Patriots

2016 Week 14 Picks

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.

Week 13: 3-2

2016: 46-28-2

Game 1: TNF Oak @ KC -3.5

Game 2: NO +3 @ TB

Bet% NO 40% TB 60%

*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.

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2016 Week 10 Picks

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

2016: 28-20-2

2015: 63-37-3

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.

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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…)

2016 Week 4 Picks

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

2016: 10-5-1

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…)

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.

Week 8 – Thursday Night Football

2015 ATS: 26-15-1

LW 5-2

Game 1 Mia +8.5 @ NE

Bet% Mia 32% NE 68%

I have been on Miami for the first 2 weeks of the Dan Campbell era and will continue to ride them here on TNF. Coming off of 2 straight blow outs, how good is Miami? Honestly I am not sure and I don’t know how anyone can really know for sure. The last 2 weeks they have played the Titans and the Texans, the 22nd and 31st ranked teams by DVOA, obviously not great competition but they didn’t just win those games, they completely destroyed those teams winning by 28 and 18 and that 18 against Hou is extremely flattering to the Texans as they led Houston at half 41-0.

Through the first 4 weeks under Joe Philbin, Miami ranked 29th in overall DVOA, now after their 2 very impressive wins since the change they have moved up all the way to 15th overall. The 2 biggest improvements have been in the run game and the defenses ability to get pressure.

As I wrote last week there are not a lot of situations where you make money betting against the Patriots but this is the one where it has been profitable, games where NE is favored by more than a TD. Since 2009, now including last week vs the Jets New England is 10-17 ATS as a 7.5 pt or more favorite.

We know Patriots will get the majority of bets every week and the lines will continually get shaded to their side, a sort of Patriots tax, again this week we see basically 70% of tickets on New England this week. The Patriots are the best team in the league and certainly capable of covering this number as we saw last week when they led the Jets late by 10. On the other hand, last week we also saw the value of getting this many points as the Jets were within the number for basically the whole game and able to get a late FG for the cover even though they couldn’t win the game.

At this point I am basically going to play these spots blindly especially within the division, all these teams have played Brady and company for years and if anyone is going to knock them off it is probably going to be within the divsion.  New England has failed to cover a TD the last 2 weeks and I think it can continue tonight.

Week 12 Picks

Week 11: 5-2

Season ATS: 43-25

After having 2 really good weeks in a row (12-2) I’m a little nervous this week because on one hand I know there is going to be some regression as it doesn’t seem possible to keep being on the right side this often and while I really like this week’s card, I am fading some of the best and most prolific teams in the league. One of the themes in this week is fading teams that have big games next week, hopefully we catch them looking ahead.

Game 1 Bal +3.5 @ NO

Bet% Bal 42 NO 58

This was the first game I bet after open, it opened at Bal +4 which I missed but did get in with the 3.5. So the Saints will be playing their 3rd straight game at home and I get the idea that it seems impossible that they could lose all 3 and that’s why everyone would be on the Saints but would you have thought they would lose both of the first 2? I don’t think so which is why I don’t think that alone can be reason to take Saints here or stay away from Ravens.

Baltimore’s season is pretty amazing, at 6-4 they are last in their division but have a +80 point differential, are the 3 DVOA team overall, #7 on defense and # 12 on overall, so by all these measures Baltimore come out looking like one of the best teams in the NFL. The Saints on the other hand at 4-6 have a point differential of 8 and are the 16th overall DVOA team, 30th on defense and 5th on offense. So it looks like we have the better team getting 3.5 on the road in this game, what about the spot?

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Week 5 Picks

Game 1: Hou +6.5 @Dal

Bet% Hou 35% @ Dal 65%

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.

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