NFL Week 4 Thursday Night Football

Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers

Current Pinnacle spread: GB -7
Current Pinnacle total: 44

My projected spread: GB -6.1
My projected total: 45.1

Green Bay enters Week 4 with probably the worst looking injury report in the league.  It doesn’t help that they play on short rest this week after an OT game in 90 degree heat on Sunday.  Included on the injury report are starting tackles Bryan Bulaga and David Bakhtiari (both doubtful to play tonight) so the Green Bay offensive line will be interesting to watch.  The Bears do have some injuries as well but Jordan Howard is nowhere to be found on that list after leaving the game a couple times against the Steelers last week with a shoulder injury.  The side opened at GB -7.5 and we have seen money come in on the Bears and I couldn’t agree more.  I made this line GB -6.1 so I advocate a play at the current number of Bears +7.  As for the total, I see slight value to the over but with money coming in on the under all week I don’t think I would play it with so many uncertainties.  The injuries to the Packers offensive line make me a little nervous about their ability to point up a lot of points against an underrated Bears unit and I don’t want to put faith in Mike Glennon and the Bears lighting up the scoreboard as they are probably going to run the ball on 60-65% on their offensive snaps.

Suggested plays:

CHI +7

Thanks for reading.  I should have the rest of the NFL Betting Preview out by tomorrow.  Check out my Twitter @amock419 for any updates and check out my NFL and College Football projections at the link in my Twitter profile or here.

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NFL Week 3 Betting Preview

Los Angeles Rams @ San Francisco 49ers

Current Pinnacle spread: LAR -3
Current Pinnacle total: 40

My projected spread: LAR -0.4
My projected total: 42.4

Thursday Night Football kicks off Week 3 with a game that may make your eyes bleed.  Both offenses aren’t expected to light up the scoreboard, the 49ers are still looking for their first trip to the end zone this year, and both quarterbacks aren’t exactly guys you would draft for you fantasy team.  With that being said, I do think this is a little bit of an overreaction to the 49ers early offensive struggles.  There is no way that you can convince me that the Rams are six points better on a neutral field than the 49ers as that is what the current line implies.  The 49ers did go up against two good defenses in the first two weeks of the season (Panthers and Seahawks) and that has led to the inflation of this line.  Yes, the 49ers offense is still bad but the Rams front seven, outside of Aaron Donald, is vulnerable.  As for the Rams, Jared Goff has looked much better since his rookie season but I’m still not high on him.  I have seen a lot of improvement from last year where he was absolutely horrible which is a good sign.  His night and day transformation should take some pressure off of Todd Gurley and the run game (although it hasn’t yet this season) and I think they should be able to move the ball against a bad 49ers defense.  As I said earlier, I think the side and total have value because of an overreaction to the 49ers offense.  Take the dog and the over for some mid-week action.

Suggested plays:

SF +3
Over 40/39.5

Baltimore Ravens @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Current Pinnacle spread: BAL -3.5
Current Pinnacle total: 39.5

My projected spread: BAL -3.5
My projected total: 39.8

As you can see, there isn’t much value at the current numbers.  This game is being played in London so we could see a sloppy game, which wouldn’t be surprising considering who these two teams are.  Baltimore’s defense has been stellar through the first two weeks, albeit against two bad offenses (Bengals and Browns), and they get another bad offense this week.  Baltimore’s defense should have no problem shutting down Leonard Fournette in the run game and that will only put more pressure on Blake Bortles and the passing game, which is never a good thing.  Unfortunately, Baltimore’s offense isn’t explosive and should keep this game close as they won’t be able to pull away.  Jacksonville’s defense, with Jalen Ramsey playing, should play well enough to get their team a W but I don’t think the offense will be able to move the ball well enough to get it done.

Suggested plays:

None

Cleveland Browns @ Indianapolis Colts

Current Pinnacle spread: CLE -1.5
Current Pinnacle total: 41

My projected spread: CLE -0.5
My projected total: 40.4

DeShone Kizer has shown some promise but the rookie quarterback has made plenty of mistakes through two career games.  He holds on to the ball too long which results in taking too many sacks (behind a good offensive line) and he has been careless with the football (four interceptions in two games).  This will most likely be a common theme for the Browns all season.  The offense will show some flashes but there will always be growing pains and times where they shoot themselves in the foot.  Luckily for the offense, however, they play the Colts.  The Colts are projected as the second worst team in the NFL (Jets being the only team worse) with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback.  The Browns defense has been a bright spot for them this year and I expect another good game from the unit on Sunday.  There seems to be no value on the board, as I don’t care to hold Colts +1.5.  The ML has a little bit of value but I have no interest of backing the Colts this week.

Suggested plays:

None

New York Giants @ Philadelphia Eagles

Current Pinnacle spread: PHI -6
Current Pinnacle total: 42.5

My projected spread: PHI -6.8
My projected total: 40.0

The Eagles come into this game with a good defensive front seven.  The Giants come in with, maybe, the worst offensive line in the NFL.  Want to guess how this plays out?  I project the Giants offense to struggle again in Week 3 after two poor performances in Week’s 1 and 2.  Odell Beckham Jr. is back again this week but should be closer to 100% so maybe that can take some pressure off of Eli Manning and this offense.  But Eli should have defenders in his face all game and that will most likely lead to bad throws or him just spiking the ball into his running back’s feet.  I don’t like the side in this game as much as I like the total because I don’t know how much a healthy OBJ will help the Giants O and I still don’t have much trust in Carson Wentz.  Wentz has been better this year but he is still an inaccurate thrower that makes too many questionable decisions.  The Giants defense is good and should be able to slow down the Philadelphia offense (assuming Janoris Jenkins plays) which should lead to a low scoring battle.  Take the under.

