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Week 13 Insights

Browns @ Texans

Browns seem to love running the quarterback option with Deshaun Watson.


Jets @ Vikings

For all the good vibes in their locker room this week, it doesn’t seem to matter much as the Vikings are currently dominating.

This Jets offense is a little too confused for my liking, messing up routes.

Minnesota’s red zone defense is honestly admirable. Five red-zone trips, only one touchdown surrendered. And even that touchdown was painful. Part of that is on the Jets for their sloppiness.

What horrible play-calling from the Jets at the end of the game. Two straight passing plays at the 1-yard line. Both plays were sloppily executed. No faith in their running game.

Jets defense play hard, especially with their tackling.

This Jones kid on the Vikings defense might be making a name for himself.

Kirk almost seems cripplingly dependent on Justin Jefferson.

Minnesota committing more to man coverage than usual. Looks like Donatell is willing to ease up a bit on what is otherwise a dogmatic faithfulness to the Fangio style of defense.

Garrett Wilson is an all-star receiver for these Jets. Elijah Moore seems to be the second option given his quickness and relative athleticism.

Jalen Reagor seems to play the speed option role for the Vikings. Either send him deep down the field or have him run trick plays out of the backfield.

Vikings like to rest their key pass rushers early in the fourth to get them ready to close out the game.


Commanders @ Giants

Once again, the Giants are presenting issues defending against the run.

McLaurin is a beast. Give the man his credit as the team’s top receiver.

Jihad Ward stepping up as a name to watch on this Giants defensive front.


Jaguars @ Lions

Looks like my theory about emotional victories holds weight after all. Wish I applied that same logic to the Jets…


Stelers @ Falcons

Yep. As I suspected, Pittsburgh is the tougher team. Atlanta is just weak mentally.


Packers @ Bears

These Bears might have a serious inferiority complex against the Packers. Worth keeping in mind for next year.


Seahawks @ Rams

Why do I keep violating a fundamental rule here? Never bet road teams giving away a whole bunch of points.


Titans @ Eagles

Eagles are repeatedly getting penalized and having the referees rule against them on critical plays. And yet they’ll still end up winning this game handily.

It’s not advisable to play man coverage against the Eagles and their receivers. Vrabel learned that the hard way today.

Eagles kept stacking the box on early downs, knowing the Titans love to run with power. You can’t run with power against stacked boxes though. And when Trayvon Burk was ruled out early with a concussion, he took the Titans passing game with him. Without Burks, Tannehill had nobody reliable to throw to.

AJ Brown had a game of the ages here against his old team. Just constantly beating them like a drum over and over.

Kudos to Philadelphia for being so willing to play left-handed this game, knowing full well Tennessee is the single best team in the league defending the run. The Eagles committed wholeheartedly to the passing game, as evidenced by Hurts only running the ball on a handful of snaps. No other game saw the Eagles throw the ball so much. And they were able to pull off the win.


Broncos @ Ravens

This Ravens offensive line is bad. I mean…really bad. Not only did they end up getting Lamar hurt, Tyler Huntley barely had any time to settle into a rhythm in the pocket. Even though Denver was only recorded as having hit the quarterback five times, it seems like they were assaulting him on every other play. Something tells me that number doesn’t reflect reality.

Russell Wilson and this Bronco offense have no real rhythm. It’s very much a go broke or stay very safe type of offense - Russ only looks towards the deep part of the field and then checks it down underneath if nothing presents itself. I don’t see this team scheming any plays attacking the intermediate area of the field.

It’s clear Greg Roman and the Baltimore offense don’t practice other types of plays much outside of the concept plays that represent the core of their playbook.

Tyler Huntley can run the ball. So don’t expect Roman’s strategy to shift much on offense if Lamar is sidelined for the foreseeably future.


Browns @ Texans

Cade York’s been having kicking issues as of late. Understandable given he’s a rookie.

Deshaun Watson doesn’t look good at all. Very rusty. Prone to miscommunication. Relying more on his feet to force production.


Dolphins @ 49ers

It’s clear the 49ers are committing more coverage resources towards the middle of the field, even dropping back linebackers deep to take away the intermediate area. Tua hasn’t found any sort of rhythm as his favorite part of the field has been taken away from him.

Speaking of which, this should end any potential Tua had of being deemed an elite quarterback.

Nick Bosa has been wreaking havoc consistently this game. An elite pass rusher, no doubt.

As for Miami, multiple people have been making an impact in the pass rush now that Josh Boyer seems much more comfortable blitzing here given San Francisco is down to a third-string quarterback on offense. The only one I’ve noticed making a consistent impact has been Melvin Ingram, funny enough. Jaelen Philips, Bradley Chubb, and Andrew Van Ginkel have flashed here and then, but not consistently enough.

The fact that a third-string quarterback can be productive in this offense is testament to the 49ers coaching staff as well as the diverse weaponry they have on hand on that side of the ball. CMC, Deebo, George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk….

2022 Circa Millions - Week 13 Predictions

So in the end, did my theory about teams on extended road trips pan out? Eh, I’m not sure.

Washington did impress me against Atlanta, starting with their opening drive. I didn’t notice any slowdown whatsoever from them. With precious few exceptions, the Commanders were able to achieve what they set out to do on offense. Defensively, they were the more forceful unit compared to their counterparts on the other side.

Cleveland ended up winning as home underdogs against Tampa Bay, but even that win came on a last-second play towards the end of regulation to force overtime. After the initial scripted plays, Cleveland’s offense failed to score any points until the very end of the fourth quarter. To be fair, their defense stepped up and did tremendous work limiting Brady and his men at critical moments - Tampa Bay’s offense failed to find much success on offense.

I think I may be reading too much into a limited sample size. I’ll need to keep an eye on extended road trips going forward though, but I don’t expect to find anything conclusive. If anything, I think what I learned is that Minnesota was completely stomped by Dallas not because the Vikings were coming back from an extended road trip, but simply because the Vikings were coming down from a high after winning an exciting thriller against a team many then considered the best in the league. That emotional high lends itself all too well to a lack of effort the week after. On top of that, Dallas was bitter after blowing a lead against McCarthy’s former team in Green Bay. So that contrast of emotions gave the Cowboys an incredibly sharp edge against Minnesota.

We’ll see if that theory holds any weight this week when Jacksonville faces Detroit. The Jaguars played their best game this season last week when Trevor Lawrence led a late-game comeback against the Ravens. Emotions ran rampant across the field down in Duval County once Justin Tucker missed his field goal attempt at the end of regulation. So next week should be a great spot for the Lions.

Another theory worth testing is whether quarterbacks that have historically been awful in primetime stay faithful to that trend. Kirk Cousins bucked that trend last Thursday, but this Minnesota team in general is sporting a different swagger under first-year head coach Kevin O’Connell. It’s possible the Vikings have a fire in them this season helping them overcome past shortcomings. I don’t think New Orleans has that same mojo, especially given the team holds the worst turnover ratio in the league leading up to this week. So if this theory holds true, expect the Ginger Rifle to implode this Monday in hostile territory.

Anyway, let’s roll forward into some picks here…


Steelers @ Falcons (+1.5)


Recent History

Falcons
vs. Bengals (L)
@ Colts (W) [MNF]

Falcons
vs. Bears (W)
@ Commanders (L)

Pittsburgh seems to have turned a new leaf with a surprise victory last Monday against a hot Colts team. Kenny Pickett has been playing fairly solid as of lately (by rookie standards).

Injuries

Najee Harris may not be healthy enough to play for Pittsburgh, though Benny Snell seems to have performed well in relief duty last week.

Weather

Dome game

Prior Meetings

No recent meetings to analyze between these two organizations or their coaching staffs. Arthur Smith did face off against Mike Tomlin a couple years ago, but the roster circumstances were considerably different back then.


Steelers -1.5


Pittsburgh is not a bad team. Certainly not great, but not bad by any means. Kenny Pickett is finally coming along and putting his receiving weapons to good use, namely Freirmuth, George Pickens, and Diontae Johnson. The ground game is also showing signs of life.

What has me favoring Pittsburgh here is that Tomlin and his defense seem to perform well against opposing rushers, although the way Jonathan Taylor was able to find success steadily last week has me a bit wary. Atlanta won’t be so easily denied rushing the game, but I expect the Steelers to snuff them on a few drives. The question then becomes whether Pittsburgh can tally up three of four scores on offense.


