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Weekend Football Picks and Fantasy Football 2020 (February 8-17)

The English Winter Break is in play for the first time this season and I think it has not gone as well as the Premier League and the top clu...

Sunday, 8 October 2017

NFL Week 5 Picks 2017 (October 5-9)

Last weekend I was at Wembley Stadium for the New Orleans Saints whipping of the Miami Dolphins. As much fun as it is to see a live NFL game over in London, there is no comparing it to watching one over in the United States when you really do feel 'home advantage'.

There are fans of so many different teams in the United Kingdom that these International Series games don't generate that atmosphere and I really remain sceptical that a team can be moved here and either produce a proper 'home' atmosphere or fill out the numbers that these 'special events' do.

It remains the goal of the NFL, especially if you listen to anyone this side of the pond, but I can't see it happening myself.

However it does sound like the next logical step for the team behind the London games is to expand the number of games they send to London. Next season they will also have the use of Tottenham Hotspur's new Stadium at White Hart Lane so there is a chance they could expand the series for two blocks of three games in a row.

Any home team being moved to London would likely have their regular season split into two blocks of four consecutive home games so the NFL will be looking to see if they can sustain the interest over that length of time. Again I am sceptical with the two games at Twickenham finding it much harder to sell than the ones at Wembley.

In fact it wasn't too hard to find tickets for any of the four games after the 'sell out' was claimed by the NFL UK and even last Sunday you could see a huge number of vacant seats around the Stadium. I do wonder if a team could be sustained in a market where English Football and the Premier League is king on a Sunday afternoon, but it does seem the NFL will keep pushing forward with their plans.

It would be nice if they can send some decent teams next season though.

We have moved into Week 5 of the NFL and this looks like a really open season with a number of teams who can feel they can win a Super Bowl crown in February. The top five for most people will change on a weekly basis and mine is no different.

The current top five I have are:

1) Kansas City Chiefs (4-0): The last remaining unbeaten team look well balanced, but I can't be convinced by an Alex Smith led team winning it all. The Chiefs face some big challenges over the next few weeks and I would be surprised to keep them here for too much longer, even if I have to respect their 4-0 record.

2) Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1): Being 3-1 without playing well is a good start for Pittsburgh, but they will hope Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown can get on the same page sooner rather than later.

3) Philadelphia Eagles (3-1): This is a team that could have been 4-0 if they had beaten the Kansas City Chiefs in what was a close game, but the Eagles may still be the best team in the NFC.

4) Green Bay Packers (3-1): The Green Bay Packers may disagree with my last statement. This is a team that can only have better luck with injuries going forward and the Packers look like they will challenge for the Number 1 Seed in the NFC which would make them very dangerous.

5) Atlanta Falcons (3-1): Two of my top five from Week 4 were beaten outright, but it is the Falcons who I've given a bigger pass than the New England Patriots. They have a bye this week which should mean getting back some of their injured players and I have put their loss down to the injuries they suffered in Week 4 against Buffalo.

Below I will get into the Week 5 Picks as the NFL bye weeks begin which means a shortened number of games per week.

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Pittsburgh Steelers Pick: The Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1) have not been as consistent as they would have liked to open this season, especially not on the Offensive side of the ball where the Steelers have some top skill players. Inconsistency has been the problem for the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2) for more than the beginning of 2017 and that was highlighted again last week.

After destroying the Baltimore Ravens in London, the Jacksonville Jaguars were beaten by the New York Jets and those are the kind of games you can't drop if you want to make the Play Offs. That has to be the goal for the Jaguars as they are playing in a weakened AFC South where their rivals are hurting at Quarter Back or starting a rookie who will be making rookie mistakes.

The problem for Jacksonville is whether they have the faith in Blake Bortles to make the right plays at Quarter Back on a weekly basis to keep the team moving forward. It is a big year for Bortles with those question marks surrounding him especially when you think the Defensive unit that has been built is certainly good enough for the Jaguars.

Bortles could be helped by Leonard Fournette being able to run the ball against what has been a weaker than expected Defensive Line of the Steelers. Fournette will feel he can be established assuming he is not having to sit with an injury he is dealing with, although Pittsburgh also look like this is an area that can improve with a few injured players returning.

It will be important for Bortles to have a running game to lean on because one area where the Steelers do look better is with the pass rush they can generate up front. Their numbers are certainly improving and they will try and put some pressure on Bortles even if the Quarter Back has been fairly well protected this season.

