By Charles Jay
Down Texas way, there’s a new guy in the saddle for the Houston Texans, as first-year coach Bill O’Brien feels he can do better than Ivy League graduate Ryan Fitzpatrick. Here it’s another Ryan, with the last name of Mallett, who will be getting the chance to make his first NFL start. Mallett was acquired in a trade in the latter stages of training camp, and the feeling was that the Texans would give him a shot at being the “quarterback of the future.” Well, the future is now, as George Allen used to say. Mallett has thrown just four passes in the NFL, and he certainly hopes that he get some help out of his backfield. Whenever America’s Bookie customers evaluate Houston’s chances, it starts with people like JJ Watt, but also running back Arian Foster, who is now suffering with a groin injury, and will probably be a gametime decision as to whether he plays or not. This is not good news for the young, green quarterback. The Cleveland Browns are the opponents, and all they have done in Mike Pettine’s first year at the helm is go 6-3 straight-up, that coming after a masterful road win at Cincinnati. Now they have a few extra days to prepare. Let’s take note of the numbers here; in the latest NFL betting odds that are posted at America’s Bookie, Cleveland is a three-point favorite, with a total of 40.5 points (1 PM ET). The Browns have played five straight games under the total, and we don’t really know what to expect out of Houston, especially if they have to go without Foster.
The Chicago Bears really need to bounce back, or else Marc Trestman could find himself on the hot seat, if he’s not there already. The Bears have not only been beaten three games in a row, they have been thoroughly dominated in those games. The defense is a shambles, as the team is given up 106 points in the last two contests. Granted, they were playing against teams with very sharp quarterbacks (New England and Green Bay), and this week they go up against a rookie in Teddy Bridgewater of the Minnesota Vikings. But Chicago hasn’t really been able to show any home field advantage, covering only one of its last nine games at Soldier Field. Minnesota comes into this game with three straight covering efforts, and that included last week’s 29-26 victory over Washington. Chicago lays points but is only a 2.5-point favorite at America’s Bookie in this game (the total is 46 points for this 1 PM. ET start).
One of the more intriguing games involves the Kansas City Chiefs, who seem to be doing all the right things fundamentally and now play host to the Seattle Seahawks (1 PM ET). Seattle, as we know, is not really been the team we saw last season, but they showed some power last week against the New York Giants, running for 350 yards in a three-touchdown victory. Of course, the Giants were tied with them at one point in the second half. For those NFL bettors like to look at the technical side of things, Kansas City has covered eight straight games. That’s simple. And they have also limited opponents to 34.5% success on third down. That’s the kind of thing that will help you win games. So will keeping the ball out of the other teams hands, and Alex Smith has thrown only two interceptions in his last eight starts. Kansas City is a 1.5-point favorite in the sportsbook betting odds at America’s Bookie.
As far as the late games go, the one that could be the most intriguing is not the one between Philadelphia and Green Bay, but one that matches a couple of division leaders, as the Detroit Lions visit the Arizona Cardinals. Arizona has the best record in the league at the moment (8-1 straight-up), and maybe it’s no wonder, as they have turned the ball over only six times. Now they face a challenge with quarterback Carson Palmer out for the season with a knee injury. Drew Stanton got three starts earlier in the season, but completed less than 50% of his passes. He goes up against the team that leads the NFL’s defensive rankings, and which stifled Miami last week. This is a great “strength versus strength” matchup, and really, the strength on the part of both teams is defense, although Calvin Johnson, recently returned from injury, would like to throw his two cents in there for sure. Detroit has won four games in a row; Arizona has won five straight. Considering the quarterback change, this game is listed as a pick at America’s Bookie, with the total at 41 points (4:25 PM ET start at University of Phoenix Stadium).