Titans @ Eagles (-4.5)


Recent History

Titans
@ Packers [TNF] (W)
vs. Bengals (L)

Eagles
@ Colts (W)
vs. Packers [SNF] (W)

Titans played well against the Bengals, but ultimately dropped the game late against them. Eagles are back on a winning streak after last week’s solid rout over the Packers.

Injuries

Philadelphia’s best corner in CJ Gardner-Johnson is now ruled out for the rest of the season after sustaining a major injury last week.

Weather

Cold, but not freezing

Prior Meetings

No history worth noting between these two clubs or their managers.


Titans +4.5


Tennessee is almost too tempting a pick here. Not only are they managed by one of the best head coaches in the league, the Titans also boast a defensive front seven capable of shadowing Miles Sanders and Jalen Hurts. If the Eagles can’t jump start their offense by establishing the run, then Hurts will be forced to cover the spread through his arm. Forgive me if I’m a bit skeptical that he’ll be able to pull that off. Sure, he can do just enough to win the game, but 4.5 points may be a bit too wide a lead for a Philadelphia squad not exactly lighting up the world through the pass.

So give me the single best defense from a run success perspective here.


Jaguars @ Lions (+1)


Recent History

Jaguars
@ Chiefs (L)
BYE
vs. Ravens (W)

Lions
@ Giants (W)
vs. Bills [Thanksgiving] (L)

The Jaguars are coming off a sensational comeback victory against the Ravens. Meanwhile, Detroit’s still reconciling losing to the Bills in a close one on national television.

Injuries

Travis Etienne may not be fully healthy come Sunday after spraining his foot against the Ravens last week.

The Lions aren’t missing anybody significant.

Weather

Dome game

Prior Meetings

These two organizations met two years ago, but both teams had completely different people leading them into action. So that game tells us very little.


Lions +1


A couple things here…one, I’ll be testing out a new rule of thumb as to whether teams coming off emotional wins play at less than full potential the week after. Scanning through some past games seems to give this theory some credence. Two, I’ve noticed bad teams favored on the road almost never cover this year. Despite their surprise win over Baltimore last week, Jacksonville is still considered a bad team in my book - a one-off win will not change that. I need to see that success sustained over several weeks. Unless things have changed suddenly in an inexplicable manner over the past couple weeks, I don’t expect them to really change much. In fact, their historic comeback last week came against a team ranked 31st in comebacks surrendered (only behind Jacksonville, ironically enough).

So give me an average Lions team taking points here, even if it’s only one point.


Packers @ Bears (+4.5)


Recent History

**Packers
vs. Titans [TNF] (L)
@ Eagles [SNF] (L)

**
Bears
@ Falcons (L)
@ Jets (L)

Both of these teams have been on painful losing streaks, especially the Bears. Chicago hasn’t won a game in over a month. Green Bay lost last week in what may have been the worst rushing defensive performance seen yet this season.

Injuries

Injury concerns are a bit vexing on both sides. For Green Bay, left tackle David Bakhtiari is out. Which makes things a little more dangerous for Aaron Rodgers, who’s already dealing with a litany of issues himself. His abdomen and the thumb on his throwing hand are banged up.

Chicago isn’t much better. Even though Justin Fields seems healthy enough to start, his shoulder injury should limit him in some slight capacity. And if FIelds is knocked out for any reason, that means Nathan Peterman will be seizing the reins on offense. Even worse though, the defense has lost its best player in Eddie Jackson. Without Jackson, nobody is left to captain the unit. Furthermore, both of their rookie starting cornerbacks are also out.

Weather

Near-freezing temperatures and moderate winds are expected

Prior Meetings

Twice last year and once earlier this season, Green Bay housed Chicago by double digits. To be fair, it can be argued that Chicago has found its identity since then, fully embracing a run-first mentality to offense given that Justin Fields' biggest strength are his legs and his ability to improvise.


Uncertain


If the Bears were healthy, this would be an easy pick for me. Few teams in the league can run the ball better than Chicago. And as Philadelphia so aptly demonstrated last week, a ground game incorporating the quarterback can feast against this soft Packers defense.

But the injuries across their defense are a little too serious for me to ignore. Despite Rodgers dealing with multiple injuries, it won’t be hard finding daylight against this porous Bears defense. Combine that with a quality ground game and the Packers should see quite a few drives through to the end zone.

Even worse, Justin Fields isn’t 100% either. I don’t doubt his spirit, but I do doubt whether he’s willing to fully commit to hard runs against a Green Bay defense that understands his tendencies all too well. I know he’ll be eating yards, but every single one of his runs will come at a cost so long as Green Bay can land hits on the boy.


Seahawks @ Rams (+7)


Recent History

**Seahawks
**@ Buccaneers (L)
BYE
vs. Raiders (L)

Rams
@ Saints (L)
@ Chiefs (L)

Rams have been dealt nothing but shameful losses the past several weeks.

Injuries

Seahawks are mostly healthy.

Rams are anything but. John Wolford is expected to make another tragic start at quarterback this weekend. But more worrying is this - Aaron Donald is going to miss the first ever game of his career. Is he missing this game purely for health reasons or are the Rams so demoralized this season that even their best players are willing to take injury opportunities to sideline themselves?

Weather

Dome game

Prior Meetings

The Rams had the Seahawks number last year, winning outright and covering the spread in both of their games.


Seahawks -7


History favors the Rams here, but the reality is that these two teams have been turned upside down this season. The Rams aren’t experiencing just any regular Super Bowl hangover - the organization is completely collapsing now that the devil of opportunity has come to collect the bill due for his services last year. After all, this team had to sell its soul to win the championship. A decline was expected, but not one this sudden.

Seattle is a playoff-caliber team, on the other hand. And the club still finds itself trending upward though despite recent losses to the Buccaneers and Raiders. It has to be noted that both losses were predicated on their opponents using the power running game to keep pace with Seattle. And if the Seahawks are denied control of the game early, their opponents have a much easier time winning. I know that sounds self-evident… but it needs to be made clear this squad struggles digging itself out of deficits and then closing out games gracefully. Let’s not forget that Seattle has yet to stage a successful comeback this season so far.

Seattle needs to find early success and dominate time of possession to win comfortably. If the Seahawks cannot do either, then they have to win the turnover battle. That can happen against a team as listless as these Rams, especially given Los Angeles is missing its best players on both sides of the ball. Not only that, Wolford should be good for a turnover or two.


Broncos @ Ravens (-8.5)


Recent History

Broncos
vs. Raiders (L)
@ Panthers (L)

Ravens
vs. Panthers (W)
@ Jaguars (L)

Baltimore is coming off its worst loss yet, losing literally last second against the Jaguars on a gutsy two-point play. It was such a troubling loss that Lamar lashed out at fans on social media. Apparently, losing isn’t the same when one loses to the Lions and the Jaguars.

Injuries

Denver could be thin at wide receiver this weekend. Not only is KJ Hamler out, but Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton are questionable. It’s likely Sutton will play, but Jeudy isn’t guaranteed to play, let alone finish the game should he start.

Baltimore may be down a few starters in the defensive backfield. Then again, does that matter much given it’s Russell Wilson throwing the ball against them?

Weather

Cold, but nothing debilitating

Prior Meetings

Both these teams met in what was a rout by the Ravens. The Broncos scored once early in the second quarter and then promptly died. Baltimore coasted to a double-digit victory. It’s worth noting though that Drew Lock was at the helm of the offense at the time. Not only that, but an entirely different coaching regime was in charge over there for Denver.


Ravens -8.5


These two faced the Panthers on back-to-back weeks just recently. Baltimore managed to win against Carolina by 10 points while Denver lost by 13 points. Not only that, but look at last year’s game between these two - Baltimore won the game in breezy fashion over in Denver. Keep in mind that Denver team was better than this year’s team.

I know 8.5 points is a little excessive, but history and current trends greatly favor Baltimore in this situation - a blow-out is the most likely scenario here. Given that reality, give me the team expected to engineer that blow-out.


Saints @ Buccaneers (-3.5)


What happens when a team with an infidelity complex against this opponent runs into that opponent starting a major liability at quarterback? I have no idea. So for that reason, I’m staying away from this one. But I’ll keep an eye on this one.


