NFL Game Previews: Monday Night Matchups

NFL Game Previews: Monday Night Matchups

This article is part of our NFL Game Previews series.

MONDAY NIGHT

Tennessee (+13.5) at Miami, o/u 46.5 – Monday, 8:15 p.m. EST

Why are there two competing Monday night games this week? Is this some sort of ratings experiment by the league? Weird. The Titans are 4-8, which isn't bad enough to get them a really good draft pick next year but isn't good enough to put them in the playoff picture either, and while Mike Vrabel's name isn't one that's come up among the likely offseason firings, he is headed for his second straight losing season. Will Levis has looked a little better the last few weeks, posting a 60.3 percent completion rate, 7.3 YPA and 3:0 TD:INT – perfectly respectable numbers for a rookie – but his big debut and immediate regression have kind of scrambled everyone's idea of what a normal performance from him should look like. The important thing is that Levis has been stable enough to let Derrick Henry do his thing, and the big man's scored four TDs in the last two contests. It's come too late to save Tennessee's season, but with five straight games against playoff contenders to close things out, they can have some fun trying to play spoiler.

The Dolphins have ceded some of the offensive spotlight to teams like the Cowboys and 49ers since their cuckoobananapants Week 3, but there's little question Mike McDaniel's squad is at least the most dangerous team in the AFC. It says something when a 45-point performance against the Commanders last week felt

MONDAY NIGHT

Tennessee (+13.5) at Miami, o/u 46.5 – Monday, 8:15 p.m. EST

Why are there two competing Monday night games this week? Is this some sort of ratings experiment by the league? Weird. The Titans are 4-8, which isn't bad enough to get them a really good draft pick next year but isn't good enough to put them in the playoff picture either, and while Mike Vrabel's name isn't one that's come up among the likely offseason firings, he is headed for his second straight losing season. Will Levis has looked a little better the last few weeks, posting a 60.3 percent completion rate, 7.3 YPA and 3:0 TD:INT – perfectly respectable numbers for a rookie – but his big debut and immediate regression have kind of scrambled everyone's idea of what a normal performance from him should look like. The important thing is that Levis has been stable enough to let Derrick Henry do his thing, and the big man's scored four TDs in the last two contests. It's come too late to save Tennessee's season, but with five straight games against playoff contenders to close things out, they can have some fun trying to play spoiler.

The Dolphins have ceded some of the offensive spotlight to teams like the Cowboys and 49ers since their cuckoobananapants Week 3, but there's little question Mike McDaniel's squad is at least the most dangerous team in the AFC. It says something when a 45-point performance against the Commanders last week felt a bit disappointing. Tyreek Hill remains on pace for the NFL's first ever 2,000-yard receiving season – he's 519 away with five games to play – but he's now battling a bit of an ankle injury, and bad luck with his health could be the only thing capable of slowing him down. Meanwhile, De'Von Achane was back in action last week and "only" had 103 scrimmage yards and two TDs on 20 touches, well below his early-season standards. The rookie speedster has really only seen a real workload in four games, and in those games he's erupted for 621 combined yards and nine touchdowns. Achane's going to be the single most interesting player in 2024 fantasy drafts – do you draft him based on his massive per-game numbers, which would make him a justifiable early first-round selection, or do you assume the severely undersized RB will miss significant action again and consider the cost and production of his replacements when calculating his "true" value? You know someone's going to lose their heads over that upside, and I can't even say they'll be wrong. Oh, by the way, Miami hasn't allowed an opponent to score more than 21 points or reach 300 yards of offense in five straight games since Jalen Ramsey joined the secondary, and the defense isn't even at full strength yet. That's like, a pretty good half for the Dolphins' offense. McDaniel vs. his old boss Kyle Shanahan in the Super Bowl, anyone?

The Skinny

TEN injuries: DE Jeffery Simmons (out, knee)
MIA injuries: RB Raheem Mostert (questionable, knee), WR Hill (questionable, ankle), DE Christian Wilkins (questionable, groin), LB Jerome Baker (IR, knee), S Jevon Holland (questionable, knee)

TEN DFS targets: none
MIA DFS targets: Hill $9,800 DK / $10,200 FD (TEN 30th in DVOA vs. WR1, 31st in DVOA vs. deep throws), Jaylen Waddle $7,700 DK / $7,100 FD (TEN 30th in DVOA vs. WR2)

TEN DFS fades: Titans DST $2,300 DK / $3,100 FD (31st in takeaways, MIA third in sacks allowed)
MIA DFS fades: Achane $7,100 DK / $8,000 FD and Mostert $7,000 DK / $7,700 FD (TEN first in rushing DVOA, fourth in YPC allowed)

Key stat: TEN is 30th in third-down conversions at 32.2 percent; MIA is t-8th in third-down defense at 36.5 percent

Weather notes: overcast, temperature in the low 70s, 10-15 mph wind, 10-20 percent chance of rain

The Scoop: Henry rumbles for 60 yards and a TD. Levis throws for under 200 yards and a score to DeAndre Hopkins. Achane leads the MIA backfield with 90 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns, one rushing and one receiving, while Mostert adds 40 yards and a TD. Tua Tagovailoa throws for 350 yards and two more scores, both to Hill (who tops 100 yards). Dolphins 38-17

Green Bay at N.Y. Giants (+6.5), o/u 36 – Monday, 8:15 p.m. EST

The Packers ride a three-game win streak into this one, as Jordan Love starts to get the hang of this franchise QB thing. The first-year starter has thrown multiple TDs in four straight games and hasn't committed a turnover in three straight. Since the beginning of November, Love's delivered a 66.1 percent completion rate, an 11:2 TD:INT and a 7.9 YPA – not MVP-caliber numbers perhaps, but still pretty dang good, and he'd attempted just 83 NFL passes in three years coming into 2023 so he gets all the slack from me. He's done it with a backfield that's rarely healthy, and a receiving corps as young as he is, which makes his current run that much more impressive. Green Bay snuck into the final wild-card spot in the NFC with last week's upset of Kansas City, and a cushy closing schedule that includes the Panthers and Bears in addition to this matchup could allow them to climb the ladder another rung despite a really, really banged-up defense. And hey, if the Lions are truly doomed to repeat history and collapse... well, let's not get ahead of ourselves.

