Month: January 2016

Conference Championship 2015

This weekend would have been a lot more exciting and fun for me had the Steelers or Seahawks made it and kept one of my futures alive, as it is I think we have to pretty interesting games where the public definitely likes the favorites. This is the last time we will see Manning v Brady in a truly meaningful game and even though I get as tired as everyone else of the media constantly fawning over both of them, it does seem fitting that it would end this way for one of the greatest rivalries.

2015 Playoffs: 3-2

2015 Reg Season: 57-35-3

Game 1: NE @ Den +3.5

Bet% NE 74% Den 26%

Note- I got +3.5 at -115, the line has bounced around all week between the 3 and 3.5 and I would suggest buying the hook has value even at -120 or -125 if necessary but I think it is pretty widely available at -120.

It’s been really interesting how unanimous everyone (fans,media) have been that NE is going to the Superbowl and that the Broncos do not have much of a chance here. We see 75% of the bets on a road fav of a full FG or a little more depending on the juice.

First lets just look at the line. Last week the Patriots were 4.5 to 5 point favorites vs KC at home, if we give 3 pts for home field that means the Pats were 1.5-2 pt favorites over KC on a neutral field. Here, we have NE as a 3 pt fav on the road, so if we give Denver 3 points for home-field, and I think Denver has one of the truest home-field advantages with the elevation, then this line makes NE 6 point favs over Denver on a neutral and makes KC 4-4.5 points better than Den. All of which seems way off.

Betting lines in the playoffs are certainly different than the regular season and I get why this number has to be here with so much public money but there certainly is value. I also think that defensive teams will always be undervalued. Denver was the #1 defense by a pretty large margin but because there were games like the Patriots game, like the Steelers game where they gave up a lot of points, the narrative becomes that they aren’t really that good. Its funny, because if a great offensive team has a down game, we are usually very eager to throw those games out as an outlier.

In the end this is simply a bet against the consensus view, we get the best defensive team in the NFL, at home, with 3.5 points while the fav has 75% of bets. It just seems too easy to look at the game as Brady vs Manning’s corpse and Belicheck vs Kubiak and say how can you not bet the Patriots?

Game 2: Ari @ Car Over 47

Bet% Over 70% Under 30%

I think the line here is pretty much right on but think there is some value on he total. We have the 2 highest scoring teams in the league from the regular season, both teams averaged over 30 points per game, coming off of games where they both felt they weren’t aggressive enough.

The Panthers put up all 31 of their points last week in the first half and then spent he second half just holding on. Cam Newton has been very vocal this week to his coaches and the media about that being a mistake and needing to be aggressive for the full 60 minutes.

In Arizona, Bruce Arians had his own mea culpa as he admitted to being very safe in the GB game last week and that playing that way was out of character. I think Arians wanted to not put the game on Carson Palmer who had come into last week with 0 playoffs wins and that clearly was weighing heavy on him. Now with a win under his belt I expect Palmer and Arians to loosen the reins and have a game plan more in line with what we saw all season.

Both teams have excelled in big plays this season, Car ranked 4th in Big Play percentage (8.96% of total plays were passes of 20 yards or more or rushes of 10 yards or more) and the Cardinals were 10th at 8.17%. I think those plays become extra important in the playoffs when the games get tighter and long drives become more and more difficult.

The Panthers were the best redzone team in 2015 (scoring TDs on 69% of RZ trips) and as the favorite I think they will set the pace for the Cardinals who finished 10th in RZ TD% at 59.4%. I also think the field conditions will only help the over, we saw numerous players slipping and giving up big plays last week, with the huge storm this weekend the turf should be even tougher to handle for DBs.

I think the Panthers will win a close one but regardless of who wins I think the winner will score at least 30 and get this total comfortably over 47.

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Divisional Round Review

Was a Rodgers hail mary away from a 1-1-1 Week, that game and that play swung the weekend to a loser. The Hail Mary, the Car- Sea game, the fumble in Pittsburgh it was a wild weekend and in almost every one of those crazy plays games I came out on the wrong end as not only did I go 1-2 on the weekend but also lost both teams I had futures on to win the conference and SB.

