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2018 Week 7 Preview: Ross Jacobs' Notes
Ross Jacobs is a budding football analyst/scout and a long-time friend of FFM. He’s been working on a project all season watching/studying all the games/studying the line play as a key indicator for handicapping and fantasy play.
Weekly, he’s been sharing his notes on each game with me…what he saw with the games that just happened and what he sees coming up with the games about to play.
I’ve enjoyed reading his study notes on the games all season and asked him if I could share them with the FFM audience, and he was happy to. So, please enjoy Ross’s takes on the games more from a line of scrimmage/O-Line standpoint but with an overall view of seeing all these teams and taking notes for data analysis all season.
These are his notes for the upcoming week's games…
*Forgive typos, just notes transcribed.
Week 7 Preview
Patriots -3 at Bears
I really want to put this in my Blazing Five, but I can't without knowing if Khalil Mack is playing at full health. Mack changes the entire complexion of this game if he's good to go. If not the Bears are a big dog. My guess based on reports is that he plays but isn't 100%. You have to imagine Belichick will have a plan to handle him though, and as we saw last week the Bears defense is significantly weaker without him. I'm going to give up the points and take the Patriots, but I could absolutely see how a 80% Mack comes in and wrecks the Patriots plans.
Chargers -6.5 vs Titans
What is with all the Chargers love? They've beaten the Bills, 49'ers, Raiders, and Browns for crying out loud! The only decent win was against the Browns, and I thought it was fairly overrated. The other three are bottom 5 teams. Now the Titans definitely aren't a great team, but they aren't horrible either. They've been up and down, but did beat the Eagles and Jaguars. This feels like a classic Chargers trap game where just when you think they've put it together they go and completely blow a game in the last 2 minutes. To me this looks like the Chargers win but don't cover on paper, but I'm going to laugh when the Chargers do their thing. I'll take the Titans to cover.
Browns +3.5 at Buccaneers
I'll take the points and the better team all the way thank you. This was very close to being in my Blazing Five and the replacement for the Bears since Mack is banged up. The Browns have been unlucky as hell the last several weeks despite Baker Mayfield looking amazing. He's already the best player on the Browns offense, and he should absolutely light up the Buccaneers here. 400 yards and 3+ TD's would not surprise me in the least. Jameis Winston shouldn't be able to keep up here. I like Myles Garrett for a sack and forced fumble that leads to a TD. Love love love the Browns.
Lions -3 at Dolphins
They don't always play like it, but the Lions have tremendous metrics on paper, and this week they are facing an overrated Dolphins team that was incredibly lucky to start 3-0 and then beat the Bears with a hobbled Khalil Mack. The Lions have one of the best offensive lines in all of football, and the defense has been fairly impressive too. My formulas actually have this as the top bet of the week, but I'll settle for just having it in my Blazing Five.
Panthers +4.5 at Eagles
I'm playing the opposite of last week yet again. In the reviews I thought the Eagles looked quite lucky to get a good start against a sad Giants team, and the Panthers basically handed the Redskins a 17-0 lead before clawing their way back in it to nearly win. This will be an interesting test between the Eagles top tier defensive line and the shockingly effective Panthers line. I still can't believe how little pressure they've given up especially considering the number of injuries they've suffered, but I'm not going to argue against the trends. The Panthers really need to control the clock and not turn the ball over, but I like their chances if they do. I wouldn't bet this one in real life, but I'll take the Panthers and the points.
Bills +7.5 at Colts
I really wish this line was below 7, but I'm going to take the Colts anyways for my Blazing Five. They have been vastly underrated all year mostly as a consequence of the insane number of injuries they've had to deal with. Andrew Luck is still turning the ball over too much, but he's also scoring well enough and the defense is playing better than anyone dreamed. The Bills have sucked out a few games by selling their souls to the football gods, but it can't possibly keep working (I just guaranteed it will by typing that). It feels crazy to side with a 1-5 team giving up 7.5 points to a 2-4 team, but I've never seen such a crazy slate of games as this year. The Colts still have multiple players missing on offense, but Luck can make that work. The key is they have most of their best defenders back, and they draw the sorry Bills offense with Derek Anderson at the helm. Sign me up for a Colts beatdown.
