Week three NFL matchup analysis (’21 szn)

My week two pick results: nine wins, three minor losses, one major loss.

The teams I think will win this week are in italics.

Cardinals at Jaguars

The Cardinals could be without some key players, but Rondale Moore is good enough to pick up the slack if Deandre Hopkins is out. The Cardinals have too much talent to lose this one, as the Jaguars are pretty bare. I think the -7.5 handicap for the Cardinals is a safe bet.

Colts at Titans

This will be a game between two outstanding running offenses, with little defensive resistance. I think Julio Jones will affect this game as no Colts DB is good enough to stop him, and Tannehill behind that o-line will have a lot of time to throw. It’ll be close, though, as the Colts should run all over the Titans, and I think the Wentz-Jack Doyle combo should prove fruitful. Neither the handicap or flat out betting on a team is wise for the multi purposes IMO, as I think the Titans will win narrowly.

Ravens at Lions

The Ravens have elite d-tackle Brandon Williams out, with All-Pro level safety Deshon Elliott questionable. Arguably the Lions best player Jamie Collins is out also though, so I think the Ravens, particularly if they keep playing their elite recent running back pickups, will beat a Lions team that could go winless this season in my book. The -7.5 bet is very safe IMO.

Washington at Bills

I think Taylor Heinicke is the real deal and will elevate this Washington team enough to get the win. I am concerned about how good the Bills o-line is, and the Matt Ioannidis injury makes stopping the run much more difficult for Wash. Zach Moss has turned into an elite running back. Washington has the defensive pieces to stop Stefon Diggs, and Chase Young might get reliable pressure against Dion Dawkins. Washington is a high upside bet if Jaret Patterson gets more reps at running back. I think the +7 Washington bet is a good one – the $4.10 bet for Washington to win would be great to increase odds, but that Bills running game could make it a close game.

Saints at Patriots

Patriots right tackle Trent Brown could be good enough to swing the result of this game. Without him, the Pats will still have a good running game behind Damien Harris and James White, with decent pieces like David Andrews blocking for them. They also have some great receivers in Jakobi Meyers and Kendrick Bourne, while Mac Jones is solid at QB. Their decisions to play certain players in their secondary makes the Pats defensive unstable, although I don’t think the Saints have enough firepower for Jameis Winston to beat them down the field often. Alvin Kamara is an incredible running back but might not be able to do much. The Saints will have the advantage in special teams as Aldrick Rosas is awesome at kicker. Again, Trent Brown could be the big decider here, as his replacement will likely not do well against Cam Jordan. Payton Turner’s emergence on the Saints d-line will also make Mac Jones and co’s day difficult, while Marshon Lattimore will shut down one side of the field. Whatever happens, I think the new Saints corners Paulson Adebo and Desmond Trufant are good enough to cover the Pats receivers to make Jones turnover prone, and Deonte Harris could return some kicks for advantageous field position, or more. I’m betting on the Saints to win by a slim margin, but a healthy Trent Brown would neutralise Cam Jordan and give the Pats a truly ferocious running game, moving the needle to New England’s favour.

Chargers at Chiefs

Frank Clark is doubtful, which will harm the chances of an otherwise pretty sure Chiefs victory. The Chiefs have the pieces to shut down the Chargers decent offense, while the star power of Kelce and Tyreek Hill with the quality Mahomes feeding them will likely overwhelm LA. Combine that with Harrison Butker’s accuracy as kicker and I think the Chiefs could win by atleast a touchdown, which isn’t enough to warrant the -7 handicap. $1.30 for the Chiefs win is safe enough though and is still an ok multiplier for it to be worth the risk.

Bears at Browns

The Bears defensive line is their strength, which could be in jeopardy due to Akiem Hicks and Bilal Nichols’ questionable status. Still, QB Baker Mayfield will likely be hurried a lot, but Odell Beckham Jr and Rashard Higgins are good enough to beat the Bears secondary reliably. The otherwise good running game of the Browns will be mitigated by the Bears d-line, healthy or no IMO. The Bears O will be improved with Justin Fields at QB, but I don’t think their best receiver in Allen Robinson or best running back in David Montgomery can make use of the space and time that their solid o-line will allow, particularly against a depleted Browns d-line relative to last season. The Browns are heavy favourites in this matchup and they should be if Hicks and Nichols are out, but otherwise the handicap is too strong and the odds multiplier is too insufficient to bet on the Browns, who will probably win narrowly at the least.

