featured image: Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports
What a night of football we had on Thursday, some very entertaining games as the Bills notched up another win against a spunky Lions team who managed to hang with them for a lot of the game, covering once more. The Cowboys beat a Giants team who seem to have worn out their luck on the season, they should still scrape the playoffs due to their impressive start but they’ll be out straight away while the Cowboys offense impressed again as they keep the pressure on the Eagles atop that division, and the Vikings covered the spread in prime-time with Kirk Cousins having the game of his life!
On the betting front 2 fails up top with Gabe Davis involved in shorter plays for once, and the long shot on Brock Wright never looking likely, if you back the main guys to score though, Jamaal Williams, Amon-Ra and Stefon Diggs all found the endzone.
The Cowboys definitely got their sacks, I requested Micah Parsons 1+ and 2+ and he hit both, although didn’t put them up on here, so there you go…Pollard only had a couple of rec. yards with Zeke returning to a fuller role.
The late game was a lot better with Stevenson and Hockenson landing the recommended bets, Stevenson had 80 through the air with a long reception in there, while Hockenson scoring landed the treble I put up at 23/1.
On to Sunday night then.
Bengals -1.5 at Titans: 43
The early Sky game this week sees my Bengals taking on the Titans in a repeat of the divisional round playoff game last year where the Titans sacked Joe Burrow 9 times and still lost, so it’s safe to say there’s vengeance on the table for Mike Vrabel and the home team.
The Bengals had been 1 point favourites for most of the week but the line to 2.5 on the thought that Chase would be starting but is now back down to -1.5. Samaje Perine took the lead with Mixon out last week and finished with 3 receiving TDs against the Steelers, he’ll get the lead role here with Trayveon Williams and Chris Evans presumably mixing in as the backups for him. Logic would be to take Perine over on his yards and to score a TD but the Titans have been solid against the position this season (thanks @NFL_Tstrack)
So, Tee Higgins who smashed it last week and Tyler Boyd who is always reliable will be the main guys for the Bengals in the passing game this week and they’ll surely mix in the bit part players as well, Trenton Irwin has been promoted to the proper roster so will get involved after scoring his first TD last week and Hayden Hurst has had a decent first year with the Bengals too.
Obviously, the key to stopping the Titans offense is stopping Derrick Henry and the Bengals did it well in that playoff game although he was coming back from injury. They have DJ Reader back who is their best run stuffer so will be hopeful. In fairness to the Titans they passed very well against the Packers last time they played 10 days ago and Tannehill will want to show that the last game these two played isn[‘t representative of him.
Nick Westbrook-Ikhene is possibly a thing? Treylon Burks is possibly a thing? Austin Hooper?! They’ve been moving the ball around pretty well in the passing game recently which is something you’ve not been able to say about the Titans recently.
Both defenses rank pretty well, the Titans are #1 against the rush while the Bengals are top half in both rush and pass.
I have no idea who to take on this one, Mike Vrabel has a very good record as a home underdog so if I was being forced to bet on it, I would be taking the Titans covering, and probably over on the total, I’ve got a weird feeling it could be one of those strangely high-scoring games.
Buccaneers -3.5 at Browns: 42
The Buccaneers look like they’re in good health although Leonard Fournette may well be missing out here, that’s not a bad thing as they were moving away from him to give Rachaad White more carries anyway, it just accelerates that process a little.
Schefter likes Chris Godwin to go over his yards this week, he has been fine this year without hitting those big games, Mike Evans keeps putting up yards without scoring TDs, just 3 this season for him and none since week 3. Julio looks like he’s putting a run of games together finally. Despite not looking all that much this year the Buccs defense actually ranks pretty high on DVOA.
It’s the Browns’ final game before Deshaun Watson returns next week to face his old team. Their season is essentially done already but you’d hope they’d want to show up for Jacoby Brissett before he gets replaced by a sex pest.
Amari Cooper has 5 TDs in his last 6 games thanks to his double last week and Donovan Peoples-Jones has SEVEN games in a row with at least 50 yards. The ground game which I’ve lauded so much hasn’t been at it’s usual level recently, Nick Chubb had 19 yards from 14 carries against the Bills last week, that’s not great, in fairness Brissett looked good last week but I think they still work best on the back of a solid ground attack so look for them to get back to that.
