Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Hunter Renfrow
Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Hunter Renfrow (13) makes a catch over Baltimore Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey (44) during the second half of an NFL football game, Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

NFL Best Bets, Sept. 19

Patrick Werkmeister

Now that the NFL is in full swing, the strengths and weaknesses of each team have been revealed and it’s time to take full advantage. This Sunday slate is stock full of matchups to do exactly that. Whether it be two squads with high-scoring offenses that will shatter the point total, or a Super Bowl contender that is favored by less than one possession against a bottom tier team, there are plenty of sexy picks. Although my record in last week’s ‘Best Bets’ was a solid 2-1, a field goal was the difference maker in going 3-0 when the Chiefs defeated the Browns last week but failed to cover the points. In hopes of keeping the hot streak going, here is what I absolutely love for Sunday.

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Raiders @ Steelers (-5.5)
Starting in Pittsburgh, quarterback Derek Carr and the Las Vegas Raiders face off versus the Steelers and QB Big Ben. This line opened up with Steelers as six and a half-point favorite, but with a majority of bets on the Raiders, the spread currently has the Raiders as five and a half-point road underdog. On Monday Night Football in Week 1, coach Jon Gruden was able to lead the Raiders to a wild 33-27 victory over the Ravens in a game where it looked like neither team wanted the W. Despite a 400-yard passing game from Carr, the team looked rather one-dimensional. A majority of receiving yards came from their only receiving threat Darren Waller and they only totaled 60 rushing yards. They should continue to struggle to run the ball this week against this defense, especially due to the absence of running back Josh Jacobs this week. Since 2017, the Raiders are 8-16 ATS and SU coming off of a win, which is the worst record of any team in the NFL in that span. After a convincing win last week where they showcased their defense against a Super Bowl contender, I once again love Pittsburgh in this matchup. Not only will their defense continue to perform at the highest level, but their offense will now be able to display their skill against an average defense. During their win over a strong Buffalo defense, Pittsburgh was only able to muster up 252 total yards on offense. Now that they’re facing a much weaker defense, and offense for that matter, they should have no problem pouring it on. Take Pittsburgh minus the points in a blowout.

Vikings @ Cardinals (-3.5)
In this NFC bout, the Minnesota Vikings travel to Arizona to play the Cardinals. The Cards opened up this game as four-point favorites at home and they are now -3.5 at the time of publication. In their previous 8 contests, Minnesota is an atrocious 0-8 ATS. This slim margin is very baffling given the status of these two teams. Arizona may have been the surprise team of Week 1 after they decimated a stacked Titans squad. Their defense was able to rack up points courtesy of the five-sack performance by Chandler Jones in which he was able to strip Ryan Tannehill and score. With J.J. Watt also set to wreak havoc this season, this Arizona defense will have a dynamic impact on their year now that Kyler Murray can rely on their play. Their offense also proved to be even more electric than last season as Kyler Murray looked sharp and threw for four touchdown passes. Separately, Minnesota and their defense couldn’t overcome the Cincinnati Bengals in a disappointing loss. Despite doing everything they could on offense, RB Dalvin Cook was limited to 60 yards rushing on 20 carries against a defense that is not renowned for stopping the run. For this squad, the writing is on the wall as a run reliant offense with a poor front 5 alongside a defense that has no problem giving up points. Slam the Cards alternate spread to destroy the Vikings.

Cowboys @ Chargers (Over 54.5)
For this last pick, Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys go up against Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers. The line for this total was initially listed at 50.5 but early bettors loved the over in this one, so the current total is at 54.5. Although this may be viewed as a square pick, I’m going to keep this simple and rely on these two high-powered offenses. Dallas was able to put up nearly 30 points in Week 1, and their defense was like an open door for the Buccaneer offense. This combination the Cowboys have is very effective for overs. Dallas comes into this one with the over at 6-2 in their last 8 games. While Dak was able to throw for 400 yards against the number one defense, Justin Herbert threw for nearly 350 versus a tough Washington defense as the Charger’s offense secured a victory. Although LA has a very formidable defense with high expectations this season, the Cowboys have proved no matter what defense they’re facing; they have the assets to score at will. The LA offense also has high expectations this year with plenty of playmakers and a fantastic offensive line. This matchup is mouthwatering for Justin Herbert and company as they are poised to put up a lot of numbers in this one. Take the over in what should be a shootout for this game of the week.

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