NFL Week 3

Game of the week
New England Patriots at Baltimore Ravens (-2, 49.5) TV: 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

The Baltimore Ravens have some bad memories of the last time they faced the New England Patriots - a last-second loss in the AFC Championship Game. The Ravens will get home field advantage in Sunday night’s rematch and have the more confident kicker this time around. The Patriots’ Stephen Gostkowski missed badly on a 42-yarder in the final seconds last weekend, dooming the team to a rare home loss. Billy Cundiff, who missed a last-second 32-yard attempt in the title game last January, has been replaced by rookie Justin Tucker, who is 6-for-6 so far. Both teams looked strong in Week 1 but will be trying to avoid dipping below .500 after disappointing showings in Week 2.

LINE: Ravens -2, O/U 49.5. Most sportsbooks opened the Ravens as -3 favorites, but that line has since been bet down to -1.5 to -2

WEATHER: Forecasts are calling for temperatures in the high-50s and clear skies at M&T Bank Stadium. Wind won’t be a factor.

ABOUT THE PATRIOTS (1-1): The record-setting offense from past years did not show up against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 2, with Tom Brady not throwing a touchdown pass until late in the fourth quarter. That unit could be in trouble again on Sunday without tight end Aaron Hernandez, who suffered an ankle sprain against the Cardinals and will miss 4-to-6 weeks. New England signed free agent Kellen Winslow and brought back wide receiver Deion Branch during the week. Wes Welker, who led the NFL in receptions last season and has been one of the most prolific receivers in the game since joining the Patriots, was replaced in the starting lineup by Julian Edelman last week as new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels continues to tinker with the offense. The bright spot has been a much-improved defense, especially rookie DE Chandler Jones.

ABOUT THE RAVENS (1-1): Baltimore will catch a break without Hernandez on the field but will still have to account for Rob Gronkowski. The Ravens had trouble containing Philadelphia Eagles tight end Brent Celek in a 24-23 loss last Sunday. Baltimore’s defense is under the direction of new coordinator Dean Pees, who spent the previous few seasons with the Patriots, and is ranked just 27th through the first two weeks. The offense looked strong enough to overcome those deficiencies in the Week 1 thrashing of Cincinnati, but quarterback Joe Flacco was just 22 of 42 against the Eagles and the Ravens converted only 4 of 14 third downs. Flacco actually outperformed Tom Brady in last January’s meeting but was let down when his sure touchdown pass was knocked out of the hands of Lee Evans right before Cundiff’s missed kick.

TRENDS:
* Underdog is 3-1-1 ATS in the last five meetings.
* Over is 6-0 in Ravens’ last six September games.
* Ravens are 4-1 ATS in their last five games overall.
* Over is 4-1 in Patriots’ last five road games.

EXTRA POINTS:

1. Baltimore S Bernard Pollard, who knocked out Brady for the 2008 season with a low hit in the opening weekend and was responsible for Gronkowski’s ankle injury in last season’s meeting, is questionable for Sunday with a rib contusion.

2. Patriots rookie Jones will be playing for the first time against his brother, Ravens DE Arthur Jones.

3. New England is 7-1 against Baltimore, including the playoffs.

The play is Baltimore -2

...but the play of the week is Houston -1.5

NFL Week 2

Jets at Steelers: What bettors need to know

New York Jets at Pittsburgh Steelers (-5, 41.5)

Now comes the hard part for the New York Jets. It's one thing to put up 48 points – a franchise record for a season opener - against the Buffalo Bills’ defense. It’s quite another to have success against the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road – something that had eluded them up until two seasons ago. After silencing their critics - for now - with an unexpected offensive outburst, the Jets will try to validate that effort with a second straight win over the Steelers at Heinz Field on Sunday.

The Steelers, meanwhile, are seeking to bounce back from a season-opening loss to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos and will have safety Ryan Clark and possibly linebacker James Harrison back to help. The Jets, who hope to have former University of Pittsburgh star Darrelle Revis (mild concussion) in the lineup, earned their first-ever win in the Steel City 22-17 in 2010. The Steelers had won all seven previous home matchups and have won 17 of the 21 meetings, including a 24-19 victory in the 2010 AFC Championship game. Pittsburgh hasn't started 0-2 since 2002.

