Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers: 2014 Week 9 NFL Pick

Baltimore Ravens (5-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3)

The Steelers put up 51 points last week in an impressive 51-34 victory over a very good Indianapolis team. However, last week’s performance could easily hurt them this week. Underdogs are 12-27 ATS since 1989 after scoring 40 or more points as underdogs. It makes sense. The Steelers could easily be overconfident this week, which would be really dangerous for them considering the odds makers have deemed them underdogs in back-to-back weeks at home. The odds makers generally have a strong feel for teams, so the Steelers probably aren’t nearly as good as they probably think they are right now. The public also probably thinks they’re better than they are too as they are on the underdog here. I love fading the public, especially when they’re on an underdog. Whenever the public thinks a different team should be favored than the odds makers, it generally is bad news for them.

We’re not really getting any line value with the Ravens. The Ravens have played well this season, ranking 4th in rate of moving the chains differential, moving the chains at a 76.72% rate, as opposed to 71.19% for their opponents, a differential of 5.53%. The Steelers, however, are also having a solid season in that aspect, ranking 8th, moving the chains at a 76.87% rate, as opposed to 74.10% for their opponents, a differential of 2.76%. That suggests this line should be right about where it is (Baltimore -1). However, if we take into account that last week’s performance by the Steelers was a fluke, we get a little bit more line value, as the Steelers ranked 13th going into last week, with a differential of 0.87%.

The Ravens are also in their 2nd of two road games. Teams are 181-184 in their 2nd of two road games since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 0.10 points per game, as opposed to 254-364 in their 1st of one road game since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 3.28 points per game. This would probably be more powerful if the Ravens were underdogs here, as teams are 108-70 ATS as road underdogs off a road loss since 2008, including 92-48 ATS when it’s their 2nd straight (and not 3rd straight) road game and they next play a home game. However, the Ravens are barely favorites here on the road and going off of that, road favorites are 34-23 ATS off of a road loss since 2008 as long as it’s the 2nd of two road favorites, including 13-7 ATS as road favorites off of a loss as road favorites. The Steelers are also divisional home underdogs in a night game, a situation teams are 30-59 ATS in since 1989.

Both teams have very easy games next week, putting them in good spots. The Ravens host the Titans, while the Steelers head to New York to take on the Jets. The Ravens will almost definitely be at least double digit favorites next week and teams are 69-55 ATS since 2010 before being double digit favorites. The Steelers, meanwhile, will almost definitely be at least field goal favorites next week on the road and teams are 79-54 ATS since 2012 before being favorites of 3 or more on the road. These two things cancel out and at the end of the day I like the Ravens a decent amount this week.

Baltimore Ravens 20 Pittsburgh Steelers 13

Pick against the spread: Baltimore -1

Confidence: Medium

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

Oakland Raiders at Seattle Seahawks: 2014 Week 9 NFL Pick

Oakland Raiders (0-7) at Seattle Seahawks (4-3)

Despite losing to the Cowboys in their last home game, the Seahawks have still been close to automatic at home recently. Since 2007, the Seahawks are 43-20 at home, including playoffs and they aren’t just having success straight up as they are 42-20-1 ATS. They outscore opponents on average by 7.49 points per game. This is opposed to a 24-41 record away from home (28-36-1 ATS), getting outscored by 3.75 points per game. This home dominance has been even more pronounced over the past 3 seasons, since the start of the Russell Wilson era, as they’ve gone 19-2 straight up and 15-6 ATS at home, outscoring opponents by an average of 14.48 points per game at home and beating the spread by an average of 7.57 points per game.

We’ve been having to pay a serious premium with the Seahawks at home this season, as they were 7.5 point favorites for Green Bay and 5 point favorites for Denver, but I don’t think we’re doing that here. This line is really high at 15, but it’s more than justified. The Seahawks rank 12th in the NFL in rate of moving the chains differential, moving them at a 75.00% rate, as opposed to 73.79% for their opponents, a differential of 1.21%. Meanwhile, the pathetic Raiders rank dead last, moving the chains at a 66.49% rate, as opposed to 76.02% for their opponents, a differential of -9.53%. The next worst team is Tampa Bay at -8.01%.

That suggests this line should be around 13.5, before you take into account the Seahawks’ unique home field advantage and the fact that they’ll probably end the season better than 12th in rate of moving the chains. This 15 point line is more than justified and we’re not paying nearly as much of a premium as we were earlier in the season, likely as a result of the fact that the Seahawks lost in their last home game to Dallas. That’s the exception to the rule with this team at home recently though and Dallas is a very solid opponent. Remember, this team still blew out a very good Green Bay team and handed the Broncos their only loss of the season in their other 2 home games. They should be able to blow out the Raiders easily here.

