We picked up another 2.8 units last week bringing us to +10.07 on the season, in large part thanks to the Rams and Seahawks over which was never really in doubt despite some redzone turnovers, a 19-yard field goal and wide receiver injuries. I’m still surprised it sat there all week at 50.5, but what do I know!
Points n more Points down Wembley Way
Onto this week and the first of the Wembley games where we’re going back to the well with a Seahawks over.
The same points stand about the Seahawks defense going from above average with Earl Thomas to below average without him. The offense also seemed to find its feet, partially down to the run game but mainly due to play action, where Russell Wilson went 8 of 11 for 142 yards, 2 TD, 12.9 yards per attempt and a near perfect 154.4 passer rating.
It was the most the Seahawks have sued play action all season, and if they continue that usage this week at Wembley, they should strafe the Raiders, who bring their 29th ranked defense by DVOA to London.
The Raiders are also more than capable of putting up points with their offense ranking 13th in DVOA this season, and it’s somewhere in the middle of the 45 points it put up two weeks ago against Cleveland and the 10 points it managed last week.
Finally a quick trend for the ‘trendsters’; in the last 16 games at Wembley, the over is 11-5.
The theory here and the sense I get from watching the games is that it’s more of an occasion than a full non-snarling football match and there certainly appears to be less intensity, which naturally favours offense. That might not be true, and the numbers suggest the over is the play anyway, but I think it could well be an added bonus.
Nap Time with Luck & Co’
But the Nap this week, as noted on the podcast, is the Colts moneyline.
Simply put this line says we have even teams – the Jets have a crap home field – which I think is incorrect.
They teams rate about evenly on Football Outsiders and Pro Football Focus’ metrics, but for starters, I think season-long numbers overate the Jets. In week one they knew the Lions calls and promptly blew them out and last week, the Broncos were in a horrible spot, flying cross country for a 1 pm game just six days after losing a nail-biter in primetime against the hated Chiefs.
Meanwhile, the last two games have seen Andrew Luck finally air it out down the field, showing trust in his surgically repaired shoulder. His ADOT (average depth of target) increased from around 5.0 in the first three weeks to 9.2 in his last two games, where not coincidentally, he averaged 410 yards and 3 touchdowns.
The Colts also get two cornerbacks and their star rookie linebacker Darius Leonard back for this game, and the team that takes the field Sunday will be significantly better than their opponents.
Divisional Hatred = Ferocious Defense
Third up, we’re having some under 52 in the divisional headbutting that will be Pittsburgh/Cincinnati.
To start with the less tangible stuff, these are two teams that genuinely hate each other – does anyone remember that brutal primetime game where three or four players were stretchered off? – and there will be ferocious physical defense on display.
Moving to the numbers then, the worst unit in this game in most people’s eyes is probably the Pittsburgh defense, but it’s actually 15th in PFFs metrics and trending upwards, having improved its grade every week since week 2. Last week they held a good Falcons team to just a 40% success rate and 4.6 yards per play, and despite the defense scoring two touchdowns of their own, the game essentially pushed on the closing total.
I also think the Bengals might be an under team at this point. For starters, they went under the closing total against the Dolphins despite scoring two defensive touchdowns. That’s alone prompts a closer look in my book.
The key difference to the unit is the return of Vontaze Burfict, who is a leader both emotionally and statistically for the defense. As teammate Caros Dunlap put it: ““Just his presence (helps. The tenacity he brings to the game, his mind, seeing things, understanding of the football game and how teams like to attack you and just speed up the adjustments and maybe communicating with some of the younger players, there are all kind of things a veteran like him who has the mind he has can bring to a football club.”
“We’ve got a lot of opportunity there to use his mind on third down, understanding the concepts and stuff there. That alone, just having a great football player…”
Sounds pretty handy to have back if you ask me.
Finally, on offense the Bengals are starting to get pretty thin, with Tyler Eifert done for the year, his back up Tyler Kroft also likely out, as well as field stretcher John Ross and scatback Gio Bernard. That’s a lot of firepower to lose and last week the Bengals looked pretty punchless, with a 42% success rate in the game.
Add all this to a high total and the potential for some rain, and I think we have a sound under bet.
Resurgent Browns Still Underated
Finally, we’re backing the Browns on the moneyline.
Off the top, this is the second-best defense in the league by DVOA, but at first glance, its hindered by the 30th ranked offense.
But that rating doesn’t tell the full story of the current Browns, because of course Baker Mayfield has only played 2.5 games out of the five. And by yards per attempt, he is the 10th best QB in the league, and could arguably be even better since he has the highest drop rate of any QB in the league.
Even if we regress him somewhat to the 16th best QB in the league, we have a top-12 team on our hands and certainly one of near-equal talent to the Chargers.
On their season-to-date metrics I’d probably make the case for the Browns to be a 1-point favourite instead of a 1-point dog, but the Chargers are also in a horrific spot, travelling East for a 10 am start on their body clocks, the week before travelling to London to play the Wembley game.
Teams were 11-22 ATS in this spot before last season (I can’t be bothered to find updated numbers), and combined with the numerical edge, I think it makes for a nice play and a #wrongteamfavoured job.
Best of luck all!
- Raiders/Seahawks over 48: 2 units @1.92
- Colts ml: 2 units @2.24
- Bengals/Steelers under 52: 1 unit @ 2.0
- Browns ml: 2 units @ 2.1