Pick of the Week
High Confidence Picks
Medium Confidence Picks
Low Confidence Picks
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CLE +115 @ NE
PHI +115 @ DEN
SF +170 vs. LAR
Pick of the Week
High Confidence Picks
Medium Confidence Picks
Low Confidence Picks
No Confidence Picks
CLE +115 @ NE
PHI +115 @ DEN
SF +170 vs. LAR
Los Angeles Rams (7-2) at San Francisco 49ers (3-5)
The 49ers are just 3-5, but their efficiency ratings are much better than their record, especially when adjusted for their above average schedule. Overall, they rank 7th, 7th, and 13th on offense, defensive, and special teams efficiency, which is more predictive of future winning than wins or points are. The 49ers’ biggest issue has been the turnover margin, as they are tied for 2nd worst in the league at -9, but turnover margin has almost no week-to-week predictability, so the 49ers are not any more than likely than any other team to continue struggling in the turnover margin going forward and, assuming they can play turnover neutral football, they should be a tougher opponent than their record suggests for the foreseeable future.
The 49ers are still not near full strength due to injuries, but I think they are in relatively better injury shape than they have been most of the season, with key players like left tackle Trent Williams, tight end George Kittle, and safety Jimmie Ward all in expected to be in the lineup this week, the first time they have all played in the same game since week 4. The 49ers are coming off of their worst game of the season, losing at home to the Cardinals led by a backup quarterback, but Ward didn’t play in that game and it’s very possible the 49ers just looked past the Cardinals with this game on deck. The Rams didn’t have a good week either last week and yet this line shifted in San Francisco’s favor, moving from Rams -3 on the early line last week to -4 this week, a significant shift given that about 1 in 6 games are decided by exactly a field goal.
The Rams are obviously one of the top teams in the league, especially with Von Miller coming in to give them a boost on defense at the edge defender spot and Odell Beckham giving them a replacement for the injured Robert Woods, but the 49ers are much better than their record and too good to be getting 4 points at home in this game, especially with Beckham unlikely to play a full snap count in his first game with the team. My calculated line is even, so we’re getting significant line value with this line being on the other side of 3, with about 1 out of 4 games decided by 3 points or fewer. The 49ers are good enough to pull this upset at home and even if they don’t, I like their chances of keeping this close enough to cover the spread. This is a big play.
San Francisco 49ers 24 Los Angeles Rams 23 Upset Pick +170
Pick against the spread: San Francisco +4
Seattle Seahawks (3-5) at Green Bay Packers (7-2)
The Packers get Aaron Rodgers back from a one-game absence this week and they are 7-1 with him this season, but they have more reason to be concerned than it seems. Rodgers is returning, but they remain without three of their best players, edge defender Za’Darius Smith, cornerback Jaire Alexander, and left tackle David Bakhtiari, who have missed most or all of the season. The Packers have still been winning games without them, but they rank just 13th, 10th, and 30th in offensive, defensive, and special teams efficiency and don’t really have any dominant wins.
Just two of their wins came by more than 10 points and those came in games in which the Packers were down at halftime at home to the winless Lions and in which the Packers were outgained at home on a per play basis by a mediocre Washington team. The Packers did go into Arizona and win, but the Packers were very reliant in the turnover battle in that game, losing the first down rate battle by 5.93%, but winning by a field goal in a game in which the Packers 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.
The Seahawks, meanwhile, get Russell Wilson back from a three-game absence and might be a little underrated. In fact, I have them as the slightly better of these two teams right now. The Seahawks were just 2-3 with Wilson, but they faced a tough schedule and, even without Wilson, the Seahawks outscored their opponents across 3 games, as they went just 1-2, but had a chance to win both games they lost. Even with Wilson missing half of the season, they rank 17th in schedule adjusted offensive efficiency, while their defense and special teams rank 19th and 12th respectively.
Despite possibly being the better team right now, the Seahawks are underdogs of more than a field goal in Green Bay. My calculated line has the Packers at -1, so we’re getting significant line value with the Seahawks at +3.5, especially when you consider that about 1 in 4 games are decided by a field goal or less. However, I don’t want to bet against the Packers in Green Bay, where they are 47-22 ATS in games in front of fans in which Aaron Rodgers starts and finishes. Rodgers himself has a QB rating that is about 10 points higher at home than on the road, well beyond the average home/road differential. Between that and the uncertainty with both quarterbacks in their first game back, I don’t want to bet this game, but the Seahawks are the pick for pick ‘em purposes.
