Cardinals

2016 Week 11 Picks

Every week is different, there are weeks where games jump out right away, there are weeks where nothing looks good until the weekend. This week as I scanned the card early nothing jumped out and by the time I did like a few games we saw some big line movements, especially in the totals.  We are in the part of the season where weather begins to play a larger part and Sharps will start hitting unders early in the week either anticipating winter conditions or simply getting some insurance just in case. Something I will start doing as well on Sunday Nights. To get around the line drives I am playing a teaser card on unders and I anticipate I will be playing a lot more unders.

Week 10: 5-2

2016: 33-22-2

2015: 63-37-3

 

Game 1: Ari @ Min Under 40

Bet% Over 39% Under 61%

When looking at playing unders one of the things that I think gives the best chances if there is a mis-match between the defensive lines and offensive lines and it is rare we see a game where both sides have an advantage like we see in this game.

The Vikings issues on the offensive line have been well documented and it should get even worse because they lost starting T Jake Long for the season this week. The fact that it will get appreciably worse because they lost a player that was a street FA and arguably not even a replacement level player tells you everything. According to DVOA, Vikings are 31st in run blocking, 22 in pass blocking and  26th in overall sack percentage giving up sacks on 7% of pass plays but in the last 3 games that number shoots up to 9.92%.

Meanwhile the Cards pass rush has been really good, they are 12th in adjusted sack rate,7th in total sack % and #1 in my pressure rankings which include QB hits and hurries. Arizona is 4th in defensive DVOA and 3rd vs the pass, since Vikings only chance to move the ball is in air as they are not just last in rushing but are historically bad averaging only 2.7 yards per rush.

On flip side we have seen the Vikings defence slip a little during this 4 game losing streak, after 5 weeks they were 2nd in Defensive DVOA, they are now 6th but to put that slide into perspective, over the season the opp passer rating is 74.6 but over last 3 weeks it has been 99.3, same with yards per pass att which is at 5.8 for season but 7.2 for last 3 weeks. Now I think there are 2 reasons for this, 1 is fatigue, the Vikings offense doesn’t stay on field and as a result Vikings defense has played a lot more snaps. The second is injuries, Vikings have had key players like Eric Kendricks, Zavier Woods miss games.

Vikings defense should be healthy in this game and they have a very good matchup against the Cards offensive line as the Cards line is 24th in adjusted sack rate.

I also like the home road splits for this under, the Vikings at home have an opp passer rating of 68.6 vs 80.2 on road and we know Carson Palmer has his issues on the road. Palmer has a passer rating on road of 73.1 on road compared to 85.6 at home and has 5 interceptions in just 2 road games.

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2016 Week 8 picks

2 straight 3-3 weeks and basically .500 since week 1 has really shown just how hard this season has been and the need to  cut out the mistakes or bets that I know are low probability long term. This week that meant not betting Seattle even though in my head I keep thinking this line (-1.5) is too cheap. It is cheap but it’s clearly cheap for a reason. Seattle is coming off of a very physical, very emotional game on SNF and now have to travel across the country and play what is still an elite QB and offense. It’s a terrible spot that I wanted to bet all week but will not because I am trying to be smart. Seattle may win this week but if this game is played under these same exact scenarios they probably go 4-6.

 

Week 7: 3-3-1

2016: 22-17-2

2015: 63-37-3

Game 1: Det +1.5 @ Hou

Bet% Det 56% Hou 64%

This is a game that where we have 2 teams with 1 unit playing very well and one playing terrible and I think who wins comes down to which of the poor units you expect to outperform.

On the plus side, the Lions are 13th in offensive DVOA, I have them #6 in passing offense and 17 in running offense. The Texans defense is 12 in DVOA defense 7th vs the pass and 26th vs the run. While the numbers are very similar I give the advantage to the Lions here because I think injuries to key players have lowered their overall efficiency.

The Lions started the year with Riddick and Abdullah at RB as a sort of Thunder and Lightning combo. Abdullah got hurt and they had hoped Dwayne Washington would take over and then he got hurt. Last week the Lions were without Riddick and Washington and newly signed Justin Forsett and Zach Zenner split carries. This week the Lions get both Riddick and Washington back along with Eric Ebron who missed the last 3 weeks with injury.

On the flip side we have the 32nd ranked Texas offense vs the 32nd ranked Lions defense. So again who do we expect to outperform? Well again I think the Lions getting healthy this week helps give them the advantage. Lions last week got their best pass rushed Ziggy Ensah back and while Darius Slay and DeAndre Levy will miss this game, Detroit should get Haloti Nagta back and he and a healthy Ziggy Ensah should give the Detroit defense a boost.