RIP Steelers and Seahawks Futures. RIP

Moment of silence

Div Round: 1-2

2015 Playoffs: 3-2

2015 Reg Season: 57-35-3

Div Rd Results

Div Rd 2015

KC @ NE: This game really went to form, a late score from KC ,made the game 1 score but they took so much time on final drive it would have taken a miracle. I love Andy Reid and think he does 90% of the job as well as anyone but the clock management issues have gone on forever and this game was another in a long line.

GB @ Ari: Would have a had a push if not for Rodgers Hail Mary but I think more interesting is this was the 2nd playoff game where we saw a rematch of reg season game that the favorite had blown out the under dog. In both games, Sea-Min and GB-Ari the rematch played very differently and both underdogs had a chance to win the game. Something to keep in mind for next year.

Sea @ Car: Call me crazy but I still feel like Seattle was the best team of 2015. That first big run by Jonathan Stewart with guys slipping all over the field should never happen, they had hours of working on the field before the game and should have know which cleats they needed. After Russel Wilson’s pick 6, its amazing that a team that went to 2 straight SBs panicked but they all did, Wilson, the defense and Pete Carrol. By the time they got it back together at half time it was too late. The Panthers took advantage of every opportunity and are full marks for their victory.

 

Divisional Round 2015

The Divisonal round is my favorite weekend of the playoffs, and next to opening week my favorite week of the NFL season. The Superbowl gets hijacked by non-football media/fans, the conference finals is only 2 games but the divisional round year after year offers some of the most interesting matchups.

Injuries play a major role in this years divisional round and have taken some of the lustre off a couple of the games but I think we do have some good matchups to bet.

We had a couple of crazy finishes in the Seattle and Pittsburgh games last week and an interesting narrative has formed around the Seahawks about them being lucky to be here. They were certainly lucky to get out of Minnesota with a win after Blair Walsh missed the game winning FG but lots of championship teams have escaped games they should have lost with a lucky break, . I have Seattle has the best team in the league and very comparable to the last 2 Seattle teams that went to the Superbowl

2015 Playoffs: 2-0

2015 Reg Season: 57-35-3


Game 1: Sea +2.5 @ Car

Bet% Sea 31% Car 69%

I think this is a matchup of the best 2 teams in the NFL this season but Seattle is #1 and the Panthers are #2 and getting the best team in the league plus points is reason enough to make the play here.

Seattle was extremely lucky to get out of Minnesota last week but Seattle is still the best team in the NFL and this years team is very comparable with the last 2 years.

I give the Seahawks a pass for last week’s game because of the very difficult conditions. Not only was it one of the coldest days in NFL history, it was an early start for the  PST Seahawks and they were also playing a team they had just dismantled in Week 13 (38-7).  I put much of the poor performance on the cold, there were seemingly a number of opportunities for big plays down the field for Russell Wilson where we saw the ball just hang in the air. Neither team was able to do much on offense but unlike the Vikings Seattle had a number of opportunities that they just couldn’t cash

Being lucky to win that game is different than being lucky to be here. Seattle got off to a slow start this season 2-4 and struggled to find their way on offense and defense due to a number of factors including Cam Chancellor holding out, wholesale changes on the offensive line, and starting Cary Williams at CB. Seattle also underwent a change in offensive philosophy partly due to personnel (Marshawn Lynch being hobbled, addition of Jimmy Graham) as well as Russell Wilsons growth as a passer.

Through 6 Weeks, Seattle was 2-4, 12th in offensive DVOA, 12th in defensive DVOA, they probably deserved better than 4 losses but look how the final 10 games compare with the first 6.

Sea Last 10

In the last 10 games we saw Seattle play as well as they have at any point of this dominant 4 year run since Russell Wilson has been there and it places this years team amongst the last 2 teams that made the Super Bowl.

Sea DVOA 12-15

The SB winning 2013 team was one of the best defensive teams of the last decade and this team is not playing at that level but we see that offensively this team is much more efficient and like that team, this years team is dominant in all 3 phases. What stands out to me is that over the last 10 games the 2015 team has a point differential that’s 2 full points better than the 2013 team. The Seahawks of 2015 look different and win differently then the last 2 years but they are actually equally as great. If they miss out on the Superbowl this year it will be because the 1st 6 games set them up for a very difficult road (@ Min, @ Car, @ Ari) not because they finished the year as a lesser team.

