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Wednesday, 23 January, 2019

Trip to Detroit looks tough assignment for Arizona

Stafford can lead Lions to opening win

Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford is the highest-paid player in the NFL
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Top handicap tip
Detroit +2.5 at home to Arizona
Detroit would have won the NFC North last year had Green Bay not recovered from a 4-6 start and won their last six matches, but the Lions can get off to a winning start against Arizona.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford is now the highest-paid player in the league and they have boosted their offensive line through the off-season to give him more time to pick out some decent receivers.

They won six of their eight matches at Ford Field last season and developed an excellent habit of prevailing in close matches - seven of their nine victories were by a margin of six points or fewer.

The Lions should be keen to hit the ground running after losing their final three matches of last season's regular campaign and they could perform well against the Cardinals, who may not be the force they were a few years ago.

Quarterback Carson Palmer is 37 and appears to be on the wane, and while running back David Johnson and veteran wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald are dynamic, there may be limited options.

If the offensive line do not perform, they could have a difficult trip to Michigan.

Next best
Philadelphia to beat Washington
The NFC East looks one of the league's most intriguing contests this year and the Eagles should be right in the mix.

To do that, they need to claim a valuable divisional success over Washington on Sunday and quarterback Carson Wentz is capable of leading them to an opening-week win.

Philadelphia's offence looks stronger this year with the addition of receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith and bustling running back LaGarrette Blount.

Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins has had a contract dispute hanging over him for most of the summer and is tipped to head to San Francisco at the end of the campaign.

They go into battle having lost receiver DeSean Jackson, who has joined Tampa Bay, and this could be a tough test for an inexperienced defence.

Read more

Pittsburgh at Cleveland

Seattle at Green Bay

Dallas at NY Giants

NFL season preview

Top total-points tip
Houston over 21.5 points

It has been a tough few weeks for Houston after the city was ravaged by Hurricane Harvey and the population will be looking to the Texans to at least provide them with something to smile about when they face AFC South rivals Jacksonville.

There is a lack of excitement about quarterback Tom Savage as promising rookie DeShaun Watson is waiting in the wings, but they should get off to a decent start.

The quality of the Texans defence is vastly superior to an indifferent Jacksonville and that should give Savage plenty of time to help them score more than 21 points, which they have done in ten of their last 14 matches against the Jags, some of which were also directed by low-level quarterbacks.

Top player bet
C McCaffrey to score a touchdown
San Francisco should improve on last year's two-win season under new coach Kyle Shanahan, but they could have problems stopping Carolina rookie running back Christian McCaffrey.

The former Stanford rusher should be a threat from both the ground and as a receiver and he is expected to be used extensively by Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.

The 49ers have had a dismal time against the run in the last couple of seasons - they conceded 25 such scores last season and 20 the campaign before, both of which were the worst figures in the league

Expect McCaffrey to get on the board at some point. 

Staking plan
Detroit +2.5
2pts 20-23 bet365, BoyleSports
1pt 13-15 188bet
Houston over 21.5 points
2pts 5-6 Paddy Power
C McCaffrey to score a touchdown 
2pts 7-4 bet365

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They won six of their eight matches at Ford Field last season and developed an excellent habit of prevailing in close matches
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