Dolphins @ 49ers (-4)


Recent History

Dolphins
vs. Browns (W)
BYE
vs. Texans (W)

49ers
@ Cardinals (W)
vs. Saints (W)

Both franchises are on extended winning streaks.

Injuries

So the Dolphins are expected to miss both their starting tackles. Not good.

For the 49ers, Trent Williams is expected to be sidelined and Deebo Samuel is at risk of missing action here.

Weather

Some drizzle might fall during the game

Prior Meetings

No prior contests worth analyzing here. Mike McDaniel studied under Kyle Shanahan before becoming head coach of the Dolphins, so these two should be very familiar with their tricks and tendencies.


Uncertain


It’s a bit of a wide spread. While I feel good about the 49ers winning this game based on the strength of their defensive line versus Miami’s offensive front, I’m cognizant of the fact that Miami has been one of the best teams at waging comebacks. I’m not saying the Dolphins will be successful in staging a comeback in enemy territory, but should they try to stage one, a backdoor cover is possible.

Then again, that’s assuming San Francisco can assert and maintain a lead throughout the duration of the game. I do think it’s a somewhat safe assumption though - Kyle Shanahan should be generally aware of whatever strategies and tactics Mike McDaniel plans on using here. I don’t see the 49er defense stopping Miami’s offense on more than half their drives, but I do expect the defense to force enough negative plays to cut drives short and give their offensive compatriots multiple chances to run up a lead.

That being said, the Dolphins have surprisingly been one of the better teams at stopping opposing rushers this year, so let’s see exactly what Miami can do against San Francisco’s complex ground game.

2022 Week 12 Predictions

It’s dawning on me that so much of what determines outcomes depends on time and circumstance. Dallas whooping Minnesota last week was an outcome I never could have predicted - it was hard enough for me to see Dallas even win the game.

But it makes sense when one considers that the Vikings were returning from an extended road trip having won a momentous game against the league-leading Bills. Meanwhile, the Cowboys were emotionally burned after losing as significant favorites against a Green Bay team that’s been losing games left and right. In that light, it makes so much sense that Minnesota was bound to underperform right as Dallas was set to perform at a higher level than usual. Not only were the Cowboys able to gash Minnesota’s defense for big yardage over ground, their defense harassed Kirk Cousins on a regular basis. The Cowboys were so good that some people are actually thinking of them as championship contenders. How quickly we forget the bad times…

My other embarrassing losses were the Giants and the Cardinals. I won’t beat myself up about the Cardinals - that was a pick made more out of desperation than anything else. Next year, I’ll devoutly follow the old adage I’ve repeated here on the blog time and again - never bet on international games. Field conditions and time zone changes can render these games quite unpredictable. In Arizona’s case, their defense wasn’t used to playing at such a high altitude. In contrast, San Francisco spent an entire week practicing at elevation, knowing full well the game would be played in thinner air.

The Giants, though…I’m not sure what happened there. Detroit’s defense ranks among the worst in many categories this year, but they were still able to restrain Saquon Barkley, limiting him to 1.5 yards a carry. Given their lack of receiving weaponry and Daniel Jones with his occasionally erratic decision-making, a loss is all but assured when a defense is able to bottle up Saquon like that - Seattle and now Detroit has proven this. But the Lions shouldn’t have been able to stone New York’s ground game like that. Their defensive front and linebackers aren’t world beaters.

Just looking through the game logs though, I see Daniel Jones and Matt Breida did just fine running the ball against the Lions. It was Saquon who kept failing to succeed. In fact, just about every single one of his rushes ended up being unsuccessful. It’s dawning on me that not only are the Giants hurting at receiver and tight end, but their tailback situation may be in grave danger if some injury is nipping away at Barkley and preventing him from those explosive gains that’s given New York’s offense so much life.

So forget the contest. Let’s just focus on making good picks here. It shouldn’t be this damn difficult.


Falcons @ Commanders (-4.5)


Recent History

Falcons
@ Carolina (L) [TNF]
vs Bears (W)

Commanders
@ Eagles (W) [MNF]
@ Texans (W)

Injuries

Atlanta’s down a significant weapon on offense now that Kyle Pitts has blown out his knee. It’ll be up to their depth receivers to make up for that loss.

The Commanders expect some positive developments this weekend, most notably with Chase Young. Young is expected back for this match.

Weather

It’ll be a wet one, with rain expected from start to finish

Prior Meetings

When both these teams met last year in Atlanta, the Commanders were able to gut out a last-second comeback. But that Atlanta team was very different from this year’s Atlanta club. Nothing actually illustrates this better than their run/pass splits. Last season’s Falcons preferred passing the ball on over 60% of the snaps, whereas the offense this season has fully embraced the ground game now that a mobile quarterback in Marcus Mariota is at its helm.


Falcons +4.5


This is mainly a schedule play. Washington is coming off two solid road wins, one of them against an Eagles team that had yet to experience defeat this season. Now they return home as decisive favorites against an Atlanta team that’s still not all that respected around the league.

The reality is that Atlanta is not that bad a team. I know Washington’s one of the best teams in the league at defending against rush games, but Philadelphia’s demonstrated that run packages incorporating the quarterback option can find real success against the Commander defense.

Washington will find ways to score against Atlanta’s defense. My thesis here is that their defense will be playing at far less than full potential, paving the way for the Falcons to score as well. If the Falcons offense can keep pace with their counterparts on Washington, the cover is guaranteed.


Ravens @ Jaguars (+4.5)


Recent History

Ravens
@ Saints (W) [MNF]
BYE
vs Panthers (W)

Jaguars
vs Raiders (W)
@ Chiefs (L)
BYE

Injuries

No major injury news worth noting.

Weather

Expect quite a bit of humidity. That being said, the cloudy overcast should help make the heat more manageable.

Prior Meetings

No prior contests between these two, but it’s worth noting the style of defense Mike Caldwell likes to run is very similar to the type of defense Baltimore has embraced in recent years.


Uncertain


It’s not the best idea to take a road favorite with a shoddy comeback record. But Jacksonville may well be one of the worst teams in the league. And the field goal kicker is unreliable given he’s cost the team the cover in their game against the Chiefs.

That being said, Jacksonville is still one of the better teams at limiting opposing rushers. It makes sense too, given the youth and athleticism along their defensive front. Players like Fatukasi, Josh Allen, Oluokun, and Travon Walker can hold court with the best rushers. So even if I want to side with the Ravens here, I should only do so cautiously.


Bears @ Jets (-4.5)


Recent History

Bears
Lions (L)
@ Falcons (L)

Jets
Bills (W)
BYE
@ Patriots (L)

Injuries

Justin Fields is dealing with a bad shoulder, meaning it’s possible Trevor Siemian could be starting for the Bears.

A few players on the Jets are injured, but it’s nothing too serious. The good news is that Zach Wilson will be inactive this Sunday, as he’s working through some serious leadership deficiencies.

Weather

Rain is expected towards the second half of the game. It might make things a bit messy especially if this turns out to be a sloppy defensive affair.

Prior Meetings

There’s no recent meetings between these two organizations. It also seems their coaches are unfamiliar with one another.


Bears +4.5


Are the Jets good enough to merit a spread more than 4 points, even against Chicago? I mean, New York lacks any offense especially after losing Breece Hall. Granted, we’re going to see the offense change face now that Zach Wilson’s been benched in favor of Mike White. But is White really much of an upgrade? I mean…sure, he’s shown an appreciation for taking profits whenever possible. And it seems he’s more willing to follow through with whatever game plan Mike LaFleur draws up. But whether he could lead this team back from negative game script or sustain drives without turning the ball over remains to be seen - I didn’t see enough last year to conclude anything.

Let’s be honest - the Bears are bad. But their coaching has been impressive considering they’ve managed to engineer a productive offense around a running back masquerading as a quarterback. If Trevor Siemian is forced to start this Sunday, I could actually see the the coaches use the opportunity to tap into some of their receiving potential now that an actual passer is helming the offense. In fact, it’s for that reason that I expect Fields to be kept sidelined this week - the coaches have been waiting for a moment like this to actually evaluate their skill players on offense. It’d be wise to use his injury situation to do just that, even if Trevor is average at best at passer.


