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.

Game 3 Hou @ Mia -4

Bet% Hou 37% Mia 63%

Last week I hoped that under a new head coach we would see a Miami team that resembled the team that was projected in the summer and for the most part I think we did. Miami not only established their run game last week but used it to dominate, rushing 32 times for 180 yards and 2TDs. Beyond the running game the biggest improvement Miami showed last week was in defensive pressure. In pressure plays (Sacks, QB hits, TFL) Miami ranked 31st with 7.5 pressure plays per game going into Week 6 but last week they had 21 pressure plays including 6 sacks, 4 of them for Cameron Wake. Again this is much more what we expect from a defense that features the likes of Wake and Suh.

Houston I think is pretty much who they were expected to be, they are 30th in DVOA, 25th on offense and 23rd on defense, maybe most surprisingly for a team that has super human JJ Watt they rank 26th in pressure plays. On offense, Houston has looked better with Brian Hoyer but much of his work besides last week vs the Jags has been in garbage time and the Jags are 28th in opponents passer rating so again not how much we can take from that game either.

I thought coming into this season that Miami was a 8 or 9 win team that if all went right could sneak into the playoffs, that seems very unlikely now but I wouldn’t be surprised if they went on a bit of a run here and I see them winning big at home vs a limited Texas team.

Game 4: Cle @ Stl -6.5

Bet% Cle 34% STL 66%

This is an interesting schedule spot. Cleveland has been on a very nice run the last month covering 3 straight and 4 of the last 5 games they have played. Their last 3 games have all been decided by a FG  and the last 2 went to OT. That’s a lot of tough close games to play for any team and you have to think is going to be an emotional let down here at some point.

The Rams are coming off of a Bye after playing 3 of the top teams in the league, the Steelers with Big Ben, Arizona who they beat and the Packers. The Rams have one of the best defenses in the NFL, #7 in DVOA and #3 in pressure plays with16 per game. This is where I see this game being dominated, while the Rams are one of the best teams at getting pressure, the Browns are 30th in pressure plays against giving up 15.8. We see this in sack percentage as well were the Rams get sacks on 9.8% of plays and the Browns give up sacks on 8.8% of plays. The other major mismatch in this game is in the run game, the Rams have moved to number 1 in the league averaging 4.8 yards per rush behind Todd Gurley meanwhile the Browns are giving up 5 yards per rush attempt which is 31st. The Rams have played 4 games vs top competition and were competitive in all those games, they already slipped up once vs a lesser team (Wash) I don’t expect that to happen here coming out of the bye.

Game 5: NYJ +8 @ NE

Bet% NYJ 52% NE 48%

I’m terrible at reading line moves, this game opened at 9, I knew I was going to be on the Jets as long as opened over a TD but when it opened at 9 I thought, this may go to 10 and held off. Even when it dropped to 8.5 I thought it would at least go back to 9, but no of course not, so here I am at 8.

Anyways, you are not going to get rich betting against the Patriots but this is the one situation where betting against the Patriots isactually  profitable and that is when they are favoured by 7.5 or more, since 2009 the Pats are 10-16 ATS in those situations while going 22-4 straight up.  If you look at New England’s schedule this is one of the few spots that seems like a loss is even probable. The Jets are clearly the #2 team in the division and have one of the few defenses that has a chance to slow NE down. The Jets have the #2 defense by DVOA, they are #1 in opp passer rating (60.9), #1 in opponents pass yards per att and tied for #2 in opp rush yards per att (3.5).

What may be surprising about the Jets is how capable their offense has been so far, they rank 10th in DVOA on offense and are 7th in rush offense averaging 4.5 yards per attempt. Now obviously with Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB there is always a chance that he self destructs and the Pats win by 2 TDs but again, if there is a spot to go against NE its this one, getting more than 7 points with an elite defense and strong run game.

Game 6: Dal @ NYG-3

Bet% Dal 42% NYG 58%

I don’t get this line move at all, I guessed the line would open Giants -6.5 it opened -6 which made sense and then started dropping day by day and got all the way down to 3 which is where I couldn’t lay off any more. Dallas is coming off of a bye week where they replaced Brandon Weedon with Matt Cassel as their QB and may have replaced Julius Randall with Christine Michael as the starting RB. Both these moves may be upgrades as its impossible not to be an upgrade over Weedon but honestly Cassel isn’t much better. Since 2012 here are Weedon’s season QBR ratings (29.3, 21.3, 14) this seasons 58.7 is almost double any of his previous seasons and he just got benched. Cassel?? here are his QBR Ratings since 2012 (24.7, 46.7, 36.7).

As for the Giants, they played a terrible game last week on MNF @ Phi losing 24-7, they actually started really well, scoring a TD on their first drive and then moving the ball easily on their second drive until they had an interception. That really was the story of the game,Giants mistakes, not only did they turn the ball over 3 times they also committed 12 penalties for 94 yards and gave up 4 first downs on penalties. Turnovers are the great equalizer and Eli certainly is capable of throwing games away from time to time but he has been pretty great this season with a passer rating of 94, 11 TDs and 4 Ints, 2 of which were last week.

The Giants have some injuries in their secondary which makes them susceptible to strong pass games but the Cassel to Terrence Williams combo is not one that strikes fear in anyone’s heart.Dallas is getting key players back on defense but in the end I trust Eli to make enough plays while I don’t expect Cassel to make anywhere near enough. The Giants know they can win the division and losing last week was really big,they know they cannot afford to get swept by Dallas.

Game 7: Bal @ Ari -2 & Over 43 (6Pt Teaser)

Bet% Bal 32% Ari 68%/ Over 73% Under 27%

I missed out on the opening lines which quickly pushed up for both the over and the Cardinals and with good reason so I am playing a 6 pt teaser here that looks very square. Arizona has absolutely slaughtered bad teams this season, their season point differential is +88, the beat Chicago by 25, SF by 40 and Det by 25. Coming off of a very bad loss last week to the Steelers I expect Arizona to be in top form.

The Ravens who have had a decade long reputation of being a team led by their defense are giving up 27 points per game which is 27th in the league. Ravens pass defense has been a major problem giving up a and passer rating 101.7 and 7.7 yards per pass attempt, the #2 pass offense of the Cardinals should have no problem putting up a lot of points against the Ravens.

Getting Steve Smith back last week paid instant dividend and I do expect the Ravens offense to put up some points with Smith even if it is in garbage time late.

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