We proceed to dig out of a giant gap utilizing a child spoon. Going 7-6 is just not going to chop it.

Have religion that we’re on the suitable aspect of issues. The Browns simply cowl in opposition to the Bengals final week if Deshaun Watson is just not horrible. And in some unspecified time in the future, the Bills are going to look within the mirror, keep in mind who they’re and cease permitting shedding groups to creep again in and canopy the unfold. (But possibly not this week.)

We will soldier on and be extra like Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold. Grow some facial hair, settle down, don’t drive something and possibly simply decide a bunch of dwelling groups because the climate will get colder.

Our finest bets this week are the Vikings over the Colts, the Saints over the Falcons, the Jaguars over the Cowboys and the Bears to maintain it shut in opposition to the Eagles.

Last week: 7-6 in opposition to the unfold.

Season document: 98-105-5 ATS (Plays of the week have been 1-3 final week and 17-20-3 general)

All odds are from BetMGM and are locked when the decide was made. Click here for stay odds.


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Let’s assume that Brock Purdy (indirect) goes to play Thursday night time as a result of the linemakers and betters are, because the 49ers have been guess as much as 3.5-point favorites on the street.

Who would have thought that Trey Lance vs. Jimmy Garoppolo was the improper QB debate all alongside? Purdy was 7-of-8 for 109 yards, two TDs and 5 first downs underneath stress in opposition to the Buccaneers final week. He is 18-of-20 for 160 yards, two TDs, 11 first downs and one sack on third downs the final two weeks, and no obstacle seems too big.

Geno Smith turned the ball over twice final week and Darnold didn’t, which is why the Seahawks misplaced to the Panthers. Carolina additionally ran for 223 yards, and it’s not just like the Seahawks weren’t placing extra our bodies up entrance. In the previous two weeks, the Seahawks have performed with mild bins (six or fewer defenders) at a a lot decrease fee than their season common (47.9 %), but they’ve posted their two worst success charges vs. the run. It’s a bad time for an identity crisis.

That doesn’t bode effectively going in opposition to the 49ers, even when they gained’t have Deebo Samuel. Seattle has misplaced three out of 4 video games straight up and 4 in a row in opposition to the unfold. We are channeling our inside Darnold and taking the secure guess.

The decide: 49ers -3.5

One factor that was overshadowed within the Vikings’ loss to the Lions final week was how effectively Kirk Cousins performed. And for all of the speak about how overrated the Vikings are — they’re 10-3 and their level differential is minus-1 — they do have an enormous edge at quarterback this week. With Matt Ryan at QB, the Colts have gone from twenty ninth in offensive EPA per sport (-6.7) with Frank Reich calling performs to thirty first in offensive EPA per sport (-6.69) with Parks Frazier calling performs. Getting Alec Pierce extra touches is a good idea.

The Vikings must get better at running the ball to cowl this unfold comfortably. Since Week 11, the Vikings rank twenty seventh in EPA per rush and lead the league with 32.2 % of their runs not advancing previous the road of scrimmage throughout this span. But right here is a few excellent news: Left deal with Christian Darrisaw can be again after lacking three video games with two concussions.

The decide: Vikings -4 

Speaking of offensive-line boosts, the Ravens acquired a giant one with the return of Ronnie Stanley final week. They must be OK right here regardless of who performs quarterback — as even Anthony Brown confirmed well for himself — although early indications are that Tyler Huntley can be cleared from the concussion protocol and able to go. The Browns aren’t superb at getting stress on the quarterback.

Bigger issues for Cleveland are all the injuries and the large drop-off from Jacoby Brissett to Watson. I dismissed his tough first sport again as rust, however Watson was even worse final week. In two video games, Watson is 7-of-19 for 112 yards, no TDs, two INTs, three sacks and a 17.8 passer ranking when underneath stress (he ranked sixth of 40 certified QBs in EPA/DB vs. stress from 2018 to ’20).

Maybe you’ll be able to’t sit out for 2 years enjoying quarterback. Maybe the greater than two dozen lawsuits alleging sexual assault and misconduct have affected him on the sector. Either approach, it’s not just like the 5-8 Browns have something to play for after enjoying onerous in opposition to the Bengals final week.

Look for the Ravens to enhance to 7-2 ATS with out Lamar Jackson (and the inflated strains) since 2019.

