September 16, 2012
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BALTIMORE RAVENS (1-0) at PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (1-0)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Philadelphia -2 & 46.5
Opening Line & Total: Eagles -2.5 & 45.5
After a struggle in Cleveland, the Eagles will look to straighten things out when they host the Ravens on Sunday afternoon.
The Browns proved to have a surprisingly fast defense in Week 1, forcing five Philly turnovers. The Eagles still managed 456 yards of offense, including 91 on a game-winning drive in the final two minutes. Baltimore's D is big and physical, but may not match up quite as well with the Eagles' speed. The Ravens might have the offense to keep up with Philly, after they've adopted a no-huddle, more up-tempo attack this season, which resulted in a 44-13 drubbing of the Bengals on Monday night. These two teams are pretty evenly matched with two of the elite running backs in the NFL in Baltimore's Ray Rice and LeSean McCoy for Philadelphia. Both clubs also have speedy wide receivers and a relentless defense. When a game is too close to call, it's logical to go with the home team and the more well rested squad. The host Eagles played Sunday afternoon while Baltimore played Monday night. Also, favorites in non-conference games off a road win are 82-44 ATS (65%) over the past 10 seasons.
Ravens QB Joe Flacco had a huge performance on Monday night, completing 21-of-29 passes for 299 yards, 2 TD and 0 INT. The no-huddle offense seemed to fluster the Bengals, as Baltimore scored on seven of its nine full drives. Flacco completed multiple passes to seven different teammates, but targeted TE Dennis Pitta nine teams, completing five of those passes for 73 yards. The Ravens' ground game was also clicking with 122 yards on just 23 carries (5.3 YPC). Ray Rice rumbled for 68 yards and two touchdowns, needing only 10 carries to do so. Baltimore's defense has a new coordinator in Dean Pees, but some familiar faces led the way in Week 1. DT Haloti Ngata notched two sacks, LB Ray Lewis had 14 tackles (11 solo) and one sack, while S Ed Reed had an interception return for a touchdown. Reed scored on a 107-yard INT return the last time the Ravens faced the Eagles, as part of a 36-7 blowout win back in 2008. The one negative for the Baltimore defense in Week 1 was allowing Cincinnati to run for 129 yards on 28 carries (4.6 YPC), which could be a problem with the talented ball carriers for Philadelphia.
The Eagles know they can move the football, but they'll have a much harder time if WR Jeremy Maclin (hip flexor) doesn't play. Maclin was targeted 14 times on Sunday, catching half of those passes for 96 yards and a touchdown. Even with QB Michael Vick throwing the football 56 times against the Browns (career-high-tying 4 INT), the Eagles still rushed the ball 30 times, picking up 150 yards. McCoy had 110 of those on his 20 carries and could get even more action if Maclin can't play. Philly's defense came out aggressive against rookie QB Brandon Weeden and picked off four of his passes and saddled him with a 5.1 QB rating (12-for-35, 118 yds, 0 TD, 4 INT). Cleveland gained just 210 yards and 3.6 yards per play for the afternoon.
NEW YORK JETS (1-0) at PITTSBURGH STEELERS (0-1)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Pittsburgh -5.5 & 41.5
Opening Line & Total: Steelers -6 & 41.5
The Jets look to build on their surprising offensive success in Week 1 when they go on the road to face the Steelers' aging defense on Sunday afternoon.
Gang Green definitely got an assist from four Buffalo turnovers in their opener, but their offense still managed four touchdowns (after scoring only one in the preseason). Pittsburgh is coming off its second straight loss dating to last season, both in Denver. FS Ryan Clark returns for Week 2, and Pittsburgh could also have OLB James Harrison (knee) back as well. The Steelers once again have a rash of injuries across the offensive line, though the Jets' middling pass rush didn't record a sack on 32 Ryan Fitzpatrick drop backs last week. The Steelers don't usually have two bad weeks in a row, as they are 8-0 ATS after an SU defeat since the start of 2010. Also, home favorites of 3½ to 10 points, coming off a season in which they outscored opponents by 4+ PPG, and a game where 50+ total points were scored, are 27-7 ATS (79%) since 1983.
