Thanksgiving Week in the NFL is an interesting one because we have the full day of games on Thursday and then because so many people are off and at home watching games we see a lot of money on games and larger bet% splits because there is so much public money in market. We hit on our one Turkey Day pick with Washington +7 and hope to continue our hot streak with this week’s cards. I have a feeling there will be a lot of work Sunday morning and some additional picks not listed because if the public money shows up Sat night and Sunday morning we might see some additional value.
Week 11: 4 – 1
2016 (Through Week 11): 37-23-2
Game 2: Cin @ Bal Under 41.5
Bet% Over 42% Under 58%
The Bengals had as bad a week as you can have last week, not only did they lose at home to the Bills effectively ending any hopes of making the playoffs, they also lost AJ Green for the foreseeable future and Geo Bernard for the season. We saw the Bengals last week struggle on offense vs the Bills who are good on defense but basically league average, Bengals were shut out in the 2nd half and averaged just 4.2 yards per play for the game.
The Ravens are a much better defense than the Bills especially vs the run. I expect the Bengals want to lean heavily on Jeremy Hill in this game with no AJ Green and Bernard and the Ravens are the #1 run defense by DVOA and yards per att. Bengals passing game will rely heavily on the TE Eifert, remember they started the season without their #2 and #3 WRs from the last few years Jones and Sanu and neither Lefel of Boyd has made an impact this season. Add to all this that the Bengal’s offensive line has been one of the worst all year, currently 26th in adjusted sack rate.
The Ravens offense has been a problem all year, they’re 30th in offensive DVOA and the offense is averaging just 18.1 points per game despite not having faced many elite defenses. I’m not sure either team hits 20 in this game and think we are most likely to see a score somewhere around 17-13.
Game 3: Jax +7.5 @ Buf
Bet% Jax 30% Buf 70%
This one is all about the injury report and the importance of the run game to Buffalo’s season. LeSean McCoy injured his hand, had surgery this week and is expected to be a game time decision. He was at practice as a limited participant but is expected to play and he will have to because his back up Gillise injured his hamstring in practice and is out this week. The Bills will also be without their leading receiver Robert Woods and starting tackle Cordy Glenn. Tyrod Taylor will play but is nursing a shoulder injury. On the plus side the Bills expect to have Sammy Watkins back but it is hard to think he will be able to make much of an impact after missing 2 months and not being quite 100%. One of the things I have mentioned previously is the fact that while the Bills are #1 in rushing DVOA the Bills offensive line is 20th in run blocking so this is all about Shady. If Shady is less than 100%, whether that means not comfortable holding the ball or you know the Jags will be targeting the hand with helmet hits or just trying to rip the ball out, it just feels like it is a lot to ask of him to carry this offense this week.
Blake Bortles is terrible so betting him is always a dicey proposition but the hope here is that the Jags defense which is 15th in DVOA can take advantage of the Bills injuries on offense and keep this game close enough that Blake Bortles doesn’t mess it up.
The Bills are 4th in turnover differential and the Jags are dead last so if there is ever a week to hope that we see that regress, this is it and maybe with the Bills injuries we see them give the ball up.
Game 4: SD -2.5 @ Hou
Bet% SD 58% Hou42%
This game has seen a major line move, this opened Hou -1 went to SD – and now I see mostly -2.5’s and expect this goes all the way to 3 at which point it will be interesting to see if the sharps buy back. I obviously which I had the better number but think anything under the full FG is ok here with SD, I wouldn’t bet -3.
I agree with this move because not only are you getting the better team in SD by a considerable margin but this is also a much better spot for the Chargers. Houston suffered a very tough loss last week in the MNF game in Mexico City, now they have to come off of a short week after playing at crazy altitude in a foreign country and play a SD team that is coming off of a bye. That is about as bad a spot as you can get.
Then we move to the fact that Houston has wildly underplayed their record. The Texans are 6-4 while being 30th in DVOA, they have a scoring differential of -34 and are dead last in offensive DVOA. Houston has been a very good home team, they are 5-0 but I think this schedule spot with the travel and short week takes away any home advantage they might have.
On the flip side the Chargers are a team who has been unlucky in terms of their record. Chargers are 16th in DVOA and despite being 4-6 have a point differential of +14. Some of the difference in the stats and record is explained by the fact that the Chargers are 2-5 in 1 score games, on the flip side the Texans are 5-1. 1 score game records tend to regress towards .500 and I expect we will see that for these teams in remainder of season.
The Chargers are the better team and in a favorable schedule spot here, the Texans have been luckier over the first 12 weeks than the Chargers but I do not expect their luck to continue.
Game 5:SF +7.5 @ Mia
Bet% SF 36% Mia 64%
It’s hard to put money on the 49ers but the only time you want to? 1)if you are getting a lot of points, which we are here, and 2) the other team is in a difficult spot, which the Dolphins are.
Miami is one of the hottest teams in the league, they have won 5 straight games including wins over the Steelers, Bills and Chargers. Miami has made this push up the standings on the backs of their running game, Dolphins are 3rd in rushing DVOA, 2nd in yards per rush att and3rd in rushing big plays. Jay Ajayi has been great averaging 5.6 yards per rush but so has the offensive line. Early on the line had some injuries and the surge in rushing corresponded with the line getting healthy. Well this week, Miami has major issues on the offensive line, starting C Mike Pouncey and LT Brandon Albert will both be out and Laramie Tunsil who will move from LG to LT is nursing a shoulder injury. Tunsil is expected to play after practising on Friday but he is said to be in a lot of pain and have limited movement in that arm. Miami will also be without Jason Jones (suspension) and while Mario Williams is expected to play this week, no idea how healthy he will look.
