October 3, 2011
Heading into the second week of October, very few lines released by the M Resort in July are significantly different than the ones put on the board on Sunday night by oddsmakers. Week 5 currently has four games in which the spread differential is three points or more from the original openers put out in the summer. Three of these contests are upper-tier matchups, including the two primetime games. We'll start with the Texans, who go for their third home win in three tries with Oakland coming to town.
Raiders at Texans - 1:00 PM EST
July opener: Houston -3
Sunday opener: Houston -7
The Texans received a scare in Sunday's 17-10 victory over the Steelers when star wideout Andre Johnson suffered a hamstring injury in the first half. Johnson is questionable for Sunday's matchup against the Raiders, as Houston looks to improve to 4-1 on the season. Oakland pulled off a nice upset over the Jets in Week 3, but was humbled by the Patriots in a Week 4 loss to drop to 2-2.
The expectations for the Texans with this early number is they would probably be 2-2 with losses to the Saints and Steelers, but Houston's offense churned the clock and kept Pittsburgh's offense on the sidelines for the most part on Sunday. The Raiders' first two opponents weren't expected to do much this season (Denver and Buffalo), as the 2-2 record is pretty much on line. Oakland and Houston have each been strong ATS teams with 3-1 ATS marks through four weeks.
Jets at Patriots - 4:15 PM EST
July opener: New England -5 ½
Sunday opener: New England -9
These two AFC East rivals meet up for the first time since the Jets knocked the Patriots out of the playoffs in a divisional round victory. New York received a reality check in Sunday night's blowout loss at Baltimore, its second consecutive setback. The Jets couldn't win in Oakland in Week 3, but the Patriots were able to conquer the Black Hole with a 31-19 triumph over the Raiders on Sunday.
New England split a pair of regular season meetings with New York each of the last two years, while the Patriots' defense looks to duplicate a terrific effort in a 45-3 pounding of the Jets in Foxboro last November. The two regular season contests the previous two years at Gillette Stadium have been decided by 17 and 42 points, but the playoff win in January by the Jets came as a nine-point 'dog, 28-21.
Packers at Falcons - 8:25 PM EST
July opener: Green Bay -1
Sunday opener: Green Bay -4
The team to beat through the first month of the season is the defending Super Bowl champion Packers, who have rolled to a 4-0 start. Green Bay's offense dominated Denver in a 49-23 rout as 12-point favorites, the 12th win in the last 13 games at Lambeau Field. The Pack hits the road for a rematch of the NFC Divisional Playoff rout of Atlanta this past January, 48-21. The Falcons return to the Georgia Dome after sneaking by the Seahawks in a 30-28 victory, but Atlanta failed to cover as six-point 'chalk.'
Mike Smith's team has endured a tough road, literally, in the first four weeks with three away contests already. The Falcons outlasted the Eagles in their only home game this season to improve to 21-5 SU in Smith's tenure at the Georgia Dome. However, this is the third meeting between these two clubs in Atlanta since last November with the Falcons knocking off the Packers, 20-17 as two-point favorites in the regular season.
Bears at Lions - 8:30 PM EST (Monday)
July opener: Detroit -1
Sunday opener: Detroit -6
The Lions are turning heads week in and week out after another impressive comeback win on the road. Detroit overcame a 27-3 deficit at Dallas, thanks to a pair of interception returns for touchdowns to spark the rally. The Lions improved to 4-0 for the first time since 1980, as Detroit welcomes in rival Chicago to Ford Field to close out Week 5.
The Bears failed to cover in a five-point home victory over the Panthers, but Chicago managed to sneak back to the .500 mark to remain two games behind Green Bay and Detroit in the NFC North. Chicago has beaten Detroit six straight times, while taking five of the previous six meetings at Ford Field. Those numbers don't seem as important with Detroit's rapid improvement on both sides of the ball, while the Lions are now 4-0 SU/ATS the last four times as a home favorite.