Here's to the tradition of gambling on the NFL while ignoring our families. The model green-lit two of the three games. We'll review those, plus player props.
Buffalo @ Detroit (+9.5)
Power rankings: Buffalo 2, Detroit 22
Spread update: This line is sticking at 9.5.
Keys to the game: Bills QB Josh Allen has been under the microscope the last two weeks after spraining his elbow in week 9. The doctors over at SICscore.com do not believe that Allen's elbow is fully healed, and there's been some evidence that the Bills QB hasn't quite been his normal self over the past two weeks.
- The Bill's offensive efficiency is down. In weeks 1-9 they were at 0.145 EPA/play (2nd best), but are at 0.027 (16th) in weeks 10 and 11. The two defenses faced, Minnesota and Cleveland, are 18th and 31st in DVOA, respectively.
- Allen's deep passing rate (20+ yards in the air) was at 13.8% in weeks 1-9. It's down to 11.4% in the last two games.
- Allen's screen pass rate was at 7.8% in weeks 1-9 and is at 10% the last two games.
- The Bills designed an average of 4.125 rushing attempts for Allen in weeks 1-9. It's down to 1.5 in the last two games. Allen did still scramble plenty in week 10 -- he had 6 total rushing attempts (5 scrambles, 1 designed) for 84 yards. Last week he had just 3 total rushing attempts for 7 yards.
New England (+2.5) @ Minnesota
Power rankings: New England 11, Minnesota 17
Spread update: This line is sticking at 2.5.
Keys to the game: The Patriots offense needs to step their shit up. They rank 26th in offensive DVOA and 25th in EPA/play. Mac Jones is 36th of 39 qualifiers in PFF grades -- his completion percentage (68.7) and yards per attempt (7.1) are both solid figures, but he takes far too many sacks (his pressure to sack ratio of 29.6% is worst in the league) and ranks 10th worse in PFF's turnover worthy play metric (4.1%). The Patriots offensive line is typically solid, but they've been banged up and have had some odd benchings that we can't quite explain (the dependable LT Trent Brown was weirdly benched last week). They could be without C David Andrews who injured his thigh last week -- the report on Andrews was initially that his season is over, but that appears to have been false as Andrews did get in a limited practice on Tuesday. They could also be without RT Isaiah Wynn (foot) who did not practice on Tuesday. That could leave some opportunities for the Vikings defense that has three very good pass rushers (Danielle Hunter, Preston Smith, and Dalvin Tomlinson). Smith in particular is somebody who moves around all over the line and is routinely used to take advantage of weaknesses. The Patriots will need to take advantage of the Vikings banged up cornerback room -- Cameron Dantzler (ankle) is on IR, which brought Akayleb Evans into the rotation who missed last week with a concussion. It's unclear if Evans will be able to play on a short week. Behind Evans is Andrew Booth, who did not practice Monday or Tuesday with a knee injury. The Patriots receivers are far from scary, but there's enough talent to win -- the only corner capable of winning is Patrick Peterson, who figured out how to turn back the clock on father time and is now PFF's 5th best graded corner. It's also worth noting that S Harrison Smith is having a down year, which has led to a less than impressive safety room. On the ground, the Patriots have an impressive running back room between Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris, but they're just 24th in rushing offense DVOA against the Vikings defense that ranks 13th in run defense DVOA.
The Vikings offense is 19th in DVOA and 15th in EPA/play, but they're up against a Patriots defense that 1st in both DVOA and EPA/play. The concern for the Vikings could be their offensive line -- LT Christian Darrisaw (who was having an excellent season) suffered his second concussion in as many games and won't play. Blake Brandel replaces Darrisaw last week where he struggled badly, allowing 4 pressures, 2 sacks, and committing a penalty. The Vikings do have some talent along the line, including LG Ezra Cleveland, C Garrett Bradbury, and RT Bryan O'Neil. Darrisaw's injury wouldn't normally be the end of the world, but the Patriots are 2nd in the league in pressure rate (29.8%) despite league-average blitz rates. Matthew Judon (47 pressures) and Deatrich Wise Jr (38) have been the duo causing the most issues for opposing offenses, but 2020 2nd rounder Josh Uche has also stepped up the last 3 games since returning from injury, giving the Patriots a solid pass rushing trio. Kirk Cousins has about an average time to throw (2.7 seconds ranks 20th), but he may need to key into shorter passes than normal. The Patriots secondary is also elite (they're 1st in pass defense DVOA), but allowing CB Jalen Mills on Justin Jefferson could be a matchup nightmare. Belichick will need to lean into the narrative where he likes to take away your favorite weapon. On the ground, Dalvin Cook is averaging a respectable 5.1 yards per attempt against a Patriots defense that ranks 12th in run defense DVOA.
Jared Goff u249.5 passing yards -115 (BetMGM): This number appears to be too high against the Bills elite defense. All projections are lower than this number.
Devin Singletary u58.5 rushing yards -115 (BetMGM): 2nd round rookie RB James Cook bit into Singletary's workload last week. Cook's 11 carries were as many as he had since week 2, and double any amount of attempt's he's had since then. I agree with projections which have him consistently lower than this number.
Amon-Ra St. Brown o7.5 receptions +115 (BetMGM): This number is about right, but we're getting dog odds. As mentioned above, this is a decent matchup for St. Brown against Taron Johnson. The game script should work out as well as the Lions are big dogs.