This is a website dedicated to sports & Phish. All website content property of Faulkner Media unless otherwise stated.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Week 7: #NFL Game Predictions (w/ spreads & analysis) THURSDAY NIGHT EDITION


2018 NFL SEASON

Week 7: #NFL Game Predictions (w/ spreads & analysis)

Week 6 results: 11-4 (wins); 11-4 (v. spread); 10-5 (O/U)*
Season totals: 59-32-2 .634 (wins); 44-46-3 .489 (v. sp); 50-43 .538 (O/U)

Note/Key (when applicable): Statistical analysis based on the following metrics (abbreviations): Points scored (PF); points against (PA); Point differential (PD) Yards gained (YG); Yards allowed (YA); Red Zone TD efficiency (RZ); 3rd-down efficiency (3rd); Turnover ratio (TO); Time of possession (TOP); Yards per play (YPP); Sacks (S); Interceptions (INT); Penalty yards (PEN); Against the spread (ATS).

 Von Miller will try to add to his 2018 sack total against the rookie quarterback Josh Rosen as the Denver Broncos take on the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday Night Football.


Denver Broncos 2-4 (-1) @ Arizona Cardinals 1-5 (42): Broncos 23-20
Thursday, 8:20 PM, Univ. of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ (Weather: Indoors) 

Reasons: The Cardinals have yet to win at home this season and the Broncos haven’t won a road game yet. Something has to give. That something could likely be Josh Rosen (626 passing yards; 2 TDs; 2 INTs) giving in to Von Miller (5.5. sacks; 2 FF) as Rosen has been sacked at least once in every game he’s played in, including four suffered to the Minnesota Vikings last week, while the Broncos are one sack away from ranking in the top-10. Neither team has an offense worth mentioning, other than maybe the Cardinals fighting the Buffalo Bills for Worst Offense, but both teams have top-10 total defenses, although both teams surrender over 23 ppg. Every time two terrible offenses play two decent defenses on a short week I predict a defensive battle rife with mistakes, so the way my TNF predictions have gone so far this season we should expect a perfectly executed shoot out. 


Stay tuned for the remaining Week 7: #NFL Game Predictions (w/ spreads & analysis) coming Sunday morning!

 


Tuesday's Gone: Week 6 #NFL Game Reviews

2018 NFL SEASON

Tuesday's Gone: Week 6 #NFL Game Reviews

Week 6 results: 11-4 (wins); 11-4 (v. spread); 10-5 (O/U)*
Season totals: 59-32-2 .634 (wins); 44-46-3 .489 (v. sp); 50-43 .538 (O/U)

Note/Key (when applicable): Statistical analysis based on the following metrics (abbreviations): Points scored (PF); points against (PA); Point differential (PD) Yards gained (YG); Yards allowed (YA); Red Zone TD efficiency (RZ); 3rd-down efficiency (3rd); Turnover ratio (TO); Time of possession (TOP); Yards per play (YPP); Sacks (S); Interceptions (INT); Penalty yards (PEN); Against the spread (ATS).


 The Philadelphia Eagles haven't flown anywhere so far in 2018, but at least quarterback Carson Wentz is finally back.



Philadelphia Eagles 2-3 (-3) @ New York Giants 1-4 (44): Giants 21-20 Eagles 34-13
Thursday, 8:20 PM, MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ (Weather: 80% rain; low 60s)

Reasons: I’m sure when these two teams saw the Week 6 schedule they assumed one thing: Both teams would be in a much better position then they are coming into Thursday night’s game. The Giants have been much more predictable, from the mediocre play of Eli Manning (6 TDs; 3 INTs), to the constant Odell Beckham Jr. drama to the stellar play of rookie Saquon Barkley (582 total yards; 5 total TDs) despite the terrible play of one of the league’s worst offensive lines. Yes, the Giants remain stagnant, which wasn’t exactly predictable with Barkley drafted 2nd overall and OBJ coming back from injury, yet here they are, near the bottom of the league in points scored (20.8 ppg, 23rd), total offense (25th), time of possession (27th) and rushing (28th). The supposed Giants from New York still outscores Philadelphia (20.6 ppg, 25th), however, and although it’s only by a minuscule 0.2 ppg, 2017’s best team looks like a shell of their Super Bowl champion selves; even their 10th-ranked defense isn't as nasty and doesn’t sack the opposing quarterback at nearly the same rate, despite key off season additions. At some point the Eagles have get back on track, but at some point the Giants have to salvage their season, so I would expect something unusual on Thursday Night Football besides the standard close game between these NFC East opponents. Both teams are struggling, both teams are facing adversity and both teams are playing on a national stage on short rest in the pouring rain. Oh yeah, and both teams are bitter divisional rivals. The Eagles are favored by three on the road on short rest, but I’m not sure why.

