Here we are only four weeks into the NFL regular season, a quarter of the way through.
I'm not one to callously dash anyone's hopes or say their dreams are unattainable, but in the landscape of the NFL, some fan bases might want to consider taking up a new hobby. Come back to the NFL next year or try rooting for a new team this Autumn. Maybe you could try curling or cleaning up trash on the side of a busy interstate, that's a worthy cause. While no teams have reached mathematical elimination from the playoffs, I'm here declaring all hope is lost for some. Four games into the NFL season and already some fan bases have nothing to root for.
"Nothing to Root For" is a series ranking fan base despair. It's not just about a team's likelihood to reach the postseason. Sometimes you have a first year coach or a young quarterback on the team; you know reaching the postseason is unlikely, but fans of teams in said scenario stick with your team and look for growth for next year.
Then there are other teams, teams where maybe the coach and GM are already seasoned, the quarterback is a known quantity. Maybe the GM received a contract extension in the offseason. And now, through four weeks of regular season play, the team has come out looking like the inside of a porta potty atop a hill in a landslide. So which fan bases need to escape the abusive relationships they are in with their favorite football teams and find a new hobby?
1. New York Jets
Things are so bad for the New York Jets team that you have to be hoping for losses at this point. I'd be sleeping with my pajamas inside out and my fingers crossed hoping for another embarrassing loss. Maybe, just maybe, at that point ownership would wisen up and Adam Gase would be out of there.
Things in the NFL are hardly ever so predictable, so riddle me this: How is it that everyone outside of this Jets organization knew Gase needed to be vacated except the Jets themselves? When Ryan Tannehill left the Dolphins as an afterthought and became the centerpiece for an exciting team down in Nashville, the Jets should have seen the writing on the wall. Tannehill wasn't alone in running, not walking, away from Gase.
Whether it was Kenyan Drake, Damien Williams, Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, or Mike Gesicki, all these players broke out after separating from Coach Gase. This guy made Le'Veon Bell disappear, and now Jets fans are left to wonder if their $99 Sam Darnold jersey investment is officially...a waste of money. Gase was once seen as an offensive mastermind, but that all now seems offensive to masterminds.
Thank you for social distancing, @AtlantaFalcons https://t.co/0bLjzZxIYW— CheeseheadTV 🧀 (@CheeseheadTV 🧀)1601959676.0
2. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons have started 0-4 to begin the 2020 season, and it's hard to even choose which loss would be most embarrassing. The competition is quite steep. There was the week 2 debacle against the Cowboys, whereby the Falcons lost after leading by twenty and showing they were professional athletes that didn't know the rules of their own sport. Or there was the Bears matchup in week 3, when the Falcons gave up a 16-point lead in 6 ½ minutes to Nick Foles, one week later.
But at least the Falcons were leading in those games, versus their games against Seattle and Green Bay, when they weren't even competitive. Dan Quinn is storing away embarrassing losses as though he were a squirrel storing away acorns for the winter. The guy's a defensive coach–where's the defense?
Falcons Head Coach, Dan QuinnPhoto by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images
3. Washington Football Team
Fans of the Washington Football Team are in between a rock and a hard place. In a terrible NFC East, Washington is only half a game back from leading the division at 1-3. And Dwayne Haskins has only started thirteen games, so you want to stay tuned and see growth from the kid. But the more you watch of him, the more you become convinced the young QB already needs to be replaced.
While Haskins has shown some marginal improvement in his second year, he's also making mistakes that will leave you pulling your hair out. Take this last week when Haskins, midway through the 4th quarter on a 4th and goal and down by two touchdowns, threw a dump off to the nine yard line, where his receiver was shortly thereafter pushed out of bounds. You have to score a touchdown in that situation–what are you doing, Dwayne? With rumors beginning to circulate that Haskins will soon be benched, it's time to start getting excited about the 2021 draft and regular season Washington Football fans.
