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NFL WEEK 4 UPDATE

October 2, 2018

NFL SYSTEM UPDATE: CHECK OUT EVERY PICK WITH ANALYSIS SENT TO MEMBERS

LA RAMS -7 (2 UNITS, -110)

MIN is coming off a disastrous game to BUF where Kirk Cousins had three turnovers, the rushing game mustered just 14 yards and the Vikings were held scoreless until late in the 4th quarter in an absolute head-scratcher of a performance. We don’t want to overreact to this one atrocity as MIN are still ranked No. 10 in overall defense after boasting the NFL's top unit last season. Cousins has thrown for 965 yards and 7 TD’s with just 2 INT’s. However, this is a horrible spot for them:

MIN were 11-7 (61.1%) ATS (Against The Spread) in 2017 and are 1-2 (33.3%) this season. They were on the wrong end of one of the biggest upsets in NFL history last week and are 1-5 ATS (16.6%) in their past 6 GP. Coming off such a humiliating defeat, MIN has had just 3 days to regroup and travel across the country to face one of the best teams in the NFL. Not a good situation for a frustrated, bewildered team to have a rebound confidence game. The last 13 teams travelling across 2 time zones, 1500+ miles away, to play in a TNF game are 1-12 (7.6%) ATS. LAR is waiting for them and they are simply dominant.

LAR are off to a 3-0 (100%) SU (Straight Up) and ATS start. They have outscored their opponents 102 to 36 (+22 points/game margin) this season. The offseason flurry of acquisitions that they made have had no trouble gelling with the core that was already in place, building some major optimism around them in 2018. Rams have been dominant as a betting favorite with a 9-0 SU (100%) and 8-1 ATS (88.8%) record in their last 9 GP. They are 11-3 SU (78.5%) and 10-4 ATS (71.4%) over their last 14 regular season games

LAR rank in the top-6 in total offense and defense, averaging 34 PPG, allowing just 12 PPG/A. Their versatility was on display in last week's win over the Chargers as they piled up 521 yards of offense while the defense held the Chargers at bay with several key 4Q stops. Cory Littleton’s blocked punt also resulted in a 2Q touchdown. Jared Goff is 5th in NFL with 941 passing yards. Todd Gurley is 4th with 255 rushing yards.

LAR injuries to their 2 starting CB’s, and the effect it could have on the game is a popular narrative today. Sam Shields, Nickell Robbey-Coleman, Troy hill will be assuming CB duties. Via PFF (Pro Football Focus) Sam Shields is the #10 ranked corner and NRC is #16. Talib was ranked #15, Peters was #33. These are admirable stand-ins and this shouldn’t affect the outcome of the game.

We think MIN’s loss of Everson Griffin is more detrimental. He is their top edge defender with above average run defense grade. This should make things easier for LAR’s run game. Expect Gurley to have a big game.

Public betting percentages show fairly level support on both sides, however the books are giving MIN+7 even money value, and have –VIG on LAR points. Our sportsbook insider tells us this suggests the oddsmakers aren’t hesitant to draw in more MIN supporters with the value, and take juice on LAR bettors who should be on the right side tonight.

Analytics Notes:

TEXANS MONEYLINE 2 UNITS (-105)

JJ Watt is beginning to round into form after missing significant time last 2 seasons with injuries. He had a massive game in week 3, recording 8 tackles, 4 for losses, 3 sacks,  4 QB hits, and 1 forced fumble vs. NYG. Look for Watt and company to pressure Luck and keep him in control. HOU defense has blitzed at a 35.1% rate this season, 4th highest in the NFL. Luck has attempted 124 passes, completing just 5 for 20 or more yards. He averaged a career low 4.1 yards/completion in 40 attempts vs. PHI. IND had just 19 minutes, 40 seconds of possession time vs. PHI, lowest time of possession for any team in a game this season. They converted just 2 of 12 third downs (16.7%).

