Pro Football Analysis - Sample From Week 14, 2005
The following is an example of my NFL analysis from week 14 in 2005. My Best Bets are
rated 2-Stars (**) to 4-Stars (****) and my Strong Opinions are designated below by 1-Star
(*). I was 3-0-2 on my NFL Best Bets this particular week but I had my worst NFL season, by
far, in 2005. I have had only 3 seasons under 50% on my NFL Best Bets in my 21 year career, and
only 3 other non-profitable NFL seasons (between 50% and the break-even of 52.4%) and I've had
winning seasons following every other non-profitable season and I'm a very profitable 55% on
my NFL Best Bets over 21 years in business.
Sunday, December 11, 2005
**PITTSBURGH (-5.5) 23 vs. Chicago 9
We have two teams going in different directions, but it’s Chicago’s 8 game win streak and Pittsburgh’s 3 game losing streak that makes this a good bet on the Steelers. Teams on a winning streak are bad bets on the road against other winning teams and the Bears apply to a negative 32-78-4-4 ATS situation that is based on that premise. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, is in a bounce-back situation, as teams with winning records are a solid 85-53-2 ATS at home after two or more consecutive losses, including 24-12 ATS after a home loss. Not only do we have good situations applying, but we also have line value on the side of the Steelers. Pittsburgh may have lost at home to the Bengals 31-38 last week, but the Steelers dominated that game from the line of scrimmage (474 yards at 6.7 yards per play to 327 yards at 5.4 yppl for Cincy – after taking out the kneel downs at the end of the game) and lost only because of a -4 in turnovers. I realize that turnovers are part of football, but turnovers are 75% random in the NFL, so it’s doubtful that the Steelers’ turnover woes will carry over to this week (my math model actually forecasts a 0.2 turnover advantage for Pittsburgh in this game). Pittsburgh has been 0.3 yppl better than average with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback (5.7 yppl against teams that would combine to allow 5.4 yppl to an average team) and the Steelers are 0.5 yppl better than average defensively this season (4.7 yppl against teams that would average 5.2 yppl against an average defensive team). The Bears do have the edge defensively, allowing 4.2 yppl this season to teams that would average 4.9 yppl against an average team, but Chicago’s offense is just as bad as their defense is good – averaging only 4.4 yppl against teams that would allow 5.1 yppl to an average attack. Pittsburgh is clearly the better team from the line of scrimmage and my math model favors the Steelers by 6 ½ points even with the Bears having a 1 ½ points advantage in special teams. I’ll lay up to 7 points with Pittsburgh in a 2-Star Best Bet and I’ll Upgrade Pittsburgh to a 3-Star Best Bet if they become a favorite of 4 points or less
Downgrade Pittsburgh to a Strong Opinion if they become a favorite of more than 7 points.
**JACKSONVILLE (+8) 20 vs. Indianapolis 19
I know betting against a 12-0 Colts team is scary, but the oddsmakers know that the public would feel that way, which is why the pointspread is so high in this game. The Colts are a good team, but they are not a dominating team – despite their spotless record. Indy has averaged a healthy 6.2 yards per play this season, but they have done so against teams that would allow 5.5 yppl to an average team and the Colts managed just 268 total yards at 4.1 yppl in their narrow 10-3 home win over the Jags in week 2. Jacksonville’s defense is 0.5 yppl better than average (4.8 yppl allowed to teams that would combine to average 5.3 yppl against an average team), so the Colts only have a 0.2 yppl advantage against the Jags’ defense. Jacksonville’s offense isn’t as good with David Garrard at quarterback and I rate that unit at 0.8 yppl worse than average with Garrard, even though they’ve been just 0.6 yppl worse than average in his 2 starts (4.7 yppl against teams that would allow 5.3 yppl at home to an average team – both of Garrard’s starts were on the road). The Colts’ defense is