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It was an interesting start to the week five games on Thursday night with the LA Rams managing a nine-point win against the Seahawks in Seattle despite a mixed performance from Matthew Stafford and Geno Smith leading the Seahawks on a ninety-three yard touchdown drive after he had to come into the game for the injured Russell Wilson. It really was a strange game that if anything saw the defences of both teams win out in the first half, and Stafford not quite connecting on his passes. However, the Rams kept pushing at it and eventually started to hit the long ball, like when Stafford connected with DeSean Jackson for a sixty-eight yard year completion but it was Robert Woods who after a quiet start to the season was fed the ball the most in the passing game finishing with twelve catches for one-hundred and fifty yards. Having gone into the half with a lead, the Seahawks struggled in the third quarter and with Wilson’s injury never were quite able to challenge the Rams again despite Smith’s competent display as the backup quarterback. The Seahawks look like they will be the first team to fall properly out of the playoff hunt in the AFC West given the losing record and that Wilson will be out for weeks as he recovers from the surgery on his finger, while there are questions about the Rams defence but they will definitely be pleased with the early returns on the Stafford trade.

It feels like I got a bit lucky on the first pick of the week, and I’ve already written up the London game so now it’s time to get into the rest of the week five games.

Early Games:

At the risk of being self-interested, the most interesting of the early games to me is the Green Bay Packers taking on the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals are an unexpected 3-1 on the back of a top five defence by DVOA and an offence that is doing enough. Rookie receiver Ja’Marr Chase has looked every bit the first-round pick despite the rough pre-season and Joe Burrow hasn’t just returned from his knee injury but is scrambling and looking to build on the promise of his rookie season. I’m still not totally convinced by the offensive line, but Jonnah Wilson has been healthy and getting some plaudits at left tackle. However, the Bengals did make a little bit of a meal of beating the Jaguars last week and face their sternest test of the season as they welcome the Packers who may well rank seven places belove them by overall DVOA, but Aaron Rodgers is as dangerous as ever and the offence is top ten by DVOA. Apart from the strange loss in week one, the Packers have looked good for the rest of the season and with Rodgers at the helm I find it hard to predict a Bengals win, but it has the potential to be a cracking game and I do like getting the points at home.

Points from the rest:

  • The Vikings have had one of the weirder starts to the season losing to the Bengals and a Cardinals team who look like serious contenders so far this season. Their solitary win of the season came against the Seahawks before they lost to the Browns last week, but the division rival Lions should give them an opportunity to get back on track.
  • The Steelers are stuck in the twenties in all three phases of the game by DVOA ranking, and this week face a 3-1 Broncos team who have enough injuries (including a concussion for Teddy Bridgewater that means his questionable to start) that I think I’m taking the Steelers at home. Though for a franchise that I always respect there are a lot of problems in Pittsburgh right now.
  • The Dolphins season has gone horribly, with everyone questioning the decision to take Tua Tagovailoa over Justin Herbert last season, and a trip to face the Buccaneers is not really what they need to get back to winning ways. The Bucs have enough injuries at corner that I’m going to take the ten and a half points, but the Dolphins must hope that Tagovailoa can show something once he gets off the IR list but it’s going to be a while before that happens.
  • The Saints have been so up and down this season, proving that even Sean Payton can’t win with every quarterback. The Washington defence has not lived up to expectations, but Taylor Heinicke has given enough of a spark at quarterback that the Football Team are 2-2 and I’m not sure they should be getting points to this version of the Saints at home.
  • The Carolina Panthers could not keep up with the Cowboys last week, but the trade for Stephon Gilmore shows they are committed to this season and the defence so if the offence can keep doing enough they hope to keep the pressure on the Bucs in the NFC South. The Eagles have shown flashes of potential but have not been consistent and whilst the points scare me and the numbers point in the other direction, I can’t back them on the road based on a week one win against the Falcons
  • The Patriots take on a Texans team who are trying to ape the Patriots success, but are at the very beginning of the process and are down two starting quarterbacks for very different reasons. Poor Davis Mills was never meant to start this season, and it is hard to see anything but a Pats win in this one, even if this is a lot of points.

