Handicapping: Double Header MNF Divisional Games


San Diego at Oakland -1 Over/Under 46.5

Last season was a roller coaster game for both of these teams. Oakland went through the death of their long time owner Al Davis. After it occurred the team traded away first round picks for Carson Palmer. A puzzling move by former head coach Hugh Jackson. San Diego on the other hand witnessed their perennial Pro Bowl quarterback, Philip Rivers, have his worst season as a Pro.

Both of these teams had no problem lighting up the scoreboard on a weekly basis. The defenses had a hard time stopping opposing teams, therefore Palmer/Rivers were gunning the ball each drive. That’s the norm for some teams in the league, but the accelerated hike in turnovers is not. Philip Rivers will be without running back Ryan Matthews and lost running back Mike Tolbert and wide receiver Vincent Jackson to free agency. He still has Malcolm Floyd and pro bowl tight end Antonio Gates.

The problem is going to come at reliability at running the football. Ronnie Brown’s on his last days, and the Chargers will be forced into using a platoon of backs.

With a raucous Raider crowd, and pressure on Rivers arm, expect the edge to go to the Raiders in this one. The over/under is one to stay away from but I think it’ll miss the barrier of going over by a few points.

Cincinnati at Baltimore -7 Over/Under 41.5

This is a game where the over on points look much more friendlier. The identity of these teams seems to be a little unknown to lines makers. I expect the Ravens to switch their offensive philosophy just enough to give Joe Flacco more attempts down the field. He has the receivers and showed last year that he can deliver big throws in clutch situations. Now is the year where the Ravens hand the control more over to Flacco than the constant Ray Rice show.

A weakness in the Ravens defense continues to be the secondary. Therefore any shot at moving the football is going to have to come through the air, especially if the Bengals want to keep up in this one. Jermaine Gresham is quietly emerging as one of the most difficult young tight ends to cover in football. He’ll pose big problems in this one. Dalton also has one of the top receivers in the game in AJ Green.

Ray Lewis is an inspirational leader, and the honor of this game will belong to Art Modell. Lewis was drafted the same year the team moved to Baltimore so he has an emotional tie to the Modell move, and how it affected him. Plus he held Modell in high regards as did most people around him.

Last season to open week one the Ravens stomped the Steelers 35-7. This team truly believes they should have been to the Super Bowl a year ago, and they’ll come out and play that way Monday Night. Grab the Ravens -7 and the over in this one. Dalton will keep the Bengals in the game, but once the second half begins I believe the adjustments by the Ravens will be the difference. Dalton will make that extra error inside the red zone that proves costly.


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