Welcome back to another edition of Beating the Spread! I’m Jake Roy, and I’m leading the BTS team again this season. I’m joined by two-time Beating the Spread participants Tyler Gentile and Brennan Rampe, and newcomer Jason Wolf. We’ll be here every weekend throughout the season and crown our champion at the end.
Another strong week from the panel, led by myself at 4-0-1. A late field goal from the Falcons pushed the spread, and kept the game under the total, sometimes you need a lucky break. I’ve pulled into a tie with Jason for the lead, with Tyler and Brennan not far behind. There are a lot of big spreads on the board, will the favorites hold serve or will the underdogs punch back?
|Jake Roy (@Jake3Roy)||Brennan Rampe (@Phdinnfl)||Tyler Gentile (@808PaperBoi)||Jason Wolf (@J_Wolf_picks)|
|Pick #1||Ravens/Titans under 40.5||Seahawks +3.0||Vikings -2.5||Carolina/Miami under 48.5|
|Pick #2||Falcons -2.5||Saints -1.5||Saints/Houston under 42.5||Saints/Houston under 42.5|
|Pick #3||Patriots +3.0||Eagles -7.0||Eagles -7.0||Jets +7.0|
|Pick #4||Vikings/Bears over 44.5||Rams -7.0||Rams -7.0||Bills -14.0|
|Pick #5||Lions -3.0||Bills -14.0||Giants/Bills over 44.5||49ers/Browns under 37.5|
The Ravens run back the same team every year. Lamar Jackson, a solid defense, an injured backfield, and mediocre receivers. They play to their competition every week and finish in the nine to twelve-win range. The Titans are also the same as in previous seasons, although less talented overall. They still want to run the ball, they just don’t have the bodies up front to block as well as they have in the past. The game is being played in London, which always points to the under. I think it’s much more likely this game is a snoozefest than an early morning shootout. BAL/TEN U40.5
When will people stop pretending the Washington Commanders’ defense is good? Sometimes, a preseason reputation can follow a team, even when it isn’t based in reality. Washington has some big names on defense, particularly on the defensive line, leading many to believe it would be a strong unit. In actuality, they’re allowing 32 points per game, and just let a running back-less Chicago Bears team run for 178 yards on Thursday night. The Atlanta Falcons love to run the ball and have more talented backs in Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allegeier. I’m addicted to taking the Falcons, and I’m doing it again on Sunday. ATL -2.5
Self-aware, in-denial New England Patriots fan here. The Patriots have scored three points in the last two weeks. Fans across the league are reveling in their incompetence. As a fan, it’s frustrating but understandable. Patriots fans were insufferable. In fact, after beating the Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl, I congratulated myself on being born a Patriots fan. I deserve all of the trash talk I get.
Still, I’m taking the Patriots to cover here. It’s Josh McDaniels and Jimmy Garroppolo heading up the Raiders. Even if Belichick is over the hill, he’ll find a way to be competitive here. The whole world is down on the Patriots, and while they are terrible, that makes now the perfect time to back them. NE +3.0
Offense eats defense in the NFL, that’s just the way it is with the current rules. Even with both teams losing playmakers due to injury, I think this one goes way over the number. Justin Jefferson is obviously a massive loss for the Minnesota Vikings, but the Bears’ secondary is so bad they can make almost anyone look like an all-pro. Chicago is missing just about all of their running backs, but I’m sure they’ll be able to find some production. Worst case, they lean more on Justin Fields, who can score from anywhere on the field, for either team. The weather may be a bit rough, but the defenses are just that bad. The Bears allow 31 points per game, and the Vikings allow 24.5. Both teams are missing weapons, but I don’t think that matters here. MIN/CHI O44.5
Earlier this season, I took the Philadelphia Eagles as road favorites against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In doing so, I cited the Eagles’ run-stopping ability. In that game, the Bucs ran for 41 yards, turned the ball over twice, and scored eleven points. Again, I’m taking a road favorite in Tampa because of the run game. Detroit is allowing just 3.3 yards per carry on the season. If Tampa can’t run the ball, they’re going to have a hard time scoring. There are high winds in the forecast, and Baker Mayfield, while solid, isn’t the guy to carry the offense. Further, Detroit’s offensive line should have an easy time blocking for David Montgomery, leading to some long, easy drives for the Lions. Even at 3-1, the Bucs don’t scare me. Detroit by a touchdown. DET -3.0
The standings show these teams as equals at 1-4, but does anyone actually believe that? Losing Justin Jefferson definitely hurts the Minnesota offense, no doubt, but they still have a formidable passing attack even without him. Jordan Addison, T.J. Hockenson, and K.J. Osborn shouldn’t have any trouble getting open against the second-worst pass defense by EPA’s metrics.
Their secondary is still extremely beat up, as is the rest of their team too, and it looks like they’ll be down to their fourth-string running back in this contest. Without much running depth, it will definitely be the Justin Fields show against this blitz-heavy Brian Flores defense. Fields has been horrible against the blitz for his career, so I’m sure Flores will be sticking to his guns and blitzing on just about every play.
