Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday October, 28

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday October, 28

Scott Delaney

My free play for Sunday takes us to the Mile High City, as I focus on the New Orleans Saints and Denver Broncos showdown, a game that will be spotlighted by quarterbacks Drew Brees and Peyton Manning. It's going to be electric, that's for sure. But when it comes down to it, I don't think the Saints have enough on defense to slow Manning and company.

Not with the overall worst defense in the league. The Saints, who have the 32nd defense overall, rank 31st against the rush and 30th against the pass. Now you're asking them to go into the thin-air of Denver, and keep up with the Broncos' high-octane offense that includes the No. 4 passing game in the league?

Manning, who became the first player in NFL history to throw for 300 yards, three touchdowns and complete 70 percent of passes in three straight games, is on pace for a 4,800-yard season.

The last time he was on the field, we saw him make a mockery of the San Diego Chargers' near-flawless, first-half performance on Monday Night Football. The Broncos turned a 24-0 deficit into a 35-24 win, marking the first time in history a team trailed by that much and won by double digits. That was two weeks ago.

With plenty of time to rest for the Saints, who survived last week's contest with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I think Denver is in a good position to make a huge statement, and notch itself another win.

Denver checks in on an ATS streak of 8-2 after a bye week, so I'm laying the points tonight.

3♦ DENVER

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday October, 28

Chris Jordan

There's football in London this weekend, and it'll be the kind we're used to in America, not the brand the Brits are familiar with. And I'm going to venture across the pond to the capital city of England, site of one of the most exciting Summer Olympics of our era, for one of your free NFL winners on Sunday.

The St. Louis Rams (3-4) "host" Tom Brady and the New England Patriots (4-3) Sunday at Wembley Stadium in the annual NFL International Series in London.

The Patriots are 7-point favorites over the Rams, while the total is sitting at 47.

First-year coach - but certainly no newbie to the game - Jeff Fisher has seemingly turned this team around, and it's evident on the defensive side of the ball. St. Louis has the 10th-ranked defense in the league overall, after being 22nd last year.

Prior to last week's 30-20 loss to the Green Bay Packers, the Rams had stifled their foes to a mere 14.7 points per game at home in the Edward Jones Dome, with impressive victories over the Redskins, Seahawks and Cardinals.

Of course, there might be a question mark against more-formidable opponents after seeing what the Packers did; this week may tell more against the Patriots and their No. 1 ranked overall offense.

The young Rams figure to have their hands full, as is this their first trip across the pond; the Patriots have been here before, beating Tampa Bay at Wembley in 2009. And let's be real, though the official boxscore will list St. Louis as the home team, the Patriots are by far the more popular team in Europe.

No doubt in my mind the Patriots will get a majority of the support.

That's not to say I'm ready to lay the chalk with New England, especially after seeing last Sunday's second-half collapse and overall scare, relinquishing a 10-point fourth-quarter lead to the New York Jets in a three-point, overtime win. And that was one week after blowing a 13-point fourth-quarter lead in a loss to Seattle.

I will be intrigued to see how well these two teams defend one another, since Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels held the same position with the Rams last season. Theory being, the Rams might be able to predict some of his tendencies, albeit with guys like Brady, Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. And, the Patriots could benefit by McDaniels' info about the tendencies of the Rams' offensive personnel.

The 'under' is on a 4-1 run in this game, and the Rams were on a four-game 'under' streak til last week, when they went over 45 with the Packers, totaling 50 points. They have to know their best chance in this game is to slow the Patriots down, eat up clock by controlling the tempo with a strong rushing game, protecting the football and keeping Brady off the field. I can buy into that philosophy and still see the Patriots win this game.

Again, I don't want to lay the points, since I could see New England up 24-14 late, and the Rams scoring a backdoor touchdown. The Patriots might just put it on Fisher's boys, like they did the Buccaneers in 2009, in 35-7 rout.

Safest bet here is to play UNDER 47 points.

4♦ UNDER

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday October, 28

DAVID BANKS

Saints / Broncos Over 55

The New Orleans Saints (2-4, 3-3 ATS) have won two straight since an ugly 0-4 start, and they look to make it three straight in a battle of future Hall of Fame quarterbacks when Drew Brees & Co. visit Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos (3-3, 3-3 ATS). The Broncos are coming off of a bye after overcoming a 24-0 halftime deficit by outscoring the San Diego Chargers 35-0 in the second half two Mondays ago. You can catch this marquee Sunday Night Football matchup from Sports Authority Field in Denver, CO at 8:20 ET on NBC.

The Saints' passing offense has been as potent as ever this year with Brees passing for 2097 yards in six games (335.2 yards per game) with 18 touchdown passes, and it is a tribute to Brees that he has been able to put up those kind of number with defenses knowing that the Saints have needed to throw on practically every down with New Orleans playing from behind in every single game this year. The Saints did manage to come from behind to win the last two games, but ideally they would prefer to play with a lead for a change so that they can establish at least some semblance of a running game. It is easy to forget that New Orleans actually ranked seventh in the NFL in rushing last season, but they are dead last this year at a measly 76.2 rushing yards per game. They have a chance to make this a throwback game if Brees can pass the Saints to an early lead as New Orleans would then finally get a chance to run the ball a bit on the 18h ranked Denver run defense in an attempt to keep Manning on the sideline. Now the New Orleans defense welcomed back Jonathan Vilma last week, but he had no impact as the Saints allowed 513 total yards in the 35-28 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That makes playing with a lead here even more critical.

Now normally, NFL favorites coming off of a bye have been great bets, going 79-41-4, 65.8 percent ATS since 2005, but the Broncos' bye may have come at a bad time is they probably lost the momentum from that great second-half comeback at San Diego. Nonetheless, Manning has looked like his old self, as he now has four straight 300-yard passing games, leaving him with 1808 passing yards in six games with 14 touchdowns against just four interceptions. Do you think Manning is looking forward to passing against the 30th ranked Saints' passing defense? Denver has had a bit of a tough time getting its running game going too, ranking a disappointing 23rd in rushing at 93.8 yards per game despite having a talented running back in Willis McGahee, so this may truly turn into an entertaining passing battle between the two amazing quarterbacks.

Despite the fact that Denver has the far superior defense, Brees is always dangerous as an underdog going 31-20 ATS overall in this role, including 8-4 ATS when getting more than a field goal, and no defense in football has been able to slow him down the last couple of years. Also, the Broncos have been atrocious as decided favorites, going an abysmal 3-16 ATS the last 19 times they were favored by more than a field goal.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Sunday October, 28

Michael Alexander

Panthers / Bears Under 42

The Panthers come into this game struggling to put points on the board as they are averaging only 16.6 points per game this season. Today they are on the road with their starting center injured and out for the season.

The Bears come into this one with the NFL’s top rated defense allowing only 13 points per game. The Bears offense has been horrible but points look decent due to the devense and special teams point scoring. Risky to base an over total on that happening every game.

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