Brad Allen: Going back to back with Baker Mayfield

7 min

A bit of wheel spinning last week as we went 2-2 dropping some juice and pegging us back to -4.4 units on the season.

There was some interesting line movement on the picks last week.

The Giants went off +4 after we bet them +6 while the Browns went off favoured in some places after we bet them +3.

We also backed under 47.5 in that Cleveland game, which went off 46, so good news there (for all it mattered), but it was a different story in the Ravens games after we bet Oakland +10.5 and it was +13 at the off.

Still, overall another good week of closing line value that went unrewarded. We soldier on.

Baker Baker Touchdown Maker

I’m going back to the well with the Browns again this week.

Part of the flood of money that came in on them last week was due to the absence of AJ Green, but I’m sure some of it was down to the revitalised offence under Freddie Kitchens.

Some stats for you: Under Hue Jackson, Mayfield threw eight touchdown passes to six interceptions, which has improved to 9-1 under Kitchens.

Per Football Outsiders, only Drew Brees has been more valuable on a per-snap basis than Mayfield since Kitchens took over.

Despite that, the Browns are still being priced like a below average team in this week’s match-up. I’d guess that’s down to the Houston Texans being on an eight-game win streak, but I think that streak hides a good but not great team.

Texans Running Back Lamar Miller had a field day on Monday night but could struggle against this Browns front.

Their offense is average or worse (21st by DVOA), with the name-brand skill players like Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins hiding a terrible offensive line that allows pressure on more than 40% of passing plays.

The defense ranks top five in points allowed and even more advanced metric s like DVOA, but has faced the second easiest schedule in the league by Warren Sharps metrics and is bound to regress.

Four of their eight wins have come by a field goal, and the Pythagorean wins (based on point differential) is 6.8, marking them as lucky.

They’re still probably a marginally better team than the Browns, but I’d make this a four point spread rather than six.

Falcons Due For Take Off

Next up we get to resume our favourite past-time in betting against the Ravens.

My thoughts on the defense being overrated are well established (read any previous version of this column for more details) and I’m not buying the offense under Lamar Jackson.

I said last week it wasn’t sustainable to have Jackson run the ball 28 times – for both for his health and because opposing defences would adjust – and it appears the Ravens agree. Last week they had him operate as a more traditional QB in the first half, before taking the training wheels off in the second half to make sure they pulled away from the Raiders.

Falcons QB Matt Ryan has struggled in recent week but home comforts may turn that around this week.

However, ESPN’s total QBR metric gave Jackson a dismal 27.3 mark in his first week (out of 100) and 26.7 last week despite paying the league’s worst pass defense in Oakland.

Jackson also tallied just 178 passing yards in total, with 74 of the coming on one play.

There’s a reason you don’t see many (any) offenses like this in the league now; it’s because they’re one dimensional and relatively easy to shut down.

That’s dangerous for the Ravens, especially trying to keep up with a Falcons offense that is top 5 in ANY/A and top 10 in DVOA and EPA.

In short, this line, which says the Ravens are the better team, is driven entirely by defensive numbers that aren’t necessarily stable or predictive.

I’ll bet on the better offense at home all day long.

Just the two bets this week as there’s a number of clunkers on the week 13 site, but I’ll be tweeting out more bets as they materialise, so stay tuned…

Recommended Bets

Browns +6: 2 units @1.96
Browns ml: 1 unit @ 3.24
Falcons -2.5: 2 units @ 2.06

On this week’s NFL Podcast Nat Coombs is joined by debutant Nick Kostos, Mike Carlson and Sully to preview some of the stronger betting angles for Week 13. Listen below and search for ‘Matchbook Betting Podcast’ on your preferred podcasting app to subscribe.