Brad Allen: Back the Vikings to derail the Falcons

10 min

Worst week of the season for me and the blog last week, as picks went 1-3. A winning NAP provided some respite, however, as Green Bay/Pittsburgh soared over the total. Elsewhere, the over 43.5 in San Francisco was cooked by some wind which appeared out of nowhere – at least it wasn’t on any of the forecasts I looked at. But at kick-off, the telecast showed the flags fluttering away, and someone holding the ball in place for the kick-off. I tweeted out to jump on the live under and would recommend again following me there because as sports betting is a very dynamic game and my view changes frequently based on weather, injuries, line moves etc.

One broad theme to talk about quickly is the trend of favourites which are 54-23-7 ATS over the last six weeks.

It’s a complete reversal from early in the season when underdogs were smashing it, and my inclination is it’s just a random streak in a long season, and probably worth backing a few underdogs that have been inflated to protect the books.

On to the games.

I am a big fan of Denver in Miami this week because I firmly believe Trevor Siemian is the Broncos best QB by some margin.

He led the Broncos to two late touchdowns in Oakland last week, after the offense did literally nothing all game. For his career, Siemian has 6.9 yards per attempt, compared to Osweiler’s 6.2. Even with their mix of terrible QB’s all season, the Broncos still rank as an average team by adjusted yards per play. In fact, they are perfectly neutral at 0.0 thanks to a defense which still ranks joint-third in the league in this metric despite being put in horrendous spots all season long.

So we have an average team playing a truly awful opponent in the Miami Dolphins, who rank 30th in adjusted net YPP at -1.8, ahead of only the Giants and the Colts. They also have one of the six worst pass defenses by DVOA since 1989, and I can see them getting strafed by Siemian (sounds insane, I know). Broncos at anything below -3 is a bargain.

On the same note. The over 39.5 is a cracking bet and should close at 41 or above. For starters, as already mentioned you have a Broncos offense that will be improved against a historically bad pass defense. Secondly, coach Adam Gase has talked about wanting to be an up-tempo spread offense following the departure of Jay Ajayi. Finally, totals below 40 are basically an auto-bet over in the modern NFL, as detailed by Sports Insights.

Unless there’s poor weather (looks ok currently), the rules favour offenses enough that they can almost always hit 40. The four NFL totals at 38 or lower last week, all hit the over.

Small sample I know, but click the last hyperlink for a bigger sample!

I’ve also backed the Vikings +3 in Atlanta. The current line suggests these teams are equal and based on the body of work this season I don’t think that’s true.

There’s some recency bias here with the Falcons coming off three impressive wins in a row, including ‘marquee’ wins over Dallas and Seattle.

Of course the Cowboys were hamstrung by injuries to Sean Lee, Zeke Elliot, and Tyron Smith, while Seattle had injuries to Sherman and Chancellor, then lost cornerback Shaq Griffin in the first quarter. Atlanta still needed turnovers and a missed field goal to win that one. I also don’t give them much credit for beating a Tampa team that has one of the worst defenses in the league and Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB.

The point is, I like this Falcons team a lot – they are still number one in adjusted net YPP, but I think the Vikings are even better. I make a fair line around -2, and think the field goal protection makes for a solid bet.

Elsewhere, I’ve taken over 42.5 in the Chargers/Browns game. Philip Rivers and Keenan Allen have got their mojo back in recent weeks, slicing and dicing the Cowboys and Bills, but the biggest angle for me is the Browns. On the offensive side of the ball, they got back Corey Coleman from injury and will be getting Josh Gordon back on Sunday, giving them two legitimate WR1s. DeShone Kizer is also playing his best football of the season, getting a 91 grade (out of 100) from PFF last Sunday.

Consider the Brown piled up 400 yards of offense on Sunday against a top-8 Cincinnati defense. On the defensive side, the Browns are also falling apart. Their run defense has disappeared thanks to injuries to Jamie Collins, then Emmanuel Ogbah and Jamie Meder.

These aren’t household names, but they were powering a Browns run defense that was quietly among the best in the league. But no more. Last week, even the Bengals, who haven’t run on anyone all season, were able to run the ball, with Joe Mixon almost doubling his season-high in rushing yards.

Of course the run game opens up everything else, and with perfect conditions expected in LA, this total is 3 points too low.

A couple more bets for the road, starting with Jets +3.5. Kansas City appears to have been figured out – teams are just sitting in Cover 2 and refusing to bite on their misdirecting plays – and they’ve lost 5 of 6 yet are still being priced like a good team. I’m not sure they’re even better than the Jets who have been chronically underrated all season.

I also love the Packers against the Bucs (at PK currently). Two of the Bucs starting lineman are injured, they’re a Florida team playing in Lambeau, and Hundley seems to be figuring this offense out. The Packers will close 2.5 point favourites here.

Brad’s Week 13 Bets:

  • Denver -1.5
  • Over 39.5 Broncos @ Dolphins
  • Vikings +3
  • Over 42.5 Browns @ Chargers
  • Jets +3.5
  • Packers (pk)

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