The Giants have also won two straight, but against teams as bad as they are, and all it's done is nearly ruin their chances of drafting a Daniel Jones upgrade next year. Good job, guys! Coming out of their bye, Big Blue will stick with undrafted rookie (and local boy made good) Tommy DeVito under center, apparently as part of a community outreach effort, and to his credit he hasn't been awful while navigating a soft spot in the team's schedule. He's been sacked an incomprehensible 28 times in four starts and a brief relief appearance though, and there's no guarantee this offensive line can keep him in one piece all the way to Week 18. DeVito also isn't getting much help. Saquon Barkley hasn't had a rushing TD since Week 2, although he's done enough through the air to keep anyone with fantasy shares in him from getting too disgruntled, and while Jalin Hyatt's 100-yard game before the bye was encouraging, it came on only six targets. The rookie wideout already looks like he'll be one of those frustrating guys to roster who doesn't see enough volume to be reliable and only pops when he's on your bench. The defense can handle inept offenses, but teams with decent coaching seem to have figured out DC Wink Martindale's schtick, and he's already been set up to be Brian Daboll's fall guy in the offseason.

The Skinny

GB injuries: RB Aaron Jones (questionable, knee), RB AJ Dillon (questionable, groin), WR Christian Watson (questionable, hamstring), WR Jayden Reed (questionable, chest), TE Luke Musgrave (IR, abdomen), LB De'Vondre Campbell (questionable, neck), LB Quay Walker (questionable, shoulder), EDGE Rashan Gary (questionable, shoulder), S Jonathan Owens (questionable, knee)
NYG injuries: QB Tyrod Taylor (IR-R, ribs), TE Darren Waller (IR, hamstring), TE Daniel Bellinger (questionable, illness)

GB DFS targets: Jones $6,400 DK / $6,800 FD and Dillon $5,300 DK / $6,800 FD (NYG 30th in rushing DVOA, t-28th in rushing yards per game allowed, 30th in YPC allowed, 31st in rushing TDs allowed)
NYG DFS targets: none

GB DFS fades: Tyler Kraft $3,000 DK / $4,700 FD (NYG first in DVOA vs. TE)
NYG DFS fades: none

Key stat: NYG are 31st in red-zone conversions at 40.0 percent (12-for-30); GB is eighth in red-zone defense at 48.8 percent

Weather notes: clear, temperature in the high 30s, 10-15 mph wind, 0-10 percent chance of rain

The Scoop: Dillon leads the GB backfield with 60 yards and a touchdown. Love throws for 250 yards and two scores, finding Romeo Doubs and Reed. Barkley also picks up 60 yards and a TD. DeVito throws for under 200 yards, gets picked off twice and sacked five times. Packers 27-10

EARLY SUNDAY

Tampa Bay (+1.5) at Atlanta, o/u 40 – Sunday, 1 p.m. EST

A win's a win for the Bucs, especially a divisional one that helps in potential tiebreakers, but only beating the Panthers by three points last week still feels deflating. Nonetheless, Tampa could move into the NFC South lead with a win here, as well as avenge a Week 7 loss to Atlanta. A loss, on the other hand, could ruin their playoff chances completely – the Bucs would be 5-8 and a wild-card long shot, and the Falcons would effectively have a three-game lead on them in the division. Baker Mayfield's been his usual tepid self, throwing six TDs over the last four games (five of them to Mike Evans) while committing six turnovers, but at least Rachaad White has emerged to give the offense a second dimension. The defense is getting healthier but still hanging on by a thread, especially a front seven that normally makes life tough on running backs. It's one thing to give up numbers to Christian McCaffrey or Jonathan Taylor, but when Chuba Hubbard does it, there's a problem. That sudden vulnerability also doesn't bode well here given the matchup, but having Lavonte David and possibly Devin White back to plug those gaps could be exactly what the unit needs.

The Falcons leading their division and making the playoffs feels a bit like a bad joke, but they've pulled a mini-Eagles by winning two straight games since their bye despite being out-gained in both. Maybe it's a bird nickname thing? An Atlanta defense that produced five takeaways in those two games while holding the opponents to a total of 23 points led the way, but don't get too excited, one of those games was against a Tim Boyle-led Jets team. Desmond Ridder's shown no signs of growth since moving back into the starting job at QB, and about the best thing I'll say for Arthur Smith is that he finally figured out taking touches away from Bijan Robinson and giving them to Tyler Allegier was a bad idea. Meanwhile, the passing game can't seem to find target volume for Drake London and Kyle Pitts at the same time, making it a coin flip which of them will disappear in any particular game. This team is probably a new coach and new QB away from being a contender, but unless they throw stupid money at Kirk Cousins in the offseason, there isn't much available to fill the latter hole on the open market. Joshua Dobbs could be the second-best option. Or hey, there's always Mayfield.

The Skinny

TB injuries: LB White (questionable, foot)
ATL injuries: LB Nate Landman (questionable, knee)

TB DFS targets: none
ATL DFS targets: Van Jefferson $3,000 DK / $5,000 FD (TB 30th in DVOA vs. WR3)

TB DFS fades: none
ATL DFS fades: none

Head-to-head record, last five-plus years: 6-5 TB, average score 29-25 TB, average margin of victory nine points. Four of the last five meetings had been decided by 13 points or more prior to a 16-13 victory for ATL in Week 7
Key stat: ATL is 22nd in red-zone conversions at 51.4 percent (18-for-35); TB is fourth in red-zone defense at 40.0 percent (16-for-40)

The Scoop: White picks up 70 combined yards. Mayfield throws for 280 yards and two scores, one each to Evans (who tops 100 yards) and Cade Otton. Robinson churns out 90 scrimmage yards and a touchdown. Ridder throws for under 200 yards and a TD to London. Buccaneers 23-20

L.A. Rams (+7) at Baltimore, o/u 40 – Sunday, 1 p.m. EST

The Rams have clawed their way back into wild-card contention by winning three straight games coming out of their bye, and with a season sweep over the Seahawks already in the books, their chances are looking pretty good. The offense has broken out in the last two, which is not coincidentally when Kyren Williams came off IR. The second-year back piled up 316 scrimmage yards and three TDs in those two wins, and in his eight games this season Williams is averaging nearly 110 combined yards and 1.25 touchdowns, which is almost peak Todd Gurley or Marshall Faulk kind of stuff. Matthew Stafford's also looked a lot more spry, posting an 8:2 TD:INT over the winning streak, but his 63.4 percent completion rate and 6.9 YPA during that stretch aren't setting the world on fire. Cooper Kupp's also been a shadow of his elite self, which depending on your perspective, either means there's still a lot of untapped upside in the Rams' attack if he gets going, or the bubble is due to burst if Kupp's injuries have robbed him of a step. There's also the little matter of the weather in Baltimore for this one, which is forecast to be awful – and not something an indoor team is likely to enjoy much.

