You know the NFL is having an odd season when a game between the Detroit Lions and Tampa Bay Buccaneers is arguably the highlight of Sunday’s schedule. But those teams are playing well, and we will see if the Jets can get back to .500 by knocking off the undefeated Eagles. We also have a play on the 49ers taking their 5-0 record to Cleveland, another team coming off a bye.
- 49ers Over 23.5 Points (+120)
- Lions-Buccaneers Both Score 20 Points (+160)
- Eagles -3.5 First Half Spread (-110)
The 49ers Are a Machine
The San Francisco 49ers are on a short list of teams in NFL history to go 17-1 in any 18-game stretch. They are also just the 6th team to score at least 30 points in the first 5 games of a season. They take their spotless record to Cleveland (2-2) where the Browns are coming off a bye week.
The 49ers are a 5.5-point road favorite with a total of 37.5 points. We are looking at San Francisco’s ability to clear 23.5 points.
Sunday, October 15, 2023 – 01:00 PM EDT at Cleveland Browns Stadium
In Purdy We Trust
Are you sold on Brock Purdy yet? It’s hard not to be when he is now 13-0 in games where he attempts 20 passes. His 123.1 passer rating and 83.6 QBR both lead the NFL this season. He has yet to throw an interception.
The 49ers keep humming along. Even on a night where Christian McCaffrey was held in check by the Dallas defense, Purdy threw 4 touchdown passes and looked accurate and decisive in the process against a defense that was mostly terrorizing other opponents.
Even if you buy into Kyle Shanahan’s system more than the quarterback, you have to admit a passer who knows where to go with the ball is highly valued these days when so many quarterbacks are inexperienced and making poor decisions. Purdy looks better than Jimmy Garoppolo ever did in this offense.
The 49ers have scored at least 30 points in 10 of 12 starts that Purdy finished so far. The only times they were under were in a big playoff game against Dallas (19-12 win) and a Thursday night game on the road against a division rival (21-13 win in Seattle). This is a road game against a non-conference opponent, so the familiarity should not be there for Cleveland to get a read on this special offense.
Is Cleveland’s Defense Capable?
These teams are the top 2 in points allowed, and Cleveland would have been No. 1 if not for a bad outing against Baltimore in Week 4. That was not entirely on the defense, as the Ravens scored a couple of touchdowns on short fields (10 and 38 yards) after turnovers by the young backup quarterback.
But if Deshaun Watson plays, it’s not like he is incapable of turning it over or taking bad sacks that give the 49ers good field position. The Browns got exposed a bit against Baltimore as Lamar Jackson had an efficient game in a 28-3 win.
The 49ers are considerably better than Baltimore on offense. There are just too many weapons, and the pass rush will have its work cut out with one of the best offensive lines in the league.
The emerging star in San Francisco is Brandon Aiyuk, and that is the receiver where Purdy looks his best throwing to. The Browns have already been burned for 127 yards by George Pickens of the Steelers, and Baltimore tight end Mark Andrews lit them up for 80 yards and 2 touchdowns. Teams are finding their best receiver open against this defense.
The Browns may be able to keep the 49ers under 30 points to end that streak, but another game with 27 or 28 points from the 49ers should be expected here. This offense scored a touchdown on 5 of 6 drives in Arizona in an incredibly efficient game 2 weeks ago. It had a span in the Dallas game of scoring 5 touchdowns on 6 drives. Do not bet against this offense right now for your NFL picks.
NFL Pick: 49ers Over 23.5 Points (+120) at Bet365
Baker Mayfield vs. Jared Goff
The 3-1 Buccaneers are hosting the 4-1 Lions in the NFC’s game of the week. Both teams and both quarterbacks are exceeding expectations so far. Jared Goff ranks No. 5 in QBR with Baker Mayfield right behind him in his job of replacing Tom Brady in Tampa Bay.
The Lions are a 3-point road favorite with a total of 44 points. After hitting this one last week in Jets-Broncos, we are looking at another enticing game prop with +160 betting odds at Bet365 for both teams to score at least 20 points.
Sunday, October 15, 2023 – 04:25 PM EDT at Raymond James Stadium
Why the Buccaneers Should Score 20 Points
Keep this name in mind for head coaching jobs in 2024. Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Dave Canales was the quarterbacks coach to Geno Smith in Seattle last year when he had his breakout year. Now he is doing something similar with Mayfield in Tampa.
Mayfield is using his legs to extend plays and effectively scramble, which is a huge upgrade over what Tom Brady was doing at 45 last year with the way he just tried to get rid of the ball immediately before getting hit. It led to a lousy offense, but Mayfield is making plays down the field and getting a great start out of Mike Evans, who has 337 yards and 3 touchdowns in 4 games.