The Philadelphia Eagles played their best all around game of the season, although it was against the hapless Giants. I honestly thought New York would be so desperate for a win they'd take it to the Eagles at home, but alas, this team is all old heart or selfish heart, which doesn't win games in the NFL.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2-2 (+3.5) @ Atlanta Falcons 1-4 (57.5): Falcons 31-27 Falcons 34-29
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Mercedes Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA (Weather: Indoors) 

Reasons: Both teams come into Sunday on losing streaks of at least two games ranked in the bottom quarter of the league in both total defense and points allowed, hence the 57.5 over/under. The Falcons are slightly better at home and could easily be 3-0 at home after losing an OT game to New Orleans Week 3 and by one point to Cincinnati Week 4. The Buccaneers got off to a hot start, with backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick starting even hotter, becoming the first NFL player to throw for 400+ yards in the first three games of the season, but things have since cooled for Tampa Bay and they come into Sunday arguably the worst defense in the NFL ranking at or near the bottom in takeaways and sacks in addition to giving up 34.8 ppg. The Falcons don’t turn it over (9th TO ratio) and they remain one of the most prolific offenses in the league (9th 26.6 ppg) and being at home should help their penalty woes (25th) despite the absence of Davonte Freeman. This should be one high-scoring mess.

The Bucs didn't really miss a beat with Ryan Fitzpatrick back on the bench, but the Falcons didn't miss a beat putting up 34 points on the worst defense in the NFL.

Carolina Panthers 3-1 (+1) @ Washington Football Team 2-2 (45): WFT 23-21 WFT 24-17
Sunday, 1:00 PM, FedEx Field, Landover, MD (Weather: Partly sunny; mid-60s)

Reasons: This game features two disciplined teams with good defenses and mediocre offenses with great running games that don’t turn the ball over.  Neither defense gets after the quarterback, which bodes well for Cam Newton and Alex Smith as the game will most likely come down to which one of them makes the fewest mistakes.

Cam Newton had a chance to tie and most likely take the lead as the game closed but came up short in what otherwise was a domination of the Panthers by the WTF. Josh Norman also picked off his former teammate in a highlight moment after being previously being benched in their prime time game.

Seattle Seahawks 2-3 (-3): @ Oakland Raiders 1-4 (48): Seahawks 27*-23 Seahawks 27*-3
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Wembley Stadium, London, England (Weather: Indoors)

Reasons: London is a long way for two West Coast teams to travel, but hopefully the stadium isn’t too far for Londoners to travel to watch a terrible game. The Raiders are comically the 6th-ranked total offense, but that’s more of a function of the Raiders also being 2nd in offensive TOP then Oakland being a great offense. Seattle is the better team with a defense that ball hawks, but they’ll be without KJ Wright. Oakland also likes to turn the ball over, which plays right into the Seahawks hands.

It's about time to start regretting that $100 million contract.


 The Indianapolis Colts head to East Rutherford to face the NY Jets and a tough Jets defense Sunday.


Indianapolis Colts 1-4 (+2.5) @ New York Jets 2-3 (45): Jets 24-20 Jets 42-34
Sunday, 1:00 PM, MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ (Weather: Cloudy; low 60s)

Reasons: The Jets are a disciplined good defensive team with a predictably inconsistent rookie quarterback who is about to face a team whose only qualities are getting after the quarterback and defending passes. The Jets happen to excel at the same thing, which doesn’t bode well for Andrew Luck and his terrible offensive line, but it seems Las Vegas might have a little more faith in Luck considering the Jets aren’t even getting the full three points at home; maybe it’s because they share a stadium with the Giants so they get docked a half point.

It's not even Halloween yet, but it took a franchise record seven field goals from Jason Myers to help beat the Colts Sunday. Andrew Luck (410 passing yards) threw four TDs as he continued his ascent back to his former heights, but it wasn't enough to beat the (face) masked man.

Arizona Cardinals 1-4 (+10.5) @ Minnesota Vikings 2-2-1 (43): Vikings 27*-20 Vikings 27*-17
Sunday, 1:00 PM, US Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN (Weather: Sunny; high 30s) 

Reasons: You know you’re bad when the most disappointing team in the NFL is giving you over 10 points, an insurmountable amount in the world of NFL spreads. Arizona is that bad. 

It wasn't as tough of a test for rookie Josh Rosen as the Cardinals might have assumed at the beginning of the year, but they did sack Rosen four times and forced him to throw an INT. The game belonged to backup Latavius Murray, who filled in for the injured Dalvin Cook and picked up 155 rushing yards and a TD on 24 carries, putting the Vikings back on track.