Dwayne Haskins, QuarterbackAP
4. New York Giants
It's hard to say what Giants fans should even be rooting for here. Quarterback, Daniel Jones, has shown potential at times, but he's also shown an affinity for fumbling the football. Through 17 games the young quarterback has fumbled the ball 21 times. General Manager Dave Gettleman is still trying to convince us that drafting Saquon Barkley 2nd overall was a stroke of genius. Now that Barkley is likely out the rest of the season, Gettleman's campaigning may be falling on deaf ears. Look for fans to begin calling for Gettleman's job if things don't begin to improve for the Giants down the stretch.
New York Giants General Manager, Dave Gettleman
5. Jacksonville Jaguars
Is Gardner Minshew THE GUY or just the guy we wish was THE GUY? I mean the dude has got a killer mustache and a great Instagram, but he's also played dangerously inconsistent this year. After an efficient week 1 performance it appeared Minshew Mania was full steam ahead. Now after four weeks, it feels like Minshew Mania may have been a media creation that parallels "Lin Sanity."
Jacksonville Jaguars Quarterback, Gardner Minshew
6. Chicago Bears
You could make the case the Chicago Bears could be higher on this list. And that's saying something considering the Bears are 4-1, and coming off a big win against Tom Brady and the Bucs. But I'm still not buying it. I think this team's in football purgatory. I just need to keep believing this record is hollow and imminently doomed.
This is a team still trying to outrun the fact they passed up on Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson to draft Mitch Trubisky, trading up the draft board to do so, no less. Now Mitch is benched, and Watson and Mahomes are each top five quarterbacks. Now Nick Foles is at the helm at quarterback, but I just can't buy into Foles long term. Someone remind me: Why did this team not go after Cam Newton in the offseason?
If you ask me, there's nothing worse than getting "lucky" and stumbling into an erroneous good record for a bad organization. Such luck only worsens a team's draft position and ensures another year in football mediocrity. If the Bears can start collecting some losses, maybe just maybe they'll finally land a top-flight quarterback.
Chicago Bears Quarterback, Nick Foles standing with Head Coach, Matt NagyChicago Tribune
7. Detroit Lions
The Lions right now are the epitome of boring. It's an offensive attack in the first quarter of the season that has centered around geriatric running back Adrian Peterson. AP has looked almost spry. But what else can this offense supply? The Lions are the first team in NFL history to lose six straight games after leading by double digits. Matt Patricia is known to be a former rocket scientist. Maybe he should go back to the rocket science community. So far he hasn't been able to get the Lions off the launch pad.
Detroit Lions Head Coach, Matt PatriciaThe Associated Press
8. Houston Texans
What a shame it is adding the Texans to the back of the list. Especially when it feels like what this team is really missing is the top flight wide receiver they gave away for pennies on the dollar. And there's really no point in rooting for losses. The Texans don't own their first and second round picks for 2021 as those were sent to Miami for Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills. The regime change is already under way after Bill O'Brien was fired, so you may as well root for this team to bounce back. And yes 0-4 is ugly, but the Texans collected those four losses at the hands of the Chiefs, Ravens, Steelers, and Vikings. If there's any team that can bounce back after going 0-4, it's a team led by Deshaun Watson. There is still a glimmer of hope.
Houston Texans Quarterback, Deshuan Watson
Cincinnati Bengals - Just shut up and watch Joe Burrow work.
Cincinnati Bengals Quarterback, Joe Burrow; Los Angeles Chargers Quarterback, Justin Herbert, Miami Dolphins backup Quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa
Los Angeles Chargers - Remember what I said about Joe Burrow? Justin Herbert has looked even better. Man does this kid have a pretty deep ball.
Miami Dolphins - Fitzmagic is fun to watch. And when he ceases to be a delight Tua Tagovailoa won 22 of the 24 games he started in college.
It's another eventful week in the NFL.
Four teams -- the Jets, Falcons, Saints, and 49ers -- are the first teams to get a bye week. After Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers narrowly escaped Thursday Night Football with a 28-22 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, the reigning Super Bowl champs are the first team with five wins in the league. Who will join them on Sunday? We know that we'll get at least a second five-win team since the 4-1 Ravens are hosting the 4-1 Chargers. That is going to be an epic battle, so let's start with that clash of AFC contenders. Welcome to our Week 6 NFL Best Bets.
