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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Week 6 NFL Predictions 2011: Teasers of the Week

As a rule of thumb it's best to only include teams in teasers that cross the critical numbers and limit them to 2 teams per.  There are always exceptions to the norm, but this method provides the most value. 

Check out the Sportsbook Review Football Teaser Odds Chart to find out what book will offer you the best value.

Just some quick overviews on these games....

Pittsburgh Steelers -6 & Cincinnati Bengals -1
I've already covered the IND/CIN game so let's take a look at JAX/PIT.

For beginners it's no secret that JAX can't score points this year and Gabbert has a tough road ahead.  He hasn't developed the kind of rapport with Lewis that the coaches had hoped for and his other receiving options are limited at best.  This leaves Jones-Drew on an island to carry the load, but that mountain will be too high to climb this week.  Even without guys like Hampton and Harrison, PIT's defense hold a huge advantage defending the pass--which will be made even stronger with a healthy McFadden easing back into the starting role.  -12 is too many points to lay on a PIT team that has been up and down this year, but I feel much better about laying 6.  It dramatically decreases the chance of a backdoor cover in garbage time.  Even if JAX are within a couple scores it will be very difficult for them to drive down the field and get points.  Right now they rank dead last in points from long drives.  On the flip side PIT should be able to operate risk-free on offense for most of the game.  JAX's D-line has been horrendous this year and they don't have an aggressive scheme to take advantage of PIT's shaky O-line.  Mendenhall is back in the lineup healthy and that should be enough to take the pressure off Big Ben if they need to work the clock and/or defend a lead. 

Houston Texans +14 & New York Jets -1  
The HOU/BAL game is an interesting one for me.  My system has BAL favored by less than a field goal, but when you take the best offensive and defensive players out of their lineup, how much should you account for that in the line?  Last week we saw HOU's offense struggle without Johnson out there.  OAK stacked the box and dared the HOU wide receivers to beat them.  BAL is so good defensively they might not even need to stack the box to limit HOU's offense.  At the same time, we aren't talking about a lackluster crew of players here.  Schaub, Foster, and company can still move the ball and put together drives.  They simply aren't as dynamic as they used to be.  The X-factor in this matchup for me is the HOU defense vs the BAL offense.  As you should know by now I'm not a fan of Joe Flacco.  This offense goes through Ray Rice and it will be much of the same in this game, too.  Losing Mario Williams obviously hurts this defense, but keep in mind they added some nice pieces in the offseason.  They are getting more comfortable with Wade's scheme week by week.  I think Flacco will struggle in this spot going up against a good secondary.  A lot of people are down on HOU after they lost a winnable game at home to OAK, but they still dominated play in the box score.  Look for HOU to keep this within a couple touchdowns--and even if they can't there is a great chance for a backdoor cover.

The other matchup is just as intriguing.  MIA come out of the bye with their head coach still in tact.  This surprised a lot of people because he was 'dead man walking' before this season even started.  Now they must travel to NY in prime-time and try to turn the ship around with Matt Moore at QB.  My first impression is good luck!, but how much should we downgrade him compared to Henne?  It's not like this offense was whizzing along before Moore was the starter.  The only hope MIA have to keep this game close is if they rely heavily on the run game with Thomas and Bush.  A lot of teams have used this approach against NY this year and with varying success.  The challenge for MIA is doing it consistently.  Their O-line has been brutal this year and they rank near the bottom in almost every meaningful offensive category. 

Defensively things haven't been much better for MIA. Their D-line can't get to the QB and they can't get off the field on 3rd down.  Will that change coming off a bye?  Maybe, but Sanchez should finally get an opportunity to make some plays this year.  Thus far he's been terrible and the team has survived in spite of him instead of because of him.  But Sanchez aside, there are simply too many advantages up and down the board on both sides of the ball to overlook them in a teaser.  Bringing them down to what essentially equates to a 'pick em' is tremendous value. 
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