The 2012 NFL regular season got underway with a bang last week as the average number of points scored was the most in Week 1 since 1970. Nine of the games went “over” the total, with six of the games covering by double-digits. I missed the mark on two of my three picks last week, so it is back to the drawing board for Week 2.
Each and every week during the NFL regular season, I will be digging deep into the matchups to uncover a few golden opportunities to cash in on NFL totals betting. The following are my top three free football picks for this week with NFL odds provided by BetOnline. All times EST.
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Houston Texans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (1 p.m. CBS)
Total Line: 41.5
The Texans served notice with last week’s 30-10 pasting of Miami that, when completely healthy, they are one of the top teams in the NFL. They also left little doubt that their defense will once again be very hard to score on despite losing a couple of key players from last year’s team.
Jacksonville put up 26 points in a wild overtime win over Minnesota, but quarterback Blaine Gabbert will have his hands full this week against Houston. He threw for 260 yards and two touchdowns against the Vikings, but he completed less than 60 percent of his attempts. This will not get the job done against a much tougher secondary.
The line for this game has held steady throughout the week at 41.5, which is still high enough for me. These AFC South foes are very familiar with one another and waged a couple of low-scoring battles last season that both stayed under the total. The total has stayed “under” in 21 of the Texans last 28 games following a win against the spread and in five of Jacksonville’s last six games against a division opponent.
Game Pick- UNDER
New Orleans Saints vs. Carolina Panthers (1 p.m. FOX)
Total Line: 51
The Saints stunning loss to Washington last week makes this early-season showdown in the NFC South almost a must-win. While it is way too early to panic, there are some obvious problems with this team, especially on the offensive side of the ball. The Saints struggled in the preseason and the 32 points against the Redskins were somewhat deceiving, with 15 of them coming in the fourth quarter after the game had pretty much been decided.
Cam Newton’s first game of his sophomore season could indicate a major slump if he continues to play like he did. In the Panthers 16-10 loss to Tampa Bay, he managed to throw for over 300 yards, but he was sacked three times and picked off twice. The main concern is the net 10 yards that Carolina gained on the ground.
The total line for this game has held steady after opening at 51. On paper, this looks like a high-scoring affair with both offenses bouncing back from off weeks, but there are some underlying issues with both units that could take a couple of weeks to sort out. Look for another sluggish effort by both Drew Brees and Cam Newton come Sunday afternoon that results in a lower total on the scoreboard. Trend-wise the total has stayed under in 11 of the last 15 meetings overall and in eight of the last nine games played in Carolina.
Game Pick- UNDER
Denver Broncos vs. Atlanta Falcons (8:30 p.m. ESPN)
Total Line: 51
Peyton Manning was the story in Denver’s 31-19 opening-weekend victory over Pittsburgh. In his first regular-season start since 2010, he completed 73 percent of his passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns against a pretty respectable defense. The Broncos rolled up 334 yards of total offense in this game.
The Falcons also put on an impressive display of offense on opening Sunday with a 40-24 rout of Kansas City. Matt Ryan led Atlanta’s potent offensive attack with 299 yards passing and three touchdowns. The main concern coming into this game is the 393 yards of total offense that the Falcons’ defense gave up to the Chiefs.
This is another total line that opened at 51 and has not moved in either direction all week long. While these teams are not overly familiar with one another, they both come into this matchup with some past trends that favor a high-scoring game. The total has gone “over” in five of the Broncos last six games overall and in four of their last five following a SU win. The total has also gone over in eight of the Falcons last 10 games following a SU win and in five of their last six games overall.
YTD Record: 1-2
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