Pick of the Week
LAR +105 @ SF
Pick of the Week
LAR +105 @ SF
Los Angeles Rams (2-1) at San Francisco 49ers (1-2)
The 49ers have been hit hard by injuries as much as any team in the league. In total, they are without top interior defender Arik Armstead, rotational interior defender Javon Kinlaw, talented safety Jimmie Ward, rotational linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair, starting center Daniel Brunskill, starting running back Elijah Mitchell, stud left tackle Trent Williams, and starting quarterback Trey Lance, although that last one is largely offset by the 49ers having veteran Jimmy Garoppolo as a replacement.
The Rams have some injury concerns, missing starting center Brian Allen and several cornerbacks behind Jalen Ramsey, but they still have a four point edge in my roster rankings over the injury plagued 49ers. Despite that, they are actually underdogs on the road in San Francisco, albeit of just 1.5 points. That’s probably because of the history of Sean McVay’s and Kyle Shanahan’s matchups, with Shanahan winning 7 of 11, but I’m not sure how much that matters. That disparity is because the 49ers beat the Rams six straight times, but the Rams ended that streak in the NFC Championship game last year and that wasn’t that surprising.
Teams that have won six straight matchups against their opponent do win that seventh game at a 60.1% clip, but that is usually because the team is better in general and not because they happen to “have their number.” When we look at underdogs, like the 49ers were in the NFC Championship, that winning percentage drops to 34.5% and they only even cover the spread at a 50.2% clip. If we largely discount the history of this matchup, which we should, the Rams should be favored by a couple points in this matchup. There’s not quite enough here for the Rams to be worth betting against the spread, but they should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes and there’s some value in placing a small bet on the money line at +105.
Los Angeles Rams 17 San Francisco 49ers 16 Upset Pick +105
Pick against the spread: LA Rams +1.5
Washington Commanders (1-2) at Dallas Cowboys (2-1)
The Cowboys’ season seemed over in week 1, when Dak Prescott suffered a multi-week injury in a blowout loss at home to the Buccaneers, but they’ve won back-to-back games with backup quarterback Mike White and, while he might not continue to play quite as well as he has been, he has shown himself to at least be a solid backup and the Cowboys are getting healthier around in other spots on this roster, with wide receiver Michael Gallup, tight end Dalton Schultz, left guard Connor McGovern, and safety Jayron Kearse all expected to play this week after missing starts in the first three games of the season.
Unfortunately, we’re not getting much line value with the Cowboys as favorites of a field goal at home against the Commanders, as the public isn’t afraid to back the Cowboys even with a backup quarterback. My calculated line suggests the healthier Cowboys are more likely than not to cover a three point spread, but only by a small amount, so this is a no confidence pick and there is a strong likelihood of a push, given that 1 in 6 games are decided by a field goal exactly.
Dallas Cowboys 23 Washington Commanders 20
Pick against the spread: Dallas -3
New York Jets (1-2) at Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2)
I’ve mentioned before that +3.5 covers the spread more than any other number, doing so 53.0% of the time, which is actually a profitable winning percentage even with the vig. That’s because of how many games are decided by exactly 3 points, 1 in 6, with 1 in 4 being decided by 3 points or fewer. This game seems like it has a strong likelihood to be a close game, so I’m drawn to the Jets as 3.5 point underdogs. I do have the Steelers about a point better in my roster rankings than the Jets, but I’m not sure if that justifies this line being at 3.5. This is one of my lower confidence picks, but the Jets are the pick for pick ‘em purposes.
Pittsburgh Steelers 20 New York Jets 17
Pick against the spread: NY Jets +3.5
Denver Broncos (2-1) at Las Vegas Raiders (0-3)
This line favors the Raiders by 2.5 points at home, suggesting these two teams are about even. I have them about equal in my roster rankings, so this line is about right. The Raiders could be in a tough spot this week, hosting the Broncos, with a bigger divisional game against the Chiefs on deck. On the other hand, the Raiders are just 0-3, so they will be desperate for their first win. I’m still taking the Broncos, but there isn’t nearly enough here for them to be worth betting.
Las Vegas Raiders 26 Denver Broncos 24
Pick against the spread: Denver +2.5
Seattle Seahawks (1-2) at Detroit Lions (1-2)
This line has moved from favoring the Lions by 6 points on the early line last week to just 3.5 points this week, but I don’t think the line has moved enough, with the Lions losing feature back D’Andre Swift and #1 wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown to injury, while already missing starting guards Jonah Jackson and Halapoulivaati Vaitai. That will make it very difficult for this offense to function like it has been to start the season, which is a problem for a team with a defense that is still underwhelming at best.
I actually have the Seahawks slightly ahead of the Lions in my roster rankings, so we’re getting good line value with them as 3.5 point underdogs. My calculated line has Detroit favored by two points and, while it might not seem like much, 1 in 6 games are decided by exactly three points, so getting the Seahawks at +3.5 is a big deal, especially since that is the number that covers the spread most often (53.0%). All in all, 1 in 4 games are decided by three points or fewer and the Seahawks have a good chance to keep this game close or even pull the outright upset. This isn’t a big play, but the Seahawks are worth betting this week.
