Month: October 2015

Week 8 – Thursday Night Football

2015 ATS: 26-15-1

LW 5-2

Game 1 Mia +8.5 @ NE

Bet% Mia 32% NE 68%

I have been on Miami for the first 2 weeks of the Dan Campbell era and will continue to ride them here on TNF. Coming off of 2 straight blow outs, how good is Miami? Honestly I am not sure and I don’t know how anyone can really know for sure. The last 2 weeks they have played the Titans and the Texans, the 22nd and 31st ranked teams by DVOA, obviously not great competition but they didn’t just win those games, they completely destroyed those teams winning by 28 and 18 and that 18 against Hou is extremely flattering to the Texans as they led Houston at half 41-0.

Through the first 4 weeks under Joe Philbin, Miami ranked 29th in overall DVOA, now after their 2 very impressive wins since the change they have moved up all the way to 15th overall. The 2 biggest improvements have been in the run game and the defenses ability to get pressure.

As I wrote last week there are not a lot of situations where you make money betting against the Patriots but this is the one where it has been profitable, games where NE is favored by more than a TD. Since 2009, now including last week vs the Jets New England is 10-17 ATS as a 7.5 pt or more favorite.

We know Patriots will get the majority of bets every week and the lines will continually get shaded to their side, a sort of Patriots tax, again this week we see basically 70% of tickets on New England this week. The Patriots are the best team in the league and certainly capable of covering this number as we saw last week when they led the Jets late by 10. On the other hand, last week we also saw the value of getting this many points as the Jets were within the number for basically the whole game and able to get a late FG for the cover even though they couldn’t win the game.

At this point I am basically going to play these spots blindly especially within the division, all these teams have played Brady and company for years and if anyone is going to knock them off it is probably going to be within the divsion.  New England has failed to cover a TD the last 2 weeks and I think it can continue tonight.

Week 7 Results – Plinko for the Win

Week 8 was a big bounce back week after suffering the first losing week of the season in Week 7 but what this week really highlights is how often ATS wins and losses come down to a single play or bounce. There were 2 games I was dead wrong on (No @ Ind, Min @ Det) and 2 games that I was definitely on the right side (Hou @ Mia, Cle @ Stl) the 3 other games were all toss ups and luckily they all went my way. Luck or not, wins are wins and reason to strut a little.

New Day Strut,

 Week 7: 5-2

Season ATS 26-15-1

Week 7 Results

Week 7

What Went Right

  • Dan Campbells Dolphins– For the second week in a row, Miami blew out the opposition and dominated the game on the ground. Everything went right for the Dolphins who scored 21 in the 1stQ and lead 41-0 at half. Campbell’s commitment to Lamar Miller and the Miami run game paid off big again as Miller ran for 175 yards on just 14 carries as this game was over early.
  • Todd Gurley and the Rams Defense. The Browns came in with the 31st ranked run defense and the Rams took full advantage averaging 6.1 yards per rush and 2 TDs. The Rams pass rush also won their matchup, they had 16 pressure plays including 4 sacks. The Browns seemed to get worn down as this game went which is how I thought the game would play out.
  • Nick Folk and Plinko– Gill Alexander, @beatingthebook on twitter, hosts the best NFL betting podcast on the planet “The NFL Megapod” and often compares betting NFL games to Plinko, the old Price is Right game. I often use Gill’s line here because it is really a perfect description of how so many games are determined. This week all the plinko bounces went my way. Nick Folk hit a 55 yard FG with under 30 seconds left to save a Jets cover in a game that they were within 1 score the whole way until the last 2 minutes. The Giants were outplayed most of the game but got 2 Def/ST TDs including a game winning TD on a 100 yd KR. In the 6pt teaser on MNF, the Ravens had a chance on the last play of the game to tie the game and kill the teaser but came up 4 yards short. Plinko for the win!

Plinko win (more…)

Week 7 NFL Picks

This week is a big card, I liked a side or total in almost every game this week and most of them I liked off the open. Its funny when some weeks jump out at you and others nothing looks good until very late in the week, I’m not sure it means anything in terms of winning and losing but I did spend a lot of time looking into games this week trying to ensure there was more behind the games I liked than just gut feeling in hopes of ending the losing streak at 1.

