Until you try and put out previews for every game, every week you don’t really appreciate bye weeks. This week is the first bye week session of the year with Jets, Falcons, 49ers and Saints on bye.
I’ve done a separate London Game preview again, as the Dolphins take on the Jaguars in what’s sure to be a thriller.
So it’s down to JUST the 11 games for me to preview here, and 3 of them I’ve written about for SBR as well, which is handy.
Cincinnati Bengals -3.5 @ Detroit Lions: 46.5
Obviously that’s a fair un-biased, professionally preview of the game, and how I see it going, although an edit to that. It’s the largest ROAD favourite the Bengals have been since Decmeber 2016, nearly 5 years.
I can add a little more “flavour” on here. The Bengals really should put up 30 on this decimated Lions defense, they don’t have much pass rush and the secondary has been hit through the year as well. With the offensive talent the Bengals have they should be able to take advantage, but… they won’t.
If they get ahead they’ll sit back, if they fall behind they’ll score enough to be 3 points ahead and try and keep it there. It’s infuriating. They’ve shown in differing circumstances they can score what’s needed, it’s just the utter panic when they do get in a winning position and go for negative play-calling that’s infuriating the fans at the moment. I get that Zac Taylor is playing for his job and a win is a win, but in a game like this, I really think they should be putting up a LOT of points.
That sounds unnecessarily harsh on the Lions (sorry Josh) but a relatively poor starting roster and then losing some key players in the first month have left them fairly depleted on both sides of the ball. Goff has been fine, 15th in yards, 18th in TDs and 11th in INTs this season, although 29th in QBR isn’t ideal. The lack of pass-catching talent especially with TJ Hockenson playing with knocks hurts them, he’s their best pass-catcher but this is a transitional season for them so it makes sense that they’re involing Amon-Ra St. Brown more and more, they need to see what they’ve got with him and Quintez Cephus.
The main targets though will probably be the running backs, this week I’d assume D’Andre Swift as Jamaal Williams has been on the injury reports most of the week, so if they’re playing a hot-hand approach as quoted then you’d expect Swift to get the start and probably keep it as he’s a good player who’s fun to watch and at 7/4 on 365 a good price to score anytime, also interested in his receiving line which isn’t out yet, I guess as they don’t know if Williams is going to be there, I’d guess 23.5 with him in, and 32.5ish if he’s out? maybe 3.5 or 4.5 receptions, but that’s a stab in the dark really. He’s good.
As I said, realistically the Bengals should be putting up 40 points here, but they won’t. The Lions have played really tough, and had some terrible losses. Fair play to them, I think they’ll do similar here, and there will be 3-7 points in it. I can’t take the spread.
Swift anytime – 7/4 (365) – Standout price, best of 7/5 elsewhere.
Green Bay Packers -5.5 @ Chicago Bears: 44
The Packers and Bengals played out one of the craziest finishes in recent years last week as the kickers failed to account for some crazy crosswind near the posts last week, missing 5 kicks in a row before Crosby finally hit the winner in OT.
They’re a tough team to judge for me, obviously I watched all of that one, but I found the Packers a shallow offense, there’s not a lot in the passing game other than Davante Adams, although that might be all that’s needed if he can get 200+ yards per week and take down triple coverage as he did last week, I’ve been questioning why teams don’t just triple cover him, and apparently it’s still not enough. Other than that Tonyan has fallen back, Allen Lazard invisible, MVS on IR, best boy Randall Cobb has had one good game since his return.
It helps that they’ve got one of the better RB duos in the league, Aaron Jones was kept fairly quiet last week other than a 57 yarder which should have been stopped behind the line of scrimmage, and both he and AJ Dillon look good catching the ball from the backfield. Dillon particularly looked great there last week, you’re not stopping him once he gets going. I think he should be involved more and the lack of any other receiving talent should speed up his integration into the offense.
They’re still injured on defense with CBs Jaire Alexander and Kevin King out, although Packers fans may tell you King being out is a good thing for them.
