A back door cover killed ‘Suuma’s’ Niners/Jets under last week but he is unperturbed and rolls into week 3 keeping a home favourite very much onside!
Unfortunately, our week two Best Bet didn’t come through when Sam Darnold escaped from a would-be sack to throw a sidearm touchdown with one minute and 30 seconds left in the game. But no one ever said that betting is easy. On to the next one!
We are going to attack the Raiders/Patriots game this week as this shaped up as a great situational spot. Everyone agrees that the Seattle Seahawks look like an NFC contender early in the season while Russell Wilson jumped into the pole position for the MVP title.
The Patriots travelled across the country, went toe to toe with the Hawks and got one yard short of upsetting them at Century Link Field.
The week before, the Pats dominated the Dolphins in what should have been a 28-11 win if not for a goal-line fumble by N’Keal Harry.
Those two performances were enough for me to upgrade New England in my Power Ratings.
Meanwhile, the Las Vegas Raiders looked extremely good in their first two matchups against the Panthers and Saints – where they got 128 penalty yards – which gives us some extra discount on the Patriots. Las Vegas are also travelling across the country to play an early east coast game. I don’t think the number should be below -7.
Derek Carr ranks borderline top-5 in several efficiency metrics like EPA/play and CPOE.
The Raiders offense ranks 3rd in EPA/play on the team level. However, that number is extremely skewed by third down efficiency which has high leverage. Vegas is a slightly above-average offense on first and second down, but they are riding on 0.70 EPA per play on 31 third downs which rank’s 1st in the NFL by a distance.
This is completely unsustainable going forward – the NFL average through two weeks is 0.13 EPA/play and was around 0 in years past.
Furthermore, Derek Carr is the only quarterback on the season who hasn’t suffered from drops from his receivers. The Las Vegas drop count is at zero. His PFF passing grade is a middling at-best 66.9 and doesn’t explain the efficiency either.
Everything screams regression.
Comparing early season PFF passing grades and EPA per pass play there are a handful of teams that could be headed for positive (Bucs, Cowboys, Giants, Vikings) or negative (Titans, Bills, Raiders) regression in efficiency pic.twitter.com/HodE0G1Dah
— Kevin Cole (@KevinColePFF) September 22, 2020
There isn’t a better opponent to start the regression machine than Bill Belichick’s defense.
There isn’t a lot you can do against Russell Wilson this year, but Belichick against Derek Carr is a different matchup. Belichick will try to take away his favourite target TE Darren Waller, who has 24 targets through two games. The next is RB Josh Jacobs at 9. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw aggressive man coverage on Waller or even double coverage.
Belichick has to force Carr to hold the ball and cycle through reads, preferably against incoming blitzes. That’s when Carr breaks down.
Belichick can put stud cornerback Stephon Gilmore on rookie speedster Henry Ruggs. That should be enough to make Derek Carr uncomfortable on third downs.
On top of that, the Raiders have sent their excellent LG Richie Incognito to IR. His replacement John Simpson was abysmal against New Orleans, collecting an 11.8 pass blocking grade which I’ve rarely seen before. RT Trent Brown is dealing with injuries and has played a total of three snaps this season. Denzelle Good is not really a great replacement.
The offensive line was considered a major strength going into the season but I’m not sure this is still a top-10 unit if Trent Brown is out again.
The Las Vegas Raiders have thrown a lot of resources on their defense during the off-season, but it hasn’t been bearing fruit so far. We always deal with small sample sizes when it comes to the NFL, but they rank 30th in DVOA and 25th in EPA/play through two games after facing Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Brees – who didn’t play a good game – without his best receiver.
I believe Cam Newton, who has been exceptional so far, can do whatever he wants against this defense.
Whether it’s on the ground or through the air, there isn’t a lot the Raiders can throw at this offense.
I think this is the perfect spot to take the Patriots who should be able to handle the Raiders. The implied score looks different, but I’m looking at a 31-17 kind of game in favour of New England. Personally, I took -6 -105 on Wednesday, but I would play this at every number below -7.
- New England Patriots -6.5 -106 (1.94)
**Injury update 9/25: TE Darren Waller, RB Josh Jacobs, LB Nick Kwiatkowski, RT Trent Brown, and backup RT Denzelle Good haven’t practised this week as of Friday morning. Whereas Waller should be expected to suit up, the offensive line injuries remain a major problem heading into Sunday.