Carolina is a great team and they beat Seattle in week 6 in Seattle so they are certainly capable of winning this game. The Panthers finished 4th overall in DVOA and 3rd in weighted DVOA ( Seattle finished 1st in both, Cam Newton is the MVP and I love the fact that they lead the league in big play differential.

In a lot of ways this game could be similar to 2012 when the 11-5 Seahawks were #1 in DVOA but had to play @ the 13-3 Falcons and lost 30-28. If the Panthers win I will be on them next week vs Arizona but this is the one team I don’t think they are better than.

I don’t think Carolina has a great home field and the conditions should be about a 1000 times better for Seattle than last week. We saw 4 road teams win last week and I expect Seattle to continue the trend here.

Game 2: GB @ Ari -7

Bet% GB 39% Ari 61%

It’s interesting what a difference a week makes. The Packers were 1 point underdogs going into Washington last week and most of the talk going into that game was about”Whats wrong with Aaron Rodgers”. Now after a 35-18 win most of the talk has been about the Packers righting the ship and possibly making a run in the playoffs. Have they righted the ship?

I was on the Packers last week and the reason for that was that they were facing the #22 pass defense ( 22nd in opp avg passer rating 95.7, 22nd in opp yards per pass att 7.2) and the 30th ranked run defense (4.8 yards per rush). They put up 35 points but Rodgers wasn’t especially great as he passed for only 210 yards on 36 pass attempts, it was really the run game that carried the offense with 141 yards and 2 TDs.

The Packers offense faces a much more difficult defense this week, the Cards finished 3rd in Defensive DVOA and were in the top 10 in yards per pass att and yards per rush att. One of the major problems the Packers have had is protecting Rodgers, Rodgers was sacked on 7.4% of pass plays (24th) on the season but in their last 3 games he was sacked at an even higher percentage 11.2%. In their week 2 game the Cards sacked Rodgers 8 times so they will definitely be looking to take advantage of the Packers line again in this game.

Arizona has been one of the best offensive teams all year, 4th in offensive DVOA, 1st in Points Scored (32/Game) and 2nd overall in point differential +176., +131 better than the Packers who finished +45 on the season

A lot has been made about the injury to Tyrann Mathieu and it it is a big one but this week i think the impact is negated due to the packers injury of Devante Adams. Adams has been a disappointment this year but he is still the Packers best outside threat and without him the Packers really do’t have anyone the Cards have to worry about getting deep. I think his is a near perfect matchup for the Cardinals this week and expect them to win by at least double digits.

Game 3:   KC @NE -4.5

Bet% KC 46% NE 54%

There is not a lot to write on this one, I love Andy Reid, so much of what I know and think about the NFL was shaped by Andy and the decade plus he spent in Philadelphia. This has been a fantastic coaching job this year, starting 1-5, losing Jamal Charles and then winning 11 in a row including last week in Hou is something nobody could have envisioned but I think they are just up against too much his week.

Last week the Chiefs played the Texans and had the game pretty much gift wrapped to them by Brian Hoyer who threw 4 interceptions in one of the worst playoff performances of all time. I’m not sure a team has faced a larger difference in the calibre of QBs from 1 playoff game to the next as the Chiefs will going from Hoyer to Brady

The Pats limped into the end of the year due almost entirely to injuries, Edleman, Gronk and 3/5ths of the offensive line missed parts or all of the last quarter of the season. I think those injuries and the late season swoon gives us value here and a cheaper than usual price to bet the Pats. The Pats are expected to have Gronk and Eddleman back this week while the Chiefs will be without Jeremy Maclin. Without Maclin I expect Bellicheck to do everything he can to stop the run and force KC to beat them through the air and I’m just not sure how they can do it.

