[Note: use this as your Sunday non-Giants open thread for discussion]
The streak of weeks over .500 has hit two! The season total, still not so much. We’ll get there, maybe.
Remember these picks are strictly for fun and entertainment purposes and please for your sake do not take these picks as gambling advice. Lines used here come from the Westgate Las Vegas via OddsShark. Home team in CAPS.
Philadelphia (-3) over GIANTS
[Update: this was a win]
Arizona (+10.5) over MINNESOTA
Minnesota has been surprisingly disappointing on defense and it’s cost them a few games. Arizona is finally coming around on defense — eighth in DVOA — whether the coaching is coming around to the talent on hand or that talent is starting to succeed in spite of the coaching. Josh Rosen has been impressive in his brief stint a starting quarterback and while the Cardinals probably don’t win, maybe they can keep it a little closer than expected.
HOUSTON (-9.5) over Buffalo
I don’t trust Bill O’Brien and the Texans to be favored by almost double digits against anyone, but I trust whatever is going on in Buffalo even less, even with their two weird wins this season. Flaws of quarterback rating aside, Josh Allen is the league’s second-lowest-rated passer inside the pocket and the lowest-rated-passer outside the pocket. He’s been sacked on 13.5 percent of his drop backs and he’s going up against J.J. Watt, Jadaveon Clowney, and the rest of the Houston defensive line.
ATLANTA (-3.5) over Tampa Bay
These two teams are basically different versions of the same thing. Atlanta ranks 11th in offensive DVOA and 31st in defensive DVOA. Tampa Bay is eighth on offense and 32nd on defense. What we don’t really know yet, though, is what the Tampa Bay offense looks like now with Jameis Winston at quarterback. It was never going to sustain its Ryan Fitzpatrick levels, so the change had to be made, but if the offense can’t keep up the high scoring efforts, they won’t have a chance against the Falcons.
WASHINGTON (-1) over Carolina
Washington’s Monday night performance in New Orleans was… something. Heading into the game, Washington had been an efficient offense and a really good defense. Neither was the case on Monday. But there is a three-game sample of that being the case and a four-game sample of Carolina being just fine. I’ll take the larger sample of good, but who knows.
[Sunday morning update: With Washington’s injuries, changing this pick and using the Sunday morning line of Carolina (-1)].
Indianapolis (+2.5) over JETS
The Colts will be without T.Y. Hilton and Jack Doyle against the Jets, but without them, they were still able to put up 24 points against the Patriots last week. The Jets are a much better defense than the Patriots — sixth in DVOA to 19th — but the Colts also have a surprisingly good defense — 13th in DVOA — that can hold a Jets offense that has struggled this season.
CINCINNATI (-2.5) over Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh finally looked like Pittsburgh against Atlanta, but they haven’t looked like that at any other point in the season. And in a sentence I didn’t think would be written at any point in 2018, the Bengals are a better team than the Falcons. Cincinnati has a legitimately good offense and a defense that’s coming along with pieces to like. With this game in Cincinnati, we can give the advantage to the Bengals.
Chargers (-1) over CLEVELAND
The Browns are No. 2 in defensive DVOA. Let that sink in for a second. They’ve been able to get pressure and the coverage has been excellent — especially rookie Denzel Ward. However, they have a league-worst special teams unit and an offense that has promise with Baker Mayfield but is still a work in progress. The Chargers defense is improving and they still have one of the best offenses in the league.
Chicago (-3) over MIAMI
Over the first few weeks of the season, Miami crept out to a good start but the team has started to show its true level over the pas few weeks. The defense is still top five by DVOA, but it was picked apart by the Patriots and Bengals over the past two weeks. We’ll see if Chicago can keep up the offensive power they showed against the Buccaneers in Week 4. It’s hard to expect the Dolphins offense to do nearly enough against the Bears defense if that is the case.
Seattle (-3) over OAKLAND
Seahawks-Rams games are always strange. Years ago it was the Rams who would play spoiler when the Seahawks were the clear better team, but last week it was the other way around. Overall Seattle has been fine. The defense has flashes and the offense does too when there’s time. Oakland has been a mess pretty much all season and in no way would I ever feel comfortable taking them, even at home.
Rams (-7) over DENVER
The Rams are so very good at football. Even if they’re without Copper Kupp or Brandin Cooks or both, they still have capable receivers to fill in like Josh Reynolds, who would probably see more time on the field for just about any other team in the league. A not 100 percent Rams team is still probably the best team in the league.
Baltimore (-3) over TENNESSEE
As confusing as Baltimore’s overtime loss to Cleveland was, no team has been more confusing this season than the Tennessee Titans. At times they’ve been quite good and others — like a 13-12 loss to Buffalo — they’ve been quite bad. The Ravens have the been unit by far in this game — a great defense — which should give them the advantage in this game.
Jacksonville (-3) over DALLAS
One team has Blake Bortles as the quarterback and an injured No. 4 overall pick and that’s not the team with players revolting over how poor the offense has played this season. That would be the Cowboys, who have been calling out scheme and play-calling. Not ideal. Jacksonville’s defense hasn’t been as good as it was last season, but it’s plenty good enough to stop the Cowboys from scoring points.
Kansas City (+3.5) over NEW ENGLAND
All we should hope for is this game to be super fun. It has that potential. This game kind of has to be a shootout for the Chiefs to win — they’re second in offensive DVOA and 28th on defense — but they should be able to pull that out. New England’s defense has been better than it was last year, though they’ve yet to face something as schematically sound as the Kansas City offense.
GREEN BAY (-9.5) over San Francisco
I don’t feel particularly good about this. It’s either a frustratingly underperforming Packers team or a a 49ers team led by C.J. Beathard and without Matt Brieda. This is a bet on Aaron Rodgers against a young San Francisco defense that’s 25th in points allowed per drive.
Last week: 8-7