THE NFL arrives in London this weekend and our gridiron guru Tom Selwyn (tom_selwyn) gives us his three to follow.
Detroit Lions @ Atlanta Falcons | Sunday 13:30 | Channel 4
Given we’ve got a game in London this weekend, with a kick-off time all to itself, I thought I’d try and find a good bet to go with it. I didn't have to look far for one and will be backing the Lions -3.5 at Wembley.
Although this is technically a home game for the Falcons, you can’t really class it as one, which doesn't bode well for them as they have lost 12 of their last 13 games on the road.
The Lions offense hasn't been as explosive as people thought it would be, especially with WR Calvin Johnson out injured, but the Falcons defence should be a decent tonic for this given that they can’t stop anybody – they've given up 199 points in seven games (28.4 / game).
Despite having players like QB Matt Ryan and WR Julio Jones, the offense hasn't been able to compensate for the defence due to a poor OL that has given up 15 sacks and just hasn't been able to provide adequate protection for Ryan. I doubt this is going to change against a very good Detroit defence, that is able to get to the QB with just the 4 linemen.
Seattle Seahawks @ Carolina Panthers | Sunday 17:00
The Seahawks are in a bit of slump right now, having lost their last two games, but I just can’t see the Panthers being able to take advantage of this with their defence being so porous this season. Instead I will be looking at Carolina TE Greg Olsen to Score a TD Anytime.
Olsen has been having a fine season so far, leading the Panthers in receiving yards, receptions and he’s also tied for the most TDs, having hauled in five in the first seven games of this season.
He’s tied for most TDs with rookie WR Kelvin Benjamin, but he will most likely draw the coverage of Seahawks CB Richard Sherman who’s one of the best in the game. This should mean Olsen getting more targets and given that the Seahawks have already given up 8 TDs to TEs this season, he’s got a good chance of getting the end-zone.
Green Bay Packers @ New Orleans Saints | Monday 00:30 | Channel 4
Green Bay are playing very well right now and even taking into account that New Orleans hasn't lost at home with Sean Peyton as a coach, I struggle to understand how the Packers are odds against in this game. Packers for me here.
The main reasoning behind this is the stellar play from Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. He currently has 18 TDs to only 1 INT this season and now goes up against a Saints pass defence that is currently ranked 28th in the league – it’s hard to imagine that they’ll be able to stop him.
Conversely, Saints QB Drew Brees has only had one game this year without an INT. He’s always been a QB that takes chances, but this season he hasn't been getting great protection and he’s rushing his throws. Add in the fact that his main receiving threat, Jimmy Graham is still not 100% and you can see why they've fallen short of expectations this year.
Also, the Saints went only 3 for 12 on 3rd down conversions against the Lions last week and if they can’t stay on the field, Rodgers should have enough chances to easily put up enough points to get a win here.
Detroit @ Atlanta – Detroit Lions -3.5 (21/20 Paddy Power)
Seattle @ Carolina – Greg Olsen Anytime Touchdown (13/10 Paddy Power)
Green Bay @ New Orleans – Green Bay to win (23/20 William Hill)