Pick of the Week
High Confidence Picks
Medium Confidence Picks
Low Confidence Picks
No Confidence Picks
WAS +100 vs. CAR
TEN +120 vs. BAL
IND +110 @ NYJ
Pick of the Week
High Confidence Picks
Medium Confidence Picks
Low Confidence Picks
No Confidence Picks
WAS +100 vs. CAR
TEN +120 vs. BAL
IND +110 @ NYJ
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2) at Atlanta Falcons (1-4)
These two teams are pretty similar, as they have good offenses, but horrendous defenses. The Falcons started the season as a balanced team, but they have had terrible injury luck on defense, with defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, linebacker Deion Jones, and safeties Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen out with injuries. As a result, a team that looked like a possible contender coming into the season has fallen to 1-4 and looks unlikely to improve on defense any time soon.
On the other side, the Buccaneers problem on defense isn’t really injuries; they just have a weak defense. They rank dead last in first down rate allowed at 45.88%, one spot ahead of the Falcons at 45.02%. Fortunately, their offense has been strong to compensate somewhat, ranking 7th in first down rate at 40.56%, a few spots ahead of the Falcons, who rank 10th at 39.25% and continue to be without running back Devonta Freeman with injury.
With Jameis Winston taking his starting job back from Ryan Fitzpatrick, after briefly being benched upon his return from suspension, the Buccaneers’ offense could conceivably improve going forward. Winston played well when healthy last season and has arguably the most talented receiving corps in the NFL, especially with tight end OJ Howard looking likely to return from injury this week. I have the Falcons a couple spots higher in my rankings, so I’m taking them as mere 3 point home favorites, but this game is close to a toss up and could easily push. At 3.5, I’d take the Buccaneers.
Atlanta Falcons 34 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31
Pick against the spread: Atlanta -3
Arizona Cardinals (1-4) at Minnesota Vikings (2-2-1)
I’m torn on this one. On one hand, the Cardinals are one of the worst teams in the league and should only be picked if you are getting great line value with them, while the Vikings are in a great spot with only a trip to New York to play the Jets on deck. Teams are 79-61 ATS since 2014 before being road favorites of 4+, which the Vikings are expected to be next week in New York. With no upcoming distractions, they could easily take care of business at home against a much inferior team.
On the other hand, the Vikings enter this game missing several key players, so the Cardinals could easily keep it closer than expected. Already missing defensive end Everson Griffen with injury, the Vikings will also be without left tackle Riley Reiff and talented starting safety Andrew Sendejo with injury this week. Cornerback Trae Waynes and running back Dalvin Cook are expected to return from short absences, but the Vikings are far from 100% right now, so we’re getting a little bit of line value with the visitors. It’s not enough to take them with any confidence, but they are the pick for pick ‘em purposes.
Minnesota Vikings 23 Arizona Cardinals 13
Pick against the spread: Arizona +10.5
Oakland Raiders (1-4) vs. Seattle Seahawks (2-3) in London
This game features the Raiders and Seahawks in London. Typically in neutral site games, the rule of thumb is that the better team typically covers, as favorites are 21-9 ATS all-time. That makes sense, as better teams are more likely to be better prepared for a weird situation like this. The crowd is also likely to be slanted towards the better team. The Seahawks are favored in this one, but only by 2.5 points. While favorites of 4+ are 13-1 ATS in neutral site games, favorites of less than 4 are just 8-8 ATS.
The Seahawks also are not a good team right now, thanks to several personnel major losses over the past couple seasons and several major injuries, including stud safety Earl Thomas and every down linebacker KJ Wright. They’re better than the Raiders, but only by default, as the Raiders are one of the worst teams in the league, especially with talented left guard Kelechi Osemele out for the second straight game. I’m taking the Seahawks because they are the slightly better team and only really need to win to cover, but this is a no confidence bet.
Seattle Seahawks 23 Oakland Raiders 20
Pick against the spread: Seattle -2.5
Los Angeles Chargers (3-2) at Cleveland Browns (2-2-1)
The Browns have been near the top of my underrated list all season and I’ve picked them against the spread every week so far this season, including money bets on them against the Steelers, Jets, and Ravens. The Browns have covered or pushed in all 5 games, with their only non-cover coming in a push as 3-point underdogs in Oakland in a game they led by 8 with the ball under 2 minutes left. In fact, if not for a couple bad calls in that game and some missed kicks week 1 and week 2, the Browns could easily be 5-0 right now.
Of course, they also haven’t won a game by more than 4 points, so they could also easily be 1-4 right now, but my point is that the Browns are a competitive football team this season. They’ve drastically upgraded their quarterback situation, which has allowed a solid all around roster to shine more, after Deshone Kizer’s turnover proneness made it near impossible for them to win games in 2017.
Unfortunately, the public seems to be catching on a little bit, as the Browns are 1-point favorites this week at home against the Chargers. Last week, the Browns were field goal home underdogs against the Ravens. The Ravens and Chargers are about even in my rankings, with the Ravens only a couple spots ahead, so we’re not getting the same line value with the Browns this week. In fact, I actually have this line calculated at even, so, if anything we’re getting a tiny bit of line value with the Chargers.