Packers @ Bengals (+3.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Bengals
Dan’s Pick:      Packers

Lions @ Vikings (-7.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Vikings
Dan’s Pick:      Lions

Broncos @ Steelers (-1.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Steelers
Dan’s Pick:      Browns

Dolphins @ Buccaneers (-10.5)

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

Saints @ Washington (+1.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Washington
Dan’s Pick:      Saints

Eagles @ Panthers (-4.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Panthers
Dan’s Pick:      Panthers

Titans @ Jaguars (+4.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Titans
Dan’s Pick:      Titans

Patriots @ Texans (+9.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Patriots
Dan’s Pick:      Patriots

Late Games:

There are two interesting late games this week, so it is kind of hard to pick a best matchup.

The Cleveland Browns have kept rolling even if Baker Mayfield is dealing with an injury in his non-throwing shoulder that is limiting his play, but a stellar defence is keeping them in games, but will they have enough to limit a Chargers offence who looked very good as they ran out easy winners over Las Vegas last week. I feel like I must go with the Chargers at home right now, but the Browns could very easily win this one.

The Arizona Cardinals are the sole unbeaten team left in the league and welcome a 49ers team who are starting rookie quarterback Trey Lance for the first time thanks to another injury to Jimmy Garoppolo. Going against the sixth ranked defence by DVOA is a tough first start for Lance, and on the road it will be interesting to see what game plan Kyle Shanahan has in place for his rookie quarterback. For some reason I like getting the points in this game, and I am definitely watching this game as I look to fix the huge oversight of not having watched the Cardinal yet.

Points on the Rest:

  • The Bears have finally named Justin Fields as the start after a much better showing last week, which was helped by a game plan that actually looked designed to take advantage of his skill set. However, the Raiders will prove a tough opponent even if they couldn’t find their way on offence until too late to really challenge the Chargers last week. I expect the Raiders to win, but I wonder about the points total.
  • The Giants against the Cowboys could be a good contest if things break right, with quarterback Daniel Jones ranking tenth by DVOA. However, the Cowboys look to have found enough on defence to throw themselves into the elite of the league with a competent defence to compliment the flying offence with Dak Prescott showing no signs of issues coming back from his ankle injury of last season.

Bears @ Raiders (-5.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Bears
Dan’s Pick:      Raiders

Browns @ Chargers (-1.5)

Gee’s Pick:      Chargers
Dan’s Pick:      Chargers

Giants @ Cowboys (-7.5)

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

49ers @ Cardinals (-5.5)

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

Sunday Night Football:

Bills @ Chiefs (-2.5)

The matchup of the week has top billing Sunday night as the Buffalo Bills trying to beat the Kansas City Chiefs. The talk out of Buffalo is that this is just another game, but it’s hard to see how that can be the case when the Bills are trying to push for the Super Bowl and are taking on the team that beat them in the conference championship game last season. Josh Allen may not have been able to sustain the numbers he put up last season, but having scored forty points for the last two games he must be looking at the Chiefs’ last ranked defence by DVOA with a real sense of opportunity.

The Chiefs are not suddenly a bad team, but the offence has not always been able to overcome the problems on defence this year, yet they will still be the toughest team the Bills have faced all season. I’m not sure what to make of either team just yet, but I am very much looking forward to watching this one.

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

Monday Night Football

Colts @ Ravens (-6.5)

The Colts got their first win of the season last week, but it’s hard to trust them coming into this contest with a 3-1 Ravens team who as usual are there or there abouts. Thanks to the vagaries of the AFC South the Colts are only one win behind the division leaders despite the poor start that may not have sunk them yet, but the Ravens are top ten by DVOA yet again thanks to the usual combination of tough defence and diverse running attack. I wonder if on Monday night the Colts can make this a contest but it’s hard to see anything other than a Ravens win at this point.

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

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.