I am surprised the Bucs are such short favourites in all honesty. Plus money on Rachaad White (23/20 at 888) is decent, he’s odds-on at most of the more mainstream books.
Bears +7 at Jets: 38.5
The Bears offense has been remarkably fun in recent weeks with Justin Fields rushing so much and despite him being listed on the injury report with “a separated shoulder” after dislocating his non-throwing shoulder last week, and it looks like he’s going to miss out, so that rules out pretty much all the Bears offense with Trevor Siemian playing… In fact, scratch that, it will give them more structure and could actually be of benefit to the pass-catchers, but still, I don’t know who so it’s a non-starter in terms of betting.
Must admit it makes picking this game a little difficult. David Montgomery rush yards over may be a look, with Khalil Herbert out last week he had a season-high number of carries, 17 for 67 yards. Darnell Mooney scored his second of the season last week and Cole Kmet had been having the time of his life with 5 TDs in 3 games before last week.
The Bears have lost their last 3 games by a total of 7 points, very impressive.
The Jets have changed things up at QB after finally realising that Zach Wilson is terrible. They’re going with Mike White being backed up by Joe Flacco this weekend, their 3rd starter of the year as they try and get the offense close to the level of their defense. White had a big game last year against my Bengals and I guess at this moment they’ve got to try something.
Will the change be good for Elijah Moore? It can’t be much worse for him I guess, but I think the biggest boost is for Michael Carter in the passing game with White dumping off passes.
Can’t be backing anything on the main lines in this game with injuries and QB change. Michael Carter o2.5 receptions – 4/5 (365)
Broncos -1 at Panthers: 36.5
A total of 36. A lot of teams in the league can score that themselves. In one half. But the Broncos elite defense and terrible offense results in under all the time. Totals around 40 points for every game and they’re still 1-9 to the Under this season. Remarkable stuff.
So obviously there’s not much to talk about on their offensive side, when you’re looking at Kendall Hinton as your WR2 I guess it’s not exactly a good spot to be in. Courtland Sutton leads them and Greg Dulcich has had a good rookie season. They ditched Melvin Gordon this week, so it’s Latavius Murray getting a full workload I guess with Marlon Mack and Chase Edmonds (on the injury report) trying to mix in.
The Panthers are loading up Sam Darnold this week as part of their QB roulette. I’m sure he’ll be great against the best defense in the league. D’onta Foreman is hit or miss, the passing attack is likely terrible, although DJ Moore did have his best games in recent years with Darnold at QB, so you never know.
I can’t take under 36, but it’s probably going that way, and I know the Broncos have been terrible, but come on, they’re playing the Panthers, surely they win this one. Latavius Murray anytime – 13/8 (Bet365)
Texans +14 at Dolphins: 47
The Texans are changing things up at QB as well with Kyle Allen coming in for Davis Mills. When you’re the second-worst offense in the league you may as well try something I guess. Dameon Pierce is the only person worth mentioning in this team, so that’s all I’m mentioning.
The Dolphins on the other hand are the second-best offense according to DVOA behind just the Chiefs. They are probably without Raheem Mostert this week so load up on Big Jeff Wilson, 4/6 at Skybet isn’t exactly great but he should score and go over his yards, 80.5 by the look of it.
Tyreek and Waddle are breaking the league this year with their numbers in each game and there’s no reason why it won’t be the same here. I have had to suck it up and admit that Tua has been pretty good this year. Fair play to him and to Mike McDaniel for the coaching.
Have to lean to the Dolphins covering the spread despite it being 2 TDs, I just can’t see the Texans scoring 10 points.
Falcons +3.5 at Commanders: 40.5
It seems the Falcons are determined to play Marcus Mariota regardless of results and accuracy issues, so we’ll get more of him this week and while the loss of Kyle Pitts hurt everyone watching it shouldn’t affect their offense too much, if anything the 6 uncatchable targets towards him per game might help them if they turn into more easily caught targets to someone else.