Green Bay Packers 23 Seattle Seahawks 21
Pick against the spread: Seattle +3.5
Carolina Panthers (4-5) at Arizona Cardinals (8-1)
There is still a lot of uncertainty on the status of Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins in this game, as both are being called gametime decisions, but a line has still been posted for most of the week at Arizona -10. The Cardinals were only 2-point underdogs in San Francisco for most of last week despite the uncertainty of Murray and Hopkins, before the line moved to 5.5 by gametime when both were ruled out, so this line being posted favoring Arizona by double digits isn’t a guarantee that Murray and Hopkins play, but this does seem like a different situation than last week, at least for Murray, who returned to practice Friday and seems to be on the right side of questionable.
Murray might not be 100% though and Hopkins may be on the wrong side of questionable, not practicing at all this week for the second straight week. Hopkins plays despite not practicing more than maybe any player in the league and last week was just the third missed game of his 9-year career, playing through multiple ailments throughout his career, so if anyone can play despite missing the last two weeks of practice, it’s him, but the missed practice time is not a good sign for his status.
On top of that, the Cardinals could be without Rondale Moore, who would be Hopkins’ replacement, but is currently in the concussion protocol and may not be cleared by gametime. The Cardinals’ defense is missing a key player as well, with JJ Watt out for the season, so this team is not at the same strength it was when they started the season 7-0. Even if they were, it’s possible the Cardinals will slack off a little bit this week after beating the 49ers with a backup quarterback last week, similar to how the Cowboys disappointed last week as big home favorites in Dak Prescott’s return, after beating the Vikings in Minnesota with a backup quarterback.
Despite all that, I still want to pick the Cardinals, as my calculated line even with injury uncertainty taken into account is Arizona -13. The Panthers are 4-5, but three of their wins have come against among the worst teams in the league, the Falcons, Jets, and Texans and they didn’t win any of those games convincingly. Their defense is one of the best in the league with Stephon Gilmore and Shaq Thompson now in the lineup healthy, but their offense has been one of the worst in the league and is worse than their defense is good.
Starting quarterback Sam Darnold was part of the problem for this Panthers offense, but him being injured is not necessarily a good thing for this team, as his backup PJ Walker could easily be a downgrade, given how poorly the former undrafted free agent and XFL product has played in his limited NFL career thus far, completing less than 50% of his passes with one touchdown to five interceptions and a 42.0 QB rating. He’s arguably the least qualified backup quarterback in the NFL. There is too much uncertainty here to bet on the Cardinals, but they are my pick for pick ‘em purposes as of right now. If Murray is ruled out, this line will obviously change and I will update this pick, but I don’t see myself betting either side regardless of what happens.
Update: Rondale Moore is expected to play, but both Murray and Hopkins seem unlikely to play. I don’t know why the odds makers have posted a line without any certainty about Murray’s status in back-to-back weeks, but they have been quickly lowering this line, down to 7.5 now. I don’t know if it will keep falling when Murray and Hopkins are officially ruled out, but my calculated line if both don’t play is Arizona -6.5, so I am going to be on the Panthers for the time being, as it will be tough for Colt McCoy to play at the same level he played at last week and go on the road and beat a great defense by multiple scores. I will have a final update before gametime.
Update: Murray and Hopkins are out. I wouldn’t recommend betting Carolina at +7.5, but if you are going to do so, you’ll need to lock it in soon as the line has started to drop to 7 in some places.
Arizona Cardinals 16 Carolina Panthers 10
Pick against the spread: Carolina +7.5
New Orleans Saints (5-3) at Tennessee Titans (7-2)
The Titans won in their first game without Derrick Henry last week, an impressive upset victory in Los Angeles against the Rams, but there is still a lot of reason to be concerned, after this offense managed just 3.5 yards per play. The Titans won’t be able to get two pick sixes in the same game every week like they did against the Rams and it looks likely that their offense will be taking a big step back without Derrick Henry. Making matters even worse, they seem likely to be without talented wide receiver Julio Jones, who re-aggravated his hamstring injury in practice this week. However, somehow the Titans are only 3-point home favorites against the Saints, so it’s not as if they are overrated, at least not any more than the Saints are.
The Saints are 5-3 and have one of the best defenses in the league, but their offense is in even worse shape than the Titans’ offense, as the Titans still at least have a solid quarterback and a legitimate #1 receiver. The Saints, meanwhile, are starting a backup quarterback in Trevor Siemian, with a receiving corps that is one of the least experienced in the league, without expected #1 receiver Michael Thomas, stud left tackle Terron Armstead, and now they are without talented feature back Alvin Kamara, which is almost as big of a loss as Henry. My calculated line has Tennessee favored by 5, so we’re getting line value with Tennessee -3, though not quite enough to bet this confidently.
