Adam Chernoff returns with two picks for this weekend’s games!
Well, not the start we wanted to the 2019 season. San Francisco and Tampa Bay put forth their best effort to squander all scoring opportunities, and just kept the game from going over and cashing our wager. A bad handicap overall to get things moving. The record after one week sits at 0-1 (-2.00x).
This week, I am going to bet a couple of spots.
No AB? No Problem For This Raiders Group
The Oakland Raiders did a good job of surprising everyone on Monday evening. After the point spread against the Denver Broncos was bet from Oakland -2 to Denver -3 amidst the Antonio Brown noise, much of the betting market wrote the Oakland Raiders off for dead. But this is what happens when you get caught up in the noise of narrative as a bettor.
The scope of the matchup on the field gets ignored, and opportunities are left on the table.
Despite all of the negative long-term outlook on the Raiders, there remains a lot of great week to week value, which I think exists again this week as Kansas City comes to town.
While the stat sheet for Gardner Minshew reads as a major positive (22 for 25 with 275 yards), it was the style of defense of which Kansas City played with that makes Oakland so appealing. The Kansas City Chiefs ditched Bob Sutton in the offseason and brought in Steve Spagnuolo which should result in more man coverage. However, what it resulted in against the Jaguars was much more man only deep and zone looks underneath. This allowed Minshew coming in to replace Nick Foles to rack up a very high completion rate taking throws underneath, and the same should occur for Carr this week.
The main strength of this Chiefs defense is their front seven and generating pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Where this, combined with the coverage benefits the Oakland Raiders is their west coast offensive system. Jon Gruden’s main focus is getting the ball out of Carr’s hand quickly and making the most efficient pass. Carr’s release time against the Broncos with a similarly strong pass rush was the second quickest of any NFL quarterback. When it comes to scheming players open, Gruden will do little to adjust his calling against Kansas City, which is a defense that will give those short underneath throws that may appear like dump-offs to some, but are planned, schemed plays run by the Raiders.
The emergence of a true tight end target in Darren Waller is big for Carr who tends to single out his biggest target, but Tyrell Williams set in well to his role as the lead guy and Josh Jacobs emerged as a threat out of the backfield which provides Oakland with a great secondary option to run at this weak Kansas City run defense.
With Patrick Mahomes slightly less than 100% and Tyreek Hill out for an extended period of time, the Chiefs offense is likely to take on a slightly different look than expected. Sammy Watkins will settle into the number one role, but there will be more focus on rushing the football, especially coming off of a very physical game in the heat of Jacksonville. This not only produces a lower variance game state but plays in well to this game being played closer to the number.
The lack of a secondary stretching wide receiver negates the loss of safety Jonathan Abram to an extent but more importantly allows the Raiders to play a higher rate of man coverage – which is their preference – and should reduce the effectiveness of Mahomes. Last season Mahomes threw passes more than 10 yards downfield on 48% of throws against zone coverage (fifth highest in the league) but only 33% against man coverage (fourth-lowest in the league).
Week two is one of the biggest overreaction weeks of the season and a typically favourable spot to find value is opposing teams playing back to back road games to begin a season.
As discussed in our weekly NFL betting video, the market is more often than not willing to pay a premium for teams in this situation. The Las Vegas lookahead line had this game pegged at a lower mark, and despite the movement back in the last twenty-four hours, there still remains value on the Raiders at anything better than a touchdown.
Seahawks Right For The Plucking In This One
Reconstructing a box score is an important part of handicapping the NFL.
Most bettors will stop and look at the final score and interpret the basic stats from the outside looking in. However, if you go through and recreate the game drive by drive, you can get a much better understanding of what occurred. Often times this is an easy way to spot times where the market over or under reacts to a specific performance. A good example of this is the Seattle Seahawks last week. On paper, the Seahawks won the game 21-20 and were in a competitive battle from start to finish with the surprise Bengals.
Dig a little deeper and you find that the Seahawks won a game they had no business being involved with.
On a total yards basis, the Bengals outgained the Seahawks by 196 yards. From a passing yard perspective, the Bengals outgained Seattle by 235 yards. Even at a per play basis, the differential was enormous. Cincinnati finished with a +1.3 yards per play advantage which historically translates to a team winning by just shy of 6.5 points (divide yards per play differential by 0.20).
Beyond the box score, it was evident that the Seattle Seahawks defence is going to be one of the worst Seattle defensive units we have seen in a number of seasons. Cincinnati entered the season with one of the lowest projected offensive expectations in the 2019 season. Without their best receiver AJ Green and a hurt star running back in Joe Mixon, Andy Dalton was able to throw for 418 yards with 2 touchdowns and no picks. If not for three fumbles lost, Seattle would have lost convincingly as a 9-point home favourite.
Pittsburgh, on the other hand, was not given any love by the box score – and they did not deserve it. The loss at New England was an absolute beat down. With that said, the matchup did not do the Steelers any favours. Mike Tomlin is notoriously poor for putting together horrendous game plans and his approach the Patriots and lack of in-game adjustments did the Steelers before the game started.
What can’t be ignored is just how good the New England Patriots coverage unit is. The Patriots will play man defence at the highest rate of any team this season, and with the best cornerback in the NFL (Stephon Gilmore), they were able to completely shut down the Steelers offense.
The benefit of the blowout loss entering this game is that it is what bettors saw last on Sunday night.
Recency bias is a very real thing in NFL betting and we are seeing an overreaction to this point spread with the lookahead price in Las Vegas last Wednesday pricing Pittsburgh as a -4.5 favourite. Once as low as -3.5, the market is suggesting that based off of the week one performance (nothing else has changed), that the Seahawks are one point better. From that perspective alone, the Steelers in comparison despite losing by 30 in a case where the Seahawks won by 1, were only outgained by 157 yards in comparison to Seattle being outgained by 196.
Things just don’t add up.
While yards to yards is not the best measure of success, it is clear that there has been an overreaction in the wrong direction. This game puts motivator vs motivator with Carroll vs Tomlin, so no single coaching performance is likely to dominate the other. What does benefit the Steelers is the advantage of facing a secondary that plays a far lower rate of man coverage – if any at all – sells out on the blitz at a high rate and does not cover the slot well.
The Seahawks who run the ball at an extremely high rate may find themselves at the mercy of a negative game state which forces them to pass in unwanted situations.
This is the ideal situation for the Steelers to get a bounce-back win after a big loss and there is unquestionable value in a number that should be closer to -6 than it is -3.
At -4 there is an edge big enough worth betting.
- Pittsburgh Steelers -4 (1.91). Risking 1.10x
- Oakland Raiders +7.5 (1.87). Risking 1.15x