Another solid week for the blog selections, as we went 2-1 on the selected unders. The Titans and Jags under 43.5 was the one that let us down, but it closed at 41.5 and was 6-3 at the half, so it seems it was a decent bet.
I touched on the strength of unders in the first month of the season in last week’s blog (+4.5% ROI if backing blanket 1H unders, and it was more of the same this week. With nine or ten (depending on your closing line) of the 16 games going under.
However, the depressed scoring seems to be a bit more than just an early-season blip. Scoring is down to 40.3 points per game, the lowest figure for the first two weeks of a season in the last 20 years.
It’s also down 5.3 points per game compared with last year, and net yardage is down more than 70 yards per game. The question then is whether it’s here to stay for another week at least? The most plausible explanation(s) to me is that offensive lines simply aren’t prepared to play at the pro level after running spread offenses in college, while the elite athletes are being recruited to the defensive rather than offensive line.
Going UNDER in the ‘Windy City’?
Regardless, it looks to me to be a very real trend and I don’t think the books have adjusted enough yet and one spot I’ll be looking to go under is in Chicago. The Bears offense is entirely without weapons after injuries to their top two receivers and as they showed vs Tampa Bay, literally cannot move the ball through the air. The defense has also been stout through two weeks, limiting the Falcons and Buccaneers to around 250 passing yards per game.
On the other side, the Steeler road struggles are well documented. Here are Ben Roethlisberger’s stats at home on the left and on the road on the right, per Rotoviz.
The key parts here are the dramatic drop in touchdowns from almost 3 per game to just over 1, and the massive drop-off in passing yards from 339 to 269.
And it has translated to the scoreboard. Over the last three seasons, the Steelers have played 11 road games on grass and first half unders are 11-0.
Obviously that’s somewhat of an arbitrary split, but it’s an eye-popping number and probably not without some significance. The Steeler’s defense, as I have spoken about before, is much improved having invested heavily on that side of the ball in recent drafts, and becoming a top 10 defense by DVOA by the end of last year.
They’ve barely been tested this year by DeShone Kizer and Case Keenum, but Mike Glennon is barely better than those two, and his weapons are significantly worse.
This total at 44 looks at least 2 points too high to me.
Are the Seahawks Undervalued?
Another angle I’ll be looking to take advantage of this week is overreactions. Per Bet Labs, teams that start 0-2 ATS are 61-49 (55.5%) ATS in Week 3 over the past seven seasons. That gives us five teams to look at (Seattle, New Orleans, New York Jets, Cincinnati and Arizona), but one team stands out to me.
The Seahawks are 3 point dogs in Tennessee, and given that the Titans home field is worth about 2-2.5 points, this line is suggesting the Titans are the better team. Does anyone think that’s the case?
The season win totals respectively were 9 for Ten and 10.5 for Seattle, and I don’t think we’ve seen enough to change that.
The Seahawks have indeed looked shabby, but Green Bay is probably the toughest place to play in the NFL and the game against the 49ers was marked by terrible weather, resulting in a number of key drops for the Seahawks.
The big weakness is still the offensive line, but Tennessee is hardly well-equipped to take advantage of that. Can you name their defensive ends? I could go on about the Seahawks defence, which is still elite (held San Fran to 89 passing yards) but the fact is that Seattle is the better team here and the 3 points is a gift.
Finally, we look to the Sunday night game and a little biology lesson. West Coast teams playing East Coast teams in primetime have been a very profitable proposition for years now, and there is genuine evidence to suggest it’s down to circadian rhythms and when the body is best suited to perform at its peak levels.
Studies have found that that strength, flexibility, and reaction times surge in the early evening when the circadian rhythm is pulling the body out of the post-lunch funk.
West Coast teams playing at around 5 pm on their body clocks enjoy that advantage over their East coast opponents who are starting the game at 8 pm on their body clocks.
West Coast teams are 9-2 ATS in this situation over the past three seasons, and while that’s a small sample size, there’s more evidence to suggest this is a long-term trend and the West Coast teams benefit especially in the second half, as their opponents are literally getting towards their bedtime.
This brings us to the Raiders -3 in Washington.
Beyond the circadian rhythm stuff, I think the Raiders are being underrated by the market – they were seen in the offseason as a fluky 12-win team thanks to their exceptional record in one-score games which was expected to regress.
As a result, their win total was around 9. However this is a young team and one I think will overcome any luck regression with an increase in base performance, as Carr matures and improves his rapport with his receivers.
So far this season they’ve already put on two dominant victories, the type they rarely delivered last year And I have no qualms about fading the Redskins, who were stripped of their best-receiving weapons from last year, as well as offensive coordinator Sean McVay, who already appears to have turned around Jared Goff’s career. Raiders -3 is the bet here.