This week we get the NFL’s first slate of Saturday games of the season as the Indianapolis Colts take on the Minnesota Vikings, the Baltimore Ravens play the Cleveland Browns and the Miami Dolphins head to Buffalo to take on the AFC leading Buffalo Bills. All three games are meaningful to the postseason race. The Vikings currently have just a 0.5 game lead on the San Francisco 49ers for the #2 seed, and can otherwise clinch the NFC North with a win. Then on the AFC side the Ravens lead the AFC North on a tiebreaker with the Bengals and the Bills are the one seed but only because of their head-to-head with the Chiefs. Down below we are going to break down these three games as well as the two games that have playoff implications for the Seahawks.
Indianapolis Colts @ Minnesota Vikings (-4)
Over/under - 48
The Vikings sit as a 4-point favorite on DraftKings Sportsbook against the visiting Colts who have had an extremely disappointing season, as they sit at 4-8-1 with only 1 win in their last 7 games. The Vikings have been up and down over their last 4 games as they are 2-2. However, that includes a 40-3 loss to the Cowboys and a win against the Jets which required a dropped Braxton Berrios pass in the endzone to come away on top.
Indy’s offense has been terrible this year as they are averaging 16 points a game which is the second lowest total in the league, only ahead of the Denver Broncos. Their yards per play of 4.9 is slightly better as it is tied for 27th. They are the NFL leaders in turnovers with 26, 12 of which are lost fumbles. Their passing game is averaging 5.4 net yards per attempt which is tied for 28th and the running game, which this team has been predicated on for years is averaging 4 yards per carry which is 26th.
The Colts defense is about a league average unit. They have allowed 22.92 points per game which is tied for 18th. They are poor tackling as they have 64 missed tackles which is tied for 10th worst mark. They are 16th in sacks with 32 but they are fifth in hurry percentage at 9.1%. Against the run they are tied for 6th at 4.2 yards allowed per carry.
The Vikings offense has been strong as they are averaging 24 PPG which is 10th in the league. Despite that though they are not overly efficient as their 5.3 yards per play is 19th. Their net yards per passing attempt of 6 is 18th, but their rushing yards per attempt of 4.1 is tied for 22nd.
The Vikings defense is struggling. In recent losses to the Cowboys and Lions they allowed a combined 74 points. On the season they are allowing 24.84 PPG which is tied for 24th. They are average in generating pressure as they are 17th in sacks at 30 and tied for 14th in hurry percentage at 7.7%. Defending the run, they are better as they are tied for 14th in yards allowed per carry at 4.4.
Colts - Shaq Leonard is out.
Vikings - Garrett Bradbury and Danielle Hunter are questionable.
I do think this is going to remain a tight game throughout. However, the Vikings are the better team and are home, so I’m taking them at -4. I do not think Indy is going to move the ball enough and when they do have it, I believe they will try and slow the game down, so I have the game going under 48 points.
Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns (-3)
Over/under - 37
With their offseason acquisition of Deshaun Watson, the Browns, who are favored by 3 points on DraftKings Sportsbook, were hoping this would be a meaningful game for them in their pursuit of the AFC North. They sit four games back of the Ravens and a loss here would eliminate them from the division. The Ravens who are 9-4, have scored just 39 points over their last three wins against the Panthers, Broncos and a Mitchell Trubisky led Steelers team.
Baltimore’s offense is missing Lamar Jackson meaning their season offensive stats are not overly useful here. Tyler Huntley, the Ravens current starter is in his third year with only five career starts to his name. He has a career passer rating of 77.9 and has three passing touchdowns to 5 interceptions. He is a threat with his legs as he has averaged 5.1 yards per attempt over his career. The Ravens offense is not flush with weapons as outside of Mark Andrews there is little support in the passing game as Demarcus Robinson is second on the team in receiving yards.
The Ravens defense has kept this team afloat this year. They are allowing 19.2 PPG which is 8th and have forced 23 turnovers which is tied for the league lead. They’re tied for 5th in sacks at 39 but their pressure rate of 19.8% is tied for 22nd. The team’s number one corner, Marlon Humphrey has had another strong year with a passer rating when targeted of 75.5 and a completion percentage against of 63.3%.
Like the Ravens a change at quarterback has impacted the perception of this offense. Deshaun Watson returned from an 11-game suspension two games ago, making this offense more potent in theory but he has started out with his poor play. No matter who they have at quarterback though, this offense will always be predicated on the running game which features Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Chubb is tied for 8th among running backs with 5 yards per attempt, 2nd in rushing touchdowns at 12 and is 4th in carries with 231.
