Let’s revisit life this time two months ago. Imagine telling yourself the following:
Carolina will have found an able and ready replacement for Cam Newton, as well as someone who’s developing their own brand in the shadow of his predecessor. San Francisco, with no notable running back or #1 receiver would be the best team NFL – not solely based on their defence.
Green Bay would be completely balanced, where Aaron Rodgers can rely on a sterling secondary and a running back who equalled the record for rushing touchdowns in a single game.
Five weeks is a long time in football, isn’t it folks?
Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Carolina Panthers: Panthers (-2) – 10/11
I understand that Tampa Bay are the best D in the entire National Football League. I get that they have big-play ability and I know they ran out relatively deserving winners in their previous meeting this season.
But, I also understand that you can never stop generational players twice in a row – and Christian McCaffrey is exactly that. Norv Turner has one of the most important jobs in world sport, and that’s how to win the Panthers a Championship while CMC is at his peak.
He needs to scheme him accordingly – he’s broken 25 tackles in just the last two weeks of the season. He’s a freak athlete and can, when put in space, score from anywhere on the field.
Once this is planned for accordingly, Carolina win this game, particularly as Mike Evans is no use against a strong Cover 4 team and Jameis Winston lacks the poise to take advantage of space underneath. Don’t forget this game is on at 2.30pm!
San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams: 49ers (+3.5) – 3/4
I cannot abandon this hill now. I’m ready to die on it.
Pre-season, I said that the Niners would win the NFC West which they’re on course to. I also said that they would be a nightmare matchup for any unit in the post-season, which I expect them to be.
The overline tempts me on this because we’ve got two of the best, most aggressive head coaches in the league battling it out in Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay, but I’m content enough to sit there and take a field goal loss as a safety blanket in this one.
The home-field advantage doesn’t matter for three reasons: the Niners are just off a bye, they’re only taking a 90-minute flight – and the Rams have no home-field advantage to speak of in the first place.
Bank on Shanahan to out-scheme McVay in this.
Cleveland Browns v Seattle Seahawks: Seahawks (-1.5) – 10/11
This line opened up at Seattle +2 and I nearly fell off my chair. By my own calculations, I’d make Seattle at least a four-point favourite, let alone an underdog.
People appear to have seen sense and realised that a team who just got spanked, coming off a shorter week, travelling half the country to face the current MVP favourite might not be the ideal two-point favourite to back this weekend.
Honestly, I do worry for some. The Browns are a good roster grouped together by someone not up to the job pressures that come with this.
This loss in Seattle is when the players themselves realise this.
* All odds correct at time of posting.