Kansas City Chiefs vs Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta fans have suffered this season, and the latest capitulation to Tampa Bay, at one stage leading 24-7, may have proved costly for Raheem Morris, the interim head coach auditioning for the gig full time. The positives – in particular a rebound game offensively for Matt Ryan, and a defensive shut out of Brady and co in the first half – should be taken into their next match up, against the formidable Kansas City Chiefs, who took down the Saints in Week 16, in a game not as close as the 3-point margin suggested.
The champs are rolling and are not yet in their full prime although suggestions that they’re not wholly gelling are misleading, often victims of their own success. When they win games without Patrick Mahomes freewheeling and firing off 70-yard strikes to Tyreek Hill, the perception is that they’re not on top form. In fact, the way they ground down the Saints with the run game, daring New Orleans to revert from their focus on eliminating the big strike, is further proof of the control that Andy Reid and his team are able to exert. They’ll be without Clyde Edwards-Helaire, their rookie RB whose injury is a blow, but Leveon Bell looked more like his old self, and expect him to see plenty of action, although they may not need it with Atlanta’s defense ranked 31st on passing yards per game. Note that both teams have fallibility defensively, with the Chiefs still struggling against the run.
The Chiefs rank second in points 31.1 PPG, Atlanta 25.4 per game and whilst I expect a comfortable KC win, they’ll be strikes landed by the Falcons.
Tip – Over 53.5 points (17/20)
Dallas Cowboys vs Philadelphia Eagles
The era of Carson Wentz appears over in Philly, with Jalen Hurts showing us he’s more than capable with his arm, duking it out with fellow dual threat QB Kyler Murray in a thriller, which the Eagles lost but still remain in with a shot of a playoff spot. As do Dallas, in the weakest division in the NFL, but whoever loses this is out for the count. Hurts has galvanised an offense, putting up 400+ yards for two weeks in a row, something the Eagles had failed to do all season long under Wentz. Against a Dallas D, ranked dead last in the NFL in passing TD’s.
Dallas, for all their shortcomings this season, have plenty of offensive firepower, and with Andy Dalton a very different proposition to rookie Ben DiNucci who suited up last time these two met in Week 9, they can exploit an Eagles secondary that’s banged up.
Tip – Over 49.5 points (22/25)
Houston Texans vs Cincinnati Bengals
Deshawn Watson has been mightily impressive in a dysfunctional Houston Texan side, keeping his team in games and laying on productivity with limited firepower around him.
The Bengals will roll into this game off a short week, but their shock win against the Steelers will give them cause for optimism, particularly with a ground game that had success against Pittsburgh and goes up against a weak Texans Run D. Ryan Finley, the Bengals QB is limited but deputised competently for Brandon Allen – including adding 23-yard rushing touchdown – and may retain the starting gig even if Brandon Allen is fit.
Watson will land plenty of shots and the Texans should win comfortably but the line seems conservative, and I think Cincy put up enough points to take this over.
Tip – Over 45.5 points (22/25)