We're approaching the point in the season where the playoff picture starts to form, and soon we will know what teams are mathematically eliminated from contention as well as the teams vying for a first round bye.
There are plenty of teams in the middle right now whose season is teetering on the edge of success and failure. The next three game stretch will determine the destinies of many organizations. The Saints provided an exclamatory whipping on Tom Brady's Bucs on Sunday night, and the heroics of Patrick Mahomes got his team a win in a close game against the Panthers in Week 9.
Let's take a look at the Week 10 power rankings based on what we've seen so far this season.
32. New York Jets (0-9, Last Week 32 +/- 0) - The Jets nearly got their first win against New England this past week behind a throwback performance from veteran quarterback Joe Flacco. They blew a 10 point lead as the Pats won on a field goal to close out the game.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-7, Last Week 31, +/- 0) - A notable debut performance for rookie QB Jake Luton in a loss and James Robinson continues his impressive season going for 99 yards and a TD.
30. Washington Football Team (2-6, Last Week 28, -2) - Alex Smith started for the Football Team and started to find rapport with Terry McLaurin and Cam Sims, however Antonio Gibson wasn't able to get much going on the ground and they lost to the Giants 23-20 in Week 9.
Alex Smith with his 1st TD pass since Nov. 11, 2018 🙌🏻 https://t.co/mAsGBIkokN— NFL Stats (@NFL Stats)1604867579.0
29. New York Giants (2-7, Last Week 30, +1) - As just mentioned above, the Giants won for the second time this year in Week 9. Their outlook is still bleak however without their star running back Saquon Barkley in the backfield.
28. Dallas Cowboys (2-7, Last Week 29, +1) - The Cowboys get bumped up a spot after holding their own against the Steelers. Dallas' defense held Pittsburgh to just nine points through three quarters of play before a 15 point fourth quarter sealed the game for the league's only remaining undefeated team.
27. Chicago Bears (5-4, Last Week 25, -2) - Now losers of three straight, Chicago takes on Minnesota on Monday Night Football and has the task of stopping the league's best running back in Dalvin Cook. After that it's a date with Aaron Rodgers and the division leading Packers.
26. Detroit Lions (3-5, Last Week 22, -4) - The Lions have now dropped two straight and it appeared that Matt Stafford got a little banged up in Week 9. Detroit's offense isn't good enough to overcome the deficits their defense puts them in.
25. Denver Broncos (3-5, Last Week 21, -4) - Despite trailing by three touchdowns going into the fourth quarter, Denver almost completed a spectacular comeback against Atlanta in Week 9. The performances of Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler are noteworthy for the young offense, but Denver needs to find ways to get Phillip Lindsay and Melvin Gordon more involved regardless of the game script.
24. New England Patriots (3-5, Last Week 27, +3) - New England escaped with a win against the Jets. They only move up here because of other teams losing. Until they can get another good win against a team not named the Jets this seems like a good spot for them.
Cam Newton in 2 games since being benched vs 49ers: 🔹 87.7 Passing Grade (2nd among QBs) https://t.co/HHiVEG1Cwc— PFF NE Patriots (@PFF NE Patriots)1605039595.0
23. Los Angeles Chargers (2-6, Last Week 23, +/-0) - Even though they took their second consecutive loss last week, the Chargers have to feel excited about how well their rookie QB continues to play. Justin Herbert fell just short in a comeback attempt, but still threw for 326 yards and two TDs against a good Raiders team.
22. Houston Texans (2-6, Last Week 26, +4) - The Texans finally got over the hump and picked up their second win of the season last week against the Jaguars. Deshaun Watson is still one of the most talented players in the league Will Fuller has developed into one of the league's best deep threats.
21. Carolina Panthers (3-6, Last Week 24, +3) - Although the playoffs are likely out of reach and Christian McCaffrey sustained another injury in his return, the Panthers have been a gritty team that has looked competitive every week.
20. San Francisco 49ers (4-5, Last Week 12, -8) - The biggest drop this week in the rankings comes from San Francisco. The injuries haven't ceased and at this point one would think that in a competitive NFC West, the 49ers have little chance of getting to the playoffs this year let alone making another deep run.
19. Cincinnati Bengals (2-5-1, Last Week 19, +/- 0) - Coming off their bye, the rookie Joe Burrow will lead his team against the undefeated Steelers. This is my upset of the week candidate.
18. Philadelphia Eagles (3-4-1, Last Week 16, - 2) - The Eagles also had a Week 9 bye week, but they are the hottest team in the NFC East riding a two game win streak. They look to be the favorite to win the division and are the only team trending in the right direction in the east.
17. Los Angeles Rams (5-3, Last Week 13, -4) - Four spots down from last week coming off a bye week seems excessive, but the Rams take on the Seahawks and Bucs over the next two games. Both will be looking to make up for bad losses endured in Week 9.
16. Atlanta Falcons (3-6, Last Week 18, +2) - The Falcons have won two in a row and have begun to look like the team we expected them to be at the onset of the season. It may be too late as they still have the Bucs and Saints ahead of them in the division, but they will still want to finish strong to bring momentum into next season.
Y'all want Julio to score more touchdowns. Here's what he has to say about that. 😂 https://t.co/a0wUJ71tiQ— Atlanta Falcons (@Atlanta Falcons)1604622540.0
15. Indianapolis Colts (5-3, Last Week 11, -4) - The Ravens stifled a good Indy offense as Philip Rivers and the running game never got anything going and failed to score a point in the second half. The Colts are good enough to win this division, but need to avoid offensive production like this in the coming weeks.