Whether the Bears can take advantage of the weaknesses at cornerback is a different thing though, they might have to throw the ball more than 20 times to get anything out of this game though. Fields have 11 and 12 completions in the last two weeks, but they’ve won those games against the Lions and Raiders, so didn’t need to have him do anything, the fact they’ve not even got him rushing as of yet is weird. But again, they’ve been winning… so…. yeah.
They’re without David Montgomery again and this week Damien Williams misses out on the Covid list so it’s all on rookie Khalil Herbert who looked good finishing out the game last week, and should be all right against this defense. I think it’s a bit high to think he’ll clear 70.5 rush yards on his first proper start, in a game I think they’ll be trailing, but he put up 75 from 18 carries last week last week. I’d be shocked if they have 37 rush attempts here.
The passing game is tough to talk about as it’s not existed. Darnell Mooney has led the team in both weeks with Fields under center, although the 35 yards to lead a team last week is laughable, he had 125 from 5 receptions the week before, he seems to be the favoured target for Fields, although Robinson is one of the more talented WRs in the league and you would think that would shine through eventually. The tight ends are next up, Kmet should be the chain mover and Jesper Horstead obviously scored last week, as we all knew he would on a scramble drill.
Bears defense has been good, as you’d expect. Not where it was, but it’s winning them games, ranking 5th in overall DVOA on Footballoutsiders.com
Packers should win, both teams are flawed and I don’t think either will make the Championship game, but the Packers are the better team here, whether they’ll cover 5.5 I’m not sure.
Field rush yards opened at 12.5 (@Earlyvaluenfl podcast told me about this, a good listen), but it’s up to 16.5 or 17.5 now, and logically, with them trailing he should have to do more to keep up with the Packers, but I’ll be avoiding it now it’s 25% higher than the opener. After last week I was tempted by AJ Dillon rec. yards especially at 11.5, but after checking it, last week might be an outlier for him. Or it could be the start of a trend, either way it’s not as much of a banker as I’d want, though of course I’d lean to the over on both, hence mentioning it.
Houston Texans +10 @ Indianapolis Colts: 43
Davis Mills?! Where the hell did that come from last week, after 87 yards, 4 INTs and a QBR under 1.0 vs. the Bills he threw for 312 and 3 TDs against the Patriots with a QBR in the top 5th. This week… who knows. The Colts defense isn’t good so in theory he should do well here too.
I’ll admit I have to check who C.Moore was after seeing him breaking away for some big gains last week, Chris Moore, formerly of the Ravens (I did actually have that in the back of my mind somewhere). Will he be the main man this week? Who knows. Brandin Cooks is the usual deep threat but maybe they’re going to try and rely on YAC rather than aiming downfield for deep shots.
As expected Mark Ingram was the main man for the ground attack, as he has been through the season but David Johnson got more work in the passing game.
I don’t know why I’m writing about the Texans, I’ve no idea who’s going to do anything this week.
The Colts suffered a heart-breaker on Monday in their overtime loss to the Ravens after leading by 18 points in the second half. It was finally a good performance from Carson Wentz who looked fine after twisting both ankles, it’s been a long time coming and they hit a soft spot in their schedule in the coming weeks so they’ll be looking to start it with a divisional win.
Getting Jonathan Taylor going should be the focus for the team and despite his lack of rushing yards fucking up a 150/1 for me on Monday he got a lot of work and finished with 169 yards in total, most of it coming from a 76 yard reception. There’s no reason he can’t be one of the best in the league if he gets the usage. Nyheim Hines has been nibbling into his work though with 42% of snaps at the position, although last week Hines only saw snaps with Taylor on the field as he played every offensive snap.
They welcome back TY Hilton from IR after a neck injury. Whether that means much I’m not sure, but he shouldn’t be the 1 with Michael Pittman finally coming through as the main man these last few weeks, he’s had at least 6 receptions in all bar the opener this season, although only got his first score this week. He’s still lined at 4.5, although 8/13 isn’t for me, especially with TY returning. It looks like Big Mo is finally a thing of the offense with 2 TDs a while ago and 50 yards last week, he’s bigger than everyone else, just lob it up to the giant bastard.