Chicago is 30th in opponent yards per play, meanwhile, the Vikings are tied for 12th. On the offensive side of things, Minnesota is fourth in yards per play, and the Bears are 11th. Don’t let last week’s win over the Commanders fool you. This Bears team allowed the Denver Broncos to come back and win down 28-7 late in the third quarter just two weeks ago. Minnesota should be able to win and cover this short spread under a field goal. MIN -2.5
The old adage goes if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, so I’m going back to the well on a New Orleans Saints under. The under has now cashed in 11 consecutive Saints games dating back to last season. Their defense is legit and is third in EPA per play and fourth in opponent yards per play. Now, they take on the C.J. Stroud show that was finally tampered down last week and found just 19 points at Atlanta. The Texans can’t run the ball and will probably be with Tank Dell as well, so the offense could struggle against this stout D.
The Houston Texans’ defense is mid-pack through five weeks and is 15th in EPA per play. I’m not here to sell you on their play, but they should fare just fine taking on the Derek Carr-led Saints offense. They are 23rd in EPA per play and are averaging the third-fewest yards per play. Roll with the trend and take the under in the Saints game. NO/HOU U42.5
Good for the New York Jets: they scored 31 points and won on the road last week…against the Broncos! Zach Wilson and Co. will come back down to Earth taking on the dominant Eagles front seven. Allowing a league-low 61.2 rush yards per game and 3.4 YPC, no one can run the ball on them. If the Jets can’t get that rolling, and have Zach Wilson running for his life with that pass rush, it’s hard to fathom them having much success on offense. The Jets also just lost their right tackle to injury and their left tackle is already on IR, so they will definitely be struggling on the offensive side of the ball.
These teams are on the opposite side of the spectrum in terms of offense, as the Eagles are sixth in EPA while New York is 28th. The Jets’ defense bends but doesn’t break in the red zone, but the brotherly shove might be too much for them. Back Philly to cover this big spread on the road, or tease them down and pair them with. PHI -7.0
The Rams should thrash the Arizona Cardinals’ secondary. They are 29th in dropback EPA per play, and 26th in opponent passing yards per game. A lot of that can be attributed to how poor their pass rush is too, as they rank 31st in pressure rate. Remember how bad the Cincinnati Bengals were before they played Arizona? The Cardinals are an antidote to any team’s struggles on offense, and after putting up just 14 points last week against the Eagles, look for Sean McVay to have L.A. firing out of the gates. The Rams should score upwards of 30 points, and I don’t see how Arizona manages to cover that without James Connor around. This Arizona O-Line vs Rams D-Line matchup is the ninth-worst for running and passing by PFF’s metrics. LAR -7.0
The Buffalo Bills could cover this total on their own. That’s how bad this Giants defense is. They are dead last in opponent yards per play and 30th by EPA’s metrics. Four of the five teams they have faced have put up 28 points or more. Buffalo will undoubtedly be looking to get back on track after their mediocre showing across the pond in England. Prior to that tough travel spot, they put up 48 against the Dolphins, 37 vs. the Commanders, and 38 against the Las Vegas Raiders.
The one red flag on Buffalo is how beat up their defense is right now. They are now without their best linebacker, Matt Milano, and their top corner, Tre’Davious White, is also out. Even without Daniel Jones, this Giants offense should be able to find at least two touchdowns in this contest. It looks like there’s a decent chance Saquon Barkley will make his return to the team, and teams have been able to run the ball effectively against Buffalo. They are 24th in rush EPA, 31st in opponent YPC, and 25th in rushing yards allowed per game. NYG/BUF O44.5
The Cincinnati Bengals got their second win of the season, while the Seattle Seahawks were on their bye week. The last time we saw them, they were beating up the New York Giants. Geno Smith has picked up where he left off last year, and their defense is somewhat improved. Joe Burrow looked pretty good despite being without Tee Higgins, but Higgins might not play this week either. A lot of people declared that the Bengals are back, but I’m not buying that just yet. I’m taking Seattle in an upset here. SEA +3.0
Inside the Numbers: The Seahawks are 3-2-0 in non-conference games since 2022.
The New Orleans Saints shut out the New England Patriots on the road, while the Houston Texans lost a close game to the Atlanta Falcons. C.J. Stroud has been very impressive, and he’s been playing well with backup offensive linemen and mediocre weapons. He also hasn’t thrown an interception through five games. New Orleans’s defense is one of the best in the league this year. There’s talent at all levels, and the offense doesn’t have to be explosive to win games. I think the Saints have the best roster out of any NFC South team. Stroud has played well in every single game, but he’ll likely struggle here. I won’t be surprised if he throws his first interception in this game. I’ll take the Saints to win and cover on the road. NO -1.5
Inside the Numbers: The Saints are 10-9-1 as an away team against the spread since 2021.
