Lay the points with these small favorites; they are the best bets in the NFL this Sunday.
Tennessee Titans (-1) at Miami Dolphins
The Titans made a strange decision when they fired head coach Mike Mularkey off a successful 9-7 season that saw them win a playoff game for the first time since 2003. Mike Vrabel was hired away from Houston after one miserable year as defensive coordinator to fill Mularkey’s shoes.
As inexplicable as this move was, Tennessee countered it with a brilliant decision to hire Matt LaFleur, the Rams offensive coordinator, to fill the same role. Perhaps this will aid Marcus Mariota in elevating his game after a down year (13 TDs to 15 INTs).
The Titans swapped out DeMarco Murray for Dion Lewis to help continue their ground-and-pound ways with Derrick Henry as the co-featured back. Miami’s defense was mediocre at best last year (29th in points per game allowed, 16th in yards per game allowed) and will be without Ndamukong Suh.
Ryan Tannehill has his work cut out for him after missing all of 2017 with an ACL injury, as Jarvis Landry flew the coop. Tennessee features a revamped secondary that includes Malcolm Butler, Adoree’ Jackson and Kenny Vaccaro. Running back Kenyan Drake faces an uphill battle of his own against a unit that allowed the fourth-fewest rushing yards last season.
The pick: Titans -1
Pittsburgh Steelers (-4) at Cleveland Browns
It’s probably just “Hard Knocks mania” that’s driving this line movement, but the Steelers have gone from 6.5-point favorites to as low as 3.5-point favorites at certain books. There’s nowhere to go but up for Cleveland after an 0-16 year (4-12 against the spread), and they did make some meaningful acquisitions in Landry and Tyrod Taylor.
However, the reality is that Pittsburgh has won 22 of the 24 games they’ve played against the Browns when Ben Roethlisberger starts. Cleveland had no answer for Antonio Brown last year, as the Central Michigan product hauled in all 11 balls that were thrown his way in the lone game he played against the Browns last year, tallying 182 yards.
The Steelers were only 11th in points per game allowed in 2017, but they’ll be matched up with the league’s worst scoring offense from a season ago.
The pick: Steelers -4
Seattle Seahawks at Denver Broncos (-3)
This Super Bowl XLVIII rematch is not nearly as juicy as it would have been a few years ago, as both teams are showing signs of age. But the Broncos could be revitalized with an influx of talent on offense.
Case Keenum, fresh off a huge year in Minnesota, should improve upon the revolving door of mediocrity that was Denver quarterbacking in 2017. Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch combined to throw 19 TDs and 22 INTs last season, per oddsshark.com.
The Broncos appeared to stumble on a promising rookie running back in Royce Freeman, who averaged 5.6 yards per carry during the preseason, mainly against the opponent’s best stoppers (per CBSsports.com).
Seattle’s defense has hemorrhaged skill players this offseason, and their offensive line is still a complete mess. Historic trends are working against the Seahawks too; they’ve failed to cover in six straight September road games and are 4-12 ATS in their last 16 afternoon contests, per oddsshark.com.
The pick: Broncos -3