The Saints and Chiefs have clinched their spots in the postseason already, but most of the league is still in the hunt for a playoff berth.
The Steelers had a chance to punch their ticket against Washington on Monday night but were upset by the Football Team 23-17. That allowed the Browns, who are currently sitting in the top spot for the AFC Wild Card, to draw within two games in the AFC North. The Bills picked up an important win over the 49ers to keep a slim one game lead over the Dolphins in the AFC East. The Titans and Colts are in a tight race for the AFC South, both with an 8-4 record but Tennessee holds the tiebreaker.
In the NFC there are two teams running away with their divisions in the Packers and the Saints who both hold at least a three game advantage over their nearest competition. The NFC East and West, however, should go down to the wire as virtually every team in those divisions still have a chance to finish with a division title.
As we start to see more teams secure their postseason spots, others will continue to be eliminated from contention. Let's take a look at the power rankings for Week 14 based on what we've seen so far this season.
32. New York Jets (0-12, Last Week 32 +/- 0) - Gregg Williams called an all-out blitz against the Raiders which resulted in cornerback Lamar Jackson being left on an island with Henry Ruggs III and got beat for the game-winning TD with 5 seconds left. That's so Jets.
2020 Jets Mood Ft. Bill Parcells #Jets #TakeFlight https://t.co/JeXbX4p5eb— NYJ Matt (@NYJ Matt)1607552081.0
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-11, Last Week 31, +/- 0) - 11 game losing streak, and nearly caught a break as the Jets looked primed to get their first win of the season. But unfortunately for the Jags, the Jets lost in dramatic fashion keeping them one step ahead of Jacksonville in the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes.
30. Cincinnati Bengals (2-9-1, Last Week 28, - 2) - Outside of a 72 yard strike to Tyler Boyd for their lone score, the Bengals were smothered by Miami in a bad loss in Week 13. Without Joe Mixon they only accounted for 40 rushing yards in the game.
29. Dallas Cowboys (3-9, Last Week 26, - 3) - Zeke turned in an OK performance, but the Cowboys were handled easily by the Ravens on Tuesday evening 34-17.
28. Chicago Bears (5-7, Last Week 29, + 1) - Somehow the Bears move up a spot this week following their sixth straight loss. It's only due to the four teams behind them are in such a mess. David Montgomery turned in his second consecutive strong performance with over 100 yards of total offense and two touchdowns. Mitch Trubisky looked slightly better than Mitchell Trubisky.
Chicago Bears QB Mitch Trubisky understands the storylines about him, Mahomes, and Watson. Trubisky: "It's always… https://t.co/gxFWrEWlFK— Daniel Greenberg (@Daniel Greenberg)1607552226.0
27. Denver Broncos (4-8, Last Week 27, +/- 0) - With Drew Lock, the Broncos looked like an NFL team again, but not a good one. 131 yards from Melvin Gordon in a losing effort was the lone bright spot.
26. Los Angeles Chargers (3-9, Last Week 24, - 2) - Officially eliminated from playoff contention with loss last week. Justin Herbert appeared to be human for the first time in his rookie campaign.
25. Philadelphia Eagles (3-8-1, Last Week 25, +/- 0) - Jalen Hurts has been announced as the starting quarterback for this week. Doug Pederson knows that his job is on the line, this move is going to determine a lot about the future of this franchise.
Fletcher Cox on liking Tweet that supports Carson Wentz starting for Eagles over Jalen Hurts: "Carson is my best f… https://t.co/Cbruk4Kt1u— Barstool Philly (@Barstool Philly)1607560512.0
24. Detroit Lions (5-7, Last Week 30, + 6) - Interim coach, Darrell Bevell, got the W Week 13 v the Bears. Getting good performances from vets Matt Stafford (402 passing yards, 3 TDs) and Adrian Peterson (57 rushing yards, 2 TDs). With the win they draw even with Chicago T-3 NFC North.
23. Carolina Panthers (4-8, Last Week 23, +/- 0) - The Panthers are coming off a bye week and are hoping to get some players healthy for the home stretch in Christian McCaffrey and D.J. Moore.
22. Atlanta Falcons (4-8, Last Week 21, - 1) - With a loss in Week 13 the Falcons are all but mathematically eliminated from contention in a most disappointing 2020 season. Raheem Morris has made a case however to be retained as HC next season.
21. Houston Texans (4-8, Last Week 19, - 2) - Houston, like Atlanta, lost this past week and with that loss are virtually out of the running for a wildcard spot as the Titans and Colts have a significant lead for the top two spots in the division.
20. San Francisco 49ers (5-7, Last Week 20, +/- 0) - Lost Monday night to Buffalo, but didn't look bad in doing so. They're a much better team than their record indicates, and when healthy they're easily in the top 10.
19. New York Giants (5-7, Last Week 22, + 3) - The Giants have won four in a row and are positioning themselves to win the NFC East without Saquon Barkley.
Coach Judge is 'optimistic' about Daniel Jones, but his game status is still TBD 📰: https://t.co/noq6qBQdkd https://t.co/a6FNqC8h9C— New York Giants (@New York Giants)1607560233.0
18. Arizona Cardinals (6-6, Last Week 11, - 7) - The third consecutive loss by the Cardinals see their playoff hopes slipping away. The 49ers' loss to Buffalo helped the Cards avoid falling into a tie for last place in the NFC West, but it's on Kyler Murray to get this team back on track with only four weeks to go.
17. Las Vegas Raiders (7-5, Last Week 18, + 1) - The Raiders got a last second win on a Derek Carr to Henry Ruggs connection to keep them in the Wild Card race in the AFC. Darren Waller has been spectacular again this year elevating himself to the level of Travis Kelce in the realm of fantasy tight ends.
