The less said about last week the better. We beat some closing lines but had a few things fall the wrong way, but such is gambling. We drop to -4.28 units on the season.
Who Doesn’t Love An Ugly Dog?
Let’s start this week with an ugly dog in the form of the Raiders. This is a fairly simple numbers play.
The Raiders statistically aren’t as bad as people think. Well, that’s relative. They’re 28th in the NFL in expected points added (EPA) per play and similar in ypp.
That’s not great obviously, but they’re being priced like the worst team in the NFL here.
The Ravens are also a very average team, starting with a defense that is overrated and an offense that might not enjoy the same success as it did last week.
Success might be a strong term as they put 24 points up at home against a Bengals team absolutely destroyed by injuries.
The Ravens ran the ball 80% of the time, and while that can work as a surprise tactic a la the Wildcat a few years back, that’s not a sustainable approach. There’s a real ceiling to it, and it’s not how you cover a massive handicap like this.
Here We Go Brownies, Here We Go
Next up we’re having a nibble on the Browns.
Season-long statistics would make the Bengals a fair favourite here, but I think the Brown showed some real signs of progress under Freddie Kitchens.
Under Hue Jackson and Todd Haley the Browns were a bottom-five offence, with Mayfield getting sacked at a high rate because they insisted on throwing deep downfield and the line simply couldn’t protect.
Under Kitchens, there has been much more of a focus on getting the ball out quickly and “getting back to basics”.
“He’s gone with the plays we like,” right tackle Joel Bitonio said last week. “He’s asked the O-line what runs do you like, he asks the quarterback what passes you like and we’ve stuck to it.” The changes seem to have generated positive results.
The Browns were 29th in pass success rate through under the Hue/Haley regime and 6th in the two weeks under Kitchens. Of course they played the Falcons and Chiefs in that period, but that’s still a huge uplift.
Mayfield’s completion percentage has also gone from 58% to 74%.
The Browns have arguably the better QB her and also the better defence by DVOA, so look worth a punt to me.
This total is also inflated at 47.5, because the Browns and Bengals are 31st and 32nd in the NFL in strength of opposing offences faced. In other words they’ve both faced a murderers row of offenses including the Saints, Chiefs and Falcons, which is making these defenses look worse than they are.
Add in the fact that its profitable to simply back unders in certain divisional games late in the season.
Betting division unders of 44.5 or above in Week 11 or later has returned a profit of +51.64 units since 2003, probably due to the familiarity between teams.
G’Men To Prevail In Philly
Finally I’m having a small bet on the Giants, although this is more of a fade of the Eagles than a bet on the Giants.
This team is a shell of itself partly due to the brain drain with the likes John DeFilippo and Frank Reich leaving, but more importantly thanks to injuries to the offensive line and defensive backs.
At corner, Jalen Mills has been out since Week 8 and Sidney Jones went down again in Week 11 and both are unlikely to play. At safety Rodney McLeod is also out which looks like a terrible matchup against the Giants elite receiving weapons.
The concern, of course, is the Giants offensive line getting wrecked by the Eagles D-line, but Eli is happy getting the ball out quick, and if you can’t cover, then the pass rush is never going to get home.
Based on net ypp this season adjusted for opponent, the Giants are the better team, as even offensively the Eagles are worse across the board this seasons. Here’s Wentz’ passing stats this season compared to last.
QBR DVOA ANY/A
2017 1 6 6
2018 13 19 15
This line is too high at 6, and I suspect we could see some professional money for the Giants here, much like we saw the first time these two met.
- Raiders +10.5: 1 unit @ 1.93
- Giants +6 1 unit @ 1.94
- Browns +3 1 unit @ 1.94
- Browns/Bengals under 47.5: 1 units @ 1.95
Brad joined Nat Coombs, Mike Carlson and Sully to preview the best of Sunday night’s games and a fresh look at some outright markets. Listen below and search for ‘Matchbook Betting Podcast’ on your preferred podcasting app to subscribe.