So it’s the day of my trip to Wembley, but I just have time (I hope) to get up my picks for week eight and have a stab at the trivia question.
‘What is Browns’ coach Paul Brown credited with inventing?’
Now, as a Bengals fan, who were the second NFL team founded by Paul Brown, I’m aware of a few innovations that Paul Brown was responsible for including team building with being the first coach to use timed forty yard dashes, the first communication to a player’s helmets, but I think what 3D is after with an in invention with the Browns is the creation of the draw play.
As for the theme, we’re still floating round early NFL, but I’ve already tried TWF teams, pre-merger, and the centenary year – I’m blanking on a new one and I am sure I’m going to kick myself when one of us eventually get it right or we get put out of our misery. It might well be the latter at our current rate.
‘I’m thrown by the word ‘Invented’ in this question, and the fact that he’s specifically said that it’s a question about the Browns. My first instinct is to say ‘the Cincinnati Bengals’ as I think he founded them but again, the word ‘invent’ doesn’t really apply. But that’s pretty much all I know about the fella so it’s going to be a guess… Did he invent shoulder pads or something like that? I’ll go with that.
Only possible idea at the minute for theme is first round draft picks, so I’ll go for that too.’
Seahawks @ Falcons (+4.5)
The Seattle Seahawks will be looking to bounce back from last week’s loss to the Ravens and this is the perfect spot to do it as the Falcons were struggling before Matt Ryan got injured and so with Ryan sitting out this game and the Falcons having the league’s twenty-ninth ranked defence by DVOA – I am going to pick the Seahawks in this one.
Gee’s Pick: Seahawks
Dan’s Pick: Seahawks
Eagles @ Bills (-1.5)
I am a little confused by this line as the Philadelphia Eagles lost badly last week to the Cowboys, are on the road in Buffalo to face a Bills team who have only lost one game so far this season. Now to be fair, the Eagles do actually rate as the better team by DVOA even after their loss to the Cowboys dropped them from eighth to fifteenth, whilst the Bills rank twenty-first, but I fancy the Bills to edge this one out given the Eagles injuries.
Gee’s Pick: Bills
Dan’s Pick: Bills
Chargers @ Bears (-4.5)
This is a tough game to call because the Chargers are really struggling with injuries and had to find whole new ways to lose a close game to the Titans last week. They take on a Bears’ team who are struggling due to the apparent failure of Mitch Trubisky to develop, although they are 3-3 so it’s not a disaster. The Bears are only 6.4% better by DVOA and I’m not sure they should be giving away this many points so I’m going to grab them, but I don’t exactly feel great about it.
Gee’s Pick: Chargers
Dan’s Pick: Bears
Bengals @ Rams (-12.5)
So I will be at this game, which is still an exciting thing to say even if the Bengals have been anything but competitive this season. They face an LA Rams team who are struggling but not out of the playoff race at 4-3 and are coming off a twenty-seven point win against the struggling Falcons. The Bengals may be 0-7, but only two of their losses have been by thirteen points or more, so whilst my concern is that Zac Taylor runs the same scheme as the Rams and was on their staff last year plus defensive coordinator Wade Philips is a better coach than anyone on the Bengals staff, I’m going to pick the Bengals to keep it within thirteen. I really hope it is more competitive than that!
Gee’s Pick: Bengals
Dan’s Pick: Rams
Broncos @ Colts (-6.5)
I am not sure if I underestimated the Colts as a whole or merely overestimated how injured they were and how good the Texans are, but the Colts got the win to stay atop the AFC South last week. The Texans host a rested Denver Broncos team who having looked like they were pulling things together for a couple of weeks got thumped last Thursday by a Patrick Mahomes-less Chiefs. This is a big line though, and only one of the Colts’ wins has been by seven points or more. I’m hesitant to do it, and the lines suggest I should go for the Broncos but after last week’s performances I can’t bring myself to do it.
Gee’s Pick: Colts
Dan’s Pick: Broncos
Giants @ Lions (-6.5)
Oh, how I hate this line! I am perfectly comfortable saying the Lions are a better team than the Giants, but they have now lost three games straight and so are not exactly trustworthy. That said the Giants are on their own three game losing streak after the two game bump that starting Daniel Jones created and the Giants lost to the Cardinals last week. This feels like too many points and I want to run away from this game, but as I have to make a pick I’m going to hold my nose and grab the team whose quarterback was the fastest to forty thousand yards and who are 14.5% better by DVOA.
