Pick of the Week
High Confidence Picks
Medium Confidence Picks
Low Confidence Picks
No Confidence Picks
CLE +165 @ BAL
JAX +110 vs. ATL
NYJ +130 @ NYJ
Pick of the Week
High Confidence Picks
Medium Confidence Picks
Low Confidence Picks
No Confidence Picks
CLE +165 @ BAL
JAX +110 vs. ATL
NYJ +130 @ NYJ
Seattle Seahawks (3-7) at Washington Football Team (4-6)
Washington started the season 2-6, but they have been better in recent weeks since their offensive line has gotten healthy, particularly the re-addition of stud right guard Brandon Scherff. They have won their past two games to push their record to 4-6, which is still not all that impressive, but it’s more impressive when you consider that they have faced arguably the toughest schedule in the league. In terms of schedule adjusted efficiency ratings, Washington ranks 9th, 28th, and 3rd on offense, defense, and special teams respectively, while ranking 13th in mixed efficiency.
Unfortunately, the public and odds makers seem to have caught onto this, as we have lost a significant amount of line value in the past week, with the Seahawks going from being favored by 3.5 points on the early line last week to now being underdogs of one point. Seattle is missing a key starting offensive lineman with Damien Lewis out and, with that taken into account, my calculated line has Washington favored by 1.5 points, so we are still getting some line value with Washington, but it’s a miniscule amount. In fact, I am going to pick the Seahawks in this matchup just because I don’t want to go against Russell Wilson (31-14-3 ATS off of a loss and 10-1 ATS off of two straight losses) in a must win situation. This is a no confidence pick though, as a push may be the most likely result though and this should be a very close matchup.
Washington Football Team 24 Seattle Seahawks 23
Pick against the spread: Seattle +1
Los Angeles Chargers (6-4) at Denver Broncos (5-5)
The Broncos started 3-0 and, while all three games were against mediocre at best opponents, they won all three in convincing fashion, winning all three by double digits. However, since then, the Broncos have lost five of their last seven games to fall to 5-5. Part of the problem is their schedule got tougher, but they still have faced a below average schedule overall and, even when adjusted for schedule, their performance has dropped off significantly. The culprit has been injuries, as the Broncos have lost as much talent to injury since the beginning of the season as any team in the league.
In total, the Broncos are without a trio of offensive linemen, stud left tackle Garret Bolles, starting right tackle Bobby Massie, talented starting right guard Graham Glasgow, talented edge defender duo Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, every down middle linebackers Josey Jewell and Alexander Johnson, talented starting safety Kareem Jackson, and impressive slot cornerback Bryce Callahan, who all played for this team week one this season. It’s possible Chubb returns this week, but he seems to be no better than 50/50 and, at the same time, Shelby Harris, their top interior defender, seems legitimately questionable as well and could miss his first game of the season, which would be a big absence.
The Broncos did beat the Cowboys in Dallas in a convincing win a few weeks ago, but that was more due to Dak Prescott not being 100%, stud left tackle Tyron Smith being out for the Cowboys, and the Cowboys being flat after giving their best effort to beat the Vikings in Minnesota without Prescott the week prior. That win is likely a big part of the reason why the Broncos remain overrated, but their only other win in their past seven games was a one-score game against Washington in which the Broncos blocked a pair of field goals and, missing all they are missing, I have the Broncos 4 points below average in my roster rankings right now.
Despite that, they are underdogs of less than a field goal at home against the Chargers, who are 2.5 points above average in my roster rankings. The Chargers only have one win by more than one score this year, after their only two wins by more than one score last year came in a meaningless game against the Chiefs backups and a game against the eventual 1-15 Jaguars, but they are still a more talented team than a year ago and their lack of blowout wins this season likely stems from the fact that they have faced one of the toughest schedules in the league.
They only won by one-score last week against an injury depleted Steelers team, who were arguably the easiest opponent they have faced to date, but they won that game despite losing the turnover battle and having a punt blocked, which led to the Steelers cutting into what was a 14-point 4th quarter lead. Overall, the Chargers won the first down rate by 12.24% and the yards per play battle by 3.1 yards per play, both substantial amounts. In terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, the Chargers rank 4th, 17th, and 32nd respectively on offense, defense, and special teams respectively on the season, while ranking 12th in mixed efficiency.