Pittsburgh Steelers 2-2-1 (+2.5) @ Cincinnati Bengals 4-1 (53): Bengals 28-27 Steelers 28-21
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH (Weather: 50% rain; high 50s)

Reasons: The Bengals haven’t beat the Steelers since 2015 and haven’t beat the Steelers at home since 2013. You could say Cincinnati is due. This is one of the deadliest rivalries in the NFL, a rule change inspiring rivalry, but these AFC North enemies come in to Sunday’s game with a different feel than in past games. For the first time in recent memory neither team comes into the game with a stout defense although the Steelers lead the NFL in sacks. Both teams do come in with great offenses with both teams averaging over 29 ppg (PIT: 28.6 ppg; CIN: 30.6 ppg), but Pittsburgh is the most penalized team in the NFL, something that could come into play in this vicious game. The only thing higher than the over could be the combination of penalties via helmet-to-helmet collisions. The Steelers have almost doubled up the Bengals in this rivalry approaching 100 games, but Cincinnati could get one back if Andy Dalton can stay upright. 

The game wasn't as brutal as advertised (15 combined penalties for only 96 combined yards), but was just as thrilling. The Steelers dominated the game statistically, yet were down 21-20 with just over a minute remaining before Pittsburgh committed a blatant illegal pick, which sprung Antonio Brown for the game-winning TD with ten seconds remaining. The worst part for the Bengals, other than continuing their 5-year home losing streak to Pittsburgh, was a bogus illegal hands to the face call on Cincinnati which set the Steelers up for their game-winning illegal pick. 

Los Angeles Chargers 3-2 (-1) @ Cleveland Browns 2-2-1 (45): Chargers 27-24 Chargers 38-14
Sunday, 1:00 PM, First Energy Stadium, Cleveland, OH (Weather: Sunny; low 60s

Reasons: The Browns have the chance to climb over .500 for the first time in four years Sunday, but I’m not sure the Chargers are the team they want to face to try and accomplish that feat. Los Angeles is better than their 3-2 record. They have a top-ranked offense (27.4 ppg) that doesn’t get penalized often (8th), they don’t cough up the ball but take it away (6th TO ratio) and they keep the ball away from their opponents (9th OTOP). The Browns are one of two teams in the NFL in the top-10 in both offensive and defensive TOP, which would be mathematically impossible if not for the Browns playing in an astounding three OT games already this season. Cleveland isn’t nearly as disciplined as LA, which is to be expected of a young team led by a rookie quarterback, but they do take the ball away (1st TO ratio), ball hawk (1st INTs) and sack the quarterback (10th). This game will come down to the veteran early season MVP candidate Phillip Rivers (1495 passing yards; 13 TDs; 2 INT) v. the rookie Baker Mayfield (838 passing yards; 3 TDs; 3 INTs).

Don't look now but the 4-2 Los Angeles Chargers sans Joey Bosa are quickly becoming one of the best teams in the NFL. LA's only two losses have come against the undefeated Los Angeles Rams and the formerly undefeated Kansas City Chiefs. Meanwhile, the Browns are back on the losing sides of .500 and Baker Mayfield had by far his worst game as a pro, even injuring his ankle in a freak sideline incident, although he's expected to be fine. Look out NFL, here comes Phillip Rivers. 
 


JJ Watt is back after several injuries limited him the past several years, but just like the past several years, Watt's stellar play doesn't necessarily equal Houston wins.

Buffalo Bills 2-3 (+8) @ Houston Texans 2-3 (40): Texans 24-15 Texans 20-13
Sunday, 1:00 PM, NRG Stadium, Houston, TX (Weather: Indoors)

Reasons: Buffalo has the worst offense in the NFL, which is probably why the Texans are favored by eight points and the over/under is only 40, which basically means Las Vegas expects the Texans to win 24-16. That’s basically what the Bills average weekly score looks like, if Buffalo managed three more points per game. 

The Bills led 13-10 after Nathan Peterman hit Zay Jones in the end zone in the front end of the 4th quarter after an injury to rookie Josh Allen, but that same Nathan Peterman, the real Nathan Peterman, threw the game-ending pick-6 on the possession following the Texans tying the game on a Ka'imi Fairbairn 27-yard field goal. 

Chicago Bears 3-1 (-3) @ Miami Dolphins 3-2 (41.5): Bears 24-20 Dolphins 31-28 OT
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, FL (Weather: 20% storms; low 80s)

Reasons: How the mighty have fallen. The Miami Dolphins were once 3-0 on top of the AFC East and feeling good about themselves until the New England Patriots started their quick descent into reality. After you clear the smoke and move the mirrors the Dolphins are only good at one thing – intercepting the ball (1st INTs). The Bears are good at that (3rd INTs), too, but they’re also good at most things on the defensive side of the ball. The troubling thing for Miami is Chicago is getting better on offense as well – the last time Mitch Trubisky took the field he threw six TD passes. The Bears are also disciplined (3rd PEN), take the ball away without coughing it up (3rd TO ratio) and keep their defense fresh and the opposing offense off the field (7th OTOP), while the Dolphins defense can’t seem to get off the field (29th DTOP). In other words, the Bears are everything the Dolphins were pretending to be.