Pressurising a Quarter Back who makes as many mistakes as Bortles can is a key for the Steelers, although they have also been playing well enough in the Secondary to feel they can perhaps commit a couple more players to stop the run. It won't be easy to completely shut down a Jacksonville Offensive unit that can move the chains, but they will be looking to force Field Goals rather than allowing Touchdowns and then look for a better all around effort from the Offense.

It does feel like the Steelers will be improving on the Offensive side of the ball after getting their own running game back on track last week in a dominant win over the Baltimore Ravens. Those runs did come against a Ravens team missing Brandon Williams though and this Jaguars team are much more powerful up front to allow Le'Veon Bell to get away from them.

Even with that in mind, Jacksonville have had their issues stopping the run this season which should mean Bell is able to make some big plays. The Offensive Line may be encouraged by how they performed against the Ravens and so Bell may be able to at least keep the Steelers from being in third and long and allowing the Jaguars pass rush to get on top of their Quarter Back.

The pass rush is a concern for Pittsburgh as they have had their issues protecting Big Ben at Quarter Back, and that has also meant a strong Secondary have played up to the talent they are expected to have. However the Jaguars have not exactly played an elite list of Quarter Backs and I do think Roethlisberger is going to be able to have his successes with a high does of Antonio Brown on the menu for the road team.

Brown will be looking for a big game after his distracting antics from Week 4 and this could be the day when the 'Three B's' put a strong game together.

It is a tough spot for the Steelers who are off a dominant road win over a hate rival and visit the currently unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs in Week 6. They could overlook the Jaguars and have not been a great home favourite to back, but the public are very much with the road underdog and that does make me feel better in wanting to back the Pittsburgh Steelers this week.

As well have Jacksonville have played to open the season, I think the Steelers are the better team on both sides of the ball. I also think Blake Bortles is never far away from a back breaking turnover and I will be more inclined to think Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Offense will get unstuck than thinking Bortles can come into Heinz Field and play error free football.

The Steelers have a solid 6-2-1 record against the spread when coming in off a big win and they are 9-4-1 against the spread in their last fourteen overall. While I don't like backing Pittsburgh as a big favourite with the public behind them, this week the public are on the road underdog with a lot of points and I will oppose them with the Steelers.

Buffalo Bills @ Cincinnati Bengals Pick: One of the more surprising teams in the first Quarter of the NFL season has to be the Buffalo Bills (3-1) who lead the AFC East. There simply wasn't a lot of expectation for the Bills going into the 2017 season but wins over the likes of the Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons might suggest that this team is for real.

Expectations were much bigger for the Cincinnati Bengals (1-3), but Marvin Lewis is already on the hot seat and has changed his Offensive Co-Ordinator to try and get things turned around. The Bengals are in the tough AFC North, but this could be a morale boosting win to take into their bye week as they look to win two in a row after a really disappointing start to the season.

The Bengals have looked better in the last couple of weeks with Bill Lazor making the calls Offensively, but this is a difficult game for them against a strong Defensive unit. However I am not going to go overboard about the Buffalo Bills who have lost the yardage battle three times in a row but somehow still won two of those games.

It will be up to the Defensive unit to put the Bills in a position to win this game too and they have been strong both against the run and the pass. The Cincinnati Bengals Offensive Line has had some problems and that starts when they try and establish the run.

Joe Mixon has become the featured Running Back for the Bengals, but this is a team that has averaged just 3.3 yards per carry on the season and there have been little sign of that changing. Running against this Buffalo Defensive Line is a big challenge for any team, and I am not sure the Bengals Offensive Line is going to be able to create the holes for Mixon.

That will only mean Andy Dalton and the Offense could be stuck in third and long for much of the afternoon and that is not a position the Quarter Back will be looking forward to that. The Cincinnati Offensive Line have not been able to protect Dalton and now have to deal with a Buffalo team who have been able to generate a very effective pass rush.

Buffalo have yet to give up a Touchdown through the air this season either, and that will be difficult for Cincinnati to change if Dalton is being forced to throw from third and long spots. The pressure up front also means the Secondary have been able to create turnovers and it may be a tough task for the Bengals to consistently score points.

The same can be said for the Buffalo Bills who were not expected to be an Offensive powerhouse and that has turned out to be the case for them. There are some similarities with the Cincinnati Offense in the fact that Buffalo have been unable to establish the run which has then seen their Offensive Line struggle to give Tyrod Taylor the time to pass the ball in third and long spots.