The Chargers also have done that despite not having any real homefield advantage, frequently playing in front of crowds that mostly favor the road team. That has been the case since they moved to Los Angeles in 2017 and, as a result, Chargers are 21-13 ATS on the road and 13-22 ATS at home since moving to Los Angeles. The Broncos, meanwhile, rank 24th in mixed efficiency and are even worse now than that suggests because of all of the missing talent. The Chargers shouldn’t have too much trouble handling them in Denver, which makes them an intriguing bet in a game in which they basically just need to win to cover, with only about 8% of games decided by two points or fewer.
I am leaving this as a low confidence pick for now and not placing a bet on the Chargers because of injury uncertainty, with not only the status of Bradley Chubb and Shelby Harris up in the air, but the Chargers also possibly being without talented left guard Matt Feiler, who is reportedly a gametime decision and would be a big absence if he didn’t. Depending on the status of those three players and where this line ends up, I may update this pick and bet on the Chargers. Either way, they should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes.
Los Angeles Chargers 20 Denver Broncos 16
Pick against the spread: LA Chargers -2.5
Philadelphia Eagles (5-6) at New York Giants (3-7)
I have thought the Eagles are a very underrated team in recent weeks and, despite back-to-back blowout victories and three blowout victories in their past four games, I think they remain a little underrated. The Eagles are just 5-6, but their +37 point differential is tied for 9th in the NFL, despite the fact that they have faced a relatively tough schedule, with all six of their losses coming against teams with a .500 or better record.
In terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, the Eagles rank 8th, 15th, 10th on offense, defense, and special teams respectively and 9th in mixed efficiency. They are also arguably better on offense than their rank suggests, given how much better they have played since getting their two talented starting offensive tackles back from multi-game absences earlier in the season. Even at 5-6, the Eagles are in good position to make a run and grab a wild card spot in the NFC, as they are only a half game out of a playoff spot currently and their schedule gets a lot easier from here on out.
Unfortunately, even though they are underrated, we aren’t getting good line value with the Eagles, as their opponents, the New York Giants, are underrated as well. The Giants are just 3-7 and everyone saw them be largely non-competitive against the Buccaneers on Monday Night Football last week, but the Buccaneers are arguably the best team in the league, so there isn’t much shame in that loss, and the Giants could easily have a couple more wins, as three of their losses came by three points or fewer, with none of their wins coming by that small of a margin.
The combination of the Giants’ big loss in Tampa Bay and the Eagles’ big win over the Saints pushed this line off of favoring the Eagles by a field goal on the early line last week to now favoring them by 3.5 points, so another loss by the Giants by 3 points or fewer would cover this spread. The Eagles have beaten all four teams they have faced that have a losing record by an average of 19.5 points per game and my calculated line still has the Eagles favored by 5 points, but four and five aren’t really key numbers, so that isn’t much line value at all. I am taking the Eagles for pick ‘em purposes, but there isn’t nearly enough value here to take them with any sort of confidence.
Philadelphia Eagles 26 New York Giants 21
Pick against the spread: Philadelphia -3.5
New York Jets (2-8) at Houston Texans (2-8)
The Texans won last week in upset fashion, going into Tennessee and knocking off the previously 8-2 Titans, who were favored by 10 points in that game. However, the Titans have not been as good as their record has suggested this season and they have been even worse than that since losing feature back Derrick Henry, so that win isn’t as impressive as it seems, especially since the primary reason the Texans won is they managed to win the turnover battle by 5, in a 9-point Texans win. Turnover margin is highly non-predictive on a week-to-week basis, so the Texans definitely won’t be able to count on that every week and, in more predictive metrics, the Texans lost the first down rate battle by 9.47% and the yards per play battle by 2.2 yards per play.
