NFL Picks: Week 14 Review, QB Injuries and Early Look at Week 15

Week 14 set up to be a NFL slate with a lot of value and I was able to go 3-0 on the week with wins on the Falcons, Chiefs and Eagles. Improved to 21-12-1 on the season with the sweep.

The main takeaway from the week was the importance of look ahead lines. The Falcons, Panthers, Broncos and Eagles were all favorites before the Week 13 results. All four were then instilled as underdogs at some point before Week 14. All four teams ended up covering the closing number and winning straight up. I have been preaching all season to take advantage of these look ahead numbers to help find line value. Here’s an early look at the numbers for Week 15: Continue reading

NFL Picks: Week 14 Power Ratings, Cheat Sheet and Handicapping Preview

Two charts for this week and a preview of the 14 games that currently have a line as of Wednesday afternoon. Check out @SharpestSquares on Twitter for picks I make official.

Team After Week 12 After Week 13
Patriots 14 14.5
Eagles 14 13
Vikings 10.5 11.5
Rams 10.5 11
Saints 10 11
Steelers 11 10
Falcons 10.5 9.5
Chargers 9 9
Jaguars 8 8.5
Panthers 9 8
Seahawks 7.5 8
Redskins 7.5 7
Cowboys 6 7
Chiefs 7 6.5
Ravens 6 6.5
Titans 6 5.5
Raiders 5 5.5
Bengals 5.5 5
Lions 5.5 4.5
Bills 4.5 3.5
Jets 3 3.5
Buccaneers 3 3
Cardinals 3 2.5
Packers 2 2
49ers 1 2
Texans 1.5 1.5
Dolphins 1 1.5
Bears 2 1
Broncos 2 1
Colts 0.5 0
Giants -2 -2
Browns -2 -2
Game Look ahead line Wednesday line My line
Saints at Falcons Falcons -3 Saints -1.5 Falcons -1.5
Lions at Buccaneers No line No line Buccaneers -0.5
Bears at Bengals Bengals -6.5 Bengals -6 Bengals -6
Colts at Bills Bills -7 No line Bills -6
Seahawks at Jaguars Jaguars -3 Jaguars -2.5 Jaguars -2.5
Raiders at Chiefs` Chiefs -6 Chiefs -4 Chiefs -4
Vikings at Panthers Panthers -2.5 Vikings -3 Vikings -1
Packers at Browns Packers -3.5 Packers -3 Packers -2
49ers at Texans Texans -5.5 Texans -3 Texans -1.5
Redskins at Chargers Chargers -5.5 Chargers -6 Chargers -3
Jets at Broncos Broncos -3 Jets -1.5 Pick ’em
Titans at Cardinals Titans -3 Titans -3 Titans -1
Eagles at Rams Eagles -3 Rams -2.5 Pick ’em
Cowboys at Giants Cowboys -3.5 Cowboys -4 Cowboys -7.5
Ravens at Steelers Steelers -7.5 Steelers -5 Steelers -6
Patriots at Dolphins Patriots -11.5 Patriots -11 Patriots -11.5

Analysis

Saints -1.5 at Falcons

We have a 4.5-point line move between the look ahead and current number for a massive NFC South battle between the Saints and Falcons. The Saints crushed the Panthers and the Falcons fell to the Vikings at home in Week 13. Despite the result from the two games I don’t think the drastic line move was warranted. I expected the Saints to play well against an overvalued Panthers team and the Falcons ran into one of the best teams in the NFL. While I think the Saints are also one of the top teams in the NFL, I expect the Falcons to bounce back on the short week at home. I think the wrong team is the favorite here.

Bengals -6 vs Bears

This game is probably the least favorable scheduling spot and situation for the Bengals. It was always going to be a tall task for the Bengals to play well six days after playing their most hated rival in primetime. A Sunday afternoon game against an out of conference opponent would be an expected flat spot. The situation got even worse for the Bengals with how their game played out against the Steelers. Cincinnati squandered a 17-point lead and lost on a last second field goal. The loss pretty much crushed Cincinnati’s playoff chances and it was a very physical game. Unfortunately, it’s hard to confidently fade the Bengals here because of how poorly the Bears have played since their bye week. They have been 0-4 in that stretch and it’s almost a certainty that John Fox won’t be back in Chicago next season. I’m going to pass this game but would take the Bears if I needed to pick a side. Continue reading

NFL Picks: Week 13 Picks, Leans and Preview

Picks

Falcons -3 vs Vikings: I have these teams even in my power ratings so I think the spread is right. I side with the Falcons though who really need this game to maintain their position in the playoff race and stay within striking distance of the Saints for the NFC South. The Vikings put a stranglehold on the NFC North with their win on Thanksgiving Day so this isn’t as important of a game for Minnesota. My only concerns are that the Vikings had more rest and time to prepare for this game, and the Falcons host the Saints on Thursday in Week 14. If you agree with the Falcons, I would wait a little bit to see if this goes down to -2.5 or you could just take the moneyline at around -145.