The Buccaneers have scored at least 20 points in 3 of 4 games this year. The Lions have allowed at least 20 points in 4 of 5 games this year, including a game in Green Bay where Jordan Love looked awful for a half. Even Bryce Young and the Panthers scored 24 last week, but some of that was in garbage time.
It still counts all the same for game props. Also, the Saints had gone 11 straight games without allowing more than 20 points before the Buccaneers scored 26 on them in the last game.
Why the Lions Should Score 20 Points
Detroit is the more reliable offense in this game, but it also has some injury concerns after Jahmyr Gibbs and Amon-Ra St. Brown missed last week’s game. Both could return this week, and let’s not forget they scored 42 points on Carolina last week without those guys.
David Montgomery continues to be a great workhorse back for the team, filling in the Jamaal Williams role. Rookie tight end Sam LaPorta caught 2 more touchdowns and looks great at a position that rarely excels in Year 1.
There was a stigma last year that the Lions did not travel well on offense and relied on indoor games with Jared Goff to dominate. Goff threw 23 of his 29 touchdown passes at home last year, the biggest disparity between home and road touchdown passes in a season in NFL history.
But so far this year, the Lions scored 21 points in Kansas City on opening night with the help of a pick-6. They also scored 34 points in Green Bay on a Thursday night, which is usually hard to do.
This offense travels, and Montgomery has oddly added a more physical dynamic to this offense, which is exactly what coach Dan Campbell wants. The Lions have scored at least 20 points in all 5 games this year.
Tampa Bay has only allowed the Eagles to score more than 17 points on them this year, but the Lions are a much better offense than the Saints, Bears, and Vikings (Tampa’s other 3 opponents). Trust Goff and Mayfield to make enough plays in an exciting game to possibly get to a 23-20 or 27-24 finish that hits this 20-point game prop for us again.
NFL Pick: Both Teams to Score 20 Points (+165) at Bet365
Front-Running Eagles to Shine vs. Jets?
The Philadelphia Eagles are 5-0 for the 2nd year in a row, though the games have not been as decisive as they were a season ago when Philly was burying teams by halftime before putting it on cruise control. But the Jets have been a slow starter this year.
The Eagles are a 7-point road favorite, but we like the value for the first-half spread here where the Eagles are a 3.5-point favorite.
Sunday, October 15, 2023 – 04:25 PM EDT at MetLife Stadium
Jets and Slow Starts
You can say the Eagles have not been as impressive defensively this year, but they have traveled well, allowing a total of 25 points on the road to the Buccaneers and Rams.
The defense should also get a boost in facing Zach Wilson this week. Sure, Breece Hall looks great at running back after the Jets finally used him in Denver last week, but the Eagles are No. 1 in rushing yards allowed and No. 4 in yards per carry. It is a way tougher matchup for Hall than the Broncos were.
Wilson still has accuracy issues, and Jalen Carter and company could have a good game if he holds onto the ball too long.
The Jets have a bad habit of starting slowly this season:
- Week 1 vs. Bills: Trailed 13-3 at halftime
- Week 2 at Cowboys: Trailed 18-10 at halftime
- Week 3 vs. Patriots: Trailed 10-3 at halftime
- Week 4 vs. Chiefs: Trailed 20-12 at halftime
- Week 5 at Broncos: Trailed 13-8 at halftime
The Jets have trailed by at least 5 points at halftime in all 5 games this year.
Eagles Starting to Shape Up
Philadelphia’s passing game was quiet to start the year, but Jalen Hurts has passed for 899 yards over the last 3 games. He is a top 5 MVP candidate again after finishing No. 2 behind Patrick Mahomes for the award last year.
The Jets have played some good defense at times this year, but the Eagles have a lot of weapons, including the league’s most unstoppable short-yardage play (The Brotherly Shove).
Philadelphia has scored at least 13 in the first half of each game except for 10 points against Washington in Week 4. This team usually gets off to a good start with the ability to run and pass, which should make it hard on the Jets as they are much better against the pass than they are the run (29th in yards and 25th in yards per carry).
The Jets have had success this year by forcing turnovers from the Bills, Chiefs, and Broncos. Fortunately, the Eagles only have turned it over more than once in the Tampa Bay game, and they still led that one 13-3 at halftime.
Don’t get upset by another backdoor cover by the Jets, who have been a better 2nd-half team this season. Trust the Eagles to come out with better offense and take a solid lead into halftime to hit this first half cover for your NFL picks.
NFL Pick: Eagles -3.5 First Half Spread (-110) at Bet365
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