Situational plays aplenty this week
Last week was one of those weeks in the NFL where almost all of the situational plays did what they were supposed to. Such as, the Steelers, who laid a massive egg at home against a Jaguars team one has to wonder if Pittsburgh actually took seriously.
As this season continues on, there will be more and more situational plays as there really aren't too many terrible teams out there. With that, let's try and get ourselves another great week.
Record: 14-8-1 (5-1 last week)
Note: All times are ET and all games are Sunday, Oct. 15 unless otherwise noted.
Miami Dolphins (2-2) at Atlanta Falcons (3-1), 1 p.m.
The Falcons are coming off a bye week and are probably hungry to get out on the field after a somewhat embarrassing loss to the Bills at home. Atlanta's offense had three turnovers for the second straight week, which is a recipe for losing. Really the Falcons should be 2-2 after being gifted a win in Detroit the week before the Buffalo loss. Miami is feeling good after its first win of the season beating, Tennessee at home 16-10. The Dolphins’ offense has been anemic with Jay Cutler under center, scoring just 41 points over the first four games. The defense has been the reason for them being in a lot of these games as only one team has run for 100 yards on Miami to this point. All four of the Dolphins’ games this season have gone under the total, as well as in 17 of their last 23 road contests where the total is between 45.5 and 49 points. To me, I think this is a closer, lower-scoring game in the ATL than some are expecting. SELECTION: Under 46.5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2) at Arizona Cardinals (2-3), 4:05 p.m.
The Buccaneers were one of the preseason darlings of the media and they've started 2-2. Jameis Winston is struggling to connect with DeSean Jackson which has hurt offensive production a bit. Thankfully they fixed the kicker issue after Nick Folk cost Tampa the New England game last Thursday. The defense has been mighty leaky although the Bucs are getting some players back for this one. You can't get much lower on Arizona then you are now after its 34-7 loss in Philly. The running game has done next to nothing although Adrian Peterson was acquired from New Orleans. Carson Palmer is getting battered behind a porous offensive line. The defense also was beaten up by the Eagles’ air attack. You have to expect some improvement there as this team has way too much talent in the secondary to be that bad. Arizona won this game at home 40-7 last year. It won't be that bad, but I think the Cardinals win again at home. SELECTION: Arizona +1.5 (I'd consider waiting a little bit on this line because the return of several TB defenders may give us an extra point of value)
Los Angeles Rams (3-2) at Jacksonville Jaguars (3-2), 4:05 p.m.
Basically, I think this game is a matchup between two similar squads with questions on the offensive side of the ball and a stout defense. Jared Goff and Blake Bortles are two quarterbacks that are seeing their roles minimized so the mistakes are cut down. The Rams have gone under in 12 of their last 18 road games. I think this is a lower-scoring game. SELECTION: Under 43
Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2) at Kansas City Chiefs (5-0), 4:25 p.m.
The air surrounding the Steelers right now is not exactly very positive so naturally I think this is a good time to take them on Sunday. Last week, I spent time in this space pointing out how bad of a spot it was against the Jaguars. Now I think it's a good spot for them on the road where they've traditionally struggled. Pittsburgh's defense has played well for the most part this season outside of the effort against the Bears and Jags on the ground. No one has thrown for more than 210 yards against them. Kansas City has the potentially questionable spot in this one with a road game against the Raiders coming up on Thursday night. The Chiefs’ offense is rolling right now, but the defense has shown some cracks as of late. KC has covered just seven of its last 18 home games. One of those failed covers was last year when the Chiefs lost outright to these same Steelers. Give me the road team in this one. SELECTION: Steelers +4
— I really wanted to take Cleveland (+10) this week because it just seems like a big overreaction to Deshaun Watson and his recent success. Houston's defense will be without J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus and a bunch of other guys are banged up. The problem is that the Browns are starting Kevin Hogan at quarterback and I already fell flat on my face the last time I took this team. I can't back them on the road I don't think.
— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.