Chicago @ Minnesota
Recommended Wager: CHI +3.0
Sizing: 1 unit
Chicago Bears: (Week 11 bye)
-TE Jimmy Graham (hip) is QUESTIONABLE after getting in limited sessions Thursday/Friday.
-DE James Vaughters (knee) was INACTIVE week 14 and is QUESTIONABLE week 15. He was limited all week.
-Slot CB Buster Skrine (concussion) was INACTIVE week 14 and is OUT week 15. He has not practiced since the injury.
-CB Jaylon Johnson (shoulder) was injured week 14. He is QUESTIONABLE, but missed practice all week.
IR: RB Tarik Cohen (ACL), LG James Daniels (pectoral), LT Bobby Massie (ankle), DT Eddie Goldman (opt out), DE Roy Robertson-Harris (shoulder – season ending), CB Artie Burns (knee)
Minnesota Vikings: (Week 7 bye)
-RB Alexander Mattison (illness) was INACTIVE weeks 13 and 14. He is QUESTIONABLE, but got in a full practice Friday.
-TE Kyle Rudolph (foot) was INACTIVE week 14 and is OUT week 15. He has not practiced since the injury.
-DE D.J. Wonnum (ankle/back) was INACTIVE week 13 after not practicing all week.
IR: DT Michael Pierce (opt out), DE Danielle Hunter (neck), LB Anthony Barr (torn pectoral – season ending), CB Mike Hughes (neck)
Spread watching: The line is sticking at 3.
Matchup breakdown: The Bears offense (26th in DVOA, 27th in EPA/play) has the luxury of picking between their two shitty QBs — they’re expected to continue to ride the not-as-cold-hand. For now, that’s Mitch Tribusky. I have nothing nice to say about their offense — except about Allen Robinson, of course, and I don’t care how great they looked against the Texans “defense” last week. The Vikings defense is 20th in EPA/play, but they’ve faced the second toughest schedule of opposing offenses this year, so their DVOA rank is a much friendlier 12th. That said, they have problem areas all over the field and shouldn’t be considered a threat.
The Vikings offense (11th in DVOA, 14th in EPA/play) vs the Bears defense (7th in DVOA, 10th in EPA/play) is the much better matchup. On paper, the Vikings offense to be one of the best in football, but their 90s style play calling holds them back. Kirk Cousins is having a fine season (8th in PFF grades), while Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen have been the best 1-2 punch at wide receiver this season. I don’t think I need to explain how awesome a healthy Dalvin Cook is. The offensive line has weaknesses in the interior, but both tackles are solid. Like most teams, they’re much more efficient throwing the ball then running (0.144 EPA/play on dropbacks vs -0.039 EPA/play on rushing attempts), but they’re 26th in early-down pass frequency. The Bears defense is solid up front, and the hope is they can pick on the Vikings weak guards. That said, the corners haven’t played well this season, so it’ll be difficult to match up against the Vikings receivers. Either way, it should be fun.
Kansas City @ New Orleans
Recommended Wager: NO +3.0
Sizing: 1 unit
Kansas City Chiefs: (Week 10 bye)
-RT Mike Remmers (back/neck) was injured week 14 and is OUT after not practicing all week.
-LB Damien Wilson (knee) was INACTTIVE week 14 and is OUT after not practicing all week.
IR: RB Damien Williams (opt out), G Dr. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (opt out), RT Mitchell Schwartz (back), LG Kelechi Osemele (knee – season ending), DE Taco Charlton (leg)
New Orleans Saints: (Week 6 bye)
-QB Drew Brees (ribs) will return week 15.
-RG Nick Easton (concussion) was injured week 14. He is OUT week 15 after missing practice all week.
-DT Malcom Brown (shoulder/calf) was injured week 13. He was INACTIVE week 14 and is OUT week 15 after missing practice all week.
IR: WR Michael Thomas (ankle)
Spread watching: The line is sticking at 3
Matchup breakdown: Not much needs to be said about the Chiefs offense (2nd in DVOA, 1st in EPA/play). Pat Mahomes is basically God. The front-runner for MVP has the 11th highest aDOT in the league, but only 2.57% of his passes have been deemed “turnover worthy” by PFF. He has the 2nd highest PFF grade behind Aaron Rodgers, is completing 68.4% of his passes and gaining 8.5 yards per attempt. He has Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce to throw the ball to with Andy Reid calling plays. They’re really fucking good. The good news for us is Saints defense (2nd in DVOA, 4th in EPA/play) is also in the “really fucking good” category. They’re strong up front, and should matchup well against the Chiefs offensive line that is still without All Pro RT Mitchell Schwartz (back). There are weaknesses at the corner position — Marshon Lattimore in particular is having a god-awful season, but their safeties are both solid.
