Another successful week is in the books for readers of this blog. The New Orleans Saints cashed in and brought my NFL record to 7-3 +6.82x after eight weeks.
I have two bets for Sunday.
Expecting Offense And Lots Of It In Charlotte
The first is Tampa Bay Carolina Over 54.5 and it is an extremely straightforward handicap.
I will stomp on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense first. There is nothing to be positive about here.
The Buccaneers rate 30th in the NFL for overall success rate defense despite playing the 11th easiest slate of opposing offenses.
They have allowed opponents to gain 124% of their average yards per play – and an incredibly high 134% of their average pass. In nickel coverage, their three corners, Grimes, Stewart and Davis grade out 91st, 85th and 63rd in the league.
To make matters worse, Vinny Curry, Gerald McCoy and Jason Pierre-Paul (the three best defenders) are all limited or held out of practice this week due to injury.
The only team to fail to gain at least 6 yards per play against the Buccaneers defense was the Cleveland Browns – who rate as the least efficient offense – through eight weeks. The Carolina offense has been their best when they are pushing the ball downfield and stretching defenses.
In the three games the Panthers averaged more than 55% passes, they gained 6.8, 6.4 and 6.0 yards per play and were successful on 57%, 51% and 53% of plays.
Fortunately, Norv Turner cannot screw this gameplay up against Tampa Bay.
The trio of Funchess, Samuel and Moore outside coupled with Greg Olsen back healthy at tight end is going to be a nightmare for Tampa Bay to deal with.
Signs above would point to backing Carolina, but I see Tampa Bay having offensive success too.
Ryan Fitzpatrick gives this offense a different energy.
The players come alive and play at a different level of intensity and speed. With Mike Evans healthy and practising, the combination of Evans, Jackson, Godwin and Howard will present matchup trouble of their own. Carolina is suspect to explosive pass plays and only have two secondary players grading inside the top 50.
There is too much potential for both sides to move the ball downfield not to bet Over 54.5.
LA Charges Into Seattle
The second bet is not so straightforward and simple – for many.
Seattle is a huge public draw in terms of market perception.
After rattling off a couple wins, the market has responded and took this price from PK up to -2 midweek.
But, let’s not mistake who the Seattle Seahawks are for a team they are not.
Seattle has a massive liability at offensive line. Four of their five lineman grade in the bottom 5% of players at their position through half of a season. Russell Wilson has to deal with a broken pocket on 36% of his dropbacks – and when under pressure is completing just 57% of his passes.
The Seahawks success in the last couple week has been a product of extreme game planning. Seattle has rushed the ball on 68% and 61% of all plays – by far the highest in the NFL.
With an extremely one dimensional approach, they have been able to keep Wilson upright and keep opposing defenses honest.
The issue with facing Los Angeles is that the Chargers do not let any team establish the rush against them.
Teams this season that have faced the Chargers have run the ball on 49%, 29%, 27%, 36%, 49%, 37% and 49% of the time. This is not a result of a stout Los Angeles front seven, but rather an extremely efficient offense.
Through eight weeks, Los Angeles is the most efficient team rushing the ball (on offense) in early downs in the AFC and second in early down pass efficiency. This allows the Chargers offense to extend drives, take control of the game early and force teams to change their game plan to keep up.
The Seahawks are a top ten defense against running back and tight end passes, but Los Angeles relies heavily on wide receiver play. The two Williams’ and Keenan Allen all grade inside the top 20 and Philip Rivers is having a season worthy of MVP debate.
Game planning won’t be an issue this week for LA coming off the bye, especially with Melvin Gordon expected to make a return to the backfield.
Seattle won’t let the Chargers beat them deep, but Rivers and company will take a few yards at a time all game long.
The market is awfully close to suggesting these two teams are even (remove three points for home field), but I just don’t buy it. The Chargers have gained a remarkable 132% of opponents average allowance on offense and a massive 141% of opponents average pass allowance per play while the Seahawks have let teams gain 111% of their average per play.
I anticipate an extremely efficient afternoon from Los Angeles that results in a confident road victory.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers Carolina Panthers Over 54.5 (1.91) risking 1.1x
- Los Angeles Chargers Moneyline (2.00) risking 1.1x
Adam was a guest on the Matchbook Betting Podcast this week as he joined Nat Coombs Mike Carlson and Matchbook’s Sully to preview Week 9 of the NFL season. If you haven’t already subscribed, search for ‘Matchbook Betting Podcast’ on your preferred podcasting app.