New York Jets +9 at Buffalo Bills – Yeah, yeah, yeah, the Jets are tanking and will be the worst team of all-time if you listen to some media outlets. But who thinks Buffalo is that good? The Bills had a fire sale this offseason and have a wide receiver situation that’s almost as dire as that of the Jets. Jordan Matthews, who just joined the team a month ago, and rookie Zay Jones are now being asked to start. Neither one has had time to build a lot of chemistry with Tyrod Taylor.
Jets signal-caller Josh McCown isn’t the worst quarterback in the league by any stretch either. He is only 18-42 as a starter, but he has been on a lot of bad teams and had pretty good seasons in Chicago in 2013 and Cleveland in 2015.
This Bills defense has a lot of question marks, too. Both corners are new with E.J. Gaines coming over from the Rams a month ago and Tre’Davious White being a rookie. Both starting safeties are new as well after the team signed Micah Hyde from Green Bay and Jordan Poyer from Cleveland this offseason. This is another unit that is going to need time to develop chemistry.
Last season, the Jets won both of their games against the Bills, scoring 37 and 30 points on this defense. They were able to bottle up Buffalo’s ground game, and the Bills had to rely on big plays from their speedy wide receivers in order to score. The Bills don’t have any speedsters at wide receiver this season and might lose outright to the Jets in Week 1.
Tennessee Titans -3 vs. Oakland Raiders – Oakland was one of the luckiest teams in the league last season. The Raiders finished at 12-4 despite having a point differential of plus-31. According to Pro Football Reference, their expected win-loss record with a point differential like that would be 8.7-7.3, meaning the Raiders outperformed this peripheral by over three wins.
Oakland’s big move this offseason was bringing Marshawn Lynch out of retirement, but the jury is still out over whether or not that move will pay off. Lynch is a great character but is 31 years old and sat out all of last season after an injury-plagued 2015 campaign. There is no real backup plan either if he is ineffective or gets hurt again.
The Titans should be a lot better this season as this team comes of age. They have the best young offensive tackle tandem in the NFL outside of Dallas, signed Eric Decker, and spent two early-round draft picks to get Marcus Mariota the receivers he needs to flourish.
Cincinnati Bengals -3 vs. Baltimore Ravens – I’m higher than almost anyone on the Bengals this season and think this team is a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Cincinnati has an embarrassment of riches on the offensive side of the ball, and Andy Dalton has been very underrated these last two seasons. His advanced metrics for 2015 and 2016 are significantly better than his seasons prior, and he will be able to put up points with the skill position players he has available.
Baltimore is the exact opposite. There’s no one on the offense that scares you, and the team just got Joe Flacco back from a back injury that limited him for all of preseason and training camp.
The Bengals don’t have a great defense, but they don’t need one against the Ravens.
Under 42 in Los Angeles vs. Indianapolis – Scott Tolzien and Jared Goff are your two starting quarterbacks for this one, and if that doesn’t scream low scoring, I don’t know what does.
Tolzien has started three games in his NFL career, and in those contests his team scored 13, 26, and 7 points. In the game in which his team scored 26 points, Matt Flynn replaced him because he was ineffective, as Tolzien was only responsible for seven points in more than a half’s worth of work.
Goff has started seven games in his NFL career and never led his team to more than 21 points in those seven starts. On average, the Rams scored 14.1 points in those games, as he really struggled as a rookie. Goff will be better this season, but he is only going to get better incrementally.
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