This week’s review includes a bonus Turkey day pick. Week 11 continued our hot streak from Week 10 as for the first time this year we had big back to back weeks. Unders were a major part of the week 11 card and even though 2 of the 3 games we bet went under we only ended up 1-1 in those games. Whats frustrating is that the Vikings-Cards game was one of only 2 games on the entire schedule that went over (12 of the 14 week 11 games went under) and you will read below it had no business going over. Still a 4-1 week is a great week and our season record is now over 61%
Thanksgiving Day Pick (Week 12)
Game 1: Was +7 @ Dal
Bet% Was 48% Dal 52%
Betting against the Cowboys has been about as bad a bet as there has been on the card as they have won 9 straight games not just straight up but ATS. That winning streak means that the price to bet Dallas keeps going up and getting the full TD here is too much value to pass up.
Lets first start off with the fact this is a divisional game and if we look at the Cowboys 3 toughest games of the season so far they are unquestionably the loss in the opener to the Giants, Week 2 in Washington and the comeback OT win at home vs the Eagles. Washington lost that week 2 game 27-23 and while the Cowboys are a much better team now than they were them so is Washington.
Washington has been steadily moving up in league rankings, in week 4 they ranked 14th in DVOA, currently they are 7th, the Cowboys comparatively rank 4th. There is no question that Cowboys have a major advantage in the run game, Dallas has the #1 rushing offense and Washington in my numbers ranks 28th but there is some light in the tunnel as over their last 3 games Washington has given up just 3.7 yards per rush att compared to 4.6 on the season. Those 3 games were against the Vikings, Bengals and Lions so nowhere near the calibre of the Cowboys but there are some signs that Washington’s run defense is tightening up.
In the end I expect both offenses to have a lot of success in this game, we have seen the over get bet from 49 to 51 and like the other 3 divisional games I expect a close 1 score game.
This week was a really tough week, I can’t remember feeling as disappointed, disillusioned and disheartened as I did after Tuesday night. Yesterday I got the new Tribe album and it was the first time I felt some relief, some joy, some escape. It’s beautiful and perfect. RIP Phife. Thank you Tip, Ali and Jarobi we needed this.
Week 9: 2-2
Game 1: KC @ Car Under 44.5
Bet% Over 60% Under 40%
Both these teams played games last week that went way under, we were on the Panthers-Rams under and I bet against the Chiefs last week. The Chiefs will get Alex Smith and Spencer Ware back in this game but after a week off I expect Andy Reid to be very conservative in this game especially with Jeremy Maclan out this game. Even though Maclan hasn’t been as big a part of the offense this year as everyone expected there is no doubt that he is still a focal point of defenses so with him out the Panthers should be able to squeeze the Chiefs offense.
The Panthers defense struggled mightily early in the year but the last 2 weeks vs Arizona and the Rams it looked a lot closer to last year’s group. By DVOA their defensive line is now a top 10 group vs the pass and run and the Chiefs line hasn’t been particularly good, so this is a good matchup for Panthers defense.
On the flip side, the Panthers offense has issues on the offensive line. Not only will they be without Michael Oher again but they will be without starting center Ryan Kalil who didn’t practice at all this week. The Chiefs have been a much better pass rush team the last month lead by Dee ford who has 7.5 sacks the last 4 weeks.
This feels like a game both teams offensive lines are going to have a hard time holding up, they both rank in the bottom 10 and face defenses that can create pressure. The Chiefs have thrived on turnovers but even in games like last week where they were +4, they still only scored 19. We have seen the Panthers offense struggle in games where Cam gets hit a lot which has been most weeks. Take out the games vs Saints and Falcons and this is an offense that has struggled to score so far especially against teams with pass rush.
This was not a week where I saw a lot of line value based on analytics or numbers and with 6 teams on byes it was probably going to be smaller card anyways. 2 of the sides are schedule/letdown spots and we have another teaser this week were we hope the home teams can just get the win. Coming off our first big winning weeks since week 1 has lifted the overall record to just under 60% which is great to see. The recipe the last few seasons has been to try to avoid the really public plays which I think limits the big losing weeks. Then from there we grind out the weeks and hopefully have a few weeks like last week and week 1 where the ugly games all hit and boost the overall record.