Their defense has been one of the worst in the league as they are allowing 24.8 PPG which is the sixth worst mark. They have only forced 13 turnovers which is tied for 26th and have allowed points on 41.2% of their opponents drives which is also the sixth worst. Myles Garrett, the star of this defense is having another strong campaign. He is tied for 3rd in sacks with 12, has forced 2 fumbles which is tied for 10th and is tied for 6th in tackles for loss with 14.
Ravens - Lamar Jackson is out. Morgan Moses and Kevin Zeitler are questionable.
Browns - Denzel Ward, Myles Garrett, David Njoku, Amari Cooper and Jadeveon Clowney are all questionable.
I think the loss of Lamar Jackson is going to be too much for the Ravens too overcome. The Browns will likely be able to control the time of possession with their running game and on the defensive side I think the likes of Myles Garrett and Denzel Ward are going to be too much for Baltimore to handle, making me choose Browns -3. I do not think either offense is going to move the ball quickly which leads me to taking the under at 37.
Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills (-7)
The Dolphins are coming off of two poor showings scoring a combined 34 points against the 49ers and Chargers, with both games being losses. The Bills on the other hand are on a 4-game winning streak, although they have certainly not been dominating teams over that stretch. Miami, who is a 7-point underdog on DraftKings Sportsbook, comes in as the more desperate of the two teams as a loss here would put them three games back of the Bills in the AFC East.
The Dolphins offense has been dominant, as they are averaging 24.3 PPG which is 9th and their 6.2 yards per play is the second-best number in the NFL. Despite being so consistent in both moving the ball and scoring points, Miami can be a little reckless with the ball as they have turned it over 15 times, which is tied for 16th. Despite two rough games, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is 2nd in the league in both passer rating and he leads the league in adjusted net yards per attempt. On the outside they have Tyreek Hill who is leading the league in receptions with 100 and is second in yards with 1,460 and tied for 11th with 6 receiving touchdowns.
Miami’s defense is allowing 24 PPG which is tied with the Atlanta Falcons for 22nd and they have only forced 12 turnovers which is tied for 28th. They are one of the most aggressive defenses in the league as their blitz percentage of 31% is 6th, although that has not resulted in too much in terms of the production. They’re tied for 14th in hurry rate at 7.7% and are tied for 19th in pressure rate at 21.5%.
Like Miami, the Bills offense has been one of the best in the league. They’re averaging 27.15 PPG which is 4th and are third in yards per play at 6.1. Despite that proficiency they are tied for the fourth most turnovers with 20 thus far. Josh Allen has a 73.2 QBR which is third in the league, and he is 8th in adjusted net yards per attempt. Also, similarly to Miami, the Bills have one of the best receivers on the outside in Stefon Diggs. Diggs is 3rd in the league in receptions with 94, is 4th in receiving yards with 1,239 and is tied for 3rd in receiving touchdowns with 10.
The Bills defense has been one of the best in the league despite being bitten by the injury bug throughout the season. They have allowed the second fewest points per game at 17, are tied for the 8th fewest yards allowed per play at 5.1 and they have forced 22 turnovers which is the 4th most. Against the pass they are allowing the fifth fewest adjusted yards per attempt and the 7th fewest net yards per attempt at 5.1.
Dolphins - Jeff Wilson and Terron Armstead are questionable.
Bills - Von Miller is out. Ed Oliver is questionable.
The Dolphins offensive struggles are concerning as is the possibility of snowy conditions. Miami has the weapons to move the ball with ease but that has not shown up over the past two games mainly due to Tua’s play. Because of their overall offensive slip and the fact that the Bills are home in wintry conditions I think the Bills cover the 7 points and the game finishes under 43.5.
Games relevant to Seahawks’ playoff chase
New York Giants @ Washington Commanders (-4.5)
Two weeks ago, the Giants and Commanders faced off at MetLife Stadium with the game ending in a 20-20 tie. Washington is 3-0-1 in their last four games including being the only team to beat the Eagles this season. New York on the other hand is 0-3-1 in their last four with a 26-point loss to the Eagles last week. Both teams sit at 7-6-1 and need to win this in order to ensure they enter week 16 in playoff positioning. Washington currently sits as a 4.5-point favorite on DraftKings Sportsbook.
The Giants are 20th in scoring this season averaging 20.5 PPG and 5.1 yards per play which is tied for 23rd. They’ve been great at protecting the football as they are tied for the second fewest turnovers in the league with 13. Saquon Barkley, the lifeblood of this offense has seen his production slip over the past four games. Since his 152 rushing yard outburst against the Houston Texans, he is averaging a measly 2.87 yards per attempt on 53 carries. Even though he is not on the injury report this week Saquon is likely not close to 100% as he was limited in Sunday’s game due to a neck injury.
