This week’s card is a little strange from my end because I am betting a lot of favorites which is not the way my card looks most weeks. In the end betting is about getting value and this was a week where I saw most of the value on the favorites.
Last week was a ‘ should have been, could have been’ week, I finished 4-3 but 6 days later I still can’t stop thinking about the missed opportunities in the Bears and Ravens games. I’m also stewing over not pulling the trigger on TNF where I liked the Chargers but because I hate Thursday Night football and often don’t feel fully prepared to bet, I missed out on a really great spot. Need to shake that all off and make this week a winner.
Week 5: 4-3
NFL 2016: 16-11-1
2015: 63 – 37 – 3
Game 1: Phi -2.5 @ Wash
Bet% Phi 68% Wash 32%
As an Eagles fan, as excited as I am about their great start I still felt like last week was a bad spot for them and bet the Lions. The Lions not only got the cover but ended up winning straight up. Despite the loss I was left feeling very good about the Eagles going forward and didn’t think the Detroit game drops them at all in the rankings.
Washington, as discussed in the Week 5 results post, got one of the luckiest wins of the year, everything that could have gone wrong for the Ravens did and still Washington needed a punt return TD to win.
The Eagles are #2 in DVOA to start this season, they are +64 in point differential and important to this game, Eagles are 2nd in sack percentage. Getting pressure on Cousins has been a key to creating turnovers, Eagles are 7th best vs the run, they should be able to force Washington in to a lot of passing and I expect some turnovers.
On the flip side Washington is dead last in rush defense DVOA and the Eagles at this point want to rely on the run game to set their offense up. Doug Pederson has used a lot of play action, read option and rollouts to get Wentz easy reads and throws, I expect the Eagles run offense to have success and open their passing game up.
3 key players possibly may miss this game. For Eagles, RT Lane Johnson will start his 10 game suspension and the Eagles will miss their best player on offense going forward but I am not sure Washington has the front to take advantage. Eagles best player on the team Fletcher Cox missed practice early in the week, looks like he will play but may not be 100%.
For Washington, Jordan Reed is expected to be out with a concussion, Reed is not only their most reliable pass catcher but a bonafide Eagles killer.
Game 2: Atlanta @ Seattle -6
Bet% Atl 57% Sea 43%
Last week’s win in Denver by Atlanta was a statement game and for me there is no choice but to believe that they are real. The offense is #1 in DVOA, in yards per pass att they are #1 with 9.9 yards/att. SD came into this week 2nd at 8.2. That difference of 1.7 means that SD is as close to Cleveland who is 21st at 6.5 yards per att as they are to #1 Atl.
All that being said about the Falcons offense and more specifically the Falcons pass game, we have 2 elite groups in his game, ATLs offense, Seattle’s defense both #1 in DVOA. We also have a very good group with Seattle’s offense who after slow start is 17th in offense but 9th in passing. And we have one terrible group with Atl’s defense which is 26th.
The Seattle offense I believe will finish in the top 10 if healthy and coming off of a bye I expect them to be able to take advantage of the Atlanta defense who last week had as many sacks in Denver as they had in the first 4 weeks. I don’t think that level of pass rush will continue this week even against the mediocre Seattle offensive line.
Beyond the advantage for the Seattle offense, this is also a great schedule spot for Seattle who is coming off of a bye fully rested. Atlanta on the other hand is taking their 2nd straight trip out west after playing in Denver last week. You know that going into last week everyone in Atlanta, including the players, would have taken a split in these 2 weeks. Well they already have that split and I can see a scenario where if they get down early they kind of look to next week.
Weather is also going to be an issue in this game, there are storms in the north west this weekend and wind and rain are expected to plague game day. While both teams rely on the pass game the Seattle defense plus weather is going to be a lot to overcome for Matt Ryan and the offense.
Game 3: KC -1 @ Oak
Bet% KC 59% Oak 41%
The Raiders are 4-1, #3 in DVOA and a very bet on team so far but what’s amazing is that even at 4-1 their point differential is only +5. The Oakland defense has been a huge disappointment so far, despite major acquisitions in off season they are 29th in defensive DVOA, tied for last in yards per pass att against at 8.7 and basically bottom 3 in all overall and passing defenses.
The Oakland offense has managed to come through in every game, especially in 4th quarters, 2 of the wins have come on final drive scores, the other 2 saw them holding on while the opposition had the ball trying to tie or win. Wile they are very good, it’s a lot to expect them to continue to come through in those high pressure situations every game.
KC has had a tough start to the season at 2-2 and injuries have had a major part in that. KC who has been one of the premiere rush teams in the league the last few years is 31st in run DVOA this year. KC has had key injuries on the offensive line and has also been without Jamal Charles basically the whole year. Coming off of the bye week, Chiefs expect to have a healthy Charles and be healthy on the offensive line.
The Raiders on the other hand have a number of injuries on their offensive line and will likely be without Latavious Murray. I also think purely from a schedule spot this is a great spot for KC. With Denver losing on TNF, Oakland is going stay at the top of the division even with a loss, while KC needs this game like blood if they are going to stay in the race. Finally, KC is coming off of a bye and Andy Reid has always been at his best off of a bye as his 15-2 record in that situation indicates.
