As explained here, we are going to be placing far more bets than normal. This space is used to educate bettors on the games that they have money on. Due to the larger volume of games, these write ups will be more abbreviated than normal. If you have questions, hit me up on twitter @Firstandthirty.
Tennessee @ Pittsburgh (+2)
Power rankings: Tennessee 19, Pittsburgh 23
Spread update: the spread has moved slightly toward the model, with the Steelers being a 1.5 point dog.
The Titans on offense are sitting at 23rd in DVOA and 15th in EPA/play. Ryan Tannehill is 11th in PFF passing grades (78.3) while completing 65.7% of his passes (0.9% below expectation) and gaining 7.1 yards per attempt. The offensive line has some weaknesses at the guard positions, but Taylor Lewan and David Quessenberry are solid tackles. The weaponry has been severely depleted with injuries to AJ Brown and Derrick Henry -- they did get Julio Jones back last week, but asking a soon to be 33 year old on a new team to carry the roster has been a bit much. In his first game back, Jones had just 4 catches for 33 scoreless yards. Jones stepping up is beyond a necessity for the Titans, they simply do not have a viable number two option behind him. Throughout the season they've been 23rd in DVOA passing and 17th running -- proof that the QB can't do it by himself. The Steelers on defense are 27th in DVOA and 24th in EPA/play. Though DT Cam Heyward and OLB TJ Watt are pass rushing beasts, the Steelers have zero other contributers in the front 7. They should get CB Joe Haden back for the first time since week 10 -- he's officially questionable, but he practiced in full on Friday, meaning there really isn't much of a question at all. However, the rest of the secondary has struggled. S Minkah Fitzpatrick is having his worst year of his 4 year career. He now carries a PFF grade of 49.5.
The other side isn't much prettier -- the Steelers on offense are 22nd in DVOA and 23rd in EPA/play. Among 37 qualifiers, Big Ben ranks 31st in PFF grades (59.8) while completing 65.3% of his passes (1.4% below expectation) and gaining 6.7% of his passes. Ben plays behind a poor offensive line, and to compensate he gets rid of the ball quicker than any QB in the league and lives off of short passes. Dionate Johnson and Chase Claypool are a decent enough combo at receiver -- Johnson takes the shorter/intermediate routes while Claypool is likely the recipient for the few shots Ben takes down the field per game. Rookie TE Pat Freiermuth and RB Najee Harris will also factor into the pass game -- both are helpful with the underneath routes. A bad QB and bad offensive line makes for a bad offense -- it's no surprise that they're equally horrid passing (21st in DVOA) and rushing (25th). The Titans on defense are 14th in DVOA and 11th in EPA/play. They have an above average pass rush, featuring Harold Landry (55 pressures), DT Jeffery Simmons (54), and DE Denico Autry (51). They safety tandem on Kevin Byard and Malik Hooker Amani Hooker is one of the best in the NFL. However, they struggle at linebacker and have weak corners. They're 14th in DVOA against the pass and 18th against the run.
Atlanta @ San Francisco (-9)
Power rankings: Atlanta 28, San Francisco 9
The tale of the Falcons offense is fairly straight-forward: above average quarterback and a fuck show everywhere else. The result is bad football -- the offense is 29th in DVOA and 26th in DVOA. Matt Ryan is 14th in PFF passing grades (76.1) while completing 68.1% of his passes (0.5% above expectation) and gaining 6.9 yards per attempt. I don't mean to totally discredit the offensive line -- Chris Lindstrom and Jake Matthews have played well all season. However, they have two major holes at LG (Jalen Mayfield) and RT (Kaleb McGary). TE Kyle Pitts and RB/WR Cordarrelle Patterson are more or less their only viable weapons. There simply isn't enough here for success, and the Falcons struggle both running the ball and throwing -- ranking 25th and 31st in DVOA, respectively. None of this should be an issue for a 49ers defense that ranks 8th in DVOA and 17th in EPA/play. Nick Bosa (outside) and Arik Armstead (inside) are pass rushing animals, and since the Falcons have clear weaknesses to attack, they can be lined up appropriately to take advantage. The cornerback room is banged up, and as a result one of the worst in football, but they at least have S Jimmie Ward to assist. They've been much better against the run (3rd in DVOA) than the pass (21st).
