Denver Broncos at New England Patriots: 2014 Week 9 NFL Pick

Denver Broncos (6-1) at New England Patriots (6-2)

On the season, the Patriots are just 11th in rate of moving the chains differential, despite their 6-2 record, as they’ve been overly reliant on a +11 turnover margin. They are moving the chains at a 74.91% rate, as opposed to 73.18% for their opponents, a differential of 1.53%. The Broncos, meanwhile, are #1 in that statistic, moving the chains at a 79.49% rate, as opposed to 72.12% for their opponents, a differential of 7.36%. That suggests this line should be around 2.5 in favor of Denver here in New England, which gives us a little bit of line value with the Patriots as 3.5 point underdogs.

That’s before you even take into account that the Patriots have been playing much better football over the past four games, since that loss to Kansas City. They’ve moved the chains at an 80.99% rate over the past 4 weeks, as opposed to 66.96% in the first 4 weeks of the season. Their defense hasn’t been quite as good (74.26% vs 72.00%) and they’ll have trouble stopping Peyton Manning without Chandler Jones and Jerod Mayo, but they can definitely still outscore them. I believe the Patriots will be closer to the last 4 weeks than the first 4 weeks over the final 8 weeks of the season, as Rob Gronkowski is back to full health. Over the past 4 weeks, he’s caught 27 passes for 411 yards and 4 touchdowns over the past 4 games combined on 134 routes run (3.07 yards per route run).

Their offense has always been better when they have a healthy Gronkowski on the field. Coming into this season, from 2011-2013, Tom Brady completed 65.3% of his passes for an average of 8.07 YPA, 81 touchdowns, and 24 interceptions when Gronkowski played (36 games, including playoffs) and the Patriots scored 32.8 points per game. When Gronkowski isn’t on the field, Brady completed 58.3% of his passes for an average of 6.88 YPA, 30 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions and the Patriots scored 28.0 points per game (19 games, including playoffs). Over the first 4 games of the season, Tom Brady completed 59.1% of his passes for an average of 5.77 YPA, 4 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. Over the last 4 games, he’s completed 69.6% of his passes for an average of 8.81 YPA, 14 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions.

Last week was the best offensive game they’ve had yet as they moved the chains at a 90.24% rate in a 51-23 win. Despite that, they are underdogs of 3.5 here, just the 4th time in the last 25 years that a team has scored 50 points or more and then been home underdogs of 3.5 or more the following week. Those teams are only 2-1 ATS, but it’s such a small sample size and, considering how rare it happens, I don’t think the Patriots deserve to be underdogs of this much, which my above numbers also suggest.

It’s also a rarity that the Patriots are home underdogs, as this is just the 11th time they’ve been home underdogs since Tom Brady took over as the starter. In those previous 10 games, they are 9-1 ATS, winning straight up in 8 of those 10 games. That makes sense, as the Patriots are 105-22 straight up since 2001 at home, including 9-4 ATS (13-0 SU, winning by an average of 12.46 points per game) at home over the past 2 seasons. Going off of that, Tom Brady is 44-18 ATS in his career as an underdog or a favorite of fewer than 3 points, winning at an absurdly high rate in situations where he basically just has to win straight up.

Going off of that, he’s 31-10-1 ATS in his career against teams that have better records than his, including 19-6 ATS as an underdog. Possibly even crazier, he’s 30-12 straight up in that situation, a winning percentage of 71.4%. The rest of the league wins at a 38.5% rate. The Broncos are in a good spot, as they have the Raiders up next, meaning they have no distractions upcoming. Teams are 78-54 ATS since 2012 before being 3+ point road favorites, including 49-30 ATS as 4+ point favorites, and 20-5 ATS as 7+ point favorites. Still, as long as this line is more than a field goal, the Patriots are my Pick of the Week.

New England Patriots 34 Denver Broncos 27 Upset Pick +140

Pick against spread: New England +3.5

Confidence: Pick of the Week

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

Rate of Moving the Chains – Week 9

What is this? This is rate of moving the chains, which is my primary statistic for handicapping games. It holds the assumption that the goal of any team on any given 1st and 10 (or 1st and goal) is to move the chains (or score). In order to figure out how often teams meet that goal, I take first downs plus touchdowns and divide it by first downs plus touchdowns plus failures to move the chains (successes divided by attempts). Failures to move the chains include punts, turnovers, failed 4th downs, and field goal attempts (being forced to kick a field goal is a failure). I have this sorted by percent for (to evaluate offenses), percent against (to evaluate defenses), and differentials (to evaluate teams).