On the flip side the Houston offense is coming off of a dismal performance on MNF and if Osweiler gets off to a slow start or Detroit scores early and forces Houston to score I think you will see the home crowd turn on Brock Osweiler again and it could get ugly. Not unlike Bortles on TNF, the trust of the cord and his teammates in Osweiler feels like it is at a tipping point and a slow start here could be disastrous.

In the end you have 1 QB playing as well as any Qb right now, Stafford is 3rd in passer rating vs a QB really struggling and we also saw Lamar Miller get banged up in that MNF game which is a problem since he has been the only part of the offense that has been successful and they will need him to be great if they are winning here.

Oh we have also seen a steady line drop here, wouldn’t be surprised it ends at a pick or Detroit a slight fav, follow the $$ (more…)

Conference Championship 2015

This weekend would have been a lot more exciting and fun for me had the Steelers or Seahawks made it and kept one of my futures alive, as it is I think we have to pretty interesting games where the public definitely likes the favorites. This is the last time we will see Manning v Brady in a truly meaningful game and even though I get as tired as everyone else of the media constantly fawning over both of them, it does seem fitting that it would end this way for one of the greatest rivalries.

2015 Playoffs: 3-2

2015 Reg Season: 57-35-3

Game 1: NE @ Den +3.5

Bet% NE 74% Den 26%

Note- I got +3.5 at -115, the line has bounced around all week between the 3 and 3.5 and I would suggest buying the hook has value even at -120 or -125 if necessary but I think it is pretty widely available at -120.

It’s been really interesting how unanimous everyone (fans,media) have been that NE is going to the Superbowl and that the Broncos do not have much of a chance here. We see 75% of the bets on a road fav of a full FG or a little more depending on the juice.

First lets just look at the line. Last week the Patriots were 4.5 to 5 point favorites vs KC at home, if we give 3 pts for home field that means the Pats were 1.5-2 pt favorites over KC on a neutral field. Here, we have NE as a 3 pt fav on the road, so if we give Denver 3 points for home-field, and I think Denver has one of the truest home-field advantages with the elevation, then this line makes NE 6 point favs over Denver on a neutral and makes KC 4-4.5 points better than Den. All of which seems way off.

Betting lines in the playoffs are certainly different than the regular season and I get why this number has to be here with so much public money but there certainly is value. I also think that defensive teams will always be undervalued. Denver was the #1 defense by a pretty large margin but because there were games like the Patriots game, like the Steelers game where they gave up a lot of points, the narrative becomes that they aren’t really that good. Its funny, because if a great offensive team has a down game, we are usually very eager to throw those games out as an outlier.

In the end this is simply a bet against the consensus view, we get the best defensive team in the NFL, at home, with 3.5 points while the fav has 75% of bets. It just seems too easy to look at the game as Brady vs Manning’s corpse and Belicheck vs Kubiak and say how can you not bet the Patriots?

Game 2: Ari @ Car Over 47

Bet% Over 70% Under 30%

I think the line here is pretty much right on but think there is some value on he total. We have the 2 highest scoring teams in the league from the regular season, both teams averaged over 30 points per game, coming off of games where they both felt they weren’t aggressive enough.

The Panthers put up all 31 of their points last week in the first half and then spent he second half just holding on. Cam Newton has been very vocal this week to his coaches and the media about that being a mistake and needing to be aggressive for the full 60 minutes.

In Arizona, Bruce Arians had his own mea culpa as he admitted to being very safe in the GB game last week and that playing that way was out of character. I think Arians wanted to not put the game on Carson Palmer who had come into last week with 0 playoffs wins and that clearly was weighing heavy on him. Now with a win under his belt I expect Palmer and Arians to loosen the reins and have a game plan more in line with what we saw all season.

Both teams have excelled in big plays this season, Car ranked 4th in Big Play percentage (8.96% of total plays were passes of 20 yards or more or rushes of 10 yards or more) and the Cardinals were 10th at 8.17%. I think those plays become extra important in the playoffs when the games get tighter and long drives become more and more difficult.

The Panthers were the best redzone team in 2015 (scoring TDs on 69% of RZ trips) and as the favorite I think they will set the pace for the Cardinals who finished 10th in RZ TD% at 59.4%. I also think the field conditions will only help the over, we saw numerous players slipping and giving up big plays last week, with the huge storm this weekend the turf should be even tougher to handle for DBs.

I think the Panthers will win a close one but regardless of who wins I think the winner will score at least 30 and get this total comfortably over 47.

Divisional Round 2015

The Divisonal round is my favorite weekend of the playoffs, and next to opening week my favorite week of the NFL season. The Superbowl gets hijacked by non-football media/fans, the conference finals is only 2 games but the divisional round year after year offers some of the most interesting matchups.

