Now by no means do I think of myself as a professional gambler, but with a little bit of research and following a hunch, we can all be successful. On the year with these articles I’m 54%. Now I hoped that number would be higher, but it’s still a profit. And as we are now midway through the year, we have such a better grasp on these teams in the NFL.
Like knowing that Atlanta and the LAC are going to choke away leads late for starters. Let’s take those live bets when we see some big leads. What about Cincinnati coming in as the third best team ATS. Maybe those big lines are bait because this offense is different this year. Just know any NFC East game will probably go under because of how trash that division is.
With a comfortable lay of the land, I wanted to highlight my favorite matchups this week. Now being the Burgh guy that I am, I try to highlight the only undefeated team in the NFL, the Pittsburgh Steelers, every week. But this game against Dallas seems so blah, especially when you see the quality of other games this week. Let’s get this bread!
Seattle Seahawks 6-1 (-3) @ Buffalo Bills 6-2
Well, Seattle’s secondary basically told me to piss off for two and a half quarters. Maybe it was more on Jimmy G than the defense showing up, but still. Jimmy G could only muster 84 yards on 11 completions midway through the third. That’s pretty impressive to hold any starting quarterback to that few of yards. Then Mullins comes in and shows everyone that this defense in Seattle really is suspect. Giving up three touchdown drives to a backup quarterback better inspire some of these guys to look in the mirror. The defensive unit is being carried right now. The fewest yards allowed to one receiver is 80. Just 80 yards to Adam Thielen in a game where the Vikings ran for over 200 yards in a one point victory for Seattle. This defense has given up the sixth most plays of 25 or more yards. Josh Allen and Diggs love balling deep, so this could be a problem.
Has Josh Allen looked good these past three weeks? Two out of those three he couldn’t pass for more than 155 yards. And that other game was the Jets game, where they needed to make a comeback. But he did lead his team in rushing two out of three games. I can’t stress enough, this team needs a competent running game to be able to move far in the playoffs. Defenses are able to adjust and disguise their coverages, and that is leading to exposing Josh Allen a little bit. With his “gun slinger” mentality, he will push the ball when need be. That is leading to him throwing more interceptions. In the first four weeks, his TD/INT ratio was 12/1, meanwhile in the last four games it’s 4/4. Like I said, maybe it says more to the defenses making the proper adjustments and Allen just failing to see it, or maybe it’s just a part of his learning process. What if at any point he makes the proper adjustments and becomes what we saw early on when he was a MVP candidate. I mean, this is the defense to make you look good, just ask Nick Mullins.
Overall you are going to see a quality football game I believe. My favorite matchup will be White covering Metcalf. We saw against Arizona that he is capable of a bad game, but it’s hard to cover both of these great receivers for Seattle. I also expect Chris Carson to return for this game, in hopes of adding another dynamic. The Buffalo defense is middle of the pack right now but they have shown improvements these past two weeks. Ultimately, though, it won’t be enough to stop the machine that are these Seahawks. They appear to be the best team in the NFC even if they aren’t the most complete. I’m taking the 2.5 – Go Birds!
Chicago Bears (5-3) @ Tennessee Titans (5-2) -6
Chicago is coming in 5-3 ATS and they are getting a decently high spread of six. Nick Foles threw for his season high last week with just 272 yards – Oh! And I might add he continued his streak of throwing an interception at least once a game. Seriously, he has thrown and INT in every single game he has played. I feel like at some point you get lucky but damn, he just isn’t looking all that great. To make matters worse, they only have him available because Trubisky has injured his shoulder. It just happened to be the only snap he got on that game. Yet somehow with poor quarterback play across the board, they have a winning record and a solid shot to make the playoffs. Chicago is 8th when it comes to points against thanks to a solid defensive unit. Khalil Mack is 4th in sacks, and the unit, as a whole, is carrying this team. If only someone on that roster could throw a proper deep ball. Tennessee is 27th against the pass, so the opportunity is there. If Foles can get hot, look out! He could be the streakiest QB ever. Do I think that starts now?