One of the strengths of the Cincinnati Defensive Line has been to shut down the run and generate a strong pass rush and I do think the Bills will have their issues moving the chains too. The difference in the game may come down to which of these teams can look after the ball the best and that is where the Bills may have the edge over Cincinnati with mistake free football being a key to Buffalo winning games.

The Bills did win a low scoring game here in 2016 and I imagine this one will be another one where the Defensive units dominate. That game has seen the underdog improve to 6-1 against the spread in the last seven in this series and I do think getting more than a Field Goal worth of points is enough to consider backing the road underdog.

There simply won't be a lot of points scored in this one and I will look for the Buffalo Bills to just play a bit more mistake free football to at least keep this one competitive.

Los Angeles Chargers @ New York Giants Pick: Both the Los Angeles Chargers and New York Giants are at 0-4 and searching for their first win in 2017 in what may be considered a lost season for their two veteran Quarter Backs. In an alternate reality it may have been Eli Manning playing here as the visiting Quarter Back against Philip Rivers, but his refusal to be Drafted by the Chargers meant a swap was made by these clubs in 2004.

You would have to say that both teams would likely have been very happy with the Quarter Back they received, but the current season has been a poor one for both Manning and Rivers. In the Divisions they are in, the Chargers and the Giants might already be in a position where another defeat at this stage of the season is enough to see them looking for a top Draft Pick rather than the Play Offs.

It would not be a surprise if changes are made in the off-season by both the Giants and Chargers, but for now the concentration is trying to put the first win on the board. The two teams have both been involved in some heartbreaking losses already in 2017 which has to have knocked the confidence going into Week 5.

Rivers has to avoid some of the mistakes which might be a sign of the decline in his ability at Quarter Back, because some of those have been critical in determining the results going against the Los Angeles Chargers. He hasn't been helped by a limited ground attack which has meant moving the chains has been on Rivers' arm and that is likely to be the case again this week.

However Rivers may be feeling good about the fact that the likes of Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul may be out for the Giants which should mean the Quarter Back is given a little more time in the pocket. Giving Rivers time should see him make some big plays for the Chargers to keep the chains moving in this one and I do think Los Angeles can have plenty of positive moments.

It is much harder to see how the New York Giants can do that with Eli Manning showing serious signs of decline and playing behind an Offensive Line that has had some real problems. The Center Weston Richburg could be out for the Giants on Sunday which is only going to make it even more difficult for an Offense that has had their difficulties throughout 2017 already.

With Odell Beckham Jr being banged up, Brandon Marshall looking like a faded force and little out of the Running Backs, it has been a tough season already for the Giants. Without Richburg it is difficult to see the Giants being able to change that despite the issues the Chargers Defensive Line have had in stopping the run, and that means once again it will be down to Eli Manning to make the plays from Quarter Back.

However, unlike Rivers, Manning is not going to get a lot of time to throw the ball against a fierce Los Angeles pass rush which has managed to get plenty of hits on opposition Quarter Backs. That has been one of the main strengths of the Chargers and they can prevent the Giants having consistent drives as long as the Offense don't leave them to defend short fields.

Creating turnovers have still been a problem for the Chargers, but they will feel they match up well enough to slow down the Giants. Beckham will likely still get his numbers, despite having ankle and finger injuries, but Manning won't have a lot of time and will just need to hope that his Receivers can avoid drops and make plays after the catch.

The early East Coast start is a negative for the Los Angeles Chargers, but they still look the right play as the road underdog in Week 5. The public are behind the Giants, but the sharps have knocked this spread down to a Field Goal worth of points, but I still want to back the Chargers who have made it a habit to be involved in close games.

Philip Rivers has beaten the Giants in all three games since being sent to the Chargers for Eli Manning and I think he has the better supporting cast here. Interceptions have been a problem for both Quarter Backs, but it feels Rivers will have more support on the ground and from the Defensive pass rush and I like the Chargers with the points.

Being able to oppose the public is a bonus and I will back the Chargers with the start to keep this one competitive.

Arizona Cardinals @ Philadelphia Eagles Pick: The last two years looked to be the window for the Arizona Cardinals (2-2) to win the Super Bowl and this is a team that looks like it could be making some big off-season moves. That might sound funny to many with the Cardinals at 2-2 for the season, but they have wins over two of the worst teams in the NFL and have looked pretty bad in the two losses to the better teams they have met.

