Brad Allen: This Under is my biggest bet of the season

10 min

Nice week for the blog last week, with two easy-ish winners on the Saints and the under in Jacksonville, that stayed under 41 despite fake punt touchdowns and overtime.

This week I’m going to try a slightly different format with a few thoughts on the games I’ve bet rather than a detailed analysis of two or three. The reason for this is that when I sit down on a Wednesday to write this blog, I usually bet five or six games, and I generally have a look through my accounts to work out which games I can build the most convincing narrative/case for.

Which is not necessarily representative of how I bet. I’m a huge proponent of a high volume approach, for several reasons. Firstly, there are so many places to bet on NFL, combined with low commission exchanges like Matchbook, that you can pretty much find evens for sides on spreads and totals.

It means if you have even a slight edge, pretty much every bet should be +EV. It means I’ll bet early in the week as often as possible to try and get those early (less efficient lines) and even if you change your mind with more information later in the week, you can usually buy out for a profit or minimal loss.

I did this with the Colts +10 last week, liking the trends on big home dogs and the Steelers historical ineptitude weakness as big road favourites, but later in the week was convinced that the sheer talent and statistical mismatch could override those trends.

The Colts led by backup QB Jacoby Brissett comfortably covered 10.5 at home to the Steelers last weekend.

The second reason for high volume is that it’s the quickest way to a decent profit. If you can hit 54%, it stands to reason you’ll make more money turning over 50k than 10k.

The final benefit is that high volume helps stifle variance and dull the pain of a bad beat. I had the Browns first half +6.5 and +12.5 full game last week, both of which lost in pretty heart-breaking fashion. But you notice two losses a lot less when you have 24 other bets on. Of course I’m not encouraging reckless gambling, but if you genuinely believe you have an edge and have put the research in, high volume is unequivocally better in the long run.

Anyway onto Week 11. For starters, I have my biggest bet of the season on under 37.5 in Cleveland (around 5% of bank) and it’s almost entirely because of the wind. The forecast calls for 23mph wind off Lake Erie, and over the last 170 games with winds over 20mph, the under is hitting at a 63% rate. The market for some reason simply does not account for wind. We saw similar conditions in Cleveland earlier this year when Tennessee visited, and the total was bet down from 45 to 41.5, but was still way too high, with nary a touchdown scored in a 12-9 final.

Only last week, the windiest game on the schedule was played in Tampa with winds around 15-16mph. This time the market ignored the weather, betting the total up from 41 to 44, and again it sailed under, the teams at deadlocked at 3-3 at halftime before tallying 25 points total.

In the same vein, as Steve O Rourke detailed last week in his Matchbook blog, wind also favours the underdog by dampening scoring and making the points more valuable. So I’ve also backed Cleveland +7.5. They are better suited to a running contest than Jacksonville, boasting the No.1 ranked run defence, while Jacksonville are a below average run D. The wind also neutralises the Browns great weakness – the pass D and nullifies Jacksonville’s strength, the pass D. Strong winds are expected in Green Bay and Chicago, and I’ve backed unders in both those games too.

Elsewhere, I’ve taken Over 43.5 in Kansas City/New York. Andy Reid off a bye will have his offense running smoothly, and the match-up sets up beautifully for some quick scores, with the Chiefs’ explosive play-makers and the Giants defensive backs no longer really tackling.

The Giants players have made it clear they don’t like McAdoo and I think we can expect similar efforts to the last two weeks while he remains the head coach. They gave up 30 points to CJ Beathard for crying out loud! On the other end, Kansas City has a secretly bad D – ranking 25th in DVOA, while the Giants have recently found some semblance of offense via Evan Engram and Sterling Shephard.

In Mexico City, I’ve backed the Patriots -6.5 over the Raiders. This is partly based on a nice stat unearthed by the guys at the Hook Report, that favourites of 4 or more on in neutral-site games are 11-0 ATS over the last few years… Bill Belichick also has his guys practicing in Denver all week in preparation for the altitude and that could give the Pats (and us) another little edge.

Finally, I’m taking the Falcons +3 in Seattle as I don’t think this Seahawks team is especially good. Sherman’s injury could hurt them as the pass rush has been missing all season, and if you don’t have pass rush or coverage, you might just be bad. The offensive line issues are also well documented and we saw what the Falcons can do to a bad line on Sunday.

On the flip side, the Falcons are still the best team in the NFL in net yards per play at +1.1 – the same mark as last year. This is still an elite team and I suspect they may explode down the stretch, starting by winning this one outright.

Let me know if you like the new format folks (@bradallenNFL on Twitter for abuse) or whether you prefer a couple of games broken down in depth.

My Picks:

  • Under 37.5pts Jaguars @ Browns
  • Over 43.5pts Chiefs @ Giants
  • Patriots -6.5
  • Falcons +3