Tennessee Titans 19 New Orleans Saints 14
Pick against the spread: Tennessee -3
Buffalo Bills (5-3) at New York Jets (2-6)
It’s tough to know what to make of the Bills this season, as a result, this is a tough game to pick against the spread. The Bills rank 2nd in the NFL with a +117 point differential and all three of their losses have come by one score, but they have also faced the easiest schedule in the league. Their five wins have come against teams who are a combined 14-32 and last week they lost to a Jaguars team that had just one win on the season prior. Despite that loss last week, this line has not shifted at all from favoring the Bills by 13 on the early line last week. The Bills have still blown out most of the weak opponents they have faced and they should do so again here, but we’re not getting any line value either way with this game, as Buffalo -13 is right where my calculated line is. I’m taking the Bills for pick ‘em purposes, but this is close to a coin flip.
Buffalo Bills 27 New York Jets 13
Pick against the spread: Buffalo -13
Kansas City Chiefs (5-4) at Las Vegas Raiders (5-3)
This game is a tough call. On one hand, the Chiefs have played better than their 5-4 record, while the Raiders have played worse than their 5-3 record. The Chiefs’ biggest issues are they have faced one of the toughest schedules in the league (8th highest opponent’s DVOA), they have had one of the worst turnover margins in the league (2nd worst in the NFL at -9), and they have had one of the worst defenses in the league (31st in schedule adjusted defensive efficiency).
The Chiefs offense has continued to rank among the best in the league on the season, ranking 2nd in schedule adjusted offensive efficiency, as they also have one of the best special teams (1st in special teams DVOA) and their other issues should resolve themselves going forward, as turnover margins are highly inconsistent on a week-to-week basis, the Chiefs’ defense has gotten significantly healthier since earlier this season and has played better in recent weeks as a result, and their schedule eases up relatively going forward. The Raiders, meanwhile, have faced a below average schedule, but they have had to go to overtime to win twice and have just a +7 point differential, while ranking 14th, 4th, and 26th in schedule adjusted efficiency on offense, defense, and special teams respectively.
However, it seems like the public and the odds makers see things the same way, as the Chiefs are favored by 2.5 points on the road in Las Vegas. Given that, I am actually going to be taking the Raiders in this one, as I am actually a little bit concerned about the Chiefs’ offense, which, even though it ranks among the best in the league in yards per play and first down rate on the season, has slowed down significantly in both metrics over the past few weeks, coinciding with injuries at the running back position and on the offensive line. My calculated line has the Chiefs favored by 1.5, so we’re hardly getting any line value with the Raiders, but they would be my pick for pick ‘em purposes.
Kansas City Chiefs 26 Las Vegas Raiders 24
Pick against the spread: Las Vegas +2.5
Cleveland Browns (5-4) at New England Patriots (5-4)
I wish these two teams weren’t playing each other this week, because both are underrated. Both have records of just 5-4, but could easily have several more wins each. Of the Browns’ four losses, three came by one score, including a pair where they won the first down rate and yards per play battle, but lost the turnover battle, and their only multi-score loss came against the Cardinals in a game in which Baker Mayfield got hurt. Mayfield is not the only Browns player to miss time or be limited with injury and they still are missing some key personnel, but, despite that, the Browns rank 9th, 5th, and 5th in schedule adjusted offensive, defensive, and special teams efficiency respectively, as they have won the first down rate battle convincingly in all five of their wins, including a trio of double digit victories.
The Patriots, meanwhile, have faced an easy schedule overall, but three of their four losses have come by 1 point, 2 points, and in overtime, including a pair of losses to the Cowboys and Buccaneers, who are among the best teams in the league. Meanwhile, three of their five wins have come by more than one score, with the exceptions being a game in which they were without four of their five starters on the offensive line against the Texans and a game in which the Chargers, a 5-3 team, needed a late touchdown in garbage time to cut the final margin of victory to one score. The Patriots aren’t fully healthy either, but they are in much better shape on the offensive line now and are clearly better than their 5-4 record.
However, I do feel that, while the Patriots’ are more commonly known to be better than their record, it’s not as well known that the Browns are better than their record and, as a result, they are a more underrated team. This line, favoring the Patriots by 2.5 points at home, suggests these two teams are about even, but I have the Browns a couple points better in my roster rankings and I have this line calculated at even, giving us some line value with the Browns +2.5.