The Chargers have no homefield advantage in Los Angeles, so I always like to bet on them away from home (30-19-3 ATS on the road since 2012, including 5-3-2 ATS since moving to Los Angeles last season), and the Browns could be a little tired this weekend after playing a ridiculous 3rd overtime game in 5 weeks last week. The Chargers aren’t exactly in a great spot either though, with a trip to London on deck (teams are 16-24 ATS all-time before a trip to London). In a game that’s a complete toss up, I’m taking the point for a no confidence pick. Maybe it’ll be another tie. Both teams have suspect kicking units.
Los Angeles Chargers 20 Cleveland Browns 20
Pick against the spread: LA Chargers +1
Jacksonville Jaguars (3-2) at Dallas Cowboys (2-3)
This line was Jacksonville -2 last week on the early line, but bizarrely it has since shifted to Jacksonville -3.5 and it’s not clear why. The Cowboys narrowly lost in Houston last week, while the Jaguars lost pretty easily in Kansas City, so nothing from last week’s results would seem to justify a significant movement like that. A point and a half might not seem like much, but about a sixth of games are decided by exactly 3 points, so this line moved across a very key number for seemingly no good reason other than heavy action on Jacksonville.
This line is the equivalent of Dallas being -9.5 in Jacksonville, which is what the Jets were a couple weeks back and the Cowboys are definitely more talented than the Jets. The Jaguars were also just -3 week 1 in New York against a Giants team that the Cowboys beat the following week fairly easily and have outplayed since that game. Even if this line was still at -2, we’d still be getting some line value with the Cowboys, as I have this line calculated at even.
A lot is made about the Cowboys’ offensive struggles, but they’ve had a top-10 defense this year and continue to play well despite the loss of linebacker Sean Lee due to injury. Ex-safety Byron Jones has broken out since being moved to cornerback, while the Cowboys’ young linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch have played more than well enough to hold down the fort in Lee’s absence. The Jaguars have offensive issues without Leonard Fournette and down to their 3rd string left tackle, so the Cowboys can definitely keep this one close and even possibly pull off the upset. The Cowboys have not been a good home team in recent years (24-43-1 ATS since 2010), which is why this isn’t a bigger bet, but the Cowboys are worth a bet at +3.5.
Jacksonville Jaguars 20 Dallas Cowboys 19
Pick against the spread: Dallas +3.5
Los Angeles Rams (5-0) at Denver Broncos (2-3)
The Broncos lost 34-16 in New York against the Jets last week, but they actually won the first down battle, picking up 26 first downs to 18 for the Jets and moving the chains at a 2.82% better rate. The Broncos lost by double digits because they allowed numerous large plays, but large plays tend to be inconsistent on a week-to-week basis. For example, the Broncos allowed 3 touchdowns of 35 yards or longer against the Jets, despite only allowing 1 touchdown longer than 35 yards in their previous 4 games and despite holding a much better Chiefs offense to just one play of 35 yards or more the previous week. Despite last week’s loss, the Broncos still rank 9th in first down rate differential on the year.
The Broncos were also in a terrible spot last week, with that Jets game sandwiched in between two much tougher games, their home game against the Chiefs week 4 and this home game against the league’s other undefeated team the Los Angeles Rams. The Broncos kept it close with the Chiefs and, though the Rams are a step up in talent because they are strong on both sides of the ball, the Broncos could easily keep this one close as well, as 7 point home underdogs. The Rams also have not been as good defensively since losing cornerback Aqib Talib to injury, allowing 30+ points in back-to-back weeks. Fellow starting cornerback Marcus Peters has not missed a game, but has struggled mightily in 2 games since sustaining a calf injury that was supposed to keep him out 2-4 weeks. If he continues to struggle, the Broncos could have a relatively easy time moving the ball in this one.
With only a game in Arizona on deck, the Broncos have no upcoming distractions. Home underdogs are 21-8 ATS since 2014 before being road favorites, which the Broncos are expected to be next week. The Rams are in a good spot too though, with only a trip to San Francisco, where they will be road favorites, on deck. Big favorites tend to take care of business before being big favorites again, going 79-50 ATS since 2014 as favorites of 6+ before being favorites of 6+ again. We’re getting some line value with the Broncos so I am taking them, but there’s not enough here for the Broncos to be worth betting this week.
Los Angeles Rams 26 Denver Broncos 20
Pick against the spread: Denver +7
Indianapolis Colts (1-4) at New York Jets (2-3)
The Jets have a pair of wins by double digits, beating the Lions 48-17 week 1 and the Broncos 34-16 last week. However, they were not as good as the final score suggested in either game. Against the Lions, they won the first down rate battle by just +5.94% and didn’t have a touchdown drive of more than 6 plays all game, benefitting from short fields off turnovers (5 takeaways), big plays on offense (2 touchdowns of 40+ yards), and return touchdowns (2 return touchdowns). Last week, they lost the first down rate battle by -2.82%, but had another 3 touchdowns of 35+ yards that led to the victory.
