Philadelphia (-6.5) @ Indianapolis
Power rankings: Philly 2, Indy 29
Spread update: This line is sticking at 6.5.
Boy, do I love the model calling for the Eagles fresh off an upset loss over the Colts fresh off an upset win. Strong fade recency bias vibes from the model.
Keys to the game: The Eagles are the most complete team in football. Offensively, Jalen Hurts is 5th in PFF grades, they have the best offensive line in football that does not have a single weakness, and two elite receivers (AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith, TE Dallas Goedert is on IR with a shoulder injury). The Colts do have a decent enough defense, ranking 11th in DVOA (16th against the pass and 5th against the run). Their pass rush produces average pressure rates despite hardly ever blitzing, but they'll be without DE Kwity Paye (ankle). That leaves DT DeForest Bucker as their best pass rusher and LB Bobby Okereke is a run stopping specialist, but the Eagles offensive line should be too much. Further, Hurts does far better when not blitzed -- he's gaining 8.9 yards per attempt when teams do not blitz vs 7.4 when they do. The Colts also have a strong 1-2 punch at corner between Stephon Gilmore and Isaiah Rodgers -- the latter has given up 8 receptions for 56 yards, 0 touchdowns, and has 2 pass breakups over 165 coverage snaps. The Eagles offense is simply better.
The Colts are dead last in offensive DVOA (31st pass, 31st run). Matt Ryan is at least a far better quarterback than Sam Ehlinger, but he's still been a bottom-tier quarterback this season. The offensive line has been similarly bad -- although it is worth pointing out that they played significantly better last week with former C Jeff Saturday taking over as head coach. It's not a performance I'd expect to continue, especially against the Eagles who have an elite defensive line. Haason Reddick, Josh Sweat, Brandon Graham, and Javon Hargrave are all above-average pass rushers. If Colts RT Braden Smith (back, questionable) can't go, things could be disastrous for the Colts. The Colts have an average trio of receivers (Michael Pittman, Alec Pierce, and Parris Campbell), but the Eagles have arguably the best 1-2 punch at corner in the league between Darius Slay and James Bradberry. Philly's combo of corners and pass rush has bolted them to the top of the passing DVOA rankings. Indy's one potential advantage is with RB Jonathan Taylor against the Eagles run defense that ranks 28th in DVOA and missing DT Jordan Davis (ankle).
NY Jets (+3.5) @ New England
Power rankings: NY Jets 10, New England 13
Spread update: This line is sticking at 3.5.
Random note: Both teams were on a bye last, giving them an extra week to prepare for a divisional opponent should be interesting from a coaching/game plan perspective.
Keys to the game: The Jets offense will have their work cut out for them. They're 18th in DVOA and 24th in EPA/play against a Patriots defense that ranks 3rd in DVOA (2nd pass, 21st run). Regular readers of this column are well aware of how bad Zack Wilson has been under pressure -- he's a decent QB from a clean pocket, but he's so laughably bad under pressure that the end result is a struggling quarterback. The Jets offensive line is bottom-tier due to a slew of injuries and the Patriots have a pass rush that ranks 1st in the NFL in pressure rate. Both Matthew Judon and Deatrich Wise Jr. will be put in positions where they're able to win. The Jets receiving core is also banged up without Corey Davis (knee), leaving Garrett Wilson as the best option. Given the Patriots elite secondary, it isn't an ideal matchup. The Patriots do play a decent amount of man to man and their number 1 corner by snaps played has been Jalen Mills, who has been a disaster all season. The Jets will need Garrett Wilson to take advantage of that matchup and the run game to produce.
The other side of the ball is also one-sided for the defense: the Patriots are 26th in offensive DVOA and the Jets are 6th in defensive DVOA. The Patriots were evidently tipping plays, which both the Colts and Jets were able to take advantage of. The best part of the Patriots offense is their offensive line, but the Jets have one of the better front sevens in football. They rank 4th in pressure rate despite blitzing second least in the league. In particular, Quinnen Williams could be a problem against rookie LG Cole Strange, who has been benched in previous weeks. The Patriots also have a group of mediocre wide receivers (although I will accept arguments that Jakobi Myers is above-average), but the Jets have an elite secondary. Rookie Sauce Gardner and DJ Reed is a top-tier cornerback combo and Lamarcus Joyner/Jordan Whitehead is an above-average safety tandem. The Patriots do have a solid 1-2 punch at running back, but it won't be easy to gain yards on the Jets run defense.
Carolina @ Baltimore (-12.5)
Power rankings: Carolina 31, Baltimore 4
Spread update: The line has gone even further toward Baltimore. They are now a 13 point favorites. It's rare for the model to pick a favorite, much less such a large one.
Keys to the game: PJ Walker (ankle) remains out, leaving the Panthers to stick with Baker Mayfield, who is completing 56.6% of his passes (that's bad) and gaining just 6.5 yards per attempt (that's also bad) this season. The Panthers offense is 29th in both DVOA and EPA/play. It should be a decent matchup in the trenches -- the Panthers offensive line has improved significantly since the season began and the Ravens have a slew of above-average pass rushers. The problem for the Panthers -- outside of the quarterback -- is their receivers do not matchup well against the Ravens elite secondary. It's true that DJ Moore is solid and Terrance Marshall has improved in his second year, but CB Marcus Peters, CB Marlon Humphrey, S Geno Stone, and S Kyle Hamilton are all excellent players.
This is where the matchup gets ugly. The Ravens are 3rd in DVOA and 6th in EPA/play against the Panthers defense that ranks 25th in DVOA. The Ravens have one of the best offensive lines in football and the Panthers are missing DT Matt Ioannidis (calf). The Panthers do have a decent line even without Ioannidis -- both DE Brian Burns and DT Derrick Brown are excellent players. The one mismatch in favor of the Panthers is Brown vs LG Ben Powers, but as a whole the Ravens line is better. The Panthers secondary is disaster levels aside from CB Jaycee Horn, and the Ravens should be getting back Mark Andrews. Andrews is technically questionable (shoulder/ankle), but given that he practiced in full on Friday, he should be good to go. Horn is also questionable (foot), but he also practiced in full on Friday as well as Thursday. The Panthers are also 24th in DVOA against tight ends, which is naturally an issue given how often the Ravens look to their tight ends. Lamar Jackson shouldn't have any issues here.