Last week's slate proved absolutely brutal, featuring upsets galore, bad beats aplenty, and odd play every which way.
Week 8 Vibe Check (2-3) - I was NOT prepared to live in a world where not only did the Chargers and Rams NOT cover, they lost outright. I circle back to my original theory that the Bolts must've been cursed to a never ending stream of competitive football seasons with no meaningful wins. Herbert's already starting to look a lot like Philip Rivers, a competent, even top tier QB, destined to mediocrity.
The Rams probably regret making Jared Goff the third highest paid player in the NFL after that loss. Can't even blame the time zone shenanigans, since McVay and co. have had no issues going east during his tenure.
As for our wins, Philip Rivers moved from Southern California (to a non-cursed team) and, suddenly, things are looking up. The Colts' line was so good that Jordan Wilkins went off against the Lions, frustrating Jonathan Taylor's fantasy owners, but delighting his teammates.
As for Mahomes going over 2.5 TDs, he basically had that wrapped in the first quarter. A win there was almost as easy as taking the Packers -7 on Thursday night against the 49ers, who had one eligible receiver on the roster due to COVID protocols and not a single skill player on the field from when these two teams last met in the NFC Championship game, a mere 292 days ago.
Let's see if we can find any matchups as ripe for the picking as those…
Ravens -1 over Colts
The Colts have started to surge on both sides of the ball based around their strength in the running game. They excel at both pounding the rock and stopping it in equal measure, but to be clear, they haven't faced a team as adept and inventive in their rushing attack.
Lamar looked very un-Lamar-like last week, but the Steelers D can do that to anyone and even with his four turnovers, the Ravens held the lead for a good chunk of the game and had two chances to win at the end. They are clearly undervalued coming into this week and the Colts appear to be overvalued, so this is the exact moment to take advantage and go big on the more talented and better coached team with a transcendent player at QB.
Expect the return of this Lamar Jackson this week against the Colts. Nick Wass/AP Photo
Steelers -14 over Cowboys
I would normally never recommend taking a team favored by this much, even the Chiefs last week against the Jets at 19.5 just felt a little too ridiculous, but I'll give a two touchdown head start to this Cowboy team any day. In a post-Dak world, it's become clear just how hapless Mike McCarthy looks coaching offenses in today's NFL and Mike Nolan's D matches it blow for blow. As a fan, it must be a little like Tabasco to the eye. The Steelers pass rush might account for more sacks than first downs in this one.
lololol Mike McCarthy’s deep research https://t.co/XWNPUNRBBZ— Warren Sharp (@Warren Sharp)1603643931.0
DeVante Parker over 4.5 Receptions
The Dolphins' offense went from surprisingly fun to dull in record time under the new reign of Tua. The team went run heavy against the Rams to support their rookie signal caller. Not to mention, they didn't need to do much more after Goff imploded into himself like a dying sun.
Excluding last week, Parker has quietly shown flashes of dominance this year, and against a just barely above average Cardinals D, he might be able to show out even more. Sure, he'll be matched up with Patrick Peterson, but the former superstar has looked less impressive with age.
He's allowed catches on over 55% of targets his way, two statistical categories that he no longer ranks in the top 30 of for cornerbacks. Miami will need to establish their offense in what could either be a shootout or blowout, either way they'll need to put the ball in the air.
Congrats on ya first td bro. Many more to come🤞🏾💯 https://t.co/pnl9VBBM6s— DeVante Parker (@DeVante Parker)1604278701.0
Los Angeles Chargers Pick'Em over Las Vegas Raiders
Let me throw out going against Jon Gruden's Raiders, who've alternated between proficiency and problematic in equal measure. Coming off the NFL punishing them with fines and lost draft picks for repeatedly ignoring COVID protocols, they'll be without Josh Jacobs, Jonathan Abrams, Trent Brown, and five other players to face the deeply unlucky Chargers. This feels like a great chance for Justin Herbert to take advantage and lead his team to a much deserved win.
Unless you're the Pittsburgh Steelers, chances are your team is still uncertain about making the playoffs.
The Packers lost, yet the Saints won. The Seahawks won, but so did the Rams. The NFC is in a frenzy, while the Steelers sit atop the AFC waiting for everyone else to catch up. With only five weeks left, the playoff picture is a little fuzzy, but it clarifies with each game.
Likewise, fantasy playoffs are just on the horizon, and unless you're undefeated, there's a strong chance you're still clamoring for a spot.
If you need to make some moves for a playoff berth, here are some suggestions in this week's drops, swaps and shops.
Note: For ESPN Leagues, all public leagues must submit trades before the trade deadline on Wednesday, November 25th at 12 ET. Rules vary within leagues, but this could be your last week for swaps.
As Ferris Bueller might say: The world of sports moves pretty fast; if you don't stop and look around at least once a week, you could miss it.
Here we'll review what you might have missed in the past week all in one place. Why spend hours scrolling through Twitter to catch up on the news you want? We've already done that for you, so remember to check back every Monday to get your dose of weekly sports review.
Taysom Hill, Andy Dalton, and P.J. Walker all lead their teams to Week 11 victories filling in for injured starting QBs. Cleveland moved ahead of the Ravens in the AFC North with their win over the Eagles while Baltimore fell to the Titans. The Steelers continued to roll and now sit at 10-0 atop the NFL. The Colts outlasted the Packers in an overtime thriller as Indianapolis is now positioning themselves as a team nobody wants to see come playoff time as they boast the best defense in the NFL.
Joe Burrow was injured in the Bengals' game against Washington and he miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury. This should make Justin Herbert the odds on favorite to win Rookie of the Year if you're interested in a futures bet.
At this point, I may never bet on the NFC West again.
Week 10 Vibe Check (2-2)
At this point, I may never bet on the NFC West again. After losing to the Rams last week, Seattle turned around and beat the Cardinals on Thursday night. Every matchup in that division is a heavyweight bout and it's hard to justify betting on one when they can all throw a haymaker at any time. Meanwhile, the Bengals weren't ready for a D like the Steelers and the QB of the future looked stuck in the present reality for the time being.
As for our wins, in a shocking turn of events, betting against the Chargers WORKED! Or, perhaps, I should say betting on the Dolphins worked. Brian Flores looks more and more like he was the true key to the Patriots defensive success in recent years. He took on two NFC teams back to back and cruised against the poor, befuddled Chargers. Tua coming into his own has certainly helped, as well.
Brandon Aiyuk tallied a whopping seven catches down in New Orleans, even as the 49ers completely sputtered and blew a chance to upset a Drew Brees-less Saints. This continues a month long streak of calling player props, which is almost certain to end this week after pointing out its existence. *Fingers crossed* *No jinx* *Reverse jinx*