Week 8: 4-1
Game 1: Dal @ Cle +7.5
Bet% Dal 76% Cle 24%
In a game between the #2 DVOA team and the 32nd DVOA team we are going to have an impossible time finding any numbers that support taking the Browns and the points here. They do not exist. This is pick based solely on the schedule and the very likely scenario that the Cowboys will have a let down here.
Last week the Cowboys came off of their bye and played a prime time game vs divisional rival Philadelphia, they struggled for most of the game, trailing 20-13 through 3 quarters in what was Dak Prescott’s least efficient start since the opener before coming back and scoring on their last drive then in OT to steal a huge victory.
Now this week they play the worst team in the league, the winless Browns and beyond that Jerry Jones has basically come out and said that Prescott will be the starter regardless of Romo’s health so that urgency from the QB is also gone. You know the Cowboys have spent the week celebrating not just the win but the idea that even without a complete game they can come back and win. How seriously did they work this week to get ready for the winless Browns? Also they play the Steelers next week so you have to think there is going to be some looking ahead for both the players and coaches to that marquee matchup. (more…)
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
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…)
This week’s card is a little strange from my end because I am betting a lot of favorites which is not the way my card looks most weeks. In the end betting is about getting value and this was a week where I saw most of the value on the favorites.
Last week was a ‘ should have been, could have been’ week, I finished 4-3 but 6 days later I still can’t stop thinking about the missed opportunities in the Bears and Ravens games. I’m also stewing over not pulling the trigger on TNF where I liked the Chargers but because I hate Thursday Night football and often don’t feel fully prepared to bet, I missed out on a really great spot. Need to shake that all off and make this week a winner.
Week 5: 4-3
NFL 2016: 16-11-1
2015: 63 – 37 – 3
Game 1: Phi -2.5 @ Wash
Bet% Phi 68% Wash 32%
As an Eagles fan, as excited as I am about their great start I still felt like last week was a bad spot for them and bet the Lions. The Lions not only got the cover but ended up winning straight up. Despite the loss I was left feeling very good about the Eagles going forward and didn’t think the Detroit game drops them at all in the rankings.
Washington, as discussed in the Week 5 results post, got one of the luckiest wins of the year, everything that could have gone wrong for the Ravens did and still Washington needed a punt return TD to win.
The Eagles are #2 in DVOA to start this season, they are +64 in point differential and important to this game, Eagles are 2nd in sack percentage. Getting pressure on Cousins has been a key to creating turnovers, Eagles are 7th best vs the run, they should be able to force Washington in to a lot of passing and I expect some turnovers.
On the flip side Washington is dead last in rush defense DVOA and the Eagles at this point want to rely on the run game to set their offense up. Doug Pederson has used a lot of play action, read option and rollouts to get Wentz easy reads and throws, I expect the Eagles run offense to have success and open their passing game up.
3 key players possibly may miss this game. For Eagles, RT Lane Johnson will start his 10 game suspension and the Eagles will miss their best player on offense going forward but I am not sure Washington has the front to take advantage. Eagles best player on the team Fletcher Cox missed practice early in the week, looks like he will play but may not be 100%.
For Washington, Jordan Reed is expected to be out with a concussion, Reed is not only their most reliable pass catcher but a bonafide Eagles killer.
Game 2: Atlanta @ Seattle -6
Bet% Atl 57% Sea 43%
Last week’s win in Denver by Atlanta was a statement game and for me there is no choice but to believe that they are real. The offense is #1 in DVOA, in yards per pass att they are #1 with 9.9 yards/att. SD came into this week 2nd at 8.2. That difference of 1.7 means that SD is as close to Cleveland who is 21st at 6.5 yards per att as they are to #1 Atl.
