NFL Game Previews: Ravens-Browns Matchup

NFL Game Previews: Ravens-Browns Matchup

This article is part of our NFL Game Previews series.

Baltimore at Cleveland (+1), o/u 46.5 – Monday, 8:15 p.m. EST

The Ravens probably can't afford a loss here. The AFC North is already out of reach, and at 7-5 they're not even in a wild-card spot at present. There's a good chance a 10-win team won't make the playoffs this year in the conference, and even though the rest of their schedule looks very winnable (vs. JAC, vs. NYG, at CIN), they could well be the ones to draw that short straw. On the bright side, Baltimore's running game is finally getting back to its 2019 form. Steamrolling the Cowboys almost doesn't count, but  Gus Edwards, Lamar Jackson and rookie J.K. Dobbins have put up big numbers in recent weeks. The roster is also mostly recovered from its COVID-19 wave, with Dez Bryant's positive test right before last week's game basically acting as the punchline to an unfunny joke. The Ravens did crush the Browns in Week 1, but the team they face Monday is very different from that one. Cleveland's playing very well, though it seemed to take last week's huge first half by Baker Mayfield to get a lot of people to notice, and at 9-3 they still have a shot at their first division title since 1989 (Clay Matthews' dad, Clay Jr., was among the team leaders in tackles that year, and Ozzie Newsome hadn't hung them up and moved into a front-office job yet) if Pittsburgh falls apart down the

Baltimore at Cleveland (+1), o/u 46.5 – Monday, 8:15 p.m. EST

The Ravens probably can't afford a loss here. The AFC North is already out of reach, and at 7-5 they're not even in a wild-card spot at present. There's a good chance a 10-win team won't make the playoffs this year in the conference, and even though the rest of their schedule looks very winnable (vs. JAC, vs. NYG, at CIN), they could well be the ones to draw that short straw. On the bright side, Baltimore's running game is finally getting back to its 2019 form. Steamrolling the Cowboys almost doesn't count, but  Gus Edwards, Lamar Jackson and rookie J.K. Dobbins have put up big numbers in recent weeks. The roster is also mostly recovered from its COVID-19 wave, with Dez Bryant's positive test right before last week's game basically acting as the punchline to an unfunny joke. The Ravens did crush the Browns in Week 1, but the team they face Monday is very different from that one. Cleveland's playing very well, though it seemed to take last week's huge first half by Baker Mayfield to get a lot of people to notice, and at 9-3 they still have a shot at their first division title since 1989 (Clay Matthews' dad, Clay Jr., was among the team leaders in tackles that year, and Ozzie Newsome hadn't hung them up and moved into a front-office job yet) if Pittsburgh falls apart down the stretch. Really, the turnaround started immediately after that loss to Baltimore — not counting that three-game homestand in November played in awful weather (which might have prepared them well for this one), Cleveland's scored more than 30 points in six of its last eight. If the Browns can help end the playoff aspirations of their most hated of rivals on the way to their own return to the postseason, so much the better.

The Skinny

BAL injuries: DE Calais Campbell (questionable, calf), CB Jimmy Smith (questionable, groin)

CLE injuries: WR KhaDarel Hodge (out, hamstring), TE Austin Hooper (questionable, neck), CB Denzel Ward (out, calf)

BAL DFS targets: Mark Andrews $5,300 DK / $6,600 FD (CLE 25th in DVOA vs. TE)

CLE DFS targets: Rashard Higgins $4,300 DK / $5,500 FD (BAL 23rd in DVOA vs. WR2)

BAL DFS fades: Marquise Brown $5,400 DK / $5,800 FD (CLE second in DVOA vs. WR1)

CLE DFS fades: Donovan Peoples-Jones $3,400 DK / $5,000 FD (BAL third in DVOA vs. WR3)

Key stat: 

Head-to-head record, last five-plus years: 8-3 BAL, average score 27-19 BAL, average margin of victory 12 points

Weather forecast: cloudy, temperature in the mid-30s, 18-19 mph wind, 1-10 percent chance of snow

The Scoop: Dobbins leads the BAL backfield with 70 yards. Jackson throws for less than 200 yards but finds Andrews for one TD and runs in another. Nick Chubb bangs out 90 yards and a touchdown, while Kareem Hunt adds 60 yards and a score. Mayfield throws for 230 yards and a touchdown to Higgins. Browns, 24-20

Minnesota (+6.5) at Tampa Bay, o/u 51.5 – Sunday, 1 p.m. EST

The Vikings come into this one having snuck into the final wild-card spot in the NFC, though at 6-6 their position is precarious. The fact that they needed overtime to put away the lowly Jaguars isn't exactly a glowing recommendation, but that's been the game plan for Mike Zimmer since the team's bye — just one of their last six games has been decided by more than six points (a 34-20 win over the Lions), and they're 5-1 during that stretch. The defense remains problematic, but fortunately the offense has been firing on all cylinders and has averaged 27.3 points during that six-game span, a figure that would land them in the top 10 if they'd done it over the full schedule. Dalvin Cook's been the focus with more than 1,000 scrimmage yards and seven total TDs during those six games, but Kirk Cousins has been rolling too, tossing multiple TDs in five straight and topping 290 passing yards in four consecutive games. The Bucs defense seem well-equipped to slow down the former, at least, but nothing much else has been working lately. Tampa Bay's dropped three of its last four, and while losing to the Saints, Rams and Kansas City could happen to anybody, it's still left the Bucs all but out of the race for the NFC South title and simply trying to hang onto a wild-card spot of their own. The embarrassment of riches available to Tom Brady at receiver hasn't exactly taken the Bucs' passing game to another level, either. That 1-3 stretch coincides with Antonio Brown joining the team, and while Brady does have eight TD passes and two 300-yard games in that time, he's also been picked off seven times with a fairly tepid 6.7 YPA and 62.0 percent completion rate. The battered Vikings' secondary shouldn't present too many difficulties, especially with an extra week to prepare for it, but he may not be able to afford more untimely mistakes if this one becomes a shootout.