Texans @ Dolphins (-14)


Recent History

Texans
@ Giants (L)
Commanders (L)

Dolphins
@ Bears (W)
Browns (W)
BYE

Injuries

Starting cornerback Derek Stingley might be missing in action for the Texans, not that it matters much.

No serious injuries are expected to affect Miami. Raheem Mostert isn’t practicing, but I suspect they’ll be fine.

Weather

It is expected to be hot and humid. Then again, the weather in Houston and the weather in Miami isn’t all that different, I think.

Prior Meetings

Houston and Miami met last year in drastically different circumstances. Not only were both teams led by different quarterbacks, both teams were suffering through prolonged losing streaks. Miami was led by a different coaching regime, one that was notably toxic under the authoritarian rule of the head coach at the time, Brian Flores.

Miami won rather comfortably in what was a very low-scoring affair. I suppose the Dolphins could have posted up more points on a better day, but Jacoby Brissett turned over the ball twice in the second half. Not much has changed for Houston since then - the Dolphins meanwhile have been born again under new head coach Mike McDaniel.


Dolphins -14


Give me the Fins all day here. This Miami team isn’t afraid to run up the score obnoxiously and I love them for it. Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, and Tua Tagovailoa have created something dangerous here with the way they’re able to score at will. Add to that explosive element this infectious swagger that’s taken over the team this season under new head coach Mike McDaniel and these Dolphins are absolutely rocking.

On the other side, we have the Texans….quite possibly the worst team in the league. So it’s only appropriate an offensive powerhouse like Miami is favored by double digits here. In fact, on the subject of these Texans, the club has nothing positive trending in its favor. Very few pieces of the roster are actually salvageable, especially now that Davis Mills has been benched. The coaching is shoddy and devoid of vision. Morale has sunk across the organization, especially now that the team’s built pathetically little foundation so far this year. Outside of draft picks and a few select players, this team truly has nothing to brag about.

Meanwhile, Miami is currently in the lead for the division crown in a division loaded with teams boasting winning records. As much as the Dolphins may want to slack off here, the reality is that it needs this win to stay competitive. I’m banking on Miami being very willing to run up the score against an aimless Houston outfit clearly struggling on all fronts.


Seahawks @ Raiders (+3.5)


Recent History

Seahawks
@ Arizona (W)
@ Buccaneers [London] (L)
BYE

Raiders
vs. Colts (L)
@ Broncos (W)

Injuries

Josh Jacobs was a late addition to the injury report, so his status is truly questionable.

Weather

Dome game

Prior Meetings

No recent history between these two and the interactions between the coaching staff don’t really merit much analysis here.


Seahawks -3.5


Seattle is undervalued here. The Seahawks are still a very good team on the cusp of a playoff berth while Vegas is anything but that. Sure, the Raiders won a tight one against the Broncos last week, but I’m starting to suspect that Denver harbors an inferiority complex against these Raiders dating back years ago. I mean…it’s almost unfathomable to me that so far this season, Denver’s surrendered the most points to a Vegas team that’s been nothing but underwhelming in every sense of the word. Denver’s a truly elite defense too, which makes that fact all the more remarkable.

So if Vegas winning against the Broncos is nothing more than the result of an inferiority complex, than that would mean this current point spread is unnecessarily inflated in their favor. And that makes sense considering Seattle’s less than four-point favorites here despite having proven themselves time and time again.

It’ll be slow going considering the Seattle’s returning from a bye. But if the Raiders continue playing as sloppy as they’ve been playing through the season, Geno Smith and company should have plenty of opportunities to regain rhythm.


Buccaneers @ Browns (+3.5)


Recent History

Buccaneers
vs. Rams (W)
vs. Seahawks [London] (W)
BYE

Browns
@ Dolphins (L)
@ Bills (L)

Injuries

Both sides are fairly healthy.

Weather

Expect a bit of rain. Things should be decent temperature-wise.

Prior Meetings

Neither of these two teams nor their coaching staffs have met in any capacity.


Browns +3.5


We’ll see whether this theory I have about streaks and extended road trips carries any weight. Lord knows it’s hard enough for me to side with the Browns here. The Buccaneers have so much more reason to win this game - not only is their defense solid at limiting opposing rushers, but Tampa Bay’s offense seems to have turned a new leaf over in Germany. Yet…the fact that the Browns have lost twice on their recent road trip gives them all the motivation here to cover the spread and perhaps even stun the Buccaneers in an upset.

Let’s remember Tampa Bay has yet to prove itself in consecutive games this season. And their great outing in Germany was helped by field conditions - it took a couple quarters for Seattle to actually adjust to a turf that was specifically fabricated to facilitate soccer games. The Buccaneers didn’t have that problem, I suspect because Brady had past experience preparing for this type of turf back when the Patriots played a game in Mexico.

So considering all that, one can reasonably ask whether the Buccaneers have shed all their ugly warts from earlier in the season. This game will go a really long way to answering that question.


Week 12 Insights

Bills @ Lions

Ed Oliver may be a defensive lineman worth watching. He’s been pretty sensational this game.

Josh Allen….just no. I don’t see any composure in his game. Elite, he is not.

Ben Johnson is truly a special offensive coach. He knows teams love to blitz Jared Goff, so he’s incorporated so many crossing routes in his plays that Goff has an easy time finding outlets in the passing game. The running game too is loaded with quite a few misdirection concepts to create lanes for Detroit’s tailbacks.

Good work by Detroit hemming Josh Allen into the pocket.


Giants @ Cowboys

Excellent work by the Giants, staying there in the game. It’s becoming clear to me that part of the reason they lost to Detroit was likely because they may have been preparing for this game at the same time.

It’s the injuries hurting the Giants the most. The replacement offensive linemen and secondary’s making mistakes giving Dallas unnecessary life.


Falcons @ Commanders

A power run up the middle on fourth down against Washington’s defensive front, arguably the strongest defensive front against the run? Nice work, Arthur Smith. I’m starting to think Smith is a pony with few tricks.

Younghoe Koo has been very disappoint as well this year. Maybe it’s regression?

Atlanta had the opportunity to cover and win outright, but the Commanders defensive line tipped the ball at the right moment. Before that, Marcus Mariota tried to run the ball, but the defensive linemen blew that up as well.

I need to assess


Ravens @ Jaguars

Glad to see my original hunch was correct - the Jaguars run defense has been stepping up against these Ravens.


Broncos @ Panthers

Not only does it look like Sam Darnold has been serviceable, but he’s been proficient against this vaunted Broncos defense. Is it possible Darnold has turned over a new leaf here under offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo?


Bears @ Jets

This Mike White kid has been sensational. It’s clear the team rallies around him. His passing has been pretty phenomenal too, though it helps he’s playing against an undermanned Bears defense.

Speaking of which, these Chicago Bears were without their defensive leader in Eddie Jackson as well as their two starting cornerbacks. On top of that, once the Jets adjusted to the passing game by the second half, the Bears were all but dead in the water.

Try not to bet against a new quarterback making a start, especially when that quarterback has the chance to infuse life back into the locker room.


Ravens @ Jaguars

Trevor Laurence’s passing is not on point. I’d grade it at a B. His receivers have bailed him out on multiple occasions, especially on the last critical drive.


Chargers @ Cardinals

Chargers have been killing the Cards all days on intermediate throws outside the numbers, particularly on 2nd down.


Raiders @ Seahawks

Seahawks might have some serious issues defensing the power running game.

Pay attention to all the negative plays Seattle is racking up on offense.

I’m seeing Seattle use quite a few five-man fronts on defense, with a single linebacker behind them. Is Carroll trying to incorporate Staley principles? And why’s he trying to do this against a team that thrives on the power running game?

It’s telling that on a critical third down from about 6 yards out, McDaniels chose to run the ball, knowing full well he was never going to try to convert on fourth down. Conservative coaching is back, baby!

In the end, Josh Jacobs had a monster game despite being questionable on the injury report leading up to the game. Jacobs and his back-up tailback had great days against this sad Seahawks defense.


Rams @ Chiefs

Give Bryce Perkins from credit here for making plays under pressure.


Packers @ Eagles

Packers might be turning over a new leaf. Randall Cobb and Christian Watson making plays now, giving Rodgers just enough weaponry to stitch together a competent offense.