Season ATS 21-13-1

Last Week 2-4

Game 1 NO @ Ind -3.5

Bet% NO 28% Ind 72%

Sometimes while watching games, I will make a note that all things equal, I want to bet against one of the teams the following week because of the way the game is unfolding. Watching the Saints- Falcons game last week on TNF I immediately looked at the Saints’ week 7 opponent and thought there was a chance for a perfect storm if the Colts were blown out by the Pats to getting great line value. The Colts ended up losing but covered so we are not getting quite the perfect number but it is still a great one.

The Saints played at home on TNF against divsional rival Atlanta, the Falcons who came in undefeated struggled mightily in the short week, they had 3 turnovers to the Saints 0, the Saints even had blocked punt for TD essentially everything went right for them last week. Regardless of last week’s win, the Saints are still dead last in defensive DVOA, 31st in net yards per play, 30th in avg opponent passer rating, 28th in opp yards per rush att (4.8). Saints defense is also last in 3rd down to 1st down percentage, essentially teams average twice as many 1st downs as 3rd downs. If you cant force 3rd downs you are not getting off the field and the Saints D doesn’t get off the field.

As for the Colts, they too are a team I don’t love but they are better than they have been in the early part of the season especially on offense. Andrew Luck played his best game of the season last week vs New England with a passer rating of 98.1 after missing 2 games due to injuries. It is perfectly plausible that the injury may have been impacting him in the start of the season when he was playing well below his established level. Its also worth noting that the 2 defenses he faced to start the season, the Bills and Jets, are 2 of the best pass defenses in the league #1 and #7 in opp passer rating and #1 and #6 in opp pass yards per attempt. The Saints are nowhere near that level of opposition for Luck and the Colts offense and I fully expect last weeks win on TNF to be an anomaly for the Saints.

** I got a great number (-3.5) on this game but anything under 6 is value.

Game 2 Min @ Det +2

Bet% Min 52% Det 48%

While their records are quite different in many ways these teams have been basically the same teams this season minus one very important factor, Turnovers. The Vikings are 3-2 while the Lions are 1-5 but neither team has played to their expected level, especially on offense. These are the 26th and 29th DVOA teams this season, they are 24th and 25th in passer rating but the Vikings defense has been much better this season ranked 19th in DVOA compared to the Lions who are 29th,

I made this game Det -2.5, I think the Vikings are a slightly better team and would be a small fav on a neutral field but I really don’t think we have any gauge on who the Lions are because they have turned the ball over so much. The Lions have committed the most turnovers in the NFL so far, 18, 9 of those are fumbles. If you believe like me that turnovers for the most part are random especially fumble recoveries then you have to think this will level off at some point. Stafford has 10 TDs to 9Ints so far if you look at the last 4 full seasons (’11: 41 TDs-9 Ints, ’12: 20 TDs-17 Ints, ’13: 29TDs – 19 Ints, ’14: 22TDs- 12 Ints) this season so far,outside of 2012 this seasons ratio is well below his career marks.

The Lions showed last week that they are still capable of playing offense at a high level even if it doesn’t happen consistently. The Vikings offense hasn’t shown anywhere near that top level yet and to have them as favorites in this game seems undeserved, here’s hoping that we get the most recent version of both these teams. (more…)

NFL Week 6 Review – The First Cut is the Deepest

For 5 weeks in a row I was able to avoid any losing weeks but in week 6 that luck ran out. The toughest part of the losing week was the Car-Sea game,had I stuck with my original pick, trusted the numbers and just taken the Panthers +7 instead teasing it with the under I would have been 3-3 and avoided the losing week but those decisions always seem obvious when looking back. Losing sucks.

Xaviar crying

Week 6: 2-4

ATS 21-13-1

Week 6 Results

Week 6

What Went Right

  • Miami’s commitment to run game – In the write up I described how under Joe Philbin Miami had abandoned the run averaging 16 rush attempts per game, 9 less than last season. In heir first game under Campbell Miami rushed 32 times for 180 yards (5.6/att)
  • The Eagles offense is still terrible and the defense is carrying them – The Under on MNF cleared easily as the Eagles defense dominated this ugly game that saw a total of 7 turnovers. The Eagles D held NYG to 247 total yards (3.9/play), 7 points and also scored 7 on a pick 6.