The Seahawks also have a much easier game on deck as they host the Giants, while the Raiders host the Broncos next week. Teams are 69-55 ATS since 2010 before being double digit favorites, as the Seahawks will almost definitely be over the Giants next week. On the flip side, teams are 59-83 ATS since 2002 as non-divisional road underdogs before being divisional home underdogs. Going off of that, teams are 54-81 ATS before being 3+ home underdogs since 2012, 13-44 ATS since 2010 before being 7+ home underdogs, and 16-41 ATS since 2002 before being double digit home underdogs, as they almost definitely will be next week. That’s because when you have a game coming up like that it generally means one of two things. One, you have a very tough, important game coming up. Two, you really aren’t that good of a football team. Here, I think it’s both. On top of that, double digit underdogs are 22-46 ATS since 2002 before being double digit underdogs.

There are two reasons in favor of the Raiders that prevent this from being a big play in favor of Seattle. For one, they’re in their 2nd of two road games. Teams are 108-70 ATS as road underdogs off a road loss since 2008, including 92-48 ATS when it’s their 2nd straight (and not 3rd straight) road game and they next play a home game. Historically, teams cover at about a 65% rate in that situation. This is because teams tend to do better in their 2nd straight road game than their first one, but lines don’t really adjust for this. Teams are 181-184 in their 2nd of two road games since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 0.10 points per game, as opposed to 254-364 in their 1st of one road game since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 3.28 points per game. Second, teams that are 0-7 or worse are 25-7 ATS as underdogs on the road since 1989. The Seahawks should still be the right side though.

Seattle Seahawks 34 Oakland Raiders 10

Pick against the spread: Seattle -15

Confidence: Low

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

Indianapolis Colts at New York Giants: 2014 Week 9 NFL Pick

Indianapolis Colts (5-3) at New York Giants (3-4)

The Colts surprisingly lost in Pittsburgh last week by the final score of 51-34 as 3.5 point favorites. This week, they are once again 3.5 point road favorites here in New York against the Giants, but I think the result will be different for four reasons. The first reason is that Andrew Luck and Chuck Pagano, as is the case with most good quarterback/head coach combinations, have been great off a loss, going 10-1 ATS since they both took over in 2012.

Two, the Giants are in a bad spot going to Seattle next week, where they will almost definitely be double digit underdogs. Teams are 40-84 ATS before being double digit underdogs since 2010. That’s because when you have a game coming up like that it generally means one of two things. One, you have a very tough game coming up that serves as a distraction. Two, you really aren’t that good of a football team. I think it’s the former here.

Three, I think last week’s loss was a fluke as the Colts are still a very good team. Who knows how the game would have gone differently if Vontae Davis (who should be fine this week) didn’t leave with injury. I don’t think they lose in Pittsburgh more than 20 times out of 100 and I think the same is true here this week in New York. Even with last week’s result, the Colts still rank 3rd in rate of moving the chains differential, moving the chains at a 78.50% rate, as opposed to 71.77% for their opponents, a differential of 6.73%. Meanwhile, the Giants rank 17th, moving the chains at a 73.91% rate, as opposed to 73.73% for their opponents, a differential of 0.18%.

Four, the Colts are in their 2nd of two road games. Teams are 181-184 in their 2nd of two road games since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 0.10 points per game, as opposed to 254-364 in their 1st of one road game since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 3.28 points per game. Going off of that, road favorites are 31-28 ATS off of a road loss since 2008 as long as it’s the 2nd of two road favorites, including 15-8 ATS as road favorites off of a loss as road favorites. The Colts should be the right side here.

Indianapolis Colts 31 New York Giants 20

Pick against the spread: Indianapolis -3.5

Confidence: Medium

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

St. Louis Rams at San Francisco 49ers: 2014 Week 9 NFL Pick

St. Louis Rams (2-5) at San Francisco 49ers (4-3)

The Rams were blown out last week in Kansas City as 7 point underdogs, but I have reasons to believe that they won’t get blown out here as 10 point underdogs in San Francisco. One, they are in their second straight road game, rather than last week when they were in their first road game. Teams are 108-70 ATS as road underdogs off a road loss since 2008, including 92-48 ATS when it’s their 2nd straight (and not 3rd straight) road game and they next play a home game. Historically, teams cover at about a 65% rate in that situation. This is because teams tend to do better in their 2nd straight road game than their first one, but lines don’t really adjust for this. Teams are 181-184 in their 2nd of two road games since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 0.10 points per game, as opposed to 254-364 in their 1st of one road game since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 3.28 points per game.

