BALTIMORE RAVENS AT LOS ANGELES RAMS (+3, 46.5)
Lamar Jackson’s unbelievable performance got me the half point last week despite the Raven defense shutting down Deshaun Watson. Despite a rough start to the season, the Ravens now sit eighth by EPA and just held the fifth-ranked offense by EPA to 232 yards of total offense.
Baltimore leads the NFL in quarterback hits and Jared Goff has proven he’s not an effective quarterback when under pressure. The Rams sit 21st by offensive EPA and have looked particularly bad against good defenses who can pressure the quarterback the last two weeks.
The Rams owe their 6-4 record almost entirely to their defense. They rank fourth in defensive EPA, have allowed less than 20 points per game and most importantly have been excellent against the run, allowing just 3.3 yards per carry. The Ravens aren’t your typical running team, but if the Rams can limit Jackson’s running yards, the Ravens Offense gets a lot less scary.
PREDICTION: Under 46.5
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS AT ATLANTA FALCONS (-4.5, 51.5)
Earlier this year, I swore off Bucs games. But this one I can’t resist. Tampa Bay and Jameis Winston have been this year’s 2016 Jaguars with Blake Bortles. They play terribly for most of the game and then pour on the points late. As 2017 proved, this is not a recipe for success.
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The Bucs rank seventh in points for but just 18th by EPA and face a resurgent Falcons Defense that’s allowed just 12 points the last two weeks against the Saints and Panthers. Like so many quarterbacks in 2019, Winston gets into trouble when under pressure and the Falcons have 11 sacks and an NFL best 20 QB hits since their Week 9 bye.
The Bucs defense meanwhile looks worse than it is. They’ve allowed more than 31 points per game (worst in the NFL) yet sit middle of the pack by EPA. The Falcons Offense has been solid but unspectacular and will once again be without two of their bigger weapons in Devonta Freeman and Austin Hooper. The backups did nothing last week, and with Julio at less than 100 percent, I don’t see them doing enough to push this one over.
PREDICTION: Under 51.5
If Tennessee had its way, it would do nothing but hand off to Derrick Henry. Ryan Tannehill came up big against the Chiefs, but the Titans have shown time and again they want to play slow and methodical.
They’ve run the fourth-fewest plays in the NFL, sit 27th in scoring percentage and average just 200 passing yards per game. And it makes sense, their defense has been excellent (seventh by EPA) and despite last week’s heroics, they rightly have little confidence in Ryan Tannehill.
The Jaguars represent the perfect matchup: they also play conservatively and have a good defense, but have struggled against the run this year, giving up 5.3 yards per carry. Coach Doug Marrone has promised more work for Leonard Fournette after a bad game script led to 43 passes for Nick Foles and just eight carries for the back. In the previous six games, Fournette averaged 22 carries per game.
Look for a lot of running, a lot of punting and not a lot of points.
PREDICTION: Under 41
Week 11: 1-2
Season to date: 14-19