Ah, Saturday morning writing. I’m going to down an abbreviated version of all games, because it’s Saturday and honestly who cares. Let’s get into it:
Arizona Cardinals @ Seattle Seahawks
Vegas: SEA -13.5
DomModel: SEA -17.615
Recommendation: SEA -13.5
-WR Christian Kirk (foot) was injured week 13. He is on IR.
-TE Ricky Seals-Jones (shoulder) is OUT for week 17.
-LG Mike Iupati (knee) was injured week 13. He is on IR.
-LT D.J. Humphries (knee) was INACTIVE weeks 11 – 13. He was placed on IR 12/5.
-DE Markus Golden (ankle) was INACTIVE week 16. He is QUESTIONABLE after not practicing all week.
-DE Benson Mayowa (neck/back) is QUESTIONABLE after not practicing all week.
-WR Doug Baldwin (shoulder) will play.
-TE Will Dissly (knee) is out for the season after injuring it week 4.
-RB Rashaad Penny (knee) was INACTIVE weeks 15 and 16. He is officially QUESTIONABLE, but practiced in full all week.
-RT Germain Ifedi (groin) was INACTIVE week 16. He will return week 17.
-S Earl Thomas (leg) is out for the season after injuring it week 4.
-S Tedric Thompson (chest/ankle) was INACTIVE week 16. He is QUESTIONABLE after being limited Wednesday, not practicing Thursday, and being limited on Friday.
This is a tricky one, both because of the large spread and the fact that Seattle’s motivation is questionable. The Seahawks already clinched a playoff birth, and are guaranteed to be either the 5th or 6th seed. If Seattle ends up being the 5th seed, they’ll travel to Dallas. If they’re the 6th seed, they’ll most likely end up traveling to Chicago, but there’s a small chance they’d end up in Los Angeles. For me, the tip off that they’re going all out or not is WR Doug Baldwin. Baldwin is 30 years old, their top receiver, and battling a shoulder injury. If Seattle was going to let up, Baldwin wouldn’t be playing.
He is playing, and so are we.
If you’re skeptical, I get it. Pete Carroll is a crazy psychopath 9/11 truther/wildcard who could end up doing anything. We’re personally choosing to follow the information, rather than coach-speak.
The other interesting piece is the Cardinals, who are currently in position to get the number 1 pick. Winning could potentially fuck that up, and we wouldn’t want that, would we?
Onto the game. On offense, the weakness for the Seahawks has been their offensive line. However, the Cardinals have virtually zero pass rush outside of Chandler Jones (41 pressures/11 sacks). Their next two most productive pass rushers, Benson Mayowa and Marcus Golden, are both highly questionable after not practicing all week. The lack of o-line also hasn’t been an issue for RB Chris Carson, who is up over 1,000 yards averaging 4.5 yards per attempt, and the Cardinals are 27th in run defense DVOA.
If the Cardinals “pass rush” can’t get there, Russell Wilson has a cool 122.4 QB rating (per PFF) when kept clean, which is good for 3rd in the league. Regardless of the situation, Wilson is having another stellar year. He’s up to 3,296 yards while completing 66% of his passes with 34 TDs and 6 INTs. If you’re unaware how numbers work, those are good numbers. His two favorite receivers are slot man Doug Baldwin and deep threat Tyler Lockett. For Lockett, we should expect him to be shadowed by perpetual pro bowler CB Patrick Peterson, who is having another monster year. The Cardinals don’t really have a #2 corner, but do feature two solid safeties in Tre Boston and Antoine Bethea. The Seahawks passing attack is 4th in DVOA, where the Cardinals are 11th defending the pass.
