New York Jets @ Miami Dolphins (Sky Sports HD, 6pm)
In a battle of two teams struggling to find their true identity, Looks can be deceptive, especially this early in the season. The Miami Dolphins are probably nearer to the team that lost by 20 in Houston rather than the one that beat Oakland by 22, while the Jets are closer to the team that blew out Buffalo than the one who lost at Pittsburgh last week.

The Jets should be able to take advantage of Miami’s defensive backs, while the Gang Green’s defence could be given a major boost with the return of cornerback Darrelle Revis, who missed last week’s game through concussion.

If this is the case, the Jets’ defence will be able to play more aggressively and dial up a few more exotic blitz schemes, often putting eight men in the box, which will force rookie passer Ryan Tannehill – who has been very impressive thus far – into a mistake or two.

Tony Sparano, fired at the end of last season by Miami, is now on the sidelines as the Jets’ offensive coordinator and probably knows more about the strengths and weaknesses of the Dolphins’ squad than the Florida club’s new head coach Joe Philbin does.

Miami, though, dominated the Jets at the line of scrimmage last season and may do so again. The Dolphins have arguably the best kicker/long snapper/punter trio in the NFL with Brandon Fields, Dan Carpenter and John Denney. They could make a big difference as Tannehill has not yet shown that he can put the game on his shoulders and win it.

Field position will be crucial for the Dolphins, but those who feel that the hosts will benefit from the heat and humidity of playing at home in September should note that the Jets have won in Miami on their last two trips in this particular month, although the Dolphins have won five of their last seven contests overall against the New Yorkers.

You could not fail to be impressed by Miami’s run-stuffing so far. They have held Houston and Oakland, who both have premium ground games, to 2.2 yards per carry. It will be interesting to see if Sparano tries to keep the Dolphins off balance by using the Wildcat formation, which he used to such great effect when unleashing it on the New England Patriots and out-coaching Bill Belichick at Foxboro in 2008. He may have to revert to a few trick plays if Miami’s defensive line continues to rule the ground.

However, Miami have not managed to defend tight ends well at all. It is an on-going problem which pre-dates the Sparano era.

A key player for Miami will, of course, be Reggie Bush, whose speed will trouble the Jets, particularly if the Dolphins can utilise his fleet-footedness against a workmanlike perimeter of the Jets’ defence (remember, Buffalo’s C.J. Spiller caused numerous problems for the Jets and ended up with 169 yards on 14 carries in the opener).

This game could go either way and should be on a knife-edge heading into the fourth quarter. The Jets may be able to sneak a narrow win and they are three-point favourites on the BETDAQ handicap. I’d take them on the Moneyline, however.

The Dolphins, sans Brandon Marshall, have relied heavily on Brian Hartline, who is not regarded as a legitimate No.1 receiver, but has good hands and is more reliable than Marshall, who was shipped out to Chicago for a couple of packets of crisps. Hartline should have been given a greater opportunity long ago and while he isn’t the quickest, he just as easily could be the difference-maker as Jets’ receiving counterpart Santonio Holmes.

Either way, Hartline can still fly. And he’s still pretty fly (for a white guy)…

Houston Texans at Denver Broncos (Sky Sports HD, 9.25pm)
Houston Texans look the best team in the NFL right now. Their defence has conceded just 17 points in two lopsided wins against Miami and Jacksonville and have allowed two conversions on third down in 19 attempts. That is an astonishing figure. They are suffocating the life out of opponents, but they were playing against two inexperienced quarterbacks in Tannehill and Blaine Gabbert.

How will they fare in the rarefied atmosphere of Colorado and against Peyton Manning who will be boiling mad at himself after tossing three interceptions in Atlanta on Monday night?

This has the makings of a belting game. There is not much of a history between the two; the home side has won on each of their three meetings, with Denver winning twice.

Denver’s defensive tackles are strong against the run and agile enough to sustain pass-rush pressure on the quarterback, but their secondary is still a work in progress. It is hard to see them stopping Andre Johnson and company for 60 minutes, but it could be a tight game – excellent for trading in running. I’ll take Houston on the BETDAQ Moneyline but it would not surprise me if Denver made enough plays to eke out a close win.

New England Patriots at Baltimore Ravens (BBC Red Button, 1.20am)
Revenge could be very sweet for the Ravens. The Patriots took advantage of a dropped pass by Lee Evans and a field goal miss by Billy Cundiff to beat Baltimore and advance to the Super Bowl.

But in the last three years, four conference championship rematches have taken place and they have all been won by the team that claimed victory in the previous contest.

Baltimore’s home record does give them a slight edge, and they are three-point BETDAQ handicap favourites. The Ravens were unbeaten at home last season home and were one of only three teams to accomplish that feat. The Ravens have won 19 of their last 20 home games, and are 28-5 in Baltimore since John Harbaugh took over four years ago.

