Week 3 brought our 1st losing week, a combination of not getting the best of the number and some of the early 1 score luck we got going the other way. The morning started fine, for a while it looked pretty good but then the hits started coming and didn’t stop.
Week 3 Results: 2-3-1
What Went Right.
Bills Bills Bills: Every week I look for the ‘hold your nose’ game, basically the side that looks the toughest to back based on last week. This week that team was the Bills, Buffalo was 0-2, played awful on national TV TNF and were playing a highly rated team that won by a blowout. The Cardinals have been low key kind of bad on the road and in this game Carson Palmer was terrible. Bills won the turnover battle 5-1, anytime you do that you should win big.
I don’t start really using this seasons stats until after week 3, at that point even though the sample is small, we at least have every team play 180-200 plays and have a start at home and road.
Week 3 to me is very often similar to week 2 in that we see a lot of reacting to recent results and I think again there is an opportunity to take advantage. We saw last week 7 of 9 0-1 teams playing 1-0 teams cover including the Rams who had the worst performance of week 1 not just cover but beat Seattle straight up.
This week’s card is going to be heavy in teams that got blown out last week, so pro tip: remember to forget what you saw last week.
Last Week 3 – 2
2016: 8 – 2
2015: 63 – 37 – 3
Game 1: Bal (2-0) @ Jax +1 (0-2)
Bet% Bal 48% Jax 52%
A week after being applauded for playing the Packers tough in their opener everyone is back off the Jags bandwagon in week 3 after getting blown out by the Chargers 38-14. I was on the Chargers last week and thought there was an overreaction to their blowing the game in KC and people getting a little too excited about the Jags game vs GB.
The Jags were a preseason darling because of their offseason upgrades on defense and sharps heavily bet them over 7.5 wins, now at 0-2 there is a lot of “these are the same ol’ Jags” talk. They may not get to 8 wins but I do see them being a tough team at home and I think this week’s matchup is good one for them to get their first win.
The Ravens have not been able to get their run game going and even the pass game has been relying heavily on big plays to Mike Wallace. The Ravens struggled to score at home vs the Bills who then gave up 37 to the Jets at home on TNF. Last week vs the Browns the Ravens were down 20-0 and managed to engineer the 2nd biggest comeback in team history.
After 2 tight wins including huge comeback against the leagues worst team I think this sets up as a spot where the Ravens aren’t able to hang offensively with the Jags. Jags should get Chris Ivory back to help the run game and I can see this being Allen Robinson’s game to breakout.Gus Bradley needs a win bad, I think he knows he is on the hot seat and needs to get his young team feeling good about themselves heading into their first divisional showdown with the Colts next week.
Game 2: Det (1-1) +7 @ GB (1-1)
Bet% Det 48% GB 52%
For the 3rd straight week I will be on the Lions and for the 3rd straight week I will be betting against the Packers. The Lions lead last week for 3 quarters before allowing the Titans to come back in the 4th quarter and erase a 12 point lead and with it were laments of “these are the same old Lions” The offense was pretty good in the first and had opportunities to score late in the half but had 2 TDs called back due to penalties. One thing that was very real in this game ere the Lions injuries. The Lions missed DeAndre Levy going into the game and ended up losing Ansah and Abdullah during the game and it looks like all 3 will miss this week.
Green Bay lost a high-profile game on SNF where over 80% of bets were on them as a short road fav but I think most people feel that being back home should be able to cure whatever is ailing the Packers especially on offense. Through the first weeks GB is 25th in offensive DVOA, now of course its only 2 games, both were on the road and one against a very good defense in Minnesota. Still I think the idea that Jordy Nelson coming back, Mike McCarthy calling plays and Eddie Lacy being ‘in shape’ would get the Packers right back to where they were in 2014 nd previously doesn’t feel like quite the lock it did in preseason.
And then there is this, Aaron Rodgers has now gone 14 straight games (including the 2 2015 playoff games) without hitting a passer rating of 100. From 2009 to 2014 he averaged a passer rating of over 100 for the season and on a game by game basis, in 2014 he did it 9 times and in one of the games he didn’t he was at 99.7.
We are beginning to hear some whispers about the problems the Packers are having on offense but in most of the mainstream media it is still pretty quiet and because of that I think there will be some value betting against the Packers.