The Giants defense is below league average as they are allowing roughly 23 PPG which is 20th, and they are tied for 26th in yards per play allowed at 5.8. Their rushing defense has been putrid as they are allowing 5.4 yards per carry which is tied for the worst mark, have the third lowest expected points contributed against the run at -42.11 and are allowing 149.7 yards per game on the ground which is the 4th worst mark.
The Commanders offense is a bit behind the Giants in most metrics. They are averaging 19.46 PPG which is 25th and their 4.9 yards per play is tied for 27th. They’re predicated on the running game as they have run the ball 401 times this year which is the 7th most but they only average 4 yards a carry which is tied for 26th. The offense has gotten slightly better as Brian Robinson’s role is growing over time. He has gone for 86 or more rushing yards 3 times in their last 4 games whilst averaging 5.8 and 4.6 yards per carry in their last two.
Despite being without Chase Young for the entire season, the Commanders defense has still been strong as their allowed 19.7 PPG is 10th in league and the 5.3 yards, they allow per play is tied for 11th. They have also been strong against the run allowing 110.4 rushing yards per game which is 9th, are 14th in yards allowed per carry at 4.4 and have the fifth highest expected points contributed defending the run at 10.38 points.
Giants - Richie James, Leonard Williams and Adoree Jackson are questionable.
Commanders- Chase Young, Brian Robinson, Antonio Gibson and Montez Sweat are questionable.
With both teams heading in opposite directions, it would be surprising to see those trends reversed. With Washington being the better team in addition to the fact they are finally starting to get healthy I have them the Commanders this game by around 7 points. Washington is predicated on defense and running the ball and with the Giants offense stumbling I have this game going under.
A loss for either team benefits the Seahawks but the Giants’ schedule figures to be tougher, so rooting for the Giants to lose might be the best outcome.
Detroit Lions @ New York Jets (-1)
When the schedules came out, I don’t think many people had this as a game with playoff implications for both teams, but here we are. A win for the Lions gets them within a game of the 7th seed, whereas a Jets win keeps them right in the hunt. DraftKings Sportsbook has this as one of the closest games of the week with the Jets as just a 1-point favorite.
Detroit has one of the best offenses in the league. They are averaging 26.8 PPG which is 5th and their 5.9 yards per play is tied for 5th. They are tied for the 6th fewest turnovers with 14 and are tied for the 10th fewest accepted offensive penalties with 69. Early in the season the rushing attack was the spine of this offense, although that has now shifted to the passing game. They are 4th in both net yards per attempt and adjusted net yards per attempt. Their passing offense is second in expected points contributed with 122.4, sitting behind only the Kansas City Chiefs.
Defensively though the Lions are one of the worst teams. Their 26.7 points allowed per game is the second highest total and their 6.2 yards allowed per play is the highest mark in the league. They are tied for the second most yards allowed per completion at 12.2 yards per completion and have the second worst points contributed against the pass at -99.29.
The Jets offense is below average as their 20.3 PPG is 22nd and they are averaging 5.2 yards per play which is tied for 20th. They’ve become a bit more threatening over the past few weeks due to the emergence of Zonovan Knight. He has averaged 5 yards per rushing attempt to go along with 6.8 yards per reception. The Jets have been great at blocking for the run which is a large reason for his success as he is averaging a whopping 3.7 yards per contact. For reference point, the Bills, Eagles, and Ravens are leading the league in team yards before contact at 3.5 yards.
Defensively, they’ve been one of the best teams in the league allowing just 18.7 PPG and they are tied for the fewest yards allowed per play at 4.8 yards. They are led by rookie cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner who is quickly becoming one of the best corners in the NFL. His passer rating against is 57.4 and his completion percentage against is 52.2%. He has the talent to shutdown Lions star receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown.
Lions - Frank Ragnow is questionable.
Jets - Mike White is out, Quinnen Williams and Corey Davis arequestionable.
I’m honestly a little surprised this game is so close. The Lions offense is taking off and have won 5 of their last 6 games. The Jets on the other hand have won 1 game in their last 4 games and despite the hype surrounding Mike White their offense hasn’t been too great with him. Zach Wilson is now starting with White out injured. I think Detroit wins this game outright and with how good their offense has been I think they push this game to the over.
Seahawks fans, however, should root for the Jets to win so that the Lions don’t pull even with Seattle in the wild card race.
(All advanced stats cited provided by Pro Football Reference)
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