Game 4: Dal @ GB Under 47.5
Bet% Over 75% Under 25%
This is one of the most interesting games on the board and I think offers the best matchup of the week between the Cowboys #1 Dallas rush offense, #1 in DVOA, #1 in rush yards per game and #5 in yards per att vs the #1 Packers run defense which is #1 in every metric including yards per att where they have held runners to an insane 2 yards per rush.
I do not see the Cowboys going away from the run game despite the Packers defense, its who they are and what they do especially with Dak Prescott at the helm. Dallas is first in run atts per game (33.8) and in run% (51.06%) I expect that to continue this week even if they struggle getting much out of it.
I don’t expect the Packer defense to hold Dallas to 2 yards per touch but even if it is somewhere around 4 or under, that would be enough to keep Dallas from getting much on offense. In the pass game, Dez Bryant is expected to still be out in this game and Jason Witten who has been Prescott’s security blanket early in the season may also miss the game with a chest injury.
On the flip side, the struggles of the Packers offense continues to be one of the most under discussed issues around the league. Outside of the 1st half vs Detroit, the Packers offense has continued to look like the problems from last year are plaguing them again this year despite having Jordy Nelson back.
Aaron Rodgers is 19th in passer rating, the Packers are 14th in pass DVOA and they are 27th in yards per pass att at just 6 yards per pass. Packers also have injuries in their run game, Starks has not practised this week and Lacy has been only a limited participant.
The Cowboys defense hasn’t been great but got Demarcus Lawrence back last week and he made a huge impact in the Bengals game. I think Dallas will do enough to keep the Packers from exploding on offense and I do expect a lot of running attempts which should keep the clock moving.
Game 5: Car-2.5 @ NO
Bet% Car 44% NO 56%
Betting short road favorites is a good way to lose money betting NFL games and we now have 2 on the card (Eagles & Panthers) so that is certainly a concern. What makes me feel better about taking this short fav is 1) the Panthers are getting less than 50% of bets and 2) despite not being at 50% the line is moving up and I expect will go to Car -3 by kick off.
The Panthers came into the season as the prohibitive favorite to win the NFC South, even by those like myself who thought that regular regression in some key areas like turnover margin would lead to a season win total much lower than last season.
Panthers have lost 3 games in a row, 2 of them were to Vikings and Falcons who are among the top NFC teams so far and the 3rd last week, was a game that Cam Newton didn’t play. This week the Panthers have both Cam and Jonathon Stewart back, the first time Stewart will getting hurt early in week 2.
Last year, the Panthers season was fuelled by an incredible turnover margin, with an incredible +20 there was no way that could continue this year and we would see a regression to the mean. Well the regression has swung amazingly to the other end as they are 31st in TO margin this year at -7 through 5 games. I don’t expect that to continue either.
Another major slip for the Panthers has been in their big play differential. Last year when they were unbeaten and I couldn’t see a traditional number that explained it and that’s when I found the toxic differential (big play differential + TO differential). Panthers were 1st in TO margin but they were also a +34 in big play differential which was 2nd best. This year Carolina is -1 in big play differential, the slide on defense is a part of that but the biggest reason has been the health of Stewart and Newton. Playing against one of the worst defenses in the NFL should allow the Panthers to improve that differential.
The Panthers have played a difficult schedule with games vs Denver, Minnesota and Atlanta who are a combined 13-3, already the books, they need this game badly if they are going to have any chance to make the playoffs and this is the first time they have had Stewart and Cam since week 1. Drew Brees can always kill a team at home but I we are getting a discount on Carolina because of their record.
Game 6: Jax +3 (-120) @ Chi
Bet% Jax 59% Chi 41%
This is a Sunday morning add, this lin moved to +2.5 plus juice and I bought the full G at -120. Also sprinkled some on the ML.
By this seasons number the line is where it should be but I am betting that the offense we saw from Jax in London vs the Colts carries over here in Chicago this week. Coming ino the season those bullish on the Jags thought hat the offense from last year would take a small step up and the defense would take a much bigger one. Well through the first 3 weeks we did see the defense take a step up they were 26th in DVOA last year and 10th so far this year. The offense on the other hand took a step back, going from 23rd last year to 28th this year. The Jags have essentially the same players on offense plus they should have Chris Ivory this week, I thought they looked like last years offense in London and expect that to continue here.
The Bears are a team that has competed hard and are a team I expect to be on going forward but they are not a team anyone should feel comfortable laying points with. Bears. I do expect the Bears to have success running the ball vs Jax, Jags are 29th in run defense DVOA but when you look at the Jags pass defense which is 7th and has faced Aaron Rodgers, Phillip Rivers and Andrew Luck, I see a big advantage vs Hoyer.
I feel like this game should be a pick so getting the full 3 is big value here.
** May add Hou on the SNF game, waiting to see how that line looks closer to game time.