The Lions played the Packers very tough last year, winning in Green Bay and then losing that heart breaker at home via the Rodgers patented hail mary. I think they can be close again this week and have a chance to win. Missed on the 7.5 which is disappointing but hopefully the 7 is enough. (more…)
Overreaction week turned out to live up to it’s name this week as we saw 9 games with 0-1 teams playing 1-0 teams and 7 of those 0-1 teams ended up covering. Unfortunately 1 of the 2 0-1 teams that didn’t cover was our MNF pick, the Chicago Bears.
Winning weeks are always good, this felt like it had a chance to be bigger going into MNF but a season of 3-2 weeks would work just fine and with the big week 1 we are off to a nice start here. It does help that 2 of the underdog winners, Cowboys & Vikings, won straight up so I banked a little extra on the ML bets. 2 Winning weeks to start 2016, reason to celebrate.
The last few years I have called week 2 Overreaction week as we routinely see teams get rewarded or punished for a Week 1 performance that doesn’t fit our perception going into the year. This year there seems to less of that overreaction at least as far as I can see and I wonder if the number of close games last week is the reason. 11 games last week were decided by a TD or less and 6 were decided by 2 points or less. That being said I do think there are few overreactions that we can take advantage of.
The Thursday Night game is a nice reminder of not taking too much from game 1 or going forward, 1 game.
All week I wanted to bet the Jets, the line was around +1 all week and while the Jets won and covered and the bet would’ve won, the game was very different than the one I envisioned based on week 1. The Bills couldn’t do anything on offense last week and now in week 2 with Sammy Watkins hurt playing against that Jets front that dominated in week 1 and was getting Sheldon Richardson back I saw a blowout where the Bills scored single digits.
I laid off because 1) I hate TNF, seord things always seem to.happen and 2) usually when you think something is too easy you are probably missing it. The Bills scored 31 points on 400 yards with Watkins making zero impact. The Bills offense was really good last year top 10 in DVOA, judging them on 1 game to start the year was a mistake. Good lesson.
We started the year with an absolute bang 5-0, so forgive me while I revel in the glory a little longer.
Game 1- Ten @ Det -5.5
Bet % – Ten 39% Det 61%
*This was the first bet I made at 5.5 but would bet at 6 as well.
So this is a game that worries me a little because even though I was high on the Lions going into the year and down on the Titans, anyone who bet just based on Week 1 would come to the same conclusion.
The reason I am sticking with it is that at 60-40 this isn’t super one sided and even though the Lions beat a popular team in the Colts, it did come down to the wire. Also there has been some discrediting of the Lions offense due to the Colts defense being terrible.
As I discussed in the Early season teams to bet on, The Lions had one of the best offenses in the 2nd half of 2015 when they made the change at OC, at home, they are going to score in this game.
As for the Titans, they fit a lot of the criteria I used for teams that should over-perform this year, they were an unlucky team last year by a number of metrics. There is one major reason I don’t think it will happen and it’s their head coach Mike Mularkey. Mularkey has been one of the worst offensive coaches in the NFL the last 5 years, teams that he has been either the OC or HC for the last 5 years have finished no higher than 29th in offensive DVOA. And somehow he got another chance as a HC.
The Titans are running a very conservative ground and pound offense, the Lions were good against the run last year, especially in the 2nd half and specially at home. I expect the Lions to be fine vs the run but if the get up early and force Titans to open up, they could run away. If the Titans can hang in early and stick with their base offense, we might be in for a nailbiter.
Game 2: Dal +3 @ Was
Bet% Dal 54% @ Was 46%
The Steelers- Washington game is my biggest regret of week 1. I am very down on Washington this year and like everyone consider the Steelers a SB favorite. At -3 I thought there was a little value on Pittsburgh but held off. Then there was a reverse line move on Monday and the line dropped to Steelers -1 even though around 70% of bets were on Pit and I was scared off of any Steeler bets. Then the game started and it went exactly as I envisioned.
The Week 1 blowout loss takes a little value off this game for Dallas but these are 2 teams I wrote about in my early season betting previews and my opinion hasn’t changed on either team.
I think there are a few things that Dallas can take from the Steelers and the biggest is the way they defended Cousins. The Cowboys biggest issue on defense is a lack of pass rush but luckily in this game they probably don’t need one. The Steelers had 0 sacks and 1 QB hit last week , instead of pressuring Cousins, they dropped back into coverage and waited for him to implode. I expect Dallas to play Cousins the same way.
