For wrestling heel strategy, not much will turn a crowd on you faster than calling out that city’s NFL MVP quarterback.
On Wednesday, at an AEW Dynamite event in Baltimore, Chris Jericho put Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson on notice. Jericho, AEW’s Ring of Honor Champion, was cutting a promo ahead of an upcoming title match where he’ll face a mystery opponent, and was not concerned about whomever his challenger will be.
“I’ll even whoop Lamar Jackson’s ass,” Jericho said before the crowd at Chesapeake Employers Insurance Arena let him have it.
Jackson, the 2019 league MVP, was sitting ringside for the event. The camera found Jackson and AEW commentator Tazz said, “Lamar looks nervous.”
— Lamar Jackson (@Lj_era8) November 3, 2022
Backstage at the event, Jackson met some squared-circle legends in Jeff Jarrett, Mark Henry and Big Show. So, if Jericho wants to make good on his threat, Jackson could have some talent ready to tag in for him.
More like Matty on Ice … as Matt Ryan has been benched by Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich.
Sam Ehlinger has been named the Colts’ starting quarterback for the remainder of the season. The news comes less than 10 days after it was reported that the Texas product had leapfrogged Nick Foles on the Colts’ depth chart for the No. 2 job. The next pass Ehlinger throws will be his first in an NFL regular-season game.
The Broncos take on the Jaguars across the pond at London’s iconic Wembley Stadium on Sunday, Oct 30, at 9:30 a.m. (ET) exclusively on ESPN+. Subscribe to ESPN+ and get access to live NFL games, highlights, originals, analysis and more all season long.
Ryan has looked the part of a fading veteran since the top of the season. He is averaging 6.8 YPA (QB22), and with an average depth of target (aDOT) of 6.0 (QB33), the deep ball has vanished from Indy’s game plan. Instead, Reich has leaned on a short-and-quick approach with the offense, recording the second-most pass attempts (297) in the league.
The blueprint won’t change drastically under Ehlinger, as the 24-year-old is in possession of only adequate arm strength and struggled to accurately push the ball downfield in college. But don’t expect 42 pass attempts per game. Ehlinger has wheels. While that’s usually considered a boon in fantasy, I wouldn’t get too excited. Ehlinger is a sixth-round pick operating behind one of the worst pass-blocking units in the league (8.4% adjusted sack rate). He won’t be on the streaming radar in single-QB leagues and is nearish to (but behind) Taylor Heinicke in superflex formats.
Here’s how the change under center affects the fantasy values of key contributors in Indy:
RB Jonathan Taylor
Taylor is probably the biggest beneficiary here. Ehlinger’s mobility (1,907 rushing yards over four years at Texas) should encourage Reich to lean into the ground game more while simultaneously opening up holes for the team’s RB1. Taylor remains a top-five fantasy play each week and will continue to touch the ball at least 20 times per outing.
WR Michael Pittman Jr.
Pittman is currently 16th among WRs in PPR fantasy points. Ironically, he was also WR16 last season with Carson Wentz under center. With Ehlinger expected to run more, it’s likely Pittman’s volume takes a hit. His strong hands and physicality after the catch, however, figure to keep him inside the top 18 but outside of the top 12 players at the position. Unfortunately, it seems as though the leap to alpha wideout will have to wait another year.
WR Alec Pierce
The only thing stopping Pierce from being an absolute fantasy force is volume. The former Bearcat knows how to high-point and win in contested situations. His fantasy stock is largely dependent on Ehlinger’s willingness to throw it up and trust the rookie to climb the ladder and beat coverage. That kind of trust doesn’t materialize overnight. Pierce will have his blow-up spots, but consistent looks will keep him in WR3/4 territory.
WR Parris Campbell
Campbell has recorded more than 40 PPR fantasy points over the past two weeks combined. Operating as Indy’s primary slot receiver with Ashton Dulin (foot) on IR, Campbell has drawn double-digit looks and scored in back-to-back efforts. There could be a path to continued fantasy relevance under Ehlinger, but it’s unlikely to actualize next Sunday versus Washington. The Commanders’ CBs have been markedly more generous to boundary receivers than those working inside.
FRISCO, Texas — It’s an easy question without an easy answer.
What changes about the Dallas Cowboys’ offense in Dak Prescott’s return from a fractured right thumb, potentially as early as Sunday against the Detroit Lions (1 p.m. ET, CBS)?
Nothing and everything.
Nothing changes, because how the Cowboys (4-2) played in their five games with quarterback Cooper Rush starting in place of Prescott is how they designed their offense in the offseason. When the team traded wide receiver Amari Cooper to the Cleveland Browns and did not replace him with a proven veteran or high draft pick, the plan was to be a run-first operation and play to the defensive strength of the team.