Two, while the Rams were facing a Chiefs team that was in a great spot last week (with only a game against the Jets on deck), the Rams are getting the 49ers before they play the Saints in New Orleans next week. They will almost definitely be underdogs next week and double digit favorites are 51-69 ATS since 2002 before being underdogs. Three, I think the Rams were facing a significantly better team last week when they faced the Chiefs than they are now facing the 49ers.

The 49ers haven’t been nearly as good this season as they’ve been in previous seasons under Jim Harbaugh, as a result of guys like NaVorro Bowman, Aldon Smith, and Glenn Dorsey being out with injury and suspension. They rank just 22nd, moving the chains at a 74.04% rate, as opposed to 75.86% for their opponents, a differential of -1.82%. The Chiefs, meanwhile, rank 2nd in rate of moving the chains. This is actually going to be a much easier game for the Rams than last week’s, even before you take into account that the 49ers are in a bad spot and that the Rams are in their 2nd straight road game.

The Rams, meanwhile, rank 26th, moving the chains at a 73.33% rate, as opposed to 77.03% for their opponents, a differential of -3.70%. The 49ers are getting healthier, with Anthony Davis returning from extended absence and Patrick Willis coming back from missing the 49ers’ last game, while the Rams are now without top offensive lineman Jake Long and top wide receiver Brian Quick, but this line should still be no higher than a touchdown when you take everything into account, including the situational trends. The 49ers usually do well as big favorites, going 25-15 ATS in the Jim Harbaugh era as favorites of 3 or more, but they are just 2-3 ATS in that spot this season and I think this is going to be another ATS loss for them.

San Francisco 49ers 20 St. Louis Rams 16

Pick against spread: St. Louis +10

Confidence: Medium

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

New York Jets at Kansas City Chiefs: 2014 Week 9 NFL Pick

New York Jets (1-7) at Kansas City Chiefs (4-3)

This game has had the biggest line movement from last week to this week, as the Chiefs were just 5 point favorites in the early line last week, as opposed to 10 point favorites now. The reason for that is obvious as the Jets were just blown out at home 43-23 by the Bills, a game in which Geno Smith completed 2 passes, threw 3 interceptions, and was benched for Michael Vick. I usually like fading significant line movements as there’s really no reason for a line to move that much with the exception of injury to a strong starting quarterback.

Easily the biggest reason for the loss was the Jets -6 turnover margin, but turnover margins tend to be very inconsistent on a week to week basis. Teams that have a turnover margin of -4 on average have a turnover margin of +0.1 the following week. Even crazier, teams with a turnover margin of -6 or more have an average turnover margin of +0.3 the following week. As a result, those teams are 28-21 ATS the following week and that doesn’t even tell the whole story. Those 28 teams that cover the spread do so by an average of 15.39 points per game, as opposed to 7.71 points per game for the 21 teams that fail to cover the spread. Underdogs who previously lost the turnover margin by 6 or more are 20-13 ATS and 16-18 straight up, despite by underdogs. The Jets actually won the chain game, moving the chains at a 67.57% rate, as opposed to 65.38% for the Bills. The Bills were way too reliant on turnovers.

That being said, I still think we’re getting line value with the Chiefs, as they’re an underrated team. The fact that they were just 5 point favorites over the Jets last week is absurd and even with the significant line movement, they should still be the right side. The Chiefs rank 2nd in rate of moving the chains differential, moving them at a 77.63% rate, as opposed to 70.35% for their opponents, a differential of 7.27%. That might sound absurd considering they’re just 4-3, but they have a +48 point differential. They went into San Diego and won. They blew out a decent Miami team in Miami (34-15). They blew out a Patriots team that has looked fantastic since (41-14). Last week they blew out the Rams (31-7). Meanwhile, their three losses came by a combined 19 points and two of them came in Denver and San Francisco.

The Jets, meanwhile, rank just 25th in rate of moving the chains, despite winning the chain game last week. They move the chains at a 68.29% rate, as opposed to 71.74% for their opponents, a differential of -3.45%. The public does know how bad they are, but they haven’t really caught on to how good the Chiefs are, so we’re getting value with them. They’re also in a good spot as they have another easy game on deck, going to Buffalo next week. Teams are 79-51 ATS since 2008 as non-divisional home favorites before being non-divisional road favorites, as those teams have no real distractions on deck.

