This week was a really tough week, I can’t remember feeling as disappointed, disillusioned and disheartened as I did after Tuesday night. Yesterday I got the new Tribe album and it was the first time I felt some relief, some joy, some escape. It’s beautiful and perfect. RIP Phife. Thank you Tip, Ali and Jarobi we needed this.
Week 9: 2-2
Game 1: KC @ Car Under 44.5
Bet% Over 60% Under 40%
Both these teams played games last week that went way under, we were on the Panthers-Rams under and I bet against the Chiefs last week. The Chiefs will get Alex Smith and Spencer Ware back in this game but after a week off I expect Andy Reid to be very conservative in this game especially with Jeremy Maclan out this game. Even though Maclan hasn’t been as big a part of the offense this year as everyone expected there is no doubt that he is still a focal point of defenses so with him out the Panthers should be able to squeeze the Chiefs offense.
The Panthers defense struggled mightily early in the year but the last 2 weeks vs Arizona and the Rams it looked a lot closer to last year’s group. By DVOA their defensive line is now a top 10 group vs the pass and run and the Chiefs line hasn’t been particularly good, so this is a good matchup for Panthers defense.
On the flip side, the Panthers offense has issues on the offensive line. Not only will they be without Michael Oher again but they will be without starting center Ryan Kalil who didn’t practice at all this week. The Chiefs have been a much better pass rush team the last month lead by Dee ford who has 7.5 sacks the last 4 weeks.
This feels like a game both teams offensive lines are going to have a hard time holding up, they both rank in the bottom 10 and face defenses that can create pressure. The Chiefs have thrived on turnovers but even in games like last week where they were +4, they still only scored 19. We have seen the Panthers offense struggle in games where Cam gets hit a lot which has been most weeks. Take out the games vs Saints and Falcons and this is an offense that has struggled to score so far especially against teams with pass rush.
Game 2: Min @ Wash -2.5
Bet% Min 36% Was 64%
This line indicates the Vikings are a half point better than Washington but my numbers have Washington as the 11th best team and Minnesota as #16. We have seen the Minnesota defense not be as effective in the last month due partly to injuries but partly to just having to do too much because the offense cannot stay on the field. Through the first 6 weeks the Vikings were 7th in sack % at 8.68%, they are now 9th at 6.65 but over their last 3 games (all losses) they have a sack% of just 2.06% and none of those 3 teams had a top 10 offensive line. Washington comes in with an elite offensive line, 3rd in adjusted sack rate and provide the best line the Vikings have faced this season, I expect them to keep Cousins clean in this game.
The Vikings have fallen to 25th in offensive DVOA, they were 11th after week 5, they are last in yards per play at 4.7 and their run offense is a disaster at 2.7 yards per att. All of these issues on offense trace back to their offensive line and the injuries in that group. Washington is #4 in adjusted sack rate and definitely a team that can take advantage of Minnesota there, they should give the Vikings all kinds of problems in protecting Bradford.
One stat I have been paying greater attention this year is big play differential. Toxic differential I think does a great job of describing why teams won or lost but in terms of predictor, I think stripping out the turnover differential is preferential and this game is a good example why.
In Toxic differential Washington is +7 Vikings are +4. But the Vikings are +12 in turnover margin while Washington is even. Can we expect that margin to continue for Vikings? Probably not. In big play differential Washington is +7 while Vikings are -8. Vikings need to win T/O margin to stay in this game and I don’t think you can count on that.
Game 3: Dal @ Pit-2.5
Bet% Dal 63% Pit 37%
I have Dallas as the #1 team by my numbers so there isn’t really a case to make for Steelers in this game on that basis. Instead, I think the case is that the Steelers have not had their full team on offense most of the year and because of it we are getting some value here.
The Steelers are # 10th in offensive DVOA, 11th in the pass and 16th on run but if we go back to week 5 they were 4th, remember Ben got hurt in week 6 game vs the Dolphins. So they were 4th with a healthy Roethlisberger but we also need to remember that Levion Bell who is arguably the best back in the league missed the first 4 games of the year. So we haven’t really seen this offense at its full capacity and the hope for us is this week we see that. Ben struggled in his return last week which we should have anticipated after coming back early and not practising all week but we did see him have a very big 4th Q where they scored all 14 of their points. Roethlisberger was a full participant in this week’s practices, so last week’s 4th Q and this week’s reps gives me confidence we will see a much better performance this week. Steelers should also have starting C M. Pouncey in this game, he was hurt last week and had surgery on his thumb but practised on Friday and will play this week.
