Welcome back and the struggle is real after going 0-3 last week. Time to bounce back, brush off last week and get back into some NFL action. Seems we can’t catch a break with injuries and COVID striking teams at the least opportune times. We saw that this week as the Green Bay Packers rolled on Thursday Night Football and crushed the -6.5 points they were favored by. Underdogs have been killing it this year. Let’s see if we can find you some for the weekend.
Baltimore Ravens vs Indianapolis Colts
Ravens made my column last week and they are back again here as underdogs (in some places) that is remarkable. One of the favorites in the AFC are now underdogs to a Colts team everyone expected to have a good record this year due to their schedule. According to DVOA, not much separates these teams. Both defenses are in the top-5 and both offenses are in the 20s. Not to mention, they are both in the top-5 in overall DVOA with a slight edge to Baltimore. That said, I think this is an easy one for me. Which quarterback do I trust more in this situation? Yes, I get Lamar has struggled against really good teams in his career. The matchup will be how the Colts utilize Darius Leonard and how they plan to slow Jackson down. Should be a fun matchup, but I think this Ravens defense will terrorize this offense that hasn’t found their spark yet. No T.Y. Hilton in this one and their receivers are very mediocre at best. We haven’t seen the Johnathon Taylor breakout game yet. I will put everything that it won’t be this game. Give me the Ravens plus money on the moneyline.
My Pick: Ravens ML
Carolina Panthers vs Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs came out last week and put a stomping on the New York Jets, although it did take a half to get warmed up. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs were resigned to throwing the ball down the field and taking advantage of their matchups; which worked to perfection. Carolina on the other hand came out, laid an egg against the Atlanta Falcons and were left licking their wounds after getting beat down by a division foe. This is more of a matchup pick for me here as the Chiefs are the better team there is no questioning that. Carolina’s defense will need to do enough to slow this offense down which is no easy task. On the plus side for Carolina, defense has been scrappy this year and I expect them to scratch and claw for a respectable performance here. The matchup I like is this Carolina offense versus this Kansas City defense, which has been great against the pass however against the run they rank 28th in DVOA. It looks like Chris Jones will play which will help but how much can he help when you have one of the best running backs in the game coming back this week for the Panthers in Christian McCaffrey. It should be a better game than the line suggests. I believe the Panthers put up a “Fur”midable (Okay I’ll stop) performance in this one and cover the line.
My Pick: Panthers +10.5
Las Vegas Raiders vs Los Angeles Chargers
Who would have thought this has some underlying playoff hopefuls in this game. A possible revenge game for the Raiders as they took their spot in Los Angeles…… just playing. In all seriousness though, the Raiders and the Chargers have been punching above their weight this season. If the Chargers could figure out how to keep 17-point leads they would be well on their way to a playoff birth but that hasn’t happened yet. According to DVOA, the Raiders are 31st in overall DVOA which is concerning. Jon Gruden has done a good job all year long of game planning and understanding exactly what needs to get done; unless it requires wearing a mask. I fully expect Josh Jacobs to get a lot of work if he is active. If not, Derek Carr will dink and dunk his way to find some openings against a Chargers defense who will be without Joey Bosa this weekend. The Chargers should have plenty of opportunities against a Raiders defense that has struggled all season. However, they will need to capitalize on those opportunities and last week made me a bit skittish when it came to Anthony Lynn’s team and play calling. If everything lined up, the Chargers are the better team but I think the Raiders execute better in this one and take the victory. The Raiders opened up as a 3-point dog but it is down to a pick and I am still in on the Raiders.
My Pick: Raiders ML
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