Each week, Coach Kevin Kelley will give a coach’s perspective and provide analysis for a few games against the spread throughout the 2022 NFL season.

Two games I am looking forward to playing and watching are the Dallas Cowboys traveling to Green Bay to take on one of the most underachieving quarterbacks for talent level, ever, Aaron Rodgers. The other is the Denver Broncos going to visit the Tennessee Titans fresh off a close loss on Monday night to the Kansas City Chiefs. 

Okay, to be fair, it is a little easier to be the most underachieving quarterback when you are the most talented to ever play. Notice I didn’t say the best, as it takes other things I don’t believe Rodgers has. Those would include great leadership and holding oneself responsible, neither of which Green Bay’s quarterback has shown this year. 

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Dallas Cowboys (-4.5) at Green Bay Packers

Let’s really get into this. The Cowboys and Micah Parsons are the best pressure defense in the league. Rodgers has the highest rate of attempts thrown at or behind the LOS as pointed out by our own Warren Sharp. Nearly 50% of his throws are gone in less than two seconds. You might think, well that is the best way to avoid pressure. It might be, but it is also the best way to make too few yards to make first downs and score touchdowns.

I have said it for a long time. The most important thing determining who wins football games is who has the most explosive plays. It is hard to get them when Next Gen Stats shows that your quarterback is No. 2 on the list for shortest air yards per completion at 4.3. Geno Smith, Dak Prescott, Josh Allen, Tua Tagovailoa, and Lamar Jackson all average almost or twice as much in the same category. I am pretty sure there is a direct correlation between that and the fact that Green Bay is No. 27 on the points per game list with 17.1 PPG. You can cheat the stats and even analytics on efficiency just a little with a high completion percentage, but you can’t cheat the points with those short passes.

The only good news is that Green Bay does run the ball semi-effectively, coming in a No. 13 in DVOA. The problem is, Dallas comes in at No. 9 in rush defense DVOA.

One reason the Dallas secondary has been good at intercepting the ball the last two years is that they know the quarterback won’t have much time and they can sit on and jump routes. The best secondary coverage is a great pass rush. 

So we have established Green Bay will have a hard time moving the ball and scoring. Maybe the Packers defense can cause the Cowboys some problems. I doubt that. They come in ranked No. 9 in pass defense DVOA and No. 31 against the run. Dallas comes into the game No. 10 in overall offensive DVOA and No. 3 in rushing DVOA.

Dallas got to see what Tony Pollard could do when he got the ball a few more times with Ezekiel Elliott being out last week. Pollard, by the way, is one of the top three backs in the NFL in yards per carry the last three years. Pollard also leads the NFL right now in rushing yards over expected by over half a yard. That is a huge number when you consider what separates second from third place on the list is .02 yards. Almost half his rushes go over expected in yards. And when he is not in, Elliott is punishing your defense physically. So gear up and stop the run. That should be the plan. Well, except Dak Prescott is at his absolute best off play-action. 

As of this writing, Dallas is listed as 4.5-point favorites over the Packers. They win this game and over 85% of the time the winner of the NFL games also cover the spread. I’ll take Dallas in at least a 10-point win.

» Bet Packers vs Cowboys Now

Denver Broncos (+3) at Tennessee Titans

The next game is the one that I just can’t see how one team is favored at all. I think the game should be a pick. I get how people would see that the Titans with their 5-3 record would be favored versus the 3-5 Broncos. But the first two things that jump at me are the following about each team….

Four of Denver’s five losses were by one score. All were by single digits. Take a look at the five wins for the Titans. They have beaten Indianapolis twice (and they just fired their coach), Houston, Washington, and Las Vegas. The combined record of those teams are 10-22. Of those five wins, all were single digits and four of them were one-score games. They have beaten bad teams and maybe Denver falls into that category. But Tennessee also is coming off a very tough, emotional loss at Kansas City. For some reason they always play Kansas City extremely well, sporting a winning record over them in the last seven or eight games. 

Coaching games like that, from experience, practices that week are flat. Film sessions are as well. People are emotional and the letdown from not winning that one is difficult to manage when you need that energy for your preparation for the next week. The one thing the Broncos need is a quick start. They start slow. They have to come from behind and right now, they are not on the same page offensively with a new coach and new quarterback. But their defense is one of the best in the NFL. 

Russell Wilson is better than what he has shown. Hoping something happens is not a good plan but I saw a spark when they went quick tempo against Jacksonville in the second half of that game. I saw his footwork problems diminish a bit, which will be huge for his accuracy. I really think Denver is poised for an improvement and a run of good football coming off a bye week. The win in Europe will be a spark for that time.

Here you have two teams in two completely different places psychologically in my opinion. And one of them needs a win really badly and just always seem to be within three at the end of the game. I think the worst thing we get here is a push and I believe Denver wins the game outright, even with the normal Nathaniel Hackett bad decisions. Derrick Henry will show up and get his, but regardless of who is playing quarterback, Ryan Tannehill or Malik Willis, it won’t be enough. 

The line is the Titans minus 3. Give me Denver in a win by three or more.

» Bet Titans vs Broncos Now

Extras

Bonus plays this week are:  Tampa -3 over Seattle, Cleveland and Miami over 49.5, the Raiders -4.5 over the Colts, and the Chargers and 49ers over 45. 

Have a great NFL week.

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