Pick of the Week
High Confidence Picks
Medium Confidence Picks
Low Confidence Picks
No Confidence Picks
PIT +105 vs. NO
SEA +125 vs. TB
Pick of the Week
High Confidence Picks
Medium Confidence Picks
Low Confidence Picks
No Confidence Picks
PIT +105 vs. NO
SEA +125 vs. TB
Indianapolis Colts (3-5-1) at Las Vegas Raiders (2-6)
The Colts have had a disastrous season. Their offense has been horrible (26th in offensive schedule adjusted efficiency) and attempts to improve it, by benching veteran quarterback Matt Ryan for unproven 2021 6th round pick Sam Ehlinger and by firing offensive coordinator Marcus Brady, have arguably made it worse, culminating in a 2.0 yards per play performance in New England last week, which ultimately lost head coach Frank Reich his job.
Making matters even worse, instead of promoting an interim head coach from the inside, the Colts pulled a wild card and hired former center Jeff Saturday, who has never coached above the high school level and who has not been in this locker room all season, leaving them in a precarious coaching situation at say the least, without experienced coordinators either, with Marcus Brady being fired last week and long-time defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus not really being replaced this off-season.
The Colts are also without top linebacker Shaq Leonard, likely for the season, although he’s barely played anyway this season and the Colts still rank 12th in defensive schedule adjusted efficiency, the only reason they have managed to win three games this season. With Ehlinger remaining under center and no offensive leadership though, their offense is likely going to be too much for their defense to overcome going forward, especially without Leonard.
The Raiders have also had a disastrous season, starting 2-6, despite making the playoffs a year ago and having expectations of going on a deeper run this year, after trading away their first two draft picks for Davante Adams. The Raiders aren’t getting blown out for the most part though, with five of their six losses coming by seven points or fewer and both of their wins coming by multiple scores. Overall, they have a -18 point differential, while ranking 21st in schedule adjusted overall efficiency, 1.5 points below average, which is disappointing, but nearly as bad as the Colts, who are 3.5 points below average.
The injuries are starting to pile up, with talented slot receiver Hunter Renfrow, talented tight end Darren Waller, and top cornerback Nate Hobbs among other absences, but they are still only 2 points below average in my roster rankings, as opposed to 6 points below average for the Colts. My calculated line is Las Vegas -5, so we’re getting some line value with them as 4.5-point favorites, especially once you factor in the disarray around the Colts coaching staff. There isn’t enough here for the Raiders to be worth betting, but this should be a relatively easy win for them, like their multi-score wins over the Broncos and Texans.
Las Vegas Raiders 24 Indianapolis Colts 17
Pick against the spread: Las Vegas -4.5
Washington Commanders (4-5) at Philadelphia Eagles (8-0)
The Eagles have benefited from a +15 turnover margin en route to their 8-0 start, which is by far the best in the league, but also not something that is predictive long-term. However, the Eagles still rank 6th in schedule adjusted efficiency, four points above average, and they have the most talented roster in the league in my roster rankings as well. They are favored by 11 points at home this week against the Commanders, which is a lot, but we’re actually still getting a little bit of line value with the Eagles at that number.
The Commanders are 4-5, but their four wins came by 14 points combined and they are a well below average team overall, ranking 24th in point differential at -33 and 20th in schedule adjusted efficiency, 1.5 points below average, while being 4.5 points below average in my roster rankings. My calculated line is Philadelphia -13.5, so there isn’t nearly enough here for the Eagles to be worth betting, but I’m somewhat confident in their ability to cover this large spread for pick ‘em purposes.
Philadelphia Eagles 26 Washington Commanders 13
Pick against the spread: Philadelphia -11
Los Angeles Chargers (5-3) at San Francisco 49ers (4-4)
The 49ers are favored by a touchdown at home against the Chargers, which might seem like a lot if you look at these two teams’ records, but neither team’s record tells the whole story. The Chargers are 5-3, but their only win by more than one score came by 10 points against arguably the worst team in the league in the Houston Texans, while two of their three losses came by 14 points or more, giving them a point differential of -22. The Chargers are even worse than that in terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, ranking 27th, 4.5 points below average.
