Another week in the books and another week of possible delays, or cancellations, because of Covid. I know with 32 teams the bubble concept is impossible. But we have to believe that the players see how easy this can lose control. As the season progresses I see less and less cases. Eventually we will have a week with no positive tests.
Now I really hoped to have a better week than 2-2. The Browns are legit and maybe I thought the Jags were better than they actually were. That defense looks bad and Watson was able to take control for the W. Now this week’s slate is screaming for money to be made. A lot of winning teams playing each other with very close spreads that we will cover here. I do like the Cardinals to cover the 1 point and win, as well as give me the Lions at -3. It’s gonna be a great week and we are gonna be sitting there with giant smiles, knowing that we will be visiting the cashier asking for fat stacks.
Cleveland Browns @ Pittsburgh Steelers (-3.5)
I don’t know if there is any team I have been more wrong on, then the Cleveland Browns. Week after week I keep throwing shade on a team that goes out and gives it their all. This may be the same team, personnel wise, but your seeing how big of an impact proper coaching is. Let’s look into what Pro Football Focus has to say about these guys. For starters, they are tied for third with Buffalo for being one of the highest scoring teams in the league with 108 points – Trailing only Dallas and Seattle. One of these teams, however, are bound to see a huge dip in scoring so maybe they can finish top 3. Largely because their rookie, Jedrick Wills, is the highest graded rookie offensive lineman so far this year. Pair that with the fact that Wyatt Teller is the highest graded guard in the league right now, no wonder they are the best pass blocking line in the league. Baker needs to settle down and trust that his guys up front got him. The one downfall to that offense could be Baker himself. If pressure can affect his timing enough early on, I’m nervous that it could be a long day for him. OBJ had some issues with being sick but he should still play. Call me crazy but I’m not expecting a “Flue Game Jordan” kind of performance. The Steelers look as solid as any defense could look.
So how good is this defense honestly? Well the pass-rush continues to be a problem as they racked up five sacks last week against the Eagles. Still the best in the league at getting pressure (50% of all opponents drop backs are under pressure per PFF). Their rushing defense ranks second and because of that, teams have to throw. It’s a weirdly perfect concoction that allows these guys to pin their ears and get to the QB. Ben has looked absolutely stellar since coming back from his elbow surgery. Who can’t look good when you got Mapletron out there balling all over the place. I mean good lord. I can personally say that I had some doubts about how he would be used early on. It appears as though he’ll never drop passes, has a great catch radius, and great overall awareness on the field. Diontae is out with an injury, so his snaps should be limited. Connor looks great and healthy. The real show though will be that Cleveland O-Line vs Pittsburgh D-Line.
Now we all saw what Cleveland did to the Dallas defense, but the guys in black and gold are different. Don’t look at history with these guys because you will just auto pick Pittsburgh. Cleveland has seven wins against Pittsburgh since 1993, but Cleveland hasn’t had an offense like this since Jim Brown was running the ball. FanDuel has Kareem Hunt’s rushing yards are set at 62.5, so should you take over or under? Take the under and take the Steelers to win. If you can get -3, then maybe take the spread but don’t push it.
Chicago Bears @ Carolina Panthers (-1.5)
Is the Bears offense any better with Nick Foles? It’s not pretty to say the least, but they are moving the ball somewhat. His 1-1 record as a starter comes with one ugly loss to Indy who does have a formidable defense so we can cut him some slack there. The next week he led a game winning drive late to kick a field goal for the win. Something Trubisky hasn’t had so much luck with. And maybe that’s total recency bias, but the coaches have to ride this guy. Allen Robinson looks like a stud, but still has to be forced to play with another mediocre QB. He saw a season high 16 targets last week and we shouldn’t see much of a difference this week. He is clearly the best player on that field when the Bears are on offense this Sunday. Montgomery will be the wild card as who knows if he will actually be able to do anything with the workload. Carolina should be the perfect recipe as they project to be the worst at stopping the run.
How about them Panthers! Another W last week and against a division rival nonetheless. The biggest thing to me was how well they defended the pass. Matt Ryan could barely get over 200 yards and they didn’t even allow a passing TD. Maybe this defense isn’t as bad as everyone thinks. Maybe these guys are well coached with great talent. Yeah they will show weaknesses at times but Carolina has something to build on. Teddy should come in with his chest held high and with a lot of swagger in his walk. He was able to really show people he is comfortable as a passer last week. Throwing for 300 is more common nowadays but he should still be proud. His ability to get the absolute most out of Robby Anderson still blows my mind. Once again, he led the team in targets and yards last week and is looking like a top 10 wide out. D.J. Moore must be getting double teamed, because he looks phased out. His 50+ yard TD should give people confidence that he knows he can’t be great. This team will never quit and a team who goes out and gives 100% every play can win any week.
