In what I hope to make a weekly occurrence, I’ll give you a look inside the NFL madness as I share thoughts, projections and plays. While we won’t be hitting every game, expect to get some good nuggets out of this. The majority of my work is rooted in my power rating model. From there, I analyze match-ups, injuries and look for edges via stats, narratives and situational handicapping.
Week 8 Recap (6-6)
After Week 7 saw the projections run 8-4, we came back to earth. As I am not playing every single matchup with a calculated edge, I am okay returning a few weeks of .500. For Week 9 we caught our first win on Thursday Night Football with Arizona so we have one already under our belt.
YTD, Through Week 8: 65-43 (60.2%)
Chicago Bears @ Philadelphia Eagles
Spread: Eagles -4
This one is easy, Chicago is cancelled. While the season isn’t over, it might as well be. The NFC North is too competitive for them to compete, especially with the offensive question marks they’ve shown this year. Philadelphia, after a turbulent start marred with injuries, is back in the hunt and needs every single win they can afford.
This is Philly’s last matchup before the bye so they will leave it all on the field, while Chicago will face the Lions next week. Philadelphia gets a narrow edge on net yardage, while Chicago can barely move the ball on offense at all. Philadelphia controls the time of possession, but loses the turnover battle and will need to limit their own offensive mistakes if they expect to win by a touchdown.
Give me the home team with something to fight for.
Projected Line: PHI -5
Favors: Eagles, 1 point
Play: PHI -4
Indianapolis Colts @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Spread: Steelers -1
The bad breaks continue for Pittsburgh. Last week they lost stud running back James Conner to an AC-Joint injury — while technically he could play, he is listed as doubtful and it is highly unlikely we see him. Pittsburgh will also play without starting LG, Ramon Foster. While going into Heinz Field has been a difficult task over the years, we are talking about a team with their backup QB and running back at the forefront of a depleted offense.
The Colts are 5-2, after being counted out by every moron across America for completely forgetting that they have one of the more complete teams in the entire fucking league. The Colts will play today’s matchup without TY Hilton, and although the team has a “Run the Damn Ball” mantra, it is always challenging to be without one of your key assets. Malik Hooker and Justin Houston are listed as questionable, but after both played last week I have a hard time believing they will be out.
It has been challenging to judge Indianapolis defense this year, as they have had injuries particularly in the secondary. However their defensive line has not disappointed. Against a team who will rely on a backup left guard, the current ranked #1 pass protection unit in Pittsburgh might show some cracks in their armor.
I’m keeping things simple here, and riding the better team who’s a slight underdog in a low scoring game.
Projected Spread: PIT +1.5
Favors: Colts, 2.5 points
Play: Colts ML (+100)
New York Jets @ Miami Dolphins
Spread: Dolphins +3
Not betting on this game, but can you imagine a world where the New York Jets are three-point road favorites?!
Tennessee Titans @ Carolina Panthers
Spread: Panthers -3.5
So, you are telling me that on a neutral field Tennessee and Carolina would be essentially equal teams? Really?… I say no. I feel like this is a classic case of people selling on Carolina after they looked like literal dogshit last week in San Francisco. As someone who took them outright, I must say that I am not thrilled with their performance but analytics don’t lie and I’m backing Carolina. Carolina is a considerably better team in terms of efficiency and has an edge on net yardage too. Carolina is the 15th ranked DVOA team, while Tennessee sits at 24 and I think that is awfully generous for one of the most boring teams in the league. While Tennessee has the illusion of being a great defense, they are league average at best.
After a tough week, look for Carolina to put on a show for the home crowd today. McCaffrey will run early and often to establish the play action before Kyle Allen really gets into his groove.
For what it is worth, this is my largest edge of the week.
Projected Line: CAR -8
Favors: Panthers, 4.5 points
Play: CAR -3.5
Note: Interestingly, overall my edges are smaller on the late slate this week. I’ll only share my thoughts on games.
Clevelend Browns @ Denver Broncos
Spread: Broncos +4
Okay… I know this is in altitude. I know Denver has the #3 ranked DVOA defense. But this total feels low. After the beatdown Cleveland received last week, Kitchens/Mayfield (that sounds like the worst legal team ever) are desperate to prove everyone they know what they are doing. Denver’s defense is without a starting CB and secondary depth is a concern. They traded away Emmanuel Sanders and are rolling out backup QB who has never started an NFL game.
Going a bit different here and targeting a team total. What do rookie QBs/first-time starters often do? Turn over the ball. If Cleveland can force a turnover or two, I am very confident that they break their 21.5 point team total.
Projected Line: DEN +2.5
Favors: Broncos, 1.5 points
Play: Cleveland TT over 21.5
Green Bay Packers @ Los Angeles Chargers
Spread: Chargers +3.5
Poor Chargers. Poor Phil Rivers. I really liked the Chargers this year, but yet again… Snake bitten by injuries, poor offensive play calling, missed field goals and bad officiating. With almost no home field advantage (especially against popular teams) the Chargers are going to struggle today. They let go of their offensive coordinator, and to be honest — I have no clue who is calling plays today. The Chargers continue to hamper their offensive production by rolling out Melvin Gordon when all signs point to Austin Ekeler being the better player.
The Chargers will simply be outclassed. Green Bay has one of the better defenses and can shut down most teams. Los Angeles is likely without 50 per cent of their starting defensive line, extremely thin at safety and have no depth at wide receiver. Green Bay ought to feast and I love them today. Imagine how many cheeseheads we are going to see in the stands in LA today? Whether or not Davante Adams plays, does not matter – Packers will roll.
Projected Line: LAC +6.5
Favors: Packers, 3 points
Play: GB -3.5