NFL Week #5
I’ve been an NFL handicapper for 24 years, posting my picks publicly. Periodically, I’ve felt compelled to make adjustments to my handicapping methodology. If something’s not working, then try something else.
The NFL changes over time. New rules and the renewed emphasis on existing rules can severely impact the outcome of games. Virtually all rules changes now favor offenses, which means higher scoring games, and increased variance (i.e., games are less predictable). Moreover, climate controlled domes and rubber grass clearly favor offenses (perfect conditions for passing).
There are other factors which increase variance. Calling upon the judgment of referees makes outcomes tougher to predict. The quality of coaching and quarterbacking also changes, making results less foreseeable. Running backs were once the most important players on any team. Now, running backs are far less consequential than quarterbacks, receivers, and even key offensive linemen.
More passes per game and yards-per-completion have also helped to spike variance. This makes statistics- and trend-based handicapping somewhat obsolete. Higher variance reduces the value of key numbers and diminishes the effectiveness of teasers. Then, there’s the longer extra point, creating more misses — which also deducts the impact of key numbers. In short, even though we’re only a month into the schedule, this regular season has become a clear illustration of wildly unpredictable results, calling for some adjustments to handicapping and perhaps even a shifting focus on the types of bets we make.
None of this is accidental. Higher-scoring, less predictable games are more fun to watch (I hate high-scoring games). High-scoring, less predictable games are good for fantasy football. With the NFL going through some trouble of its own, with CTE image problems and a slip in television ratings, I believe the league has made a clear decision to create higher-scoring, less predictable games which will attract viewers. So, this is the landscape we must adjust to now.
Hence, I’ve incorporated several adjustments and shifted my focus on the types of bets I’ve made and recommend this week.
2018 NFL REGULAR SEASON RESULTS
STARTING BANKROLL: $10,000.
CURRENT BALANCE: $6,725. [- $3.375.]
OVERALL W-L RECORD: 18 wins / 21 loses / 1 pushes
LAST WEEK’S RESULTS: 5-7-0 (-$960)
New England -6.5 vs. Miami (-110) — Won $300
Indianapolis [PICK] vs. Houston (-110) — Lost $330
Atlanta -4 vs. Cincinnati (-110) — Lost $330
Atlanta / Cincinnati OVER 53 (-110) — Won $300
Oakland -2.5 vs. Cleveland (-110) — Won $300
Dallas / Detroit UNDER 44 (-110) — Lost $330
Tampa Bay +3 vs. Chicago (-110) — Lost $330
[6-pt. teaser] Tampa Bay +9 / New England -.5 (-120) — Lost $600
[First Half] Tampa Bay +1.5 (-110) — Lost $220
Tennessee +3 vs. Philadelphia (-11o) — Won $300
[First Half] Tennessee +1.5 (-110) — Lost $220
[First Half] Baltimore +2 vs. Pittsburgh (-110) — Won $200
THIS WEEK’S PICKS: 17 plays = 13 totals, 2 first-half totals, 2 sides
Scoring is up this year, but the totals haven’t kept up with the pace. Since NFL Week #1, totals have only risen about 1.7 PPG, while scoring has resulted in 12 more OVERS than UNDERS through 60 games. This averages out to about +3 more OVERS than UNDERS per week (reduced to about +2.4, minus vig). However, with some effective line shopping and timing, those numbers could be slightly better.
Through 4 games (and not counting Thursday night’s OVER), by a margin of 20-12, more NFL teams are outpacing their O/U point total projection. Six teams have outpaced scoring projections by 10+ points. Only one team, Arizona, has vastly underperformed in terms of scoring and allowing points. The Cardinals are the only team 0-4 to the UNDER. Four teams are 4-0 to the OVER.
I believe this is an excellent week to bet OVERS. First, offenses are more in sync now, one full month into the season. Also, due to overly-protective rules and strict enforcement, virtually all starting QBs are healthy, which should also assist with scoring. Futhermore, this week there are a number of games with banged up defenses, which should play in the favor of OVERS. Finally, weather should play no factor in any games, except perhaps Kansas City where rain is forecast. BTW, even with some really shoddy FG kicking so far this season, scoring is still up. I expect a lot of the kicking woes we’ve seen to stabilize.
