Houston @ Chicago
Wager: CHI +1.5
Sizing: 1 unit
Spread watching: The line is sticking at 1.5.
Game breakdown: The Texans on offense are 9th in DVOA and 7th in EPA/play, and to figure out why you don’t need to look any further than the QB. Deshaun Watson is now 3rd in the NFL in PFF passing grades — he’s completing 68.8% of his passes and gaining 8.8 yards per attempt. Watson has to be on his game at all times since he lost Will Fuller to a suspension ahead of week 13, leaving Brandin Cooks as the only solid receiver. The offensive line — outside of LT Laremy Tunsil — is also a weak spot. The good news for our bet is the Bears have a really solid defense, ranking 8th in DVOA and 10th in EPA/play. I’m expecting Khalil Mack to wreak havoc on the Texans offensive line. On the other side of the ball, I have nothing nice to say about either side. Except Allen Robinson. He’s cool and deserves better than Mitch Tribusky.
Denver @ Carolina
Wager: CAR -3.5
Sizing: 1 unit
Spread watching: The line moved up to 4. Nothing major here. I’d still throw a unit at it.
Game breakdown: In a league where the Jets exist, the Broncos offense is dead last in offensive DVOA. The offensive line has it’s weaknesses, but Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, and Noah Fant are solid receiving options. Their issue is the QB — which, I guess they actually have a real one for this game, but it’s still an issue. Among 40 qualifiers, Drew Lock is 35th in PFF passing grades. He’s only completing 55.4% of his passes and gaining 6.5 yards per attempt, and has more INTs (13) then TDs (9). The Panthers on defense are anything but solid — they’re 25th in DVOA and 23rd in EPA/play, but football is all about quarterback play. The Panthers do have an underrated pass rush, which ranks 12th in PFF grades and is lead by Brian Burns, who is now up to 8th in the NFL with 46 pressures.
The Panthers offense is at 10th in DVOA and 12th in EPA/play. Teddy Bridgewater is having a meh season — he’s 30th in PFF grades. He’ll also be without DJ Moore (COVID-19) and Christian McCaffrey (calf). McCaffrey looked good to return this week, but he’s going to miss again after getting injured in practice. Robby Anderson, Curtis Samuel, and Mike Davis should get the bulk of the work. It should be a solid matchup against a Broncos defense that is similarly ranked at 10th in DVOA and 9th in EPA/play. They’re a defense without any true weaknesses — they’re grading well in pass rush, run defense, and coverage.