The Saints on offense are 8th in DVOA and 9th in EPA/play, which matches up well against the middle of the road Chiefs defense (18th in DVOA, 19th in EPA/play). They’ll get back Drew Brees this week — which was my expectation when I created our power rankings on Tuesday. The bad news is they’ll be without Michael Thomas, who was placed on IR due to a lingering ankle issue and will miss the rest of the season. Alvin Kamara, Emmanuel Sanders, Tre’Quan Smith, and Jared Cook will have to do. The Chiefs on defense are much better against the pass (14th in DVOA) then the run (30th). They get most of their pressure from DT Chris Jones, which works out well from a matchup perspective since the Saints are much stronger at the tackle positions then they are the interior. The Chiefs don’t have any standouts at corner, but they don’t have any weak points to pick on, either. All Saints receivers will need to be involved without Thomas, but it’s a matchup they can win.
Cleveland @ NY Giants
Recommended Wager: NYG +4.0
Sizing: 1 unit
Cleveland Browns: (Week 9 bye)
-TE Austin Hooper (neck) was INACTIVE week 14. He is QUESTIONABLE, but practiced in full on Friday.
-TE David Njoku (knee) is QUESTIONABLE after appearing on the injury report Friday as DNP.
-RG Wyatt Teller (ankle) is OUT week 15 after missing practice all week.
-CB Denzel Ward (calf) was INACTIVE weeks 12 – 14. He is QUESTIONABLE after being limited all week.
-S Andrew Sendejo (concussion) is OUT week 15 after missing practice all week.
IR: WR Odell Beckham Jr (ACL – season), WR KhaDarel Hodge (hamstring), TE David Njoku (knee), DT Andrew Billings (opt out), CB Greedy Williams (shoulder), S Ronnie Harrison, K JoJo Natson (ACL – season ending)
New York Giants: (Week 11 bye)
-QB Daniel Jones (hamstring) is QUESTIONABLE after being limited all week, but the expectation is he will not play.
-CB Darnay Holmes (knee) was INACTIVE week 14 and is OUT week 15 after missing practice all week.
IR: RB Saquon Barkley (ACL — season ending), RB Devonta Freeman (ankle), LT Nate Solder (opt out), OLB Oshane Ximines (shoulder), DE Lorenzo Carter (Achilles – season ending), DE Kyler Fackrell (leg), CB Sam Beal (opt out), CB Ryan Lewis (hamstring), S Adrian Colbert (shoulder)
Spread watching: After the news broke that Daniel Jones may not play, the spread jumped from 4 to 6.5. I’m comfortable betting it at that number.
Matchup breakdown: The Browns offense (10th in DVOA and 8th in EPA/play) does have a slight advantage over the Giants defense (17th in DVOA and 11th in EPA/play). Baker Mayfield is 12th in the NFL in PFF grades (77.6), completing 62.6% of his passes and gaining 7.4 yards per attempt. The offensive line is extremely talented, but they’ll be without RG Wyatt Teller (calf), who is PFF’s highest graded guard this season. Slot man Jarvis Landry and Rashard Higgins should get the bulk of the targets, with the strong RB duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt chipping in as well. The Giants on defense are strong up front and have played well both in terms of getting pressure on the QB and stopping the run. The top four on the team in pressures are all mostly interior players (Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence, Dalvin Tomlinson, and BJ Hall), so it helps that the Browns are missing Teller. They do, however, struggle at the corner positions and have not done well in coverage this season.
As mentioned, the Giants look like they’ll be starting Colt McCoy over Daniel Jones (hamstring). This was another surprise — Jones was limited in practice this week and looked ready to play, but sometimes things don’t break your way. The Giants are a dreadful 28th in DVOA and 29th in EPA/play. They have a decent trio of receivers (Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard, and Golden Tate) with a solid receiving tight end (Evan Engram), but their offensive line is awful and they’re playing a backup QB. The good news is the Browns on defense are pretty terrible themselves (23rd in DVOA, 24th in EPA/play). Myles Garrett and Olivier Vernon are a strong pass rushing duo, and Denzel Ward is a solid corner. Virtually every other player is #bad at football, and Ward is a true questionable after missing weeks his last 3 games.