Thanksgiving Week in the NFL is an interesting one because we have the full day of games on Thursday and then because so many people are off and at home watching games we see a lot of money on games and larger bet% splits because there is so much public money in market. We hit on our one Turkey Day pick with Washington +7 and hope to continue our hot streak with this week’s cards. I have a feeling there will be a lot of work Sunday morning and some additional picks not listed because if the public money shows up Sat night and Sunday morning we might see some additional value.
The Bengals had as bad a week as you can have last week, not only did they lose at home to the Bills effectively ending any hopes of making the playoffs, they also lost AJ Green for the foreseeable future and Geo Bernard for the season. We saw the Bengals last week struggle on offense vs the Bills who are good on defense but basically league average, Bengals were shut out in the 2nd half and averaged just 4.2 yards per play for the game.
The Ravens are a much better defense than the Bills especially vs the run. I expect the Bengals want to lean heavily on Jeremy Hill in this game with no AJ Green and Bernard and the Ravens are the #1 run defense by DVOA and yards per att. Bengals passing game will rely heavily on the TE Eifert, remember they started the season without their #2 and #3 WRs from the last few years Jones and Sanu and neither Lefel of Boyd has made an impact this season. Add to all this that the Bengal’s offensive line has been one of the worst all year, currently 26th in adjusted sack rate.
The Ravens offense has been a problem all year, they’re 30th in offensive DVOA and the offense is averaging just 18.1 points per game despite not having faced many elite defenses. I’m not sure either team hits 20 in this game and think we are most likely to see a score somewhere around 17-13. (more…)
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…)
Week 3 was our first losing week of 2016 and as I mentioned not getting the best of the number cost me in 3 separate games. While I understand its part of the game and know I had some great luck earlier it is hard not to be a little bitter when you see the score fall on a number that was available at diff parts of the week. This week I have tried to be better prepared to get good numbers early but did miss that Cleveland +9.5 that was their on Monday.
Last Week 2-3-1
2015: 63 – 37 – 3
Game 1:Ind (1-2) @ Jax (0-3) Over 49
Bet% Over 75% Under 25%
This is the early game in London and I had a tough time deciding between the total and side. I like the Jags but not sure there is any value at +2. The total I think is the play because the Jags offense so far has simply not been able to capitalise on their opportunities and this feels like the perfect defense to get right against.
The Jags offense through 3 weeks has scored only 18 points per game on offense after scoring 22.5 last season, the offense is 30th in DVOA to start this season after finishing 21st last season and their yards per point is up to 17.6 this year compared to 14.4 last year.
After playing the Packers (10th in defensive DVOA), Ravens (5th in Defensive DVOA) and even the Chargers (16th in Def DVOA) the Jags get easily the worst defense they have seen this season and I think we can expect their best offensive performance so far.
The Colts are giving up 24.3 points per game to offenses through 3 weeks which is 20th and the Jags are giving up 28 which is 28th. The Colts offense is scoring 27 points per game 5th in the league, even though the Jags defense has been better this year the cots should be able to score.
This is the Jags 4th trip to London which should make them very comfortable in this game, they understand the schedule, the travel and should be able acclimate quickly in this game. A best case scenario for our over would be the Jags jumping out ahead early and the Colts needing to put up points late to come back. We should also remember that in their last meeting in Dec 2015, the Jags put up 51 vs the Colts.
Game 2: Den (3-0) @ TB (1-2) +3
Bet% Den 85 TB 15%
This is definitely this week’s “Hold your Nose game” and my fav bet of the week. Denver is 3-0 and the defense looks to be very similar to last years dominant unit, add to that they are coming off of a very impressive win on the road vs the Broncos where Trevor Siemian passed for 4TDs. Now contrast that to the Bucs who have lost 2 straight games both in very disappointing fashion so yeah why wouldn’t you want to bet Denver at this short price? Well it turns out everyone does want to. Here is an alert I earlier this week. (more…)
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.
Anytime Curt Henning gifs make an appearance on this blog it is the highest honour, it is my “I’m going to Disneyland”
Last season we had 2 perfect weekends, Week 11 and Week 15. Coming out of the gate with a perfect weekend in 2016 is a not only a great morale boost but also helps build a buffer for one of those 1-4 weekends that is sure to pop up early in the year.
Week 1: 5-0
2016 ATS: 5-0
2015 Season including Playoffs: 63-37-3
Week 1 Results
What Went Right
Everything! Well I guess that goes without saying that when you go 5-0 but for the purpose of this review it is probably more valuable to separate out the luck.
