Pick of the Week
High Confidence Picks
Medium Confidence Picks
Low Confidence Picks
No Confidence Picks
CAR +110 @ ARZ
HOU +145 @ LAC
Pick of the Week
High Confidence Picks
Medium Confidence Picks
Low Confidence Picks
No Confidence Picks
CAR +110 @ ARZ
HOU +145 @ LAC
Chicago Bears (1-1) at Washington Redskins (0-2)
This was the toughest game of the week for me to decide. The Bears did well against bad teams last year, going 10-3 with an average margin of victory of 13.6 points per game, but they lost a pair of key contributors in the secondary this off-season (safety Adrian Amos and cornerback Bryce Callahan) and quarterback Mitchell Trubisky seems to be regressing in his third season in the league. Last week, they barely won in Denver in a game in which they lost the first down rate battle. They haven’t faced the easiest schedule, but it’s very concerning that their offense has put together just one touchdown drive in two games.
This week, the Redskins are a step down in competition, but I only have this line calculated at Chicago -5.5, so we’re not getting much line value with them at Chicago -4 and the Bears are also in a potential look ahead spot with the Vikings on deck. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see them look past the lowly Redskins a little bit, but the Redskins are getting healthier on defense with defensive end Jonathan Allen and cornerback Fabian Moreau set to return from injury and are fully capable of giving the Bears a game if the Bears don’t bring their best effort. I’m taking the Bears for pick ‘em purposes, but I can’t be confident in them at all.
Chicago Bears 21 Washington Redskins 16
Pick against the spread: Chicago -4
New Orleans Saints (1-1) at Seattle Seahawks (2-0)
The Seahawks are 2-0, but they’ve been far from impressive, winning those two games by a combined 3 points, despite facing a Bengals team that was demolished the following week by the 49ers and a Steelers team that lost starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to an injury in the first half. In first down rate differential, the Seahawks are at an even +0.00%. Their good luck continues as they now get to face a Saints team that is without starting quarterback Drew Brees for 6 weeks, but the Seahawks could still have a hard time covering as 4.5 point home favorites.
The Saints still have a strong supporting cast around the quarterback and a pair of backup quarterbacks in Teddy Bridgewater and Taysom Hill that Sean Payton and the coaching staff like and can build a game plan around. Even without Brees, I have the Saints ranked just behind the Seahawks in my roster rankings, so we’re getting some line value with the Saints at +4.5. There’s not enough here to bet the Saints confidently, but they should be the right side.
Seattle Seahawks 23 New Orleans Saints 20
Pick against the spread: New Orleans +4.5
Detroit Lions (1-0-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)
The Eagles are in a tough spot this week. Not only do they have to play again in 4 days on Thursday Night Football, a spot favorites tend to struggle in (55-76 ATS since 2012), but they have to play one of the top teams in the conference, the Green Bay Packers. They could easily not give their best effort this week against the Lions. However, I can’t take the Lions with any confidence because we’re not getting any line value with them. This line has been pushed down to Philadelphia -5, likely because the Eagles will be without wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery, but wide receiver was the one spot the Eagles could afford to have injuries.
Even without their top-2, the Eagles have a capable trio of Nelson Agholor, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, and Mack Collins and they also still have talented tight end Zach Ertz and possibly talented backup tight end Dallas Goedert, who was able to return to practice on Friday after suffering an injury last week as well. More concerning are the Eagles’ injuries at defensive tackle, where Malik Jackson and Timmy Jernigan have gone down for the season, but even without them I actually have this line calculated at Philadelphia -6.5.
The Lions have their own injury concerns, with linebacker Jarrad Davis, defensive end Da’Shawn Hand, left tackle Taylor Decker, and cornerback Rashaan Melvin all questionable and the Eagles had one of the deepest rosters in the league coming into the season, so they’re still one of the best teams in the league despite being banged up. I’m taking the Lions because I’m not expecting the Eagles’ best effort in a bad spot, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them cover this spread regardless. Five points is not enough cushion to be confident in Detroit.