The Colts should win, obviously but I’d have to lean to the Texans on the spread. I don’t think TY coming back will hurt Pittman, but who knows, it’s a leave alone on both of those.
Kansas City Chiefs -6.5 @ Washington Football Team: 54
The Chiefs are 2-3. I didn’t think I’d be writing that at the start of the season, I mentioned in my previews about them being a very shallow offense, of basically 3 players, Mahomes, Hill and Kelce and that’s proving out as the Bills humped them last week. It’s been sloppy for them with tipped passes and interceptions killing them.
I have to assume they’ll get things corrected, but at the moment it’s all just messy for them, and they’re now relying on a backup running back with Clyde Edwards-Helaire out. It means Darrel Williams comes in as the main back with Jerick McKinnon (I assume) the support and Derek Gore (I think Frank Gore’s great grandson) possibly getting a little work as well, but it seems like it will be mostly Darrel.
They really need some support from Mecole Hardman, Byron Pringle, Demarcus Robinson other than the odd TD from them, sure, Kelce and Hill can put up 90% of the yards, they have done for a while now, but teams are realising that if you make them dink and dunk, cover those guys well you can get mistakes out of the Chiefs. Fortunately I don’t see that this week as the Washington defense has been terrible this year (another proving that defenses don’t tend to follow year on year). It ranks 29th against the pass.
On the Washington side of the ball they should be passing a lot as well, the Chiefs rank even worse than Washington do. So Taylor Heinicke should be able to put up some yards… Well he should be able to if Terry McLaurin is a go. He didn’t practise on Friday with a hamstring, I would expect him to play still, but at this moment in time it’s unknown. They don’t have a whole lot behind him, rookie Dyami Brown, Adam Humphries, kick returner DeAndre Carter having to get involved. The main man this week could be Ricky Seals-Jones, the tight end they picked up to replace the injured Logan Thomas. He played 99% of snaps last week and ran a route on 88% of them, including 3 redzone targets last week.
The run game should get a bit of use and Antonio Gibson looks like he’ll be playing through a “shin fracture” for the rest of the season, he was fine last week, so should be all right. The lack of receivers may well mean more targets for JD McKissic in the running game though, Heinicke likes him and he’s good enough to take advantage of poor defenses.
I think the Chiefs put up a ton of points this week, it’s an easier fixture after a rough start to their schedule. Both teams here get to play against poor defense though, so the over looks sensible, despite it being the highest of the week. (I’ve been terrible on totals so far this year) – I do like RSJ (Ricky Seals-Jones) to score though at a nice price – 10/3 (Bet365 and BetVictor. Cunts) – 28/1 for 2 or more on 365 also a tempter at small stakes.
Los Angeles Chargers +2.5 @ Baltimore Ravens: 51
I have no idea which way this game is going. Two of the best young QBs in the game, performing at such high levels, it should realistically be a high scoring fun-fest.
Mike Williams has 6 TDs on the year, despite a 0 a couple of weeks ago, he bounced back last week with 165 against the Browns. He is listed as questionable with a knee tonight but he’ll be playing. He and Keenan Allen have loved playing with Herbert. If Williams is limited at all then it should mean more for Jared Cook and probably Jaylon Guyton, such is Herberts’ mastery of the system at the moment the TDs get spread around well.
Austin Ekeler is showing no signs of the injury which worried people early in the year, he had 3 TDs last week despite trying not to score at the end of the game as the Browns defenders dragged him into the endzone, his receiving yards might be the best way to get at something on him tonight… or maybe not, 5.5 recs is too high for me to have anything on the over.
Lamar Jackson dragged the Ravens to a remarkable win on Monday night throwing for 442 yards with 86% completion percentage and 4 TDs. Not bad for a running back. It had been on the cards as the early 2000s led run game hasn’t been working well enough so he’s having to step up, and he’s definitely doing that with Mark Andrews and Marquise Brown the main beneficiaries. Andrews hasn’t had the best of seasons so far but 147 and 2 TDs should kick-start the year, while Brown has been good in every game (barring the many many drops against the Lions) and added another 2 TDs and 125 yards to his numbers for the year.