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Everything changes, because Prescott can do more than Rush. Despite the calls from certain segments of the fan base or national media types wishing for drama, there was no quarterback controversy and there never was going to be. Even owner and general manager Jerry Jones’ comments that he hoped there would be a controversy were about the team winning games without Prescott.
This was not 2016, when Prescott took over for an injured Tony Romo. After losing the opener, the Cowboys won 11 straight games that season. They failed only once to score at least 24 points during that winning streak.
Under Rush, the Cowboys topped 24 points only once, scoring 25 against the Washington Commanders.
While the Cowboys did not feel handcuffed offensively with Rush as their quarterback, Prescott’s ability and experience opens up more possibilities. However, the Cowboys don’t want Prescott to feel like he’s returning as the conquering hero, needing to do everything for the team to succeed.
When Prescott has been at his best, the Cowboys have had a complementary bent, even when he threw for 4,900 yards in 2019 and set a franchise record with 37 touchdown passes last season.
“I just think Dak needs to play his game — if he goes this week,” McCarthy said.
It’s rare that bookmakers show a sign of weakness, but we’ve got a trend to monitor as you prepare for Week 3, the last weekend of the month. In September games since the beginning of last season, under tickets have cashed 78.6% of the time when the over/under is set under 45 points. That number is down a considerable amount from the September rate over the previous decade (49.1%) and got me to thinking – do sportsbooks underestimate just how bad the bad teams are?
The thought behind that hypothesis is that low totals often involve at least one bad offense and, in this era of professional football, a bad offense is more often than not a bad team. This train of thinking gained some steam when I looked at games in which a team was favored by more than a touchdown.
So we’ve got big favorites covering and low totals going under. To me, that reflects an underestimation of dominance. Now, it is worth noting, that overs connected on 53.9% of games in that low total window after September ended last season, so it’s possible that this “flaw” is rectified sooner than later. Understanding that, we do have another week of September and we have plenty of low total spots in Week 3. There aren’t many big favorites (the Bengals and Rams are both road teams favored by more than a field goal), but if the books are underestimating how bad some of these offenses are … two of them playing in the same game (Texans/Bears, Falcons/Seahawks, Cowboys/Giants), feels favorable if you’re buying this trend.
Here are our ATS standings, matchups and betting nugget for each team, updated weekly.
NFL ATS trends
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns
Steelers ATS: 1-0-1 O/U: 0-2 What we know about the Steelers: Over their past four road divisional games, the Steelers are 3-0 ATS when the under hits and 0-1 when the over comes through.
Browns ATS: 1-1 O/U: 2-0 What we know about the Browns: The Browns have dropped four straight ATS against the division and have failed to cover in each of their past five against the Black and Gold.
Sunday, 1p games
Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins
Bills ATS: 2-0 O/U: 1-1 What we know about the Bills: The Bills failed to cover three of Josh Allen’s first four starts on short rest, but they’ve covered four of five since. Buffalo finds itself in such a spot.
Dolphins ATS: 2-0 O/U: 1-1
What we know about the Dolphins: Under tickets have cashed in six of Tua Tagovailoa’s nine divisional starts (including both starts against the Bills last season).
Cincinnati Bengals at New York Jets
Bengals ATS: 0-2 O/U: 0-2 What we know about the Bengals: Cincy has covered in 16 of their past 17 outright wins.
Jets ATS: 1-1 O/U: 1-1 What we know about the Jets: The Jets have failed to cover in five of their past six games as a home underdog (lost by 15 in Week 1 as the host of 6.5-point favorite Baltimore).
Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings
Lions ATS: 2-0 O/U: 2-0 What we know about the Lions: Detroit has failed to cover six of their past eight divisional road games. That said, they broke away from their struggles in their last such game, a 2-point loss as a 10-point underdog in Minnesota (Week 5).
Vikings ATS: 1-1 O/U: 0-2 What we know about the Vikings: The Vikings haven’t seen consecutive divisional games go under the total since December of 2019. They played Green Bay in Week 1 and the game went under by 16.5 points.
Houston Texans at Chicago Bears
Texans ATS: 2-0 O/U: 0-2 What we know about the Texans: Dating back to last season, the Texans have covered three straight games. They haven’t covered four in-a-row since the final three games of 2015 and the first game of 2016.
Bears ATS: 1-1 O/U: 0-2 What we know about the Bears: Baby steps. After failing to cover five straight at Solider Field, Da Bears have covered consecutive home games (won outright in Week 1 as a 6.5-point underdog against the 49ers).
Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts
Chiefs ATS: 1-1 O/U: 1-1 What we know about the Chiefs: Be careful in blindly backing Patrick Mahomes on extended rest: the books are well aware. The Chiefs are just 7-6-1 ATS in the Mahomes era when having at least seven days off (unders are 7-6 in those games).
Colts ATS: 0-2 O/U: 0-2 What we know about the Colts: The Colts have failed to cover four straight games and have seen each of their past seven games go under the total.
New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers
Saints ATS: 0-2 O/U: 1-1 What we know about the Saints: The Saints have covered six of their past eight games in Carolina, but bookmakers have been handicapping those matchups pretty accurately. Of those eight games, six saw a team cover by less than a touchdown.
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Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Commanders
Eagles ATS: 1-1 O/U: 1-1 What we know about the Eagles: Philadelphia is 1-4-1 ATS in their past six divisional games as a favorite.
Commanders ATS: 1-1 O/U: 2-0 What we know about the Commanders: Washington is 4-1 ATS over their past five home games (they had failed to cover five straight games in front of their fans prior).
Las Vegas Raiders at Tennessee Titans
Raiders ATS: 0-2 O/U: 0-1-1 What we know about the Raiders: For the first time since the 2012 season, the Raiders are 0-2 ATS to start the season. In that tough 2012 campaign, they finished with a 5-11 mark ATS.
Titans ATS: 0-2 O/U: 1-1 What we know about the Titans: The Titans do much to help the cause, but their Monday Nighter in Buffalo went over the total, just their second over in their past seven games.
Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots
Ravens ATS: 1-1 O/U: 1-1 What we know about the Ravens: As exciting as last week was against the Dolphins, the final outcome was a bit predictable. The Ravens have failed to cover five of their past seven games that have gone over the total.
Patriots ATS: 0-1-1 O/U: 0-2 What we know about the Patriots: Six straight games at Foxboro have gone over the total (they’ve gone over by an average of 13.4 points during this run).
Jacksonville Jaguars at Los Angeles Chargers
Jaguars ATS: 1-1 O/U: 1-1 What we know about the Jaguars: Since mid-November, the Jags are 2-0 ATS against the Colts and 0-8 ATS against the rest of the NFL. The Chargers would qualify as “the rest of the NFL”.
Chargers ATS: 2-0 O/U: 0-2 What we know about the Chargers: The Bolts went 0-3 ATS last season when they were a road favorite (-48.5 points against the spread cumulative in those games).
Atlanta Falcons at Seattle Seahawks
Falcons ATS: 2-0 O/U: 2-0 What we know about the Falcons: The Falcons are 6-2-1 ATS (5-4 outright) over their past nine road games.
Seahawks ATS: 1-1 O/U: 0-2 What we know about the Seahawks: Geno Smith covered the spread in his final three home starts with the Jets and has covered his first three home starts with the ‘Hawks.
Green Bay Packers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Packers ATS: 1-1 O/U: 0-2 What we know about the Packers: The Packers have failed to cover back-to-back-to-back-to-back road games (over tickets have cashed in three of them).
Buccaneers ATS: 2-0 O/U: 0-2 What we know about the Buccaneers: The Bucs are 5-1 ATS in their past six games that have failed to reach the expected point total.
Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals
Rams ATS: 0-2 O/U: 1-1 What we know about the Rams: The Rams go on the road for the first time this season. Each of their past two games in Arizona have gone under the total (over that stretch, overs are 4-0 in their other divisional road games).
Cardinals ATS: 1-1 O/U: 1-0-1 What we know about the Cardinals: The Cardinals are 3-11 ATS over their past 14 home games, a stretch that includes six straight ATS losses.
Sunday, 8:20p game
San Francisco 49ers at Denver Broncos
49ers ATS: 1-1 O/U: 0-2 What we know about the 49ers: The 49ers are 1-5 ATS in their past six primetime games (overs are 4-2 in those games).
Broncos ATS: 0-2 O/U: 0-2 What we know about the Broncos: New QB, same story. Both Denver games this season have gone under the total, this coming on the heels of going under in eight of 11 games to close last season.
Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants
Cowboys ATS: 1-1 O/U: 0-2 What we know about the Cowboys: The ‘Boys failed to cover in New York against these Giants in Week 17 of 2020. Since then, they’ve covered eight of nine road games, a run of success they hope to carry over into their first road game of the season.
Giants ATS: 2-0 O/U: 0-2 What we know about the Giants: Six straight Giant home divisional games have gone under the total. Their three such games last season saw a total of 50 fewer points scored than bookmakers expected.