Miami @ New England (-7.5)
(Wrote this Wednesday)
Dan Campbell’s resurrection of the Dolphins was fun, scoring a combined 82 points against the Titans and Texans was nice, and this week the Fins will get a great chance to see if that was Trick or Treat. That is a lot of points, even at home I’m not sure I’m comfortable taking the Pats. They’re surprisingly 21st in DVOA against the run and Miami is 4th in rushing offense by DVOA. However, this could totally fall apart if the Pats go up two scores early and the Fins require Tannehill to throw them out of it, which would be a treat…for the Patriots.
Picked the right winner but that second thing I said basically became true and the Fins only ran the ball 11 times…
Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh (EV)
This is obviously a tough one because we’re not 100% sure Roethlisberger is going to play; however, he fully participated in practice Wednesday so I would imagine he’s going to suit up. If he does this is a massive game for Andy Dalton, the Red Rifle is 2-6 against the Steelers, so history is not on his side. Sacks aren’t everything but the Steelers are 6th in the NFL with 19; meaning, at the very least, they’re getting to the quarterback. The Bengals offensive line is 2nd in Pass Protection by DVOA and have only allowed 6 sacks so far so they’re keeping Dalton clean. If they start getting to him though, we might start seeing more Beige Water Pistol than Red Rifle.
Seattle (-6) @ Dallas
Ah…Matt Cassel… I put my hope and faith in you last week and you squandered it… SQUANDERED. Most people will look at Cassel’s 3 picks on the stat sheet and point the blame to him. I could argue that two of those picks may as well have been punts because it put NYG back in their own territory. Nonetheless the other pick was run back for 6 points which was the difference in this game so… go ahead and point your little blame-fingers all you want. I still think he did really well for a QB who has been on the team for less than a month before that start. All that being said the Seahawks and their 8th ranked defense by DVOA and the Legion of Boom come into Jerry World this weekend and allow more fingers to be pointed by Cowboy fans.
Detroit @ Kansas City (-5)
Raise your hand if you thought the Chiefs were good before the season. *raises hand. Now, raise your hand if you thought the Lions were good before the season. *raises hand. This is just an odd matchup of underperforming teams. How the Chiefs are favored by 5 points on a neutral site in London is beyond me. What ultimately made me take the points was that, despite their record, the Chiefs are ranked 15th in overall DVOA compared to the Lions 29th ranking. The Chiefs are ranked above the Rams, Falcons, and Vikings who all have superior records. However, as we saw last week with the Bills/Jaguars game last week in London, anything goes when you cross the pond…like Cheer-leaders, hot-dogs, fooot-bol players.
Tampa Bay @ Atlanta (-7.5)
The Falcons are an interesting story so far. Early in the season they won some close games against the NFC East (even the Cowboys game that ended up being an 11 point win), blew out the Texans, then got beat and almost beat by the Saints and Titans. Hard to explain, then their 17th ranking in overall DVOA got me thinking… Are we sure the Falcons are as good as we think? Sure they’ve proven they can score points. Have they gotten away with playing down to their opponents and maybe playing a rookie QB and his 2-4 team at home could get them in trouble? Not enough to lose, but just enough to not take down the huge 7.5 spread with it.
Arizona (-4.5) @ Cleveland
This is a game I’ve been debating since I started writing this week’s picks. I’m fairly confident the Cardinals are going to win, they’re 2nd in overall DVOA (2nd Offense/4th Defense) and have put up more points than the Rams & 49ers combined. However, the Cards haven’t faced an above average Pass Defense by DVOA, which the Browns are (exactly 16th). Cleveland also happens to be dead last in the NFL in run defense by DVOA. Whereas the Cardinals have averaged 4.8 yards per carry as a team, 3rd in the NFL. Arizona is only 12th in Rushing Offense by DVOA, but that should go up after running all over the Browns this weekend. Just replace this logo and this child exclaiming he/she loves the Dolphins with Cardinals.
