Saturday Double Header NFL Predictions

We’ve got two NFL games on the card today at and there’s still plenty of time to get into our weekly league.  Click here to join today.  Saturday’s double header has lots of playoff implications. Here’s what to watch for in the Washington Redskins at Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens at Los Angeles Chargers matchups, both of which will be shown exclusively on NFL Network:  Let’s jump into it.  Here are my Saturday double header NFL predictions.

Skins/Titans Preview

Washington Redskins +10.5 O/U 37.5 at Tennessee Titans, 4:30 p.m. ET

Josh Johnson was a winning QB for the first time in his 31-game career last week, but the Titans are a big step up from the Jags.  But it doesn’t matter, because Washington’s win last week kept them in the NFC playoff chase.  They’ll need to win both of their remaining games and get some help from the teams ahead of them to land a postseason berth. The Redskins sit eighth in the NFC playoff picture behind the Philadelphia Eagles, who own the tiebreaker.

Against Tennessee’s seventh-ranked defense, Washington will need more offensive production than they had against Jacksonville. Adrian Peterson has slowed down and is having trouble repeating the success he had in September and October. In the first two months of the season, he averaged 105.4 scrimmage yards per game in comparison to the 55.0 he’s averaged since the start of November. His yards per touch also has dropped from 5.4 to 3.7. But it’s not all on him.  Much of it has to do with the injuries the team has suffered on the offensive line in addition to the season-ending broken leg Alex Smith suffered.

With Peterson the biggest star of the offense, teams have zeroed in on shutting him down. That means Washington’s defense will have to step up today.   But injuries have also hurt the effectiveness of Washington’s defense in recent games.  Last week’s win over Jacksonville marked the first time it managed to hold a team under 20 points since Week 10 when it still gave up 501 total yards in a win over the Bucs. Asking for the Johnson-Peterson combo to spearhead a 20-point scoring effort likely would be too much for the veteran duo today.

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More on the Titans

Derrick Henry might be chasing some history on Saturday, but the Titans are pursuing a playoff berth as well. Tennessee enters the game at eighth in the AFC playoff race amid a three-game win streak. Wins over the Redskins and the Colts would greatly enhance their chances of returning to the postseason in consecutive seasons for the first time 2008. Henry’s performances over the last two games have played a vital part in the Titans success. The former Heisman Trophy winner has rushed for 408 yards and six touchdowns over the last two games, becoming the first player to rush for 170-plus yards and two or more TDs since Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson achieved the feat in 2006.

He also has a beastly 372 yards after contact and 18 forced missed tackles over the last two games.  His big numbers have helped bolster a Tennessee offense that’s been underwhelming most of the season. Tennessee ranks 27th in total offense (317.8 YPG) and Mariota has struggled to ignite a 30th-ranked passing offense (187 YPG).

On defense, the Titans looks very solid. They rank first in red-zone percentage allowed (42.1), points per game allowed (18.1) and fifth in third-down percentage allowed (34.8). While the Titans are the favorites in this one, they can’t afford to stumble — a loss would decimate their playoff chances and secure a postseason berth for the Texans.  This feels like a lot of wood to chop in such an important game and I like the Skins to cover the 10.5 today.

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Baltimore Ravens +4 O/U 42.5 at Los Angeles Chargers, 8 p.m. ET

Is Baltimore Ready?

Will Lamar Jackson keep his magical run going against arguably the best team in the AFC today? Since taking over for the injured Joe Flacco at QB and hanging onto the job in the wake of Flacco’s return, Baltimore has surged into the AFC playoff picture. With the rookie signal-caller under center, Baltimore is 4-1. Those four wins, however, came against sub-.500 competition (Bengals, Raiders, Falcons, Buccaneers). That said, his only loss was in a nail-biter against the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Chargers figure to offer a very difficult test, but one that’s passable if Jackson and the Ravens play to their strengths. Since Jackson took over as QB, Baltimore ranks first in the NFL in rushing yards per game (230.4), rushing first downs (66) and carries over 10 yards (28), per NFL Research. They’ve rushed for more than 190 yards in five straight games — the third-longest streak of the Super Bowl era. Rookie Gus Edwards (486) and Jackson (427) rank fourth and fifth, respectively, in NFL rushing since Week 11.

Against the Chargers, they’ll face a defense that has only allowed two 100-yard rushers all season (Joe Mixon and Todd Gurley). If the Ravens can continue to find success in the run game and their league-best defense shuts down the Rivers/Gordon combo, they could continue to hold onto the AFC’s No. 6 playoff seed.  A Ravens win won’t clinch them a playoff berth, but a loss would certainly hand one to the Houston Texans on Saturday night and help the Pittsburgh Steelers’ grab the AFC North.

What about San Diego, I mean, Los Angeles?

The Chargers are already heading to the postseason for the first time since 2013, but it’s still in the race for the AFC West title. Helping the Chargers’ cause will be the anticipated return of Melvin Gordon, who missed the last three games because of a knee injury. Due to its current divisional record (3-2 vs. the Chiefs’ 4-1), Los Angeles only holds the AFC’s No. 5 playoff seed despite their amazing overall record. The Chargers need to win their final games against the Ravens and Denver Broncos and hope the Chiefs drop a game in order to claim the top seed in the AFC.

The key for the Chargers will be finding a way to break through one of the top-ranked defenses that ranks third against the rush and pass. While Gordon might be back on the field, there’s no guarantee he’ll be playing at his normal level. Rivers, however, is putting up an MVP-caliber season with despite nearing the end of his career  Could this be the year he finally breaks through? Rivers, per NFL Research, is posting career-highs in passing yards per attempt (8.8), TD-INT ratio (31-8), passer rating (112.4) and giveaways (9) amid throwing for 3,951 yards and 31 touchdowns. Getting to Rivers will likely be the only way that the Ravens can stay in and win this game.


I don’t think the Blitz happy Ravens will be able to get home enough times today.  Rivers will continue his fantastic season with a key win and continue his march to potentially getting home field advantage in the AFC if the Chiefs stumble this week or next week.


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