Donkey Kong Suh still got some juice in him.

Tight ends have been fantastic blocking for the Eagles.

Worth keeping an eye on Haason Reddick, Fletcher Cox, and Javon Hargrove.


Bengals @ Titans

Hayden Hurst has the potential to be a contributor on offense for the Bengals.

Bud Dupree is a pass rusher worth keeping an eye on.

Lots of stacked boxes working against Henry here.

I’m noticing Bengals are having issues escaping negative game script, perhaps out of design. The team knows the Titans are deadly when rushing the passer and they can’t afford to take too long in the pocket as routes develop.

I’m telling you - Sam Hubbard and Trey Hendrickson both look impressive to me.

Is Joe Burrow elite again? I mean….some of these passes are absolute dimes. He’s making plays from improvisation, he’s making plays from negative game scripts, his passes have been crisp even in harsh environments….hmmm..

Let me tell you something - these Titans almost never run the ball on 3rd down unless only a few yards stand between them and the line to gain. It’s almost criminal.

Samaje Perine and the Bengals running game have spunk.


Falcons @ Commanders

These Commanders can run the ball.

Montez Sweat is a definite gamer for this Washington pass rush.

I don’t detect much slack at all from Washington despite returning home after winning two straight on the road.

Week 11 Insights

Titans @ Packers

Titans have been sensational incorporating trick plays every now and then within their playbook without having to rely on them for production.

Green Bay may have some serious issues on defense. I see them biting a bit too eagerly on screens and blowing coverages outright. On top of that, their linebacking situation worries me.

Aaron Rodgers just doesn’t trust any of his receivers. For good reason too, it seems like. None of them have really stood out as excellent receivers. It’s clear Rodgers needs dominant receivers to really be successful. Guys like Davonte Adams, Greg Jennings, etc…

That being said, Christian Watson and Allen Lazard have shown flashes of greatness every now and then.


Lions @ Giants

Aidan Hutchinson has been a sensation.

Daniel Jones can’t be trusted to carry this offense on his shoulders, period. In his defense, the guy needs better receivers.


Cowboys @ Vikings

The Fangio-style of defense cannot be trusted against power rushing attacks so long as the team is missing a dominant defensive tackle.

Kirk has been flustered by the blitz all game long. It’s clear he’s far from elite. Not a liability, but definitely not elite.

Dallas has learned its mistakes from last week, opting to double down on their ground game.


Raiders @ Broncos

The Fangio-style of defense cannot be trusted against power rushing attacks so long as the team is missing a dominant defensive tackle.

Denver can be way too presumptive at times. You have coverage defenders trying to jump routes and make plays.


Bengals @ Steelers

Pittsburgh has decoded Cincinnati’s protection schemes. Half their sacks so far this season have come against the Bengals.


49ers vs Cardinals

The Cardinals and their lack of conditioning really shows at this high-altitude stadium in Mexico. The 49ers were rewarded for practicing near Mile High Stadium while Arizona is being punished for their lack of conditioning going up against a San Francisco team that spreads the field laterally and incorporates a whole bunch of concepts in their ground game.


Browns vs Bills

Buffalo can run the ball, even against heavier boxes. Either that or Cleveland is really bad defensing the run. Their linebackers have no sense of gap integrity.

Josh Allen has been pretty lousy in the first half. Not even hitting the easy passes.

2022 Circa Millions - Week 11 Predictions

Interesting week.

Honestly, the Bears are way too sloppy to take as favorites going forward. Justin Fields can’t be trusted to drop back and play as a passer when circumstances deem that the ground game needs to be abandoned. The sad thing is that if the reffing were a bit more objective, Chicago would have walked away with the win. But a few bad calls mixed in with some horrendous late-game mistakes cost them what should have been a solid victory. Then again, my handicapping of that game was wrong - I was fully expecting Jared Goff to play softer as the weather turned cold - instead, Jared Goff may have played some of the best football of his young career as a Lion. Which says quite a bit about Chicago’s defense.

My other loss was Seattle. Why do I always end up violating my overseas cardinal rule at least once every season? I know better than to ever bet on an international game and yet I can’t help myself. I guess the line was way too tempting - after all, temptation is usually the way the devil lures us into bad decisions. I never thought field conditions would frustrate the Seahawks so much. Neither did I see Tampa Bay committing more snaps to the run game. Once the run game was established, Brady and company used the play-action more to open up passing lanes towards the middle of the field. Credit to them for coming up with a fantastic game plan that completely threw Pete Carroll’s defense off equilibrium.

So where do we stand here? First, we are going to start playing the numbers more here? We need to start evaluating the games by looking at the number first and determining whether that number is a fair assessment of the game given both of the teams involved as well as the location where they’re playing. Then we go from there.


Browns @ Bills (-8)


Streaks

Browns - 1L
Bills - 2L

Buffalo’s reeling after two surprise losses.

Injuries

The only major concern for Cleveland is tight end David Njoku, who’s dealing with an ankle issue that popped up this week.

For the Bills, Josh Allen is healthy. The biggest injury concern is Matt Milano, who’s listed as questionable. Without him, the running defense does take a bit of a hit.

Weather

Snow is expected. Will the weather be so rough that the passing game will be stunted? We’ll see

History

Oddly enough, these two organizations nor their coaches have met in recent games.


Uncertain


I’m not sure. Does Buffalo deserve to be nearly double-digit favorites against Cleveland? They haven’t been playing well enough to win the past couple weeks. But those games came against playoff-caliber teams with a winning mindset. Cleveland is NOT playoff bound this year. And the Browns have done precious little lately to show me they’re mentally tough or even trending upward. If anything, the games this year have shown me very little has changed from last year.

Normally, this is a game Buffalo should dominate from start to finish. The Bills should win this game, but the question becomes whether Cleveland can stealthily cover this spread in garbage time. Judging by their last three games, the Bills have issues finishing games out with an exclamation point.

EDIT: So the Bills missed a day of practice due to inclement weather. And on top of that, the game’s now being played in Detroit. The line has dropped relatively sharply in favor of the Browns. So does that mean I take Buffalo here? Sigh…


Lions @ Giants (-3)


Streaks

Lions - 2W
Giants - 1W

Detroit’s coming off two straight upsets against division rivals.

Injuries

Nothing critical worthy of note on either side, although it’s worth keeping an eye on Daniel Bellinger.

Weather

Cold weather expected of November

History

No history to explore here, tragically


Uncertain


The Giants are too disciplined to lose to a mistake-prone Lions team. Granted, Jared Goff played pretty well, but that was against an uninspiring Chicago defense that lacks any real mojo. On top of that, not many of his passes traveled far. In fact, it was his receivers finding ways to generate yards after the catch that played a major role in their production. More importantly though, the Lions owe their win last week to some referee luck as well as Justin Fields being reliably sloppy in the passing game.

That being said, I’m a little concerned about the Giants and their offense. Their ground game hasn’t been all that effective lately, at least when compared to their rushing performances from earlier in the season. Defenses have been keying in on stopping Saquon lately, if their last two games are any indication - I mean…Houston was able to limit New York’s on over 55% of his rushes. If New York can’t depend mostly on their tailbacks to carry the burden of production, that means more responsibility’s forced on the shoulders of Daniel Jones and Darius Slayton.

So I’ll need to revisit this one later in the week.


Rams @ Saints (-4)


Streaks

Rams - 3L
Saints - 1W

The Rams are not having any fun this season. It’s not far-fetched to say they might be one of the worst teams in the league.

Injuries

Not only is Matthew Stafford expected to be out again as he recovers from a serious brain injury, but Cooper Kupp is out for the next couple weeks with an ankle sprain. This Rams team is in a grave situation.

Weather

Dome game

History

Oddly enough, these two teams haven’t squared off against one another since 2019. So there’s no recent data to examine here.


Saints -4


It’s a bit odd. The Saints aren’t a good team by any means. The last couple weeks alone have shown me that Andy Dalton is nothing more than a placeholder quarterback. Their defense has also been suspect as of late, particularly against opposing rushers. So to see them be considered 4-point favorites here, one would think I’d rather be siding with the underdog here.