The Skinny

MIN injuries: RB Alexander Mattison (out, appendix), TE Irv Smith (questionable, back), TE Kyle Rudolph (doubtful, foot), LB Eric Kendricks (out, calf)

TB injuries: none

MIN DFS targets: Justin Jefferson $7,400 DK / $7,800 FD (TB 24th in DVOA vs. WR2)

TB DFS targets: Mike Evans $6,600 DK / $7,300 FD (MIN 28th in DVOA vs. WR1)

MIN DFS fades: Dalvin Cook $9,400 DK / $10,200 FD (TB first in rushing DVOA, first in rushing yards per game allowed, second in YPC allowed, second in passing DVOA vs. RB)

TB DFS fades: Ronald Jones $6,100 DK / $6,300 FD (MIN t-second in rushing TDs allowed, fourth in passing DVOA vs. RB)

Key stat: MIN is third in red-zone conversions at 75.0 percent; TB is t-19th in red-zone defense at 63.2 percent

Weather forecast: cloudy, temperature in the high 70s, less than 10 mph wind, zero percent chance of rain

The Scoop: Cook gains only 60 scrimmage yards but punches in two short scores. Cousins throws for 310 yards and TDs to Jefferson and Adam Thielen. Jones leads the TB backfield with 80 combined yards. Brady throws for 300 yards and touchdowns to Evans and Brown. Vikings, 28-27

Arizona at New York Giants (+2), o/u 45.0 – Sunday, 1 p.m. EST

The Cards are clearly in a bind. Kyler Murray isn't running and probably isn't 100 percent healthy, and while he's doing what he can through the air, without that additional element to the offense they've lost three consecutive games to fall out of the playoff picture. Arizona's scored only 22 points a game during that losing streak after putting up 30 or more in five consecutive games before Murray got banged up. They have a remaining schedule that could still get them to 10 wins, though they might need the Rams to have nothing to play for in Week 17, but they need their QB to start scrambling again or they might not finish the year at .500. As for the Giants, they've won four consecutive games and even beat a real team last week in the Seahawks, though Washington kind of stole their "beating a real team" thunder shortly afterward. New York is, for better or for worse, the class of the NFC East at 5-7, but it has its own QB concerns with Daniel Jones sidelined last week due to a hamstring strain. The best thing you can say about Colt McCoy's performance in Jones' place is that he didn't make enough mistakes to cost them the game, but they could be pressing their luck if they turn to the 34-year-old journeyman again. In a division that's still very much up for grabs, the Giants have no margin for error.

The Skinny

ARI injuries: RB Kenyan Drake (questionable, hip), WR DeAndre Hopkins (questionable, neck), RT Kelvin Beachum (questionable, back), K Zane Gonzalez (questionable, back), LB De'Vondre Campbell (questionable, ankle)

NYG injuries: QB Jones (questionable, hamstring), LB Blake Martinez (questionable, back)

ARI DFS targets: Andy Isabella $3,000 DK / $4,900 FD (NYG 32nd in DVOA vs. WR3)

NYG DFS targets: Darius Slayton $4,200 DK / $5,400 FD (ARI 25th in DVOA vs. WR2)

ARI DFS fades: none

NYG DFS fades: Golden Tate $3,600 DK / $5,100 FD (ARI first in DVOA vs. WR3)

Key stat: NYG are 31st in red-zone conversions at 48.5 percent; ARI is fourth in red-zone defense at 52.3 percent

Weather forecast: cloudy, temperature in the mid-50s, 10 mph wind, zero percent chance of rain

The Scoop: Chase Edmonds leads the ARI backfield with 70 combined yards. Murray throws for 230 yards and touchdowns to Isabella and Hopkins while also running in a score of his own. Wayne Gallman runs for 70 yards and a TD. Jones starts and throws for 260 yards and touchdowns to Sterling Shepard and Slayton. Cardinals, 27-24

Kansas City at Miami (+7), o/u 49.5 – Sunday, 1 p.m. EST

It feels almost inevitable, doesn't it? After Pittsburgh's loss, Kansas City has only a tiebreaker between it and the No. 1 seed in the AFC, and the champs' seven-game winning streak is the second longest in the league behind the Saints — a Saints team, by the way, that it'll meet in New Orleans in Week 15. I'm surprised we aren't getting inundated with "Super Bowl preview" ads already, to be honest. KC's been cutting it close though, as its last four victories have been by a combined 15 points. Patrick Mahomes got held relatively in check by the Broncos last week, but they're the only ones that seem to be anything close to his kryptonite, as he's thrown multiple TDs in every other game this season aside from the two Denver clashes. Even so, he's topped 300 yards in five consecutive games and hit for an 8.0 YPA or better in seven straight and nine of 10, managing a pitiful 7.9 in the 10th. Really, the only way to slow him down is by keeping him on the sidelines. With that goal in mind, the Dolphins got Myles Gaskin back last week from a knee injury and he popped for 141 scrimmage yards, albeit against the Bengals. Tua Tagovailoa is also back under center, and he might be a better fit for a game plan designed to upset Kansas City than Ryan Fitzpatrick, who would be a lot easier to lure into trying to out-draw the league's top gunslinger.