Everybody had this game.

Los Angeles Rams 5-0 (-7) @ Denver Broncos 2-3 (52.5): Rams 27-21 Rams 23-20
Sunday, 4:05 PM, Mile High Stadium, Denver, CO (Weather: 90% snow; low 20s)

Reasons: The Broncos are a mediocre to poor football team with questionable wins facing the best team in the NFC, or maybe the NFL. The Rams are top-10 in every category except for playing in inclement weather – the Rams play in Los Angeles and the worst weather the Rams have had to face was overcast skies in Seattle last week. I’m not sure the Rams are built for snow, but I’m not sure the Broncos are built for the Rams. Every undefeated team has to lose at some point, and a snow storm in one of the toughest places to play in the NFL could be the perfect setting, but the way the games have gone this season it probably won’t even snow. The Rams keep rolling, but that over seems crazy in a potential snowstorm. 

The snow came early and yielded to Sun, but the temperatures remained freezing and the Rams had their toughest test of the season between the cold and the altitude. I'm not sure how much of a role the Broncos played in the win. The Rams led 23-13 with just over three minutes left before Demarius Thomas caught a 1-yard TD pass from Case Keenum to make the game seem much closer than it was. Jared Goff played his worst game of the season (201 passing yards; 1 INT), but Todd Gurley (208 rushing yards; 2 TDs) had his best game of the season, helping keep the best team in the NFL undefeated. 

Baltimore Ravens 3-2 (-3) @ Tennessee Titans 3-2 (41): Ravens 21*-17 Ravens 21*-0
Sunday, 4:25 PM, Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN (Weather: 50% storms; mid-60s)
Reasons: This should be a defensive battle of epic proportions, but mostly because the game features two top-7 defenses, or top-3 if we’re talking scoring defenses, and Joe Flacco v. Marcus Mariota in a potentially rain-soaked game. The Ravens offense sits just outside of the top-10 as well, but the same can’t be said for the Titans, who manage only 17.4 ppg. Tennessee has one of the smallest positive point differentials in the league (0.2 ppg), and for good reason - the Titans last four games since their opening week storm-delayed 27-20 loss to the Miami Dolphins have been decided by three or fewer points, including a one-point loss to the Buffalo Bills on the road last week. Expect another tight one Sunday, with the Titans ultimately singing the honkey tonk blues.

The Titans are no slouches and the Ravens came into Nashville and gave the Tennessee a country whooping. It's not difficult to keep the Titans from scoring, but scoring on the Titans is another story, and the Ravens, who are now positioned as one of the best teams in the NFL by record and play, have just come off a crushing road schedule flying high.

Jacksonville Jaguars 3-2 (-3) @ Dallas Cowboys 2-3 (40.5): Jaguars 21-20 Cowboys 40-7
Sunday, 4:25 PM, AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX (Weather: Indoors)

Reasons: The Jaguars are known as “Sacksonville” and their defensive exploits have been well chronicled the past few seasons, but I imagine far fewer people know about the Cowboys defense. Dallas ranks 8th in total defense, but 5th in points allowed at 19.2 ppg. Both teams also have big egos, which tend to hinder these teams as much as they help. The Jaguars are facing attrition on defense, but so are the Cowboys, who again are without defensive captain LB Sean Lee. This should be a low-scoring game, and only the Jaguars are accustomed to playing in those. The Cowboys have a lot to figure out, because being the 5th-ranked scoring defense means nothing in Dallas if the offense scores even fewer points (16.6 ppg) than their stout defense allows. 

I asked Jalen Ramsey if he wanted to comment on getting whopped by one of the worst offenses in the NFL in AT&T Stadium where the Cowboys are usually at their worst. I specifically wanted him to comment on why they let Dak Prescott, who had largely struggled so far in 2018, to run all over the Jaguars, but for some reason he had nothing to say.

 Bill Belichick and the infamous hoodie take on the red hot Kansas City Chiefs and Andy Reid in the Sunday Night Game of the Week.