Suggested plays:

Under 42.5

Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets

Current Pinnacle spread: MIA -6
Current Pinnacle total: 42.5

My projected spread: MIA -2.9
My projected total: 44.8

Barring any injury news, this will be an ugly game to have action on.  I simply believe this to be an overreaction to the Jets being bad through two weeks and the Dolphins beating the Chargers on the road.  The Dolphins got outplayed last week and despite finding themselves up two in the final minute, they needed a missed field goal to hold on to the win.  If you just looked at the box score, you would have said the Chargers won and probably won by a good margin.  I am not at all impressed with the Dolphins and I still think they’re not a good team with Jay Cutler running the offense.  The Jets defense has the ability to make anyone look good, though, so Cutler should be able to move the ball and put up some points but I do expect the Jets to do the same.  The Dolphins defense isn’t very good (they gave up 6.8 YPP last week against the Chargers) and even if the Jets aren’t a good offensive team, I do think they should have some success on the offensive side of the ball in this game.  The Jets did move the ball a little against the Raiders last week (also not a good defensive unit) so I expect them to do the same against the Dolphins.  Take the dog and the over in this one.

Suggested plays:

NYJ +6
Over 42.5

Denver Broncos @ Buffalo Bills

Current Pinnacle spread: DEN -3
Current Pinnacle total: 40

My projected spread: DEN -2
My projected total: 38.8

The Denver Broncos destroyed the Dallas Cowboys last week as they seem to have resurrected the running game with C.J. Anderson and Trevor Siemian has played well enough to get them to a 2-0 start.  The offense has been a pleasant surprise to start this season but you can’t talk about the Broncos without giving credit to the defense.  This unit is the backbone of this team and they are really, really good.  After shutting down Ezekiel Elliott, worst statistical game of his young career, last week, the defense will have their hands full with LeSean McCoy.  McCoy didn’t have a good week running the ball against the Panthers last week which led to little success, unfortunately, the Bills offense will have a tough time finding success this week as well.  The Broncos defense, despite shutting down Elliott last week, weakness is on the ground, however.  The Bills will need to get McCoy going to open up the passing game, against a great secondary, if they hope to pull off the upset.  The Broncos offense, after playing surprisingly well the first two weeks, will go up against a solid Bills defense that could cause some problems.  Marcell Dareus is looking more and more like he won’t play on Sunday and depending on his status, the Bills side doesn’t look as good anymore.  There is some slight value but losing Dareus worries me that the Broncos will score a little more than anticipated.  The better play for me is the under.  I do expect both defenses to have success and limit scoring.

Suggested plays:

Bills +3 (if Dareus plays)
Under 40

New Orleans Saints @ Carolina Panthers

Current Pinnacle spread: -5.5
Current Pinnacle total: 46.5

My projected spread: CAR -4.7
My projected total: 48.6

This is one of the tougher games for me to get a read on for this weekend.  As for the side, there is some value on the Saints but I don’t know how much.  The difference between 5.5 and 4.7 isn’t great as not many games seem to land on a five point margin of victory.  When looking at these teams, one thing we know for sure is that the Saints defense is horrible.  They’re the worst defense in the NFL and it might not be close.  They’re so bad that I really think it hurts their offense, which is good, as well.  First, the defense has given up long, sustained scoring drives which has given Drew Brees and the offense less time and plays on the field.  Second, the defense seems to be giving up points every possession which gives Brees and co. almost no room for error to claw their way back into the game.  I don’t think they match up well this week with the Panthers at all.  The Panthers, through two weeks, have ran a considerable amount of more plays than their opponent on offense.  This means that the Panthers offense are having longer drives (which haven’t resulted for many points so far) which are consuming clock and that their defense is holding opposing offenses to short drives.  How this hurts the Saints offense?  The Panthers could very well have a couple of long scoring drives that keeps Drew Brees off the field and shortens the game.  If Brees can’t score on a drive or goes three and out after a long scoring drive by the Panthers offense, then the Panthers could very well come back on the field for another long scoring drive.  All of the sudden, Drew Brees has been on the field for a couple of plays and the Panthers are up 10-0 after the first quarter.  For the side, I think the value has come and gone at most shops but if you can get a +6, I would take the Saints.  The over has some value as well but as I stated earlier, long drives by the Panthers could doom that play.  I lean towards the over but will wait to see if the line drops any further.