The Skinny

KC injuries: S Tyrann Mathieu (questionable, hip)

MIA injuries: RB Salvon Ahmed (out, shoulder), LG Ereck Flowers (out, ankle)

KC DFS targets: Clyde Edwards-Helaire $5,900 DK / $6,400 FD (MIA 26th in YPC allowed, 26th in passing DVOA vs. RB)

MIA DFS targets: Myles Gaskin $5,600 DK / $6,000 FD (KC 27th in rushing yards per game allowed, 30th in YPC allowed, 31st in passing DVOA vs. RB)

KC DFS fades: Sammy Watkins $4,900 DK / $5,600 FD (MIA second in DVOA vs. WR2)

MIA DFS fades: DeVante Parker $6,100 DK / $6,500 FD (KC third in DVOA vs. WR1)

Key stat: KC is second in third-down conversions at 49.0 percent; MIA is first in third-down defense at 32.2 percent

Weather forecast: cloudy, temperature in the low 80s, less than 10 mph wind, zero percent chance of rain

The Scoop: CEH bounces back with 110 combined yards and two touchdowns, one rushing and one receiving. Mahomes throws for 300 yards and two more scores, hitting Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. Gaskin responds with 130 scrimmage yards and a TD. Tua throws for 260 yards and two touchdowns, finding Mike Gesicki and Jakeem Grant. Kansas City, 31-27

Tennessee at Jacksonville (+7.5), o/u 53.0 – Sunday, 1 p.m. EST

The Titans took control of the AFC South a couple weeks ago but then promptly tried to hand it back, getting torched by Baker Mayfield right of the gate last week. They're now ahead of the Colts only by virtue of tiebreaker, and while Tennessee's closing schedule is a little friendlier (they get Green Bay and Detroit, Indy gets Pittsburgh and Vegas), the division title is still very much up for grabs. The Titans also barely got by the Jags in their first meeting back in Week 2, as James Robinson out-produced Derrick Henry and Gardner Minshew tossed a pair of fourth-quarter TDs in a comeback effort. Henry's on his way to another rushing crown, and Ryan Tannehill's having another strong season, but this secondary doesn't seem like one that's going to last long in the postseason. Jacksonville's decision to stick with Mike Glennon under center paid off last week when his interception in overtime ensured another loss, preventing any erosion in their draft position. Glennon will continue to start for now, and this matchup could lead to decent fantasy numbers again, but he still seems highly unlikely to stumble into a win.

The Skinny

TEN injuries: WR Adam Humphries (IR, concussion), CB Adoree' Jackson (out, knee)

JAC injuries: TE Tyler Eifert (questionable, shoulder), C Brandon Linder (out, ankle), CB Sidney Jones (questionable, Achilles)

TEN DFS targets: Ryan Tannehill $6,700 DK / $7,900 FD (JAC 31st in passing DVOA, 31st in QB rating against, 32nd in YPA allowed)

JAC DFS targets: Mike Glennon $5,100 DK / $6,600 FD (TEN 30th in passing DVOA, 28th in passing yards per game allowed, 29th in TD% allowed), Tyler Eifert $3,100 DK / $4,700 FD (TEN 32nd in DVOA vs. TE)

TEN DFS fades: none

JAC DFS fades: Jaguars DST $2,200 DK / $3,200 FD (29th in sack rate, TEN t-first in giveaways)

Key stat: TEN is fourth in red-zone conversions at 73.5 percent; JAC is t-12th in red-zone defense at 60.0 percent

Head-to-head record, last five-plus years: 8-3 TEN, average score 26-21 TEN, average margin of victory 12 points. TEN has won six of the last seven meetings

Weather forecast: cloudy, temperature in the mid-70s, less than 10 mph wind, 0-10 percent chance of rain

The Scoop: Henry rumbles for 130 yards and two touchdowns. Tannehill throws for 280 yards and two scores, finding Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith. Robinson picks up 100 combined yards and a TD. Glennon throws for 270 yards and touchdowns to DJ Chark and James O'Shaughnessy, but he also tosses a pick-six to Kevin Byard. Titans, 38-24

Dallas at Cincinnati (+3.5), o/u 43.5 – Sunday, 1 p.m. EST

Something something revenge game for Andy Dalton. It's perhaps the most cliché narrative there is, but the Red Rifle does have a chance to put up some good numbers in his return to Cincinnati, even if "revenge" isn't exactly what's on his mind. The Bengals' defense is bad — not, y'know, Cowboys bad, but still pretty bad — and for all the problems Dallas has yet this season, its receiving corps is still outstanding. The biggest obstacle to a big game for Dalton might be a big game for Ezekiel Elliott. Cincy also might not have the talent to fully take advantage of this matchup. Joe Burrow's done for the year, Joe Mixon remains on the shelf with a foot injury, and A.J. Green was a shadow of his former self even before losing his starting QB. Neither Brandon Allen nor Giovani Bernard have done much the last two games, but the Giants and Dolphins have real defenses, with linebackers who run toward the football and defensive backs who understand that the word "cover" isn't just for the thing at the front of their playbooks.

The Skinny

DAL injuries: RB Elliott (questionable, calf), CB Chidobe Awuzie (out, COVID), CB Anthony Brown (questionable, ribs), S Donovan Wilson (questionable, groin)

CIN injuries: WR Tee Higgins (questionable, hamstring)

DAL DFS targets: Andy Dalton $5,500 DK / $6,800 FD (CIN 28th in passing DVOA, 25th in passing yards per game allowed), CeeDee Lamb $4,800 DK / $6,000 FD (CIN 31st in DVOA vs. WR3)

CIN DFS targets: Brandon Allen $4,900 DK / $6,500 FD (DAL 30th in QB rating against, 32nd in TD% allowed), Giovani Bernard $5,000 DK / $5,700 FD (DAL 32nd in rushing DVOA, 32nd in rushing yards per game allowed, 32nd in YPC allowed, t-29th in rushing TDs allowed), Tee Higgins $4,800 DK / $6,400 FD (DAL 32nd in DVOA vs. WR2, 30th in DVOA vs. deep throws), Drew Sample $3,000 DK / $4,700 FD (DAL 31st in DVOA vs. TE)

