NFL Pick'em Week 6: Man vs. Machine

NFL
Written by John Ferguson
October 11, 2019

NFL Picks Week 6

NFL Picks.jpgAnother week of NFL action and what an action-packed week it was. We have seen road teams come out strong this season and saw one of the biggest upsets yet with the Colts traveling to Kansas City to beat the Chiefs. Yes, the Colts. The same team that lost to the Raiders at home recently. And speaking of the Raiders, they are apparently a better football team than the Chicago Bears right now. The week wasn't without its surprises but some things also went exactly to plan. The Eagles destroyed the Jets, The Pats crushed the Redskins, and the Browns are still the Browns.

As far as picks went last week, the machine and I went toe to toe throughout the entirety of the action, but in the end, the machine threw the last punch and beat me by one stinking pick! We both had a good week as I went 15-10 (60%) combining ATS/OU while the machine went 16-10 (62%) ATS/OU. Man is still up 3-2 on the series this season but our overall season records are tied right now with us both registering 49% accuracy. We have both been trending up each week for the last three weeks.

In case this is your first time reading this column on the season, here is a quick recap of what we are doing with our weekly pick'em column here this season. We have partnered up with the folks over at Betting Antelope who will be providing "the machine" aspect of our weekly pick'em. If you're unfamiliar with their product, Betting Antelope is an impressive machine learning model powered by SportsData.io and designed to predict moneyline, against the spread, over/under, and total team wins for NFL games. The model ingests data and trains itself each week as the season goes on, optimizing profitability by using a combination of regression and decision tree models to make picks. So this season, it's my research, opinions, and instincts vs. the machine.

Now that we have recapped the season thus far, let's take a look at our picks for Week 6!

For more info see FantasyData's Latest NFL Odds page here.

Carolina Panthers (-2) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (UK)

Matchup Notes:

  • Historically the Panthers lead the head-to-head series 23-15.
  • These teams last met in Week 2 of this season where the Bucs won 20-14.
  • The Panthers have lost their last two games against the Bucs.
  • The Bucs are 0-2 in London. They last played there in 2011.
  • This is the Panthers' first international game.
  • In their last matchup against the Bucs, Christian McCaffrey totaled just 53 yards from scrimmage. Greg Olsen had six catches for 110 yards. Curtis Samuel had five catches for 91 yards. DJ Moore had nine catches for 89 yards. Joey Slye made four field goals, two from 50+ yards.
  • In their last matchup against the Panthers, Jameis Winston threw for 208 yards with one TD. Peyton Barber rushed for 82 yards and a TD. Chris Godwin had eight catches for 121 yards and a TD.
  • Jameis Winston hasn't thrown an INT in each of his last three games against the Panthers, though he has taken 13 sacks over that span.
  • Chris Godwin has had over 100 yards and a TD in each of his last two games against the Panthers. He has had at least 98 receiving yards in three of five career games against them.
  • When Chris Godwin is below his average number of targets (5), his team is 4-14 (.222) since the start of the 2017 season -- worst of 44 qualified WRs in NFL; League Avg: .558
  • Mike Evans has gone five games without a TD against the Panthers. His last score against them came in Week 17 of 2016. He's only gone over 65 receiving yards against the Panthers three times in 11 career games.
  • Mike Evans has 32 receptions for 20+ yards since last season -- most among NFL WRs.
  • Christian McCaffrey had over 150 YFS in each of his two games against the Bucs last season with three total TDs.
  • Christian McCaffrey has gained 1,701 yards after the catch since the 2017 season -- most among NFL RBs.
  • Christian McCaffrey has averaged 173 yards from scrimmage per game this season -- best amongst RBs. The Buccaneers have allowed an average of 91.6 yards from scrimmage per game to RBs this season -- best in NFL.
  • The Buccaneers defense has allowed 1,618 passing yards this season -- most in NFL.
  • The Buccaneers defense has allowed 33 TD passes in the red zone since last season -- most in NFL.
  • The Panthers are undefeated (11-0) when not committing any turnovers since the start of the 2017 season -- tied for best in NFL; League Avg: .739
  • The Panthers are averaging 25.8 PPG this season.
  • The Bucs have allowed an average of 29.6 PPG this season -- fourth-most in NFL.
  • The Bucs are averaging 29.4 PPG this season -- fifth-most in NFL.
  • The Panthers have allowed an average of 21.4 PPG this season.
  • The Panthers are 3-2 ATS this season.
  • The Bucs are 2-3 ATS this season.
  • The Bucs are 3-1 ATS in their last four matchups against the Panthers.

Our second UK based game of the season takes place this week as the Bucs will get home-field designation against the Panthers in an early-season rematch. Though these two teams just met in Week 2 of this season, a lot has changed for both teams since then. The Panthers lost that game with Cam Newton as their QB. Kyle Allen has gone 3-0 since that game as the starter and the Panthers have put up over 30 points in two of his three games. Week 2 was also an uncharacteristically quiet game for Christian McCaffrey who has set every other team on fire this season. CMC beat down the Bucs in both games last season and I would expect him to bring the pain with him over the pond in this one. 

The Bucs have literally been back and forth all season rotating wins and losses week in and week out. After laying wood on the Rams in Week 4 with a 55 point outburst, they let Teddy Bridgewater have his way with them last week in New Orleans where they only managed 24 points in the loss. Jameis Winston is still hot and cold, OJ Howard is still nonexistent, and Chris Godwin has continued to look like the team's WR1 over Mike Evans. Godwin has dominated the Panthers in his career whereas Evans has actually struggled. The Bucs haven't won a game in London yet and it won't be easy to make this a first for them.