In Week 5 the Cardinals will take on another of the better teams out there when they face the Philadelphia Eagles (3-1) in an early afternoon game on the East Coast. There are still some issues for the Eagles to resolve if they are going to avoid the same kind of collapse they had in 2016 after a strong start, but they look better equipped to do that in 2017.

This is a tough match up for the Eagles when their Offensive unit is on the field against the still strong Arizona Defensive unit. The Cardinals Defenders have worn down thanks to mistakes on the other side of the ball, but they will feel they can at least give Arizona a chance by limiting what the Eagles are able to do.

Carson Wentz has found himself under more pressure than you would imagine as the second year Quarter Back has perhaps not helped himself by holding onto the ball a little too long. That may have something to do with working with a new look Receiving corps that are still building the chemistry with their Quarter Back, but it has to be a concern for Wentz as the Cardinals have been able to produce an effective pass rush.

Wentz will be looking for his Running Backs to pound the football at Arizona to wear down the front and eventually slow the pass rush and give him time to hit his Receiving weapons. With LaGarrette Blount the featured Back after the injury to Darren Sproles, the Eagles will feel the powerful Running Back can rumble off some big gains even though the Cardinals have played the run effectively.

The Cardinals do have the Defensive unit that can slow down the home team, but the key for them may actually be how Carson Palmer and the Arizona Offense can play.

Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald have been a huge part of any success Arizona have had this season but this does look like the last year the two players will decide to call it a day now the Cardinals have slipped out of their current Super Bowl window. Fitzgerald is still capable of making the big plays at Wide Receiver, but Carson Palmer looks like a faded force at Quarter Back, although he is not helped by one of the worst Offensive Lines in the NFL.

Interceptions have resulted from Palmer being put under immense pressure throughout games and the injury to David Johnson has taken away a safety blanket for the veteran Quarter Back. Without Johnson Arizona have not been able to run the ball at all effectively and that has meant Palmer has been asked to throw from third and long situations behind an Offensive Line which has been giving up Sacks like it is Christmas for opposition Defensive Lines.

The Eagles do have a few holes in the Secondary which Palmer can expose, but he is likely to be under siege behind this Offensive Line as he has been all season. That pressure can lead to mistakes although Palmer will likely have some nice passing numbers against a Secondary that has not played well. That might not be good enough to keep the Cardinals going if they are asking their Defensive unit to play in poor field position for much of the afternoon and I do think the Eagles will take advantage of that.

Out of the two Carson Quarter Backs taking to the field, it is Wentz who has looked after the ball better than Palmer and I think that is a key to the outcome of this game. The Eagles may earn a couple more short fields which helps them wear down the Cardinals, while the early afternoon slot is a tough one for teams who are used to playing on the West Coast.

The Cardinals have covered the last six times these teams have played each other, but the Offensive Line problems look too much to overcome. Arizona have had two close wins over Indianapolis and San Francisco, but have been worn down by Detroit and Dallas and I expect the Eagles to reproduce what the latter two teams have done. Arizona are just 2-8 against the spread in their last ten following a win and I can see that sequence being extended negatively for them.

Palmer could get within this number with a late drive throwing to keep Arizona alive, but I think Philadelphia can make enough plays to make any late drive a moot point. I will look for the Eagles to cover this spread as the home favourite as they become the latest team to break down the Arizona Offensive Line.

Seattle Seahawks @ Los Angeles Rams Pick: Not many people would have suggested that the Los Angeles Rams (3-1) would be coming into this Week 5 Divisional game leading the NFC West. However that is exactly where the Rams find themselves, although they are facing a huge test of their credentials when they host the Seattle Seahawks (2-2).

The first quarter of 2017 has gone exactly how the Rams would have hoped and they have already produced a stand out win when beating the Dallas Cowboys on the road in Week 4. Jared Goff has been playing much better than what he had showed in 2016 and Los Angeles look like they could be a team that is challenging for a Play Off spot later in the year.

Goff would love to be given some help from Todd Gurley at Running Back and the Los Angeles Rams may have a few holes to expose up front. The Offensive Line have not paved the way for Gurley as they would have wished, but they are facing a Seattle Defensive Line who have been underachieving massively in 2017.

That may have something to do with the teams that the Seahawks have played with Tennessee being a strong running team who dominated Seattle up front, but the Rams will feel they can establish the run in this one. Getting Gurley going will make life so much easier for Goff who won't want to be throwing into the Legion of Boom from third and long spots all through the day in this one.