Bengals at Steelers

I think the Bengals’s Joe Burrow, especially because TJ Watt is not playing, will have the rare chance to have time to throw, without much secondary resistance. The Bengals will also stymie the Steelers offense with their great gang of interior d-lineman and quality secondary.

Falcons at Giants

Daniel Jones’ best weapons in Evan Engram and Kenny Golloday are questionable to play, but even without them I think they win this game. They’ll have trouble stopping Grady Jarrett on the interior and Deion Jones will fly around making big plays, but I’m not very concerned by any other Falcons defenders. Daniel Jones has developed into one of the best QBs in the league in my opinion, and Sterling Shepherd and Saquon Barkley will help him out. The Falcons will have immense trouble against that Giants d-line, so Calvin Ridley’s prowess at receiver could be for nothing. I think the Giants win by aleast one touchdown even without Engram and Golloday, but not by enough to consider the -2.5 handicap bet.

Dolphins at Raiders

Raiders QB Derek Carr will face a fair bit of interior pressure from Christian Wilkins and Zach Sieler, and his usually effective passing options in Hunter Renfrow, Darren Waller and Henry Ruggs could be neutralized by the ‘Phins Xavien Howard, Byron Jones and Jerome Baker. The Dolphins will start the decent Jacoby Brissett at QB, and while he won’t have much time to throw, Jaylen Waddle, Devante Parker and Albert Wilson can still get open and make yards after the catch. Neither team will have a great running game, and both team’s kickers are excellent, making this game too close to call, although I think the Raiders have a slight edge in my view.

Jets at Broncos

The Broncos o-line is improved enough (shout out Bobby Massie!) to negate the Jets’ quality defensive line, and have the weapons (Fant, Sutton) and quarterback to consistently beat the Jets’ bad secondary. The Jets will struggle to get things going against studs in Shelby Harris and Von Miller up front, while Justin Simmons and Kyle Fuller could have a field day picking off errant Zach Wilson throws. I think the -10.5 Broncos bet is a safe one.

Bucs at Rams

This will be a great battle in the trenches as it’s the Bucs great o-line vs the Rams’ great defensive tackles. The Rams’ Aaron Donald, Sebastian Joseph-Day and Greg Gaines are good enough to get a solid amount of pressure, and Brady is not nimble enough any more to escape that. Tight end Rob Gronkowski will still get open a lot, but the Rams’ Jalen Ramsey and David Long will likely do a lot to shut down Brady’s other receivers. The Stafford-Kupp duo is one that could expose the Bucs secondary, but Shaq Barrett will probably be in the former’s face a lot, while the Bucs quality linebacker duo will help stop the run game and any short passes. This, combined with the superb Ryan Succop being far superior to the Rams’ Matt Gay at kicker, means the Bucs will win by around a touchdown, in my view, making an outright bet on them pretty safe but the -1.5 handicap on them less so.  

Seahawks at Vikings

I don’t think the Vikings have any impact players defensively with Anthony Barr out and Sheldon Richardson and Stephen Weatherly getting limited snaps, so Russell Wilson will likely have a big day. He’ll be protected on his right side by the elite tackle Jamarco Jones, who is stepping in for Brandon Shell. Gerald Everett and Chris Carson will also have good games, I think. Kirk Cousins will have time to throw, but Bobby Wagner and Jamal Adams are good enough to stop the short stuff, while DJ Reed is a strong young corner. Running back Dalvin Cook’s potential absence would make the Vikings offense splutter. They’ll have great field position and a very low risk of a blocked punt with their Jordan Berry pickup, but Jason Myers has the edge over the Vikings’ Greg Joseph at kicker. I think the Seahawks will win by atleast two touchdowns, making the -2.5 handicap bet a good one.  

Packers at Niners

I think the Niners have too much talent to drop this one, with Jaquiski Tartt and Jimmie Ward likely to help stop big passing plays, which the much-depleted quarterback Aaron Rodgers might struggle to make with that bad o-line protecting him. Niners LB Fred Warner will help in stopping the quality running play of Aaron Jones, while the Packers will lack the talent to stop the amazing receiving threats of George Kittle and Deebo Samuel. I think the Niners will win this by atleast 13, so the -3 handicap bet is pretty safe IMO.

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