On offense I expect the Cowboys and their run game to get on track, DeAngelo Williams had 26 carries for 155 yards (5.5 ypa) and even though Elliot struggled in his first game, that line is too good for that to continue. I also think the Cowboys will open up the passing game a bit more and take some shots deep this week after much consternation about Dak Prescott’s inability to find Dez Bryant.
Game 3: Jax @ SD-3
Bet% Jax 65% SD 35%
This is one of the games where I think we see an overreaction to Week 1. Whats’s interesting is both teams lost in week 1 but the 2 losses are being viewed very differently.
The Jags lost at home to GB by 4. They did out-gain the Packers and had the ball at end of game with a ‘chance to win’ but basically trailed all game. Still this ability to stay close to a playoff team at home was seen by all as a major step forward for the Jags and rightfully so because of where this team has been the latest few years.
For the Chargers their OT loss is not seen with the same optimism. SD jumped to an early lead and led by as much as 17 in the 4th Q. For the Chargers not many positives are being taken from their game even though they were 3 mins away from beating the division champs in their stadium. Instead the focus has been on the late collapse and season ending injury to Keenan Allen, again understandably so.
Which brings us to 65% of bettors taking the Jags +3 on the road, I’m just not there yet. For me the Jags had a great situation with the Packers travelling down south to the heat and humidity of Florida, with Nelson and Lacy still rounding into form but while they were close all game they never really felt like they were going to win the game. Now they have to travel across the country and play in San Diego.
The Chargers run game looked much better in week 1 than the 31st ranked version from last year and I think will be able to find success against the Jags . The Chargers offensive line is healthy and in week 1 not only helped improve the run game but in 36 pass attempts Rivers was sacked only once.
I liked the Chargers before the season started and week 1 didn’t change my mind on them.
Game 4:Phi @ Chi -3
Bet% Phi 61% Chi 39
As an Eagles fan I was thrilled with the week 1 performance of both Carson Wentz and the gameplan devised by Doug Pederson. For a rookie QB that played at North Dakota State and played only 1 preseason game before getting hurt I’m not sure it was possible for him to play an better than he did. Doug Pederson and his staff did a great of protecting their rookie QB with roll outs,read-options and finding him easy reads where he could use his big arm and make throws he felt comfortable with.
All that being said, the Eagles played not only the team expected to finish last but a team that is actively fielding a team trying to finish last. The Browns have no intention on being competitive this season and as a result Carson Wentz could not have played a better opponent for his first NFL game.
The Bears on the other hand played in Houston and for the 1st half looked very capable of not only covering but winning straight up. They ultimately fell short but I think coming back at home on MNF against a rookie QB in his 2nd start is a pretty good spot.
The view of the Eagles after the Bradford trade was that the Eagles will be one of the worst 3 or 4 teams in the league. I thought that was too harsh, as the Eagles are extremely talented in their front 7 on defense and the offensive line can be very good as well if healthy.Now after week 1, there is talk about Eagles possibly competing for the NFC East and Wentz was the highest selling jersey online.
Lets pump the breaks on that. Again it was the Browns in week 1 and the problem with the Eagles isn’t their talent it’s their depth. The talent drain under Chip Kelly in addition to 2 terrible drafts has left the Eagles razor thin all over the field and already in week 2 we will see the impact of that.
The Eagles lost TE Zack Ertz for the next 3 weeks, Ertz is the 2nd best option the Eagles have in the passing game behind Jordan Mathews. In week 1 Ertz was 2nd on the team in targets and catches finishing with 7 targets, 6 catches for 58 yards. The problem is what is behind Ertz. His backup up Celek is a blocker, Josh Huff is terrible and Darren Sproles seems to be slowing. The strength of the Eagles offense with Ertz is in the middle of the field where Jordan Mathews, Ertz and the running backs all do their best work. Its also the strength of the Bears defense with their upgraded linebacker crew.
On defense Leodis Mcelvin strained his hamstring and will also miss the game this week. The Eagles have 1 above average corner (Mckelvin) and 1 borderline NFL average corner N. Carrol. If McKelvin is out the Eagles simply do not have capable talent to take over. The Eagles struggled last week with the big receivers of the Browns, none of them in the same league as Alshon Jeffrey who should have a field day.