Philadelphia Eagles 24 Detroit Lions 20
Pick against the spread: Detroit +5
Denver Broncos (0-2) at Green Bay Packers (2-0)
The Packers have started the season 2-0, beating a pair of fellow playoff contenders in their division in the Bears and Vikings, and, perhaps most impressively, they’ve done it without getting a great performance from their offense. While their defense ranks 2nd in the league in first down rate allowed through two weeks at 26.61%, their offense ranks just 29th at 29.37%. You have to figure this offense isn’t going to be this bad all season and it’s great to see their revamped defense get off to such a great start.
With the Saints losing Drew Brees to injury and the Eagles suffering several key losses as well, the Packers now rank 2nd in my roster rankings behind the Patriots, so we’re getting good line value with them as only 7-point favorites at home against a mediocre Broncos team. I have this line calculated at Green Bay -11 and that’s even before taking into account that the Packers are 39-19 ATS at home in games Aaron Rodgers has started and finished since 2011.
This would be a bigger play if the Packers didn’t have to play again in 4 days. Favorites are 55-76 ATS since 2012 before Thursday Night Football and the Packers have a particularly important game on deck against the Eagles, so they might not play their best game this week. Even still, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them win by multiple scores at home against by far the easiest opponent they’ve faced this season and there’s too much value with the Packers to not place a bet on them at home.
Green Bay Packers 23 Denver Broncos 13
Pick against the spread: Green Bay -7
Los Angeles Rams (2-0) at Cleveland Browns (1-1)
I was strongly considering betting on the Browns earlier this week, but then the injuries kept piling up. All in all, the Browns are expected to be without starting safeties Damarious Randall and Morgan Burnett, right tackle Chris Hubbard, tight end David Njoku, linebacker Christian Kirksey and they could be without 3rd receiver Rashard Higgins and their two starting cornerbacks Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams. On the other side, the Rams’ only concern is right guard Austin Blythe, who left last week’s game against the Saints with an ankle injury and could only get in a limited practice on Friday.
Blythe being out would be a significant loss for the Rams, who already had lost a pair of 2018 starting offensive linemen this off-season. The Rams are 2-0, but they’ve also played about one quarter out of eight against a team starting a healthy starting quarterback and their win against the Panthers came by 3 in a game in which the Rams recovered all 4 fumbles in the game. If the Browns were close to full strength, they could easily pull the upset, but I can’t take the Browns with them being this banged up, even if the line has shifted to Cleveland +3.5.
Even as 3.5-point home underdogs, we’re only getting a little bit of line value with the Browns and that little line value would disappear if both Ward and Williams were to also miss this game, a strong possibility given that neither player practiced on Friday. I’m taking the Browns for pick ‘em purposes, but this is a no confidence pick, as the Rams get to face get another opponent that is far from 100% and could have too big of a talent advantage for the Browns to keep it close.
Los Angeles Rams 26 Cleveland Browns 23
Pick against the spread: Cleveland +3.5
New York Giants (0-2) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1)
The Buccaneers pulled the upset win in Carolina last week on Thursday Night Football, but that was more about the struggles of Cam Newton and the Panthers’ offense. Clearly playing at less than 100% through a foot injury, Newton was wildly inaccurate last week, constantly missing receivers that would come open against the Buccaneers’ defense. He did not look comfortable planting and throwing on his injured foot and did not take off and run at all either. And despite that, the Panthers still had a chance to win the game at the end, so I think the Buccaneers are a little overrated coming off of that win.
