Baltimore (-4.0) @ Jacksonville
Power rankings: Baltimore 4, Jacksonville 27
Spread update: This line has moved slightly toward the model, down to BAL -3.5.
Keys to the game: There's no need to be concerned about Lamar Jackson (hip) - he practiced in full on Thursday and should be good to go.
The Ravens offense (5th in DVOA/9th in EPA/play)will have a decisive matchup against the Jaguars defense (26th in DVOA/18th in EPA/play. Baltimore is a pass-heavy offense -- ranking 8th in the NFL in situation-neutral pass frequency -- against a Jaguars defense that is 31st in pass defense DVOA. The Ravens best pass catcher is also a tight end (Mark Andrews) and the Jags defense ranks dead last in DVOA against tight ends. The Jaguars do have a pair of solid pass rushers in Josh Allen (edge) and Arden Key (inside), but that's about all their defense has to offer -- their secondary and linebackers are poor (outside of 2nd year CB Tyson Campbell). Against the Ravens offensive line, which is one of the best in football, it simply won't be enough. The one positive for the Jags is the Ravens will likely be without LT Ronnie Stanley (ankle), which is the position Allen typically faces. Replacing Stanley will be Patrick Mekari, who is still a decent tackle, but certainly a step down from Stanley. Lamar Jackson and crew shouldn't have any issues here.
Trevor Lawrence has shown flashes of exactly what you would expect out of the 1st overall selection, but he's had far too many bad games for you to be happy with his season. On the season, he ranks 21st in PFF grades, 15th in DYAR, and 18th in ESPN's total QBR. For Lawrence, this is about an even-matchup -- the Jags offense is 13th in DVOA and 10th in EPA/play where the Ravens are 11th in DVOA and 16th in EPA/play. The strength of the Ravens defense is their secondary (they're 8th in pass defense DVOA) -- featuring a strong pair of corners (Marlon Humphries and Marcus Peters) as well as an excellent group of safeties (although rookie Kyle Hamilton isn't practicing with a knee injury. They shouldn't have an issue against a group of receivers that is led by Christian Kirk, but it truly comes down to which Trevor Lawrence shows up. The Ravens front 7 is solid against the run (they rank 7th best in yards per carry allowed on the run), but their pass rush is below-average. Given that the Jaguars offensive line is dead last in PFF's run blocking grades, it could be a tough matchup for Travis Etienne.
Tampa Bay @ Cleveland (+3.5)
Power rankings: Tampa Bay 9, Cleveland 13
Spread update: This line is sticking at 3.5.
Keys to the game: The Bucs offense is 17th in DVOA and 19th in EPA/play, though their issue has been running the football - the Bucs are 9th in passing offensive DVOA and 30th in rushing offense DVOA. Although the offensive line hasn't been nearly as bad as people think -- they are a legit top 10 unit from a pass protection standpoint, especially since LG Luke Goedeke was replaced by Nick Leverett. However, they've struggled run blocking -- they're average of 1.0 yard before contact per rush attempt ranks 26th in the NFL. Tom Brady isn't playing at MVP-levels, but he's still 11th in PFF grades, 4th in DYAR, and 15th in ESPN's total QBR. Given the strong offensive line, quarterback play, and receiving duo of Chris Godwin/Mike Evans, it's easy to understand why they are a strong passing offense. The Browns, meanwhile, are bad at everything. They're 31st in both DVOA and EPA/play. Myles Garrett is a DPOY candidate, Jadeveon Clowney is no slouch himself as an edge rusher, and LB Sione Takitaki is having an excellent season, but there's weaknesses virtually everywhere else. Even Denzel Ward, who is typically a rock solid cornerback, has a 49.7 PFF coverage grade, is allowing a 98.8 passer rating into his coverage, and has committed 5 penalties.
The Browns offense has been just fine without Desahun Watson -- they're 4th in offensive DVOA and 6th in EPA/play. Jacoby Brissett ranks 8th in PFF grades and 7th in ESPN's total QBR -- rankings that are probably above what he's capable long term, but the point still stands that Brissett is a worthy starter in the league. The offensive line is a top 5 unit in the league and should win handily against a Bucs defensive line that has underperformed this season and could be without their best player, Vita Vea (foot, questionable). That said, the Bucs have a legit defense -- they're 8th in DVOA and 9th in EPA/play. The strength comes from the secondary (CB Carlton Davis, CB Jamel Dean, and S Antoine Winfield Jr.) and LB Lavonte David. Davis is consistently one of the best coverage linebackers in the league. It should be a solid matchup against the likes of Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones, and David Njoku, who are all having excellent seasons. On the ground, the Browns have one of the better running back tandems in the league (Nick Chubb/Kareem Hunt) running behind an offensive line that should be able to provide plenty of running room.
Chicago @ NY Jets (-4.5)
Power rankings: Chicago 30, NY Jets 15
Spread update: The Jets are now 6 point favorites due to the wise decision to play their best QB.
Keys to the game: The Bears listed QB Justin Fields as questionable with a shoulder injury, though it sounds like he should be able play through it with a numbing agent, per the docs at SICscore.com. The Bears offense has found strength in Fields's rushing ability -- he's averaging 106.6 yards per game in his last 6 games, which has risen the Bears rushing efficiency considerably -- they now rank 10th in rush offense DVOA. The problem is Fields is still throwing poorly, the offensive line is mediocre, and the receiving core is poor. This has led to a pass DVOA that ranks 27th in the NFL. The Jets, meanwhile, have an elite defense -- ranking 6th in both DVOA and EPA/play. Their defensive line is elite -- in particular, DT Quinnen Williams, has risen to be one of the best tackles in football and has the potential to completely take over this game. The Jets secondary (CBs Sauce Gardner/DJ Reed and Safties Lamarucs Joyner/Jordan Whitehead) is far superior to the Bears receiving weapons.
The Jets have made the switch to Mike White at QB. White gained some notoriety last year against the Bengals where he threw for over 400 yards, but a closer look so that the performance was largely fraudulent, relying almost exclusively on check-downs. Once opposing teams had that on tape, he had much more lackluster performances against the Colts and Bills. White isn't a good QB, but Wilson had been so undeniably bad that a change in QB led directly to the Jets being a bigger favorites. It's also a matchup against a Bears defense that ranks 30th in DVOA and 29th in EPA/play. Both sides are horrible weak in the trenches, but the Jets receivers (Garrett Wilson and Corey Davis, who is set to return after missing 3 games with a knee injury) are better than the Bears secondary.