The AFC North is all but in the Ravens' pocket at this point, Coming out of their bye, they're two games up on the Steelers and Browns and three up on the Bengals, and Baltimore's also the only team in the division that still has a healthy starting QB. (Knock on all the woods, Ravens fans.) Lamar Jackson hasn't exactly been playing great lately – he hasn't run for a TD in five games, while posting a 5:2 TD:INT over that stretch and averaging barely 200 passing yards a contest, but when the defense has held eight of 12 opponents to 20 points or less and you have a shiny new toy in the backfield in Keaton Mitchell alongside stalwart Gus Edwards, you don't need your quarterback to do too much. The Ravens are built to handle the kind of sloppy slog this game might turn into, and it might even be a good opportunity to Isaiah Likely to post some big volume numbers, since throwing the ball more than about five yards downfield could be an adventure.

The Skinny

LAR injuries: TE Tyler Higbee (questionable, neck)
BAL injuries: QB Jackson (questionable, illness), TE Mark Andrews (IR, ankle), EDGE Justin Madubuike (questionable, concussion)

LAR DFS targets: none
BAL DFS targets: none

LAR DFS fades: Stafford $6,000 DK / $7,000 FD (BAL first in passing DVOA, second in net passing yards per game allowed, first in YPA allowed, first in passing TDs allowed), Williams $7,300 DK / $8,800 FD (BAL fourth in rushing DVOA, t-1st in rushing TDs allowed), Puka Nacua $7,100 DK / $7,600 FD (BAL first in DVOA vs. WR2)
BAL DFS fades: none

Key stat: BAL is t-7th in third-down conversions at 43.4 percent; LAR are t-19th in third-down defense at 40.0 percent

Weather notes: overcast, temperature in the high 50s, 20-25 mph wind, 80-90 percent chance of rain

The Scoop: Williams managed 60 yards and a TD. Stafford throws for under 200 yards and gets picked off twice. Edwards leads the BAL backfield with 70 yards and two scores, while Mitchell adds 50 yards. Jackson throws for under 200 yards and also runs in a touchdown. Ravens 21-10

Detroit at Chicago (+3.5), o/u 43.5 – Sunday, 1 p.m. EST

Three games clear in the NFC North, the Lions can turn their attention to a bigger prize – the top seed in the conference. At 9-3, Detroit sits third, one game back of Philly and tied with San Francisco (although losing out to the Niners on a conference record tiebreaker.) That gives them plenty of incentive not to look past a team headed for a potential top five pick, even beyond the divisional rivalry. The offense is roaring again (sorry... I know "the Lions are roaring" is Sportswriter Cliche 101, but after watching the careers of Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson get squandered by this team, I'm just not ready to break out the good brain cells on them yet), scoring more than 30 points in three of four since the team's bye, and it's again the backfield leading the way – David Montgomery has gotten into the end zone in all four of those contests, while Jahmyr Gibbs has 334 scrimmage yards and three scores of his own over that stretch. That's not to say Jared Goff's been a spectator – he's thrown exactly two TDs in four straight games, and while he did commit six turnovers, they were weirdly distributed with three picks in one game and three fumbles in the next, while he had a clean performance in the other two. That ugly three-INT effort also came in the first meeting against Chicago, so Goff should be motivated to keep things a little tighter. It may not matter if the defense doesn't tighten things up too, though. The Lions have coughed up an average of 30.3 points and 373.5 yards in those same four games, and there's been no particular rash of injuries or specific area that's been the issue. Last week, they couldn't contain the Saints' running game; the week before, Jordan Love lit up the secondary. Aaron Glenn's in his third season as the DC, and it figures to be his last if the collapse continues into December.

The Bears may be headed for their second straight losing season under Matt Eberflus (and third straight in total counting Matt Nagy's last year in charge), but there may actually be signs of progress here. While still inconsistent, DC Alan Williams has his unit playing pretty well. Chicago's run defense has been statistically elite, and while the secondary is beatable, Goff isn't the only QB it's given trouble – the Bears are tied with the Cowboys for third in the league in interceptions with 13. The offense is still stuck with Justin Fields though, and while he has completed an impressive 71.7 percent of his passes in two games since returning from his thumb injury, that efficiency is only the result of playing it safe – he's thrown only one TD with a 6.4 YPA and fewer than 200 passing yards a game. Fields has been sacked 29 times in his eight games this season, just about exactly matching his pace from 2022 (55 in 15 games), and I just have time imagining the franchise passing up a QB at the top of the 2024 draft, especially when they'll have another high pick right afterward. Fields is auditioning for other teams at this point, whether that's Atlanta, Tampa Bay, or another club that won't be picking high enough to make a plausible play for Caleb Williams or Drake Maye, and might think they're too close to being competitive to burn a year developing a Jayden Daniels or Michael Penix.

The Skinny

DET injuries: no fantasy-relevant injuries
CHI injuries: no fantasy-relevant injuries

DET DFS targets: none
CHI DFS targets: none

DET DFS fades: Montgomery $6,400 DK / $7,600 FD and Gibbs $6,600 DK / $6,900 FD (CHI t-1st in rushing yards per game allowed, second in YPC allowed, t-3rd in rushing TDs allowed)
CHI DFS fades: none

Head-to-head record, last five-plus years: 7-4 CHI, average score 24-24 (24-23.5 CHI), average margin of victory eight points. Eight of the last 10 meetings have been decided by a single score, but DET has won three straight by an average score of 34-22
Key stat: DET is 12th in red-zone conversions at 55.8 percent (24-for-43); CHI is 32nd in red-zone defense at 73.5 percent (25-for-34)

Weather notes: clear, temperature in the mid-30s, 15-20 mph wind, 5-10 percent chance of snow

The Scoop: Montgomery gains 80 yards and a touchdown, while Gibbs adds 60 yards and a receiving score. Goff throws for 250 yards and a second TD to Sam LaPorta. Roschon Johnson leads the CHI backfield with 70 yards. Fields throws for under 200 yards but does run for 50 yards and a TD. Lions 27-16

Indianapolis at Cincinnati (+1), o/u 43.5 – Sunday, 1 p.m. EST

There have been 10 overtime games so far this season; the Colts have been in three of them, coming out on top for the second time in extra time last week to extend their winning streak to four and put them snugly in a wild-card spot. The only common denominator in those victories has been a defense that's produced multiple takeaways in each, and given that they're also second in the league in sacks despite not having anyone with more than Samson Ekuban's 8.0, DC Gus Bradley is getting close to reliving his Seattle glory days. The offense handled Jonathan Taylor's absence well enough, as Gardner Minshew threw two TDs with over 300 yards for the first time since Week 7, and Michael Pittman quietly continues to turn into a true WR1 – he's caught at least eight passes in six of the last seven games, and the one time he didn't he still hauled in 83 yards and a touchdown. Pittman's 56-592-3 line on 81 targets over that stretch are the kind of volume numbers Keenan Allen would be proud of.

