This was not a week where I saw a lot of line value based on analytics or numbers and with 6 teams on byes it was probably going to be smaller card anyways. 2 of the sides are schedule/letdown spots and we have another teaser this week were we hope the home teams can just get the win. Coming off our first big winning weeks since week 1 has lifted the overall record to just under 60% which is great to see. The recipe the last few seasons has been to try to avoid the really public plays which I think limits the big losing weeks. Then from there we grind out the weeks and hopefully have a few weeks like last week and week 1 where the ugly games all hit and boost the overall record.
Week 8: 4-1
Game 1: Dal @ Cle +7.5
Bet% Dal 76% Cle 24%
In a game between the #2 DVOA team and the 32nd DVOA team we are going to have an impossible time finding any numbers that support taking the Browns and the points here. They do not exist. This is pick based solely on the schedule and the very likely scenario that the Cowboys will have a let down here.
Last week the Cowboys came off of their bye and played a prime time game vs divisional rival Philadelphia, they struggled for most of the game, trailing 20-13 through 3 quarters in what was Dak Prescott’s least efficient start since the opener before coming back and scoring on their last drive then in OT to steal a huge victory.
Now this week they play the worst team in the league, the winless Browns and beyond that Jerry Jones has basically come out and said that Prescott will be the starter regardless of Romo’s health so that urgency from the QB is also gone. You know the Cowboys have spent the week celebrating not just the win but the idea that even without a complete game they can come back and win. How seriously did they work this week to get ready for the winless Browns? Also they play the Steelers next week so you have to think there is going to be some looking ahead for both the players and coaches to that marquee matchup.
As for the Browns the one thing we can say is that they have played hard every game, they don’t quit and we have seen a number of late game backdoor covers because of it. Cody Kessler is starting and Josh Mccown is also healthy in this game. There was a lot of talk this week about how the winless record is weighing on the team, I expect them to be extremely motivated in this game vs one of the top teams and the addition of Collins from the midweek trade with Patriots should provide a boost as well
One final not, there were additional reports late in the week about Ezekiel Elliot’s pending domestic abuse investigation that both he and the organisation have had to answer questions on. There may be some added distraction for the rookie based on that this week.
Game 2: Jax +8 @ KC
Bet% Jax 32% KC 68%
The Jags couldn’t have looked worse than they did on national TV last week in a 36-22 loss where the score actually flattered them, they were down 27-0 at half when anyone watching that abomination would have turned it off. The secret of Bortles being terrible is no longer a secret as everyone outside of Phil Simms will happily point out now. Thing is Bortles has always been terrible, the success of the jags offense the last few years has always been due to the talent at WR with Robinson and Hurns.
The Chiefs will be without starting QB Alex Smith and starting RB Spencer Ware leaving Nick Foles and Charkandrick West as the starters and not much behind West at RB. I’m as big an Andy Reid fan as there is and one thing we have seen constantly since he took over the Chiefs is that he has been ultra conservative when playing with leads which I expect here. He knows Foles well and Foles is capable of running the same offense as Alex Smith but I don’t think you will see Andy look to open this game up.
By DVOA the Jags defense is 13th vs the pass but only 27th vs the run so expect the Chiefs to rely heavily on West in this game. The jags defense has actually been quite improved this year, last week notwithstanding. Jags were 26th in DVOA last year on defense, 18th this year so I expect them to have success vs Foles and West and keep the game close, at the very least keep KC out of the endzone. KC is 19th in TD% in RZ trips and Jags have been about league average in keeping them out.
On the flip side the Chiefs #9 defense has a huge advantage over the #28th ranked Jags offense but after firing their offensive Coordinator this week and the embarrassment of the TNF game I think we see an uptick in the performance of Bortles and crew here.
Game 3: 2 Team 6 Pt Teaser
1)Det @ Min pk
Bet% Det 64% Min 36%
“It was all good just a week ago” Jay-Z. For Minnesota Vikings fans that classic Jay line must feel so rule. Yes they lost a bad game to the Eagles but they were still 5-1 and everyone is due for a bad game plus that Eagles defensive line was a particularly bad matchup. Then they got blown out by the lowly Bears on MNF and all hell broke loose. Their offensive line is in full panic mode, their famous offensive coordinator Norv Turner quit (or resigned before getting fired depending on who you believe) and they have gone from Superbowl contenders to a team nobody wants to back. After beating the favored Panthers in week 3, Vikings received at least 70% of bets every week after that including 77% in Philadelphia in week 7 and 82% last week in Chicago, now after 2 losses they are at 36%
The Vikings issues on the offensive line are real and the fact they will be without another starting guard this week isn’t great which is why I am not backing them -6. That being said, they have one of the best home fields and coming back home here is just what the doctor ordered against a Lion team that has struggled in road games at Houston, at Chicago and at Indianapolis, 3 home fields well below the level of the Vikings new stadium. Also the Lions have the worst defense by DVOA, so if there is a game we see the Sam Bradford from earlier in the year, it’s this one.