Playing on the road is a difficult task for any team, but if any team can escape with a victory, it's Justin Herbert and the Chargers. This isn't the Chargers of the last decade. This team is winning the close battles. Herbert is playing at an MVP level this season and already has led this team to big-time wins over the Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns -- two of the top teams in the AFC. This L.A. team is deep at the skill positions, can rush the passer, has an improved offensive line and a great young coach. What's not to like?
All that said, Lamar Jackson seems to be playing as he did during his 2019 MVP campaign. Not to mention, Marquise "Hollywood" Brown is actually catching passes. He eclipsed 100 yards last week and scored two touchdowns (including the game-winning catch in overtime). Simply put, this is a tough team to bet against. It did take last-second heroics for the Ravens to beat the winless Lions and a pretty pedestrian Colts team. Overall, Baltimore hasn't faced a test like this yet this season. Take the points and the better overall squad. Chargers may win this game, but if they don't, they are not going to lose by more than a field goal.
PICK: Chargers +3.5
It's been a tough start to the season for the Chiefs. They had great odds to return to the Super Bowl and are now last in the AFC West heading into Week 16 with a 2-3 record. They desperately need this game. This is a great opportunity for the Chiefs to prove they are still elite by defeating a team that made the postseason last year on the road. The Chiefs are going to turn it around against a Washington defense that is allowing the sixth-most passing yards and second-most passing touchdowns this season. Patrick Mahomes is going to blow up. Tyreek Hill is going to dominate. Travis Kelce is going to continue to provide a steady source of receptions down the middle of the field. As long as the Chiefs' offensive line holds against Chase Young, it's going to be a long day for Washington's defense. Betting on Mahomes to right the ship isn't a really difficult choice.
PICK: Chiefs -6.5
Yes, the Texans are one of the worst teams in the league. Betting on them on the road against a divisional rival might seem crazy at first. However, the Texans are 7-3 against the spread as underdogs in their last 10 games. Plus, the Colts are emotional after completely giving away the game against the Ravens in which they blew a 22-3 lead late in the game. This is going to cause a bit of a hangover in that locker room. When New England suffered a terrible loss against Tom Brady and the Bucs, the Texans managed to cover the spread the following week. Look for history to repeat itself. Texans coach David Culley has Houston playing hard in spite of its lack of talent and quarterback Davis Mills appeared to take a step forward last week against the Pats. Houston has played pretty good pass defense, too. The Texans have allowed only seven passing TDs this season.
PICK: Texans +9
Sunday night will be an interesting matchup to watch as Geno Smith will make his first start in four years as the Seahawks travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers. I hate betting on Ben Roethlisberger, but it's hard to envision the Seahawks covering the spread without the services of Russell Wilson. And as much as I think Big Ben should hang up his cleats, you have to give him credit for the way he dominated a solid Broncos defense last week. Roethlisberger looked better than he did earlier in the season and was able to get the ball to his playmakers -- Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and running back Najee Harris. Seattle's defense is one of the worst in the league and their secondary is even worse than their front seven. Look for the Steelers to light up Seattle in the passing game.
PICK: Steelers -5
Both of these offenses can put up a lot of points, though they go about it very differently. The Browns are a run-heavy team, and even though they will be without the services of Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt is more than capable of getting the job done. Meanwhile, Arizona's offense runs through electric quarterback Kyler Murray. Murray is able to move the chains with his legs but he isn't afraid to toss the ball either. He loves getting his guys involved and his weapons are elite in DeAndre Hopkins, Rondale Moore, and Christian Kirk.
The Browns are coming off an 89-point slugest with the Chargers and hit the OVER in their other game against a high-end offense in a 33-29 loss to the Chiefs. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have scored 30-plus points in four of five games this year. Smash the OVER.
PICK: OVER 49.5
Week 2 of the NFL was full of breakout performances, thrilling finishes and potentially the start of the Justin Fields era in the NFC North as the Bears' win over the Bengals finds them in first place in the division.
We cap off the week with a Monday Night Football showdown between the Packers and the Lions with the winner finding themselves tied for first in the North. The Packers put up an absolute dud of a performance last week against the Saints in Week 1 while the Lions looked surprisingly effective while playing catch-up against the West-leading 49ers. The expectations for these two teams couldn't have been further apart coming into the season but with matching 0-1 starts on the books, I think there are a couple of interesting props and roster construction angles to exploit.
