It was the first down week for me of the NFL season. A reverse sweep let readers of this weekly blog and myself 0-3 giving back 3.41x. My record through Week 11 sits at 9-7 (+4.23x).
Coming off back to back frustrating weekends, it is easy to get anxious and start firing out bets to try to get back the losses. I prefer to go the other route and dial things back.
Sports betting is all about limiting the downside and maximizing the upside. Swings in the market come every season, but it is important to recognize the highs and the lows and handle them accordingly.
The first bet I am going to make this week is a teaser double with the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles.
Redskins Regression In Full Swing
I spoke about the Washington Redskins injury situation at large in my analysis for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers bet two weeks ago. Their offensive line has dealt with as bad of a cluster injury as possible, and now the plague is spreading to the skill positions. Alex Smith was lost for the remainder of the season against Houston, which means backup Colt McCoy will get the start against the Dallas Cowboys.
In addition to the loss of Smith, the status of running back Chris Thompson, receiver Jamison Crowder and key lineman Trent Williams are all uncertain heading into Wednesday’s practice.
The sum of the injuries if they hold through would leave Washington playing with a backup quarterback, running back, lead wide receiver and four offensive linemen.
Bettors in the market appear to be reacting to the fact that the Redskins with similar injury issues have covered the point spread in the last two weeks. While this is true, their covers have been less than convincing.
Two weeks ago they won outright against the Buccaneers league-worst defense despite being out-gained by 240 yards overall and 2.5 yards per play. This past Sunday they gained just 3.8 yards per play on offense, were out-gained by 3.5 yards per pass and managed to only lose by two points.
The Redskins stand out as one of the biggest late-season regression candidates in the NFL.
If you have heard me say it before, you have heard me say it a hundred times, teams can’t control the schedule of teams they play, but they can control the effort they put into the games.
The six weeks prior to the Houston game last Sunday, Washington played opponents ranked 24th, 25th, 21st, 28th, 32nd and 21st in defensive efficiency and averaged just 18 points. In their 21 point performance against the Texans, their quarterbacks (Smith and McCoy) had 2 explosive running plays, which was 2 more explosive running plays than their running backs had and 1 more explosive passing play than their receivers had.
Successful results can not continue at -0.5 yards per play.
Dallas are a terrible opponent for the Redskins to match up against. The one spot the Redskins are weak on defense is against the rush. Dallas is averaging 5.1 yards per carry the past three weeks and is finding success on the ground at a 54% rate. They are also gaining in big chunks too, breaking out for explosive plays on 15% of rushes.
The one bright spot for the Redskins offense this season has been Adrian Peterson. The veteran running back finds much of his success outside the tackles. The Cowboys defence is as good as defending off-tackle runs as any team in the league, holding opposing backs to just 40% success rate out wide.
With just 72 hours of prep following the home loss to Houston, I don’t believe the Redskins can come up with a game plan strong enough to get the road win.
Adjusting for Colt McCoy and the injuries will be too much to overcome, Dallas suffocates the Redskins and grinds out a win.
Why The Love For The Giants All Of A Sudden?
An equally perplexing market reaction occurred with the other two teams in the NFC East. The Eagles on the look-ahead line were pencilled in as -9.5 point favourites against the visiting Giants. After New York beat Tampa Bay at home and Philadelphia was boat raced by New Orleans, this market has re-opened with the Eagles as -5.5 point favourites.
I do not know what to make of such drastic move in favour of the Giants. I acknowledge they have won two games in a row, but, I can’t ignore the fact that their victories came against two questionable opponents.
The 49ers defense looks good on paper in the efficiency column, much their success has come against poor offenses. They have thrived playing teams in the bottom third of offensive efficiency, but their four opponents in the top half of the league, KC, LAC, GB and LA all torched them scoring an average of 33.5 points in those four games.
Scoring 38 on the Buccaneers defence last week is almost a rite of passage.
Incredibly, in just 10 weeks, the Giants became the 6th team to score at least 34 points against Tampa Bay – 3 of those teams scored 40 or more.
The big issue that has slowed down the Eagles offense – aside from their new coordinator – has been the constant pressure allowed by the offensive line and inability to balance the offense. The last four weeks have been a huge strain on the Eagles dealing with injuries to Lane Johnson and Jason Kelce while facing four of the top six defensive lines in football Saints (2nd), Cowboys (1st), Jaguars (6th) and Panthers (3rd).
This week will be a huge relief going against the Giants who rank 32nd in adjusted sack rate and 18th in adjusted line yards with Lane Johnson is back to 100% and Jason Kelce is quoted as “fine”.
The Eagles beat the Giants 34-13 on the road in New York five weeks ago, and are well deserving of the second leg in this parlay on Sunday.
Browns Turning A Corner
Making a case for the Cleveland Browns is not something I make a habit of doing. This team has been a place to put money to burn over the past number of NFL seasons. Matched up against the Cincinnati Bengals, this is a head to head spot that I just can’t ignore.
After coming out of the gates on fire, the Bengals have regressed to their proper position in the league.
Their defense has become a huge liability and ranks 30th in pass efficiency and 31st in rush efficiency. Cincinnati is allowing 9.2 yards per pass attempt and 5.0 yards per carry – two numbers which are extremely concerning.
The one number stat that really jumps off the page to me is that the Bengals are allowing opponents to gain 129% of their average yards gained per rush attempt. The schedule has not done them any favours, but with a tough schedule comes a high average allowance, a number which the Bengals have let opponents soar over.
With Hue Jackson and Todd Haley out of the picture, the Browns are poised to turn the corner. In the first game with Hue removed, the Browns had a difficult task of dealing with the Chiefs on a short prep week. Despite a 50% success rate and nearly 400 yards of offense, the Chiefs offense proved to be too much.
To me, the telling week was the game against Atlanta. The new coaching staff got their full week of prep and put together a brilliant game plan to beat the Falcons. The Browns were successful on 58% of plays, averaged 8.4 yards per play and were nearly dead balanced gaining 206 yards on the ground and 216 through the air.
Mayfield looked super comfortable throwing downfield, but both backs Chubb and Duke were a perfect 7-7 receiving out of the backfield for 100% success rate and a touchdown each.
With an extra full week to prep during the bye week, this is a spot where the Browns can come out and put forth a big effort against their division rival Bengals. Catching three points, this is certainly worth a wager.
- Dallas Cowboys with Philadelphia at (1.884) risking 1.13x
- Cleveland Browns +3 (1.99) risking 1.01x
Brad Allen joined Nat Coombs, Mike Carlson and Sully to preview the best of Sunday night’s games and a fresh look at some outright markets. Listen below and search for ‘Matchbook Betting Podcast’ on your preferred podcasting app to subscribe.