NFL – Running Backs in the spotlight for Sunday’s Week 6 match-ups

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NFL nut Kyle Brown (@Kyleianbrown) runs the rule over Sunday’s best bets from Week 6 .

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals | Sunday 14th October 2018, 18:00

The Cincinnati Bengals (4-1) host the Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2-1) in what should prove to be a pivotal match-up in the quest to claim the AFC North.

Last week saw the Bengals rally back from a 17-point deficit to win over a Miami Dolphins side who started the season hot. The Bengals are playing as a unit; the offense is stepping up to make clutch plays and the defense is answering the call when needed to halt opposition momentum. As a team they look confident and fearless.

It’s a stark contrast to a Steelers team whose entire season has been masked by the off-field contract controversy regarding star playmaker Le’veon Bell. But they do have great recent history against the Bengals – winning the last six match-ups – and since Ben Roethlisberger took over as quarterback he has a 14-2 record when playing at the Paul Brown Stadium.

Bookmakers have the odds ever so slightly in the Bengals favour, 19/20 best price at Betfair and the Steelers can be found with value at PaddyPower, around 21/20. I do fancy a Bengals win in this game, but if both teams play to their best then it could come down to as little as a point or two.

With that in mind, I think it’s better looking elsewhere when placing a bet. Neither team boasts a particularly good defence against the run, with Pittsburgh ranking 15th and Cincinnati 23rd. Both have allowed over 100 yards per-game on average, and seven touchdowns between them.

SkyBet has the over/under line set for Joe Mixon at 84.5 (10/11 SkyBet) and James Conner at 62.5 (10/11 SkyBet). I expect them both to go over on rushing yards given the defensive match-up in front of them and the fact that they receive well over 90% of the touches on running plays.

Since publishing this piece, Paddy Power have set Mixon’s line at 73.5 at even-money, naturally a much stronger selection than the original intended 84.5.

Buffalo Bills @ Houston Texans | Sunday 14th October 2018, 18:00

The Buffalo Bills visit the Houston Texans this Sunday with both sides looking to enter Week 7 with a 3-3 record.

It would be quite the achievement for the Bills following their week one demolition by the Baltimore Ravens, and the subsequent predictions that they would be an 0-16 team come the end of the year.

Similarly, the Texans could have a .500 record following three straight defeats to start the campaign. Since then, they seem to have found their offensive groove, and the defence allowed their season low points against total last week against the Cowboys.

While 16 points is hardly a number to boast about, it’s a massive improvement from the 27 shipped to the New York Giants or 34 to the Indianapolis Colts.

Buffalo enter this game +10.5 underdogs (20/23 Ladbrokes) with most bookmakers, and that’s where I think the money should go.

For starters, there are questions surrounding Deshaun Watsons health. While he has publicly said he expects to play, he was limited all week in practice. Whether just a precaution or a necessity, if Watson isn’t 100% fit then the entirety of the Texans offence struggles.

In the 11 games that Watson has started they’ve averaged 29 points per game. Compare that with measly 12 points they’ve averaged without him and his value is clear as day.

While the Bills do rank dead last in passing offence, they find other ways to win games. Their 27-6 victory over the Minnesota Vikings (the biggest pre-match-handicap upset in almost 20 years) was a defensive masterclass. And in their victory last week over the Titans, they only allowed 12 points while dictating play through LeShaun McCoy and the running game.

If all goes as expected, it should be a game featuring a lot of turnovers and sacks, with both defenses showcasing their worth. With Josh Allen still acclimating to life in the NFL, the Texans are unquestionably the better side with the ball in their hand.

But all factors considered, it should be a tighter game than bookmakers are predicting.

Denver Broncos @ Los Angeles Rams | Sunday 14th October 2018, 18:00

The NFC’s sole unbeaten team, the LA Rams, travel to Colorado to play the Denver Broncos, hoping to continue their magnificent start to the season.

It’s hard to see anybody putting a stop to one of the most talented rosters in the league, and bookmakers have them around a 7-point favourite – and rightly so.

The Seattle Seahawks came closest last week, only losing by two points, but it marked the fifth consecutive match in which the Rams were able to put 30+ points on the board.

However, the sunshine of Los Angeles will be swapped for the cold and wind of Denver, with the forecast predicting an 80% chance of snowfall.

Jared Goff is talented enough that his throwing precision and power shouldn’t affected too badly by the conditions, but it could mark for a larger than normal usage for star running Todd Gurley.

Gurley has seven touchdowns through the first five weeks, as well as putting up four 100+ scrimmage yards games (two of them being 145+). I doubt Denver’s 29th ranked rushing defence will have him up all night in terror.

If the conditions are as expected, then Gurley should be the difference maker between the two sides – not that he isn’t normally – and will have plenty of opportunities in the red zone. He is best priced with Betfair at 9/5 for 2+ touchdowns, a feat he has managed in 2twogames already this season.

Gurley’s talent is unquestionable, and in any weather against any team I would always fancy him to find the end zone at least once. But the stars seem to be aligning for him to have an even bigger game than normal this Sunday.

Best Bets

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Mixon Over 84.5 Rushing Yards (10/11 SkyBet)

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals – James Conner Over 62.5 Rushing Yards (10/11 SkyBet)

Buffalo Bills @ Houston Texans – Buffalo Bills +10.5 (20/23 Ladbrokes)

Los Angeles Rams @ Denver Broncos – Todd Gurley to score 2+ Touchdowns (9/5 Betfair)

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