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.
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.
For a while week 2 looked like it was going to be a much bigger week, the 3 wins all pretty much led start to finish and 2 of the 3 losses the Giants and Texans, led the game late or were in position to cover late. The other loss well, lets just say every Eagles fan felt the same watching that debacle.
Week 2: 3 – 3
Season Ats 8-4
Week 2 results
What Went Right
The Steelers Pass Game: This was a great schedule spot for the Steelers, getting 3 extra days after coming off of a loss on TNF and facing the 49ers who were coming off of a MNF win at home. The Rothlisberger averaged 13.7 yards per pass att and helped the Steelers go 5-5 in redzone. Perhaps more surprising was the job don by the Steelers defense in pressuring Kaepernick, the Steelers had 23 total pressure plays (Sacks + TFL + QB Hits).
Vikings Run Game: Last season the Lions were the best run defense in the league giving up only 3.2 yards per rush but now without Suh and Fairly that run defense is nowhere near as good. The Vikings ran the ball for 4.7 yards per rush but what makes that far more amazing is that they had 42 attempts. On the flip side the Vikings held the Lions to only 2.4 yards per rush and forced 3 turnover.
The Browns Pass Defense: Marcus Mariotta was coming off of one of the best débuts ever with 4 Tds in TB but I thought the underrated Browns pass defense which ranked #1 in Opp passer rating last season would be able to play well vs the rookie. Mariotta was held to a QBR 29.7 and 5 yards per pass. The Browns also got some luck in forcing 3 fumbles and recovering all 3, as well as scoring on a punt return. (more…)