For the first time since Week 4, all 32 NFL teams are in action this week, and five of the games are (or were, as of Friday night) expected to be decided by a field goal or less.
At least that’s what DraftKings Sportsbook says.
The line on two of the other games, including the Cleveland Browns at Seattle Seahawks, was 3-1/2.
Should be fun!
Especially when you factor in the trade deadline that hits the league roughly 16 hours after the Monday Night Football broadcast ends (aka October 31st at 4pm Eastern).
This weekend’s games should help separate the buyers from the sellers.
And, with just a little luck, this weekend’s games will be a bit more predictable than last week’s games were.
Fun Fact: Mookie was the only one of us that finished above .500 on their picks last week; I was an all-time worst 3-10. Ouch!
Let’s hit all four of the NFC West games, shall we?
Rams at Cowboys, 10:00am, FOX, O/U 45.5
It is great pleasure that I, Frank T. Raines, make the following prediction: The NFC West will start the day 0-1.
The Dallas Cowboys are something of a hot mess this year.
Note: That’s a scientific term :).
Quick Recap: Dallas started the season by dominating the two New Jersey teams by a combined score of 70-10, then got spanked by Arizona in a game that remains the Cardinals only win through Week 7. The Cowboys rebounded by handing Bill Belichick the worst loss of his career, 38-3, and then promptly embarrassed themselves against the Niners on Sunday Night Football the following week (42-10). Dallas managed to hold on for a 3-point win over SoFi Stadium’s No. 2 team (LAC) and entered their bye week with a 4-2 record.
Quick Recap: Against the Niners, the Rams played a strong first half (tied 17-all) and a terrible second half. L.A. gave up 259 passing yards to a one-legged Joe Burrow in Week 3, and then let a rookie quarterback (Anthony Richardson) come back from 23 down to force overtime in Week 4. In Week 5, they hung with Jalen Hurts & Co through the first 30 minutes, trailed by 3 at the half, and only allowed 6 points in the second half . . . but they went scoreless and lost by 9. L.A.’s Week 6 game against Arizona could have (should have?) been a turning point for them: they were down 9-6 and had a total of 5 yards on the ground at halftime, but then put on a clinic with 174 rushing yards in the second half (153 by Kyren WIlliams) and won 26-9. Unfortunately (for them), Pittsburgh stole the game last week.
It’s a tough call (not really), but at the end of the day, I’m going with the team that has the better record, the team that is well-rested (aka coming off their bye), and the team that hasn’t lost at home since Week 1 of the 2022 season.
Fun Fact: The Cowboys’ average margin of victory in their last 10 home games is 16.4 points: Cowboys 335, opponents 171.
The Pick: Cowboys to win and cover, Over 45.5
Browns at Seahawks, 1:05pm, FOX, O/U 37.5
The main photo for this article wasn’t a mistake: Myles Garrett is the key to today’s game between the Seattle Seahawks and Cleveland Browns.
Garrett had himself a day last week with two strip-sacks of Gardner Minshew (one of which was returned for a Cleveland touchdown) . . .
. . . and a blocked field goal.
For the season, Garrett is the league’s No. 3 sack artist, with 7-1/2 QB takedowns, trailing only Danielle Hunter (9.0) and T.J. Watt (8.0). DraftKings Sportsbook currently has him and Micah Parsons as the co-favorites for the Defensive Player of the Year award (+200 each; which are the same odds Devon Witherspoon currently has to win the DROY award).
The above notwithstanding, if Seattle’s offensive line can keep Myles Garrett from wreaking havoc, the Seahawks should win - and probably quite convincingly.
If not, it will be a long, long day for the 12s.
On the other side of the ball, Cleveland will be rolling with their backup quarterback (P.J. Walker) and may or may not have their leading rusher (Jerome Ford), who was listed as questionable as of Friday night. Of course, Ford is only their leading rusher because their “true RB1”, Nick Chubb, suffered a season-ending injury in Week 2.
Note: Former Seahawks WR Marquise Goodwin is also listed as Questionable for this week’s matchup between his two most recent teams.
Seattle sports the league’s 6th-best run defense through the first seven weeks so they should be fine in that regard.
However, the Seahawks don’t always fare well against backup QBs.
P.J. Walker might be a different story though.
So far this season, Walker has completed 33 of 66 passes (an even 50%) with 0 touchdowns and 3 interceptions - - - which is pretty consistent with his first three seasons, but also worse than each of the three:
- 2020: 4 games, 1 start, 57.1% completion rate, 1 TD, 5 INTs
- 2021: 5 games, 1 start, 54.5% completion rate, 1 TD, 3 INTs
- 2022: 6 games, 5 starts, 59.4% completion rate, 3 TDs, 3 INTs
Interestingly, Walker’s backup, rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson (aka DTR), has the same 0:3 TD-to-INT ratio with a slightly higher completion rate (52.8%, 19 of 36).
Also worth mentioning: Walker and DTR have nearly identical QBRs: 23.5 for Walker vs. 23.0 for DTR.