That was also the Texans first win since back in week one, when they beat a Jaguars team that has proven to also be one of the worst in the league. In between, the Texans lost 8 straight games, with the average margin of defeat coming by 18.3 points per game. Even that doesn’t show quite how bad the Texans were during that stretch, as that average margin of defeat would be a lot higher if the Patriots weren’t missing most of their offensive line in their 3-point win, a game in which the Patriots still won the first down rate battle by 8.67%, and if the Texans hadn’t scored 22 meaningless garbage points against the Rams in a game in which they were down 38-0 going into the 4th quarter.
Even with last week’s win, the Texans still rank 32nd, 31st, and 24th in offensive, defensive, and special teams efficiency, adjusted for schedule, and, in terms of mixed efficiency, the Texans don’t just rank dead last in the NFL, but they are about 4.5 points than any other team in the league. Their win last week also puts them in a bad spot, as teams tend to struggle the week after pulling a huge upset, covering the spread at a 41.7% rate all-time after a win as double digits underdogs, including 40.3% after a win as divisional double digit underdogs.
That effect could be even more pronounced in this game, as the Texans’ season is still lost at this point and last week’s win over the Titans was the equivalent of the Texans’ Super Bowl. It’s hard to imagine them giving anywhere near that level of effort this week against a fellow 2-8 team in the Jets. The Jets are also one of the worst teams in the league, but their mixed efficiency, which ranks 29th in the league, is still about six points better than the Texans.
The Texans did get a boost a couple weeks ago when veteran starting quarterback returned from injury and replaced overmatched rookie Davis Mills under center, so the gap between these two teams isn’t quite as big as their mixed efficiency rankings show, but Taylor is still a borderline starting caliber quarterback at best, so it’s not enough of a boost to justify the Texans being favored by 2.5 points in this matchup, especially given that they figure to be flat. My calculated line has the Jets favored by 1 point, even before taking into account that the Texans are in a bad spot. I would need a full field goal to bet on the Jets confidently against the spread, but the money line at +120 is a good value, as the Jets should be considered no worse than 50/50 to win this game, and the Jets are still the pick for pick ‘em purposes.
Update: This line has moved up to a field goal on Sunday morning. This is likely because Corey Davis was ruled out for the Jets, but I made this pick and this calculated line (Jets -1) with that in mind. The Texans don’t deserve to be favored by a field goal over anyone, even before you take into account that they could be flat after winning their “Super Bowl” last week. I know the Texans beat a same caliber Jaguars team week one at home with Tyrod Taylor under center, but the Texans’ offensive line was a lot healthier in that game with their two talented offensive tackles Laremy Tunsil and Marcus Cannon. Without them, the Texans have struggled to block anyone. If you can get the full field goal, I would recommend a small bet.
New York Jets 23 Houston Texans 20 Upset Pick +130
Pick against the spread: NY Jets +3
Pittsburgh Steelers (5-4-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (6-4)
I have bet against the Steelers frequently this season, as I have considered them overrated throughout. They went 12-4 a year ago, but they were not as good as their record, winning a lot of close games against an easy schedule. They were also carried by a dominant defense, which seemed unlikely to be able to keep up that level of play because of off-season losses and the overall relatively non-predictive nature of defensive performance, when compared to offensive performance. This season, the Steelers have started 5-4-1, but they are once again worse than their record.
While all of the Steelers’ wins have come by one score, three of their four losses were by multiple scores, with the only exception being a game against the Chargers last week in which the Steelers lost despite winning the turnover battle and blocking a punt, which led to the Steelers cutting into what was a 14-point 4th quarter lead. Overall, the Chargers won the first down rate by 12.24% and the yards per play battle by 3.1 yards per play, both substantial amounts.
The Steelers’ offense has continued to struggle, ranking 26th in schedule adjusted efficiency, while their defense has fallen off significantly, ranking 23rd in schedule adjusted efficiency, as injuries have hit them harder than expected. Only their 15th ranked special teams is a passable unit and special teams is the least predictive of the three phases. Overall, they rank just 26th in mixed efficiency, which is much worse than their record would suggest.
