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The Jets are coming off of their bye week and heading cross-country to take on the banana-peel Chargers.
The bye week is an interesting part of this handicap. Often for a team with a terrible record, a late bye serves as a bridge to quitting on the remainder of the season. If the team is tanking for the No. 1-overall pick, then the finish line is coming into sight.
I don’t think the Jets are tanking, and they sent a good message by benching then cutting CB Pierre Desir after he loafed after Patriots wide receiver Damiere Byrd on a 31-yard pass play.
They will turn to the likes of Bryce Hall, Corey Ballentine and Arthur Maulet. That collection could have a rough go of it against Justin Herbert, Mike Williams, Keenan Allen and Hunter Henry, but at least they want to be out there. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams can work with players who try.
Joe Flacco made good use of a finally healthy receiving corps in a 30-27 loss to the Patriots. He had a 50-yard, over-the-top touchdown pass to Breshad Perriman and made one of the throws of the year for Jamison Crowder’s touchdown. Denzel Mims, Ryan Griffin, La’Mical Perine and Braxton Berrios all had receptions of 10 yards or more.
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The Chargers have awesome uniforms and look great at times. But after a win in Cincinnati to open the season, a team doctor punctured Tyrod Taylor’s lung before Game 2 and their season has gone to hell. Every week, they play close games and usually lose in excruciating fashion.
The pick: Jets, +8.5.
Philadelphia Eagles (+3.5) over CLEVELAND BROWNS
The Browns’ offense, now without Odell Beckham Jr., has taken a big step back, scoring seven, six and 10 points within their past four games. The Eagles are the healthiest they’ve been, and I still have (some) confidence in Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz.
Atlanta Falcons (+5) over NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Sean Payton did fine last year with Teddy Bridgewater when Drew Brees went down, and he should be in good hands now. It was smart for him to name Taysom Hill the starter. That statement has no bearing on what Hill or Jameis Winston actually will do in the game, but it gives Atlanta a lot more to think about. Like the ‘dog here because the Falcons have won and covered three of their past four, are coming in rested off a bye, and had a 26-9 win in their 2019 visit to the (then-jam-packed) Superdome.
WASHINGTON (-1.5) over Cincinnati Bengals
Alex Smith has been excellent for the WFT in six quarters since taking over for the injured Kyle Allen, leading to big comeback bids that became three-point losses. Joe Burrow has led the Bengals to a 6-3 ATS mark but has a gimpy ankle. Tough call.
Detroit Lions (+1.5) over CAROLINA PANTHERS
The line opened at Panthers -3, but has been bet to half of that over angst about Teddy Bridgewater’s knee injury. Christian McCaffrey is already out. Never can fully trust the Lions, but Matthew Stafford’s offense has been putting up points.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (+9) over Pittsburgh Steelers
Despite heavy public backing of the undefeated Steelers, the line has come down from 10, through 9.5, all the way to 9, signaling there’s sharp money on the home team. The Jags have averaged 24.6 points per game over their past three, so they have the firepower to possibly squeeze through the back door. For Pittsburgh, the goal is 10-0, not win by 10.
Tennessee Titans (+6) over BALTIMORE RAVENS
There’s something wrong with this Ravens offense, which managed just 17 points in consecutive games (there was a defensive TD versus the Colts two weeks ago). The difference in rest could be a factor. The rugged Titans played last Thursday, while the Ravens had the Sunday-nighter.
New England Patriots (-1.5) over HOUSTON TEXANS
As the season progresses, receivers such as Damiere Byrd and Jakobi Meyers are becoming more than “no-names” for the Patriots. Houston is considering hiring interim Romeo Crennel as the full-time coach, but this is still a team that has covered just two spreads all season, and one was last week’s gift from Nick Chubb.
Miami Dolphins (-3.5) over DENVER BRONCOS
The Dolphins have won and covered five games in a row, the past three with Tua Tagovailoa. Just his luck, Sunday’s forecast in Denver is low 50s and dry with light winds. Since their no-TDs-allowed win at New England, the Broncos have given up 43, 30, 34 and 37 points.
Green Bay Packers (+2) over INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Not sure I understand the steam move that flipped the Colts from slight underdogs to nearly a field-goal favorite, but you can be sure sharp money was responsible for that. The Colts do have a bit of extra rest after a Thursday game, but I feel as if the Pack is the better team, getting points.
Dallas Cowboys (+7) over MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Another game in which pro money has moved the line, dropping it from 8.5. The Vikings are rolling, but there’s a big discrepancy in terms of rest. The Cowboys are off a bye while the Vikings won a tough divisional game Monday night. Andy Dalton was unsuccessful before his injury, but has to be better than what had replaced him.
Kansas City Chiefs (-8) over LOS ANGELES RAIDERS
Sharps had this line moving in the direction of the Raiders, who handed Kansas City its only loss of the season. But the number went the other way on the Raiders’ COVID-19 uncertainty. The Chiefs have covered 15 of their past 18 games, have in-season revenge and are off a bye.
Monday Night Football
Los Angeles Rams (+4) over TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
A move from 3.5 to 4 signals sharp bettors weren’t sold on the Rams, even with the “hook.” But there’s a season-long trend that backs them: Underdogs were 20-11 ATS in prime-time games in 2020 heading into Thursday night. Can’t go against K.C. on Sunday night, but like that angle here.
Best bets: Patriots, Eagles, Titans.
Lock of the week: Patriots (Locks 3-6-1 in 2020).
Last week: 4-9-1 overall, 1-1-1 Best Bets.
Thursday: Cardinals (L).