Suggested plays:

NO +6 (not a play at +5.5)
Lean Over 46.5 (stronger play if total drops to 46)

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Chicago Bears

Current Pinnacle spread: PIT -7
Current Pinnacle total: 44

My projected spread: PIT -5.9
My projected total: 44.0

I hit the total right on the head in the game but the side shows a good bit of value.  I really like the Chicago Bears this week.  This line, most likely, is an overreaction to the Bears getting blown out against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week.  But if we remember, the Bears were at home in Week 1 against the Atlanta Falcons, and were stopped on 4th Down, going for the win, inside the Falcons 10 yard line.  The Bears aren’t a very good team but they do have a good offensive line and a defense that can get some stops (see Week 1 against Atlanta).  The Steelers on the other hand, beat the Sam Bradford-less Vikings in Week 2 pretty easily, which didn’t really show us much.  The defense has been impressive so far, even with it being against a rookie and Case Keenum, and they get another below average quarterback in Mike Glennon this week.  But the reason I like the Bears this week has to do with the Steelers offense.  As we have watched for a couple of years now, Ben Roethlisberger isn’t anywhere as effective on the road as he is on the road.  Add that to an offense that has looked just ok to start the season, I think the Bears can keep this one within a touchdown.  The Steelers offense may finally get it going this week but I like my chances for them to be a little sluggish again on the road and with the Ravens on deck.  The Bears do have a couple starters that are questionable for this game so that is something to keep an eye on today and tomorrow.  But for now, the value lines with the underdog.

Suggested plays:

Bears +7/+7.5

Atlanta Falcons @ Detroit Lions

Current Pinnacle spread: ATL -3
Current Pinnacle total: 50.5

My projected spread: ATL -1.6
My projected total: 54.5

The Atlanta Falcons are coming off an impressive win against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football.  They have to travel to Detroit this week and face an undefeated Lions squad.  As much as I am not a fan of the Lions, they did beat a solid Arizona Cardinals team and took care of the Giants last week so I guess they are taking care of business.  I do think we looked passed how they looked on Monday Night Football against the Giants because the Giants looked so bad yet again.  The Lions didn’t necessarily dominate that game but they did do enough to win.  I do see value with the Lions getting a field goal this week as the Falcons defense isn’t great and I think Matthew Stafford can put up some points with the weapons that he has at WR.  The Falcons are gonna get their points as I do project them as a top offense in the NFL but the Lions should be able to score enough at home to keep this game within the number.  The play I like more, though, is the over.  As I said, I expect both offenses to take advantage of inferior defenses and we could see the scoreboard being lit up repeatedly on Sunday.

Suggested plays:

DET +3
Over 50.5

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Minnesota Vikings

There currently is no line out on this game yet as we wait for the status of Sam Bradford.  Bradford did practice again Thursday so it seems he may play but as we saw last week, he wasn’t able to go on Sunday.  I will post some thoughts to Twitter once this line is released and Bradford’s status is clear.

Houston Texans @ New England Patriots

Current Pinnacle spread: NE -13.5
Current Pinnacle total: 44

My projected spread: NE -12.3
My projected total: 43.7

This game will be hard to judge until we hear more news about the injuries for Houston.  I did downgrade them and the projected line above reflects that.  The only play I will have on this game, which will depend on injuries, will be Houston +13.5.  The Texans have a really good defense and I think they will be able to, at the least, slow down Tom Brady and the New England offense.  Houston should be able to generate some pass rush and force Brady into some quick, short throws that keep explosive plays to a minimum.  Jonathan Joseph’s status will be huge for this defense as if he misses this game, the Houston pass defense takes a hit and will probably lose any value of a play.  Houston will most likely struggle to score, as DeShaun Watson continues to struggle making accurate throws but I do think the Houston run game could have some success against a suspect Patriots front seven.  Bill O’Brien should be trying to control the game with the running game and keep Tom Brady off the field for as much as possible.  If the Texans can have any success, expect them to stay within the number.

Suggested plays:

Texans +13.5 (hold off for injury news)

Seattle Seahawks @ Tennessee Titans

Current Pinnacle spread: TEN -3
Current Pinnacle total: 42.5

My projected spread: TEN -0.8
My projected total: 39.9

Masked by the horrible offense of the New York Giants, the Seahawks offense has kind of got a pass from the media through the first two weeks.  The Seahawks have the same problem as the Giants; offensive line play.  Seattle struggled to move the ball against a below average 49ers defense (3.9 YPP) and only gained 4.6 yards per pass attempt.  The Tennessee front seven should be able to get to Russell Wilson and cause the offense to fail to generate sustained drives.  Tennessee’s weakness on defense is the passing game and it doesn’t look like the Seattle offensive line will give Wilson enough time to beat Tennessee down the field with his handful of vertical weapons.  Even with the Seattle offense being a big concern, I do think Seattle is a good play this week.  Seattle’s defense has been really good through two weeks and should be able to slow down Marcus Mariota and the Titans’ offense.  Mariota did struggle throwing the ball against Oakland in Week 1 but bounced back nicely against Jacksonville last week.  Seattle isn’t Jacksonville.  I expect Seattle to keep the passing game in check and force Mariota to hand the ball of to DeMarcus Murray (didn’t practice Thursday) and Derrick Henry a lot.  This should shorten the game and keep the game close for Seattle within the number.  As for the total, I really like the under.  Seattle’s offense should struggle again while Tennessee’s offense should be slowed down by a stellar Seattle defense.  Expect a low scoring game in this one.

Suggested plays:

SEA +3
Under 42.5

Cincinnati Bengals @ Green Bay Packers

Current Pinnacle spread: GB -8.5
Current Pinnacle total: 46.5

My projected spread: GB -8.7
My projected total: 45.1

Both of these teams enter with injury concerns as Tyler Eifert has already been ruled out for the Bengals and both starting tackles, David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga, are questionable for Green Bay.  I don’t see much value on the current line and with the current injury statuses, I don’t think I could make a play anyway.  The Bengals do break out a new offensive coordinator as that is something to watch.  There is some slight value to the under but with a new offensive coordinator and so many injury questions, I think it is best to stay away until more information is released.

