IND (5-3) @ TEN (6-2) / TEN -2.5
- This is a game that will likely go a long way in deciding who wins the AFC South. Surprisingly in our eyes the line on this game as the week has progressed has been trending in favor of the Colts. While we realize that this is a tougher test than the Bears for the Titans, we still believe that the Titans have the advantage offensively. While the Colts also have a respectable defense they are not as consistent or imposing as some other defensive units. To be fair, there is a high likelihood that this series will be split between these two teams where the home team gets each respective win. If you could tell us that Rivers will play mistake free football then we would be much more inclined to take the Colts especially with the return of T.Y. Hilton vs an underperforming Titans defense. However, Rivers and the WR group for the Colts have underperformed all year long. For that reason we are going with the trio of Tannehill, Henry, and A.J. Brown to be the difference makers on Thursday as Tennessee escapes with a close win.
HOU (2-6) @ CLE (5-3) / CLE -3.5
- The Texans are coming off their 2nd win of the season, but let's keep in mind it was vs the Jaguars with the usual defensive struggles coming up yet again for Houston. Pairing this with the fact that Nick Chubb likely returns for the Browns this week and another defensive failure seems likely for Houston. On paper the Browns have an advantage practically at almost every position compared to Houston other than of course ,QB. Baker has struggled with consistency all year long while Watson has continuously kept his team in games despite other unfavorable factors. And while usually we focus on the QB matchup in games, we believe this is a situation where Houston has too many other insufficiencies to be able to get the win outright. However, taking into account that Baker could very well fail to impress while Watson can produce some big plays in a crunch with pieces like Cooks and Fuller, we like the Texans on the spread.
WAS (2-6) @ DET (3-5) / DET -4.5
- It is officially Alex Smith time in Washington following the injury to Kyle Allen last week. As crazy as it sounds though we actually think this is the QB that gives Washington the best chance to win. Yes, we realize that Smith is coming off his own career altering injury, but he is also extremely experienced and very good at avoiding turnovers. For the Lions we expect Matthew Stafford to play but Detroit will likely still be without their top weapon in Kenny Golladay. Even with that being the case however, we think that Stafford and the fact that he has more than just a few quarters of game play in 2020 so far give the Lions the offensive advantage. The tipping point in this matchup however will be the defensive performance of each team, where Washington holds the extreme advantage. For that reason, we are going out on a limb and predicting that Washington pulls off the upset vs Detroit as this is a great matchup for Alex Smith defensively and we know he won't put his team in inopportune situations.
JAX (1-7) @ GB (6-2) / GB -13.5
- Thankfully this is one of the easier games to predict on the week. The Jaguars have an absolutely awful defense and the trio of Rodgers, Jones, and Adams should all have stellar outings. While the Packers have their own issues defensively, especially vs the rush, we think James Robinson will only be able to do so much and at some point the Jaguars will be forced to abandon the run as they will likely need to throw to catch up. If that is the case, it will fall on the shoulders of rookie Jake Luton for Jacksonville and this GB defense is not as generous as that of the Houston Texans. Simply put, the Packers are the better team from top to bottom and you've got Rodgers vs Luton. Translation, go with the Packers confidently.
PHI (3-4-1) @ NYG (2-7) / NYG +3.5
- Don't look now but all of a sudden the Eagles are starting to get some of their WR's back from injury. In this case that includes guys like Alshon Jeffery and Jalen Reagor, which should definitely help out Wentz a bit. But maybe even more crucial for the Eagles is that they are tentatively expected to get Miles Sanders back as well which will provide a big boost to their rushing attack. For the Giants not much has changed, they continue to only be able to beat Washington and Daniel Jones is still a liability when it comes to turnovers. Favorably for them though they have played their divisional opponents close all year and Wentz has been rather generous himself when it comes to turnovers. We don't expect the return of Devonta Freeman to be a big factor for NYG as Gallman has filled in respectably during his absence. The way we are approaching this game is we feel relatively confident in taking the Eagles outright. But when it comes to the spread and considering that this will be the first game back for a lot of Philadelphia players, so they might be limited initially, we are taking the Giants on the spread.
TB (6-3) @ CAR (3-6) / CAR +5.5
- The Bucs got absolutely embarrassed last week vs the Saints, but lucky for them now they get a much more manageable opponent in the Panthers who will be without Christian McCaffrey yet again. Additionally, we don't expect the Bucs to fail to score a single TD again and Tom Brady will undoubtedly have a bounce back game. Giving credit to the Panthers though they are coming off a loss where they pushed the Chiefs to the brink as they continue to prove that they will not just roll over even though they aren't quite good enough to be contenders. The first time these two teams played TB won by 14 and we have to say we expect a similar result just with not as huge of a margin of victory. The Bucs have the better defense, the better offense, and the better matchups in this game so outright this is a relatively simple pick. The spread is where it's interesting as we can see the Panthers keep it close but at the same time the number is still less than a TD so we will take the Bucs there too.
BUF (7-2) @ ARI (5-3) / ARI -1.5
- Huge win for the Bills last week as they took advantage of a porous Seattle defense and in all honesty they have a chance to do so yet again vs the Cardinals. Arizona is coming off a tough loss to the Dolphins, but favorably for them Kyler Murray continues to play at a very high level every week and keeps his team in games. In all likelihood this could be the highest scoring game of the week when you consider the two QB's involved. In our eyes Josh Allen has the better group of weapons and the slightly better defense, especially at the secondary level, so we have to give the slight edge to the Bills. This game is essentially a pick'em at this point in time as it is admittedly practically a coin flip and we can see both teams winning. The best advice here would be to probably take the over on the points and whoever you like outright to take them on the spread too, for us that's the Bills.
