What a random weekend of football to try and dig through here. Obviously, it’s New Years Day so I’m sure you’ll all forgive me if this preview is a little more compact than usual, and there are a billion injuries around the league meaning we’re left with a ton of backups, especially at QB. I’ll try and focus on the games where both teams are playing full-strength teams, but it’s not easy this week, probably sensible to keep things low stakes.
A list of some of the QBs starting this week;
- Nick Foles
- Mike White
- Brock Purdy
- Desmond Ridder
- Joshua Dobbs (wasn’t terrible)
- David Blough
- Tyler Huntley
- Sam Darnold
- Jarret Stidham
- Gardner Minshew
- Teddy Bridgewater
What a time to be alive.
It does mean there will be a lot of variation on Draftkings at least… so join our $5 contest! – $5 Contest – Top 3 get paid
The playoffs are taking shape with a few divisions wrapped up already and we’re actually down to just one available Playoff spot in the AFC, while the NFC side has 3 spots up for grabs as we enter the final fortnight of the season. The AFC South will be decided next week as the Jags and Titans face each other, the Titans have already lost this week, resting most of their starters on Thursday Night against the Cowboys.
The NFC East should be secured by the Eagles, who will wrap up the #1 seed with a win tonight as well, the NFC South is still up for grabs, if the Panthers beat the Buccs they’ll put themselves in control of that division after securing the sweep over Brady and his boys.
Dolphins +3 at Patriots: 41
The early Sky game could be very important in the AFC playoff race. A win for the Dolphins put them up to 84% to make the playoffs regardless of other results, while a win for the Patriots hypothetically keeps them alive, although they don’t deserve to be there and would surely be immediately out.
The Dolphins will have to do it with Teddy Bridgewater at QB though after Tua Tagovailoa suffered yet another concussion, worrying once more. They performed fine with Teddy earlier in the year and frankly should still have enough to beat their divisional rivals as they did at the start of the year.
Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle were fine with Teddy, Hill had 29 targets…TWENTY NINE targets in the two full games that Teddy played, racking up over 300 yards in those games. Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson are a good 1-2 punch on the ground, Jeff returned from injury to score last week, Mostert can break away well. Trent Sherfield has added a little as well this season. Defensively they’ll have to stop the run and they rank top 10 in that aspect according to DVOA.
The Patriots aren’t great, I don’t think Mac Jones is very good (I didn’t last year either) and the talent around him in the passing game is poop as well. The one bright spot has been Rhamondre Stevenson who has done well on the ground and catching out of the backfield. Honestly. I don’t have much to talk about when it comes to the Pats. Jakobi Meyers should hit 60 odd yards, I don’t think Kendrick Bourne will put up the yards he did as they came back last week though, and they lost players through injuries inflicted by their own team last week.
They do have a good defense though with Matt Judon and Josh Uche are the best pass-rush duo in the league and should be able to get pressure on Teddy, so expect even more quick passing than usual from the Dolphins.
Dolphins win. I’m a little surprised they’re the team getting points. I guess Tyreek Hill over on his yards (72.5 on WillHill) and receptions.
Cardinals +6 at Falcons: 41
David Blough vs. Desmond Ridder – What a state. Kyler obviously out for the season, Colt McCoy out with concussion so the Blough-hards get a chance to resurrect the newsletter.
James Conner I guess will get a lot of the ball on the deck if they play him…Deandre Hopkins misses out so, god knows. Greg Dortch for the win?
Ridder is probably the future for the Falcons but they will be using the final two games to assess what he can achieve in this team, he has been targeting Drake London more and the run game has been fine with him, Tyler Allgeier the main man in that aspect to end the season.
The Falcons should win, but I won’t be taking anything on the main markets, 75.5 is right around the line I’d expect for Allgeier so I won’t be taking anything there either.
Saints +5 at Eagles: 41.5
Andy Dalton vs. Gardner Minshew, the studly matchup we all wanted here.
