Making the most of the last big bye week
Quarterback play in the NFL has been a huge mixed bag so far this season, but we were treated to a taste of the future in the Houston/Seattle game. Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson went pass for pass in the best game of the season. The future is bright at the position with the likes of Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning and others entering the tail end of their careers. Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott, among others, will keep things going under center.
Record: 22-13-2 (2-2 last week; 13-6-1 last four weeks)
Note: All times are ET and all games are on Sunday, Nov. 5 unless otherwise noted.
Los Angeles Rams (5-2) at New York Giants (1-6), 1 p.m.
The bye week won't fix what ails the Giants as they host the Rams on Sunday. Janoris Jenkins is not playing as he’s been indefinitely suspended after not reporting to the team quick enough coming off of the bye. The defense has been good for the most part although this unit is spending way too much time on the field. Eli Manning has no run game to speak of and he's running out of pass catchers with all of the injuries. On the other side is a Rams squad that has allowed a total of 33 points over their last three games. Jared Goff is making this offense work although Todd Gurley is doing a lot of the work. To me, this one seems like a lower-scoring contest. The Rams have gone under in 23 of their last 39 games. Yes, they have skewed to the over this season, but I think both teams’ defenses will be fresh and ready for this one. SELECTION: Under 42
Atlanta Falcons (4-3) at Carolina Panthers (5-3), 1 p.m.
Carolina traded Kelvin Benjamin away, a somewhat curious move considering the absence of tight end Greg Olsen. So for now, the top targets will be Devin Funchess and Christian McCaffrey, who has already emerged as a dangerous pass catcher no matter where he lines up. Atlanta's defense isn't that great, but it's been good against the run and has allowed more than 300 passing yards just once and that was against Aaron Rodgers. The Falcons’ offense has disappointed and isn’t the same without Kyle Shanahan calling the plays. Atlanta has gone under in three of its last four and it’s hard to get a read on this team right now. Carolina's defense has been fantastic and will be glad to be finally come home after playing four of five on the road. These NFC South rivals have played 16 unders in their last 21 meetings in Carolina because the Falcons’ offense is completely different outdoors. SELECTION: Under 44
Baltimore Ravens (4-4) at Tennessee Titans (4-3), 1 p.m.
I know that the Titans are coming off a bye week, but Baltimore has had more than a week as well coming off of their 40-0 romp of Miami last Thursday. The Ravens’ defense is getting healthier and it's showing on the field as they held the Dolphins to less than 200 yards of total offense. Baltimore’s offense has been an issue although Alex Collins has taken over the reins at running back and Danny Woodhead is working his way back as well. Tennessee has been held to 14 points or less in three of its last four and has been relatively unimpressive on both sides of the ball. The Titans probably should have lost in Cleveland two weeks ago and are not looking like the team we thought they would be. Tennessee has covered just 14 of its last 39 games and eight of its last 30 against the rest of the AFC. I think this is a lower-scoring game and the underdog is better suited for those. SELECTION: Ravens +4
Oakland Raiders (3-5) at Miami Dolphins (4-3), 8:30 p.m.
To me, it's kind of a joke that the Raiders are favored in this one. They've lost four of their last five as the defense continues to fail and the offense doesn't do enough. The addition of Marshawn Lynch hasn't added what the team thought it would and Derek Carr at times is doing a little bit too much. The defense has sprung too many leaks for my liking as well. Now Miami isn't much better right now, just traded Jay Ajayi and was beaten 40-0 by Baltimore in its last game. The defense has played pretty well for the most part and the offense could get Jay Cutler and DeVante Parker back. Miami should be able to take advantage of Oakland's banged-up secondary. I think the Dolphins win this one outright so I'll gladly take the points. SELECTION: Miami +3
Detroit Lions (3-4) at Green Bay Packers (4-3), 8:30 p.m. (Mon.)
I backed the Packers two weeks ago at home against New Orleans and it didn't work out. Two weeks later, I'm going to back them again at home fresh off of their bye. Brett Hundley is better than he played against the Saints and with two weeks to prepare, I think we see a better effort. Aaron Jones is running the ball well and has taken a stranglehold of the position. The Packers’ defense is on par with the Lions although they are more vulnerable on the ground, but that’s not something Detroit will be able to take advantage of. The Lions have lost three straight and four of their last five games as Matthew Stafford has hit a bit of a rough patch. Detroit didn't capitalize on its red zone trips at home against Pittsburgh this past Sunday night and now heads to Green Bay. The Lions have failed to cover in 15 of their last 21 games as a road favorite of three points or less. I think the Packers bounce back. SELECTION: Packers +2.5
— I really wanted to take the Broncos plus the points, but there were too many situations against me in that one. You've got a Denver team on the road for the third straight week coming off of a tough divisional loss on Monday night. The Broncos are starting Brock Osweiler at quarterback, and that doesn’t seem to be an improvement. Emmanuel Sanders is expected back, but that's not enough for me to back Denver on the road. The Broncos also have the Patriots on deck for what that’s worth. Philadelphia has played well, but still has things to work on and Denver’s defense remains pretty strong. If the line keeps going up, I may hop back in, but right now, I'll sit it out.
— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.