Destined to finish .500 with these picks. After a 9-7 week got us two games over, a 7-9 week got us right back to even. Here’s hoping this week pulls ahead again. If that trend continues, we’ll be up after Week 17, so maybe not the worst thing.
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.
Chargers (+3.5) over KANSAS CITY
Both teams will be missing their running backs on Thursday night, but with it impacting both sides, it doesn’t really matter. There’s still plenty of great receiving options in the game and there’s still going to be a lot of passing. The Chiefs are first in big play rate, the Chargers are fourth. There’s going to be a lot of points and a lot of fun in this game.
Houston (-6) over JETS
Houston’s defense is sixth in yards allowed per drive and third in points allowed per drive. Nothing about the 2018 Jets offense suggests it will be able to move the ball on that unit. Sam Darnold has no offensive line or anyone to throw to and now has the second-highest interception rate in the league.
Cleveland (+3) over DENVER
There might not be many points in this game. Denver ranks fourth in defensive DVOA and Cleveland is 10th. Gregg Williams knows what DVOA is and looks at it favorably, so I have to reevaluate every thought I’ve ever had. The Broncos defensive ranking is from a healthy unit that just isn’t healthy anymore with Chris Harris out and more banged up.
CHICAGO (-6) over Green Bay
The Bears might have the one defense that really matters this season and they were able to shut down the Rams’ offense last Sunday night. For the Packers, scoring at will against a terrible Falcons defense will be a little different than trying to score against the Bears’ D.
Miami (+7) over MINNESOTA
Neither of these teams is good, but one didn’t just fire their offensive coordinator because they don’t run the ball enough, even though they’re 31st in rushing efficiency. Miami is a better run defense than pass defense this season, so if that’s going to be the game plan, good luck.
BUFFALO (-2.5) over Detroit
If Josh Allen could throw the ball, he’d be unstoppable. Allen has been running the ball at will over the past few games and it’s done enough for the offense that the defense — second in DVOA — can hold down opponents. Detroit has been better over the past few weeks, but still isn’t particularly good at any one area of the game.
ATLANTA (-8.5) over Arizona
Atlanta can still score and has top-10 special teams by DVOA, but a league-worst defense. Arizona is fine on defense and special teams, but has a league-worst offense. That shifts the advantage to the Falcons, who might be able to win this game with 10 points, though they should score way more than that.
Oakland (+3) over CINCINNATI
This is going to be one of those games Scott Hanson apologizes for when Red Zone has to switch to it. The less we think about it, the better off we all are.
Tennessee (+2.5) over GIANTS
There’s no more confusing team this season than the Titans, but they’re still the best overall team the Giants have seen since the bye. I might change my mind before we do our staff picks later in the week. I really have no idea.
JACKSONVILLE (-7) over Washington
Josh Johnson came as a surprise to the Giants’ defense when he entered, but the Jaguars will have the advantage of knowing he will start. They have the speed at linebacker to take away the scrambles and option plays and there’s not really much else in the Washington offense worth defending. This game might be lower scoring than the Jags-Titans game two weeks ago.
INDIANAPOLIS (-3) over Dallas
The Cowboys have been on a hot streak, but so have the Colts and for a longer amount of time. Yes, there was the Jacksonville game, but they’re coming off an impressive win against the Texans, who are still a better team than the Cowboys. The Colts are 10th in yards per drive and eighth in points per drive on offense and don’t really rely on speed outside of T.Y. Hilton. The Colts can tight end you to death up the middle and that’s where the Dallas defense has struggled the most — 18th in DVOA against opposing tight ends.
Seattle (-4.5) over SAN FRANCISCO
The Seahawks are ninth in offensive DVOA, 15th on defense, and eighth on special teams. The 49ers are none of those things — 22nd in defensive DVOA is their best ranking. Seattle is coming around as a team where if one thing isn’t working in a given game, the other can beat you. And while they’re focusing on the run, Russell Wilson can still win more often with his arm. It’s a team where a lot of things are going right at a good time.
New England (-2) over PITTSBURGH
This is a pretty evenly matched game with both teams coming off bad losses. The offenses should be able to score, though Pittsburgh hasn’t really looked like the Steelers should over the past few weeks. New England’s loss in Miami was definitely flukier than the road egg we expect from the Steelers at least once a year. The Patriots should come in as the slightly better team, which might be all that’s needed to come out with a close win.
RAMS (-11) over Philadelphia
The 2018 Eagles didn’t look like the 2017 Eagles with Carson Wentz, so there’s little to convince me they’re going to look like the 2017 Eagles with Nick Foles. Philadelphia’s defense is also nowhere near Chicago’s, so the points parade is going to continue for the Rams offense.
New Orleans (-6.5) over CAROLINA
Steve Wilks leaving Carolina to take the head coaching job in Arizona is the rare move that made both teams worse. The Panthers are 27th in defensive DVOA and 29th against the pass. That’s not enough to even hang close with New Orleans, never mind beat them.
Last week: 7-9