TB- ATL– This was the game that I think most closely followed what I expected when betting. Atlanta looked similar to what they did in the 2nd half of 2015. Devonta Freemon’s struggles continued into 2016 as he rushed for 20 yards on 11 carries. TB basically led this game start to finish, a very impressive road win vs division opponent. Also cashed the ML bet here.
GB-Jax- This ended up coming down to the wire and a late FG by the Jags when they were down 7 was crucial to get the cover but overall I thought they played the type of game we expected. The Jags offense was able to have success and out gained the Packers. I had questions for just how effecient the Packers would be early and how much they would get out of Nelson and Lacy. While both players looked fine neither looked anywhere close to their previous best, Lacy averaged 4.4 yards per carry on 14 carries and Nelson had just 32 yards receiving. This line ended up as low as 4 at kick off so it certainly mattered what number you got here
Football is back, De La Soul is back and life is pretty good right now. Coming off of 2 straight winning seasons on this blog certainly has me worried if the gambling gods take a chunk back but I do think the process of writing out rationale for every pick has improved my processes for making picks and also made me constantly seek out better and better information. As usual a lot of attention will be placed on analytics and the betting market to make these picks. Good luck to everyone.
Week 1 is always tough, not only do we have only the preseason to go on, these lines have been out for months and worked by professionals in every direction so it’s hard to trust the late line moves as true positions. But football is back and it’s the best. Same with De La.
2015 Review (all plays posted on Get The Cover)
2015 Reg Season: 57-35-3
2016 NFL Playoffs including SB: 6-2
2015-16 NFL Season Overall (Playoffs and Reg Season): 63-37-3 or 63%
Game 1 : San Diego +7 @ KC
Betting % SD 42% KC 58%
I bet this game early in the week and posted on twitter and here that the 7s were all going away and buying up to the full TD at -125 -130 was worth it. I wrote about the Chargers as an early season team to bet on and the reasons I like them in this post are basically the same.
The Chargers last year were the 15th best offense overall despite have the 31st ranked run offense. How much of last year was Melvin Gordon being terrible vs the offensive line missing 3 key pieces for a combined 20 games? I think with a healthy line and the addition of OC Ken Wisenhunt the run game will improve and the passing game should get a boost from that even if the run game just moves from terrible to below average. Rivers will have his full complement of WRs to start the year something he rarely had last year and I think he playing the K defense early is an advantage.
The Chiefs will start the year without Justin Houston and are relying on Tamba Hali and Dee Ford to fill in and create pressure. Eric Berry was late to camp after being franchise tagged and didn’t play any in the preseason. The Chiefs played without Houston to end the year and have a great coaching staff so these issues may be minor but if they are vulnerable on defense I think it will be early on.
Also worth mentioning the Chiefs were 3rd in the league in takeaways and 2nd in TO margin. I do think Alex Smith is someone who will always throw a lower number of interceptions but on the defensive side I would be surprised if the takeaways didn’t drop this season.
On offense Jamal Charles is not quite ready for the season and Chiefs will go with Ware as their starter. Andy Reid always runs a quality offense regardless of who is starting and the Chargers defense really struggled last year so it will be interesting to see how that unit bounces back this year and if Joey Bosa actually plays.
The Chargers played 12 one score games last year with a seriously deplete roster, (27th in Adjusted Games lost), I think they keep this game close and have a chance to win straight up. Sprinkle on ML
If there is a team that I think is flying most under the radar right now it’s the Detroit Lions and specifically their defense. I have bet the under with them the last few weeks and with them playing the early game in London I will be on the underrated Detroit side again. In honour of being from Detroit and underrated…
The 3-1 Cowboys have been one of the biggest surprises of the season, led by the leagues #1 rushing attack at 165 yards per game, Dallas has quickly changed the perception of this team. That being said this might be a good spot to go against them. Dallas is coming off of a very big prime time win vs the Saints and next week plays the super bowl champ Seahawks, so this could be a let down game for them. Hou also brings a much better defense than any of the 3 teams that Dallas has beaten so far, the Texans are ranked 12 in Defensive DVOA while the Titans, Rams and Saints were ranked 20,30,32 respectively.
6.5 points seems like a lot in his game, while Dallas is at home there should be plenty of support for Houston in the Jerry dome which lessons the home field advantage. The Dallas defense while not the historically bad unit some expected is still playing very poorly giving up 6.5 yards per play and 7.4 yards per pass, both up from last year, so Houston should be able to move the ball this week.