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The most overlooked team in the NFL




By Geoff Schwartz

Well folks, we made it to week 6. The schedule may be incoherent and we all have to adjust on the spot, but everyone is doing well in the process.

Now I’m going to do well to give you my favorite bets of the weekend (with all odds via FOX Bet).

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The Kansas City Chiefs team has a total of more than 30.5 points at Buffalo Bills

Yes, the Chiefs lost to the Raiders last weekend. Yes, their insult didn’t seem right at times. And yes, they still scored 32 points.

Even after a “down” weekend, their violation is ranked second by DVOA. They take it a step further and have the first ranked passing attack. If you’re concerned about Chiefs pass protection, which wasn’t as good as previous years, this is a good weekend to get it right. (Worth nothing, Patrick Mahomes leads NFL quarterbacks under pressure attributed to the position.)

Regardless, they’re going to Buffalo to play the bills at a loss to the Titans. Buffalo’s defense hasn’t been good this season. They have allowed 28 points per game and are ranked 30th in third place. So while I noted the Chiefs’ protection issues, it won’t be an issue this weekend as the bills only have an average pass rush.

If the Bills want to create pressure by adding extra rushers to the mix, Mahomes will eat that, as he always does. We have seen that the way to slow down the Chiefs’ transgression is a steady diet of upset concepts with three- or four-man punches.

Most of all, though, I think the Chiefs’ offense has been hearing all week that they are no good. They get an extra day to prepare for the Bills, who have a short week after playing Tuesday.

The Chiefs’ offense has tended to be looking for the home run lately. I expect them to focus on the short, fast game again. Put the ball in the hands of your playmakers in space. They will again add screens to the offense that has been missed for the past two weekends.

I think we see a full-speed attack from the Chiefs humming against a poor defensive squad of Bills.

Los Angeles Rams (-3.5) at San Francisco 49ers

We all get the wrong choices in the preseason. I’m here to admit that I’ve been most wrong about the Los Angeles Rams this season. I thought their insult was on the decline. Their offensive line was not good last season. Goff seemed out of sync. McVay had lost the magic.

Well, after five weeks, Rams’ offense is one of the best in the NFL, and Goff has a career season. He leads NFL QBs in yards per attempt while competing more than 70 percent of his passes. Rams’ hasty attack, who struggled last season, is back with vengeance in 2020.

When the rams get the ball moving properly, Goff can play action pass with more authority. It keeps them out of 3rd and long situations. While the 49ers defense plays well without a ton of missing pieces, this isn’t a good matchup for a smashed line of defense and a secondary that can’t cover intersecting routes.

On the other hand, the 49ers’ attack is not good at the moment. While Jimmy Garappolo struggles with a butt ankle, I’m not sure you can blame him for all the trouble. Beyond their two wins at MetLife Stadium against the combined 0-10 Jets and Giants, the 49ers averaged 18 points per game. They have a turnover margin of -4 and have lost all three games.

Rams’ defense is better than expected, clocking in eighth place in DVOA. Aaron Donald remains the best player in every position in the NFL. The 49ers’ line of attack has struggled, which I didn’t expect. Injuries have taken their toll. I don’t think they can contain Donald and the Rams’ defense.

Finally, remember what I said in this space last week: no more betting on bad soccer teams. The 49ers arent a good football team at this time 19th in DVOA overall, with an offense that cannot score and a beat up defense. The rams are good and keep playing better. No fans in San Francisco eliminate communication problems. I think the Rams are rolling.

Minnesota Vikings (-4.5) against Atlanta Falcons

The Vikings are 1-4. This is true. However, according to Football Outsiders, they are one of the better 1-4 teams in NFL history.

The Vikings have a positive DVOA for four of their five games so far this year, with the exception of the 28-11 week 2 loss to Indianapolis. They lost to Seattle in the final game of the game this weekend. They also lost with a single point to the Titans. They were almost a 3-2 team. They are ranked 11th overall DVOA, right below the 4-0 Titans and Steelers.

And this weekend, it feels like the Vikings are venting all their anger on the bumbling Falcons.

Atlanta fired Dan Quinn after starting the season 0-5, not because of that record, but because of how they reached that record. Bad game. Terrible defense. And bad coaching decisions. You might be tempted to say, “Now that Quinn is gone, the Falcons will play better.” Not so fast.

The NFL teams are 15-22 (including Houston defeating Jacksonville last week) against the spread of the game after they fire a new coach. Why? Because teams firing coaches during the season are usually terrible, and coaching changes don’t help. The Falcons are one of those teams.

What about them being considered good? Their defense is 28th in DVOA. Their offense, loaded with previous first round tips, is 22nd in DVOA. Matt Ryan is currently having his worst season in completion rate since 2011. Their yards per attempt are the lowest since 2013. You get it. Their offense is no good.

So I get a Vikings team that wants to win and a Falcons team that is no good.

Baker Mayfield under 238.5 passing yards at the Pittsburgh Steelers

I’m going back to the well with this one. The Browns offense has scored 108 points, the third most in the NFL. While it is easy to attribute the points to Mayfield, that would be a mistake.

No, Mayfield makes no mistakes like last season, but the attack starts with the compelling attack. The Cleveland QB threw the Colts for a season-high 247 yards last weekend. Read that again. That took several extra efforts from Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham to get to that total.

Now enter a Steelers defense that just had its worst game of the season against the Eagles on Sunday, but still ranks seventh in defensive DVOA. Like last weekend, I don’t see Browns’ attack moving the ball through the air as their primary source of output. The Steelers will sit back in the zone and prevent either of the Browns’ wide receivers from winning deep.

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