Sacked coaches, benched quarterbacks, coronavirus outbreaks and Tom Brady pulling a JR Smith...
It's been a wild and unpredictable week in the NFL, and we're here to take shots at the biggest headlines in this week's collection of Intentional Fouls.
Tom has a deflating loss to the Bears
Last night's ugly matchup between the Bears and Bucs came out with an unexpected loss for the Bucs—mostly because Tom Brady forgot it was fourth down.
As expected, the Internet showed up Friday morning ready to clown the best quarterback of all time, speculating as to whether the 43-year-old is still (mentally) in it to win it. Has Father Time come for Father Tom?
Honestly, probably not. Brady's one of the best deep throwers of 2020, and that's with an offense that still hasn't clicked like New England clockwork. With Chris Godwin sidelined, Mike Evans nursing an injured ankle and injuries dotting the offensive roster, the Bucs are struggling when they have the talent to be a leading NFL team.
But none of that excuses Tom's faux pas on that crucial fourth down—how the hell did he not know what was going on? It's impossible to imagine not knowing the down on a game-changing play, and especially for someone who's been playing the game almost as long as Justin Herbert's lifespan. Maybe he was too caught up in the moment, or maybe he was trying to get one over on the refs to compensate for the 100+ yards lost from penalties.
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While Tom didn't deny his forgetfulness and opted for the usual "we've got to execute better" in his postgame presser, Bruce Arians straight-up lied and said that Tom knew it was fourth down. Everyone knew that if anyone can do it in 1:30, it was Tom—but in the words of RoJo, the Bucs beat themselves.
Belichick is deliciously evil, but is he capable of biowarfare?
The NFL COVID Outbreak has finally arrived, and it came straight for the jugular of the team you love to hate: the New England Patriots.
Before anyone yells out, "Cheaters!", the fates are actually conspiring against the dynastic team this time: quarterback Cam Newton missed a key Chiefs matchup due to COVID, and now shutdown corner Stephon Gilmore tested positive for the debilitating illness.
https://t.co/CLrVeCzqPD— The Gilly Lock (@The Gilly Lock)1602094512.0
In one week, the Patriots have lost the best players on their offense and defense, and it was clear on Monday that the Patriots could have easily won that Chiefs game if Newton was healthy.
But before Gilmore left the field and discovered his diagnosis, he hugged Patrick Mahomes after the game, which begs the question: Did Bill Belichick do this on purpose to wipe out the unstoppable Mahomes for a few weeks?
Of course not, but it's hilarious to think that Belichick could do something this evil...or, at least, the NFL could try to punish him for doing this "intentionally."
Meanwhile, there's a full-on outbreak on the Titans, where nearly half their roster has tested positive so far at 23. Apparently, the Titans haven't been exactly following COVID protocol, which could result in severe punishments by the league in order to set an example.
Despite Gilmore's recently positive test, there are no new tests reported for the Titans or Patriots, and both teams are scheduled to play their Week 5 matchups. But if this coronavirus/injury trend continues, few teams will have all 22 active players standing by the end of the season—not even Bill can outsmart his way out of that.
Bill O'Brien finally sacked for the dumpster fire that is the Houston Texans
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Just as power-hungry Bill O'Brien sought to slurp up play calling duties on an 0-4 Texans, he was finally fired this week, meaning that someone thought he was worse than Dan Quinn and Adam Gase.
But O'Brien is worse than Quinn or Gase, if for nothing other than his secret plot to take over the entire Texans organization. That's right: O'Brien proclaimed that the offensive coordinator would be calling plays for the first three games of the season, which is a weird thing for the head coach to state because… of course the OC calls the plays. The whole point of his statement was so that when the Texans lost back-to-back to three of the NFL's toughest teams, O'Brien could swoop in and pick up the play calling duties as well, knowing full well that no one could survive those games after he traded away their most valuable passing asset, Deandre Hopkins, in March.
Texans Trade DeAndre Hopkins www.youtube.com
It gets worse: apparently JJ Watt called out BOB for his coaching ability and started a player revolution that ended up getting the head coach fired.
A source tells me that JJ Watt and Bill O’Brien had a heated exchange on the practice field the week of the Steeler… https://t.co/wDH1avNqLS— John Granato (@John Granato)1602089653.0
Bill tried to emulate his former boss, Bill Belichick, but if we've learned anything over twenty years, it's this: no one can be Bill Belichick, not even a Bill that's frequented the playoffs. As former Patriots defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel steps up and becomes the new oldest head coach in NFL history, Week 5 will offer a glimpse into how the once-lofty Texans will hobble through the rest of the year.
The Washington Team is doing the most in 2020
It's been a whirlwind few months for the Washington Football Team, an NFL franchise that is doing its best to salvage a reputation that went up in flames when their creepy, illegally-taken cheerleader footage scandal leaked.
The next thing they're doing to salvage their reputation? Sending Dwayne Haskins to the back ahead of Week 5 as they promote former Panthers QB Kyle Allen to starter.
The Dwayne Haskins Experience: 🔸 Get drafted 15th overall by a HC on the hot seat 🔸 Play for three HCs in 13 games… https://t.co/Ew41uOLvd9— Kimberley A. Martin (@Kimberley A. Martin)1602077621.0
Haskins hasn't been the best QB by any means, but he's also on an incredibly dysfunctional team that's still in flux—not to mention he stands behind a bottom five offensive line unit while taking orders from a new offensive coordinator.
Pat McAfee Reacts To Dwayne Haskins Being Benched By The Washington Football Team www.youtube.com
If you don't think that a team can make the difference for a quarterback's career, just look at Andrew Luck's tragically short run due to a lacking offensive line, the brilliant Tony Romo's shortened career due to the exact same issue, or how Sam Darnold is now tripping over himself the way Mark Sanchez used to run into butts.
NFL: Denver Broncos at New York Jets Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Well guys it’s all come full circle for my guy Sam Darnold... last year he saw Ghost & this year he got sacked by o… https://t.co/6IO7mYHmDw— Ryan Clark (@Ryan Clark)1601607498.0
Maybe Haskins isn't it, but it's equally possible that he's a young quarterback that hasn't been developed properly and had a chance to thrive in Washington. Whether Haskins stays on this Football Team or joins another, here's to hoping that the quarterback is able to keep his NFL dreams alive and show his true capabilities, whatever they may be.
Sometimes I hate it here https://t.co/3ggfriITG1— Joe cardoso 📝🎙🗣 (@Joe cardoso 📝🎙🗣)1602279128.0
Sometimes I hate it here https://t.co/3ggfriITG1— Joe cardoso 📝🎙🗣 (@Joe cardoso 📝🎙🗣)1602279128.0
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.