Week 4 was the second straight losing 2-3 week. losing weeks are going to happen but you want to obviously minimise the severity of them but more importantly you don’t want to have them impact the following week. Sometimes after losing it’s hard to fire on a lot of games and you can get conservative or move away from good bets because you lost similar ones the previous week. Shot memories can be helpful in betting. I liked a lot of games this weekend, the card may end up being the largest in terms of games played so far but yo gotta just go with it. It’s a long season, week 5 is no time to run and hide.
Last Week 2-3
NFL 2016: 12-8-1
2015: 63 – 37 – 3
Game 1: Was @ Bal -3.5
Bet%; Was 52% Bal 48%
Washington is coming off of 2 straight wins and appears to be back on track after a 0-2 start, while the Ravens lost their first game of the year to the Raiders. With the Ravens at home, this line essentially makes them 0.5 favorites on a neutral field but I don’t see them that close.
In my ratings I have Baltimore as #10 and Washington at 17, I think by the end of the year both may drop a few spots but the gap feels about right. Baltimore is 4th in defensive DVOA, and 1st vs the run. Last week, Washington had their best run game of the year averaging 5.6 yards per rush which meant they didn’t have to just rely on Cousins and the pass game.
Even though Washington ended up winning both of their last 2 games they were in position to lose both and probably would have had it not been for some very timely turnovers from the Giants and Browns. Both Giants and Browns turned the ball over 3 times and Washington was +4 in TOs in those games.
The Ravens are coming off of a very tough loss where they allowed the Raiders to drive down with 2 mins left and score a GW TD. Ravens outgained Raiders 412-261, ran almost 30 more plays then them and probably deserved a better fate.
On the injury front, Washington was particularly hit hard last week with players leaving, it looks like Kerrigan and starting G Lauvao will play but may not be 100%.
Game 2: Chi +5 @ Ind
Bet% Chi 47% IND 53%
This one just feels like too many points for Chicago in what is a very tough spot for the Colts and in fact in DVOA rankings Chicago ranks a little higher than the Colts based on only this season (23rd to 27th).
Lets start off with the schedule side for the Colts. Indy becomes one of the only teams I can remember to not get a bye the week after playing in London. Maybe it doesn’t have a major impact Sunday but it has to be somewhat of a disadvantage and I think it is unlikely they had a regular week of practice because of it.
The Colts are 1-3 and they will definitely need this win if they want to make the playoffs so there is that ‘desperation’ risk but I’m just not sure that it is enough to think they can cover a number like this coming off of a cross continental trip.
I don’t start really using this seasons stats until after week 3, at that point even though the sample is small, we at least have every team play 180-200 plays and have a start at home and road.
Week 3 to me is very often similar to week 2 in that we see a lot of reacting to recent results and I think again there is an opportunity to take advantage. We saw last week 7 of 9 0-1 teams playing 1-0 teams cover including the Rams who had the worst performance of week 1 not just cover but beat Seattle straight up.
This week’s card is going to be heavy in teams that got blown out last week, so pro tip: remember to forget what you saw last week.
Last Week 3 – 2
2016: 8 – 2
2015: 63 – 37 – 3
Game 1: Bal (2-0) @ Jax +1 (0-2)
Bet% Bal 48% Jax 52%
A week after being applauded for playing the Packers tough in their opener everyone is back off the Jags bandwagon in week 3 after getting blown out by the Chargers 38-14. I was on the Chargers last week and thought there was an overreaction to their blowing the game in KC and people getting a little too excited about the Jags game vs GB.
The Jags were a preseason darling because of their offseason upgrades on defense and sharps heavily bet them over 7.5 wins, now at 0-2 there is a lot of “these are the same ol’ Jags” talk. They may not get to 8 wins but I do see them being a tough team at home and I think this week’s matchup is good one for them to get their first win.
The Ravens have not been able to get their run game going and even the pass game has been relying heavily on big plays to Mike Wallace. The Ravens struggled to score at home vs the Bills who then gave up 37 to the Jets at home on TNF. Last week vs the Browns the Ravens were down 20-0 and managed to engineer the 2nd biggest comeback in team history.
