Game 1: Hou +6.5 @Dal
Bet% Hou 35% @ Dal 65%
The 3-1 Cowboys have been one of the biggest surprises of the season, led by the leagues #1 rushing attack at 165 yards per game, Dallas has quickly changed the perception of this team. That being said this might be a good spot to go against them. Dallas is coming off of a very big prime time win vs the Saints and next week plays the super bowl champ Seahawks, so this could be a let down game for them. Hou also brings a much better defense than any of the 3 teams that Dallas has beaten so far, the Texans are ranked 12 in Defensive DVOA while the Titans, Rams and Saints were ranked 20,30,32 respectively.
6.5 points seems like a lot in his game, while Dallas is at home there should be plenty of support for Houston in the Jerry dome which lessons the home field advantage. The Dallas defense while not the historically bad unit some expected is still playing very poorly giving up 6.5 yards per play and 7.4 yards per pass, both up from last year, so Houston should be able to move the ball this week.
This game will probably be decided in 2 key areas, first is 3rd down where Dallas is converting 55%(2nd in league) or their 3rd downs up from 35% last year vs the Houston defense which is first in the league in opponent 3rd down conversions at 28%. The other key here will be in the Redzone where Dallas is converting 64% of RZ trips into TD’s, Houston will need to hold Dallas to some FG’s to keep this close and I think they can.
The biggest concern for the Texans in this game is they are giving up 5 yards per rush, 26th in the league, they will need to play much better than that against the Dallas rushing attack which is 3rd at 5.1 yards per rush.
Game 2: Stl+7 @ Phi
Bet % Stl27 Phi 63
I made the case against Phi in a post earlier this week , until they can shore up their offensive line play I think they will have a difficult time looking like the Eagles everyone expects. Eagles do get RT Lane Johnson back from suspension this week but I think it will take him at least a game or so to work himself back into form as he as not been allowed to practice with the team the first four weeks.
Before getting into the case for STL on the field it is important to look at this line move, the game opened at -7 plus juice and even though over 60% of bets are on Philly this game has moved down to 6.5 or 7 -120. I waited until Saturday to make this bet and had to pay the extra juice to get the full TD. Regardless the line move is a good sign here for Rams backers.
The Rams have seen a major drop in their defensive DVOA this year as currently they are 30th after finishing 11th last year. While they are missing Chris Long, its hard to believe they are as poor defensively as they have been this year and this far off of from the performance of the last few years. The Rams are coming off of a bye week and with 2 weeks to prepare for the Eagles offense the hope is they can replicate the defense of last year, if not then the Eagles will have no problem scoring and covering the 7.
On offense the Rams may have found their best QB in #3 QB Austin Davis, after struggling in his first start the last 2 weeks vs TB and Dal Davis completed over 70% of his passes and averaged 8 yards per pass. The Rams should be able to score against the Eagles struggling pass defense.
Game 3: Pit -6 @ Jax
Bet% 78% 22%
This is obviously a very public play on the Steelers and that is always a concern but quite frankly I think the Jaguars are so bad that it is very difficult to put out a true line on them so far. The Jags are 0-4 ATS they have been outscored by 84 points through 4 games and even vs the spread are -61. The Jags are 1-7-1 ATS in their last 9 home games, its hard to find a case where Jax should be getting less than 7 to a quality team like the Steelers even at home.
The Steelers having just lost to the 31st DVOA team TB last week are not likely to get caught 2 weeks in a row by the league bottom feeders and I expect them to be able to score against the 32nd DVOA Jags quite easily, the Steelers are averaging 7.7 yards per pass and 6.4 per play.
The Jags did see more competent play on offense after switching to QB Blake Bortles but this teams biggest problems are on defense where they are giving up 7.9 yards per pass attempt and a point for every 11.9 yards gained.
