If we take out the game between the Falcons and Seahawks (which is currently without a line as Vegas awaits news on Matt Ryan), there are 11 games on the slate with a vote from Vegas in hand. In eight of those games, the favored team is favored by 5.5 or more. The Over/Under in the remaining games currently sit at 40.0, 43.5, and 46.0. The game with the 46.0 total is Bucs at Titans.
That’s the sort of week this is. Five of the 24 teams on the main slate have a Vegas-implied team total of 28.0 or higher, but all of those teams are expected to win fairly easily, which removes some of our opportunities for a shootout to materialize. (I.e., it’s easy for players in those games to produce, but it’s more difficult for slate-breakers to materialize, as shootouts open multiple additional paths to such scores.) And in the games expected to remain close, none are expected to light up the scoreboard.
How we use that information to our advantage will take form throughout the week as we sort through each game.
Here are some quick-hit, birds-eye thoughts on each game to help us get started ::
Seahawks at Falcons ::
- Russ can light fire to this matchup, and the Falcons run defense is underrated, but the Seahawks won’t unleash Russ unless they have to; if Atlanta can’t score, it may not matter how soft the matchup is
- If Ryan plays and is truly healthy, this becomes the likeliest spot on the slate for a shootout
Buccaneers at Titans ::
- An underrated shootout spot of its own
- Trying to run on the Bucs is like trying to score on the Patriots, and if Tennessee realizes this and begins to pass, they have the pieces for a nice game
- Tough matchup for Jameis, but they’ll remain aggressive, and if anything hits downfield, it could flip a switch on this game
Cardinals at Saints ::
- Potential return of Brees and Kamara; this game has very different looks depending on how injury news shakes out
- There is a chance for the Saints pass rush to overwhelm Kyler, but ownership should plummet after the dud, and the upside remains
Bengals at Rams ::
- Zac Taylor takes on Sean McVay; and right now the protege’s offense is doing nothing well: the line is a mess, they can’t run, they can’t get open, and they can’t catch the ball when they do
- This game sets up perfectly for the Rams to hide Jared Goff and hammer the Bengals on the ground, but the Rams line and run game has looked nothing like last year’s elite unit
Jets at Jaguars ::
- The Jets offense has explosive upside with Darnold under center (we’ve only seen them against strong to elite defenses so far: the Bills, Cowboys, and Patriots), but solid pass rushes can throw a wrench into what Darnold is able to do
- With the Jets filtering opponents to the air and the Jags pass defense not as fearsome as it was the last couple years, this is another sneaky shootout spot…
- Though with these young offenses and strong front sevens, this game could also run off the rails in a hurry
Eagles at Bills ::
- Two of the most adaptable offenses in the NFL; the matchups point the Eagles offense toward the ground and the Bills offense toward the air
- Can Josh Allen be pinpoint enough to take advantage of the disciplined but talent-low Eagles secondary?
Chargers at Bears ::
- Two teams that are falling apart — and so many different ways this game could viably play out
- The pieces for a low-scoring game are obviously in place here, but the pieces for a shootout are quietly in place as well (big play weapons, and offensive-minded coaches willing to use those weapons aggressively if the game develops that way)
Giants at Lions ::
- A great spot for the Lions to ride Ty Johnson, but it’s not outside the realm of realistic possibilities that Matt Patricia dunks on everyone and turns this backfield into some sort of timeshare
- If the Giants can keep this game close, they could force the Lions into another big game through the air; but can the Giants keep this game close?
Raiders at Texans ::
- The Texans are best against rushing attacks and tight ends, and are worst at defending wide receivers — an interesting setup for this Raiders offense that has funneled action through their rushing attack and tight end
- The Raiders continue to slow down the run and get torched through the air; three-wide sets for the Texans this week should feature DeAndre Hopkins, Kenny Stills, and Keke Coutee
Panthers at 49ers ::
- The Panthers will try to move the ball against San Francisco on the ground; the matchup is tough for Christian McCaffrey, but this is a great spot for volume to pile up again
- There is a fairly wide tributary for this game in which it is among the lowest-scoring on the slate, especially as the Panthers filter action to the ground as well, where the 49ers prefer to focus
Browns at Patriots ::
- Players don’t really get “open” against the Patriots, so it is up to a quarterback to be willing to fire the ball into tight windows — something Baker Mayfield is very willing to do; he could make a couple big plays in this one, but there could be some disaster plays as well
- The Browns have been easiest to attack on the ground and in the short areas of the field, which lines up well with how the Patriots prefer to attack
Broncos at Colts ::
- The Colts are strong enough against the run that they may be able to force the Broncos to the air
- Ultimately, of course, neither team in this matchup has any real desire to be aggressive, so most paths to a high-scoring affair get choked off pretty quickly
Packers at Chiefs :: FDraft ::
- Teams have preferred to attack the Chiefs on the ground where they are far softer
- The Packers prefer to run…
- But don’t put it past Rodgers to take some shots if Adams returns
- Andy Reid will have cooked up something (likely run game related) to have his offense humming without Mahomes, and it isn’t a crazy bet to assume a Chiefs running back pops off in this spot
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