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. This week we will look at the matchups between the Jets and Seahawks, Falcons and Chargers, and Ravens and Browns.
New York Jets at Seattle Seahawks
- Spread: Seahawks -13.5 (-109)
- Point Total: 47
Seattle seemed to assert themselves as the team to chase in the NFC West after beating Arizona and having four of their last six against the NFC East and the Jets. That second-worst defense in yards per game gave just enough to the Giants last week in a 17-12 loss. They are still in position to make the wild card, but are looking up at the Rams. What has all the appearance of a get-right game could very well end up in a trap. Russell Wilson has fallen off the proverbial cliff. He has not surpassed the 300-yard mark since Week 9 in a loss to the Bills and has thrown 6 touchdowns to 5 interceptions in that span. Conversations have turned from MVP race to staying afloat. The talk about the offense needing to bail out the defense clearly had merit. Both sides of the ball will have to step it up and gain some confidence heading towards the postseason.
New York was so, so close last week against the Raiders. That play call is just as much on Adam Gase as it is Gregg Williams. Is management just building a case to fire Gase by forcing him into more responsibilities, or are they worried that they might actually win a game and lose Trevor Lawrence to the Jaguars? They did come away with the big-time cover and they have another big opportunity against a struggling Seattle team with a terrible defense. Can Ty Johnson replicate his 22 attempt, 104-yard performance against the weak Seahawks front?
The Seahawks are 6-6 against the spread on the year and have a pretty significant task ahead of them this week. New York is 4-8 against the spread and the teams are a combined 12-12 in over/unders. Russ is clearly better than Derek Carr, but he has not had that magic as of late. Take the Jets to cover and the under. Probably the only time this season that sentence will be written.
Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Chargers
- Spread: Falcons -2.5 (-110)
- Point Total: 49.5
Atlanta’s magic carpet ride to the end of the season has come to an early end. Two losses to Taysom Hill and the Saints have all but removed them from playoff contention. Quarterback Matt Ryan is on pace for his worst completion percentage since 2011. Todd Gurley has seen his usage and yards per attempt steadily decline as the year drags on. The defense allows the sixth-highest completion percentage to opposing quarterbacks and more passing yards than any team except the Jets and Seahawks.
Los Angeles, who were averaging 25 points per game, got blanked by the Patriots last week. Rookie Justin Herbert threw 53 times for only 209 yards and 2 interceptions. This week presents Herbert’s most favorable matchup of the year. Can the rookie bounce back and take a step ahead? The team gave up 45 points, New England’s highest total on the year, while only allowing 295 total offensive yards. Atlanta will bring a more balanced attack than Cam and the Patriots.
Both teams are 5-7 against the spread this year and are a combined 12-12 in over/unders. Special teams and turnovers are tough pills to swallow for the Chargers. This week is a big test of their ability to put bad games behind them. The Falcons are playing for pride in what is likely their last realistically winnable game this season. I expect the Falcons to cover on the road and the teams to score a lot. Falcons and the over.
Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns
- Spread: Ravens -2 (-113)
- Point Total: 47
The Ravens are coming off of a 34-17 win over the Dallas Cowboys. In that game, Lamar Jackson only threw 17 times with two touchdowns and one interception. Their league-best rushing attack hung 294 yards and two touchdowns on Dallas’s depleted defense. Baltimore has not had a statement win so far this year, though they did smoke the Browns 38-6 in week one. Repeating that performance this week gives them a realistic shot at making the playoffs. They have the Jaguars, Giants, and Bengals to finish the season. John Harbaugh’s defense is currently 8th in yards allowed and 3rd in points allowed per game.
Baker Mayfield and the Browns offense hung 38 on the Titans in the first half last week. They only managed 3 points after Tennessee’s halftime adjustments. Nick Chubb has not missed a beat since returning from injury and Kareem Hunt is a more than serviceable backup. Cleveland faces a tall task in defending Baltimore’s rushing game, though the 8th ranked rushing defense held Derrick Henry to just 60 yards last week. The Browns are up two games over Baltimore for the 5 seed and can stake a solid claim to a wildcard spot with games against the Giants and Jets before facing the Steelers in week 17.
Once again, the oddsmakers are confused. The line opened with the Ravens as a favorite and the money continues to move it that direction. This is a must-win game for both teams. Cleveland is a different team than the one that got blown out in week one. For the first time in 13 years, they secured a winning season. They have a chance to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002 and will look to get their first playoff victory since 1994. Baltimore is 6-5-1 against the spread and 5-7 in over/unders. Baker and company are 5-7 against the spread and 7-5 in over/unders. Take Cleveland at home and the over.
Week 13 Recap: I finally called a Colts game correctly on my way to a solid showing for the first time in weeks. Second straight week of perfect over/unders as well.
- Last Week Against the Spread: 2-1
- Last Week Over/Under: 3-0
- Season Against the Spread: 15-15
- Season Over/Under: 13-5
*Odds via DraftKings