A look, now, at the three biggest games of this weekend’s slate of NFL games, with all relevant sports betting information and notes. All NFL betting lines are courtesy Sports Interaction’s online sportsbook.
Baltimore Ravens (3-2) at Minnesota Vikings (5-0) Vikings -3.0
An interesting matchup here between two flawed-but-effective defenses. The Ravens have been burned in the passing game this year but still rank 10th in total defense while the Vikings have given up a lot of points yet lead the NFL in sacks. This is probably symptomatic of the “big-play” mentality that both defenses adhere to – Minnesota is quickly becoming one of the most dangerous “strip-sack” teams in the league (thanks in large part to the play of Jared Allen) and the Ravens have always looked to the likes of Ed Reed and Ray Lewis to turn fumbles/interceptions into points, which they often do. Gambling units? Absolutely, which is why they can get burned for big yards and big plays. So the question, really, is which team will make the bigger plays? You’ve got to think Baltimore could be exposed in this one; last week against Cincinnati, the defense allowed RB Cedric Benson to rumble for 120 yards, the first time in 40 games Baltimore allowed someone to go for 100-plus. If Adrian Peterson can get it going, look out – the Vikings could go to a startling 6-0 on the year.
New York Giants (5-0) at New Orleans Saints (4-0) Saints -3.0
Mouth-watering affair here for NFC bragging rights. The Saints are fresh off a Week 5 bye while the Giants didn’t break much more of a sweat in a 44-7 whitewash of the Raiders, meaning this could be a battle of undefeated teams that are rested and ready to go. The big question for the Giants is how they’ll deal with their toughest opponent of the year – New York’s five wins have come against Washington, Dallas, Tampa Bay, Kansas City and Oakland, teams with a combined 6-19 record. The last three opponents – the Bucs, Chiefs and Raiders – are a combined 1-14. Ergo, this game at the Superdome is a huge, huge test for a Giants team we don’t know much about. Yes, Eli Manning and the ground game combo of Brandon Jacobs/Ahmad Bradshaw is talented, but how much have they been tested thus far? The Saints’ defense looked great right before the bye in harassing Mark Sanchez and the Jets, and should be amped up for Sunday’s affair.
Chicago Bears (3-1) at Atlanta Falcons (3-1) Falcons -3.0
A revenge game for Chicago from a year ago. Last season, the Bears had a one-point lead with 11 seconds to go, only to fold defensively and allow the Falcons to march down the field and kick the game-winning field goal with no time remaining. This Sunday, the Bears should be fresh having just come off the bye, while Atlanta looked impressive by dispatching the 49ers 45-10. One thing to note: Chicago LB Pisa Tinoisamoa will likely make his season debut after tearing his PCL in the preseason. He could play a big role in filling the hole left by MLB Brian Urlacher, who is out for the season.