Baltimore— Missed playoffs last three years, four of five years since Ray Lewis retired. Ravens are 6-2-1 vs spread on natural grass last two years. Since ’08, Ravens are 9-6-1 as road favorites in divisional games, 6-12 in non-divisional tilts.
Buffalo— Bills made playoffs LY for first time in 18 years, but now QB Tyrod Taylor plays for the Browns, and Buffalo’s three QB’s have a combined five NFL starts. When does rookie QB Josh Allen get the nod? Last three years, Bills are 6-2-1 as non-divisional home favorites.
Cincinnati— Marvin Lewis is 125-112-3 with Bengals, but 0-7 in playoff games. Over last decade, Bengals are 24-13-3 vs spread when playing an NFC opponent- surprisingly, they won seven of their last nine games with Baltimore. Under is 21-11 in their road games last four years.
For the record, Lewis may be 0-7 in playoff games, but the Bengals’ three head coaches before him were a combined 52-124 over 11 seasons.
Cleveland— Browns are 1-31 the last two years; since coming back to NFL in 1999, they’re 1-18 in season openers. Cleveland was a ridiculously-bad -28 in turnovers LY; having Taylor at QB will improve that a great deal. Last eight years, Browns are 21-39-3 vs spread at home.
Denver— Keenum will be Broncos’ 7th different #1 QB the last 12 years; they’re 5-2 as home underdogs last three years, vs 5-11 vs spread on the road. Denver was 1-7 on road LY, with only win at Indianapolis in December; previous six years, they were 31-17 on foreign soil
Houston— Texans scored 34-33-38 points in last three games rookie QB Watson played, but after his injury, Houston scored 16 or fewer points in 8 of their last 9 games. Last nine years, Texans are 6-11 as home underdogs; under O’Brien, they’re 9-3-1 when favored by 3 or fewer points.
Indianapolis— Andrew Luck returns at QB after missing LY; they change coaches after missing playoffs last 3 years (8-8/8-8/4-12). Last two years, Colts are 2-7-1 vs spread in games coming off a win, 13-8 in games coming off a loss. Frank Reich has never been a head coach before; he was the Eagles’ OC the last two years.
Jacksonville— Jaguars were +10 in turnovers LY as they made playoffs for first time in 10 years; can they force 33 takeaways again? Over is 15-8 in Jaguar home games the last three years. Last five years, Jax is 3-17 vs spread when playing an NFC team; they open with Giants this year.
Kansas City— Last three years, Chiefs were +14/+16/+15 in turnovers, but Alex Smith is gone, Patrick Mahomes (1 career start) is the starter now and KC’s turnover ratio figures to regress some this year. Chiefs were -3 in turnovers in 2014, the only time in Andy Reid’s five years in KC the Chiefs failed to make the playoffs.
LA Chargers— Bolts started out 0-4 LY, with three losses by 2 or 3 points; their kickers were terrible in September, and it cost them a playoff spot. Chargers made playoffs once in last eight years; they’re 9-13 as home favorites the last four years.
Chargers play in Cleveland in Week 6, then play in London against the Titans in Week 7, before their bye week. In Week 9, they play in Seattle and the next week they visit Oakland- tough five-week stretch.
Miami— Dolphins haven’t been in playoffs since 2008; their last playoff win was in 2000. Jay Cutler was Miami’s QB LY; now he’s on a reality show with his actress wife and Ryan Tannehill is back at QB. Miami is 5-2-1 as home dogs under coach Gase; they’re 5-15 vs spread in their last 20 games on artificial turf.
New England— Last time Patriots went out in their first playoff game was 2010; they’re 14-6-3 as home favorites the last three years, but NE is replacing DC Matt Patricia this year- he is the Lions’ new coach. Over last decade, Patriots are 24-10 vs spread when they’re coming off a loss. Last five years, NE is 3-9 vs spread as a road favorite in divisional games.
NJ Jets— Jets haven’t made playoffs since 2010; they were outscored 94-32 in losing their last four games LY. Will Sam Darnold start? Will they keep three QB’s? Two of their first three games this year are in primetime. Last four years, Jets are -29 in turnovers; they’re 15-8-1 vs spread at home the last three years.
Oakland— Jon Gruden already got rid of his punter and his kicker; special teams coach Bisaccia will have his hands full. Oakland hasn’t won a playoff game (0-1) since Gruden beat them in Super Bowl with Bucs 16 years ago. Last five years, Raiders are 13-6-1 vs spread as a non-divisional road underdog.
Pittsburgh— Steelers have had only three head coaches since 1969; they made playoffs last four years, but haven’t won Super Bowl since 2008. Last three years, under is 18-4-1 in Pitt’s away games. Since 2010, Steelers are 27-15-1 vs spread when coming off a loss.
Tennessee— Titans made playoffs for first time in nine years, then fired the coach; they’re 7-3-2 vs spread as home favorites the last two years, but 5-10-1 vs spread on road. Over last decade, Tennessee is 8-21-1 vs spread in AFC South road games.
Developing young QB Marcus Mariota will be QB coach Pat O’Hara, whose resume is fascinating— he played at USC, played and coached in the Arena League, was the #3 QB for the Miami Sharks in the movie Any Given Sunday, backing up Dennis Quaid and Jamie Foxx.