Game 5: GB @ Min+2.5
Bet% GB 81% Min 19%
*Originally I had hoped to get 3 but this line has dropped steadily despite 80% of bets being on the Packers. I still think their will be some movement and the line will get back to + 2 or 2.5 but the 3 I was hoping for is not likely be there.
Officially locked in at +2.5, there are 2’s all over now and a few 2.5’s about half hour before kickoff.
This is the game on the card where I think the Vikings are the hardest team to back based on week 1. The Vikings offense looked terrible in Tennessee, Shaun Hill was a disaster and Adrian Peterson averaged 1.6 yards per carry. Meanwhile the Packers won on the road, Rodgers is healthy and has his full compliment of weapons.
I mentioned this last week in the Packers Jags write up but untill we see Nelson and Lacy play at last their previous high end levels I think the Packers are being overvalued. Last week Nelson averaged 5.3 yards per catch and Lacy minus one run for 28 yards was mostly pedestrian.
The Vikings defense was dominant last week and should be able to keep them in the game. As bad as the QB play was last week, the Vikings do not need a high level of QB performance to be successful, if Bradford plays just average they should be in good shape.
This is a great spot for Minnesota, the opening of the new stadium on Sunday Night Football versus a hated rival playing their 2nd straight road game and 4th straight if you include preseason.
Anytime Curt Henning gifs make an appearance on this blog it is the highest honour, it is my “I’m going to Disneyland”
Last season we had 2 perfect weekends, Week 11 and Week 15. Coming out of the gate with a perfect weekend in 2016 is a not only a great morale boost but also helps build a buffer for one of those 1-4 weekends that is sure to pop up early in the year.
Week 1: 5-0
2016 ATS: 5-0
2015 Season including Playoffs: 63-37-3
Week 1 Results
What Went Right
Everything! Well I guess that goes without saying that when you go 5-0 but for the purpose of this review it is probably more valuable to separate out the luck.
TB- ATL– This was the game that I think most closely followed what I expected when betting. Atlanta looked similar to what they did in the 2nd half of 2015. Devonta Freemon’s struggles continued into 2016 as he rushed for 20 yards on 11 carries. TB basically led this game start to finish, a very impressive road win vs division opponent. Also cashed the ML bet here.
GB-Jax- This ended up coming down to the wire and a late FG by the Jags when they were down 7 was crucial to get the cover but overall I thought they played the type of game we expected. The Jags offense was able to have success and out gained the Packers. I had questions for just how effecient the Packers would be early and how much they would get out of Nelson and Lacy. While both players looked fine neither looked anywhere close to their previous best, Lacy averaged 4.4 yards per carry on 14 carries and Nelson had just 32 yards receiving. This line ended up as low as 4 at kick off so it certainly mattered what number you got here
Football is back, De La Soul is back and life is pretty good right now. Coming off of 2 straight winning seasons on this blog certainly has me worried if the gambling gods take a chunk back but I do think the process of writing out rationale for every pick has improved my processes for making picks and also made me constantly seek out better and better information. As usual a lot of attention will be placed on analytics and the betting market to make these picks. Good luck to everyone.
Week 1 is always tough, not only do we have only the preseason to go on, these lines have been out for months and worked by professionals in every direction so it’s hard to trust the late line moves as true positions. But football is back and it’s the best. Same with De La.
2015 Review (all plays posted on Get The Cover)
2015 Reg Season: 57-35-3
2016 NFL Playoffs including SB: 6-2
2015-16 NFL Season Overall (Playoffs and Reg Season): 63-37-3 or 63%
Game 1 : San Diego +7 @ KC
Betting % SD 42% KC 58%
I bet this game early in the week and posted on twitter and here that the 7s were all going away and buying up to the full TD at -125 -130 was worth it. I wrote about the Chargers as an early season team to bet on and the reasons I like them in this post are basically the same.
The Chargers last year were the 15th best offense overall despite have the 31st ranked run offense. How much of last year was Melvin Gordon being terrible vs the offensive line missing 3 key pieces for a combined 20 games? I think with a healthy line and the addition of OC Ken Wisenhunt the run game will improve and the passing game should get a boost from that even if the run game just moves from terrible to below average. Rivers will have his full complement of WRs to start the year something he rarely had last year and I think he playing the K defense early is an advantage.