Someone else likely to be one of the running backs I guess, Cordarelle Patterson recorded his 9th kick off return TD last week to league the lead all-time in that area but it was after he fumbled on the ground and gave the Bears the chance to score, so good and bad. Tyler Allgeier has been fine and it seems that Caleb Huntley has had his time in the sun.
The pass-catching groups of Drake London, Olamide Zaccheus and Damiere Byrd isn’t exactly up there but London has shown some bright spots for them this year and Mycole Pruitt comes in as the main TE now with Pitts done for the year (and hopefully no longer)
The Commies have looked a lot better with Taylor Heinicke under center and he’ll keep that spot going forward even if/when Carson Wentz returns from injury. That’s good news for Curtis Samuel and Terry McLaurin who have put up much better figures in recent weeks, 2 TDs in 3 games for Samuel and at least 55 yards in the last 5 games for Scary Terry. Logan Thomas is the third man to talk about at TE, he had a big game last week and despite being listed as “ill” this week should play. Just a mention of Jahan Dotson as I feel I should get the rookie in here but he’s not had much of the ball recently.
Antonio Gibson and Brian Robinson are a low-level but adequate rushing attack and split the workload fairly evenly, Gibson the more viable for a score due to having more pass-catching snaps.
I like the Commies to continue their good run with Heinicke against a Falcons defense that despite the return of AJ Terrell isn’t good. Terry McLaurin o62.5 rec yards is one I’m on. In fact, I like the over as well, this could be a weirdly fun game to watch, some intriguing offensive talents on show.
Ravens -3.5 at Jaguars: 43
The top of the AFC North, reliable and trust-worthy Ravens are… 3.5 favourites against the utterly untrustworthy Jaguars? Weird.
Lamar Jackson is having a fine year, averaging nearly 7 yards per carry on the ground and ranking top 10 in QBR through the air despite a lack of pass-catching talent for large portions of the year. That area gets a boost this week with Mark Andrews returning last week, but in typical Ravens style, they lose a player this week with fellow TE Isaiah Likely missing out.
Demarcus Robinson is apparently the main guy now and in fairness he seems to be taking his chance catching all 9 targets last week for 128 yards in a snoozer vs. the Panthers. Devin Duvernay the only other name to take note of in the passing attack really, it’s very tough to judge week to week due to the lack of talent there.
They are predicated as always on the run game and Kenyan Drake has done well since coming in for them and getting the bulk of the carries with Gus Edwards out through injury, the Gus Bus may return this week which muddles things, but Drake’s flexibility in pass-catching as well will keep him involved.
The Jaguars have been and continue to be incredibly frustrating to follow, there’s roots there but they just don’t seem to be able to get a run of good games together, maybe they’ll come off their bye week with a plan? Hopefully that plan will be run Travis Etienne even more; the “rookie” has been fantastic since getting the main role for the team after they traded away James Robinson earlier in the year, 3 in a row of o100 yards (including 4 TDs) before they abandoned the run in their loss to the Chiefs last game.
Christian Kirk remains the go-to in the passing attack with the Jones’ Bros. chipping in when needed as well, Evan Engram hasn’t been the piece I thought he might be so far and that’s about it for them. Trevor Lawrence has stepped up a little this year but still makes rookie mistakes too quickly and against a very good Ravens defense it could be a rough night for him.
I have to take the Ravens to cover despite it being over the 3, they’re the better team.
Chargers -2.5 at Cardinals: 48
Are the Chargers getting healthier? Not really, Mike Williams once again misses out, but he’s the explosive player here, they should be far more productive with Keenan Allen back in fold, he and Ekeler are the main guys who move this offense and with Justin Herbert looking healthier by the week they should be able to move the ball at least.
Austin Ekeler had been pretty much the only outlet for the offense with Allen out but his receptions dropped to just 2 with Allen returning to the fold, he did have his highest rush attempts of the season though, so looks for him on the ground more than through the air as we go forward.
Allen’s return meant nearly 100 yards for him but it was Joshua Palmer who led the team last week after getting some extended game-time over the last month, he and Deandre Carter did all they could to keep the team alive and TE Gerald Everett has had a good year due to the injuries to the other talent as well.
