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The picks are back after another steaming hot week. We finished last week 4-2 and nearly hit back to back +250 underdogs - before, unfortunately, the Vikings and Chargers choked away big leads. Between me and Aaron college football picks, we are producing the best free gambling content on the internet. I am the hottest gambler on the planet, we are 10-3 over the last two weeks and we are 19-9-1 overall on the season. There is nobody on the internet with that good of a public record.
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With a lot of uncertainty on the board we are just going to limit ourselves to just 4 plays. Since these breakdowns are lengthy on their own, we will skip the trend of the week and head straight to the picks.
Green Bay Packers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Spread: Packers (-1)
We will open the article breaking down the Fox Game of the Week, that features two Hall of Fame quarterbacks battling it out for the first time as NFC contenders. The Packers will enter this game off their scheduled bye in Week 5 with a 4-0 record, while the Buccaneers will come into it off the back of a crushing Thursday Night Football loss.
This match-up will see two of the top units in the NFL collide as the Packers extraordinary offense takes on a strong Buccaneers defense. The Packers have arguably been the best team in the NFL so far. Aaron Rodgers is on a mini-revenge tour and is playing the best football of his Hall of Fame career. Rodgers is the No. 1 graded quarterback per Pro Football Focus throwing for 1,215 yards, 13 touchdowns and zero interceptions. He leads an offense that is #1 DVOA and they are averaging an immaculate 38 points per game. The crazy part is, he has been able to do this with his star weapon, Davante Adams, out of the lineup the last few weeks. This week, the Packers get Adams reinserted back into the lineup and they will be going up against a talented but banged up Buccaneers defense.
Coming off a bye, Rodgers has been deadly - he is the NFL's most profitable quarterback with an extra week of rest in the regular season, going 8-2-1 ATS since 2008. Rodgers will face a tough task going against the best defensive front in football. Tampa’s front ranks second in defensive adjusted line yards and fourth in pressure rate. However, Tampa lost its best defensive player in Vita Vea, who was lost for the season with a fractured tibia/fibula. Vea was the Bucs best graded run defender and he leads the team in pressures. Vea's ability to dominate two run gaps and win one-on-one pass rushing matchups is one of the main reasons the Bucs defense has been dominant so far. Vea is as important to the Bucs, in similar fashion Aaron Donald is center piece for the Rams. Vea’s injury is not being reflected in this line, he is worth a full point to this point spread. The shorthanded Tampa D-line will line up against a Packers offensive line that ranks fourth in adjusted line yards and first in adjusted sack rate. Their run defense will be tested against a potent rushing attack led by Aaron Jones- who leads the NFL in broken tackles.
There has been sharp action on both sides, but more recently to Tampa Bay. But the Packers are on the right side here. Even with Tom Brady, the Buccaneers are an AVERAGE football team. I’ve watched roughly 75% of the snaps of the Bucs last three games and they have played 2 good halves of football during that span. If the Chargers did not totally collapse in the second half, we would be talking about how the Bucs failed to meet expectations. They have shown zero evidence of why they should be considered a Super Bowl contender. The Buccaneers are an undisciplined football team who is second in the NFL in penalties. Their defense has been prone to give up explosive passing plays to competent quarterbacks and they rank 22nd in defending running pack passes. This is a problem when you have to face Aaron Rodgers.
The Buccaneers “dynamic offense” ranks 21st in the NFL averaging 5.6 yards per play and they are below league average in key situational success rate. Simply, I’m not afraid of this Bucs offense especially when Chris Godwin and Mike Evans are not 100% healthy. Green Bay defense has not been good so far but they still rank fifth in adjusted sack rate, they have PFF’s top graded corner in Jaire Alexander, and they get back starting nose tackle Kenny Clark this week. This Packers unit was a Top 12 defense last year and they return 80 percent of their personnel. They are due for some positive regression.
Aaron Rodgers is going to carve up Todd Bowles' defense. Without Vea in the middle the Packers will be able to run the ball consistently. Rodgers is going to burn Bowles' aggressive style of defense. The Packers will be able to run away when Tampa’s offense eventually stalls.
This was a long ass write up, but I have to write up why we are fading the so-called “wise guys” this week. No need to pay for their picks, we are giving you the Packers for free. Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay for my best Bet of the Year.
The pick: Packers -1 (4 units)
Atlanta Falcons @ Minnesota Vikings
Spread: Minnesota (-4)
This game was recently taken off the board after a Falcons coach was tested positive for Covid-19. The Falcons did not practice Thursday after the team closed the facility, but the game should be played if we get a clean Covid test Friday and Saturday. This is one of my favorite plays so we will break this one down.
To start off, the Vikings may be the best 1-4 team in NFL history according to metrics from Football Outsiders. Three out of the four Vikings losses have come against undefeated teams and two of those losses were by one point coming on the final play of the game. The Vikings rank 11th in overall DVOA just behind the Steelers and Titans.
The Vikings are coming off a frustrating Sunday Night Football loss against Seattle where they had a 90 percent win probability rate in the final two minutes. After Russell Wilson stole the victory on literally the final play of the game, the Vikings will take out their frustration on the lowly Falcons. This is a perfect get right spot for them.
The Vikings cost us a +280 ML hit last week, but they are going to come through for us here. Simply, Mike Zimmer freakin covers. Look at these trends for a second: Since coaching the Vikings, Zimmer has been a covering machine ; he 36-20-1 as a favorite, 45-18-1 against outside of division opponents, and as a non divisional home favorite the Vikings are 19-4-1 ATS.