My Final Prediction: Panthers win 27-24

My Pick: Panthers -2, Over 47.5

Machine Pick: Panthers -2, Under 47.5


Seattle Seahawks (-2) at Cleveland Browns

Matchup Notes:

  • Historically the Seahawks lead the head-to-head series 12-6.
  • These teams last met in December 2015 in Seattle where the Seahawks won 30-13.
  • In their last matchup against the Browns, Russell Wilson threw for 249 yards with three TDs. Tyler Lockett had five catches for 55 yards and one TD.
  • Russell Wilson hasn't thrown an INT yet this season on 156 pass attempts.
  • Russell Wilson has thrown 25 TD passes when attempting a pass of 20+ yards since the 2017 season -- most among NFL QBs.
  • Baker Mayfield leads the league with eight INTs on 161 pass attempts.
  • Baker Mayfield has a 44.4 passer rating in the red zone this season -- lowest of qualified QBs. The Seahawks have an average opposing passer rating of 107.7 in the red zone this season -- seventh highest in NFL.
  • Nick Chubb has averaged 97.0 rushing yards per game this season -- fourth-best among RBs. The Seahawks have allowed an average of 61.4 rushing yards per game this season -- fourth-best in NFL.
  • The Browns defense has allowed four TD passes in close and late situations this season -- most in NFL.
  • The Browns are 2-19 (.095) when losing at least one fumble since the start of the 2016 season-worst in NFL; League Avg: .385
  • The Browns are 1-31-1 (.030) when trailing at the end of the first half since the start of the 2016 season-worst in NFL; League Avg: .192
  • The Seahawks defense has allowed 774 yards after the catch this season -- most in NFL.
  • The Seahawks are averaging 26.6 PPG this season.
  • The Browns have allowed an average of 24.4 PPG overall this season but allow 31.5 PPG at home. 
  • The Browns are averaging 18.4 PPG overall this season but just 13 PPG at home.
  • The Seahawks have allowed an average of 23.6 PPG overall this season but just 18 PPG on the road. 
  • The Browns haven't won at home yet this season.
  • The Seahawks are 2-0 on the road so far this season.
  • Both teams are 2-3 ATS this season.

The Browns are coming back to the "Dawg Pound" with their tails between their legs after an embarrassing beatdown on Monday Night Football this week where they only put up three points against the 49ers. The team flat out gave up as they mustered only 180 total yards on offense and Baker Mayfield even gave way to former AAF MVP Garrett Gilbert. It was a really sad sight to see as this team had so much hype and momentum built up heading into the season after such a long drought of just bad teams in Cleveland. The talent is there on offense with stud receivers and a do-it-all RB. So the blame right now has to lie on either Freddie Kitchens, Baker Mayfield, or both. Whatever the problem is the team needs to figure it out quick as they get a short week to prepare for a team coming off a long rest with the Seahawks having played on Thursday night last week.

What a game it was too on Thursday Night Football last week as the Seahawks squeezed out their second one-point victory of the season taking down a "struggling" Rams team. It's hard to call a team struggling that has lost the last two weeks while putting up 40 and 29 points on the board but that's life for the Rams right now. We'll get to them in a bit. But the Seahawks have gotten away with some close ones this season as Russell Wilson, who has been notorious for starting the season slow, is already in mid-season form. Russ hasn't thrown an INT yet this season and also leads the league with 12 passing TDs. The way he is playing right now and with the struggles the Browns have had, it's hard to say the Browns will bounce back from their struggles just yet this season.

My Final Prediction: Seahawks win 26-14

My Pick: Seahawks -2, Under 46

Machine Pick: Browns +2, Under 46


Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs (-4)

Matchup Notes:

  • Historically the Chiefs lead the head-to-head series 5-4.
  • These teams last met in October 2017 where the Chiefs won 42-34.
  • The Texans have lost four of their last five games against the Chiefs including playoffs.
  • The Texans have only played at Kansas City twice. They haven't won there since 2004.
  • In their last matchup against the Chiefs, Deshaun Watson threw for 261 yards and five TDs. DeAndre Hopkins had four catches for 52 yards and three TDs. Will Fuller had two catches for 57 yards and two TDs.
  • DeAndre Hopkins has scored seven TDs in four career games against the Chiefs with at least one in every game. He also has 98 yards in more in two of those games.
  • Duke Johnson had nine catches for 78 yards and two TDs against the Chiefs last season as a member of the Browns.
  • Patrick Mahomes has a 111.5 passer rating at home this season -- fifth-best among QBs. The Texans have allowed a completion rate of 74.4% on the road this season -- second-highest in NFL.
  • The Texans defense has forced nine fumbles this season -- most in NFL.
  • The Texans defense has allowed 142 completions this season -- most in NFL.
  • The Texans defense has allowed 3 TD passes in close and late situations this season -- tied for 2nd most in NFL.
  • The Chiefs have allowed an average of 133.6 rushing yards per game this season -- second-highest in NFL.
  • The Texans are averaging 26.2 PPG this season.
  • The Chiefs have allowed 22.6 PPG this season.
  • The Chiefs are averaging 29.6 PPG this season (fourth-most in NFL) but just 23 PPG at home.
  • The Texans have allowed 22 PPG this season.
  • Both teams are 3-2 ATS this season.
  • The Chiefs are 3-1 ATS in their last four matchups against the Texans.

We could have a barn burner on our hands here in what is expected to be the highest-scoring game of the week. The Texans are coming off a very strong showing where they put up over 50 points against the Falcons. Deshaun Watson tossed five TDs in the game with Will Fuller putting on a clinic. Interestingly enough, Watson had five TDs the last time he faced the Chiefs as well. Can he put up five TDs in back-to-back weeks? I doubt it, but with the Chiefs showing vulnerable after losing at home to the Colts last week, obviously, anything is possible.

That's right, the Chiefs are coming off probably the biggest upsetting loss of the week last week as they looked pedestrian against a Colts team who had recently lost to the Raiders. This was one of those outlier scenarios that just flat out does not make sense, but the Colts have got to be flying high after that. Pat Mahomes is dealing with some ankle issues coming into this game that may limit his mobility a little, but he may also be getting a stronger offense in this game with Tyreek Hill inching closer to a return. Definitely game of the week potential right here.

