As I have in previous weeks, I have evaluated each matchup this NFL Sunday, with an expected win margin for each team taken into account when handicapping while betting. I list my recommended bets where suitable, and have the teams I think will win in italics in the matchup title.
My win-loss prediction record for the matchups in the 2021 NFL season that I’ve evaluated thus far is 37 wins to 19 losses.
Bengals at Ravens
I think the Ravens will trounce the Bengals as they have the DB’s to cover the Bengals quality receiving weapons. I think Mark Andrews will have a huge game against the likes of Logan Wilson at linebacker for Cinci, and that o-line and great running back room (combined with Lamar Jackson’s run ability) will likely get first downs with ease. Furthermore, the Bengals special teams group is woeful IMO. I’d recommend the Ravens handicap of -10.5 paying $2.43.
Panthers at Giants
I think the Giants will pummel the Panthers, as Carolina’s strong start to the season was partly bolstered by the presence of key players like Pat Elflein, Shaq Thomspon and Cam Erving, who will all be inactive. The Giants will miss some key players like receiver Kenny Golladay, but are smart enough to play the Jaguars cast off in Collin Johnson to partially replace him. I’d recommend the Giants handicap of -5.5 paying $3.16.
Washington at Packers
The Packers are heavily favoured in this matchup, but I’d recommend Washington at +3.5 handicap, paying $2.65. I think neither offenses will be able to do much, but Washington has some great playmakers on defense that will likely cause a few Packers turnovers.
Chiefs at Titans
The Titans offense will be harmed by Taylor Lewan’s absence, so their vaunted running game will suffer, and Tannehill will have less time to throw (I’d be surprised if Frank Clark doesn’t get atleast three sacks in this matchup). The Titans secondary will be toasted, while the Chiefs coaching staff have finally identified Juan Thornhill as worthy of playing most defensive snaps. Their pickup of cornerback Mike Hughes from the Vikings in the offseason was a huge boon too. I’d recommend the Chiefs handicap of -10.5, paying $2.97.
Falcons at Dolphins
As my favourite sportswriter Drew Magary points out, the Dolphins are silly enough to run out of the shotgun regularly despite its obvious flaws, particularly in short yardage situations. Combined with a lack of quality o-line play (outside of rookie Liam Eichenberg), and the Phins run game will still struggle, but the Falcons lacking the injured Dante Fowler will help some. I like that Jaylen Waddle is returning punts for the Phins, while he and their other receivers should get open easily against that Falcons secondary, which might not be the case on the other side for the Falcons receivers despite Calvin Ridley’s greatness. I’d take the Dolphins at a +6.5 handicap, paying $1.40.
Jets at Patriots
I think this will be a close game. I am disappointed in the Pats coaching staff decisions – a lack of playing DB Joejuan Williams and tackle Yodny Cajuste will cost them this and other games IMO. I recommend watching Jets #35 safety Sherrod Neasman, who has started since injuries to his incumbents, and displays elite level defensive play. I’d recommend the Jets handicap of +14.5, paying $1.34.
Lions at Rams
The Lions best players are new nickel back AJ Parker and safety Tracy Walker, in my view. They aren’t game breakers, so every other player is average at best. Against the likes of Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp, Sebastian Joseph-Day, Matt Stafford, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and Jalen Ramsey, they will likely get beaten soundly, which the oddsmakers predict as well (the Lions are 16.5 point underdogs). I will thus not recommend a bet here, as there’s not much money to be made if there’s no disparity between the market and my own opinion.
Eagles at Raiders
I think this will be a very close game – I have the Eagles winning by a hair. The Eagles still have a decent o-line, a solid quarterback in Hurts, and a stud tight end duo (Jack Stoll will make up for the departure of Zach Ertz via trade). The Raiders will keep up however, partially due to their greatness on special teams (ILY long snapper Trent Sieg). No handicap is worth betting on here IMO.
Bears at Bucs
I’m avoiding betting on this game, as I’m not sure if key defensive line players for the Bears in Bilal Nichols and Khalil Mack will play. The Bucs will be without game-changing talents as well, so the game will be closer than otherwise. If the questionable-to-play Bears defenders do participate, I’d expect a Bears upset (a Bears win is paying $5.50!), so let’s assume that happens.
Texans at Cardinals
The Cardinals have so much firepower offensively and such great DBs that I haven’t even broken down this game as thoroughly as I have the others. The Texans released their best player in Whitney Mercilus and continue to have another stud in Philip Lindsay ride the bench. A Cardinals handicap of -14.5, paying $1.60, is pretty safe as a result.
Colts at Niners
The Niners are strong favourites here, but without George Kittle, I think they’ll struggle to put points up (although I’d pick up Deebo Samuel in fantasy against this abominable Colts secondary). Vegas seems to be handicapping this game properly, as a safe enough win margin buffer of around 13.5 is paying just $1.26, so I’d avoid betting on this game. It’d be a different story if Colts right tackle Braden Smith was healthy, as he’d bolster their run game and mitigate the damage that Arik Armstead and Arden Key (in limited snaps) could inflict.