Injuries play a major role in this years divisional round and have taken some of the lustre off a couple of the games but I think we do have some good matchups to bet.

We had a couple of crazy finishes in the Seattle and Pittsburgh games last week and an interesting narrative has formed around the Seahawks about them being lucky to be here. They were certainly lucky to get out of Minnesota with a win after Blair Walsh missed the game winning FG but lots of championship teams have escaped games they should have lost with a lucky break, . I have Seattle has the best team in the league and very comparable to the last 2 Seattle teams that went to the Superbowl

2015 Playoffs: 2-0

2015 Reg Season: 57-35-3


Game 1: Sea +2.5 @ Car

Bet% Sea 31% Car 69%

I think this is a matchup of the best 2 teams in the NFL this season but Seattle is #1 and the Panthers are #2 and getting the best team in the league plus points is reason enough to make the play here.

Seattle was extremely lucky to get out of Minnesota last week but Seattle is still the best team in the NFL and this years team is very comparable with the last 2 years.

I give the Seahawks a pass for last week’s game because of the very difficult conditions. Not only was it one of the coldest days in NFL history, it was an early start for the  PST Seahawks and they were also playing a team they had just dismantled in Week 13 (38-7).  I put much of the poor performance on the cold, there were seemingly a number of opportunities for big plays down the field for Russell Wilson where we saw the ball just hang in the air. Neither team was able to do much on offense but unlike the Vikings Seattle had a number of opportunities that they just couldn’t cash

Being lucky to win that game is different than being lucky to be here. Seattle got off to a slow start this season 2-4 and struggled to find their way on offense and defense due to a number of factors including Cam Chancellor holding out, wholesale changes on the offensive line, and starting Cary Williams at CB. Seattle also underwent a change in offensive philosophy partly due to personnel (Marshawn Lynch being hobbled, addition of Jimmy Graham) as well as Russell Wilsons growth as a passer.

Through 6 Weeks, Seattle was 2-4, 12th in offensive DVOA, 12th in defensive DVOA, they probably deserved better than 4 losses but look how the final 10 games compare with the first 6.

Sea Last 10

In the last 10 games we saw Seattle play as well as they have at any point of this dominant 4 year run since Russell Wilson has been there and it places this years team amongst the last 2 teams that made the Super Bowl.

Sea DVOA 12-15

The SB winning 2013 team was one of the best defensive teams of the last decade and this team is not playing at that level but we see that offensively this team is much more efficient and like that team, this years team is dominant in all 3 phases. What stands out to me is that over the last 10 games the 2015 team has a point differential that’s 2 full points better than the 2013 team. The Seahawks of 2015 look different and win differently then the last 2 years but they are actually equally as great. If they miss out on the Superbowl this year it will be because the 1st 6 games set them up for a very difficult road (@ Min, @ Car, @ Ari) not because they finished the year as a lesser team.

Carolina is a great team and they beat Seattle in week 6 in Seattle so they are certainly capable of winning this game. The Panthers finished 4th overall in DVOA and 3rd in weighted DVOA ( Seattle finished 1st in both, Cam Newton is the MVP and I love the fact that they lead the league in big play differential.

In a lot of ways this game could be similar to 2012 when the 11-5 Seahawks were #1 in DVOA but had to play @ the 13-3 Falcons and lost 30-28. If the Panthers win I will be on them next week vs Arizona but this is the one team I don’t think they are better than.

I don’t think Carolina has a great home field and the conditions should be about a 1000 times better for Seattle than last week. We saw 4 road teams win last week and I expect Seattle to continue the trend here.

Game 2: GB @ Ari -7

Bet% GB 39% Ari 61%

It’s interesting what a difference a week makes. The Packers were 1 point underdogs going into Washington last week and most of the talk going into that game was about”Whats wrong with Aaron Rodgers”. Now after a 35-18 win most of the talk has been about the Packers righting the ship and possibly making a run in the playoffs. Have they righted the ship?

I was on the Packers last week and the reason for that was that they were facing the #22 pass defense ( 22nd in opp avg passer rating 95.7, 22nd in opp yards per pass att 7.2) and the 30th ranked run defense (4.8 yards per rush). They put up 35 points but Rodgers wasn’t especially great as he passed for only 210 yards on 36 pass attempts, it was really the run game that carried the offense with 141 yards and 2 TDs.

