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.
LA Rams (-5.0) @ Seattle
Power Rankings: LA Rams 6, Seattle 18
Classic COVID-19, ruining another one of our bets. As it stands, this game has been moved to Tuesday at 7:00PM. As of Sunday morning, the Rams have the following notable players on the COVID-19 list: S Jordan Fuller, RT Rob Havenstein, TE Tyler Higbee, DE Von Miller, and CB Jalen Ramsey. In total, the Rams have 19 players on the COVID-19 list. With vaccinated players having an easier time to return to play, it's hard to say who will play and who won't. The line has actually moved up to 6.5, remarkably moving toward the model despite the outbreak.
The Rams on offense are 4th in DVOA and 5th in EPA/play. Matt Stafford is 9th in PFF passing grades (80.1) while completing 67.3% of his passes (0.3% below expectation) and gaining 8.3 yards per attempt. The offensive line is typically dominant, particularly in pass protection -- but losing Rob Havenstein is a tough loss, and I should add that is normal backup (Joe Noteboom) is also on the COVID-19 list. They're hopeful to at least get C Brian Allen (knee) back -- he's been limited in practice but has missed the last two games. The top receivers by projected targets: Cooper Kupp, Van Jefferson, Odell Beckham Jr, and TE Kendall Blanton. Kupp has turned into one of the best receivers in football, leading the league in targets (150), receptions (113), yards (1,489), touchdowns (12), and ranking 2nd in PFF grades (91.2). Beckham looked like he was starting to get acclimated to the offense, but he put up a 1 catch for 6 yard dud last week -- time will tell how the transition goes, but I always expect growing pains with new receivers. Darell Henderson should handle the bulk of the RB carries with Sony Michel chipping in. They're typically much more efficient passing (4th in DVOA) than throwing (3rd). The Seahawks on defense are 26th in DVOA and 20th in EPA/play. They have a weak pass rush -- not a single defender has generated 30 pressures this season. DT Al Woods, DT Poona Ford, and LB Bobby Wagner are all solid against the run. Wagner is, as usual, one of the better linebackers in football. The secondary is littered with below average players, particularly since S Jamal Adams (shoulder) is out for the season. It should be no surprise that the Seahawks defense is much better against the run (9th in DVOA) than the pass (28th). Even with the COVID-19 limitations, the Rams should be able to pass at will.
The Seahawks on offense are 15th in DVOA and 18th in EPA/play, though it's hard to trust those numbers with Russ Wilson missing time this season. Wilson is 15th in PFF grades (75.5) while completing 66.6% of his passes (1.1% above expectation) and gaining 8.0 yards per attempt. Those stats include some stinkers when he first returned from injury, though he did look like his normal self last week -- granted, that was against a Texans defense that could make me look good. The offensive line is subpar across the board, with the exception of LT Duane Brown. The top receivers by projected targets: DK Metcalf, Freddie Swain, TE Gerald Everett, and D'Wayne Eskridge. Absent is Tyler Lockett, who is on the COVID-19 list himself. As with the Rams, it's tough to say if he'll play -- but if he can't, the receiving core is Metcalf and Metcalf alone. In the backfield, Rashaad Penny has won the job as the workhorse back. The Seahawks are 12th in DVOA throwing the ball and 15th running it. The Rams on defense are 6th in DVOA and 9th in EPA/play. They are incredibly strong up front, and should have no issues with Seattle's line, even if Von Miller remains out with COVID-19. Aaron Donald should need no introduction -- he's the anchor of the Rams defense, constantly drawing double teams (while still winning) and along guys like Leonard Floyd, A'Shawn Robinson, and Greg Gaines to generate pressure and sacks. The linebackers, corners, and safeties are all in a rough spot. Jalen Ramsey and Jordan Fuller are both fantastic players, without them the secondary is downright awful. The Rams are 7th in DVOA against the pass and 2nd against the run.
Green Bay @ Baltimore (+4.5)
Power Rankings: Green Bay 8, Baltimore 13
The Packers on offense are 2nd in DVOA and EPA/play. Aaron Rodgers in PFF's 7th highest graded QB (81.0) while completing 67.3% of his passes (2.7% above expectation) and gaining 7.9 yards per attempt. The offensive line is a collection of revolving doors -- they haven't had LT David Bakhtiari for the entire season, and even though he was activated off of IR and practiced as limited all week, he's still not playing. The receiving core is Davante Adams alone -- he's PFF's highest graded WR and, in my humble opinion, the best in the game. Behind Adams is Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Allen Lazard, and RB Aaron Jones in projected targets. Jones should handle the bulk of the RB carries with AJ Dillon chipping in. They've been more efficient passing (2nd in DVOA) than running (10th). The Ravens on defense are 23rd in DVOA and 22nd in EPA/play. They have some strength up front between DE Justin Houston, DT Tyus Bowser, DE Odafe Oweh, and LB Josh Bynes. However, the secondary is #bad -- they're excused due to injuries to Marlon Humphries and Marcus Peters, but Aaron Rodgers shouldn't have any issues carving up the secondary if he can remain clean. The Ravens blitz 34.7% of the time, third most in the league -- that's a strategy that asks a lot of your defensive backfield, but they still blitzed Cleveland often last week even after losing Humphfries, so it appears to be business as usual. Aaron Rodgers is PFF's 19th highest graded QB when blitzed, so I'd expect Baltimore to continue that game plan here.