Jets QB Mark Sanchez had a tremendous game to begin the 2012 season, completing 19-of-27 passes for 266 yards, 3 TD and 1 INT. This will be the third time Sanchez faces the Pittsburgh defense. In 2010, he led his Jets to a 22-17 win in the Steel City, completing 19-of-29 passes for 170 yards, while rushing for a touchdown. The teams met again in the AFC Championship that year, with Sanchez nearly bringing his club back from a 24-0 deficit, by throwing two touchdown passes as part of 233 yards in a 24-19 loss. New York will try to run the football, even using backup QB Tim Tebow in the wildcat formation, but the Jets have gained just 176 yards on 49 carries (3.6 YPC) in the past two meetings with Pittsburgh. New York rushed for only 3.3 YPC in last week's win over Buffalo, but Shonn Greene had an adequate 94 yards on 27 carries (3.5 YPC) and a touchdown. Defensively, the Jets will try to build upon their four turnovers forced against the Bills. Although they will probably have the services of CB Darrelle Revis (concussion), DT Sione Po'uha (back) and S Eric Smith (knee) are both not likely to play.
The Steelers also have some injuries of concern, with RB Jonathan Dwyer (foot) and OLs Ramon Foster (eye) and Marcus Gilbert (knee) all questionable for this game. QB Ben Roethlisberger played terribly in that 2011 AFC Championship win over the Jets, completing just 10-of-19 passes for 133 yards, 0 TD and 2 INT. He wasn't spectacular in the season-opening loss to Denver either, completing just 22-of-40 passes for 245 yards, 2 TD and 1 INT. But because the Steelers' ground game is in bad shape with Dwyer, Isaac Redman (groin) and Rashard Mendenhall (torn ACL recovery) not close to 100 percent, the game plan will probably call for a pass-heavy offense. Defensively, getting star OLB James Harrison back will help put the pressure on Sanchez. Pittsburgh sacked Peyton Manning twice last week, but the new Broncos QB burned them for 253 passing yards and two touchdowns.
TENNESSEE TITANS (0-1) at SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (1-0)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: San Diego -6 & 43
Opening Line & Total: Chargers -6 & 44
The Chargers look to retain their dominance over the Titans when the two teams meet Sunday afternoon at San Diego.
Since relocating from Houston to Tennessee, the Titans are 0-7 in this series, losing those games by a combined 206-96 margin. Tennessee will get top WR Kenny Britt back from a one-game suspension in some capacity, though he will not play full-time coming off multiple knee surgeries. Meanwhile, RB Chris Johnson is coming off the worst game of his career (11 carries, four yards against New England). San Diego has question marks of its own and historically starts slow. And with LT Jared Gaither (back) likely out again, the Chargers could have trouble keeping Philip Rivers upright. But they could have starting RB Ryan Mathews (shoulder) back for this one, which would be a big help to a running game that struggled to a paltry 32 yards in the Monday night win in Oakland. Don't underestimate the Monday Night Football hangover, as the Chargers have a short week to prepare for a Titans team that will surely improve its ground game. Underdogs in the first two weeks of the year after closing the previous season with 2+ straight wins are 26-7 ATS (79%) in the past 10 seasons. Also, the Chargers are 3-7 ATS in September games since the start of the 2009 campaign.
Chris Johnson is coming off a horrible game versus New England, but he's certainly capable of carving up San Diego with 261 total yards and 2 TD in two career games versus the Chargers. With backup RB Javon Ringer (elbow infection) questionable, the Titans will need to ride Johnson for most of the afternoon. Jake Locker injured his left shoulder in last week's loss, but will probably be able to start this game. He was 23-of-32 for 229 yards (7.2 YPA), 1 TD and 1 INT against the Patriots, while backup Matt Hasselbeck was 6-of-11 for 43 yards (3.9 YPA), 0 TD and 0 INT. Hasselbeck is actually 4-1 in his career versus San Diego, but has thrown just 3 TD and 5 INT in these five meetings. Whoever takes the snaps will finally have talented WR Kenny Britt as an option in the passing game, but he will be limited to approximately 25 snaps. Starting WR Nate Washington (leg) is also expected to play on Sunday. Defensively, the Titans should have an easier time with a San Diego offense that doesn't measure up to New England's. However, the Chargers rolled up 456 yards of offense when these teams last met in 2010, a 33-25 San Diego victory.
