Hello folks. Some more wheel-spinning last week, going 2-2 and taking our season total to -0.08 units. Let’s hope we can get of this hole.
One quick thing before we get to the Week 3 picks;
I’m aware how frustrating it can be reading a preview column and then the price has gone, so here’s how I would deal with it. Firstly, if the price has moved more than 5 ticks (1.95 to 1.9 for example) then I probably wouldn’t pay it. This is just a broad rule as obviously the move from 1.75 to 1.7 is a lot bigger than 1.95 to 1.9, but you’re all smart people, so use common sense – the basic idea is that the edges are already very slim in NFL, so don’t chase a price.
Secondly, just stick an offer up at the advised price and you’ve got a decent shot at getting matched because there are so many ways to handicap NFL games that different groups bash the prices back and forth.
The Steelers last week, for instance, were bet up to -5.5 during the week and then back down to -4 on game day, so it’s always worth posting up.
Back to the well with the Saints
Anyway, on to Week 3, starting with the Nap in the form of the New Orleans Saints.
The big angle here is the Falcons injuries. Offensively, starting LG Andy Levitre and starting RB Devonta Freeman are like out, which is worth maybe a point combined. But the defensive injuries are massive I think in the form of safety Keanu Neal and line-backer Dein Jones. These are both Pro Bowl level players and are vital to the Falcons scheme which lets opposing teams’ complete passes over the middle but relies on his speed and sure tackling to limits yards-after-catch.
Missing these two key pieces last week saw the Falcons give up 6.8 yards per play and a 57% success rate to an average Carolina offense. Both marks would have led the league last year.
For the trend players, the underdog in this series is 7-2 ATS in recent years, which may be very slightly predictive as underdogs in rivalry games are often value in the NFL.
I’m not too worried about the Saints – they had one excellent offensive game and one excellent defensive game, and I wouldn’t bet against them putting it all together quite soon, with the roster still grading as one of the best two or three in the entire league. I’m taking them to pull the outright upset.
Time to fade the Pack
For the next bet, I’m taking the Washington Reskins on the moneyline.
I think the Packers are overrated, particularly with a limited Aaron Rodgers.
If you ever listen to Andy Benoit from the MMQB, his favourite topic is how Rodgers is actually quite poor at reading defences and making on-time throws within the design of the play.
Essentially he holds on to the ball, makes a couple of defenders miss then uses his spectacular arm to fit the ball into some small windows downfield. His ability to do that is now significantly diminished. Last week, the Vikings dominated this version of the Packers, despite the 29-29 final score.
Minnesota gained 7.1 yards per play and converted 50 percent of third-down opportunities compared to Green Bay’s 5 yards per play and 31 percent third-down conversion rate. Of course, Minny gave up a punt block for a TD and missed three field goals, which led to the misleading final.
Washington for its part is a slightly above average team in my view, meaning this line should be Green Bay -1 in my view, thus giving us some decent value.
The Return of the Franchise QB
Third up we’re taking the under 47 in Philadelphia.
The key factor here is the injuries to the Philly offense which has denuded them of Jay Ajayi, and their three starting receivers, including Alshon Jeffrey. They are so desperate they signed Jordan Matthews off the street to start this week.
This total seems to be projecting some major improvement with the return of Carson Wentz, given that Philly ranks just 27th in the NFL with 4.6 yards per play so far this season. However, an immediate uptick looks optimistic.
Mobility was a big part of Wentz’s game last year, both in scrambling for first downs and avoiding pressure, and you can be certain he will have been told to reign it in this week. One game against the Colt is not the priority for this Eagles. It’s actually a similar story for the Colts, who are trying to protect Andre Luck with quick passes rather than downfield bombs, which again is going to help the under.
The Colts defence is actually 15th in DVOA through two weeks and under 47 looks the clear value to me.
Elsewhere I’m also taking the dog in the battle of LA.
I sense there’s been an overreaction to the Rams’ beatdown of the Raiders and Cardinals, who are bottom-feeder teams, which has pushed this up to a full touchdown rather than the 6 or so we were seeing on the look-ahead line. I also like the fact this isn’t a true road game for the Chargers, without the usual travel/fatigue factors.
I made this one about 5.5, so it’s worth a bet on the spread and moneyline for me.
Who Dey roll on
Finally, I’m taking the Bengals +3 and on the moneyline.
I’ve backed the Bengals the last two weeks, and still don’t think the market is appreciating how important the improved offensive line is here.
Dalton has always been a top 10 QB without pressure and a bottom 10 QB when pressured, which is why the Bengals slumped so badly last year as the line fell apart. This year, he has a new centre, picked in the first round and a new tackle in the form of Cordy Glenn. Through two weeks, Cincinnati has the third-best pass protecting line in the league, and the offense ranks 5th in DVOA.
If that protecting continues to hold up this week, I can see the Bengals torching this Panthers secondary.
In fact, the Panthers rank 26th in pass defense DVOA through two weeks, in part because they got absolutely torched by the Falcons last week for 7.4 yards per play and a 60% success rate.
The Bengals weapons look pretty similar on paper to the Falcons and could see a similar level of success on Sunday, which just isn’t factored into this price.
Brad’s Week 3 bets
- New Orleans ML: 3 units @ 2.3
- Redskins ML: 2 units @ 2.3
- Colts/Eagles Under 47@ 1 unit @ 1.98
- Chargers +7 1 unit @ 1.92
- Chargers ML: 1 unit @ 3.7
- Bengals ML: 2 units @ 2.41
- Bengals +3: 1 unit @ 1.97