The Packers offense faces a much more difficult defense this week, the Cards finished 3rd in Defensive DVOA and were in the top 10 in yards per pass att and yards per rush att. One of the major problems the Packers have had is protecting Rodgers, Rodgers was sacked on 7.4% of pass plays (24th) on the season but in their last 3 games he was sacked at an even higher percentage 11.2%. In their week 2 game the Cards sacked Rodgers 8 times so they will definitely be looking to take advantage of the Packers line again in this game.

Arizona has been one of the best offensive teams all year, 4th in offensive DVOA, 1st in Points Scored (32/Game) and 2nd overall in point differential +176., +131 better than the Packers who finished +45 on the season

A lot has been made about the injury to Tyrann Mathieu and it it is a big one but this week i think the impact is negated due to the packers injury of Devante Adams. Adams has been a disappointment this year but he is still the Packers best outside threat and without him the Packers really do’t have anyone the Cards have to worry about getting deep. I think his is a near perfect matchup for the Cardinals this week and expect them to win by at least double digits.

Game 3:   KC @NE -4.5

Bet% KC 46% NE 54%

There is not a lot to write on this one, I love Andy Reid, so much of what I know and think about the NFL was shaped by Andy and the decade plus he spent in Philadelphia. This has been a fantastic coaching job this year, starting 1-5, losing Jamal Charles and then winning 11 in a row including last week in Hou is something nobody could have envisioned but I think they are just up against too much his week.

Last week the Chiefs played the Texans and had the game pretty much gift wrapped to them by Brian Hoyer who threw 4 interceptions in one of the worst playoff performances of all time. I’m not sure a team has faced a larger difference in the calibre of QBs from 1 playoff game to the next as the Chiefs will going from Hoyer to Brady

The Pats limped into the end of the year due almost entirely to injuries, Edleman, Gronk and 3/5ths of the offensive line missed parts or all of the last quarter of the season. I think those injuries and the late season swoon gives us value here and a cheaper than usual price to bet the Pats. The Pats are expected to have Gronk and Eddleman back this week while the Chiefs will be without Jeremy Maclin. Without Maclin I expect Bellicheck to do everything he can to stop the run and force KC to beat them through the air and I’m just not sure how they can do it.

NFL Playoffs-Wild Card Week

Regular Season ATS 60-42 58.8%

Playoffs: Playoffs?

Game 1: Ari @ Car -5.5

Bet% Ari 55% Car 45%

This is a tough pick for me to make because it seems like all the sharps and smart people on Arizona and my numbers point to the Panthers. The Cards went 11-5 and despite poor underlying numbers they kept winning games and it’s hard for me to see them continuing especially with Ryan Lindley.

Arizona had a point differential on the the year of just 11, easily the lowest among teams that won at least 10 games, they finished 23rd in weighted  DVOA which is way below their rank in wins. So how has Arizona done it this year? 2 areas that have really helped are turnover margin where they finished +8 which was 5th in the league and they were 2nd in the league in defensive TDs with 4. Not to say those stats are pure luck but they are very difficult to count on long term, especially the turnover margin.

In breaking this game down the last month of the season has these teams going in opposte directions. The Cards had a passer rating on the season of 81.8 which was 25th but over the last 3 games its a dreadful 59. On defense  Arizona ranked 23rd  or worse in yards/play, yards/pass and yards per rush against and their numbers the last 3 weeks have been worse for all their season defensive numbers. The one stat they have been great at is yards/pt against where they ranked 1st at 19.8 so for whatever reason they give up a lot of yards but keep teams from scoring, can that keep up?

On the Panthers side they have had very few wins over good teams but they have been much better the last 3 weeks especially defensively. Panthers passer rating against  over the last 3 weeks was just 62, the yards per play in those games was 4.8 so they are playing their best football on both sides of the game the last month. I’ll take Cam Newton over Lindly here and the hot Panthers

Game 2: Bal+3 @ Pit

Bet% Bal 41% Pit 59

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Week 11 Picks

Well with the win on Thursday night night we are riding the largest win streak of the year with 8 straight wins, one of the reasons has been trusting the numbers on totals, specifically on unders and even more specifically riding the Detroit defense.

LW: 7-0

Season ATS 39-23 (includes TNF)

Game 2: Det +1 @ Arz

Bet% Det 52 Arz 48

It’s interesting that Det at 7-2 is on the road at a team that is 8-1 and only a 1 point dog in this game, this may be due to the Carson Palmer injury but I think the line is actually a good line because  Detroit is a better team overall. By DVOA Det ranks 9th overall and #1 on Defense, while Arizona ranks 15th overall and 5th on defense. I think the current Lions team is actually better than that ranking because on offense the Lions rank 22nd but remember that Calvin Johnson missed 4 games and was hobbled for a couple of other ones and this offense is much more efficient when Johnson is healthy.

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