NFL Week 9 Expert Picks: Late Slate Predictions for Seahawks vs Cardinals & Rams vs Buccaneers
Harry How/Getty Images. Pictured: Allen Robinson (No. 1).
NFL Odds & Picks
Smith is averaging 240.5 passing yards per game this season. He’s cleared 212 yards in just three of eight games. Facing Arizona three weeks ago, he completed 20-of-31 passes for 197 yards, which is par for the course for the Cardinals defense.
Vance Joseph’s unit is death by 1,000 cuts. They boast an excellent pair of safeties in Budda Baker and Jalen Thompson, who keep everything in front, and their scheme aims to take away opposing perimeter receivers.
The Cards rank first in DVOA against opposing WR1s and fifth against WR2s, which is obviously the strength of the Seahawks passing game with DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, who combined to catch 4-of-12 targets for 51 yards in the first meeting.
Opponents are averaging 6.7 air yards per pass attempt against Arizona, the seventh-lowest figure in the NFL.
As such, the Cardinals have held six of the eight quarterbacks they’ve faced under their yardage prop:
- Week 1: Patrick Mahomes O/U 297.5; actual 360 (OVER)
- Week 2: Derek Carr O/U 283.5; actual 252 (UNDER)
- Week 3: Matthew Stafford O/U 280.5; actual 249 (UNDER)
- Week 4: Baker Mayfield O/U 223.5; actual 197 (UNDER)
- Week 5: Jalen Hurts O.U 251.5; actual 239 (UNDER)
- Week 6: Geno Smith O/U 256.5; actual 197 (UNDER)
- Week 7: Andy Dalton O/U 221.5; actual 361 (OVER)
- Week 8: Kirk Cousins O/U 274.5; actual 232 (UNDER)
The two overs came in unique circumstances.
Against Mahomes, the Cardinals were without J.J. Watt and half of their cornerback depth chart, among others. And against the Saints, they built a 28-14 halftime lead which led to Dalton attempting a season-high 47 passes, but that marked the only time all season they’ve taken a lead into halftime.
I’m projecting Smith for 242 passing yards. I expect it to hit 60% of the time at anything over 250, and 55% of the time at anything above 245.
Chris Raybon: It’s a good time to sell high on Robinson. He resurrected himself from the Washed WR Mausoleum to post five receptions, 63 yards, and a TD in Week 6 and followed that up with a 5/54/0 line last week off the bye. But even with those performances, he’s still failed to clear 23 receiving yards in 4-of-7 games, and he’s averaging just 32.0 receiving yards per game on the season.
Multiple factors are working against him against the Bucs. The first is the matchup itself. The Bucs play zone coverage at the eighth-highest rate in the league, and Robinson has long been known to struggle against zone coverage. He’s averaging 0.78 yards per route versus zone, which is the worst mark of any Rams WR with a target this season. Against man coverage, he’s averaging a more respectable 1.48 yards per route. This is a continuation of a trend from last season that saw Robinson post 1.69 yards per route against man but 0.95 versus zone.
Over 45% of Robinson’s targets this season have come against man coverage while no other Rams receiver has seen more than 25% of their targets against man.
The issue for Robinson in this contest is not only the scheme, but also his individual matchup. Since Robinson most often lines up on the left side of the formation, he projects to draw the most of right cornerback Jamel Dean in coverage. Dean has allowed opposing receivers in his coverage to catch just 17-of-35 targets for 96 yards – that’s a 48.6% catch rate, 2.7 yards per target, and 5.6 yards per reception for those counting at home.
When Robinson goes across the formation, Carlton Davis is no slouch either. Davis has allowed a 56.8% catch rate and 6.6 yards per target since the start of last season.
Another thing working against Robinson is competition for targets. Robinson’s big game in Week 6 came in the last game before the return of Van Jefferson, and in Week 8, Jefferson ran 23 routes but was not targeted. Matthew Stafford took notice and vowed to get Jefferson targets this week, which could cut into Robinson’s looks.
Tyler Higbee also hasn’t been healthy the last two games. He ran a route on just 50% of Stafford’s dropbacks in Weeks 6 and 8 after doing so 84% of the time in the first five games.
Not coincidentally, Higbee averaged 6.6 catches for 58.0 yards on 9.6 targets in the first five games while Robinson averaged just 2.4 catches for 21.4 yards on 4.6 targets during that span. Robinson’s 6.5-target, 5.0-catch, 58.5-yard average over the past two games came with Higbee registering just 3 receptions for 22 yards on eight targets total. Higbee is off the injury report this week and is expected to resume his normal role, which bumps Robinson down from the No. 2 target to the No. 3 target at best.
I’m projecting Robinson’s median at 35 yards – which may be generous, as he’s cleared that only 42.1% of the time dating back to the start of last season.