Pick of the Week
DAL +150 @ HOU
CLE +145 vs. BAL
DEN +100 @ NYJ
Pick of the Week
DAL +150 @ HOU
CLE +145 vs. BAL
DEN +100 @ NYJ
Washington Redskins (2-1) at New Orleans Saints (3-1)
The Saints gotten off to a bit of a slow start this season, losing at home week 1 to the Buccaneers and then almost losing at the Browns at home week 2, but that’s been the case in recent years for them too and they’ve always gotten better as the season has gone on. They are just 2-12 ATS in the first 2 games of the season since 2012, but 52-38 ATS the rest of the season. With Mark Ingram returning, this is arguably the most balanced offense in the league and the defense still has talent, even if they haven’t played all that well to begin the season. They could easily keep rolling this week.
Their opponent, the Washington Redskins, are not a pushover and this line is a decent size at 6 points, but I think we’re still getting some line value with the Saints and the Saints are in a great spot going into the bye. Favorites of 6 or more tend to take care of business going into a bye, going 37-16 ATS since 2014, including 27-11 ATS at home. The Saints have a good chance to win this one by double digits, so they’re worth a bet as anything less than touchdown favorites.
New Orleans Saints 31 Washington Redskins 21
Pick against the spread: New Orleans -6
New York Giants (1-3) at Carolina Panthers (2-1)
This was the toughest game of the week for me because I have this line calculated right at -6.5, which is what this line is, and there are no strong situational advantages for either team. The Giants play again in 4 days on Thursday Night Football, but are desperate for a win at 1-3, while the Panthers are coming off of a bye, but there’s no real evidence that teams do better after a bye in recent years. I’m taking the Panthers because I think this game is more likely to be decided by 7 points than 6, but this is my lowest confidence pick of the week.
Carolina Panthers 24 New York Giants 17
Pick against the spread: Carolina -6.5
Denver Broncos (2-2) at New York Jets (1-3)
The Jets are one of the worst teams in the league, but are strangely favored by a point at home against a decent Denver team. Under ordinary circumstances, the Broncos would be a smart bet this week, but they’re also in a tough spot, coming off of a close loss against the undefeated Chiefs, with a big home game against the undefeated Rams on deck. The Broncos are 6 point underdogs in that game on the early line and teams are just 42-77 ATS before being home underdogs of 4.5+ since 2014. The Broncos should still win this game relatively easily, but this could easily be a trap game for them so I wouldn’t recommend betting this one.
Denver Broncos 20 New York Jets 17 Upset Pick +100
Pick against the spread: Denver +1
Atlanta Falcons (1-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2-1)
These two teams are pretty similar. Both have strong offenses, but struggle mightily to stop anyone. The Steelers’ defense took a bit hit when they lost linebacker Ryan Shazier to injury last season, but they were an overrated team even before that. Just 5 of their 14 wins over the past 2 seasons have come by more than 7 points, including just 2 since the midpoint of last season, a span of 13 games. Without Shazier, they’ve allowed an average of 27.33 points per game in 9 games.
The Falcons’ defensive issues are also largely due to injury, as they are missing linebacker Deion Jones and safeties Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen for extended periods of time and defensive tackle Grady Jarrett joins them on the sideline this week, making matters worse. Those are 4 of their best defensive players and they weren’t a great defense even with them. On offense, running back Devonta Freeman returns, but they’re still without guard Andy Levitre, so they’re not at full strength on that side of the ball either.
This line favors the Steelers by 3 at home, suggesting these two teams are about even, so we aren’t getting line value in either direction. The Falcons are in a slightly better spot though. While the Steelers have to turn around and go to Cincinnati next week, the Falcons are at home for the Buccaneers. Underdogs are 80-45 ATS before being favorites when their opponent will next be underdogs. The Steelers could have a little bit of split focus this week with the 3-1 Bengals on deck, while the Falcons should be fully focused and cannot afford to fall to 1-4 in the loaded NFC. I wouldn’t recommend betting it, but the Falcons should be the right side.
Pittsburgh Steelers 35 Atlanta Falcons 34
Pick against the spread: Atlanta +3
Los Angeles Rams (4-0) at Seattle Seahawks (2-2)
Through 4 games, the Rams have been the undisputed top team in football. Not only do they rank first in first down rate differential, their +15.50% mark blows away 2nd place +8.37%. In addition to having the best first down rate in the league at a ridiculous 47.24%, the Rams also have the 5th best first down rate allowed in the league at 31.74%. They are one of two 4-0 teams, with an average margin of victory of 18.25 points per game. They may not be quite this dominant for the whole season and their schedule does get harder, but they are the clear team to beat after the first month of the season.
Fortunately or the Rams, their schedule does not get much harder this week. At one point, going to Seattle to face the Seahawks would have been a daunting task. The Seahawks are 44-10 (33-21 ATS) at home in the Russell Wilson era. They are not that dominant team anymore though. A roster already thinned by retirements and off-season losses got even thinner last week when they lost All-Pro safety Earl Thomas for the season. They also remain without talented every down linebacker KJ Wright, who has yet to make his season debut due to a knee injury. They rank 29th in first down rate at -4.29% and could easily be 1-3 if the Cardinals had made a pair of makeable field goals last week.
The Seahawks have been especially good as home underdogs in the Russell Wilson era, going 4-0 ATS with 4 straight up wins by an average of 9.25 points per game, and this 7 point line is the most the Seahawks have been home underdogs by in Wilson’s entire career, but this line is totally justifiable, given the talent gap between these two teams. If anything, we’re still getting some line value with the Rams. I can’t take them with any confidence because this game could be Seattle’s Super Bowl, but I do expect the Rams to keep rolling this week.