The Chargers had a lot of promise coming into the season, but injuries have been a huge problem for them, leading to them ranking significantly below average in my roster rankings as well, 3.5 points below average, which largely lines up with schedule adjusted efficiency. While center Corey Linsley has returned, the Chargers this week will be without stud left tackle Rashawn Slater, their two talented wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Wallace, stud edge defender Joey Bosa, and expected #1 cornerback JC Jackson, among other lesser injuries.
The 49ers, meanwhile, are getting healthier coming out of their bye week. Wide receiver Deebo Samuel, tight end George Kittle, and left tackle Trent Williams are all among their best offensive players and all missed time earlier this season, but all three will play this week, a huge boost for an offense that also got a big boost from adding Christian McCaffrey in a trade a few weeks ago. The 49ers’ defense is also getting healthier out of the bye, with linebackers Dre Greenlaw and Azeez Al-Shaair and safety Jimmie Ward returning to action.
The 49ers have also played better than their 4-4 record even with all of their injuries, ranking 9th in point differential at +29 and 5th in schedule adjusted efficiency, four points above average. With the reinforcements they have gotten in recent weeks, I have the 49ers 5 points above average, with the Chargers 3.5 points below. That gives us a calculated line of around San Francisco -10, so we’re actually getting some line value with the 49ers, as high as this line is. This isn’t a big play, but the 49ers are worth betting this week and, if this line happens to go down to 6.5, this would become a bigger play.
San Francisco 49ers 27 Los Angeles Chargers 17
Pick against the spread: San Francisco -7
Arizona Cardinals (3-6) at Los Angeles Rams (3-5)
This game is complicated because both teams have quarterbacks questionable due to injury. In the Rams case, Matt Stafford seems highly unlikely to be able to clear the concussion protocol in time to start this week, while Cardinals’ quarterback Kyler Murray could play, but would likely be severely limited mobility wise due to his hamstring injury, in which case the Cardinals may be better off resting Murray and playing serviceable backup Colt McCoy. The Rams also have a serviceable backup in John Wolford, who is likely to be a significant downgrade from Stafford, who is struggling by his standards this season.
Murray is also struggling by his standards this season and, overall, both of these teams have mediocre offenses to begin with, as the Rams rank 20th and the Cardinals rank 21st in schedule adjusted offensive efficiency. The difference between these two teams is on defense, where the Rams rank 10th in schedule adjusted efficiency and the Cardinals rank 26th. The Cardinals are 3-6, but they have actually been one of the worst teams in the league overall this season, benefitting from a +3 turnover margin, which is not predictive, and still struggling to win games, in large part due to their 29th ranked overall schedule adjusted efficiency, which is much more predictive. Overall, they are 5 points below average in schedule adjusted efficiency, about 3.5 points worse than the Rams.
Both teams have mediocre offenses with injured quarterbacks, but the Rams are still the clearly better team overall due to their defense. Despite that, the Rams are only favored by 1.5 points at home in this game, suggesting these two teams are about even. My calculated line has them favored by 5, so there is enough here for the Rams to be worth betting, even with the uncertainty around both teams’ quarterback situations. There aren’t many games that are worth betting this week, so the Rams are actually going to be my Pick of the Week, largely by default, without another good option.
Los Angeles Rams 20 Arizona Cardinals 13
Pick against the spread: LA Rams -1.5
Confidence: Pick of the Week
Minnesota Vikings (7-1) at Buffalo Bills (6-2)
In ordinary circumstances, I would like the Bills this week. They lost to the Jets as 11.5-point favorites in a close game last week, but the Jets are at least a decent team and teams tend to bounce back from big upset losses anyway, covering the spread at a 58.3% rate all-time after a loss as 10-point favorites or more. This week, the Bills face the Vikings, who, at 7-1, now have a better record than the Bills, but most of the Vikings’ wins have been close, with six of seven coming by eight points or fewer points or fewer, while four of the Bills’ six wins have come by ten points or more, a trend that dates back to the start of last season, over which time they have a margin of victory of 21.1 points per game in 18 victories, while all but eight of their nine losses have come by seven points or fewer. The Vikings have also benefited from a +6 turnover margin, which is not predictive, while the Bills are only at +1.
