The column is back after a 3-3 week. While the year has been kind of disappointing, we are still hitting 32-24 ATS. After quarantining with Covid, I have had TONS of time to analyze all of these games. I’m Aaron Rodgers coming off the Covid list, we are focused here at AT Media. So without further to do, here are the picks.
A reminder, the point spreads, as always, are provided by DraftKings Sportsbook:
Cleveland at New England
Spread: New England -2.5
If you can't tell, this is where we can to hop on the Cleveland bandwagon again. Even without Nick Chubb, the Cleveland rushing game should roll. On interior of the offensive line- Guard, center guard, no one is better than Cleveland. Kevin Stefanski's offensive ranks third in adjusted line yards according to Football Outsiders.
In comparison New England ranks 17th and their defense ranks 23rd in DVOA defending up the middle runs- Cleveland’s main strength. The reason I like Cleveland in this matchup is their defense. They rank second in pressure rate and first in pass rush win rate. Mac Jones has been abysmal under pressure this season posting a QB rating in the 30s.
New England will be able to pressure Baker as well, but Baker surprisingly has a QB rating of 106 under pressure this season - the best in NFL. Odell Beckham being away clears a distraction for Cleveland. I still have Cleveland in the top 10 in most power ratings, while New England is an average team. Sell New England high, Cleveland rolls.
The pick: Cleveland +2.5
Detroit at Pittsburgh
Spread: Pittsburgh (-6.5)
Big Ben is on the Covid list and either Mason Rudolph or Dwayne Haskins will be starting at QB. Detroit has been bad on defense, No. 32 in DVOA to this point in the season. But they are a lot better against the run than they are against the pass. Detroit is off a bye and they are desperate. Detroit is 4-1 ATS on the road when they are getting more than a field goal.
Overall, I liked this line when it was eight. But we are still betting Detroit here. Jared Goff has shown some bright spots this season throwing for 1,995 yards, eight touchdowns and six interceptions. Pittsburgh is an automatic fade as a favorite, playing a back up QB on short notice. Give me Detroit and the points.
The pick: Detroit +6.5
Atlanta at Dallas
Spread: Dallas (-8.5)
Dallas came out flat against Denver. We typically have to throw out a team’s best game and their worst game. That was Dallas’ worst. Even after being shut out, they still rank first in the NFL in yards per play 6.4 and third in points per game.
Dallas is still a legit Super Bowl contender.
Atlanta, not so much.
They sit at 4-4, but the record is deceiving. Atlanta has beaten both New York teams, New Orleans without their starting quarterback, and Miami - still they were outgained in two of those contests. Also, this is a Dan Quinn revenge game. Dallas does a pretty good job at getting after the quarterback. Atlanta is struggling offensively averaging 21.9 points per game and 5.3 yards per play are both below league average marks. Dallas should be able to finish drives on an Atlanta defense that ranks 30th in third down percentage.
Dallas came out rusty last week, this is a good bounce back spot.
The pick: Dallas -8.5
Minnesota at Los Angeles
We should have some fireworks in Los Angeles. The Minnesota defense is beat up. They are coming off a game where they were on the field for over 80 plays in last week’s loss against Baltimore. Anthony Barr and Michael Pierce are both confirmed out for Minnesota. Now they will have to play Justin Herbert and the explosive Los Angeles offense. Meanwhile, Justin Herbert ranks seventh in the NFL in passing yards and fifth in total QBR. Lamar Jackson was able to move the ball through the air at will in the second half against Minnesota last week - expect Los Angeles to do the same.
Also, Minnesota will have success on the offensive side of the ball as well. Los Angeles ranks 32nd in the NFL in rushing DVOA. Minnesota has one of the most explosive running backs in Dalvin Cook. Kirk Cousins will move the ball through the air on a Chargers with the short passing game. Both teams offer great options in DFS. It’s warm in November in Los Angeles, and the offenses will be on fire on Sunday. Root for points.
The Pick: Over 53
Philadelphia at Denver
Spread: Denver (-3)
While we like points in Los Angeles, the defenses should dominate in the Rocky Mountains. Denver will be missing three starting offensive lineman including left tackle Garrett Bolles. Philadelphia has a stringent pass rush and they play quarters coverage at a significantly high rate. This is the reason why Philly allows just 6.4 yards per target.
This is going to force Teddy Bridgewater to do what he tends to do, check down the football. That means even when Denver scores, there are going to have to methodically move the ball downfield. Denver’s defense is still legit even with the loss of Von Miller.
Then there's Philadelphia, whose offensive numbers are kind of fraudulent. They feast against weak competition. Take away games against the bottom-five defenses of the Atlanta, Kansas City and Detroit, in which Philadelphia averaged 35.3 points per game, and they’ve averaged only 20.2 points per game against their other six opponents. Denver excels at playing man coverage, and Philly’s talent-maligned receiving core struggles to beat it.
This will be a defensive struggle, take the under.
The Pick: Under 45.5
Seattle at Green Bay
Line: Green Bay (-3.5)
The most exciting game on the card, Seattle vs Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers makes his triumphant return off the Covid list. We just except Rodgers to return to being Superman after going two weeks without practice. From recent experience going through Covid, regardless what certain news sites say, the disease that caused a worldwide pandemic is no joke. I know Aaron Rodgers is a world class professional athlete but we have seen athletes start off slow after a Covid break. Even if Rodgers is not fatigued, his timing with the receives and offense is sure to be impacted.
On the other side, Russell Wilson coming back is obviously a huge boost to Seattle. I think Seattle is going to use their run game against Green Bay’s 22nd rush DVOA defense to settle him in. Green Bay is still without top corner Jaire Alexander. Green Bay doesn’t have anyone to guard DK Metcalf on the outside. Sunday is Seattle’s season, they have to win in Lambeau.
Meanwhile, Green Bay enjoys a pretty good cushion in the NFC North. Russell Wilson is 21-11-1 as an underdog of a field goal or more. I like those trends. Give me Seattle and the points.
The pick: Seattle +3.5
Follow Austin on Twitter @AMontgomeryLive
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