Written By: Josh Crocker – Follow Josh on Twitter @jccrocker
– Buffalo D/ST v Cleveland –
What can we say about a team like the Browns? Running a flea-flicker from your own endzone takes guts, and it makes what seems like a boring old lay-up of a team to stream against feel a lot more like a tomahawk dunk. Under the leadership of Robert Griffin the offense was not exactly invigorated, scoring only 10 points. In the 3 previous games they have averaged only slightly more at 10.7 points per game. More than being a non-threat on the scoring end of things, they have a terrible pass protecting line that’s allowing their QB to be pressured nearly 10% of the time. The shear number of QB’s that have been injured standing behind this O-line is a testament to the kind of job they are doing. In the last 4 games they’ve allowed 23 sacks, and Browns QB has thrown 3 picks. There have also been 5 fumbles thrown into the mix, just to sweeten what was already irresistible.
Buffalo brings to the table a defensive line that is very capable of creating pressure on the QB with a top 10 2.5 sacks per game. Although Griffin has the 4th best completion percentage under pressure, he has also thrown a pick in both of the games he has started for the Browns this year. Cleveland passes at a higher percentage (70% in their last 3 according to teamrankings.com) than any other team, which is surprising for a Hue Jackson team. I guess he’s had that choice dictated to him by game script. Regardless of why they’re throwing as much as they are, it spells opportunity for the Bills.
There is a chance of light snow for this game. I’m not sure that’s a great thing for the defense’s ability to score points. On the one hand the game will probably be lower scoring and on the other there’s likely to be a lot less passing volume. Either way, the Bills defense isn’t really a loser. I like the Browns as an opponent in good or bad weather. Last week in the snow the Bills picked Roethlisberger off 3 times, proving that even in a snow game there are opportunities to be had
– Houston D/ST v JAC –
Jacksonville is a good team to stream a defense against and the reasons why center around how generally inept they’ve been as an offense. A team that made fantasy stars out of both wide receivers a year ago is now 27th in the league in points and 23rd in yards. In terms of a threat level for running your defense’s point total into the ground, I’d say the threat is pretty low. At the same time Bortles is heaving out more interceptions than all except a handful of QB’s (Palmer, Goff, Rivers, and the mighty Fitzpatrick). The offensive line doesn’t really seem to be the cause, judging by their adjusted sack rate, they’re a top 10 unit. This just is what Bortles is. The funny thing is that having a respectable defense, and not being constantly behind by multiple scores seems to have taken some of the wind out of the sails of this offense.
Meanwhile, the Texans defense is in the top half of teams ranking 16th against the pass and 8th against the rush. In their last 3 games they’ve allowed less than 20 points per, and I wouldn’t expect the Jags to push that boundary. I would say this game is more likely to be a defensive struggle than anything resembling a shootout.
It isn’t every often that we see an over-under below 40 but that’s exactly what we have here. Even with the low point total Houston is favored pretty heavily at just less than a TD (6). That really doesn’t leave much at all for the Jags, if my math is correct the oddsmakers expect only about 17 points out of Bortles and company. While the game is expected to be sunny, the winds are going to be up close to 20 mph. If the Jags are forced to go the ground game I think we’ll see a lot of 3 and outs, and a low scoring game. It’s not as exciting, but Bortles may do Bortle-like things wind or not.
– Miami D/ST @ NYJ –
Bryce Petty was just sacked 6 times by the 22nd ranked Defensive Line from San Francisco. As a team the 49ers are recording the 23rd most sacks per game with 2.0 per game on the season, and they got to Petty 6 times. Miami is not a lot better, but the NFL is a league of copycats and when one team has success attacking this young QB, who is without his starting Center, I would bet that others will follow suit. In the games that Petty has played in he has thrown more interceptions than TD’s. He’s young, but it’s completely possible that there was a very good reason that he was backing up Fitzpatrick. Besides Petty’s resume the rest of this team isn’t faring well this season. I’ve already mentioned that Mangold is out, Decker has been out for some time now, Marshall is questionable, & Forte would have us believe that he can play on a torn meniscus. This isn’t quite the situation that Dak Prescott stepped into.
The Dolphins defense have intercepted 13 passes on the year, the top team in the league has only 3 more. Per fftoday.com they’re currently 10th in the league in fantasy points scored. If you’ve streamed the Lions D this year, like I have, you should feel pretty good about trotting out the Dolphins. The last time these two teams met, Petty wasn’t under center, but the Dolphins had 3 sacks and 2 picks, making an 11 point day despite allowing 23 points.
We have another point total less than 40 points in this game. While the Dolphins are on the road, they’re favored by 2.5. Their opponent’s team total is only around 17 points. The weatherman says there’s a very small chance of precipitation and the wind is below 10 mph. We should see normal offenses being run, and while that may mean more points, it also means more chances for sacks and picks. I’d feel good trusting the Dolphins to deliver for me in a playoff scenario.
Written By: Josh Crocker – Josh can be found on Twitter @jccrocker