We kick things off on Saturday with a three-game set that features plenty of intrigue. The slate starts with Buffalo and Indianapolis who carry the highest O/U on the slate and seems like a good candidate to shootout. Both of these teams played well down the stretch as Buffalo is riding a six game winning streak while Indianapolis has now won four of their last five games.
Seattle and the Rams is a game that may hinge on the health of the Rams starting QB Jared Goff, who injured his thumb in the teams Week 15 matchup against Seattle, a game they lost 20-9. If he can’t go, John Wolford would start. As of now, the sportsbooks don’t seem to be too worried about Goff being questionable as the line here opened at +/- 4.5 but has since moved in places to +/- 3.5. Goff did practice in a limited fashion Wednesday but is still far from 100%.
There’s big question marks around the QB position in the Tampa-Washington game too. Alex Smith (calf) looked exceedingly limited last week against Philly and will have his hands full against another top D-Line here if he’s not 100%. Even with the line in this game up to +/- 8.5 the money is pouring in on Tampa Bay.
I’ve broken down all three games below and also given out my favorite bets from each. If they’re no good, don’t worry, Matt LaMarca is doing the Sunday preview this week! Good Luck!
- Rock Ya-Sin (questionable)
- Cole Beasly (questionable)
The Bills have been betting darlings this year and as they come in with an 11-5 Against the Spread record in 2020 (tied for best in the league) and come into this game with well over 60% of the action on their side. The +/- 7.0 spread is the second biggest on the slate and is also the biggest underdog the Colts have been all season. Both of these teams come in playing well–Buffalo has won six in a row while Indy has won four of their last five–and if you read my early betting preview here, you’d know I expect this game to be closer than the line indicates.
The Colts are far from pushovers and come in with one of the best rush defenses in the league. Indy has limited opposing teams to just 90 yards rushing per game on the ground this season and with a pass rush that ranks 12th in sacks per game and has 12 sacks altogether over their last four games of the year. Getting pressure here on Allen is going to be key because the Colts secondary has been #notgood for most of the year. Opposing QBs have lit up the Colts defense of late through the air as they’ve now allowed an average of 323 passing yards and 2.25 passing TDs over their last four games.
Maybe the Colts rushers can get to Josh Allen but to keep this game close, or possibly pull out the win here, Indy is going to have to score. Luckily for them, they have a weapon in Jonathan Taylor that may end up being the perfect kryptonite to the Bills pass happy offense. Taylor comes in having averaged over 22-touches per game over the last four games and averaging 6.66 YPC over that same span.
The Bills rush defense has been one of the only liabilities on this 13-3 all season as they come in allowing 4.6 YPC. Taylor was a little banged up early in the week but it doesn’t sound overly serious and he’ll likely be leaned on bigly here again and if gets going early, it could really limit the time Josh Allen is on the field.
Ultimately I think the Bills are the better team here, but you have to give some props here to the Colts who are a better team than the +7 line currently indicates. I expect a close game but with both teams relatively healthy on offense–Cole Beasley may sit, but John Brown is also back for Buffalo–I also expect a lot of points. Bills games are 10-5-1 at hitting overs while the Colts are 9-7 in that regard and haven’t scored less than 24-points since Week 9 against Baltimore. Gimme the Colts +7 and the over here in what could be the most exciting game of the entire weekend.
Prediction: Bills 31 Colts 28
- Jared Goff (questionable)
- Jamal Adams (questionable)
These two teams played a close tight defensive battle back in Week 16–that was ultimately won by Seattle 20-9–so we have some recent results to go off of. Seattle has been one of the stranger teams to watch in 2020 as they started the season with five straight wins (it could have easily been seven) and it looked like Russell Wilson might challenge some of the single season QB records for passing. However, the team’s defensive issues caused them to drop a few games, which also then caused a dramatic change in philosophy.
Since Week 10 the Seahawks have been one of the league’s best defenses, allowing just 16-points per game. Some of this turnaround was based on the defense getting healthy, which included having both Shaq Griffin and Jamal Adams back in their secondary. Adams injured his shoulder last week against the 49ers, but has already come out and said that he’s playing this week. Still, with him at less than 100% there’s little doubt the Hawks are a little more vulnerable here than they were in Week 16.
For the Rams, the issue here is really two fold. While they’ve done a good job of containing the Seattle offense this year–allowing them just 18-points per game in two meetings this year–Seattle will still have a massive edge at QB with Russell Wilson at the helm. The Hawks will also be at home here where they’re 7-1 thus far this year and 6-2 ATS. The Rams shot here likely comes via their run game, which they’ve been able to ride in spots this year–along with this defense. Cam Akers could be a difference maker this week.
He’s touched the ball 67-times total in his last three games started for L.A. but has a tough matchup against the Hawks D-Line who allowed just 3.9 YPC against this year, the fifth-best mark in the league.
Ultimately, there’s too many question marks here on both sides and that has me staying away from the spread. There’s a couple of player props I don’t mind though, mainly Seattle over 1.5 FGs. The Rams have a good red zone defense and the Hawks have a great kicker and should be willing to settle for points here given the weakness of the Rams offense of late. Also, while the Rams secondary is great, DK Metcalf is still a beast and capable of hitting big plays against anyone. It’s best just to hit over on him when you see totals this low.
- Mike Evans (questionable)
- Alex Smith (questionable)
The Bucs ride into this game as the biggest favorites of the weekend. Tampa is coming into the week off of four straight wins although it would certainly be smart to take the streak with a grain of salt. The Bucs beat the Falcons (twice), Minnesota and the Lions to make their way into the playoffs and haven’t played teams that mattered since Week 12 and 13, when they lost two 3-point games in a row to the Rams and Chiefs.
The Bucs rank first in rush defense, allowing just 3.5 YPC on the season, and are also fourth in the league in sacks per game. Their D-Line has masked what can be a very beatable secondary all year and is likely to give the now immmobile and banged up Alex Smith all sorts of problems here. Washington’s best chance in this game likely comes from using players like JD McKissic and Logan Thomas on short passes to keep the defense off balance and it is worth noting that Tampa gave up the most receptions to opposing RBs and seventh-most receptions to opposing TEs this year.
Washington also has a chance in this game because their defense has been just as dominant as Tampa’s. The Football Team has allowed just 20.6 points per game this year and only 190 passing yards per game, the second lowest total in the NFL this year. Tom Brady comes into this game as one of the hottest QBs in the league with 12 TDs vs. just one INT over his last four games. This will be a completely different test than what he’s faced over the last month or so though and he’ll not have one of his main weapons in Mike Evans at 100% (if he even plays).
Ultimately this game sets up as a huge war of attrition for me. Washington’s defense is getting no respect here given the current line and fact they haven’t allowed more than 20 points against in a game since Week 100–or lost a game by more than 7-points since Week 5. I like the under here and also will take the over on Logan Thomas receptions, who has been acting as Washington’s de facto number one receiver and is going up against a Tampa defense who isn’t great at covering his position.