Week 8: 3-1, (75.00%)
Season: 8-4, (66.66%)
A solid week last week going 3-1 and that brings my season record to 8-4. Obviously limited volume so the 66.66% needs to be taken with a grain of salt, that said I am feeling good about my NFL right now. Four plays on the card this week and here is what I’m going with…
Redskins (+10.5): Yes I know the Bills are 5-2 and the Redskins are 1-7, but I just don’t feel like the Bills should be double digit favorites against anyone not named the Dolphins or Bengals. Exposed can be a strong word but I think that’s what we saw last week when Philly went into Buffalo and pummeled the Bills 31-13. You look at the 5 Buffalo wins this year and they aren’t exactly impressive… Jets, Dolphins, Bengals, Titans, Giants. In other words they haven’t beaten a team that’s over .500 all year. They are 24th in the league at 19.1 points per game, and just 20th in yards per game at 361.9. This isn’t the kind of team built to blow you out and certainly not the kind of team that scares you offensively. On the other side we have the lowly Redskins who have finally switched gears to rookie QB Dwayne Haskins. Haskins has only seen limited time this year and to be honest he’s been horrible. However taking snaps with the 1st team all week should help him a bit in this one. They’ll likely rely on the ground game quite a bit and Adrian Peterson has actually been running pretty damn well of late. In his last 3 games Peterson is averaging 91.6 yards on 4.8 yards per carry. Buffalo allowed 218 yards rushing last week so right now it seems on the ground is clearly the way to try and attack them. I think it should also help Haskins having college teammate McLaurin as his top target throwing the ball. McLaurin has been one of the better rookies in the league and has proven he has big play ability. Defensively the Bills numbers are very solid but the last few weeks they’ve come back to earth a bit. In those 2 they’ve allowed 26 points per game including 21 points and nearly 400 yards to the lowly Dolphins. By no means am I calling for a ‘Skins win here but I do think they’ll hang around and keep it closer than most expect. I see something like a 20-14 Bills win.
Panthers (-3.5): The Ryan Tannehill era is off to a 2-0 start for the Titans but if we’re being real here that could and probably should be 0-2. Two weeks ago they held off the Chargers who failed 3 times to punch in a game winning TD from the 1 yard line in the closing seconds. Then last week the zebras did them a massive favor taking a late game TD away from Tampa Bay on a quick/premature whistle. At the end of the day the Titans won those games and have now found their way to 4-4 but they are literally two plays away from being 2-6. Tannehill has played well so far but this will be by far the toughest defense he’s seen so far this season. Carolina laid an egg last week getting throttled in San Francisco by the 49ers but let’s not forget how good they were before that. They had won 4 straight and I think are in a nice spot to bounce back this week. The Panthers are 1st in the NFL with 30 sacks and 2nd with 8 INT’s. That’s a defense that flies around and is going to give Tannehill much more resistance and trouble than what he dealt with against the Chargers and Bucs. Offensively the Panthers had put up 34 points or more in 3 of their last 4 games before that clunker against the niners. We all know about McCaffrey who might be the best offensive weapon in Football and he should come into this one fresh and ready for a heavy workload. Two weeks ago the Panthers had their bye and last week McCaffrey only had 18 touches so expect him to see it early and often in this one. Ultimately this one boils mostly down to a Tannehill regression game. I mentioned earlier the big sack and interception numbers the Panthers are putting up and that goes with being 5th in the league in pass yards allowed per game. This feels like one of those 22 for 43, 208 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT type games for Tannehill where he also gets sacked 4 or 5 times. If it shakes out that way I could see a 28-17 ish Panthers win.
Colts (+1): I’ll be frank about it, I haven’t been impressed by Mason Rudolph whatsover. At 63.8% completions and 9 TD’s to go with 3 INT’s his numbers are respectable but just watching him play is awful. He’s turned himself into a captain checkdown QB who only pulls the trigger on a throw more than 5 or 6 yards if a WR is running wide, wide open. He stares down his targets, has happy feet, and isn’t throwing his WR’s open. For those not terribly familiar with how a good passing game works, solid QB’s throw their WR’s open instead of waiting for them to become wide open and then throwing it. Rudolph unfortunately is the wait until they are wide open type. Simply put unless someone breaks loose he’s going to check it down for a little dump off pass. His season numbers are kept afloat by what he did against the Bengals and Dolphins who as we know are a combined 0-15. In those 2 games he went 44/64 for 480 yards, 4 TD’s and 1 INT, in his other two starts however, against actual football teams (the Ravens and 49ers) he went 27/47 for just 305 yards. I’ve made my point and I hate to pick on the guy so much but I just don’t think he’s any good and that honestly the Steelers would be better off with Hodges at QB. On top of all that it looks like the Steelers will be without James Conner at RB which puts even more pressure on Rudolph to actually make some plays. I’m more than ok challenging him to do so. The other side of this one is the Colts and Jacoby Brissett who is quietly becoming one of the more reliable QB’s in the league. He’s completing 64.5% of his passes with 14 TD’s and just 3 INT’s. On the ground they have Marlon Mack who is becoming one of the better young RB’s in the league in his own right. This team is smart, well balanced, and with Frank Reich incredibly well coached. I don’t want to over simplify but I feel with the Colts I’ve got a massive edge at QB and a massive edge at head coach. Tough to go wrong with that. Indy for me.
Broncos (+4): This line has really taken off since Joe Flacco was announced out and Brandon Allen was named the starting QB. We’ll get to the Browns side of this thing in a minute but first I want to touch on that. Do we really think Allen is THAT much worse than Joe Flacco? I’m not saying Allen is going to come in and set the world on fire but let’s look at it another way… how much worse could he be? Say what you want about Flacco but I think we could all agree he’s a bottom 10 QB in the league if not even lower than that. The Broncos still have a respectable rushing attack and now having the Browns up at altitude that will clearly be their plan of attack. Pound it on the ground, try to take the pressure off of Allen by giving him some open throwing lanes and of course wear down the Browns defense. As a team the Browns are 26th in rushing defense so that bodes well for the duo of Freeman and Lindsay on the ground. I know at 2-6 it isn’t easy to pump up the Broncos but the fact is their defense is still pretty damn good. They are 4th in the NFL allowing just 304.5 yards per game and I think they can really shut down this Browns offense. We’ll start with Baker Mayfield who you could argue has been the worst QB in the league so far this season. Nick Chubb is an absolute stud but that passing game has been horrid. Mayfield often times stares down Beckham and forces throws to him despite double or even sometimes triple coverage. It’s also worth noting how little depth this team has. If anything happens to Chubb, Landry or Beckham they are really in trouble. Other than Chubb nobody on the roster even has 10 carries this year and aside from Landry and Beckham no WR has even caught 10 passes. At the end of the day I’ll happily fade the Browns on the road, at altitude, getting 4 points. I feel the gap between between Flacco and Allen has been inflated by the market and I’ll go against it.