The Seattle Defensive Line have also not been able to get the pass rush going to the level they would have liked and Goff should have time to throw the ball. However the Secondary is still one of the better ones in the NFL and I am not sure Goff is going to have the same kind of day he has enjoyed for much of the new season. That only increases the need for the Rams to establish the run to make sure they can keep Seattle off balance in this game.

An injury to Chris Carson was a blow for the Seattle Offense last week, but this is a team that is well covered at Running Back and they may feel they can match the Rams by being able to establish the run in this game. Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacy will likely be splitting carries for Seattle, but they are facing a Rams Defensive Line that has had issues on the ground while Russell Wilson is capable of tucking the ball and making plays with his legs from Quarter Back.

Seattle's Offensive Line have looked much happier by moving forward and paving the way for gains on the ground than they have in pass protection which has been an issue again this season. Wilson is able to scramble from some of the pressure, but the Rams will feel they can collapse the pocket quickly and at least force Wilson to continue to make throws on the run.

That has been a strength for Wilson, but the likes of Doug Baldwin and Jimmy Graham have been banged up which has made it more difficult for him. However Wilson has played well the last couple of weeks and having a running game to rely upon should open things up downfield for the Quarter Back as he can employ play-action and bootlegs to really get the Rams Defensive Line off balance.

I do have to say I like the Seattle Seahawks to do that and I want to back them as the road underdog. Some will point out that Seattle have lost their last three road games at the Rams and in four of their last five on the road against this Divisional rival, but in all of those games the Rams would have been the underdog and it is a different expectation on their shoulders in this one.

That means a different mindset and I think it can make the difference in the outcome for the Seattle Seahawks. Russell Wilson looked much better the last couple of weeks and I think the Seahawks will be a little disrespected as the underdog here which should help motivate them for a big performance.

I am not convinced about the Los Angeles Rams either considering they have not been tested to the fullest just yet and this is a big test for them. Seattle have some poor numbers going against them, but the Rams are not exactly dominant at home and they are just 1-9-1 against the spread in their last eleven against Conference opponents while being 0-4 against the spread in their last four Divisional games. I will back the Seahawks with the points here as they are an underdog against the Rams for the first time in some years and I will look for them to prove they are still the team to beat in the NFC West.

Baltimore Ravens @ Oakland Raiders Pick: It may be a surprise to some to see the Oakland Raiders (2-2) favoured to beat the Baltimore Ravens (2-2) when Derek Carr has likely been ruled out for the contest. The loss of Carr at the end of last season saw the Oakland Raiders crushed in the Play Offs as they couldn't get anything going Offensively, but there is a confidence in EJ Manuel that was evident in the close loss to Denver in Week 4.

While the injury to Carr is a bad one for the Raiders, Manuel will at least have Michael Crabtree back to complement Amari Cooper and Jared Cook in the passing game. And there will be no sympathy from the Baltimore Ravens who are currently dealing with some huge injuries on both sides of the ball which has affected them terribly over the last couple of weeks.

Those injuries are coming on the Offensive and Defensive Lines which means they are perhaps not as 'cool' to talk about than Oakland missing their Quarter Back, but the layers appreciate what Michael Yanda and Brandon Williams give the Ravens.

Williams was rewarded with a big contract in the off-season as he was a huge presence on the Defensive Line, but his absence has seen Baltimore struggle to get off the field. The numbers have made it clear though as the Ravens have been giving up plenty of yards on the ground without Williams and now have to deal with Marshawn Lynch who should get plenty of carries for the Oakland Raiders.

Lynch has not had a great season so far on his return from retirement, but he should have his best game of 2017 for Oakland. The Raiders Offensive Line is one of the better ones in the NFL and they should be able to open some holes for Lynch against this Defensive Line which will also be music to the ears of EJ Manuel at Quarter Back.

The Baltimore Secondary have been playing pretty well and there is still a decent pass rush the Ravens bring to the table, but being able to run the ball should mean Oakland are able to make plays from third and manageable. I can't imagine they will want to lean on Manuel too much, but they can expect their Quarter Back to make some plays if Lynch is moving the chains with his legs and Oakland may not miss as much of a beat Offensively as some may think even in the absence of Quarter Back Carr.

Baltimore's Defensive unit have not been helped by their Offense which has simply not been able to sustain drives and given their Defense time to rest. The run game is still producing some decent numbers for the Ravens, but Yanda's absence means penetration from opposing Defensive Lines has been much greater and that is likely to show up here with the likes of Khalil Mack on the opposite line of scrimmage.