DAL DFS fades: none

CIN DFS fades: none

Key stat: DAL is t-29th in red-zone conversions at 50.0 percent; CIN is 22nd in red-zone defense at 64.4 percent

Weather forecast: cloudy, temperature in the mid-40s, less than 10 mph wind, 0-10 percent chance of rain

The Scoop: Elliott runs for 80 yards and a TD, while Tony Pollard adds 50 yards. Dalton throws for 260 yards and touchdowns to Lamb and Dalton Schultz. Bernard racks up 100 combined yards and a score, while Samaje Perine also punches in a short TD. Allen throws for 240 yards and two touchdowns, hitting Tyler Boyd and Sample. Bengals, 28-24

Houston at Chicago (+1.5), o/u 44.5 – Sunday, 1 p.m. EST

The Texans are a respectable 4-4 under Romeo Crennel, but their only semi-credible win has come against the Patriots. Deshaun Watson can only do some much himself, and his supporting cast got skimpier again when David Johnson hit the COVID-19 list. Last week he was sending 101 yards worth of passes to fresh-off-the-practice-squad Chad Hansen; this week, Watson might be reduced to looking for, I dunno, Kahale Warring seven or eight times. Even so, Houston will face a Chicago defense headed in the wrong direction, and fast. The Bears have lost six consecutive games, and after not allowing any opponent to score more than 26 points through 10 weeks, they've come out of their bye having coughed up 41 to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers (OK, it happens) and then 34 to Matthew Stafford and a short-handed Lions offense (ulp). Mitchell Trubisky has been marginally better than Nick Foles, and David Montgomery suddenly looks like the guy his scouting reports from last year said he could be, but if the defense can't find its mojo again, it could be a long December for a team that still had its eyes on the playoffs in November.

The Skinny

HOU injuries: RB Johnson (out, COVID), WR Brandin Cooks (questionable, foot), WR Will Fuller (out, suspension), WR Keke Coutee (questionable, knee), CB Bradley Roby (out, suspension), CB Phillip Gaines (questionable, knee)

CHI injuries: OLB Khalil Mack (questionable, shoulder)

HOU DFS targets: Isaiah Coulter $3,000 DK / $4,600 FD (CHI 29th in DVOA vs. WR3)

CHI DFS targets: Mitchell Trubisky $5,600 DK / $6,800 FD (HOU 32nd in QB rating against, 28th in YPA allowed), David Montgomery $6,500 DK / $6,600 FD (HOU 31st in rushing yards per game allowed, 31st in YPC allowed, t-26th in rushing TDs allowed), Darnell Mooney $3,500 DK / $5,100 FD (HOU 29th in DVOA vs. WR2), Cole Kmet $2,900 DK / $4,600 FD (HOU 29th in DVOA vs. TE)

HOU DFS fades: Duke Johnson $4,800 DK / $5,400 FD (CHI t-seventh in rushing TDs allowed, first in passing DVOA vs. RB), Brandin Cooks $6,100 DK / $6,900 FD (CHI first in DVOA vs. WR1), Texans DST $2,600 DK / $3,400 FD (32nd in INT%, 32nd in takeaways)

CHI DFS fades: none

Key stat: CHI is 32nd in third-down conversions at 32.1 percent; HOU is 27th in third-down defense at 46.8 percent

Weather forecast: overcast, temperature in the mid-30s, less than 10 mph wind, zero percent chance of snow

The Scoop: Duke picks up 70 combined yards. Watson throws for 240 yards and TDs to Warring and Hansen. Montgomery gains 90 yards and a touchdown. Trubisky throws for 230 yards. Texans, 17-16

Denver (+3.5) at Carolina, o/u 47.0 – Sunday, 1 p.m. EST

The Broncos are looking at a pick in the back half of the top 10 in the 2021 draft, and it will be very interesting to see if John Elway is willing to pull the trigger on a QB like Trey Lance (next year's Josh Allen?) or Mac Jones (next year's Joe Burrow?) in that range. Drew Lock hasn't done anything this year to earn any job security — the 2019 second-round pick has a sub-60 percent completion rate and a 9:13 TD:INT in nine starts, and his interception streak now is at seven games. As per usual, Denver's secondary has been good to great (Patrick Mahomes is certainly glad to be done with them) despite attrition, and adding Melvin Gordon to the backfield has given them a solid ground game, but without a reliable passing offense this team isn't going much of anywhere. That said, if they do pop the right QB in next year's draft or bring in a solid veteran option in the offseason, they could be one of the surprise teams of 2021 considering they'll also be getting Von Miller and Courtland Sutton back. The Panthers also will pick in that range (the two squads have identical 4-8 records coming into Week 14), but they already added that solid veteran option in Teddy Bridgewater. He isn't going to have much help this week, though. Christian McCaffrey still doesn't seem ready to return, and DJ Moore is stuck on the COVID list. Carolina's still got some weapons, and Matt Rhule has them playing hard, but their 1-7 run heading into last week's bye wasn't exactly unjust.