just barely better than average (4.9 yppl allowed to teams that would average 5.0 yppl against an average team), so Garrard should be able to produce some offense in this game while the defense limits the Colts’ attack. The Colts have a 6.4 points advantage overall from the line of scrimmage, but projected turnovers are about even (Garrard has thrown only 4 interceptions in 176 career pass attempts), special teams favor Jacksonville by 1.9 points and the Jags are at home. Overall, the math favors Indianapolis by only 2 points on the road against a solid Jacksonville team with a defense that has given Manning problems in the past. The Colts have scored points at a more efficient rate than their yardage and turnovers would predict and a fair line in this game would be Colts by 7 points if they continue to turn yards into points as efficiently has they have so far this year. So, let’s assume the line is pretty fair. We still have the Colts applying to a negative 33-86-4 ATS road letdown situation that is based on their 3 straight spread wins, and the last team that applied to that situation that was unbeaten this late into the season was 1985 Bears, who were 12-0 and coming off 3 straight dominating victories (outscored their previous two opponents 80-0) before going into Miami as a 4 point favorite and getting beat 24-38. The only other team that has been 12-0 or better since the 1972 Dolphins was the 1998 Broncos, who lost their first road game after hitting 12-0. They lost 16-20 as a 12 ½ point favorite in New York to the Giants after winning their 13th straight game at home the week before. I[m not basing this play on those two games, but the Colts are due for sub-par game after 3 straight better than normal performances and the Jaguars qualify in a solid 84-34-3 ATS statistical profile indicator that plays on home underdogs that run the ball well and play good defense (a good combination). Jacksonville has been an underdog 3 times this season and they covered in every one of them while winning straight up twice. Jack Del Rio’s team is 14-5 ATS in their last 19 games as an underdog, including 9-0 ATS in revenge games and 5-1 ATS at home. With the line at least fair and the situations and indicators favoring Jacksonville, I will take the points with the Jags in a 2-Star Best Bet at +7 points or more. Downgrade Jacksonville to a Strong Opinion if they become an underdog of less than 7 points
**DALLAS (-3) 26 vs. Kansas City 16
The Chiefs have won and covered in 3 consecutive weeks, but such a streak usually leads to a letdown, especially on the road against a winning team, and Kansas City applies to a negative 32-78-4 ATS situation that is based on their recent hot streak. The Cowboys, meanwhile, are in desperate need of a victory after consecutive losses dropped them to 7-5 on the season. Teams with a winning record are a solid 85-53-2 ATS at home after two or more consecutive losses and the Cowboys are 8-2 ATS at home after a loss under Parcells, including two blowout wins this season (33-10 over a McNabb-Owens led Philadelphia team and 34-13 over Arizona). Dallas is every bit as good as the Chiefs, as the Cowboys rate at 0.3 yards per play worse than average on offense and 0.5 yppl better than average on defense while Kansas City is 0.4 yppl better than average on offense and 0.2 yppl worse than average on defense. Overall, both teams are 0.2 yppl better than average from the line of scrimmage and my math model favors the Cowboys by 2 ½ points. Both teams have played better at home this season and the number using only the Cowboys’ home games against the Chiefs’ road games would favor Dallas by 7 points. My research shows that about 20% of the difference between my home-road number and my overall number is meaningful, which means that Dallas would have an extra 0.9 points in home field advantage in this game. That gives us a fair line of Cowboys by 3 ½ points and a good situation favoring Dallas. I’ll take the Cowboys in a 2-Star Best Bet at -3 points or less only.
Downgrade Dallas to a Strong Opinion if they become a favorite of more than 3 points.