I think I owe Jake Browning an apology. Last week I may have suggested he was not "a real backup QB", and that Andy Dalton would have been a better fallback option when Joe Burrow was lost for the season. Clearly that became bulletin board material for the Bengals, and Browning went out and not only set a season high in passing yards for any Cincy quarterback in 2023, he posted the highest completion rate since 1950 of any QB in his first or second career start. He's also just the fourth signal-caller in the modern era to post 350-plus yards and at least one passing and one rushing TD in one of his first two career starts, a list that includes luminaries Chad Pennington, Rob Johnson and Mason Rudolph... wait. Hmm. Maybe I'll hold off on that apology for one more week, just in case. The Bengals leaned heavily on Joe Mixon and Ja'Marr Chase in last week's OT win over the Jags, which was a good call. At 6-6, they're still in the wild-card picture, but there are four teams at 7-5 ahead of them, and Cincy doesn't have any easy opponents on its remaining schedule. The defense has also been sagging, giving up at least 30 points in three of the last four weeks. Browning will have to be a lot better than the next Rudolph if he's going to lead, umm, Santa's sleigh to the, uhh, postseason? I'll workshop that one.

The Skinny

IND injuries: RB Taylor (out, thumb), LB E.J. Speed (questionable, knee)
CIN injuries: WR Tyler Boyd (questionable, ankle)

IND DFS targets: Zack Moss $5,900 DK / $6,800 FD (CIN 29th in rushing DVOA, 31st in YPC allowed), Kylen Granson $2,600 DK / $4,700 FD (CIN 30th in DVOA vs. TE)
CIN DFS targets: none

IND DFS fades: none
CIN DFS fades: none

Key stat: IND is 22nd in third-down conversions at 36.3 percent; CIN is 28th in third-down defense at 43.8 percent

Weather notes: overcast, temperature in the low 40s, 10-15 mph wind, 35-45 percent chance of rain

The Scoop: Moss rolls for 90 yards and a TD. Minshew throws for 240 yards and two scores, one each to Granson and Josh Downs. Mixon bashes out 80 yards and a touchdown. Browning throws for under 200 yards and a TD to Tee Higgins. Colts 24-14

Jacksonville (+3.5) at Cleveland, o/u 30.5 – Sunday, 1 p.m. EST

That one hurt. Not only did the Jaguars lose a game they should have won, they lost Trevor Lawrence for an indefinite period of time after he got his ankle stepped on and then bent back on top of the same leg by a falling defender. It's kind of amazing he didn't suffer a worse injury, to be honest. Jacksonville's lead in the AFC South is down to a single game over the Texans and Colts, and stepping in to defend it (assuming Lawrence can't go this week, which seems likely) will be C.J. Beathard, a guy who couldn't make a go of it in Kyle Shanahan's offense. Eep. Christian Kirk also went down last week and Travis Etienne is banged up to boot, but on the bright side, the weather could be absolutely miserable in Cleveland so no will be expecting much offense from the Jags anyway. Did I mention the team's down to its third-string left tackle too? Not that the Browns will have much sympathy; they've been missing both starting tackles for a while now.

Thirty-eight-year-old Joe Flacco came off the couch, more or less, to lead the Browns' offense last week, and while he didn't embarrass himself, the team's defense did in a 36-19 loss to the Rams. Myles Garrett and company are starting to run on fumes after doing all they could just to keep the team in playoff contention at 7-5 -- Cleveland's allowed 26.5 points a game since shutting out Arizona in Week 9 while producing only three takeaways in those four contests, and only one sack in the last two. Despite Flacco's efforts, Kevin Stefanski could turn back to rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson this week, which suggests he's considering one of those old-timey "fie on the forward pass" bad-weather game plans, where DTR's mobility will be a lot more useful than Flacco's arm. With Amari Cooper also potentially absent, the decision could be made for the coach, but if whoever's under center is allowed to chuck it once in a while, ex-Jet Elijah Moore could see double-digit targets again.

The Skinny

JAC injuries: QB Lawrence (questionable, ankle), RB Etienne (questionable, ribs), RB D'Ernest Johnson (questionable, knee), WR Kirk (IR, groin)
CLE injuries: WR Cooper (questionable, concussion/ribs)

JAC DFS targets: Jaguars DST $3,600 DK / $4,700 FD (t-2nd in takeaways, CLE t-31st in giveaways)
CLE DFS targets: none

JAC DFS fades: Beathard $4,900 DK / $6,100 FD (CLE second in passing DVOA, first in net passing yards per game allowed), Etienne $7,000 DK / $8,400 FD (CLE fifth in rushing DVOA, third in passing DVOA vs. RB), Calvin Ridley $6,400 DK / $7,000 FD (CLE first in DVOA vs. WR1, third in DVOA vs. deep throws), Evan Engram $4,800 DK / $5,700 FD (CLE second in DVOA vs. TE)
CLE DFS fades: none

Key stat: JAC is 20th in third-down conversions at 37.1 percent (with Lawrence under center); CLE is first in third-down defense at 27.6 percent

Weather notes: overcast, temperature in the low 40s, 20-25 mph wind, 60-70 percent chance of rain

The Scoop: Etienne slogs for 70 yards and a touchdown. Beathard starts and throws for under 200 yards. Jerome Ford leads the CLE backfield with 80 yards, while Kareem Hunt adds 60 yards and a score. DTR also starts and throws for under 200 yards. Browns 13-10

Carolina (+5) at New Orleans, o/u 37.5 – Sunday, 1 p.m. EST

The Panthers remain firmly in the NFL basement at 1-11, with the Patriots the only team even at two wins [NOTE: not after Thursday!]. The coaching change produced marginally better results on the field – last week's 18 points and 282 yards of offense were Carolina's highest efforts since Week 6, incredibly enough – but the same results, as Bryce Young squandered the team's last possession by trying to go deep down the sideline to Adam Thielen on 4th-and-1 and missing that Antoine Winfield was right there to swoop in and pick it off. Young completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes last week, the first time that's happened all season, and he's thrown for under 200 yards in five straight. Since his three-TD performance in Week 5 against the Lions which, in retrospect, looks more like a bad omen for Detroit than anything else, Young's stumbled to a 58.6 percent completion rate, a 5.5 YPA and a 4:5 TD:INT in seven games. That doesn't mean the kid's guaranteed to be a bust – you only have to look back to Trevor Lawrence to find a No. 1 pick who rebounded pretty well from a disastrous NFL debut once he got competent coaching – but owner David Tepper's track record when he it comes to making good coaching hires is... spotty.

