The lines are set and we’re now just three days away from the second week of the 2009 National Football League season. A look, then, at the three best games of the week and pertinent NFL betting information (all lines courtesy Sports Interaction): New England (-4.0) at New York Jets
This classic AFC East rivalry is renewed with some remarkably compelling storylines. The feel-good story of Week 1 had to be the Jets who, under rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez and rookie head coach Rex Ryan, absolutely throttled the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium. Then there’s New England, who pulled the biggest stunner of opening weekend, erasing an 11-point deficit with 2:06 to play to pull out a win against the Buffalo Bills.
One major injury is going to play a key role in this contest. Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo, the reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year, suffered a Grade 3 sprain of his MCL and could be out for up to eight weeks. In his stead, one of either Eric Alexander or Gary Guyton will get the start, but neither has the range nor the motor of Mayo. This is great news, however, for the Jets and running back Thomas Jones – despite whispers he’d be losing touches this year to Leon Washington and rookie Shonn Green, Jones got tons of action against the Texans last weekend and looked good doing it with 20 carries, 107 yards and two touchdowns.
Baltimore at San Diego (-3.0)
Another game where injuries play a big role. While the Chargers escaped Oakland with a slim victory on Monday, it didn’t come without cost. Two starting offensive linemen – Nick Hardwick and Louis Vasquez – hobbled off the field and are questionable for Sunday. Then, starting RB LaDainian Tomlinson tweaked his ankle midway through the contest and ceded carries to backup Darren Sproles. All of that spells disaster when facing the Ravens, a team that loves to get after the quarterback (three sacks vs. Kansas City in the opener) and routinely thwarts the run. Sports betting enthusiasts will want to pay close attention to that line, as Baltimore looks like a tasty underdog play. Pittsburgh (-3.0) at Chicago
What more to say about this one than the obvious: Two of America’s best football cities go head-to-head. Sadly, two of the best defensive players in the league will miss this contest – Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher is out for the season with a dislocated wrist while Steelers safety Troy Polamalu is out 3-6 weeks with a MCL sprain. As for the players actually partaking in the game, the big question will be how much Chicago QB Jay Cutler can rebound from a disastrous opening week performance. Cutler threw four picks against Green Bay and now faces the daunting prospect of Pittsburgh’s linebacking crew, led by reigning Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison. If there’s a bright spot for Cutler, it’s that he’s had success against the Steelers before – in his lone game vs. Pittsburgh, he threw for 249 yards and three touchdowns.