Los Angeles Rams 28 Seattle Seahawks 20
Pick against the spread: LA Rams -7
Jacksonville Jaguars (3-1) at Kansas City Chiefs (4-0)
This is arguably the biggest game of the week, a potential AFC Championship preview with potential playoff seeding implications. The Jaguars come in with one loss, by 3 points at home to the Titans, while the Chiefs are undefeated. Despite that, the Jaguars are actually a little bit better of a team. Both teams have one elite unit: the Jaguars’ defense ranks 1st in first down rate allowed at 26.61% and the Chiefs’ offense ranks 2nd (behind the Rams) in first down rate at 45.78%, but the Jaguars’ offense (24th in first down rate at 33.33%) is better than the Chiefs’ defense (32nd in first down rate allowed at 46.67%). This line at 3 in favor of the hometown Chiefs suggests these two teams are equal, so we’re getting some line value with the Jaguars.
The Jaguars are also in a better spot. While this is a big game for both teams, the Chiefs may have a little bit of split focus this week with a trip to New England on deck, with the Jaguars only have the Cowboys on deck. Underdogs are 80-45 ATS before being favorites when their opponent will next be underdogs, which the Chiefs will be next week. There’s not quite enough here to bet on the Jaguars as mere 3 point underdogs, but if the line moves up to 3.5 before gametime I may reconsider.
Kansas City Chiefs 24 Jacksonville Jaguars 23
Pick against the spread: Jacksonville +3
Miami Dolphins (3-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (3-1)
The Dolphins began the season 3-0, but then they got blown out 38-7 in New England last week. They lost by so much that they now have a negative -8 point differential on the season and a -0.84% first down rate differential. The Patriots are obviously a tough opponent, but the Dolphins had a pretty easy schedule early in the season and this week they have to go on the road and face another tough opponent in Cincinnati.
The Dolphins’ blowout loss last week cost us some line value with the Bengals, as this line shifted from 3.5 on the early line to 6 this week, but we’re still getting line value with them, as the Dolphins enter this game very banged up. They’ll likely get safety Reshad Jones back from injury this week, but cornerback Bobby McCain and defensive end Cameron Wake, two key defensive players, will sit out, joining rotational defensive ends Andre Branch and WIlliam Hayes and talented guard Josh Sitton on the sidelines. A pretty mediocre roster to begin with, the Dolphins are missing some key pieces.
The Bengals, on the other hand, are getting closer to full strength, with running back Joe Mixon returning from a two game absence and every down linebacker Vontaze Burfict making his season debut, after beginning the season with a 4-game suspension. They lost tight end Tyler Eifert and backup running back Giovani Bernard to injury last week and center Billy Price remains out with a foot injury, but Mixon and Burfict are two of their most important players. The Bengals have been a pretty good team even without them, ranking 6th in first down rate differential at 6.60%. They’re worth a bet at as 6 point favorites at home over a banged up Miami team.
Cincinnati Bengals 30 Miami Dolphins 20
Pick against the spread: Cincinnati -6
Oakland Raiders (1-3) at Los Angeles Chargers (2-2)
The Chargers are 2-2, but they’ve been a pretty underwhelming team. Their two wins have come against the Bills and 49ers, two of the worst teams in the league, and they won by just 2 points against the 49ers. In their other two games, they’ve lost by double digits to the Chiefs and Rams. Their offense has been great, ranking 5th in first down rate at 41.94%, but their defense has not nearly been the same without the injured Joey Bosa, ranking 28th in first down rate allowed at 41.87%.
The Chargers also don’t have much homefield advantage, as they barely have any fans in Los Angeles. With the Raiders, a former Los Angeles team, in town this week, I expect the crowd to be primarily Raiders fans. The Raiders are not a good team either and they’re in a tough spot with a trip to London on deck. Teams are 15-23 ATS all-time before a trip to London. They should be able to keep it within the 5, but I can’t take them with any confidence.
Los Angeles Chargers 31 Oakland Raiders 27
Pick against the spread: Oakland +5
Green Bay Packers (2-1-1) at Detroit Lions (1-3)
A couple weeks ago, the Packers were 3 point favorites in Washington and I picked the Redskins to pull the upset, which they ended up doing by the final score of 31-17. The Packers are road favorites again this week in Detroit, but there are several differences in this game. Aaron Rodgers is healthier, getting in a full week of practice this week. The Packers aren’t coming off of a 70 minute tie with the Vikings like they were a couple weeks ago. The Packers are also facing a much easier opponent. While the Redskins are an underrated team that can compete for a playoff spot in the tough NFC, the Lions are just 1-3 and have not played well against playoff caliber opponents in recent years, going 1-11 against eventual playoff teams in 2016-2017 combined.
The Lions did beat the Patriots in Detroit a couple weeks ago, but the Patriots were not at 100% with defensive end Trey Flowers and safety Patrick Chung out with injury and the way the Lions have played in the rest of their games suggests that game against New England will look like an outlier on their schedule when all is said and done this season. The Lions are a pretty mediocre team overall, primarily due to a terrible defense. They’re also missing arguably their best offensive lineman, right guard TJ Lang, with a concussion, which is a big blow to this offense. Despite that, the Packers are only 1 point favorites in this game, down from 3 in the Washington game. We’re getting good line value with them this week and they’re worth a bet.
Green Bay Packers 33 Detroit Lions 27
Pick against the spread: Green Bay -1