Unfortunately, these are not ordinary circumstances, as the Bills are in a terrible injury situation. Not only is quarterback Josh Allen not expected to play because of an elbow injury that could get worse, but the Bills are missing key players on defense as well. Already without talented safety Micah Hyde, the Bills will be without their other talented safety Jordan Poyer, whose absence was felt in the Bills’ loss last week, and also will be without talented edge defender Greg Rousseau, who will miss his first game of the season this week.
Assuming Allen is out, my calculated line is even, with backup Case Keenum being serviceable, but an obvious downgrade. This line is at Buffalo -3, but it probably takes into account the possibility that Allen does play, even if the chances are slim. Allen’s uncertainty makes this game tough to bet, as the Vikings would probably be worth betting at +3 if Allen didn’t play, but there’s still a chance he could and, if he’s ruled out, the line will likely drop. I’m taking the Vikings for a low confidence pick for now, but I could have an update before game time depending on Allen’s status and where this line ends up.
Update: Josh Allen looks like he will unexpectedly play and start for the Bills and, as a result, the line has moved up to 6. If I knew Allen was healthy and would play the whole game, the Bills would be bettable at that number, getting good line value in a good spot, but how well and how much Allen plays is still somewhat in question, so this is going to be a no confidence pick.
Buffalo Bills 27 Minnesota Vikings 20
Pick against the spread: Buffalo -6
Denver Broncos (3-5) at Tennessee Titans (5-3)
The Titans have two more wins than the Broncos, so it may be surprising to see them only favored by a field goal at home, but the Titans haven’t been blowing teams out in their victories, with all coming by nine points or fewer and an average margin of victory of 5.8 points per game, and the Titans also enter this game with significant injury problems. Their offense at least gets a boost with quarterback Ryan Tannehill and wide receiver Treylon Burks likely to return from multi-game absences this week, but their defense will be without four of their most important players, interior defender Jeffrey Simmons, edge defender Bud Dupree, linebacker Zach Cunningham, and safety Amani Hooker.
The Titans are also in a tough spot, having to play again four days after this on Thursday Night Football, a spot in which favorites cover at just a 42.5% rate all-time. We’re not getting much line value with the Broncos, who return from their bye without top edge defender Bradley Chubb, who was traded away, leaving them without their top-3 players at the position, with Randy Gregory and Baron Browning out. However, the Broncos are still the slightly better pick for pick ‘em purposes, even if a push is the most likely outcome. At -2.5, I would take the Titans, that’s how close this one is for me.
Tennessee Titans 20 Denver Broncos 17
Pick against the spread: Denver +3
Dallas Cowboys (6-2) at Green Bay Packers (3-6)
This game is a tough call. On one hand, the Packers have been close to an automatic bet at home with Aaron Rodgers in his career, going 47-21 ATS in games he starts and finishes, including 5-1 ATS as home underdogs, as he is this week, by 4.5 points against the Dallas Cowboys. On the other hand, this line makes sense even with the Packers’ significant homefield advantage and the Cowboys are also in a great spot as big road favorites after a bye, with road favorites of more than a field goal covering at a 63.3% rate all-time after a bye.
Coming into the season, I was expecting the Packers to regress. The Packers went 13-4 last season, but finished just 10th in point differential and 11th in overall efficiency, despite an MVP season from Aaron Rodgers who, as good as he is, was no guarantee to play at quite the same level in 2022, now in his age 39 season. Add in the loss of by far their top wide receiver Davante Adams this off-season and some regression was to be expected from them, especially on offense.