The Lions bring an elite offense 11th in DVOA but one that I think the Vikings #5 defense will matchup well against. Vikings were 2nd going into last week’s game vs the Bears and at home I do believe they get back to that level. Lions will likely be without starting RT Reilly Reif in this game and the Vikings who are 7th in sack percentage should be able to exploit the backup making his first start.
2)Ind @ GB -1.5
Bet% Ind 34% GB 66%
For all of the Packers issues on offense with injuries and just poor play from Rodgersthey still have managed to remain a reasonably efficient offense ranking 12th in DVOA and 9th in passer rating. A top 10 offense vs the Colts 31st ranked defense feels like a good ‘get right’ spot for the Packers wh should get Randall Cobb and Montgomery back in this game. The Colts defense is giving up an average passer rating of 103.1 which is 3rd worst so the Packers lack of running game shouldn’t be a huge problem this week.
The Colts do have Andrew Luck which always makes them a threat but their issues on the offensive line have been a huge problem and last week the Chiefs made life miserable for them with 6 sacks and 26 pressure plays (Sacks, QB Hits, TFL). The Colts offensive line is dead last in sack% giving up sacks on 9% of passing plays and the Packers defense is 5th best in sack% so this should be major plus for Green Bay in slowing the Colts passing game down
Game 4: Car @ LA Under 44.5
Bet% Over 38% Under 62%
This feels like a line that is a couple of points 2 high because of some of the games that the Panthers have played in last month and their defense being downgraded but I do not see the Rams offense having much success against them. The panthers are 27th vs the pass but 5th vs the run, we know if the Rams are going to have success on offense its much more likely to be through Todd Gurley than Case Keenum. The Rams offense ranks 31st overall and 31st in pass offense and Keenum has a passer rating of 77 which is 28th best. We also need to consider the offense the Panthers have faced in the last month, 2 of the 4 games have been vs the Falcons (#1), the Saints ( #5) and even the Cardinals who rank only 24th but that game last week was a blowout where the Cards had to go all out on offense just to get back in. The Panthers defense is 16th but trending up (21st last week) and I expect them to finish around 10 by the end of year.
The interesting matchup is the flip side with the Panthers offense (#14 DVOA) now healthy at QB and RB vs the#11 Rams defense which is also getting healthy. The Rams gave up 3 to the Seahawks in week 2 but since then have been much easy to score against and opposing offenses are averaging 19.6 vs them which is 11th best but is important to note that the strength of their defense is their defensive line and 3/4th of that line Brockers, Quinn and Hayes have missed significant time. Quinn is expected to be 100% this week, Brockers and Hayes are both expected to play though they could get less than full snaps. Even if they are less than 100% getting 2 of those 3 back will significantly improve the Rams defense and the Panthers will be without starting tackle Michael Oher so they should be ale to get Cam enough to slow him down.
Another reason to bet the under is I think the under and rams side are correlated here. Looking at the line of Car -3.5 and the bet percentage Car 77% LA 23% it’s clear the rams are the right side, I agree but not enough to bet them here. if the Rams do cover it should be a low scoring game, I could also see the Panthers win a game where their offense struggles early but they win something like 20-14. Either way I think the under cashes.
Pit -1.5? @ Bal
** Update- Steelers announced Ben is active and thisline opened Pit-3.5 which is too rich for my blood considering we have no idea what kind of shape he will be in so now passing this game and sticking with the car above.
This line will probably not be posted most places until we know if Ben is playing or not. I like the Steelers regardless. I we get Ben and Steelers -2.5 or lower I will be on Steelers. I we get Landry Jones and Steelers +3 or higher I will be on Steelers. Ravens are 30th in DVOA on offense, even if Steve Smith hasn’t practised all week, even if he plays I can’t see him making a big impact this week.
The Ravens best performances this year have been a week 1 win vs the Bills who were terrible the first 2 weeks and a home loss to the Raiders. The Steelers off of a bye will easily be their toughest test. They ain’t ready