The Philadelphia Eagles are 5-0 for the second year in a row. Jalen Hurts has played well and the defense is once again great. The New York Jets beat the Denver Broncos, but their win came at a cost. Starting offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker suffered a torn Achilles. That will hurt New York going forward, as he can play multiple positions. Philadelphia’s defensive line is one of the best in the league, and they are likely going to dominate this game. The Eagles are also undefeated against the Jets in their franchise history. Look for Philadelphia to win, cover the spread, and improve to 6-0. PHI -7.0
Inside the Numbers: The Eagles are 15-12-2 against the spread after a win under Nick Sirianni.
The Los Angeles Rams lost to the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Arizona Cardinals lost to the Cincinnati Bengals. The Rams might have lost, but Cooper Kupp returned to the starting lineup and looked great. Josh Dobbs is still starting for Arizona as it is unknown when Kyler Murray will return. Los Angeles has dominated this rivalry. Since hiring Sean McVay, they are 12-1 against Arizona, including the playoffs. Matthew Stafford looks healthy, and the Rams could push for a wild card spot in the NFC. The Rams should win once again against their divisional rival while covering the spread. LAR -7.0
Inside the Numbers: The Rams are 9-7-0 in division games against the spread since 2021.
I’m not a fan of big spreads, but this should work. The Buffalo Bills lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars in London. The New York Giants lost to the Miami Dolphins, as expected. The Giants are one of the worst teams in the league. Their offensive line is an atrocity, the wide receivers aren’t great, and Saquon Barkley has been out for weeks. The defense has been bad at getting sacks and turnovers. It’s amazing that this team made the playoffs and won a playoff game. There’s no way they’ll be returning there this year. Paying Daniel Jones was a mistake, and he might not play this week (Editor’s Note: Daniel Jones has officially been ruled out). This is a big spread, but I think the Bills can cover it. This game could be over by halftime. BUF -14.0
Inside the Numbers: The Bills are 15-9-3 in non-conference games against the spread under Sean McDermott.
CJ Stroud has been the most impressive Rookie quarterback so far through five weeks, looking like a seasoned vet on his way to setting the record for most pass attempts to start a QB’s career without throwing an INT (177). This week, Stroud is staring down the stiffest defensive test he’s faced since the season-opening loss in Baltimore. The Saints are a top-five defensive team, ranking fourth in run-stopping and sixth in pass defense according to Pro Football Focus (PFF). I like New Orleans to limit Dameon Pierce and the Texans’ rushing attack, forcing Stroud to make more plays against a tough secondary, which is a tough task for any QB, let alone a (admittedly incredible) rookie. On the other side of the ball, the Saints have been struggling to find efficiency in the run game, which is lucky for Houston as they are not great (to put it lightly) against the run. Houston is, however, a top-five team in pass coverage (according to PFF), so their defensive strengths should match up well with New Orleans’ offensive strength which is weapons in the passing game. Give me the under featuring a game with a top defense/middling offense combo going up against a rookie quarterback on the other side. NO/HOU U42.5
Zach Wilson seems to be turning a corner of some kind. He’s not putting up gaudy stats and he’s still making mistakes, but for what seems like the first time in his career, he has momentum. Wilson has shown encouraging improvement over the past few weeks, a promising sign for the Jets’ season and for this week’s chances of covering. We don’t need Wilson to play like a gunslinger to win this bet, he just needs to take care of the football and let his team do the heavy lifting. Breece Hall is rounding into full health, the defense is legit, and so far, the Eagles can be had defensively. Philadelphia is a bottom-ten team in pass coverage so Wilson will have his opportunities to be a difference maker; he just has to play mistake-free enough to where he gets enough of these opportunities to cash in. I trust the Jets’ defense to get enough stops and for Wilson to stay out of his own way so that the Jets keep this game competitive through the end. NYJ +7.0
Not much to be said with this one. The Giants have shown next to no signs of life through five weeks as they are massively struggling on both sides of the ball. Even if they get Saquon Barkley back this week, it won’t be enough to make a difference going up against an angry Bills team looking to get back on track after their poor showing against the Jaguars in London. Buffalo knows it has to keep pace with Miami in the division so they can’t afford to take any team lightly. I like the Bills to roll here as they have serious positional advantages at every level of the field. Injuries on the defensive side of the ball might hurt Buffalo at some point this season but I don’t think it will be this week going up against an awful Giants team. BUF -14.0
Gonna ride with the under here as two top-ten defenses going at it with the Browns’ Deshaun Watson looking highly questionable for this one. Even if he does play, the 49ers have the top overall defense in the league and the Browns are bereft of offensive playmakers, making it unlikely the Browns score many points either way. The 49ers on the other hand have looked essentially unstoppable, scoring 30+ in every game of the season so far. I am betting that streak ends this week as they go into Cleveland to face the Browns’ highly disruptive defense which ranks second in pressure rate in the NFL. I don’t see the Browns having success against the 49ers and I think the 49ers, coming off the destruction of the Cowboys and priced at an all-time high, could be in for a relatively slow afternoon. SF/CLE U37.5