It is amazing how many times this week we have heard games described as ‘must win’ for the 0-2 teams and while usually the term must win is over used, going 0-3 historically has been a death blow to teams hoping to make playoffs. Since 2007, 5 teams have made the playoffs after going 0-2 but if you change that to 0-3 only 5 teams in history have made the playoffs so clearly the road becomes very difficult. Now there is an important caveat in that usually teams that start 0-2 aren’t very good and not expected to make the playoffs anyways, which makes this year kind of unique as The Seahawks, Colts, Ravens and Eagles all were expected to be serious contenders this year but find themselves 0-2 and teetering on disaster.
Season ATS 8-4 Last Week 3-3
Game 2 Cin @ Bal -2.5
Bet % Cin 50% Bal 50%
The Ravens are the first 0-2 I am looking at this week as they play the 2-0 Bengals. Looking at the schedule this really is must win for the Ravens after they played a very tough opener in Denver, where they lost a 1 score game and then dropped a bad one in Oakland. Now after playing at home this week they have to go back on the road again, this time on a short week and play in Pittsburgh on TNF.
Looking at the first 2 weeks, Joe Flacco and the Ravens passing game has been performing far below their established levels from last season, the Ravens passer rating this season is 75.7 as compared to a rating of 91.last year and early on they have has issues with interceptions with 3, Flacco had 12 in all of 2014.
As for Cincy, they have been very good to start the season but I do think that Daulton has been playing a little above his ability, he has posted a passer rating of 120.3 so far while his career rating is 86. Coming into the season these were 2 very even teams by DVOA, 6th and 8th, but when you factor in home field and the discrepancy in how important this game is to the 2 teams I really like the Ravens in this spot to keep their season alive.
Game 3 Phi +3 NYJ
Bet % Phi 37% NYJ 63%
There is no game that had a larger line move from the look ahead lines to the actual line at open than this one, in the look ahead, the Eagles were 3 point favorites, then after the Eagles debacle vs the Cowboys and the Jets very impressive win vs Indy on MNF this line has now has moved a full 6 points and made the Jets the favourite.
After being the pre-season darling the Eagles have been an absolute mess on offense especially in the run game averaging an abysmal 2.1 yards per rush att which is dead last in the NFL, the Jets have been middle of the pack giving up 3.2 yards per rush. So how does this get better for the Eagles? Well this week we have heard a lot of talk about the troubles on the Eagles off line, and at this point it in inarguable that the new starters at guard are a downgrade but the eagles still have a potential HOFer at LT, a former pro bowler at C and a top 5 pick at RT who have been the anchors of a very good line the last 2 years. Also there has been much discussion this week on the fact that the Cowboys new exactly what the Eagles were going to run based on formations, this is something that can easily corrected by Chip Kelly and I fully expect him to make some scheme changes this week and be far less predictable.
The Jets have been one of the best surprises of the season and have dominated on defense, I fully expect them to be a top 5 defense to finish the season but some of the success they have had is completely unsustainable. In the first 2 games the Jets have an unbelievable 10 takeaways which has led to an amazing 39.1 yards per point, to put that into context and show how off that charts that number is, the Cardinals were #1 in the FL last year giving up a point for every 19 yards .
This is a desperate Eagles team that was embarrassed last week at home, it’s easy to forget they were a missed FG away from beating Atl in the opener, now in to be position where they are underdogs in a game that last week they were expected to be FG+ favorites, means there is incredible value here. I do think that the Eagles have some real problems that will continue to show up this season but this week I see them having a correction and keeping their season alive.
Game 4: Phi @ NYJ Under 47
Bet% Over 35% Under 65%
As mentioned above I expect the Eagles to bounce back and win this game but I do not the offense to have an easy time scoring against the Jets terrific defense. The Jets certainly have been lucky in terms of generating turnovers and that can’t be expected to carry on at those levels but what I expect will continue on is their ability to generate pressure, through the first 2 games they have 27 pressure plays (Sacks, TFL, QB Hits) and because of that I expect the Eagles to stick to getting the ball out quickly and not be able to generate big plays. The Eagles are 25th in yards per attempt and I expect that to continue as long as Bradford is at QB, he has been very reluctant to get the ball deep compared the Nick Foles and Mike Vick the last couple of years and due to that the Eagles have to score in a more ball control manner with longer drives and more time chewed up off the clock.
