The NFL betting market this week saw some very quick moves and getting the best of number really requires having your prep work done early in the week, its amazing how quickly numbers go off the board. The Panthers opened as 6 point favorites and honestly the only way I thought that line could move was towards 7 but by Friday it was basically 4 everywhere. Getting the best of the number really requires some a combination of early prep work and fortune-telling.
2015 ATS 32-21-2
Game 1: Car @ Ten +4.5
Bet% Car 76% Ten 24%
*Reverse Line Move- This line opened at 6 but was bet down to 4.5-4 even though 75%of bets are on the Panthers
There isn’t a lot statistically to think that the Titans are capable of playing the Panthers tough. The Panthers are certainly for real, now the #4 team in overall DVOA and #2 in defense while the Titans rank 24th.
The only way the Titans can stay close and have a chance at winning is if the Panthers have a let down game here and I think situationally there is a case you can make that this is a spot that happens. Below is a look at the last 4 Panthers games.
2 of the games were in prime time where the Panthers rarely get to play, the Seattle game was a major playoff revenge spot and the Packers game was basically for #1 team in the NFC. The Indy game is the one with the least on the line and while they won straight up, they had to go to OT and they didn’t cover against a team that came in 3-5.
This week, the Panthers play a losing team, on the road after 3 straight home games, outside the conference, it is literally the least important game they have played since week 1.
As for the Titans, the defense has been very good this year ranking 9th in DVOA, and importantly for this game giving up 4.1 yards per rush (14th) but in the last 3 games only giving up 3 yards per rush.
The offense has been very hit and miss under Mariotta and this is the concern here. He has been great in 2 games (TB,NO), pretty good in 2 others (Cle,Ind) and terrible in 2 (Buf,Mia). The 2 games he was terrible in were against easily the best defenses he has faced and neither is as good as Carolina, so that is a major concern here but if the Ten defense can keep Car close the hope is Mariotta can make enough plays to stay within a score and maybe pull out the win SU.
Game 2 Chi @ Stl –6.5
Bet% Chi 49% Stl 51%
Chicago is coming off of a very big comeback win on MNF vs the Chargers and now playing their second straight road game in St. Louis. The Bears are 29th in DVOA, 19th on offense and 28th on defense. The Rams are 14th in DVOA, 28th on offense and 5th on defense.
There is no question the advantage the Rams defense has on the Bears offense, the Bears are averaging on 3.5 yards per rush in their last 3 games (3.9) on the season and Matt Forte will be out for his game, the Rams are 8th vs the run giving up 3.8 so they should be able to make the Bears 1 dimensional. Being 1 dimensional vs the Rams is a dangerous proposition, the Rams are 2nd in sack percentage (8.82% of plays) in total pressures per game at 16 per game, if the Bears cannot run that pressure will get to Jay Cutler.
The Rams pass offense has struggled all year and in games where they fall behind or can’t get the run game going and have to pass they are not likely to get back into games. In this game I do not expect the Rams to have any issues getting their run game going. The Rams are averaging 4.9 yards per rush on the season (8th) and face the bears 2th run defense as they have given up 4.6 yards per rush, in the last 3 weeks its been even worse at 5 yards per rush att.
The Rams have made a habit of wearing teams down through the game and the fact that this is the Bears 2nd straight road game and the 4th road game in their last 5 I expect that to continue here. The Bears offense that came alive in the 2nd half last week took advantage of a severely depleted Chargers defense especially after Jason Verette got hurt in the 1st half should have a much more difficult time vs the Rams.
Game 3: NO @ Wash Pk
Bet% NO 73% Was 27%
On the surface their isn’t really anything that jumps out between these similarity ranked teams, The 4-5 Saints are 23rd in DVOA, 3-5 Wash is 19th, Saints are -27 in pt differential, Wash -37 and they are both -2 in turnover differential. With a line basically at a pick em this certainly seems like a game that is a stay away. But there is one more way these 2 teams are really similar, and that is in their home/road performance on offense. See below.
Most teams play better at home than the road but the splits for these 2 offenses are particularly dramatic. Add in the Saints defense which is the worst in the league and this should be a very good spot for Washington to put up points.
On the flip side there is no offense hotter than the Saints scoring 80 points in their last 2 weeks but if we look at the 2 most recent road games they played (@ IND @ Phi) the performances were a couple of steps below what we have seen the last 2 weeks at the Superdome, which follows the home/road splits above.