My Final Prediction: Chiefs win 37-36

My Pick: Texans +4, Over 55.5

Machine Pick: Texans +4, Over 55.5


Washington Redskins (-3.5) at Miami Dolphins

Matchup Notes:

  • Historically the Dolphins lead the head-to-head series 8-4.
  • These teams last met in September 2015 at Washington where the Dolphins won 17-10.
  • The Redskins have lost three of their last four games against the Dolphins.
  • The Redskins have never won a game (0-5) at Miami.
  • The combined total score has been under 30 points in each of the last three matchups against these teams.
  • Chris Thompson has gained 239 yards after the catch this season -- fourth-most of qualified RBs. The Dolphins have allowed just 142 yards after the catch this season -- sixth-fewest in NFL.
  • The Redskins have turned the ball over 11 times this season -- tied for most in NFL. The Dolphins have forced 3 turnovers this season -- tied for fourth-fewest in NFL.
  • Dolphins WRs have caught just 41 of 86 passes (47.7%) this season -- lowest in NFL; League Avg: 63.1%
  • The Dolphins defense has allowed a passer rating of 137.6 this season -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 92.6
  • The Dolphins defense has allowed 19 TDs this season -- most in NFL.
  • The Dolphins have run 223 plays this season -- fewest in NFL.
  • The Redskins defense has allowed 17 TDs this season -- third-most in NFL
  • The Redskins are averaging 14.6 PPG this season -- third-fewest in NFL.
  • The Dolphins have allowed 40.8 PPG this season -- most in NFL.
  • The Dolphins are averaging 6.5 PPG this season -- fewest in NFL.
  • The Redskins have allowed 30.2 PPG this season -- third-most in NFL.
  • The Redskins are 1-4 ATS this season.
  • The Dolphins are 0-4 ATS this season.

A complete dumpster fire of a matchup here, this will be a game only worth watching in the stat lines after it's over. The Redskins were the first team to flinch this season as they already canned former head coach Jay Gruden after their slow start. There is still currently no legitimate starting quarterback to mention here though at this point it would make the most sense to just hand it over to rookie Dwayne Haskins and see what he can do. Interim head coach Bill Callahan has come out of the gates looking to turn back the clock as he sounds like he is pounding the table to get Adrian Peterson and the running game more heavily involved going forward. 

The Dolphins are coming fresh off their bye week and could look to get into the win column for the first time this week. There won't be many situations this seasons where you could really argue a case for the Dolphins pulling one-off, but this certainly could be that case. Facing a team unprepared and almost equally in shambles already as they are, this game alone could determine who gets the first pick in the 2020 NFL Rookie Draft. This is the second week in a row where the two top teams to bet against in survival pools are playing against each other. 

My Final Prediction: Redskins win 24-21

My Pick: Dolphins +3.5, Over 41.5

Machine Pick: Redskins -3.5, Under 41.5


Philadelphia Eagles at Minnesota Vikings (-3.5)

Matchup Notes:

  • Historically the Eagles lead the head-to-head series 14-10.
  • These teams last met in October 2018 at Philly where the Vikings won 23-21.
  • In their last matchup against the Eagles, Kirk Cousins threw for 301 yards with one TD. Adam Thielen had seven catches for 116 yards and one TD. Stefon Diggs had 10 catches for 91 yards.
  • In their last matchup against the Vikings, Carson Wentz threw for 311 yards with two TDs. Zach Ertz had 10 catches for 110 yards and one TD. 
  • Carson Wentz has completed 56.1% of passes late in close games this season -- tied for seventh-lowest of qualified QBs. He has completed 60.3% of passes this season -- second-lowest of qualified QBs.
  • Eagles TEs have been targeted three times per game in the red zone this season -- tied for highest in NFL; League Avg: 1.5
  • In his last two games against the Vikings, Zach Ertz has totaled 18 catches for 203 yards and one TD.
  • Jordan Howard has rushed for over 100 yards in three of six career games against the Vikings (as a member of the Bears).
  • Jordan Howard has 1.4 yards after contact per carry this season -- tied for best of qualified RBs. The Vikings have allowed 0.2 yards after contact per carry this season -- tied for third-best in NFL.
  • Avonte Maddox (PHI) has 212 receiving yards against him this season -- most among NFL defensive backs.
  • The Vikings defense has allowed one rushing TD this season.
  • Kirk Cousins is 5-3 in his career against the Eagles. He has averaged 302.9 yards per game against them with a 17-5 TD/INT ratio (seven games with Redskins).
  • Vikings RBs have averaged 158.6 rushing yards per game to RBs this season -- second-best in NFL. The Eagles have allowed an average of 47.2 rushing yards per game to RBs this season-best in NFL.
  • Minnesota Vikings WRs have been targeted 64 times this season -- 2nd fewest in NFL
  • The Eagles are averaging 28.2 PPG this season -- seventh-most in NFL.
  • The Vikings have allowed 14.6 PPG this season -- fifth-fewest in NFL. 
  • The Vikings are averaging 22.4 PPG overall this season but just 16.7 PPG on the road.
  • The Eagles have allowed 22.2 PPG this season.
  • The Eagles are 2-3 ATS this season.
  • The Vikings are 3-2 ATS this season.

The Eagles have now won two in a row as they head into a tough Week 6 matchup against the Vikings in Minnesota. Carson Wentz and Zach Ertz had their connection going last week as it was the only passing TD Wentz had in their rout against that Jets. The defense showed up big time and carried the Eagles leaving the offense capable of running it all day. Wentz and Ertz also had that strong connection going last time they faced the Vikings as Ertz went for 10-110-1 in the game. Kirk Cousins was reborn against the Giants last week and the Vikings could look to stick with a pass-heavy attack again this week knowing you can't run on the Eagles.

As mentioned above, the Vikes added a new element to their 2019 offense last week by throwing the ball in a forward progression and letting players called "wide receivers" catch it with their hands. An evolutional sight it was and it will certainly be the best way for the Vikes to pull off a win again this week against the Eagles vulnerable secondary. I am actually leaning towards taking the Eagles +3 in this one with the way they can play on both sides of the ball right now, this should be a pretty close game.