Since the 2010 season, there have been 34 teams who opened their season with a 0-3 mark. This season there are three of them: Oakland, Houston and Arizona. These 34 0-3 teams have gone 20-13 (60.6%) ATS in Week 4 following those slow starts. These same teams went 16-9 (64%) ATS when they were underdogs in their Week 4 games. This record improves to 11-4 (73.3%) when they are on the road.

Despite their 0-3 start out the gate, and just 19.6 points/game, HOU has the 8th ranked offense and have been putting up 400 yards/game. Their problem has been red zone conversion. They have the 28th ranked Red Zone Offense, scoring on just 36.6% of their RZ visits. IND has the 18th ranked defense and is allowing opponents to score on 50% of their RZ visits. We expect HOU to enter the end zone more times than not this week. HOU has too much talent to continue playing as poorly as they have been, and we expect a regression to the mean this week against IND.

GIANTS MONEYLINE 1 UNIT (+150)

Each of NYG’s first 3 opponents are among the 14 NFL teams that have allowed an average of fewer than 240 passing yards per game through 3 weeks. That group includes JAX, DAL; New York’s first two opponents this season, who each rank among the NFL’s top-4 passing defenses. NO is one of only 3 NFL teams allowing an average of more than 300 yards per game (336.7)—and that’s despite the fact that one of the 3 games NO played was at home against a CLE team with Tyrod Taylor under center. NO is allowing 11.2 yards per pass attempt—no other NFL team is allowing over nine yards per throw.

This marks the third game this season that NO has been favoured, and the team failed to come close to covering either of the previous two times. NO lost outright as double-digit home favourites against TB in the opener. Then they nearly lost as -9.5 favourites to CLE, prevailing 21-18 on a FG with less than 30 seconds remaining after now-former Browns kicker Zane Gonzalez missed 2 FG’s and 2 XP’s. NO comes into this game with just 1 takeaway—an interception off Taylor—over 3 games. Since the start of the 2014 season, favoured teams that force an average of less than 1 turnover per game are 22-53-3 (29.3%) ATS when coming off a game in which they failed to force a turnover.

NO are putting up points in bunches, but their defense is abysmal, which bodes well for NYG’s weapons. OBJ is coming off his 2nd 100-yard receiving game of the year, and goes against a NO’s defense that his yielded the 2nd-most passing yards in the NFL. NO has also been giving up yards on the ground, surrendering 112 to TB in Week 1, and 93 to CLE in week 2. NO only allowed 48 rushing yards in week 3, but that was because Matt Ryan was busy shredding them through the air for 5 pass TD’s. NYG has 2nd overall Saquon Barkley, who has topped 100 yards fro scrimmage in each of his first 3 games and is a threat to turn any touch into a highlight-reel TD.

BENGALS MONEYLINE 1 UNIT (+170)

Through week 3, ATL have lost 2 games and they’ve lost their starting middle LB, and 2 starting safeties to season-ending injuries, They rank 28th in points allowed/game and 27th in passing yards/allowed heading into their match with CIN. Andy Dalton has been red-hot coming out of the gate in 2018. He has completed 74 of 116 passes for 897 yards and 7 TD’s. Tyler Boyd will take over incase AJ Green is still absent and exploit ATL’s depleted secondary. Boyd is off to a strong start. He matched a career-high with 6 receptions, 132 yards in week 3 and his 249 receiving yards and 15 catches are 2nd on the team.

Since 2012, Marvin Lewis and CIN are 10-7 (58.8%) straight up and 11-5 (68.7%) ATS in the 2nd game of a back-to-back road trip. ATL are 1-9 (10%) in their last 10 home games against AFC opponents.  CIN is consistently undervalued: they 4-1 ATS, and 4-1 straight up in their past 5 games.

RAVENS MONEYLINE 2 UNITS (+136)

We are expecting a tight game here and will be supporting a more rested BAL squad at + value. Over the past 3 seasons, 5 of the 6 matchups between PIT BAL have been decided by 1 score or less.

