Pick of the Week
High Confidence Picks
Medium Confidence Picks
Low Confidence Picks
No Confidence Picks
CHI +140 vs. DET
GB +110 vs. BAL
SEA +105 vs. ATL
Pick of the Week
High Confidence Picks
Medium Confidence Picks
Low Confidence Picks
No Confidence Picks
CHI +140 vs. DET
GB +110 vs. BAL
SEA +105 vs. ATL
Arizona Cardinals (4-5) at Houston Texans (3-6)
Both of these teams have had their season derailed by injuries to their starting quarterback, as Carson Palmer and Deshaun Watson are out indefinitely with a broken arm and a torn ACL respectively. As a result, these two teams are starting Blaine Gabbert and Tom Savage respectively, two of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL. Quarterback isn’t the only place these two teams are banged up though. The Cardinals have lost left tackle DJ Humphries, running back David Johnson, left guard Mike Iupati, outside linebacker Markus Golden, and safety Tyvon Branch for the season with injuries, while the Texans are missing defensive end JJ Watt, outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus, defensive end Christian Covington, and wide receiver Will Fuller.
With all that these two teams are missing, they are two of the worst teams in the entire NFL. I have them more or less even in my roster rankings, suggesting that the hometown Texans should be favored by about a field goal. Given that, we are getting line value with them as just 1 point home favorites, but it’s not enough for me to bet on Houston confidently. For pick ‘em purposes, the Texans should be the pick, but I would not recommend betting on either of these teams.
Houston Texans 20 Arizona Cardinals 17
Pick against the spread: Houston -1
Los Angeles Rams (7-2) at Minnesota Vikings (7-2)
Case Keenum and Jared Goff were the two starting quarterbacks for the Rams last season, on a team that went 4-12. Now Keenum and Goff face off against each other as quarterbacks of 7-2 teams in the middle of a race for a first round bye in the NFC. The #1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Goff lost all 7 of his starts for the Rams last season after taking over for the veteran Keenum mid-season, but he’s taken a huge step forward in his 2nd season in the league and he has a lot more talent around him on an overall much better coached team.
They’ve won with convincing margins of victory and rank 4th in first down rate differential. Their easy schedule has been a big part of their success though, as 5 of their 7 wins have come against the Cardinals, Colts, 49ers, Texans, and Giants. Beating the Cowboys and Jaguars is impressive, but the Cowboys were without top linebacker Sean Lee in that game and the Rams scored two special teams touchdowns against the Jaguars. In addition to that, they’ve also lost at home to the Seahawks and Redskins.
The Vikings are arguably the toughest team they’ve faced this season, surprisingly led by Case Keenum. When the veteran journeyman Keenum signed with the Vikings this off-season, he looked bound for a backup job at best. Sam Bradford was coming off of a solid, healthy season as the starting quarterback, while Teddy Bridgewater looked like he could be ready to return as a reserve at some point in the season. However, Bradford hasn’t played much since week 1 due to a knee injury and Keenum is playing so well in his absence that the Vikings are keeping Bridgewater on the bench even though he is now healthy enough to play. Like Goff, Keenum isn’t doing this by himself, as he has a strong supporting cast, but this is the best football he’s played in his career and it’s tough to bench him at this point.
That being said, in the long run benching Keenum is probably the best decision. This team has the supporting cast to compete for a Super Bowl if they have strong quarterback play in the post-season. Keenum is hot right now, but he’s probably not the quarterback who can take them where they want to be. Bridgewater is more of a question mark, but he has the upside to take this team on a run and they should try to get him back into the lineup as quickly as they can so he can have a few starts under his belt by the post-season.
If Bridgewater was starting this game, I’d pick the Vikings, but, with Keenum, I calculated this line exactly where it is, at -2.5, so we’re not getting any line value with Minnesota. Given that, I’m taking the Rams because, unlike the Vikings, they have a normal week of rest on deck. The Vikings, meanwhile, go to Detroit on a short week for a Thanksgiving game. Favorites are just 61-95 ATS since 2008 before Thursday Night Football, as it’s understandably tough to be focused for an inferior opponent with another game right around the corner. This is a no confidence pick, but the Rams are the choice for pick ‘em purposes.