What Went Wrong

  • The Washington defense- Washington came into this game giving up 6.4 yards per pass and 4.4 yards per rush, the Jets offense dominated them in this game averaging 9.7 yards per pass attempt and 5.4 yards per rush attempt (221 rush yards total). the rush defense was actually worse than those numbers as the garbage time runs dropped the average,  Chris Ivory ran for 146 yards on 20 carries or 7.3 yards per attempt. One of the problems that you can run into with games dominated by defenses is turnovers resulting in short fields and was points, this game featured 5 turnovers 2 that lead directly to TDs and there was also a blocked punt that was returned for a TD.
  • The Bengals didn’t have a let down- These are the games where its easy to look dumb, games where you know you are taking the inferior team on a short line and are betting for the superior team, the Bengals, in this case to simply not play well. There were games this week, ATL-NO, Ari-Pit where that is exactly what happened, the better team was playing on the road and had a let down and the home dog took advantage and won outright. We weren’t so lucky in Buffalo
  • Seattles Redzone Defense: I should have stuck with my first instinct and just played the Panthers +7, that seems obvious in hindsight but the teaser looked very good at half where Car was down 3 and the total was at 17 and even after 3 when Car was down 6 and the total was at 34. Seattle once again led this game late and collapsed in the 4th Q getting outscored 13-3 and a big reason they lost this game is that the Panthers went 3 for 3 in the redzone. Seattle had been giving up TDs on 50% of redzone trips through 5 weeks but couldn’t get any in this game.

What did We Learn

Importance of ‘Clustered Injuries’ – Injuries are often difficult to handicap and usually in the case of skill positions the impact of a missing WR/RB is over estimated by betters, in fact there is a popular theory by pro bettors where they will bet on a team that has lost a key player to injury in the first week believing there is an over valuing of that player. The largest injury impact is always at the QB position where there can be a dramatic drop off from #1 to #2 but that drop off will always be adjusted in the line.

Where it is important to look at injuries is when a team has multiple injuries in position group. For most positions, you are not going to see major drop off between the starter and back up but when you have multiple starters out, NFL teams just do not have a lot of depth and the #7 or 9 offensive lineman on the team is going to be a below replacement level player.

This is what happened in Washington this week and something I just missed. Washington was without 3 starters on their offensive line including their star LT Trent Williams and their center, the combined career starts for Washington’s line in that Jets game was 14. Washington also only had 1 starter in the secondary and while Breline has proved he should have been the starter anyways, with the reliance of offenses on 3 and 4 WR sets losing 2 starters at CB and a safety is just too much to withstand. For my under I needed Wash to be able to run he ball and shorten the game which because of the injures they couldn’t. Also the depleted secondary was taken apart by the Jets, as the new corners get more playing time their negative impact will decrease but in this game it was substantial.

Lesson: Pay attention to injury reports and cluster injuries.

NFL Week 6 Picks – Who’s Real

Its an interesting NFL Season, we had a number of undefeated teams going into Week 6, CAR, ATL, CIN that many wondered if they were real contenders or not. We also have a number of teams that are under .500 that many considered contenders going into the season like Seattle, Philly and Baltimore and then there are teams like Miami and Indy who we have no idea who they really are. Week 6 will answer the question of are they real for a number of teams and here’s hoping I am on the right side of those answers on my Week 6 card.

Season ATS 19-9-1

LW 3-0-1

Game 1 Wash @ NYJ Under 41

Bet% Over 40% Under 60%

This is one of the lowest totals of the game but the defenses have such an advantage in this game that its impossible not to think that the most likely result is a very low scoring game between these two teams. By DVOA we have the #11 Defense (Was) facing the 20th NYJ Offense and on the flip side we have the #2 DVOA defense the of the Jets facing the #17 Offense of Was. For unders I really like defenses that have an advantage in the pass game and we have that on both sides here. In avg passer rating, these two offenses rank 21st (Was) and 24th (NYJ) while the on defense Was ranks 12th  and the Jets are #1 in Opp passer rating with an avg of 62.3.