Kansas City Chiefs 5-0 (+3.5) @ New England Patriots 3-2 (59.5): Patriots 31-27 Patriots 43-40
Sunday, 8:20PM, Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA (Weather: Clear; high 40s)

Reasons: Everyone knows the deal with this game and the much-talked about changing of the guard. Anyone who has sat on their couch on Sundays and watched the New England Patriots for the past 15 or more years knows how many times we’ve heard that statement only to see the Patriots rise to the top by the end of the year, usually at the expense of the very team that was supposed to supplant them. Just ask the Chiefs about 2017. Bill Belichick is 23-0 as a head coach facing quarterbacks under the age of 25, but if there was ever a kid to do it Patrick Mahomes III would be the high-pitched kid to do it, especially with the 2000 Rams-type arsenal of weapons at your disposal. I wonder if anyone taped the Chiefs practices? I kid, I kid, but this kid Mahomes isn’t kidding. The Patriots aren’t kidding, either, however, and the 38.0 ppg New England has averaged the past two games is probably the template for what we’re about to see the rest of 2018 rather than a temporary upswing towards the former New England norm. No, the Patriots are back to clicking on offense, and despite the Chiefs early season successes, New England has just rounded into the offensive shape it takes to win a shootout against Kansas City at home, where the Chiefs embarrassed the Patriots to open the 2017 season. Forget about these losses Dark Hoodie does not.

The Patriots played disciplined football, not picking up a single penalty, much to the dismay of every Patriot hater that foolishly assumes the Patriots are the recipients of every single favorable call in the NFL - just don't show them Pittsburgh's illegal pick, because Rob Gronkowski gets called for that once a game and that would be the first in an avalanche of examples destroying that silly argument. No, New England was simply the better team and Bill Belichick the better coach, specifically, because the Chiefs abandoned the run game when it was the only thing that seemed to be working in the first half. Clearly the Chiefs were playing from behind, as they quickly went down 24-3, hence the run game ditch, but second-half Patrick Mahomes came to life with all four of his TD passes coming in the second half to make it a game. Stephen Gostkowski kicked the game-winning field goal as the clock expired sending Chiefs fans and Patriot haters alike into a tizzy while it was business as usual in New England. I'm still dying laughing about Tyreek Hill's beer to the face and if you disagree with me you must be fans of people who choke and punch their pregnant girlfriends in the stomach. Get your priorities straight and then put some money on the Patriots to win the Super Bowl.

San Francisco 49ers 1-4 (+9.5) @ Green Bay Packers 2-2-1 (46.5): Packers 27-23 Packers 33-30
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI (Weather: Clear; high 30s) 
 
Reasons: The 49ers gain marginal yards (15th total offense) and score marginal points (15th points scored); their defense doesn’t give up many yards (10th total defense), but allows lots of points (29th points allowed). So essentially the 49ers are a mediocre offense that just lost their franchise quarterback and a “break-but-don’t-bend” defense. San Francisco is not disciplined, they turn the ball over and they don’t get after the quarterback, the one chance the 49ers might have against Aaron Rodgers (1572 passing yards; 10 TDs; 1 INT) and the Green Bay Packers, who come into Monday Night Football with similar delusions as San Francisco. The Packers are the 4th-ranked total defense and the 10th-ranked total offense, yet Green Bay sits right in the middle of the pack averaging weekly scores of 23.0-22.8, hence the 2-2-1 record.  The Packers are also highly undisciplined (29th PEN) and have one of the worst turnover ratios in the league (24th), so basically, they’re lucky the get an equally bad to worse 49ers squad with no Jimmy Garoppolo, although I wouldn’t say 9.5 points worse. 

Aaron Rodgers did it again, a smugly as he does everything, and the San Francisco 49ers squandered a chance to beat the uninspiring Packers in Green Bay. Rodgers (425 passing yards; 2 TDs) and Davante Adams (10 receptions for 132 receiving yards; 2 TDs) systematically marched down the field setting up embattled Mason Crosby with the game-winning field goal as time expired. You might think the Packers play inspiring football with their last-second gasp wins, but I'd argue a team with Rodgers, Adams and Randall Cobb should never be going toe to toe with the likes of the 49ers in Lambeau Field. The truth is Clay Matthews and the Packers defense has no heart, Rodgers has to carry the entire team and the 49ers aren't as terrible as advertised with Jimmy Garoppolo gone for the season. CJ Beathard threw two TD passes, both to Marquis Goodwin (4 receptions for 126 receiving yards; 2 TDs), but it was Beathard's INT with 1:13 left in the game that set up Aaron Rodgers to march down the field to set up Crosby for the game-winning field goal.
 

BYEs: Detroit; New Orleans

Stay tuned for Week 7: #NFL Game Predictions (w/ spreads & analysis) coming Thursday & Sunday morning!

 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Week 6: #NFL Game Predictions (w/ spreads & analysis) SUNDAY EDITION


2018 NFL SEASON

Week 6: #NFL Game Predictions (w/ spreads & analysis)

Week 5 results: 10-5 (wins); 5-9-1 (v. spread); 7-8 (O/U)
Season totals: 48-28-2 .615 (wins); 33-42-3 .423 (v. sp); 40-38 .513 (O/U)

Note/Key (when applicable): Statistical analysis based on the following metrics (abbreviations): Points scored (PF); points against (PA); Point differential (PD) Yards gained (YG); Yards allowed (YA); Red Zone TD efficiency (RZ); 3rd-down efficiency (3rd); Turnover ratio (TO); Time of possession (TOP); Yards per play (YPP); Sacks (S); Interceptions (INT); Penalty yards (PEN); Against the spread (ATS).


