2016 Week 8 picks

2 straight 3-3 weeks and basically .500 since week 1 has really shown just how hard this season has been and the need to  cut out the mistakes or bets that I know are low probability long term. This week that meant not betting Seattle even though in my head I keep thinking this line (-1.5) is too cheap. It is cheap but it’s clearly cheap for a reason. Seattle is coming off of a very physical, very emotional game on SNF and now have to travel across the country and play what is still an elite QB and offense. It’s a terrible spot that I wanted to bet all week but will not because I am trying to be smart. Seattle may win this week but if this game is played under these same exact scenarios they probably go 4-6.

 

Week 7: 3-3-1

2016: 22-17-2

2015: 63-37-3

Game 1: Det +1.5 @ Hou

Bet% Det 56% Hou 64%

This is a game that where we have 2 teams with 1 unit playing very well and one playing terrible and I think who wins comes down to which of the poor units you expect to outperform.

On the plus side, the Lions are 13th in offensive DVOA, I have them #6 in passing offense and 17 in running offense. The Texans defense is 12 in DVOA defense 7th vs the pass and 26th vs the run. While the numbers are very similar I give the advantage to the Lions here because I think injuries to key players have lowered their overall efficiency.

The Lions started the year with Riddick and Abdullah at RB as a sort of Thunder and Lightning combo. Abdullah got hurt and they had hoped Dwayne Washington would take over and then he got hurt. Last week the Lions were without Riddick and Washington and newly signed Justin Forsett and Zach Zenner split carries. This week the Lions get both Riddick and Washington back along with Eric Ebron who missed the last 3 weeks with injury.

On the flip side we have the 32nd ranked Texas offense vs the 32nd ranked Lions defense. So again who do we expect to outperform? Well again I think the Lions getting healthy this week helps give them the advantage. Lions last week got their best pass rushed Ziggy Ensah back and while Darius Slay and DeAndre Levy will miss this game, Detroit should get Haloti Nagta back and he and a healthy Ziggy Ensah should give the Detroit defense a boost.

On the flip side the Houston offense is coming off of a dismal performance on MNF and if Osweiler gets off to a slow start or Detroit scores early and forces Houston to score I think you will see the home crowd turn on Brock Osweiler again and it could get ugly. Not unlike Bortles on TNF, the trust of the cord and his teammates in Osweiler feels like it is at a tipping point and a slow start here could be disastrous.

In the end you have 1 QB playing as well as any Qb right now, Stafford is 3rd in passer rating vs a QB really struggling and we also saw Lamar Miller get banged up in that MNF game which is a problem since he has been the only part of the offense that has been successful and they will need him to be great if they are winning here.

Oh we have also seen a steady line drop here, wouldn’t be surprised it ends at a pick or Detroit a slight fav, follow the $$

Game 2: KC -2.5 @ Ind

Bet% KC 62% Ind 38%

I was on the Chiefs last week and after a great 1st half they went extremely conservative in the 2nd half as they are prone to do and ended getting just the push for us. |The ATS resultr came down to one  3rd and 8 play late in the 4th Q where the Saints scored a TD to cut the lead to 3 from 10 instead of settling for a FG. Like I said last week, I expect the Chefs to go on a run here but they are tough to trust covering large numbers.

Here we just need a KC win by a FG and I think this is a good matchup for them. By DVOA this is a mismatch, the Chiefs are 12th so far while the Colts are 27th. KC seems to have taken a step forward on defense since the bye. They were blown out by the Steelers giving up 43 in week 4 and since then have held 2 top 5 offenses, Oakland and New Orleans to a combined 31 points, helped partly to the emergence of Dee Ford as a pass rusher. It’s clear that the Chiefs struggled early in playing without the injured Justin Houston but have seen some players recently step up, in particular Ford.

The Colts have been kept afloat by a great season from Andrew Luck, Luck has made up for a terrible defense 31st in DVOA, issues in pass blocking 30th in adjusted sack rate and injuries on offense to Moncreif and Duane Allen with exceptional play at QB. Most weeks this team feels like Luck, Hilton and not much else.

The biggest mismatch in this game is in the KC run game vs the Colts run defense and that’s where I think this game will be won. The Chiefs offense centres around their run game with Ware, West and now a returning Charles. The Chiefs aren’t really efficient, 25th in run offense DVOA but they are 12th in yards per att at 4.3 and West is 3rd best as a pass receiver among backs according to DYAR.

The Colts are 32nd in run defense DVOA, they are giving up 4.7 yards per rush which is 28th and 31st in big run plays given up, with 25 runs of 10+ against so far. The Colts do get Vontae Davis back this week but that shouldn’t impact the KC offense as much as others since the Chiefs use their top WR Jeremy Maclan far less than most teams would. I expect the Chiefs RB’s to have a big day running as well as in the passing game and for the improved Chiefs defense to be able to slow down the Colts the way they did Oakland and the Saints.

Game 3: Ari @ Car -3

Bet% Ari 56% Car 44%

This is one of those games where the numbers so far this season do not fit this line at all and getting 3 points with a team that is undeniably better seems to good to be true. That’s because it probably is.  There is no question the Panthers have been bad so far this season, while they have played better than their 1-5 record they certainly have not been as good as even the largest detractors for this season would have thought.