The Saints need to win the final two games to have any chance of stealing the NFC South, which is somehow still within their reach. Chris Olave will be available after missing last week, Juwan Johnson has been good this year with Dalton at QB, and Taysom Hill scored last week in the wind in Cleveland. They don’t seem to give Alvin Kamara as much work as it seems like he should, they’re a weird team.
The Eagles did well with Minshew at QB last week, putting up points wasn’t the issue in their loss to the Cowboys. Devonta Smith scored a couple and put up 113 yards, AJ Brown topped 100 as well with Minshew throwing 2 TDs and 2 INTs.
Eagles should win and secure the #1 seed in the NFC, and take home the NFC East title making it yet another year without that division being retained.
Colts +5.5 at Giants: 39
More fantastic QB play with Nick Foles swinging his wang around, and I guess, they’ll hope for a little more than that this week as he was utterly terrible last week. I guess to be expected after so long without starting a game, but 143 yards and 3 interceptions is laughable.
Zack Moss got the bulk of the carries with Deon Jackson not getting a touch in the game, seems weird. Pittman got most of the targets and rookie TE Jelani Woods let them in yards. I do like Woods, he’s a large human. His line is 28.5 and he’s topped that in 3 of their last 4 games.
A win for the Giants would secure a playoff spot for them, not bad given they were lined at 7 wins this year. They have been limping over the line in recent weeks but with the distinct lack of talent available in their passing games. If Saquon Barkley can do what he’s done for a lot of the year then they should at least offer something, he and Daniel Jones running the ball are the main line of attack.
I’ve got to say the Giants win, but I honestly wouldn’t be shocked to see the Colts do something. Jelani Woods o28.5 rec. yards the only thing I’d be looking at here.
Panthers +3.5 at Buccaneers: 40.5
A win for the Panthers amazingly leaves them in control of the NFC South. If they beat the Saints in the final week then they’ll take the division and the 4th seed in the NFC. The Buccs will win the division with a win here. Fun times.
Sam Darnold is under center but they’ve done their best to keep the ball away from him recently as highlighted by them running all over the Lions last week finishing with 320 rushing yards with Foreman and Hubbard sharing the workload between them. DJ Moore obviously less the WR corps and Terrace Marshall has shown he’s good enough to be a WR2 or 3 in the league.
Tom Brady and the Bucs aren’t there either, but activated their star Center this week, so should they make the playoffs will surely look better on offense. Brady now has 7 INTs in 4 games after another 2 last week. The run game isn’t exactly helping either, Rachaad White and Leonard Fournette are average at best and while Mike Evans still looks all right out there the connection just isn’t hitting. Chris Godwin will probably lead them through the air.
It might be projecting a little, but I do like the Panthers getting the points. They have definitely shown they can win and the Bucs have definitely shown they can lose any game. We don’t need this Bucs team in the playoffs.
Broncos +12.5 at Chiefs: 45
The Broncos… have lost…the last 14 regular season games against the Chiefs. That’s quite something.
Russell Wilson probably plays, but does anyone want that? Like, anyone at all? Greg Dulcich has been fine in his rookie season, despite the mess of this offense but Sutton and Juedy are frustrated with how terrible they’ve been this year. The defense has been outstanding though and nearly beat the Chiefs when they played a couple of weeks ago in Denver due to turnovers.
Patrick Mahomes has done well without Tyreek Hill this year and is now odds-on for MVP due to the teams performance without that stud in there. MVS and Juju have been fine, but it’s been Jerrick McKinnon notching up the TDs in recent weeks with 5 TDs in 3 games. Pacheco has run well, they’re just a well coached team. Well done them.
Main line here I guess is the Chiefs need the win to try and secure the 1 seed. If the Bills win out then it goes to the Bills, if the Bengals beat the Bills on Monday Night Football then it is down to the final game of the season.
Chiefs win, Broncos cover. Under on total.