New England looked very out of sync in their stunning 20-18 home loss to Arizona, in large part due to the fact that tight end Aaron Hernandez, a big piece in the offensive jigsaw, went down with an ankle injury and the Patriots could not adjust. It doesn’t help that Wes Welker, the leading receiver in history, is in Bill Belichick’s dog house, but it will be surprising if belligerent Bill does not climb down and let Welker see more Tom Brady passes being thrown his way.

Something doesn’t seem quite right in the New England locker room at present, but while the likes of veteran Matt Light has retired, there are still enough leaders, like Brady, to ensure that it won’t be long before things get turned around.

Most fans would like to see the Ravens win this – me included – but this could be one of the two games that Baltimore will drop at home this season and the points look a bonus.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Oakland Raiders
There are not many better rivalries than this, and some of the best are brilliantly chronicled in Peter Richchomd’s brilliant book Badasses: The legend of Snake, Foo, Dr. Death, and John Madden’s Oakland Raiders. I would concur with the San Jose Mercuy news, who state that it is “one of the best football books ever written.”

You would sooner read a good book than watch the Raiders at present.

They were horrible against Miami but, as we expected, that 3,000-mile cross-country trip to play in the heat of the day was too much for them and they were crushed 35-13.

They could not stop Reggie Bush running over, through and around their depleted defence. And they never looked capable of troubling a Miami defence who had conceded 30 points to Houston the week before.

When two starting cornerbacks, starting middle linebacker, your Pro Bowl defensive tackle and your explosive kick returner are all ailing, you have problems. The Raiders are moving the ball through the air, because they have to. The running game is dormant and opponents know it.

The 0-2 Raiders know that opponents do not have to commit two safeties to help against the run and they instead play deep in coverage all day. Oakland will move the ball, but they will have trouble scoring, especially if they can’t get down the field quickly with deep passes, which they like to do.

Pittsburgh do not look altogether trustworthy, especially with their offensive line hit hard through injury. It will be fascinating to see if Ben Roethlisberger will have time to find his receivers, who should get open as the Raiders’ secondary is banged-up. Despite travelling across country (never easy), Pittsburgh simply have more healthy bodies and they should be able to grind out a win.

St Louis Rams at Chicago Bears
This game will tell us more about whether the St Louis Rams are for real or not. They played hard in Detroit and lost, before edging Washington last weekend. Chicago have sputtered offensively when all the talk in pre-season was about their aging defence. Ten days on from their defeat in Green Bay, the Bears should have no trouble beating a youthful and largely inexperienced Rams team. The only question is whether that can do it by double digits. Lay the hosts on the BETDAQ handicap.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys
Dallas are a much better outfit than they showed in a terrible defeat at Seattle last weekend. Tampa are probably not as good as they showed when running the Giants close; their downfall coming in large part due to ultra-conservative second-half play-calling. Tampa Bay’s defence yielded over 600 yards to the Giants and 510 of them were through the air. The Cowboys should have no trouble moving the ball and after such a shocking loss, you would expect them to turn things round at home.

Atlanta Falcons at San Diego Chargers
A massive game for each franchise and there should be plenty of aerial fireworks – primarily because neither team have managed to run the ball to great effect. San Diego’s 2-0 start appears to be schedule-related, having played the Raiders and Titans. Philip Rivers has made some interesting decisions in the passing game, at times throwing the ball up for grabs. Rivers has been lucky rather than good in this correspondent’s eyes.

Atlanta’s offense is clicking under Dick Koetter – and why wouldn’t it now that Matt Ryan has had a full season with talented receiver Julio Jones? While Roddy White has slowed a little, he’s still an elite pass catcher and tight end Tony Gonzalez continues to roll back the years, too. The only concerns for the Falcons are the possible suspension of running back Michael Turner, who was arrested for DUI after last Monday night’s win, and they are travelling west off a short week following that victory. Still, take the Falcons to win – they should be at least 4.5-point favourites in my book.

Cincinnati Bengals at Washington Redskins
Washington lost a game they should have won in St Louis but they come up against a Cincinnati defence that simply hasn’t been at the races this season. Last term, they allowed 400 yards in only two games. This season, they have given up more than that in each of their opening two contests. They conceded over 300 yards through the air just once last year – to Seattle. But this term both the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns – yes, the Cleveland Browns (it is not a misprint) – both managed to top 300 against the Bengals. With outside linebacker Thomas Howard done for the season after tearing up a knee three days before last week’s win over the Browns, they will be without their leading tackler from last season. It could be a long afternoon for the Browns, who don’t have quick linebackers and Robert Griffin III (RG3) should manage to complete plenty of short, quick passes, just as Cleveland’s Brandon Weeden did last week. The Browns do have their best pass rusher in Carlos Dunlap back after injury, but the Redskins are rolling offensively and they should be able to out-last the Bengals in a high-scoring affair.

Back – NY Jets Moneyline
Back – Houston Moneyline
Lay – Baltimore Moneyline
Back – Pittsburgh Moneyline
Lay – Chicago -9
Back – Dallas -7.5
Back – Washington -3.5
Back – Atlanta Moneyline
Back – Over 48.5 points Cincinnati/Washington

Twitter: @simonmilham

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