After 2 tight wins including huge comeback against the leagues worst team I think this sets up as a spot where the Ravens aren’t able to hang offensively with the Jags. Jags should get Chris Ivory back to help the run game and I can see this being Allen Robinson’s game to breakout.Gus Bradley needs a win bad, I think he knows he is on the hot seat and needs to get his young team feeling good about themselves heading into their first divisional showdown with the Colts next week.
Game 2: Det (1-1) +7 @ GB (1-1)
Bet% Det 48% GB 52%
For the 3rd straight week I will be on the Lions and for the 3rd straight week I will be betting against the Packers. The Lions lead last week for 3 quarters before allowing the Titans to come back in the 4th quarter and erase a 12 point lead and with it were laments of “these are the same old Lions” The offense was pretty good in the first and had opportunities to score late in the half but had 2 TDs called back due to penalties. One thing that was very real in this game ere the Lions injuries. The Lions missed DeAndre Levy going into the game and ended up losing Ansah and Abdullah during the game and it looks like all 3 will miss this week.
Green Bay lost a high-profile game on SNF where over 80% of bets were on them as a short road fav but I think most people feel that being back home should be able to cure whatever is ailing the Packers especially on offense. Through the first weeks GB is 25th in offensive DVOA, now of course its only 2 games, both were on the road and one against a very good defense in Minnesota. Still I think the idea that Jordy Nelson coming back, Mike McCarthy calling plays and Eddie Lacy being ‘in shape’ would get the Packers right back to where they were in 2014 nd previously doesn’t feel like quite the lock it did in preseason.
And then there is this, Aaron Rodgers has now gone 14 straight games (including the 2 2015 playoff games) without hitting a passer rating of 100. From 2009 to 2014 he averaged a passer rating of over 100 for the season and on a game by game basis, in 2014 he did it 9 times and in one of the games he didn’t he was at 99.7.
We are beginning to hear some whispers about the problems the Packers are having on offense but in most of the mainstream media it is still pretty quiet and because of that I think there will be some value betting against the Packers.
The Lions played the Packers very tough last year, winning in Green Bay and then losing that heart breaker at home via the Rodgers patented hail mary. I think they can be close again this week and have a chance to win. Missed on the 7.5 which is disappointing but hopefully the 7 is enough. (more…)
Overreaction week turned out to live up to it’s name this week as we saw 9 games with 0-1 teams playing 1-0 teams and 7 of those 0-1 teams ended up covering. Unfortunately 1 of the 2 0-1 teams that didn’t cover was our MNF pick, the Chicago Bears.
Winning weeks are always good, this felt like it had a chance to be bigger going into MNF but a season of 3-2 weeks would work just fine and with the big week 1 we are off to a nice start here. It does help that 2 of the underdog winners, Cowboys & Vikings, won straight up so I banked a little extra on the ML bets. 2 Winning weeks to start 2016, reason to celebrate.
The last few years I have called week 2 Overreaction week as we routinely see teams get rewarded or punished for a Week 1 performance that doesn’t fit our perception going into the year. This year there seems to less of that overreaction at least as far as I can see and I wonder if the number of close games last week is the reason. 11 games last week were decided by a TD or less and 6 were decided by 2 points or less. That being said I do think there are few overreactions that we can take advantage of.
The Thursday Night game is a nice reminder of not taking too much from game 1 or going forward, 1 game.
All week I wanted to bet the Jets, the line was around +1 all week and while the Jets won and covered and the bet would’ve won, the game was very different than the one I envisioned based on week 1. The Bills couldn’t do anything on offense last week and now in week 2 with Sammy Watkins hurt playing against that Jets front that dominated in week 1 and was getting Sheldon Richardson back I saw a blowout where the Bills scored single digits.