We can basically throw out the Ravens offensive stats (if curious, they are 17th in DVOA and 19th in EPA/play) as it seems Lamar Jackson (ankle) isn't going to play. He is questionable, but didn't practice all week. The line shifted to 6 -- we did know about Jackson's ankle injury, but took a risk since it seemed at the time he would have a chance to play. Life happens. If he can't go, Tyler Huntley will take his spot. Huntley has a PFF passing grade of 57.1, he's gaining 6.2 yards per attempt, and is completing 68.2% of his passes. Jackson is at 65.9 for his PFF passing grade, completing 64.4% of his passes (1.6% below expectation) and gaining 7.5 yards per attempt. Stylistically, Jackson prefers to hold onto the ball, both because he's a deep ball passer and likes to run. Huntley is much more of a pocket passer, though he does have 9 rushing attempts for 95 yards on 51 snaps this season. The offensive line has it's strengths -- both C Bradley Bozeman and RG Kevin Zeitler are having fantastic season. LT Alejandro Villanueva is still a serviceable tackle, but RT Tyre Phillips has struggled. LG Ben Powers (foot) is out, leaving 3rd round rookie Ben Cleveland to take his spot. The top receivers by projected targets are Marquise Brown, TE Mark Andrews, rookie Rashod Bateman, and Sammy Watkins. Andrews is one of the top tight ends in all of football, where Brown is a solid deep threat. Devonta Freeman should handle the bulk of the RB carries. They've been far better running the ball (7th in DVOA) than throwing (20th). The Packers on defense are 16th in DVOA and 13th in EPA/play. Preston Smith and Rashan Gary are solid pass rushers off the edge, but they struggle along the interior. De'Vondre Campbell is PFF's 2nd highest graded linebacker, excelling as a run defender, pass rushing, and in coverage. In the secondary, Rasul Douglas has come on strong at corner -- much need with Jaire Alexander out. Adrian Amos is also a solid presence at strong safety, capable of helping out in the run game and in coverage. They've been better defending the pass (13th in DVOA) than the run (24th).
New Orleans (+11) @ Tampa Bay
Power Rankings: New Orleans 17, Tampa Bay 1
The Saints offense (19th in DVOA, 22nd in EPA/play) are sticking with Taysom Hill -- he has a horrid 47.6 PFF passing grade while completing 58.6% of his passes and gaining 7.1 yards per attempt. Hill's running ability naturally elevates his floor, and we know he's a better passer than those numbers indicate. Even still, he has shown that he cannot accurately throw passes down the field, so a perfect Hill will need to rely on running and short/intermediate passes. The offensive line is still without tackles Ryan Ramczyk (knee) and Terron Armstead (knee). Ramczyk and Armstead are two of the better tackles in football, and the interior is already weak -- leaving the on the field product Sunday to be pittiful. The top receivers by projected targets: Alvin Kamara, Marquez Callaway, Tre'Quan Smith, and Adam Trautman. It's far from an ideal group of receivers. Despite this, the Saints have been better passing (15th in DVOA) than running (21st). The Bucs on defense are 7th in DVOA and 8th in EPA/play. The keys to their front 7 are edge rusher Shaq Barrett, DT Vita Vea, and LB Lavonte David. Ndamukong Suh and Jason Pierre-Paul carry big names, but both are past their prime and have PFF grades of 52.8 and 48.9, respectively. The secondary is without CB Jamel Dean (illness), although Pierre Desir has done a solid job filling in. Carlton Davis also plays well on the outside, though Sean Murphy-Buntin has struggled covering the slot. Antoine Winfield is PFF's second highest graded safety, and Jordan Whitehead is no slouch himself. All in all, you can't ask for much else from your secondary. The Bucs are 5th in DVOA against the pass and 17th against the run.
The Bucs have the best offense in football, by both DVOA and EPA/play. Tom Brady, who may or may not be old, is on his way to an MVP season. He's second in PFF grades (89.7) while completing 68.2% of his passes (0.7% below expectation) and gaining 7.5 yards per attempt. Brady has thrown 10 INTs this season, but his turnover worthy play rate is at 1.7%, 2nd best in the league. He plays behind an incredibly strong offensive line, and has a solid group of receivers (Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Rob Gronkowski). Leonard Fournette will handle the bulk of the RB carries with Ronald Jones chipping in. They're the best team by DVOA passing the ball and 2nd best running it. To put it simply: they can do whatever the fuck they want. Not that it will be easy -- the Saints defense is 5th in DVOA and 6th in EPA/play. The strength is the defensive line -- Cam Jordan and Marcus Davenport on the edge with David Onyemata and Shy Tuttle in the middle is a scary combination. Demario Davis is also one of the better linebackers in football. In the secondary, Marshon Lattimore always seems to shut down Mike Evans, but slot corner Chauncey Gardner-Johnson has struggled this season (i.e., the matchups are better for Godwin). Marcus Williams is one of the best free safeties in all of football, so the Saints have options to give Gardner-Johnson help. It won't be the easiest matchup for Gronk either -- the Saints are 8th in DVOA vs tight ends. They are the best team in football by DVOA against the run and 11th best against the pass.