The Baltimore Running Backs are not going to scare the Raiders who will be looking to keep Joe Flacco in third and long spots where they can really get after the Quarter Back. It has to be expected that Oakland will find plenty of players in the Baltimore backfield throughout this game and that pressure on Flacco could lead to more mistakes from the Quarter Back who has not looked at 100% at any point this season.

Flacco's numbers have been really poor as Baltimore have struggled to move the ball through the air. That has shown up the last couple of weeks as they have totalled sixteen points and I have to say I am not expecting too many points scored against this Oakland Defensive unit.

The only hope Baltimore have is that EJ Manuel shoots himself in the foot, but I think the Oakland game plan will be simple with the Offensive Line run blocking and Defensive Lines penetration likely a key for the Raiders. The Raiders have only scored 10 points in each of their last two games, but I think the match up is a good one for them this week and I will be looking for Oakland to cover the spread as the home favourite.

The home team have dominated this series in recent years and Baltimore have a really poor 2-6 record against the spread when coming off a home loss of double digit points. Oakland have been strong at home and I will look for EJ Manuel to play a clean game and help the Raiders improve to 3-2 for the season.

Green Bay Packers @ Dallas Cowboys Pick: The Dallas Cowboys (2-2) surprised everyone with the 2016 season they had, but they still came up short in the Play Offs when they were beaten here by the Green Bay Packers (3-1). 2017 was supposed to be a season when the Cowboys kicked on from their surprising year, but so far it has been much more difficult for Dallas as they have dropped a couple of games already.

This looks a big test for the Cowboys against a Green Bay Packers team who have had the time to recover some of the injured players that have been missing in recent weeks. After playing the Thursday Night Football game in Week 4, the Packers could have a number of players returning on Sunday and it does surprise me that Green Bay are the underdog.

Getting what amounts to a Field Goal start with Aaron Rodgers and company looks far too many points for the road underdog and I will be backing the Green Bay Packers with the points.

Rodgers has been under pressure behind his makeshift Offensive Line and that is likely to be a problem for him if that same Line plays on Sunday against a Cowboys Defensive Line that have dialled up the right plays to find pressure. However it may be a more difficult day for the Cowboys with Green Bay expected to have their first choice Tackles back on the Offensive Line which has to be a huge boost for Aaron Rodgers.

Giving this Quarter Back some time to make plays down the field against a Secondary that looks weaker than a year ago and against a Defensive unit missing Sean Lee looks a tough task for Dallas. Rodgers will have his full complement of Receivers ready to go after Davante Adams was cleared to play after taking a huge hit in Week 4 and it is hard to see Dallas slowing down the Packers with any consistency.

Ty Montgomery may miss out for the Packers at Running Back, but there should still be room for Aaron Jones to make some plays from that position as Dallas look to stop Rodgers from beating them through the air. That should leave some holes up front which Jones can hit with some speed and Green Bay have to be confident of moving the chains for much of the afternoon in Dallas.

Dallas can't be completely disregarded though as they still have an Offensive unit that can move the chains effectively. Ezekiel Elliot should have some running lanes to exploit even if the Packers have the bonus of likely having Mike Daniels back to plug the middle of their Defensive Line, while Dak Prescott can run the ball himself to at least keep the Packers honest.

Prescott has been given time by the Offensive Line which should give him a chance against a beaten up Secondary especially if the Cowboys are also running the ball efficiently and the Cowboys should have their successes on this side of the ball. It is the injuries in the Green Bay Secondary which should encourage Dallas to throw to the likes of Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley and I do think Prescott will have some success doing that.

Dallas also will have revenge on their minds having lost to the Packers in the Play Offs, but I can't have Aaron Rodgers as an underdog considering the way he has been playing. With those injured players giving Green Bay a boost, I think the underdog has every chance of the upset, but should certainly be looking to keep this game competitive at the least.

I do think the Packers are the better team of these two NFC rivals and I will back them with the points in this one.

MY PICKS: Pittsburgh Steelers - 7 Points @ 1.86 Bet365 (2 Units)
Buffalo Bills + 3.5 Points @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Los Angeles Chargers + 3 Points @ 2.05 Sporting Bet (2 Units)
Philadelphia Eagles - 6.5 Points @ 1.95 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)
Seattle Seahawks + 1.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Oakland Raiders - 3 Points @ 1.95 Sporting Bet (2 Units)
Green Bay Packers + 3 Points @ 1.91 Coral (2 Units)

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