On offense, the Packers have fallen from 4th to 16th in schedule adjusted offensive efficiency and, while their defense has remained middle of the pack, ranking 15th in schedule adjusted defensive efficiency, after ranking 17th last season, they’re likely is likely to fall off significantly on that side of the ball going forward, due to the long-term absence of two of their best defensive players, De’vondre Campbell and Rashan Gary, who are among the best players in the league at their respective positions.
The Packers also have continued to struggle on special teams, ranking 30th in special teams efficiency, after ranking dead last a year ago and, all in all, the Packers are already 3-6 and rank just 22nd in schedule adjusted efficiency, 2.5 points below average, which could easily get worse going forward, as injuries pile up. The Cowboys, meanwhile, rank 5th in schedule adjusted efficiency, 4.5 points above average, even though quarterback Dak Prescott missed five and a half games with injury, which he has since returned from.
Even factoring in five points for homefield advantage for the Packers, which is several points more than the standard, my calculated line is still Dallas -4, which is right around where this line is, at Dallas -4.5 in reality. In normal circumstances, I would probably take the Packers for a no confidence pick, but the Cowboys do have a strong trend on their side so I am going to take them for pick ‘em purposes. There isn’t nearly enough here for the Cowboys to be worth betting on, but, even with the Packers’ recent home dominance, no one should be surprised if the well-rested and relatively healthy Cowboys come into Green Bay and beat this mediocre and banged up Packers team relatively easily.
Dallas Cowboys 30 Green Bay Packers 24
Pick against the spread: Dallas -4.5
New Orleans Saints (3-6) at Pittsburgh Steelers (2-6)
These two teams have similar records, but the Saints have a -15 point differential, despite a -10 turnover margin, while the Steelers have a -77 point differential, with a -4 turnover margin. That suggests the Saints have played much better to this point this season, but the Steelers have also faced a much tougher schedule, one of the toughest in the league and the gap between these two teams in schedule adjusted efficiency is not that wide, with the Saints ranking 15th, about even, and the Steelers ranking 18th, about 1.5 points below average.
The Steelers also are the healthier team this week, with reigning Defensive Player of the Year TJ Watt set to make his return for the first time since week one, while the Saints remain without top wide receiver Michael Thomas, starting guard Andrus Peat, and top cornerback Marshon Lattimore and now will be without starting safety Marcus Maye, starting linebacker Pete Werner, and starting center Erik McCoy. The Saints will get starting wide receiver Jarvis Landry back this week, but they’re still missing a lot of talent.
With the injury situation both teams are in, I have these two teams about even, but this line favors the Saints on the road by a point and a half. My calculated line has the Steelers as the ones who should be slight favorites, so we’re getting at least some line value with them. It’s not quite enough for them to be worth betting against the spread, but the money line is a good value at +105 and the Steelers are the better side for pick ‘em purposes.
Pittsburgh Steelers 19 New Orleans Saints 17 Upset Pick +105
Pick against the spread: Pittsburgh +1.5
Cleveland Browns (3-5) at Miami Dolphins (6-3)
The Dolphins are 6-0 in games started and finished by Tua Tagovailoa, but they haven’t really been blowing teams out, with their only victory by more than six points coming in a game against the Patriots in which the Dolphins won the turnover battle by three, which is not predictive week-to-week. This week, the Dolphins play a Browns team that is just 3-5, but they have been better than that record, with four of their five losses coming by three points or fewer. The Browns are also healthier coming out of their bye week, with key players Jadeveon Clowney, Denzel Ward, and Wyatt Teller all playing in the same game for the first time in a few weeks.
Unfortunately, the public and oddsmakers seem to understand that these two teams play a lot of close games, favoring the Dolphins by just 3.5 points here at home. That’s right where my calculated line is and, while my numbers suggest the Dolphins are slightly more likely to cover this spread than the Browns, this is one of my lowest confidence picks of the week, as the Browns could easily force a backdoor cover late and cut this lead to a field goal or less, even if they are otherwise not that competitive throughout the game.
Miami Dolphins 31 Cleveland Browns 27
Pick against the spread: Miami -3.5