LINE: Steelers -5, O/U 43

WEATHER: Forecasts are calling for temperatures in the high-60s and sunny skies at Heinz Field. Winds will be light out of the west.

ABOUT THE JETS (1-0): The Jets’ dominating 48-28 win over the Bills was perhaps the biggest surprise of the first week, mainly because New York infamously failed to score an offensive touchdown in the first three preseason games. Much-maligned QB Mark Sanchez threw for 266 yards and three scores – two to rookie Stephen Hill – and Antonio Cromartie returned one of three interceptions for a touchdown. There were two other surprising developments from the opener: The Jets’ suspect offensive line didn’t allow a sack and Tim Tebow (five carries, 11 yards, zero pass attempts) was a non-factor. The only negative from Sunday’s win was that Revis, who’s from nearby Aliquippa, suffered a concussion after being kicked in the head by a teammate. Revis was unable to practice again Thursday and the team will make a decision about his status Saturday.

ABOUT THE STEELERS (0-1): Pittsburgh struggled against the Broncos’ no-huddle offense without Clark (sickle cell anemia) and Harrison (knee). The top-ranked defense from a season ago allowed 334 yards and the Broncos converted 5 of 9 third downs. Clark should return this week, while Harrison is questionable. The 2008 Defensive Player of the Year is still making his way back from minor knee surgery. Ben Roethlisberger (22 of 40, 245 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT), operating in Todd Haley’s new offense, was efficient at times but also threw a game-clinching pick six. As expected, the Steelers’ offensive line failed to keep Roethlisberger clean (five sacks). The running game, meanwhile, averaged just 2.9 yards per carry. Second-year back Jonathan Dwyer (nine carries, 43 yards) outplayed Isaac Redman (11 carries, 20 yards) and should get more playing time with Rashard Mendenhall still recovering from a torn ACL.

TRENDS:
* Home team is 5-2 ATS in their last seven meetings.
* Steelers are 8-0 ATS in their last eight games following a straight-up loss.
* Under is 7-0 in Steelers last seven Week 2 games.
* Jets are 4-1 ATS in their last five Week 2 games.

EXTRA POINTS:

1. Hill, a second-round pick, is the first Jets receiver to catch two touchdowns in his debut and the first receiver to do so since former Tampa Bay tight end Alex Smith in 2005.

2. Sanchez is 39 of 62 for 403 yards and two touchdowns in two career games against Pittsburgh.

3. This will be the second trip to Pittsburgh for former Steelers wide receiver Santonio Holmes – the Super Bowl XLIII MVP. He has eight catches for 101 yards and a touchdown against his former team.

Take JETS +5

Take Dallas (-3) over Seattle (4 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 16)

CFB Week 3

Weekend CFB (4-1 start in CFB)
10* CFB is on Wisconsin at 8:00 ET.

Wisconsin barely survived its season opener at home against FCS foe Northern Iowa, as the Badgers didn’t even score as many points as they were favored by (33) in a 26-21 victory. However, at least Wisconsin escaped with a win over the Panthers. The team was not as lucky last Saturday in Corvallis, losing 10-7 to Oregon St, ending the school’s 33-game non-conference winning streak in regular season games (2nd-longest streak to only LSU). Wisconsin will ‘limp’ home to Madison and entertain a team full of confidence in Utah St. The Aggies “put a scare” into a handful of bigger programs in 2011 but in the end, lost close decisions to Auburn (defending champs), Colorado St and BYU. Utah St would take a 7-5 record into its Famous Idaho Potato Bowl appearance against Ohio U and would once again fail to ‘seal the deal.’ Utah St opened a 23-10 lead in that game but lost 24-23, when Ohio QB Tyler Tettleton scored on a one-yard run with 13 seconds left in the game. Gary Andersen’s team opened the 2012 season with a 34-7 win over Southern Utah and then a week ago Friday, ended a 12-game losing streak (which had lasted back to the 1999 season) to in-state rival Utah, by taking down the Utes 27-20 in OT (as seven-point underdogs).

NFL - Week 1

Jacksonville (0-0) at Minnesota (0-0) 1:00PM EST

Line: Vikings by 3.5 (39)

Facts: Minnesota was 1-5 SU as a favorite last season. … Both teams feature past rushing champs, but the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson (knee) is expected to be only a game-time decision. The Jaguars’ Maurice Jones-Drew (rust) just ended a holdout and probably will back up RB Rashad Jennings. … The Jags finished last in total offense in 2011 with a norm of 259.3 yards a game. There were 17 teams last season that didn’t have even one game that bad.

