• Justin Dodds

What We Learned: Week 11 + Thursday Night Preview

Updated: Nov 21, 2020

You learn something new every day, right? At least that’s how the saying goes, but here, we’re just going to focus on learning something every week as we all make mistakes or we’re just flat out wrong in our approach. Here we’re going to briefly go over each pick made last week and what happened in that game, as well as what piece of information we can take away from that game to potentially do better next time. Let’s jump into the picks.

PICK: Vikings -9 vs. Broncos, Confidence 3 / 5.. LOSS

I remember watching Colin Cowherd’s “Blazing 5” show where he picks 5 of his favourite spreads of the week and he had the Broncos +9 or 10. His main reasoning was that because the Vikings had just come off a big win, they’re set to regress here in a “scrappy” game where the two coaches were familiar in their style. While I did think this was a possibility, I didn’t expect, and previously hadn’t expected, Brandon Allen to play as well as he has. This wasn’t one of the games I was really paying attention to, but what I can draw from it is that Xavier Rhodes is not the same shut-down corner that he used to be, and that we can’t depend on Brandon Allen to be completely useless at QB. While I said that the Broncos were 23rd in turnover differential and the Vikings were 6th, Brandon Allen seems to be more cautious with the ball and maybe even smarter than Joe Flacco as he’s thrown just 1 pick in 2 games against decent secondaries, while Joe Flacco had thrown 5 picks in 8 games. I think we have to show more respect to the Broncos defense, especially their secondary, as well as Brandon Allen.

PICK: Texans +4.5 @ Ravens, Confidence 3 / 5.. LOSS

Wow. Let’s begin by saying no one expected this matchup to unwind the way it did. I mean, expert consensus had 57% Ravens -4.5, which is fairly close to even. For the Texans offensively it’s hard to draw any conclusions from a blowout game like this, but the Ravens were living in the Texans backfield. I didn’t really expect this to be a huge problem as Watson is fairly good at escaping pressure, but even if he had played miraculously, they still would’ve lost. As for the Ravens, I think we can all agree that the Ravens offense is currently way too dynamic for anyone to be able to keep them off the field. The Texans defense had been very good against the run and here they were just outplayed due to the diverse nature of the Ravens offense. They have 3 backs with good change of pace, a QB that is an excellent runner in not just speed, but also elusiveness, and they have pretty decent receivers between TE and WR. I think it’s hard for teams to figure out the best way to slow down the Ravens offense right now, and their defense is still one of the best in the league. The Ravens might just be the best team in the NFL.

PICK: Jets +2.5 @ Redskins, Confidence - 3 / 5.. WIN

I wasn’t alone in this pick as it seems a lot of experts (78%) were confused at the vegas line. Odds ended up shifting the line to Jets +2 at closing but even still, I think the Jets should’ve been 2.5 point favourites, not underdogs. I think Sam Darnold performs as you’d expect him to when he doesn’t have pressure like here where he was sacked twice for 8 yards versus when the Jets went to Jacksonville and Sam Darnold was sacked 8 times for 51 yards and threw 3 interceptions leading to a loss 29-15. The Jets right now are a team that you can expect to be competitive against teams with terrible defenses. You can also expect them to get smoked in any matchup where the defense is seemingly competent. Look for the Jets in the Pick 6 potentially in the upcoming weeks as they have the Raiders, Bengals, and Dolphins in their next three games.

PICK: Raiders -11.5 vs. Bengals, Confidence - 3 / 5.. LOSS

This is an interesting case of stats vs. result as if you look at some of the stats without looking at the score you’d be shocked it was only a 7 point game. Ryan Finley posted a solid 13-31 for 115 yards and a pick, while Derek Carr was 25-29 for 292 with a touchdown both passing and rushing with an interception. The Raiders had 35 minutes of time-of-possession as well as a third-down rate of 7-15 vs. 3-13 for the Bengals. I wasn’t really watching this game at all as I was focused on the Patriots and Eagles game as a Patriots fan would, but this game will probably have to be rewatched to figure out how this game wasn’t a blowout. From the stats, I’m presuming Oakland had a touchdown lead and sat on it late with a game management approach with their 34 rushing attempts.

PICK: Cardinals +10 @ 49ers, Confidence - 3 / 5.. PUSH

While this game technically ended up as a push for my pick here, if you picked the closing odds of ARI +9.5, you weren’t as fortunate. As I said, this game remained competitive as you can come to expect divisional games to be, until the last second of garbage time where Larry Fitzgerald fumbled on their own 4-yard line and it was returned for 6 points to just barely nudge the 49ers into covering. This is as bad as it gets for an unfortunate circumstance that literally changed nothing for both teams, but changed everything for people betting on the game. I’m going to act as if that play never happened and the game ended up 30-26 49ers where again we would see that this game panned out similarly to their last matchup just 2 weeks prior. What was surprising to me was how little of a run game the 49ers could establish against a Cardinals team that had allowed EVERY team they had played previously to top 100 yards rushing. I’m not really sure how you go from that point to keeping one of the best rushing offenses in the NFL to just 34 yards total on the ground. The game was put into Garoppolo’s hands and he delivered 4 touchdowns and 424 yards WITHOUT George Kittle and half of Emmanuel Sanders. That will be something to keep a note of going forward.

PICK: Rams -6 vs. Bears, Confidence - 3 / 5.. WIN

This is one of those games where you’re glad you won, but you don’t really feel that great about it if you’re the Rams. Wow was that game ever ugly. With all the talent Jared Goff has at his disposal, having just 2 games out of 10 with a QBR above 100 is just disappointing. Goff completed just 11 passes against the Bears and honestly the Rams should feel lucky it wasn’t any of the other 30 teams in the NFL they were playing that night as I’d be pretty nervous about my chances. The Rams next game against the Ravens at home might just tell us all we need to know about what happens when they see one of the league's elite teams on both sides of the ball. The Rams have morphed into a team that used to put up near 1000 total yards of offense in 2 weeks to now a team near 600 total yards in two matchups. It’s very difficult to feel confident in the Rams right now.

Thursday Night Preview

Thursday Night Football will get the Texans hosting the Colts in what will turn out to be a huge divisional game as both teams sit at 6-4. My pick here will remain similar to when they played at Lucas Oil Stadium a few weeks ago where the Colts just can’t seem to get fully healthy for a week. It is looking likely that TY Hilton will at the very least be limited in his capability, if not out for this game entirely, while they also lost Marlon Mack last week, and backup Jordan Wilkins has been limited in practice throughout the week. The Texans, on the other hand, will potentially get Will Fuller back which when healthy, adds a huge piece to the Texans offense with a clear vertical threat, while not being able to double cover that threat due to Deandre Hopkins also being on the field. If Fuller is active in this game, I’d feel very confident taking the Texans -3.5, but the line would likely increase to -4 or 4.5 if that was the case. As it stands, I like the Texans here because I still believe in their run defense despite being gashed by the Ravens last week. I believe the Ravens are an outlier of an offense in the NFL right now due to the versatility Lamar Jackson brings, thus forcing defenses to have to “guess” what they're going to do a lot more often than what any other NFL offense would force. If TY Hilton misses, their passing attack will be limited as well which will prove challenging to keep pace with an extra motivated Deshaun Watson on the other side of the field after having one of the worst games in his career last week. I think Indy struggles to run the ball in this game and keep Deshaun Watson and the Texans offense off the field which will lead to extra opportunities for Watson to score. I think the Texans take a relatively high scoring one here by around a touchdown so I’ll take the Texans -3.5, Over 45.5, and the Texans money line.

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