Suggested plays:

Wait until injury news becomes more clear

Kansas City Chiefs @ Los Angeles Chargers

Current Pinnacle spread: KC -3
Current Pinnacle total: 47.5

My projected spread: KC -0.9
My projected total: 46.1

The Los Angeles Chargers, a team I was on high on before the season started, has sputtered out to an 0-2 start.  It may look like a horrible start, and it is, but if we look a little closer we see that the Chargers are possibly two made field goals from being 2-0.  If both of those kicks go in and they win in OT at Denver, there is no way they are 3 point underdogs to the Kansas City Chiefs.  I think the Chargers side offers up some value as I do think their offense will move the ball on the Chiefs defense.  The Chargers took it to the Dolphins defense last week but just couldn’t end up converting those yards into points.  I will note that this will be the third time in three weeks that I will be against Alex Smith.  The first two didn’t go so well for me.  Alex Smith has played really well so far this season and much to my surprise, he has done it by throwing the ball down the field.  Didn’t think I would ever be saying that multiple weeks in a row but here we are.  If Smith continues throwing the ball down the field successfully without turning it over, the Chiefs are going to be a tough out in the AFC.  But I’m not quite a believer yet.  I think Smith comes back to earth this week and the Chargers are able to cover this game.  Speaking of Smith coming back to earth, I think the under has some value too.  The Chiefs offense won’t be as explosive if Smith doesn’t push the ball down the field which could mean to some drives with no points scored.

Suggested plays:

LAC +3
Under 47.5

Oakland Raiders @ Washington Redskins

Current Pinnacle spread: OAK -3
Current Pinnacle total: 55

My projected spread: OAK -2.6
My projected total: 51.7

The Sunday Night Football game should be one with a lot of points scored for the second straight week but instead of being on the over for the second week in a row, I will be on the under as I think this number has gotten out of hand.  The total opened 53 at Pinnacle and has risen now to 55.  I understand why the money is coming in on the over because both teams are perceived to have good offenses.  However, I think the Redskins offense isn’t what it was last year.  Kirk Cousins is a fine quarterback but losing DeSean Jackson to Tampa Bay this offseason has been a big loss.  Cousins has no deep threat to open up space underneath.  So instead, Washington is forced to short passes and they can’t go anywhere fast.  Their most explosive player is Chris Thompson, their second string running back, who scored two touchdowns last week but doesn’t get a ton of snaps because he isn’t a between the tackles runner.  Oakland’s defense isn’t great by any means but I do think Khalil Mack and others get some pressure on Cousins to force some short, quick throws and keep big plays to a minimum.  I do think the side is properly priced, so I would stay away from it.  But if you need some action come Sunday night and you can’t stomach the under, I would have to go with the Redskins.

Suggested plays:

Under 55

Dallas Cowboys @ Arizona Cardinals

Current Pinnacle spread: DAL -3
Current Pinnacle total: 46.5

My projected spread: ARI -1.3
My projected total: 47.3

The Monday Night Football game is the only game of this week that I don’t think the line makes any sense.  Yes, the Cardinals lost David Johnson.  Yes, Carson Palmer looks, and most likely is, washed up.  But I can’t justify the Cowboys laying three points on the road.  I just can’t find a way to see where the Cowboys are favored by six points on a neutral field.  I may still have Carson Palmer overvalued but even still, this game should be no more than a pick ’em.  The Cowboys offense will most certainly have a little bit of a bounce back after their horrible showing against Denver but Arizona has a good defense as well.  The Cardinals defense should be able to slow down the Cowboys offense as Dak Prescott hasn’t looked sharp through the first two weeks.  With the Cowboys being slowed down on offense and Carson Palmer able to move the ball on a beat up Cowboys defense, I think the Cardinals stay within the number and probably win outright.  This is by far my strongest play of Week 3.  As for the total, I would most likely stay away.  There is slight value to the over but I would just invest in the Cardinals and if that loses, this most likely goes down a lot different than my model projects.

Suggest plays:

ARI +3

Thanks for reading.  Check out my Twitter @amock419 for any updates and check out my NFL and College Football projections at the link in my Twitter profile or here.

 

 

 

NFL Week 2 Betting Preview

Houston Texans @ Cincinnati Bengals

Current Pinnacle spread: CIN -6.5
Current Pinnacle total: 38

My projected spread: CIN -3.4
My projected total: 32.8

The Thursday Night Football game has seen a big move from the opening spread (-3) all the way to -6.5.  I disagree with the movement but there is some doubt on if DeShaun Watson will be 100% healthy in his first career start.  The Texans already struggle on offense and if they aren’t putting a healthy quarterback on the field, it could go south quickly.  The main reason that I don’t agree with the line movement is that Cincinnati’s offensive line is a mess and I think the Texans can get consistent pressure on Andy Dalton all game.  We all know that when Andy Dalton faces pressure that he is very likely to start turning the ball over (see Week 1 vs Baltimore).  The Texans have a top defensive unit in the league and J.J. Watt and Jadaveon Clowney should be able to to give Andy Dalton fits.  I see this game being very low scoring, as I have the total projected for about 33 points.  Both offenses are below average and both defenses are above average.  The total did open at 38.5 at Pinnacle and has moved to 38.

