NFL Power Rankings Week 8
So, the reason that this week’s Power Rankings are late is because I spent most of Thursday without power and without Internet. What I was able to cobble together from my phone and some time at Panera Bread was used to finalize my actual card for the weekend, so I had to push this back until today.
Why did I lose power? Oh, just a tropical storm, the remnants of Hurricane Zeta, with 60+ miles per hour winds blasting through my town at 3 a.m. Thursday morning. I was hardly the only handicapper to deal with the storm, though. Raphael Esparza spent Wednesday battling the storm head on in New Orleans and also spent Thursday without power.
The moral of the story: don’t forget about the weather.
As we head into November, weather is going to play a bigger and bigger factor in these NFL games. Last week we had our first snow game when Kansas City went to Denver. The Broncos were at home and would’ve seemed to benefit from a cold, muddy field against the speedy Chiefs. Nope. Instead, the Broncos played sloppy football on the sloppy track, fumbling four times in a 43-16 blowout.
This week no fewer than four games will be impacted by some heinous winter weather. From near-freezing temperatures and 25 mile per hour winds in Lambeau to pouring rain and wind in Orchard Park, weather is definitely going to be a factor this weekend.
As I talked about in last week’s Power Rankings, the pendulum has already started to swing back toward the ‘under’ in the NFL totals market. Last week was another profitable week for the ‘under’, with eight of 13 games staying under the posted total (the Steelers-Titans game was a ‘push’).
As we saw with the Kansas City game, bettors can get caught trying to over-handicap the impact of the weather on specific games. However, the coming cold, snow, rain and wind are only going to exacerbate the swing back toward lower-scoring games and that should further influence totals betting.
Here is Doc’s Sports NFL Power Rankings:
1. Kansas City Chiefs (6-1) – Kansas City’s 20.5-point opening spread was the 10th-largest spread of the last 45 years. However, favorite in the previous nine spreads of 20+ have gone just 1-8 ATS in those games, and favorites of 20 or more are 0-4 ATS so far this century. The largest spread in NFL history was Denver’s 28-point layout to Jacksonville in 2013. They won 35-19.
2. Baltimore Ravens (5-1) – The Ravens get a massive situational advantage this week. They are coming off a bye, so they’ve had two weeks to prepare for their first matchup with Pittsburgh. The Ravens are also at home and hosting a Pittsburgh team that is on the road for a second straight week.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-0) – The underdog is 19-8 ATS in the last 27 meetings in the Steelers-Ravens matchup. Pittsburgh is just 3-8 ATS in their last 11 against Baltimore, however. And that includes a 28-10 thrashing in Baltimore last season.
4. Tennessee Titans (5-1) – I love how relentless this team is. The Titans never panic, they never rush, and they just wear teams down with their physical, heady style of play. They finally came up on the wrong end of a close game thinks to a missed field goal that would’ve forced overtime. Five of their last six games have been decided by three points or less in OT. That’s a big reason why the Titans are just 2-5 ATS in their last seven games going back to last year.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-2) – Color me skeptical about adding Antonio Brown into the mix. Tampa Bay has the No. 1 point differential in the NFL, and they look like they are building the chemistry that was so lacking early in the year. I think that Brown drops a major bomb into that.
6. Seattle Seahawks (5-1) – Cracks are definitely starting to show with this team. Injuries are mounting on both sides of the ball, and it looks like they will again have to play without Jamal Adams. The Seahawks don’t have a single win over a team that’s currently above .500, and they have failed to cover the spread in back-to-back primetime games. These guys look like they are losing steam.
7. New Orleans Saints (4-2) – I think it will do the Saints well to get out of New Orleans for a road game this week after Hurricane Zeta tore through The Big Easy. The Saints have been on the road for a month, and they have turned themselves into a very good away team. New Orleans is 36-17 ATS in their last 53 road games.