The decide: Ravens +2.5

The Chargers did an important job utilizing press protection in opposition to Tua Tagovailoa final week — and taking away the Dolphins’ money play — as they’ve some analytics folks similar to we do:

Tagovailoa when throwing in 2.5 seconds or much less:

• First in EPA per dropback
• Ninth in success fee (52.5 %)
• Off goal 8 % of the time, Seventeenth-highest fee

Tagovailoa when throwing in 2.5 seconds or extra:

• thirteenth in EPA per dropback
• Eighth in success fee (45 %)
• Off goal 13.5 % of the time, Twelfth-highest fee

But the Bills performed simply two snaps of man protection in opposition to the Dolphins within the groups’ first assembly, a 21-19 Miami win. Josh Allen in some way had 400 yards passing and 47 yards dashing and Buffalo scored solely two touchdowns. Miami can have extra success getting stress on Allen this time because of the addition of Bradley Chubb.

The Bills, despite some encouraging developments, at the moment are 0-4-1 ATS of their final 5 video games being favored by greater than a landing. What would Darnold do?

The decide: Dolphins +7

Jalen Hurts goes to win the NFL MVP Award and the Eagles are going to win 16 video games. That doesn’t imply they will’t have a bit little bit of hassle in opposition to the lowly Bears, who we do suppose are well-coached and are coming off a bye. The Eagles, in the meantime, simply had a convincing win over the division-rival Giants to clinch a playoff spot and journey to Dallas subsequent Saturday to face the Cowboys. They say they’re unfulfilled … 

Sometimes it doesn’t even matter when good groups overlook dangerous ones, however we have now an ace up our sleeve: Justin Fields. He is engaged on getting better at checkdowns, however we’re going to want him to make just like the Roadrunner. The Eagles have confronted 40 complete QB rushes and rank final in success fee vs. QB runs (7.7 %) and YPC allowed to QBs (6.83). Of these 40 runs, 12 have been designed performs — and all of them have been profitable for the Eagles’ opponent. Give me the 9 factors at dwelling.

The decide: Bears +9



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The book is closed on Marcus Mariota. We will always remember his 6-0 ATS run to begin the season, adopted by a 1-5-1 stretch. Mariota has every thing you need in a quarterback, from management and toughness to scrambling potential. He simply can’t throw.

Desmond Ridder takes over, and normally you’d favor skilled defensive coaches in opposition to a rookie QB. But Dennis Allen is 0-4 general and 0-4 ATS in opposition to rookie QBs as a head coach (7-6 and 5-8 ATS in opposition to them as a defensive coordinator).

The Saints are coming off a late bye week and nonetheless have some playoff hopes. I’m not an Allen man, however I feel they are going to be OK in opposition to the Falcons’ technique of working the ball then throwing it deep (a league-leading 10.5 air yards per try). On throws of 15-plus air yards, New Orleans has allowed the third-lowest completion fee (34.5 %) and fourth-lowest yards per try (9.31).

Andy Dalton can have all day to throw in opposition to the Falcons protection, and Allen stated he’s going to attempt to get Alvin Kamara extra concerned. And right here I believed he was a foul coach.

The decide: Saints -4

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Andy Dalton and the Saints will make the most of coming off a late-season bye once they face the Falcons. (Nathan Ray Seebeck / USA Today)

This one is for all of the marbles. The loser of this one seemingly falls out of the playoff race, because the Lions would fall to 6-8 and the Jets could be 7-7 with street video games left at Seattle and Miami.

We have talked in regards to the bettering Lions protection as we had them each week till final week (for disgrace). From Weeks 1 to eight, Detroit ranked twenty sixth in stress fee (29.5 %) and twenty ninth in sack fee (4.5 %). Since Week 9, Detroit ranks tenth in stress fee (36.8 %) and 18th in sack fee (6.3 %). Aidan Hutchinson is tied for fifth amongst all defenders in splash performs (15).

Mike White took some huge hits in opposition to the Bills final week however is predicted to play — congrats to Zach Wilson on being promoted to No. 2 — which is nice information for Garrett Wilson’s fast-charging Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign.

Meanwhile, Jared Goff has been feasting on some dangerous defenses and will get a a lot harder take a look at right here, to not point out within the chilly. I’m going with that distinction plus the teaching edge with the Jets, regardless of how a lot of a kick I get out of Dan Campbell.

He will get his staff to chunk kneecaps however is nice for 2 to a few errors each week.

