After a lacklustre round of match-ups last weekend, NFL fans have plenty to look forward to over the coming days, highlighted by the Monday Night Football epic between the Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs in Mexico City.
Arguably the most anticipated game of the NFL season, many experts have touted this clash as a Super Bowl LIII preview.
Whilst the attention of most fans will be on Monday night, there are other crunch fixtures occurring this weekend which will have significant implications on playoff aspirations and seeding ranks.
Out of the blue, the Indianapolis Colts are suddenly emerging as a threat in the AFC South for the divisional title.
After their abysmal start to the season where the Colts fell to a record of 1-5, their effort to notch-up three successive wins has been a surprise to everyone. With strong momentum building, they now find themselves only two wins off first place with seven rounds remaining.
Since 1995, only 2% of the teams with that record at the start of the season have made the playoffs.
Looking forward, the Colts have a difficult run home with games against the Titans (twice), Dolphins, and Texans, who are all in playoffs contention.
Taking into consideration their statistical chances of making the post-season (12%), this weekend’s game against the Titans looms as a must win if they are to have any chance of pulling off the unlikely.
Fortunately for Indy fans, their quarterback has proven himself as a lucky charm in games against the Titans. The Tennessee side has never defeated the Colts when Andrew Luck has been at the helm, with an abysmal 0-9 record against the QB.
In addition, Luck looks back to his best following shoulder surgery, throwing for three touchdowns in the Colts’ latest match against the Jaguars.
Confidence in the Tennessee camp couldn’t be higher however. An absolute demolition of the Patriots has them flying and they are now one of the form teams in the league.
They have been scoring for fun in recent weeks, with Derrick Henry rushing for two touchdowns and Marcus Mariota throwing for two in their win over the Pats. The Titans’ defence has been equally as impressive and only allowed 284 yards against the GOAT Tom Brady.
Key NFL Betting Statistics
The Titans are 6-3 ATS in 2018, which is tied for the third best mark in the NFL (The Colts are 4-4-1).
Both of these teams have covered the line in their past three games.
Free NFL Expert Pick: Colts at the moneyline @ $1.74
Reasoning: Games between these two teams are always interesting and the importance of a divisional match-up can't be underestimated in the race to the playoffs.
The safe bet is to side with history and go with the Luck hoodoo as he continues his brilliant return in 2018.
Two of the league’s top defences face off against each other in the Sunday Night prime time game.
After a short mid-season drop off, the Bears have surged back into being a powerhouse contender for the playoffs, having won their last three on the bounce.
Led by their new star linebacker Khalil Mack, the Bears were comfortable winners against the Lions last week as both their offence and defence shone bright. They currently have a 6-3 record and sit on top of a tightly contested NFC North division.
At the start of the season, the Vikings were regarded as a strong lock for the post-season by bookmakers and fans alike.
After a slow start to the year, they are starting to prove why.
The team has now won four out of their last five games and sit a single win behind the Bears in the lead for the division.
Besides letting Drew Brees score 30 on the defence (which is forgivable), they have not conceded more than 21 points over the past 5 games.
Key NFL Betting Statistics
In their past 15 home games, the Bears are 11-4 ATS, and they're also 4-1 ATS at home this season, which is tied for the best mark in the NFL.
In their past 10 games away from Minnesota, the Vikings are 7-2-1 straight-up and 8-2 ATS.
The Vikings are 7-3 ATS in their past 10 primetime games
Free NFL Expert Pick: Alternative Line / Under 50 Points @ $1.65
Reasoning: This will be a hard hitting game, too tough to predict at the line with any confidence.
Expect it to be frenetic, with Quarterbacks Kirk Cousins and Mitch Trubisky both rushed off the balls quickly. This will potentially lead to points and turnovers but not enough to reach the overs.
Easily the most anticipated game of the season, it places two offensive juggernauts against each other in what is a must watch game.
The clash of the Super Bowl contenders is set to be a high scoring encounter, with the Rams and Chiefs ranked first and second in total offense respectively, while opposing quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Jared Goff lead the league in passing yards.
After suffering their first loss of the season to New England in Week 6, the Chiefs then went on to win their next four games in-a-row and currently hold the best record in the AFC.
They cruised to a 26-14 win last week against the Cardinals and will be desperate to earn a win on the road here to maintain their advantage in the standings over the Patriots.
The Rams suffered their first loss of the season in Week 9 against the New Orleans Saints, going down in a nail-biter. They then rebounded with a gritty win over the Seahawks in match week 10.
One area of the Rams’ game which Coach Sean McVay will be looking to improve is their defence. The LA side has leaked an average of 27 points over their past six games, which they will need to improve on if they are to go all the way this season.
Expect a different story this week however. The Rams’ defensive unit, led by interior linemen Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh, should be able to put enough pressure on Mahomes to stop Kansas City's offensive rhythm and blunt their lethal attack.
Key NFL Betting Statistics
The Rams are 1-6 ATS in their past seven games
The Chiefs are 11-13 ATS in games dating back to last season.
The Chiefs' ATS of 8-2 this year is the best in the NFL.
The stadium in New Mexico has an elevation of nearly 7,400 feet (To put that in perspective, the elevation in Denver is 5,280 feet).
Free NFL Expert Pick: Rams to cover the -2.5 line and total points score under 64 @ $3.80
Reasoning: The Rams have been so impressive recently, even though the score lines may not reflect it.
Their recent fixtures have primed them well for this clash, in contrast to Kansas City who are coming off a soft draw.
Expect the first two quarters to be cagey as both QB’s adjust to the thin air and the trajectory of the ball.
Goff and Todd Gurley will likely turn it up in the second half however. Look for them to combine well and pile on the points to lead the Rams to a high scoring victory, cementing them as the best team in the NFL.