Wildcard Weekend Review

In the official scorecard for Wildcard Weekend I went 2-0 but with both futures teams (Seattle, Pittsburgh) stealing victory from the grasps of sure defeat it felt very much like 4-0 and a reason to celebrate

New Day Byron Saxton

2015 Playoffs: 2-0

2015 Reg Season: 57-35-3

Wild Card Weekend Results

Wild Card

Game 1: Pit @ Cin Under 45.5

This game never really was in doubt, the Steelers led 6-0 at half and 9-0 through 3 quarters. The Bengals in the first half managed only one drive of over 10 yards and the majority of their pass attempts and yards came in the 4th Q when they were down and in desperation mode. Even with 41 Attempts, McCarron couldn’t crack 200 passing yards.

The Bengals defense once again played the Steelers pass game tough holding them to 5.1 yards per pass and picking up 4 sacks. The Steelers did manage to run the ball well, 167 yards on 29 rushes, which helped the under as did he poor weather conditions. Nice to get an easy win.

Game 2: GB +1 @ Wash

This one didn’t start great as  Wash got off to a 11 -0 lead which could have been worse had Desean got into the end zone on their 2nd scoring drive where they ended up settling for 3. Once the Packers got into the game they found plenty of opportunities to score vs the 21st ranked DVOA defense of Washington. Washington was 31st in yards per rush against giving up 4.8 per att and the Packers took advantage of that unit. GB rushed for 141 yards on 32 atts and helped keep the game manageable for the Rodgers and their pass game.

Full Wildcard Week Results

WLD 2

Lady Luck

Lady Luck

Both the Steelers and Seahawks seemed by all accounts to be looking at 1st rd losses until having inexplicable plays go their way late in the games. The Steelers look too banged up to be able to go much further but we may look back at that missed 21 yard FG by in Minnesota as the major break that allowed Seattle to win the SB and cash our futures bet

Wildcard Weekend

I found this week’s games to be very difficult to get a beat on. All of the lines feel like they are right on and I don’t see a lot of value this week.

I think there is an impulse to think that once the playoffs start you should have a strong opinion on every game but I found myself going back and forth on every one of these wild card games. I plan on being very selective in the playoffs but I do think there may be some opportunities with in-game bets whether live or 2nd half bets or other exotics.

*Futures – Back in week 12 I bet futures on the Steelers and the Seahawks to win their conferences and win the Superbowl so I will obviously also be tracking those

 

2015 Reg Season ATS:  57-35-3

 

Game 1: Pit @ Cin Under 45.5

Bet%: Over 65% Under 35%

When these 2 teams played in Week 14, the total closed at 49 and the game finished over with a total of 53 yet this game opened up at 46 and has been dropping despite 65% of the bets on the over.

When we look at the differences obviously the injuries are big, Andy Daulton was hurt in that Week 14 game and as a result we have AJ McCarron starting for the Bengals this week. For the Steelers, they will be without DeAngelo Williams this week and will start undrafted Fitzgerald Trousant who has a total of 18 carries this year for 42 yards.

The Steelers have one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL, but minus a credible run defense we should see the 6th rank Bengals Pass defense be able to slow down the Steelers. In week 14 the Bengals held Pittsburgh to 6.6 yards per pass att, in week 8 they held them to just 5 yards per pass att. *It should be noted that Week 8 game was Big Ben’s first game back from injury.

On the flip side, the weakness of the Steelers defense is their secondary, Steelers have given up 7.2 yards per pass att (24th) but I don’t see McCarron really being able to or even given the opportunity to take advantage. Below we see the way that McCarron has been used over the last 3 games and also how much the Bengals have used the run.

OPP Pass yards Pass Atts Rush Atts
Week 15 @SF 174 21 36
Week 16 @Den 186 35 33
Week 17 Bal 147 27 27

While the Steelers pass defense is a weakness, I do not believe that Marvin Lewis and Hugh Jackson will feel comfortable using their back up QB as the focal point of their attack, they haven’t done it over the last 3 weeks and I don’t think they will here.

The Bengals run game averaged only 3.8 yards per rush but as we see above that didn’t stop the Bengals from using a run heavy offense with McCarron at QB. The Steelers run defense was very good over the season giving up only 3.8 yards per rush so I don’t see the Bengals offense having a very efficient game.

I do expect this game to be very close, so as long as it is close I don’t think we will see the Bengals take a lot of chances but rather try to shorten the game with the run and steal it late.