The decide: Jets -1 

We appreciated the Panthers protection and have been on them lots earlier than we gave up. Well, right here they’re having gained three of 4 video games and again within the playoff race within the horrid NFC South. Interim coach Steve Wilks has his gamers’ consideration, and he’s now calling for followers to stop Steelers followers from taking over the stadium. Good luck with that.

Under Wilks, the Panthers have gone from throwing 57 % of the time on early downs to 37 % — which might be the bottom within the league if over the complete season. Darnold is doing his finest to not screw it up. He held the ball a median of three.68 seconds earlier than his go makes an attempt final week, by far essentially the most within the NFL, and had the bottom common meant air yards (4.8) and accomplished air yards (1.2).

That is just not a profitable method in opposition to a superb Steelers go rush. We aren’t certain if Mitch Trubisky or Kenny Pickett (or waitMason Rudolph?) is enjoying for the Steelers but, however essentially the most sure-headed play is to go in opposition to the general public betting on Darnold and the Panthers. (Steelers coach Mike Tomlin additionally occurs to be 50-29 ATS as an underdog.)

The decide: Steelers +2.5

The Cowboys survived final week and now get to face an upstart Jaguars protection that has moved high draft decide Travon Walker inside some to get much more stress on the quarterback. Not to say Dallas just lost underrated proper deal with Terence Steele.

The Jaguars run protection, in the meantime, shut down Derrick Henry within the second half final week.

Jacksonville ought to be capable of run the ball in opposition to a Cowboys protection that’s tenth worst in dashing yards allowed. The essential purpose to take the Jaguars is identical because it was final week in opposition to the Titans: journey the new quarterback. Trevor Lawrence is second in EPA/DB, first in completion fee (71.8 %) and seventh in passing yards (1,362) since Week 9. He has thrown 10 touchdowns in opposition to zero interceptions whereas eliminating the ball in 2.3 seconds on common, the quickest time within the league throughout this span.

The decide: Jaguars +4 

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Keep using the new hand of Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence. (Andrew Nelles / The Tennessean / USA Today)

Texans coach Lovie Smith had the Cowboys sweating final week. Not to say his personal entrance workplace, which is clearly enjoying for a excessive draft decide. Smith will get his talent-challenged roster to play onerous, however that wasn’t sufficient within the Battle of Texas.

It’s onerous to see Houston matching that effort right here, whereas Kansas City must be centered after almost blowing a 27-0 result in the Broncos, with Patrick Mahomes throwing three interceptions. The Texans don’t get any stress on the quarterback and may’t cease the run, so Isiah Pacheco’s fantasy house owners can be comfortable as effectively. The Chiefs defense also has something to prove, apparently.

This is the seventh time since 2018 that the Chiefs are favored by 14 or extra factors. Only the Patriots and Bills have performed extra such video games throughout that span (eight every). Kansas City is 3-3 ATS in these video games, which have gone underneath the purpose complete 5 instances. So take the underneath 49 for those who don’t need to lay or take the 14, because the Texans can be attempting to run time without work as a lot as they’re attempting to attain.

The decide: Chiefs -14

Kyler Murray is out and there’s a good likelihood that Russell Wilson can be additionally. Wilson was lastly cooking in opposition to the Broncos final week till he took a nasty hit and sustained a concussion. His backup, Brett Rypien, is just not good and possibly gained’t be capable of make the most of a reborn Jerry Jeudy.

Colt McCoy will substitute Murray and is very mediocre. With McCoy as their beginning QB, the Cardinals are literally 3-2 general and ATS, with all of their wins and covers approaching the street. (If the Murray-Kliff Kingsbury partnership is over, it should have failed to provide a single offense that completed a season ranked within the high 10 in both EPA per drive or DVOA.)

The decide: Cardinals +2.5

The Raiders offensive line was not superb earlier than a few guys went out with accidents final week, and so they’re at the moment searching for guys off the road to play guard. That doesn’t bode effectively in opposition to a Patriots staff that tortured McCoy on Monday night time. Among 184 certified gamers (minimal 150 go rush snaps), Josh Uche ranks first in stress fee (20.7 %) and Matthew Judon ranks seventh (17.2 %). The Patriots are the one staff with two gamers within the high 10.