The other side is even more lopsided -- the 49ers are 8th in DVOA and 9th in EPA/play. Jimmy Garoppolo is 21st in PFF passing grades (71.2) while completing 66.7% of his passes (1.3% above expectation) and gaining 8.4 yards per attempt. 21st is naturally not a great rank -- but Jimmy's issues were to start the season. Since week 8 he ranks 2nd in PFF passing grades. The offensive line is solid across the board, but it's worth pointing out that LT Trent Williams has been flat out dominant. He has a PFF grade of 99.0 (!!!) and has easily been the best tackle in football -- especially in the run game. TE George Kittle has been an animal the last two games, accumulating 21 catches for 332 yards and 3 TDs. Deebo Samuel, who has already amassed 1,000 yards, is apparently also the teams top choice for running back with Eli Mitchell (concussion) sidelined. Brandon Aiyuk also chips in as a receiver -- like the quarterback has come in strong after a painful start. They're equally efficeint throwing (7th in DVOA) and running (5th). The Falcons defense is sitting at 30th in DVOA and 25th in EPA/play. I have very little nice things to say. Grady Jarrett is a solid interior pass rusher and AJ Terrell is a great corner. Everything else is bad. They're 29th in DVOA against the pass and 23rd against the run. Let's not dwell on the sadness that is the defense and move on.
Cincinnati @ Denver (-1.5)
Power rankings: Cincy 20, Denver 15
The Bengals on offense are 21st in DVOA and 17th in EPA/play. Joe Burrow looks well worth the 1st overall draft pick from a season ago -- he's 3rd in PFF grades (88.8) while completing 68.8% of his passes (5.0% above expectation) and gaining 8.4 yards per attempt. The offensive line is improved over a season ago -- but there's still big weaknesses on the right side, now even more so with RT Riley Reiff (ankle) out. Burrow distributes the ball relatively evenly between a trio of receivers -- rookie Ja'Marr Chase takes the outside/deep routes, Tee Higgins the intermediate, and Tyler Boyd covers the slot/shorter routes. Joe Mixon is the workhorse back who will also chip in as a pass catcher when called upon. They're 19th in passing DVOA and 25th in rushing -- the offensive line is certainly still hindering the latter. The Broncos on defense are 21st in DVOA and 10th in EPA/play. They're weak up front, especially after trading away Von Miller. The highlights are rookie corner Patrick Surtain, slot corner Bryce Callahan, and S Justin Simmons. We're hoping the Broncos hold off on their blitz happy scheme -- they blitz 28.3% of the time, 9th most in the league -- but that's a strategy that has failed against Burrow. He is PFF's highest graded QB against the blitz, and is the exact reason why he was able to carve up the Ravens defense back on October 24th.
The Broncos offense is 12th in DVOA and 11th in EPA/play. Teddy "Bridge QB" Bridgewater is 18th in PFF passing grades (72.4) while completing 67.6% of his passes (2.7% above expectation) and gaining 7.3 yards per attempt. The offensive line is middle of the road and slightly stronger at tackle than the interior. They have a solid trio of receivers between Jerry Jeudy (slot), Courtland Sutton, and Tim Patrick -- though Sutton has struggled since Jeudy returned from injury. Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon will handle the RB carries, with Williams getting about 60% of the work. They're slightly better running (8th in DVOA) than passing (11th). The Bengals defense is 12th in DVOA and 7th in EPA/play. They have a decent pass rush -- they generate pressure 15th most in the league despite blitizng only 20.8% of the time, which is 27th most in the league. It's led by Trey Hendrickson (60 pressures) and Sam Hubbard (45) on the outside and Larry Ogunjobi (32) and DJ Reader (22) on the inside. Reader is also one of the better run stuffers in football. Their linebackers are across the board bad, and their cornerback room took a bit hit when they lost Chidobe Awuzie (out). That leaves Mike Hinton as their top corner -- Hinton typically covers the slot, which should leave Sutton and Patrick in plus matchups. They're much better against the run (10th in DVOA) than the pass (18th).