Jimmy McGinty previews this week's NFL action and is keen on the Cowboys and Steelers.
Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys
The Packers were dominated by the Giants in the first half only to score a hail-mary right on HT to go in leading. They then scored on short field position after a bad kick return by New York. Those two plays swung the game. Somewhat like the Seahawks last weekend I don’t believe the Packers were full value for their win. Add in the fact that Odell Beckham had a stinker for the Giants - he hauled in only 4 of his 11 targets which gave the Giants no real chance to score enough.
Beckham faced a lot of defensive coverage but with the Cowboys being so strong on the ground (Giants had no run game really), it’s unlikely the Packers will have more than single coverage on Dez Bryant this weekend. That single coverage will probably be Ladarius Gunter who conceded 2 TDs when the teams last met. No surprise if Dez has a big outing.
Jordy Nelson is out injured and there’s no escaping he’s a big loss regardless of how well Aaron Rodgers is playing. Davante Adams stepped up big last week but he has never really done so consistently. With Dallas welcoming back Morris Claiborne (Tyrone Crawford & DeMarcus Lawrence too) from injury the Packers receivers could have a tough evening getting open.
The Packers have won seven in a row but all against teams who rank badly in scoring stats. In fact 6 out of the 7 are in the bottom half of the points per game table. Whilst Dallas sit fifth. This Packers defense (secondary especially) will get an almighty test on Sunday.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs
This is the hardest game to call. The teams are evenly matched as the 1pt spread suggests. The Steelers would be favoured by 3 or 4 if at home and the Chiefs don’t have a scary home record like some teams so I think the Steelers are the right pick. This Steelers offense looks like it can’t be stopped at times. Meanwhile Alex Smith is more than capable of managing a game and getting the Chiefs to 20 odd points but if a shootout materializes I don’t see Kansas City keeping up.
Le’Veon Bell had a great outing (157yds) against Miami last Sunday and I can see a similar pattern emerging this Sunday. That was all rushing but this Sunday the Steelers will use Bell as a receiver out of the backfield to capitalize on the Chiefs missing their main linebacker Derrick Johnson. The Steelers threw the ball just six times in the second half last week and Bell didn’t feature at all late in the game so his receiving stats are quite misleading. In a likely close game he’ll be back putting up big yards, rushing and receiving. He has scored 8 TDs in his last 7 games.
Regular Season recap part 2 – NFC
5pts @ 6/5 Cowboys over 9.5wins – they surprised me by winning a full 13 games without Romo but we’re not complaining. +6pts
Giants 2pts @ 2/1 to make playoffs & 2pts @ 5/4 over 8.5wins - Similar to the Raiders the Giants made the playoffs, with 11 wins, but promptly exited. Another winner for the blog. +6.5pts
Eagles 4pts @ 7/4 to finish 4th, 1pt concede most & 1pt worst record - they won 7 games, more than I expected but still finished bottom of the NFC East. +5pts
Falcons 10pts @ 6/5 over 7.5wins, 1pt @ 6/1 NFC South, 1pt outright 66/1, Falcons got off to a fast start, endured a mid-season wobble and finished strong with 11 wins. And the NFC South title. +18pts
Panthers 3pts @ 1/1 under 10.5wins - Last season’s Super Bowl runners’ up could muster only 6 wins in 2016. +3pts
+38.5pts there, happy days.