This should be a cracking game and rightfully the choice for Sky, I don’t think there was any other option. I have to lean to the Ravens to win, but it’s nothing more than that, they’re on a short week off a big comeback win in overtime. While the Chargers had a crazy game against the Browns. Watch this finish 10-7 tonight. The mild wind seems like the only thing stopping this going over the total, so leaning that way too
Los Angeles Rams -9 @ New York Giants: 48.5
As it turns out I got that preview completely wrong having written it early in the week.
It seems Daniel Jones will in fact be playing, Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton may be back as well, so although the two big names, Kenny Golladay and Saquon Barkley will be out, it’s not as bad as I’d assumed for the Giants. The man to look for though is probably still Kadarius Toney who’s been great in recent weeks with 78 and 189 yards over the last two games, most of it with Mike Glennon last week. He’s exciting, great short space quickness and able to break away from tackles given half a yard.
They will still have Devontae Booker at running back which isn’t a great situation, and with Jones coming off of the concussion last week (genuinely surprised they’re rushing him back here after he couldn’t walk) you would assume there’d be some trepidation about him running the ball which might hurt them there as well.
The Rams have extended rest after playing Thursday night last week and are pretty much without injury, so Matthew Stafford will have all his weapons ready to go for this one. Their last game ended with Sony Michel taking a number of carries with Henderson nursing a knock, he did come back in but they said afterwards it’s more of the balance they want going forward and Michel looked good at the goal-line, so be wary if you’re backing anything Henderson related as there’s a chance he gets a lesser workload.
The passing game is the main area of interest here though Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods are one of the best duos in the league, Woods got of the schnide last week with Kupp opening up acres of space for him, in the end both had over 90 yards but Tyler Higbee got the lone receiving TD. This week could be a Desean Jackson week as he’s destroyed the Giants in his career. As long as he’s got enough energy left to keep running after catching the ball unlike last week, he could be a good sneaky scorer here. According to Tom (@BestBallUKNFL) on his piece at NFL-DFS.com Jackson has 71/1143/9TD in his 19 games against the Giants.
I was all ready for the Rams to trounce them in a 30-10 type victiry assuming Glennon would be starting, now I’m not too sure. I still lean to the Rams and the under, but only a 2 point change in line with Jones from Glennon seems small.
Minnesota Vikings -2.5 @ Carolina Panthers: 45
Two teams who it’s tough to judge at the moment. The Vikings have played hard, lost some games they should have won, and won some they probably should have lost. They’re a weird one. Last week against the Lions shouldn’t have ever come down to a Greg Joseph field goal, but the late drive to get them in position was positive and at least had them in high spirits after they nearly blew it.
Dalvin Cook returns for them after being granted a week extra to rest up last week, I don’t have any worries about his healthy here. Justin Jefferson is continuing as one of the better WRs in the league and Thielen is reliable as ever.
The Panthers keep strengthening their defense as they signed Stephon Gilmore the other week, but it’s the other side of the ball which is a worry with Christian McCaffrey now on IR for 3 weeks. It means Chuba Hubbard retains the role at running back after 24 carries last week, they’re loading him up.
Sam Darnold hasn’t looked great against better opposition though. They had a cup cake start and won the first 3 but real games have hurt them, he had 3 INTs against the Eagles last week. DJ Moore seems the trusted man, but they did finally give Robby Anderson some targets last week although he only caught 2 of the 7 balls aimed his way.
I think the Vikings win this one, they’re the better team for me, but I’m going nowhere near it.
Arizona Cardinals +3.5 @ Cleveland Browns: 48
The total for his has dropped even further with the worries over the wind in Cleveland. If it does happen to affect the game then it will hurt the Cardinals more than it will the Browns as they rely far more on the passing game then Baker and his team do.
