Miami Dolphins @ San Francisco 49ers
The first game we're looking at doesn't look like it has the makings of a classic but that's fine by us as we reckon the Dolphins & 49ers game battle offers some value on the betting front. Miami's chances of making the playoffs are marginal at best while the 49ers are still looking good, sitting at the top of the NFC West but have to keep putting the wins on the board with Seattle chasing them.
(Miami's Karlos Dansby continues to rack up the tackles)
The 49ers look like they'll have a real chance of making the Super Bowl with their strong running game & stout defense that should serve them well as the weather gets colder but they're taking a big risk by switching quarterback from Alex Smith to Colin Kaepernick, especially considering Smith seemed to have really upped his game in the last 2 seasons with 30 touchdowns to just 10 interceptions. Kaepernick may have the greater value going into the future & he's certainly more dynamic than Smith but when your team look to be set for a championship run it is risky to make big changes & they have to bounce back after a rather ineffective attacking display & loss to the Rams last week. It won't be easy for the 49ers to score in this one either as their strong running attack, in the form of the irrepressible Frank Gore, comes up against the decent Miami defense that give up less than 100 yards per game on the ground.
The Dolphins are ranking 27th in terms of points scored per game with an average of 18.9 & rookie passer Ryan Tannehill, who started out reasonably has slumped a bit recently with just 3 touchdown passes in their last 6 games & overall he's thrown 7 scores to 12 picks. It has been a similar story for the Dolphins first choice running back Reggie Bush who started strongly but he's averaged under 50 yards a game for the past 6 weeks & they've only scored 30+ points twice this season. The Dolphins strength lies on defense & although they concede a few too many yards through the air they do well to limit opponents when in the red zone with defensive leader Karlos Dansby always ensuring intensity is maintained. San Francisco are coming off an overtime loss to the physical Rams & this game may not be the best one to have up net even with the Dolphins' limitations & with such a big handicap start, in a potentially low scoring game we like Miami with +10 points to beat the spread.
St Louis Rams @ Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills host the improving St Louis Rams in this one but they've failed to pick up wins apart from against the dregs of the league (their 5 wins have come against opponents with a combined 17-43 record) & St Louis have only lost one of their last 4.
(Steven Jackson has got his groove back on in recent weeks)
That loss for the Rams came against the pretty poor New York Jets but it came after a gruelling tie (the first since the 2008 season) against the San Francisco 49ers & since then they travelled to the Cardinals & picked up a comfortable win before taking the 49ers out in overtime last week. The Rams look an awful lot better when their receivers are fit & although Danny Amendola is questionable for this one they still have a big playmaker in Chris Givens plus running back Steven Jackson has burst into life in the past 4 weeks with 3 games of 80+ yards rushing after none in his first 9 games. The Bills are awful at stopping the run, ranking 30th in the league & Jackson has to fancy his chances of racking up the yards & maybe even points (he's only scored 2 touchdowns all year).
Buffalo's quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has played reasonably well in recent weeks but he's been up against some accommodating defenses in that run whereas the Rams have only conceded 30+ points twice all year, when the Bills have faced top grade defenses (Houston & San Francisco) they've failed to score a touchdown. The Bills receivers aren't great & that means they've become heavily on CJ Spiller at running back, he continues to perform well every week but he'll be targeted here & we can see Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis having a big game. The Bills are basically a bit flaky & although they have home field advantage we like the look of the young St Louis Rams team & it's no surprise they have improved after a tough run of games, take the 7/5 on offer for them to win outright.
Tennessee Titans @ Indianapolis Colts
(Reggie Wayne has benefited from forming a great understanding with Andrew Luck)
For our final pick we like Indianapolis to give a beat down to the Tennessee Titans who've been conceding 29.9 yards per game & look to have little resistance to the run or the pass. Andrew Luck continues to impress for the Colts & he's become the first rookie passer to gain 8 wins in a season & he could add more to that, starting here. 5 of Tennessee's losses have been by 20 or more points & we think the Colts will put points on the board in this one as they chase a playoff spot, back them to win by 13-18 points at 7/1 & 19-24 points at 11/1 for a potentially big payout.
Miami Dolphins to beat San Francisco 49ers with +10 points on handicap at 10/11 (Various)
St Louis Rams to beat Buffalo Bills at 7/5 (Betfred & Totesport)
Indianapolis Colts to beat Tennessee Titans by 13-18 points at 7/1 (BetVictor) & by 19-24 points at 11/1 (Ladbrokes)