Another stat I love for the under is both defenses are great at forcing 3rd downs, Was is 11th and NYJ is #1 in percentage of 3rd downs to 1st downs, the reason I love this stat is it means that offenses are not doing well on 1st downs and the more 3rd downs they face the better the chance there is for the defense to get off the field. Both these defenses are in the top 5 in opponents 3rd down conversion percentage.

Game 2 Cin @ Buf +3

Bet% Cin 77% Buf 23%

At some point Andy Daulton is going to have a game that reminds us of the ‘old’ Andy Daulton and the Bengals are going to slip up like every team minus maybe the Patriots will and this feels like as good a spot as any. The Bengals are coming off of a huge win at home vs the Super Bowl finalist Seahawks where they came back from a 17 point deficit in the 4th quarter and won in OT. At 5-0 the Bengals have a lot to feel good about and with a Bye next week and a 2 game lead in the division this feels like it could be a let down spot.

Both these teams are having great starts on offense, Cin is 3rd in passer rating (115.6), Buf is 6th (103.6), Cin is 1st in Yards per pass, Buf is 10th, Cin is avg 4.0 yards per rush (21st) while Buf is avg 4.3 (10th). On defense however Bufalo is having a better year than Cin in every category, Buf is 6th vs the pass while Cin is 19th, Buf is 11th vs the run and the Bengals are 29th.

Tyrod Taylor is expected to miss this game but Buffalo should be getting some of their key offensive players back this week including Shady Mccoyand Sammy Watkins, which should make up for the downgrade at QB. I like that this is basically a 80-20 game with 77% of bets on the road fav and the with the Bengals in a classic let down schedule spot, ie off of very big emotional win and looking forward to the Bye, this feels like a great spot to take the home dog Bills.

Game 3:  Mia +2 @ Ten

Bet% Mia 57% Ten 43%

There is not  lot to write up about this game that points positively towards Miami, they have been terrible on offense and defense and were so bad that they were the first team to fire their coach. After starting the year with a couple of ok performances the last few weeks the were blown out by divisional opponents and looked like a team that the head coach had lost. This week coming off of a bye week and in their first game with interm coach Dan Campbell I expect them to put in a full effort and this is a team with a lot of talent on both sides of the ball.

One place I expect Miami to change this week is with their run game, so far this season they are averaging 16.2 rushes per game, last season when this offense was the #19th DVOA offense they were averaging 24.9 carries a game. Both these teams have struggled vs the run giving up 4.4 yards per attempt each but I expect Miami in this game to be better positioned to take advantage of that. Again there isn’t a lot to be positive about for Miami so far but if they are going to do anything to save this season from being a lost season, this game is a must win.


NFL Week 5 Review: Almost Perfect

The hot streak continued into week 5, with 4 teams on Bye’s and a smaller card I found fewer games in week 5 that I liked but the ones I did were all the right side and if not for a bad a number in the Ten/Buf game it would have been a perfect 4-0. As it was, 3-0-1 was pretty good consolation so I might take a little extra time to admire this one.

Week 5: 3-0-1

Season ATS 19-9-1

Week 5 Results

Week 5 Results

What Went Right

  • The Chiefs had no business as a 10 point fav. Covering a number as large as 10 points is not easy for the best of teams and when this line was released it just made no sense to me how the 22nd ranked team by DVOA and 30th in defensive DVOA could be favored by 10 over anyone The Chiefs sis lead by 14 at half-time like most mediocre teams they were not able to sustain that level of play for 16 minutes and not only allowed the Bears to cover but actually come back and win out right. The Bears who had played very tough teams in the first 3 weeks and were 0-3, won their 2nd straight against a team in the bottom 3rd of the league.


NFL Week 5 Picks – NY Giants – Beasts From the East

I started week 5 by making a futures bet on the NFC East champion. I took the NY Giants for 2 units @ +325, I had meant to make this bet last week and had seen the Giants at over +400 before their win against the Bills but I still think the Giants are prohibitive favorites and are worth this future at any price above +200. With Romo out at least another month, along with Dez Bryant, with all the issues the Eagles are having on their offensive line, in their run game and secondary, if the Giants can remain relatively healthy I like them to win this division handily. Giants play the Eagles next week and if they win that game which I think they will, I expect the giants futures to drop well below +200.

