Hello all, and welcome back. We went 3-4 on our seven picks last week, but thanks to some shrewd (ahem) staking, we picked up 2.48 units, bringing us to +2.4 for the season. We also smashed up some closing lines with the Saints, Redskins and Under in Philly, which is the real aim of the game.
Onto Week 4, which some shrewdies reckon starts the best month or so of betting in the season, where we have enough data to start getting a good feel for teams but not enough that the lines are simply accurate.
I’ve never tracked how I do in various weeks of the season, so it could be nonsense, but it makes sense to me. Anyway, onto the picks.
For the Nap, we’re going back to the well with the Bengals who I’ve backed every week of the season so far, and will continue to do until the market starts pricing them correctly. The basic idea is that their offensive line is much improved and if Andy Dalton has time he has the weapons to make this a top-10 offense.
You might think I’d be backing off this idea after we binned three units on the Bengals last week and Dalton threw four interceptions, but not so.
As with any outlier performance, there were mitigating circumstances – one was on a tipped ball and one was in desperation time – and besides, we know who Dalton is. He has a career interception rate of 2.7% – the same as Peyton Manning – and we should expect that going forward.
More relevant for us is that the Bengals dominated that game against the Panthers despite losing by ten.
They had more yards, more yards per play and a better play success rate – the holy triumvirate. This week my beloved ‘Bangles’ travel to the dome in Atlanta to play on a fast track against a defence that was already getting shredded thanks to injuries and promptly lost star Safety Roberto Allen last week.
The Falcons were 30th in defensive DVOA before that injury and I think there’s a good chance the Bengals top 30 here, so I’ll be having some handicap and moneyline. The Falcons are also on fire offensively – Matt Ryan had 359 passing yards and 5 TDs last week, so let’s have some over 51.5 as well.
Backs to the wall for Houston
Next up we’re taking the Texans moneyline over the Colts.
The Colts have played three close games and were ostensible impressive last week on the road against the Superbowl champions, but the metrics suggest they’ve been trash.
They’re 25th in offensive DVOA and the offensive output is trending downwards as well, partly because Luck is unwilling or unable to throw downfield, and defenses are starting to drop down nearer to the line of scrimmage and clutter passing lanes.
Since returning from his shoulder injury Luck has had three of the worst games of his career in terms of yards per completion. The graph below shows the yards gained per completed pass for each game of Luck’s career, with the absolutely enormous drop-off this year on the right end. That’s not a passing attack that’s scaring anyone.
Conversely, I think the Texans are underrated.
They’re actually 11th in DVOA through three weeks despite their 0-3 start and have been outgaining opponents on a per-play basis, but failing to convert on third and fourth down and the red-zone. These types of failures usually regress to overall performance, and I expect to see the Texans start scoring points soon, starting this week.
How about them Lions
In Dallas, I’m taking the Lions +3. I’ pretty high on the Lions, who seem to be improving each week, especially if we scratch off that opening game loss to the Jets who literally knew all the Lions’ play-calls.
But the bigger factor here is the loss of Sean Lee, which has been a massive factor for Dallas in the past, as shown in the below table from fantasy analyst Graham Barfield.
Detroit has the receivers and running backs to make hay over the middle of the field in this one, and the Cowboys offense is possibly the worst in the league at this point.
This line suggests the Cowboys are possibly the better team on a neutral, and I do not agree in the slightest.
I believe in (Fitz) Magic
Finally, let’s have some Tampa Bay in our pockets. I’m fully bought on the Fitzmagic experience. Pro Football Focus has this offense ranked as the best in the league through three games, in part thanks to the changes wrought by new offensive coordinator Todd Monkhouse.
In short, Tampa has two outside receiver that need double covering at all times, which is opening up huge swathes of space in the middle of the field.
If you try and bring the safeties down into those middle zones then D Jax or Mike Evans cooks you deep for a touchdown, so pick your poison.
t’s no accident Fitzmagic has thrown for 400+ yards every game, and I don’t see him slowing down here, even against the best defense he’s played this year.
My issue with the Bears is the offense after the script runs out. The Bears are PFF’s 28th ranked attack and are 27th over at FB Outsiders, even including the success they have early in the game when running pre-packaged plays. If-and-when Fitz scores his points, I don’t think Mitch Trubisky will be able to answer the bell.
Brad’s Week 4 Bets
- Bengals + 3.5: 1 unit @ 2.01
- Bengals ml: 1 unit @ 2.81
- Texans ml: 2 units @ 2.07
- Detroit +3: 1 unit @ 1.92
- Tampa Bay +3: 1 unit @ 2.0