No team seems to want to win the NFC South less than the Saints. They're still only one game back of the Falcons, but it feels like every time New Orleans has a chance to win a game, they blow it. Last week's improbable comeback against the Lions died with Jameis Winston under center and unable to convert a 2nd-and-6, throwing three straight incompletions with three minutes left on the clock. They never got the ball back. Winston was at the helm due to a Derek Carr concussion, and Carr's first season in New Orleans has mostly been a bust. He's moved the ball well enough and is on pace for nearly 4,000 passing yards, but the former Raider has a tepid 11:6 TD:INT through 12 games, and it's not like Jamaal Williams is vulturing his scores at the goal line. The defense hasn't been great either, holding just one of its last six opponents under 24 points while dealing with injuries, although remarkably the Saints haven't yet anyone reach 400 yards of offense all year – Atlanta had 396 a couple weeks ago, but that's been the high-water mark. New Orleans barely squeaked out the first meeting 20-17 back in Week 2, but that was while Alvin Kamara was serving his suspension, so in theory they should have an easier time here. In theory.

The Skinny

CAR injuries: TE Hayden Hurst (out, concussion)
NO injuries: QB Carr (questionable, concussion), QB? Taysom Hill (questionable, foot), WR Chris Olave (questionable, illness), WR Michael Thomas (IR, knee), WR Rashid Shaheed (questionable, thigh), TE Juwan Johnson (questionable, quadriceps), K Blake Grupe (questionable, groin), EDGE Cameron Jordan (questionable, ankle)

CAR DFS targets: none
NO DFS targets: Kamara $8,200 DK / $9,000 FD (CAR 32nd in rushing DVOA, 32nd in rushing TDs allowed)

CAR DFS fades: Panthers DST $3,000 DK / $3,900 FD (32nd in takeaways, t-30th in sacks)
NO DFS fades: Shaheed $4,300 DK / $6,000 FD (CAR first in DVOA vs. WR3)

Head-to-head record, last five-plus years: 7-4 NO, average score 21-18 NO, average margin of victory 12 points. Neither team has scored more than 22 points in any of the last four meetings
Key stat: NO is 26th in red-zone conversions at 47.7 percent (21-for-44); CAR is t-30th in red-zone defense at 71.8 percent (28-for-39) 

The Scoop: Chuba Hubbard collects 70 yards and a TD. Young throws for under 200 yards and a score to Jonathan Mingo. Kamara racks up 90 scrimmage yards and a touchdown. Carr starts and throws for 260 yards and two TDs, one each to Olave and Johnson. Saints 27-14

Houston at N.Y. Jets (+3.5), o/u 33 – Sunday, 1 p.m. EST

At the moment, the Texans' glass slipper is due to shatter before midnight, as they're on the outside looking in for a wild-card spot. The AFC South is wide open though, and with Trevor Lawrence limping, Houston has the best quarterback in the division, which counts for a lot. It's been remarkable watching C.J. Stroud recalibrate everyone's expectations for him and his team, going from "he's a rookie, but maybe he'll hold his own" to "hey, at least he's exciting" to "the other coach better not leave any time on the clock for Stroud to engineer another game-winning drive." In fact, it might have been that fear of Stroud that cost the Broncos last week – Russell Wilson hit Courtland Sutton for a 32-yard strike with about four minutes left in the fourth quarter and his team down by five, and rather than step on the gas and catch the Texans' defense reeling, Wilson and Sean Payton deliberately went into clock-killing mode to ensure they had the final possession. That didn't exactly work out when they blew three shots at the end zone from the eight-yard line, and Wilson's last pass attempt got picked off. For all the focus on the team's young QB though, it was the young studs on defense that made the real difference last week. Will Anderson wrecked Denver's plans on a regular basis, and Derek Stingley grabbed two more INTs and has four in the last three games. With the offense losing Tank Dell for the year, seeing the defense step to the fore down the stretch wouldn't just make Houston a threat to claim a playoff spot, it might make them one of the most complete teams on the AFC side of the bracket, in a year when most of the preseason favorites (Kansas City, Buffalo, Cincy) are falling apart or showing flaws. DeMeco Ryans vs. his old boss Kyle Shanahan in the Super Bowl, anyone?

The Jets' Wheel of Futility has spun back around to Zach Wilson, for all that it will matter. In six games since the team's bye, this offense has scored 58 points total, and never more than 13. Gang Grene (not a typo) has lost five straight, and they're closer to a top-five pick in 2024 than they are to a late charge to a playoff spot. I don't hold Wilson responsible for this mess – he's working behind a patchwork offensive line, and OC Nathaniel Hackett made Wilson look terrible last year in Denver, so he's clearly got a knack for bringing out the worst in his QBs even while becoming best buds with them – but he's also not the guy who's going to fix it. The offense's ineptitude has caused the defense to start phoning it in, because what's the point in busting your ass to hold the other team to 13 points when that's still too steep a hill for Hackett's crew to climb? Justin Herbert, Josh Allen and Tua Tagovailoa have all hung 27 or more points on the Jets since the beginning of November, and that's a club Stroud is more than capable of joining.

The Skinny

HOU injuries: WR Dell (IR, lower leg), WR Noah Brown (questionable, knee), TE Dalton Schultz (out, hamstring), K Ka'imi Fairbairn (IR, quadriceps)
NYJ injuries: QB Aaron Rodgers (IR-R, Achilles), RB Breece Hall (questionable, ankle)

HOU DFS targets: Texans DST $4,000 DK / $4,800 DK (NYJ t-29th in giveaways, 30th in sacks allowed)
NYJ DFS targets: none

HOU DFS fades: Stroud $7,600 DK / $7,700 FD (NYJ third in net passing yards per game allowed, second in YPA allowed), Nico Collins $7,600 DK / $7,800 FD (NYJ fourth in DVOA vs. WR1), Robert Woods $4,200 DK / $5,400 FD (NYJ second in DVOA vs. WR3)
NYJ DFS fades: none

Key stat: NYJ are 32nd in red-zone conversions at 26.9 percent (7-for-26); HOU is 10th in red-zone defense at 51.3 percent (20-for-39)

Weather notes: overcast, temperature in the high 50s, 15-20 mph wind, 65-75 percent chance of rain

The Scoop: Dameon Pierce leads the HOU backfield with 50 yards, while Devin Singletary catches a touchdown pass. Stroud throws for 260 yards and a second score to Collins. Hall manages 60 scrimmage yards. ZWilson throws for under 200 yards and a TD to Garrett Wilson but also tosses a pick-six to Stingley. Texans 24-10

LATE SUNDAY

Minnesota at Las Vegas (+3), o/u 40.5 – Sunday, 4:05 p.m. EST

Coming into this week, there were only four teams in the entire NFC – the Eagles, 49ers, Lions and Cowboys – with records above .500, which is a strong sign somebody's going to end up with a wild-card spot that will make you scratch your head, even before you look at the mess in the South. The Vikings could well be that head-scratching team. Losing Kirk Cousins should have doomed them, but then the whole Joshua Dobbs thing happened for a couple weeks. Now Dobbs is turning back into a pumpkin, but Justin Jefferson is coming off the IR and might inject some life back in the passing game. If that doesn't work, heck, maybe Nick Mullens does something ridiculous. Even after losing to the Bears before last week's bye, the Vikings still feel like they've got a bit of magic left, although they close out their regular season with an NFC North gauntlet of Lions-Packers-Lions, the last one in Detroit. The defense has been the unsung heroes of their continued relevancy – over the seven games Jefferson has missed, the defense has produced multiple takeaways five times while allowing 17.1 points and just over 300 yards of offense a game. If they can keep that level of performance while the offense adds a bit more oomph, it might just be enough.

