Week 5 Picks- Trusting Math

With 4 weeks of games in the books this is when I start digging a lot more into the numbers. We know every year that we see teams who look like contenders in the first 4 weeks fall off and I’m sure that will happen again but I definitely see some teams that are riding luck vs teams that seem to have genuinely improved and are deserving of their hot starts. It’s time to start trusting the math.

2017: 14-6

Last Week: 4-2

Game 1: Buf @ Cin -3

Bet% Buf 55% Cin 45%

This is my fav game on the card and the first one I bet this week. Buffalo is getting a lot of love after 2 big wins in a row against Denver and Atlanta but if we dig deeper I think we can see that they were a little lucky in those games and as a result we get great value his week.

I was on Buffalo last week in Atlanta and while I was thrilled to get the straight up win, the score flattered the Bills.  Atlanta out-gained the Bills by 100 yards but lost the turnover battle 3-0 and one of those turnovers resulted in a Bills defensive score that had no business standing after replay. The week previous was a similar case, Denver out-gained Buffalo by 100 yards but again lost the TO battle 2-0 and Buffalo to their credit capitalized.

So now we get Buffalo playing a 2nd straight week on the road, on the heels of 2 big wins with a bye week coming up next week.

On the flip side this is the Bengals chance to climb back into the AFC picture with a win. While they got off to a slow start the Bengals have come on and now played really well the last 2 weeks since firing their OC. Overall the Bengals are +0.5 net yards per play while the Bills are -0.3, in Big Play differential Cin is +4 while Buf is -1 and even in point diffl the 3-1 Bills are +19 while the 1-3 Bengals are right behind at +17.

he Bengals lost their first 2 home games, going 0-3 at home would be death knell to any hope of having a successful season.  The difference between 3-1 and 1-2 for these teams is almost entirely due to TO differential where the Bills are +6 while the Bengals are -5. I don’t think we can expect either team to continue their current pace so again that favors Cincinnati who I think is the better team here in a more desperate spot.

 

Game 2: SF +1.5 @ Ind

Bet% SF 41% Ind 61%

I have the Colts as the worst team in the league by my rankings so any game where they are favored and I see them getting more support in terms of bet % feels like good spot to fade.

One of the interesting things about this matchup is that these two teams have faced the same opponents in 3 of their 4 games, Seattle, Arizona and the Rams and both were on the road for 2 of them. In those 3 games the 49ers are -8, the Colts in those 3 games were -68.

One of the biggest mismatches I see in this game is the Colts offensive line vs the 49ers front 7. The Colts line ranks 30th in run blocking and 27th in pass blocking by DVOA and are 30th in sack%. Last week the 49ers destroyed a bad Arizona line with an incredible 33 pressure plays (QB Hits, S, TFL) and 6 sacks. If the 49ers can get half that much pressure vs the Colts I expect them to force a couple of turnovers from Jacoby Brissett.

The 49ers are 0-4, next week they are at Washington then the following week home to Dallas which are likely losses. I am sure everyone on that coaching staff and organisation sees that this is really going to be the best chance to get a win and avoid a 0-6 or 0-7 start. I expect a big effort here from the 49ers.

 

Game 3: 2 team teaser Car +8.5 @ Det & Ariz +12.5 @ Phi

Bet% Car 30% Det 70%   Bet% Ari 35% Phi 65%

If the Panthers had not pulled out the win last week I would be all over them as a small dog here but because they did win and have a TNF game @ Phi, I am going to use them in a teaser instead. If a 3 were to pop up again on Sunday I would bet that.

I am convinced that the Panthers are the better team here but the Lions who are one of my nemesis keep beating the odds and winning despite being outplayed. Through 4 games the Lions are +9 in turnovers, last year the Lions in 16 games had 14 takeaways, this year through 4 weeks they already have 11. Maybe they are much better at creating turnovers but averaging almost 3 takeaways a game is impossible and so is coming from behind every game in the 4th Q.

As an Eagles fan this week’s game with Arizona scares me. Eagles continue to lose key players, Fletcher Cox their best player on defense will be out again this week and the Eagles will also be without not just their best pass catching back in Wendell Smallwood but he is also their best back in pass protection. Add to that the fact that Philly will be looking ahead to a home game on TNF vs the Panthers in 4 days.

