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Every week in the NFL, nothing makes any damn sense.
It’s why we love it. It’s why we can’t get off the intravenous drip. It’s why we’re compelled to watch garbage teams playing in prime time.
But there comes a time in every fan’s life when they need something to make some semblance of sense. That’s why on Fridays, I’ll be looking at the upcoming week’s toss-up games ATS, according to RunYourPool VIP data (which you can sign up to access with a VIP account here). I’ll throw some numbers at you, they’ll make sense, and then we’ll all win our pools.
Importantly, too, I’ll start every subsequent week’s column with a look at the previous week’s results and hold myself accountable so I can be mocked on Twitter. It’s important to stand by your principles, after all.
DVOA data from Football Outsiders
Team grades data from Pro Football Focus
Last Week: 1-2-1
This Season: 2-3-1
If there’s anything certain so far through a third of the NFL season, it’s that the Carolina Panthers are 100% done with attempting to win football games. Case in point: they only sacked Matthew Stafford once, despite Stafford having less effective protection than a Catholic overnight summer camp.
Even though the Panthers of Carolina would get a serious tussle from the Panthers of O’Fallon Township High School (7-1, 10th-ranked in Illinois), our RYP VIPs are overwhelmingly choosing them to cover a 10.5-point spread against the once-mighty Tampa Bay Buccaneers. These people seemingly forget that Tom Brady hasn’t yet deployed his “f*ck you mode, which is likely after being embarrassed by Mitchell Trubisky, of all people.
Meanwhile, we’ve got another two solid toss-up games this week, marking the first appearance of “Mr. Simplify,” Aaron Rodgers!
Packers @ Jets
-5.5 Green Bay Packers 50%
+5.5 Washington Commanders 50%
A no-bull coin flip between the Jets and the Packers. This is what we’ve come to, people. Rodgers has failed to show he can elevate the offense around him, ranking 12th in both defense-adjusted yards above replacement and quarterback DVOA. He’s currently essentially replacement-level in total QB value and value per play. He’s not actively hurting the offense on every play (we see you, Justin Fields) but he’s not adding much, at 0.013 EPA (expected points added)/play. For reference, Geno Smith puts up 0.180 EPA/play, about fourteen times higher. Green Bay’s defense hasn’t held up their end, either, coming in 24th in overall defensive DVOA and appearing in their own lonesome island, exceedingly better than whatever the Lions think is defense but closer to the New York squads and the Jaguars than anyone else in the league:
Elsewhere in the Lower Potomac Basin, Taylor Heinicke will be taking over quarterback duties, subbing in for Carson Wentz. Wentz fractured his ring finger and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks, but are we 100% sure this is a downgrade for the Commanders? Washington’s defense ranks a respectable 11th in DVOA, which can keep them in games, and Heineke is significantly more consistent than Wentz; I can see this game coming down close at the end, Rodgers somehow finding Samori Toure (yeah, that’s a real receiver) for a 30-yard gain and Mason Crosby nailing a game-winner.
The F@4 Pick: WAS +5.5
Giants @ Jaguars
+2.5 New York Giants 48%
-2.5 Jacksonville Jaguars 50%
Ringer staff writer Ben Solak, who apparently is some sort of 12-year-old football wunderkind, put together an amazing piece this week on Giants head coach Brian Daboll and how his team has found beauty (and wins) in chaos.
Seriously, look at this guy. I aged another ten years watching this.
The Giants have impressed, found exciting and different ways to win games (kind of like a Bizarro Chargers), and this week head down to Duval to take on the AFC’s kings of chaos. The Jags scored 21 points against the Eagles, and lost; they scored six against the Texans and lost. Oh, and let’s not forget, they scored 38 on the aforementioned Chargers and won! The only thing more chaotic than the First Coast Pumas was DraftKings refusing to refund their Justin Herbert boost from Monday night.
Y’all know what I’m talking about.
In a matchup of an immovable clown show and an unstoppable calamity, I believe in my heart of hearts it comes down to what the talking heads call “playmakers.”
The Giants, of course, have Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones. What, you say? I didn’t say they had to be good plays. The Jaguars roll a little deeper with James Robinson, Travis Etienne, Christian Kirk, and the first overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft, proud Damn Good Dawg and 2026 Defensive Player of the Year, Travon Walker.
Yes, I’m a Georgia homer, and I’ll never be ashamed of it; I have more spiritual trauma from that stadium than most people. At TIAA Bank Field, all logic is already out the window. When in doubt and chaos is in the forecast, never doubt Florida Man.
The F@4 Pick: JAX -2.5