Minnesota Vikings 17 Los Angeles Rams 16
Pick against the spread: LA Rams +2.5
Jacksonville Jaguars (6-3) at Cleveland Browns (0-9)
The Browns led the Lions 24-17 in the 3rd quarter last week, despite allowing a return touchdown earlier in the game and getting no points out of a goal line opportunity at the end of the half, but they ended up losing 38-24 when the Lions scored three straight touchdowns. Despite numerous screw ups, the game was one of their best of their winless season. One of the reasons for that is that their defense was fully healthy coming out of the bye, after defensive end Myles Garrett, outside linebacker Jamie Collins, and cornerback Jason McCourty all missed time in the first half of the season.
Collins unfortunately got hurt again last week and now is out for the season, but he wasn’t playing that well, so the Browns still have a decent defense out there. They’re obviously not fully healthy on offense without perennial All-Pro left tackle Joe Thomas, but they do get #1 receiver Corey Coleman back from a 7 game absence this week. The Jaguars, on the other hand, are without a pair of starters on the offensive line, left guard Patrick Omameh and right tackle Jermey Parnell, and stud running back Leonard Fournette is at less than 100% with his ankle injury. Given that, we’re getting some line value with the Browns at +7.5, but not enough to pick them confidently as they still figure to have a major problem scoring on the Jaguars’ tough defense.
Jacksonville Jaguars 16 Cleveland Browns 10
Pick against the spread: Cleveland +7.5
Baltimore Ravens (4-5) at Green Bay Packers (5-4)
This line was Green Bay +3 a week ago, but the Packers’ upset victory in Chicago caused this line to move to +2. That’s unfortunate because I would have had some interest in the Packers at +3. The Packers are obviously banged up, losing their top-2 running backs last week after already being without quarterback Aaron Rodgers, right tackle Bryan Bulaga, and defensive back Morgan Burnett for an extended period of time. However, they still have a strong receiving corps and are above average on both the offensive and defensive lines and new quarterback Brett Hundley is coming off of his best start of the season.
The Ravens, meanwhile, are a mediocre team with major offensive issues, especially with talented left tackle Ronnie Stanley injured. In fact, I have the Ravens just a couple spots ahead of the Packers in my roster rankings and I have this line calculated at -3. Unfortunately, the Packers are in a tough spot with a much tougher game in Pittsburgh on deck. Teams are 48-78 ATS since 2002 before being 10+ point underdogs, as Tough upcoming games tend to present a distraction for teams. Given that, I’d need the full field goal to bet the Packers confidently. This is a low confidence pick, although the money line makes some sense at +110.
Green Bay Packers 19 Baltimore Ravens 17 Upset Pick +110
Pick against the spread: Green Bay +2
Cincinnati Bengals (3-6) at Denver Broncos (3-6)
The Broncos have lost 5 straight games by double digits and have lost their last 2 games by a combined 53 points, but teams tend to bounce back pretty well after back-to-back blowout losses. Teams are 45-31 ATS since 2002 off of back-to-back losses by 21 or more, as teams tend to be overlooked, undervalued, and embarrassed after two straight big losses. The schedule also gets a little easier for the Broncos, with the Bengals coming to town, following games against the Chiefs, Eagles, and Patriots.
Not only has the Broncos’ schedule been tough, but they have done very poorly with turnover margin. Through 9 games, they rank last in the NFL in turnover margin at -14, but they should be better going forward, given how inconsistent turnover margins are on a week-to-week basis. Despite a 3-6 record and a tough schedule, they rank 21st in first down rate differential. However, we aren’t getting much line value with the Broncos as 2.5 point home favorites because, like the Broncos, the Bengals are also underrated as a result of a poor turnover margin. They are -9 in turnover margin, 3rd worst in the NFL, but they rank 17th in first down rate differential. They also have a significant edge at quarterback and a comparable defense to the Broncos.
The Bengals are also in a good spot as they only have an easy game against the Browns up next, meaning they should be focused. The Broncos, meanwhile, have to travel to Oakland after this one and could get caught looking forward a little bit. Underdogs are 65-40 ATS since 2014 before being favorites when their opponent will next be underdogs, which the Broncos will be next week in Oakland. That trend might not apply to the Broncos this week because they’ve been embarrassed in back-to-back weeks, but I can’t be confident at all in the Broncos this week as 2.5 point home favorites. They could win by a field goal or more, but Cincinnati is a slightly superior team who could win outright. This is exactly where I have this line and there are offsetting trends, so this is a really tough one.