Miami spent the last 2 weeks on the West Coast, deciding to stay in California after playing the Chargers in preparation for their game in LA rather than flying back. This might be reading too much into it but with being home first time in 2 weeks and this being Thanksgiving week, on the heels of a 5 game winning streak and playing the win 49ers feels like an absolute recipe for a letdown.
For the 49ers, they played the Cardinals and Patriots tougher than most expected the last 2 weeks but flying across country in an early start isn’t great here. Also SF is the worst rushing defense in the league so this isn’t a great matchup if Miami has even an average run game but they held David Johnson and the Cards to just 3.5 yards per att so it is possible.
Game 6: NYG @ Cle +7
Bet% NYG 82% 18%
This is a late add on Sunday morning and it is all about the number. We have an 80/20 split for betting but we are see in some of the sharper books like Pinnacle move off the 7 and go to 6.5.
I definitely think that Cleveland’s best chance to be competitive and win comes with J. Mccown at QB and that’s what we have here. The Giants somehow have played 5 straight games including some not very impressive games vs Bears, Bengals and Rams, there is definitely some playing to the level of your competition. Giants have played 3 road games this year and in those games the offense scored only 14 points for game, overall the offense is 24th averaging 19.3 points per game.
In the end I really believe this is about the Browns thinking they have a shot because they have Mccown at QB and he may not get many more starts as Browns look to next year with Kessler. Giants offense is not one that has blown teams out, we will need a big start from Cleveland here.
Game 7: Car +4 @ Oak
Bet% Car 47% Oak 53%
Much like SD @ Hou, Oakland is in a terrible spot here following there MNF game in Mexico City, Raiders are on a short week while the panthers played on TNF the previous week so they had 4 extra days to rest and get ready for this game.
Panthers will be without Khalil and Keuchly which are major losses and gave me pause all wee but I think getting the hook here with 3.5 is still too much value to pass on. The Raiders continue to win close games, week after week, their point differential at 8-2 is +29. For comparison sake that is the same as the Vikings who are 6-4.
Even though they have improved over last month, the Raiders defense is still 29th overall in DVOA and 27th vs the rush. The Panthers have been playing much better the last month and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them end the year on a bit of a run. Considering the short week for the Raiders I think Panthers have a great shot to win this game straight up but love getting over the FG here
Game 8: Sea @ TB Over 45
Bet% Over 78% Under 22%
Russel Wilson and the Seattle offense seem poised for takeoff based on the last weeks. On the season the Seattle offense has averaged 21.7 points per game, over the last 3 that number has jumped to 30.3. Wilson is clearly much healthier now than he has been all year and the offensive line, similar to last year, has gone from disaster to just bad. Last week vs the #1 DVOA offense Seattle averaged 7 yards per play on offense and 8.7 yards per pass and the Eagles previously dominant pass rush managed just 10 pressure plays and 1 sack.
Seattle also got a healthy Thomas Rawls back, last year he was one of the most efficient runners in the league and if Seattle gets that version the rest of the year the offense will be unstoppable. This week Seattle gets the #19 defense and TB is especially bad vs the run where they rank 30th, this feels like a 30+ point game for Seattle.
While I think Seattle has the #1 defense and normally would not expect TB to have success, I do think this is a spot where Seattle will be less than their best selves because of their injuries. First Seattle will be without start S Earl Thomas, this will be only the 3rd game Thomas has missed in his career they will also be without starting CB Desean Shead. If we look back at the games where the Seattle defense struggled this year, it’s the games where they had injuries in the secondary, specifically Kam Chansellor. Well Earl Thomas is even more valuable than Kam is and also being without Shead means half the starting secondary will be out this week.
Tampa is scoring 22 points per game on offense and most of the year they have had to do it without Doug Martin. Martin has now played 2 weeks and while the results haven’t been great he has looked better and better and should be getting closer to 100%. The Tampa pass game is averaging 6.8 yards per att which is 18th but over their last 3 games they are averaging 7.8 including 8.2 yards per att last week vs a very good KC defense.
Game 9: MNF GB @ Phi-4
Bet% GB48 Phi 52%
This is a combination of match up and situation that points towards the Eagles. The Eagles defense has been much better at home especially in generating pass rush and the Packers on the road have had issues being efficient on offense on the road. The Packers do not have a run offense they can rely on, Starks is clearly not healthy and the Montgomery experiment at RB seems to be waning. If the Packers can’t get the run going early expect the Eagles to get a lot of pressure on Rodgers especially with injuries at center and tackle.
On the flip side the Packers secondary is extremely banged up, they will be without starting corner Goodson and Demarius Randall was listed as questionable all week after doing very little in practice. They are already without their best corner S.Shields who is out for season with a concussion.Over the last few weeks we have seen Wentz take more shots deep after about a month where everything was a check down. Eagles will be without R.Mathews in this game but they have been using a RB by committee and have managed success without Mathews earlier in season. Ertz and Mathews should have success in the middle of the field and the Eagles have taken shots deep with Bryce Treggs who was activated after Eagles cut Josh Huff.
This will be the Packers 2nd straight road game on primetime after getting beat in Washington last week on SNF. At 4-6 playoffs are now further away and if they struggle early you wonder how much frustration will set in. As for the Eagles, they played one of their worst games on defense last week, the front 4 which has been dominant most of the season could not get any pressure vs the porous Seattle Offensive line, I expect they will be looking to make up for last week with a big performance at home.
This will be the 3rd game the Eagles play at home vs an elite QB having played and beaten Rothlisburger in Week 3 and Matt Ryan in Week 10 and holding those 2 offenses to just 18 points combined.The Packers injuries in the secondary and offensive line and the poor play of their LBs fit perfectly to the strength of the Eagles which are their pass rush on defense and Eartz and Jordan Mathews in the middle of the field on offense.