Game 2: GB +1 @ Wash

Bet% GB 50% Wash 50%

Washington is clearly the hotter team right now, they won their last 4 games of the season, 5 of the last 6 and finished 12th in Weighted DVOA (15th overall). The Packers lost their last 2 games, including the division showdown in week 17 vs the Vikings, lost 3 of their last 6 games overall and finished 19th in Weighted DVOA (10th Overall).

Complicating matters is the level of competition Washington played in their recent run. On the season, Washington beat 1 team that was .500 or better, the 8-8 Buffalo Bills. They played 3 teams that finished above .500, (NYJ,CAR, NE) they went 0-3 and lost by an average margin of 20 points

In the end I am going with GB because I think the matchup favours them and my hope is that the playoffs offer a bit of a reset for GB.

In a matchup of strength vs strength we have the WSH pass offense vs GB pass defense. Washington is led by their passing game, on the season they rank 6th in Avg Passer rating and 9th in yards per pass att (7.2) and both those numbers have trended up the last 6 weeks. Pass defense is the strength of the Packers defense, they rank 7th in avg opponent passer rating (81.3) and have been better than that in the last month. Washington is a very 1 dimensional offense as their run game produced only 3.6 yards per rush good for 29th overall so if the Packers pass defense can hold for they should be able to control the game.

The Packers pass offense has been well below levels we are used to seeing them play at, they are 30th in yards per pass attempt (6.1) but over the season they still rank 12th in passer rating.

The last 2 weeks the Packers pass game struggled vs the Vikings and Cardinals but both those pass defenses rank much higher than the 22nd ranked pass defense of Washington and both those teams can pressure the QB they rank 6th and 7th in total pressures. The Packers have struggled vs pass pressure all year, but Washington only ranks 23rd in pressure plays so Rodgers should have an opportunity to make plays vs the Washington secondary.

I know Washington is the hot team and the Packers looked terrible closing out the season but the Packers Pass defense is the strength of the team and Rodgers is facing a weak pass defense that doesn’t get a lot of pressure. This felt like the best value on the board.

Week 17 – No Picks

Week 17 is always a mess and with so many playoff teams already set, this year has even fewer meaningful games than usual. I had a busy week and rather than try to force some plays, I am taking week 17 off and will instead just get ready for Wildcard weekend. Good Luck to everyone with their plays today.

So with no week 17 plays, we have our final regular season record below, I’m not sure things could have gone better in 2015.

Final 2015 Regular Season Record: 57-35-3 = 61.95%

Wk 17.gif

Week 16 Review

Week 16 was a great week for dogs especially TD plus dogs, all 3 wins this week came in that situation, the rest of the card was basically the dogs breakfast.

Week 16: 3-2-1

2015 ATS: 57-35-3

Week 16 results

Wk 16

What Went Right:

  • Dogs.. Big Dogs: All 3 wins this week came from Dogs of TD or more, Atl+7, Cle +12, Stl +12. Two of the three (Atl & Stl) won straight up, in fact if you add in the Ravens-Steelers game which had the Ravens as 11 point dogs, all 3 division games that had spreads of 7 or more saw the under dog not just cover but win straight up.
  • There is that narrative that we hear at the end of every year, Team So and So has had a down year and the chance to be a spolier in this game is their Superbowl. Not sure how much we can attribute these upsets to that narrative but in the case of the Steelers, they had every incentive to win the game for playoff reasons but the Ravens still managed to win the game. That divisional component is  think the key in these upsets,these underdogs know the opponent and usually have had success against them making the likelihood of a close game much greater regardless of their current circumstance.

What Went Wrong

Can’t get TB right: My record on the Bucs has to be one of the worst on the season as I always seem to be on the wrong side. My numbers have them as atop half team but they have basically flopped as favorites and it happened again here as they lost straight up to the Bears.

Chargers came to play: Handicapping motivation is always dicey and this seemed like an absolute let down spot for the Chargers coming off their emotional win in week 15 but at least in the first half that wasn’t the case. San Diego put up 17 and in the 1st half and controlled much of the game making a raiders cover of more than a FG almost impossible