Carolina @ Seattle (-3.5)
Power rankings: Carolina 30, Seattle 15
Spread update: This line has moved toward the model, Seattle is now 4.5 point favorites.
The Panthers offense is 30th in DVOA and 29th in EPA/play. Unable to find a viable option at quarterback, they've turned to Sam Darnold. Darnold only managed to complete 57.9% of his passes last week, but he did gain 8.6 yards per attempt and avoided turnovers. Naturally, we should expect Sam Darnold to play like Sam Darnold (poorly). He should at least have time to throw -- the Panthers have an above-average offensive line and the Seahawks have very little pass rushing threat outside of Uchenna Nwosu. The receiving core matches up decently well with the Seahawks secondary -- DJ Moore is naturally solid, but Terrace Marshall Jr. is also have a decent season in his second year. The Seahawks secondary consists of an above-average safety tandem (Quandre Diggs and Ryan Neal), but only have one good cornerback (rookie Tariq Woolen).
The Seahawks have one of the better offenses in the league, ranking 6th in DVOA and 8th in EPA/play. The offensive line isn't special, but it should be enough against the Panthers defensive line that ranks 18th in pressure rate despite blitzing 9th most frequently. The Seahawks do have some weaknesses along the interior where DT Derrick Brown -- the 7th overall pick from 2020 -- will win both as a pass rusher and a run blocker. The Seahawks start a pair of rookie tackles -- both have played well, but will be tested blocking Brian Burns. The true mismatch comes from the receiving duo of DK Metcalf/Tyler Lockett against the Panthers secondary that is weak outside of CB Jaycee Horn. Metcalf is listed as questionable (hip), but Pete Carroll confirmed he will play.
Tampa Bay (+3.5) @ San Francisco
Power rankings: Tampa Bay 7, San Francisco 20
Spread update: This line is sticking at 3.5.
Keys to the game: Tampa's offense (16th in DVOA/19th in EPA/play) has a potentially tough matchup against the 49ers defense (2nd in DVOA and EPA/play. The Bucs are missing tackle RT Tristian Wirfs (ankle/knee) while LT Donovan Smith is having a down year, which puts weaknesses at both tackle spots. This could potentially be a massive issue against Nick Bosa, but he did not practice all week due to a hamstring injury. The Bucs biggest advantage comes with their wide receivers against the 49ers average cornerback room.
The 49ers are 14th in DVOA and 9th in EPA/play, but they're starting Brock Purdy, a 7th round rookie out of Iowa State. Given Tampa's solid defense (8th in both EPA/play and DVOA), it might be a tough day for the rookie. The 49ers will have an advantage in the trenches -- they have a top 10 offensive line against a Bucs pass rush that is more or less inept without Shaq Barrett. The one saving grace is DT Vita Vea, their best pass rusher, will be going against the weakness of the 49erse line, which is the interior. The Bucs are also without FS Mike Edwards (hamstring), which would make me a bit more nervous against the 49ers pass catchers if someone other than Brock Purdy was starting. Even without Edwards, the Bucs still have a solid secondary. It should be enough to get the job done.
Miami (-3.0) @ LA Chargers
Power rankings: Miami 6, LA Chargers 25
Spread update: This line moved toward the model. The Dolphins are now 3.5 point favorite.
Keys to the game: The Dolphins offense (2nd in DVOA and EPA/play) is a massive mismatch against the Chargers defense (23rd in DVOA and 27th in EPA/play). The Chargers are also without CB Bryce Callahan (groin) and S Derwin James (quad), making the passing attack that much more lopsided. The Chargers secondary will be rendered bottom-tier trying to cover Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. The Dolphins offensive line isn't great, but Terron Armstead will return from a toe/pec injury and the Chargers pass rush is Khalil Mack and nobody else. The Chargers are also 30th in DVOA in the run game.
The Chargers offense (25th in DVOA/20th in EPA/play) has had a disappointing season, due largely to injury issues. The Dolphins defense -- which ranks just 17th in both DVOA and EPA/play -- is the better side. The Chargers line is still without LT Rashawn Slater, but they are getting back C Corey Linsley (concussion). There's still plenty of weaknesses along the line against a Dolphins defensive line that likes to blitz and has several above-average pass rushers (Bradley Chubb/Melvin Ingram/Christian Wilkins/Jaelan Phillips). The Chargers best shot is their receivers, which now includes Mike Williams (ankle) against the Dolphins poor secondary.
New England (-1.5) @ Arizona
Power rankings: New England 12, Arizona 26
Spread update: This line is sticking at 1.5
Keys to the game: The Patriots offense vs the Cardinals defense is an example of suck vs suck -- the Pats offense is 24th in DVOA and 27th in EPA/play against a Cardinals defense that ranks 24th in DVOA and 20th in EPA/play. The strength of the Pats offense is their line -- even without Isaiah Wynn (foot) -- they allowed just 11 pressures on 41 plays against an elite Bills pass rush last week. The Cardinals defense does generate pressure, but they blitz often to make that happen. Given that their best pass rushers are Zach Allen and JJ Watt, most pressure comes on the inside. The Patriots are without their best wide receiver, Jakobi Meyers (concussion), but Arizona's secondary is not great, ranking 25th in pass defense DVOA.
The Cardinals offense (29th in DVOA/24th in EPA/play) is a mismatch against the Patriots defense (3rd in both DVOA and EPA/play). Kyler Murray will likely be under pressure often -- the Cardinals line is bottom-tier while the Patriots defense is second in pressure rate. The good news for the Cardinals is their true weaknesses are along the interior and the Patriots get the vast majority of their pressure along the edge (Matthew Judon/Deatrich Wise/Josh Uche). The Cardinals receivers will also be without speedy Rondale Moore (groin), but they still have a strong 1-2 punch (Deandre Hopkins/Hollywood Brown) going against an elite Patriots secondary.