Detroit (-3.0) @ Chicago
Power rankings: Detroit 8, Chicago 27
The Lions offense is sitting at 6th in DVOA and 8th in EPA/play. They're efficient both running (4th in DVOA) and passing (9th). They feature one of the better offensive lines in football. Although they are missing Frank Ragnow (knee/back/toe), Graham Gasgow has proven to be a more than capable backup. They have a strong 1-2 punch at receiver (Amon-Ra St. Brown and Sam LaPorta) and running back (David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs), rounding out a well balanced offense. That said, they prefer to run, currently ranking 25th in situation-neutral pass rate. Chicago's defense is below average (20th in DVOA), but they've been better against the run (11th in DVOA) than the pass (25th). The pass game suffers due to an inept pass rush - Detroit ranks 29th in pressure rate, 21st in pass rush win rate, and has a PFF pass rush grade of 57.1. They added Montez Sweat at the trade deadline, but they have a long way to go before they can strike any kind of fear in opposing offenses, and given that Detroit has such a strong line, Jared Goff should have plenty of time to throw. Chicago does have a strong coverage unit, currently ranking 1st in PFF coverage grades at 92.7. The secondary is led by Jaylon Johnson, who is allowing a 37.7 passer rating into his coverage this season. For comparison, if you did nothing but spike the ball every play, your passer rating would be 39.6 - making it a better strategy than targeting Johnson. Johnson has played 542 snaps this season at wide-corner, traveling into the slot on just 17 snaps. St. Brown runs about half of his routes out of the slot, which should give him plenty of snaps against non-Johnson defenders.
Chicago's offense is 25th in DVOA (25th pass, 15th run). Similar to Detroit, they're also a run-first team, ranking 31st in situation-neutral pass rate. They have a below-average offensive line, a quarterback that runs far better than he throws, and a single competent receiver (DJ Moore, who is having a fantastic season - currently ranking 8th in PFF grades among wide receivers). The Lions offense is 10th in DVOA (13th pass, 7th run). They excel at getting to the quarterback, ranking 2nd in pressure rate - although this is largely due to a blitz-heavy scheme - Detroit blitzes 6th most often in the league. When one on one, their pass rush rarely holds up, they're currently 27th in pass rush win rate. Aidan Hutchinson's 70 pressures are more than double the next closest defense on the team (Alim McNeill has 33, rushing primarily from the inside). Hutchinson is currently 4th in PFF pass rush grades, 3rd in total pressures, and 4th in win rate. He primarily lines up over the right tackle, pitting him against Darnell Wright, who is a below-average tackle. Their secondary is below average, but Chicago lacks the passing prowess to take advantage. Detroit's success against the run as well as the likelihood that they take a lead will force Chicago to throw more than they're comfortable doing.
Indianapolis @ Cincinnati (+1.0)
Power rankings: Indy 20, Cincy 21
The Colts offense is 17th in DVOA and 19th in EPA/play, faring better running the ball (6th in DVOA) than passing (19th). Even without RT Braden Smith (knee), it's an excellent offensive line. Michael Pittman dwarfs all receivers in targets this season (121), but rookie Josh Downs has proven to at least be a solid complementary option. Outside of Pittman and Downs, none of the other receivers have been able to contribute much -- Alec Pierce is third on the team in targets (45), and he supports a 57.9 grade from PFF. Workhorse running back Johnathan Taylor (thumb) will again miss this week, with sets up Zack Moss to yet again step in as the lead back. Taylor and Moss have similar numbers this year (4.1 YPA vs 4.5, 3.12 YCO/A vs 2.98, 70.9 PFF grade vs 67.8), making Taylor's absence unlikely to be too impactful. The Bengals defense has struggled this season, ranking 27th in DVOA (19th pass, 29th run). The pass defense relies on a strong pass rush, which ranks 8th in pressure rate this season. Trey Hendrickson's 60 pressures are almost double the next highest player on the team (DT DJ Reader has 34, DE Sam Hubbard has 33, DT BJ Hill has 32). Among edge rushers, Hendrickson ranks 7th in pressures, 5th in PFF pass rush grade, and 6th in win rate, but he's got a difficult matchup. Hendrickson lines up exclusively over the left tackle, pitting him against Bernard Raimann, a 2022 3rd rounder who has been a rock protecting Gardner Minshew's blindside. Raimann has allowed just 23 pressures in 436 pass blocking snaps, making Sam Hubbard's matchup against backup RT Blake Freelan key. The Bengals secondary has struggled this season, and they've played poorly against the run. The pass rush needs to have an impact.
Jake Browning put together a shockingly impressive performance in prime time against the Jaguars, ultimately leading the Bengals to an upset win in overtime. Browning completed 86.5% of his passes, good for 9.6 yards per attempt and PFF game grade of 90.1. It's absurd to expect a 2019 UDFA who quite literally had not attempted a pass in the NFL prior to this season to replicate that performance, but it showed some hope for Bengals fans that they can survive in a Joe Burrowless world. Browning plays behind one of the worst offensive lines in football, but does have a solid 1-2 punch at receiver now that Tee Higgins is healthy again. Despite Burrow's injuries (and playing hurt to start the year), the Bengals are still 13th in offensive DVOA, ranking 16th as a pass unit and 14th as a rushing unit. The Colts defense is 12th in DVOA, ranking far better against the pass (9th in DVOA) than the run (26th). The Colts rely on generating pressure with just 4 - they're 31st in blitz rate this season, but their pressure rate is 21st best in the league and their pass rush win rate ranks 6th. DT DeForest Buckner (37 pressures), DE Samson Edukam (34), and DE Tyquan Lewis all have pass rush win rates north of 13%. Their coverage unit is also strong, but there's a few week points at corner. Jaylon Jones and Darrell Baker are both allowing passer rating's north of 100 into their coverage, and neither has a chance trying to contain Ja'Marr Chase. Browning should look for a quick passing attack while the Bengals can lean on Joe Mixon to exploit the Colts poor run defense.