The Teaser: Pair New England and Philadelphia
Game 1: New England vs. New York Jets
The Initial Line:
New England -9.5 away vs. New York Jets
Add 7 points to New England’s line
The Final Line:
New England -2.5
New England was able to sneak out of Tampa Bay with a victory, going on the road to defeat the Bucs 19-14 on Thursday Night Football. Tom Brady kept his strong start to the season intact, throwing for over 300 yds and a TD. The New York Jets surprisingly kept a win streak going, as they also got a road win 17-14 over Cleveland. New York’s defense was really the key to their victory, as they forced 3 turnovers despite only gaining 212 yds of offense.
New England’s defense has had its struggles, but they finally showed some signs of life in week 5. After allowing a league high 32 PPG in their first 4 games, they were able to hold Tampa Bay to only 14 pts. Brady wasn’t his usual self, throwing for a pick and fumbling once, but he still completed 75% of his passes (30/40) and that was despite missing his best target in Gronkowski (who will be back for week 6). Although both New England and New York may currently be tied for the division lead at 3-2 after New York’s “miraculous” start (some predicted they’d go 0-16 after having the worst Super Bowl odds in history at 1000-1), their performance and talent level is really not even close. Currently New England ranks 1st in total yards and 3rd in PPG, while New York ranks 22nd and 23rd respectively. A lot of New York’s offensive production has come from RB Powell, who will be out with a foot injury. There’s also the turnover issue, as New England has only turned it over 3 times all season while New York has turned it over 8 times. Regardless of what caliber teams are on the field, this rivalry always seems to produce a competitive game, so I’d be wary taking New England as a heavy favorite on the road. However, taking them in a teaser at -2.5 so a FG seals a victory sounds like the play here.
Game 2: Philadelphia vs. Carolina
The Initial Line:
Philadelphia +3.5 away vs. Carolina
Add 7 points to Philadelphia’s line
The Final Line:
Philadelphia got another convincing win to take the lead in the NFC East, destroying Arizona at home 34-7. Carson Wentz is continuing to develop into a star QB in his 2nd season, as he went 21/30 with 4 TD and 1 INT in the win. Carolina was able to win 2 straight road wins against strong opponents, holding on for the victory after a late rally over Detroit. Cam Newton might be starting to find his groove after a slow start, as he threw for 355 yds and 3 TDs in the road win.
This is slated to be one of the best showdowns on Thursday Night Football yet, as both teams currently sit atop their divisions with 4-1 records. However, Carolina will need to figure out how to hold onto leads in the 4th quarter as they have been outscored 41-13 through 5 games. They’ll also need to figure out how to protect the ball and force turnovers given their elite defense (currently they rank 28th in turnover differential while Philly ranks 9th in that department). It’ll be interesting to see whether the Philly 3rd ranked offense or Carolina’s 7th ranked defense makes more plays. You’d think that Carolina might have a strong home field advantage, but the numbers say different so far this season (home: 1-1 with a -15 point differential, road: 3-0 with a +26 differential). I see this being a close one-score game with either team getting a chance at the victory, so grab Philly with a TD and FG cushion to feel safe.