Tennessee took a tough loss last week to the Cincinnati Bengals. Cincinnati was able to string together these long drives and keep that stellar offense off the field. Maybe that’s the recipe for success against them? Because we know that it’s about to be Derrick Henry’s time. His yards per carry over his career in the month of November is 5.87. The dude loves to run in the cold weather and the Titans have zero problems giving him the rock. He opens the door for Tannehill to be tactical rather than forceful with the ball. A.J. Brown is a locked in number one, but Corey Davis has been having himself a year. The fifth overall pick in the 2017 draft might finally breakout. His catch rate is at a career high, he is one touchdown away from tying a career high, and ultimately has been very consistent week in and week out. But Tennessee on the year is 2-5 ATS.
This really is a tough one to call for me. My initial reaction is that I think Tennessee can win by a touchdown, so six gives me one point of wiggle room., but then I saw that Tennessee has only won by six points once. Chicago could click at any minute and we have seen the defense in Tennessee fail them before. So I’m actually going to take Chicago on this at +6.
Baltimore Ravens 5-2 (-2.5) @ Indianapolis Colts 5-2
This line tells me that Vegas still believes that this offense is good. Because why else would they be the favorite on the road, after a tough divisional loss. I don’t care what anyone says, but those divisional rivalries take an extra toll on players. Lamar Jackson looked suspect again in the passing game. He even admitted it at a press conference when referring to Hollywood Browns deleted tweet regarding his frustrations. “That’s one of our key players to our offense,” Jackson said Wednesday. “I want to get him the ball, the easiest way and fastest way we can. I have to do a better job of getting it to him.” Jackson has had a completion rate under 67% five out of seven games. He also ranks fourth among quarterback for fumbles lost this season. He just lost one of the best offensive guards in the league, who was that anchor on the line – Ronnie Staley is not someone you just replace. At least Dobbins and Edwards looked good, so Lamar still had a run game to lean on. I’m not seeing a lot to inspire confidence, though.
Indianapolis on the other hand has lit a fire under Rivers’ ass. He has thrown six touchdowns to just one interceptions these past two games. In the comeback win against Cincinnati, he proved he could ball a little bit with a 372 yard performance. It’s refreshing to see, especially since it’s not nice to watch Johnathan Taylor. I had all the faith in him, but his production just isn’t what we all expected. This is the best O-line in the league, but it just seems he isn’t having the big games. He is still 15th in rushing attempts and that is with a buy, yet he is 37th in YPC. Now he has a slight ankle injury so we don’t even know if he will play. This could be another game where Rivers has to put the team on his back. The defense is still second in yards allowed and fifth in points allowed. Rivers is also still undefeated at home I might add.
The Colts defense is actually third to last when it comes to blitz percentage. Yet they are top ten in hurry percentage so that means the front four is making life bad for quarterbacks. If they can get a solid rush with just 4-5, allowing linebackers to spy their best on Lamar, and forcing him to throw on the run. Yet, that’s kind of where he excels. This really is a toss up to me, but the fact that this game is in Indianapolis, it gives them the edge for me – Take Colts +2.5.
Miami Dolphins 4-3 @ Arizona Cardinals 5-2 (-4.5)
The Miami freaking Dolphins are second in the AFC East and ahead of the Patriots. Now some will say this is just a typical Dolphins team that is getting lucky a couple games a year, “they will lose eventually” is all I ever can hear when people talk about Miami. The defense may of given up a crap ton of passing yards last week, but they got very timely turnovers and stops. They had two defensive touchdowns and forced four turnovers total. One huge credit to this defense is they’re number one in points against this season. I’d bet no one thought that at the beginning of the season. You can also credit them with the only shutout on the year. Now the defense has shown holes, but the biggest hole on the team may be the offense. Tua may have gotten the win, but he didn’t look all that great. The longest drive he could put together was just 33 yards, and it was after an interception so the momentum was in his favor. He couldn’t muster up more than 93 total yards all game and that scares me. Fitzpatrick has shown that this offense has the talent to produce, it just needs someone to elevate that talent around them.