Suggested Plays:

Under 38
I would advise a play on the Texans but I would wait to hear more about Watson’s health before making a play.

Cleveland Browns @ Baltimore Ravens

Current Pinnacle spread: BAL -8
Current Pinnacle total: 39.5

My projected spread: BAL -7.2
My projected total: 41.6

This game has seen a pretty strong move on the under early in the week as we saw the total open at 41 and has now come down to 39.5.  I had slight value on the over when it opened and with the move, I see even more value.  I do like this over play for a couple of reasons.  The Browns didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard against the Steelers last week but they were a couple of accurate throws from DeShone Kizer away from scoring at least one more touchdown, maybe two.  So I think the offense can attack the Ravens through the air definitely with the Browns offensive line, which I think is one of the best units in the NFL, giving Kizer some time to throw downfield.  The Ravens do have a good run defense so Kizer will have to make accurate throws to open up the run game.  Joe Flacco didn’t have a great game in Week 1 but he also didn’t play horrible.  He most likely wasn’t playing 100% and I don’t know if he will be this week either.  That makes me a little weary on the over play but it does open my eyes to the side in this game.  There is some slight value on the Browns in this game.  Taking 8 points against a Ravens offense that isn’t explosive and has a quarterback who could be less than 100% sounds appealing.  This line could go up before game time but I would advise a play on the Browns at the current number.

Suggested plays:

Browns +8
Over 39.5

Chicago Bears @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Current Pinnacle spread: TB -7
Current Pinnacle total: 43

My projected spread: TB -6.4
My projected total: 42.0

We didn’t get to see the Bucs play in Week 1 due to Hurricane Irma so this will be their first game.  I see this as a slight disadvantage for the Bucs as the Bears have played a game and got to work out the kinks while the Bucs starters haven’t seen live action since Week 3 of the preseason.  The Bucs did add DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard this offseason and are getting some buzz as an exciting offense but I project them around league average.  Jameis Winston is still too turnover prone and until he fixes that, I can’t really see this offense being above average in the NFL.  And with this being their first game,  I can see the Bucs possibly coming out slow on offense as they could be out of sync with having not seen the field in three weeks.  The Bears almost pulled off the upset of the Atlanta Falcons in Week 1 but that game was at home.  They must go on the road this week and as Mike Glennon is still not a good quarterback, the Bears will have to rely on Jordan Howard and Week 1 surprise Tarik Cohen in the run game.  I see the Bears trying to control the game on the ground and have some success doing so against a below average Bucs defense.  I like the Bears as a side play here this week as getting a touchdown and extra point is just too good to pass up.  As for the total, even with slight value on the under, I would actually rather play the 1H under.  If the Bucs come out slow, they could be throwing the ball a ton in the 2H so that makes the 1H under a safer play.

Suggested plays:

Bears +7
1H under (when available)

Minnesota Vikings @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Current Pinnacle spread: PIT -6
Current Pinnacle total: 45

My projected spread: PIT -6.5
My projected total: 42.6

This is one of the more interesting games to look at this week.  The Steelers didn’t look great in Week 1 against the Browns, while the Vikings looked great against the Saints.  I was hoping for there to be more overreaction on this game but it opened -7 and has moved down to -6.  I would advise a play on the Steelers if this drops any lower but I wouldn’t advise a normal play on the Steelers at the current number.  As for the total, I do like the under.  I think the Vikings offense slows down this week against a solid Steelers defense.  The Saints have the worst defense in the league and it isn’t surprising that the Vikings tore them up, expect them to come back to earth this week.  I also think the Steelers get slowed down by a good Vikings defense but it shouldn’t be enough to get the cover.  Ben Roethlisberger is usually great at home and I expect him to play well but I do think the Vikings can slow the Steelers down enough to stay under the total.

Suggested plays:

Hold out for Steelers -5.5, if not, no play.
Under 45

New England Patriots @ New Orleans Saints

Current Pinnacle spread: NE -7
Current Pinnacle total: 55.5

My projected spread: NE -4.1
My projected total: 59.5

The Patriots have seen a ton of money early in the week as this opened at -4.5 and has now climbed to -7 (although it is plus money, +112).  This is probably a reaction to the Saints getting beat badly by the Vikings on Monday Night Football.  Now, I don’t disagree with the Patriots being able to move the ball against this horrid Saints defense but I do think the number is too high.  The Patriots defense, most notably their front seven, looked vulnerable against the Chiefs in Week 1.  I think the Saints will have success against this Patriots defense and can stay within the number.  As for the total, it has seen some early over money, opening at 54, and I agree.  These two offenses are top five in the league and they will be playing indoors.  Tom Brady should have no problem against this bad Saints defense as they should bounce back nicely after looking out of sync in Week 1.  I also think Drew Brees and his offense will be able to move the ball successfully against a Patriots defense that made Alex Smith look like a very good quarterback,which he is not.  The Patriots defense should bounce back a little but going up against a top offense isn’t the team you want to face after your defense has a bad game against an average offense.

