The first half of the NFL season finished up with a bang with shocks all over the place, and the second have started in the same way with Miami’s huge upset win over Baltimore – so Sunday’s Red Zone offering should provide us with plenty more fireworks.
The Patriots host the Browns in a battle of two AFC play-off chasers, while Tom Brady returns from a bye week after defeat to New Orleans in what looks like a tasty match-up with Washington’s under-performing defence.
Dallas and Buffalo both suffered surprise defeats last week so need strong bounce-back performances in Week 10 as things really start to get serious now in the chase for play-off spots.
Here’s the pick of the RedZone offering including an 18/1 treble for touchdown scorers from the early slate of matches
Cleveland Browns @ New England Patriots
This is a crucial contest for both sides – with both sitting at 5-4 for the season, both well in the play-off hunt and both operating in a similar fashion with defence and the run game leading the way.
New England have won three on the spin to recover from a 1-3 start while Cleveland have been up-and-down this year but both teams have made it to 5-4 courtesy of running the ball hard and often and harassing the opposing quarterback.
This game will be won and lost on how each team can run the ball while limiting the opposing ground game, but ironically both have huge injury problems at running back with the Browns without Kareem Hunt and most likely Nick Chubb – who ranks third in the league in rushing yards.
Cleveland do have the top running attack in the league so their offensive line should still be able to open up some holes for likely starter D’Ernest Johnson – who tallied 146 yards and a TD in his first NFL start against Denver last month.
New England also have their top runner Damien Harris and promising rookie Rhamondre Stevenson in concussion protocol so veteran Brandon Bolden may have an expanded role. It’s worth looking at Bolden’s rushing yards and backing him for a TD.
Mac Jones and Baker Mayfield do have the potential to score points but with both teams built as they are this should be a bruising defensive battle with more running in it than Forrest Gump. That usually results in a low point total and not too many trips to the end zone.
Best bet: Under 4.5 touchdowns at 6/5
Atlanta Falcons @ Dallas Cowboys
Dallas’ humiliating loss against Denver last week was a real head-scratcher given they’d won six on the spin previously, but at 6-2 and with a commanding NFC East lead there’s no reason to hit the panic button just yet as long as they respond against improving Atlanta.
Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn being the former Falcons head coach adds a bit more spice to the occasion, but his unit must do better than the season-high 14 missed tackles and the 190 rushing yards they allowed against the Broncos.
Quinn’s former side have flipped a 1-3 start by going 3-1 to get back to an even record, and Matt Ryan should fancy cashing in against his former boss’ defence that has given up a ton of yards and is without their two top pass rushers.
Dallas are one of three teams to average over 30 points a game, and after laying somewhat of an egg on his return from injury last week, Dak Prescott should get right back on the horse and fill his boots against a defence allowing 27.5 points a game.
Five of Dallas’ eight games so far have had 60 points or more in them, and given their opponents here then that total could easily be matched again as the Cowboys look to remind everyone that they’re genuine Super Bowl contenders.
Best bet: Over 56.5 total points at 21/20
Buffalo Bills @ New York Jets
Talk about needing a bounce-back game! The Buffalo Bills swaggered into Jacksonville with the league’s top-scoring attack and left with their tail between their legs after a shock 9-6 defeat in what was just the Jaguars’ second win of the season.
Next up is the Jets who are only 2-6 but have shown signs of improvement of late. The Bills will be angry and eager to respond, but their divisional rivals could smell blood and look to emulate Jacksonville’s gameplan from last week.
The odds say it’ll be an emphatic Bills win but even though the Jets are without rookie QB Zach Wilson, their attack has flourished under surprisingly good back-up Mike White and they’ve scored 64 points and registered 997 yards in their last two games – a shock win over Cincinnati and a narrow loss to the Colts.
Josh Allen, meanwhile, was so sloppy throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble in the second half in Jacksonville – if the Jets maintain their up-turn in offence he’ll need to clean that up to provide plenty of points.
In the last couple of games then the Jets are being underrated at around 12-point underdogs, but this is the Jets after all and a rebounding Buffalo with all their weapons could easily blow out the youngest team in the league with all their inconsistency.
Saying that White and the Jets offence deserves to be trusted somewhat to put up a few points here to bolster the overall total of a game that could be surprisingly entertaining.
Best bet: Over 48.5pts at Evens
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Washington Football Team
Washington gave Tampa Bay all they could handle in their play-off meeting back in January but while the Bucs won it all and look like one of the favourites again, the Football Team hasn’t delivered on the promise they showed in that wildcard meeting – winning just twice this season so far.
Tom Brady is 16-5 after a bye week in his career (the Bucs went 8-0 after the bye last season) and the week off has served Tampa Bay well with NFC contenders the Packers, Rams and Cowboys all losing to keep them in the hunt for top spot entering the second half of the campaign.
Recent upsets should keep the Bucs on their toes, as the 1-5 Jets, the 1-6 Jags and the 2-7 Dolphins have all shocked play-off chasing sides and Washington certainly has the potential to disrupt Brady. They sacked him three times in that play-off meeting.
But this is Brady we’re talking about, complacency isn’t in the GOAT’s vocabulary and while he was leading the league’s top-scoring offence (32.5 per game) and topping the charts in passing yards (327.5 a game) and TDs (25) through eight games, Washington were allowing the fourth-most points per game in the NFL.
Washington have also allowed the most passing yards per game (286.8) in the league so it doesn’t take a genius to work out the worst defence versus the best quarterback of all time equals a pretty sweet match-up for Brady and co.
Best bet: Bucs -7.5pts to beat Washington at 3/4
Cordarrelle Patterson, Adrian Peterson & Emmanuel Sanders all to score TDs at 18/1
Cordarrelle Patterson has gone from journeyman to superstar for Atlanta this season, and for a running back he gets used a ton as a receiver out of the backfield and even out wide. He can do everything, and the Cowboys offer up the third-most catches to running backs in the league – this Swiss army knife of a player will get away from Dallas at least once.
Legendary running back Adrian Peterson returned to the NFL with a touchdown for Tennessee in their huge win against the Rams last week – he gets another tough defence in the Saints this week but his usage around the goal line can see him make it two out of two.
The Buffalo Bills offence needs a kick-start, and the Jets could just be the team to do that. They’ve allowed 13 TDs through the air and Emmanuel Sanders has caught four from Josh Allen this season – all eyes will be on Stefon Diggs so Sanders can wriggle free to score.