16. New England Patriots (6-6, Last Week 16, +/- 0) - Winners of two straight and back in contention for a postseason spot. Winning boring is still winning.
"Let me get this goddamn smile out of the way because I'm going to joylessly destroy everyone for the next 30 years… https://t.co/OwjJVd4DEd— Super 70s Sports (@Super 70s Sports)1607286909.0
15. Washington Football Team (5-7, Last Week 17, + 2) - The Football Team knocked off the previously undefeated Steelers on Monday night in one of the biggest surprises of the season! One thing is for sure. This Washington squad plays some great defense. I hope we can keep moving them up this list.
14. Baltimore Ravens (7-5, Last Week 15, + 1) - A much needed matchup against Dallas allowed the Ravens to get back on track with a win after a three game slide. Cleveland has done them no favors as they keep winning and creating more separation between the Ravens and a playoff spot.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5, Last Week 9, - 4) - Coming off a bye week, Tampa Bay benefitted from losses from Seattle, Arizona, Atlanta, and Carolina. We can't imagine a season where Tom Brady isn't in the playoffs, and the Bucs enjoy a soft schedule to end the year as they'll get the Falcons twice along with Detroit.12. Minnesota Vikings (6-6, Last Week 14, + 2) - A two game win streak calls for a two position jump in our rankings this week. Still in the hunt for a WC spot. Justin Jefferson became the second rookie Minnesota wide receiver to eclipse 1,000 yards.
11. Indianapolis Colts (8-4, Last Week 10, - 1) - The Colts picked up a division win over the Texans last week and gained valuable ground on Tennessee to draw even in record (8-4), but will need to pick up a win on them as the Titans hold the tiebreaker.
10. Los Angeles Rams (8-4, Last Week 13, + 3) - We spent the first half of the season wondering how good the Rams really were after a weak early season schedule. Now atop the best division in football, they should be questioning us.
9. Miami Dolphins (8-4, Last Week 12, + 3) - Whether it's Fitz or Tua, the Dolphins keep winning games and have closed the gap with Buffalo to the slimmest of margins. Maybe Tua should grow a beard to see if he can create some Fitz-Magic of his own.
Here's a look at Tua Tagovailoa from #Dolphins practice today. He's no longer wearing the tape/brace on his thumb. https://t.co/bNqls7oyur— Ruthie Polinsky (@Ruthie Polinsky)1607541217.0
8. Seattle Seahawks (8-4, Last Week 5, - 3) - DK Metcalf stiff-arming the Giants' James Bradberry was a highlight play, but New York walked away with the win, and the lead in their division. Seattle lost the game and the division lead they entered Week 13 with. Another shaky performance from Russell Wilson, but the return of Chris Carson helped a struggling running game in his absence. Ultimately the Seahawks need to improve on defense if they have championship aspirations.
7. Tennessee Titans (8-4, Last Week 7, +/- 0) - Even with a loss and Indianapolis picking up a win to draw even in season record, the Titans still hold the tiebreaker advantage and maintain a small margin of error over the final four weeks of the season. Derrick Henry will be the key to how far Tennessee can go. Ryan Tannehill has played all-pro caliber football at times this season, and that's the guy they'll need if teams are able to put the clamps on Henry the way Cleveland did for most of the game in Week 13.
6. Cleveland Browns (9-3, Last Week 8, + 2) - Cleveland guaranteed their first winning season in over a decade with their win over Tennessee and also helped to silence some of their critics that have knocked their weaker schedule. They're currently holding the top WC spot in the AFC and have a favorable schedule to end the year before meeting Pittsburgh in Week 17.
The Dallas Cowboys are being replaced with the Cleveland Browns for a Primetime game... Only 2020. https://t.co/Tx7j1I10w9— NFL Memes (@NFL Memes)1607568086.0
5. Buffalo Bills (9-3, Last Week 6, + 1) - Beat the 49ers on Monday to stay a game ahead of Miami and they lead the league in 3rd Down Conversions. The Bills will be a tough matchup for anyone in the playoffs.
4. Green Bay Packers (9-3, Last Week 4, +/- 0) - Aaron Rodgers tossed 3 TDs in an easy win over the Eagles on Sunday. Rodgers is now 5th in the NFL in passing yards (3,395) and first in passing TDs (36). Aaron Jones had a breakout game, his first since returning from injury a couple weeks back.
"Whoever catches Aaron's next [TD], keep the ball." It was destiny for @tae15adams to catch @AaronRodgers12's 400t… https://t.co/T2Wjc8GKpF— NFL (@NFL)1607574600.0
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-1, Last Week 1, - 2) - Washington handed the Steelers their first loss of the season, but the Steelers are still a legitimate threat to beat anyone. They have the pedigree to make a deep playoff run, getting James Conner healthy will be key in just how far they go.
2. New Orleans Saints (10-2, Last Week 3, + 1) - The Saints keep winning and have clinched a playoff berth riding a nine game win streak. Taysom Hill has been excellent during Drew Brees' absence, but the future hall-of-famer is close to making a return. New Orleans can now be conservative about bringing him back to make sure he's ready for playoffs.
Taysom Hill https://t.co/EEWC2vN9mK— ⚜️Mook☃️ (@⚜️Mook☃️)1607279112.0
1. Kansas City Chiefs (11-1, Last Week 2, + 1) - The Chiefs reassume the top spot in our rankings. Even though it's felt like they should've been here for a few weeks now, we simply couldn't disrespect the Steelers during an undefeated streak. Until further notice, the Chiefs are your Super Bowl favorites.
He was still in college. 🤯 https://t.co/J2xGEftbxZ— Arrowhead Pride (@Arrowhead Pride)1607623260.0
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.