Carolina @ Green Bay
Recommended Wager: CAR +8.5
Sizing: 1 unit
Carolina Panthers: (Week 13 bye)
-RB Christina McCaffrey (shoulder/thing) was injured week 9. He was INACTIVE weeks 10 – 14 and is OUT week 15.
-WR DJ Moore (COVID-19) will return week 15.
-WR Curtis Samuel (hamstring) is QUESTIONABLE after showing up on the injury report Thursday as limited.
-LT Russell Okung (calf) is QUESTIONABLE after missing practice on Wednesday/Thursday.
-RG Dennis Daley (concussion) was INACTIVE weeks 12 – 14. He is OUT after getting in limited practices all week.
-DT Zach Kerr (COVID-19) was INACTIVE week 14. He remains on the COVID-19 list and will not play.
IR: LT Greg Little (ankle), DT Kawann Short (shoulder), DE Stephen Weatherly (finger)
Green Bay Packers: (Week 5 bye)
IR: WR Devin Funchess (opt out), C Corey Linsley (knee), TE Joslah Deguara (ACL – season ending), RG Lane Taylor (knee), DT Montravius Adams (toe – season ending), S Raven Greene (shoulder)
Spread watching: The line is sticking at 8.5.
Matchup breakdown: This is one of those bets that makes you feel real uncomfortable. We’re taking the Panthers against Aaron goddman Rodgers and the Packers on the road? Yikes. Right or wrong, the uncomfortable bets are the ones I feel the most confident in, thinking the public would be afraid to pull the trigger.
The Panthers offense (9th in DVOA, 12th in EPA/play) should have an advantage over the Packers defense (20th DVOA, 18th EPA/play). Among 40 qualifiers, Teddy Bridgewater is just 26th in PFF grades (69.4). His 7.0 aDOT (average depth of target) is 7th lowest in the NFL, which means he completes a high percent of his passes (70.7) and still gains 7.6 yards per attempt. The offensive line is solid, and the Panthers will get back WR DJ Moore (COVID-19). He and Robby Anderson have been excellent options for Bridgewater this season, as have Curtis Samuel and RB Mike Davis. The Packers defense has issues all over the field. Za’Darius Smith is up to 42 pressures (23rd in the league) and Jaire Alexander is one of the best corners in football, but there’s weaknesses at every position. They rank 28th in pressure percentage, so Bridgewater should have plenty of clean pockets to work with.
The Packers offense (1st in DVOA, 2nd in EPA/play) is obviously exceptional. Aaron Rodgers is an MVP candidate, and DeVante Adams has been the best receiver in football according to PFF’s grading system. Their offensive line is solid — particularly LT David Bakhtiari. There isn’t much in terms of receiving depth, but it’s more than enough when Rodgers and Adams are playing at this level. The matchup is dreamy against a Panthers defense that ranks 27th in DVOA and 26th in EPA/play. The only projected starter in their nickel personnel who has a PFF grade over 65 is edge rusher Brian Burns (82.7), who hopefully won’t line up against Bakhtiari.
Seattle @ Washington
Recommended Wager: WAS +5.5
Sizing: 2 units
Seattle Seahawks: (Week 6 bye)
-RT Brandon Shell (ankle) was INACTIVE weeks 12 – 14. He is QUESTIONABLE, but did not practice all week.
-RT Jamarco Jones (groin) was injured week 13. He was INACTIVE week 14 and is OUT week 15 after missing practice all week.
-DE Carlos Dunlap II (foot) is QUESTIONABLE after missing practice Wednesday/Thursday. He was limited Friday.
IR: WR Phillip Dorsett (foot), TE Greg Olsen (foot), RB Rashaad Penny (knee), OLB Bruce Irvin (ACL – season ending), DE Rasheem Green (shoulder), CB Quinton Dunbar (knee), CB Tre Flowers (hamstring), CB Neiko Thorpe (groin), S Lano Hill (back)
Washington Football Team: (Week 8 bye)
-QB Alex Smith (calf) was injured week 14 and is OUT week 15 after missing practice all week.
-RB Antonio Gibson (toe) was injured week 13. He was INACTIVE week 14 and is DOUBTFUL week 15. He got in a limited session Friday.
-LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (ankle) is OUT week 15 after missing practice all week.
-LB Cole Holcomb (concussion) is OUT week 15. He showed up on the injury report Friday.
IR: QB Kyle Allen (ankle – season ending), LT Geron Christian Sr. (knee), DT Matt Ioannidis (biceps), DE Lorenzo Carter (ACL – season ending), S Landon Collins (achilles – season ending)
Spread watching: The line has shifted to 6.5. I ranked the Football Team 14th in my power rankings this week, but that was based on the thought that Alex Smith (calf) would play. My typical source on injuries is profootballdoc.com, and they seemed to believe Smith would play. Instead, Dwayne Haskins will get the start. The line shift from 5.5 to 6.5 isn’t too crazy, but the QB change is. Due to the high strength from the model, I think 1 unit is OK, but 2 is probably too much.
Matchup breakdown: The Seattle offense (4th in DVOA, 5th in EPA/play) vs the Football Team’s defense (4th in DVOA, 3rd in EPA/play) is one of the better matchups on the slate. Russ Wilson (90.8 PFF grade, 4th in the league), is naturally one of the most valuable players in all of football. He plays behind a solid offensive line with two elite weapons (DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett). Meanwhile, the Football Team has a beast of a defensive line that has caused issues for opposing offenses all season. There isn’t a ton of talent in the secondary, but their PFF coverage grade of 80.2 is 6th best in the league — it’s likely that their pass rush helps out the back end immensely. In these days, you always favor offense over defense, but it won’t be easy for Wilson the ‘Hawks offense.
The other side is the opposite — the Football Team’s offense is 29th in DVOA and 25th in EPA/play, while the Seahawks defense is 19th in DVOA and 22nd in EPA/play. As mentioned, Dwayne Haskins will get the start for Washington, and his career has been an unmitigated disaster. PFF has him at a 46.2 grade this season, which is 39th in among 40 qualifiers. He had a more respectable 67.9 grade last year, but he still only completed 58.6% of his passes. The good news is the Football Team has a solid offensive line, and the Seahawks defensive line is a joke. The Seahawks also have three different starting corners on IR, and as such don’t have anybody who can guard Terry McLaurin. The problem, of course, is Washington has zero receiving options outside of Terry.