Gee’s Pick: Lions
Dan’s Pick: Lions
Buccaneers @ Titans (-2.5)
This is another game that I really don’t know what to do with as the Tennessee Titans got themselves a win against the Chargers last week and looked a bit better with Ryan Tannehill running their offence. However, I don’t have strong feeling for them and they welcome a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team who are coming off a bye week following their awful performance in London. That said, given the number of times that Jameis Winston gave the ball way, an eleven point loss to the Panthers was not that bad. I really want to stay away from this game as well, but in this one I’m going to grab the Titans at home and hope that the 15.2% difference the other way by DVOA doesn’t make me look stupid,
Gee’s Pick: Titans
Dan’s Pick: Titans
Cardinals @ Saints (-9.5)
This is a big line, but the New Orleans Saints continue to play well with Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback and have a top ten defence by DVOA. The welcome an Arizona Cardinals team who have actually won their last three games but the Saints are a very different proposition to the Bengals, Falcons or Giants and given that I have seen this line as high as -12.5 I think -9.5 is good value.
Gee’s Pick: Saints
Dan’s Pick: Saints
Jets @ Jaguars (-5.5)
The New York Jets got embarrassed on Monday night, their offence getting shut out in a 33-0 loss to the Patriots. This week they travel to face a Jacksonville Jaguars who got back on track last week thanks to facing the Bengals, but I’m not sure how good they actually are. That said, I do think they are better than the Jets who have only been competitive in two games this season and so I’m going to reluctantly back the Jaguars.
Gee’s Pick: Jaguars
Dan’s Pick: Jaguars
Panthers @ 49ers (-5.5)
This is one of the matchups of the week in my eyes as it sees the unbeaten San Francisco 49ers host the 4-2 Panthers who haven’t looked back since they sat Cam Newton to get him healthy. However, it’s not the play of backup quarterback Kyle Allen that is driving this record but the Panthers defence and Christian McCaffery’s astonishing offensive production. As good as the 49ers have been, and they added Emmanuel Sanders by trade this week, I think this line is too high in what I think will be a very competitive game so I’m grabbing the points.
Gee’s Pick: Panthers
Dan’s Pick: 49ers
Browns @ Patriots (-12.5)
What do I do with the Cleveland Browns? They have the potential to cover this line and are coming off a bye but only their win against the Ravens looks like a quality result and there are a whopping sixty-nine point one percentage points between them and the Patriots by DVOA. The Patriots have been great against the spread this year despite it frequently being this high. I hate to do it, but I’m going to back the unbeaten Patriots who have only failed to win by thirteen points or more once this season.
Gee’s Pick: Patriots
Dan’s Pick: Patriots
Raiders @ Texans (-6.5)
This is tricky game to pick as the Oakland Raiders have been competitive for a lot of the year and won as many games as they have lost. This week they travel to face the Houston Texans, who looked to have found something but lost receiver Will Fuller last week to a hamstring injury and he was doing a great job of balancing the Texans’ passing attack. I do think the Texans are the better team but there’s not that much difference between them by DVOA so I think this line is a little high. I’m going to grab the points and hope…
Gee’s Pick: Raiders
Dan’s Pick: Raiders
Packers @ Chiefs (+4.5)
This is a really tricky game to pick as the Kansas City Chiefs are obviously going to miss Patrick Mahomes, but their defence played much better than it had all season last week and they are coming off extra rest having won their Thursday night game against the Broncos. They welcome a Green Bay Packers team who have only lost once this season and last week put up an offensive performance to match the defence that has been playing well all season. Given the problems the Broncos have had this season I’m not ready to say the Chiefs’ defence is fixed, and although this could be recency bias as I have watched the coaching tape of the Packers offence from last week – I’m going with the Packers in this one.
Gee’s Pick: Packers
Dan’s Pick: Packers
Dolphins @ Steelers (-14.5)
At the start of the season the Miami Dolphins were losing badly enough that teams were covering some ridiculous spreads against them, but having put Ryan Fitzopatrick back in the game against Washington the previous week, the Dolphins started him against the Bills last week and so covered the spread for a second week in a row. The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off a bye and so look likely to get Mason Rudolph back from his concussion this week, but let’s be honest, the Steelers have not looked good this season. Their wins have come against the Bengals and Chargers and only against the Bengals have they managed to win by a margin to cover a line this big so whilst I expect the Dolphins to continue their spotless tanking record – this line is too much for me given the Steelers’ play this season.
Gee’s Pick: Dolphins
Dan’s Pick: Dolphins
DVOA is Football Outsiders statistic for measure a team’s success on every play versus the league average and you can read more about it and other football topics at https://footballoutsiders.com.