For the Cowboys they have impressed every week and last week in what looked like a let down spot they absolutely ran the Browns out of the building. That being said we did see some uneven play from Prescott 2 weeks ago against the Eagles and while the Eagles are a better defense than the Steelers, that game was at home, this will be in a very difficult road stadium. The Cowboys defense has been over performing pre-season expectations and is currently 14th in DVOA but their schedule has been full of a lot of teams struggling on offense (Cle,SF, Phi, Chi, NYG) through they did play well vs GB and Cin. The Steelers when healthy are one of the absolute best offenses and I don’t think Dallas has had to be in a game where they had to match an offense like that so far.
In terms of needing this game there is no doubt who needs it more. Dallas is 8-1 and cruising to a division title and playoff bye. Steelers are tied with Ravens at top of division and Bengals are just a game back, Pittsburgh needs this win. The improved AFC West could get 2 wildcard teams so the Steelers need to start moving. Steelers have also seemed to play to the level of their competition. Their worst performances this year were games they were big road favs in Philadelphia and in Miami, this has been a common issue in the Mike Tomlin era. This will be a marque game and I expect the Steelers to have one of their best performances of the year.
Game 4: GB @ Ten +3
Bet% GB 84% Ten 16%
I have been reluctant to bet on Tennessee even though the numbers seem to really like them because I just don’t trust the coach but this week the spot seems to be a good one for them. The first thing that jumps out here is the betting breakdown as we have our 80/20 split and the fact that that we get a home dog getting a full FG makes that split look even better.
For the Titans to win it has to be on the back of the offense, which is not something I thought I would be saying ever. Titans are 8th in offensive DVOA, 7th in yards per play and 5th in rush yards per att. The Packers defense has been equally as good, 7th in DVOA, 6th best vs the run but middling in yards per play giving up 5.5 which is 14th and giving up 7.4 yards per pass att which 23rd. I also cannot stop thinking about the last time they played an elite run offense which was the Dallas game and the Cowboys ran all over them with 191 rush yards at 5.8 per rush.
Packers have seemingly got their offense back on track scoring 28 points a game in their last 3 but 2 of those games were against the Colts, Falcons, 2 of the worst scoring defenses in the league and 2 of them were also at home. I’m not convinced the issues on offense are all fixed, were seeing contributions from a lot of players we don’t expect, the core guys, Nelson, Cobb, Adams still don’t look great.
The Titans seem to come up short in every one of these big statement games and that does concern me but the line, betting split and Titans strong offense give me every reason to look to their side here. I would love to get 3.5 and am holding out hoping to see it.
Game 5: Sea +7.5 @ NE
Bet% Sea 26 NE 74%
I will do a full write up in this game later but here are the coles notes. I have NE as the #2 team in league so far but Seattle #3 so obviously getting over the TD is huge. Seahawks issues on offense have been real but last week Russell Wilson looked the healthiest he has in a long time. The Patriots are 26th in DVOA vs the pass so I do expect Seattle to be able to move the ball and not have the defense play 80 snaps like they have the last few weeks which should help them late in the game. That defense will also get a boost with the return of Kam Chancellor, if you look at how many big plays the Seahawks have given up the last month, so much of it has been due to miscommunication in the secondary. Getting Kam back will be huge in fixing that.
We all know Seattle’s issues on the offensive line but the Patriots are the team least likely to take advantage. The NE defense is 32nd in adjusted sack rate, last week Seattle played the Bills whose defense is #1 in adjusted sack rate and gave up 4 sacks on 26 attempts, Wilson should have a lot more time this week.
The way Seattle plays they end up leading or within 1 score of every game in 4thQ, I expect that to continue here and it wouldn’t surprise me if the prideful guys on that team are still looking for revenge for their Superbowl loss from 2015.
Game 6: Atl @Phi +1
Bet% Atl 71% Phi 29%
– This feels like a great spot for Eagles. I would have loved to get more cushion and expected this line to move but it never did which I think is a tell and in fact we see this line moving towards the Eagles at sharp books like Pinnacle where it’s Eagles -1.5. Eagles are still #1 in DVOA, they are +57 in point differential which is better than the Falcons who even though they have 6 wins are+46. The Eagles schedule coming up is murder including in Seattle next week, they need this game badly and I think the market is not giving them enough credit.
Game 7: Hou @ Jax -2.5
Bet% Hou 65% jax 35%
Big line move in this game this weekend, the line opened Hou -1 and is up to Jax -3 in spots even though Hou has majority of tickets. Houston has been terrible on the road, 0-3 and have been blown out in every game though this is definitely a step down in competition from those 3 teams. The jags defense has been pretty good most of the year and the offense has been able to move the ball but have been killed by turnovers, take last week for example. In the end the main move for the bet is because i trust the money is on the right side here.