My Final Prediction: Vikings win 21-20

My Pick: Eagles +3.5, Under 44

Machine Pick: Vikings -3.5, Under 44


New Orleans Saints at Jacksonville Jaguars (-1.5)

Matchup Notes:

  • Historically the Saints lead the head-to-head series 4-2.
  • The Saints have won their last three contests against the Jags.
  • These teams last met in December 2015 at New Orleans where the Saints won 38-27.
  • Gardner Minshew has a passer rating of 118.7 at home this season -- third-best of 35 qualified NFL QBs; League Avg: 91.4
  • Gardner Minshew has completed 75.0% of passes in the red zone this season -- second-best of 27 qualified NFL QBs; League Avg: 54.9%
  • Leonard Fournette has averaged 131 yards from scrimmage per game this season -- third-best among RBs. The Saints have allowed an average of 111.6 yards from scrimmage per game to RBs this season -- sixth-best in NFL.
  • D.J. Chark has 10 receptions for 20+ yards this season -- tied for most among NFL WRs.
  • The Jaguars defense has forced just one turnover this season -- fewest in NFL.
  • The Jaguars defense has allowed 21 receptions for 20+ yards this season -- fourth-most in NFL.
  • The Jaguars have been flagged 25 times on offense this season -- most in NFL.
  • The Jaguars have gone three and out eight times in the first quarter this season -- most in NFL.
  • The Jaguars have not gone three and out in close and late situations this season.
  • The Saints defense has allowed 13.4 YFS per touch in close and late situations this season -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 7.6
  • The Saints defense has allowed five TDs in close and late situations this season -- tied for most in NFL.
  • The Saints defense has allowed 16 TDs this season -- fourth-most in NFL.
  • Teddy Bridgewater has completed 70.2% of passes this season -- fourth-best of qualified QBs. The Jaguars have allowed a completion rate of 59.9% this season -- sixth-best in NFL.
  • Alvin Kamara has gained 250 yards after the catch this season -- third-most among NFL RBs.
  • The Saints are averaging 23 PPG this season.
  • The Jaguars have allowed 23.6 PPG this season.
  • The Jaguars are averaging 22.2 PPG this season.
  • The Saints have allowed 23.2 PPG this season.
  • Both teams are 3-2 ATS this season.

undefinedThe Saints are coming into Week 6 having won three games in a row and last week was the first game where I really feel comfortable saying that Teddy Bridgewater led them to a win. Teddy put up 314 yards and four TDs last week against the Bucs filtering his passes through Michael Thomas who had a monster game himself (11-182-2). The Saints will now have to travel to Jacksonville to face a Jags team who will be happy to play at home after grinding out back-to-back road games against the Broncos and Panthers. This Jags defense isn't what it used to be and the Saints have the weapons on offense to cut through them.

The Jags have been a very efficient team this season and their 2-3 record on the season doesn't really do them justice. Gardner Minshew continues to make the most of his time as the starting quarterback and Leonard Fournette has found his groove with the running game as well. The spread in this game is close for some petty obvious reasons when looking at the points for and points allowed for these teams were nearly identical this season. What it comes down to for me right now is the Saints just showing a little bit more blow up ability on the scoreboard this season that makes me think they can upset as road dogs. There are a lot of signs pointing towards the Jags coming back at the end though with the Saints being so bad in close and late situations.

My Final Prediction: Saints win 30-27

My Pick: Saints +1.5, Over 43.5

Machine Pick: Saints +1.5, Under 43.5


Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens (-10.5)

Matchup Notes:

  • Historically the head-to-head series is tied 23-23.
  • These teams last met in November 2018 in Baltimore where the Ravens won 24-21.
  • The Bengals are 7-3 against the Ravens over their last 10 matchups.
  • In their last matchup against the Ravens, Andy Dalton had 211 passing yards and two TDs. Joe Mixon totaled only 52 yards from scrimmage with one rush TD. Tyler Boyd had four catches for 71 yards. As a team, the Bengals combined for only 48 rushing yards.
  • In their last matchup against the Bengals, Lamar Jackson threw for just 150 yards with no TDs and one INT. He also rushed for 119 yards. Gus Edwards ran for 115 yards and one TD. 
  • Andy Dalton is 8-7 overall in his career against the Ravens and 3-5 at Baltimore. He's thrown at least two TDs and had no INTs in each of his last three games against the Ravens.
  • Andy Dalton has thrown for 1,411 passing yards in 5 games (282.2 YPG) this season -- sixth-best among QBs. The Ravens have allowed 280.0 passing yards per game this season -- fourth-highest in NFL.
  • Joe Mixon has averaged less than 2 YPA in two-of-four career games against the Ravens. He's averaged only 65 yards from scrimmage per game against them and has only one TD against them.
  • Tyler Boyd had exactly 91 receiving yards and one TD in two of his last three games against the Ravens.
  • The Ravens have run 363 plays this season -- most in NFL.
  • The Ravens have rushed for 963 yards this season -- most in NFL.
  • The Bengals defense has allowed 843 rushing yards this season -- most in NFL.
  • The Bengals defense has allowed 20+ yard rushes seven times this season -- most in NFL.
  • The Bengals defense has allowed 7.1 yards after the catch this season -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 5.2
  • The Bengals have rushed for 307 yards this season -- third-fewest in NFL.
  • The Ravens defense has allowed 9.3 YFS per touch this season -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 7.7
  • The Ravens defense has allowed 1,400 passing yards this season -- second-most in NFL.
  • The Bengals are averaging 16 PPG this season but only 13.3 PPG on the road -- fourth-fewest in NFL.
  • The Ravens have allowed 24.6 PPG this season overall and 28.5 PPG at home.
  • The Ravens are averaging 32.2 PPG (most in NFL) overall this season and 24 PPG at home.
  • The Bengals have allowed 27.2 PPG overall this season but only 23 PPG on the road.
  • The Bengals are 0-5 ATS this season.
  • The Ravens are 1-3-1 ATS this season.