The Washington defense is 23rd vs the pass so Drew Brees will certainly be able to move the ball on them but Washington will need to keep up their strong play in the redzone on defense where they are giving up TDs on 48% of trips, that number is better at home where they give up TDs on 37.5% of trips and we see that Saints are almost 20% worse in the RZ on the road. If Washington can hold the Saints to some 3s instead of 7s they should be able to win this game.
Game 4: Mia +6.5 @ Phi
Bet% Mia 34% Phi 66%
I’m an Eagles fan and I can’t remember being less impressed with an Eagles team since Andy Reids last year. In a lot of ways these teams are similar in that they have underperformed their pre-season projections but also that they have had widely varying ranges of performances so far this season. Both these teams are capable of looking dominant and like they can play anyone for a half or game but also look like they might be one of the worst teams in the league. Its because of that range that I can’t see how the Eagles can be favs of 6.5 here.
The Eagles are 10th in DVOA because of their defense which is 6th, the offense ranks 22nd. The Dolphins are 20th due to their 27th ranked defense, their offense ranks 13th. So it’s basically strength vs strength and weakness vs weakness, which group wins out?
When I look at the Eagles defense I think they are beginning to slide a little and are not quite as good now as they were to begin the season. Early in the year they were one of the best run defenses in the league, through the frst 5 weeks they gave up 3.5 yards per rush, in the last 3 they have given up 4.9 yards per rush, including 117 yards to Darren McFadden last week and 125 on 24 carries to Jonathon Stewart the week previous. The season ending injury to Jordan Hicks who has led the team in tackles over the last month is also a big loss.
The Eagles defense has also been reliant on turnovers, they lead the league with 20 takeaways but I’m not sure how anyone can expect that to continue, they are not a team with a dominant secondary, its actually below average and they are not a team that that gets a lot of pressure, 29th in the league (sacks + TFL + QB Hits)
The Eagles offense should also have success against the Dolphins, the Dolphins continue to struggle against the run and the Eagles offense performs much better in games where they can run but their pass offense continues to struggle. Bradford has a passer rating of 79.5 this season but its actually been worse recently at 72.9 over the last 3 weeks where they have averaged only 6.1 yards per pass attempt. Compare that to the Dolphins who have averaged 7.9 yards per pass the last 3 weeks and a passer rating of 106.6 up from the season rating of 89.
I’m not sure either of these teams are as good but I certainly don’t think the Eagles deserve to by favs this large after needing a Defensive TD and OT to beat the Cowboys last week who haven’t won a game since losing Tony Romo.
Game 5: Jax +4.5 @ Bal
Bet% Jax 62% Bal 38%
The Ravens are having one of the most interesting/disappointing seasons I can remember a team having. They are 2-6 going into this week’s game and what makes that amazing is that they have been favored in 6 of the games (0-5-1 ATS) . So why are the continually made the favorites and in games like this favorites of more than a FG?
Well they started the year projected to be a top 10 team in DVOA and were a co-favourite with the Bengals to win the division so certainly pre-season rankings has a lot to do with it. Also they play close games week after week, they are -24 in point differential which is 18th , compare that to the Jags who also have 2 wins but are -65 on the season.
So with both teams at 2 wins and such a big difference in pt differential why take the Jags? Well a couple of reasons. 1 the point differential hasn’t helped the Ravens cover any games as a favourite so getting 6 here is really big. 2. The Jags have been playing much better the last month, including 2 very good games against tough AFC East opponents the last 2 weeks the Bills and Jets. They beat the Bills and should have beat the Jets, out-gaining them 436 to 290 but they were -4 in the Turnover battle and that was too much to overcome.
The Jags have been great against the run, giving up 3.2 yards per rush this year which is #1, over the last 3 weeks they gave up just 2.7 yards per rush and what makes that even more impressive is that it was against, Chris Ivory, Shady McCoy and Arian Foster. So I can’t see the Ravens and their 27th run attack having much success there.
The Jags have advantages vs the Ravens in both pass offense 6.6 to 6.4 yards per att, and pass defense 7.1 yards per pass att against vs 7.9. The big issue for the Jags this season has been is turnovers they are -6 but the Ravens have been hurt by the same issue as they are . Jags should have a shot to win this game straight up, sprinkle some on the money line.