NFL Sunday Predictions - Week 3
by Josh Nagel - 9/25/2009
Two big games on the NFL schedule this weekend and I think we've found two strong situations to cash in on. One of them is a "hot" team coming off a big upset against a surprising 0-2 disappointment. The other is a divisional rivalry game that involves revenge and the world champions. Should be a big weekend and here are two game previews and predictions:
Tennessee Titans (0-2, 1-1 ATS) at New York Jets (2-0, 2-0 ATS)
Spread: Jets -3.
Overview: This one might boil down to a matter of percentages. That is, whether the new-and-improved Jets can keep up their winning ways against a Titans team that is desperate to avoid an 0-3 start. Over the past 15 years, only two teams that started 0-3 made the playoffs, and each lost in the first round.
The Titans lost each of their first two games by three points. They squandered plenty of opportunities to win their prime-time opener against the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers before losing in overtime, and squandered a 14-point lead last week to the Houston Texans before falling 34-31.
Tennessee's calling card last year on its way to a league-best 13-3 record was winning games in the fashion it has lost them thus far: keeping the score close, and making a few plays at the end to pull out a victory.
The Titans are facing a Jets team that appears to have inherited this recipe for victory. Under first-year coach Rex Ryan, New York dominated Houston in its 24-7 Week 1 win, then kept Tom Brady off-balance and made just enough plays to secure a 16-9 win over the New England Patriots last week.
The Jets have show a playoff-caliber defense and an offense that avoids having rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez in the position of needing to make plays in order for them to win.
Thus far it has worked. But you can count on the Titans understanding the importance of this game and doing everything in their power to win. Although this is a tight spread, there appears to be value in taking the points here.
Trends: The Titans are 7-2 ATS in their last nine road games, and 9-1 ATS in their last 10 September games. The Jets are 1-4 ATS in their last five as a home favorite, and 1-5 ATS in their last six against teams with losing records.
Pick: Titans +3.
Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1, 0-2 ATS) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-1, 1-1 ATS)
Spread: Steelers -4.5
Overview: Simply put, there has been hard to find easier money in the NFL over the past few years than to back the Steelers against the Bengals. They have won and covered in five straight in this AFC North matchup, and rarely have the Bengals given their backers even a sweat for the money.
The good news is, now appears to be as good of a time as any to get behind Pittsburgh and head to the winner's circle. There appears to be about 2-2.5 points of value in the line based on the early-season performance of these teams.
The Bengals are getting a little more respect because their impressive 31-24 Week 2 upset of the Green Bay Packers showed that they might be much improved compared to their past few campaigns.
Pittsburgh ended up on the short end of a game it had no business losing, dominating the Chicago Bears most of the way but seeing the normally reliable Jeff Reed miss two late filed-goal attempts. Their 17-14 loss might have been disappointing, but it's nothing to get too worried about.
The Steelers historically do a great job of forcing the Bengals into being their old selves, with a lack of discipline, penalties and turnovers. They are physical and fundamentally sound, and the Bengals will need more than one good week to show they have turned the corner.
Coming back from a devastating injury, Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer have the stiffest test yet to see whether he can really handle the type of pressure Pittsburgh will throw at him. Look for the Steelers to get the best of him.
Trends: The Steelers are 5-0 ATS in their last five against the AFC North, and 9-4 ATS following a straight-up loss. The Bengals are 1-5 ATS in their last six against the AFC North and have not won in this matchup since September 2006.
Pick: Steelers -4.5.
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