 The Philadelphia Eagles haven't flown anywhere so far in 2018, but at least quarterback Carson Wentz is finally back.



Philadelphia Eagles 2-3 (-3) @ New York Giants 1-4 (44): Giants 21-20
Thursday, 8:20 PM, MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ (Weather: 80% rain; low 60s)

Reasons: I’m sure when these two teams saw the Week 6 schedule they assumed one thing: Both teams would be in a much better position then they are coming into Thursday night’s game. The Giants have been much more predictable, from the mediocre play of Eli Manning (6 TDs; 3 INTs), to the constant Odell Beckham Jr. drama to the stellar play of rookie Saquon Barkley (582 total yards; 5 total TDs) despite the terrible play of one of the league’s worst offensive lines. Yes, the Giants remain stagnant, which wasn’t exactly predictable with Barkley drafted 2nd overall and OBJ coming back from injury, yet here they are, near the bottom of the league in points scored (20.8 ppg, 23rd), total offense (25th), time of possession (27th) and rushing (28th). The supposed Giants from New York still outscores Philadelphia (20.6 ppg, 25th), however, and although it’s only by a minuscule 0.2 ppg, 2017’s best team looks like a shell of their Super Bowl champion selves; even their 10th-ranked defense isn't as nasty and doesn’t sack the opposing quarterback at nearly the same rate, despite key off season additions. At some point the Eagles have get back on track, but at some point the Giants have to salvage their season, so I would expect something unusual on Thursday Night Football besides the standard close game between these NFC East opponents. Both teams are struggling, both teams are facing adversity and both teams are playing on a national stage on short rest in the pouring rain. Oh yeah, and both teams are bitter divisional rivals. The Eagles are favored by three on the road on short rest, but I’m not sure why.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2-2 (+3.5) @ Atlanta Falcons 1-4 (57.5): Falcons 31-27
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Mercedes Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA (Weather: Indoors) 

Reasons: Both teams come into Sunday on losing streaks of at least two games ranked in the bottom quarter of the league in both total defense and points allowed, hence the 57.5 over/under. The Falcons are slightly better at home and could easily be 3-0 at home after losing an OT game to New Orleans Week 3 and by one point to Cincinnati Week 4. The Buccaneers got off to a hot start, with backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick starting even hotter, becoming the first NFL player to throw for 400+ yards in the first three games of the season, but things have since cooled for Tampa Bay and they come into Sunday arguably the worst defense in the NFL ranking at or near the bottom in takeaways and sacks in addition to giving up 34.8 ppg. The Falcons don’t turn it over (9th TO ratio) and they remain one of the most prolific offenses in the league (9th 26.6 ppg) and being at home should help their penalty woes (25th) despite the absence of Davonte Freeman. This should be one high-scoring mess.

Carolina Panthers 3-1 (+1) @ Washington Football Team 2-2 (45): WFT 23-21
Sunday, 1:00 PM, FedEx Field, Landover, MD (Weather: Partly sunny; mid-60s)

Reasons: This game features two disciplined teams with good defenses and mediocre offenses with great running games that don’t turn the ball over.  Neither defense gets after the quarterback, which bodes well for Cam Newton and Alex Smith as the game will most likely come down to which one of them makes the fewest mistakes.

Seattle Seahawks 2-3 (-3): @ Oakland Raiders 1-4 (48): Seahawks 27-23
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Wembley Stadium, London, England (Weather: Indoors)

Reasons: London is a long way for two West Coast teams to travel, but hopefully the stadium isn’t too far for Londoners to travel to watch a terrible game. The Raiders are comically the 6th-ranked total offense, but that’s more of a function of the Raiders also being 2nd in offensive TOP then Oakland being a great offense. Seattle is the better team with a defense that ball hawks, but they’ll be without KJ Wright. Oakland also likes to turn the ball over, which plays right into the Seahawks hands.


 The Indianapolis Colts head to East Rutherford to face the NY Jets and a tough Jets defense Sunday.


Indianapolis Colts 1-4 (+2.5) @ New York Jets 2-3 (45): Jets 24-20
Sunday, 1:00 PM, MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ (Weather: Cloudy; low 60s)

Reasons: The Jets are a disciplined good defensive team with a predictably inconsistent rookie quarterback who is about to face a team whose only qualities are getting after the quarterback and defending passes. The Jets happen to excel at the same thing, which doesn’t bode well for Andrew Luck and his terrible offensive line, but it seems Las Vegas might have a little more faith in Luck considering the Jets aren’t even getting the full three points at home; maybe it’s because they share a stadium with the Giants so they get docked a half point.

