Brad is back with three more bets for week two, including a bet on the ‘Boys’
Two out of four last week for +0.04 units. Off to a ‘flyer’! We’re onto week two.
How About These Cowboys
First up I am taking the Cowboys -5.5. A few very sharp people before the season had the Cowboys pegged as a Superbowl contender, but I wasn’t necessarily buying it because I didn’t really know what to expect from new OC Kellen Moore. The Cowboys for a couple of years have had a mountain of talent but been committed to #EstablishingTheRun and then running quite basic pass concepts with lots of simple isolation routes on the outside.
Well no more!
IN week One, the Cowboys used play action on nearly 47% of their passes in Week 1 (25% last year) and motion on 73% (45% last year). As a result, the offense and Dak looked spectacular. Dak set career highs in YPA (12.7 ), net yards per pass play and explosive completions (20 yards or more), with seven.
The Giants, of course, are likely to be a bottom 10 defense, but we know that the offense has more to do with results than the defense, and I think its fair to say that Moore’s concepts, aligned with the Cowboy’s already excellent talent, forced the Giants into mistakes, and they’ll likely do the same this week.
As a result, I’ve moved the Cowboys up in my ratings to a 10.5 win team.
As for the Redskins, the also overperformed expectations in week one, covering the spread, and earning 0.19 EPA/play on Sunday, good enough to put them in the top half of the league.
I’m not going mad on them, however.
Their success was built on big plays which are less sustainable than down-to-down efficiency, and their success rate was a below-average 44%. They also overperformed on 3rd down, generating 0.58 EPA/play on 3rd compared to 0.06 on 1st and 2nd. Expect them to trend closer to the early down performance going forward.
It’s also worth noting the Skins may have ‘surprises’ the Eagles with their new-look personnel on offense, putting together three scores on their first three drives, before punting on five of their next six before the garbage time TD.
This is a still a 6-win team for me and using those numbers I’d make this line around 6.5 in favour of the Cowboys.
Bears Roar Is No Better Than Their Bite
Next up, we have one of the ‘obvious’ plays of the week; Denver at home against the Bears.
I was against the Bears last week as well for the same reasons; a lack faith in Trubisky, who appears to have plateaued as a passer, and an expectation for the defense to regress, turning them into a circa 8-win team. Now they travel to Denver, where the Broncos are 51-8-2 in September home games since 1970. They have won also 17 of their last 18 home openers. This is well known by now and based on the thin air taking more of a toll before teams are in mid-season condition but I’d make the number Bears -2.5 before the thin air factor.
The Broncos were pegged for around 7 wins before the season and looked awful against the Raiders on Sunday, but we shouldn’t change our priors too much. Zero QB hits is not something we should expect from a defense with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb going forward, and the offense has many of the same pieces as last year.
Loving Lamar And This Ravens Offense
Finally, I’ll make the case for a small over bet in Baltimore. This number opened at 42 and has been bet up to 46.5, which would turn many sharp bettors off instantly. However, I’d argue that number is still a fraction low. Remember, there are so many unknowns around these two teams that’s its tough to project using numbers alone.
Let’s start with the passing explosion from Lamar Jackson, which was probably the single biggest story of week one. The raw numbers show 17-20 for 353 yards and 5 touchdowns, but what’s more interesting is that it might not just have been the Dolphins being terrible. In fact, the Dolphins secondary is arguably the strength of the team with quality NFL players like Minkah Fitzpatrick and Xavian Howard.
Raven’s receivers weren’t just running wide open – Next Gen Stats tracks a metric called completion percentage above expectation which works out the likelihood of a completion based on how open the receiver is (using tracking data) and how far downfield he is.
Lamar’s expected completion percentage was 60.2%, compared to his actual completion percentage of 85%. The difference of 24.8% was the largest of any QB who started in Week 1. In other words, Lamar was a lot more accurate than you’d expect, given the difficulty of the throws. Do you know who else beats his xComp regularly? Drew Brees. I’m not saying Lamar is that accurate, but this might suggest he has improved his passing skills over the offseason – as many camp reports suggested he had.
His running skills also stress defences in unique ways, essentially forcing them to run vanilla coverages so they have players to account for the read options and RPOs the Ravens run.
LAMAR JACKSON ran their offense from shotgun or pistol vs #dolphins Although he only ran 2 ZONE READ plays the entire game, the threat of his formation forced the defense to play “assignment defense” virtually TE entire game. …cont pic.twitter.com/50Yu91Ix7j
— Paul Alexander (@CoachPaulAlex) September 10, 2019
It reminds me of the 15-1 Panthers season when Cam was at his peak and the dual-threat ability forced the defense to pick whether to get beaten by land or by sky. If Lamar truly has progressed a passer, then this offence could be dominant. And especially so this week against a Cardinals D without its two top corners and was strafed by Matthew Stafford for 385 yards and 3 TDS with no picks. I expect the Ravens to go HAM.
On the other side of the ball, I have high hopes that the Cardinals will score some points of their own. Kyler was shaky on Sunday but passed for 570 air yards in week one, the 21st-most in a single game since the start of 2012, per @FantasyADHD.
Even without overtime, his 443 air yards would have ranked in the 93rd percentile. The Cards also played fast, as predicted. Their context-adjusted seconds per play in Week 1 was 21.4 seconds, per analyst Derek Carty. That was three seconds faster than anyone else, while the gap between Arizona and second place was the same as the gap between second and 18th.
I see a fast-paced, aerial shootout on Sunday between two of the most intriguing teams in the league.
- Cowboys -5.5: 1 unit @ 2.05
- Broncos ml: 1 unit @ 2.29
- Cards/Ravens over 46.5: 0.5 units @ 2.0