Brad is looking to bounce back from a shocking Week 17 with two bets for Wildcard Weekend
Hello friends. The less said about last week the better. We got a little unlucky across the board, but it was a reverse sweep for -5.2 units and drops us into the red for the first time in a while at -2.38 units for the season. The Jameis coaster has not been kind to us.
Onwards and upwards eh??
All About The Texans This Weekend
The NAP for the Wildcard round is Houston -2.5.
Using season-long numbers I made this one -3.5, with Houston the better team thanks mainly to their offense which is 6th in success rate on the year compared to 25th for Buffalo.
I also think there might be some upside in Houston with JJ Watt potentially returning (i’ve seen him worth up to 2 points in some models when fully healthy), and perhaps more importantly Will Fuller returning.
Lockdown corner Tra’davious White will shadow Deandre Hopkins in this one, and having a second receiver able to win one-on-one will be huge for Houston’s ability to move the ball consistently.
This year, with Fuller on the field, Deshaun Watson dropback have generated 78.2 EPA on 337 plays.
Without him Watson dropbacks have generated -4.3 EPA on 274 plays. Fuller is, in the words of coach Bill O’Brien, “progressing and headed in the right direction.”
It’s worth remembering also the Bills have faced the single easiest schedule of opposing offenses this year.
Even the Patriots moved the ball on them, and I think the Texans will have some decent success moving the ball through the air and on the ground, where they’re 8th in success rate, while the Bills run D is below average by DVOA.
Again, remember this line assumes the Bills are the slightly better team, based entirely on their defense.
Offensively they are improved from last season but still rank as the 26th best offense by PFF grades. Allen specifically is PFF’s 40th graded passer this year.
As USA Today’s Steven Ruiz wrote recently, he is prone to staring down receivers, causing frequent sacks and negative plays. I don’t trust him to keep up here and would be surprised if this line does not go off at a full field goal.
Phil your boots
The second bet of the weekend is the Eagles at home against the Seahawks.
You won’t find a decent model that doesn’t have the Eagles a small favourite in this one (538’s QB-adjusted ELO model has Eagles -5.5), suggesting to me the market is downgrading the Eagles something like 3 points for their injuries.
They will be without all-pro Guard Brandon Brooks, but look likely to have Mile Sanders back at RB, Lane Johnson back at LT and even Ertz back at TE. Dallas Goedert and Greg Ward are the other the main receiving options, so its not too dissimilar to the offense they’ve had on the field for the past month where they won four straight and averaged 27.8 PPG.
The Seahawks, on the other hand, have fallen off a cliff offensively over the last month thanks largely to poor pass protection, with an offensive line that grades as the 3rd worst in the league by PFF. It’s another horror matchup for them, likely with their starting LT and C out again versus an Eagles D line that is 6th best in the NFL at rushing the passer per PFF.
Ultimately the Eagles are the better team in the trenches on both sides of the ball and have the much superior, more aggressive coach.
I’d have this line flipped personally, with the Eagles a -1.5 point favourite.
Leans On Overs Elsewhere
I don’t have any strong views on the other two games but would back both overs if pressed.
The Titans have been the second-best offense in the league by several metrics since Tannehill took over, and should continue to have success against a Patriots D inflated by early-season cake-walk matchups. And Brady can respond against a Titans defense that ranks 23rd in success rate allowed this year despite facing a middling schedule.
Since CB Adoree Jackson went down they are 30th in success rate allowed.
Talking of mismatches, the Saints (best offense in NFL by success rate) should absolutely shred the Vikings (26th in defensive success rate) meaning Kirk Cousins and the gang could be forced into playing optimally and chucking it deep to Diggs and Thielen, against a Saints stop unit missing key defensive linemen and susceptible to deep shots – they have allowed the seventh-most passing yards per attempt on deep shots 20 or more yards downfield.
Both numbers have got away from us a touch, so we will leave for now but i would buy at 44 flat and 49 respectively.
- Houston -2.5: 2 units @ 1.92
- Eagles ml: 1 unit @ 2.11