Bettors should always be weary of a team coming off a Monday night game, especially when that team is coming off a short week after having played on the road. Teams playing on a Sunday after having been on the road the previous Monday night went 5-11 (31.25%) straight up and 4-12 (25%) ATS last season.

BAL has been fantastic at owning the ball this season. They are top-10 in possession time and are averaging 75 plays/game, the highest mark in the NFL. BAL has now scored 20 points in 3 straight to open the season for the 5th time in franchise history. BAL’s current streak of 12 consecutive games with at least 20 points is the 2nd longest active streak in the NFL.

BAL has demonstrated an explosive offense and is averaging 32.3 points/game. Flacco has thrown for 889 yards with 6 TD’s and just 2 INT’s. Flacco has been diverse in his targets, which will force PIT’s secondary to be on their toes at all times. Crabtree, Brown, Snead IV each have 12 catches and a combined 4 TD’s. The most impressive feat for BAL’s offense however is their ability to be clutch in the red zone; cashing in on all 12 of their opportunities for a highly impressive 100% rate.

BAL also has the current top-ranked defense, allowing 819 yards over 3 games (273/game). PIT is starting to feel the ramifications of Bell’s absence and their running game has struggled mightily. Conner has racked up just 78 combined yards in the past 2 games. If BAL’s top defense can pressure Roethlisberger and contain his two favourite targets in Brown and JuJu, PIT will struggle tremendously to make consistent, deep drives.

Another auxiliary factor, which must be noted, is PIT’s lack of discipline. They have been penalized for an average of 120 yards/game, by far the worst in the NFL.

LIONS MONEYLINE 2 UNITS (+125)

DET(1-2) will try to build off a shocking victory and get back to the .500 mark. Rookie Kerryon Johnson finished with 16 carriers for 101 yards as DET shredded NE’s defense via ground and air. Matt Stafford has 5 TD passes in the past 2 games and the offense is clicking ahead of their week 4 matchup.

Next up is an offensively challenged DAL team that has scored just 41 points in three games—second-worst in the NFC. They rank 31st in pass offense at just 145 yards/game and 5.7 yards/attempt. Zeke Elliot is averaging as much yards/rush (5.4) as their passing game. DAL has the definition of a one-dimensional offense and they should be fairly easy for Matt Patricia and company to gameplan for.

DAL converted just 3 of their 13 (23%) third down attempts vs. SEA in week 3. They have converted just 8 of 34 third down attempts this season (23.5%), 31st ranked efficiency in the NFL. DET defense held Tom Brady and NE to 133 passing yards in week 3, his 5th lowest total in the last 10 seasons. DET has allowed an NFL best 152 passing yards/game, while DAL has averaged 145 passing yards/game, 2nd fewest in the NFL. Expect Dak, who continues a rapid regression in his performance, to have a hard time.

PATRIOTS -6.5 2 UNITS (-110)

NE is no sure thing vs. MIA and the underlying metrics don’t support a NE-7 victory. However, it still has only been 3 weeks and it’s best to keep common sense in certain situations and limit any overreactions. Will Tom Brady really lose 3 in a row? We don’t think so.

NE are down to receiving just 43% of public spread bets. This is the lowest support they’ve received since Jacoby Brisset led them to a 27-0 win over HOU in SEPT 2016. It’s also the lowest amount of support Tom Brady has received since NOV 2013, when Peyton Manning and DEN visited NE as a 1-point underdog. While everyone is jumping off the NE bandwagon, we are going to jump back on.

The last 2 times NE dropped 2 straight games, the team bounced back with a victory and covered the spread, with both coming during the 2015 season. NE did not lose two in a row in 2016 or 2017, so the chances of them falling again are very slim.

Tom Brady has lost 3 straight only once in his career, and that happened in just his 2nd year as a starter. Since then, NE have made a habit of rebounding during the Brady/Belichick era. They are 38-14 ATS in 52 games off a loss since 2003, which translates to covering at an amazing 73.1% percent clip. Belichick will have NE on point and we aren’t ever ones to doubt the Pats.

