San Francisco @ LA Rams (+1.5)
Power rankings: San Francisco 9, LA Rams 8
Spread update: This line moved slightly toward the model. The 49ers are 1 point favorites.
Keys to the game: The 49ers offense (17th in offensive DVOA) takes a big hit this week, as they'll be without WR Deebo Samuel (hamstring). While I was personally excited to see what Kyle Shannahan can do with a pair of hybrid RB/WR weapons (Christian McCaffrey and Samuel), I'm also happy to wait another week given that we're on the Rams. Samuel has accounted for 24% of 49ers targets this season and is a massive loss for the 49ers. They'll still have decent receiving weapons -- Brandon Ayiuk, George Kittle, and McCaffrey -- but the Rams have a solid secondary. The weaknesses of said secondary are with the corners behind Jalen Ramsey, but since the 49ers don't have Samuel, that makes the Rams defensive game plan far easier. The 49ers offensive line is strong at the tackle positions and weak along the interior, which sounds disastrous matching up against Aaron Donald, but it's worth noting that Donald was only able to manage 2 pressures against the 49ers in week 4. The Rams have a 12.9% pressure rate, which is 2nd worst in the league. The reality with the Rams is the line (outside of Donald) is struggling at getting to the quarterback, and teams are relentlessly double teaming Donald to neutralize him. Per ESPN, Donald is being double teamed 73% of the time, which compares hilariously to some of the leagues other pass rushers (Myles Garrett 32%, Michah Parsons 27%, Nick Bosa 22%, Maxx Crosby 21%, Von Miller 19%). Donald, for his part, still has 24 pressure on the season (21st in the NFL). Assuming they can contain Donald with double teams and win on on one with the rest of the Rams line, that should leave Garoppolo with plenty of time to throw, the question coming down to how the 49ers receivers can be against the Rams secondary. Meanwhile, CMC will be running against a Rams defense that ranks 2nd in run defense DVOA.
The Rams offense (25th in DVOA) is a mess. Matt Stafford ranks 26th in PFF grades, while the offensive line has completely gone off the rails since losing Andrew Whitworth to retirement in the offseason. They've also been banged up, forcing backups LT Alaric Jackson, LG Bobby Evans, and RG Oday Aboushi into action. Meanwhile, the 49ers are 2nd in pressure rate despite an average blitz rate. Although San Francisco is without DT Arik Armstead (foot/ankle), Nick Bosa is back and healthy. He also happens to be having one of his best season and will be a mismatch against Jackson. The 49ers secondary features a solid corner (Charvarius Ward) and an above-average safety tandem (Talanoa Hufanga and Tashaun Gipson Sr.), but it won't matter against Cooper Kupp. Kupp continues to be one of the best receivers in the game, and the Rams do an excellent job scheming him open where he routinely gets matched up against the weaker parts of whatever secondary he's facing. Unfortunately for the Rams, Allen Robinson hasn't lived up to the contract, leaving Tyler Higbee as the 2nd best receiving option. On the ground, Darrell Henderson will dominate carries with Cam Akers (personal) out. At the end of the day, the 49ers defense (7th in DVOA) is far stronger than what the Rams have shown this season.
Green Bay @ Buffalo (+10.5)
Power rankings: Green Bay 10, Buffalo 1
Spread update: The spread is sticking at 10.5.
At the end of the day, the model is calling bullshit on Aaron Rodgers being a 10-point dog.
Keys to the game: Aaron Rodgers is looking like his 2015 self, where the Packers had virtually zero receiving options after Jordy Nelson tore his ACL in the pre-season. Even still, Rodgers is 11th in PFF grades, completing 66.8% of his passes while gaining 6.5 yards per attempt. PFF charts "turnover worthy" plays, which Rodgers is making at just a 1.8% clip, right on the heels of 3 different players who are leading the league at 1.7%. The numbers show that he's still the same QB, but his receivers are bringing him down to human level of play. They'll also be without WR Allen Lazard (shoulder), but they did at least get WR Sammy Watkins back last week. The Bills secondary has been banged up all year (Tre'Davious White and Micah Hyde are out), but it never seems to matter with Buffalo -- they're 4th in pass defense DVOA. The key to the Bills defensive success is their pass rush, which ranks 15th in pressure rate despite hardly ever blitzing. Both Von Miller and Gregory Rousseau have been menaces to opposing QBs, which could be a problem in this matchup. The Packers offensive line is solid, but there's injury concerns with LT David Bakhtiari, who's surgically repaired knee swelled up, causing him to miss last week. He's officially questionable this week, but a limited practice session on Friday has me optimistic that he'll play. The Packers do have a pair of strong running backs, but the Bills are 1st in run defense DVOA. Outside of the defensive line, LBs Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds are both stingy against the run and in coverage. Simply put, it's an elite defense vs a mediocre offense.
The Bills offense is neck and neck with the Chiefs as the best offense in the league. Josh Allen and Stef Diggs are operating on levels where the pieces around them simply aren't as important. The offensive line is universally weak outside of LT Dion Dawkins, and the secondary receivers haven't factored into the passing attack in the way you'd expect. Diggs's 62 targets are more than double anyone else on the team (Gabe Davis and Isaiah McKenzie have 25 each). Between Rashan Gary (outside) and Kenny Clark (inside), the Packers should win in the trenches. The Packers secondary is an ongoing story, with several players underperforming -- Jaire Alexander has just a 67.4 coverage grade from PFF while allowing a 91.6 passer rating into his coverage. Eric Stokes has a 57.5 grade and is allowing a 129.7 rating. The safety tandem (Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos) also have performed poorly relative to expectations. My opinion is the secondary is far too talented to not improve, but it's worth pointing out their average performance nonetheless. Expect Stef Diggs to get open regularly. Expect Josh Allen to do whatever he wants and to be a literal cheat code on short yardage situations, especially against a Packers defense that ranks 31st in run defense DVOA. But good things are coming for the Packers defense, there's simply too much talent for that not to be the case.