Arizona Cardinals 1-4 (+10.5) @ Minnesota Vikings 2-2-1 (43): Vikings 27-20
Sunday, 1:00 PM, US Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN (Weather: Sunny; high 30s) 

Reasons: You know you’re bad when the most disappointing team in the NFL is giving you over 10 points, an insurmountable amount in the world of NFL spreads. Arizona is that bad.

Pittsburgh Steelers 2-2-1 (+2.5) @ Cincinnati Bengals 4-1 (53): Bengals 28-27
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH (Weather: 50% rain; high 50s)

Reasons: The Bengals haven’t beat the Steelers since 2015 and haven’t beat the Steelers at home since 2013. You could say Cincinnati is due. This is one of the deadliest rivalries in the NFL, a rule change inspiring rivalry, but these AFC North enemies come in to Sunday’s game with a different feel than in past games. For the first time in recent memory neither team comes into the game with a stout defense although the Steelers lead the NFL in sacks. Both teams do come in with great offenses with both teams averaging over 29 ppg (PIT: 28.6 ppg; CIN: 30.6 ppg), but Pittsburgh is the most penalized team in the NFL, something that could come into play in this vicious game. The only thing higher than the over could be the combination of penalties via helmet-to-helmet collisions. The Steelers have almost doubled up the Bengals in this rivalry approaching 100 games, but Cincinnati could get one back if Andy Dalton can stay upright.

Los Angeles Chargers 3-2 (-1) @ Cleveland Browns 2-2-1 (45): Chargers 27-24
Sunday, 1:00 PM, First Energy Stadium, Cleveland, OH (Weather: Sunny; low 60s

Reasons: The Browns have the chance to climb over .500 for the first time in four years Sunday, but I’m not sure the Chargers are the team they want to face to try and accomplish that feat. Los Angeles is better than their 3-2 record. They have a top-ranked offense (27.4 ppg) that doesn’t get penalized often (8th), they don’t cough up the ball but take it away (6th TO ratio) and they keep the ball away from their opponents (9th OTOP). The Browns are one of two teams in the NFL in the top-10 in both offensive and defensive TOP, which would be mathematically impossible if not for the Browns playing in an astounding three OT games already this season. Cleveland isn’t nearly as disciplined as LA, which is to be expected of a young team led by a rookie quarterback, but they do take the ball away (1st TO ratio), ball hawk (1st INTs) and sack the quarterback (10th). This game will come down to the veteran early season MVP candidate Phillip Rivers (1495 passing yards; 13 TDs; 2 INT) v. the rookie Baker Mayfield (838 passing yards; 3 TDs; 3 INTs).


JJ Watt is back after several injuries limited him the past several years, but just like the past several years, Watt's stellar play doesn't necessarily equal Houston wins.

Buffalo Bills 2-3 (+8) @ Houston Texans 2-3 (40): Texans 24-15
Sunday, 1:00 PM, NRG Stadium, Houston, TX (Weather: Indoors)

Reasons: Buffalo has the worst offense in the NFL, which is probably why the Texans are favored by eight points and the over/under is only 40, which basically means Las Vegas expects the Texans to win 24-16. That’s basically what the Bills average weekly score looks like, if Buffalo managed three more points per game.

Chicago Bears 3-1 (-3) @ Miami Dolphins 3-2 (41.5): Bears 24-20
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, FL (Weather: 20% storms; low 80s)

Reasons: How the mighty have fallen. The Miami Dolphins were once 3-0 on top of the AFC East and feeling good about themselves until the New England Patriots started their quick descent into reality. After you clear the smoke and move the mirrors the Dolphins are only good at one thing – intercepting the ball (1st INTs). The Bears are good at that (3rd INTs), too, but they’re also good at most things on the defensive side of the ball. The troubling thing for Miami is Chicago is getting better on offense as well – the last time Mitch Trubisky took the field he threw six TD passes. The Bears are also disciplined (3rd PEN), take the ball away without coughing it up (3rd TO ratio) and keep their defense fresh and the opposing offense off the field (7th OTOP), while the Dolphins defense can’t seem to get off the field (29th DTOP). In other words, the Bears are everything the Dolphins were pretending to be.

Los Angeles Rams 5-0 (-7) @ Denver Broncos 2-3 (52.5): Rams 27-21
Sunday, 4:05 PM, Mile High Stadium, Denver, CO (Weather: 90% snow; low 20s)

Reasons: The Broncos are a mediocre to poor football team with questionable wins facing the best team in the NFC, or maybe the NFL. The Rams are top-10 in every category except for playing in inclement weather – the Rams play in Los Angeles and the worst weather the Rams have had to face was overcast skies in Seattle last week. I’m not sure the Rams are built for snow, but I’m not sure the Broncos are built for the Rams. Every undefeated team has to lose at some point, and a snow storm in one of the toughest places to play in the NFL could be the perfect setting, but the way the games have gone this season it probably won’t even snow. The Rams keep rolling, but that over seems crazy in a potential snowstorm.

