What a week we had in the NFL with a couple of monster upsets with the Dolphins winning their second straight game and the Falcons defeating their bitter rivals, the Saints. The NFL once again provided a lot of drama and intrigue with the Titans prevailing on a blocked field goal to beat the Chiefs, and the game of the week where the Seahawks outlasted the 49ers in overtime to knock off the last undefeated team. This week’s games look to bring us some excitement as well. Only four teams are on bye this week and we have some great matchups to get into for the week.
Houston Texans @ Baltimore Ravens
We are in for a treat in this clash. The quarterback play is going to be phenomenal. As a matchup, it doesn’t get much better than this. Watson vs Jackson as their teams go head-to-head Sunday afternoon. Both considered MVP candidates, Watson got a week to recover and have his team heal up as they had a much-needed bye. Watson will be getting back Will Fuller this week which will be an added boost to their passing game. The Houston offense has been good this year and is sitting 9th in DVOA currently through ten weeks. The Texans may have to rely on the running game in this one, which is not their desired choice. The Ravens defense ranks 28th in DVOA against the run and their secondary has been upgraded through the acquisition of Marcus Peters, and Brandon Carr coming back from injury. If the Texans want to win this game they need to establish the run game to keep the chains moving and keep the Texans offense in 3rd and shorts.
On the other side of the ball, Lamar Jackson comes in on absolute fire. The Ravens have had the ball the 2nd fewest times this season and have the most points in the league so far. They have been extremely efficient something the league has never seen before. The reason is Lamar Jackson, he is the offense and makes it everything that it has become. Jackson just completed his 16th game as a pro he has already had two perfect passing rated games this season. He is 13-3 over that period, has a passer rating of 94.9 which would be the highest of all time in a season. Over the 16 game span, he has rushed for 1,258 yds which would be a record at 5.6 yards per attempt. This guy is much watch TV. I expect the Ravens to attack this Houston secondary as it has been banged up and not very good all season long. I see this game being one that is can’t miss as an NFL fan and one that will come down to one possession. This is a good spot for the Texans coming off the bye and I expect this game to be close.
My pick is Houston +4.5.
New England Patriots @ Philadelphia Eagles
Tom Brady versus Carson Wentz; the game we never got to see due to Carson’s injury the season these two faced off in the Super Bowl. This one is an interesting matchup as the Eagles need to win to keep their division hopes alive and the Patriots need to get back on track and find an identity as they head down the home stretch with their most difficult part of the schedule. Patriots come in with the #1 defense in the NFL still despite getting run over by the Ravens two weeks ago. Many observers around the league are a bit suspicious of this run defense and they should be. The Patriots run defense ranks 14th in DVOA and are the weak link.
The Philadelphia Eagles have had issues passing the ball all year and this sets up as a Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders game. If they can commit to it the whole game it will put Philadelphia in position for an upset. I expect the Eagles receivers to have a tough time with the Patriots secondary and that includes Zach Ertz who will be the primary guy the Patriots look to slow down. On the NE side of the ball, I expect to see some things we haven’t seen from them as of yet. Muhammed Sanu was targeted 14 times in the Ravens game in only his second game as a Patriot. He will be fully integrated into this offense as will N’Keal Harry the first-round draft choice of the Patriots out of Arizona State. I expect the Patriots to use more of their ultra-fast hurry-up offense as we saw in the Ravens game in this one as it worked to perfection against the Ravens. This Eagles defense is very stout up front led by Fletcher Cox and is ranked number eight in DVOA against the run. If the Patriots want to win they will keep those big linemen in the game and pick apart this Philadelphia secondary which has had its issues throughout the year. I expect the Eagles to run the ball early but get behind in this one and be forced to pass more than they would like.
My pick is New England -3.5
Buffalo Bills vs Miami Dolphins
Okay, I get it. Yeah this isn’t quite a marquee game, but this game comes at a time when the Dolphins are coming off of a two-game win streak after getting rid of almost every piece of talent on their roster. The job that the new coach Brian Flores is doing with this group has been impressive. The skill-position talent is lacking and the overall team has been gutted for draft picks and future capital. They play host to the Buffalo Bills who despite a 6-3 record have not been playing inspired football after losing last week to the Browns. Buffalo has been buoyed by their league-leading easy schedule so far and will need to hit the gas pedal if they want to make the playoffs. Buffalo has been subpar on offense all season long mostly because of the underdevelopment of quarterback Josh Allen who still makes similar mistakes to those he made last season. The Buffalo offense ranks 25th in DVOA and has been stuck in first gear too many times this season. The defense has a reputation of being very good however analytics tends to lean toward the average to the above-average side of things as they are just inside the top 15 in DVOA. The good news for Buffalo is Miami ranks 31st in DVOA in both offense and defense. If there is a game to get Buffalo on track and ready for the postseason this is it.
These two played a few weeks ago and it was a close game throughout in Buffalo. Look for more of the same here as this one may be ugly to watch. Fitzpatrick will look to stick it to his former team and look to the over for both quarterbacks and their rushing yards. I like the fish to stay within one score and cover this one.
My pick is Miami +6.5.
That will do it for this week’s matchups. Hopefully we get another entertaining week and everyone has a good time wagering this week as we head into the last part of the NFL season. Make sure you check out unwrappedsports.com and also myself and the other contributors on www.sportscastr.com. You can find me @semiproUSN on Sportscastr, where I will have Week 11 lines and Week 11 player prop bets. Also, check out the @betsunwrapped twitter page for all of your betting needs.
Corey Easley is a Contributor for the Unwrapped Sports Network website. Follow him @Cmoney52 on Twitter.