The Skinny

DEN injuries: RG Graham Glasgow (doubtful, toe), CB A.J. Bouye (out, suspension)

CAR injuries: RB McCaffrey (doubtful, thigh), WR Moore (out, COVID/ankle), TE Ian Thomas (questionable, knee), CB Rasul Douglas (questionable, personal), S Tre Boston (questionable, hamstring)

DEN DFS targets: Melvin Gordon $5,200 DK / $6,100 FD (CAR 24th in YPC allowed, 29th in passing DVOA vs. RB)

CAR DFS targets: Brandon Zylstra $3,000 DK / $4,500 FD (DEN 22nd in DVOA vs. WR3)

DEN DFS fades: none

CAR DFS fades: none

Key stat: DEN is 28th in red-zone conversions at 51.6 percent; CAR is t-12th in red-zone defense at 60.0 percent

Weather forecast: cloudy, temperature in the mid-60s, less than 10 mph wind, zero percent chance of rain

The Scoop: Gordon piles up 110 scrimmage yards and a score, while Phillip Lindsay adds 50 yards. Lock throws for 230 yards and a TD to Noah Fant but gets picked off twice. Mike Davis gains 90 combined yards and a touchdown, while Curtis Samuel also runs one in. Bridgewater throws for 240 yards and a TD to Zylstra while also running in a touchdown. Panthers, 31-17

New York Jets (+13.5) at Seattle, o/u 47.0 – Sunday, 4:05 p.m. EST

Adam Gase is hilarious. He was shocked, shocked to find that gambling was going on in Gregg Williams' coaching suite, but Jets fans were very happy to collect their winnings, err, losings as a result of that absurd blitz call on the final play against the Raiders last week. Bullet dodged. Gase is still toast in the offseason (I mean, I hope for the sake of whichever quarterback they take first overall he is), but he will try to throw every person he can under the team bus before then. Sam Darnold is coming off his best game of the season, though (two TDs and a YPA above 8.0! Plus, uhh, 186 passing yards and a completion rate barely above 60 percent), so that's something. The Seahawks are coming off an ugly loss to an NFC East team, which should probably disqualify them from the postseason, but the league isn't that forward thinking. As it stands, a win here allows them to keep pace with the Rams at the top of the NFC West. Russell Wilson is suddenly in danger of not getting any MVP votes again — the offense has averaged less than 20 points a game  the last four weeks, and Wilson's 4:3 TD:INT over that stretch is nothing special. Facing the Jets should snap them out of it, even if the unit isn't quite so reckless as it was under Williams — new interim defensive coordinator Frank Bush only has one other stint as a DC a decade ago in Houston, and it ended with him presiding over the worst pass defense in the league, so he should fit right in.

The Skinny

NYJ injuries: RB Frank Gore (questionable, concussion), WR Jamison Crowder (questionable, calf), WR Denzel Mims (out, personal), LG Pat Elflein (questionable, shoulder), RG Greg Van Roten (out, toe), S Ashtyn Davis (out, foot)

SEA injuries: DE Carlos Dunlap (questionable, foot)

NYJ DFS targets: Sam Darnold $5,100 DK / $7,000 FD (SEA 27th in passing DVOA, 32nd in passing yards per game allowed, 26th in YPA allowed), Ty Johnson $4,700 DK / $5,500 FD (SEA t-26th in rushing TDs allowed, 30th in passing DVOA vs. RB)

SEA DFS targets: Russell Wilson $7,900 DK / $9,000 FD (NYJ 32nd in passing DVOA, 29th in QB rating against, 31st in passing yards per game allowed, 30th in YPA allowed)

NYJ DFS fades: none

SEA DFS fades: none

Key stat: NYJ are 32nd in red-zone conversions at 42.9 percent; SEA is 27th in red-zone defense at 67.4 percent

Weather forecast: overcast, temperature in the low 40s, less than 10 mph wind, 60-65 percent chance of rain

The Scoop: Johnson leads the NYJ backfield with 60 combined yards. Darnold throws for 200 yards, gets picked off twice and loses a fumble that Jamal Adams (revenge game!) returns to the house. Chris Carson bangs out 80 yards and a score. Wilson throws for 280 yards and two TDs, both to DK Metcalf (who tops 100 yards). Seahawks, 34-9

Indianapolis at Las Vegas (+3), o/u 51.5 – Sunday, 4:05 p.m. EST

The Colts remain stuck behind the Titans in the AFC South on a tiebreaker, which could doom them to a wild card or even a spot on the couch in January if they can't find one more win than Tennessee down the stretch. As such, this is a crucial game for Indy — both teams face the Jags and Texans in divisional matchups and have clashes with tough division leaders for a third game (the Colts get the Steelers, the Titans get the Packers), but while Indy has to face another playoff contender, Tennessee's fourth remaining game is against Detroit. Jonathan Taylor is at least coming on for the Horseshoes — the rookie's hit for 90 rushing yards and triple-digit scrimmage yards in consecutive games, and now he gets to face a defense that couldn't contain Ty Johnson last week. At 7-5 and currently outside the playoff picture, this game is just as important for the Raiders, especially considering their near miss last week. I hope the front office sent Gregg Williams a fancy cheese and crackers basket or something after he got turfed by the Jets. Vegas might get Josh Jacobs back, and he showed last year that he can contribute even if he isn't 100 percent healthy, but having to get past DeForest Buckner is no easy task. It'll probably fall on Derek Carr to move the ball again, but he's been alternating good games and bad ones lately and is coming off a season-high 381 passing yards in that desperation win. That kind of pattern shouldn't be all that surprising. Darren Waller is a beast to be sure, but it's tough to sustain a consistent passing attack when your best wide receiver is an Eagles castoff.