Like the Vikes and Dobbs, the Raiders also lost two straight before their bye after a little winning streak with a new guy in charge, only in Vegas' case it was interim coach Antonio Pierce. Getting beat by Kansas City and Miami is no great shame, but then, beating the Jets and Giants was no great triumph either. Rookie quarterback Aidan O'Connell has been pretty meh (62.7 percent completion rate, 3:4 TD:INT) since getting tabbed as the starter for the rest of the year, and maybe if the Raiders were a little closer to wild-card contention there might be some temptation to turn things back over to Jimmy Garoppolo, but Pierce knows the score. Josh Jacobs and Davante Adams are both playing better though, and getting the team's best weapons going is probably about the best that could be expected of O'Connell at this stage of his career. With four games left against playoff contenders and one against the Bolts, who probably should be, a late surge seems implausible for Las Vegas, but weirder things have happened.

The Skinny

MIN injuries: LB Jordan Hicks (IR, shin)
LV injuries: EDGE Maxx Crosby (questionable, knee)

MIN DFS targets: none
LV DFS targets: none

MIN DFS fades: none
LV DFS fades: Jacobs $6,900 DK / $8,000 FD (MIN sixth in rushing DVOA, fifth in YPC allowed, t-5th in rushing TDs allowed)

Key stat: LV is t-27th in red-zone conversions at 47.1 percent (16-for-34); MIN is ninth in red-zone defense at 50.0 percent (16-for-32), and t-3rd in fewest trips allowed

The Scoop: Alexander Mattison hits for 80 combined yards. Dobbs throws for 210 yards and a score to Jefferson while also running in a TD. Jacobs gets held to 60 yards. O'Connell throws for under 200 yards and two touchdowns, one each to Adams and Jakobi Meyers, but he also gets picked off twice. Vikings 23-17

Seattle (+10.5) at San Francisco, o/u 46.5 – Sunday, 4:05 p.m. EST

This could be the Seahawks' last gasp for 2023. Despite DK Metcalf's best efforts, they've lost three straight and four of five, including getting thumped by the Niners a couple weeks ago in Seattle, and they're three games back in the NFC West. A loss here not only all but eliminates them from division title contention, it puts them at 6-7 and likely scrambling to get into a wild-card spot. Making matters worse, the 'Hawks might come into what is basically a must-win game without their starting QB. Geno Smith picked up a groin injury somewhere between last week's loss in Dallas and this week's practice sessions, and the ever-honest and forthright Pete Carroll has called Smith a game-time decision. Considering that he got held to 180 yards and zero TDs the last time he faced San Francisco while getting sacks six times, it might not matter all that much whether Drew Lock's under center in his place or not, but Seattle is going to want to go down swinging. There's a good chance Kenneth Walker will be back in the lineup though, and Zach Charbonnet looked solid in his place, so a run-heavy approach might not be the worst idea anyway.

That's four straight wins for the 49ers, and none of them close after last week's demolishing of the Eagles in Philadelphia. This is unquestionably the best overall team in the NFL right now – those four wins have been by an average score of about 34-12, and none of them came against the dregs of the league. Brock Purdy's bolstered his MVP case with simply absurd numbers over the latest winning streak, posting a 74.1 percent completion rate, an 11:1 TD:INT and a 10.7 YPA. He simply has too many options, and Kyle Shanahan schemes them too well, for most defenses to handle. The Niners' own defense has held up despite a couple injuries, and the team as a whole is plus-7 in the turnover department during its four-game surge. San Francisco's October swoon can't be ignored, so we know the engine can sputter if a couple parts are out of alignment, but health appears to be the only obstacle between them and the top seed in the NFC.

The Skinny

SEA injuries: QB Smith (questionable, groin), RB Walker (questionable, oblique), RB Charbonnet (questionable, knee), LB Jordyn Brooks (questionable, ankle)
SF injuries: RB Elijah Mitchell (doubtful, knee)

SEA DFS targets: none
SF DFS targets: none

SEA DFS fades: Smith $5,700 DK / $6,700 FD (SF third in passing DVOA, third in YPA allowed, t-2nd in passing TDs allowed), Walker $6,300 DK / $6,500 FD and Charbonnet $5,400 DK / $6,100 FD (SF t-1st in rushing yards per game allowed, t-3rd in rushing TDs allowed), Tyler Lockett $5,600 DK / $6,600 FD (SF second in DVOA vs. WR2), Noah Fant $2,800 DK / $4,700 FD (SF third in DVOA vs. TE)
SF DFS fades: none

Head-to-head record, last five-plus years including playoffs: 6-6, average score 26-23 SF, average margin of victory nine points. SF has won four straight meetings by an average score of 30-14, including a 41-23 victory in last season's NFC Wild Card Round
Key stat: SF is fifth in third-down conversions at 46.9 percent; SEA is 29th in third-down defense at 45.2 percent

Weather notes: cloudy, temperature in the low 60s, less than 10 mph wind, 1-10 percent chance of rain

The Scoop: Walker leads the SEA backfield with 50 yards. Smith starts and throws for 250 yards and two TDs, finding Metcalf and Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Christian McCaffrey glides for 150 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns. Purdy throws for 340 yards and three scores, two to Brandon Aiyuk (who tops 100 yards) and one to George Kittle. 49ers 38-20

Buffalo (+1.5) at Kansas City, o/u 48.5 – Sunday, 4:25 p.m. EST

Well, this one's certainly lost some luster. The Bills stumbled into last week's bye having lost three of four, with all three losses by single scores and all at least partially due to bad turnovers or just bad breaks in general. They're a mind-boggling 6-6 and three games back of the Dolphins in the AFC East, and not only won't the playoffs go through Orchard Park, Buffalo isn't even a lock for a wild-card spot right now, sitting an inconceivable 10th in the conference standings. That's despite Josh Allen having already produced 33 total TDs in 12 games, a pace that gives him a shot at 50 for the season. The Bills fired their offensive coordinator, but really, the offense hasn't been the biggest problem – the team's still tied for fifth in points per game. The only team the defense has held below 300 yards since the beginning of October is the Jets though, and those 29 points they coughed up to the Patriots in a Week 7 loss looks an awful lot like the canary in the coal mine. Yeah, they've been missing key pieces on the back end like Tre'Davious White, but Sean McDermott hasn't had a solution for replacing them either, and he's had plenty of time to figure it out.