The Buccaneers are also in a bad spot this week, with a much tougher game on deck in Los Angeles against the Rams, a game in which they will almost definitely be big underdogs. Favorites of 6+ are just 33-62 ATS since 2008 before being underdogs of 6+ the following week. On the other side, the Giants are expected to be home favorites next week against the Redskins. Underdogs are 96-56 ATS since 2014 before being favorites when their opponent will next be underdogs. We’re not getting great line value with the Giants (I have this line calculated at Tampa Bay -5) and I’m not sure how Daniel Jones will perform in his first career start, but the Buccaneers are unlikely to give their best effort against an underwhelming opponent with a much tougher game on deck, so I like the Giants chances of covering as 6-point underdogs.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27 New York Giants 24
Pick against the spread: NY Giants +6
Oakland Raiders (1-1) at Minnesota Vikings (1-1)
This line is about right, favoring the Vikings by 9 points at home over the Raiders, but I like the Raiders a little bit because they are in a way better spot. Not only are they likely to be well rested, after starting the season with back-to-back home games (teams are 46-35 ATS since 1989 in week 3 after back-to-back home games), but the Vikings could overlook them a little bit with a much more important game on deck against the Bears. I wish we were getting more points with the Raiders so they’d be worth a bet, but they should be the right side this week.
Minnesota Vikings 24 Oakland Raiders 17
Pick against the spread: Oakland +9
Carolina Panthers (0-2) at Arizona Cardinals (0-1-1)
Earlier this week, when it was starting to look like Cam Newton would miss this game with injury, I was considering putting a bet on the Panthers. The Panthers have gotten off to a disappointing 0-2 start and Newton not being 100% is the biggest reason why. The Panthers defense has played well, allowing just a 32.82% first down rate against a pair of offenses in the Rams and Buccaneers that have plenty of weapons. The offense is what’s been holding back this team and it’s not as if Newton isn’t getting help from his playmakers.
Lead back Christian McCaffrey is averaging 4.71 yards per carry on the ground and Newton’s receivers have been getting open, but Newton leads the league with a 34.2% uncatchable pass rate and has negative rushing yardage on the season. Considering the Panthers have lost their first 2 games by a combined 9 points, the Panthers could easily be 2-0 right now if they had competent quarterback play. Backup Kyle Allen is one of the least proven backups in the league, but it wouldn’t be hard for him to be an upgrade over what Newton has been through 2 games.
Unfortunately, we aren’t getting the line I thought we would with the Panthers, as they are just 2-point underdogs in Arizona. They’ll also be without key defensive lineman Kawaan Short. The Panthers are still strong upfront with Dontari Poe and Gerald McCoy, but losing Short will still hurt both their run defense and their interior pass rush. With an unproven backup under center and no Kawaan Short, it’s hard to confidently bet on the Panthers on the road in a game they basically have to win in order to cover, even against a mediocre Cardinals team. There’s some value with the money line at +110, as I think there’s a better than 50% chance the Panthers win, but I’d need a full field goal to bet the spread.
Carolina Panthers 19 Arizona Cardinals 17 Upset Pick +110
Pick against the spread: Carolina +2
Houston Texans (1-1) at Los Angeles Chargers (1-1)
This line favors the hometown Chargers by 3 points, suggesting two things: that these two teams are about equal and that the Chargers have a standard homefield advantage. I don’t think either of those are true. For one, the Chargers rarely draw home fans in Los Angeles and are just 6-9-1 ATS at home (as opposed to 12-5-2 ATS on the road) since moving there. The Texans aren’t known for having a national fanbase, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the crowd was primarily Texan fans this week.
On top of that, I have the Texans a couple points better in my roster rankings. Even after they lost on the road in Detroit last week (and almost lost at home to the Colts week 1), the public seems to be underestimating the impact of all of the Chargers’ absences. Not having Melvin Gordon hasn’t hurt, but they’ve felt the absence of left tackle Russell Okung on the offensive line and Derwin James in the secondary. They also lost tight end Hunter Henry indefinitely last week and now are without safety Adrian Phillips, who was replacing James. Given the Chargers’ current injury situation and their lack of homefield advantage, I have this line calculated at even, so the Texans are worth a bet if you can get the full field goal.
Houston Texans 24 Los Angeles Chargers 23 Upset Pick +145
Pick against the spread: Houston +3