The NFL season is upon us and week 1 threw up some surprise results and interesting snippets. Chief among them is the impressive Brady-Moss combination for the New England Patriots, and a key defeat for the Kansas City Chiefs, who look weaker than we expected this year.
Denver Broncos had a very good summer but very nearly became one of the biggest stories of week 1 until John Elam hit a winning field goal with the clock running to edge his team past a spirited Buffalo outfit. Elsewhere, the Chargers started off with an expected win, the Colts hammered the Saints in an impressive start to their Superbowl defence, and the Packers surprisingly edged past the Eagles – thanks mainly to an incredible TWO muffed punts!
The biggest match this week is without doubt the matchup between the New England Patriots and the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers, who finished the regular season last year with the best record (14-2) will be eager for revenge against the team that knocked them out of the play-offs. But it won’t be that easy. New England had possibly the best summer out of any NFL franchise and their new-look offense should put up monster numbers this year.
The recent spying scandal surrounding New England adds extra spice to the encounter. The Patriots might well lose a round 1 draft pick next season, not a disaster as they’ll have two, but definitely a strict punishement for videoing the Jets’ coaching signals.
Unusually for a big matchup, there is plenty of betting value in this game.
While we think that the Patriots will win, we’re surprised that the Chargers – whose defense looked good last week – are available at 2/1. We’ve snapped that up, although partially hedged it with a small bet on the Patriots winning by 7-12 points at the tempting price of 4/1.
Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady has a huge arsenal of top-quality receivers this year and none started better by former Vikings icon Randy Moss. In fact, his nine-catch performance last week will almost certainly lead him to be double-teamed by the defense, opening opportunities for pacey Donte Stallworth, a summer addition from Philadelphia. We therefore think that the odds on Stallworth scoring a TD during the game offer real value at 5/2.
The Denver Broncos are playing the Oakland Raiders this weekend and the result shoult be a formality. Denver have strengthened an already-strong team over the summer and won their first match this season, while Oakland had the worst record in the NFL last year and lost their opener to the low-rated Detroit Lions. Yet we feel the match will be closer than people think. Daunte Culpepper showed in the pre-season that he can still throw a football and is likely to start this match under center for the Raiders in the absence of regular starter Luke McCown.
In addition, Oakland’s defense was strong last season and may fare better than most in shutting down stud rusher Travis Henry. We do think Denver will emerge victorious but are attracted to the odds of 11/2 on them winning by only 1-6 points. In a match which is likely to be a defensive battle, a low points total is also likely.
The Atlanta Falcons, reeling from the loss of Michael Vick, were as poor as we expected against Minnesota in week 1. We see no reason for them to improve against Jacksonville, who must win after a disappointing loss to Tennessee. With Atlanta’s confidence flagging, and real weaknesses in their secondary, new QB David Garrard should have a confidence-boosting game for the Jaguars and we like the odds on top wide receiver Dennis Northcutt scoring a touchdown this weekend (3.3/1).
Finally, we really rate the Panthers this year and Steve Smith showed against the Rams last week how important he is to their chances. But the Houston Texans are on a three-game winning streak (counting the end of last season) and have playmakers on either side of the ball in Andre Johnson, Matt Schaub and Mario Williams. They are available at 2.6/1 to win the match and you might want to think about that one. The result is likely to be closer than many anticipate.
- Chargers to beat Patriots (2/1 value bet)
- Donte Stallworth to score a touchdown (5/2)
- Dennis Northcutt to score a touchdown in the Jaguars-Falcons game (3.3/1)
- Broncos to beat Raiders by 1-6 points (11/2)
- Fewer than 39 total points in Broncos-Raiders game (11/2)
- Bills to beat Steelers (9/2 looks a little long for an underrated Buffalo side)
PS On Monday, Philadelphia play Washington in a key NFC East matchup. Neither team impressed in week 1 and we’re looking for the Redskins to pull out a shock result to give their season some real momentum.