differential while they only got 3 points in their last road game at Carolina. There are so many offensive weapons for Matt Ryan to choose from that it’s hard not to see him having a big day I week 4, especially with DT Dareus’ status in question for Buffalo. Also surprisingly Atlanta sits in the top 10 in the league in run defense, which is what makes Buffalo’s offense click. This one may stay close so take some extra points, but Atlanta should be able to move to 4-0 by week’s end.