Seahawks +6 vs Eagles: It’s scary to step in front of the Eagles but this line is too inflated. If this game was on a neutral field, I think that the line would be around six. This game is in Seattle and they have one of the best home field advantages despite their team being down. The game is also at night so the crowd should be even louder. Along with the line value, I like the Seahawks as an underdog in a game they need to win.

Leans

Lions +3 vs Ravens: I think the line is right but the Lions have an edge with 10 days to prepare for this game and the Ravens coming off a Monday night game. Baltimore’s offense won’t be able to expose Detroit’s struggling defense and Matthew Stafford is much better than most of the quarterbacks the Ravens have faced. Continue reading

NFL Picks: Week 13 Power Ratings and Cheat Sheet

Here are the two charts for this week:

Team After Week 11 After Week 12
Eagles 13 14
Patriots 13 14
Steelers 11.5 11
Rams 10 10.5
Vikings 10 10.5
Falcons 9.5 10.5
Saints 10 10
Panthers 9.5 9
Chargers 8 9
Jaguars 9 8
Seahawks 7.5 7.5
Redskins 7 7.5
Chiefs 8 7
Cowboys 7.5 6
Titans 6 6
Ravens 6 6
Lions 6.5 5.5
Bengals 5.5 5.5
Raiders 5.5 5
Bills 4 4.5
Buccaneers 3.5 3
Jets 3 3
Cardinals 2.5 3
Bears 3 2
Broncos 2.5 2
Packers 1.5 2
Texans 1.5 1.5
Dolphins 2 1
49ers 1 1
Colts 1 0.5
Giants 0 -2
Browns -1 -2
Game Look ahead line Wednesday line My line
Redskins at Cowboys Cowboys -3 Redskins -2 Cowboys -0.5
Lions at Ravens Ravens -2.5 Ravens -3 Ravens -3
49ers at Bears Bears -5.5 Bears -3 Bears -3
Vikings at Falcons Falcons -3 Falcons -3 Falcons -3
Patriots at Bills Patriots -10 Patriots -9 Patriots -7
Broncos at Dolphins Broncos -1.5 Broncos -1.5 Dolphins -0.5
Texans at Titans Titans -7 Titans -6.5 Titans -6.5
Colts at Jaguars Jaguars -9.5 Jaguars -9.5 Jaguars -9.5
Buccaneers at Packers Buccaneers -2.5 Buccaneers -1.5 Packers -1.5
Chiefs at Jets Chiefs -6 Chiefs -3 Chiefs -2
Panthers at Saints Saints -3.5 Saints -4.5 Saints -4
Browns at Chargers Chargers -10.5 Chargers -13.5 Chargers -12
Rams at Cardinals Rams -6 Rams -7 Rams -5.5
Giants at Raiders Raiders -7 Raiders -9 Raiders -9.5
Eagles at Seahawks Eagles -6 Eagles -6 Eagles -3
Steelers at Bengals Steelers -7 Steelers -5.5 Steelers -3.5

NFL Picks: Week 12 Power Ratings and Cheat Sheet

Want to get the charts out early this week with three games on Thanksgiving.

Earlier in the week I separated my power ratings by AFC only and NFC only, and wrote about the playoff races in each conference.

I will tweet out any picks that I like this week. Currently there are nine favorites of a touchdown or more, including three that are 13.5 or more. Because of that it will probably be a light week with the amount of picks I make.

At first glance, the sides that stuck out and interested me were Bills (if Taylor starts), Buccaneers, Colts and Saints.