The Skinny

IND injuries: LT Anthony Castonzo (questionable, knee), LB Bobby Okereke (questionable, ankle)

LV injuries: RB Jacobs (questionable, ankle), S Johnathan Abram (questionable, knee), S Jeff Heath (out, concussion)

IND DFS targets: Jonathan Taylor $5,800 DK / $7,000 FD (LV 31st in rushing DVOA, 31st in rushing TDs allowed)

LV DFS targets: Henry Ruggs $4,600 DK / $5,400 FD (IND 24th in DVOA vs. WR3)

IND DFS fades: Trey Burton $3,100 DK / $5,200 FD (LV fourth in DVOA vs. TE)

LV DFS fades: Hunter Renfrow $4,000 DK / $5,300 FD (IND third in DVOA vs. WR2), Darren Waller $6,800 DK / $7,100 FD (IND fifth in DVOA vs. TE)

Key stat: LV is third in third-down conversions at 48.7 percent; IND is 16th in third-down defense at 40.7 percent

Weather forecast: dome

The Scoop: Taylor piles up 130 combined yards and two touchdowns. Philip Rivers throws for 270 yards and two TDs, finding T.Y. Hilton and Zach Pascal, but he also tosses a pick-six to Cory Littleton. Jacobs manages 50 yards. Carr throws for 320 yards and three scores, hitting Ruggs, Nelson Agholor and Jalen Richard. Raiders 31-28

Washington (+3) vs. San Francisco at Arizona, o/u 43.5
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. EST

I've mocked the NFC East all season, but it's not impossible for the division to produce two playoff teams after last week's upsets — Washington's at 5-7, and even if the Giants take the division title, the Vikings currently hold the last wild-card spot at only 6-6. At the very least the Team With No Name can hang their hats on ending the Steelers' undefeated dreams, and a likely Comeback Player of the Year Award for Alex Smith. That said, Smith has yet to throw multiple TDs in a game this season, and especially with Antonio Gibson sidelined, Ron Rivera's squad would probably prefer to rely on its defense to stay competitive. The Niners are also 5-7 and not out of it yet either, which is pretty wild considering the tsunami of injuries they've had to deal with. Nick Mullens continues to post solid yardage numbers and has a 66.3 percent completion rate the last five games, but his 7:6 TD:INT highlights his limitations when it comes to decision-making. The San Francisco running game has also been sputtering a little, and even though it's basically back at full strength, nobody's quite clicking, which just puts more pressure back on Mullens to produce. Unless Raheem Mostert breaks out, it's a set-up for another busy day from the Washington pass rush in the 49ers' home away from home in Arizona.

The Skinny

WAS injuries: RB Gibson (out, toe), RG Brandon Scherff (questionable, calf), RT Morgan Moses (questionable, groin)

SF injuries: RG Tom Compton (out. concussion)

WAS DFS targets: Steven Sims $3,300 DK / $4,600 FD (SF 30th in DVOA vs. WR3), Washington DST $2,800 DK / $3,900 FD (third in sack rate, SF t-29th in giveaways)

SF DFS targets: Deebo Samuel $6,400 DK / $6,300 FD (WAS 32nd in DVOA vs. WR1)

WAS DFS fades: Logan Thomas $3,300 DK / $5,200 FD (SF sixth in DVOA vs. TE)

SF DFS fades: Nick Mullens $5,100 DK / $6,700 FD (WAS third in passing DVOA, third in passing yards per game allowed, fourth in YPA allowed), Brandon Aiyuk $5,400 DK / $6,700 FD (WAS fourth in DVOA vs. WR2), Kendrick Bourne $3,700 DK / $5,000 FD (WAS second in DVOA vs. WR3)

Key stat: SF is ninth in red-zone conversions at 66.7 percent; WAS is first in red-zone defense at 47.1 percent

Weather forecast: dome

The Scoop: J.D. McKissic picks up 70 combined yards, while Peyton Barber vultures a TD. Smith throws for 240 yards and a touchdown to S. Sims. Mostert leads the SF backfield with 60 yards. Mullens throws for 260 yards and TDs to Samuel and Jordan Reed but gets sacked four times. Washington, 20-17

New Orleans at Philadelphia (+7), o/u 44.0
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. EST

The Saints have continued to roll with Taysom Hill under center, so Drew Brees will get at least one more week to heal. You can't fault Sean Peyton for sticking with what's working — Hill has been little more than a glorified wildcat QB, but he's produced multiple TDs in all three of his starts, and that's been plenty of support for the defense. He's even slowly begun to figure out that his best play is usually just to get the ball in Alvin Kamara's hands, and Kamara's 17 touches last week were his most since Week 8. The Eagles finally pulled the plug on Carson Wentz's starting job last week, but switching to Jalen Hurts didn't change the outcome against the Packers. The two offenses could look superficially similar this week as a result, as it's still not clear exactly what Hurts has to offer as a passer, but the rookie doesn't have Kamara in his backfield or Michael Thomas to throw to, and Hill doesn't have to face the New Orleans defense. Hurts could find himself thrown into the deep end in his first NFL start.

The Skinny

NO injuries: none

PHI injuries: RG Jason Peters (IR, toe), LB T.J. Edwards (out, hamstring)

NO DFS targets: Taysom Hill $6,600 DK / $7,700 FD (PHI 26th in QB rating against, 31st in rushing yards allowed vs. QB), Emmanuel Sanders $4,300 DK / $5,300 FD (PHI 31st in DVOA vs. WR2), Saints DST $3,800 DK / $4,900 FD (fourth in sack rate, PHI 32nd in sack rate allowed, t-29th in giveaways)

PHI DFS targets: Travis Fulgham $4,900 DK / $5,600 FD (NO 21st in DVOA vs. WR3)

NO DFS fades: none

PHI DFS fades: Jalen Hurts $5,100 DK / $6,600 FD (NO second in passing DVOA, first in rushing yards allowed vs. QB), Miles Sanders $6,200 DK / $6,200 FD (NO second in rushing DVOA, second in rushing yards per game allowed, first in YPC allowed, first in rushing TDs allowed), Dallas Goedert $4,000 DK / $5,600 FD (NO second in DVOA vs. TE)

Key stat: PHI is t-26th in third-down conversions at 38.0 percent; NO is 13th in third-down defense at 39.2 percent

Weather forecast: cloudy, temperature in the mid-50s, less than 10 mph wind, zero percent chance of rain

The Scoop: Kamara glides for 110 combined yards and a score. Hill throws for less than 200 yards but throws one TD to E. Sanders and runs in another. M. Sanders manages 50 yards. Hurts struggles, throwing for less than 200 yards and getting picked off three times, but he does hit Fulgham for a touchdown. Saints, 27-10

