BJ VanderWoude: Currently, there are four games with projected totals of 47+ points (New England vs New York Jets, Miami vs Atlanta, and Detroit vs New Orleans) with two others likely headed in the same direction (Green Bay vs Minnesota and LA Chargers vs Oakland). Which of these games do you see not hitting their projected total, and which players do you think will suffer from a lower scoring affair?
James Brimacombe: Detroit and New Orleans is a game that looks incredible on paper with both passing games standing out. On the flip side, both of these defenses have been playing really well. This type of game could end up 35-32 or a 17-14 type of game and if I had to bet I would take the later. Through 5 games the Lions have allowed an average of 19.4 points to their opponents and the Saints 19.5 to theirs through 4 games. The quarterbacks would both suffer from a lower scoring game as both teams would likely focus on clock management and utilizing their running games with Ameer Abdullah and Mark Ingram II.
John Mamula: LA Chargers vs. Oakland Raiders is a game that I envision falling under the current total of 48.5 points. The Raiders started fast out of the gate but have lost their past three games while averaging 12.3 points over that time period. There is a good chance Derek Carr returns after missing last week but I can't imagine the Raiders passing game producing at a high level against the Chargers which are ranked as the NFL's 8th best pass defense. Amari Cooper has been a major disappointment this season and while I expect him to figure it out because he has too much talent not to, I don't think it will be this week. The Chargers have struggled against the run allowing an NFL worst 161.2 rushing yards per game and 5.0 yards per carry. The Raiders have not shown that they can effectively run the ball as Marshawn Lynch has not received more than 13 touches since Week 1.
On the other side of the ball, the Chargers got their first win of the season last week so that immense pressure is off their shoulders. Philip Rivers is in another good spot as he has finished with multiple touchdowns in three of his first five weeks. Melvin Gordon III had his breakthrough game last week so I envision the Chargers leaning on him as long as his knee holds up.
Dan Hindery: I am wary of the Green Bay-Minnesota matchup. Four of the last five meeting have totaled 45 points or less. Both teams have star wide receivers (Stefon Diggs and Jordy Nelson) with injury concerns. Without Dalvin Cook and Diggs functioning at full-strength, the Vikings are lacking in playmakers. Minnesota has held Green Bay to an average of 22.7 points when playing at home over the last three seasons.
Chris Feery: I’m circling the game between the Patriots and Jets as a potential under. The Jets have wildly outperformed expectations thus far, and the Patriots seem out of sync on a number of fronts. Over the course of their three-game winning streak, the Jets have shown tenacity on defense while holding their opponents in check for the most part. Granted, they haven’t exactly faced a murderer’s row of offenses over that stretch - Dolphins, Jaguars, and Browns - but it’s still pretty impressive for a club that everyone assumed would throw in the towel on the 2017 season. It’s far from a given that they’ll be able to do the same with a Patriots club that can light up the scoreboard like a Christmas tree, but you can count me in the camp of those that won’t be surprised if it happens. Something is just not right with the defending Super Bowl champs, and it may take them a few more games to get on track.
Justin Howe: You know the way an offense looks when some low-tier backup – think Ryan Lindley, or Tommy Maddox in Pittsburgh 10-12 years ago – has to step into a lineup cold and keep things afloat for a handful of games? That’s what Miami looks like right now. It appears they’ve lodged a 34-year-old, low-tier backup into their lineup, and as a result, we’re seeing nothing of utility coming from this offense.
So, I’m not expecting the Dolphins to come especially close to their 17.5-point projection, and a less competitive game flow would probably keep the Falcons from scoring typically as well. That wouldn’t ding the Falcons too noticeably; their heavy scoring is typically concentrated over a few guys. But any depression in touchdown opportunity gives me that much less hope for Julio Jones, who is still seeking his first one of the year, to find pay dirt. Jones is, of course, allergic to touchdowns, and a shortened game like 23-10 would probably boost the running game’s outlook more than the pass.
Rather, the big losers of a drop below Vegas’ projection would be the Dolphins on the board. The offense has generated no more than 225 total yards or 9 points in any of its last 3 games and looks as toothless as they come. For many offenses, we can at least factor in the possibility of garbage-time production through the air, but this one can’t be trusted to merely complete passes on any consistent level. With Jay Cutler looking unable to manage even a mid-level passing game and DeVante Parker hobbled by an ankle injury, there’s little chance of an offensive eruption here.
Jason Wood: I'm with Justin in fading Miami. The team looks lost, and not in a "just aren't quite clicking" way but in a "how did we ever think this team would be competitive?" way. I have to think Jay Cutler gets another half of football before he's benched, and we all know Adam Gase thought so little of Matt Moore he talked Cutler out of retirement in lieu of giving Moore the ball. Ajayi doesn't look right, Parker is banged up and Landry is averaging less than eight yards a catch.
I will also say the Jets are at risk of being problematic for those trying to play the New England defense arbitrage. The Patriots defense has been awful, but they looked much better last week. The Jets are a team we all were convinced would be the worst in football just a few weeks ago. Now, this is going to be shootout? No way. I wouldn't be surprised if the Jets are completely neutralized this week. I'm okay with Austin Sefarian-Jenkins regardless of game script, but I would fade all other Jets, even in GPP lineups.
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