Ravens

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 12 Picks

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.

Week 11: 4 – 1

2016 (Through Week 11): 37-23-2

Game 1: Was +7 @ Dal

Game 2: Cin @ Bal Under 41.5

Bet% Over 42% Under 58%

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…)

2016 Week 9 Picks

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

2016: 26-18-2

2015: 63-37-3

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 5 results 4-3

Week 5 ended our mini 2 week slide and put on the right side but this was a week where it should have been so much better. Both the Bears- Colts and Washington-Ravens games had every opportunity to go our way and it’s almost miraculous that they didn’t. Very frustrating finishes but I feel confident that I was on the right side of most of the games on this week’s card. Which is something.

shinsuke-entrane

Week 5 Results: 4-3

week-5-results-16

What Went Right:

  • Stafford and Jim Bob: As an Eagles fan I thought this was a tough spot for the Eagles and early on Stafford and the offense had lots of success scoring Tds on both of their first drives. The Eagles played really well in the 2nd half, but then at the end of the game we saw the turnover margin anomaly of the Eagles regress all at once with a Ryan Mathews fumble and then  Wentz interception on final play. Turnovers happen and so do losses on the road. Eagles are still good and the Lions offense is also really good.
  • Shady Mccoy: The Bills run game continued to roll, the pass game was M.I.A with 124 yards but Mccoy rushed for 150 yards on just 18 carries and allowed the offense to take control. As discussed the Bills defense isn’t great but the Rams weren’t capable of taking advantage. Keenum threw 2 interceptions and while Gurley did score a TD he still only averaged 3.1 yards per touch

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2016 Week 5 Picks

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.

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2016 Week 3 picks: Remember To Forget

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…)

Early Season Betting: Teams to Buy

buy-simpsons

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.

5-to-buy

  1. Dallas Cowboys 

2015 Review

cowboys

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.

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Week 3 – 0 -2 Teams teetering on the Ledge

It is amazing how many times this week we have heard games described as ‘must win’ for the 0-2 teams and while usually the term must win is over used, going 0-3 historically has been a death blow to teams hoping to make playoffs. Since 2007, 5 teams have made the playoffs after going 0-2 but if you change that to 0-3 only 5 teams in history have made the playoffs so clearly the road becomes very difficult. Now there is an important caveat in that usually teams that start 0-2 aren’t very good and not expected to make the playoffs anyways, which makes this year kind of unique as The Seahawks, Colts, Ravens and Eagles all were expected to be serious contenders this year but find themselves 0-2 and teetering on disaster.

Season ATS 8-4 Last Week 3-3

Game 1 Was @ NYG -3

Game 2 Cin @ Bal -2.5

Bet % Cin 50% Bal 50%

The Ravens are the first 0-2 I am looking at this week as they play the 2-0 Bengals. Looking at the schedule this really is must win for the Ravens after they played a very tough opener in Denver, where they lost a 1 score game and then dropped a bad one in Oakland. Now after playing at home this week they have to go back on the road again, this time on a short week and play in Pittsburgh on TNF.

Looking at the first 2 weeks, Joe Flacco and the Ravens passing game has been performing far below their established levels from last season, the Ravens passer rating this season is 75.7 as compared to a rating of 91.last year and early on they have has issues with interceptions with 3, Flacco had 12 in all of 2014.

As for Cincy, they have been very good to start the season but I do think that Daulton has been playing a little above his ability, he has posted a passer rating of 120.3 so far while his career rating is 86. Coming into the season these were 2 very even teams by DVOA, 6th and 8th, but when you factor in home field and the discrepancy in how important this game is to the 2 teams I really like the Ravens in this spot to keep their season alive.

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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 16 Picks

Week 15 2-3

Season ATS: 54-37

Week 16-17 add a new challenge in that it becomes hard to handicap teams that have nothing to play for,teams that have just been eliminated how do they show up? lots of added factors in the final few weeks.

Game 1: SD +1.5

Bet% SD 60 SF 40

I didn’t have time to write this game up yesterday but did post on twitter.Basically I felt that SF would come out flat after losing to arch rival Seattle and having their playoff hopes die. This is a team that championship aspirations so hard to see how they would get up for a game after being eliminated.

SD SF Dec 20

 

Game 2: Min +4.5 @ Mia

Bet% Min 60% Mia 40%

Miami is another team who had their playoff hopes end last week and you wonder how they come out and perform this week.  Miami has been a very good team this season despite being 7-7 they are 11th in DVOA and +26 in point differential. All that being said, last week in a must win game they were blown out by the div rival Patriots, it is likely that their coach will be fired and in a spot like this I’m just not sure we see their best effort.

The Vikings are 6-8 but 9-5 ATS, they have been a team that has competed every week and found a way to to stay close in almost every game. The matchup that really works in the Vikings favor in this game is in the run game, Min is 9th in the league at 4.4 yards per attempt while Miami is 25th vs the run giving up 4.4 yards per attempt and in the last 3 weeks its actually been 5.2 yards per att.

I wish I had got a better number as this game opened  at 6.5 and 6 was available most of the week but I do think Vikings have a very good shot of winning straight up.

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