Writer's Note: I'm Carl's intern who went 57% ATS on nearly 250 documented NFL plays over 3 years on an independent blog before hopping onto Barstool, and I'm above that mark this season.
I went 3-1 last week, including an extremely unpopular bet on the Falcons over the Raiders. It's been a tough month for the public, so that usually means it's been a solid run for me and the Dope Ropes faithful. Just gross picks on gross picks.
We're keeping it light this week. The Chargers were a tasty teaser leg up from +1 to +7 against the Pats earlier this week, but the line has since moved to LAC -2 to kill the value of the tease, and I certainly want NO part of a single-bet on Anthony Lynn as a favorite vs. Bill Belichick.
Hey Anthony, thanks for choking away my Over last week by coming up empty with 25 seconds left from the Buffalo 2, pal. Yeah, you get a "pal."
The Chargers were one of several appealing picks that I ultimately decided against this week, but who the fuck cares about reasons to not bet games? Here we go.
Pick #1, Teaser: Browns/Titans Over 47 (teased from 53) and Falcons +9 (teased from +3)
Browns/Titans Over 47 first...
Browns (8-3) @ Titans (8-3); 12pm CT Today
Action: 43% of bets on the Over
If you want to suck the life out of a game, we all know that you run the ball and you play D. At a hefty total of 53, sportsbooks know that these teams can only do one of those things.
I've hammered the "Vrabel's trash D is being masked by a stellar offense" take into the ground for nearly a year now, but it has only gotten worse. The Titans D ranks 28th in defensive efficiency, firmly between the Jets and the Bengals. To add to the misery, stud DE Jeffery Simmons is banged up, and the atrocious Tennessee pass D will continue to be without CB Adoree' Jackson, who has been "coming back from the IR" for a fucking month. I don't even think Adoree' is real at this point. He's a myth, a spook story that criminals tell their kids at night.
Baker Mayfield sucks under pressure, but he won't have to worry about that this week because the Titans are nearly dead-last in pressure rate. Leaning on the threat of Stefanski's rushing attack and having time to not shit himself, Baker will be able to throw all over this putrid Titans pass D.
Switching to the Cleveland D, I already mentioned last week that they're below-average against both the run and pass despite playing in disgusting weather for a month, which is why they surrendered 25 to the Jags last week as we cashed that Over. Again, weather will not be able to save them today (40's, sunny, low wind in Nashville). Getting Myles Garrett back will help the Cleveland pass rush, but you know what won't? Derrick Henry blowing by him for 6 yards a carry all goddamn day.
The Cleveland D has not impressed against one of the easiest slates of opposing offenses in the NFL this year, so they won't be able to stop a Top-5 Titans offense from doing what they do best. Henry will run wild, then Tannehill will hit bombs over the top on a Cleveland secondary that is without S Ronnie Harrison and CB Denzel Ward.
To cap it off, these two teams don't squander red zone opportunities. They're both Top-10 in red zone touchdown percentage, and that's what happens when you can run the ball (note: seven of the top-10 teams in run DVOA are top-10 in red zone TD %).
We're getting 7's here.
Onto the Falcons +9...
Saints (9-2) @ Falcons (4-7); 12pm CT Today
Action: 50% of bets on the Falcons
This line opened at ATL +3.5 and the sharps promptly gobbled up the hook to bring it down to +3. The next sentence is why I know this was sharp action.
The Saints are on a 8-game winning streak, and they've won their last two games by a combined score of 55-12 with Taysom Hill under center. But Hill's two starts have come against a Falcons team that was mistakenly preparing for Jameis Winston and a Broncos team whose QB threw more INTs than completions.
Taysom is a fucking animal when he tucks and runs, but he's not an accurate thrower. This Saints offense is finely tuned to function with elite-level precision passing under Brees, but until his ribs stop exploding, they'll have to settle for a far less sophisticated run-heavy attack with Hill.
Turning to the Falcons, they're doing that thing again where they blow their season early then ball out to create false hope. They're 4-2 under Raheem Morris, and those two losses were the result of Todd Gurley not kneeling against the Lions and the aforementioned lack of preparation against Taysom Hill. Having not allowed 30+ points in any game under Morris after surrendering 30+ in each of their first 4 games this season, I know it's hard to believe, but this Atlanta defense has been playing significantly better in the absence of Dan Quinn.
But here's why I'm taking Atlanta: they're 6th in DVOA against the run, and that's all the New Orleans offense can do at this point. This is going to be a grind-out game between two divisional opponents with the familiarity of having played each other only two weeks ago. The Falcons will be prepared, and the +9 insurance will be plenty.
Bills (8-3) @ Niners (5-6); 7:15pm CT Monday
Pick #2: Niners -1
Action: 41% of bets on the Niners
I tweeted out yesterday to tease the Niners up from +1 to +7 before sharp action pushed them out to be a favorite, and here we are. But it's all good. San Fran is gonna win this game.
I'll keep this one short because it's as simple as this: Kyle Shanahan is a Top-5 coach whose team is getting healthier (Richard Sherman, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Raheem Mostert) and playing for their season with a realistic path to the playoffs on the horizon.
And if you think the underwhelming Buffalo D has trended up with improved health in recent weeks, let's see how you feel after this game. On a fast Arizona track that favors San Fran's playmakers, look for Shanahan to put on a rushing clinic that causes Buffalo to overcommit and leave space for easy targets over the middle of the field. This has serious potential for one of those "oh shit, San Fran is grabbing 7 yards at will" games.
Facing a Niners D whose only weakness is susceptibility to the deep pass (19th in defensive explosive pass rate), Buffalo's offense will be sorely missing WR John Brown. San Fran should be able to keep everything in front of them.
With the 8-3 Bills potentially looking ahead to the Steelers next Sunday night, this is just going to be a case of the Niners wanting it more.
And that's it! Best of luck out there.