Now with the Panthers being favored, I draw caution. I normally like them as a dog and you can get value. It’s basically a pick em at this point and it’s hard to pick. You have a 4-1 team that some people think is suspect with their QB play and another who has a new coach and young players that might be over performing. So what do you trust? Neither to be honest but I’m taking the Bears to win out right. Don’t burn me please.
Green Bay Packers (-1) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Would you believe me if I told you that Rodgers was in the same class as Rivers? Probably, but when you see these guys play it’s so clear that Rodgers has so much left in the tank. Hell, two weeks ago he had a band of bums out there catching balls and Robert Tonyan got three touchdowns. Now he will be getting Adams back, who had multiple weeks of rest to get healthy. He has shown the ability to carry a heavy workload and ultimately be the reason this team wins games. The defense will be slept on all year and they are perfectly fine with it. They are top 10 in Passing YPG, Rushing YPG, and Total Points Allowed. Jaire Alexander is having an All-Pro season. He is the highest graded corner on PFF this year and has been truly lockdown. They will have their hands full with a Buccaneers team who is getting healthy, finally.
Tampa Bay fans are struggling with how to feel right now. A tough opening loss to the Saints is something they can live with. Beating bad teams and putting up 30+ with ease it seems and then BAM, a tough loss to Chicago where they just couldn’t get much done. I know as football fans, it’s easy for us to automatically assume they will great with Tom Brady at the helm. But they play in a tough division, had to come back to beat the Chargers, allowed Teddy B to throw for 362, and got lucky to play Denver when they did. I just really don’t think that this team will be contending for the title this year. We will see this Sunday if they can beat a possible playoff opponent in GB but can they stop Mr. Discount Double check?
I feel like this Rodgers vs Brady matchup isn’t getting the hype it has gotten in years past. Rodgers is playing like he has something to prove mean while Brady went to a different team to show people he still got it. Godwin is coming back this Sunday and should see a lot of work. Evans is gonna get the Alexander treatment and I can see a world where he gets less than 50 yards. Ronald Jones doesn’t show me anything to believe that he can do well against a bad matchup. Godwin will need to come up big. Calling an 8-80-1 line for him in his first game back. Now that doesn’t mean I’m picking Tampa. Adams and Rodgers will be unstoppable I feel. Aaron Jones will utilize his hands and scoring multiple TDs this week. A 55.5 point O/U is very high. But even if goes under it’ll be by a point or two. These teams are gonna put up points and I trust Rodgers and that Packers defense in a possible shootout.
Kansas City Chiefs (-5) @ Buffalo Bills
It’s so difficult to go undefeated in the NFL. Every year there is a team who looks like they will be unstoppable yet has an ugly loss on their season schedule. That’s what I view last weeks game against Las Vegas. Their defense that is normally good against the pass, get lit up by Carr. Ruggs caught that long bomb they drafted him to be, Jacobs found the end zone twice and as a team rushed for 144 yards. Now they face a good offense in Buffalo who didn’t look as smooth against the Titans. The offense though has been clocking and should put up points. Hill has scored a TD in every game this season. Sammy Watkins will be out but look for Hardman to step up and hit a big play. His game breaking speed should always be considered and I know Josh Norman isn’t keeping up.
Buffalo is coming in Hungry. Last week could of easily been a case of a team looking ahead. When you know you have the defending super bowl champs coming, most teams have that circles on their schedules. Allen looked human throwing two interceptions and never really getting anyone other than Diggs involved. Devin Singletary looked suspect at best and maybe Moss will get more of a look than a lot of people expected. But will they be able to keep up if the Chiefs get a couple early touchdowns? Allen has shown the ability to go out and throw the team on his back. Against a really good Rams team, he went out and got five total touchdowns and led the team on a game winning drive late. The defense will need to play much better than what they did on Tuesday. Edmunds is fighting a shoulder injury but he is their best chance at Leon own Kelce. His rare size and speed combo was brought in to take care of the tight end position. White should be back for this game and they could use him. They will need their best to cover Hill.
Now five points looks like a lot at first. But that could depend on what Buffalo team shows up. They were the projected winner of their division and have only one loss to their credit. But something tells me that KC isn’t taking that loss to Las Vegas lightly. They are going to come out and make a statement. I can see some trickery to lead a 14 point first quarter. Give me KC to win and take the points.