San Fransisco @ St. Louis (-9.5)
Not surprisingly, this is the biggest spread this week, how can we take so many points?! First of all, the 49ers have looked terrible at times this year. Especially after only amassing eight(!) first downs in last week’s blow out against the Seahawks. Even after that massacre on their resume the Seattle’s defense is three spots lower than these Rams in Defensive DVOA, where the Rams rank 5th. I can’t imagine San Fransisco not eclipsing eight first downs in another game but I’ll let their own Offensive DVOA rankings speak for themselves as we stack them up against the Rams defensive numbers…
Yeah…you can tell everybody… Go ahead…
New York Giants @ New Orleans (-3)
The team that the 49ers undercut to slide into the worst Defensive DVOA ranking was the New Orleans Saints. The Saints are still 31st in the NFL in Defensive DVOA which is a combination of a 30th ranked pass defense and a 25th ranked rush defense. Lining up that defensive front against Odell Beckham Jr gives me 0 hope, good hamstring or not. Jason Pierre-Paul is also back with the team, he’s not going to play but coach Coughlin just wants him to be “in [an] environment of competitiveness.” I bet JPP has felt like a plastic bag
Ahhhhh….. that was low…too soon? I guess all I see is…
Minnesota (-1) @ Chicago
Minnesota is another odd case of a team with a 4-2 record but ranking only 28th in overall DVOA, a combination of a 28th ranked offense and 24th ranked defense. This could be an issue if the Bears weren’t themselves the 30th ranked team in overall DVOA… Having such low number anything could happen in this game. Would you be surprised if Adrian Peterson rushed for 150 yards and 3 TDs? Would you be surprised if the Bears won? I would…better daaable check.
San Diego @ Baltimore (-3)
Somehow this game is the hardest to pick and the least interesting, even with two award winning quarterbacks. As I’m typing this I still don’t have a pick. Looking at the DVOA numbers the only thing that really sticks out is the Ravens 5th ranking in Special Teams in contrast to the Chargers 31st ranking. That’s huge, I’m not a believer in Special Teams winning games but it does have a big effect. If the Ravens are going to get to start on the 40 or 50 yard line and the Chargers are starting around the 20 that could be the difference, we’ll see. This could be the game for PUNTERS
Tennessee @ Houston (N/A)
Before the season if you were to ask me which team had a top 10 ranked defense by DVOA I’d have instantly replied with the Texans. JJ Watt, right? Hard Knocks, right? Well, as you probably guessed I would’ve been dead wrong. The Titans have the 9th ranked defense by DVOA, which is still surprising to me, the Texans are ranked 26th if you were wondering. I was also under the impression that the Texans had gotten terrible production out of their quarterbacks (heck, one of them barely showed up). They had, out of Ryan Mallet who was 31st in DVOA with a 51.5 QBR (rating out of 100) and subsequently off of the team. However, Brian Hoyer has been above average in his five games for the Texans. He’s 10th in DVOA (above Russell Wilson, Drew Brees, and Cam Newton) with a 72.7 rating (Brady’s is 74.7). All that being said, that 9th ranked defense in Tennessee scares me and I’m hoping they also get Mariota back who fully participated in practice on Thursday. One last time…
New York Jets (-1) @ Oakland
The Raiders have been a good story and it’s cool to see them succeed with this young talent, but the Jets have some overwhelming DVOA numbers. The New York Football-Jets are 5th in total DVOA, which is a combination of a 6th ranked offense and the second best defense by DVOA in the NFL. Also, sitting above the aforementioned Hoyer on the QB DVOA list is Ryan Fitzpatrick at 8th overall with a 76 QBR (right, HIGHER than Brady’s). These rankings ultimately mean the team, squads, or individual players are doing all of the little things to win games. Whether they do or not is up to the team as a whole and coaching. In this instance the rest of the Jets will follow Fitzpatrick’s improbable lead.
By the way, if you didn’t know this movie is super racist…
Green Bay (-3) @ Denver
YEEEEESSSSSSSSS. Finally. The best defense vs the “best QB.” This matchup is going to be incredible or Peyton is going to throw four picks and it’ll be a blood bath. It could really go either way. Even though both of these teams are 6-0 they’re not created equal. The Broncos continue their insane run of being the #1 Defensive team by DVOA and ranking dead last in Offensive DVOA. The Packers have the 7th ranked defense by DVOA and have the 5th ranked passing defense by DVOA, neither look good for Peyton Manning who might be spending more time watching chicken parm being made on television…
Indianapolis @ Carolina (-7.5)
This is an odd case of team literally switching places from what our expectations and predictions were to where they actually are. 7.5 is still a lot of points but it’s hard to argue with the 6th best defense by DVOA going against Andrew Luck who has fallen to the 27th ranked QB by DVOA (finished 10th last season). In Luck’s defense Cam Newton is only two spots ahead of him but Cam’s QBR (while still bad) is 11 points higher than Luck’s… Oh..saints preserve us…
Byes: Bills, Eagles, Redskins, Jaguars