Last week was our worst week of the year and the overall record took a big hit as a result. It was a big week for favorites last week so hopefully we see that pendulum swing back this week. Either way, the NFL is a week to week league for the teams and we have to look at the same way when betting. Gotta keep it moving.
Game 1: Ind @ Hou -6.5
Bet% Ind 54% Hou 46%
This game was at Houston -13 before the Desean Watson injury and as of Tuesday 68% of bets were on the Texans. Watson was not just the hottest QB in the league but also one of the most popular so not surprising to see so many bettors jump off the Texans here and on to the Colts. Maybe Watson is worth a TD more than Savage in some games but against one of the worst defenses in the league I think the adjustment is too much and we are getting value here.
The Colts are 30th in defensive DVOA, 30th vs the pass 19th vs the run. The fact that Watson got hurt mid week means that the game-plan was already in place and while there will be plays that were specifically set up for Watson’s skill set I still expect them too attack this defense with the passing game because there will be too many opportunities not to.
The Colts are not just a bad defensive team they are in fact an equally bad offensive team. 30th in Offensive DVOA, 30th in passing, 27th in passer rating and in fact they are 28th in net passer rating. This is a bad team on offense and while the Texans defense is down after the injuries to Watt and Mercilous they are still 13th in sack percentage so I think they should be able to get pressure on Brisett.
The Texans will miss Watson a lot there is no question but if there is an opponent you would like to see in your first game without him, this feels like it. At 6.5 were making the Texans 3.5 points better on a neutral and I just don’t think these 2 teams are that close.
Game 2: TB+7 @ NO
Bet% TB 35% NO 65%
I really like this Saints team, the offense has been really efficient and balanced, 4th in DVOA and in top 5 in both passing and rushing. They also seem to have a defense that isn’t a tire fire for one of the few times in Brees time there. Film watchers and analytics folks seem unanimous that Marshawn Latimoore is not only the best rookie in the NFL but maybe one of the best corners in the entire league.
The Bucs meanwhile are one of the worst defenses in the NFL and are banged up at a number of key positions. This includes QB where Jamesis Winston has a sprained AC joint in his shoulder that bothered him last week. Add all of that up and it certainly doesn’t feel like a great case to take TB here.
This is basically the Bucs season, Winston may not be 100% but he did throw in 3 straight practices this week after only throwing once a week the last 2 weeks. For all of the improvements of the Saints defense, Bradford, Brady and Stafford all had big games against them. The QBs the Saints did well againstwhere Cutler, Hundley in his first start, Trubisky in his 3rd start and Cam Newton. The game against Carolina is clearly the best performance by this defense but was Cam 100%? Maybe not but that is the only quality QB they shut down and he played great the following 2 weeks in NE and Det.
The Bucs pass offense is 11th in DVOA 14th in passing but that is after last weeks disastrous performance where Winston got hurt and the winds were extreme. Going into last week this offense was top 5 by DVOA. I think there is a good shot that the Bucs find success vs this Saints defense and are in this game all the way through with a chance to win in 4th Q.
Game 3: Ari @ SF 1st Half under 19.5
Bet% 61%Over 39% Under
Arizona and San Francisco are two of the slowest starters in the league, the 49ers average 5.1 points per 1st half and the Cards average just 8.1 which is 27th. In this game in particular I think there is reason to believe that the teams will be running conservative run based offenses which should keep the clock moving and cut down on explosive plays.
The 49ers made a trade for QB Jimmy Garappollo this week but he is probably a few weeks from starting so it will be CJ Bethard again. After a big 2nd half in his 1st appearance, the 49ers have scored just 2 TDs in his 2 starts and both were in the 4th Q in junk time. In the 1st halfs of those games they scored just 3 points total. This week the 49ers will be without 2 of their best 3 players on offense as WR Pierre Garcon and LT Joe Staley will be out and they have 2 other starting lineman that are questionable, Garry Gillam and Trent Brown, Brown practised on Friday for first time, Gillam did not practice this week. Those injuries on the line and lack of Garcon means to me that the 49ers will try to use the run game as much as they can early to protect Bethard.
For Arizona, this will be Drew Stanton’s first start after taking over in Week 7 after Carson Palmers injury in a game that the Cards were shut out in. Arizona is coming off of a bye and now are without their star RB and starting QB. Interestingly, Stanton had 1 start last year and it was vs the 49ers. In the game last year the Cards scored 33 but it was mostly David Johnson who made it happen as he had 190 yards rushing/receiving and 2 TDs. Stanton had 2 passing TDs but was 11/28 for 124 yards. Coming off of a bye I would expect a lot of Adrian Peterson to start this game and I think the 49ers front 7 will be up to slowing him down.
