NOTE: Use this as your open thread to discuss today’s games.
The winning streak is over. 7-8 last week. It’s becoming official now that I will no longer change picks between when this posts on Thursday and when games kick off on Sunday regardless of injury news that comes out. I’ve only done that twice this year and I changed the pick from a win to a loss both times. No more.
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.
ARIZONA (+1.5) over Denver
Josh Rosen has been better than the numbers would indicate due to his poor receiving corps and offensive line. In Rosen’s three starts, the Cardinals have lost but have been significantly more competitive than they were with Sam Bradford. The talent of the Arizona defense has also started to creep through — they’re 10th in defensive DVOA. Denver is a team that has seen its defense start to fall off despite its superstars and the offense under Case Keenum has not inspired much confidence.
[NOTE: Broncos 45, Cardinals 10 — Well, looks like the week didn’t start very well.]
CHARGERS (-6.5) over Tennessee
Just don’t bet on the Titans. They make no sense. When you think they’re good, they’re bad. When you think they’re bad, they’re good. Meanwhile, the Chargers are actually good. They have one of the best offenses in the league — third in standard down success rate and fourth in big play rate — with a defense that’s finally starting to catch on.
New England (-3) over CHICAGO
It was just a few weeks ago when many were asking if the Patriots were in trouble. That was fun. The Patriots are still the Patriots and that means they should be able to find ways to score on the league’s best defense, even on the road. Even the New England defense is just below average — 19th in DVOA — instead of among the league’s worst like it was last season.
Cleveland (+3) over TAMPA BAY
Firing Mike Smith as defensive coordinator was the last line of defense for Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter. The Bucs have the worst defense in the league by just about any metric imaginable and the Browns offense has started to click with Baker Mayfield. I feel more comfortable with the Cleveland offense scoring on the Tampa Bay defense than the Tampa offense scoring on the Cleveland defense (sixth in defensive DVOA). 2018 is weird, man.
PHILADELPHIA (-4.5) over Carolina
The Panthers are either the league’s worst good team or the league’s best bad team. Either way, they’re an enigma where the whole doesn’t always equal the sum of its parts. Philadelphia has been getting better on both side of the ball as the season has progressed. They’ll look more like the team we expected by the end of the year than they have to date. A home win over Carolina would be a good continuation after a win against the Vikings and a blowout of the Giants.
Minnesota (-3) over JETS
Minnesota is still weird. They’re only 21st in DVOA, but the offense is starting to catch on — at least through the air. An alarming number of Jets haven’t practiced this week, which isn’t a good outlook for Sunday even if some of them do get on the field.
Detroit (-2.5) over MIAMI
The Dolphins should have lost to the Bears, Don’t let that game fool you, they didn’t play particularly well. Detroit also hasn’t been very good this season, but they’re not starting Brock Osweiler and the bigger the sample we get of Brock Osweiler at quarterback, the more likely it is that he actually looks like Brock Osweiler at quarterback.
INDIANAPOLIS (-7.5) over Buffalo
The Bills are so scared to start Nathan Peterson — who won their quarterback competition in the preseason — they’re starting Derek Anderson, who has been on the team for a week. Buffalo isn’t even hilariously bad anymore, it’s just kind of sad. Maybe still a little funny.
JACKSONVILLE (-5) over Houston
Jacksonville’s defensive line hasn’t been as dominant as it was last season — they only ninth in defensive pressure rate — but if there’s a team to face to turn that around, it’s the Houston Texans.
Total Quarterback Hits allowed through Week 6:— Johnny Kinsley (@Brickwallblitz) October 17, 2018
CAR, DET: 18
MIA, TEN, WAS: 28
BAL, NE: 29
JAX, SEA: 36
ARI, KC: 37
DAL, GB: 38
IND, NYG: 40
DEN, SF: 42
ATL, CLE: 49
The Jags got carved up by the Cowboys last week, but it’s hard to imagine that defense allowing big plays two weeks in a row.
New Orleans (+2.5) over BALTIMORE
Baltimore has one of the best defenses in the league, while the Saints have one of the best offenses. In these matchups, even outdoors, the offense usually has the advantage. Though the other side of the ball might decide the matchup. New Orleans’s defense has been bad and the Baltimore offense has been ok at times. This game should probably be closer to a pick’em, so let’s take the points.
Dallas (+2) over WASHINGTON
These two teams have shown at any point they could look quite good or quite bad. It doesn’t even make sense when. Washington was playing pretty well until they ran into the Saints. Dallas was underwhelming until they tore up the Jacksonville defense. Again, these teams are pretty even 20th (Dallas) and 22nd (Washington) in DVOA, so we’ll take the slightly better team on the road with the points.
Rams (-9.5) over SAN FRANCISCO
A C.J. Beathard-led 49ers team made a Monday night shootout against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers really fun. But the Rams aren’t the Packers. This is an offense that’s first in yards per drive by a significant margin (nearly seven yards above No. 2 Kansas City) and it’s going to be much harder for the 49ers to get themselves into a shootout against the LA defense, even as that defense is still shaping up to what it’s supposed to be.
KANSAS CITY (-6) over Cincinnati
There’s no more doubting the Patrick Mahomes-Andy Reid duo. If there’s a way a team could come out looking better after a loss, the Chiefs did that last Sunday night in New England. After a rough first half, the Chiefs made adjustments and got back in the game late. This pick isn’t a dig at Cincinnati — they’re pretty good (12th in DVOA) — but Kansas City is bordering on great (first in DVOA).
ATLANTA (-5.5) over Giants
As usual, there will be a ton of coverage for this game on the site, so to keep it brief — what about the Giants season so far would cause you to pick them here?
Last week: 7-8