Written By: Josh Crocker – Follow Josh on Twitter @jccrocker
– Giants @ PHI – Just above 50% –
The Giants’ defense has become a unit to consider carefully in lineup decisions. They’re a top 5 squad, in my opinion, and one of the only that has had any real measure of success against the Cowboys’ offense that has been manufacturing points all year. Last week they held the Lions to only 6. That’s a team that has averaged over 21 ppg done a pretty good job of sustaining long drives and winning games by hiding their defense from view. They’re tough, and while they aren’t available in a majority of leagues I’d definitely take a look to see if they might be in yours.
The Eagles have been a below average offense as of late. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that their offense is basically operating without a WR1, and doesn’t have a lot of continuity in the running game either. Carson Wentz isn’t playing badly, especially for a rookie, but the touch on his deep ball hasn’t been terribly accurate, which makes life a little easier for opposing defenses. Over the last 5 weeks they’ve allowed 13 sacks. If the team facing the Eagles were a unit unto themselves, they’d be a top 10 team in sack rate. Under that pressure Wentz has thrown 7 picks and the team has contributed 2 other fumbles. There’s fuel here for your defense. As far as scoring Philly is just an average, 16th in the league 22.6 ppg. I would not expect them to reach that mark this week, unless there’s a defensive or Special Teams TD.
The wiseguys in Vegas expect 41.5 points total, only 19.5 from the Philadelphia professional football team. This is a second meeting between divisional rivals and the familiarity in those games tends to make offensive production operate in a lower gear. The last time these two faced off 51 points were scored, but a lot has changed with these two teams since then. The wind is on the high side, already projected at 11mph. If that creeps up much further we’ll probably see a more ground and pound centered attack, which isn’t what we want. Balls flying suits us much better.
– San Diego @ Cleveland –
San Diego’s defense has been tougher than what I think they get credit for. They’ve run into some squads that are playing well in the last few weeks and surrendered a heavy point total to them, but I wouldn’t expect them to roll over for the Browns. As a defense overall, Football Outsiders has the Chargers at 8th in defensive DVOA and 5th in Weighted Defense. The thing that may be interesting about the Chargers in this matchup is that their offense has also been a target for streaming. Neither team in this match-up makes a reputation for putting pressure on the QB, but it could very well be the team that takes care of the ball that walks away with the W. That may not be the Chargers.
Even in a game where I think the Browns do have a chance, they can’t be ignored as a team to target. According to the Harris Index, defenses that face the Browns score 7.2 points ABOVE their average. If that holds true it would spell around 13 for SD under ESPN default settings. So, there is upside to be had here. Coming into this game the Browns have been allowing a league worst 3.8 sacks per game. Recently that number has been worse, and in the last 3 weeks alone it stands at 5 sacks per game. It is no wonder that Browns QB sees the trainers as much as they do. Besides the revolving-door offensive line the Browns are the opposite of a scoring threat putting up a paltry 15.7 ppg. I think it bears repeating however, that if they benefit from one or two Charger turnovers things could get sideways.
Vegas doesn’t see a lot of scoring potential in this matchup and puts the Chargers winning 25 to 18.5 in their line. I would like this better for the defense if they were playing at home, but this matchup is really just something that we have to continue to take advantage of until there is real evidence of change with Cleveland. It’s supposed to be right around freezing, which isn’t bad, and mostly cloudy at kickoff. The wind is under 10 mph and we have a very low chance of precipitation. All systems go for football.
– Tennessee vs Jacksonville –
I think we should expect to see some change from this Jaguars team in the absence of their Head Coach Gus Bradley, but I couldn’t really tell you what that change would be. There certainly hasn’t been enough time to make major changes to the offense, or to sort out the things that ail Bortles. Under Bradley for 3 years Bortles made little to no progress. We still see the same sloppy footwork and, maybe as a result, inaccurate throws. In just about any game that you watch there are plays where you can see that the QB threw the ball assuming “route A”, the WR ran “route B”, and the ball lands 10 feet away from the intended target. With Bortles it just seems like a miss, like the ball just sails off target. He misses receivers running down a relatively straight line. He stands behind a what appears to be a decent offensive line. They’re allowing him to be pressured on only 5.3% of plays. When we look at Quarterbacks who see similar amounts of pressure and the INT’s they’re throwing , he’s on par with rookie Matt Barkley. He’s making rookie level bad decisions. Also seeing pressure around 5% of the time we see Brady (1 INT in the last 5), Dak Prescott (2 INT’s in the last 5), and Aaron Rodgers (0 in the last 5). A lot can be said about what’s wrong with the Jags, but I would start with their 3 year old rookie QB.
The Titans have been wearing a target for several weeks now and QB’s like Trevor Siemian and Matt Barkley have been able to hit it. That being said, I like the Titans in this one. They were able to keep Alex Smith from achieving lift-off, and I think they’ll have success against the Jags who are scoring only 18.6 points per game. Although Siemian did manage to piece together a decent yardage day the Titans were also able to put quite a bit of pressure on him. I think that had something to do with a run game in Denver that has been less than impressive in CJ Anderson’s absence. And yet, Denver’s rush offense ranks ahead of that of the Jaguars by DVOA. I think we’ll see a Titans front line that, unencumbered by the threat of the run, is able to find ways to make Blake Bortles’ life harder.
There’s a chance here that Bortles is able to take advantage of this Titans secondary that has benched Perrish Cox, and is playing the guy who couldn’t beat out Perrish Cox. If that happens they could surpass their expected point total of 19.5.I think it’s more likely that a different game script unwinds in another second meeting between divisional rivals. I wouldn’t mind being there myself as the weather looks beautiful, 70 and sunny with a light wind, sounds like a great plan for a weekend.
Written By: Josh Crocker – Josh can be found on Twitter @jccrocker