First Downs Touchdowns Field Goals Punts Turnovers Failed 4ths Safeties
1 NO 190 23 14 19 13 3 0 81.30%
2 DEN 158 28 8 36 4 0 0 79.49%
3 GB 166 26 12 28 7 3 2 78.69%
4 IND 213 28 16 30 15 4 1 78.50%
5 DAL 182 23 16 27 15 1 0 77.65%
6 KC 151 19 12 28 7 2 0 77.63%
7 SD 167 23 14 35 5 2 0 77.24%
8 CHI 179 21 9 30 15 5 0 77.22%
9 PIT 186 20 15 35 8 4 0 76.87%
10 BAL 178 23 21 22 12 6 0 76.72%
11 SEA 138 18 14 29 6 2 1 75.00%
12 NE 170 22 22 34 5 4 0 74.71%
13 CAR 170 16 18 35 10 2 0 74.10%
14 SF 139 15 16 27 7 4 0 74.04%
15 ATL 166 22 10 35 14 6 1 74.02%
16 NYG 151 19 7 36 13 4 0 73.91%
17 STL 140 14 11 31 11 3 0 73.33%
18 MIA 150 16 16 26 12 7 0 73.13%
19 WAS 166 19 14 37 16 3 0 72.55%
20 ARZ 137 15 16 39 5 1 0 71.36%
21 CIN 135 17 19 31 8 3 0 71.36%
22 CLE 139 17 13 40 5 5 0 71.23%
23 DET 153 17 19 37 11 2 0 71.13%
24 PHI 154 16 15 36 17 2 0 70.83%
25 HOU 152 17 17 38 13 2 0 70.71%
26 TB 123 14 9 32 14 3 1 69.90%
27 TEN 138 15 13 41 11 4 2 68.30%
28 NYJ 153 15 15 42 18 3 0 68.29%
29 MIN 147 11 19 44 12 3 0 66.95%
30 OAK 113 12 8 40 13 2 0 66.49%
31 JAX 143 13 14 45 18 4 0 65.82%
32 BUF 135 17 19 47 11 3 1 65.24%

 

Defense

First Downs Touchdowns Field Goals Punts Turnovers Failed 4ths Safeties
1 BUF 164 15 19 43 18 3 0 68.32%
2 DET 148 13 12 45 12 4 1 68.51%
3 PHI 148 18 13 44 10 4 0 70.04%
4 KC 128 12 16 35 5 3 0 70.35%
5 MIA 133 16 13 31 14 4 0 70.62%
6 MIN 151 19 12 45 11 2 0 70.83%
7 BAL 155 13 18 32 12 5 1 71.19%
8 WAS 150 20 13 45 8 2 0 71.43%
9 NYJ 140 25 14 48 3 0 0 71.74%
10 IND 157 21 10 42 12 6 0 71.77%
11 CLE 156 17 12 39 11 5 1 71.78%
12 HOU 167 19 13 39 17 3 0 72.09%
13 DEN 146 17 11 39 8 4 1 72.12%
14 DAL 141 17 11 33 13 4 0 72.15%
15 ARZ 145 16 11 35 14 2 0 72.20%
16 JAX 166 18 18 38 8 5 0 72.73%
17 NE 173 18 17 32 16 5 0 73.18%
18 NYG 142 18 13 29 13 2 0 73.73%
19 SEA 137 15 13 31 7 2 1 73.79%
20 PIT 166 20 19 33 11 1 1 74.10%
21 SD 152 19 8 35 9 6 1 74.35%
22 CIN 171 16 19 25 12 5 1 75.10%
23 TEN 191 21 19 35 11 4 0 75.44%
24 ATL 177 23 21 30 13 0 0 75.76%
25 SF 136 18 6 30 11 2 0 75.86%
26 OAK 149 19 15 28 6 4 0 76.02%
27 CHI 166 22 21 22 12 4 0 76.11%
28 STL 142 19 13 25 8 2 0 77.03%
29 CAR 174 24 16 27 14 2 0 77.04%
30 TB 171 23 19 26 10 0 0 77.91%
31 GB 188 21 12 26 15 6 0 77.99%
32 NO 152 19 14 25 7 1 1 78.08%

