Darnell's Docket - Week 6 NFL breakdown
Good morning, afternoon, and evening. I want to go over these games from multiple points of view. There are so many ways to look at a game. You can look at the fundamentals of a team, the analytics and stats, the eye test, your gut, or even your knowledge of public perception and how it affects lines and movement. I am available for questions, thoughts, deeper dives, betting tips, bankroll management tips, or anything else you may need to help you make the best decisions possible. Read on to the end for my betting tip of the week. Enjoy!
Baltimore Ravens (-7.5) @ Philadelphia Eagles (47.5)
One of the interconference matchups of the week has the very good Ravens team facing an Eagles team that really could use some help in the health department. The Eagles have been ravaged by injuries all year. The only thing keeping their hopes alive for the playoffs is the fact that they are in the worst division in football. Conversely, the Ravens are in the best division in football. The Ravens are coming off a dominating victory against the Bengals. The Ravens do not grade out as well as I would have thought. They are middle of the road defensively and offensively. They can certainly be proud of having given up the least amount of points in the NFL. They’ve given up just 76 total points, which is an average of 15.2 per game. The Eagles will need some offensive weapons to get healthy in order to compete. This is because the only team who is worse in route running are the New York Jets. I always believe a team that has a good pass rush can compete. The Eagles are second best in the NFL in rushing the passer. In my opinion they have the best front seven in football. These teams play once every four years, so we will see who walks away with bragging rights.
Washington Football Team (+2.5) @ New York Giants (43)
Wow! This game does not look pretty at all. The only thing that has kept the Giants from being the worst team in the league is their city-sharing counterpart, the Jets. The Giants have only scored 81 points through 5 games, 34 of which came against the awful Dallas defense. Both teams struggle immensely on offense and are rated in the bottom five offensively. Although both teams struggle offensively, each team does have a glimmer of positivity on the defensive side of the ball. Washington ranks fifth in the NFL in coverage. This should make it difficult for the worst offensive line in football. They will have to try to protect their quarterback long enough to find an open man. The Giants rank in the top ten in rushing defense. For a Washington team that has already benched their starting quarterback, we wonder how they will move the ball. Despite everything, Washington has a chance to be first place in the division with a win.
Cleveland Browns (+3.5) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (51)
For the second week in a row, the Browns are involved in one of my favorite games of the week. They travel to Pittsburgh to take on a team that has historically abused them for decades. This time, they are bringing their top-rated offensive line, and their top-rated rushing attack with them. Pittsburgh will be ready with their number one-rated pass rush and their top five rushing defense. Pittsburgh did appear to struggle stopping a bad Philadelphia offensive unit last week. Their defense cannot afford to play that lax this week because the Browns bring a massive amount of firepower. Cleveland looked very impressive in a win against a team that many people were high on. Indianapolis went into Cleveland and just weren’t ready for the attack that Cleveland had lined up for them. I strongly feel as if three playoff teams will come from the AFC North so this game will be huge for positioning and seeding. The Browns also need this win to change the narrative regarding this lopsided rivalry.
Cincinnati Bengals (+7.5) @ Indianapolis Colts (46.5)
This game is a matchup of two teams coming off losses. The Bengals were only able to muster up three points against the Ravens. As an avid football watcher, I can tell you that three points will not be enough against nearly any opponent in any situation. The Colts, while appearing to hang around with the Browns, got dominated. They lost the time of possession battle and got destroyed in third down efficiency. The Colts still hold the fourth-best defense in the NFL. The Bengals don’t do anything fantastic except special teams. Both teams rank top five in that department. The Bengals have the worst pass rush in the NFL. One of the most important aspects of any football game is the amount of pressure you can get on the quarterback. The Bengals just cannot do that. Can the Colts get back on the winning side? They will need a win in order to keep up with Tennessee.
Detroit Lions (-3.5) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (54.5)
Here we have two bottom ten passing offenses facing off against two bottom ten defenses. Something has to give. Neither team has shown much ability to stop their opponents this season. Neither team has shown the ability to efficiently throw the ball. Pass rush is the major issue here. The Jaguars and Lions rank sixth and fifth worst in the NFL in rushing the pass. One advantage that Jacksonville does have is being a top five tackling team in the league. Although they can’t cover well, when they get near someone, they typically succeed at bringing him down. Many people will enjoy this game for fantasy production. To me it just looks like two helpless teams at the bottom fighting to be less at the bottom.