14. Cleveland Browns (5-3, Last Week 15, +1) - Cleveland is the last team on the list coming off their bye week. It was a much needed one after a terrible loss to the Raiders. The good news for them is that running back, Nick Chubb is expected back and should provide a lift to a stalling offense.
13. Minnesota Vikings (3-5, Last Week 17, +4) - When you have Dalvin Cook on your team you're bound to climb the rankings at some point in the season and that time is now. Winners of two straight, and with the Bears, Cowboys, Panthers, and Jaguars next up, the Vikings would be right back in contention if they came out of that stretch 7-5.
DALVIN COOK 70-YARD TD 🚨 He’s special. (via @NFL) https://t.co/4NcgDJhsFQ— Bleacher Report (@Bleacher Report)1604867658.0
12. Las Vegas Raiders (5-3, Last Week 20, +8) - Jon Gruden's Raiders have been a rollercoaster of a ride to follow this year. The offense seems ready to compete with anyone, if the defense can improve Vegas may have a contender.
11. Miami Dolphins (5-3, Last Week 14, +3) - If you need another example of how 2020 has been an episode from the Twilight Zone, the Dolphins are on the precipice of cracking our top 10 and there's little room for argument against it. Their only losses have come at the hands of the Patriots in the season opener along with the Bills and Seahawks. Their mid-season quarterback change amid a two game win streak seemed odd, but it resulted in impressive victories over the Rams and Cardinals. Brian Flores is obviously a good coach and has done amazing things with this young team. The AFC should be officially on notice.
.@Tua said SEE YA 📺 @NFLonCBS https://t.co/8oIoVSJse9— Miami Dolphins (@Miami Dolphins)1604879827.0
10. Arizona Cardinals (5-3, Last Week 9, -1) - Kyler Murray is developing into one of the best weapons in the NFL and the offense is near unstoppable. The loss to Miami in Week 9 hurt though as the Cardinals will take on the Bills this week. They are going to want to avoid dropping two in a row in one of the most competitive divisions in football.
9. Tennessee Titans (6-2, Last Week 7, -2) - The Titans beat the Bears in Week 9 but have a more stout opponent on deck this week in the form of the Colts. This should be a better indicator of who the Titans really are after a 5-0 start.
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-3, Last Week 4, -4) - The debut of Antonio Brown and the return of Chris Godwin left many expecting a shootout in the matchup between Tampa Bay and the Saints in Week 9. Tampa never got the memo apparently, but the Saints sure did. Drew Brees administered a 38-3 blow out on Sunday night, and the Bucs need to figure it out with the Falcons starting to find their stride.
Antonio Brown was asked if there was strong interest from other teams and why did he choose to play with the… https://t.co/nIAHqZuhsv— Dov Kleiman (@Dov Kleiman)1604518161.0
7. Baltimore Ravens (6-2, Last Week 10, +3) - The Ravens saw another lackluster performance from reigning MVP Lamar Jackson in a win against the Colts. While it may be troublesome to Ravens fans and especially to Lamar fantasy owners, the Ravens continue to win games. As long as they're able to keep winning it doesn't much matter how they accomplish it.
6. Seattle Seahawks (6-2, Last Week 3, -3) - The Buffalo defense showed that Russell Wilson is human for a whole half of football. Then Russ took off the suit and put on the cape and nearly brought his team back from a double digit deficit. If Seattle can't fix their problems on defense it will be a wasted year of phenomenal football from their QB.
5. New Orleans Saints (6-2, Last Week 8, +3) - The aforementioned beating that the Saints handed the Bucs is part of the reason for New Orleans' climb up the rankings this week. The other is that a healthy Michael Thomas back will only make them better.
Sean Payton leading the locker room dance party 😂 New Orleans with a 38-3 statement win tonight #Saints https://t.co/vj1pqKIm2t— Sideline Sports (@Sideline Sports)1604896284.0
4. Buffalo Bills (7-2, Last Week 6, +2) - A statement win from Buffalo against the Seahawks will send them into a tough game against the Cardinals with a boost of confidence. Not only a signature win for the team, but for their young gunslinger Josh Allen as well. Allen should be seriously considered for MVP if he continues this level of play.
3. Green Bay Packers (6-2, Last Week 5, +2) - Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams are so good together that the NFL needs to start considering making it illegal for them to be on the same team. It's great to see A-A-ron letting it fly again and a fully healthy Aaron Jones and early season hero, Allen Lazard, should make this offense even better down the stretch.
Highest-graded QBs in the 2nd half: 1. Aaron Rodgers - 93.9 2. Cam Newton - 90.4 3. Tom Brady - 86.2 4. Russell Wil… https://t.co/i4Uftc6f16— PFF (@PFF)1605105062.0
2. Kansas City Chiefs (8-1, Last Week 2, +/- 0) - The Panthers gave the defending champs a run for their money on Sunday, but Patrick Mahomes stepped up to put the Chiefs over the top. Throwing for four touchdowns on 372 yards, Mahomes did Mahomes things to fend off a scrappy Carolina squad.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-0, Last Week 1, +/- 0) - Although they looked shaky against the Cowboys, the Steelers came away with the W and when you're the only remaining undefeated team in the league you get the top spot.
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.