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Ben’s NFL Pick 4 Preview

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Week 10 of the NFL is a brave new world. The LA Rams are taking their first tentative steps forward as team just handed their first loss. The Cleveland Browns are still trying to find the new-coach bounce since firing Hue Jackson. And somewhere, deep in Florida, Blake Bortles is preparing to ramp up the game of chicken he’s playing with his NFL career.

 

Carolina Panthers @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Carolina have the second best rushing offense in the league (143.9 YPG), mainly thanks to Cam Newton getting regular cases of the zoomies, but the Steelers have been holding teams to just 90.2 YPG. With the Panthers too having a stout run defense (94.1 YPG) to try and stop the astounding James Conner, it looks like the running game should be neutralised.

If this standoff turns the game into an aerial battle it favours the Steelers: they have the 4th best passing offense in the league (313.6 YPG) while the Panthers are languishing in 22nd (227.8 YPG)

 

Atlanta Falcons @ Cleveland Browns

On paper this is a Falcons cakewalk, but the Browns have had a worrying tendency to take teams to their limits at home this season. They should lose, but figuring out by how much is getting trickier. After all, they do have a +11 turnover margin and, bafflingly, a top 10 running game (124.6 YPG).

Their downfall, though, will be defending the passing game; Matty Ice and the Falcon Boyz are the second best air show in town (320.1 YPG) while the Browns are woeful with the 27th best pass defense. Even if the Falcons can’t get anything going on the ground (which history says is likely, despite the Browns giving up 138.9 YPG) I’d expect Ryan to make easy work of the Browns secondary.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Indianapolis Colts

I’ve yo-yoed on this game, but in the end can’t look past the Colts. Not only do they have Andrew Luck back and firing on all cylinders, their defense should hold the key to beating a team who–despite failing the eyeball test–continue to look good on paper.

The Jags still have their league-leading pass defense, only giving up 190 YPG, and are second best in terms of total yardage conceded at 313.2 YPG. Make no mistake, it’ll be a test for Luck to put points up; the Jags may have had trouble executing recently, but the quality is there. However, this is where Luck’s defense comes into play.

Jags quarterback Blakes Bortles has been largely responsible his team’s -11 turnover margin, and with star running back Leonard Fournette out injured the ball will be in his hands a lot. The Colts D have outperformed with their turnovers, securing 9 interceptions and forcing 14 fumbles. Bortles has been indiscriminate with how he’s given up the ball, so a strong Colts defensive performance with a few takeaways should give them the advantage they need to break a close game. If the Colts can get ahead they’ll force the Jags to pass, and the last place Doug Marrone wants to be is chasing the game through the air.

The Colts can do have penalty issues on defense (they have a dreadful 66 defensive penalties for 585 yards so far this year) but if their D can keep it clean, get a few turnovers, and keep Jacksonville contained, it’ll give Luck the breathing room he’ll need to get to work.

 

Seattle Seahawks @ LA Rams

The Greatest Show on Turf 2k19 were handed their first defeat by the New Orleans Saints, and now they come up against the Legion of Boom 2.0. If that isn’t enough alienating slang, I don’t know what is.

The Rams are an offensive machine, with the number one in total yards (447.1YPG) and rushing (144.3 YPG) and a top five in everything else. The Seahawks are no slouches on D, especially in the air where they have the sixth best defense going (218.5 YPG), but this game will hinge on their ability to stop the run and that is bad news for Seattle.

The Seahawks are only ranked 21st in stopping the run, giving up an average of 114.8 YPG. Meanwhile, the Rams not only have the best overall running game, it is lead by Todd Gurley, the best in the league. If you can’t stop the run, you can’t stop anything, and even if Russell Wilson is able to get something going on offense I’d expect the Rams to simply out point them. It’s important for the Rams to keep ploughing ahead after that first defeat, and although there are much easier options out there than the Seahawks, the game matches up nicely for them.

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