Atlanta at L.A. Chargers (+2.5), o/u 49.5 – Sunday, 4:25 p.m. EST

Raheem Morris is making a pretty good case to lose the "interim" tag on his title. Since he took over from Dan Quinn, the Falcons are 4-3, and two of those losses came against the Saints. The turnaround in the defense has been the most remarkable part. During Quinn's 0-5 start, Atlanta gave up 32.2 points a game; under Morris, the team's allowing barely 20 a game, and no one has yet hit it up for 30. Given that their closing schedule features two games against the Bucs sandwiched around a road game in Kansas City, that's not likely to hold up, but it's still a sign that the unit is playing a lot better than their season-long stats suggest. As for the 3-9 Chargers, Anthony Lynn's firing after that embarrassing shellacking at the hands of the Patriots was long overd ... (puts hand to ear) he's still there? How??? Their only win since the beginning of November came against the Jets, and they barely pulled that one off. Justin Herbert is also coming off the worst game of his career, but Bill Belichick's defenses have been doing that to rookie QBs for a long, long time. It should be a good test for the kid to see whether he can shake it off and bounce back.

The Skinny

ATL injuries: WR Julio Jones (out, hamstring), LG James Carpenter (out, groin), RT Kaleb McGary (questionable, personal)

LAC injuries: none

ATL DFS targets: Russell Gage $4,500 DK / $5,500 FD (LAC 30th in DVOA vs. WR2)

LAC DFS targets: Justin Herbert $6,800 DK / $8,300 FD (ATL 28th in QB rating against, 31st in YPA against), Hunter Henry $4,400 DK / $5,600 FD (ATL 30th in DVOA vs. TE)

ATL DFS fades: none

LAC DFS fades: none

Key stat: ATL is t-29th in red-zone conversions at 50.0 percent; LAC are 15th in red-zone defense at 61.0 percent

Weather forecast: indoor

The Scoop: Todd Gurley runs for 80 yards and a TD. Matt Ryan throws for 260 yards and two scores, finding Gage and Hayden Hurst. Austin Ekeler pops for 130 combined yards and a touchdown. Herbert throws for 300 yards and three TDs, two to Keenan Allen (who tops 100 yards) and one to Henry. Chargers, 31-24

Green Bay at Detroit (+7.5), o/u 55.0 – Sunday, 4:25 p.m. EST

The Packers have all but locked up the NFC North title, three games ahead of the Vikings, but Aaron Rodgers doesn't seem inclined to take his foot off the pedal down the stretch. He last hit for 40 passing TDs in 2016, and his career high is 45 — he's on pace for 48, and he isn't far off a career-high pace in passing yards either. His closing schedule looks like pinball numbers waiting to happen too, as in addition to the Lions he gets the Panthers and Titans, before closing things out against a Bears defense he lit up for four TDs just a couple weeks ago. Detroit's first game under Darell Bevell went pretty well, but that was against a reeling Chicago squad. The Lions have actually held their own in this rivalry in recent years, but they weren't facing this version of Rodgers. Getting D'Andre Swift back could help though — the rookie was taking control of the backfield before sustaining what was assumed to be a concussion in Week 10 and he hasn't been able to get back into the lineup since, due to either a stomach flu, or perhaps migraines. Adrian Peterson has been doing yeoman's work in Swift's place, but he doesn't have the juice the kid does at this stage of his career. Without a ground game to keep Rodgers off the field, or Kenny Golladay to try and match Davante Adams grab for grab, this one could get out of hand.

The Skinny

GB injuries: S Darnell Savage (questionable, groin)

DET injuries: QB Matthew Stafford (questionable, thumb), RB Swift (questionable, illness), WR Kenny Golladay (out, hip), RT Tyrell Crosby (out, ankle), CB Jeff Okudah (out, groin)

GB DFS targets: Aaron Rodgers $7,500 DK / $9,100 FD (DET 29th in passing DVOA, 27th in QB rating against, t-26th in pasisng yards per game allowed, 29th in YPA allowed), Aaron Jones $7,600 DK / $8,700 FD (DET 32nd in rushing TDs allowed, 32nd in passing DVOA vs. RB)

DET DFS targets: Danny Amendola $4,000 DK / $5,200 FD (GB 27th in DVOA vs. WR2)

GB DFS fades: none

DET DFS fades: Lions DST $2,000 DK / $3,100 FD (GB second in INT% allowed, third in giveaways)

Key stat: GB is t-first in red-zone conversions at 75.6 percent; DET is 29th in red-zone defense at 68.8 percent

Head-to-head record, last five-plus years: 6-5 GB, average score 26-22 DET, average margin of victory 11 points. GB has won three straight meetings

Weather forecast: dome

The Scoop: Jones piles up 120 scrimmage yards and two TDs, one rushing and one receiving. Rodgers throws for 320 yards and two more scores, finding Adams and Allen Lazard. Swift plays and leads the DET backfield with 80 combined yards and a receiving score, while AP vultures a short rushing TD. Stafford throws for 290 yards and two more touchdowns of his own, hitting T.J. Hockenson and Quintez Cephus, but he also coughs up a fumble that Kenny Clark returns for a score. Packers, 41-28

Pittsburgh (+2.5) at Buffalo, o/u 46.5 – Sunday, 8:20 p.m. EST

In hindsight, maybe a team playing on half as much rest as their opponent should have been expected to lose. (If you haven't done the math yet, I'm actually underselling it — the Steelers played Dec. 2 and then Dec. 7, getting four days off in between because of another team's COVID mess, while Washington hadn't played since Thanksgiving, getting 10 days off.) Nonetheless, the Steelers' undefeated season is done, and the '72 Dolphins can relax again. I do think the whole "worst undefeated team ever" talk was overblown, and they might even be underrated at this point even though they'd still be the top seed in the AFC if they win out, but a trip to Buffalo won't make that easy. Pittsburgh does get James Conner back, but their attempts to establish a running game this year have mostly been futile. This is a pass-first offense as long as Ben Roethlisberger is under center, and they should probably just embrace it. Buffalo is also a pass-first offense with Josh Allen slinging it to Stefon Diggs, and it's gotten the Bills into position to take their first AFC East crown in a quarter century. They've won five of their last six (and were five seconds away from winning the sixth), and they've averaged 31.8 points a game over their last five. By reputation, you might expect these two to brawl it out in a low-scoring slugfest, but it's just as likely to turn into a shootout.