On top of that, the Patriots are in a bad spot, having to turn around and play another game in four days in Thursday Night Football. Favorites cover at just a 41.6% rate all-time before a short week when their opponent is not going into a short week and, while the Patriots are only small favorites this week and do only face the Falcons, that game could still serve as a distraction. I would need a full field goal to bet the Browns against the spread, but they are the pick for pick ‘em purposes even at +2.5 and they are worth a bet on the money line, as they should be considered no worse than 50/50 to win this game.
Cleveland Browns 24 New England Patriots 23 Upset Pick +115
Pick against the spread: Cleveland +2.5
Atlanta Falcons (4-4) at Dallas Cowboys (6-2)
The Cowboys shockingly lost at home to the Broncos last week, in Dak Prescott’s return, a week after they went into Minnesota and beat a quality team with an inexperienced backup quarterback under center. I wouldn’t put too much stock in that one loss though, as the Cowboys were likely just flat after a big effort with a backup quarterback under center the week before. Even with Prescott missing a game and the Cowboys struggling in his first game back, Dallas still ranks 1st in offensive efficiency on the season.
I wish Dallas’ loss had triggered a bigger line movement though, especially with the Falcons winning in upset fashion in New Orleans, but this line only moved from Dallas -9.5 on the early line to Dallas -8.5 this week. The Cowboys also lost talented edge defender Randy Gregory to injury in the past week, which is another reason this line could have shifted. However, we are actually still getting some line value with the Cowboys, even without Gregory, as I have them calculated as 11-point favorites over a Falcons team that only has a 4-4 record because of a very easy schedule.
The Falcons’ win against the Saints last week was just their second game of the season against a team with a winning record and they were only able to beat the Saints in a close game because the Saints were starting a backup quarterback and were likely flat after a big upset win over the Buccaneers the week before. The Falcons’ other wins have come against the Giants, Dolphins, and Jets, three of the worst teams in the league, and their margin of victory is just a combined 14 points across their four wins, with their four losses coming by a combined 59 points, giving them the 8th worst point differential in the league, despite a weak schedule.
Unless Dallas is flat again, the Falcons should have a hard time keeping up and, if either of these teams are flat this week, I would expect it to be the Falcons, who are coming off of that big win over the Saints last week, pulling the upset as touchdown underdogs. Teams cover at just a 43.1% rate all-time after a win as underdogs of a touchdown or more against a divisional opponent. I wish we were getting a little bit better of a line, but I don’t expect this game to be close, so the Cowboys are worth a bet this week.
Dallas Cowboys 37 Atlanta Falcons 24
Pick against the spread: Dallas -8.5
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6) at Indianapolis Colts (4-5)
The Jaguars shockingly pulled the 9-6 upset as 15-point home underdogs against the Bills last week. Normally, that would put them in a bad spot this week, as teams cover at just a 40.9% rate all-time after a win as home underdogs of 5 or more. However, that is because teams tend to be overvalued and/or flat in that spot and I don’t know if either of those will be the case this week.
I was expecting the Jaguars’ win last week to shift this line significantly, but the Jaguars are still 10-point underdogs, a week after being underdogs of 10.5 points on the early line last week, so they’re not overvalued. On top of that, it’s possible they could still bring a high level of intensity and focus even after last week’s win because they are once again big underdogs and, this time around, facing a divisional opponent.
The Colts are also in a bad spot, as big home favorites before a much tougher game next week in Buffalo. Favorites of a touchdown or more cover at just a 43.7% rate before facing an opponent whose winning percentage is at least 40% higher than their current opponent’s winning percentage and that applies to the Colts this week. With that in mind, I am actually taking the Jaguars this week, albeit for a low confidence pick. Even if both teams are in bad spots, I think we are getting a little bit of line value with the Jaguars, as I have them calculated as 8.5-point underdogs.
The Colts four wins have all come by double digits, their point differential (+32) suggests they’ve been better than their record, and they are healthier than they were early in the season, but they also have benefited from the 2nd best turnover margin in the league at +10, which is unlikely to continue, and they rank just 12th, 22nd, and 18th respectively in schedule adjusted offensive, defensive, and special teams efficiency. The Jaguars rank 18th, 28th, and 25th, but have been a little better in recent weeks and are the better side for pick ’em purposes as underdogs of this many points.
Indianapolis Colts 24 Jacksonville Jaguars 16
Pick against the spread: Jacksonville +10