Adam Chernoff is fancying one home team to get the job done n Wildcard weekend!
This is not a copy and paste.
Last week was another 1-1 split netting -0.06x. The column total for the season after what I believe is the thirteenth split of the season, moves to 10-14 (-3.94x). Wildcard weekend has featured some abrupt line movement.
While one of my main bets has moved out of range to recommend, another sits in a great range to take a bet – although I suspect the price will increase before kickoff.
Grab this number before it moves.
Not Done Yet
I make the Patriots at a minimum a six-point favourite against the Titans at home in Foxboro.
The starting price for New England was close to fair at -5.5 but the move down has opened up an opportunity for bettors to take advantage of what has now become a soft number.
This market spot is all too familiar with New England.
Last season, the Patriots struggled in the final six weeks of the season but managed to get out with a bye.
The Los Angeles Chargers were the upstart team in the AFC and put forth an incredible defensive performance against the red-hot Baltimore Ravens. The Chargers went into Foxboro for the divisional round and opened as 4.5 point underdogs. Support in the market took the number down to 3.5 in what was one of the more interesting moves of the season…
Before the game got to halftime, the Patriots were up 30.
While I don’t expect another thirty-point shellacking from New England, I do expect four quarters in their control.
This handicap for me is not about the past history of New England, nor the trends that would supplement such a thought process. Instead at this price which is currently New England -4.5, I look for on-field analysis which supports my number of New England -6.
I do not think that it is a stretch to give New England four points for home field in the playoffs even with the decline in home-field advantage. With that established, the price is suggesting these two teams are on par.
- New England is 3rd in DOVA, Tennessee is 9th
- New England is 18th in offensive EPA/play, Tennessee is 8th
- New England is 1st in defensive EPA/play, Tennessee is 12th
It is clear that this is a strength on strength and weakness vs weakness.
In handicapping such a matchup with no price to account for, the best look is judging which unit is likely to have more success.
In my opinion, the clear-cut answer is the New England offense against the Tennessee defense.
Titans Secondary Is Their Weak Link
Tennessee enters the postseason with the worst secondary of any of the twelve teams remaining. The Titans finished the season ranked 19th in pass defense success rate and faced the 8th easiest schedule of opposing passers.
Not counting Week 17 where Houston sat their starters, the Titans played three opponents that ranked inside the top 10 for pass efficiency offense.
They conceded 32, 24 and 38 points, going 1-2 in such games.
The average allowance of 31 points is considerably higher than the 10 games against below-average pass offenses, where they conceded 18 points per game.
New England is in the middle at 14th in pass efficiency offense.
If looking at only the numbers for pass defense efficiency and making no adjustment for schedule where Tennessee would rank worse, the Titans are the fourth easiest opponent for New England this season, and third easiest at home. In eight games this season against bottom third opponents in pass defense, the Patriots have scored an average of 29 points.
Stylistically the Titans cannot attack New England where they are weakest.
Tom Brady ranks out in the bottom five of the league in all major metrics when facing pressure in addition to leading the league in balls thrown away. Tennessee finished the season ranked in a tie for 21st in pass rush win rate with a 40% mark.
From a pressure perspective, the Titans are the third easiest opponent for New England this season.
In the matchup of strength vs strength, there is no question that the schedule of opposing offenses New England has faced are extremely weak. However, unlike Tennessee who has put forth a below-average performance against a similarly weak schedule, the Patriots have finished at the top of the league.
Teams cannot control who they play, but they can control how they play.
When competition has demanded a step up, New England has been able to contain the attack. In five games against opponents than rank above average in offensive efficiency this season, New England has held opponents to an average of 22 points.
Who Has Tannehill Really Beaten?
Since taking over in Week 7, Ryan Tannehill has boosted the Titans from the 31st ranked passing attack in success rate to 3rd in the NFL.
There is no question that this team is different with him at QB, but there are question marks around the team as a whole.
Since Tannehill took over, the Titans have played just one team that ranks inside the top ten for defensive efficiency, a game they lost 38-28. In terms of only opposing secondaries, the Titans have faced just two pass defense units inside the top ten since Week 7.
They lost 30-20 against Carolina, which was their lowest points output and Tannehill threw for just 188 yards against Kansas City, his lowest yardage output.
Since Week 7, the Titans have earned victories against Tampa Bay (home), Kansas City (home), Jacksonville (home), Indianapolis (away), Oakland (away), Houston (away).
As mentioned above, the Kansas City game was the lowest output for Tannehill this season, and the Chiefs put up more than 530 total yards of offense. Indianapolis was without four offensive starters and Houston sat their starters.
I can’t get to the point of grading this team elite when looking at victories when looking at this body of work, which also includes home losses to the Texans and Saints at home late in the season.
In past seasons a quarterback making his playoff debut on the road would be treated as an immediate fade within the market.
I am surprised to see this number support Tannehill in this spot, especially on the road in Foxboro.
If the Patriots are able to exploit this weak Titans secondary and just gain slightly more than their average allowance, this game can get out of reach in a hurry for Tennessee.
This number is too short, and I will gladly take New England on the handicap.
- New England Patriots -4.5 (2.01). Risking 1.50x