NFL Power Ratings Picks: Why Our Model Likes The Jets-Rams Under
Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured: Sam Darnold
- Sean Koerner -- our director of predictive analytics -- breaks down how the three bets to make based on his NFL Power Ratings.
- Find out how he's betting the Jets-Rams total on Sunday afternoon. (Spoiler: He doesn't expect much scoring.)
NFL Power Ratings Picks
Seahawks at Washington
The Seahawks opened the season 5-0, thanks in large part to #LetRussCook finally coming to fruition.
After ranking 23rd in early-down pass frequency in 2019, they ranked first over the first five weeks of 2020. Over the past five games, however, we’ve seen Pete Carroll regress to his conservative ways, and the Seahawks have dropped to eighth in early-down pass frequency.
There are some reasonable explanations for this, such as the running back depth chart returning to full health and the defense playing much better. But when you have arguably the NFL’s most valuable quarterback, choosing to have him have less impact on the game (i.e. pass less) will lower your chances of winning.
It’s resulted in the Seahawks going 2-3 against the spread over their past five games, including an 17-12 upset loss to the Giants — a game in which Seattle was favored by 13.5 points.
The Football Team’s defense is the reason I like taking the points — their defensive front will give Wilson some issues.
First-round phenom Chase Young is playing out of his mind right now. Along with the rest of their stout D-line, he should be able to pressure Wilson all game. I wouldn’t be surprised if Wilson ends up getting sacked four to six times on Sunday. While he can make a defense pay under pressure, it’ll be tough against a Washington defense that ranks second in Football Outsiders’ DVOA against the pass.
I initially had the Seahawks projected as 3.5-point favorites. With Dwayne Haskins getting the start over an injured Alex Smith, I’m raising the Seahawks to 5-point favorites. The market re-opened them at -6.5, but I’m assuming there will be enough action to push it up to the key number of 7 before kickoff.
The ultra-conservative and turnover-averse Smith is ideal when the Football Team is the favorite, but having the Jameis Winston-like volatility of Haskins may not be the worst thing when they’re sizable underdogs. We’ve seen Haskins and Terry McLaurin connect for huge plays in the past, and the Football Team could need those to keep pace with the Seahawks for a backdoor cover.
While the market may be focusing on the extreme mismatch of Wilson vs. Haskins, I’m keying in on the mismatch of Washington’s defensive line vs. Seattle’s offensive line, along with Carroll’s trend of creating a less pass-happy offense, which can keep the Seahawks’ opponents in games.
I would bet this at +6.5 (no lower), but I’m waiting for the market to bet it up to 7 or 7.5 (shop for the best real-time line now).
Jaguars at Ravens
Jaguars punter Logan Cooke has been ruled out, so place kicker Aldrick Rosas will have to handle punting duties on Sunday. That could significantly increase the average starting field position for the Ravens, raising their expected point total.
Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith has already been ruled out while Marcus Peters is listed as questionable after not practicing all week. Gardner Minshew is more than capable of taking advantage of a banged-up Ravens secondary in garbage time — especially considering the Jaguars wide receivers are all healthy now.
I would bet this over up to 49.
Jets at Rams
This matchup plays into a pretty straightforward under environment.
The Jets rank dead last in defensive DVOA against the pass, so I expect the Rams to build their lead fairly quickly. (And yes, I also have the Rams projected as 17-point favorites, matching the market.) Once the Rams have a lead, they’ll shift to a very run-heavy game plan — it just so happens that the only real “strength” of this Jets team is their run defense: They rank eighth in DVOA against the run and seventh in rushing expected points added allowed.
On the other side of the ball, Sam Darnold will be going up against a Rams defense that ranks third in DVOA and allows the fewest points per drive (1.47).
There is a very real possibility that the Jets fail to score a single point on Sunday. Adam Gase also typically helps opponents run the clock out — the Jets run the ball at the sixth-highest rate when trailing.
The Rams will likely be looking ahead to their Week 16 battle against the Seahawks, which could further lead to them being perfectly fine with a very vanilla game plan that results in a result like 27-10.
I’m locking this in at 43.5 — 43 is arguably the most important number for totals, and I don’t see this going back up to 44 before kickoff. I would bet it down to 41.5 (shop real-time lines).