THE first Sunday of the new NFL season and Louis Ross (@LouisRoss67) is on hand to pick out the best bets.
Tampa Bay Bucaneers @ Atlanta Falcons | Sunday 18:00
Sunday nights are back. Where better to start than a matchup I got wrong twice last season?
The Falcons are such an unpredictable team. Matty Ice really should have done better over the last four years or so but Defence is where the organisation has failed more than anywhere on the Offensive side of the ball.
Ryan has never quite had enough. When he had a pair of great receivers and Tony Gonzales breaking records at Tight End, there was no Defence and ageing Running Backs.
When he did have Devonta Freeman beating everyone on his own as the team started 6-0 last season, Julio Jones had no support and was double teamed almost every week. Oh and that Defence was still non existent.
Tampa have left the Lovie Smith era behind and some in Florida are confident that they are on the verge of having a team capable of a second Super Bowl.
I’m not so sure they are that close, nor would I be super confident of a winning season but I do see this team being capable of putting up big numbers on bad Defences.
A pass rush is what Atlanta missed most in 2015 and is something they have yet to really address. Jameis Winston is a fine young Quarterback capable of moving quickly down the field. That is if Mike Evans can cure his recent habit of dropping passes.
Doug Martin should have plenty of running lanes as Atlanta’s new secondary adjusts to life in the big leagues. With Matt Ryan now having a serious upgrade in his passing options, after the acquisition of Mohammed Sanu, Julio Jones should get open a little easier.
The Ryan passing lines around 290 yards are very tempting but it’s points I am after. 47.5 is slightly low in a game I would hope nudges 60.
Oakland Raiders @ New Orleans Saints | Sunday 18:00
Another matchup featuring two powerful Offences, at least one suspect Defence and you can probably guess where I am going with this. It’s Drew Brees against Derek Carr and I can only expect another shootout.
Carr is a rapidly improving young Quarterback in a rapidly improving Raiders team that could soon be rapidly moving from Oakland to Las Vegas.
Carr has an array of targets to aim at. Michael Crabtree will never be the stud receiver that he imagines himself to be but he certainly looks as though he applies himself better than he did in San Francisco.
Amari Cooper could end up being that stud receiver and if Latavius can start converting decent performances into great one, this unit could take the Silver & Black a long way this year.
Carr will be looking to take on a Saints Defence that gave up 45 Passing Touchdowns last year, a league high. That Defence will continue to be a weak point and although Drew Brees will continue to set passing records, they are in for a long and difficult season.
Brandin Cooks improved throughout 2015 but will need more support from the likes of Willie Snead. For eight straight seasons, Brees has thrown for over 4000 yards and 30 plus touchdowns. Oakland linebackers Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin will put pressure on him in the Superdome.
Derek Carr has thrown 53 touchdowns in his first two seasons, that is second all time in the NFL. Cooper and Crabtree have really good match ups against a very young Secondary and a banged up front seven. I expect Oakland to put big points on the board here and win comfortably.
Tampa Bay Bucaneers @ Atlanta Falcons – Over 47.5 Points (10/11 Bet Victor)
Oakland Raiders @ New Orleans Saints – Over 51.5 Points (10/11 Skybet)
Oakland Raiders @ New Orleans Saints – Oakland -3 (7/4 William Hill)
Oakland Raiders @ New Orleans Saints – Derek Carr Over 259.5 Passing Yards (10/11 Skybet)