That being said, I am going to take the Steelers this week, for a few reasons. For one, they are getting significantly healthier on defense, at least compared to a week ago, with edge defender TJ Watt and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick both set to return from short absences and cornerback Joe Haden seeming likely to join them after a short absence as well. The Steelers’ are still missing a pair of key defensive linemen Stephon Tuitt and Tyson Alualu, the latter of whom has not played all season, but they won’t be as short-handed as they were a week ago.
The Steelers are also in a good spot this week, as divisional road underdogs in a regular season rematch of a game in which the Steelers lost as home favorites, dropping their week three matchup in Pittsburgh against the Bengals by a final score of 24-10 as 3-point favorites. Teams tend to get revenge in this spot, or at least exceed expectations, covering at a 57.5% rate historically. On top of that, the Bengals are also an overrated team, as their 6-4 record has come against one of the easiest schedules in the league.
In terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, the Bengals rank 25th, 19th, 9th respectively on offense, defense, and special teams and, overall, they rank 23rd in mixed efficiency. That’s still better than the Steelers and this line, which favors the Bengals by 3.5 points at home, is fair, but when you add in that the Steelers are in a better spot, they look like the right side. This is a no confidence pick because we’re actually getting a little bit of line value with the Bengals, but the Steelers are the pick for pick ‘em purposes because of the spot they are in.
Cincinnati Bengals 23 Pittsburgh Steelers 20
Pick against the spread: Pittsburgh +3.5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3) at Indianapolis Colts (6-5)
The Colts are getting some hype after last week’s upset win in Buffalo, a blowout victory on the road against a team that was previously seen by many as the best team in the AFC, and it’s not hard to understand why. In addition to last week’s big win, the Colts have also won six of their past eight games, since an injury plagued 0-3 start, with their two losses both coming in overtime against likely playoff teams in the Titans and Ravens. They also have another one-score loss against a likely playoff team from earlier in the season, when they lost to the Rams by a field goal, and overall, they haven’t lost by double digits since week one.
However, that doesn’t quite tell the whole story. For one, even with those aforementioned games against the Titans, Ravens, Rams, and Bills, the Colts have still faced one of the easiest schedules in the league, with four of their six wins coming against the Jets, Texans, Jaguars, and Dolphins, who are all among the worst teams in the league. They have also had unsustainable success in the turnover margin, leading the league by a wide margin at +15, in large part due to their easy schedule.
Turnover margin is one of the least predictive metrics in the league and, in terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, which are based on more predictive metrics like first down rate and turnover margin, the Colts rank 11th, 26th, 5th on offense, defense, and special teams respectively and 15th in overall mixed efficiency. The Colts are better than that on offense with quarterback Carson Wentz over the early season injuries that limited him, their two best offensive linemen Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith back from injury, and starting wide receiver TY Hilton back as well, but they still aren’t quite the contender that the public seems to think they are.
The Colts schedule continues to be tougher this week with the Buccaneers coming to town and, even if turnover margins were somewhat predictive, it would be hard to see the Colts having the same sort of success in the turnover battle in this matchup against the Buccaneers as they did in matchups against the worst teams in the league. The Buccaneers have a +5 turnover margin on the year, but, more importantly, they also rank 2nd, 8th, 23rd, and 1st in offensive, defensive, special teams, and mixed efficiency respectively. The Buccaneers are also in a good spot, coming off of a Monday Night Football win by 20+ points, a spot in which teams cover at a 59.9% rate all-time, while the Colts could be a little flat after playing their best game of the season last week and winning in Buffalo in upset fashion.
I am going to be picking the Buccaneers for pick ‘em purposes regardless, but depending on the status of some of Tampa Bay’s questionable players, I may end up betting on them. The Buccaneers will be without guard Ali Marpet, one of the best players in the league at his position, which will be a big absence, but their defense could get defensive tackle Vita Vea back from a one-game absence and cornerback Carlton Davis back from a 6-game absence, which would more than offset the loss of Marpet on offense. For now, I am leaving this as a low confidence pick, but if there is good injury news and the line stays put, I will update this pick.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30 Indianapolis Colts 24
Pick against the spread: Tampa Bay -3
Los Angeles Rams (7-3) at Green Bay Packers (8-3)
The Packers’ lost to the Vikings last week, their second loss of the season with Aaron Rodgers under center and their third loss overall, dropping them to 8-3, after a 7-1 start. The Packers have bigger concerns though. Even when they were winning games, they weren’t doing so in impressive fashion. Just three of their wins came by more than 10 points and those came in games in which they were down at halftime at home to the winless Lions, outgained at home on a per play basis by Washington, and facing an underwhelming Seahawks team that was starting a much less than 100% Russell Wilson.
