Kansas City Chiefs (2-10) at Cleveland Browns (4-8)
One of the most powerful trends is known as the six and six trend. It says that teams who finish 6-10 or worse are 23-64 ATS against the spread since 2002 as favorites of 6 or more. That makes sense. Bad teams like that don’t deserve to be favorites of that much against anyone. The issue with it is a lot of the instances are situations where you don’t expect the team to be finish 6-10 or worse. For example, the Eagles were 8.5 point favorites in Cleveland week 1 and failed to cover. They will be part of that six and six group when the season is over, but there was no way to know then that the Eagles would be this bad. Same thing with the Lions, who were 6 point favorites against the Rams week 1.
However, whenever you have a situation where a team that will almost definitely finish 6-10 or worse is favored by 6 or more, it’s an obvious fade situation. The Raiders were favored by 6 earlier this year against Jacksonville when they had a record of 1-4 and they won by just 3, failing to cover. Last week, the Jets, Bills, and Lions were all candidates and only the Bills covered. This week, the Browns are 4-8 and will almost definitely be 6-10 or worse at season’s end. Even if they win this game, they’ll be dogs in their final 3 games and will need to pull at least 2 upsets to finish 7-9, and they might not even win this game.
Speaking of the fact that the Browns will be dogs in their final 3 games, teams are 42-63 ATS as favorites of 6 or more before being dogs in their next 3+ games. That makes sense. Once again, as is the case with the six and six rule, bad teams should never be favored by 6 or more and teams that will be dogs in 3 straight are often bad teams.
We are getting line value with the Browns. Using the net points per drive method, this line should be Cleveland -11.5. Cleveland is 20th in net points per drive at -0.15, while Kansas City is dead last at -0.91. If you take the difference and multiply that by 11 (the amount of drives per game, on average) and then add 3 points for home field, you get that 11.5 number.
This is because the Browns have a much better points differential then their 4-8 record at -36. That’s a result of the fact that they really haven’t gotten blown out this season. Only 3 of their 8 losses have come by more than a touchdown and of those 2 losses, they were competitive in each. They lead the Giants 14-0 early, before losing by 14 and they actually scored more frequently than the Ravens, but had to settle for 5 field goals, while the Ravens had 3 touchdowns and a field goal in a 25-15 Ravens win.
However, they haven’t exactly been blowing teams out either. Of their 4 wins, only one came by more than 6 points and this line is 6.5. Almost all of their games have been close so this one should close as well, so I really like getting the points, even as bad as the Chiefs are, especially because of the six and six rule. That -11.5 line doesn’t make sense when you apply a human element to it, understand where it came from, and why it’s not appropriate in this situation. It also doesn’t hold up to DVOA, which is net points per drive based, but takes into account things like strength of schedule. The Chiefs are dead last in that as well, 31st in weighted, but the Browns rank 26th and 24th in weighted, which doesn’t hold up to their 20th place rank in net points per drive.
This would be a bigger play if I knew what to expect with the Chiefs. They won last week just one day after the Jovan Belcher murder/suicide as big dogs. However, there’s no guarantee that will continue this week now that they’ve had a week to sit back and reflect. These types of things tend to go differently depending on the team. The Colts won as big dogs in the week after Chuck Pagano left for treatment, but then got blown out the following week against the Jets, before then going on an impressive run.
The Redskins, meanwhile, lost as big favorites immediately after the death of Sean Taylor, before going on an impressive run and improbably making the playoffs. There’s no way to know how the Chiefs will react this week. They might continue on this run or they might have a huge letdown game like the Colts did. Under normal circumstances, this would be a 4 or 5 unit pick, but these aren’t normal circumstances. Even still, it’s a significant play on the Chiefs.
Public lean: Cleveland (60% range)
Sharps lean: CLE 26 KC 8
Final thoughts: One of two heavy sharps leans this week I’m going to totally disagree with. Sharps have been terrible in the last few weeks anyway.
Kansas City Chiefs 17 Cleveland Browns 16 Upset Pick +245
Pick against spread: Kansas City +6.5 (-110) 3 units