Both these defenses were expected to be good this season, in DVOA projections Eagles D was ranked 12th and the Jets were #2 and so far they have played very and lived up to the billing, they should be able to limit these offenses and limit large splash plays.
Game 5: Pit @ Stl +1
Bet% Pit 82% Stl 18%
This game is the classic team played great last week s team B who looked terrible so this everyone lines up to bet on team A. Its hard to look better than the Steelers offense last week, 13.7 yards per pass, 8.7 yards per play, 21 1st downs to only 10 3rd downs and 5 for 5 in the redzone on their way to 43-18 win. The Rams on the other hand had a major let down after their huge win vs Seattle in week 1, losing 24-10 to Washington in a game they were favored by 3.5.
Despite 80%+ f bets being on the Steelers the line has basically remained at a pick which tells us the books are more than comfortable needing the Rams in this spot. But Why? Well going back to last week, the Steelers had he perfect schedule spot, they had the 49ers coming across the country on a short week after an upset win at home on MNF vs the Vikings. Meanwhile the Steelers had 3 extra days to prepare after losing their opener on TNF vs the Patriots. As for the Rams, they were in a classic let down spot after beating the NFC champ and divisional rival in an OT thriller and then having to go on the road and playing a team that was impossible to get up the same level of excitement for.
The Steelers passing game might be the best in the league but last season they were considerable better at home then the road, at home Steelers had a passer rating of 110 while on the road it was 20 points lower at 91. The Rams bring one of the best defensive lines in the league and this will be the first major test for back up Steelers center Cody Wallace who will have to line up across from Aaron Donald, may the best defensive lineman in the league.
While the Steelers offense has been great, the defense especially the passing defense has been terrible. The Steelers defense has given up 7.4 yards per pass attempt and an avg passer rating of 123 which is dead last, what we have seen from Nick Foles is an ability to get big plays in the passing game and I expect him to make enough to win this game.
Game 6 NO @ Car U43.5
Bet% Under 45 Over 55%
Panthers appear to be a team that if you bet under every week you will probably end up hitting about 65%, they have a very good pass defense especially at home and on offense their lack of capable receivers leaves them relying on the their running attack which means long time consuming drives.
These 2 passing offenses have been amongst the most anemic, their avg passer ratings (NO-82, Car 71.3) have them safely in the bottom 3rd of the league and when you remember that the Saints numbers are with Brees at QB you have to think that a passer rating of 82 for McCown leading the offense is pretty unlikely. With Brees out I expect the Saints to rely much more on their running game which as I mentioned is exactly how the Panthers will try to play offense as well. Unless the game has a bunch of turnovers that lead to short fields I think what we will see is a game somewhere in the 20-10 range.
Game 7: SD @ Min +1
Bet % SD 66 Min 34%
Last week teams that played the 2nd of back to back games were 0-5 in those games including some big upsets. Of the teams in that spot this week, I think the Chargers have the toughest travel schedule. For the 2nd straight weekend, the Chargers have to fly east and play in game with an early start.
We know that the Vikings want to run the ball to make the game easier fr Bridgewater, last week that plan worked perfectly as they rushed for 4.7 yards per rush. The Chargers run defense has not been very good to start the year giving up 4.7 yards per rush, 27th in the league so you would think that the Vikings should be able to move the ball on offense.
On the other side of the ball we have strength vs strength as the Chargers are 7th in passer rating for while the Vikings are 7th in passer rating but it is important to note neither of the QBs Minnesota has faces are as good as Philip Rivers. The Vikings were one of the most heavily bet teams on the over for season win totals and I expect that as a young team they end up playing much better at home than the road which is why in facing a team playing its 2nd consecutive road game, I really like this spot for Minny