NFL DFS Showdown Picks
*Prices are from DraftKings
Captain: TE T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions ($9,600) ($14,400)
I'm normally not a fan of playing a tight end in the captain spot, but T.J. Hockenson is not your average tight end. He finished 2020 with an elite 18% target share in the Lions' offense and picked up right where he left off in Week 1, finishing with an 18.2% share on 50 routes run last week. Hockenson has always carried premium TD upside as a red-zone target but what was most encouraging about last week was that he ran nearly 55% of his routes out of the slot, leaving him a matchup against Chandon Sullivan, who's allowing a 67% catch rate in his coverage. In a game where the Lions are projected to be down early, expect Hockenson to get fed once again. His red-zone utilization gives him enough juice to take the captain's chair in my builds.
Core Consideration: QB Jared Goff, Detroit Lions ($10,000)
Two principles I take into Showdown slates apply to this play. Generally speaking, if I have a pass-catcher as my captain, I'm finding a way to get their QB into a flex spot. The second is that your build needs to tell a story. Mine is that the Packers come out with something to prove after getting embarrassed in Week 1 and that we'll likely see upwards of 50 pass attempts from Jared Goff as he attempts to mount a comeback. Goff is a surprisingly effective passer when getting good protection and this unit gave him a clean pocket on 86.7% of snaps last week. Expect that to continue tonight as Goff will continue to feast in garbage time.
Contrarian Play: WR Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers ($2,000)
I still chuckle at the thought of the return of Randall Cobb being on the short-list of demands from Aaron Rodgers in the midst of his holdout. I do, however, think there is something to be said about the importance of chemistry between a quarterback and his receiver and I expect that in a typical game (which Week 1 was not), Aaron Rodgers is going to find his spots to get Cobb involved. In a game script that figures to have the Packers up by a healthy margin, not many are going to look at the tertiary passing options for Green Bay and I think a $2,000 Randall Cobb could sneak in a handful of receptions at single-digit ownership..
Salary Relief: WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit Lions ($2,400)
This one fits perfectly into my narrative for the game as well. In a game where the Lions are likely to flirt with 50+ pass attempts and coming off a week where St. Brown ran routes on 75% of the team's passing plays, I will be overweight on Amon-Ra tonight. Lining up in the slot on 74.5% of plays means St. Brown will primarily see coverage from Chandon Sullivan, the most favorable of the options GB lines up in their defensive secondary. Expect St. Brown to see his target volume increase tonight. If Detroit can be more effective in getting to the red zone, he carries decent scoring upside with the way he's utilized in this offense. Plus, who doesn't love the extra motivation of playing against their big bro?
Monday Night Football Best Bets
Taking a look at the wagering side of this game; before we determine anything else we must ask ourselves what we think of these Green Bay Packers. I tend to look at last week's performance as the exception and not the rule. With that being the case, I am laying the 11.5 points and taking GB tonight. Over the past six seasons, oddsmakers have been fairly sharp when it comes to these larger spreads and NFL teams cover double-digit spreads more than 55% of the time. The total for tonight is sitting at 48.5 and given the somewhat surprising ability of the Lions to make up ground last week, I am confidently on the "over" side of that line.
Picks: Packers -11.5, OVER 48.5 points
Taking a look at the prop market, I am again mainly investing in the "GB Blowout" narrative:
D'Andre Swift: OVER 28.5 Receiving Yard
Coming off a 65-yard performance in a very similar game script, this one feels like a no-brainer. Swift averages nearly 8 yards per reception so this really boils down to whether you think he catches more than 3 passes. I certainly do and I'm confidently on the OVER for this prop. FanDuel is currently carrying the best odds at -110.
T.J. Hockenson: Anytime TD
I'm not the biggest fan of these "to score" props, but I'll break from the norm with this one. I am projecting the Lions to at least have a go at it in this game and there simply isn't a scenario where that doesn't involve a score for Hockenson. +220 odds at FanDuel sort of feels like stealing given that I see this game going over the 48.5 total.