But the Rams are a hot mess. An absolute hot mess. The heart and soul of their offense will no longer be there now that he’s dealing with an injury expected to sideline him for weeks. Matthew Stafford will likely remain out given the severity of his concussion, meaning John Wolford and Bryce Perkins will forced to handle the reins on offense. It’s pretty unclear neither one of them are quite ready for the professional leagues…although I remember writing off PJ Walker in the same way after his depressing outing against these same Rams about a month ago.

If the Rams play as ugly as they did last Sunday, a Saints cover is assured here. But I’m afraid Los Angeles will pull out all the tricks here to try and steal a win here on the road. And you know what? They could win this one here if they string together enough scoring drives through a combination of gimmick plays and surprising quarterback play.

Then again, Carolina made money the past couple weeks by leaning on its running game. Los Angeles can’t quite do that now, can they?


Jets @ Patriots (-3.5)


Streaks

Jets - 1W (BYE)
Patriots - 2W (BYE)

Both teams are returning from the bye on a winning streak.

Injuries

Sheldon Rankins will be out for several weeks, perhaps hurting their rushing defense.

Weather

It’s going to be a cold one

History

It seems probable to me that the Jets have an inferiority complex against these Patriots. Belichick has dominated every single one of their meetings so far in the Robert Saleh era.

New York came pretty close a few weeks ago, but the team ultimately collapsed once New England started running away with the lead.


Patriots -3.5


In normal circumstances, the Patriots wouldn’t merit such a wide spread against a good team. But the game between these two clubs a few weeks ago shows me that the Jets have issues finding the mental fortitude to overcome that “little brother” vibe holding them back. That mental block by itself should damn them in this contest.

On top of that, a good defensive mind should know the proper way to frustrate New York on offense is to limit their production on the ground game. The Patriots were able to do exactly that in their first go-around. I don’t see why things would be any different this time around, though Mike LaFleur could finally impress me by manufacturing production through a game plan incorporating a whole bunch of tactics that the Patriots were not expecting at all. Then again, even with a solid game plan, can Zack Wilson steel himself long enough to follow through and lead his team to a victory on enemy territory?


Raiders @ Broncos (-3)


Streaks

Raiders - 3L
Broncos - 1L

The Raiders are coming off their most embarrassing performance of the season, losing against a bottom-tier team led by a coach with absolutely no professional experience.

Injuries

Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller have slid down into injured reserve, meaning the Raiders now definitively have only two certified weapons on offense - Davonte Adams and Josh Jacobs.

Denver seems to be missing some pieces along the interior of their offensive line. Jerry Jeudy is the bigger concern here. His practice schedule has to be monitored.

Weather

Cool weather

History

Last time these two met in Las Vegas, the Raiders were able to power their way to a win by relying on Josh Jacobs to assume the mantle of production. Davonte Adams making catches in key moments also helped, but it was a great performance from Jacobs that helped Vegas find their first win of the season.


Broncos -3


The Raiders are a bad team overall. It’s clear their defense lacks any real passion or heart. Nowhere was that more evident than the play last week where the defense allowed Matt Ryan to scramble for 38 yards.

Can they turn things around? Sure, but it’ll be hard for such a limited offense to gain traction against one of the league’s toughest defenses. Last time these two played, Denver surrendered way too many yards rushing to Vegas. Given their rushing defense numbers over the season, I’m going to assume that was a fluky result from a defense that was likely caught off-guard from a Raiders team looking desperately for a winning identity on offense. I don’t see Josh Jacobs putting up big numbers again, especially in Denver.

I do expect the Raiders defense to play better than last week, and it’ll be easier to do so too considering Russell Wilson’s offense ranks as one of the most pathetic in the league. But if the Broncos defense affords Wilson enough opportunities, I do expect him to post up points against this soft Vegas defense, no matter how hard they try holding out this time to make up for their lack of effort last week.


Cowboys @ Vikings (+1.5)


Streaks

Packers - 1L
Vikings - 7W

The Cowboys are coming off a loss against Green Bay. Granted, the Packers were desperate for a win after suffering through a whole bunch of losses, but the Cowboys lost this game surrendering a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter. That’s pretty pathetic.

Injuries

Regarding Dallas, their first cornerback is dealing with a concussion. Ezekiel Elliott isn’t guaranteed to return. And DeMarcus Lawrence is apparently dealing with a foot injury that threatens to sideline him.

We need to keep an eye on Za’Darius Smith, given he has a knee contusion.

Weather

Dome game

History

Last year, the Cowboys and Vikings faced off in primetime. I remember that match quite well, as I picked Minnesota in the contest here. I mean…Cooper Rush was starting for Dallas. How could a quarterback who’s never called a single snap in regulation succeed on the road against Mike Zimmer’s defense? I was wrong. Horribly wrong. Cooper Rush and Kellen Moore were able to thatch together enough plays and score just enough to win in a game where nobody was giving them a chance.


Vikings +1.5


Even though history would favor Dallas here, their win in Minnesota last year came against a Viking team trending downward into irrelevance under Mike Zimmer. The Vikings this year is very different though. In fact, consider this - the Vikings of 2021 successfully staged 5 major comebacks while surrendering significant leads in 4 other games. This year’s Vikings already staged nearly as many comebacks without surrendering a significant lead in a single game. It’s pretty clear the locker room has been given renewed life under the new regime.

On top of that, this defense has been transformed under new coordinator Ed Donatell. No longer does the unit rank near the bottom in so many categories. Most importantly, they went from being one of the worser run defenses to being average. I know, I know, that doesn’t sound all that impressive given some regression was expected…but it’s worth noting Minnesota’s been much better slowing down opposing rushers as of lately - they’ve forced four of their past five opponents to perform worse relative to expectations. All this indicates Dallas is going to struggle getting the ground game going. And if that’s the case, I don’t think Dak has the mental strength to carry this team against a good opponent.


Chiefs @ Chargers (+6)


Streaks

Chiefs - 3W
Chargers - 1L

Los Angeles losing probably doesn’t mean too much given the Chargers went to war last week with a barebones roster.

Injuries

The Chiefs themselves are dealing with a few injuries, most notably to their wide receiver corps - Juju Smith-Schuster, Mecole Hardman, and MVS haven’t really been practicing.

Los Angeles has a whole bunch of injury issues themselves to work through. The good news is that Keenan Allen and Mike Williams have been practicing, though their return is still far from guaranteed.

Weather

Dome game

History

Their last game was a bit odd. The Chargers were able to dominate that contest on offense, but the game turned on a dime after Justin Herbert threw a backbreaking pick-six. That interception ended up sapping the team’s morale and effectively handed the Chiefs the win.


Uncertain


It all comes down to injuries here. If the Chargers are playing with their two man receivers healthy, I think Herbert will have a ball of a time here against a Chiefs defense known for surrendering yards to the Chargers. I also think Los Angeles will do a better job this time of protecting Justin.

But if Mike Williams and Keenan Allen aren’t playing, Justin Herbert’s only major weapon is Austin Ekeler. And it shouldn’t be hard for somebody like Steve Spagnuolo to figure out how to limit him.

That being said, it’s almost certain both receivers will be questionable following Friday practice. I wish there was a way to figure out whether these two are playing definitively. If I can’t come to any conclusions here regarding their playing status, it might be best to stay away from this game.


Bengals @ Steelers (+4)


Streaks

Bengals - 1W (BYE)
Steelers - 1W

Injuries

Outside of Ja’Marr Chase recuperating from injury and Minkah Fitzpatrick trying to return from appendicitis, both teams are pretty healthy. It’s worth noting that DJ Reader will finally return from injured reserve.

Weather

Quite cold, but nothing crazy

History

The first time these two teams met, Pittsburgh was able to singlehandedly control this game through its defense. By incorporating so many two-deep safety looks in coverage, Cincinnati couldn’t hit its signature big throws, so Burrow and company could never settle into rhythm.

It took several weeks, but the Bengals might have finally figured a way around that coverage scheme.


Bengals -4


As I just mentioned, Cincinnati may have finally solved its issues with two-deep safety coverage schemes by leaning on Joe Mixon to gash through six and seven-man boxes. Now Pittsburgh is pretty good defensing the running game, but their rushing defense wanes considerably when going against an offense that knows how to pass the ball. Cincinnati arguably qualifies as such an offense, even without Ja’Marr Chase.

