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.
The not so sexy matchup of the week that I believe will be a lot of fun is Jacoby Brissett, Nick Chubbs, and the Cleveland Browns against Marcus Mariota, Cordarrelle Patterson, and the Atlanta Falcons.
Another game I will have my eye on is Trevor Lawrence and his Jacksonville Jaguars traveling to the land of the Liberty Bell, Jalen Hurts, and DeVonta Smith.
Cleveland Browns at Atlanta Falcons (+1)
Atlanta comes in 1-2 with two losses having lost to the Rams in Atlanta with Jalen Ramsey making a game saving interception in the end zone and at home versus the New Orleans Saints after having the lead until late in the game.
Last week I thought maybe they would let down but they showed up and beat the Seattle Seahawks and showed a lot of resilience in the process. Cleveland comes as one-point favorites with a 2-1 record with wins over Pittsburgh and Carolina that could easily have been losses.
I think you can already tell who I believe will win this game but there are a lot of reasons for it. Everyone knows my favorite thing to look at, and it has been so telling over who wins ball games, and who covers spreads.
Right now, Marcus Mariota is the seventh best in the NFL at completing more passes than he is expected to complete. Jacoby Brissett is in the middle of the pack at 14th. Mariota is just good enough to take advantage of that No. 23 Browns defense in DVOA.
He ranks in the top third in play-action passing EPA and with Patterson to hand the ball to and to pull it out of his stomach and throw afterward, Atlanta will move the ball up and down the field this weekend. Patterson currently ranks seventh in yards above what he should get per every rushing attempt he gets the ball. That, along with over six yards per carry and the fact that he can catch the ball out of the backfield makes him so easy to use and allows Atlanta to be creative with him.
The beneficiary of that should be Kyle Pitts but he has only caught nine passes so far. That number of three per game should rise steadily as we move along. That running game and that play-action off of it really have helped Mariota tremendously and I see signs (don’t get carried away) of a quarterback on the rise. With Cleveland being No. 21 against the pass and No. 26 against the run in DVOA, I can see Atlanta hanging some points on them.
Nick Chubb is a freak. He is doing freak things. He is one of three running backs in NFL history to average over five yards per carry and have over 1,000 yards in his first three years. Kareem Hunt is no slouch when he comes in either.
That is the only part that scares me is that Atlanta comes in as the No. 27 defense against the run. I am hoping they play more one-high and bring that extra defender in the box. No one on the Browns really scares me, mostly because the Browns won’t throw the ball down the field enough to exploit it anyway.
This game looks to be a high-scoring game so I am playing Atlanta to win the game and I am also going to play the over in the game which currently sits at 47.
Jacksonville Jaguars (+6.5) at Philadelphia Eagles
Go straight north and you have the Eagles coming in as maybe the surprise team in the league, in my opinion. I am not as surprised by the 3-0 record as I am in the super quick improvement of Jalen Hurts. He has back-to-back games of over 300 yards but the biggest part is that last year he used the field between the numbers less than any quarterback in the league.
Players in the offseason from opposing teams literally spoke about they didn’t have to guard the entire field when facing him. This year, he is among the league leaders.
I guess some reversion to the mean was expected, especially acquiring A.J. Brown. DeVonta Smith has actually led them over the last two-game span after Brown exploded in Week 1 with 10 catches for 155 yards. Smith has had 249 yards receiving in the last two weeks.
Hurts has been picking his spots in the run game which pleases me very much. Philly comes in as the No. 10 rushing offense and the No. 4 passing offense by way of DVOA in this quick start.
It is crazy to think that two spots ahead of the Eagles in passing DVOA are the Jaguars. They won a big game on the road at the Chargers last week and Trevor Lawrence has looked very efficient ranking three spots ahead of Hurts in passing DVOA. He is also in the top six in accuracy. They run the ball effectively enough with James Robinson and Travis Etienne to be able to play action pass and really help out Lawrence.
The real advantage lies on defense. The Jags come in as the No. 4 best defense overall and No. 7 versus the pass and NUMBER ONE versus the run. Philadelphia is No. 6 overall, No. 3 versus the pass, but NUMBER 25 versus the run. Play-action is a little less effective against a good run defense, and that will enable the Jags to put a little more pressure on Hurts.
The Lions were able to move the ball on the Eagles and the Jags have a great play caller in Doug Pederson. They showed they are for real last week against a good Chargers defense. The Eagles have their work cut out for them and I look for the Jags to take away either Brown or Smith and make the other carry the load. Real trouble would happen if both of those guys went off BEFORE they got behind.
The current line is Philadelphia -6.5 but I believe that will move to 7. Either way, I am playing the Jags to cover and I think they might sneak a win out of Philly as well.