 

Overall

1 DEN 7.36%
2 KC 7.27%
3 IND 6.73%
4 BAL 5.53%
5 DAL 5.51%
6 NO 3.22%
7 SD 2.89%
8 PIT 2.76%
9 DET 2.62%
10 MIA 2.51%
11 NE 1.53%
12 SEA 1.21%
13 WAS 1.12%
14 CHI 1.11%
15 PHI 0.79%
16 GB 0.70%
17 NYG 0.18%
18 CLE -0.55%
19 ARZ -0.84%
20 HOU -1.38%
21 ATL -1.74%
22 SF -1.82%
23 CAR -2.94%
24 BUF -3.08%
25 NYJ -3.45%
26 STL -3.70%
27 CIN -3.74%
28 MIN -3.88%
29 JAX -6.90%
30 TEN -7.14%
31 TB -8.01%
32 OAK -9.53%

2014 Week 8 NFL Pick Results

Against the Spread: 10-5

Straight Up: 11-4

Pick of the Week: 1-0

High Confidence: 1-0

Medium Confidence: 3-2

Low Confidence: 2-3

No Confidence: 3-0

Upset Picks: 1-1

Against the Spread: 76-44-1 (.633)

Straight Up: 82-38-1 (.683)

Pick of the Week: 5-3

High Confidence: 5-6

Medium Confidence: 29-9

Low Confidence: 17-14-1

No Confidence: 20-12

Upset Picks: 10-8

Survivor Picks: 6-2 (PHI, GB, NO, SD, DET, SEA, BAL, KC)

Oakland Raiders at Cleveland Browns: 2014 Week 8 NFL Pick

Oakland Raiders (0-6) at Cleveland Browns (3-3)

The Browns lost last week in previously 0-6 Jacksonville, doing so in embarrassing fashion, losing by the finale score of 24-6 and getting dominated in the chain game. They moved the chains at a mere 46.43% rate, as opposed to 65.71% for the Jaguars, a differential of -19.29% that was the 2nd worst by a team last week. That brought the Browns down to 19th in rate of moving the chains differential on the season, as they move the chains at a 72.40% rate, as opposed to 73.56% for their opponents, a differential of -1.16%. However, we still might be getting line value with the Browns because of how bad the Raiders are. The Raiders rank dead last in rate of moving the chains differential, moving them at a 67.74% rate, as opposed to 77.84% for their opponents, a differential of -10.09%.

The Raiders are also in a terrible spot as they have to go to Seattle next week. Teams are 40-81 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 both in this situation. In spite of all this, the public is actually on the underdog, expecting the Browns to have trouble with a 0-6 team for the 2nd straight week. I love fading the public whenever it makes sense, especially when they’re on an underdog. Despite those three things, I can’t bring myself to be too confident in the Browns.

Cleveland Browns 23 Oakland Raiders 13

Pick against the spread: Cleveland -7

Confidence: Low

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers: 2014 Week 8 NFL Pick

Seattle Seahawks (3-3) at Carolina Panthers (3-3-1)

The Seahawks failed to even win last week as significant favorites in St. Louis and now they’re significant favorites again here in Carolina. I like their chances of bouncing back and getting back in the win column here though. For one, this is the Seahawks’ 2nd of two road games, which tends to be an easier time for teams than a team’s first game on the road. Teams are 177-184 in their 2nd of two road games since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 0.20 points per game, as opposed to 252-363 in their 1st of one road game since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 3.29 points per game. Going off of that, road favorites are 33-22 ATS off of a road loss since 2008 as long as it’s the 2nd of two road favorites, including 15-7 ATS as road favorites off of a loss as road favorites.

The Seahawks also generally do well off of a loss, going 7-3 ATS in the Russell Wilson era. Sure, they were coming off of a loss last week and didn’t get it done, but they could easily have a different result here. The Seahawks are also in a great spot as teams are 68-53 ATS before being double digit favorites since 2002. The Seahawks have an incredibly easy game next week at home for the Seahawks. Sure, they were in a good spot last week before being significant road favorites and didn’t get the job done, but history still suggests they’re due to turn it around here.

