(Adel Taarabt can lead QPR to victory)
QPR have had a mixed start to the season, getting a good result in the 1-0 win at Everton but not scoring in losses to Bolton & Wigan, in those two games they actually had 7 & 9 shots on target respectively showing that they can be productive going forwards but need to put their chances away. The signings of Luke Young, Shaun Wright-Phillips & Joey Barton (making his debut for QPR against the club he's just left) have all been made with the intention to create higher quality chances & they will want to start this off against Newcastle. Newcastle have made a very decent start to the season but the loss of Joey Barton shouldn't be underestimated, whilst he is inarguably a disruptive influence off the pitch (& sometimes on it), he is one of the best English midfielders around & the quality of his passing & crossing mark him out as elite. Newcastle's mediocre forwards (Demba Ba, Leon Best, the incredibly slow Peter Lovenkrands & the Ameobi's) are really amongst the worst in the league & none, bar maybe Ba, would look out of place in the Championship - they will now not have Barton's service & will struggle to score in this & a lot of games. QPR shipped 4 goals against Bolton but were exceptional at keeping clean sheets last season with 25 in 46 games in the league, they've added to their creative side, which already had potential Premier League star Adel Taarabt & we think they can win to nil at 3/1.
In the 1st Monday night NFL game we see an AFC East matchup with the Patriots fancied to cover the 7 point spread with some ease up against the Dolphins. The Patriots lost just twice in the regular season last year whilst Miami went 7-9 losing twice to the Patriots by 27 points & 31 points. That 2nd loss was the last game of the regular season & there is little to suggest that either the Dolphins have improved enough or the Patriots regressed enough that a Dolphins win or even a close contest can be expected, in fact the Patriots seem to have upgraded, albeit with veterans - suggesting they really need to get the Super Bowl win this season as their players will have to start feeling their age soon. Brady has so many targets to aim for it makes it difficult to defend against the pass & the dependable Green-Ellis & tiny but elusive Danny Woodhead offering a potent rush attack. Chad Henne is definitely in the bottom half of the NFL quarterback rankings, the signing of running back Reggie Bush is unconvincing & they rely on star receiver Brandon Marshall too much, we don't see them having a winning season & they certainly shouldn't be able to make best use of home advantage here.
The other game is also a divisional rivalry with the Oakland Raiders facing off against the Denver Broncos a mile above sea level up at Sports Authority Field Denver. Broncos fans must still be having nightmares about last years fixture where Oakland won 59-14 & the Raiders will be attempting to make it 4 wins in a row at Denver. Oakland rather surprisingly sacked head coach Tom Cable at the season end to the vocal upset of several players & owner Al Davis arguably interferes in the football side of the game too much for the Raiders to have legitimate championship claims. The Broncos offseason wasn't exactly smooth though with much uncertainty surrounding the quarterback position, they've gone with Kyle Orton but he will surely be playing under immense pressure with the high profile Tim Tebow pushing for his place. The Broncos do have last seasons leading receiver in the explosive Brandon Lloyd but traded away their good 2nd choice receiver Jabar Gaffney & risk becoming one dimensional, Lloyd is potentially that good that he can cope with double coverage but Denver have to hope that's the case. Denver were woeful on defense last year & Oakland's star back Darren McFadden will look to take advantage, the offense-defense matchups are good for the Raiders who finished 2nd best in total yards against the pass but 29th against the run, they can contain Lloyd whilst the Broncos backs aren't good enough to take advantage. The market seems to be very optimistic towards the Broncos & the Oakland Raiders should be backed at 6/4 to continue their fine divisional record (won all 6 games last year), McFadden to score the first touchdown is a good call at 11/2.
QPR to beat Newcastle without conceding at 3/1 (general)
New England Patriots to beat Miami Dolphins with -7 points at Evens (William Hill & Totesport)
Oakland Raiders to beat Denver Broncos at 6/4 (general) & Darren McFadden to score 1st TD at 11/2 (general)