Accordingly, I’m playing OVER in every NFL game this week, and cherry-picking a couple of first-half totals where we pick up a win on the opposite side of a soft number. That will be the primary strategy this week. In addition, I played the sides of a few key games which appear to be mismatches (Note: All lines are taken from Westgate Las Vegas as of Saturday afternoon):
Baltimore at Cleveland OVER 45 (-110) — Risking $330 to win $300
Jacksonville at Kansas City OVER 49.5 (-110) — Risking $330 to win $300
Tennessee at Buffalo OVER 39 (-110) — Risking $330 to win $300
NY Giants at Carolina OVER 43 (-110) — Risking $330 to win $300
Denver at NY Jets OVER 42.5 (-110) — Risking $330 to win $300
Atlanta at Pittsburgh OVER 58 (-110) — Risking $330 to win $300
Green Bay at Detroit OVER 51 (-110) — Risking $330 to win $300
Miami at Cincinnati OVER 48 (-110) — Risking $330 to win $300
Oakland at LA Chargers OVER 52.5 (-110) — Risking $330 to win $300
Arizona at San Francisco OVER 40 (-110) — Risking $330 to win $300
Minnesota at Philadelphia OVER 46.5 (-110) — Risking $330 to win $300
LA Rams at Seattle OVER 50 (-110) — Risking $330 to win $300
Dallas at Houston OVER 45 (-110) — Risking $330 to win $300
Washington at New Orleans OVER 51.5 (-110) — Risking $330 to win $300
[First-Half] Tennessee / Buffalo OVER 19.5 (-110) — Risking $220 to win $200
[First-Half] Minnesota / Philadelphia OVER 23 (-110) — Risking $220 to win $200
LA Chargers -5 vs. Oakland (-110) — Risking $550 to win $500
— Oakland is in a terrible spot here going on the road after their first win. Raiders should have lost last week and would have been 0-4 had it not been for two horrendous blown calls by referees. Cleveland with a rookie QB in his first start picked apart the Oakland defense and the Chargers with a much more proven QB should do much the same. Raiders’ defense is riddled with injuries. Look for Chargers and QB Rivers to have a big day, even though the home field advantage is negligible. Great spot for Chargers to rise to the level of a team expected to win the AFC West.
Detroit -1 vs. Green Bay (-110) — Risking $330 to win $300
— Packers have been a mess in three of their four games. They finally played a good game on both sides o the ball hosting Buffalo at home, but that’s not a quality win. Detroit lost a heartbreaker at Dallas the previous game but have looked solid the last three weeks — posting three consecutive ATC covers. Lions proved they can rise to the occasion at home, beating Patriots a few weeks ago. Look for a similar result here versus thier rival.
MY WAGERS ON NFL SEASON WIN TOTALS:
Arizona Cardinals OVER 5.5 wins -180 — Wagering $450 to win $250 0-4
Buffalo Bills OVER 6 wins EVEN — Wagering $400 to win $400 1-3
Cincinnati Bengals OVER 6.5 wins -170 — Wagering $680 to win $400 3-1
Dallas Cowboys UNDER 8.5 wins +110 — Wagering $500 to win $550 2-2
Detroit Lions UNDER 7.5 wins EVEN — Risking $400 to win $400 1-3
Houston Texans UNDER 8.5 wins +120 — Risking $400 to win $480 1-3
Jacksonville Jaguars OVER 9 wins -145 — Risking $725 to win $500 3-1
Indianapolis Colts UNDER 6.5 wins +170 — Risking $400 to win $680 1-4
New Orleans Saints OVER 9.5 wins -145 — Risking $725 to win $500 3-1
Seattle Seahawks UNDER 8 wins (Best Bet) -150 — Risking $1,500 to win $750 2-2