Week 14 Picks

This was one of the weeks that when I looked at the opening lines a number of games jumped off the page right away and because they were around some key numbers I bet them early to lock in the value. As the week went on I ended up keeping all of the bets except one, the Lions. the more I looked at it the more the Lions game scared me, I know the rams offense has been awful but they are a different team at home and its hard for me to join the 75% of bets on the shot road favourite. Other than the Lions I kept all the bets made early in the week and ended up locking in some great numbers and getting great value.

2015 ATS: 45-31-2

LW: 3-3

Game 1: Buf +1 @ Phi

Bet%: Buf 65% Phi 35%

2 weeks ago there were a lot of talk about the Eagles moving on from Chip Kelly at seasons end on the heels of 2 of the worst losses the eagles have had in a decade plus but after a huge week over the New England Patriots last week that talk has mostly gone away. For me when I look at previous results and factor it in to my handicapping I always try to focus on what is repeatable, so lets look at what the Eagles did last week.

When you look at those numbers on offense they don’t exactly spark a great deal of confidence or give any inclination that the Eagles were able to figure out what has gone wrong on offense this season. The Eagles scored 35 points on just 248 yards of offense because they returned a blocked punt for a TD, returned a punt for a TD and then returned an interception for a 99 yard TD. 3 return TDs in a month is pretty lucky, in 1 game? I’m not even sure lucky qualifies. The Eagles are the same team on offense they have been all season, they are 29th in yards per play (5.1),25th in passer rating (82.9) and 28th in yards per pass (6.3). Their numbers over the last 3 games are all very much in line.

The Bills have season has gone completely opposite of what I thought it would and probably most people did, as they have been carried by their offense this season while their defense has struggled. The Bills are 7th in DVOA offense but 26th in DVOA offense, the offensive ranking is actually a little understated here when you consider that their starting QB, RB and  #1 WR have all missed considerable time but are all healthy now.

The Bills Passing game should have a lot of success in this game, opposing QBs have an ag passer rating of 91.1 vs the Eagles this season, 112.7 in the last 3 games. Rookie CB Eric Rowe will be making his 2nd start of the season for Eagles, he couldn’t get on th field through the first 10 weeks. Eagles have struggled with top WRs all year and I expect Sammy Watkins to have a big game. I don’t expect the Eagles offense to be able to keep up even against a struggling Bills defense.

Game 2: Pit +3 @ Cin

Bet%: Pit 47% Cin 53%

This was one of the games I bet early in the week as it was clear this was going to drop under the key number of which it has. I think its still worth betting at +2.5 because I do think the Steelers will win this game and points probably won’t matter but obviously there is a lot value I getting the full 3.

I’m not sure there is a lot to pick between these 2 teams, I have them currently as the top 2 offenses in the NFL and while the Bengals defense has been better this season than the Steelers, the fact that the Steelers need this game much more than Bengals and they played them so tough in the opener has me on the Steelers side.

The Steelers have the best offense in football averaging 6.5 yards per play which includes games started by Mike Vick and Landry Jones, over their last 3 games, all started by Ben, they are averaging 7.4 yards per play and 9.8 yards per pass but really the Bengals have been so good this season that you are never going to make a case against them strictly by numbers. This is really about the spot, this is a crucial game for the Steelers’ playoff hopes while the Bengals have the #1 seed and division championship well within their grasp. Getting the number 1 offense in the league plus points in a game they have to win feels like the right play and the line move off of 3 seems to agree with that.

Game 3: NE @ Hou Under 45

Bet% Over 55% Under 45%

New England and Houston have been 2 of the most impressive defenses over the last month and I think we are getting a little value based on the Patriots scores the last 2 weeks. After the injuries to Edelman and then Gronkowski the Patriots seemed ripe for some unders but both the Denver and Eagles games went over but neither for reasons we can expect to continue. In the Denver game, there were extreme weather conditions with snow and while often we think of low scoring games in bad weather, snow and slippery conditions often create big plays that normally wouldn’t be there in normal conditions. The Denver game featured a 63 yard pass TD, 19 yard rushing TD, and a 48 yard rushing TD in OT. The game featured only 21 points through 3 quarters but the late flurry and OT put it over.

Then last week vs the Eagles, the Pats held the Eagles offense to 250 total yards of offense, under 5 yards per pass and just 14 point but the Eagles got 3 TDs from defense and special teams and the game went way over. Edelman will be out and Gronk is listed as questionable but even if he plays he will be way below 100%. We see a dramatic drop in the Patriots yards per point numbers since the injuries, through week 10 the Patriots were 1st in yards per points at 12.4, over the last 3 weeks their yards per point is at 15.1.