DEN (3-5) @ LV (5-3) / LV -4.5
- An underrated divisional clash this could be a very competitive game. The Broncos have the necessary offensive weapons to keep pace with the Raiders and even potentially upset them. The Raiders on the other side are the slightly more consistent team and have the more efficient QB play. This is also a decent matchup for Josh Jacobs which could bring some life into the LV rushing attack and take pressure off the passing attack which is void of a true #1 WR. We expect a back and forth game here overall and while we do like the Raiders outright we don't see a blowout as a likely scenario. For that reason we will roll with the Broncos on the spread as the Raiders on average win by about a 7 point margin and when you take the familiarity of these two teams into account that number could fall by 3-4 points.
LAC (2-6) @ MIA (5-3) / MIA -2.5
- The Chargers yet again found themselves in a gut wrenching, final second loss last week despite the good play of Justin Herbert. While in the meantime Miami is now 2-0 under Tua with some big help from their defense along the way. In truth, I'm not sure how you can pick the Chargers in this game. Yes, Herbert has a few more games played than Tua and has aired it out more successfully, but this is a team that can not put together a full 4 quarters of play. I do think the Chargers have the better offense, but the way the Miami defense has played I'll give them the edge as this will likely be a very close game so an advantage like that will be crucial. On top of this, we expect Tua to continue to get better little by little so we are rolling with the Dolphins outright and on the spread.
CIN (2-5-1) @ PIT (8-0) / PIT -7.5
- The only way the Steelers lose this game will be if Big Ben doesn't play due to COVID procedures, but the initial expectation is that he will be available. The Steelers have owned this series and we don't see that changing all of a sudden this year. This will be the toughest defense Joe Burrow has faced all year and without much expected help from his rushing attack this will be a long day for the rookie. For Pittsburgh even though they got a scare from Dallas last week we know they are much better than that and we should get a reminder of it vs this below average Cincinnati defense. Overall, this is just a much better matchup all around for the Steelers and the experience of Big Ben especially in a divisional clash like this will only further help the Steelers.
SEA (6-2) @ LAR (5-3) / LAR -1.5
- Another divisional clash as the Seahawks look to bounce back from their loss to the Bills while the Rams are fresh off a bye week. Like we've said before this matchup in particular within the NFC West has been one where the Rams can be a huge nuisance for the Seahawks and regularly play them close or even split the series. In fact, the Rams are currently favored but to be fair it's not by much which means this game is essentially being treated as a pick'em. We think most people would agree that the Seahawks are the better offense and have the better QB, but it's been the play of their defense primarily that has caused them issues. In large part, that's why we can see this game being a shootout as both teams have two great WR's that can open things up in the passing game. But we do expect a bounce back performance from Russell Wilson in particular here as he was plagued by turnovers last week and is usually a much smarter QB. This will be a very tight game with both teams undoubtedly having a chance to win late and in that scenario we are riding with Wilson and Seattle.
SF (4-5) @ NO (6-2) / NO -9.5
- As expected the 49ers struggled mightily without their top two offensive players in Garoppolo and Kittle last week. And unfortunately for SF this will be the case for the time being and probably for the rest of the year. Now, the 49ers have to travel to New Orleans and play a Saints team that is finally at full health offensively and plays the rush very well defensively. When you pair this with the fact that it will be Mullens vs Brees we feel like we don't need to say all that much more here. Yes, the 49ers could get guys like Samuel, Aiuyk and Bourne back but the upside is limited due to the inconsistencies of Mullens. For that reason we like the Saints in a game that could turn into a blowout similar to what we saw when SF played GB last week.
BAL (6-2) @ NE (3-5) / NE +6.5
- Nice win for the Patriots where their offense looked decent, but like we said last week that was likely a mirage as it came vs the Jets. When you consider that the Patriots were down the entire game pretty much, it's even more concerning. On the flip side, the Ravens earned a tough victory over the Colts and despite Lamar Jackson struggling the Ravens should be able to win this game. Defensively is where they hold the true advantage as we believe Baltimore will cause a game long headache for Cam Newton. Pair that with the difficulty of defending a rushing QB like Jackson and we think the Ravens can win this game by right around 10 points. It likely won't be all that high scoring as both offenses have struggled this year but the Ravens are unquestionably the better overall team.
MIN (3-5) @ CHI (5-4) / CHI +2.5
- We continue to see two very familiar things from both of these teams, for the Vikings it's a dominant showing from Dalvin Cook while for the Bears it's an inept offense. However, as bad as the Bears have been they have actually been surprisingly decent vs the Lions and Vikings these last few years. Combine this with the fact that the Bears defense likely slows down Dalvin Cook and that means Kirk Cousins will have to beat this great defense. When it comes down to that, plain and simple we don't like the odds for the Vikings. And yes we realize that the Bears are absolutely awful offensively and Foles is a backup QB at best but this Vikings defense will present opportunities for success for Chicago. In all likelihood this is a close, low scoring game and when that's the case give us the Bears in a classic, ugly Chicago win.
- GB, TB, NO, BAL