Kansas City's situation isn't as dire – they're still on top in the AFC West with a two-game lead on the Broncos, and they still have a shot at the top seed in the conference – but every time it seems like they've flipped the switch into juggernaut mode, they flip it back off and turn in a dud performance like last week's in Green Bay. Patrick Mahomes' bunch has alternated wins and losses since late October, and even the defense is looking a little gassed as Jordan Love and the Packers hung season highs in points (27) and yards (382) on them. Isiah Pacheco's shoulder is bothering him again, not a great sign after he underwent surgery on it after the Super Bowl, but not having a solid running game to lean on might force the passing game to figure out how to build up some consistency. Travis Kelce remains Mahomes' top target and Rashee Rice is coming along nicely, but someone else probably needs to start making defenses nervous for things to begin clicking, and recycling projects Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Kadarius Toney have demonstrated pretty conclusively they won't be that guy.

The Skinny

BUF injuries: TE Dawson Knox (IR-R, wrist)
KC injuries: RB Pacheco (out, shoulder), LB Nick Bolton (IR-R, wrist), LB Drue Tranquill (out, concussion)

BUF DFS targets: none
KC DFS targets: Justin Watson $3,600 DK / $5,300 FD (BUF 32nd in DVOA vs. WR2)

BUF DFS fades: Khalil Shakir $3,900 DK / $5,500 FD (KC third in DVOA vs. WR3)
KC DFS fades: none

Key stat: BUF is second in red-zone conversions at 67.4 percent (31-for-46); KC is 21st in red-zone defense at 58.8 percent (30-for-34)

Weather notes: cloudy, temperature in the low 40s, 10-15 mph wind, zero percent chance of rain

The Scoop: James Cook busts out for 100 scrimmage yards and a score. Allen throws for 300 yards and two TDs, finding Gabe Davis (who tops 100 yards) and Stefon Diggs while also running in a touchdown. Clyde Edwards-Helaire grinds out 60 yards, while Jerick McKinnon adds a receiving score. Mahomes throws for 280 yards and two more TDs, one each to Kelce and Watson. Bills 28-24

Denver (+2.5) at L.A. Chargers, o/u 44 – Sunday, 4:25 p.m. EST

The Broncos fell just short in Houston last week, but the problem is, they may not have had any margin for error. At 6-6, Denver's out of a wild-card spot and staring at a two-game deficit in the AFC West, and while their closing schedule isn't a total minefield, one more meeting witth the Chargers and one against the Lions isn't a light stroll through the garden either. The formula for a Broncos win is pretty clear at this point – they're 6-1 when they win the turnover battle, and 0-5 when they don't. Those extra possessions are crucial, because the offense remains stuck in the mud. Russell Wilson's numbers are better than last year's, but the unit hasn't produced 400 yards of offense in a game all season, and hasn't generated 20-plus first downs since Week 2 (league average is 19.5 a game). Courtland Sutton remains Wilson's only reliable downfield option, and Javonte Williams' 3.8 yards per carry isn't close to his pre-injury form. It's pretty much all on the defense to keep things close enough that Wilson can eke something out, which is what he failed to do in the clutch last week against the Texans.

Of course, if any team has plenty of experience helping the other team's quarterback create magic late in the game, it's the Chargers. They'd lost three straight before last week's Lovecraftian horror of a game against the Patriots (even recapping its eldritch offensive abominations risks madness for a reader), and while the Bolts aren't entirely out of the wild-card race at 5-7, they aren't really in it either. Brandon Staley and Kellen Moore are almost certainly just playing out the string unless the team has an incredible kick to the finish line, and nothing about last week's game suggested this roster is all that motivated to save Staley's job. Take Austin Ekeler, for instance. He hasn't scored a TD or topped 70 scrimmage yards in any of the last three games, but he wasn't playing terribly when the slump started during a game in Green Bay in which he averaged 6.4 yards a carry. Ekeler saw only 10 carries in that one though, because Staley benched him after a fumble. Weirdly, his numbers have cratered since, while Joshua Kelley's averaged a mighty 2.5 yards per carry in those three games. Staley's brilliant solution is to threaten to give Kelley more work at Ekeler's expense. Despite that stink of desperation, this is still a talented offense that has Justin Herbert at the helm, and a lot of frustration to take out on other teams.

The Skinny

DEN injuries: RB Samaje Perine (questionable, knee), TE Greg Dulcich (IR, hamstring)
LAC injuries: WR Joshua Palmer (IR-R, knee), EDGE Joey Bosa (IR, foot)

DEN DFS targets: Wilson $5,800 DK / $7,400 FD (LAC 27th in passing DVOA, 31st in net passing yards per game allowed, 30th in YPA allowed)
LAC DFS targets: Ekeler $7,600 DK / $7,500 FD and Kelley $4,700 DK / $5,000 FD (DEN 31st in rushing DVOA, 32nd in rushing yards per game allowed, 32nd in YPC allowed), Gerald Everett $3,400 DK / $5,100 FD (DEN 32nd in DVOA vs. TE)

DEN DFS fades: none
LAC DFS fades: none

Head-to-head record, last five years: 6-4 DEN, average score 22-21 LAC, average margin of victory seven points. The home team has won the last seven meetings in this rivalry
Key stat: DEN is t-24th in third-down conversions at 35.8 percent; LAC are third in third-down defense at 34.6 percent

The Scoop: Williams pops for 80 yards and a touchdown. Wilson throws for 260 yards and two TDs, hitting Sutton (who tops 100 yards) and Marvin Mims. Ekeler responds with 100 scrimmage yards and a score. Herbert throws for 360 yards and three touchdowns, one to Everett and two to Keenan Allen (who tops 100 yards). Chargers 31-24

SUNDAY NIGHT

Philadelphia (+3.5) at Dallas, o/u 51.5 – Sunday, 8:20 p.m. EST

The Eagles' desire to live life on the edge finally caught up to them last week, and getting significantly out-gained by their opponent turned out not to be a great idea when that opponent was the 49ers. Philly's now just one game up on Dallas in the NFC East, and while an easier schedule down the stretch could ensure Jalen Hurts' crew wins the division title even if they stumble again here, a win here would make December a lot more comfortable. The QB continues to shove his way toward a historic season with 12 rushing TDs in 12 games, but Hurts hasn't been quite as dynamic through the air, even if he needs only four more passing scores to set a new career high. Last week was only the second time all season both A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith has reached 90 receiving yards in the same game, as typically it's been one or the other going off, and with Dallas Goedert now off the IR it's even less likely Hurts will find enough balls for everyone. That's a nice problem to have, of course, and it's led to five games in 2023 with 30-plus points, but with the Eagles' defense having coughed up 76 over the last two games, 30 might be the minimum they need when they aren't playing a team they can bully.