The Packers did go into Arizona and win, but they were very reliant on the turnover margin in that game, losing the first down rate battle by 5.93%, but winning by a field goal in a game in which they won the turnover battle by three. One of those turnovers was a late interception to seal the game when the Cardinals were in range to at least send the game to overtime, if not win outright. The Packers scored off the Cardinals’ other two takeaways too, so if any one of those turnovers doesn’t happen, the Packers could have easily lost. Given how inconsistent turnover margins are on a week-to-week basis, the Packers can’t count on that again and, given that the Cardinals outperformed the Packers in other key metrics, the Cardinals would likely win a rematch more often than not, so even that was not a dominant win.
On top of that, the Packers injury situation seems to get worse by the week. Already without left tackle David Bakhtiari, edge defender Za’Darius Smith, and cornerback Jaire Alexander, three of the best players in the league at their respective positions, who have missed all of most of the season, the Packers will now be without Kevin King, their best cornerback in Alexander’s absence, even if only by default, and Elgton Jenkins, a talented offensive lineman who has been by far their best offensive lineman in Bakhtiari’s absence.
The Packers could get back Rashan Gary, their best edge defender in Smith’s absence, and top running back Aaron Jones, who both missed last week and seem likely to return this week, but even that isn’t a guarantee and, even if both played, their return would be offset by the loss of Jenkins and King. That doesn’t even include the injury that Aaron Rodgers is playing through, which is costing him valuable practice time and likely limiting him in games as well.
The Rams have a similar record to the Packers, but have been a much better team. They lost their last two games before the bye week, both by multiple scores, but in one game they threw multiple pick sixes, which won’t happen every week, and in the other they played a very underrated 49ers team. The Rams should also get a lot more out of mid-season acquisitions Odell Beckham and Von Miller this week, after both played sparingly across the two games before the bye. If both play close to a full set of snaps, the Rams are simply a much more talented team than the very banged up Packers right now.
This line favors the Rams by 2 points in Green Bay, but given the talent disparity between those two teams, my calculated line favors the Rams by 5. I am hesitant to bet heavily against the Packers because of how good Aaron Rodgers has been in his career at home and off of a loss, going 48-22 ATS in home games that he has started and finished and that had live crowds and going 41-21 ATS in the week following a loss, but the Rams are also coming off of a loss and a bye week as well, so they should bring their best effort this week and still worth a small play because of the value we are getting with them in a game in which they basically just need to win to cover.
Los Angeles Rams 31 Green Bay Packers 27
Pick against the spread: LA Rams -2
Minnesota Vikings (5-5) at San Francisco 49ers (5-5)
The 49ers are just 5-5, but they have a point differential that is better than their record at +24, despite dealing with a significant amount of injury absences, many of whom have since returned, and despite a -5 turnover margin, 5th worst in the NFL. Turnover margin is highly non-predictive on a week-to-week basis and the 49ers rank 7th, 6th, 7th, and 4th in offensive, defensive, special teams, and mixed efficiency, when adjusted for schedule, which are based on more predictive metrics like first down rate and yards per play, showing them to statistically be one of the best and most well-balanced teams in the league, despite all of the players who missed time earlier this season.
The 49ers have covered by a wide margin in back-to-back games and have overall covered three of their last four games, but they still remain underrated, favored by just 3 points at home against the Vikings. Part of that may be the Vikings being overrated, as the general public sees they have been competitive in all their games and could easily have a few more wins if a few things went their way. They also remember them handing the Packers their second loss of the season with Aaron Rodgers last week.