Suggested plays:

NO +7/+6.5
Over 55.5
Saints Team Total over 24 (24.5 isn’t as good but I have them projected for over 27 points)

Philadelphia Eagles @ Kansas City Chiefs

Current Pinnacle spread: KC -5
Current Pinnacle total: 47.5

My projected spread: -4.6
My projected total: 41.6

I have no play on the spread in this game, as I think the number is pretty accurate.  I probably wouldn’t play the Eagles until a +6 pops up but it seems we aren’t going to see that number.  As for the total, I really like this under.  I like both defenses in this game and I don’t like either quarterback playing.  Yes, Alex Smith threw the ball downfield successfully against the Patriots but I think the Eagles can get more pressure that the Patriots were able to and we can expect Captain Checkdown to return on Sunday.  Carson Wentz is a young quarterback who was a high draft pick so people are expecting him to make strides in his second season but I disagree.  He still struggles with accuracy and against a good Chiefs defense, I expect him to play poorly.  He may have looked decent last week and given some people hopes about progressing but the Redskins have a much worse defense than the Chiefs defense that he will see this week.  I expect a lot of short passes in this game from both offenses and the Chiefs have the run game edge to control this time of possession and take a win in a low scoring game.

Suggested plays:

Under 47.5

Tennessee Titans @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Current Pinnacle spread: TEN -2.5
Current Pinnacle total: 43.5

My projected spread: TEN -2.0
My projected total: 46.0

The value on the Titans has passed as they opened as a pick.  The line have moved enough now where I advise no play on the side.  As for the total, I do lean towards the over.  Early money has been on the under, coming down from 44 but I am not a big believer in the Jaguars defense.  They beat up on a horrible Texans offense and got a ton of sacks but they face one of the best offensive lines in the league in this game.  I don’t expect them to have the same pressure they had on Tom Savage and DeShaun Watson last week against Marcus Mariota this week.  The Titans did disappoint on offense last week but I see this as a good bounce back spot against a bad Jaguars team.  With the offensive line giving Mariota time to throw, I project the Jaguars defense to be exposed.  You could also look at backing the Titans team total over if you don’t want to rely on Blake Bortles scoring you points (pick 6 machine!).

Suggested plays:

Over 43.5
Titans Team Total over 21/20.5 (I wouldn’t advise a team total over play at 21.5)

Arizona Cardinals @ Indianapolis Colts

Current Pinnacle spread: ARI -7.5
Current Pinnacle total: 44

My projected spread: ARI -6.4
My projected total: 44.7

My numbers reflect Scott Tolzien as the starting quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts.  If Jacoby Brissett starts, it does benefit the Colts slightly and it benefits the over slightly.  I really don’t like anything in this game.  The total seems spot on, and it doesn’t depend on who starts at QB for Indy.  As for the spread, it seems that Arizona is overpriced but the Colts are a trainwreck right now.  Tolzien is garbage and Brissett is a little better but he was just acquired less than two weeks ago, so how much of the playbook does he know?  I most likely will stay away from this game as a whole but if you must have a play, I would suggest plugging your nose, grabbing some bleach, and play the Colts.

Suggested play:

None

Buffalo Bills @ Carolina Panthers

Current Pinnacle spread: CAR -7.5
Current Pinnacle total: 43

My projected spread: CAR -7.6
Current Pinnacle total: 44.3

Another game on the slate where there is minimal value.  At the current number, there is no value on the sides as I think it is properly priced.  The total, however, still has some small value on the over.  The total did open at 42.5 and has had some money on the over early in the week but I am a little hesitant to play it.  Cam Newton’s shoulder didn’t look healthy in the Panthers Week 1 win over the 49ers as he missed several open receivers down the field.  If his shoulder still isn’t healthy, I would not play the over in this game.  The Bills don’t have an offense that is explosive and neither do the Panthers if Newton can’t drive the ball down the field.  I would wait to get more news on Newton and even if they say he is healthy, I would still most likely stay away.

Suggested plays:

None

New York Jets @ Oakland Raiders

Current Pinnacle spread: OAK -14
Current Pinnacle total: 43.5

My projected spread: OAK -14.1
My projected total: 45.3

The NFL’s worst team (by a good margin) has to travel across the country to play one of the league’s top offenses and it doesn’t look promising that the Jets will be able to hang with the Raiders in this game to make it interesting.  Looking at the side, I see no value at the current numbers and want nothing to do anything with it.  The total on the other hand does have some value to the over.  I could see Oakland jumping out to a big lead that they will possibly ease up on the Jets in the second half so maybe a 1H play is the way to go.  But I still like the over as Oakland could very well put up 31-35 points and then all you need is 13-14 points from the Jets.  Yes, the Jets offense is horrible but the Raiders defense is vulnerable so they could get an early score and possibly get a garbage time score to send it over.  The total has not moved at all early in the week as it is still currently at the opening number.

Suggested play:

Over 43.5

Miami Dolphins @ Los Angeles Chargers

Current Pinnacle spread: LAC -4.5
Current Pinnacle total: 45

My projected spread: LAC -4.4
My projected total: 49

This is the other game of the week where we have no feel on a team because Hurricane Irma cancelled their game during Week 1.  The Miami Dolphins starters, just like the Buccaneers, haven’t seen action since Week 3 in the preseason.  This could cause for a slow start or just a sloppy game as timing could be off.  I do think the side is priced correctly but I do see value to the over.  The Chargers are coming off a short week and Miami should be fresh so we could see the scoreboard lighting up.  The Chargers have a good offense, even with struggling against a great Broncos defense in Week 1, and I still project them as an above average offense going forward.  An issue with the over, though, is the play of Jay Cutler.  He didn’t play last season and made a comeback to the Dolphins after Ryan Tannehill tore his ACL.  I still think the Dolphins, despite Cutler possibly being rusty, can put up some points against a meh Chargers defense.  The over is the play in this game.