Bears +6 at Lions: 52.5
It’s been a weird year for the Bears, I predicted them as the lowest scoring team of the year due to their utter inability to help Justin Fields at QB, but he decided that he’d just do it all himself again and has made them quite watchable on offense, he’ll more than likely run for 70+ and a TD or two against a poor Lions defense and they have most of their pieces back on offense, Chase Claypool came in at trade, was average and then injured, he should play tonight, Khalil Herbert is back at RB as second fiddle to David Montgomery who’s run pretty well recently. Defensively they’re one of the worst in the league, so there should be points in this one.
The Lions are currently around 10/3 to make the playoffs after a humbling loss to the Panthers stopped their 5 wins in 6 games streak. I do genuinely think they’re a team to look towards next season with the picks and money they have available and the youth on the existing roster. Goff looks like he’ll keep his job as he’s run the offense well, Jammy Williams and D’Andre Swift are a good duo at RB and the WR corps is looking very tasty with Jameson Williams getting healthy to join Amon-Ra St. Brown and DJ Chark. It also looks like Brock Wright is something at TE as well. They’re doing well on offense. The defense does seem to be getting there but isn’t at the required level just now.
The Lions need outside help and a win against the Packers next week to make the playoffs, but they know they have to win this one, I think they do. Should be points but the line is up 4 points from opening last week so we’re late to the party on that. DJ Chark rec yards again? He’s up to 47.5 now, should go over, but I had 43.5 in my head so I’m avoiding it. Prefer Swift o39.5 rush yards
Browns +2.5 at Commanders: 40.5
Watson vs Wentz – Yes it is as appetising as that sounds. The Browns have been meh since Watson took over, DPJ has continued having good games though and David Njoku seems to get a lot of the redzone targets. Nick Chubb is obviously good on the deck and that’s about it for a moribund Browns team.
The Commanders are trying Carson Wentz against, at home, what could possibly go wrong?! He is probably better than Heinicke now the new QB effect has worn off, but this Commanders team shouldn’t really be here with a chance of making the playoffs, they’re horrible to watch.
Again, maybe wish-casting here, but Browns win and quell the vague chance of the Commies making the post-season.
Jaguars -3 at Texans: 43
The Jags know that this game is largely irrelevant with their matchup against the Josh Dobbs led Titans next week being the decider for the AFC South and a playoff spot, you’d imagine they’d want to keep up momentum with a win against a divisional rival here though, and if given his usual workload Travis Etienne should have a huge game for the Jags against the leagues worst rush defense, he’s been hitting 100 combined yards in most games recently and allowing Trevor Lawrence to vulture TDs at the goal-line in most games. Lawrence has looked good now that he’s settled into a well coached offense and spreads the ball around to the Jones’, Kirk and Evan Engram who has blown up in recent weeks.
The Texans beat the Titans last week as they continued their mixture at QB with Jeff Driskel involved as a foil to Davis Mills. It’s different I guess. Rocye Freeman and Dare Ogunbowale got the carries at RB and Brandin Cooks made an appearance after quitting on the team. Good for him.
Jags should win and cover but we just don’t know how seriously they’re going to take it with the big game on the horizon next week.
49ers -9.5 at Raiders: 42.5
The 49ers don’t have a whole lot to play for here, they have the NFC West title, they’re on a great win streak with Brock Purdy at QB and while they could move up to #2 seed, it’s largely pointless as they should beat any of the potential opponent in the wildcard round. They should rest up Christian McCaffrey, or at least limit his snaps for the playoff run, so Jordan Mason might get some more carries or Tyrion Davis-Price, the LSU rookie they drafted this year who was spoken well of by Kyle Shanahan. It looks like they’ll be near full strength at WR, Deebo was back in training, but again, there’s no need to rush him back so they’re giving him at least this week off.
The Raiders seem to be cutting bait on Derek Carr, they’re “seeing what they’ve got” in Jarrret Stidham at QB… well, most of us know the answer to that, not much. Is Josh Jacobs going to play? It sounds like they might not have him here either, so… yeah, let’s just ignore them today.
49ers obviously should win, I would lean Raiders on the spread though, no idea how it’s going to play out.
