What We Learned: Week 13 + Thursday Night Preview
Well, that was the best week for the NFL Pick 6 with a record of 5-1, as well as our Thanksgiving edition of the Thursday Night Preview going 3-0 for a total record of 8-1. Let’s recap those games.
PICK: Dolphins +10 vs. Eagles, Confidence - 3 / 5.. WIN
I mean, come on Eagles. You were finally getting healthy on defense, had Ertz active for the game, and still you managed to blow the opportunity Dallas handed you to tighten the division race. The Eagles defense was torched by a Dolphins offense that ranks 29th and 30th in points for, and total yards, respectively. The Eagles are kings of allowing big plays, as Devante Parker, a wide receiver who’s been hot, but not fantastic all year, was allowed a line of 7-159-2. Ronald Darby in coverage was just horrific on Parker. The biggest takeaway here has to be that the Eagles defense cannot be trusted to stop anyone, so you have to base your opinions on what you think their offense can accomplish.
PICK: Jets -3 @ Bengals, Confidence - 4 / 5.. LOSS
Our one loss of the week came at the hand of the Jets, who never ceases to amaze me on how inconsistent they can be. The Jets have become a modern day Titans with Mariota. 34 points in 3 consecutive games against 3 weak defenses, then 6 points versus maybe the second worst of the bunch. The Jets problem is clearly their offense, more specifically their coaching, as they had 10 penalties for 102 yards while Darnold had 48 pass attempts and Bell had just 10 rushing attempts. The Jets were sloppy on offense, with one particular play standing out where they gave up a safety because a lineman held in the endzone causing an automatic safety. Defensively, the Jets held Mixon to just 44 yards on 19 attempts, further solidifying my point that they are randomly a good rushing defense. The Jets will be hard to trust on confident picks as an ugly loss to the 0-11 Bengals slowly settles in our minds.
PICK: Titans +2 @ Colts, Confidence - 3 / 5.. WIN
This was the one game I didn’t pay the most attention to, but a few things from the boxscore of this game jumped out to me. First, Tannehill didn’t need to be a factor in this game as Derrick Henry dominated the Colts defense going 26-149-1 on the ground. Although it wasn’t needed, Tannehill has been proving to be a reliable quarterback as he had a QBR of 131.2 with a line of 17-22 for 182 yards and 2 touchdowns. Second, the Colts have a real problem on their hands with their limited rushing attack due to the loss of Marlon Mack. I think a lot of people expected that the majority of Mack’s success was due to the offensive line being that good, however, we’ve seen differently here.
PICK: Chiefs -9.5 vs. Raiders, Confidence - 3 / 5.. WIN
Did you know in Patrick Mahomes’ short career thus far, only once has he gone back to back games with under 300 yards passing. He’s now gone 2 straight games with under 200 yards passing. This could be taken as a negative as you could think well how are the Chiefs going to win games if Mahomes can’t do what they do best offensively, hit the big plays? I think we just saw why this is in fact a positive, as Mahomes simply didn’t need to do anything more than he did. The Chiefs managed to expose an average quarterback’s, and offenses’ mistakes which led to a blowout. I think the Chiefs will still struggle against teams with good rushing attacks and should probably be fearful of their lack of a rushing game, but at least we know what we’re going to get when we see a bad team matchup with the Chiefs.
PICK: Buccaneers -1 @ Jaguars, Confidence - 3 / 5.. WIN
This game got to the result I expected, sort of, but not in the way I thought it would. As I had mentioned, the WR corps of the Bucs was going to be too much to handle, especially Chris Godwin, as AJ Bouye would likely be on Mike Evans, and the rushing game for Tampa Bay through Ronald Jones should setup for a fairly easy day offensively. This was not really the case. Ronald Jones was sat early because he missed a blitz pickup, which put Peyton Barber into a workhorse role, and we’ve seen how little that has paid off for the Bucs previously. The Bucs ran for a disgusting 31 attempts for just 74 yards on a defense that had been crucified on the ground the last 3 weeks. Jacksonville couldn’t get anything going on offense, as we predicted due to them having to be one-dimensional. The Jags managed just 49 yards on the ground through 17 attempts. Minshew will be starting for at least the next week but I’d imagine he starts the rest of the season as he provided so much more capabilities and versatility on offense for the Jags which immediately showed once he was put into the game.