Season ATS 16-9 LW 4-2

Game 1: Chi +10 @ KC

Bet% Chi 50% KC 50%

This was the first game that jumped out at me when looking at the opening lines and I bet it thinking it would move down which it didn’t but I still think it is the right side. When we think of teams that can cover double digits, we generally think of teams like NE and GB that have elite offenses. The Chiefs are not that, they are the #18 DVOA offense, 17th in Qb rating and of critical importance if covering a big number like this they are 25th in redzone TD% at 50%. While they have a middling offense the defense is an even bigger problem, Chiefs are 30th in Defensive DVOA, 27th against the pass in both passer rating and yards per attempt. While the Bears are certainly not a good team, 30th in DVOA I think they are actually better than their results so far have indicated when we consider their schedule, the 3 osses came against GB, Arizona and in Seattle and also for 2 of those games they were without Cutler for all or most of the game.Its just impossible for me to believe a team with a middling offense and bottom of league defense can be a 10 point favorite.

Game 2: NO @ Phil -5.5

Bet% NO 63% Phil 37%

This fees like a good spot for the Eagles to right themselves on offense after a 2nd half last week where they finally got some big plays in the passing game. The Eagles have some major issues on the offensive line and otside of last week have not been able to get any large plays in the pass game. The Saints appear to be the perfect elixer for what ails the Eagles, The Saints are dead last in avg opp passer rating at 116.3 and giving up 9.4 yards per attempt which is also dead last. In terms of big plays, the Saints have a big play differential of 13, the Eagles are plus 3.

The Eagles defense has been very consistent and able to keep the Eagles in most games, they are #3 vs the run and there weakness in the secondary doesn’t seem like one the Saints can take advantage of with a less than 100% Drew Brees,  This is a must win game for Chip Kelly, the division is still up for grabs and he should be able to get his offense going vs this defense.

Game 3: Buf @ Ten +1

Bet% Buf 77% Ten 23%

This game opened at Buf -3 and even though 75% of the bets are on Buffalo we have a line move towards the Titans so there is a reverse line move here. The Titans are coming off of a bye so they have extra time to get ready for this Bills defense. The Titans offense has been very good early in the year, 4th in passer rating, 8th in yards per pass att so they should be able to move the ball but I think the major issues for Buffalo will be on offense.

Last week, the Bills were without Shady Mccoy and Sammy Watkins leaving the offense to Tyrod Taylor and Karlos Williams, Its a game I had looked to bet all week but regrettably never pulled the trigger on. The Bills struggled on offense,  averaging 5.9 yards per pass and 2.3 yards per rush now this week they are now also without Williams and down to their #3 RB. The Titans should be able to handle this version of the Bills offense, they are #6 in Defensive DVOA and 5th in Sack percentage. The Titans have really excelled in forcing 3rd downs this year and last week the Bills saw 16 3rd downs to only 14 1st downs, the more 3rd downs Ten can force the better chance they have to get off the field.

Game 4: Was +7 Atl 

Bet% Was 25% Atl 75%

Atlanta is 4-0 SU and also 4-0 ATS because of that each and every week they win and cover the line gets shaded more and more towards the Falcons, essentially it acts as a tax to take the red hot Falcons. In this case a TD favorite seems like a lot, the Falcons have played 3 NFC East teams so far and in every game the spread was under a FG, in the opener they were 3 point under dogs to the Eagles.  While Atl are clearly the better team there are a couple of areas that Wash could take advantage of specifically in the run game. Wash is 3rd in the league in yards per rush at 4.4 and Atl is 27th in opp yards per rush at 4.4 so Wash should be able to control the game on the ground and stay close.

In the end whether Wash is able to stay close and cover in this game may be determined in the redzone, Atlanta has been #1 in the league in converting 80% of redzone trips to TDs while the Wash defense is #3 in allowing TDs on only 37.5%.

Week 4 Review: A Perfect Morning

I can’t remember another week where the games played out closer to the way I capped them in my write ups more than this week. Sunday started with a perfect 4-0 morning and the next 2 games went almost exactly as I could have hoped for but the perfect day ended up being done in by Football Plinko, a 4th down play here, a hit upright there and the day ends 4-2.  A winning weekend that could have been so much more. That being said, starting the season with 0 losing weekends in the first month and 7 games over is pretty fantastic and reason to celebrate.

