What We Learned: Week 12 + Thursday Night Preview
Welcome back to the only somewhat exciting review session you’ll ever take part in, especially if you’re a university student like myself. Last week we had some pretty good picks that won very easily, especially if you had a slightly different line. We also had some losses which I’ll explain the takeaways from those games below.
PICK: Buccaneers +5.5 @ Falcons, Confidence 3 / 5.. WIN
I think we all knew that despite Atlanta having won 2 straight and despite their records both being 3-7, Tampa Bay is the better team on paper. Yes, it was a divisional game and we’ve seen that anything can happen in divisional games. I guess you could categorize this one as one of those “anything can happen” scenarios as the Bucs winning by 13 wasn’t what I expected. I did say that the game would be a shootout, and it was, and also that both previous matchups had totaled over 60, so the over 50.5 line in this game was enticing. I think what we can take from this game is that teams that can punish Jameis Winston’s turnovers will beat the Bucs pretty easily, as long as their defense is slightly competent. Jameis threw 2 picks in this game, but the Falcons defense is still just as bad as we always knew them to be.
PICK: Seahawks +2 @ Eagles, Confidence 3 / 5.. WIN
This wasn’t one of the games I was paying close attention to, but by looking at the boxscore I’m surprised the Seahawks weren’t able to win this game more convincingly. If your quarterback turns the ball over 4 times, your odds of winning aren’t great, yet this was only a one-score game. Despite nearly even time of possession, Russell Wilson had just 13 completions in 25 attempts, which is a season-low in both completions, and completion percentage for the quarterback. This along with the fact that the usually stout Eagles run defense was run over for a line of 26-174-1. Even if you take out the long touchdown run from Rashaad Penny, you still get 25-116, which is a solid 4.6 YPC. The Eagles have a very easy schedule upcoming, but I don’t think they’re as good as some of their spreads might say.
PICK: Lions -2.5 @ Redskins, Confidence - 3 / 5.. LOSS
This was an ugly game to watch from both teams. Jeff Driskel behaved as a bad backup quarterback would normally behave. If you had told me before the game that Washington was only going to total 230 yards of offense with Haskins throwing a pick and completing just 13 passes, I probably would’ve told you Detroit won by 14. Turning the ball over is never good, but turning the ball over 4 times to a 1-9 team appeared to be the downfall of the Lions here. The Redskins offense certainly didn’t beat them, the only Washington touchdown came from a 91-yard kickoff return. Picking bad teams to cover a spread appears to be a bad idea, especially with the Lions as they had every opportunity to win this game, but because they had Driskel at quarterback, they fell by 3 to maybe the worst team in the NFL currently.
PICK: Titans -3 vs. Jaguars, Confidence - 3 / 5.. WIN
This game was literally never close due to the Titans' explosive offensive plays in this game. From a 74 yard Henry touchdown rush to a 65 yard AJ Brown touchdown from Tannehill, the Titans ran away with this game early, jumping out to a 35-3 lead. As we predicted here, Derrick Henry was going to dominate this game, and he did going 19-159-2, while the team totaled 219 yards on 33 rushing attempts and 4 rushing touchdowns. The Jaguars rushing defense just can’t seem to hang with anyone at the moment and have been getting exposed through now allowing nearly 750 rushing yards in 3 games. The main draw from this game has to be how bad the Jags are at defending the run, so any decent running team can dominate them.
PICK: Ravens -3 @ Rams, Confidence - 4 / 5.. WIN
As I said, the Rams were in trouble for this game. The Rams looked terrible against the Bears and while they had been decent against the run, no team stops the Ravens running game currently. This point was hammered in on Monday night as the Ravens ran for an appalling line of 48-285-1. Nearly 6 yards per carry and a whopping 48 rush attempts shows that the Rams knew what was coming, but had literally zero answer for it. The Ravens are playing nearly perfect offense right now, aided by the fact that no one knows how to stop what the Ravens can do, even though they know what can, and probably will happen. Defensively the Ravens didn’t really need to do much as they dominated time of possession 40-20. Jared Goff had another Jared Goff performance throwing 2 picks and throwing for just 212 yards, despite being down the entire game. The Rams had just 9 rushing attempts for 22 yards, being forced into one-dimensional football because of how bad they were losing. We’ve seen that Jared Goff gets exposed by good defenses, and that was proven on Monday night.
PICK: Saints -9.5 vs. Panthers, Confidence - 3 / 5.. LOSS
While I was right, the Saints would be able to do whatever they wanted offensively, I didn’t expect the same to apply for the Panthers. The Saints had 123 yards in penalties which certainly didn’t help much, but allowing Kyle Allen’s second-best QBR of the year was not something I expected from a Saints defense that had been fairly good thus far. New Orleans is a tough team to figure out right now, so high spreads should generally be avoided.
Thursday Night Preview
Thanksgiving Thursday will feature 6 teams across the day and night of Lions vs. Bears, Cowboys vs. Bills, and Falcons vs. Saints. Below I’ll list who I like for each game, along with a brief explanation as to why with a more full article coming Saturday in the NFL Pick 6. Let’s run these games down.
PICK: Bears -3.5 @ Lions, Confidence - 4 / 5.
This line might not be much use come tomorrow, as there are concerns surrounding Jeff Driskel’s health. With Matt Stafford out, this would mean David Blough would get the start at quarterback for the Lions against one of the top-tier defenses in the NFL. This is obviously not a recipe for success. If Driskel is out, expect the line to shift to something more like Bears -7.5, but even then it’s very difficult to try to tell me you can’t take the Bears. The Lions just lost to the worst team in Football WITH Driskel, and now will have to take on the Bears in a divisional matchup, in primetime, with a 24-year-old quarterback who has never even come close to an NFL snap thus far. Just take the Bears.
PICK: Bills +7 @ Cowboys, Confidence - 3 / 5.
The Bills have yet to allow a team to total 400 yards of offense all year. What does this mean? All of their games are either close, or their beating teams by a good margin simply because the opposing offense can’t move the ball downfield. In their 3 losses, the Bills have lost by 6, 7, and 3 points, with those teams having a combined record of 21-12. I think the Cowboys will win this game, but I can’t give up 7 points to a team that has never lost by more than 7 points this year. The Bills have a top-tier defense, with an offense that has turned the ball over just twice in their 6 games since the bye in week 6. This will be a tight, low scoring game, where I see the Cowboys pulling one out by a field goal.
PICK: Saints -6.5 @ Falcons, Confidence - 3 / 5.
The Falcons have increasingly less to play for week in and week out. There are questions surrounding the head coaching job for next year, or even for the rest of this year, along with a 3-8 record with no shot at the playoffs in a competitive NFC. The Saints, on the other hand, are battling for a first-round bye with four other teams, so despite being 9-2, every win is huge for the Saints right now. Julio Jones’ health is shady right now with him saying he’s going to play, but not practicing throughout the week, while the Saints have scored 34 points in back to back weeks. The Falcons week 10 win at the Saints was a fluke, and the Saints will prove that on Sunday with a win by around 10 points.