It’s been tough sledding for Adam Chernoff of late, but he remains bullish with two sides for week 11’s slate!
This column just cannot get going! Last week saw both wagers fail to come through. The season mark moves to 6-8 (-2.46x). This Sunday features a couple of looks on sides to move things back into the green.
What is this number…?
Four weeks ago, the Buffalo Bills opened as 14-point favourites at home to the Miami Dolphins. The market showed major disagreement and bet the price all the way up to Buffalo -17. Despite the high point spread, the three-point move carries a lot of significance and requires a lot of influence to get that type of movement. Despite the scoreline that read Bills by 10 points, the game was more competitive with the Dolphins holding a lead into the fourth quarter.
Here in the column we had Over 40 points, and it was a game I followed closely. A couple of things stood out.
Josh Allen showed a high level of confidence moving the ball down the field. To date, it was his deepest depth of target per throw and average intended air yards. His decision making was on point as well, ranking at the bottom of the league for throws made into a window with the nearest defender one yard or less away from the receiver.
These performances against weak secondaries are not uncommon for Josh Allen.
This season against teams that rank 24th or worse in pass defense efficiency, Allen has thrown for a 95 passer rating and 7.6 yards per attempt (five games). Against teams that rank better than 24th, Allen has thrown for a 49 passer rating and 5.8 yards per attempt (nine games).
He is notoriously good against weak defenses, and he gets another weak one he has had success against already this Sunday.
The question here for me is all about the number.
Even if we disregard the significant line movement in the first game, the venue change along suggests the Bills should be an 8 to 8.5 point favourite at a minimum. Instead, they are all the way on the other side of the key number 7.
Compared to the opening price in the first meeting, this new price is at least a three-point adjustment for Miami.
If going off the closing number, it is a six-point adjustment.
Of course, adjustments like this are plausible in a short period of time and are not uncommon. But typically, there must be a strong body of work to induce the movement. Since the Buffalo game, the Dolphins have played Pittsburgh, New York Jets and Indianapolis with Brian Hoyer. In each of the three games, they were outgained in yards per play by a significant amount. Meanwhile, the Bills played the Eagles, Browns and covered against Washington.
Are the bodies of work that different? Do they really suggest as significant a move as we see?
Absurd adjustment aside, the matchup does not set up well for Miami at all either. The Bills biggest weakness is defending the rush. Despite the onslaught of the Dolphins the past five games, they remain 31st in rushing success rate for the season and the past five weeks.
The loss of Preston Williams is beginning to show in the passing game as Ryan Fitzpatrick averaged just 4.8 air yards per attempt last week against Indianapolis without his favourite target. The Bills have yet to allow a 100-yard receiver (only team in the NFL to boast that feat) and if the Dolphins can’t move the ball on the ground, this sets up as an awfully difficult spot for Fitzpatrick.
While laying near a touchdown on the road is not something I make a habit of doing, at this price point it is impossible to ignore the Buffalo Bills.
The Dolphins are overinflated and there is definitely value on the road team.
Another tough spot for New England
If this game was last week with the Patriots coming off of a loss against Baltimore, I think we would have seen quite a drastic difference in the price with this opening on the other side of -3.
Due to both of these teams coming off of a bye, it turns out to be a game that is priced adequately with limited value but is still inflated on the Patriots side (don’t get me wrong). I have New England ranked as a 90 and the Eagles ranked as a 75 which makes this game look much more like a neutral field game than an Eagles home game.
Rather than getting too granular here and in the purpose of offering value to supplement the handicap, I think it makes most sense just to review the weaknesses of New England one more time.
The Patriots are a slightly above average passing offense, and well below average rushing offense.
Much of this is predicated around the turnover on the offensive line. The Patriots are uncharacteristically 11th in adjusted line yards, run the 3rd most negative plays in the league and pick up the first down with three yards or less to go just 61% of the time.
Matched up against the Philadelphia Eagles, it is pretty clear why this is problematic.
Philadelphia on the defensive line ranks 3rd in adjusted line yards and forced the 4th most negative plays while playing to an equal power success level of New England. The Eagles rank top 10 in both rushing and passing success rate defense, while facing a slightly easier than league average schedule.
Defensively, the Patriots have struggled against the rush. Despite facing the easiest schedule of opposing rushers, the Patriots are 7th in down to down success rate. Where this number becomes interesting is when parsing out the top opponents. New England has played just three teams which rank better than 18th in rushing efficiency (top third). In those three weeks, the Patriots success rate allowed increases from 34% (14% better than league average) to 49% (1% worse than league average).
The Eagles are 9th in rushing success rate and have faced a schedule that ranks in the top third of the league for difficulty.
This game is not as good of a matchup for Philadelphia as it was for Baltimore, but considering how much Baltimore threw at New England, I believe that the highly competent coaching staff of the Eagles was able to pick up on a number of things to put together a positive game plan as the Eagles certainly have a number of advantages on both sides of the football and at the line of scrimmage.
- Buffalo -6 (1.81). Risking 1.30x
- Philadelphia +3.5 (1.96). Risking 1.04x