The Ravens have been struggling to match their early season successes already this season as it took overtime last week for them to beat the Steelers who were on their third-string QB in the game. After looking like a more comfortable QB in the first two games against soft defenses, Lamar Jackson has been back to the struggling passer who has had to rely on his rushing prowess to move the ball the way the offense needs him to. He has a get right spot here against a Bengals team who hasn't been able to show much of anything after a semi-impressive loss to the Seahawks to open the season.

It's been all about poor defense really for the Bengals as they open the season at 0-5. That and the complete lack of a running game to open the season as Joe Mixon is yet to really hit his stride. When you look at the rest of the season schedule for the Bengals as well, it is getting pretty hard to pinpoint where they can sneak in their first win. With two matchups against the Ravens and games against the Jags, Rams, an improved looking Raiders team, and a Steelers team that they just lost to, we could honestly be looking at maybe a Week 13 tilt against the Jets or even as far as a Week 16 game against the Dolphins as the Bengals only beacon of hope. AJ Green sounds like he is getting close to a return which could be a big boost to the offense, but until they sort out their defense and running game, they're not threatening anyone.

My Final Prediction: Ravens win 27-14

My Pick: Ravens -10.5, Under 47.5

Machine Pick: Bengals +10.5, Under 47.5


San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams (-3.5)

Matchup Notes:

  • Historically the 49ers lead the head-to-head series 68-67-3.
  • The 49ers have lost three of their last four matchups against the Rams.
  • The 49ers have won two of their last three games on the road at Los Angeles.
  • Both teams have put up at least 30 points in three of their last four matchups against each other.
  • These teams last met in December 2018 at Los Angeles where the Rams won 48-32.
  • In their last matchup against the Rams, George Kittle had nine catches for 149 yards and one TD.
  • In their last game against the 49ers, Jared Goff had only 199 passing yards but threw four TDs. Brandin Cooks had five catches for 62 yards and two TDs. Josh Reynolds had four catches for 55 yards and two TDs. 
  • George Kittle has had at least 98 receiving yards in each of his last three games against the Rams and scored a TD in each of his last two.
  • Jared Goff has a 9-0 TD/INT ratio in his last three games against the 49ers.
  • Brandin Cooks scored three TDs in two games against the 49ers last season.
  • Todd Gurley has scored three TDs in each of his last two games against the 49ers.
  • 49ers RBs have averaged 11.5 yards after the catch this season-best in NFL. The Rams have allowed 6.4 yards after the catch to RBs this season -- tied for seventh-best in NFL.
  • 49ers RBs have rushed for 748 yards this season -- second-most in NFL.
  • The 49ers defense has allowed 69 completions this season -- fewest in NFL.
  • The 49ers defense has allowed 703 passing yards this season -- fewest in NFL.
  • The 49ers defense has allowed five TDs this season -- second-fewest in NFL.
  • The 49ers defense has allowed 7.8 yards after the catch to WRs this season -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 4.3
  • The Rams have run 345 plays this season -- second-most in NFL.
  • The Rams have committed 11 turnovers this season -- tied for most in NFL.
  • Rams RBs have seven rushing TDs in the red zone this season -- second-most in NFL. The 49ers have allowed no rushing TDs to RBs this season.
  • Rams WRs have been targeted 151 times this season -- most in NFL. The 49ers have allowed 9.5 receptions per game this season-best in NFL.
  • The 49ers are averaging 31.8 PPG overall this season (second-most in NFL) and 36 PPG on the road.
  • The Rams have allowed 26.8 PPG overall this season and 32 PPG at home.
  • The Rams are averaging 29.2 PPG overall this season and 33.5 PPG at home.
  • The 49ers have allowed 14.2 PPG overall this season (fourth-fewest in NFL) and 17 PPG on the road.
  • The 49ers are 3-1 ATS this season.
  • The Rams are 4-1 ATS this season.
  • The 49ers are 4-2 ATS in their last six games against the Rams.

We have a terrific divisional rivalry on our hands in this one as the once-elite Rams look to take on the newly-elite 49ers. The Niners made a statement last week in primetime as they made the Browns look like they didn't even deserve to be on the same field as them. This team has arguably the strongest running game in the league right now and a much-improved defense that can hold opponents down. The passing game has yet to reach its true potential, but as long as it's not costing them games, Jimmy G is fine managing the team to victories and letting the RBs do all the heavy lifting. 

The Rams are coming in angry after back-to-back disappointing losses and have had extra time to evaluate where they need to get better having played on Thursday night last week. The offense is still producing, but the problem is the defense has allowed 85 points over the last two weeks. You're not going to win many games when you're hemorrhaging points like that no matter who you have on offense to back you up. We also have the issue that Jared Goff's lack of elite playmaking capabilities has been leaking out this season. The running game is also not where it needs to be with Todd Gurley obviously a shell of his former self and even looking questionable to play this week. The Rams aren't where they need to be right now as a team and it might take more than a long week in between games to sort things out, especially going up against a team as red hot as the 49ers. 

My Final Prediction: 49ers win 30-24

My Pick: 49ers +3.5, Over 50.5

Machine Pick: 49ers +3.5, Over 50.5


Atlanta Falcons (-2.5) at Arizona Cardinals

Matchup Notes:

