We made it through the “Bye-pocalypse”! Congratulations, everyone! (Stern lecture to NFL schedule-makers: Seriously? Six teams on bye in Week 7 when there are multiple weeks with only two teams on bye, such as, you know, Week 8!) Now that I’ve got that off my chest let’s move on. We’ve actually got some games that matter to look forward to this week. A whopping nine games that ELO differs on from Vegas lines, so in the interest of me not getting carpal tunnel, let’s get to it.
Standard disclaimer – All opinions are my own and may or may not reflect those of this website. “Analytic Lines” are ELO point spreads from fivethirtyeight.com, and “Vegas Lines” are courtesy of thelines.com, current as of the writing of this article. Predicted Line (“PL”) is my early week estimate of where the Vegas line would be set. Chosen games are those with a multiple point variance between the Vegas and Analytic Lines.
ELO and I both had good weeks, going 6-2. After last week, that, my friends, is officially a positive trend!
Game of the Week – Kansas City at Tennessee: This was obviously more than a “KC doesn’t cover” game, but that doesn’t matter at the window. ELO and I both had Tennessee and the points.
Carolina at New York Giants: Oh, Sammy, Sammy, Sammy. I didn’t think he could play any worse than he did vs. Minnesota, but this was a “hold my beer” moment if there ever was one. Yikes. Getting benched against the Giants is rock bottom. ELO saw this coming; I did not.
Washington at Green Bay: ELO and I both liked the Packers to take care of business at home. They didn’t dominate by any means but were good enough to cover a big line.
Atlanta at Miami: Saved By the Hook, Part I! A cover is a cover is a cover.
Cincinnati at Baltimore: This one truly surprised me. Shocked me, actually. Sandwich game, between the big win over the Chargers and the bye? Taking the Bengals lightly? Whatever happened, I’m still taking the Ravens in the rematch in Week 16.
Philadelphia at Las Vegas: The Gruden Addition by Subtraction movement rolls on. We’ll see if they can maintain the momentum over the bye. Take heart, Philly fans; Detroit’s up next.
New Orleans at Seattle: The Geno era has been predictably less than stellar, but lost in that noise is Seattle’s defense has played better since Russ went out. Take the cover and run.
Upset of the Week – Denver at Cleveland: ELO was on the Browns; I liked Denver with all the Cleveland injuries. The game was all kinds of ugly, but the hook gives me the cover.
Last week: My picks, 6-2; Analytics, 6-2
Season: My picks, 19-23-1; Analytics, 24-18-1
Game of the Week
San Francisco at Chicago – Analytic Line: CHI (-0.5), Vegas Line: CHI (+4), PL: CHI (+2.5)
We open with a differing opinion from ELO and the books. ELO has the Bears as coin flip home favorites, and Vegas puts the favorite tag on the Niners.
Verdict: This is, in all likelihood, a de facto midseason playoff game. The Bears look dysfunctional right now, so I’ll start off differing with ELO and take the visitors.
Make It A Parlay
Green Bay at Arizona – Analytic Line: AZ (-3.5), Vegas Line: AZ (-6.5), PL: AZ (-3.5)
This game only qualifies because of the Davante Adams COVID situation. The opening line agreed with ELO and myself putting the Cards at a field goal and a hook favorite, so this is a test of how much one non-QB player means to a line.
Verdict: There’s certainly a chance this could go sideways for the Packers, but that possibility always existed. It’s a short week road game against the best team in the league so far. That said, Green Bay is 6-0 under Matt LaFleur in games that Adams misses. Ultimately, I think the extra three on the line is too valuable for the Packers to pass up.
LA Rams at Houston – Analytic Line: HOU (+12), Vegas Line: HOU (+14.5), PL: HOU (+15.5)
Another huge spread game, showcasing the gulf between some of the haves and have-nots of the league. I actually thought this spread would be higher than it is.
Verdict: ELO gives a slight lean to the Texans. They’ve played significantly better at home than on the road, so I’ll agree and take a home dog cover.
Jacksonville at Seattle – Analytic Line: SEA (-7), Vegas Line: SEA (-3.5), PL: SEA (-4.5)
Jacksonville, off a post-London bye, makes another long road trip to visit Seattle, coming off a Monday night loss.
Verdict: Even with the rest advantage, I still like the Hawks here. As mentioned above, the defense has played better of late, and I can’t see Jacksonville stoning the run game the way New Orleans did, which should take some load off Geno’s shoulders.
Washington at Denver – Analytic Line: DEN (-5), Vegas Line: DEN (-3), PL: DEN (-3.5)
This game sees a rest advantage that should matter, as Denver played last Thursday while Washington is on back-to-back road games.
Verdict: Back-to-back roadies are challenging enough; the second one being at altitude is a really tough ask. I’m with ELO on the home squad.
Tampa Bay at New Orleans – Analytic Line: NO (+2.5), Vegas Line: NO (+5.5), PL: NO (+7.5)
Like LA – Houston, another game that I thought would be a bigger spread, but I’m on the underdog. Jameis revenge game?
Verdict: If the Saints run D can play as well as they did on Monday night, they can make Tampa one-dimensional and somewhat slow down that offense. If Jameis can take care of the ball, that should be enough to get the cover.
Dallas at Minnesota – Analytic Line: MIN (+0.5), Vegas Line: MIN (+2), PL: MIN (+3)
Two teams coming off their bye mix it up on Sunday night. See, NFL schedule makers, you could have just slid this game back a week and given them their byes this week, and you’d have four teams on bye both weeks. It’s…Not…That…Hard.
Verdict: Minny’s a good home squad, but this is a bad matchup for them. Dallas’ run D can slow Dalvin Cook, and Treyvon Diggs can take away Justin Jefferson. The Vike’s D won’t be able to slow Dallas. I’ll go against ELO and take the visitors.
New York Giants at Kansas City – Analytic Line: KC (-8), Vegas Line: KC (-10), PL: KC (-7.5)
If there’s one team I would have to take off my elite list from last week’s column, it would be the Chiefs. What the heck happened there? Three points from an offense with Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce? With Andy Reid calling plays? Something’s rotten in Denmark with this offense. Of course, we know the defense is atrocious.
Verdict: I’ve said it a lot; I’ll keep saying it. KC doesn’t cover.
Upset of the Week
Cincinnati at New York Jets – Analytic Line: NYJ (+8), Vegas Line: NYJ (+10.5), PL: NYJ (+13.5)
Everything here screams go against the Bengals in this spot. Possible letdown game? Check. Possible look-a-head spot with Cleveland coming in next week? Check. Young team experiencing real success for the first time? Check. Back-to-back road games? Check. Possibly overlooking an overmatched opponent who will be missing their starting QB, even though it probably doesn’t make a difference? Check.
Verdict: I don’t know what ELO sees here to lean into the Jets, but I’m right there with it. Too much going against the Bengals to lay that line.