Green Bay @ Houston
Recommended Wager: HOU +3.5
Green Bay Packers: (Week 5 bye)
-LT David Bakhtiari (shoulder) was injured week 6, but the team is optimistic that the injury is minor.
-CB Kevin King (quadriceps) was injured week 4 and INACTIVE week 6. He did get in a late week limited session ahead of week 6.
IR: WR Allen Lazard (core), WR Devin Funchess (opt out), TE Joslah Deguara (ACL – season ending), RG Lane Taylor (knee), LB Christian Kirksey (shoulder)
Houston Texans: (Week 8 bye)
-TE Jordan Atkins (ankle/concussion) was INACTIVE weeks 5 and 6. He was questionable/limited ahead of both weeks, a sign that he should be close to returning.
IR: LB Benardrick McKinney (shoulder), CB Gareon Conley (ankle)
Spread watching: The line opened at 3.5 and has stayed there. With 3 being a key number, it’s going to take a lot to move the line. For us, we’re happy to be on the correct side of 3.
Matchup breakdown: The Packers offense is the strength of the team. Aaron Rodgers started off the year red hot before finally coming down to earth against the Bucs. Rodgers had a fairly easy schedule of defenses the first four weeks (Minnesota > Detroit > New Orleans > Atlanta), before running into a dominant Bucs defense, but I’m still apt to trust his PFF grade of 92.6. The guy is good at football, ok? The issues with the Packers is they still lack a solid option behind DeVante Adams. The best receiving weapon behind Adams is their running back, Aaron Jones. Their offensive line is solid, but they’re much stronger on the left side (David Bakhtiarai and Elgton Jenkins) than the right (Lucas Patrick and Billy Turner). Their defense is awful – ranking 29th in DVOA and 25th in EPA/play. I’ll call out Jaire Alexander, who has PFF’s best grade of all corners. I won’t call anyone else out, because I’m a nice guy.
The Texans offense is 8th in DVOA and 11th in EPA/play. Deshaun Watson is again one the more efficient QBs in the league — he’s completing 68.5% of his passes and gaining 8.9 yards per attempt. Historically speaking, the Texans have had issues due to a combination of their poor offensive line and Watson’s insistence on holding onto the ball for longer than it takes me to order my Dunkin Donuts coffee, but those days are behind us. Watson is averaging a more reasonable 2.61 seconds to throw, and the Texans offensive line has PFFs 4th highest pass blocking grade. Will Fuller (42 targets) and Brandin Cooks (39) are a solid 1-2 punch who can stretch the field, something that plays well with Watson’s style, but also invites some variance into the offense. The ground attack features David Johnson, who’s averaging 4.0 yards per attempt and is a capable pass catcher as well. The defense is utterly dreadful – they rank 27th in DVOA and dead last in EPA/play. JJ Watt has had an up and down season by his impossibly high standards, but still leads the way with a respectable 21 pressures. PJ Hall is a decent enough run stuffing tackle, and Bradley Roby is playing solid corner. I have nothing nice to say about anybody else.
Cleveland @ Cincinnati
Recommended Wager: CIN +3.5
Cleveland Browns: (Week 9 bye)
-RG Wyatt Teller (calf) was injured week 5 and INACTIVE week 6 after not practicing all week.
-S Karl Joseph (hamstring) was INACTIVE weeks 5 and 6. He did not practice ahead of week 6.
-S Ronnie Harrison Jr. (concussion) was INACTIVE week 6 after not practicing all week. Harrison is Joseph’s back up.
IR: WR KhaDarel Hodge (hamstring), TE David Njoku (knee), RB Nick Chubb (sprained MCL), DT Andrew Billings (opt out), CB Greedy Williams (shoulder), K JoJo Natson (ACL – season ending)
Cincinnati Bengals: (Week 9 bye)
IR: TE CJ Uzomah (Achilles – Season Ending), RG Xavier Su’a-Filo (ankle), DT Josh Tupou (opt out), DT D.J. Reader (quad – season ending), DE Sam Hubbard (elbow), CB Trae Waynes (pectoral)
Spread watching: The line opened at 4.5 and quickly fell to 3.5, where it remains. Similar to the above game, we probably won’t see it move further than 3.5 since 3 is a key number.
The Bengals offense is 27th in both DVOA and EPA/play. Joe Burrow is going to be a solid quarterback in this league, but he’s still a rookie and plays behind an offensive line that I wouldn’t trust to protect my house. The weapons aren’t bad, though — Tyler Boyd is a consistently open slot receiver, and Tee Higgins is having a decent enough rookie season. AJ Green got off to a rough start, but his last game he hauled in 8 catches on 11 targets for 96 yards. More of that, please.
The defense is 18th in both DVOA and EPA/play. They have a decent enough pass rush between Carl Lawson (22 pressures), Sam Hubbard (15 pressures), and Carlos Dunlap (13), but Hubbard missed last weeks game with an elbow injury and has since been moved to IR. William Jackson has been a respectable corner and Jessie Bates has quietly been one of the best safeties in football, but they struggle at every other position.
The Browns on offense are at 23rd in both EPA/play and DVOA. Baker Mayfield is the piece that is holding everything back, but since he’s the god damn quarterback that’s a fairly big deal. He’s completing 60.6% of his passes and only gaining 6.4 yards per attempt. His PFF passing grade of 57.3 puts him at 26th in the league. There’s simply zero other issues on the offense — Odell Beckham Jr, Jarvis Landry, and Austin Hooper are all solid receivers. Kareem Hunt is an excellent running back. The offensive line excels in both pass protection and run blocking. But when the QB is bad, the offense is bad.
The defense is 20th in DVOA, but a more respectable 15th in EPA/play. Their pass rush is lead by a dominant Myles Garrett, who is now up to 34 pressures on the season. Sheldon Richardson (13) and Olivier Vernon (10 in 4 games) will also occasionally chip in. Their linebackers struggle across the board, and the corners are all replaceable, save for Denzel Ward.
I really didn’t think I’d say this at the beginning of the season, but Joe Burrow is the better quarterback at home getting 3.5 points. Sign me up.