  • Historically this head-to-head series is tied 15-15.
  • The Falcons have won five of their last six games against the Cardinals. The Cardinals scored less than 20 points in each of those games. The Falcons scored at least 29 points in four of those games and 40 or more twice.
  • The Falcons have lost each of their last three games at Arizona including playoffs.
  • The Falcons are 2-10 on the road against the Cardinals in franchise history dating back to 1966. Their last win at Arizona came on September 30, 2001.
  • These teams last met in December 2018 at Atlanta where the Falcons won 40-14.
  • In their last matchup against the Cardinals, Matt Ryan passed for 231 yards with two passing TDs and one rushing TD. Julio Jones had six catches for 82 yards and one TD. As a team, the Falcons combined for 215 rushing yards and two rushing TDs.
  • In their last matchup against the Falcons, David Johnson had 33 rushing yards and one TD with three catches for 68 yards. Larry Fitzgerald had seven catches for 82 yards.
  • Matt Ryan is 5-2 in his career against the Cardinals including playoffs. His only losses were his only two games at Arizona, one was in the regular-season where he threw for 301 yards with one TD and four INTs. He has a 10-11 TD/INT ratio against them in his career during the regular season.
  • Julio Jones has four career games against the Cardinals. He was held to 35 yards or less twice. He had a TD in the other two games including a 10-189-1 line back in 2014.
  • Devonta Freeman last played the Cardinals in 2016 where he ran for 60 yards with two TDs.
  • Kyler Murray has a passer rating of just 80.1 this season -- third-lowest of 27 qualified NFL QBs; League Avg: 92.7
  • Kyler Murray has been sacked 21 times this season -- second-most among QBs.
  • Larry Fitzgerald has just one TD in eight career games against the Falcons.
  • Larry Fitzgerald has been targeted seven times in the red zone this season -- tied for second-most among NFL WRs.
  • David Johnson is averaging 131 yards from scrimmage and one TD per game over two career games against the Falcons.
  • Cardinals RBs have 5 receptions for 20+ yards this season -- tied for most in NFL.
  • The Cardinals defense has tackled opponents for a loss on 7 of 23 rushing attempts (30.4% TFL%) in the red zone this season-best in NFL; League Avg: 11.9%
  • The Cardinals defense has forced eight fumbles this season -- second-most in NFL.
  • The Cardinals defense has forced two turnovers this season -- tied for second-fewest in NFL.
  • The Cardinals defense has no interceptions and 12 TD passes allowed this season -- highest in NFL.
  • The Falcons defense has allowed 18 TDs this season -- second-most in NFL.
  • The Falcons defense has forced seven fumbles this season -- tied for third-most in NFL.
  • The Falcons defense has forced two turnovers this season -- tied for second-fewest in NFL.
  • The Falcons defense has stuffed 35 rushing attempts this season -- most in NFL.
  • The Falcons have committed 11 turnovers this season -- tied for most in NFL.
  • The Falcons are averaging 20.4 PPG this season.
  • The Cardinals have allowed 27.6 PPG overall this season (fifth-most in NFL) and 30.7 PPG at home.
  • The Cardinals are averaging 20 PPG this season.
  • The Falcons have allowed 30.4 PPG this season (second-most in NFL) and 36 PPG on the road.
  • The Falcons are 1-4 ATS this season.
  • The Cardinals are 3-2 ATS this season. 
  • The Falcons are 3-1 ATS in their last four games against the Cardinals.

This felt like a pretty lopsided game to call for me, that was until I started sifting through the historical data. The Falcons have just not shown up for whatever reason in the history of their franchise when it comes time to travel to Arizona. They have only won two games at Arizona in franchise history with the last one coming all the way back in 2001. At home, they're totally fine dismantling the Cardinals. But something happens to them in Arizona and they just shut down. That doesn't bode well for a team right now who just gave up over 50 points to their opponent last week. The Falcons have been especially bad on the road this season allowing 36 PPG and though the Cardinals are clearly a work in progress still, they've shown the ability to hang a little bit from time-to-time with teams above their win/loss record. 

The Cardinals got a big moral victory last week against the Bengals after coming off back-to-back blowout losses by more than 17 points. The Cards were able to hang in there in Week 1 against what looks to be a legitimate Lions team and even kept things close against the Ravens in Week 2 before the blowouts in Weeks 3-4, which makes me think that they can at least keep this game close against a Falcons team who has struggled on the road in general. David Johnson's health will be a big storyline to watch over the weekend as him being active would also help make me feel more comfortable in the Cards' ability to cover the spread at least if not win straight up. Even still, I think I need to lean with experience in this one.

My Final Prediction: Falcons win 27-24

My Pick: Falcons -2.5, Under 51.5

Machine Pick: Falcons -2.5, Over 51.5


Tennessee Titans at Denver Broncos (-2)

Matchup Notes:

  • Historically the Titans lead the head-to-head series 22-15-1.
  • The Titans have lost four of their last six games against the Broncos.
  • The Titans have scored 20 points or less in five of their last six games against the Broncos.
  • These teams last met in December 2016 at Tennessee where the Titans won 13-10.
  • In their last matchup against the Titans, Emmanuel Sanders had 11 catches for 100 yards and one TD.
  • In their last matchup against the Broncos, Marcus Mariota completed just six of 20 pass attempts for 88 yards. Derrick Henry ran 12 times for just 42 yards.
  • Joe Flacco is 2-3 in his career (with the Ravens) against the Titans. He has a 5-7 TD/INT ratio and threw for less than 200 yards in three of those five games.
  • Marcus Mariota has a 103.0 passer rating this season -- sixth-best of qualified QBs. The Broncos have an average opposing passer rating of 85.9 this season -- eighth-best in NFL.
  • Marcus Mariota has been sacked 22 this season -- most in NFL. The Broncos have sacked the QB just five times this season -- tied for fewest in NFL.
  • Derrick Henry has 1.2 yards after contact per carry this season -- tied for third-best among qualified RBs. The Broncos have allowed 0.3 yards after contact per carry this season -- tied for fifth-best in NFL.
  • Titans WRs have averaged 5.7 yards after the catch this season -- third-best in NFL. The Broncos have allowed 2.6 yards after the catch to WRs this season-best in NFL.
  • The Titans have gone three and out on 29.8% of their drives this season -- second-highest in NFL; League Avg: 20.1%
  • The Titans have not turned the ball over this season.
  • The Titans defense has allowed two rushing TDs this season -- tied for third-fewest in NFL.
  • The Titans defense has allowed a passer rating of 122.0 in the red zone this season -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 91.3
  • The Broncos defense has not forced any fumbles this season.
  • The Titans are averaging 19.6 PPG overall this season but 24.7 PPG on the road.
  • The Broncos have allowed 21.2 PPG this season.
  • The Broncos are averaging 18 PPG this season.
  • The Titans have allowed 15.2 PPG this season.
  • Both teams are 2-3 ATS this season.