**Tampa Bay 21 (+5.5) at CAROLINA 18
Carolina looks like one of the top two teams in the NFC (along with Seattle), and the Panthers’ defense is coming off consecutive games in which they allowed just 9 points and 6 points. However, teams that allow less than 10 points in consecutive victories are just 91-124-3 ATS in their next game, including 21-42-1 ATS if favored against a team with a winning record. Carolina actually applies to a 24-77 ATS subset of the general situation and I don’t mind taking a competitive Tampa Bay squad that was victimized by a -4 in turnover ratio when the Panthers stomped the Bucs 34-14 in week 9. Tampa was also victimized by Jake Delhomme in that game, but the Bucs were without Dexter Jackson in that game and Tampa’s pass defense was considerably worse in the 5 games that Jackson missed (he’s been back the last two weeks – both good defensive efforts by Tampa). Tampa Bay has been just average offensively with Chris Simms at quarterback (5.1 yards per play against teams that would combine to allow 5.1 yppl to an average team), but the Buccaneers are 0.3 yppl better than average with Dexter Jackson in the lineup this season and Carolina’s offense isn’t actually any better than average (5.2 yppl against teams that would combine to allow 5.2 yppl to an average team) despite Delhomme’s good season (the rushing attack has averaged just 3.3 ypr). Carolina’s defense is also 0.3 yppl better than average (4.7 yppl allowed to teams that would combine to average 5.0 yppl against an average team), so these two teams are exactly the same from the line of scrimmage (both average on offense and 0.3 yppl better than average on defense). Carolina does have a 1.2 points advantage in special teams, but the projected turnovers are even and my math model only favors Carolina by 4 points at home. With two pretty even teams and a good situation favoring the dog, I’ll take Tampa Bay +4 points or more in a 2-Star Best Bet.
Downgrade Tampa Bay to a Strong Opinion if they become an underdog of less than 4 points.
***Cleveland 23 (+12) at CINCINNATI 24
The Bengals are in a huge letdown spot this week after upsetting the Steelers in Pittsburgh last week to come home with a 2 game lead in the division to face a 4-8 Browns team that they already beat 27-13. Teams that win as an underdog against a divisional foe are horrible bets the next week as a big home favorite against a losing team and the Bengals apply to a 4-33 ATS situation that is based on that premise. Cincy also applies to a more general 63-132-2 ATS home favorite letdown situation and the record is 0-10 ATS for the home team if both of those situations apply to the same game. Cincinnati has been more lucky than good this season and last week was another example of that, as the Bengals were out-gained 327 yards at 5.4 yards per play to 474 yards at 6.7 yppl for the Steelers but won because of a +4 in turnover margin. The Bengals do have a good offense that has averaged a healthy 6.0 yppl (against teams that would allow 5.0 yppl to an average attack), but they also have a defense that has surrendered 5.5 yppl to teams that would average only 5.0 yppl against an average defense. Cleveland, meanwhile, is actually a pretty competitive team. The Browns continue to move the football at a better than average clip (5.3 yppl against teams that would allow 5.1 yppl to an average team) and Cleveland’s defense is only 0.3 yppl worse than average (5.1 yppl allowed to teams that would combine to average 4.8 yppl against an average team – adjusted for facing backup quarterbacks in games against Pittsburgh, Minnesota, and Jacksonville while also facing Tennessee without WR Bennett). Cleveland coach Romeo Crennel is going to start rookie quarterback Charlie Frye again this week after Frye posted great numbers last week (8.2 yards per pass play and no picks against a good Jacksonville defense), but young receiver Braylon Edwards was lost for the season and he’s worth 0.6 points per game over his replacements. The Bengals are simply not as good as their 9-3 record indicates, as much of their success is based on a their average of +2.0 in turnover margin, which is a rate that is not likely to continue to be so much in their favor considering that past turnovers only correlate to future turnovers at about 25% at this point in the season – meaning that they are likely to be +0.5 in turnover margin from this point on. That’s a difference of 1.5 turnovers per game, which is about 6 points. My math model projects a turnover margin of +0.58 for the Bengals in this game and favors Cincy by just 10 points, so we have line value to go along with the strong situations going against the Bengals. I’ll take Cleveland in a solid 3-Star Best Bet.