PICK: Packers -6.5 @ Giants, Confidence - 3 / 5.. WIN
Well, this game turned out pretty close to exactly what I thought when I said the Packers would score somewhere between 30-35 points in a blowout win. Daniel Jones was terrible, and unfortunately, Barkley isn’t going to be able to keep pace with Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams on his own. We now know the recipe for both teams here as the Packers seem to struggle against big, physical teams on defense, while the Giants struggle against everyone. The Giants will have Manning back starting at quarterback due to a Daniel Jones injury for at least the next game which will be interesting to see how the offense performs. The Packers will get the Redskins next which fits the M.O for another potential blowout at home.
Thursday Night Preview
Since we had 3 picks for TNF last Thursday, we’ll do the same analysis for those games and then pick the Thursday Night game for this week, which is Bears vs. Cowboys, at the bottom of the section.
PICK: Bears -3.5 @ Lions, Confidence - 4 / 5.. WIN
This game was a lot closer than I thought it would be, and if you picked the spread after David Blough was announced starter, you probably were rather unlucky. I think the takeaway here has to be the lower amount of pressure the Bears are producing on defense. The Bears had 29 blitzers throughout the game that generated 2 sacks and just 8 hurries. The Bears were actually bailed out late in the game by Trubisky as he had his second-best QBR performance of the year and lead a late-game drive to seal the game. The Bears aren’t the same defense that they were last year, which is somewhat understandable due to the loss of Akiem Hicks to IR, but we have to adjust our opinions on them accordingly.
PICK: Bills +7 @ Cowboys, Confidence - 3 / 5.. WIN
What an interesting game this one was. If you had told me in week 1 that Dallas would be a more turnover-prone, sloppy team than the Bills, I’d be mind blown. Since throwing 7 picks in his first 5 games, Josh Allen has bounced back significantly, having thrown just one interception in the last 7 games with 11 passing touchdowns. The Bills defense was always good and even though they had an off-day in Dallas, Josh Allen was able to remain disciplined and carried them through the game. This was probably Buffalo’s first big test on the road and they responded with an 11 point victory in a clean game by Josh Allen, something we haven’t seen previously.
PICK: Saints -6.5 @ Falcons, Confidence - 3 / 5.. WIN
Honestly, I’m pretty surprised the Saints special teams coordinator still has a job today. I mean, what was that? 3 successful onside kicks in a row? My biggest takeaway though has to be how sloppy Matt Ryan has turned out to be. 2 Interceptions with 2 fumbles but just one lost. This isn’t what you’d expect out of a potential future hall of fame quarterback, and whether this performance was due to not having Austin Hooper and Julio Jones or not, you can’t expect to win any game against any decent team with 3 turnovers from your franchise quarterback. Atlanta was turned one-dimensional by a pretty good Saints rushing defense which drove Ryan to 50 pass attempts. Drew Brees has also looked pretty shady at times and I do believe the Saints’ secondary is exposable, given the right matchup.
PICK: Cowboys -3 vs. Bears, Confidence - 2 / 5.
The Cowboys couldn’t be attempting to throw this division any harder. Fortunately for them, the Eagles seem to want to come second in the division more than they want to win. The Bears have one win against a team that has a record above .500, which tells me that they look good when they should against bad teams, and get exposed by better ones. Though both teams hold the same record, the Cowboys have a much better chance at a playoff berth given their fantastic division. The Bears let David Blough go for 280 yards and now they’ll get the team that averages the most passing yards per game. The Cowboys are 7-5 ATS while the Bears are just 3-9, and while I normally don’t think too much into ATS records, the Bears ATS record perfectly shows how underwhelming they can be after beating up on bad teams. I think the Cowboys defense limits the Bears in this game where the Cowboys come out on top in a low scoring one.