Denver Broncos 16 Cincinnati Bengals 13
Pick against the spread: Denver -2.5
Atlanta Falcons (5-4) at Seattle Seahawks (6-3)
The Seahawks beat the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday Night Football last week to improve to 6-3, but their season could be in serious trouble. In cruel irony, the Seahawks, always a vocal opponent of Thursday Night Football for safety reasons, lost stud cornerback Richard Sherman for the season with an achilles tear and stud safety Kam Chancellor for the season with a neck injury in that win over the Cardinals. They’ve already lost talented defensive end Cliff Avril for the season with a neck injury, so this defense is not nearly what it used to be.
On top of that, the Seahawks will also be without talented left tackle Duane Brown, who also went down against Arizona, a big blow to an offensive line with serious problems at other positions. Even before the injury, the Seahawks only ranked 18th in first down rate differential. The Falcons, meanwhile, rank 8th, and have a significant talent edge on paper right now too, even more so than when the Falcons blew out the Seahawks 36-20 in Atlanta last season in the post-season. The Falcons are not as well coached this season, especially on offense, but they still have largely the same personnel.
This one is in Seattle though, which hurts the Falcons’ chances of winning, as does the fact that this is a night game. West coast teams cover about two thirds of the time in night games against East coast teams. In the second half of this game, the Seahawks’ internal clock will be at about 7 PM, while the Falcons will be at 10 PM, which puts them at a significant disadvantage. The Seahawks are also in a big statement game spot given all of their injuries and they tend to be a great second half of the season team (35-14 ATS in regular season games 9-16 in the Pete Carroll era). With only an easy game against the 49ers on deck, the Seahawks have no upcoming distractions and could play one of their best games of the season. I’m still taking the Falcons, but this is a no confidence pick at +3. This seems like a field goal Seattle win.
Update: This line has moved significantly since Saturday because of Kam Chancellor being officially ruled out and heavy public action on the Falcons. The Seahawks are now underdogs of 1.5 points. Given that I still see this as a field goal game, Seattle is now a medium confidence pick. They are 7-2-1 ATS in regular season home primetime games in Russell Wilson’s career and get the added benefit of playing a time that’s flown across the country. They’re also in a great spot with an easy trip to San Francisco on deck.
Seattle Seahawks 27 Atlanta Falcons 24 Upset Pick +105
Pick against the spread: Seattle +1.5
New England Patriots (7-2) vs. Oakland Raiders (4-5) in Mexico City
The Raiders are technically the home team in this International Series game in Mexico City, but the Patriots might be the one with the slight homefield advantage. The Patriots have won 12 straight games away from Gillette Stadium, with an average margin of victory of 12.83 points per game and a 8-2-2 ATS record in those 12 games. Over the same time period, the Patriots have 4 home losses and have an average point differential of 9.07 points per game in 15 home games. This makes a lot of sense considering how many fans the Patriots have around the country. Even in Denver last week, Patriots fans could be heard in the crowd.
The Patriots have never played in Mexico City, but they have had a lot of success in their first 2 international games, beating the Buccaneers by a score of 35-7 in London in 2009 and beating the Rams by a score of 45-7 in London in 2012. Much like American fans with Europe soccer teams, international NFL fans tend to root for the most successful franchises. That might be why favorites of 4+ are 12-1 ATS all-time in neutral site games. The Raiders have a geographical advantage and they played in Mexico City last year, but there should still be a lot of Patriots fans in attendance. The Patriots also just played in high altitude in Denver last week, so they’ll be used to it in Mexico City.
That being said, we’re getting no line value with the Patriots as 7 point favorites. The Patriots still rank 31st in first down rate allowed and have serious trouble getting off the field without forcing a takeaway. They could allow the Raiders to hang around and get a backdoor cover in a shootout. The Patriots are also banged up offensively, missing starting right tackle Marcus Cannon, starting center David Andrews, and #2 wide receiver Chris Hogan. If this line drops below 7, I may reconsider, but, for now, this is a low confidence pick.
