Neil Greenberg makes NFL game predictions based on a multitude of factors that will have an impact on game day. These include efficiency stats such as success rates, yards per play and yards allowed per play, plus points scored based on strength of opponent. Point spreads are the consensus odds from multiple sports books in Vegas.
New England Patriots at Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos had a historically good defense but could be missing a key cog on Sunday if cornerback Chris Harris, Jr. continues to be limited by a shoulder problem.
Per Pro Football Focus, Harris allowed the fewest yards per cover snap in the slot (0.74) and quarterbacks had a league-low 58.5 rating when throwing in his direction. However, he allowed huge gains to Steelers’ receivers last Sunday. Sammie Coates caught both of his targets for 61 yards with 44 coming after the catch and Martavis Bryant caught 2 of 3 for 55 yards, 45 after the catch.
Winner: New England Patriots, 58 percent
Pick: New England Patriots -3
Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers
Arizona’s offensive line allowed the fourth highest total of sacks, hits and hurries during the regular season.
If Carolina can get to quarterback Carson Palmer early and often, that could be enough to disrupt his rhythm. If they can’t, cornerback Josh Norman and linebacker Luke Kuechly are more than up to the task of stopping Arizona’s passing game.
Norman held opposing quarterbacks to a league-low 54.0 passer rating against and Kuechly was the highest rated linebacker for pass coverage, allowing a 57.8 passer rating against.
Winner: Carolina Panthers, 62 percent
Pick: Carolina Panthers -3