Jets -1.5 at Seahawks: 42.5
Mike White is back in at QB for the Jets after their dismal experiment of Chris Streveler against the Jags last Thursday night. That should give us a little reliablilty at QB at least, so Garrett Wilson should be reliable, he needs a few yards to become the first Jets WR since 2015 to hit 1,000 yards and is now fave for OROY. The run game has died on it’s arse with Zonovan “Bam” Knight doing nothing, Michael Carter rec. yards is the one thing I have been looking at in recent weeks, went easily over 11.5 last week, there’s no line at the moment but try and keep an eye out.
The Seahawks have fallen off a cliff in recent weeks, but Geno Smith gets to face the team who drafted, and cut him, in this one. Kenneth Walker faces off against his OROY rival and Tariq Woolen is opposite the heavy odds-on competition for the DROY award with Sauce Gardner playing for the Jets. DK Metcalf vs, Sauce will be fun if it happens and Tyler Lockett is somehow back from a broken hand in record time despite having plates and screws in his hand.
I’ve no idea, they’re both horrible teams to try and predict on a weekly basis, the Jets defense is probably the strongest unit on show, so I’d lean to them
Vikings +3 at Packers: 47.5
The Vikings are widely considered the worst division winner, seemingly in history with their 12-3 record and just a +5 point differential, so one thing we can probably predict here is a one-score game. The Vikings don’t need the win, although do technically have a chance of the #1, but knocking out Rodgers and the Packers from the playoffs should be enough motivation for them to play at full strength tonight. Justin Jefferson is chasing records as well, needing just over 100 per game to hit the season-long receiving record.
The Packers needs to win here and next week against the Lions to improbably make the playoffs, as it turns out going to the run-game more has helped them win games, who’d have thunk it… AJ Dillon has hit his 5.5 rushing TDs for the season (that was tenser than I thought it would be) and Aaron Jones is one of the better backs in the league. The passing game may be missing Christian Watson who had hit a purple patch but is heavily questionable with a hip injury after not practising all week. Allen Lazard probably picks up the slack if Watson misses out.
Vikings defense is definitely beatable, and Rodgers has a good record over them, and the whole NFC North in general… I really want the Vikings to win and stop this farce from happening. It’ll be close. AJ Dillon to score again? 6/5 for him to make 5 games in a row with a TD.
Rams +6.5 at Chargers: 42
The Battle of LA!
Baker Mayfield at QB for the Rams… weird. They put up their best performance of the season when tearing apart the Broncos last week and the team seem to be settled. The offensive line has stayed the same for a run of games for the first time this year, Cam Akers is running well for them and should have a good game against this Chargers defense and Mayfield is playing for this career.
The Chargers have secured the playoffs, had a ton of injuries which nearly derailed their season and survived but it could be incentive enough to rest up players tonight to try and avoid any other killer injuries going into the post-season where they should be nearing full strength with Joey Bosa due to return. In fairness there’s nothing out there suggesting big changes for the Chargers but who knows.
Due to my complete inability to know who’s playing for the Chargers I’d have to lean to the Rams covering.
Steelers +2.5 at Ravens: 35
These games are always close, will probably be decided by 3 points.
That’s probably all I need to say on this game. Trying to retain Mike Tomlins’ “non-losing season” record is all they’ve got to play for and you know what, they might just keep that going for another week.
Pickett and Pickens for the Steelers, Diontae Johnson has had more targets in recent weeks and 82 receptions without a TD is quite impressive and Friermuth at TE gives them a good core for the future. Running back seems to have been split more recently with Jaylen Warren taking some carries from Najee Harris and defensively they’re fine.
The Ravens are giving Lamar Jackson another week off with a potential AFC North decider on the horizon in week 18 against the Bengals so Tyler Huntley gets the start. Woop. JK Dobbins has looked all right since returning from injury, but a team with Sammy Watkins and Demarcus Robinson shouldn’t be winning games. They are also very good on defense, hence the 35 total.
A snorefest to close out the New Years Day slate, it will be hard fought, it will be fun for certain people, but I don’t think points will be easily come by.