Brad is expecting early success for the Cardinals’ Air Raid offense against the Detroit Lions.
Hello squad and welcome back to another NFL season. I’m excited. Let’s do some betting.
Beware The Panthers
First up we are taking CAROLINA +3 and on the Moneyline at around 2.3.
I think we have a #wrongteamfavoured klaxon wailing here.
I project the Rams as an approximately 10-win team this season (ESPN’s Mike Clay has them at 10.8 while Football Outsiders has them at 9.6).
I side with Football Outsiders here, starting with an expected regression in the offensive line, which last year put up some historic stats (first in adjusted line yards at 5.49 – the best tracked by FO since 1996 – and sixth in adjusted sack rate). They were helped by the scheme and constant play action which kept linebackers from attacking the line of scrimmage. This year, however, the line will have two new starters at LG and C, while LT Andrew Whitworth is 37 years old.
There also has to be some questions around whether the league is catching up with the Wunderkind Sean McVay. Belichick copied the template established by the Lions during the season and completely shut down the Rams during the Superbowl, essentially sitting in Cover 4 and daring the Rams to run the ball for 5 yards a pop.
McVay, of course, will adjust, but with seemingly half the league now coached by a Shanahan or McVay disciple, there has to be diminishing returns at some point. As I say, I still think 9 or 10 wins for this team, but not the juggernaut of the past two years.
And speaking of juggernauts, that’s exactly what the Panthers were up until Cam Newton’s shoulder imploded last year. At midseason, the Panthers were 6-2 and third in total DVOA thanks largely to a top-five offense, that was mauling people on the ground and explosive through the air thanks to a suite of weapons.
Newton, of course, got injured, his deep passing fell off a cliff, and so did the Panthers’ season. If he is healthy this year, and I think he is, he has the same weapons and an improved offensive line, and I see no reason they should not return to being a top 5 offense and a 10-win team.
If I were lining this game I’d have Carolina around 1.9, so get stuck in.
Unders All The Way In The Pacific North West
Next up we’re taking under 43.5 in the Cincinnati/Seattle game.
What’s nice about Seattle, is you know exactly what you’re going to get. If they are ahead in the game, they are going to ram the ball down your throat for 60 minutes and let Wilson drop back 18 times. Well, they’re just about the biggest favorites on the board here, and the hapless Bengals roll into town with a bottom-5 offensive line by most metrics, an LT that may not start due to concussion and no AJ Green.
I happen to think this Seahawks D is trash, but we know that the offense is more important than the defense when predicting success, and I think this offense will struggle to block Clowney and co, especially with the 12th man in full throat. Andy Dalton is historically #notgood under pressure, and I think we can expect some early touchdowns from Seattle then a whole lot of Chris Carson.
Don’t Sleep On These Steelers
Next up we’re having some Pittsburgh at around 3.2 in New England. As with Carolina, I have Pittsburgh as a value for the Superbowl this year, with around 9.5 projected wins according to FO and Clay, based largely on the strength of an elite O-line and QB. The Patriots on the other hand… I have been predicting the demise of Tom Brady for years, and despite winning the Superbowl, he did show signs of decline in 2018, with his air yards per attempt, air yards per completion, and aggressiveness metrics all at three-year lows. His splits with and without Gronk are also well-documented, and after an injury to rookie WR N’Keal Harry, the Patriots offensive personnel looks old and slow.
Add to this Belichick’s historical proclivity for starting the season slowly as he fine-tunes his squad, and I’d make this line 3.5 instead of the 5 we are currently seeing.
Other bets I’ve had/ am looking at – Eagles -9, Over 52 in New Orleans, and Arizona/Detroit Over 47.
Air Raid Comes To The Pros
I wasn’t going to write about Arizona, but it’s a pretty fascinating team.
Essentially, I’m buying the Kliff Kingsbury experience here.
The history of innovation in the NFL is of early success which gets gradually eroded o as defences catch up (similar to what I talked about earlier with McVay). Things like the Wildcat, the RG3 Pistol offense and Chip Kelly’s scheme often explode onto the scene then get figured out over a season or two. Arizona has shown absolutely nothing in pre-season and kept the entire scheme under wraps for Week One.
If the Air raid-style scheme is to have any success this season, it will be Week One against an average Lions defence.
Remember too that Kyler Murray had the best yards-per-pass-attempt EVER in college football last year and he’s running basically the same system here. The talk out of Arizona camp all summer was how comfortable he was in the scheme and how he was changing plays at the line like a veteran.
I personally have also bet Arizona Moneyline at 2.2 here, but think over 47 is probably the stronger play as Arizona is missing its top 2 corners and will give up plenty of points to a possibly underrated Lions attack.
- Panthers Moneyline: 1 unit @ 2.38
- Bengals vs Seahawks Under 43.5: 1 unit @ 2.04
- Steelers Moneyline: 1 unit @ 3.24
- Detroit vs Arizona Over 47: 1 unit @1.98