*PHILADELPHIA (+9) 17 vs. NY Giants 20
The Eagles’ loss on Monday night has made them a team that nobody wants to bet on – at least not the average sports fan, whose opinions are based heavily on recent results rather than putting those recent games into perspective. Philadelphia is not nearly as bad as they looked in their 0-42 home loss on Monday night to Seattle. The Eagles certainly have some holes offensively with Mike McMahon at quarterback and without All-Pro back Brian Westbrook, but McMahon hasn’t been that awful in his 3 games since taking over for Donovan McNabb, averaging 5.4 yards per pass play against pretty good defensive teams that would combine to allow just 5.6 yppp to an average quarterback. The loss of Westbrook is actually a bigger problem than having to replace McNabb, who was a worse than average quarterback until Terrell Owens joined the team prior to last season. Westbrook’s loss will hurt the passing game just as much, if not more, than the rushing attack, and his value is calculated at 1.3 points per game over his replacement Lamar Gordon. With McMahon at quarterback and without Westbrook the Eagles’ offense rates at 0.5 yards per play worse than average if McMahon plays at the level that he’s played at so far this season, but McMahon should have confidence entering this game considering that he threw for 298 yards at 7.8 yppp just 3 weeks ago against the Giants in New York. McMahon has thrown more interceptions than an average quarterback during his career, which adds to their drop-off from McNabb, who has one of the lowest interception percentages in NFL history. The Eagles certainly won’t have an easy time attacking a solid Giants’ defense that is 0.4 yppl better than average (4.9 yppl allowed to teams that would average 5.3 yppl), but they should have a few scoring opportunities. The Eagles’ defense is the unit that is likely to keep them competitive from this point on, as that unit continues to play pretty well (5.2 yppl allowed to teams that would average 5.4 yppl to an average team) and didn’t have anything to do with last week’s 0-42 loss, which was all about turnovers and not about bad defense (Seattle only gained 194 yards at 3.3 yppl). The Giants are only 0.2 yppl better than average offensively (5.5 yppl against teams that would allow 5.3 yppl to an average team), so the Eagles match-up evenly when New York has the ball and they should be fired up to help atone for last week’s embarrassment. The math favors New York by 7 points, which is what the oddmakers posted the number at on Tuesday morning after learning of the severity of Westbrook’s injury. The pointspread has since moved to 9 points because the public remembers what they saw on Monday night and didn’t put that one bad game into proper perspective. Afterall, the Eagles were very competitive against the Giants two weeks ago (New York scored late to cover, but the Eagles out-gained the Giants 404 yards to 317 yards) and they beat the Packers the week after that before getting crushed because of a -6 in turnover margin on Monday night. The Eagles apply to a 113-60-3 ATS contrary indicator and I’ll consider the Eagles a Strong Opinion at +7 points or more and I’ll Upgrade Philadelphia to a 2-Star Best Bet if they become an underdog of 10 points or more
*Detroit 20 (+6) at GREEN BAY 21
The Lions are probably glad to get away from Detroit after losing two straight home games and those losses actually set them up in a very positive 49-15-2 ATS road underdog bounce-back situation. The Lions are sticking with Jeff Garcia, who has averaged only 4.9 yards per pass play in his 4 games while facing teams that would combine to allow 5.7 yppp to an average quarterback. Garcia’s compensated yards per pass play numbers are actually slightly worse than Joey Harrington’s numbers, but Garcia throws far few interceptions and is the Lions’ best chance to win. The Lions are 0.6 yards per play worse than average with Garcia at quarterback and they probably struggle some more this week against a surprisingly good Packers’ defense that has yielded just 4.9 yppl this season (to teams that would average 5.1 yppl against an average team). Green Bay’s offense has been decimated by injuries and a bad offensive line, but Brett Favre has played well enough to have that unit at average for the season (5.0 yppl against teams that would allow 5.0 yppl to an average team) and Green Bay should move the ball pretty well against a Lions’ defense that rates at 0.5 yppl worse than average (5.4 yppl allowed to teams that would average only 4.9 yppl against an average defense) in 9 games since CB Antonio Bryant was lost for the season. What makes Green Bay a worse than average team is their league worst special teams, which cost them over 2 points per game. Overall, the math favors Green Bay by 7 points, so the line is a bit low. However, the situation favoring the Lions is worth 6 ½ points and I’ll consider Detroit a Strong Opinion in this game and I’ll Upgrade Detroit to a 2-Star Best Bet if they become an underdog of 7 points or more