Team After Week 10 After Week 11
Eagles 12 13
Patriots 12 13
Steelers 11 11.5
Saints 11 10
Rams 10.5 10
Vikings 9.5 10
Panthers 9.5 9.5
Falcons 9 9.5
Jaguars 9 9
Chiefs 10.5 8
Chargers 7.5 8
Seahawks 9 7.5
Cowboys 8.5 7.5
Redskins 7 7
Lions 6.5 6.5
Titans 7 6
Raiders 6.5 5.5
Ravens 5.5 6
Bengals 5 5.5
Bills 5 4
Buccaneers 3 3.5
Bears 3.5 3
Jets 3 3
Broncos 3 2.5
Cardinals 3 2.5
Dolphins 2.5 2
Packers 2.5 1.5
Texans 1 1.5
Colts 1 1
49ers 1 1
Giants -1 0
Browns -1 -1
Game Look ahead line Wednesday line My line
Vikings at Lions Lions -1.5 Vikings -3 Vikings -1
Chargers at Cowboys Cowboys -4 Pick ’em Cowboys -1.5
Giants at Redskins Redskins -8.5 Redskins -7 Redskins -9
Browns at Bengals Bengals -8 Bengals -8 Bengals -8.5
Bears at Eagles Eagles -11.5 Eagles -13.5 Eagles -11.5
Dolphins at Patriots Patriots -14.5 Patriots -16.5 Patriots -14.5
Bills at Chiefs Chiefs -7.5 Chiefs -10 Chiefs -7
Buccaneers at Falcons Falcons -9 Falcons -10 Falcons -9
Panthers at Jets Panthers -4 Panthers -4.5 Panthers -4.5
Titans at Colts Titans -6.5 Titans -3.5 Titans -2.5
Seahawks at 49ers Seahawks -8.5 Seahawks -7 Seahawks -5
Saints at Rams Rams -1.5 Rams -2.5 Rams -2
Jaguars at Cardinals Jaguars -3.5 Jaguars -5 Jaguars -4.5
Broncos at Raiders Raiders -6.5 Raiders -5 Raiders -6
Packers at Steelers Steelers -12.5 Steelers -14 Steelers -12.5
Texans at Ravens Ravens -7.5 Ravens -7 Ravens -7

 

Breaking Down the NFC After Week 11

The NFC playoff picture started to take shape after key results in Week 11. The Vikings slowed down the Rams to maintain their lead the NFC North. The Eagles dominated the Cowboys to pretty much wrap up their division and put Dallas’ playoff hopes on life support. The Falcons scored a huge win in Seattle and the banged-up Seahawks look to have a challenging path to even making the postseason. Just like I did with the AFC yesterday, here is how I would rate 16 NFC teams.

Team Power Rating Record
Eagles 13 9-1
Saints 10 8-2
Rams 10 7-3
Vikings 10 8-2
Panthers 9.5 7-3
Falcons 9.5 6-4
Seahawks 7.5 6-4
Cowboys 7.5 5-5
Redskins 7 4-6
Lions 6.5 6-4
Buccaneers 3.5 4-6
Bears 3 3-7
Cardinals 2.5 4-6
Packers 1.5 5-5
49ers 1 1-9
Giants 0 2-8

As you can see the top half of this conference is far better than the top of the AFC. Out of the top eight teams in the whole league, six of them play in the NFC. A playoffs involving the Eagles, Saints, Rams, Vikings, Panthers are Falcons would be extremely fun. I think all six teams have a case to make the Super Bowl, unlike the AFC where I only see two contenders. We’ll get potential playoff previews in the last six weeks of the regular season as many of the top NFC teams still play each other.

The Cowboys and Seahawks were recently in the top part of my power ratings but multiple losses of star players forces me to downgrade both teams. At this point, I would be shocked if Dallas made the playoffs and the Seahawks look like they need to win the NFC West to be playing in January.

The Redskins have two less losses than the Lions but I think that Washington is a better team. The Redskins are coming off a stretch of games where they played the Eagles, Cowboys, Seahawks, Vikings and Saints. They went 1-4 in that stretch but three of those games were on the road, including the win in Seattle. Washington was also without key offensive lineman and their most consistent receivers for part of this brutal stretch. Their playoff hopes have greatly dwindled but I still would make them a favorite on a neutral field over the Lions.

The Lions are not as good as their record indicates but they could find themselves right back in the division race if they beat the Vikings on Thanksgiving. They would own the tiebreaker over Minnesota so it’s a must-win game for Detroit. They are still a team I will look to fade in the last six weeks of the season.

There’s a pretty big drop off between the Lions and the last six teams in my NFC rankings. The Buccaneers, Bears, Cardinals, Packers, 49ers and Giants are all below average. The Packers are 5-5 but are a completely different team when Aaron Rodgers is out. If Rodgers was healthy then the NFC would’ve been even more loaded.

How Bad Is the AFC?

The AFC is bad in 2017. But how bad is it?

To start the Jacksonville Jaguars are the third best team in the conference.