New England Patriots 31 Oakland Raiders 23
Pick against the spread: New England -7
Kansas City Chiefs (6-3) at New York Giants (1-8)
The Giants hit rock bottom last week, falling to 1-8 in a double digit loss to a previously winless 49ers team. The Giants have had injuries, but they don’t seem to be trying hard either. This is a very veteran team with very little good young talent and they don’t seem to want to try hard for head coach Ben McAdoo in a lost season. It’s possible they put in more effort this week for the Kansas City Chiefs, a much tougher opponent, but it’s also possible they mail it in if they go down by multiple scores early, especially since they have to go to Washington on a short week next week. They are currently 8.5 point underdogs on the early line for that Thanksgiving game.
Underdogs of 6+ are 35-54 ATS since 2014 before being underdogs of 6+ again. It’s very tough for inferior teams to keep up with superior teams if they have another tough game on deck. That’s especially true if the superior opponent doesn’t have a tough game on deck, which the Chiefs don’t, with the Bills coming to town next week. The early line has the Chiefs as 7.5 point favorites. Favorites of 6+ are 65-40 ATS since 2014 before being favorites of 6+ again. Combining trends, favorites of 6+ are 35-9 ATS since 2012 before being favorites of 6+ again when their opponent will be 6+ point underdogs again the following week.
The Chiefs are also coming out of a bye and big road favorites tend to cover after a bye. Road favorites of 3.5+ are are 42-17 ATS since 1989 off of a regular season bye when their opponent is not coming off of a bye. The Giants have already lost at home by big margins twice this season against good teams coming out of their bye, as the Seahawks won 24-7 and the Rams won 51-17. The Chiefs could easily do that as well, but we aren’t getting any line value with them at -10. The Chiefs rank dead last in first down rate allowed this season, as they’ve been unable to get off the field defensively without forcing turnovers. They could allow the Giants to hang around in garbage time if the Giants actually put in effort for the full 60 minutes. If this line drops under 10, I may reconsider, but this is a low confidence pick for now. The Chiefs are also the smart survivor pick this week if you have not used them yet.
Update: -9.5 has popped up in a few places Sunday morning, despite wide receiver Sterling Shepard and cornerback Eli Apple being unexpectedly inactive. Grab -9.5 if you can get it.
Kansas City Chiefs 31 New York Giants 17 Survivor Pick
Pick against the spread: Kansas City -9.5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-6) at Miami Dolphins (4-5)
I am kicking myself for not taking Tampa Bay +3 when it briefly showed up at the beginning of the week. A line of -3 in favor of the hometown Dolphins suggests these two teams are about even, which is not true. The Dolphins, despite a 4-5 record, are one of the worst teams in the NFL. Their 4 wins have come by a combined 14 points, while their 5 losses have come by a combined 101 points, giving them a point differential of -87 on the season. That’s the 4th worst point differential in the NFL. They also rank 3rd worst in first down rate differential.
The Buccaneers are not a great team, especially with Ryan Fitzpatrick, but they’re significantly better than the Dolphins. They rank 19th in first down rate differential on the season, as 3 of their 6 losses have come by 5 points or fewer. Obviously losing Jameis Winston hurts them, but, given the way he was playing before he went down, it doesn’t hurt them that much. Fitzpatrick is definitely not a great starting option, but he’s experienced and he’s overall an above average backup.
Fitzpatrick also has a fair amount of talent around him on offense, with Mike Evans returning from suspension. Third round rookie Chris Godwin played well in his absence and now the Buccaneers go 4 deep at wide receiver, in addition to having a talented tight end duo. Defensively, they’ve played better in recent weeks as they’ve gotten healthier in the back 7. Outside linebacker Lavonte David, cornerback Brent Grimes, and middle linebacker Kwon Alexander missed 2 games, 3 games, and 4 games respectively early in the season, which hurt this defense.
Unfortunately, this line has shifted from 3 all the way to a pick ‘em. That’s exactly where I have this line, so we’ve lost all line value with the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay is still the pick for pick ‘em purposes because they have a tough game against the Patriots on deck, in which they are 14 point underdogs on the early line. Teams are 48-78 ATS since 2002 before being 10+ point underdogs. It’s definitely a possibility that the Dolphins don’t give their best effort for a 3-6 non-conference opponent with a huge divisional game on deck. I just don’t have a ton of interest in betting on Fitzpatrick on the road without getting field goal protection.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17 Miami Dolphins 15
Pick against the spread: Tampa Bay PK