Note: For the sake of comparison, Geno Smith’s completion rate is 68.6%, his TD-to-INT ratio is 7:4 (which ain’t great, but still better than 0:3), and his QBR is 61.4.
One last tidbit . . .
The Seahawks have (rightly) taken a fair amount of heat over their poor 3rd down and red zone conversion rates which, per Pro Football Reference, sit at 35.7% (25 of 70) and 48% (12 of 25), respectively.
That same site puts the Browns at 29.5% (26 of 88) on 3rd down, and 64.3% (9 of 14) in the red zone.
On the surface, it’s easy to look at that and think Seattle is better than Cleveland on 3rd down and worse than Cleveland in the red zone - because it’s true.
But . . .
Cleveland has only been in the red zone 14 times through their first 6 games; Seattle has been in the red zone almost twice as often.
That bodes well for us.
The Pick: Seahawks to win and cover, Over 37.5
Ravens at Cardinals, 1:25pm, CBS, O/U 44.5
The Baltimore Ravens are the biggest road favorite in Week 8.
By a lot.
Philadelphia and Kansas City are both favored by 7 (over Washington and Denver, respectively). As of Friday night, DraftKings Sportsbook had the 5-2 Ravens as 9-1/2 point favorites over the 1-6 Arizona Cardinals.
If that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about this game, maybe the results from Week 7 will . . .
Baltimore hosted Detroit, who came into the game with a 5-1 record. The Ravens scored 28 points before the Lions recorded their first 1st down. The Ravens finished the game with 503 yards (against a team that had been allowing only 285.8 per game) and won by a score of 38-6
I’ll let Field Gulls’ own Jacson Bevens tell you what happened to Arizona:
Seattle handled the absence of arguably their best offensive player, the negative energy following a loss, and the questions that come with it to lock in a chokehold in the first quarter and spend the rest of the game squeezing until the Cardinals tapped out.
We all know that the final score was Seattle 20, Arizona 10. We also know that Arizona only had one drive longer than 26 yards all game (and 8 drives under 20 yards).
For the game, Arizona mustered all of 249 yards.
Of course, I should mention that for as good as Seattle’s defense has been the last 3 games, allowing an average of 237 yards and a mere 10 points per contest, Baltimore’s defense has been playing at that level all season: they’ve allowed a league-low 13.9 points per game and have surrendered only 271.7 yards per game.
Note: The 271.7 yards per game is good for No. 2 league-wide, but it’s a massive 28.7 yards behind their AFC North rivals, the Cleveland Browns.
And, yes, that means that Seattle is facing the NFL’s two best defenses (yardage-wise) in back-to-back weeks. (Tell me again how “the gauntlet” starts with the Niners in Week 12.)
In theory, Arizona could have Kyler Murray back for this one . . .
Murray is, however, listed as Doubtful for this week’s game.
Methinks Arizona will fall to 1-7, and Baltimore will head to the Seattle game at 6-2. That said, Arizona has been surprisingly competitive in most of their games (even if the final scores don’t always reflect that), so . . .
The Pick: Ravens to win and (barely) cover, Over 44.5
Bengals at Niners, 1:25pm, CBS, O/U 43.5
The 3-3 Cincinnati Bengals are 0-3 in their conference and 0-2 in their division, but they’re 3-0 against the NFC West and poised to make it a clean sweep this weekend.
Obviously, the 12s are rooting for them to do it.
The 5-1 San Francisco 49ers are favored, they’re playing at home, and they’re tied with Detroit for the second-best record in the NFC.
But . . .
- WR Deebo Samuel has been ruled OUT for this week’s game.
- LT Trent Williams is Questionable with an ankle injury.
- RB Christian McCaffrey is also Questionable with an oblique injury - although we all know he’s gonna play if only so he can extend his record for consecutive games with a touchdown to 17.
- QB Brock Purdy is also listed as Questionable, but it seems like he’ll clear the league’s concussion protocol in time to play.
The question is: Will any of those players be 100%?
The bigger question is: Will the San Fran injury bug be enough to tip the outcome of this game in the Bengals’ favor?
But let’s not forget that the Niners are currently riding a 2-game losing streak, having lost by 2 in Cleveland (19-17) in Week 6 and by 5 in Minnesota (22-17) last week.
Sure, they rolled through the first five games on their schedule, winning by almost 20 points per game with an average score of 33.4 to 13.6.
The last two weeks though, they’ve struggled.
If a now-healthy Joe Burrow and his trusty sidekick, Ja’Marr Chase, are on their game, and if the Bengals defense found something they can use in the gameplans the Browns and Vikings deployed against Shanahan’s crew . . . ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Admittedly, I’m letting my 12 bias influence this pick, and I’m dreaming of Seattle moving into first place this weekend, and extending their division lead while the Niners take their bye next week, so . . .
The Pick: The Bengals upset the Niners and win outright, Over 43.5
Assuming I’m right on each of these picks, the NFC West standings will look like this come Sunday night:
- Seattle, 5-2
- San Francisco, 5-3
- Los Angeles, 3-5
- Arizona, 1-7
Man, would that be nice!
Now, let’s see how the rest of the Field Gulls staff thinks the weekend will play out . . .