Analysis: The teams will be relying heavily on second-year QBs who had crummy rookie seasons (Vikings’ Christian Ponder was 31st on the passer chart; Jaguars’ Blaine Gabbert was 34th). But at least they’ll get to face even crummier pass defenses. Minnesota’s 107.3 defensive passer rating last year was the second worst in NFL history. Then this summer, Jacksonville had a mark of 114.6. Gabbert rates an edge at QB, and at least the Jaguars’ RBs aren’t injured.

Forecast: Jaguars 27, Vikings 21

St. Louis (0-0) at Detroit (0-0) 1:00PM EST

Line: Lions by 7.5 (45.5)

Facts: Detroit has gone seven years without a 1,000-yard RB – the longest current streak in the league – and doesn’t appear to be in better shape this year since speedy Jahvid Best (concussion) is still unable to play... St. Louis was 3-13 ATS last season, the NFL’s worst mark. In ’07 the Ravens also were 3-13 ATS but went 14-5 against the line the next year... Lions WR Calvin Johnson had 10 catches of 40-plus yards last season, the most for anyone the past 13 years.

Analysis: St. Louis QB Sam Bradford raised eyebrows this summer by admitting his he’s not fully recovered from last year’s high ankle sprain. With Detroit’s pass rush likely to collapse the pocket routinely, that’s trouble. Plus, although Rams RB Stephen Jackson is a steamroller, he’s one carry from pulling a hamstring (see 2011). And with St. Louis having the league’s youngest team, don’t underestimate a noisy enemy crowd that helped cause Chicago to have nine false starts in a game last season.

Forecast: Lions 35, Rams 14

Florida at Texas A&M: What bettors need to know

Florida Gators at Texas A&M Aggies (+1, 49.5)

After its season opener was postponed by Hurricane Isaac, Texas A&M finally gets underway Saturday at what is sure to be an electric Kyle Field. The Aggies make their long-awaited move to the Southeastern Conference by hosting No. 23 Florida.

Texas A&M has a new coach in Kevin Sumlin, a redshirt freshman quarterback in Johnny Manziel and one of the most daunting schedules possible. But excitement is at an all-time high.

The Gators weren’t overly impressive in their season-opening 27-14 victory over Bowling Green, but they did get clarity at quarterback when Jeff Driskel won the starting job over Jacoby Brissett.

TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS.

LINE: Texas A&M opened as high as -2.5 for its SEC debut but money on the Gators has flipped the spread, currently sitting with the Aggies as +1 home underdogs.

WEATHER: The forecast for Kyle Field is calling for winds reaching speeds of up to 18 mph, blowing NNE. Temperatures will be in a mid 80s with a 20 percent chance of rain.

ABOUT FLORIDA (1-0, 0-0 SEC): Coach Will Muschamp picked Driskel largely because of his mobility and knack for extending plays. He went 10-of-16 for 114 yards against the Falcons, including a 50-yard scoring strike to Frankie Hammond Jr. that stretched Florida’s lead to 10 in the fourth quarter. Running back Mike Gillislee ran for 148 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries, giving Florida the power-running identity it had lacked. The Gators have one of the best linebacking corps in the SEC and cornerback Marcus Roberson is a ballhawk who made a key interception against Bowling Green.

ABOUT TEXAS A&M (0-0, 0-0 SEC): Manziel will be the first Aggies freshman to start a season opener. As he tries to run Sumlin’s up-tempo offense, he’ll have the luxury of leaning on a running game led by Christine Michael. The senior was on pace for a 1,200-yard season last year until tearing up his knee, but is fully healthy now. Freshman running back Trey Williams wowed observers throughout fall camp. All-American left tackle Luke Joeckel anchors a strong offensive line that should clear holes and give Manziel time to find wide receiver Ryan Swope (180 career catches). Defensive end Damontre Moore (17.5 tackles for loss last year) leads a unit replacing five starters.

TRENDS:

* Gators are 0-6 ATS in their last six conference games.
* Aggies are 3-9 ATS in their last 12 games overall.
* Under is 4-0 in Gators' last four road games.
* Over is 15-6-1 in Aggies' last 22 games in September.

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