Suggested plays:

Over 45

San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks

Current Pinnacle spread: SEA -14
Current Pinnacle total: 42

My projected spread: SEA -12.4
My projected total: 41.4

Hold your nose.  Yes, the 49ers catching 14 points has value.  It pains me to say it but at that number and with state of the Seahawks offensive line, you just have to take the two touchdowns.  Russell Wilson ran for his life all game last week against the Packers (who don’t have a great defense).  This gives me hope that the 49ers can get some pressure on him and get some defensive stops throughout the game.  I know you are wondering if the 49ers can score against the Seahawks and I think Kyle Shanahan knows a scheme to have success against the Seahawks (see last years playoffs).  Unfortunately, Matt Ryan and Julio Jones won’t be on the San Francisco sideline on Sunday but I do think a couple big plays can keep them within the number.  As for the total, I don’t see too much value anymore as mid-week money on the under has moved the total down from 43.  The low scoring total of this game fares well for the 49ers covering a big spread.

Suggested plays:

SF +14

Washington Redskins @ Los Angeles Rams

Current Pinnacle spread: LAR -3
Current Pinnacle total: 46

My projected spread: LAR -0.4
My projected total: 40.7

Before I break down this game, I admittedly am much lower on the Rams than the market.  I don’t project Jared Goff as having a big jump from his bad rookie campaign.  Todd Gurley is a good running back but with Goff at quarterback, it doesn’t seem that teams are going to let the Rams run the ball successfully against them as they are choosing to let Goff beat them.  Last week, Goff beat the Indianapolis Colts.  He actually looked pretty good (much much better than last year) so this makes me a little nervous about my projections on him are too low.  This line implies that the Rams are better than the Redskins as the Rams do not get the full three points for home field advantage.  I think the Redskins defense and offensive line are bad but I do think Kirk Cousins is good enough to score some points.  By no means do I think the Rams are equal or better than the Redskins.  Take the Redskins and the points.  As for the total, I again have a strong play on the under here.  This probably has to do with how I grade the Goff and the Rams offense, but an average Redskins offense facing a good Rams defense on the other side of the field doesn’t add up to points for me.  I would probably put a little less down on these than the edges suggest, as I don’t know if I am projecting the Rams correctly. But no less, the Redskins and the under are the play.

Suggested plays:

Redskins +3
Under 46

Dallas Cowboys @ Denver Broncos

Current Pinnacle spread: DAL -1.5
Current Pinnacle total: 42

My projected spread: DAL -1.2
My projected total: 42.7

As you can see, I don’t see much value at current numbers.  The side looks spot on and the total has come down from an opening number of 43 to 42.  I wouldn’t advise a play in this game at the current numbers and unless this gets to a pick or Broncos +3, I would stay away.  I have heard some chatter about people being surprised that the Broncos weren’t favored in this game and I really disagree.  Trevor Siemian is a horrible NFL quarterback.  He looked ok against the Chargers last week but he fell apart in the fourth quarter as the Broncos almost blew the game.  The Broncos offense will be their fault time and time again this year, as they rank near the bottom of the NFL according to my projections, and it will cause the defense to be on the field more than they have to.  The Cowboys love to run the ball and control the time of possession as they are one of the best offenses in the NFL according to my projections.  I expect the Cowboys to wear down the Broncos defense late in the game and win a close, low-scoring game.

Suggested plays:

None

Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons

Current Pinnacle spread: ATL -2.5
Current Pinnacle total: 53.5

My projected spread: ATL -2.8
My projected total: 56.3

A rematch of the NFC Championship game last year on Sunday Night Football should give us one of the most entertaining games of the year.  Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, there are a ton of explosive players on the field in this game and I expect a lot of explosive plays.  I don’t really like either defense and both offense project as top five units according to my projections.  I do expect some regression from last year for Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense but I still think they are a really, really good unit that can put up points in a hurry.  And we all know that Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback in the NFL and he had a pretty good day last week against a great Seahawks defense.  So we can expect him to lead the Packers offense to the end zone often.  I think the side is properly priced right now but there is some value on the over.  Take the over in this game and sit back and enjoy because there should be a lot of points in this game just like last year’s championship game.

Suggested plays:

Over 53.5

Detroit Lions @ New York Giants

Current Pinnacle spread: NYG -3
Current Pinnacle total: 43.5

My projected spread: NYG -5.2
My projected total: 43.7

The New York Giants looked awful last week against the Dallas Cowboys.  Granted, their best player, Odell Beckham Jr., couldn’t play.  He is still questionable this week and I have factored that into my projected spread/total.  This line opened at NYG -4.5 and early money has moved it to NYG -3 and I like that number even if OBJ is a no go on Monday Night Football.  I am not a believer in the Lions this year even after their double-digit win over the Cardinals.  They go on the road this week for MNF and I really don’t think these teams are equal on a neutral field, as the current line suggests.  I project the Lions defense worse than the Cowboys so we should see a better effort from Eli Manning and company.  The defense, which played fine against the Cowboys last week, should have no problem slowing down Matthew Stafford and the Lions.  The Lions offense project as a below average unit in the NFL and the Giants defense project above average.  I think the line movement on this game is an overreaction to last week as the Lions looked good and the Giants looked awful.  I think the total is correctly priced so there is no play there for me.