It doesn’t help that Kyler suffered a knock last week and slowed down significantly, they’re unbeaten at 5-0, but they fell apart when Murray wasn’t at full strength last year and that might be the case again this time around. He’s been brilliant but his movement and arm strength are essential for the way they play, you can’t throw off platform throws if your arm isn’t right. Well, you can but it’s probably not going to end well.
They do have Deandre Hopkins healthier though after a few weeks acting mainly as a decoy and that will let them use 4 WRs sets more efficiently, all 4 or 5 of the WRs have been good so far. Hopkins, AJ Green, Rondale Moore and Christian Kirk all having big games at different times. They lost Maxx Williams this week who had been getting involved at Tight end, so traded for Zach Ertz, obviously having played on Thursday he won’t be involved here, but it’s a good move going forward.
I have little respect for their running backs though, James Conner is average and Chase Edmonds is more of a pass-catcher, but they’ve been using them well enough, Conner the obvious TD threat when they get near the endzone, Chase getting more between the 20s, in a very basic way of describing them. They are without their pro-bowl level centre now which will hurt things though.
Oh, and Covid has hit the Cards this week too with Kliff Kingsbury and a number of others unable to make the trip.
Nick Chubb misses out for the Browns, so it’s all on Kareem Hunt. He’s definitely capable of that role and has done it well before, so it’s a downgrade for them but not too significant and with Baker not exactly impressing this year it should mean a TON of touches for ole KHunt. Behind him you’re probably going to see D’Ernest Johnson get some touches, although numbers show that even with Chubb out it probably won’t be a whole lot for him.
They don’t seem to be able to get things going with Odell Beckham at WR, he has been getting open but just missed by Baker Mayfield who is nursing a shoulder injury week to week, even last week when they’re putting up 42, he’s completing 23 passes. He’s fine, but he’s not the reason they win games. It was David Njoku with the huge game last week putting up 149 yards from the tight end spot including a huge 71 yard TD run. Behind them they’re relying on the like of Rashard Higgins and Donovan Peoples-Jones who’ve not sure much more than bit-part players in their careers so far.
With all the injuries, covid news, weather reports, this game has become tough to call. The run game for the Browns against a relatively poor Cardinals defense is the key to the game, so it’s all on Hunt really. I’m still going Browns and the under, but once more nothing on the main lines here. The total opened 53 (I believe) and has dropped daily
Dallas Cowboys -3.5 @ New England Patriots: 50
This is one I’m going against “the sharps” on. I respect their opinion and get the idea of why they’re not jumping on the Cowboys at the line, but I just don’t really agree with it.
The theory is that the Cowboys are 5-0 against the spread this year, they’re the most public team in the league so their lines are always inflated on their side, so there’s two things inflating their lines, so… Patriots are the right side? Right. I get that theory. But I also watch bits of the games and that seems like it’s relying on the former reputation of the team rather than what’s being put out on the field at the moment.
I know they held the Bucs close, but that was weather affected and maybe Brady let the gravitas of the game get to him, I don’t know, but I’ve not seen much to suggest the Pats will be able to slow the Cowboys or keep pace with them if the score does get out of hand.
Dak is playing at a high level after coming back from his injury, the run game is flying with Zeke and Pollard keeping fresh and pounding, while the passing game with Lamb, Cooper and the mighty Ced Wilson has been good as well, even the tight ends Dalton Schultz and Blake Jarwin are chipping in well. Schultz is probably the one to look for on props, he’s plus money for more than 4.5 receptions and has had 6 in 4 of the 5 games so far this year.
They’re looking far better on defense and Trevon Diggs has at least one interception each week. Admittedly that could be a lot of luck, but it’s been turning games their way so far.
Despite me slagging them off at the start, the Patriots haven’t been terrible, but they’re not expansive. Mac Jones is averaging 6.5 yards per attempt, you can get running backs with higher averages than that. It’s a lot of short passes and methodically moving the ball down the field. It’s not fun to watch but it’s what they’re going with and he’s done it well enough.
They do seem to have finally got one of their big money tight ends going with Hunter Henry looking good in recent weeks, but Jonnu Smith still dropping everything thrown his way. Henry had 75 yards against the Texans last week, but the run game is where they need to work well. Damien Harris scored last week and then got injured and benched after it being judged that he fumbled at the 5cm line when going into the endzone last week.