On the other side of the ball, the Cardinals offense is the literal worst in a league that also contains the Buffalo Bills. They have the worst offensive line in the NFL, a rookie QB over his head, and virtually zero receiving threat outside of ageless wonder/all around good guy Larry Fitzgerald. On the ground, David Johnson is a supreme talent, but running backs can’t do it all by themselves in 2018. On defense, the Seahawks have playmakers all over the field, but also have a ton of weak spots. Essentially, you have pass rushers (Frank Clark, 58 pressures/12 sacks on the outside; Jarran Reed, 47 pressures, 9 sacks on the inside), linebackers (Bobby Wager, top 2 linebacker in football), interior run defenders (Poona Ford), and a halfway decent safety (Bradley McDougald). Everyone else kinda sucks.
TL:DR Conclusion: In a game where we project the Seahawks to go all out, they shouldn’t have a problem on either side of the ball.
Chicago Bears @ Minnesota Vikings
Vegas: MIN -4.5
DomModel: MIN -1.592
Recommendation: CHI +4.5
-WR Allen Robinson II (ribs) is DOUBTFUL for week 17.
-RG Kyle Long (foot) was injured week 8. He is on IR.
-DE Aaron Lynch (elbow) was injured week 15. He was INACTIVE week 16.
He is DOUBTFUL week 17.
-LB Sam Acho (pectoral) was injured during his week 4 game and is on season ending IR.
-S Eddie Jackson (ankle) was injured week 15. He was INACTIVE week 16. He is DOUBTFUL week 17.
-LG Tom Compton (shoulder) is QUESTIONABLE week 17 after being limited Thursday and Friday.
-LB Eric Kendricks (hamstring) was INACTIVE week 16. He is OUT week 17.
-CB Mike Hughes (torn ACL) is on IR.
-CB Xavier Rhodes (groin) was injured week 16. He is QUESTIONABLE week 17 after not practicing Wednesday and Thursday. He was limited on Friday.
-CB/Punt Returner Marcus Sherels (foot) was injured week 16. He is OUT week 17.
-S Andrew Sendejo (groin) was injured week 5 and is on IR.
Both teams come into this one with motivation. For the Bears, they can’t finish worse than the 3 seed, but can move up to 2 if the Rams somehow lose to the 49ers (more on that later). Footballoutsiders gives the Bears just 10% bye equity, but that’s worth playing for. For the Vikings it’s simple, win and you’re in.
The Vikings offense runs through a select few players, constantly making up for the suck that surrounds them. The suck includes the entire offensive line, and any receiver not named Adam Thielen or Stefon Diggs. Kirk Cousins is over 4,000 yards while completing 70% of his passes. Thielen started off the year red hot, breaking an NFL record by recording 8 straight 100 yard receiving games. That said, he’s averaging just 49.25 yards over his last 4 games. Meanwhile, Diggs is averaging 46 yards over his last 4. On the ground, Dalvin Cook is back to his workhorse status, and is playing well doing it. The test that the Vikings have is the hardest in football – the Bears have the best defense in football by any metric worth paying attention to. If you’re looking to exploit a weakness, don’t bother trying — they get to the QB, they tackle, they cover, and stop the run at elite levels.
Not that things will be easy for the Bears, who kinda blow at putting points on the board. The Bears simply don’t trust QB Mitch Tribusky – his 469 total dropbacks ranks 20th in the league this year. He’s a game manager who takes what’s given to him – completing 66% of his passes with 24 TDs and 12 picks. He’ll also be without top receiver Allen Robinson, making WR Taylor Gabriel, RB Tarik Cohen, and TE Trey Burton the next men up. On the ground, it isn’t much prettier — RB Jordan Howard has gained just 3.6 yard per attempt this year. Meanwhile, the Vikings defense is no joke. They rank 3rd in weighted DVOA – which emphasizes more recent games over games earlier in the year. Much like Chicago, they don’t have much of a weakness — though their secondary could be an issue if CB Xavier Rhodes can’t play, especially considering CB Marcus Sherels has already been ruled out.
TL;DR Conclusion: Expect a low scoring game, and take the god damn Bears with the points.