I suppose that’s the real crux of the matter here - can the Bengals actually operate a passing game without their star wide receiver. I suspect yes. Don’t expect anything impressive, but if Burrow can connect with Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins over a dozen or so times while Joe Mixon makes some hay over ground, then the Bengals can post enough points here to win on the road.


Commanders @ Texans (+3.5)


Streaks

Commanders - 1W
Texans - 4L

Injuries

Only injury of concern for the Texans is Rasheem Green, who seems to be bogged down with a flu.

Weather

Pretty pleasant weather considering we’re in November

History

No real history between these two organizations


Texans +3.5


Man, I feel sick taking the Texans here. But Washington is not yet a good enough team to merit a road spread favoring them, even if it’s against a team as pathetic as Houston. On top of that, we are seeing a major split in the betting markets - we’re seeing nearly 50 percentage points of difference between the ticket count and the money distribution. Houston is getting 85% of the money despite only having 37% of the tickets written against the spread in their favor.


49ers vs Cardinals (+8) [Mexico]


Streaks

49ers - 2W
Cardinals - 4L

Injuries

Arik Armstead is trending towards not playing this Monday.

Kyler Murray is still trying to progress back from injury, though it seems unlikely he’ll play given what’s being said about his lack of mobility. Colt McCoy looks to start again, despite dealing with a knee injury himself. Zach Ertz is done for the season with his own knee problems.

Weather

Fantastic weather despite this game being set at high altitude

History

Going back the last 3 years, Arizona and Kliff Kingsbury seem to do quite well against San Francisco. In fact, the Cardinals actually ended up sweeping the 49ers last year, despite Colt McCoy starting in their second game.

It’s worth noting San Francisco was absolutely handled last year on their own home turf by Colt and company.


Cardinals +8


Honestly, if this game was played in the United States, this would be an easy Cardinals pick. Arizona’s offense is objectively better with Colt McCoy under center instead of Kyler Murray, especially in the second half of the season. Things right now are trending towards him starting once more, potentially with Kyler serving as an emergency back-up.

I expect DeMeco Ryans will be better prepared this season knowing that Arizona housed his defense twice last year. But I do think this San Francisco defense is limited - their success largely hinges on their ability to muster pressure on opposing quarterbacks. But if last week’s game against the Rams is any indication, Arizona does well taming rival pass rushers in their division. If Nick Bosa cannot consistently generate pressure, Arizona should post points.

But here’s the problem - this is an international game being played on a soccer field. I worry about this. Soccer fields are very rough and not built to handle a game of gridiron football. Expect players to be slipping and sliding all over the place. A part of me is praying that Kliff can anticipate this and strategize around these poor field conditions.

But if anything, this is going to hurt Kyle Shanahan’s offense more. His offense is predicated more on gaining yards after the catch. It won’t be easy doing that when the turf monster is out there as the twelfth man on defense.

Week 10 Insights

Seahawks vs Buccaneers (Munich)

So why pick this game to insist on running the ball more, Tampa? Tampa’s actually running the ball far more than the pass.

Brady may be playing at an elite level. His passes look more crisp than most other people in the league.

Is this yet another reminder not to bet on overseas games? Why do overseas games bedevil me?

This turf is messing up Seattle, apparently. They had to change out cleats.

I think Todd Bowles and his blitzes have been frustrating Geno.

On top of that, it doesn’t look like to me that Seattle’s mustering much pressure on Brady. I don’t even see them invoking the blitz much here.

I love that Seattle’s trying to stage a comeback, converting on two huge fourth downs to score.

It’s impressive to see Tampa Bay running the ball when Seattle knows they’re running the ball. This Rachaad White guy has some potential.


Lions @ Bears

So far, Goff is having a ball of a time out here in the cold weather. Little into the first quarter, Goff is throwing for nearly 10 yards an attempt. Disgusting.

I think Chicago might have some serious pass rushing issues here, especially after trading away Robert Quinn. Trevis Gipson is apparently the only name worth anything here.

Cold-weather Goff is no longer a thing. He’s playing just fine.

My lord, Justin Fields isn’t built to be a passer. The fuck was I thinking, taking a bad team as favorites?


Vikings @ Bills

Josh Allen isn’t throwing well at all. He looks more like vintage Josh Allen here.

The Bills defensive line loves attacking a single gap in their run defense.

Ed Oliver might be a name worth watching on this Bills defensive front.

Allen with a series of bad plays costing his team the win. An elite quarterback, he is not.

Eric Kendricks is a major player for Minnesota.

Minnesota’s been pretty good reading screens.

Josh Allen and his improvisational ability is really something special though.

I’m really liking Kevin O’Connell’s Viking offense.


Browns @ Dolphins

Miami not demonstrating any pad level at all on two failed consecutive sneaks. Disappointing.


Cardinals @ Rams

Colt McCoy’s gutsy and willing to throw it deep. Loving it.

Brilliant play on fourth-down, running a hard bootleg from heavy personnel.


Chargers @ 49ers

The energy this San Francisco defense shows is admirable. Multiple people throwing themselves at the tackle.

The Chargers are taking greater care now to protect Herbert in the pocket, given all the ways they’re scheming pass protection around Bosa.


Saints @ Steelers

If it wasn’t obvious, TJ Watt makes a big difference on defense.'

The read-option plays add an interesting dimension to Pittsburgh’s offense. More importantly though, the Steelers have found ways to leverage Kenny Pickett’s speed.

Both these offenses are terrible. Neither can really overcome negative game script. And I don’t really sense any solid identity among either of them.

Once the Pittsburgh offense was finally able to develop some rhythm through their ground game and a connection on a deep pass to Deonte Johnson, the defense stepped up and took over themselves.

Kudos to Tomlin for preparing this defense well. I have a feeling Pittsburgh did their homework on the type of routes New Orleans loves to run.

2022 Circa Millions - Week 10 Predictions

New rule - never pick teams that struggle to win if they’re taking anything short of 4 points. I learned my lesson the hard way, seeing two of my selections result in pushes despite the team I favored playing so much better. But the reality is that Atlanta and Los Angeles are teams not currently built to win in adverse circumstances. In Atlanta’s case, their team lost some of its swagger as the game progressed - Marcus Mariota failed to gain any rhythm in the passing game, Drake London had a ball literally taken from his arms, and the reliable Younghoe Koo actually missed a kick. The Chargers meanwhile were able to do just enough, thanks to the leadership of Justin Herbert. As for the Rams, their offense is almost completely dysfunctional. It’s frightening how a championship team last year could lose so much of its bite over the course of one offseason. Not only is it clear Matthew Stafford is breaking down, but this Detroit-style offense he’s trying to nurse over there isn’t jiving at all with the offensive roster.

The other lesson - add Andy Dalton to the list of quarterbacks who deserve to be on my shitlist for primetime games. No mas, Andy.


Seahawks @ Buccaneers (-3)


Streaks

Seahawks - 4W
Bucccaneers - 1W

Both teams are coming off morale-boosting victories, the Seahawks finishing a sweep on their rival Cardinals and the Buccaneers finally halting a losing skid last week with a last-second comeback against the Rams.

Injuries

Tampa Bay may have a few points of concern, but the only name worth watching here is Mike Evans. If Evans is out, Brady is down his best weapon.

For the Seahawks, it’s worth keeping an eye on Marquise Goodwin.

Weather

Uneventful weather that shouldn’t play much a role in deciding this game

History

No relevant recent history is there to explore between these two organization or their key coaches.


Seahawks +3


How are the Buccaneers favored here? Why do oddsmakers have these Seahawks still slotted so low on their rankings?

Seattle has been playing fantastic this year on both sides of the ball. Nowhere was this more evident than last week in Arizona, when the Seahawks registered three touchdowns after Geno Smith threw a humiliating pick-six that would have likely sapped the morale of lesser teams on the road. This Seattle team has a winner’s mindset absent in so many other teams this season, notably Tampa Bay. Sure, the Buccaneers won last week, but it was against an uninspiring Rams team that did virtually everything in its power to give that game away. These Seahawks put up a much more impressive performance against an Arizona team with more offensive potential.