The Titans are coming off what I expected to be a sleepy game against the Bills last week and I was not wrong. I thought the Titans would be able to come away with the win at least though but the Bills got the better of them with a final of 14-7. At the very least, this was another solid showing by the Titans defense who have generally kept their opponents to low scores. That shouldn't be hard to do again this week against a Broncos team that was struggling to cross that 20-point threshold this season before their last two games. The Broncos gave up a gem to Leonard Fournette just two weeks back which makes me think the Titans best bet to win this thing is a vintage monster performance by Derrick Henry. He should be fed early and often.

The Broncos took a few weeks to get going as the dropped some heartbreaking losses to open the season, but they finally came away with their first win last week upsetting the Chargers by a final of 20-13. It was all about establishing that running game in this one as the Broncos did that with Phillip Lindsay running for over 100 yards in the contest while the Broncos defense held the electric duo of Austin Ekeler and Melvin Gordon to a mere 38 rushing yards. They also held Philip Rivers without a TD in the contest. It was a great momentum-building win for Vic Fangio's defense and much needed after they had zero momentum to open the season. We should see another low-scoring affair here this week with both teams looking to win on the backs of their defenses and running games once again.

My Final Prediction: Titans win 20-17

My Pick: Titans +2, Under 40.5

Machine Pick: Denver -2, Over 40.5


Dallas Cowboys (-7) at New York Jets

Matchup Notes:

  • Historically the Cowboys lead the head-to-head series 7-4.
  • The Cowboys have lost their last two games against the Jets.
  • These teams haven't met since December 2015 at Dallas where the Jets won 19-16.
  • Cowboys WRs have eight receiving TDs this season -- tied for third-most in NFL. The Jets have allowed just five receiving TDs to WRs this season -- tied for seventh-fewest in NFL.
  • Cowboys RBs have gained 91 yards after the catch this season -- second-fewest in NFL.
  • The Cowboys defense has allowed three TD passes this season -- tied for second-fewest in NFL.
  • Jets QBs have four completions for 20+ yards this season -- fewest in NFL.
  • Jets QBs have 454 passing yards this season -- fewest in NFL.
  • The Jets have gone three and out on 40.0% of their drives this season -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 20.1%
  • The Jets have allowed a QB Hit on 17.6% of dropbacks this season -- second-highest in NFL; League Avg: 8.7%
  • The Jets have run 227 plays this season -- second-fewest in NFL.
  • The Jets have scored on 6.0% of their drives this season -- lowest in NFL; League Avg: 35.0%
  • The Cowboys are averaging 26.2 PPG overall this season but just 20.5 PPG on the road.
  • The Jets have allowed 25.2 PPG overall this season but just 20 PPG at home.
  • The Jets are averaging 9.8 PPG this season -- second-fewest in NFL.
  • The Cowboys have allowed 18 PPG this season.
  • The Cowboys are 3-2 ATS this season.
  • The Jets are 1-3 ATS this season.

After opening the season on a tear against three soft defenses, the Cowboys have taken two steps back in most power rankings coming off back-to-back losses against the Saints and Packers. The silver lining in last week's game for the Cowboys was that they held Aaron Rodgers without a TD. The Bad news was they let Aaron Jones make up for it by running for over 100 yards with four TDs in the game. Without Davante Adams on the field, shutting down Rodgers wasn't as tall of a task as normal, so that fact that they couldn't even really adjust in-game to slowing Jones after his first TDs is not a good sign. Luckily for them, they get back to soft matchups this week as they travel to take on the Jets.

I don't know if anyone told Adam Gase he's not on the Dolphins anymore because he's doing his best impression of the 2019 Dolphins right now. The Jets are in the running for the worst team in football right now and I don't really care even if and when they get Sam Darnold back. They're not good because Gase is not good. Plain and simple. He can't run a high-volume offense. The Jets have a handful of cupcake matchups still this season where they can steal some wins to look like they know what they're doing this season, but until they start showing some gusto, there is no hope here. 

My Final Prediction: Cowboys win 27-10

My Pick: Cowboys -7, Under 44

Machine Pick: Jets +7, Over 44


Pittsburgh Steelers at Los Angeles Chargers (-6.5)

Matchup Notes:

  • Historically the Steelers lead the head-to-head series 22-8.
  • These teams last met in December 2018 at Pittsburgh where the Chargers won 33-30.
  • In their last matchup against the Steelers, Philip Rivers threw for 299 yards and two TDs. Keenan Allen had 14 catches for 148 yards and one TD. Austin Ekeler only had 43 YFS. 
  • In their last game against the Chargers, James Conner had 60 rushing yards and two TDs.
  • Philip Rivers has thrown at least two TDs in six-of-seven career games against the Steelers including playoffs. He has a 15-5 TD/INT ratio. 
  • Melvin Gordon had 94 YFS on 22 touches in one career game against the Steelers.
  • Chargers RBs have 51 receptions this season -- most in NFL.
  • Chargers RBs have 390 receiving yards this season -- most in NFL.
  • The Chargers defense has allowed a passer rating of 149.0 in close and late situations (16 Pass Attempts) this season -- highest in NFL; League Avg: 89.8
  • The Chargers have committed four turnovers in the red zone this season -- most in NFL.
  • The Steelers defense has forced 12 turnovers this season -- second-most in NFL.
  • The Steelers defense has forced four turnovers in the red zone this season -- most in NFL.
  • The Steelers defense has sacked opponents 19 times this season -- third-most in NFL.
  • The Steelers defense has stuffed 33 rushing attempts this season -- second-most in NFL.
  • The Steelers are averaging 19.8 PPG this season overall but 25.3 PPG at home.
  • The Chargers have allowed 18.8 PPG overall this season but just 11.5 PPG on the road.
  • The Chargers are averaging 20.6 PPG this season.
  • The Steelers have allowed 22.8 PPG this season but just 19 PPG at home.
  • The Steelers are 2-2-1 ATS this season.
  • The Chargers are 1-3-1 ATS this season.