I laid off because 1) I hate TNF, seord things always seem to.happen and 2) usually when you think something is too easy you are probably missing it. The Bills scored 31 points on 400 yards with Watkins making zero impact. The Bills offense was really good last year top 10 in DVOA, judging them on 1 game to start the year was a mistake. Good lesson.
We started the year with an absolute bang 5-0, so forgive me while I revel in the glory a little longer.
Game 1- Ten @ Det -5.5
Bet % – Ten 39% Det 61%
*This was the first bet I made at 5.5 but would bet at 6 as well.
So this is a game that worries me a little because even though I was high on the Lions going into the year and down on the Titans, anyone who bet just based on Week 1 would come to the same conclusion.
The reason I am sticking with it is that at 60-40 this isn’t super one sided and even though the Lions beat a popular team in the Colts, it did come down to the wire. Also there has been some discrediting of the Lions offense due to the Colts defense being terrible.
As I discussed in the Early season teams to bet on, The Lions had one of the best offenses in the 2nd half of 2015 when they made the change at OC, at home, they are going to score in this game.
As for the Titans, they fit a lot of the criteria I used for teams that should over-perform this year, they were an unlucky team last year by a number of metrics. There is one major reason I don’t think it will happen and it’s their head coach Mike Mularkey. Mularkey has been one of the worst offensive coaches in the NFL the last 5 years, teams that he has been either the OC or HC for the last 5 years have finished no higher than 29th in offensive DVOA. And somehow he got another chance as a HC.
The Titans are running a very conservative ground and pound offense, the Lions were good against the run last year, especially in the 2nd half and specially at home. I expect the Lions to be fine vs the run but if the get up early and force Titans to open up, they could run away. If the Titans can hang in early and stick with their base offense, we might be in for a nailbiter.
Game 2: Dal +3 @ Was
Bet% Dal 54% @ Was 46%
The Steelers- Washington game is my biggest regret of week 1. I am very down on Washington this year and like everyone consider the Steelers a SB favorite. At -3 I thought there was a little value on Pittsburgh but held off. Then there was a reverse line move on Monday and the line dropped to Steelers -1 even though around 70% of bets were on Pit and I was scared off of any Steeler bets. Then the game started and it went exactly as I envisioned.
The Week 1 blowout loss takes a little value off this game for Dallas but these are 2 teams I wrote about in my early season betting previews and my opinion hasn’t changed on either team.
I think there are a few things that Dallas can take from the Steelers and the biggest is the way they defended Cousins. The Cowboys biggest issue on defense is a lack of pass rush but luckily in this game they probably don’t need one. The Steelers had 0 sacks and 1 QB hit last week , instead of pressuring Cousins, they dropped back into coverage and waited for him to implode. I expect Dallas to play Cousins the same way.
On offense I expect the Cowboys and their run game to get on track, DeAngelo Williams had 26 carries for 155 yards (5.5 ypa) and even though Elliot struggled in his first game, that line is too good for that to continue. I also think the Cowboys will open up the passing game a bit more and take some shots deep this week after much consternation about Dak Prescott’s inability to find Dez Bryant.
Game 3: Jax @ SD-3
Bet% Jax 65% SD 35%
This is one of the games where I think we see an overreaction to Week 1. Whats’s interesting is both teams lost in week 1 but the 2 losses are being viewed very differently.
The Jags lost at home to GB by 4. They did out-gain the Packers and had the ball at end of game with a ‘chance to win’ but basically trailed all game. Still this ability to stay close to a playoff team at home was seen by all as a major step forward for the Jags and rightfully so because of where this team has been the latest few years.
For the Chargers their OT loss is not seen with the same optimism. SD jumped to an early lead and led by as much as 17 in the 4th Q. For the Chargers not many positives are being taken from their game even though they were 3 mins away from beating the division champs in their stadium. Instead the focus has been on the late collapse and season ending injury to Keenan Allen, again understandably so.
Which brings us to 65% of bettors taking the Jags +3 on the road, I’m just not there yet. For me the Jags had a great situation with the Packers travelling down south to the heat and humidity of Florida, with Nelson and Lacy still rounding into form but while they were close all game they never really felt like they were going to win the game. Now they have to travel across the country and play in San Diego.