AJ Dillon | UNDER 8.5 Rushing Attempts
I know that the betting public is forecasting a fairly comfortable win for the Packers, but let's not get carried away. AJ Dillon would have to nearly double his career average for carries to get to this number. Plus, it's a bit unlikely that this game gets so far out of reach that Green Bay brings in their backups. Even last week when they did bring in the second-stringers, Dillon only saw 4 carries. I'm expecting Aaron Jones to have a monster day on the ground, as evidenced by my Saturday article.
Week 1 is in the books and it's time to move on to the best bets in Week 2.
If you listened to my article earlier this week, you would have started 1-0 for taking the Giants with the points against Washington in that thriller of a matchup Thursday night. Now, let's dive into Week 2's best NFL bets.
Tennessee Titans/Seattle Seahawks Over 54
The Seahawks' offense was high-flying in the first half last week. Because the Colts never really threatened the outcome of the game, the Seahawks were able to take the air out of the ball and finish the game with an easy win while only scoring seven in the second half. While both the Titans' defense and offense looked atrocious, expect Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry to have big bounce-back weeks and make this an epic high-scoring game. This has all the makings for a shootout in which both teams put up 30-plus points.
Cincinnati Bengals +2.5 @ Chicago Bears
Until that Monday night game, the Bengals had the honor of winning the craziest Week 1 game over the Vikings in overtime. The Bears' defense, which is supposed to be their strength, looked awful against the Rams, including one of the most blown coverages you'll ever see on Cooper Kupp's long touchdown. It was simply an awful week for the Bears. I don't think it gets any better until they remove Dalton and promote Justin Fields. If they don't do that prior to game time, the Bengals will run away with this one.
Los Angeles Rams -3.5 @ Indianapolis Colts
Coming out of Week 1 the Rams looked great on both sides of the ball. Matthew Stafford had a great first game, going 20 for 26 with three touchdowns. The Colts... They didn't look that great on either side of the ball. While Carson Wentz's overall numbers didn't look bad, most of the yardage and one of his two TDs came in the fourth quarter as they were chasing from two or more scores back, never actually threatening to win the game. I'm leaning towards the Rams winning this in a blowout and would consider alternate spreads.
Arizona Cardinals -3.5 vs. Minnesota Vikings
Kyler Murray appears to be a man on a mission to avenge last season's bitter ending after absolutely torching the Tennesee Titans in Nashville. The Vikings' defense, who hasn't been as formidable as years past, is going to have their hands full with Kyler. Last week they allowed Joe Burrow to complete nearly 80% of his passes, and Burrow isn't a threat to run nor has a receiver as talented as DeAndre Hopkins. If the Vikings offense doesn't step up and make this a shootout, things could get ugly in Phoenix.
Dallas Cowboys + 3.5 @ Los Angeles Chargers
Dak Prescott looked great in Week 1 and if there were any issues with his shoulder after throwing 58 times, he had 10 days to get healed up again and ready for the Chargers. I can almost guarantee, whenever the Cowboys go to play either Los Angeles team in their stadium, that there will be more Cowboys fans than LA fans. So while they aren't playing in Jerry World, they'll have more fan support. My concern for Justin Herbert and the Chargers is their efficiency in the red zone. His most potent weapons in Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler become less effective as they get closer to the goal line. That leaves Jared Cook and Mike Williams as your bigger bodies in the red zone, which isn't ideal. The Cowboys have a decent chance to win this one outright, but you can take the points for some cushion.
- Cowboys ML (+160)
- Titans +6.5 (-105)
- Steelers ML (-225)
- Rams -3.5 (-110)
Five Props To Consider
- Calvin Ridley OVER 6.5 receptions (+115)
- Tyrod Taylor OVER 34.5 Pass Attempts (-105)
- Aaron Jones OVER 88.5 combined yards (-115)
- Nick Chubb OVER 17.5 carries (-120)
- James Robinson OVER 9.5 carries (-125)
All five of these props have an excellent chance at hitting. I like the idea of wagering a three-leg prop parlay with the last three props listed (Jones, Chubb and J-Rob). Thanks me on Monday.