Welcome to this week’s edition of NFL Breakdown. We focus on three games you need to check out and all the info that you’ll need ahead of the contests. The playoff picture is still pretty muddy, so let us take a look at the matchups between the Titans vs Bears, Chiefs vs Panthers, and Colts vs Ravens.
Tenessee Titans vs Chicago Bears
- Spread: Titans -6.5 (-110)
- Point Total: 46.5 (-110)
The Tenessee Titans are in a precarious position. Sitting at 5-2 and leading their division, it is hard to believe their week 9 matchup against the Bears is a must-win. I’m here to tell you their record is misleading. Four of their five wins were single score games against the Broncos (garbage), Jaguars (garbage), Vikings (garbage), and Texans (garbage). Their current two-game losing streak started with a loss to the Steelers and an 11 point loss last week against the Bengals. Mike Vrabel‘s offense is getting it done; they are fifth in yards per game and 6th in points per game. The defense is another story, allowing almost 400 yards and 26 points per game.
We knew this season was going to be weird with COVID-19, but it is apparently still too early to determine which teams are for real. What are we to do with the Chicago Bears? They are 5-3 and one game behind Green Bay in the NFC North. Chicago had an impressive win against Tampa Bay last month, but lost back to back games against the Rams and Saints the past two weeks. Opposite Tennesee, the Bears are 8th in points allowed and are top ten at getting off the field on third down. Quarterback Nick Foles is doing Nick Foles things, throwing for 8 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. He has only thrown more than one touchdown in a game twice this year. The ground game in Chicago is nonexistent with only Houston rushing for fewer yards per game.
Both teams have records that suggest they are legitimate contenders. They both are above average on one side of the ball and below average on the other. Tennessee has only one victory of more than 6.5 points, against the Bills in week 5 after the game was moved due to positive COVID-19 tests. I expect the Bears to cover, though I think the Titans will win. This column has neglected the over/under, but that is going to change. Over in this one as I think the Bears will move the ball a lot but Tennessee will keep pace.
Kansas City Chiefs vs Carolina Panthers
- Spread: Chiefs -10 (-110)
- Point Total: 52.5
Kansas City is one of the few teams everyone can count on. Their only loss came against division rival Las Vegas in game 6. They responded by beating the Bills 26-17 and torching the Broncos and Jets by a combined score of 78-25. Patrick Mahomes is just five touchdowns shy of his season mark from last year. He is on pace for 4,600 yards, 42 touchdowns, and two, yes two, interceptions. Andy Reid‘s defense is allowing a stingy 19 points per game, only trailing Baltimore and Miami. There has been zero Super Bowl hangover for this team.
Carolina has quietly been one of the more disappointing teams this season. Many expected big things out of Teddy Bridgewater after his 5 game stint filling in for Drew Brees last year. Bridgewater looks basically exactly like he did in Minnesota in his first two seasons. He is much better on the road than at home for some reason, completing 78% and 64% of his passes respectively. Missing Christian McCaffrey certainly does not help. Mike Davis is obviously trying, but he has only scored twice on the ground and has not eclipsed the 100-yard mark at all. McCaffrey plans to suit up this week, and Carolina can certainly use him.
Kansas City and their 31.6 points per game host Carolina’s 21st ranked defense. With Bridgewater’s home-road splits expect this to be a high scoring affair. The Chiefs have played in 4 games where the total has been higher than 52.5. Take the Chiefs to cover and the over. Andy Reid’s defense will hold up, but even 19 points from Carolina should be enough to get there.
Indianapolis Colts vs Baltimore Ravens
- Spread: Ravens -1.5 (-110)
- Point Total: 48
The last time the Colts made the breakdown they made me look absolutely foolish. Losing an 8 point game to the Browns lit some sort of fire in Indianapolis as they went on to beat the Bengals and hung 41 on the Lions. Quarterback Philip Rivers has thrown for 633 yards and 6 touchdowns the past two weeks, completing 68% of his passes. Indy has options at running back, even if head coach Frank Reich has Jonathan Taylor in his doghouse. The Colts have never lost at home to the Ravens, ever.
Baltimore is 5-2 on the year, with their only defeats at the hands of potential AFC Championship contenders Kansas City and Pittsburgh. Lamar Jackson does not look fantastic on paper, but he looks even worse with the eye test. He is getting absolutely wrecked behind his line, already the victim of 19 sacks. John Harbaugh has made sure to get the running game going this year, though. The Ravens currently rush for more yards per game than any other team, despite Mark Ingram‘s second-lowest yards per game of his career.
I am fairly confident about the other two games in this week’s breakdown. This one scares me. Both defenses are extremely strong, with Indianapolis ranked number one overall and Baltimore ranked fourth. The game will come down to quarterback play, and this year I trust Philip Rivers more than I trust Lamar Jackson. Colts get the victory at home and definitely take the under.
Week 8 Recap: Told you the Browns -2.5 over the Raiders was egregious. Tua got chased around all day, but I did not see Miami’s defense showing up like that.
- Last Week Against the Spread: 2-1
- Last Week Over/Under: 1-0
- Season Against the Spread: 10-5
- Season Over/Under: 3-1