Hallway Dance

Week 4: 4-2

Season ATS: 16-9

Week 4 Results

Week 4 Rev

What Went Right:

  • Almost Everything.: First off the Dolphins were as big a mess and this game was as much of a mismatch as the numbers indicated. This game was never in doubt, the Jets led 10-0 after 1Q and cruised the rest of the way. Miami fired an overwhelmed Joe Philbin after this game and named their TE coach and former NY Giant Dan Campbell as head coach. Campbell has never been a coordinator or head coach at any level, this should go super smooth.
  • Betting against teams playing back to back road games continues be a winning proposition as 3 of 4 teams in that spot lost ATS including the Raiders and Eagles who I faded this week. The one exception was the Jags who I was on so that couldn’t have worked out better.


NFL Week 4 Picks – Being Prepared for a Hurricane

I didn’t get a chance to really look at the opening lines this week until late Tuesday and in doing so I missed out on a few great opportunities. Week 4 saw some dramatic line moves especially in the totals due to the impending Hurricane Joaquin, the sharps bet heavily on the unders on games like Was – Phi and quickly drove the lines down.

Its a good lesson on the importance of checking out the opening lines and being prepared early to take advantage of opening lines either because of major factors like weather & injuries or simply knowing that certain numbers are going to be bet a certain way because of public perception.

Season ATS 12-7 Last Week 4-3

Game1 NYJ -1.5 vs MIA (In London England)

Bet% NYJ 67% Mia 33%

All week I kept thinking of reasons not to bet the Jets like the game is in London and there is definitely some unknowns that come with that, The Dolphins have underperformed all year and at some point are going to play up to their talent and the there are rumours that Philbins job is on the line so you never know how that impacts the team. In the end,this feels like it’s too good a matchup at a cheap price.

The Jets and Dolphins have played similar levels of competition but had very different results. The Jets are 2-1 with a point differential of +27 while Miami is 1-2 with a point differential of -23. The Jets have been helped in their wins with turnover margins that are not sustainable but what is sustainable is their dominant defense.

The Jets are #2 in defensive DVOA, against the pass they are #4 in avg opp passer rating, 66.5 which includes Andrew Luck, 3rd in opp passing yards per attempt and 7th vs the run giving up 3.5 yards per rush. Miami has not had much luck running the ball so far this season averaging only 4.0 yards per rush and the Jets just faced the Eagles last week who have very similar run schemes to the Dolphins and held them to 3.2 yards per rush.  That means the middling Dolphins pass game will have to carry the offense vs the dominant Jets pass defense.

On the flip side the Dolphins run defense has not got better even with the addition of Suh to the defensive line, they are 22nd in the league giving up 4.2 yards per att and the Jets get Chris Ivory back this week. Miami’s pass defense has been even worse giving up 7.9 yards per attempt (29th) which considering who they have played, Kirk Cousins, Blake Bortles and Tyrod Taylor aren’t exactly a murders row should provide the Jets plenty of opportunities to score.


NFL Week 3 Review

Like Week 2, Week 3 looked like it had a chance to be me much better as the Ravens, led late in the 4th Q, the Car NO game was under mid way through the 4th and the Rams were within 1 score of the Steelers throughout the game but in the end all 3 of those games went the wrong way. Nonetheless, the overall record continues to look  good and I wouldn’t dare be sour about a winning week in betting the NFL

Rollins dont be sour

Week 3: 4-3

Season ATS: 12-7

Week 3 Results

Week 3 Rev

What Went Right

 Kirk Cousins on the road was typical Kirk Cousins – In my write up I thought this was a spot where we would see Bad Kirk Cousins and with 2 Ints and a QBR of 39.7 that’s exactly what we got. As expected Wash was able to shut down the NYG run game but Eli more than made up for it in the passing game avg 8.7 yards per attempt and 2 TDs as the Giants go their 1st win of the season.

Eagles D and ST – I had both the Eagles and the under this week and both bets cashed on the strength of the Eagles defense holding the Jets to only 17 points and coming up with big plays in crucial moments with takeaways in this game. (more…)