8. Green Bay Packers (5-1) – Weather could definitely play a factor in this week’s rematch with Minnesota. The call is for 35 degrees and 25 mile per hour winds. That is going to put the focus on the running games for both teams, and it looks like Green Bay may be without Aaron Jones for another week. The Packers are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 home games against the Vikings.
9. Los Angeles Rams (5-2) – I have said it before, and I will say it again: Brandon Staley should be one of the finalists for assistant coach of the year. Taking over for Wade Phillips, and with a young group, Staley has the No. 2 scoring defense in the NFL. The Rams are at a situational disadvantage this week, making a long trek to Miami for a 10 a.m. PST kickoff after a short week.
10. Indianapolis Colts (4-2) – It is good news-bad news on the injury front for the Colts. The good news is that it looks like they are going to get Darius Leonard back for their already stacked defense. The bad news is that they may be without Pro Bowl center Ryan Kelly. If he is out, rookie Danny Pinter will be tasked with leading the line.
11. Arizona Cardinals (5-2) – The Cardinals are No. 5 in the NFL in blitz percentage, sending extra rushers on 38.6 percent of opposing drop backs. For comparison’s sake, the two blitz-craziest teams, the Ravens and Steelers, bring extra rushers on 46.1 and 44.3 percent of drop backs, respectively.
12. Buffalo Bills (5-2) – This game has to be considered the Bills’ Regular Season Super Bowl. This is the game they’ve had circled since the schedule was released. Buffalo has been embarrassed so many times by the Pats over the last 20 year. But they now have the upper hand and have to be looking for some payback. The forecast is calling or 43 degrees, rain and 18 mph wind.
13. San Francisco 49ers (4-3) – Look who is starting to get their game going. The 49ers are getting healthier week by week, and they are starting to look closer to the 2019 version. San Francisco is just 4-12 ATS in its last 16 games against the Seahawks. However, they are 7-1 ATS as an underdog and 6-1 ATS in their last seven road games.
14. Chicago Bears (5-2) – The Bears offense stinks because their running game is pathetic. David Montgomery is awful. But the big problem is that their offensive line can’t get any push. The Bears are 12-4 ATS as a home underdog, but they are just 2-7 ATS against teams with a winning record and 6-13 ATS in their last 19 games overall.
15. Cleveland Browns (5-2) – Put me in the category of people that think the Browns will be better off without Odell Beckham. The drops, the diva attitude, and the constant feeling that they have to force the ball to him are all gone. The Browns are only No. 10 in the NFL in scoring. But their overall averages are skewed by poor efforts against the Ravens and Steelers. Kick out those two games, and the Browns are averaging 37.4 points per game.
16. Los Angeles Chargers (2-4) – The Chargers had some extremely shaky moments against the Jaguars last week and they absolutely did not deserve to cover that spread. The Chargers have been fool’s gold for bettors, going just 2-6 ATS after a win and 7-19 ATS after scoring 30 points in a game. The Chargers are 9-3-5 ATS in their last 17 meetings in Denver.
17. New England Patriots (2-4) – At some point, the Patriots are going to score some points. Their OYPP over the last three weeks is 31.6, which is completely unsustainable. The Patriots are 13-3 ATS in their last 16 trips to Orchard Park and are a fantastic 20-8 ATS in their last 28 games against the Bills.
18. Las Vegas Raiders (3-3) – Vegas has now gone ‘over’ in every game they’ve played this year. This defense is a train wreck, and they absolutely cannot stop anyone. The Raiders are surrendering 32.8 points per game and have forced just three turnovers. I don’t see that turning around this week, even if some inclement weather in Cleveland should help the Raiders cause.
19. Miami Dolphins (3-3) – Welp, it’s Tua Time. I know the prevailing line this week has been, “Well we don’t see him in practice and Miami coaches have, so maybe they know something we don’t.” But we’re not talking about practice, Iverson. Quarterbacks don’t get hit in practice. Defenses aren’t throwing exotic blitzes at you in practice. I still don’t really understand the move to Tua right now, but I do know I’ll be watching on Sunday.
