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Something Smells in Duval:
A 2-4 team is favored over a 5-1 team? Yup. Jacksonville welcomes in the New York Giants on Sunday and it’s the Jags laying three points. I’ve been waiting to fade the Giants as I’ve been increasingly suspect of their ability to continue to win games behind defense, Daniel Jones playing mistake-free football, and Saquon Barkley making big plays. Not that any of that is bad, but it sure feels like it has a ceiling, and I’m not sure the Giants have another path to winning games. The Jaguars might not feel like the team that forces big blue out of its element, but I’m banking on a desperate Jaguars team here, that comes out hungry to halt a three-game losing streak after 2-1 start. Plus, didn’t it feel like the Giants most recent victory coming from behind against the Ravens was their most impressive one? An unproven, overachieving team like that is one I think could fall victim to a hangover. Back the Jags -3.
Stefanski’s Seat Warming?
With Matt Rhule having already been shown the door in Carolina, might Kevin Stefanski be in the next coach in trouble in the NFL? Let me clarify, I don’t think Stefanski is getting fired if the Browns lose this game on the road in Baltimore as near touchdown underdogs. However, I don’t think four straight losses, which is what it will be if the Browns lose here, is a good look for a coach who seems to have gone backwards after making the playoffs in his first season. Cleveland is in the midst of a transition at quarterback after acquiring Deshaun Watson in March while eventually moving Baker Mayfield late in the offseason. Stefanski is probably going to last the entire season to see what the offense looks like once Watson returns from his suspension in December. However, as doubt begins to rise about Stefanski’s coaching acumen, a change on the sideline would make sense given the quarterback change that’s looming as well for the Browns. Consider the next month and a half to be an audition for Stefanski to prove that he’s not just coaching out the remainder of the season as a lame duck when Watson does become eligible to play. With all of that said, the Ravens really haven’t played like a team that should be close to a touchdown favorite in an AFC North game. These games are always physical and competitive and usually close. I think the Browns give Stefanski a much-needed good effort and at the very least cover the 6.5.
You give a good coach extra time to prepare, you can usually expect good results. Last year’s divisional round playoff loss was the first straight-up loss for Mike Vrabel as Titans head coach coming off a bye or a mini-bye (game after a Thursday game.) However, despite the defeat to the Bengals in the postseason, Vrabel is still 8-1 straight-up in the aforementioned spot with extra prep time. In Week 7, the Titans return from their bye week on a three-game winning streak, hosting Indianapolis in a pivotal divisional game. I guess the bye could suck some life out of the Titans, but I’d rather bet on Vrabel maximizing the two weeks of preparation. We’re on the Titans -2.5.
The one time the Tampa Bay Buccaneers scored more than 21 points, they still lost by 10 to Kansas City. The struggles of Tampa’s offense have been well-documented and while the defense has gotten the job done more often than not, the Bucs are 3-3 and there’s nothing phony about that record. The Bucs are an average team that’s benefitting from being in what looks like the worst division in the NFL. This isn’t the team that won the Super Bowl two years ago or even the team that finished as the NFC’s No. 2 seed last year. This is a team that might win the NFC South but won’t do anything beyond that if nothing changes. Their offensive struggles make them an automatic fade as 11-point road favorites, regardless of how poorly Carolina has played. Bear in mind, Carolina’s defense held its own in LA last week against the Rams, another team with a good defense and struggling offense at the moment. You’re paying a premium to back the Bucs here thanks to their recent success in 2020 and 2021. The 2022 Bucs just don’t seem to be the same team and six weeks is not a small sample size. It’s not a premium we want to pay. We’re on Panthers +11.
By Greg Frank
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