Are the Cardinals getting healthier? YES! They should have Deandre Hopkins AND Hollywood Brown on the field for the first time since trading for Brown during the draft, although Rondale Moore misses out and it seemed they’d just figured out how to use him, so that’s a knock for them.
Kyler Murray should return after injury so it could be a fun passing attack finally, but time will tell. Hopkins was the most targeted player in the league since he came back from his suspension at the start of last weeks game and another 12 in Mexico City must have kept him top of that list while Brown was getting double-digit targets with Nuk missing so it will be interesting to see how the team goes. Greg Dortch probably misses out with injury, because teams can’t ever be fully fit.
The running game is mainly James Conner and after the release of Eno Benjamin, Keontay Ingram as the RB2 for them. The Chargers run D ranks 30th so in theory there should be good things coming for Conner although he’s not looked great this year.
A surprisingly long write up to say the Chargers should win and cover, I’ll bet that now it’s -2.5, and I like the Over 48.5
Raiders +4 at Seahawks: 47.5
They say that knowing what you don’t know is one of the most important things you can learn, and I definitely don’t know what the Raiders are going to do each week. They put up 0 against the Saints one week, then they beat the Broncos not long after.
One thing I do know is that it’s pretty much all Devante Adams who has looked every bit like the player they thought they were bringing in, it’s just the everything around him has gone to shit. 4th in yards, 2nd in TDs this year with 5 scores in their last 3 games, he’s stepped up with everyone else dropping around him. In fairness when the WR2 is Mack Hollins it’s easy to see why Adams’ numbers may have bumped up in recent weeks, with Renfrow and Waller out it’s a decidedly weak looking passing attack, although I do usually get a winner on Foster Moreau at least once per season but you won’t be finding him at double-digits any more.
Amazingly Josh Jacobs was the ONLY player on the team to record a rushing attempt in their last game 24 for 109 against the Broncos, I don’t think I’ve ever seen just one player listed in that column before. He’s got a calf injury… but expected to play.
Derek Carr is probably not going to be on this team last year but he’ll put his all into the final few games of his Raiders career before they trade him to the Jets over the summer.
The Seahawks have obviously been the surprise team this year and they sit joint top of the NFC West. Geno Smith is probably winning comeback player of the year and Kenneth Walker is the fave for OROY as they look to sweep the awards.
It needed garbage time for Geno to get going in Germany against the Buccs when they last played and strip sack (forced fumble?) was damaging for them, but he’s had a fantastic season running this offense as Pete Carroll requires, give the ball to the running back and target Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf, not the toughest game-plan I suppose. Although the odd deep ball to speedster Marquise Goodwin has been mixed in this year as well with 3 TDs from 16 receptions for him.
I quite like Will Dissly and Noah Fant at TE, although they are tougher to predict.
I have nothing on this game, I would lean to the Raiders getting the points, but it could be a massacre on the other side of things, so a firm stay away for me.
Saints +9.5 at 49ers: 43
The Saints are a hot mess this year, they had a chance to steal the NFC South from the Bucs as they faltered but it’s just not worked out for them. Andy Dalton being your QB in 2022 probably isn’t the best way to go about things, but Jameis Winston got injured and hasn’t been able to get his job back, although whether that’s due to attitude, not being able to train a full week, god knows, there’s mixed messages coming out of the Superdome around that.
Dalton did have his best game of the season against the Rams last week as they have checked out on the season, 3 TDs while completing 21 of 24 is very impressive. Having Jarvis Landry another week healthy probably helped but his favourite guys complement each other well in TE Jawan Johnson being a good redzone target and deep shots to Chris Olave (possibly OROY) helping get the team down the field. Johnson has scored 3 games in a row and has 5 in his last 5 games this year.
Kamara doesn’t look at top level for him but is still very good while Taysom Hill mixing doesn’t seem to throw off the attack too much either.