Chargers QB Philip Rivers is 4-0 in his career versus Tennessee, completing 68% of his passes for 1,032 yards (258 YPG), 7 TD and 3 INT. He also looked pretty strong in the opener in Oakland, completing 24-of-33 throws for 231 yards, 1 TD and 0 INT. Only three of those passes went for more than 20 yards though, as San Diego wide receivers caught a total of eight passes. Star TE Antonio Gates (ribs) has been limited in practice this week, but is expected to start. Mathews thinks he'll be able to play, but head coach Norv Turner has not yet made a decision on his playing status. The three San Diego running backs combined for 22 yards on 17 carries last week, as neither Curtis Brinkley (10 rush, 12 yds), Ronnie Brown (5 rush, 5 yds) or Le'Ron McClain (2 rush, 5 yds) gained more than six yards on any carry. San Diego's run-stop unit was top-notch in Week 1 though, holding Oakland to 45 yards on 20 attempts (2.3 YPC). That was the first game for new defensive coordinator John Pagano.
DETROIT LIONS (1-0) at SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (1-0)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: San Francisco -7 & 46
Opening Line & Total: 49ers -6.5 & 46.5
After knocking off the Packers in Week 1, the 49ers meet another playoff team when they host the Lions on Sunday night.
The lasting image from the Niners' win in Detroit last October was the head coaches jawing on the way to the locker room. It overshadowed an incredibly tight game. The Lions had the edge in turnovers (2-0) and were outgained by only four yards (314-310), but San Francisco ran all over them (203 yards) and shut down two potential game-winning drives in the final minutes. This time the game will be in San Francisco, where the 49ers were dominant a year ago. They looked as good as ever in last week's win in Green Bay, while the Lions needed last-second heroics just to knock off the lowly Rams at home. The 49ers are really good. They've scored 30-plus points in three of their past four games (two of them against 2011 playoff teams). They outscored opponents by 13.5 PPG at home last season, including 16.8 PPG in regular season games. After scraping by St. Louis at home last week, it's clear the Lions, 4-14 ATS (22%) in road games versus NFC West teams since 1992, still have some work to do.
Lions QB Matthew Stafford had a mistake-filled Week 1 (three interceptions), but he still finished with 355 passing yards and a game-winning TD pass to Kevin Smith with 10 seconds left. Stafford targeted five players at least five times each, led by WR Calvin Johnson (6 rec, 111 yds) and TE Brandon Pettigrew (5 rec, 77 yds). Detroit actually did a decent job running the football with 4.6 yards per carry, as Smith rushed 13 times for 62 yards (4.8 YPC) and 1 TD. On the other side of the ball, the Lions held St. Louis to 250 total yards and just 3.0 yards per carry. However, San Francisco's rushing offense will present a much greater challenge for this Detroit team that has lost 11 straight road trips to San Francisco.
Niners QB Alex Smith came out throwing in Week 1, connecting on 20-of-26 passes for 211 yards, 2 TD and 0 INT. The one negative is that he was sacked four times. Despite Smith's heroics, the star of the upset win in Green Bay was RB Frank Gore who rushed for 112 yards on just 16 carries (7.0 YPC) including a 23-yard TD run in the fourth quarter. Gore has also run all over Detroit in his career. In four games (all 49ers wins), he has 501 rushing yards (5.5 YPC) and 4 TD, while adding 132 more yards on 12 receptions. The 49ers defense has been outstanding in the past eight games in this series, holding Detroit to less than 20 points in each contest.