Kyler on the other hand is trying to show people that he is the real deal, and that not all Oklahoma quarterbacks are bad. His ability to scramble has been key though. He leads the league in YPC and has more rushing yards than Kamara, Mixon, Aaron Jones, and Lamar. The defensives are showing, just like last year with Lamar, that scheming against mobile QBs is hard. Especially one that can easily hide behind his line and have the quickness to change speeds and gain extra yards. I also want to credit the fact that he has the best slide amongst all QBs. That will help his longevity down the road I hope, because he’s enjoyable to watch. Hopkins is proving that he can succeed no matter who gets him the ball. We have all seen the clip of Kyler seeing the single coverage, and then smiling because he knows D-Hop is coming down with this ball no matter what. He leads the league in receptions and yards, even though he isn’t the leader in targets. His ability to get separation is elite. His hands are maybe his best asset and overall is proving to be the key for this offense. Kirk is able to work the field with less pressure and assume the number two role he truly is meant for. Kenyan Drake is out with an ankle injury, but it’s seeming to be less serious than anticipated. Edmunds has done stellar with his opportunities. He’s able to run the ball sparingly, but also gives them the ability to throw to the running back. The offense can be more versatile and I think Kliff likes the offense a little better with Edmunds in as well.
I mean, after seeing that comeback win from Arizona against Seattle, how can I not pick them? They are coming off the bye and have had two weeks to study their best on Tua. Allow the team to rest and get their legs back under them. Teams are 9-5 after the bye this year, and 8-6 ATS. Some of those are situational, but there is data that suggests that the bye helps. I like the Cardinals to win here. I think the Arizona defense holds up, forces two interceptions, and Kyler leads the offense to victory – Take Cardinals -4.5.
New Orleans Saints 5-2 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6-2 (-4.5)
The Saints are surprisingly getting 55% of the bets according to the Action Network. Traditionally, Drew is a little bit worse away from the dome, but it’s almost so close you can just call it normal. He is also going to be getting back Michael Thomas as he has been nursing multiple soft tissue injuries this season. To have that security blanket will make Brees’ life so much easier. Not saying Sanders and Smith haven’t been doing a good job, but neither of them are close to his talent. Alvin Kamara should be getting all the game balls for all the work this man is putting in. He is second in receptions in the league, he ranks third in total touchdowns among running backs, and is at the top of the league in overall usage. The team is still top ten in points per game and yards per game offensively. This seems to be the cog that just keeps chugging along.
Even with that being said, they really haven’t done anything to impress me. Last week it took OT to beat Chicago, a comeback win in OT against the Chargers, and tough losses to the Packers and Raiders. They beat Tampa, week one, but I almost want to throw it away, because it’s not the same Tampa team we’ve seen the past few weeks.
The AB era is officially here in Tampa. As much as Bruce wants to take credit for the signing, we all know that Tom knows the talent and knows he can help get him on track. Plus he loves separation and that’s AB’s specialty. Godwin is looking to be back for this game, as well, but I’d expect both to have limited roles. Evans should draw the Humphrey treatment so I expect a bad game for Evans. I will honestly take the under on his yards if it’s anything over 60. The Bucs defense didn’t look all that great early on Monday. That stopped a three game streak of giving up 20 points or less. Secretly, I think it was a mental thing with Tom and the Giants. The spirits at be will haunt him, even in Tampa it seems. That has to explain that loss to Nick Foles, as well, because I’m still baffled. They are going to need to be stout in the rushing defense and getting that pressure. Drew gets the ball out quick, but you know it’ll be short. Get in his grill and make him look off his first read. Who better than Suh, Barret, and JPP to do that?
The fact that the public is on NO, makes me want to lean into Tampa even more. Call me weird, but I don’t always like siding with the public. There is a reason Vegas is successful, am I right? Plus there has to be some vengeance pulsing through Tom. He knows that he needs to split this matchup to really help their playoff chances. Arians vs Payton is fun for a divisional rivalry. Give me Arians and the Bucs to cover the 4.5!