I love the Panthers in this spot for a number of reasons. First let’s start off with schedule. Panthers are coming off of a bye and after 2 tough divisional game losses, any hope of turning their season around starts with a win here. Meanwhile Arizona is coming off of one of the most physically and emotionally draining games any team could have played with their 6-6 tie last week on SNF vs their bitter rival the Seahawks. One of the things I pay attention to before weekend is the practice injury report for the week and this week the Cardinals had one of the largest reports due to players missing practice or being limited participants. Major advantage to the Panthers there.

Carson Palmer has also had a history of some really bad performances on the road, we saw that this year in Buffalo in week 3, we saw it of course last year in the playoffs vs the Panthers where he had one of his worst games of his career. The Panthers know they can have success against him because they did it in January.

The Panthers have really struggled in giving up big plays in the pass game this year, giving up 15 so far which is 5th most. Usually big plays is a staple of a Bruce Arians offense but this year because of trouble on the offensive line and injuries at WR they have just 11 in the passing game which is tied for 5th fewest.

Finally, last year the Panthers were one of the luckiest teams in the league in terms of turnovers and close game wins but that pendulum has swung all the way to the other end this year. The Panthers are last in givaways with 16 in just 6 games, you have to think that will start to slow down and that turnovers will regress to a more middle of the road number.

Game 4: 2team Teaser

1) NE pk @ Buf

2) SD +10 @ Den

We are going back to the teaser card this week as when the NE line came out I knew it was going to be the most teased aka ‘the squarest’ play on the board but I am sorry, I am tired of never being on these Patriots ATS wins because it seems to obvious or too square.

The Bills resurgence on offense this year started with the firing of their OC in week 3 and turning the offense over to LeSean Mccoy. Shady is averaging 5.3 yards per rush, has 6 rushes of +20, 6 TDs and has converted 26 of the Bills 57 1st downs.

Here’s a really interesting footnote on the success of Shady so far, the Bills run offense ranks 3rd in DVOA but their offensive line ranks 24th in run blocking by the same metrics so it is essentially the talent and ability of Shady and Tyrod Taylor that have created the run results so far. Shady is of course out this week and I expect the Patriots to be able to handle the McCoy-less offense pretty handily.

This is also a revenge spot for the Patiots who suffered their only loss this season to the Bills, a game that was started by #3QB Brisett. Brisett is not starting this week. We know who is.

As for the Chargers, I say it every week, Phillip Rivers is the most underappreciated star in the league and again last week we saw him bring his team back from down 17 and beat a very good team on the road. The Chargers beat the Broncos just 2 weeks ago so the revenge factor will be strong from Denver. Still, the Chargers largest margin of defeat so far has been 6 and that was in OT, in fact their combined margin of defeat in the 4 losses is 14 points so getting 10 with the tease seems like pretty good insurance here and a perfect team to use in the teaser.

Oh btw, Joey Bosa who  has played 3 games has 4 sacks and 5 TFL. He might be awesome.

Game 5: Phi @ Dal Over 42.5

Bet% Over 64% Under 36%

The Eagles have certainly looked like an under team so far and the profile of great defense with middling to poor offense surely makes it feel like that will continue. While I think overall that is probably true and they will finish the season with more unders than overs I do think this matchup is one where we could see a lot of points.

The Eagles rank #1 in defensive DVOA, #1 vs the pass and #12 vs the run and as we saw last week, when they face a offensive line that struggles in pass protection the Eagles stars on the defensive line Cox, Graham and Barwin can dominate. Last week vs the Vikings the Eagles had a terrifying 30 hits behind the line of scrimmage including 6 sacks and 14 hits on the QB.

Where I think the Eagles struggle is with big physical offensive lines, we saw that vs Washington where they gave up 7 yards per rush and Washington managed to run 20 more plays than the Eagles and have almost 10 more minutes of possession. In that game the Eagles had 0 sacks and just 8 hits behind LOS.

The Cowboys bring the most dominant run game in the league, #1 in DVOA and #1 by almost every metric, lead by the league’s top and most dominant offensive line. The Cowboys have managed to run on every team they have faced including the Packers who going into that game were ranked #1 vs the run. The Eagles issues vs the run will be exasperated by the fact their best run defender on the line Bennie Logan will be out this week. Even last year with Mcfadden and Matt Cassel at the helm, Cowboys had 400 yards of offense behind that line vs the Eagles in their final meeting. The Cowboys will move the ball and score in this game.

The Eagles offense has really struggled the last 2 weeks which is partly why I think this total is so low. Last week vs the Vikings the Eagles were simply over matched, Minnesota had the best pass defense in the league and made life miserable for rookie Carson Wentz. The week previous, the Eagles played Washington in their first game without RT Lane Johnson and his replacement, as well as the coaching staff, was simply not ready for the Washington attack. Wentz was sacked on hits first 2 dropbacks and never really recovered until the 4th quarter.

The Cowboys are 22nd vs the pass and most importantly for the Wentz and rookie RT Vaitai, Dallas does not get to the QB. The Cowboys rank 24th in sack percentage and 26th in my pressure rankings which measures Sacks, TFL, Hurries and QB Hits. Wentz should be able to get comfortable and because I expect the Cowboys to score on the other side I think Wentz will be more aggressive in his game than he has in the last 2 weeks. I like both teams to get into the mid 20’s in this game and wouldn’t be suprised to see a score like the 33- 27 score we saw last year in their week 9 matchup.

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