Classic stuff eh. After banging on last week about the volatility of Week One, and the value in alternative lines, the Broncos game lands bang on the handicap, making the -4.5 a loser, and the -3 a push. Elsewhere the Bears covered the +7.5 start easily, meaning we are 1-1-1 for +0.0 units.
Moving on with the Broncos
There’s not much point dwelling for too long on last week, but I’ll point out that the Broncos outgained Seattle 470 to 306 in total yards; 6.5 yards-per-play to 5.6; and a 54% successful play rate to 29%. Both teams had three turnovers, so how it was even close is beyond me. The Broncos’ early season trends detailed last week are in action again this week, and perhaps even more so with Oakland on a short week, so let’s start off with some Broncos -6 @ 1.95.
A shootout and a Steelers cover in Heinz Field
Next up, I like over 53 and Steelers -4 in their game against Kansas City. Starting with the Steelers, I was actually pretty impressed by them despite their draw with the lowly Browns. Statistically they dominated the game, outgaining the Browns 5.9 ypp v 3.8ypp, totalling 472 yards, despite playing in winds up to 20mph and some rain.
The Big Ben turnovers were perhaps concerning, but I think the weather is a mitigating factor, and besides, we know he’s capable of these abysmal games even in good seasons – he threw five picks only last year against the Jags but soon bounced back.
This stacked Steelers offense is going up possibly the worst defense in the league. The KC defense is ranked 30th by Football Outsiders DVOA efficiency metric and dead-last in the league by Pro Football Focus.
Last week they were shredded by the Chargers for 541 yards at 7.3 ypp. For context, the Saints offense led the league last year at 6.33 ypp, so the Chargers were moving the ball at will. That figure also undersells their dominance because they had some huge drops in that game – 4 in the first half alone – that would have added at least a hundred yards to the total.
In short, I project the Steelers to clear 30 easily, so the question is how much will the Chiefs score? Their team total is around 23.5, and I think they’re a fair bet to clear that, albeit with enough volatility that I still think the Steelers bet has value.
We know how explosive Tyreek Hill and Pat Mahomes are, and even if Mahomes isn’t on, he’s volatile enough to throw interceptions and pick sixes to help with the scoring.
It’s also worth noting the Steelers defense was never the same without Shazier last season. In three meaningful games after his injury they allowed 38 points to Baltimore, 27 points to New England and 45 points to Jacksonville, all at home.
There’s still something of a hole at MLB, and I think the Chiefs should put up their fair share of points as well.
Points n more Points in San Fran
Finally, I’m taking over 48 in San Francisco.
Much like the Chargers, the Niners were hamstrung by several massive drops against the Vikings, not least TE George Kittle dropping a touchdown, only to see Jimmy G toss a pick six the very next play. Regardless I was still very impressed with Jimmy on the road against a truly elite defense. SF won yards-per-play 5.4 to 4.8 and did have three long scoring drives (one TD, two field goals).
They should move the ball against this Lions D, and the Niners’ potential weakness – converting drives into touchdowns rather than field goals – could be mitigated by a Lions D that ranked 28th in redzone defense last year.
They were also smoked by rookie QB Sam Darnold last week, allowing 7.8 yards per attempt and a 68% success rate on passing plays, which is bottom-of-the-barrel stuff.
Conversely, I’d expect Stafford to bounce back from his pick-happy Monday night, and he should have success with three excellent receivers against a Niners defense ranked 21st by FB Outsiders and 22nd by PFF. Stafford is never happier than when playing catch up football, and I’d have this game lined around 50, making the overs good value. Best of luck folks.
Brad’s bets (1pt each):
- Denver -6 @ 1.95
- Steelers -4 @ 1.95
- Steelers/Chiefs Over 53 @ 1.96
- Niners/Lions Over 48 @ 1.96