Every week is different, there are weeks where games jump out right away, there are weeks where nothing looks good until the weekend. This week as I scanned the card early nothing jumped out and by the time I did like a few games we saw some big line movements, especially in the totals. We are in the part of the season where weather begins to play a larger part and Sharps will start hitting unders early in the week either anticipating winter conditions or simply getting some insurance just in case. Something I will start doing as well on Sunday Nights. To get around the line drives I am playing a teaser card on unders and I anticipate I will be playing a lot more unders.
Week 10: 5-2
Game 1: Ari @ Min Under 40
Bet% Over 39% Under 61%
When looking at playing unders one of the things that I think gives the best chances if there is a mis-match between the defensive lines and offensive lines and it is rare we see a game where both sides have an advantage like we see in this game.
The Vikings issues on the offensive line have been well documented and it should get even worse because they lost starting T Jake Long for the season this week. The fact that it will get appreciably worse because they lost a player that was a street FA and arguably not even a replacement level player tells you everything. According to DVOA, Vikings are 31st in run blocking, 22 in pass blocking and 26th in overall sack percentage giving up sacks on 7% of pass plays but in the last 3 games that number shoots up to 9.92%.
Meanwhile the Cards pass rush has been really good, they are 12th in adjusted sack rate,7th in total sack % and #1 in my pressure rankings which include QB hits and hurries. Arizona is 4th in defensive DVOA and 3rd vs the pass, since Vikings only chance to move the ball is in air as they are not just last in rushing but are historically bad averaging only 2.7 yards per rush.
On flip side we have seen the Vikings defence slip a little during this 4 game losing streak, after 5 weeks they were 2nd in Defensive DVOA, they are now 6th but to put that slide into perspective, over the season the opp passer rating is 74.6 but over last 3 weeks it has been 99.3, same with yards per pass att which is at 5.8 for season but 7.2 for last 3 weeks. Now I think there are 2 reasons for this, 1 is fatigue, the Vikings offense doesn’t stay on field and as a result Vikings defense has played a lot more snaps. The second is injuries, Vikings have had key players like Eric Kendricks, Zavier Woods miss games.
Vikings defense should be healthy in this game and they have a very good matchup against the Cards offensive line as the Cards line is 24th in adjusted sack rate.
I also like the home road splits for this under, the Vikings at home have an opp passer rating of 68.6 vs 80.2 on road and we know Carson Palmer has his issues on the road. Palmer has a passer rating on road of 73.1 on road compared to 85.6 at home and has 5 interceptions in just 2 road games.
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…)
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.
Disaster. Pure Disaster. It’s taken my basically the whole week to get over it but really I’m still not. Following the perfect week last week, this week nearly everything everything went the wrong way.
Week 12: 1- 6
2015 ATS: 42-28-2
Week 12 Results:
What Went Right:
The Bears- that’s it. Just the Bears. +9 was definitely too much and the Bears were in the game the whole way and ended up winning straight up. Bears are a good competitive team
What Went Wrong:Everything, Everything went wrong.
The Eagles defense: I thought the would bounce back after their disastrous performance vs TB but there were too many bad signs I should have listened to. There was nothing good coming out of Philly, infighting, the players don;t trust the coach or each other. Expecting a bounce back from a team like that was just dumb and the under was basically over at half.
Eli and Ryan. 2 first overall pick QBs that have had a lot of success but also caused a lot of heartbreak, killed my bets this week with interceptions. In the NYG- Was over, the Giants put up 330 yards of offense but 3 interceptions killed any chance at the over. In Atlanta Matt Ryan was in position to to give his team the lead in the 4th quarter when he threw a interception in the endzone, 1 of 3 he would throw in that game and kill any chance of the win.
Plinko Death late: In both the Seattle- Pit game and the NE Den games I was in position to win the bet with a couple of minutes left in the game. The Steelers going for 3 late and giving the ball back to Seattle was costly as Seattle scored a 60 yd TD to ice the game and the cover with less than 2 minutes to go. In Denver, the Broncos scored to take take a 3 pt lead late vs the Patriots but left too much time and NE came back with a minute left and tied the game and sent it to OT. For he purposes of my bet, that FG ensured the game would go over 49 in OT.
What Did we Learn:
Gambling is hard and things can turn quickly.
Beyond that,betting late in the season is a little different than earlier in the season. One of the big things a lot of sharp people bet is that a team will bounce back after a really bad performance. Late in the season we have some more things that we have to take into account and one of them is the idea that with rumours of a coach leaving or getting fired we often see teams basically fall apart late. While week 12 is a little early for that the dysfunction in Philadelphia on the heals of their embarrassing loss to TB made them a very volatile team and one I should have laid off.