I expect the game to be close but if one of the teams gets up a couple of score it will force the other to open things up late and either look for quick scores or give the defense opportunity for turnovers. In the first matchup of the year Arizona won 18-15 in a game that went to OT and had the only TD scored in OT. By betting 1st half we can hopefully remove some of the risk of a team trailing and opening up the game as a result.
Game 4: Cin +6 @ Jax
Bet% Cin 45% 55% Jax
I’m conflicted here because I do like this Jaguar defense a lot but now with this game getting to +6.5 I think we have too much value to pass up (waiting to see if we get some more juice). The big question in the game becomes can the Bengal’s stop the run and force the game into Bortles hands? If that happens then we know there is a chance he throws this game away and the Bengals not only cover but have chance to win straight up.
The Bengals run defense is 10th in DVOA, 11th in yards per rush giving up 3.8 per att which is very strong. The Jags will be the best run defence they have faced so far but they held up well against 2 other good run teams in the Bills who they held to 82 yards on 24 carries and Levian Bell and the Steelers who did rush for 153 yards but 43 rushes for an avg of 3.5. If the Bengals defense can hold Fournett to under 4 yards per rush then they have a very good chance in this game.
The biggest factor in this game will be turnovers, that is true in most cases but in this game we have 2 teams on opposite ends of the spectrum. The Bengals are -10 with 15 giveaways, the jags are +8 with 16 takeaways. Andy Daulton must protect the football, if he doesn’t we have no chance here. If he does then I think he Bengals have a chance here, the Bengals run game and the Jags run defense are both amongst the worse but in the case of the Bengals we know they have the talent at RB and a history of being successful there. If Mixon can get going that will be a great help to Daulton.
*If the Jags lead this game at half, I will look to their side and the under in 2nd half bets.
Game 5: Atlanta @ Carolina +2.5
Bet% Atl 51% Car 49%
This is a big game, the spread indicates that the Falcons are about 5 points better than the Panthers on a neutral field and in all of the ‘expert’ or analyst pics it seems a large majority agree with that and are taking the Falcons here. I get why, it’ hard to not think this team is the same as last year’s as the personnel is the same, the head coach is the same so even with a new OC we expect them to bounce back and look like last years. But we’re in Week 9 now and at some point you have to trust what you see.
The Falcons’ offense is still #2 this year in yards per play at 6.2, while impressive it is a half yard below last year’s 6.7. The big drop this year is in converting yards to points. Last year the Falcons averaged a point for every 12.2 yards gained 1st in the league, this year they are scoring a point for every 17.1 yards which is 22nd. Now I do believe that number will drop and their scoring efficiency will increase, I’m just not sure this is the defense it will happen against.
While the Panthers offense has been hot and cold, the defense has performed pretty well all year. Carolina is 6th in DVOA, 7th vs the pass and 7th vs the run. Panthers are 2nd in sack% and adjusted sack % and while they have not had a lot of success in the red zone on defense giving up TD’s 60% of trips they are only giving up 1.9 RZ trips per game which is tops in the league.
One of the criticisms of Cam Newton that I am starting to come around on is that when things get tough for him he lets it get to him and struggles the rest of the game. Playing against this Falcons defense, I’m not sure he is going to face much adversity. Atlanta is 28th in DVOA on defense, 25th vs the pass and 27th vs the run. In terms of getting pressure, Atlanta is 26th in adjusted sack%, and 21st in my pressure stat (Sacks, TFL, QB Hits). Atlanta is also giving up 61 yards receiving per game to RB’s so this should be a big game for Christian McAffrey and a perfect set up for this Panthers offense to have success.
Finally this is the 3rd straight road game for the Falcons, they went 1-1 in the first and will play 4 of their next 5 at home. Teams playing in their 3rd straight road game generally don’t do great in these spots especially if they won one of the first 2. Great spot for Carolina
** Adding Game 6: Was @ Sea -7 2nd Half (confirmed on twitter)
Seattle down 7-2 at half with 3 missed FG’s. Seattle a much better offense traditionally in 2nd half, at this price the adjusted full game line is -2.
Games still under consideration
Was @ Sea -7.5
Bet% Was 34% Sea 66%
Waiting on this game to see the final injury list for Washington as they have 3 lineman listed as questionable or doubtful. The best guess right now is that Trent Williams and Shawn Louvau will miss while Brandon Scheriff will play. Williams and Scheriff are the starting tackles and most important, Williams being one of the best players at his position. I would like this game at 7 with 2 of the lineman out, at 7.5 I will pass and just wait for a chance to bet 2nd half Seattle if they have their usual slow start. It’s also a game I would use in some small teasers.