As Bob Dylan once famously sang, the quarterbacks, they are a-changin’. I think.
What once was is no more and the league is moving on. This week’s selections are all headed by quarterbacks under the age of 27 and for good reason.
This is mere coincidence of course, as the reasons for these selections is far more articulate, I promise.
Tennessee (-1.5) @ Jacksonville: -112
Thursday 19th September, 8:20PM
These early lines can be funny. I don’t really understand how Tennessee can be three-point favourites to turn over Indianapolis, then be single-point favourites to beat Jacksonville.
Now, there’s the six point swing that you allow for home/road disparity, but even then, the point-and-a-half between the Jags and Colts seems farcical.
The way in which Tennessee lost last week can easily concern, and I understand where it comes from, but Henry does his best work outside the tackles, and this is where Jacksonville can be caught out.
While the Titans are weak in pass protection right now, they’ll benefit from a Jags defence that’s got to be wary of the run-option with Mariota. There’s little to no safety help you need to be afraid of, and Myles Jack has lost a step from this time last year.
Tennessee leave Florida with the win.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ San Francisco (-6.5): -108
Sunday 21st September, 4:25PM
The 49ers are the surprise of the season thus far. Well, the good surprise anyway.
Their defence is a top-six unit, they’ve got a young, gifted quarterback who’s not chasing a contract and they’re now playing at home in September.
A cross-country flight is a good enough reason to hand a team a four-point advantage in my book, especially an east coast team coming to California.
But the heat will be a factor here, as will the fact the entire Steelers offence is based around Ben’s audibles and weird knack of throwing balls in areas you would never design.
Mason Rudolph isn’t filling boots, he’s filling craters. And he’s about to be found out by a rabid group in Santa Clara.
Baltimore @ Kansas City (-7): -105
Sunday 21st September, 1PM
This is the one that most people will scoff at.
But the point remains – there isn’t a single throw that Mahomes can’t make, and that the strength of this Ravens defence is in their heavy personnel. Keeping them in base defence or going up against 12 personnel is not going to benefit you.
However, if you test their cornerback depth, they’ll give up points.
This is why personnel groupings need to be analysed more and more as teams grow into their schemes. Predictability is what kills you and the Chiefs’ offensive playbook has more niche plays than any other in football.
Baltimore’s does not, and the one thing that Lamar Jackson hasn’t faced yet is an interior pass rush. There is no better AFC interior defender than the animal that is Chris Jones.
Once they play contain on the back-end, the Ravens simply don’t have the talent at receiver to get separation.
A touchdown in the difference is slightly underestimating this Chiefs unit and I’m happy to be on board.