NY JETS (+3) 17 vs. Oakland 16
The Raiders are starting to plan for next year by inserting backup Marques Tuiasosopo at quarterback. If Tuiasosopo were good enough to be a starter in the NFL the Raiders wouldn’t have traded for Kerry Collins and based on Tuiasosopo’s 51 career pass plays he is about 2 points worse per game than Collins. The Raiders were only 0.1 yards per play better than average with Collins at quarterback (5.3 yppl against teams that would allow 5.2 yppl to an average team) and, while Tuiasosopo will probably do a decent job, the Raiders are worse than average offensively now. New York has a better than average defense (5.0 yppl allowed to teams that would average 5.2 yppl against an average team), but the Jets are horrible on offense with Brooks Bollinger at quarterback. Bollinger has averaged only 4.4 yards per pass play (against at schedule of teams that would allow 6.0 yppp to an average quarterback), the rushing attack has been dismal (3.3 ypr against teams that would allow 4.0 ypr to an average team) and the Jets rate at 1.3 yppl worse than average on offense with their current lineup. Oakland’s defense is better than most people think it is, as the Raiders have allowed 5.2 yppl to teams that would average 5.4 yppl against an average defense, so the Jets don’t figure to score many points. My math model favors Oakland by 3 points after making all the adjustments, so the line is fair, and the Jets apply to a solid 227-126-14 ATS contrary indicator that is worth 4 ½ points. I’ll lean with the Jets in this one.
ARIZONA (+3.5) 22 vs. Washington 23
The Cardinals would have been a pretty decent team with year with Kurt Warner at quarterback all year and star DE Bertrand Berry still healthy, but Berry was lost for the season prior to week 10, a week after Warner came back from injury. Warner has averaged 6.5 yards per pass play this season (against teams that would combine to allow 6.2 yppp to an average quarterback) and the Cardinals’ offense rates at 0.1 yards per play better than average with Warner at quarterback. The Cards’ defense wasn’t too bad until Berry went down, but they have been 0.7 yppl worse than average in 4 games without their best pass rusher, allowing 5.4 yppl to teams that would average a combined 4.7 yppl against an average defense. Washington is a solid team that rates at 0.1 yppl better than average on offense and 0.2 yppl better than average on defense and my math model favors the Redskins by 4 points in this game. Washington applies to two situations, a negative 80-168-4 ATS road favorite look-ahead situation (they have Dallas next week) and a 124-73-3 ATS momentum situation that plays on teams that won to reach .500 the prior week. The record is 3-3 ATS if both angles apply to the same team, but Arizona applies to a solid 119-63-4 ATS statistical indicator, so I’ll lean with Arizona plus the points.
BUFFALO (+3.5) 22 vs. New England 21
The Patriots are really no better than an average team with a good offense (5.8 yards per play with Brady at quarterback, against teams that would allow 5.1 yppl to an average team) and a bad defense that rates at 0.5 yppl worse than average since Tedy Bruschi returned to the field 6 games ago. Buffalo, however, if a considerably worse than average team. The Bills have been 1.0 yppl worse than average with J.P. Losman at quarterback, as Losman’s numbers continue to suck (4.3 yards per pass play against teams that would allow 6.0 yppp to an average quarterback). New England’s injury plagued secondary has allowed a horrible 7.7 yppp in their last 9 games (since S Harrison was hurt) to teams that would combine to average 5.9 yppp against an average defensive team. I doubt that Losman can take full advantage of that weakness, but he was decent against Houston and Kansas City – the two worst pass defenses that Losman faced – and Buffalo quarterback Kelly Holcomb averaged 6.9 yppp in a close loss at New England in week 8. The Bills won’t have much success running against a defense front that has yielded only 3.5 ypr in 6 games since Bruschi returned to the lineup, so it will be up to Losman. The Bills’ defense has been a bit worse than average (5.4 yppl allowed to teams that would average 5.3 yppl against an average offense) in 9 games since All-Pro LB Takeo Spikes was lost for the season, so the Patriots have an advantage when they have the ball too. The Bills do have a 2.2 points advantage in special teams and my math model favors the Pats by only 3 points, so there really isn’t much line value, but Buffalo applies to a decent 235-141-10 ATS statistical profile indicator and the Bills have been pretty decent at home (4-2 straight up and lost to Carolina by just 4 points a few weeks ago). I’ll lean with Buffalo plus the points.
