The 2013 NFL season is starting up against this week, and it represents a great time for handicappers, both experienced and new, to win some bets.
Bookmakers in Vegas and offshore have about the same clue as the general public as to which teams project to be good and which are in for dismal outings this year.
Gamblers would be wise to take advantage of the lines before they tighten up. Those that do could come away big winners in September.
If you aren’t sure about which way to lean just yet, keep reading for a look at some of the top games on the board in Week 4.
New England Patriots (-11) at Buffalo Bills
The Pats have had a tumultuous offseason and boast a completely new crop of talent in the receiving corps, but that won’t stop them from running up the score against an atrocious Buffalo squad featuring Jeff Tuel under center.
Head coach Bill Belichick loves to quiet the doubters and prove that he’s the smartest guy in the room. There would be no better way to do that than by having his team systematically dismantle an AFC East rival, with quarterback Tom Brady delivering precision strikes for scores to unheralded and unknown receivers.
After 60 minutes of play are up, it would be downright surprising to see the Bills within two touchdowns of New England.
Remember, Tuel is a rookie signal-caller that went undrafted in 2013 and was never expected to take over the starting job. Unfortunately, injuries to top options Kevin Kolb and EJ Manuel have decimated the depth at the position and thrust him into an unfavorable situation.
Expect the Pats’ defense to capitalize by causing numerous three-and-outs and turnovers on the way to a blowout victory.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-4) at New York Jets
Tampa Bay had one of the NFL’s worst secondaries in 2012, but completely rebuilt from the ground up this offseason. Darrelle Revis, Dashon Goldson and Johnthan Banks are joining up-and-coming stars in Mark Barron and Leonard Johnson, creating a formidable group capable of preventing the big play and limiting yards through the air.
Factor in a ferocious pass rush and a rush defense that topped the league last season and you have a complete defense that will absolutely decimate weak offensive teams and limit even the best.
Considering the Jets look to be arguably the most pitiful offensive unit in the game, and this is a blowout in the making.
Geno Smith is likely the starter, but did not look the part after throwing three interceptions and running out of the back of the end zone in the third preseason game. He did not participate in the final exhibition contest as a precautionary measure, which should worry Gang Green as the inexperienced rookie prepares to face off against the Bucs.
If his preseason performance was any indication, expect Smith to commit a number of mental mistakes that will lead to turnovers. The Bucs offense, lead by Josh Freeman in a make-or-break season, will be able to capitalize on these with short, quick scoring drives on the way to a big win.
New Orleans Saints (-3) vs. Atlanta Falcons
The Saints struggled last year under a handful of interim coaches, but finally have mastermind Sean Payton back on the sidelines after serving his season-long suspension.
Obviously the offense will benefit, with Drew Brees eyeing more passing records in 2013. The veteran thrower has plenty of great targets to hit, including superstar tight end Jimmy Graham, wideouts Lance Moore and Marques Colston, plus versatile back Darren Sproles.
The defense will also be improved under Payton, although it isn’t tough to go up from last season’s historically bad outing.
First-round pick Kenny Vaccaro adds some depth to the secondary, while defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is changing the entire scheme to a 3-4 to help stop the run.
Atlanta will provide a tough challenge to this overhauled unit, but ultimately, the Saints are going to be able to outscore the Falcons in this one.
As usual, this NFC South showdown is going to be a point bonanza that features plenty of highlight plays and scores, but the Saints should actually be able to put together a key stop or two when they need to.
Home field advantage will also be huge, as the roaring NOLA crowd will be whipped into a frenzy for the season-opener. The Saints will take this one by a touchdown.