The Chargers run game looked much better in week 1 than the 31st ranked version from last year and I think will be able to find success against the Jags . The Chargers offensive line is healthy and in week 1 not only helped improve the run game but in 36 pass attempts Rivers was sacked only once.
I liked the Chargers before the season started and week 1 didn’t change my mind on them.
Game 4:Phi @ Chi -3
Bet% Phi 61% Chi 39
As an Eagles fan I was thrilled with the week 1 performance of both Carson Wentz and the gameplan devised by Doug Pederson. For a rookie QB that played at North Dakota State and played only 1 preseason game before getting hurt I’m not sure it was possible for him to play an better than he did. Doug Pederson and his staff did a great of protecting their rookie QB with roll outs,read-options and finding him easy reads where he could use his big arm and make throws he felt comfortable with.
All that being said, the Eagles played not only the team expected to finish last but a team that is actively fielding a team trying to finish last. The Browns have no intention on being competitive this season and as a result Carson Wentz could not have played a better opponent for his first NFL game.
The Bears on the other hand played in Houston and for the 1st half looked very capable of not only covering but winning straight up. They ultimately fell short but I think coming back at home on MNF against a rookie QB in his 2nd start is a pretty good spot.
The view of the Eagles after the Bradford trade was that the Eagles will be one of the worst 3 or 4 teams in the league. I thought that was too harsh, as the Eagles are extremely talented in their front 7 on defense and the offensive line can be very good as well if healthy.Now after week 1, there is talk about Eagles possibly competing for the NFC East and Wentz was the highest selling jersey online.
Lets pump the breaks on that. Again it was the Browns in week 1 and the problem with the Eagles isn’t their talent it’s their depth. The talent drain under Chip Kelly in addition to 2 terrible drafts has left the Eagles razor thin all over the field and already in week 2 we will see the impact of that.
The Eagles lost TE Zack Ertz for the next 3 weeks, Ertz is the 2nd best option the Eagles have in the passing game behind Jordan Mathews. In week 1 Ertz was 2nd on the team in targets and catches finishing with 7 targets, 6 catches for 58 yards. The problem is what is behind Ertz. His backup up Celek is a blocker, Josh Huff is terrible and Darren Sproles seems to be slowing. The strength of the Eagles offense with Ertz is in the middle of the field where Jordan Mathews, Ertz and the running backs all do their best work. Its also the strength of the Bears defense with their upgraded linebacker crew.
On defense Leodis Mcelvin strained his hamstring and will also miss the game this week. The Eagles have 1 above average corner (Mckelvin) and 1 borderline NFL average corner N. Carrol. If McKelvin is out the Eagles simply do not have capable talent to take over. The Eagles struggled last week with the big receivers of the Browns, none of them in the same league as Alshon Jeffrey who should have a field day.
Game 5: GB @ Min+2.5
Bet% GB 81% Min 19%
*Originally I had hoped to get 3 but this line has dropped steadily despite 80% of bets being on the Packers. I still think their will be some movement and the line will get back to + 2 or 2.5 but the 3 I was hoping for is not likely be there.
Officially locked in at +2.5, there are 2’s all over now and a few 2.5’s about half hour before kickoff.
This is the game on the card where I think the Vikings are the hardest team to back based on week 1. The Vikings offense looked terrible in Tennessee, Shaun Hill was a disaster and Adrian Peterson averaged 1.6 yards per carry. Meanwhile the Packers won on the road, Rodgers is healthy and has his full compliment of weapons.
I mentioned this last week in the Packers Jags write up but untill we see Nelson and Lacy play at last their previous high end levels I think the Packers are being overvalued. Last week Nelson averaged 5.3 yards per catch and Lacy minus one run for 28 yards was mostly pedestrian.
The Vikings defense was dominant last week and should be able to keep them in the game. As bad as the QB play was last week, the Vikings do not need a high level of QB performance to be successful, if Bradford plays just average they should be in good shape.