SEATTLE (-16) 30 vs. San Francisco 9
The 49ers actually gave the Seahawks a scare a few weeks ago in San Francisco before prevailing 27-25, so they could be somewhat focused for this game. As bad as the 49ers have been this season, they are considerably worse with Alex Smith at quarterback, as Smith has averaged only 3.2 yards per pass play in 89 pass plays (against teams that would allow 5.9 yppp to an average quarterback). My math model favors the Seahawks by 22 points in this game with Smith at quarterback for the San Francisco and the Niners have been horrible on the road this year (1-4 ATS, with an average loss of 22 points). San Francisco does apply to an 84-34-3 ATS contrary angle that is a bit stronger than a 43-30 ATS big home favorite momentum situation that favors Seattle, but the Seahawks are still the better side to be on in this game.
St. Louis 20 (+7) at MINNESOTA 26
Minnesota has thrived since veteran Brad Johnson took over at quarterback, but their 5 game win streak has more to do with good luck than better play. The Vikings are winning because they are +10 in turnover margin in those 5 games, but they remain a mediocre team from the line of scrimmage. The Vikings’ offense has averaged only 4.7 yards per play in Johnson’s 5 starts (against teams that would combine to allow 5.1 yppl to an average team) and while the defense has played better during their win streak (4.4 yppl allowed to teams that would average 4.9 yppl against an average team) there is no reason to believe that they are any better than their mediocre season numbers (5.2 yppl allowed to teams that would average 5.1 yppl against an average team) since my research has proven that season to date numbers are more predictive than stats from recent games. Minnesota is an average team if you factor in Johnson’s better than average interception percentage (he’s thrown just 2 in 6 games this year) and that is good enough to beat a Rams team that is down to their 3rd string quarterback. Rookie Ryan Fitzpatrick performed well off the bench two weeks ago against a horrible Houston Texans’ defense, but he struggled last week in his first start (just 3.6 yards per pass play) and Fitzpatrick rates at 0.5 yppp worse than an average quarterback, which is a considerable drop from the good pass attack that the Rams had enjoyed with Marc Bulger at quarterback. The Rams’ rush attack is just average (4.3 ypr against teams that would allow 4.3 ypr to an average team) and it will probably be worse than average now that teams can afford to put an extra man in the box to stop the run knowing that Fitzpatrick is less likely to burn them through the air than Bulger. St. Louis is still bad defensively (6.0 yppl allowed to teams that would combine to average 5.3 yppl against an average team) and my math model favors the Vikings by 8 points in this game after making all the necessary adjustments. Minnesota does apply to a negative 23-55-1 ATS big home favorite angle, but that angle hasn’t worked that well in recent years and is only worth a couple of points. I’ll lean slightly with the Rams.
Houston 20 (+6.5) at TENNESSEE 23
Tennessee was blown out last week at Indianapolis, but the Titans aren’t as bad as their 3-9 record indicates. Tennessee’s offense is a little below average for the season (5.1 yppl against teams that would allow 5.3 yppl to an average team), but the Titans are actually average offensively in the 9 games in which top receiver Drew Bennett played and that unit should move the ball very well against a Texans’ defense that has allowed 6.1 yppl and is 0.8 yppl worse than average. Houston’s offense is even worse, as they’ve averaged only 4.4 yppl (against teams that would allow 5.3 yppl to an average team) in 10 games since changing offensive coordinators in their week 3 bye week. Tennessee is 0.3 yppl worse than average defensively, but that’s not that bad and the Titans overall are just shy of being an average team after compensating for strength of schedule. My math model favors Tennessee by 9 ½ points in this game, but the Texans apply to an 84-34-3 ATS situation that plays on horrible teams on a losing streak of 5 games or more. That contrary angle is worth more than the line value favoring Tennessee and I’ll lean with Houston plus the points.