As for the Falcons, they are 0-5 on the season they have just fired their head coach. NFL team’s firing their head coach during the middle of the season typically don’t do well the next week - 15-22 ATS (including Houston beating Jacksonville last week). I don’t really see this Falcons team turning it around. They rank 28th in DVOA on defense and they surprisingly rank 22nd in DVOA on offense despite their highly touted weapons. Matt Ryan has looked like a shell of himself, and the Falcons ranked 26th in the NFL in red zone TD percentage, a 23rd in third down conversion rate.
The Vikings have steadily improved offensively and defensively and they are just looking for a breakthrough. They will face a Falcons team that is simply in a dumpster. Give me the more talented, better coached and more motivated Vikings to cover easily.
The pick: Vikings -4 (3 units )
Cleveland Browns @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Spread: Steelers (-3.5)
We have been on the Cleveland bandwagon since Week 1 and we aren’t hoping off now. This is the Browns most important game in the last 16 years. A win against the Steelers would put them in the Super Bowl Contender conversation.
Remember the last time these two teams played, it ended with Myles Garrett almost killing Mason Rudolph. There is certainly bad blood between these two teams. I would not be surprised to see another brawl or too - to hell with Covid protocols. Overall, this is the game I’m most excited to watch.
This is a battle that will be won in the trenches. The Browns come into this game with the best offensive line in the league, and they will mash heads against the Steelers top rated defensive front. We’ve dug deep into the Browns O-Line before, ranked number 1 in adjusted line yards. The Steelers defensive front has been the best in football ranking first in both defensive adjusted line yards and adjusted sack rate. The Steelers have held opponents to just 64 rushing yards per game. The Steelers defense has been great, but they have faced the worst strength of schedule against opposing offense, while the Browns have faced the 3rd toughest schedule against opposing defenses.
On the other side, the Steelers offense has had a mini-resurgence with the reinsertion of Big Ben and the play of young receivers Dionte Johnson and Chase Claypool. The Steelers offense has been explosive at times but they have had efficiency issues, struggling with 41 percent running success and 46 percent passing success rate.
We really like the Browns because we still believe they are undervalued. Browns coach Kevin Stefanski is this year’s Kyle Shanahanan or Sean McVay. We still really don’t know how good the Steelers are because of their strength of schedule. They have not been very impressive in any one of their games. Daniel Jones and the Giants were able to move the ball on them during Week 1, Jeff Driskel nearly led a game winning drive against them in Week 2, they trailed a bad Texans team for a majority of the game, and they weren’t that impressive against the Eagles. They have struggled giving up explosive passing plays, 24th against marginal opposing offenses. The Browns playmakers Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry and Austin Hooper are in great spots. Stefanski will be aggressive and take shots at the Steelers defense early. The Steelers offense has yet to face a competent defense all year. The Browns are one of the top five teams against the run, have forced more turnovers than any other team in the NFL, and they have the league’s best pass rusher in Myles Garrett.
There is really not much separating these two football teams. This is an even matchup on paper, and the Steelers really don’t get much of a home field advantage during this Covid version season of the NFL. Give me the better tested underdog minded Browns to win with a late field goal.
The Browns win this one outright.
The pick: Browns +3.5 (1.5 unit)
Arizona Cardinals at Dallas Cowboys
Spread: Arizona (-1.5)
We will end this week by taking the over in the Monday Night Football matchup between the Cardinals and Cowboys. The Cowboys have to face a new reality navigating the rest of the season without Dak Prescott, with Andy Dalton now under center for him. On the other sideline, we get to see a homecoming game for Arizona QB Kyler Murray where he comes back to the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the same place where he blew up just about every Texas high school record.
The main storyline on Monday will be how Andy Dalton comes in to lead the Cowboys offense. When people think of the “Red Rocket” the first thing people point to his Dalton lack of playoff success - which is true. People tend to forget Dalton was a pretty good quarterback during the regular season, and he is the most winningest QB in Cincinnati Bengals history. Just two years ago in 2018, Andy Dalton was rated 12th best quarterback in the NFL- better than Big Ben, Carson Wentz and Kurt Cousins to name a few, During that season, Dalton threw for 2,586 yards, 21 touchdowns and had 90 QBR before a broken throwing thumb ending his season early. He did it all while playing behind the worst offensive line in football that season. Dalton is a competent NFL quarterback and he is going to be successful leading an offense featuring Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb.
Dalton gets to debut against a mediocre Cardinals defense that ranks 20th in DVOA and is missing their best pass rusher Chandler Jones. The Cowboys offense should be a lot more efficient, and look for them to feature Ezekiel Elliott more as well. Dalton will significantly exceed expectations during his Cowboys debut.
Unfortunately for the Cowboys, they did not get any significant replacements on the defensive side of the ball. The Cowboys still rank last in scoring defense, allowing an astronomical 36 points per game. They will face an Arizona offense that ranks 10th in total offense averaging nearly 400 yards per contest. Kyler Murray is a nightmare matchup for a Cowboys defense that struggles to tackle in space and pressure the quarterback. DeAndre Hopkins presents problems for a Cowboy secondary that was shredded by Darius Slayton and Odell Beckham the past two weeks.
Simply, the over is the easy play for every Cowboys game until Dallas defensive coordinator Mike Nolan can get his crap together. The Cardinals and Cowboys both rank top five in pace. Even without Prescott, the Cowboys are still going to try to play win with tempo on offense. Dallas goes into every game assuming they will need at least five touchdowns to stay competitive. With Kliff Kingsbury coming back to Texas, this will have a lot of resemblance to the Big 12 games he coached in Jerry World. This one is going to be a fun won.
The pick: Over 55 (1 unit)
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