Seattle Seahawks 34, Miami Dolphins 24
Russell Wilson reminds me of a more athletic Ben Roethlisberger in his early 30s. Already a Hall of Famer in talent and production, Wilson’s mastery of his position has caught up with his physical traits. He’s never been calmer in the pocket, seeing two moves ahead. Ryan Fitzpatrick is another quarterback who got better with age, allowing him to make this lackluster Dolphins group around him look feisty. I don’t envision Miami’s defense forcing many long-yardage situations, and that’s the only way coach Brian Flores is able to generate a pass rush with this group.
Seahawks at Dolphins (+6.5)
Russell Wilson and Ryan Fitzpatrick may be the two most terrifying quarterbacks to pick against. With Wilson, it’s because the Seahawks can score so quickly, and they have chaotic endings every week. With Fitzpatrick, it’s because you know after two possessions whether he’s morphed into the best versions of Steve Young and Brett Favre or whether he’s going to throw three interceptions. The Seahawks’ defense has not looked good so far, and while it’d be easy to point to their lack of pass rush, the numbers suggest there’s more to it than that. Seattle actually ranks 12th in ESPN’s pass rush win rate metric. Miami could keep this one close, but the Seahawks’ passing game is rolling right now. A late touchdown pushes them to cover.
The pick: Seahawks (-6.5)
From: The Athletic
Buffalo Bills 30, Las Vegas Raiders 24
The Raiders could be without their rookie starters at wide receiver (Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards) and will be without their rookie starter at cornerback (Damon Arnette). The cumulative impact of Vegas’ injuries, especially on the offensive line, started to show up last week. The Bills may be without receiver John Brown this week, but with their own rookie speedster (Gabriel Davis) making plays, they might not even miss him.
Bills at Raiders (+3)
I’ve made this point before, but the best part about reading Jon Gruden quotes is that your brain unconsciously uses the Frank Caliendo voice. Go ahead, see what I mean here.
Told you. Gruden will have to scheme it up in this game without Bryan Edwards and Henry Ruggs (they’re already playing without Tyrell Williams). Every team deals with injuries, but getting crushed at the same position is tough to overcome. Given how well the Bills’ offense is playing, this is a tough spot for the Raiders.
The pick: Bills (-3)
From: The Athletic
Kansas City Chiefs 31, New England Patriots 23
(UPDATE: The NFL announced Saturday that the New England-Kansas City game has been rescheduled for either Monday or Tuesday due to positive COVID-19 tests on both teams. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport and NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that Patriots QB Cam Newton and Chiefs practice squad QB Jordan Ta’amu both tested positive and have been added to the reserve/COVID list. In Newton’s absence, the Patriots are expected to start veteran QB Brian Hoyer, per Rapoport.)
This is the fourth time Patrick Mahomes has faced the Pats in his young career. His PFF grade is 63.8 against New England, compared to 95.0 vs. the rest of the league, but this is not the Patriots’ defense of yesteryear. Stephon Gilmore‘s late-season slump in 2019 has continued into this season. Beyond Chase Winovich, the Patriots don’t have much of a pass rush. New England has the cornerbacks to limit some of Kansas City’s outside routes, but the Chiefs simply have more counters up the seams.
It’s not the Patriots’ offense of yesteryear either, but that may be a good thing for this matchup. Cam Newton has led the most efficient rushing attack in football through three weeks, according to Football Outsiders. That matches up well against the Chiefs’ defense (fifth vs. the pass, 30th vs. the run), making the Patriots the perfect team to employ the “keep the ball away from Mahomes” gambit. That could lead to a fun study of contrasts, but it’s always seemed like a sucker’s move to me. Losing faster is still losing.