New members: Every Thursday morning, we send out the Angles email — in which we take a critical, “overview” look at the slate ahead.
Total Main Slate Games: 10
This deep into the season, this has the feel of a throwback slate: Week 14; only 10 games on the Main Slate.
With the 18-week NFL season, the final week of byes is now Week 14 (it used to be Week 13) — and with the NFL giving us a three-game Saturday slate next week (Week 15) and a three-game slate on Christmas day (Week 16), this isn’t even our final 10-game slate of the season. But at a point in the season when we are conditioned to seeing an overflow of available options and teams, we instead have a slate that offers us a total number of games on the lower end of what we’ve seen over the last couple months.
Teams missing from this Main Slate include the Saints, Colts, Packers, Bears, Patriots, Cardinals, Raiders, Chargers, and Dolphins — which means a LOT of “top running backs” absent :: Alvin Kamara // Jonathan Taylor // Aaron Jones // David Montgomery // Rhamondre Stevenson // Josh Jacobs // Austin Ekeler. Additionally, we are missing Davante Adams, the dual-threat upside of Justin Fields, the marquee names on the Cardinals’ offense, and the fully-stocked passing attacks of the Chargers and Dolphins.
Add it all together, and with all the premium names missing, this already-small slate has the feeling of an even smaller slate — a feeling that is compounded once we look at some of the matchups the “top available offenses” are facing:
The Bills are implied to score 26.75 at home against the Jets, and they can certainly get there; but in terms of “offensive upside,” this is one of the tougher matchups on the Bills’ schedule, making it less likely that they soar past this implied total for a “had to have it” score.
The Chiefs are implied to score 26.0 on the road against the Broncos, and they can certainly get there; but in terms of “offensive upside,” this is one of the tougher matchups on the Chiefs’ schedule, making it less likely that they soar past this implied total for a “had to have it” score.
The Cowboys are in a smash spot at home against the Texans (favored by 16.0!; implied to score 30.75!), but as we’ve been hammering all year: Mike McCarthy has made it clear since summer that he sees the Cowboys’ defense as their identity, and that — much like Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco — he feels confident that the Cowboys should call their offensive game plan accordingly: taking control of games, dominating on the ground, and forcing the opponent to become one-dimensional against the lethal Dallas pass rush. McCarthy has been good to his word, limiting pass volume in games the Cowboys control — which essentially leaves us with the Cowboys’ split backfield as the clearest source of upside in this game.
Similarly, the Eagles are in a matchup they are capable of controlling…but as we’ve been on top of throughout the season: this is an adaptable offense; and against a beatable Giants run defense, it’s reasonable to expect the Eagles to lean on the ground game, again limiting the scope of upside we can target from a potentially high-scoring Week 14 offense.