Its a thin line between Good and Lucky and this week there was a really thin line between a 2-3 week and 3-2 week. And this was it
Just the way it was drawn up, a last second TD for the Over and Win! Pure Unicorn Magic!
Week 9: 3-2
2015 ATS: 32-21-2
Week 9 results
What Went Right
Totals – All 3 wins this week were totals and even though a couple were really close and one a near miracle, the game flow for all of the games was pretty much what I had hoped for. The Rams Vikings game went under even though it opened as the lowest total of the week and the game went to OT. Both those teams are built for unders week in week out.
Dumb Luck, Sort of– The Giants–Bucs game was unbelievably lucky to go over with that last play of the game but really that game should have had no problem getting over. There was over 700 yards of offense in this games and 8 redzone trips, the Bucs went 1-4 in the redzone and there were some killer drops, Mike Evans had 6 drops himself which was a record according to ESPN Stats & Info. The Drops, RZ FGs and turnovers that kept the score down much lower than the game flow would have indicated.
What Went Wrong
Betting against the Vikings– For the 3rd straight week I lost betting against the Vikings, who are now 7-1 ATS. Vikings continue to baffle, they are plus 28 in point differential and +22 ATS differential, so on average they are covering by about 3 points per game. In terms of efficiency they still rank low 24th overall in Weighted DVOA, 27th in Offensive DVOA but just keep covering.
Square Teaser of the Week: Both sides of the teaser lost but really it’s the Atlanta- SF side that is the lesson here. Atl had basically 80% of the bets and I’m sure there was no game used in teasers more than that one because you could get them down to 1. Atlanta was never in position to cover and did have a shot to take the lead late when they drove down to the SF 5 yard line down 4 but a terrible call to go for the FG instead of going for it ended those hopes.
What Did We Learn
Recent Trends Matter: We’re at appoint now where with 8/9 weeks in the books some of the teams look very different today than they did a month ago and definitely 2 months ago. I will use last 3 game 4 game trends a little more and full season trends a little less.
Atlanta is a perfect example of why this is important, after starting the season 5-0 and 4-1 ATS their overall numbers are still very good but there has been a significant drop in their run game the last 3 games. Through 5 games they were averaging 4.4 yards per rush which provided a great balance to the passing game, on the season they are now at 4.1 yards per rush but over their last 3 games they averaging only 3.4 yards per rush which s 27th. They clearly haven’t been the same team the since their start and the huge drop in the run game has been why, the 3.4 in the last 3 games is more telling than the 4.1 overall.
I didn’t get a chance to really look at the opening lines this week until late Tuesday and in doing so I missed out on a few great opportunities. Week 4 saw some dramatic line moves especially in the totals due to the impending Hurricane Joaquin, the sharps bet heavily on the unders on games like Was – Phi and quickly drove the lines down.
Its a good lesson on the importance of checking out the opening lines and being prepared early to take advantage of opening lines either because of major factors like weather & injuries or simply knowing that certain numbers are going to be bet a certain way because of public perception.
Season ATS 12-7 Last Week 4-3
Game1 NYJ -1.5 vs MIA (In London England)
Bet% NYJ 67% Mia 33%
All week I kept thinking of reasons not to bet the Jets like the game is in London and there is definitely some unknowns that come with that, The Dolphins have underperformed all year and at some point are going to play up to their talent and the there are rumours that Philbins job is on the line so you never know how that impacts the team. In the end,this feels like it’s too good a matchup at a cheap price.
The Jets and Dolphins have played similar levels of competition but had very different results. The Jets are 2-1 with a point differential of +27 while Miami is 1-2 with a point differential of -23. The Jets have been helped in their wins with turnover margins that are not sustainable but what is sustainable is their dominant defense.
The Jets are #2 in defensive DVOA, against the pass they are #4 in avg opp passer rating, 66.5 which includes Andrew Luck, 3rd in opp passing yards per attempt and 7th vs the run giving up 3.5 yards per rush. Miami has not had much luck running the ball so far this season averaging only 4.0 yards per rush and the Jets just faced the Eagles last week who have very similar run schemes to the Dolphins and held them to 3.2 yards per rush. That means the middling Dolphins pass game will have to carry the offense vs the dominant Jets pass defense.
On the flip side the Dolphins run defense has not got better even with the addition of Suh to the defensive line, they are 22nd in the league giving up 4.2 yards per att and the Jets get Chris Ivory back this week. Miami’s pass defense has been even worse giving up 7.9 yards per attempt (29th) which considering who they have played, Kirk Cousins, Blake Bortles and Tyrod Taylor aren’t exactly a murders row should provide the Jets plenty of opportunities to score.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…