San Francisco 49ers @ Los Angeles Rams
Vegas: LAR -10
DomModel: LAR -13.246
Recommendation: LAR -10
San Francisco 49ers:
-QB Jimmy Garoppolo tore his ACL. He’s out for the season.
-WR Pierre Garcon (knee) was placed on IR 12/10.
-WR Dante Pettis (sprained MCL) was injured week 16 and is on IR.
-WR Marquise Goodwin (calf) is OUT for week 17.
-RB Matt Breida (ankle) injured his ankle for the final time week 16. He is on IR.
-LB Rueben Foster (jail) has been released by the 49ers.
-CB Ahkello Witherspoon (knee) was injured week 15 and is on IR.
-FS/CB Jimmie Ward (broken forearm) was injured week 12. He is on IR.
-FS Adrian Colbert (high ankle sprain) was injured week 7 and is on IR (effective 10/22).
-S Jaquiski Tartt (shoulder) was injured week 14. He is on IR.
Los Angeles Rams:
-WR Cooper Kupp (torn ACL) was injured week 10 and is on IR.
-RB Todd Gurley (knee) was injured week 15. He was INACTIVE week 16. He is OUT week 17.
-RB Malcolm Brown (shoulder) was injured week 13 and is on IR.
The motivation for this one is simple – the 49ers are drawing dead, and are a likely candidate for a top 5 pick. The Rams need to win to maintain the 2 seed and therefore get a bye.
The 49ers offense is a fucking mess. Meanwhile, the ruthless model loves to pick on them – constantly favoring whatever team San Francisco is playing. In defense of the model, the 49ers are extremely pick-on-able. This poor team lost their starting running back (Jerrick Mckinnon) before the season started, then lost their QB (Jimmy Garoppolo) that they just handed an actual truck load of money to. They’re also without their starting RB (Matt Brieda) and a slew of wide receivers (Dante Pettis, Piere Garcon, Marquise Goodwin). That leaves Kendrick Bourne (2017 UDFA) and Trent Taylor (2017 5th round) as their top two options at wide receiver. Jeff Wilson (rookie UDFA) will be the workhorse running back, with 2017 UDFA Nick Mulles at QB playing behind a mediocre offensive line. That’s how bad it is. The one and only bright spot is TE George Kittle, who is just 99 yards away from tying Rob Gronkowski’s receiving record for a tight end. The Rams defense is rather interesting – they rank 8th in DVOA against the pass and 29th against the run. The problem with exploiting a bad run defense is you have to jump out to a lead to truly do it – and that’s just not going to happen. If you’re watching this game, just find Aaron Donald on the defensive line and appear to be amazed. They need to invent a more advanced league for Donald to play in. It simply isn’t fair.
On the other side of the ball, the Rams offense is one of the best in football. Yes, I’m aware they will be without Todd Gurley, and yes, I know how ridiculous his stats are. Last week, the Rams signed CJ Anderson fresh off the street and he went off for 167 yards and a TD. The Rams perpetually play in “11” personnel (1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR), which leads to nickel and dime defenses (5 or 6 DBs). That means whoever is running the ball for the Rams is running against light boxes behind an elite offensive line. I’m not trying to say that anybody could be successful in that spot, but anybody could be successful in that spot.
Through the air, Jared Goff’s home/road splits stuck out to me – he has a 115 passer rating at home and an 82.7 rating on the road. He frequently targets Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks, who are both over 1,000 yards on the season. The Rams are 3rd in offensive DVOA (5th pass, 1st run). They are very good, okay? And they don’t have a challenge at all – the 49ers defense is the worst in the league according to PFF grades, and 23rd according to DVOA. They have zero pass rush outside of DeForest Buckner, and can’t cover outside of Richard Sherman. They’re okay against the run (13th in DVOA), but that doesn’t matter when Jared Goff is out there making it rain pigskins.
TL;DR Conclusion: They cannot make a spread big enough for this game.
That’s it for now, bitches! If you read this entire thing Dom will venmo you $50.