On the opposite aspect of the ball, an enthusiastic Mac Jones can be going in opposition to his previous mentor, Josh McDaniels, who can be going in opposition to his previous mentor, Bill Belichick. Surely no time to go conservative again. Will the Raiders lastly let go of the rope after final week’s embarrassing loss to Baker Mayfield and the Rams? The public thinks so, because the unfold has moved three factors and the Patriots at the moment are favored, and I additionally will aspect with Uche and Judon right here.

The decide: Patriots -1

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Bill Belichick will attempt to finest his longtime former assistant Josh McDaniels. (Kirby Lee / USA Today)

The Darnold in me thinks the Chargers are the secure guess, given they’ve receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams again full-go on offense and the Titans have had protection issues all season.

Meanwhile, the Titans offense is struggling. Just take a look at how the 2 groups reply to getting sacked. On drives that includes a sack, Chargers have nonetheless scored a league-leading 35.7 % of the time. They rank third in factors per drive on drives that includes a sack (1.64). The Titans have scored 5.9 % of the time on drives that includes a sack, the bottom fee within the NFL.

But I’m going in opposition to my inside Darnold. The Titans — whose shedding streak has reached all the way in which to the top of the organization — will be capable of run in opposition to the Chargers, and forgive me for being harsh (and clearly no pizza-eating sportswriter ought to ever say this a few professional soccer participant), however the Chargers are a bit delicate. (That will change once they get Joey Bosa and Rashawn Slater again.)

The decide: Titans +2.5

Last week, I went in opposition to my beloved Lions and paid a value. And now I’m going to do one thing seemingly simply as dumb. I’ve been saying, “Go against Tom Brady” all season … and have been proper. He is having a worse season than his final 12 months in New England:

• 2019: 6.6 YPA, 37.5 % of throws at or previous the sticks, first downs on 30.2 % of makes an attempt, 41.8 % passing success fee, 88 passer ranking, 0.00 EPA/DB.
• 2022: 6.2 YPA, 38.9 % of throws at or previous the sticks, first downs on 29.5 % of makes an attempt, 45.7 % success fee, 88.9 passer ranking, 0.02 EPA/DB.

But … I feel there may be some worth right here. And this regardless of my agreeing with The Ringer’s Bill Simmons that Todd Bowles’ teaching model jogs my memory of Bernie from “Weekend at Bernie’s.”

The Bengals — who have their own Brady — gained’t be capable of stress the previous Brady as a lot after shedding Trey Hendrickson to a damaged wrist (and so they’re additionally banged up at receiver). The Bucs can be enjoying for his or her playoff lives at dwelling in opposition to a staff which may exhale after it simply adopted up wins over the Titans and Chiefs by beating the Browns for the primary time since 2019.

The decide: Bucs +3.5

These two groups performed to a 20-20 tie two weeks in the past and apparently there was a nationwide outcry, demanding the rematch be flexed to prime time (Patriots-Raiders was flexed out). Well, the Giants have been fortunate to get a tie in that sport, acquired blasted by the Eagles final week and now face the Commanders, who’re coming off a bye and have been consuming, ingesting and sleeping about this sport.

The Giants have been reeling for a bit, too. Since Week 8, they rank twenty eighth in level differential (minus-53) — in Weeks 1 by 7, they ranked eighth (plus-20). A giant purpose for that has been RB Saquon Barkley has been banged up and never enjoying effectively. By EPA per rush (-0.29) and complete dashing EPA (-5.16), the primary matchup between these two groups was Barkley’s worst sport of the season.

The Commanders are trying to play young players whereas competing for a playoff spot, and they are going to be 8-5-1 after Sunday.

The decide:  Commanders -4.5 

I’ve additionally been yelling to fade Aaron Rodgers all season, so it’s becoming that I’m on him and Brady this week. Rodgers and the Packers acquired every week off and will get to come back again in opposition to a Rams staff that was/is playing out the string and is coming off an emotional nationally televised win over the Raiders.

Plus, the Rams don’t get lots of stress on the quarterback. That can be extra time for Rodgers to search out his new No. 1 receiver, Christian Watson. Since Week 10, Watson ranks fourth in yards/route (2.93), second in yards/reception (20.87) and first in touchdowns (7) amongst 73 certified WRs.

But if you wish to go along with Mayfield throwing to Tutu Atwell within the chilly, go forward.

The decide: Packers -7

— TruMedia analysis courtesy of NFL editor Aaron Reiss.

(Graphic: Sean Reilly / The Athletic; photograph of Sam Darnold: Jane Gershovich / Getty Images)

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