The 4-6 Los Angeles Chargers would only be underdogs against the Patriots, Steelers and Jaguars on a neutral field based off my numbers.

The New York Jets somehow have four wins.

The Texans and Dolphins are power rated by me in the bottom seven of the entire league but are only one game out of a playoff spot.

The Buffalo Bills are right in the middle of the playoff standings despite getting crushed in three straight games.

Below is a chart of my power ratings for just the 16 AFC teams with their record after Week 11:

Team Power Rating Record
Patriots 13 8-2
Steelers 11.5 8-2
Jaguars 9 7-3
Chiefs 8 6-4
Chargers 8 4-6
Titans 6 6-4
Raiders 6 4-6
Ravens 6 5-5
Bengals 5.5 4-6
Bills 4 5-5
Jets 3 4-6
Broncos 2.5 3-7
Dolphins 2 4-6
Texans 1.5 4-6
Colts 1 3-7
Browns -1 0-10

The Patriots and Steelers are two of the top three teams in the entire league. The Jaguars have an edge over the Chiefs and Chargers for third best in the AFC.

To compare it to the NFC, I would install the Eagles, Saints, Rams, Vikings and Panthers as a favorite over the Jaguars on a neutral field. The Falcons and Seahawks play tonight on Monday but they would be right at a pick ’em price against Jacksonville. The Cowboys would’ve also been above the Jaguars before they lost three of their most important players.

Hopefully this helps breakdown the weakness of this conference especially compared to the NFC, which is loaded this season. Here are some comments about all 16 AFC teams:

Patriots: The offense is rolling and the defense has played much better. I would currently have the Patriots as a five-point favorite against the Steelers in a potential AFC Championship Game in Foxboro.

Steelers: The most talented team in the league for me. Their no-show and almost loss to the Colts is typical under Tomlin. Following it up with a onslaught at home against the Titans was also not a surprise. I think Steelers would be a small favorite if they hosted the Patriots right now. The Week 15 game against New England could be huge for home field.

Jaguars: The defense is legit and they really have committed to the run game. But having this team as third best in the conference with Blake Bortles under center seems absurd but it’s perfectly fair.

Chiefs: They have lost four of five games after starting 5-0. Losing off a bye to a Giants team that has seemingly quit is a huge concern. Kansas has become predictable on offense and the defense is overmatched against superior teams. Looks like they’ll win one playoff game at best.

Chargers: So many painful losses but this team is starting to show how talented I thought they would be. Really good pass rush and cornerbacks. The offense is full of weapons but they can’t win close games. The timing of playing the Cowboys this week is optimal so the over 7.5 wins pick is still alive with six games to play. If they could only have the Dolphins and Jaguars games back.

Titans: Thought this team would take the next step this season but it’s hard to see them threatening any of the top teams in the AFC. They were overmatched on Thursday in Pittsburgh. They’re still in a good spot to make the playoffs but I have no interest in betting on them as favorites.

Raiders: Under 9.5 wins looks like the season win total bet of the season as they are 4-6. Still have a shot at the playoffs but this season has proved how lucky they were in 2016.

Ravens: I will make them the favorites to get a playoff spot after the improved to 5-5. The quarterbacks they have beat in their five wins are Andy Dalton, DeShone Kizer, EJ Manuel, Matt Moore and Brett Hundley. They also lost by 37 to the Jaguars and were defeated by Mitch Trubisky in his first career road start. It’s still a below average team but they will likely be favorites in four or five of their last six games.

Bengals: Really disappointing season but they have some life after winning in Denver. Crazy to think they closed as a four-point underdog in Pittsburgh four weeks ago.

Bills: Have to think they go back to Tyrod Taylor. If not you can lower them more in the power ratings. The defense has been horrible too.

Jets: As long as Josh McCown keeps playing, they will have a shot to win some games.

Broncos: I was down on the Broncos going into the season and looked totally wrong after four weeks. Since then they have lost six straight and their offense is unwatchable. Maybe Paxton Lynch will start soon and provide hope for the future.

Dolphins: Still don’t know how this team has won four games, including a huge comeback in Atlanta. America got to see how bad they are when they got three straight national tv games. Everyone knew their 2016 playoff season was fraudulent and I’m not sure they’ll win another game this season.

Texans: If Deshaun Watson is healthy then they might be AFC South favorites and the third best team in the conference. Instead they are the third worst team in the AFC with Tom Savage under center and cluster injuries on the defense.

Colts: Jacoby Brissett has been a pleasant surprise but they need a few good drafts.

Browns: The best 0-10 team ever?