That analysis leaves out a lot of things though. For one, the Vikings could also just as easily have a few more losses, as just one of their wins has come by more than one score. The Vikings also needed pick sixes in two of their losses to make those games closer than they otherwise would have been and, if not for those, they could easily have a couple multiscore losses. On top of that, their win over the Packers isn’t as impressive as it seems, as the Packers are an overrated team with a lot of injury issues, and the Vikings will be more short-handed than they were a week ago, particularly on the defensive line.
Already without interior defender Michael Pierce and edge defender Danielle Hunter for an extended period of time, the Vikings will add fellow interior defender Dalvin Tomlinson and fellow edge defender Everson Griffen to their list of absences this week, leaving them without their two best players at both positions, which is a big liability for a defense that already ranks just 24th in schedule adjusted efficiency. Their offense and special teams are better, but not good enough to make up for their issues on defense, with their offense ranking 15th in efficiency and their special teams ranking 13th. They should be underdogs of a lot more than three points in San Francisco against a still underrated 49ers team. My calculated line favors the 49ers by 8, so the 49ers are an obvious choice against the spread and my top pick this week.
San Francisco 49ers 31 Minnesota Vikings 23
Pick against the spread: San Francisco -3
Confidence: Pick of the Week
Carolina Panthers (5-6) at Miami Dolphins (4-7)
The Dolphins started this season 1-7, but they have won three straight to push their record to a somewhat respectable 4-7. That, combined with the Dolphins being 10-6 a year ago, has caused the public to think this is no longer one of the worst teams in the league, but that is a flawed assessment for a couple reasons. For one, their three wins haven’t been impressive, as one came on a short week against an exhausted Ravens team who played an overtime game the week before, a spot in which just 16% of teams cover the spread, while their other two wins came by one score against arguably the two worst teams in the league the Texans and the Jets, with the latter coming in a game in which the Jets won both the yards per play and first down rate battle, which are the most predictive metrics.
The Dolphins rank 31st, 22nd, 27th, 30th in offensive, defensive, special teams, and mixed efficiency respectively, which are based on yards per play and first down rate and adjusted for schedule, showing them to still be one of the worst teams in the league from a statistical standpoint, even though they are 4-7. The Dolphins did win 10 games a year ago, but they faced a very easy schedule and they benefited from an unsustainably high turnover margin (+11), opponent’s field goal percentage (3rd lowest at 73.91%), and 3rd/4th down conversion rate allowed (33.02%), which was actually lower than the 34.07% conversion rate they allowed on 1st/2nd down (4th highest in the NFL), so they were not nearly as good as their record suggested.
The Panthers, meanwhile, rank 30th, 2nd, 20th, and 18th offensive, defensive, special teams, and mixed efficiency respectively this season. Their offensive performance is concerning, especially because offensive performance tends to be the most predictive of the three phases, but they should be at least somewhat better now that they have feature back Christian McCaffrey back from an extended absence and now that they have probably their best quarterback of the year under center, with Cam Newton returning to the team a couple weeks ago. The Panthers defense, meanwhile, is legitimately one of the best in the league now that linebacker Shaq Thompson and cornerback Stephon Gilmore, two of the best players in the league at their respective positions, are both back healthy.
The Panthers are 5-6 despite having arguably the worst quarterback play in the league and being without their best offensive player for about half of the season, so with Newton and McCaffrey now in the lineup, the Panthers should be at least an average opponent going forward. Newton is certainly not without his faults, but, as bad as the Panthers’ quarterback play has been this season, it won’t be hard for Newton to be an upgrade and he could easily be a significant upgrade.
The Panthers lost at home to Washington in Newton’s first start last week, but that was a one score loss against a decent opponent and Newton should be more comfortable with the playbook this week, in what is a much easier matchup in Miami. Despite that, the Panthers are just 2-point favorites, which shows how much the Dolphins are overrated. My calculated line has the Panthers favored by 5.5 points and, in a game in which the Panthers basically just have to win to cover (about 8% of games are decided by 2 points or fewer), the Panthers are an easy choice against the spread, as long as the line stays under a field goal.
Carolina Panthers 23 Miami Dolphins 17
Pick against the spread: Carolina -2