Big plays and turnover margins tend to be inconsistent on a week-to-week basis, so the Jets are not going to always be able to rely on those. In their 3 losses, they are -1 in turnovers and don’t have a single play longer than 44 yards. On the season, their offense has really struggled to move the ball, moving the chains at a 31.31% rate, 28th in the NFL. They are also dead last in red zone touchdown percentage, scoring primarily from outside of the 20 on big plays. Their defense is solid, ranking 9th at 34.20%, but their offensive struggles have them 24th overall in first down rate differential at -2.89%.
The Colts aren’t much better, especially with all of the players they are missing due to injury (top receiver TY Hilton, starting tight end Jack Doyle, starting defensive lineman Denico Autry, starting safety Clayton Geathers and his backup Matthias Farley), but the Jets aren’t healthy either with their top-2 cornerbacks Trumaine Johnson and Buster Skrine out and top running back Isaiah Crowell expected to be a gametime call, so the Colts have a good chance to come in and pull off the upset.
The Colts are also in a better spot, with another easy game against the Bills on deck. The Jets, on the other hand, have to turn around and face a tough Minnesota team, a game they will almost definitely be underdogs in. Underdogs are 81-48 ATS since 2014 before being favorites when their opponent will next be underdogs. There’s not quite enough here to bet the Colts as just 2-point underdogs when they are this banged up, but the money line is worth a small bet because the Colts are no worse than 50/50 to win this game.
Indianapolis Colts 23 New York Jets 20 Upset Pick +110
Pick against the spread: Indianapolis +2
Buffalo Bills (2-3) at Houston Texans (2-3)
The Bills have the worst offense in the league, but they’ve managed to pull off a couple wins in the past few weeks. That’s partially because their defense has been improved since the first couple weeks of the season, but they also didn’t win the first down rate battle in either of their wins and rank dead last on the season in first down rate differential at -11.10%, so it’s hard to get too excited about their defense.
Both wins also came against teams that were in terrible spots. The Vikings were coming off of a tie with the Packers and had another game against the Rams in 4 days on Thursday Night Football, while the Titans were coming off of an overtime upset win over the Eagles and had another tough game against the Ravens on deck. Despite the two wins, the Bills are still a tough team to bet.
Fortunately, they are facing another opponent in a bad spot this week, as the Texans have a big divisional clash in Jacksonville following this relatively easy home game against the Bills. Big favorites understandably tend to disappoint with a much bigger game on deck, going 37-55 ATS as favorites of 10+ before being underdogs of 3+ since 2002. I also have this line calculated at Houston -8, so we’re getting a little bit of line value with the visitors too. There’s not enough here for me to put money on the Bills, but this is the most I’ve liked the Bills in a game all year and they could easily give the Texans a game if the Texans don’t come out with their best effort.
Houston Texans 20 Buffalo Bills 13
Pick against the spread: Buffalo +10
Chicago Bears (3-1) at Miami Dolphins (3-2)
The Dolphins have really fallen back to earth after a surprising 3-0 start. After winning those first 3 games by a combined 23 points against a relatively easy group of teams, the Dolphins have lost their last 2 by a combined 41 points on the road against a pair of tough teams in the Patriots and Bengals. They’ve suffered a few injuries, with cornerback Bobby McCain and defensive end Cameron Wake missing last week’s game and likely out again this week, and on paper they are one of the least talented teams in the league right now without those two key defenders. The Dolphins return home this week, but they have another tough opponent on deck, with the Chicago Bears coming to town.
Before their week 5 bye, the Bears had a breakout performance in a 48-10 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers aren’t exactly the toughest of opponents, but the Bears have been impressive beyond just that one game. They are 3-1, rank 2nd in first down rate differential at +7.59%, 3rd in point differential at +46, and could easily be 4-0 if they didn’t blow a big second half lead in Green Bay in an eventual 1-point loss. Mitch Trubisky remains a question mark under center, despite shredding an awful Tampa Bay secondary for 6 touchdowns, but outside of the quarterback position this is arguably the most talented team in the league. Even with Trubisky a question mark, this is arguably a top-5 team right now, thanks to the most talented defense in the league.
We’re getting good line value with the Bears as just 3.5 point road favorites, as I have this line calculated at -6.5, but the Bears are also in a conflicting spot this week, which makes them a less confident bet. While they are coming off of a bye, and road favorites of 3.5+ are 16-4 ATS since 2010 after a bye, they also have to turn around and face the Patriots in a week, a game in which they will likely be home underdogs. Road favorites are just 25-52 ATS before being home underdogs since 2010, so this could easily be a trap game for the Bears, even off of a bye. They’re the pick for pick ‘em purposes, but I’d need this line to go down to 3 to put any money on Chicago.
Update: Ryan Tannehill was surprisingly ruled out Sunday morning, after re-aggravating a throwing shoulder injury during Friday’s practice. That’s obviously a blow to the Dolphins, who now have to turn to backup Brock Osweiler, but the line has compensated appropriately, moving from 3.5 to 7, so this remains a low confidence pick.
Chicago Bears 23 Miami Dolphins 10
Pick against the spread: Chicago -7