It was a week of blowouts last week with an average margin of victory of around 20 points showing that winning teams are really finding their strides while those struggling just can’t keep up. Paul Higham is back with his picks for the RedZone action.
There are a few more closer games to call this week but there should still be plenty of action, including another bare-knuckle bruiser of a game in the AFC North between fierce rivals Pittsburgh and Cleveland.
The Bengals will look to back-up last week’s incredible win in Baltimore while the Buffalo Bills need to remind people they’re still among the big dogs of the AFC as they take on a collapsing Miami.
And could this finally be the week that sees the Detroit Lions win a game in the NFL? Let’s pick out the best of the NFL Red Zone games…
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns
On Halloween this could be the scariest match-up of the night as an already fierce rivalry gets turned up a notch given how the Browns dominated the Steelers in the play-offs last season. Ben Roethlisberger has usually owned Cleveland with a 24-2-1 record but seeing them win their first post-season game since 1994, against the Steelers, in such fashion will have really hurt Pittsburgh.
Now the Steelers travel to Ohio as 3.5-point underdogs but that could all change depending on the health of Browns QB Baker Mayfield and RB Nick Chubb. Mayfield is trying to play through a shoulder injury but if he can’t go then back-up Case Keenum is an obvious drop-off in talent.
Pittsburgh’s rush defence is their main problem though so running the ball will be key for the Browns, and if their offensive line is healthy then even if Chubb misses out D’Ernest Johnson proved last week that he’s more than capable of carrying the load.
Johnson ran for 146 yards and a TD in his first NFL start last week against the Broncos following a fairytale rise to the league, and in what should be another tough fist fight of a game the run game and defence will win the day.
Big Ben can get to Cleveland through the air, but he’s been far from convincing this season and there’s no doubt his talents are diminishing as is his dominance of the Cleveland Browns.
You’ll have to wait for the injury report here, as Mayfield and Chubb’s availability will have an impact on Cleveland’s odds and the points total. I think the Browns can win with or without that duo though so will back them on the day. Either way the points will be limited and touchdowns even more so. Defence will win this one.
Best bet: Under 4.5 touchdowns 4/5
Case Keenum was good, but this side-by-side shows why he’s the backup and Baker Mayfield’s the starter.
Same play. Baker gets to his spot faster, gets it out quicker, and his arm is stronger.
— Ed Greenberger (@EdGreenberger) October 22, 2021
Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills
It’s six defeats in a row for the Dolphins who now get an angry Bills squad, smarting after a tough loss in Tennessee. Buffalo won the last meeting 35-0 in Miami and are now at home after a bye week while the Fins have been to London and back losing all the way – it all adds up to a tough day at the office for Miami.
The Bills came up short as they ran into a Derrick Henry-shaped brick wall but they won’t face anyone remotely as dangerous in the Miami squad, with even their starting QB Tua Tagovailoa playing under a cloud with all the talk of the team looking to trade for DeShaun Watson.
Miami’s collapse is a surprise given their 10-6 record last year, but they’ve fallen off a cliff recently as the worst defence in the league allowing almost 420 yards per game, and while Tua isn’t really the problem his offence still stinks and is ranked way down at 28th.
The Bills have won six straight against Miami by a combined 232-112, and after losing before their bye week last season they reeled off eight straight wins, so another big run towards the end of the season is expected.
And that starts here. They knocked Tua out of the first game with injured ribs while sacking him and Jacoby Brissett six times and they’ll be even angrier this time around and out to prove a point. This has blowout alert written all over it but a safe bet is the Bills to get their points.
Best bet: Bills score over 31.5pts at Evens
Cincinnati Bengals @ New York Jets
It’s hard to overstate just how impressive Cincinnati’s win over Baltimore last week was, not just the victory but the dominant manner on both sides of the ball was highly impressive. They’re 33/1 shots for the Super Bowl but they certainly won’t stay that big if they continue like this.
The Bengals are now top of the AFC North on 5-2 and have a record-breaking rookie receiver and No.1 overall pick quarterback combining to carve up defences left, right and centre. The Jets rank 25th against the pass – that spells trouble.
Ja’Marr Chase has more receiving yards (754) than any player in history in their first seven NFL games, with a large part of his success being his connection with his former college QB Joe Burrow. Many scoffed when Cincy selected Chase with the fifth pick of the Draft in April, but it’s proved a masterstroke.
Zac Taylor’s side are just such a well-rounded unit – defensively strong when allowing a maximum of 25 points this season and offensively balanced with Joe Mixon third in rushing yards and Chase second in receiving yards and big plays.
Burrow and Chase between them should enjoy a big day in the Big Apple so with the Bengals big favourites let’s get clever with a Bet Builder on the duo slicing and dicing the Jets.
Best bet: Burrow 3+ passing TDs, Chase over 74.5 yards & TD at 3/1
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) October 26, 2021
Philadelphia Eagles @ Detroit Lions
It has to happen soon right? I’m not sure we can take Dan Campbell and his winless Detroit Lions pouring their heart and soul into every game and just coming up short much longer. They’ve lost to two heartbreaking last kicks of the game and last week they threw everything at the Rams until Jared Goff unfortunately threw them the ball with a costly late interception.
Detroit pulled out onside kicks and fake punts out of their box of tricks last week to give themselves every chance, and they matched the well-fancied Rams for much of that game – more of the same will give them a great chance of finally getting that first ‘W’ against a pretty ordinary Eagles squad.
Philly have won just twice, against Carolina and Atlanta, so have nothing much to shout about themselves, and a lot of their numbers are inflated with garbage time scores, such as seven of their 18 TDs being scored when they were already 19 points or more behind late on in games.
Detroit running back D’Andre Swift is the star of the show, as he showed with 144 all-purpose yards against a pretty strong Rams defence last week. He should be used on the ground and in the air and if Goff can just limit his mistakes then we have all the ingredients of what could be a huge win for the hosts.
Best bet: Lions to beat Eagles at 6/4
Touchdown scorers multiple
Emmanuel Sanders, Ja’Marr Chase & Darrel Henderson all to score at 6/1
Josh Allen has 19 TD passes in seven games against Miami, and has developed a nice rapport with Emmanuel Sanders, who has four TDs in four games and can grab another in a big Buffalo victory.
Ja’Marr Chase is having a record season as a rookie wideout and has scored a TD in five of his seven games so far. After carving up Baltimore he’ll have no problems doing the same to the Jets’ lowly secondary.
Rams running back Darrel Henderson may not be setting the world alight but he’s scored five touchdowns this season and found the end zone in four of his six outings and now gets a juicy match-up against Houston.