Bengals +6 at Chiefs
This feels wrong wrong wrong, but my metrics love the Bengals here. As in Blazing Five level love. I'm not going to put them in there though because I don't trust Andy Dalton and I do trust St. Patrick. I'm simply going to take the Bengals and the points and cringe while I do it. The Bengals actually do have a pretty good offensive line and definitely a better pass rush than the Chiefs. Justin Houston is still out, and we all saw how truly awful the Chiefs are on defense without any kind of rush. The Bengals can put some points up, and I just don't see how the Chiefs are going to stop them. An outright upset wouldn't surprise me here. Mahomes can't play defense too.
Vikings -3.5 at Jets
This one I don't like either, but I said I'm sticking with the formulas so that's what I'm going to do. The Jets do actually have good metrics on both lines. It's just Sam Darnold sucks so bad that you never know what you're going to get. The Vikings have given up some plays on defense, but they have been the best blitzing team I've seen all year, and Darnold is highly likely to throw some terrible interceptions if he faces pressure like that. Unfortunately my computer sees that the Vikings have also struggled, and it isn't impressed by a 10 point win against the Cardinals. The Cardinals are the worst team in the league (sorry Bills), and the Jets are plain and simple far better than that even with Darnold. Their defense has been quite good so far, and we've seen Kirk Cousins make some mistakes himself under pressure. This is another I wouldn't bet for real, but here I'll take the Jets and points.
Texans +4.5 at Jaguars
The Jaguars have been quite underwhelming so far this year, but whatever happened last week at Dallas I have to imagine was a fluke. As I mentioned in my review Jacksonville can be quite up and down from week to week, and this is something we saw with them even last year. The Texans meanwhile are still being propped up on the narrative that Clowney, Watt, and Watson are superstars. They are not. Well, Watt is still good, but even he isn't as great as he once was. I know the Jaguars have that 3rd string tackle in (I mentioned it was likely a problem last week against the Cowboys), but surely the Jaguars coaches will have a better gameplan to help him this week. You would think. Either way the kicker for me is how atrocious the Texans offensive line is, and now they are going to face the best defense they've seen all year. The computer is simply not impressed by OT wins against the injury ravaged Colts, the Cowboys, and a close win against the Bills. We think a bloodbath is likely here. Jaguars for the Blazing Five.
Saints +2.5 at Ravens
This looks accurate to me. These teams are quite even on paper with the Ravens perhaps holding a slight lead. They have one of the best offensive lines in football, a pretty good defensive line, and they're going up against a Saints defense that has struggled at times getting pressure and an offense that suddenly seems intent on handing Mark Ingram the ball. I thought the Saints win over the Redskins was somewhat fluky and the masses will be heavy on the Saints here so I'm going to go the other way in what looks like a pick 'em. I'll take the Ravens to cover slightly.
Cowboys +1 at Redskins
Going against the grain again. People are going to get caught up in recency bias and get carried away by fluky wins and losses. The Redskins are not nearly as bad as they looked against the Saints, and the Cowboys aren't suddenly good because they got up early on Blake Bortles and ran away with it. The Redskins still have the better offensive line and at least a comparable defensive line to the Cowboys (although the addition of David Irving might swing things). Sean Lee is still out, and historically the Cowboys have struggled when their defensive captain is inactive. Alex Smith isn't going to be fazed the same way Bortles was, so I like the Redskins to cover this.
Rams -9.5 at 49'ers
It's been a running theme for me this week, but we must always beware of recency bias. The Rams played lackadaisical last week against the Broncos, and the 49'ers should have beaten the “mighty” Packers, therefore the 49'ers can hang with the Rams! No. Just no. This is going to be a slaughter. There is nothing the 49'ers can do to stop what is coming. Goff may pass up Mahomes in the stats department after this game, and I suspect Beathard is going to have his first major letdown so far. This is easy Blazing Five material for me. Rams all the way. This is my personal favorite bet of the week.
Giants +4 at Falcons
This is another sneaky game that it's easy to look past without digging deeper. When you do though you'll find that the Giants haven't really been all that bad. Certainly not on a level with the Cardinals, Bills, Raiders, etc. The Falcons meanwhile continue to enjoy an undeserved reputation for being decent. They suck. Their offense is ok, but it's not nearly as impressive when you consider the poor defenses they've put points on. The defense is just terrible all the way around, and you better hope you aren't playing the Saquon Barkley owner in fantasy this week because he is very likely going to go off. The Giants finally got Olivier Vernon back, and this week he should be better after getting a little playing time under his belt. I love the Giants to cover here and quite possibly pull the outright upset. This is the last of my Blazing Five.