, , , , ,

If one game being postponed was not enough to make clear the realities of playing this season in the middle of a pandemic, the positive test of Cam Newton and the delay of the Patriots game against the Chiefs as a backup quarterback on the Chiefs also tested positive is another reminder.

None of this is a surprise. Once the decision had been made that it was too impractical to bubble the NFL for the season, then the league knew that there would be positive tests and the protocols were designed to manage this situation. If there is good news to be had out of the situation in Tennessee where eight players and eight staff have now tested positive, it is that as yet there have been no positive tests at their opponents last week the Vikings or with the game staff. My concern is still that we are not yet out of the incubation period of the virus but we can hope that things hold and that there is not a lot spread amongst the now three other teams with positive tests.

Early Games:

It’s not a slate of games that instantly leaps out as containing classic games but there are interesting things about many of the games.

The two games that grab the attention first as the Cleveland Browns taking on the Dallas Cowboys and the New Orleans Saints taking on the Detroit Lions.

The Browns trip to Dallas gives them a chance to build on their last two wins and with a top ten defense and an offence beginning to find a way they have a formula to be competitive with the Cowboys. However, the Cowboy’s offence has a lot of talent even if it hasn’t been able to convert fantasy points and yards into wins, but I am curious about whether the Browns can do enough to get the win or the Cowboys can back to 2-2 with an eye to pushing on in a division where all four teams have loosing records. The Cowboys are having real issues on defense so it is a good job their offence has been playing so well.

The Saints offence has struggled without receiver Michael Thomas who is missing for another week and Drew Brees not looking himself in the passing game. Their loss to the Raiders might be considered surprising but the Packers look to be a force to be reckoned with at the moment so last week’s loss is understandable. However, a trip to the Lions is a good test of how deep the problems for the Saints are. The Lions might be coming off a win but they are still not that convincing and with Alvin Kamara playing well for the Saints they will feel like they should win this game. The line reflects a similar confidence, but I can’t help but feel that things are going to be more complicated than that.

Other things of interest are:

  • I’m not sure why a team with no wins like the Bengals are giving away an extra half point to the, although this line was set early enough that they wouldn’t be aware of Joe Mixon turning up on the injury report.
  • I’m curious to see how well the Dolphins can compete with an explosive Seahawks offence and if they can make a game of it, or if the Seahawks will just keep rolling.
  • The Houston Texans have had a tough start to the season, so to come home and face a fellow struggling team like the Vikings presents an opportunity to turn their season around. The Vikings might be thinking something similar and although I’m not impressed by either team, I can at least see what the Vikings were planning but if the defensive struggles can be understood by the off-season overhaul, the offensive woes might have sunk their season already.
  • The Cardinals stumbled last week, and Kyler Murray had a bad game so it will be interesting to see if they can get back on track this week and keep pushing for the playoffs, or if the Panthers coming off their first win under Matt Rhule can build some momentum.
  • The Buccaneers hosting the Chargers looks to be a game that the Bucs should win. The Bucs defense ranks second in the league by DVOA and with Tom Brady’s experience on the other side of the ball it should be enough to see them past a Chargers team who have been close in every game but have only managed the one actual win.
  • The Ravens will be desperate to bounce back after last week’s loss to the Chiefs, and it is doubtful that Washington will be able to truly compete. They may have the fourth best defense in the league by DVOA, but I doubt they will be able to exert the scoreboard pressure the Chiefs did last week and it could be a very long day for Ron Rivera’s team.

Jaguars @ Bengals (-3.5)

Gee’s Pick:       Jaguars
Dan’s Pick:       Bengals

Browns @ Cowboys (-4.5)

Gee’s Pick:       Cowboys
Dan’s Pick:       Cowboys

Saints @ Lions (+4.5)

Gee’s Pick:       Lions
Dan’s Pick:       Saints

Seahawks @ Dolphins (+6.5)

Gee’s Pick:       Dolphins
Dan’s Pick:       Seahawks

Vikings @ Texans (-3.5)

Gee’s Pick:       Vikings
Dan’s Pick:       Texans

Cardinals @ Panthers (+3.5)

Gee’s Pick:       Cardinals
Dan’s Pick:       Cardinals

Chargers @ Buccaneers (-7.5)

Gee’s Pick:       Buccaneers
Dan’s Pick:       Buccaneers

Ravens @ Washington (+13.5)

Gee’s Pick:       Washington
Dan’s Pick:       Ravens

Late Games:

The game that leaps out to me in this matchup is the Buffalo Bills taking on the Las Vegas Raiders. I definitely want to watch this one as I haven’t seen a game at the Raiders new stadium and the Bills have started the season strongly, with Josh Allen looking to have taken another step forward. I think this is a game that the Bills could and possibly should win, but the Raiders have had a strong start themselves so I think this could be a really spectacular game.

The other game that could be competitive is the Indianapolis Colts visiting the Chicago Bears, but to me that depends to what extent Nick Foles can run Matt Nagy’s offence better than Trubisky has done so far this season. The Colts stumbled out of the gates, but have put together two very solid wins so I am curious to see how this game shapes up.

The Rams should have no problems in beating a winless Giants team travelling across the country to face them. It’s always possible for a team to stumble, particularly when both Dan and I have selected them as our survivor pick, but I think it unlikely.

Giants @ Rams (-12.5)

Gee’s Pick:       Rams
Dan’s Pick:       Rams

Bills @ Raiders (+2.5)

Gee’s Pick:       Bills
Dan’s Pick:       Bills

Colts @ Bears (+2.5)

Gee’s Pick:       Colts
Dan’s Pick:       Colts

Sunday Night Football:

Eagles @ 49ers (-6.5)

This is a slightly strange national game given that the 49ers are dealing with a series of injuries but have been good enough to go 2-1 and beat the Giants by a lot last week, whilst the Eagles have really struggled this season having started the season 0-2-1. This might be a trap, particularly as I’ve seen numbers that suggest picking the Eagles, but with them travelling across county to face a better coached team and the Eagles getting under seven points, which is what I’m seeing as the consensus pick I’m grabbing who I think are the better team.

Gee’s Pick:       49ers
Dan’s Pick:       49ers

Monday Night Football

Falcons @ Packers (-7.5)

This is a tricky game for me as the Packers have been the much better team this season, but the large line and the numbers all tell me to pick the Falcons. I am choosing to trust my process even though I’m exactly even, but the extra half point over seven is a key number so let’s see if the Falcons can at least keep this one close even if they can’t get their first win this season.

Gee’s Pick:       Falcons
Dan’s Pick:       Packers

Postponed Game

Patriots @ Chiefs (-6.5)

We don’t know right now if this game will be played Monday or Tuesday or if this will become the second game to be postponed this season. The Chiefs were already favourites and the move of Cam Newton to the Covid-19 list only confirms this. If the game goes ahead with a backup quarterback, the Patriots will do well to keep this game competitive. I think that’s possible, but the numbers still give me value with the Chiefs and as the better team I will give them a pick, but we shall have to see if there are more positive tests and if this games even goes ahead.

Gee’s Pick:       Chiefs
Dan’s Pick:       Chiefs

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.