Jakobi Meyers still hasn’t scored.
It’s not normally a good idea to go against the sharps on bets, and I probably shouldn’t be calling it out so much here, but I just don’t see the Patriots restricting the Cowboys enough. They will try so I’d be going under on the total if I had to, but dem boys should win and cover.
Las Vegas Raiders +4 @ Denver Broncos: 43.5
Good luck judging this one. The Raiders will go into this with the special teams coach taking the head coach role after Jon Gruden was removed from existence due to proving to be a less than upstanding individual in historical emails. I think it’s safe to say he won’t be involved in the NFL ever again. Having the ST coach take the head role does make sense though, it allows the defensive and offensive coordinators to retain their jobs on either side of the ball.
It makes it impossible to back the Raiders, not that I would ahve done anyway, they’ve been a team I can never judge anyway.
I can’t really preview them, anything could happen.
The Broncos have been hit with injuries on offense which hasn’t helped them, but Teddy B looked fine in comeback mode last week, Courtland Sutton being the main guy in that one with 120 yards and a TD. It’s basically him and Tim Patrick in the passing game, Noah Fant needs to step up but really hasn’t.
It’s a proper committee at running back with Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams sharing the role, Gordon looks more polished as you’d expect from a league veteran but Javonte leads the league in broken tackles and runs hard.
No idea on this one to be honest. I’ve got to lean Broncos, they’re the better defense and there’s more known on that side of the ball, but it’s a firm ignore.
Seattle Seahawks +5 @ Pittsburgh Steelers: 42.5
Another to ignore. When the league picked this for Sunday night football they definitely didn’t expect Geno Smith and the dried husk of Big Ben to be playing at Quarterback.
The early lines had the Seahawks as favourites before we knew Russ Wilson would be missing out, so it’s been (I think) a 6-8 point swing to the Steelers, which sounds about right. The Seahawks really aren’t that good a team without Russ there and it’s pretty much season over for them. Geno came in and played all right, he targeted Metcalf heavily and you’ve got to think the main game plan will be throw it to the muscle-bound giant as much as possible.
They’re without Chris Carson who’s headed to IR so it will be Alex Collins leading the RB group with Deejay Dallas and Travis Homer chipping in.
The Steelers have improved since they played the Bengals, players are returning from injury and they’ve had a couple of wins. They finally managed to get Najee Harris going on the ground with 122 yards rushing from him, and that was the key to them winning. It’s where they’ve struggled early on, so for fans of this lot it was a welcome thing to see. They can’t rely on Ben to move the ball and while over-looking OL in the first round of the draft has hurt them so far, if they see something good from Harris it will help temper that pain a little.
The passing game is even more restricted now with Juju done for the season, it’s Dionate Johnson and Chase Claypool. Both stepped up last week, Ben used his one deep shot well last week finding Johnson early on for a TD and Claypool had 130 and a TD too. I think he still needs to be more consistent week to week but it’s tough with such trash throwing the ball to you. He’s got all the physical ability to be a star in the league.
Last week is the way they need to win games. Solid defensively, 20+ carries for Harris and Ben throwing as little as possible. That worked last week and might do against a Seattle team without their main man, who don’t pressure the passer.
Nothing on this game for obvious reasons, Seahawks without Russ is a no bet, and Big Ben is a no bet for me.
Bets for the week.
- Cowboys -3 @ 4/5 (365)
- 6 point teaser on Chiefs and Rams – 5/6 (Redzone/365) – 4 point stake – It will be void if the Rams win by 3.
- Dalvin Cook anytime – 11/10 (Skybet)
- Cook 2+ – 13/2 (Skybet) – 1 pt
- Ricky Seals-Jones – 10/3 (365/Betfair)
- D’Andre Swift – 7/4 (365)
It’s getting a bit late now and I’ve not really had a look at props this week so annoying nothing there, I tend to do well on props, but without the time to properly search I don’t want to force anything.
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