The "over" has gone 58-49 through the first seven weeks of the NFL season, a profitable win-rate of 54.2 percent. That would seem to make sense. Mild early-fall weather, fresh athletes and the like would all seem to benefit offensive units. Not to mention the lack of any game tape early on for the league's newcomers, such as this year's unknown young quarterbacks (Prescott, Siemian, Wentz, etc.).
All of this can change as the calendar gives way to November, however. The colder weather; the accrued bumps and bruises; and the youngsters now being a known commodity through scouting and film study makes things all the more difficult for offenses.
Let's hope things start to change in such a way this week. Below is three free NFL totals picks, two of which you'll note are backing the "under."
New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills (47)
This line has dropped a half-point from the opening. The Bills shut out New England 16-0 in Foxborough back in Week 4, but that came while Tom Brady was serving a suspension and Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski was severely limited with injury. Both will be at full strength Sunday.
The Patriots offense has been rolling the past three weeks with Brady at the controls, while the Bills were just run over and around by Jay Ajayi in a 28-25 loss to the Dolphins last week. This would seem to support the "over" as the play, but not so fast.
For starters, the forecast calls for an 80 percent chance of showers in Buffalo Sunday. Also, remember this is still a division rivalry game where scoring typically won't come very easy. This could especially be true for Buffalo. The Bills will be without WR Marquise Goodwin, and top RB LeSean McCoy is also not expected to play because of a hamstring injury. Finally, Tom Brady or no Tom Brady, shutting out New England at home like the Bills did in Week 4 is still noteworthy.
One notable trend: The under is 4-0 in the Patriots last four road games.
Pick: Under, 3 Units
Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers (48)
This was your NFC Championship Game back in January, which the Panthers won easily 49-15. Given that success from a season ago, the Cardinals (3-3-1) and Panthers (1-5) have to be considered the NFL's biggest disappointments through seven weeks.
These teams' early-season struggles have come in vastly different matters. The Cardinals sport the fifth-ranked scoring defense (15.7 PPG), but the offense has been wildly inconsistent and ranks middle of the pack in scoring (22.7 PPG). Meanwhile, the Panthers have scored the fifth-most points per game (26.8) but also allowed the fourth-most points (29.3).
So, which direction will this game go? With both teams having their backs against the wall, this could turn into a more tightly-played, lower-scoring affair than many might think. Arizona's defense is good enough to stop anyone, MVP Cam Newton included. That group has to be looking for a little semblance of revenge from the NFC Championship Game. And finally, the early kick off in the east after a long road trip could leave the Cardinals a little sluggish early.
Pick: Under, 3 Units
Seattle Seahawks at New Orleans Saints (48)
This is another matchup of contrasting styles. The Saints have averaged the third-most points per game (29.3) and allowed the most (32.5). Meanwhile, the Seahawks rank first in scoring defense (14.0 PPG) but have scored the fifth-fewest points in the league (18.5 PPG). Russell Wilson and the entire Seahawks offense has to be embarrassed by that 6-6 overtime tie against the Cardinals last week. The Saints and their porous defense would seem the perfect opportunity to release any leftover frustrations.
While the Seahawks do have a dominant defense, Drew Brees has shown over the years he can put point on the board against anyone. Especially at the Superdome. Look for both teams to get to at least to the mid-20s and for this one to sail over the total.
Pick: Over, 5 Units
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