Hello folks, we picked up another 4.87 units last week, taking us to +7.27 units for the season.
We certainly got the right side of some crazy finishes, so enjoy it, because we will have some crushing losses at some point.
On to Week Five.
Raining Points in the Pacific North West
The Nap, as detailed on the podcast, is Over 50.5 in the Seattle/Chargers game.
This Seahawks defence has arguably overperformed expectations this season, ranking sixth in DVOA, in part thanks to some excellent performances from Earl Thomas at safety, and Mychal Kendricks at linebacker.
Starting with Kendricks; he’s now been suspended by the NFL for insider trading – a ban which the Seahawks knew was coming, but they were so desperate for help at linebacker they signed him anyway. His absence will leave a hole, but not as big as the one left by Earl Thomas.
Here’s how the Seahawks fare with and without Thomas in the line-up:
In short, he takes them from a better-than-average NFL defense to a worse-than-average one. And frankly, you won’t stop this Rams offense with a below average NFL defense. Per Football Outsiders, LA has one of the best offenses ever measured through the first month of the season, even accounting for the points-happy era.
They’ve gone over 30 points in 12 of their last 20 games, and have arguably broken point-spread models because they never stop throwing in the fourth quarter, and are arguably a genuine statistical outlier. They went over 10 yards per play (ypp) and 60% success rate against a good defense in the Vikings last week, and are at 7.4 ypp for the year (the Saints led the league last year at 6.3).
Every model worth its salt is regressing this production to more ‘normal’ levels, but I think we have a genuine juggernaut here, thanks to Goff’s rapid improvement, McVay’s genius playcalling and his ability to take advantage of the offense-friendly laws.
So I think the Rams are a cracking bet for 30+ points on their own, but their defense also showed vulnerability last week without Aqib Talib, and with the Seahawks forced to throw to keep up, I think they should score some points of their own, aided by the returning Doug Baldwin.
Take the over in Seattle, sit back and enjoy!
Another total play from the NFC West
Bet number two is over 40.5 in the San Francisco/ Cardinals game.
To justify a total this low when the average scoring per game this year is around 48 points, you’d better have two exceptional defenses or two truly awful offenses. I don’t think we have either.
Josh Rosen looked bang average on the stat sheet last week with 180 yards passing, but every film analyst I read this week was waxing lyrical about his touch and accuracy, only for him to be let down by his receivers who dropped almost 90 yards worth of passes. His kicker also left 6 points on the field, suggesting the overall performance against the 6th ranked defense, as noted above, was rather better than it looked on the surface.
This week, he’ll have it considerably easier be going up against the 22nd ranked DVOA defense, which has been wracked by injuries, with DBs Richard Sherman and Jacquiski Tart both missing on the back-end.
On the other side of the ball, CJ Beathard actually put up a hell of a performance last week, with 26 points and 6.2 ypp on the road against the Chargers.
Essentially, Kyle Shanahan is continuing to run his offense and Beathard has now been in it long enough that he can be successful if not quite Jimmy G. They drafted him in the third round, remember, and I think his abject performance last year, when surrounded by an appalling support cast is causing the market to underrate him.
I made the total 43, so we’re getting some decent value, and some key numbers on-side as well.
Time to Titan Up
Next, we’re having a good bet on the Titans -5 in Buffalo.
This is another one the model gang don’t necessarily agree with, in part because Tennessee has put up shocking efficiency metrics all year long. However last week is the first time we saw a healthy-ish Mariota with his two tackles on the field all year long.
Those tackles are both pro-bowl level and have both missed time this year, but when on the field they make all the difference to the run and pass, and the Titans promptly put up their best performance of the year against the Eagles, beating the Superbowl champions in ypp and success rate on the way to the upset win.
This suddenly looks like the 9/10 win team it was projected to be before the season, and anything less than a touchdown is way too low against the genuine worst team in the NFL.
My favourite Cats
Finally, I’m going back to the well with the Bengals.
Regular readers will know I’ve backed this team every week of the year so far and I still rate them highly, but the key is the Dolphins downgrade. There is a case to be made all three of their wins and accompanying stats were fluky – the Titans game took seven hours to play thanks to storms, the Raiders were leading through three quarters but were beaten by trick plays, and the Jets actually won the ypp battle.
The Dolphins also have massive injury issues on the offensive line with the starting guard and centre out this week, similar to last week where they simply could not move the ball whatsoever on a very poor Patriots defense.
I’m not sure they crack 14 here.
- Rams/Seahawks over 50.5 – 3 units @1.96
- Rams -7.0 – 1 unit @ 1.98
- Cardinals/49’ers over 40.5 – 1 unit @1.92
- Titans -5.0 – 1 unit @ 1.95
- Bengals -6.0 – 1 units @ 2.0