This is a great spot for Minnesota, the opening of the new stadium on Sunday Night Football versus a hated rival playing their 2nd straight road game and 4th straight if you include preseason.
I will have a couple of posts this week before the week 1 picks that help preview the 2016 season. For team by team previews they are far better places to get that type of info, basically start from Bill Barnwell and Aaron Schatz and work from their. My focus will be on early season betting, this is the first post with teams to look to bet on early in the season (4-5) weeks, tomorrow I will do one with the top teams to fade.
One thing I want to mention, there is a lot of talk in these posts about luck, for whatever reason I think too many people that cover sports don’t like attributing results to luck or randomness. It’s why we hear so much about things like ‘team chemistry’ and ‘leadership’ used to explain results that don’t make sense statistically.
In terms of football, I believe for the most part, 1) turnovers 2) close game results 3) injuries are all reliant mostly on luck/randomness, and the data shows we see major swings year to year in all three of these, where teams usually regress to the mean.
Now there are certainly cases where some QBs have proven to be better at avoiding Int’s (Alex Smith, Aaron Rodgers) or more prone to throwing them and some players may be more injury prone but those cases are the exceptions. So many turnovers are based on luck; fumble recoveries is almost all random, tipped balls, dropped Ints vs a receiver falling and causing an interception totally random.
These posts obviously come with some major caveats; the point of the post isn’t to say these are teams that you should be blindly bet on or against but rather teams I think will be undervalued in the betting market and teams that will be overvalued. Most of this is based on the perceptions I think majority of bettors will have based on last season and the offseason’s of these teams. And things can change quickly, so three weeks in I may have a very different opinion on some of these teams but for now I feel good about these teams below offering value in 2016.
Coming into training camp I felt like it was wrong to infer very much from the 2015 numbers on offense for the Cowboys because of the Romo injury in ’15. Tony Romo played only 4 games and the QB play behind him was amongst the worse in the league. Dallas ranked 31st in offensive DVOA, giveaways and passer rating (not the triple crown you want), this after finishing the 2014 season 5th in DVOA and 8th in passer rating with Tony Romo at the helm.
The defense finished in the bottom 3rd again in 2015 season but the big difference between ’14 and ’15 was turnovers. In 2014 Dallas was 5th in takeaways and in 2015 finished dead last with just 11. Generally turnovers regress towards the mean, there may be something to playing a lot more from behind in 2015 but I think it’s fair to expect them to be somewhere in the middle of 2014 and 2015 takeaway totals.
Early Season Betting: Bet On
Even though the roster to start the year is depleted and worse off than last year (Romo Injury, McClain, Gregory and Lawrence suspensions) I do think there will be value in betting the Cowboys early in the year. My big reason to bet to Cowboys early is I think there will be an overreaction to the Romo injury based on last year, where the whole season fell apart. Bettors will look to fade them based on ow ugly 2015 got and oddsmakers will have to offer a little extra to get Dallas money.
While losing Romo for half the season is a huge blow, I do not think the QB play this season will be as bad as last year where Matt Cassel had a QBR of 33.7 and Kellen Moore had one of 19.0. That’s an impossibly low bar to beat and I can’t see Prescott or Sanchez being quite that bad. The Cowboys feel very good about the rookie Prescott and while he is likely to regress once the real season begins the fact that they have had almost all of the preseason to prepare an offense sans Romo is a big advantage over last year. I also think having Sanchez on the roster is quality insurance and I think both guys are improvements over last years crew.
Secondly Dallas was a really unlucky team last year. The biggest swing in luck we can expect is turnovers. The Cowboys finished -22 in turnovers last year which was dead last, that alone moving towards the median should make them much more competitive. Remember in 2014 the Cowboys finished +6 and on defense had 25 takeaways compared to just 11 in 2014. The Cowboys were also unlucky in close games, last year they finished 2-6 in 1 score games, again these things tend to swing back year over year so they should be able to win some more of those.