The Chiefs will start the year without Justin Houston and are relying on Tamba Hali and Dee Ford to fill in and create pressure. Eric Berry was late to camp after being franchise tagged and didn’t play any in the preseason. The Chiefs played without Houston to end the year and have a great coaching staff so these issues may be minor but if they are vulnerable on defense I think it will be early on.
Also worth mentioning the Chiefs were 3rd in the league in takeaways and 2nd in TO margin. I do think Alex Smith is someone who will always throw a lower number of interceptions but on the defensive side I would be surprised if the takeaways didn’t drop this season.
On offense Jamal Charles is not quite ready for the season and Chiefs will go with Ware as their starter. Andy Reid always runs a quality offense regardless of who is starting and the Chargers defense really struggled last year so it will be interesting to see how that unit bounces back this year and if Joey Bosa actually plays.
The Chargers played 12 one score games last year with a seriously deplete roster, (27th in Adjusted Games lost), I think they keep this game close and have a chance to win straight up. Sprinkle on ML
Full write ups will come later in the week but wanted to post a couple of bets as I see lines moving and if anyone wants to follow, will need to get in ASAP.
San Diego +7 @ KC – I wrote about Chargers in the Early Season preview as a team to bet on, love getting the full TD. Worth paying -125 even -130.
Tampa Bay +3 @ Atlanta – Wrote about Atlanta in the teams to bet against, get the full FG here and for all dogs in week 1, sprinkle on the Money Line.
As far as tonights game, I will be off of it unless the line moves to Denver +3.5 or if things go really right +4. Right now 76% of bets are on the Panthers if money keeps coming in and I expect it will, bookmakers will want Bronco money. Suspect my decision will come right around game time, I will post here and on twitter.
For part 2 of our early season betting preview I look at teams that I think we will get value betting against, teams where I believe the perception of how good they are is greater than what I expect from them this year.
Again like in part 1, the point is not that we bet against these teams blindly but these are teams that I think will underperform their expectations and therefore offer more value in betting against them than on them.
Also like the previous post there will be a lot of discussion of luck or randomness, the fact that a team had good luck doesn’t mean they weren’t also a very good team it just means the added benefit of luck overstates their quality.
Its hard to have a better season than the Panthers had last year. Obviously losing in the Superbowl takes some of the shine off the season but really it shouldn’t, the Panthers had a remarkable season on both sides of the ball.
In what was a breakout year for both Cam Newton and the Panthers defense led by Luke Kuechly and Josh Norman, the Panthers mauled teams with a league high 32.88 rush atts per game and had the #1 scoring offense.
What was interesting about the Panthers last year is through the first 6 weeks, even though they were undefeated a lot of the key analytics didn’t reflect it, they were outside of the top 10 in DVOA through week 6 and outside of the top 10 in most passing stats.
The one place they were in 1st start to finish besides the standings is in toxic differential. Toxic differential is basically your turnover differential plus your explosive play (pass plays of 25 yards+, rushing plays of 10+ yards) differential. The Panthers finished with the best turnover margin and the 2nd best big play differential.
Early Season Betting: Bet Against
There is no question the Panthers are an elite team and I still expect them to win the NFC South this year but it is basically impossible for them to perform at the level they did last year because last year everything went right for them.
We start with the fact that their record last year outperformed their score differential more than any other team in the league as their Pythagorean Wins came in at 12.1. Essentially this means they outperformed their expected results by 2.9 wins. Only 1 other team in the league had a difference of more than 2 and that was the Broncos.
We discussed the Toxic ratio and while the big play differential maybe repeatable, it is absolutely unlikely that the Panthers enjoy the type of turnover differential in 2016 that they did in 2015. Carolina was +20 in turnovers, KC was next best at +14 which is just insane, think about the fact that Carolina was at +6 better than 2nd place team and exactly half of the league finished between +5 and -5. In 2014 the Panthers were +3 in turnovers and I think it is very reasonable to think they will swing back to a similar number which alone means their results will regress.
The Panthers also enjoyed some of the best luck in terms of injuries in 2015, in Football Outsiders Adjusted Games Lost metric the Panthers were the 4th healthiest team in 2015 and the 6th healthiest in 2014. Maybe they have great doctors and trainers but I would be surprised to see that trend continue in ’16.