Baltimore Ravens 3-2 (-3) @ Tennessee Titans 3-2 (41): Ravens 21-17
Sunday, 4:25 PM, Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN (Weather: 50% storms; mid-60s)
Reasons: This should be a defensive battle of epic proportions, but mostly because the game features two top-7 defenses, or top-3 if we’re talking scoring defenses, and Joe Flacco v. Marcus Mariota in a potentially rain-soaked game. The Ravens offense sits just outside of the top-10 as well, but the same can’t be said for the Titans, who manage only 17.4 ppg. Tennessee has one of the smallest positive point differentials in the league (0.2 ppg), and for good reason - the Titans last four games since their opening week storm-delayed 27-20 loss to the Miami Dolphins have been decided by three or fewer points, including a one-point loss to the Buffalo Bills on the road last week. Expect another tight one Sunday, with the Titans ultimately singing the honkey tonk blues.

Jacksonville Jaguars 3-2 (-3) @ Dallas Cowboys 2-3 (40.5): Jaguars 21-20
Sunday, 4:25 PM, AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX (Weather: Indoors)

Reasons: The Jaguars are known as “Sacksonville” and their defensive exploits have been well chronicled the past few seasons, but I imagine far fewer people know about the Cowboys defense. Dallas ranks 8th in total defense, but 5th in points allowed at 19.2 ppg. Both teams also have big egos, which tend to hinder these teams as much as they help. The Jaguars are facing attrition on defense, but so are the Cowboys, who again are without defensive captain LB Sean Lee. This should be a low-scoring game, and only the Jaguars are accustomed to playing in those. The Cowboys have a lot to figure out, because being the 5th-ranked scoring defense means nothing in Dallas if the offense scores even fewer points (16.6 ppg) than their stout defense allows. 


 Bill Belichick and the infamous hoodie take on the red hot Kansas City Chiefs and Andy Reid in the Sunday Night Game of the Week.


Kansas City Chiefs 5-0 (+3.5) @ New England Patriots 3-2 (59.5): Patriots 31-27
Sunday, 8:20PM, Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA (Weather: Clear; high 40s)

Reasons: Everyone knows the deal with this game and the much-talked about changing of the guard. Anyone who has sat on their couch on Sundays and watched the New England Patriots for the past 15 or more years knows how many times we’ve heard that statement only to see the Patriots rise to the top by the end of the year, usually at the expense of the very team that was supposed to supplant them. Just ask the Chiefs about 2017. Bill Belichick is 23-0 as a head coach facing quarterbacks under the age of 25, but if there was ever a kid to do it Patrick Mahomes III would be the high-pitched kid to do it, especially with the 2000 Rams-type arsenal of weapons at your disposal. I wonder if anyone taped the Chiefs practices? I kid, I kid, but this kid Mahomes isn’t kidding. The Patriots aren’t kidding, either, however, and the 38.0 ppg New England has averaged the past two games is probably the template for what we’re about to see the rest of 2018 rather than a temporary upswing towards the former New England norm. No, the Patriots are back to clicking on offense, and despite the Chiefs early season successes, New England has just rounded into the offensive shape it takes to win a shootout against Kansas City at home, where the Chiefs embarrassed the Patriots to open the 2017 season. Forget about these losses Dark Hoodie does not.

San Francisco 49ers 1-4 (+9.5) @ Green Bay Packers 2-2-1 (46.5): Packers 27-23
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI (Weather: Clear; high 30s) 
 
Reasons: The 49ers gain marginal yards (15th total offense) and score marginal points (15th points scored); their defense doesn’t give up many yards (10th total defense), but allows lots of points (29th points allowed). So essentially the 49ers are a mediocre offense that just lost their franchise quarterback and a “break-but-don’t-bend” defense. San Francisco is not disciplined, they turn the ball over and they don’t get after the quarterback, the one chance the 49ers might have against Aaron Rodgers (1572 passing yards; 10 TDs; 1 INT) and the Green Bay Packers, who come into Monday Night Football with similar delusions as San Francisco. The Packers are the 4th-ranked total defense and the 10th-ranked total offense, yet Green Bay sits right in the middle of the pack averaging weekly scores of 23.0-22.8, hence the 2-2-1 record.  The Packers are also highly undisciplined (29th PEN) and have one of the worst turnover ratios in the league (24th), so basically, they’re lucky the get an equally bad to worse 49ers squad with no Jimmy Garoppolo, although I wouldn’t say 9.5 points worse.

BYEs: Detroit; New Orleans

Stay tuned for Tuesday’s Gone: Week 6 #NFL Game Reviews coming Wednesday morning!