And here we are, the 2 most fun weekends of the year, though this week’s wildcard matchups are far less attractive than last years, still it’s the playoffs and playoff football is awesome. I have Superbowl futures on the Steelers and Seahawks so that is where my rooting interest is, the Seattle bet was mad the week before Earl Thomas got hurt which feels a little like buying Hillary Clinton stock Nov 7th.
After another strong regular season we try to keep it going for another few weekends but again a reminder that with fewer games, the lines are tighter and just because it’s the playoffs doesn’t mean you need to bet more or have to bet every game. Stay Calm.
2016 Reg Season: 53-37-3 (58.9%)
Game 1: Oak +4 @ Hou
Bet% Oak 41% Hou 59%
For weeks I have been telling anyone that would listen that the 2 teams I couldn’t wait to bet against in the playoffs were Oakland and Houston, that was before Derek Carr got hurt and that was obviously before I knew they would play each other. The Raiders to me were a team over-rated in the market, by efficiency and point differential their record was ahead of their true performance and I thought there would be great value betting against them in the playoffs. Once Carr got hurt that was no longer the case.
As for Houston, I wanted to bet against them because they may be one of the worst division winners in recent memory and with Osweiller back at the helm this is exactly the team we have seen all year. Houston finished 9-7 but still ended up with a -49 point differential which is 26th in the league. Their Pythagorean wins for the year is 6.5 meaning based solely on pt differential, their record is 2.5 wins better that it should be. By Football outsiders estimated wins metric which uses team efficiency, red zone scoring, close game performance and some other measures their estimated win total for 2016 is 4.7. Houston finished 29th in DVOA overall, 30th on offense and Brock Osweiller finished with 15TDs , 16 INTs and a Passer rating of 72.2. All of which is to say Houston is bad. (more…)
Like last year I think I will be sitting out week 17, just too much uncertainty and there is nothing really jumping off the page as good value. This may change on Sunday morning as money comes in and lines get settled but right now I will likely pass.
If I do play any games, the 2 games that I could see myself being on right now are the Saints at +7.5 or higher and Cleveland at +7. I will confirm on Sunday if either is a play. GL and Happy New year. Also Happy return of RTJ.
Christmas falls on a Sunday so we basically have games every day this week and makes the betting week a little different. Week 15 was our worst week of the year but looking at those games a lot of things went wrong in ways you would not normally expect. Continue to believe in the process.
*I bet this early in week at 6 and I see that most 6’s are gone though I would expect the line to go back up a little on Saturday morning when more public money comes in.
There is no statistical analysis that brings you to Cleveland as a good bet, this is simply the motivation of the team not to finish winless on one side and a team with no real motivation on the other. SD played their last meaningful game last week at home vs divisional and in state rival Oakland. As has been the case most of the year, they were in a position to win most of the game but coughed up late. The Chargers have been a good team all year struck with bad luck in injuries and close game losses. Still, outside of not wanting to be the 1 team that loses to Cleveland what is to gain here. Getting SD travelling across country, playing in the cold in Cleveland after another tough loss to a rival team is the perfect scenario for the Browns to have a chance.
Game 3: Atlanta @ Carolina Over 51
Bet% Over 64 Under 36%
Atlanata is the best offense and the best over team in the league. On offense they are 1st in everything that matters, 1st in DVOA, 1st in Yards per att (8.9 which is a full yard more than 2nd place NE), 1st in passer rating and 1st in offensive points per game. The last 2 weeks they scored 42 and 41 without Julio Jones who is one of the 3 best WRs in football.
While the Panthers defense has been pretty good for the season, 10th in DVOA, even the top 2 defenses Seattle and Denver got scored on by Atlanta so I’m nt sure it matters. Oh yea i the 1st matchup Atlanta scored 48 vs the Panthers in week 4.
On the flip side the Panthers offense has shown they are still playing the last 2 weeks and this is the type of game that Cam Newton should have a lot of success in. The Falcons are 27th in defensive DVOA, 28th vs the run and we know the Panthers offense starts with the Jonathon Stewart and the run. Falcons are 29th in points against and I think the Panthers should be able to score at least 24 here at home.
Atlanta is 12-2 to the over and honestly I hate that I haven’t been on any of them so even though this may be late to the party, I like this game to be just another on the long line of 60 point Falcon games.