The Cards have been one of the best rush defenses in the league to start and Patrick Peterson should be able to handle Alshon Jeffrey leaving this game in the hands of Eartz, Agholor and Torrey Smith. Not great.

On the flip side the eagles corners have been getting picked on by everyone, they have given up 11 big pass plays through 4 weeks which is middle of the pack but the Cardinals are actually 3rd in the league in big pass plays with 20. The Eagles should be able to get pressure vs the Cardinals though missing Cox will hurt there. If Eagles don’t get pressure I expect some big plays to Brown and Nelson and Arizona to be very competitive.

*Note If the Panthers get to +3 or the Cardinals to +7 I wold be on both those games as straight bets to add to this teaser.

Game 4: Sea @ LAR Over 47

Bet% Over 52% Under 48%

At some point you have to believe the numbers and through the 1st Quarter of the season the Rams offense is one of the most efficient and effective offenses in the league. The Rams pass offense is #1 in DVOA, #1 in Big Pass plays (+20), 3rd in passer rating and 3rd in sack percentage. The Rush offense is not quite as good, 20th in efficiency, 20th in yards per att but they are facing a Seattle defense that is in the bottom 5 in almost every run defense category. I still think by the end for the year the Seattle defense will look a lot like the defenses we have come to know and fear but they aren’t there yet and this week will be missing some key pieces. Star pass rusher Cliff Avril will be out as will starting CB Jeremy Lane.

Seattle lost Chris Carson for the year and if they fall behind early or don’t have success with Lacey or Rawls who himself isn’t 100%, I expect Russel Wilson to take over. The Rams are giving up 7.1 yards per pass att, 23rd and have also given up 14 +20 pass plays which is 26th and that is despite having 2 of the games vs Brian Hoyer and Scott Tolzein. Russell Wilson is easily the best QB the Rams have faced so far this year so I think we will see a big day for the Seattle pass game.

Added Sunday night

Game 5: KC @ Hou Under 45

Bet% Over 71% Under 29%

This game opened with a total of 47 and was quickly hammered and moved to 45 -45.5. I think there is a chance we see this number climb again to 47 on Sunday and if it does I will be on the under. Everyone is in love with Desean Watson after last week but to put it in perspective the offense was greatly helped by 5 Titan turnovers and huge breakdowns by the Titans defense. The Chiefs are one of the best coached teams in the league and Watson will have a much more difficult time this week. The Texans offensive line was a problem in the first 3 weeks, they are is 27th in sack% an 31st in adjusted sack rate, the Chiefs have a great pass rush and should be able to get to Watson.

We actually have the same issue on the Chiefs side, lost in their 4-0 start is the trouble they have had in keeping Alex Smith clean.  Much f this is due to injuries on the line but the Chiefs are 32nd in adjusted sack rate, 32nd in total sack% and 27th in pressures per game. The Texans are not the team you want to face when you are having issues on the offensive line with Clowney and JJ Watt. Houston has also been good vs the run so they should be able to keep Kareem Hunt in relative check and with the Chiefs having a short week I can see a little disjointed effort here.

Other Games under consideration:

 

Car +3 @ Det

Ari +7 @ Phi

As mentioned in the teaser write up if either of these games get to the key numbers tomorrow I will add to straight bets for both for the reasons listed above in teaser.

 

KC @ Hou Under

This game opened with a total of 47 and was quickly hammered and moved to 45 -45.5. I think there is a chance we see this number climb again to 47 on Sunday and if it does I will be on the under. Everyone is in love with Desean Watson after last week but to put it in perspective the offense was greatly helped by 5 Titan turnovers and huge breakdowns by the Titans defense. The Chiefs are one of the best coached teams in the league and Watson will have a much more difficult time this week. The Texans offensive line was a problem in the first 3 weeks, they are is 27th in sack% an 31st in adjusted sack rate, the Chiefs have a great pass rush and should be able to get to Watson.

We actually have the same issue on the Chiefs side, lost in their 4-0 start is the trouble they have had in keeping Alex Smith clean.  Much f this is due to injuries on the line but the Chiefs are 32nd in adjusted sack rate, 32nd in total sack% and 27th in pressures per game. The Texans are not the team you want to face when you are having issues on the offensive line with Clowney and JJ Watt. Houston has also been good vs the run so they should be able to keep Kareem Hunt in relative check and with the Chiefs having a short week I can see a little disjointed effort here.

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