Meanwhile, the Jets host Pittsburgh next week, a game in which they will almost definitely be 3+ point home underdogs. Teams are 53-81 ATS before being 3+ point home underdogs since 2012, including 26-56 ATS before being 4+ point home underdogs. That’s because when you have a game coming up like that it generally means one of two things. One, you have a very tough game coming up that serves as a distraction. Two, you really aren’t that good of a football team. I think it’s both in this situation.

I’m not that confident in Kansas City as I hate going with significant line movement, especially when doing so means being on the same side as the public. The Jets are also in a good spot on a 7 game losing streak as underdogs are 51-32 ATS since 2002 on a 7+ game losing streak, which makes sense as teams tend to be embarrassed, undervalued, and overlooked in that situation. The Jets aren’t undervalued, but they could definitely be embarrassed and/or overlooked. However, the Chiefs should still be the right side.

Kansas City Chiefs 27 New York Jets 13

Pick against the spread: Kansas City -10

Confidence: Low

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers: 2014 Week 9 NFL Pick

New Orleans Saints (3-4) at Carolina Panthers (3-4-1)

I’ve been high on the Saints this whole season, picking them to win the Super Bowl before the season and not really wavering from that a ton even as they got out to a 2-4 start. That 2-4 start was largely a result of starting the season with 4 of 6 on the road, a significant injury to Jimmy Graham (which he’s over now), a -8 turnover margin and a -3 return touchdown margin fueled by an 18.18% rate of recovering fumbles, and 3 losses by a combined 6 points. They were legitimately a few plays away from being 5-1.

Last week, they got Graham back and were able to beat a very good Packer team by 21 back at home, winning the turnover battle by 2. Now they’re legitimately a few plays away from being 6-1. However, now they have to go back on the road, which hasn’t been nearly as kind to them over recent years.  While they are 18-1-1 ATS at home over their last 20 home games with Drew Brees and Sean Payton, winning all 20 of those games by an average of about 19.6 points per game, they are 3-11 ATS on the road over the past 2 seasons.

I wish the Saints were still underdogs as they were with the early line last week (Carolina -1.5), as Drew Brees is 6-8 ATS as road underdogs since 2010, as opposed to 8-17 ATS as road favorites. That also would have opened up a significant trend as the Saints will be home favorites next week for San Francisco, while the Panthers will be road underdogs next week in Philadelphia (teams are 57-96 ATS since 2010 as home favorites before being road underdogs when their opponent will next be home favorites).

I hate going with huge line movement like this one (-1.5 to +2.5), but it’s all within the field goals so it’s not as big of a concern. This line is also more than justified as the line movement is simply catching up to how good the Saints have been all season. The Saints rank 6th, moving the chains at an 81.30% rate, as opposed to 78.08% for their opponents, a differential of 3.22%. The Panthers, meanwhile, rank 23rd, moving the chains at a 74.10% rate, but allowing opponents to move them at a 77.04% rate, a differential of -2.94%. That suggests the Saints should be favored by at least a field goal. On top of that, home underdogs in night games are 30-58 ATS since 1989. The Saints should be the right side, but I can’t be confident in them on the road.

New Orleans Saints 31 Carolina Panthers 27

Pick against the spread: New Orleans -2.5

Confidence: None

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cleveland Browns: 2014 Week 9 NFL Pick

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-6) at Cleveland Browns (4-3)

The Browns are at the end of one of the easiest stretches of play any team in the league has this season, as they went to 0-6 Jacksonville, hosted 0-6 Oakland, and now host 1-6 Tampa Bay. However, next week they have to go to Cincinnati for Thursday Night Football. Teams are 85-105 ATS since 2002 as non-divisional favorites, including 33-56 ATS since 1989 as non-divisional home favorites of a touchdown or more before being divisional road underdogs of a field goal or more. On the opposite side of the coin, the Buccaneers host the Falcons up next, any easier game that is going to provide significantly less of a distraction for the Buccaneers than the Bengals’ game will for the Browns. Teams are 121-90 ATS since 2002 as non-divisional road underdogs before being divisional home favorites.

Combining the two, teams are 57-96 ATS since 2010 as home favorites before being road underdogs when their opponent will next be home favorites. Making matters even worse for the Browns is the fact that the game against the Bengals is a Thursday Night Game, which will make that game even more of a distraction. Favorites are 35-56 ATS since 2008 as favorites before a Thursday Night Game. I like the Buccaneers chances of keeping this one close and maybe even pulling an upset (like they did in Pittsburgh) against a team in a bad situation. The Buccaneers have actually only lost two games by more than a touchdown this season, as bad as their record is. As long as the line is a touchdown, it’s a big play on the Buccaneers.

Cleveland Browns 19 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17

Pick against the spread: Tampa Bay +7

Confidence: High

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]