By record and perception these teams are in very different classes, the Giants are 10-4, winners of 8 of their last 9 and unless they lose both their remaining games they are going to the playoffs. The Eagles are 5-9, lost 7 of their last 8 and look to be easily the worst team in the NFC East. Here’s the thing, by DVOA these teams are 11th and 14th, by point differential the Giants are +22 the Eagles are +20 and in their first meeting which was a 28-23 win by the Giants at home, the Giants jumped ahead 14-0 on 2 terrible interceptions by Wentz but the Eagles outplayed them the final 4 quarters.
The analytics types love the Eagles, there were multiple tweets on Sunday after the failed 2pt conversion in Baltimore that the Eagles are the best 5-9 team ever which is some solace for us Eagles fan. Still, all that is to say theses teams are much closer in performance than their records indicate.
I like the Eagles in his spot because, first, the comeback last week showed this team still cares and is still playing for their rookie coach. Secondly it really is the final shot at having a big moment, at home on TNF vs a divisional rival and they are getting Lane Johnson and Darren Sproles back. Getting Johnson, their starting RT and I think their best most talented player on offense back is huge, they were 3-0 with him in the lineup, which is not to say they would have continued at that level but he does make a huge difference. That right side of the line with Johnson and Brooks should be able to really have success in this game and the Eagles have definitely missed Sproles in the passing game.
Beyond all the on the field analysis, we also have a reverse line move here, the line opened NYG -3 and is closing NYG -1 in sharp books despite Giants getting almost 80% of bets.
I like the Eagles to win straight up here.
Week 15 Review: 1 Win 4 Losses
Updated 2016: 49-35-3
Mama said there be days like this. Week 15 was a disaster. Jesus.
Hard to believe it’s already Week 15, lots of interesting matchups this week and weather will play an important part in a bunch of games. As we get to the end of reg season, I think using strictly numbers becomes less and less valuable and the games become much more about schedule, motivation and situations. We are also at the part where we basically have games every goddam day this week including Saturday for which we have a play.
Week 14: 2-3-1
Game 1: Mia @ NYJ +3
Bet% Mia 64% NYJ 36%
Dolphins are clearly the better team over the season but this feels like a really great spot for the Jets and there are some 3’s available which I think provides value. The Jets are in the midst of a dismal season and there will certainly be changes at the end but they get a stand-alone game here on the heels of a great comeback last week in San Francisco where they came back from being down 17 at half. The temperature in this game will be close to freezing which is a huge advantage for the Jets vs the South Florida Dolphins.
Miami will obviously be without Tanehill in this game and even though they are 8-5 their current playoff odds are somewhere between 27%-35% depending on the model you believe. There has to be some disappointment and the possibility of a major letdown this week, the odds with Tanehill weren’t great as they essentially would have to run the table but with Matt Moore at QB there’s almost no chance that will happen. Which brings us to Matt Moore and he really is the wildcard here. Moore has not had any significant action since 2011, he has attempted only 35 passes in the last 5 years and this starting on the road in game that will be near freezing is not the easiest spot to see if you are still a credible NFL QB. Neither of these teams have been able to stop the run this season and this game will probably come down to whoever does the best job vs the run because I do not think either pass offense is going to be trusted by the coaches to win the game. Weather, Matt Moore and home field should help the Jets get the cover here and win straight up. (more…)
As we get to the last few weeks it becomes more and more difficult to know what the motivation levels for teams who are basically out of the playoffs will look like. On MNF we saw sharps take a position on the Jets and the line moved from Ind -1 to NYJ -1 on the thinking that they would be motivated for a prime time game. The weren’t. The Colts were the only NFL team that showed up and the game was basically a curb stomp. I expect we will see more of these in the next few weeks so understanding the situational aspect of games becomes more and more important.
*I bet this game on Thursday and would pay -120, -125 to get that, I think there will be some opportunities on Sunday morning. I do think Saints will win this game but feel much better with the 3 in my pocket.
I was against the Bucs last week in SD and they for the 2rd straight week put up a very impressive win. At some point the travel back and forth across the country has to impact them and that is one of the reason I like the Saints here. I have the Saints as the 10th best team in the league by my metrics and the Bucs 18th, by DVOA the Saints are 15th and Bucs 20th so we are getting some value here since the line has them as even.
One of the reasons I think we are getting value on New Orleans is that historically they have been much worse on the road than home but that has not been the case this year. Saints are 2-3 on the road but ATS they are 4-0-1 or 4-1 depending on your number and it is because the passing game has been pretty consistent in their home/road splits. Saints home/road splits for passer rating (110/100.1) and yards per pass att (8.4/6.6) are much better than past years and it shows in their points per game on offense where they are averaging 31 points at home and 26 on the road, last season the Saints averaged 30 points at home and just 18 on the road.