The Skinny

PIT injuries: LB Robert Spillane (IR. knee), CB Joe Haden (out, concussion)

BUF injuries: none

PIT DFS targets: Steelers DST $3,400 DK / $4,700 FD (first in sack rate, first in INT%, first in takeaways)

BUF DFS targets: Stefon Diggs $7,800 DK / $7,500 FD (PIT 23rd in DVOA vs. WR1)

PIT DFS fades: none

BUF DFS fades: Josh Allen $7,100 DK / $8,200 FD (PIT first in passing DVOA, first in QB rating against, second in passing yards per game allowed), Devin Singletary $4,300 DK / $5,500 FD (PIT third in rushing DVOA, t-second in rushing TDs allowed), Dawson Knox $2,800 DK / $4,500 FD (PIT first in DVOA vs. TE)

Key stat: PIT is sixth in third-down conversions at 45.5 percent; BUF is 24th in third-down defense at 44.0 percent

Weather forecast: overcast, temperature in the low 30s, less than 10 mph wind, 1-10 percent chance of snow

The Scoop: Conner leads the PIT backfield with 70 yards. Roethlisberger throws for 280 yards and two TDs, both to Diontae Johnson. Singletary leads the BUF backfield with 60 yards. Allen throws for 240 yards and two touchdowns, hitting Diggs and Gabriel Davis, while also running in a score. Steelers, 23-21

New England (+5) at L.A. Rams, o/u 45.0 – Thursday, 8:20 p.m. EST

Following their pasting of the Bolts, the Patriots are now at .500, winners of four of their last five. It's a remarkable achievement by Bill Belichick and the coaching staff given the seeming paucity of talent on this roster, but a 6-6 record still leaves them two games back of a wild card, and they're going to need a lot of help to make the playoffs for a 12th consecutive season. That help might need to start at home too — Cam Newton has 11 rushing TDs but only five passing TDs in 11 games, which is inexcusably bad. Taysom Hill would probably have more passing production in 11 starts. Of course, if the special teams units score two touchdowns every week, Newton really doesn't have to do too much. At 8-4 and with a win in their pocket against the Seahawks, the Rams now sit atop the NFC West. They've won three of four, but their vaunted defense has surprisingly only held one of its last five opponents below 20 points. The over/under still seems optimistic — the Rams are fifth in scoring defense at 20.3 points allowed per game, while the Pats are seventh at 21.3 — but it is a Thursday. Cam Akers has emerged in recent weeks as Sean McVay's top backfield option, and it's the team's running back trio of Akers, Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown that's been doing most of the scoring while Jared Goff and the passing game do the heavy lifting just getting to the red zone. Goff has topped 300 passing yards in four of the last five games but only has a 5:6 TD:INT. Against a New England secondary that has Stephon Gilmore back at full strength and has been nearly a stingy as Jalen Ramsey and the Rams' unit lately, that pattern doesn't seem likely to change.

The Skinny

NE injuries: QB Newton (questionable, abdomen), RG Shaq Mason (questionable, calf), K Nick Folk (questionable, back), LB Ja'Whaun Bentley (questionable, groin), CB J.C. Jackson (questionable, hip), S Kyle Dugger (questionable, toe)

LAR injuries: K Matt Gay (questionable, shoulder)

NE DFS targets: Patriots DST $3,300 DK / $3,900 FD (second in INT%, LAR t-26th in giveaways)

LAR DFS targets: Rams DST $3,200 DK / $4,300 FD (fifth in sack rate, t-third in takeaways, NE 31st in INT% allowed)

NE DFS fades: Cam Newton $5,900 DK / $7,700 FD (LAR second in QB rating against, first in passing yards per game allowed, first in YPA allowed, first in TD% allowed), Damiere Byrd $3,600 DK / $5,000 FD (LAR second in DVOA vs. WR2)

LAR DFS fades: Tyler Higbee $3,500 DK / $5,300 FD (NE third in DVOA vs. TE)

Key stat: LAR are sixth in third-down conversions at 46.7 percent; NE is t-17th in third-down defense at 42.0 percent

Weather forecast: dome

The Scoop: Damien Harris manages 60 yards. Newton throws for less than 200 yards but does run in a score. Akers picks up 70 yards and a score, while Brown also bangs in a short TD. Goff throws for 250 yards and a touchdown to Van Jefferson. Rams, 24-16
 

Last week's record: 9-6, 5-10 ATS, 7-7-1 o/u
2020 regular-season record: 119-72-1, 96-92-4 ATS, 88-100-4 o/u
2019 regular-season record: 157-98-1, 123-125-8 ATS, 127-122-7 o/u
Lifetime record: 912-554-6, 689-729-54 ATS, 581-611-24 o/u (o/u not tracked in 2015)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Erik Siegrist
Erik Siegrist is an FSWA award-winning columnist who covers all four major North American sports (that means the NHL, not NASCAR) and whose beat extends back to the days when the Nationals were the Expos and the Thunder were the Sonics. He was the inaugural champion of Rotowire's Staff Keeper baseball league. His work has also appeared at Baseball Prospectus.
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