Suggested plays:

NYG -3

 

Thanks for reading.  Check out my Twitter @amock419 for any updates and check out my NFL and College Football projections at the link in my Twitter profile or here.

 

 

 

 

 

Penguins vs Capitals, Game 7

Tonight the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals face off in D.C. for a date with the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference Finals.  The series has taken some thrilling turns as the series underdog, the Penguins, took a commanding 3-1 lead but has quickly seen that disappear with the Capitals roaring back taking the last two games.  I’m here to give you my thoughts on how tonight will go and what each team needs to do to move on to the Eastern Conference Finals. Before that, though, I will say that I am a Penguins fan and I will attempt to take any bias out of this post as I can but no guarantees.

First, let’s start with an overall glance at how the series has played out so far.  In Game 1, the Penguins scored twice in the opening minutes of the 2nd period.  Up to that point, the game seemed to be pretty even when looking at “expected Goals” or “xG” from Moneypuck.com (graph displayed below).

Pens.Caps Game 1 xG

However, the Pens seemed content with their two goal lead and this led to the Capitals to come back in the expected goals department and thus, coming back to tie the score at 2-2 near the midway point in the 3rd (this trend will seem to continue throughout the series).  Nick Bonino played hero with a goal late in the 3rd period and the Penguins never looked back. Looking at the graph, you can see that the Caps fired a ton of shots at the net near the end and but came away with nothing.  The Caps won the xG battle 2.74-1.73 according to Moneypuck.  According to Corisca, the Caps won the xG 2.18-1.25.  They came away with the xG wins but couldn’t come up with the actual win that mattered.

Now you may hear that the game isn’t played on a spreadsheet or the goals that go in the net are the only ones that matter and while the latter may be true, this data can give us a look at how future games play out.

While I’m not going to sit here and breakdown every single game like I did above, I will display the xG, from both sites, for all six games so far, as long with the Corsi For for each game.  That is displayed below.

Pens.Caps Pens Metrics G1-6

As you can see, from a Pens fan perspective, this isn’t good.  At all.  The Penguins have had two games of a xGF% greater than 50% according to Moneypuck and only one game over 40% xGF% on Corisca. Looking at the series on a game by game average, the Caps were expected to score 3.21 goals per game while the Penguins were to score 2.10.  The actual numbers are on the right side of the table, with both teams at 3 goals per game.  This tells us that the Caps have been a little bit unlucky, while the Penguins have been very fortunate to score the goals that they have through six games in this series.

But even as a Penguins fan, you can’t look at the first four games and see much of a difference from the last two.  Other than Game 2***, their xGF% have actually looked worse than the past two and that is only if you are looking at Moneypuck’s xG data.  Granted, some of that contributes to them holding a lead late and sitting back. Or maybe as a fan you say that Sidney Crosby was out for basically two games in this series.  I beg to differ.  Yes, Crosby helps, but he has played in four games this series and they haven’t been any better.

This data ties into what I said earlier in the article.  The data can give us a look into how future games might play out.  Now, as we saw in the Blues-Wild series earlier in the playoffs, a seven game sample size can still not tell us the real story.  The first four games were very similar to that Blues-Wild series in a sense that the team that is playing worse has been winning the games.  Unfortunately for the Wild, they couldn’t beat the luck and were knocked out of the playoffs.  It looked like the same fortune for the Capitals after Game 4 but we have seen the tables turn in the last two.  The better team is finally winning games.

Going into tonight, though, the Penguins will need to be on top of their game and the Capitals will just need to keep doing what they have been doing all series.  They, honestly, don’t need to change a thing.  They have been dominant and I expect them to continue that dominance this evening.  In Game 6, the zone exits for the Penguins were very sloppy with a lot of bad passes that ended up in the skates of the forwards.  Maybe if they can fix this tonight, they will be able to generate more offense and put more pressure on the Capitals.  But even still, the first first six games don’t give me much hope tonight even if they convert on those zone exits.  They aren’t healthy and they’re just not the better team.  But again, this is hockey and it is one game.  Anything can happen in one game.  Anything.  The pucks can start bouncing the Penguins way and they walk away with a victory, who knows.

As for a prediction, I think the Caps win 3-1 and advance to face Ottawa in the Conference Finals.  The Caps are the far more superior team on the ice tonight and they probably are the far more superior team with a healthy Crosby (who knows if he is actually concussed or not), Letang, and Murray.  Just look at the data that I have presented here today, you can see that the Penguins are getting out played by the Capitals.  If Marc-Andre Fleury doesn’t stand on his head in the first four games, maybe the Capitals walk away with a sweep and we don’t have to hear about how Alex Ovechkin can’t get it done in the playoffs.  Unfortunately for Alex, we might be hearing that again if the Capitals don’t find away to skate away with a win tonight.

Thanks for reading.  Give me a follow on Twitter at @amock419 for more insights on my analytical perspective of sports.

 

Notes:
*** Game 2 is skewed on Moneypuck.com due to an empty net goal that gave the Penguins an 80% of scoring on the shot

**Special thanks to Moneypuck and Corsica for providing this data to me for this article and providing great data for all hockey fans.