The Steelers have quietly kept afloat this season considering all the changes they are going through as a team. They took the Ravens down to the wire in overtime with their third-string QB last week before submitting to a loss. The hits keep coming as explosive backup RB Jaylen Samuels is out for a bit with an injury and Mason Rudolph is still recovering from taking a huge hit in last week's game. They will have to travel to Los Angeles this week to take on a Chargers team though that is the best in the league at orchestrating upset losses for themselves.

The Chargers, I really like this team, I love Philip Rivers, but man they are just the most puzzling team sometimes. One minute you think they can beat anyone and are a playoff-caliber club, another minute they can't beat Joe Flacco at home. What has been one of the best rushing attacks in the league this season even without Melvin Gordon was absolutely shut down last week and Rivers couldn't make up for it with no TDs himself This team is banged up all over, per usual, which matches the injury struggles the Steelers are seeing themselves. You would like the think it's easy money betting on the Chargers in this one, but there is no such thing as easy money with them.

My Final Prediction: Chargers win 23-20

My Pick: Steelers +6.5, Over 41.5

Machine Pick: Chargers -6.5, Over 41.5


Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers (-4.5)

Matchup Notes:

  • Historically the Packers lead the head-to-head series 98-72-7.
  • The Lions have won each of their last four games against the Packers. The Packers scored less than 20 points in three of those four games including a shutout in their last matchup. The Lions scored 30 points or more in each of those games.
  • These teams last met in December 2018 at Green Bay where the Lions won 31-0.
  • Matthew Stafford is 7-10 in his career against the Packers. He has thrown for at least two TDs in each of his last nine games against the Packers. He's thrown nine TDs and no INTs in his last four games against the Packers. He had a career game against the Packers in Green Bay back in 2011 when he threw for 520 yards five TDs.
  • Kenny Golladay has at least 80 yards and a TD in both of his career games against the Packers.
  • Marvin Jones has seven TDs in six career games against the Packers. He has two games with over 100 yards and a TD (both at GB) and one game with over 200 yards and a TD.
  • Kerryon Johnson has 3.4 yards per carry this season -- tied for seventh-lowest of qualified RBs. The Packers have allowed 5.3 yards per carry this season -- tied for second-highest in NFL.
  • Aaron Rodgers is 13-5 in his career against the Lions. He has a 21-2 TD/INT ratio in his last 10 games against them with an additional three rushing TDs. He has thrown for over 300 yards against them eight times and thrown for at least three TDs in seven games.
  • Aaron Rodgers has a 93.4 passer rating this season -- eighth-lowest of qualified QBs. The Lions have an average opposing passer rating of 80.3 this season -- fifth-best in NFL.
  • Davante Adams had nine catches for 140 yards and one TD in his last game against the Lions. He has five TDs in seven career games where he saw a target against them.
  • Marquez Valdes-Scantling totaled 10 catches for 111 yards and one TD in two games against the Lions last season.
  • Jimmy Graham has just one TD in seven career games against the Lions. It came back in 2012 when he was a member of the Saints.
  • Lions WRs have four receiving TDs in the red zone this season -- tied for third-most in NFL. The Packers have allowed just one receiving TD when defending in the red zone to WRs this season -- tied for second-fewest in NFL.
  • Lions WRs have averaged 2.9 yards after the catch this season -- third-lowest in NFL. The Packers have allowed 6.2 yards after the catch to WRs this season -- second-highest in NFL.
  • The Packers defense has forced 11 turnovers this season -- third-most in NFL.
  • The Lions defense has allowed 442 yards after the catch this season -- second-fewest in NFL.
  • The Lions are averaging 24.2 PPG this season.
  • The Packers have allowed 18.6 PPG overall this season but allowed 22 PPG at home.
  • The Packers are averaging 23.8 PPG this season.
  • The Lions have allowed 23.8 PPG this season.
  • The Lions are 3-1 ATS this season.
  • The Packers are 4-1 ATS this season.
  • The Lions are 6-4 ATS in their last 10 matchups against the Packers.

undefinedThe week will wind down with what should be a thrilling shootout against two division rivals with loads of playoff implications on the line already in this young season. The Lions have handled the Packers well in their recent matchups and look much better than advertised early on this season. They're also coming into the game fresh off a bye week with extra time to prepare specifically for this matchup. All of Matthew Stafford, Kenny Golladay, and Marvin Jones have had plenty of success against this Packers team in the past and even had strong games in Green Bay. With the Packers still trying to get healthy with Davante Adams highly questionable to play, the Lions may look to be in better form entering the contest.

The Packers are coming off a strong road win last week as Aaron Jones carried the team with four TDs of his own. Aaron Rodgers has been sterling in his career against the Lions though, without an elite set of weapons like he has had in the past, it won't be as easy for him to have his way this time. The Packers defense stepping up this season has been a big piece for them becoming a more well-rounded unit and they will really be needed to step up again here in case the passing game can't get going. Aaron Jones will be needed again as well in a high-volume manner as the most explosive part of this offense at the moment. I'm looking for this one to end as a shootout and wouldn't be surprised to see either team come away with the win. Given the recent history and form, I am probably most comfortable taking the Lions plus points but a straight-up pick isn't an easy decision to make. 

My Final Prediction: Lions win 24-23

My Pick: Lions +4.5, Over 46.5

Machine Pick: Lions +4.5, Over 46.5


John Ferguson

John Ferguson is an avid Fantasy Football fanatic with 10+ years of experience in friends and family leagues, paying public leagues, and DFS Tournaments. Ferguson specializes in draft strategies, trade negotiations (Buy Low/Sell High) and DFS value picks amongst other parts of fantasy football analysis. When Ferguson isn’t spending time skimming over stats while at the beach, he follows the Oakland Athletics closely as a diehard fan and enjoys spending quality time with his beautiful wife and three children. A native of Monterey, California, Ferguson now calls Quintana Roo, Mexico home.