As mentioned Tampa Bay has been great the last 3 weeks ago but none of those teams have been as good as the Saints on offense and the last time the Bucs played elite and comparable offenses, the Raiders and Falcons put up a combined 73 points in Raymond James stadium.
There has been late money coming in to push this line to 3.5 from 3 and I am going to follow. I liked the Chiefs most of the week but never felt good enough to be until seeing this push. These are very even teams, by DVOA they are 6th and 8th but I think when you look at the temperature being below zero, the home field advantage for the Chiefs feels worth more than 3. Last week warm weather teams playing in winter conditions (Mia, SF, LA & Tex) all lost ATS and for Oakland you wonder how the cold will impact Carr’s injured hand. Add to that Oakland lost starting LG Kelechi Osemele late today. I expect the Chiefs to run the ball and not stop running in this game, last week Bills averaged 7.1 yards per rush att, I expect Reid to use the run to control the clock and keep the Raiders offense on the sidelines. KC has beat the Raiders 3 straight SU including in Oak earlier this season.
Week 13 review: 3 Wins 2 Losses
2016 season: 46-28-2
What Went Right
Eric F’n Berry– The Chiefs just keep Chiefing. This game was pretty even by yards KC- 389 vs Atl 418 but the Falcons had 32 1st downs to 17 by the Chiefs and 6 of those were by penalties. KC had 128 yards in penalties which is not exactly a winning recipe but they also have Eric Berry. Berry had a pick 6 and an improbable game winning pick 2 where he intercepted a 2 pt conversion and returned for 2 giving the Chiefs the lead and ultimately the win.
Steelers and Giants are who we thought they were: The Giants had won 6 straight against teams that had struggled offensively, while the Steelers seemed to be rounding into form. The score flattered NYG, Pit outgained them 389-234 and if it wasn’t for 115 yards in penalties the Steelers would have controlled this game even more.
Seattle gets revenge: Seattle lost 2 games to the Panthers last season and after playing a terrible game in Tampa were primed for a big game here and boy did they deliver. This game was never in doubt and for Seattle fans and backers the best news has to be the emergence of Thomas Rawls in this game, Rawls rushed for 106 yards on just 15 carries with 2 Tds.
I added a couple of future bets this week, I took Seattle to win the NFC and Superbowl, I think they will be able to go into Dallas and win if need be and have them as the best team in the league when healthy. I also made the same bets on the Steelers, I think the patriots are the most likely to make it out of the AFC but the odds are not worth it to me the Steelers are the most balanced team in the AFC.
I have been red hot the last 3 weeks going 15-6 (71%) which is both incredible and of course unsustainable. There is certainly a part of me that wants to drastically change the bet amounts and cash in while the going is good but of course it doesn’t really work like that. Last week I won 2 games by half a point and 1 by a point, those types of games could easily go against us for the next few weeks. Be careful of false prophets
Week 12: 6-3
Game 1: KC +6 @ Atl
Bet% KC 50% Atl 50%
This line opened at Atl -4 and has climbed to 6 and some 6.5’s and it makes sense to want to back the Falcons here because they certainly are the more impressive team by both eye and analytics. The Falcons have moved to #1 in DVOA, KC is #8, Atl is #2 in net Yards per play, KC is #27, Atl is #1 in net yards per pass attend KC is 30th so as someone who uses numbers as a key in capping Atl is certainly a team I can see wanting to bet on.
I like the Chiefs in this game because they are built, coached and play to simply stay in games and getting this number of points is too much value. I think you will see the Chiefs very much take the gameplan the Eagles had (see Reid-Pederson connection) vs the Falcons in week 10 because it was essentially the gameplan the Chiefs run, which is to take the air out of the ball by running the ball, taking as much time between plays as possible to shorten the game and keep the Falcons offense off the field. In that week 10 matchup the Eagles ran almost 30 more plays than the Falcons (76-48) including 38 run plays at 5.5 yards per att and on defense brought a ton of pressure. The Falcons offensive line is 20th in adjusted sack rate, the games they have lost have been games where teams have managed to make Ryan uncomfortable. For the Chiefs this will be the first game they have a healthy and impactful Justin Houston, who dominated last week vs the Broncos, combined with the new and improved Dee Ford (10 sacks in 10 games this year) who missed last weeks games. The Chiefs are 13th in defensive DVOA but that is with their best player missing the first 11 games of the year, with Houston back and paired with Ford I expect them to move into the top 10 by end of year. (more…)