However, while I like the Seahawks’ chances of bouncing back and getting the win here, I’m not confident they’ll cover this 5 point spread, even with all of the aforementioned trends in play. This line might just be too high for a Seattle team that has been fairly average this season. They rank just 14th in the NFL, moving the chains at a 75.14% rate, as opposed to 74.59% for their opponents, a differential of 0.55%. Sure, they’re the Seahawks and could easily get it together and end up much higher by the end of the season, but there are no guarantees. Super Bowl winners have disappointed over the past decade and the Seahawks are dealing with significant injuries to guys like Max Unger, Bobby Wagner, and Byron Maxwell.

The Panthers, meanwhile, are moving the chains at a 74.78% rate, as opposed to 77.39% for their opponents, a differential of -2.61% that ranks 22nd in the NFL. That’s not great, but purely looking at rate of moving the chains suggests we’re getting significant line value with the Panthers. I’m certainly not confident because the trends suggest the Seahawks are the right side and the Seahawks could at any bounce back and become what they were last season. This is still a scary football team. The Panthers are my pick though.

Seattle Seahawks 24 Carolina Panthers 20

Pick against the spread: Carolina +5

Confidence: None

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

Buffalo Bills at New York Jets: 2014 Week 8 NFL Pick

Buffalo Bills (4-3) at New York Jets (1-6)

This line shifted from even last week to now the Jets being favored by a field goal. The primary reason for that has to be the Percy Harvin trade, as people don’t seem to realize that Harvin wasn’t doing much in Seattle this season and that he probably doesn’t know the entire Jets playbook yet or have chemistry developed with quarterback Geno Smith. It’s disappointing that this line shifted so much as it robbed us of an opportunity to fade a Bills team that isn’t as good as their record.

The Bills are somehow 4-3, though with 3 last second wins by a combined 5 points. In terms of rate of moving the chains differential, they rank just 24th, moving the chains at a 65.22% rate, as opposed to 68.44% for their opponents, a differential of -3.23%. That being said, we’re actually now getting line value with the Bills as this line suggests these two teams are even, while in reality the Bills have played better this season. The Jets rank 26th in rate of moving the chains differential, moving the chains at a 68.42% rate, as opposed to 72.55% for their opponents, a differential of -4.13%. I have no confidence in the Bills though, especially since they’re a public underdog, but they’re my pick here as I’m going with fading line movement and picking the better team over fading the public.

New York Jets 17 Buffalo Bills 16

Pick against spread: Buffalo +3

Confidence: None

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

Indianapolis Colts at Pittsburgh Steelers: 2014 Week 8 NFL Pick

Indianapolis Colts (5-2) at Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3)

The Colts are arguably the best team in the NFL right now, or at least they’ve played like it through 7 games. With the exception of a 3 point home loss as 3 point home favorites to the Eagles, the Colts have covered every game this season. Both of their losses came against teams that currently have one loss and they came by a combined 10 points. Last week, they completely dominated Cincinnati 27-0, beating a solid team in embarrassing fashion, forcing 8 straight three and outs to start the season.

Andrew Luck is playing like the type of quarterback he was expected to become, completing 65.9% of his passes for an average 7.72 YPA, 19 touchdowns, 7 interceptions. He’s also rushed for 98 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground on 30 carries. The defense has held up as well. Through 6 games, they are moving the chains at a 78.44% rate, as opposed to 67.65% for their opponents, a differential of 10.79% that is best in the NFL by over 3 percentage points (7.40% is the next best).

The Steelers, meanwhile, move the chains at a 74.11% rate, as opposed to 73.24% for their opponents, a differential of 0.87% that ranks 13th in the NFL. That suggests we’re getting significant line value with the Colts as mere field goal favorites here, even on the road. The Colts should be the right side, but I don’t like the idea of betting on such a heavy public favorite (more than 90% of the action is on Indianapolis) without a powerful trend supporting them, as the odds makers always come out on top.

Indianapolis Colts 27 Pittsburgh Steelers 20

Pick against spread: Indianapolis -3

Confidence: Low

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]