Finally, the Panthers were great in close games which I guess is no surprise when you finish 15-1, Carolina was 7-1 in one score games.
Finally there will be major impact early from the fact that Carolina is expected to start rookie corners James Bradberry and Daryl Worley in place of Josh Norman who was rated as the top cornerback in the league by PFF. Sometimes we can as fans overrate player departures but the gap here seems to be enormous and even if they become quality NFL starters it probably will take most of the season to get there. (more…)
I will have a couple of posts this week before the week 1 picks that help preview the 2016 season. For team by team previews they are far better places to get that type of info, basically start from Bill Barnwell and Aaron Schatz and work from their. My focus will be on early season betting, this is the first post with teams to look to bet on early in the season (4-5) weeks, tomorrow I will do one with the top teams to fade.
One thing I want to mention, there is a lot of talk in these posts about luck, for whatever reason I think too many people that cover sports don’t like attributing results to luck or randomness. It’s why we hear so much about things like ‘team chemistry’ and ‘leadership’ used to explain results that don’t make sense statistically.
In terms of football, I believe for the most part, 1) turnovers 2) close game results 3) injuries are all reliant mostly on luck/randomness, and the data shows we see major swings year to year in all three of these, where teams usually regress to the mean.
Now there are certainly cases where some QBs have proven to be better at avoiding Int’s (Alex Smith, Aaron Rodgers) or more prone to throwing them and some players may be more injury prone but those cases are the exceptions. So many turnovers are based on luck; fumble recoveries is almost all random, tipped balls, dropped Ints vs a receiver falling and causing an interception totally random.
These posts obviously come with some major caveats; the point of the post isn’t to say these are teams that you should be blindly bet on or against but rather teams I think will be undervalued in the betting market and teams that will be overvalued. Most of this is based on the perceptions I think majority of bettors will have based on last season and the offseason’s of these teams. And things can change quickly, so three weeks in I may have a very different opinion on some of these teams but for now I feel good about these teams below offering value in 2016.
Coming into training camp I felt like it was wrong to infer very much from the 2015 numbers on offense for the Cowboys because of the Romo injury in ’15. Tony Romo played only 4 games and the QB play behind him was amongst the worse in the league. Dallas ranked 31st in offensive DVOA, giveaways and passer rating (not the triple crown you want), this after finishing the 2014 season 5th in DVOA and 8th in passer rating with Tony Romo at the helm.
The defense finished in the bottom 3rd again in 2015 season but the big difference between ’14 and ’15 was turnovers. In 2014 Dallas was 5th in takeaways and in 2015 finished dead last with just 11. Generally turnovers regress towards the mean, there may be something to playing a lot more from behind in 2015 but I think it’s fair to expect them to be somewhere in the middle of 2014 and 2015 takeaway totals.
Early Season Betting: Bet On
Even though the roster to start the year is depleted and worse off than last year (Romo Injury, McClain, Gregory and Lawrence suspensions) I do think there will be value in betting the Cowboys early in the year. My big reason to bet to Cowboys early is I think there will be an overreaction to the Romo injury based on last year, where the whole season fell apart. Bettors will look to fade them based on ow ugly 2015 got and oddsmakers will have to offer a little extra to get Dallas money.
While losing Romo for half the season is a huge blow, I do not think the QB play this season will be as bad as last year where Matt Cassel had a QBR of 33.7 and Kellen Moore had one of 19.0. That’s an impossibly low bar to beat and I can’t see Prescott or Sanchez being quite that bad. The Cowboys feel very good about the rookie Prescott and while he is likely to regress once the real season begins the fact that they have had almost all of the preseason to prepare an offense sans Romo is a big advantage over last year. I also think having Sanchez on the roster is quality insurance and I think both guys are improvements over last years crew.
Secondly Dallas was a really unlucky team last year. The biggest swing in luck we can expect is turnovers. The Cowboys finished -22 in turnovers last year which was dead last, that alone moving towards the median should make them much more competitive. Remember in 2014 the Cowboys finished +6 and on defense had 25 takeaways compared to just 11 in 2014. The Cowboys were also unlucky in close games, last year they finished 2-6 in 1 score games, again these things tend to swing back year over year so they should be able to win some more of those.