I know Geno Smith has shown susceptibility to the blitz. Unfortunately for him, few people understand the intricacies of blitzing better than Todd Bowles, so expect some pressure to be mounted against Geno here. That being said, the McVay style of offense Seattle has adopted has seen resounding success against Tampa Bay over the past couple years. I know McVay’s club lost last week against these Buccaneers, but one can argue that the reason Los Angeles wasn’t able to escape with a victory last week is because they seem to have changed dramatically on offense - instead of being a quick-strike offense loaded with crossing concepts, the Rams are playing a much more traditional form of dropback football that’s simply not working for them. Seattle, meanwhile, is running a carbon copy of the McVay offense that is serving them mighty well.


Browns @ Dolphins (-3.5)


Streaks

Browns - 1W (BYE)
Dolphins - 3W

Dolphins have never lost once when Tua has been able to start and finish a game.

Injuries

No major injuries to document here

Weather

It’s a hot one by November’s standards

History

Neither of these two franchises nor their lead coaches have any recent history with one another.


Dolphins -3.5


Cleveland is slightly overrated as they’re returning from a bye week after having stomped out the Bengals in a primetime contest. The reality is that Cincinnati seems to harbor an inferiority complex against the Browns, so that game needs to be interpreted more as a fluke when evaluating Cleveland’s real potential. If you look back a few weeks before that Cincinnati game, these Browns haven’t really impressed. In fact, they were on a four-game losing skid. It’s worth noting three of those losses came against teams that beat the last year as well - Cleveland hasn’t really changed face much at all this year.

The Dolphins, on the other hand…those fish have a swagger to them. Maybe I’m overreacting a but here, but Miami has the most explosive offense in the league - no other offense has seen as much success as Miami’s on an EPA basis. It makes sense given no other team boasts a receiving corps as flashy or as frightening as Miami’s. Opposing defenses have yet to really adjust to all the play-action passing concepts Mike McDaniel has loaded into his playbook. I don’t expect Cleveland’s defensive coaches to devise an effective coverage scheme to limit Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, so the Dolphins should have little issue dicing up their shoddy pass coverage.

The only problem here is the other side of things. Miami’s defense hasn’t really impressed so much against the pass themselves. But the good news here is that the Dolphins are quite adept limiting the rush, given opposing tailbacks have only found success against them on roughly 45% of their attempts. So that should play well against a Cleveland team that absolutely needs an effective ground game to win here.


Lions @ Bears (-3)


Streaks

Lions - 1W
Bears - 2L

Despite playing well against some solid teams over the past couple weeks, Chicago is on a losing streak.

Injuries

Not an injury, but Roquan Smith will be missed now that he’s no longer being there to lead Chicago’s linebacker corps.

Weather

Unfortunately for Jared Goff, the gales of November has arrived. While cold winds aren’t really expected, temperatures are expected to be in the 30s.

History

Jared Goff and Justin Fields led their respective teams into battle against one another once last year, on Soldier Field. Chicago solidly won that game, even as three-point favorites. That being said, the coaching staffs for both organizations have changed considerably since then. Matt Nagy and his ilk have been ousted from Chicago. On the other side, Anthony Lynn’s no longer in charge of the offense.


Bears -3


It’s a bit risky to ask an average team to win outright as field goal favorites, but Detroit’s just not that good a team, last week’s win notwithstanding. Their defense still ranks among the worst in the league even after being gifted multiple interceptions from Aaron Rodgers last week.

But what really wins me over to Chicago’s side here is the cold weather. Reviewing his games over the past couple years, it’s clear Jared Goff has issues operating in cold weather. It makes sense too considering Goff spent his childhood in California. I know, I know…quarterbacks born and raised in California have managed to play at all levels of the game without cold weather hindering them too much…but Goff genuinely lacks the inherent fortitude one needs to overcome some habituated aversions. I honestly doubt he’s honed an appreciation for cold weather in his limited time with Detroit.

Reviewing photos from Detroit’s outdoor practice, I haven’t seen any photo of Jared Goff in action. A bit surprising, especially since it seems frigid weather has yet to really grace Michigan. But then again, this is Jared Goff.

Expect the Lions to be productive over ground anyway, especially given the state of Chicago’s front-seven now that the team has traded away some of its brand name players. That being said, I don’t think Detroit will be consistent here on offense, giving Chicago an opportunity to run up the score.


Texans @ Giants (-4.5)


Streaks

Texans - 3L
Giants - 1L

Houston’s coming off a decent performance on Thursday night against an Eagles team that arguably didn’t really care to play.

Injuries

Brandin Cooks isn’t definite to play this Sunday, though it appears he’s trending towards playing.

As for the Giants, they’ll be down a valuable player in Daniel Bellinger as he recuperates from a serious eye injury.

Weather

Unexpectedly nice weather for November

History

No real history between these two organizations. Brian Daboll and Lovie Smith have versed against one another last year, but Davis Mills was making his NFL debut in that game, so that game carries little weight in our analysis here.


Giants -4.5


A tall spread, but the Giants are capable of covering this spread against a clearly pathetic Texans organization. Their defense is predictable and notably weak against the run, so Daniel Jones and Saquad should be able to make some real hay here against them, especially going into the fourth quarter where New York seems to excel.

My only concern is that Houston seems to have committed much more to their own ground game in recent weeks. If New York has one glaring weakness, it’s their own run defense. So Houston can sustain drives themselves so long as Davis Mills is given fewer snaps than Dameon Pierce. But I trust New York will play smart enough and force Houston to commit errors. If a team like Vegas can blow out these fools, I imagine New York can do the same too with proper planning.

In Daboll I trust.


Commanders @ Eagles (-11.5)


Streaks

Commanders - 1L
Eagles - 8W

Commanders are coming off an uninspiring loss to Minnesota, although it’s worth noting they covered.

Injuries

No real injury of note on either side

Weather

Quite cool, but both of these teams should be used to this weather

History

I’m actually going to copy over what I wrote when these two teams faced off against one another back in week 3.

Late last year, the Commanders performed well enough on their home turf against a Philadelphia club that’s fully embraced a run-first philosophy on offense. Can they pull that same feat off again with Carson Wentz under center instead of Taylor Heinecke?

Here’s the good news - Heinecke is now under center instead of Wentz. Keep in mind Washington didn’t do too well that day, but that was largely because Wentz was playing way too much hero ball against a ferocious Eagles defensive front. It’s worth noting Philadelphia was actually gifted a few points courtesy of their starting quarterback throwing a few interceptions their way.


Commanders +11.5


Last time Jalen Hurts and Taylor Heinecke danced against one another, it was actually a very competitive game. And it was at that point in the season where Philadelphia wholeheartedly adopted a run-first mentality on offense. Washington did well enough limiting their rushing attack. I suspect the Commanders will be able to limit the Eagles again on the ground, especially considering their defense ranks as one of the absolute best at stopping the run - the Commodores have stoned opposing rushers on over 60% of their attempts. Very impressive.


Chargers @ 49ers (-7)


Streaks

Chargers - 1W
49ers - 1W

Injuries

Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Dustin Hopkins aren’t expected to play. All their absences will be felt. Another thing worthy of note - Austin Johnson will not be playing any more this season, dealing a major blow to their league-worst run defense.

49ers are still missing quite a few pieces on defense, most notably Arik Armstead. It’s a little concerning.

Weather

Quite cool, but both of these teams should be used to this weather

History

These two teams haven’t faced one another recently, although Kyle Shanahan and Brandon Staley are familiar with one another from the latter’s days with the Rams.


Uncertain


Everything here is telling me to side with the 49ers. The fact is that Kyle remains one of the best run schemers in the league. Going up against the worst run defense in the league should result in nothing short of a bloodbath, especially when that defense is missing one of its centerpiece run stoppers in Austin Johnson.

On top of that, Justin Herbert will need to find new ways to engineer drives on enemy territory now that he’ll be without his two favorite weapons in Mike Williams and Keenan Allen.

But….

I can’t help but feel Herbert will do just enough to cover this spread. Herbert is still very much an elite quarterback. On top of that, the 49ers have a history of choking away leads. Not that I expect the Chargers to stage a comeback here, but the 49ers can surrender points at the most inopportune times. Given that San Francisco needs to cover a full touchdown spread, the 49ers need to outright dominate the Chargers for me to be comfortable taking them. And I’m not sure they can do that when the Chargers have been doing just enough to stay relevant in important games.