Last week started well, with Washington (-5) covering on Friday night in San Francisco, but Boise State (-2.5) let us down in overtime against Fresno State, losing for the first time to the Bulldogs with the blue turf. We’re now 9-9 on our Picks of the Week, but hopefully, we can get some late-season games to click here, starting with Army-Navy.
As we do each week, our pick(s) of the week will get the point/counterpoint analysis, and the rest of our picks printed below. A reminder that you can follow us on twitter at @BrownBenjamin22 and @PFF_Eric and listen to the PFF Forecast with Eric Eager and George Chahrouri here.
Army (-7) versus Navy in Philadelphia
Pick: Army 27-19 (Army covers)
Point (Eric Eager): We picked Army about a month ago in our Pick of the Week, and with some success, as they rolled against Eastern Michigan. Army has continued to win since then, leveraging their true strengths – running the football and using four downs when others use three. Against the run, Navy’s defense is one of only two teams in the AAC that has allowed an early-down EPA of over 0.0, which plays into the Army’s offense, averaging positive EPA themselves on early-down runs. The defense of Army has been a little weaker of late, but is still a legitimate unit at the college level, able to take down a Navy offense that (sample size notwithstanding) is one of the worst units in terms of early-down passing (-0.25 EPA per play).
Counterpoint (Ben Brown): Navy has stumbled to a 3-9 record in a season that has gone completely off the rails for the Midshipmen. Their starting “quarterback” Malcolm Perry is averaging two pass attempts a game with only three total passing attempts coming after week six. This is going to be as ground and pound of a game as you will see in college football in 2018. One, Booger McFarland should be ecstatic. Both teams struggle when stopping the run with Army allowing almost 50% of early-down attempts to be successful while Navy isn’t far behind allowing almost 45% of such attempts to be successful from an EPA standpoint. Army is one of the best teams in the country according to PFF tackling grade, posting a 91.5 and is allowing a missed tackle in the run game on eight percent of attempts. Navy, although still good, isn’t at the elite tackling level posting a team tackle grade of 83.6 and they have allowed a missed tackle on almost 12% of rush attempts. If Navy cannot get going offensively early, this will turn into a long game of catch up for the Midshipmen on Saturday.