Detroit Lions 30 Seattle Seahawks 28
Pick against the spread: Seattle +3.5
New England Patriots (1-2) at Green Bay Packers (2-1)
The Patriots will play this game with backup quarterback Brian Hoyer under center instead of Mac Jones, which puts them at a distinct disadvantage, while the Packers have gotten back offensive linemen David Bakhtiari, Elgton Jenkins, and Jon Runyan and wide receivers Allen Lazard and Christian Watson, all of whom missed time early this season and have since returned, giving them a much better supporting cast around Aaron Rodgers. They didn’t score a lot in Tampa Bay last week, but they’re even healthier this week and the Buccaneers have one of the best defenses in the league, so it wasn’t that bad that the Packers didn’t perform that well offensively. Even with that game included, the Packers still rank a solid 11th in offensive efficiency on the season, despite all of their injuries. Led by that offense, the Packers rank 12th in overall efficiency, as opposed to the Patriots, who rank just 23rd, even with Mac Jones healthy.
With the Packers being the significantly healthier and better team team, they are favorites of 9.5 points in this game, which would be around the correct line, if not for the fact that the Packers have had an incredible homefield advantage in recent years, going 47-19 ATS in the regular season at home in games started and finished by Aaron Rodgers. Because of that, this line should be set even higher. There isn’t quite enough here for the Packers to be worth betting with this line already being so high, but they should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes.
Green Bay Packers 24 New England Patriots 13
Pick against the spread: Green Bay -9.5
Los Angeles Chargers (1-2) at Houston Texans (0-2-1)
Going into the season, I expected the Chargers to be Super Bowl contenders, but they’ve gotten off to a slow start, sitting at 1-2, while ranking just 19th in schedule adjusted overall efficiency. A big part of the problem has been injuries and things aren’t getting better. Center Corey Linsley and cornerback JC Jackson are expected to return this week, but left tackle Rashawn Slater and edge defender Joey Bosa are now out, while wide receiver Keenan Allen will miss his third straight game.
Those five aforementioned players are five of their most important and, on top of that, stud quarterback Justin Herbert may not be 100% as he deals with a rib injury. The Chargers are favored by 6 points here in Houston, but I think that’s a little too much, even against a Texans team that is one of the worst in the league. There’s not quite enough here for the Texans to be worth betting, but they should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes.
Los Angeles Chargers 24 Houston Texans 20
Pick against the spread: Houston +6
Kansas City Chiefs (2-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1)
I’ve mentioned this in the Buccaneers’ first three games, but Tom Brady led teams have been a strong bet as underdogs or favorites of less than three in his career, going 59-29 ATS in that spot, including 2-1 ATS this season. The one loss was last week against the Packers, but Tom Brady was missing wide receivers Mike Evans, Julio Jones, and Chris Godwin, as well as stud left tackle Donovan Smith. This week, Evans is set to return from a one-game suspension, while Jones, Godwin, and Smith are at least gametime decisions.
Just Evans’ presence alone will be a big boost for this offense, but if all three of those players are active, the Buccaneers will be healthier than they’ve been since early in week one before Smith and Godwin went down. Their offense has struggled thus far this season, but their defense is the real deal, ranking third in schedule adjusted defensive efficiency and, if their offense can bounce back, which they easily can with Brady and a healthier supporting cast, the Buccaneers should still be considered among the top teams in the league.
Despite that, the Buccaneers are 1-point home underdogs here against the Chiefs. I do have the Chiefs a little higher in my roster rankings, but my calculated line is Tampa Bay -1.5, so we’re at least getting some line value with the Buccaneers, in addition to getting Brady in a spot where he’s been an almost automatic bet in his career. Brady has also been close to an automatic bet off of a loss in his career, going 36-11 ATS unless he’s favored by more than a touchdown. The Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes is also an elite quarterback, but he doesn’t have the same track record after a loss (6-7 ATS) and I would give the edge to Brady at home in this matchup, especially if any of the aforementioned gametime decisions play. Without a better option this week, the Buccaneers are my Pick of the Week.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24 Kansas City Chiefs 20
Pick against the spread: Tampa Bay +1
Confidence: Pick of the Week
Buffalo Bills (2-1) at Baltimore Ravens (2-1)
The Bills lost last week in a close 2-point game in Miami, which has been a common theme for them in the past couple years. Since the start of last season, 7 of the 8 Bills’ losses, including playoffs, have come by one score or less, while all of their 14 wins over that span have all come by 12 points or more. The Bills finished the 2021 season ranked 1st in schedule adjusted efficiency and still lead the league in 2022, even after last week’s close loss. I would still consider them the Super Bowl favorites.
The Bills were also far from healthy in last week’s loss. While top cornerback Tre’Davious White and stud safety Micah Hyde remain out, the Bills could get back center Mitch Morse, safety Jordan Poyer, interior defender Ed Oliver, and cornerback Dane Jackson this week. If the Bills had even half of those players last week, they likely would have prevailed in Miami and, with at least some of those players expected to return this week, the Bills should be expected to prevail in Baltimore as well.
Unfortunately, the public still really likes the Bills, even after last week’s loss, so we’re not getting much line value with them as 3-point road favorites against a good Ravens team. I’m still taking the Bills for pick ‘em purposes, but this is a no confidence pick and I ultimately may end up flipping my pick to the Ravens depending on the final injury reports as, in addition to the aforementioned questionable players for the Bills, the Ravens could be set to get a key player back from injury in Ronnie Stanley. Either way this is likely to be a no confidence pick though.
Buffalo Bills 31 Baltimore Ravens 27
Pick against the spread: Buffalo -3