CHIEFS -3, 2 UNITS (-120)

No reason not to support KC here. Chiefs are off to an electric start and if they were at home this spread would be closer to a TD. Where do we start about how good KC has been? 3-0 start, league-high 39.3 points/game. Mahomes has made NFL history becoming the first QB to throw for 13 TD’s in the first 3 games of a season. He has also not thrown an interception yet, setting a new record previously held by Peyton Manning.

KC are a perfect 7-0 straight up and 7-0 ATS (against the spread) over their last 7 regular season games. In their last 5 games vs. DEN, KC is also a perfect 5-0 straight up. KC is a highly impressive 17-1 straight up and 14-4 ATS in their last 18 games against AFC West rivals. DEN is just 4-11 SU and 2-12-1 ATS over their last 15 games. DEN has built it’s team in recent years around being near-perfect on defense and doing just enough on offense to get by. That method may work against weaker teams as it did against SEA and OAK, but it will be put to the test against a team of KC’s calibre.

KC has versatility. Mahomes has already completed TD passes to 9 different receivers. They can cut you repeatedly and short for first downs or go big for explosive plays. Tyreek Hill already has 8 catches of at least 20 yards with 3 TD’s. Travis Kelce has a team-high 16 catches with back-to-back 100-yard games. Sammy Watkins remains an always prevalent deep threat and RB Kareem Hunt was the NFL’s leading rusher a year ago with 1327 yards as a rookie.

KC isn’t perfect. They’re defense has allowed 30.7 points/game which could be concerning against a more offense-savvy team, but we are not too worried about DEN. They are a mediocre 14th ranked offense averaging 20.3 points/game. Case Keenum has struggled in his 1st season with DEN. He has 3 TD’s, 5 INT’s and is coming off a season-low 192 yards vs. BAL. Defensively they have not been too impressive this year either. So far in 2018, DEN ranks 20th in the league in passing defense allowing 262.7 passing yards/game. With an offense averaging only 20.3 points/game through the team’s 2-1 straight up record and 0-2-1 ATS, the defense is going to have their hands full vs. KC.

KC is averaging NFL best 39.3 points/game with consistently high totals of 38, 42 and 38 points. KC have committed only 1 turnover all season, and they were one of only two teams (along with LAR) to have converted at least 50% of their 3rd-down attempts through the first 3 weeks. The 4-0 record (both SU & ATS) of KC’s Mahomes as a starting QB includes road wins in PITT, LA (against the Chargers) and DEN. The game against DEN was in 17-degree temperatures in the 2017 season finale, a game KC won despite resting most of its start skill-position players in preparation for the playoffs. (Chiefs outscored Broncos 27-10 when Mahomes was actually in the game—DEN scored 14 points after third-stringer Tyler Bray took over as KC’s QB.) Mahomes completed 63% of his throws for 284 yards in DEN, and he now faces a Broncos defense that has allowed 240 or more passing yards in all 3 games this season. That’s despite not having faced any of the 13 QB’s who entered Week 4 with a passer rating of better than 95.0 (Mahomes leads the NFL with a passer rating of 137.4).

DEN has failed to force a turnover in either of its past 2 games, and DEN comes into this one having gone 0-6 ATS since the start of last season when coming off back-to-back games with a negative turnover margin. While KC is 15-6 ATS as a road favourite of 7 points or fewer under Andy Reid, DEN are 0-8 ATS under Vance Joseph when facing an opponent that’s allowing an average of 235 passing yards/game.

KC should have no problem taking care of DEN and the spread tonight, but we are going to recommend buying the hook if available at your book and make this play KC-3 as primetime games have a tendency to be close with some wacky tendencies.  

NFL SEASON UPDATE: 37-41-2, +15.05 UNITS

 

$100 BETTORS - $1,505 profits

$50 BETTORS - $752.50 profits

$25 BETTORS - $376.25 profits