Happy Wednesday! (And happy holidays!)
New members: Every week (typically Thursday morning; Wednesday morning this week) we send out the Angles email — in which we take a critical, “overview” look at the slate ahead.
Total Main Slate Games: 10
Once again, we have a “deeper into the season” weekend (post-byes; all 32 teams playing) with only 10 games on the Main Slate, as the NFL has wisely moved most of this week’s games to Saturday to account for Christmas falling on a Sunday. With a Thursday night game, a Saturday night game, a Monday night game, and three games on Sunday, we are dealing with one of the smaller slates we have had all season.
A handful of marquee names are missing from this slate, with the ascendant Jags offense playing Garrett Wilson and the Jets on Thursday night, the concentrated Raiders playing Saturday night, the high-powered/concentrated Dolphins playing on Sunday, the disappointing (but still packed with name-value) Bucs playing Sunday night, and the “not as good on offense as everyone wants them to be” Chargers playing on Monday night. Still, however, this leaves us with a Main Slate that includes the Ravens in Lamar Jackson’s expected return, the Lions on the road against the Panthers, Josh Allen and the Bills taking on Justin Fields and the Bears, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs playing at home against the attackable defense of the Seahawks, Justin Jefferson and friends facing the attackable Giants, Joe Burrow and his elite weapons taking on the man-heavy coverage scheme and aggressive tendencies of the Patriots, Derrick Henry against the Houston Texans, Brock Purdy and his stable of explosive 49ers weapons against the Commanders, and the likely Minshew-led Eagles taking on the Cowboys. With a decade of NFL Main Slates in the memory bank, this looks — comparatively — like an “ugly slate”; but when we consider some of the slates we’ve been given this season, this slate actually appears to be more full of viable options than what we’ve typically been seeing.
At the quarterback position, we not only have Mahomes in a likely high-scoring spot and Josh Allen — assuming the weather on Saturday cooperates — taking on an attackable Bears defense, but we also have Lamar Jackson vs the Falcons, Jared Goff vs the Panthers, Kirk Cousins vs the Giants, Joe Burrow vs the Patriots, and (depending on your imagination and risk tolerance) Deshaun Watson against the Saints and Gardner Minshew against the Cowboys.
At the running back position, we have the monster role of Christian McCaffrey, the focal-point usage of Derrick Henry in a pristine matchup vs the Texans, and a slew of other high-priced running backs capable of scoring at the same level as these two (Nick Chubb, Alvin Kamara, Saquon Barkley, Dalvin Cook, Rhamondre Stevenson, Joe Mixon, Tony Pollard, Miles Sanders, Kenneth Walker), in addition to some cheaper guys with high, price-considered ceilings (J.K. Dobbins, D’Andre Swift, David Montgomery, Jerick McKinnon).