Chicago Bears (+1) @ Carolina Panthers (44.5)
This game seems to be as evenly matched as the spread indicates. The Bears have the sixth best defense in the league. Their offense leaves something to be desired though. The Bears are the only team with a winning record in the bottom ten in points scored. The question one may ask would be rather the Bears are lucky or if their defense is truly THAT good. The Panthers have seemingly become better after losing one of the best running backs in the league. Mike Davis has emerged as a workhorse back that sees similar targets as some number two receivers in the league. The Panthers are having long drives and take care of the ball. This had led them to overachieve for the past three weeks. The Panthers seem to be just average in the metrics, but they take care of the ball and make every play count. This is what has led to their 3-2 record. Don’t look now, but depending on the results of some other games, the Panthers could come out of week six as the first place team in their division. The Bears will need to continue winning in order to keep up with the Green Bay Packers. This should be a good one.
Atlanta Falcons (+4) @ Minnesota Vikings (54.5)
The only NFC team worse than either of these teams is the New York Giants. Atlanta has sent their head coach to the unemployment line. The Vikings look like they will be starting their back-up running back. Things just aren’t going well for either team. That statement is true for the Falcons. The Vikings, however, are the fifth best offense in the NFL and the third best special teams unit. I wondered how they only have one win. Their defense is the answer. This team has the worst defense in the NFL. Their defense is worse than the Cowboys and the Falcons. The Vikings have either no ability or no desire to stop any of their opponents. If there is one team that seems to let you win regardless of your short comings, it is Atlanta. Both of teams need to turn things around ASAP in order to have a chance to make their season respectable.
Houston Texans (+3.5) @ Tennessee Titans (53)
This game is a battle of the two AFC South teams that made the playoffs last year. The Titans seemingly have not missed a step from their playoff run. The Texans on the other hand, seemingly have been exposed as a fraud. The Texans and the Titans are both top ten in offense and in the bottom half of the league defensively. They both rank in the bottom ten in pass rush, so it seems as if there will be limited quarterback pressure in this matchup. The Titans are coming off a Tuesday night victory against a good Buffalo Bills team. The key word in the last sentence is ‘’Tuesday’’. This is a short week for the Titans, and we know how NFL players are creatures of habit. Their routine has been all over the place with delays, postponements and games moving around. This is a must win for Houston if they want to salvage their season and have a chance of catching up to the division leaders. We will see if this turnaround starts now.
Denver Broncos (+9.5) @ New England Patriots (45)
I am not sure where to start with this game. The Patriots are a team that has had their schedule ravaged in the past couple of weeks. They have also had their starting quarterback come down with the virus. News broke that Cam Newton will be returning to start at quarterback for the Patriots. Both teams rank top ten in defense. I was surprised to see that Denver is actually the second-best defense in the league. There are a couple of problems with the Broncos. They are by far the worst special teams unit in the NFL. Belichick has always been solid in special teams and he is a good enough coach to take advantage of this. I touched on how bad the Jets’ offense was. There is a team that’s worse than them. Denver ranks dead last in the NFL offensively. This is their biggest problem. They simply cannot move the ball. They simply cannot score. We will see how the virus affects Newton in his return. The Patriots look to get above .500 and take advantage of the Bills’ loss.
New York Jets (+9.5) @ Miami Dolphins (47)
For as long as I could remember, I have shuddered to think about how bad a team would have to be to be this heavy of an underdog to the Miami Dolphins. The Jets are a mess. They are the second worst offense in the NFL and cannot protect their quarterback. They released Bell, and he has since signed with the Chiefs. As I dig deeper into the metrics, I see some surprises. Although the Jets are bad defensively, they are the tenth best rushing defense in the NFL. The Jets are the second worst coverage unit in the league. The Dolphins are not much better. They rank fourth worst. I really am not a fan of this game. Although the record indicates that Miami could slide into second place in the division, I don’t want to invest any thought of them having a successful season.
Green Bay Packers (-1) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (55.5)
I am sure that this will be many people’s favorite game of the week. This is a battle of two first-ballot hall of fame quarterbacks. This is a battle of the Packers’ number one passing attack and the Buccaneers number one coverage unit. The Buccaneers are the number one overall defense in the league. The Packers are the number two offense in the league. This will truly be a battle of an unstoppable force against an immoveable object. Both teams will come in to this game rested. Tampa Bay played on Thursday and Green Bay is coming off a bye. These teams being tired will not be an excuse either way. The difference in this game could be injuries. Davante Adams is likely to play. Leonard Fournette and Chris Godwin were both limited in practice, so their status is still up in the air. Regardless, this should be a highly competitive game with two of the premier quarterbacks of the last 15 years.
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Betting tip of the week: Understand that when betting totals, there is more to it than just how good the offenses and defenses are. There is also the pace of play element. There are teams that play slow, so even if their offense is good, they will kill a lot of clock moving the ball. You also have to be mindful of bad offenses giving their opponents short fields. Short fields make it easier to score. The bottom line is take everything under consideration when looking at a bet on totals.