20. Carolina Panthers (3-5) – It is incredible that this team continues to play ‘under’ the total. They’ve now gone ‘under’ in six straight games despite having a Top 10 offense. It seems like there are 800 total yards of offense in Panthers games every week, but somehow that results in seven field goals and 48 total points.
21. Detroit Lions (3-3) – There is a little reverse line movement on the Lions this week. Most of the wagers have come in on the Colts, but the books are have obviously taken more big money bets on Detroit, because they moved off the 3.0. Detroit is just 5-12 ATS in its last 17 games, 4-9 ATS as an underdog and 2-6 ATS in their last eight home games.
22. Denver Broncos (2-4) – Remember when Melvin Gordon was holding out demanding to be paid like one of the best backs in football? Looks like the Chargers nailed that one. Gordon has been an embarrassment for the Broncos this year. And unfortunately for the Broncos, Philip Lindsay got a concussion, so it looks like they are stuck with Gordon logging most of the RB work for at least a couple more weeks.
23. Minnesota Vikings (1-5) – Two weeks isn’t enough time to fix all that is wrong with this team. They are so weak in the trenches that they are routinely blown off the ball, and it is part of the reason why they have the fourth-worst time of possession differential in the league. The Vikings are also 0-16 ATS outdoors against a team that is above .500.
24. Cincinnati Bengals (1-5-1) – It is going to be interesting to see how the Bengals respond this week after the Carlos Dunlap fiasco. He may have been the most vocal dissident in the locker room, but I’m certain he is not the only one. Will this team rally together? Bettors certainly don’t think so; the Titans (71%)-Bengals (29%) game is seeing the most lopsided betting action of the weekend.
25. Atlanta Falcons (2-6) – How big of an idiot is Todd Gurley? Singlehandedly costing them the Detroit game was bad enough. But then Thursday night on 3rd-and-14 with 3:05 to play and Atlanta trying to run out the clock, Gurley took a toss sweep and then ran out of bounds! It didn’t end up costing the Falcons the win, but Jesus, man; show just a tiny bit of situational awareness.
26. Philadelphia Eagles (2-4-1) – Carson Wentz looks physically incapable of feeling pass rush pressure until a defender is literally draped on him. I know he makes a lot of broken plays. But I feel like he wouldn’t have to if he had just a shred of pocket presence. The favorite is 7-2 ATS in the Cowboys series, but the Eagles are just 2-6 ATS at home against Dallas.
27. Houston Texans (1-6) – It still amazes me that people are surprised that Houston stinks. The Texans telegraphed this total collapse with their woeful offseason. This is not a surprise; this roster is a mess, and this team is terrible. And Romeo Crennel – a guy that looks like he constantly forgets what planet he is on – is not going to somehow inspire a second half surge from this mess.
28. Washington Football Team (2-5) – Losing Landon Collins is a big-time blow to the Washington defense. And I have no idea why they didn’t just sign Eric Reid – who played and played very well for Ron Rivera in Carolina – rather than just offering him a spot on their practice squad. Then again: this is what bad franchises do.
29. Dallas Cowboys (2-5) – Yes, the hit that knocked out Andy Dalton was excessive, and it warranted an ejection and a fine. But if you watched that play, it looked to me like Dalton slid way too late.
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6) – Mike Glennon Magic just doesn’t have the same ring to it. It appears that Gardner Minshew has a fractured thumb and sprained ligament and will miss some time. Enter Glennon, who will have two weeks to prepare before doling out an abundance of check downs and missed throws.
31. New York Giants (1-6) – I feel like the fact that the Giants have played three straight games against NFC East opponents has tricked people into forgetting just how incompetent this team is. Their other four losses against non-divisional opponents this year have come by an average of 12 points per game.
32. New York Jets (0-7) – I wonder if Trevor Lawrence getting COVID bumps him down the Jets draft board?
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