If there's a team that can challenge the 49ers for the title of Most Complete in the League, it's the home version of the Cowboys. (The road version, not so much.) At AT&T Stadium this season, Dallas is 6-0, and last week's game against the Seahawks was the only time the visitors even managed to keep things close. The average score in those wins has been about 41-16, and the Cowboys have dropped 40-plus points on four straight opponents at home while extending their overall home winning streak to 14 games. Dak Prescott has been a beast since the team's bye, tossing multiple TDs in six straight starts with a 70.6 percent completion rate, an 8.6 YPA and a 20:2 TD:INT. Oh yeah, did I mention he gets to take Jerry Jones to the cleaners in contract extension talks again this offseason? CeeDee Lamb is closing in on career-best numbers with a month on the calendar to spare, and while Tony Pollard isn't posting big yardage numbers, he's gotten into the end zone in three straight. Even guys like Brandin Cooks are turning modest volume into solid production, simply because the Cowboys' passing game has been so efficient (Cooks is 20-332-3 on just 23 targets over the last four contests.) The defense decided to let the offense do all the actual scoring last week and couldn't bring Geno Smith down either, but they were owed a break after piling up 16 sacks and a couple more DaRon Bland pick-sixes in the three games prior.

The Skinny

PHI injuries: no fantasy-relevant injuries
DAL injuries: no fantasy-relevant injuries

PHI DFS targets: none
DAL DFS targets: Prescott (PHI 29th in net passing yards per game allowed, 31st in passing TDs allowed), Cooks (PHI 31st in DVOA vs. WR2), Jake Ferguson (PHI 31st in DVOA vs. TE)

PHI DFS fades: Quez Watkins (DAL fourth in DVOA vs. WR3)
DAL DFS fades: none

Head-to-head record, last five-plus years: 7-4 DAL, average score 29-22 DAL, average margin of victory 13 points. DAL has won five straight meetings in JerryWorld by an average score of 37-21
Key stat: DAL is second in third-down conversions at 48.5 percent; PHI is 32nd in third-down defense at 47.3 percent

The Scoop: D'Andre Swift piles up 110 combined yards and a TD. Hurts throws for 280 yards and two touchdowns, one each to Goedert and Brown (who tops 100 yards), while also running in a score. Pollard puts together 100 scrimmage yards and a touchdown. Prescott fires up 350 yards and three scores, one each to Lamb (who tops 100 yards), Cooks and Ferguson. Micah Parsons also returns a Goedert fumble to the house. Cowboys 41-31

THURSDAY NIGHT

New England (+6) at Pittsburgh, o/u 30 – Thursday, 8:15 p.m. EST

Switching to Bailey Zappe predictably did nothing to light a fire under the Patriots' offense, and the only thing different about his line from last week than the usual Mac Jones performance was the lack of turnovers. That's not nothing, but it only matters if the unit can do anything with the possessions it isn't giving away. Instead, they got shut out by the Chargers, of all teams. To make matters worse, New England's now lost Rhamondre Stevenson for a while, as well as vaguely promising rookie wideout Demario Douglas. The Pats could potentially come into this one with Ezekiel Elliott as their starting RB, and Tyquan Thornton and Jalen Reagor as their starting receivers. The sad thing is, the defense is doing just fine, holding three straight opponents to 10 points or less. The team's still been outscored 26-13 over that stretch. Pats haters will just have to cross their fingers and hope they get the Ryan Leaf or the Tim Couch, and not the Peyton Manning or Donovan McNabb, at the top of next year's draft.

At 7-5, the Steelers currently hold a wild-card spot, but it's hardly a firm grip as it relies on tiebreakers. They've lost two of the last three and haven't scored more than 16 points in any of them, so while ditching Matt Canada as offensive coordinator was probably a good idea, it hasn't unleashed the beast or anything. Pittsburgh lost Kenny Pickett to a high-ankle sprain last week for which he's already undergone a tightrope procedure, and while he could be back quickly, that won't mean Thursday. Mitch Trubisky did at least look competent in relief against the Cards, but that's about his ceiling, and he has no floor. Oh, and Najee Harris is also banged up, although he's expected to play, so we're looking at two of the league's bottom-five scoring offenses operating at well below 100 percent effectiveness. That over/under line of 30 is simultaneously ridiculously low, and probably too high.

The Skinny

NE injuries: RB Stevenson (out, ankle), WR DeVante Parker (questionable, knee), WR Douglas (out, concussion), WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (questionable, ankle)
PIT injuries: QB Pickett (out, ankle), RB Harris (questionable, knee), LB Elandon Roberts (questionable, groin), S Keanu Neal (IR, ribs)

NE DFS targets: none
PIT DFS targets: Allen Robinson $3,000 DK / $5,000 FD (NE 32nd in DVOA vs. WR3)

NE DFS fades: Parker $3,100 DK / $5,300 FD (PIT third in DVOA vs. WR1), Hunter Henry $2,900 DK / $4,900 FD (PIT fourth in DVOA vs. TE), Patriots DST $3,200 DK / $4,200 FD (29th in takeaways, 28th in sacks, PIT t-1st in giveaways)
PIT DFS fades: Harris $5,300 DK / $6,700 FD and Jaylen Warren $5,200 DK / $6,200 FD (NE second in rushing DVOA, third in rushing yards per game allowed, first in YPC allowed), Diontae Johnson $5,100 DK / $6,600 FD (NE second in DVOA vs. WR1)

Key stat: NE is 28th in third-down conversions at 33.1 percent; PIT is t-19th in third-down defense at 40.0 percent

Weather notes: cloudy, temperature in the high 30s, less than 10 mph wind, zero percent chance of snow

The Scoop: Zeke manages 60 yards. Zappe throws for under 200 yards and tosses a pick-six to Patrick Peterson. Warren leads the PIT backfield with 70 yards. Trubisky throws for under 200 yards as well but hits Pat Freiermuth for the game's only touchdown on offense. Steelers 17-6

Last week's record: 9-4, 6-6-1 ATS, 11-2 o/u
2023 record: 113-80, 94-93-6 ATS, 107-83 o/u

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Erik Siegrist
Erik Siegrist is an FSWA award-winning columnist who covers all four major North American sports (that means the NHL, not NASCAR) and whose beat extends back to the days when the Nationals were the Expos and the Thunder were the Sonics. He was the inaugural champion of Rotowire's Staff Keeper baseball league. His work has also appeared at Baseball Prospectus.
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