Miami 16 (+13.5) at SAN DIEGO 27
The Chargers are perhaps the second best team in the AFC this season, as they rate at 0.7 yards per play better than average on offense with TE Antonio Gates in the lineup (5.9 yppl against teams that would allow 5.2 yppl to an average team), 0.3 yppl better than average on defense (5.0 yppl allowed to teams that would average 5.3 yppl against an average team) and 0.7 points per game better than average on special teams. However, the line has been jacked up a bit too high on this game (as it has for a lot of favorites), as the Dolphins are not a bad team. Miami is just barely worse than average offensively (5.1 yppl against teams that would allow 5.2 yppl to an average team), average defensively since Junior Seau was injured in week 5 (5.2 yppl allowed to teams that would average 5.2 yppl to an average team), and good in special teams (+1.6 points per game). The math favors the Chargers by 10 ½ points in this game and there are no significant situations favoring either side in this game. I’ll lean with the Dolphins based on the line value.
Baltimore 10 (+14.5) at DENVER 23
Giving 14 ½ points to a defensively solid Ravens team is risky and I don’t think the Broncos will score enough points to win by more than 2 touchdowns now that last year’s Defense Player of the Year Ed Reed is back in the lineup (he came back last week). The Ravens’ pass defense was just average in the 6 games that Reed was out, allowing 6.3 yards per pass play to teams that would average 6.4 yppp against an average defensive team, but the pass defense was good last week and allowed just 4.7 yppp in 6 games with Reed roaming the secondary (against quarterbacks that would combine to average 6.0 yppp against an average defense). Jake Plummer has averaged 6.6 yppp (against teams that would allow 5.9 yppp to an average QB), but he’s at a disadvantage in this game. Denver will have success on the ground against a Baltimore defensive front that is just 0.1 ypr better than average defending the run, but my math model projects only 330 total yards for the Broncos in this game. Baltimore’s offense was bad when starting quarterback Kyle Boller was out and it is even worse now that he’s back. Boller has averaged only 4.3 yppp this season (against teams that would allow 6.0 yppp to an average quarterback) and the normally productive rushing attack has managed just 3.6 ypr this season. Denver’s defense was exploited last week in Kansas City and they rate at just 0.1 yppl better than average for the season (5.3 yppl allowed to teams that would average 5.4 yppl against an average team). Overall, the math favors Denver by 13 points and I’ll lean with the Ravens to stay within the number.
Monday, December 12, 2005
New Orleans 21 (+10.5) at ATLANTA 26
The Saints are 3-0 ATS this season as an underdog of 4 points or more, including a 31-34 loss as a 5 ½ point dog in San Antonio to the Falcons. New Orleans has always been better as a dog under coach Haslett and the Saints have always been better off a loss. Haslett’s team is now a perfect 11-0 ATS as an underdog of 4 points or more after a loss and the Saints apply to a very strong 46-5-3 ATS road underdog bounce-back situation. Unfortunately, the Falcons are in a bounce-back situation of their own, as winning teams are 42-16-2 ATS as favorites of 3 points or more after scoring less than 7 points in a losing effort in their previous game. The situation favoring New Orleans is certainly stronger than the one favoring the Falcons and the Saints are good enough to be competitive in this game. The Saints are actually a decent offensive team, averaging 5.2 yards per play with Aaron Brooks behind center (against teams that would allow 5.1 yppl to an average team) and they should move the ball pretty well against a sub-par Falcons’ defense that has given up 5.3 yppl this season (to teams that would average 5.0 yppl against an average defensive team). The Falcons’ offense makes up for their bad defense, as they have averaged 5.4 yppl against teams that would allow 5.1 yppl to an average team, but Atlanta is just a mediocre team at best. New Orleans is just as bad as Atlanta defensively, allowing 5.3 yppl to teams that would average 5.0 yppl against an average team, but the Saints real problem is special teams, which costs them 1.5 points per game. The Saints should be able to compete from the line of scrimmage in this game, but special teams and projected turnovers are in Atlanta’s favor and the overall math favors the Falcons by 8 points. But, there is still line value on the side of the Saints and the situation applying to New Orleans is stronger than the situation applying to the Falcons (plus the Saints apply to that 11-0 ATS team trend). I’ll consider New Orleans a Strong Opinion in this game.