I think this has been the most difficult first quarter of a season I have had since posting picks on this blog, you hate to talk about unlucky but the truth is that so many of these games come down to plinko type ends that there are going to be runs where more of these finishes go against you then for you. We hope that starts turning here. I did have a nice size bet on the Eagles ML last week that did help salvage the week but no doubt we have taken some hits to start the year.
Game 1: Phi +7.5 @ Pit
Bet% 34% Pit 66%
Eagles are coming off of their first win of the year, it is a short week after playing SNF but I think the plus of getting the team feeling good, getting Wentz playing his best game and the defensive line playing their best game that I can see a path to this being a close game late. The real test for the Eagles will be if their new offensive line can hold up against one of the best front 7’s in the league. The Steelers are tied for 1st in adjusted sack rate and are 2nd in total sacks with 15. The Eagles offensive line is 20th in adjusted sack rate but 8 of the 14 sacks they have given up were in the first game vs Washington. The Eagles have changed their offensive game plan since that game going to a more quick passing game, they also have 3 different starters but the Steelers are clearly the best pass rush they have faced since WFT. This game will be the real test case of have the Eagles figured out a way to protect Wentz or did they just play teams that couldn’t get the rush going the last few weeks.
The other main reason for me taking the Eagles here is that we just don’t know how good the Steelers are yet. The 3 teams the Steelers have beat so far this year (NYG, Den, Hou) are a combined 1-11 and the Steelers weren’t overly impressive in any of those games. Steelers are 23rd in run defense DVOA, I think the Eagles can slow them down on offense and stay close in a low scoring game.
Game 2: Ind @ Cle Under 48
Bet% Over 49% Under 51%
I think this number is boosted for 2 reasons, one just the overall scoring and overs that have cashed and secondly the Browns game last week vs Cowboys which was a crazy game that ended with a total of 87 points. In both these teams we have teams that want to run the ball, in fact on 1st and 2nd down these are the 2 teams with the highest rush percentage at 56%. The Colts combine that high run percentage with one of the slowest paced offenses in the league, in neutral situation games the Colts are the 3rd slowest team in the league. The Browns are 21st in pace but that is after playing the number 1 pace team in the league last week in the Cowboys who dragged the Browns to a faster pace game than they normally want to play.
So we have to run heavy teams that have bottom 3rd pace stats in neutral situations and oh yeah the Colts defense is the #1 defense in DVOA. Even if you think that rating is helped by playing poor defenses and hey won’t finish #1 or top 5 they are still probably a top 10 defense. The Colts have the 24th ranked offense by DVOA and I think it is hard to see that offense exploding this week against a Browns defense that is about league average.
Game 3: 6pt Teaser Ari -1 @ NYJ & Car +8.5
There are a handful of games at 7 that we can bring down to 1 and in the end I was deciding between 2, The Cards and the Rams. I ended up going with Arizona because they are coming off of 2 losses and have Dallas and Seattle in the next 2 weeks so this is a game they have to have. The Jets are a team nobody want to bet any money on which can be scary but with Flacco starting and all the injuries, I don’t think his is the week they jump up and get a win.
The Panthers saw some early money on them as this line got moved from the 3.5 open to all the way down to 1 and then back up to 2.5. I can see the Falcons winning their first game but they have so many injuries that it is hard to expect them to be the offense they were in the first few weeks. Julio Jones is questionable and last week only played 15 snaps, Calvin Ridley is probable but also wasn’t 100% this week in practice. The Panthers have been a much better team than expected to start the year and I think considering the injuries it is fair to ask if the wrong team is favored. Either way, I like taking them through the TD here just in case this is the week Atlanta gets it going.
Game 4: Mia +8 @ SF
Bet% Mia 70% SF 30%
Last week I was on Miami at home to Seattle +6 and the game ended up playing mostly how you would hope for with a big dog, both teams moved the ball, Seattle outgained Miami 441 to 415 but Miami ended up settling for 5 FGs and was just 1-3 in the red zone. Now this week they go to San Francisco and play another NFC West titan but this one is one of the most injured teams in the league. The 49ers will be missing most of their secondary ( 6 DBs are out this week) and the Dolphins come in with a pretty healthy and talented WR corps lead by Devante Parker and Preston Williams. The Dolphins also have one of the more talented secondaries so if the 49ers struggle running the ball minus their top 2 RBs, the pass offense should struggle even with Jimmy Garoppolo back.
This could be the last start for Ryan Fitzpatrick if this goes poorly so I think we will see him be more aggressive than he was last week and totally locked in while the 49ers have a big divisional game on primetime next week with their SNF game vs the Rams.
Added Game 5: Jax +5.5 @ Hou
Bet%: Jax 43% Hou 57%
I am going to bite on the Jags. This line opened at 6.5 dropped below 6 and has stayed there despite majority of bets on Texans. I think a lot of the positivity on Texans has been due to the firing of Bill O’Brien and the emotional uptick that gives Houston but this is still a 0-4 team that is favored by 5.5 in a game that nobody would be shocked if the Jags won. Jags were a popular underdog last week and didn’t cover against the Bengals but I am fine riding them again here.
Games I have not bet but could add on Sunday.
Cin +13 @ Bal
I have stared at this game all week and what scares me is everyone is on the Bengals. The Ravens have not looked like the same juggernaut as last year but what they have made a habit is beating up on bad teams.