A solid week last week on the blog as we go 4-2 on selections. Next season I’ll start season-long tracking, as befits a proper tipster!
One thing before we get into Week 14 is something Jesse May asked me about, along the lines of: “Is there some stat on the Browns we are missing since their metrics like seem to suggest a below-average but not awful team.”
I waffled about ‘yards per point’ a little but have done some more research on it, which I think may be of some interest to you. Essentially yards per point margin works out how efficient a team is at turning their yardage into points.
The Patriots are almost always top of the leaderboard since their defense perennially stiffens in the red zone and allows field goals instead of touchdowns, while they don’t make stupid mistakes.
The stat essentially helps quantify all those little things like turnovers, redzone efficiency, special teams, coaching and penalties which may help/hinder a team’s scoring.
And indeed New England tops the net yards per point margin for 2017, while Cleveland is dead last. The stat is indeed predictive rather than just descriptive – I know it’s one of the metrics used in Massey Peabody’s model (which is excellent), while the football analyst Kerry Byrne uses the stat to create his Intelligence Index, which he says can beat the market by itself.
He wrote last week: “Our 2017 Mental Mismatches (smart teams vs. dumb teams) are 9-2 against the spread this season since we re-introduced the indicator in the middle of the season (you need about a half season of data to make the indicator effective).”
I think this is a good way to incorporate coaching mismatches into your handicapping as the so-called smart teams are invariably the best coached. And on that note, I am inclined to agree with Byrne that this stat can help you beat the market because the market is so heavily driven by per-play stats, whether that’s DVOA, yards per play or EPA – they all measure individual play success. This measures everything else and seems a valuable tool to me.
My Thoughts on this week’s games
Anyway. Week 14. My first bet has already got a bit of stick on Twitter, but I am convinced the Niners +3 (best price 1.91 at time of writing) is #value.
This pick is literally all about Jimmy G who put in an excellent performance on Sunday.
It may not look great on the surface, scoring 15 points against the lowly Bears, but Jimmy went 26/37 for 278 while the Niners outgained the Bears 388-147. It was only close because the Bears got a punt TD and Jimmy kept stalling in the redzone.
This was by far the best Niners performance of the season – they were 3 point underdogs and only that close because of Jimmy. The season-long stats would have made them +5 or worse. And yet the market hasn’t really changed its perception of them this week, again ranking them pretty much equal with the Texans, who have one of the three worst QBs in the league in the Savage. The rest of the roster is pretty bereft of talent beyond Nuk Hopkins and Clowney, but the mismatch here is in the QBs – the Niners with Jimmy G are at least an average team.
I was warned off San Fran by the Twitterati who questioned their effort level with draft picks on the line, but I really don’t see that as an issue.
The players were fired up after the Bears win – they think they’ve found their QB and they’re playing for their contracts and each other – they don’t care which pick the team gets in next year’s draft.
I’ve also backed over 43.5 here, as we’ll see a lot of volume in this one. San Francisco games average the most combined plays, due in part to the league’s quickest seconds-per-snap pace, while Houston’s ranks fourth-highest, and has risen during the last month. Watch Jimmy G win a shootout.
My second bet is Over 47 in KC/Oakland. Generally betting over in late season divisional games isn’t a profitable proposition, but we can make exceptions when the matchup calls for it. And it does here. There are the 28th and 32nd ranked defenses by DVOA and KC will be missing top corner Marcus Peters.
KC’s offense also sprang back to life last weekend with a new play caller at the helm, going for 10.4 yards per play! That is one of the highest single-game marks I’ve ever seen. On the flip side, they couldn’t stop an average Jets offense, and with Oakland expecting to get both Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper back, this game should soar over the total.
I’ve also backed the Giants +4.5 and the Under 41 in the Dallas game. For starters, we should get the G-Men’s best effort.
On the Dallas side, they may have scored 38 points last week but they still can’t move the football without Zeke.
They averaged 4.2 yards per play in that one which is well below average and are at about 3.9 for the games without Zeke which is among the very worst in the league.
There’s no way this version of the Cowboys is 7 points better than a motivated Giants team. The return of Sean Lee also helps the under, because even with Eli back in the line-up, the Giants are truly toothless.
Over in Los Angeles, I think we’re getting great value in the Eagles money line which you can get around 2.2 at the time of writing. The Eagles were favoured anywhere from -2.5 to -4.5 for this one before getting beat in primetime by the Seahawks, but frankly the Eagles were unlucky in that one.
They actually won the yard per play battle by 0.4 ypp, but were undone by a -2 turnover margin. Regardless, they are still the best team in the NFC. In the last three weeks, even including that loss, the Eagles are +3.6 in adjusted net yards per play, behind only the Patriots.
The Rams are worse in that metric both over the last three games and the season. One final factor giving us value is the Rams poor home field. I give them about 2 points most weeks because the stadium is half empty, but it’s been reported this week that Eagles fans will be well-represented, to the point the Rams are practicing the silent count in case Goff can’t hear the snap count.
This is a #wrongteamfavoured job.
Brad’s Week 14 Bets:
- 49ers +3
- Over 43.5 49ers @ Texans
- Over 47 Raiders @ Chiefs
- Giants +4.5
- Under 41 Cowboys @ Giants
- Eagles on the Money Line