Baltimore (-5.0) @ NY Giants
Power rankings: Baltimore 5, NY Giants 28
Spread thoughts: Since the model was run, the line has moved to Ravens -5.5, though this obviously is not a significant jump.
Keys to the game: The Ravens have been one of the most efficient offenses in football, ranking 2nd in DVOA. Despite their lack of depth at receiver, they're also 2nd in DVOA passing the ball. The efficiency comes from a sharp coaching staff, Lamar Jackson passing well, the offensive line (which has finally returned LT Ronnie Stanley, a massive upgrade over what was their 4th string left tackle), continued domination from Mark Andrews, and an emergence of Devin Duvernay. Their rushing attack has a quarterback who averages 7.6 yards per attempt and a running back (JK Dobbins) who averaged 3.25 yards after contact for his career. The Giants, despite their 4-1 record, have a defense that ranks 25th in DVOA (24th vs the pass, 21st vs the run). In fairness to the Giants, they are getting healthier along the line -- DE Azeez Ojulari (calf) was limited in practice on Wednesday/Thursday, and DT Leonard Williams (knee) looks set to return for the first time since week 2. Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams combined for solid interior pressure -- the part of the Ravens line that does contain weak points -- but the secondary will not be able to contain the Ravens passing attack.
The Giants offense is 12th in DVOA with a bad quarterback, a horrible offensive line (save for LT Andrew Thomas), a mess at receiver, and an extremely good running back. Either HC Brian Daboll is a genius, massive variance is coming -- or, the most likely scenario, a combination of the two. The Ravens defense has been a lot more mediocre then you'd expect, ranking 15th in DVOA. Calais Campbell and Justin Madubuike have had success generating pressure along the interior, where the Giants have nothing but bad players. CBs Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey are also far superior to any healthy Giants receivers. The biggest concern is the Ravens run defense, which has given up an average of 5.0 yards per carry and rank 26th in run defense DVOA. That's not an ideal matchup considering how well Saquon Barkley is playing, but if Baltimore is able to jump out to an early lead it may not matter.
Arizona @ Seattle (+2.5)
Power rankings: Arizona 22, Seattle 20
Spread thoughts: This line is sticking at 2.5
Keys to the game: The Cardinals offense -- which sits at 23rd in DVOA -- is having a disappointing season due to Kyler Murray's down year. Murray is 16th in PFF grades, 15th in ESPN's QBR, and 16th in DYAR. His 5.8 yards per attempt is a full yard lower than any of his other 3 seasons in the NFL. Unless there is some unreported injury, we'd expect Murray to improve on these numbers as the season progresses. The offensive line has improved over recent seasons, with tackles Kelvin Beachum and D.J. Humphries both playing well. It is worth mentioning that C Rodney Hudson (knee) missed last week and is questionable this week -- his backup is Sean Harlow, who has consistently been a disaster whenever given the opportunity to play. The receiving core is still lacking without DeAndre Hopkins (suspension), but Marquise Brown has picked up where he left off from his Ravens days. RB James Connor (ribs) will miss as well, leaving Eno Benjamin -- a 7th rounder from 2020 -- to handle the majority of the carries. Benjamin has played well in limited opportunities this season, gaining 4.5 yards per attempt and 3.13 yards after contact per attempt. This matchup comes down to how well the offense wants to play, because the Seahawks defense is a disaster, barely able to escape the "worst defense in the league" award because the Detroit Lions exist. DE Uchenna Nwosu has a respectable 15 pressures on the season and DT Shelby Harris plays well against the run, but every other starter has been below average to poor. Oh yeah, and Shelby Harris (hip) hasn't practiced this week.
Don't look now (JK, you should totally look), but Geno Smith is PFF's highest graded quarterback. Smith is completing 75.2% of his passes (9.6% above expectation) and gaining 8.3 yards per attempt. He's throwing the ball more accurately and avoiding sacks at levels that are far beyond what we've ever seen from any point in Smith's career, making it laughable to think he was in an actual competition with Drew Lock this offseason for the starting job. It would be absurd to expect Smith to continue this level of play, but it's clear he's taken the time to improve on his game while riding the bench and should be considered a respectable starter in the league. The offensive line has also held up well from a pass protection standpoint, including two rookie tackles (LT Charles Cross, 9th overall and RT Abraham Lucas, 72nd overall). However, the line has consistently been beaten in the run game. They were aided by RB Rashaad Penny, who has been arguable the best running back in football in terms of gaining yards after contact since breaking out last year, but Penny is out for the year with an ankle injury. That leaves Kenneth Walker III, a rookie 2nd rounder out of Michigan St, to take over the reins. Walker is gaining 6.3 yards per attempt, a number that is inflated due to some longer runs -- his 2.83 yards per attempt after contact is much more pedestrian. The Cardinals defense is 2nd in the league in blitz rate (41.7%), but just 16th in pressure rate (23%), numbers that add up given that their best pass rushers are DT Zach Allen and a past-his-prime-but-still-good JJ Watt. The Cardinals defense also hasn't played well against the run (27th in DVOA). Smith has a pair of top tier receivers in DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, both who are playing well and will not see much resistance from a Cardinals secondary that ranks 26th in pass defense DVOA.