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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 where 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: 1-1

    This Season: 3-4-1

    I’d like to take this space to offer my sincere condolences for the (exceedingly) long and (manufactured) storied career of one Tom Brady. Against a team that couldn’t hold a fourth-quarter lead if you duct-taped it to their face, after expressing Memento-level short-term amnesia on offense following their first two drives, the Bucs slowly bled out over the final thirty minutes, prompting an absolute joy-inducing line from Ryan Fitzpatrick:

    “I didn’t want to say it, but this offense is just broken.”

    Let’s enjoy the ride for the rest of the season, y’all. I can’t wait.

    Meanwhile, Week 8 has presented us with three juicy toss-up nuggets, so get your bibs ready and let’s dive in!

    Bengals @ Browns

    -3.5 Cincinnati Bengals 50%
    +3.5  Cleveland Browns 50%

    The obvious: Ja’marr Chase is now on injured reserve, which flat-out sucks unless you’re a fan of another AFC North squad. He’s an S-tier talent, no question. The Bengals still can’t run the football effectively (Joe Mixon is 33rd in DYAR, the team is 20th in rushing DVOA and 19th in offensive line success, so on and so forth), the pass protection is in the league’s bottom third. However, and this is important against the Browns, Cincinnati is 10th in defensive DVOA against the run…and 20th in run defense overall grade (56.0).

    The Browns, meanwhile, have Nick Chubb and David Njoku, and Amari Cooper remembering he’s one of the fifteen best overall wide receivers in the NFL. Miles Garrett is still playing angry. I get why this is a toss-up, even after Burrow went for 481 against the Falcons, so here’s what it comes down to for me:

    • Prime time divisional game, in Cleveland
    • Chase’s injury and the flexibility of Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd in the scheme
    • The very real possibility Chubb has 30-plus carries and the game is close entering the fourth quarter
    • The very real alternate possibility the Bengals have a double-digit lead entering the fourth quarter from facing a mediocre-to-bad Cleveland pass defense, and the Browns aren’t built to play from behind

    I do think the Browns will slow things down, grind out drives with Chubb and Kareem Hunt, and keep it close, making the Joe Cool reach for a late-game towel or two.   

    The F@4 Pick: CLE +3.5

    Panthers @ Falcons

    +4.5 Carolina Panthers 48%
    -4.5  Atlanta Falcons 52%

    The Panthers are making another appearance on the F@4, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to bail on my convictions now.

    Yes, they held the Bucs without a touchdown last week. After Thursday night’s performance against the Ravens, that achievement no longer carries the same weight. The Falcons have very quietly been significantly more successful than anyone gave them credit for coming into the season, in that they’re clearly not the worst team playing (Arthur Smith sends you his regards, Nathaniel Hackett). 

    The Falcons are 9th in offensive DVOA, Marcus Mariota continues to be on the plus side of mediocre (17th in DYAR, 0.138 adjusted EPA/play, ahead of Brady, Justin Herbert, Matthew Stafford, Aaron Rodgers, and Kyler Murray, to name a few). Suffice it to say, they’re significantly more concerning than whatever sludge Tampa Bay has morphed into.

    As another divisional game, that usually knocks a point or two off the pick confidence for me, but I am as convinced last week was the high-water mark for the Panthers as I am that Midnights is just okay.

    The F@4 Pick: ATL -4.5

    Bears @ Cowboys

    +9.5 Chicago Bears 47%
    -9.5  Dallas Cowboys 53%

    This week we got to double-dip delicious schaudenfreude: Brady and Bill Belichick were both embarrassed on prime-time, national television, by incredibly gifted young black quarterbacks. As I discussed in this week’s MANs, the era of the “pocket passer” is deader than SNL cold opens lately.

    Justin Fields finally got the kind of play-calling he needs to be successful, and the Patriots had no answer for it, in another weather-influenced win for the Bears.

    Will it rain in Arlington? Doubtful. 

    Do the Patriots have a defender tandem like Micah Parsons and Treyvon Diggs to corral Fields? Sources point to no.

    Will Tony Pollard steamroll over a 24th-ranked rush defense who just shipped their 2nd-best player (Robert Quinn) to the Eagles? Absolutely.

    I definitely don’t think this will be a Golden Corral-type scoregasbord, but I do think the Dallas D gets a score and the running game keeps the Bears offense on the sideline, playing out a double-digit second half lead.

    The F@4 Pick: DAL -9.5

    Friday Fifth:

    • Dallas defense is second only to the Bills by DVOA.
    • The Patriots have a QB controversy, in that selecting a “better” option is essentially Schroedinger’s signal-caller.
    • One last one, I promise:
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    Marvin Jones Jr. player prop bets for Jaguars vs. Broncos | Week 8

    About Author

    Matt K

    Matt is the Social Media Manager at RYP and currently resides in Boston, Massachusetts. He has experience managing social media accounts with agencies, small brands, and large companies. He’s a diehard New England sports fanatic, and if he’s not watching the Celtics, he can be found roaming around Boston discovering all that the city has to offer.

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