As for the Texans they have been a dominant defense the last month and continue to be a bottom 10 offense. They rank 29th on the season in yards per pass, 29th in yards per rush and even though there numbers have been up the last month, their weighted offense still ranks in the bottom 3rd.

Houston is a popular bet for sharps this week at home at +3.5 and if they are going to be competitive in this game or even win it, you have to imagine its on the strength of their defense and they win a close low scoring game.

Game 4: NO @ TB -4.5

Bet% NO 46% TB 54%

This is a game I am betting for 2 reasons. First, strictly by the numbers TB has a huge edge here on the Saints. I currently have the Saints at #10 in my ratings, they are 12th in weighted DVOA, while I have the Saints 29th, 28th in weighted DVOA.

TB has quietly emerged over the last month as a very complete team.  TB is 7th in yards per play with 5.8, 7th in yards per pass (7.2) and 2nd in yards per rush (4.8), overall they rank 15 in offensive DVOA.

The Saints on offense continue to be an elite team 6th in yards per play and yards per pass and they rank 8th in offensive DVOA though their numbers on offense are much better at home than on the road. At home Brees has a passer rating of 111.2 on the road that drops to 81.6 and the yards per pass attempt drop from 8 at home to 6.6 on the road.

While both offenses are performing at similar levels his season the defenses are in different worlds. The Bucs are 5th in opponents yards per play, 14th in opponents yards per pass and #1 in opponents yards per rush at 3.5. the Saints are dead last in defensive DVOA, last in opp yards per play, last in opp yards per pass and last in opp yards per rush.

On top of the home/road splits for the Saints, the massive advantage the Bucs defense has over the saints I also think that this is a big letdown spot for the saints after their heartbreaking loss last week vs the Panthers. The Saints gave everything they had last week trying to upset the Panthers and led late only to have their hearts broken by Newton who through a TD pass late to take the lead and win. That was the Saints last hurrah and I don’t see them putting up the same type of effort again the every next week.

Game 5: Ind @ Jax -1

Bet% Ind 57 Jax 43%

This is another game where I am strictly trusting my numbers I have the Jags ranked and he Colts ranked 28th. The Colts have struggled on offense all year, they struggle in the pass game,   80.2 passer rating (30th) 6.2 yards per pass (30th) and also struggled in the run game 3.6 yards per rush (28th).

The Jags offense has been one of the hottest over the last month, over the last 3 games they are averaging 5.9 yards per play and 7.2 yards per pass and 27.7 points per game.

While the Colts defense has been more efficient than the Jags, ranking 15th in DVOA vs the Jags who rank 28th the Jags are giving up fewer yards per play 5.4 to 5.9 and fewer yards per pass 7.1 to 7.3. The jags are also one of the best teams vs the rush giving up just 3.6 yards per rush (3rd) so I think they will be able to make the Colts 1 dimensional on offense and do enough to hold them at bay.

One indicator I like looking at is big play differential and in this game the Jags have a big advantage. The Jags are +7 in passes of 20 yards or more and runs of 10 yards or more while the Colts are -19. In the end I think the Jags are a slightly better team and they are at home as favorites of less than a FG so I think there is some value here and certainly worth a play this week.

Game 6: Oak +7.5@ Den

Bet% Oak 40% Den 60%

This is another game I bet early in the week and got it Oak +7.5, I would play at +7 but anything below that I think the value is lost and would probably stay away.

Denver is still the number 1 defense in the league, they are giving up only 4.5 yards per play, 5.6 yards per pass an opp QBS have an avg passer rating of 72.5. The Broncos defense is built on pressure, they are #1 in the league in defensive pressure plays and #1 in sack percentage though both those numbers have dropped since the injury of Demarcus Ware.

Denver’s story on offense has been the opposite as with Peyton Manning at QB they were basically last in every major offensive category. The offense has improved with Osweiller at QB but they are still performing as a bottom 3rd offense. Last week vs the Chargers the Broncos offense scored only 10 points, 3 weeks ago vs he Bears the offense scored 17 points. The offense did have a big game vs the Patriots 2 weeks ago but I mentioned in the Patriots write up, much of that offense had to do with big plays do to field/weather conditions. I am just not sure that this Broncos offense is capable of outscoring the Raiders offense by more than a TD even with the #1 defense.

The Raiders defense has been moving the ball very well the last few weeks but have beend one in by turnovers. last week vs the Chiefs the Raiders outgained the Chiefs 361 yards to 232 but lost 34-20 because of 3 interceptions including 1 returned for a TD. The Raiders have the #9 DVOA offense and if they can limit the turnovers should be able to stay competitive and maybe even win straight up. The line in this game has dropped below 7 so that seems to also indicate we are on the right side.

Game 7: NYG -1.5 @ Mia

Write up to come.

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