Game 4 Bal +3.5 @ Ind
Bet% Bal 37% Ind 63%
With Indy opening as a 3.5 point favorite at home the line tells us that the Colts are the better team and on a neutral field the Colts would be a .5 favorite. This is one of the games where the line and DVOA ratings vary the most, by DVOA the Ravens are the 7th ranked team while the Colts are 17th. This line is dropping to 3 and will probably close their so I paid the extra juice locking in +3.5 at -120
The Colts have an elite passing offense lead by Andrew Luck averaging 7.6 yards per pass and 6 yards per play. Where the Colts struggle is running the ball, the rushing attack is much less effective averaging only 3.9 yards per rush. This lines up with a strength of the Ravens defense who are 6th in the league giving up only 3.3 yards per rush.
Whats maybe most interesting about his game is that the perception would be that the Colts have the better offense but in fact the Ravens offense is ranked 6th in DVOA while the Colts are ranked 11th. The Ravens offense while not as dynamic as the Colts passing game is very balanced averaging 6.8 yards per pass and 4.5 yards per rush. The Ravens offense vs Colts defense is the biggest mismatch in this game, the Colts defense is ranked 25th, they are giving up 3.5 trips to the redzone per game and TDs in 64% of those trips.
Game 5 Atl @ NYG -4
Bet% Atl 44% NYG 56%
Last week I wrote a post on how injuries to skill position players can be overvalued in the betting market but clusters of injuries to no skill positions are undervalued. If it’s possible the Falcons have greater troubles on their offensive line then the Eagles do, this week only 2 of the starters who the Falcons envisioned as their top 5 will play including rookie LT Jake Mathews who was projected to be the RT but moved to the left after Sam Baker’s injuries. The Falcons do bring the #1 ranked offense so far but their offensive line issues last year were a main reason they struggled on offense and stumbled to a 4-12 season.
Along with their issues on the offensive line the Falcons also bring their issues on the road and the issues on defense to this game. Atlanta is 1-9 in their last 10 road games straight up and 4-9-1 ATS in their last 14 road games. On defense they are giving up 8.4 yards per pass (31st) 6.4 yards per play (29th) and 4.5 yards per rush (22nd).
The Giants who started off 0-2 have now won 2 in a row and have seen their offense perform much better avg 7.8 yards per pass the last 2 weeks and most importantly not turn the ball over. Defensively the Giants are ranked 11th in DVOA and that defensive line should be able to take advantage of the Falcons injuries up front.
Game 6 Cin-1 @ NE
Bet% Cin 65% NE 35%
This is probably the game where all the Sharps and Wiseguys will be on the Pats and the public will be on the Bengals. The argument will be that going into week 4 the Pats were 3 point favs in this game and then after 1 bad game on MNF vs KC, the line moved 3-4 points the other way and that is too much of an adjustment. I can see that but to me the original line was a bad one and I’m not sure that it has been adjusted enough.
I would not be surprised to see that Pats give a great effort and play their best game of the season but I am not convinced that their best is good enough against the Bengals. The Pats are 2-2, their 2 wins have come against the 0-4 Raiders and the 2-2 Vikings, in a game in which Matt Cassell through 4 Ints and the Pats got a special teams TD.
What’s most concerning for the Pats is that their problems are on offense, the Patriots are last in yards per play (4.6), 30th in yards per pass at 5.6 and Tom Brady has only passed for 4TD’s in 4 games and is completing under 60% of his passes.
The Bengals on the other han are the #1 DVOA ranked team in the league and are an elite team on offense and defense. Currently the Bengals rank 1st in yards per pass with 8.9 and 5th in yards per play with 6.1, on defense Bengals rank 1st against the pass giving up 5.1 yards per pass and are only giving up 4.9 yards per play which is 5th.
Now of course the better team doesn’t always win and motivation plays an important role and as I mentioned earlier I fully expect New England to come back after being blown out and play their best. What I don’t expect is the Bengals to have a let down. They are coming off of a bye week and have had 2 weeks to prep for this game also the game is on SNF which is the Bengals first on national TV. Finally, while the Patriots might be down they are still the Patriots and I can’ imagine the Bengals won’t relish the opportunity to go in and beat Brady and Belichek.