The 49ers though, I have been raving about them since they brought in Christian McCaffrey and the game against the Cardinals in Mexico City showed to some extent what the offense can be with him in it, Elijah Mitchell 9 carries, CmC 7 carries, Deebo getting a handful as well, and both of the electric weapons getting involved frequently in the passing game as well. They have the potential to be one of the most fun teams in the league to watch and in fairness to Jimmy G, he’s not throwing away his shot.
George Kittle had a couple of TDs in that game, he’s been up-and-down this season and the Saints have done well against the tight end this year so may be one to fade this week.
The 49ers defence is one of the best in the league and will put pressure on Dalton, so it looks like a comfy win for the 49ers but it’s a high spread so no bet for me on that. – If you back Juwan Johnson on anything, don’t be a fucking idiot like someone may have been and make sure you’re taking him and NOT Jauan Jennings…alcohol may have played a part. JOHNSON 9/2-ish anytime is a decent price.
Rams +15.5 at Chiefs: 42
Possibly the worst Super Bowl defense in history? It’s not been a fun year for Rams fans, but they got their Lombardi at least. The offense has been putrid and with Cooper Kupp probably out for the year now, Matthew Stafford missing out and even backup John Wolford probably out it’s Bryce Perkins at QB for them this week against the Chiefs, what could possibly go wrong?
As such there’s not a whole lot to talk about for the Rams, they finally got a bit of run game going as they were forced into that and the mobility of Perkins should help things there. Cam Akers is back in the fold and they cut Darrell Henderson this week so it’s him and Kyren Williams I guess.
The likes of Allen Robinson, Tyler Higbee and Van Jefferson will get targeted but with a 3rd choice QB it’s stupid to take anyone doing anything.
The Chiefs on the other hand haven’t missed a beat this year and seemingly as long as Travis Kelce is on the field they’ll be ok, he had another multiple TD game last week finishing with 3 against the Chargers to take him to 11 and the receiving lead on the year. They should have Juju back and MVS will probably get more with Kadarius Toney unsurprisingly out with a muscular issue already.
The run-game is pretty much all Isiah Pacheco now with Jerrick McKinnon the RB2 as Clyde Edwards-Helaire heads to IR. Pacheco went over 100 on the ground last week as the main back and with the Rams team giving up entirely should have a good game here as well.
The Chiefs will win, but they’re 2-2 against the spread as double digit faves so it’s a stay away there. I wouldn’t be shocked to see a 27-3 type game but it’s definitely not a bet.
Packers +6.5 at Eagles: 46
Ah the Packers. Aaron Rodgers…the general line on this game “Wouldn’t it be just like Rodgers to show he’s not utterly done and to win in prime-time with the world watching” – Yeah, it would. I don’t think it will happen, but there’s always that horrible incling at the back of my mind when that bellend plays, although his team and he were thoroughly out-coached by the Titans when they last played 10 days ago, so I’m not expecting that.
The run game is meh, the passing game is meh, they do seem to have found something in Christian Watson who glides away from defenders and has notched up 5 TDs from 8 receptions in their last 2 games, and it could have been more with some drops in there too. Randall Cobb is still a thing, Allen Lazard is there, Robert Tonyan deeply disappointing this year.. it’s just not pretty or fun in Green Bay.
Phillie has been a little more fun but maybe they’ve been found out in recent weeks as they’ve stopped blowing teams away in the same fashion they were at the start of the year, although the win they scraped out against the Colts showed they can put in the tough yards as well, with the Cowboys already winning this week and looking good they’ll have to keep notching up Dubs.
Jalen Hurts is probably the second best dual threat QB in the league with Lamar leading that category, unlike Jackson he does have elite talent around him with AJ Brown leading the way an Devonta Smith very talented as well. The loss of Dallas Goedert is a tough one for them but while the run-game looking good helps mitigate that to an extent, it’s safe to that Calceterra and Stoll aren’t at Goederts’ level.
Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, Kenneth Gainwell all get carries but picking any to score with Hurts ability in the 5-zone is a fools task.
The Eagles should win, and I’d fancy them to cover but I can’t do anything on this game.
That’s it for the weekend, hope y’all enjoyed the Thursday games and hopefully tonights will be good too. Thanks for reading this surprisingly long preview.