Brad is back with three more two-unit bangers for Week 12!
2-2 last week for -0.05 units and +3.59 on the season. We march on.
Broncos Getting Zero Respect In This Spot
First up we will have some Denver Broncos +4. We missed out on some of the fancier prices here but I simply don’t see any evidence the Bills are the better team here. At QB, Brandon Allen has been solid over two games against tough defenses in the Broncos and Vikings, with a QBR of 54, while Josh Allen is at 43.1 for the season, good for 26th among all QBs. Taken as a whole, the Broncos are up at 18th in offensive DVOA, compared to 25th for the Bills.
The defensive side is theoretically where Buffalo’s bread is buttered, but they have played the single easiest schedule of opposing offenses this season.
Meanwhile, Denver has had the seventh hardest defensive schedule and still ranks higher in defensive DVOA.
This spread is +4 because the Broncos have blown four 4th quarter leads the year (most in the NFL) while the Bills have beaten a load of cupcakes to get to 7-2.
I make the true line here is around 2.75 and will be having a chunky bet on the Broncos.
Going big on Dallas
Next up it’s the Cowboys.
This is pretty much the perfect pick for the #defensedoesntmatter crew, with the best pass offense in the league taking on the best pass defense in the league. To reiterate, new England’s D is very good but flattered by a cupcake schedule (2nd easiest in the NFL to date).
Meanwhile, the Cowboys have the best QB in the league by several advanced metrics, and the best overall offense by DVOA. Amari Cooper is reportedly on the mend and expected to play a full role, meaning Dak will have his full complement of weapons.
It’s also worth noting coach Jason Garrett held a closed-door meeting with his players before the Lions game last week, where he took “full accountability” for the Week 10 loss against the Vikings.
That game swung, you may recall when the Cowboys insisted on running the ball at crucial moment despite averaging something like 2 yards a rush while Dak was going for nearly 9 yards a pass.
I suspect, and hope, that Garrett has realised just how good his passing game is and will continue to unleash it here, as he did last week.
We should also mention that Patriots offense has been incredibly average this season (12th in offensive DVOA). Brady’s completion rate is on a three-year decline, his touchdown rate this season (3.5%) would be a career-low, and his QBR and ANYA/A are plummeting.
Give me the much superior offensive getting 6.5 points.
Flocking to the Ravens
Finally, give me the Baltimore Ravens in the Monday nighter.
It is my belief the Ravens are the best team in the league by some margin.
Traditional metrics like yards-per-play underrate them somewhat because they like to run the ball so much, and so incredibly efficient at staying on schedule.
The Ravens have now scored on 56.7% of their possessions this year, which leads the league. This puts them 0.3% behind the 2007 Patriots (57.0%) and 1.5% ahead of last year’s Chiefs.
By first down rate (how often a team picks up a new set of downs from first down) the Ravens are again the best offense in the league, ahead of Dallas, who I raved about earlier.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Ravens are also surging.
About six weeks ago, they were smashed 40-25 by the Browns and dipped to 29th in defensive DVOA. Since then, however, they have added Marcus Peters and got Jimmy Smith back on the field.
Coverage, as we know, is king for NFL defenses, and the elite Ravens back end has allowed them to blitz 40% of the time over the past month, generating QB hits at the highest rate in the NFL.
As a result, they are first in defensive DVOA over the last 5 weeks (as well as first in offensive DVOA).
“This improvement just shows how volatile defensive performance is, Brad!” I hear you cry.
Well that may be true, except over the last month the Ravens have shut down Tom Brady, Deshaun Watson and Russel Wilson – two MVP candidates and the greatest QB of all time. As if having the best offense and defense in the league wasn’t enough, the Ravens also have 33% more downs than everyone else.
No, not by magic, but because they use ANALYTICS. They are the most aggressive team in the NFL on 4th down and guess who is dead freaking last; the Rams!
Suffice to say the Rams are a shell of the team they were last year, with a near league worst offensive line. They are currently being held up by strong defensive metrics, but that too is a mirage, having played the fourth easiest schedule of opposing offenses to date.
The Ravens might present something of a different challenge.
2 units – Broncos +4.0 at 1.95
2 units – Cowboys +6.5 at 2.0
2 units – Ravens first half -2.5 at 1.9