NFL Week 11 Pick Recap
We are thinking about changing our company name to “Mr. Thursday Night Special” after yet ANOTHER weekday win to get us a leg up on the bookies heading into the weekend! We now stand at 62.5% GreenZone win rate and are up to +86.05 Units after that Thursday night thrashing by the Steelers. This is a “feel good” week as we are actually with the public on 3 of our 6 remaining suggested plays. We get more nervous when we are on favorites and consensus type picks than when we are on dogs and games that frighten most our customers. There are tall buildings in Vegas for a reason, after all. However, there are times when big favorites have value and this week we are on several.
That is the beauty of our models. There isn’t any focus placed on faves/dogs or home/away…it is as agnostic as it gets. No scheme or rules of thumb get applied, it’s analyzing the value of each matchup based solely on the merits of those two squads. This is the last week of byes, so we are going to settle in to a nice 4 weeks or so of less noise before we get into weeks 16 and 17 where teams may be resting or playing for draft position. Keep on firing away those positive EV bets and we are going to have at least a couple BIG weekends left in us, boys.
NOTE: [Units] outlined next to each pick in terms of “to risk” % of bankroll. 5 units = 5% of bankroll or $50 on $1k. Our bet sizing methodology utilizes the Kelly Equation, and more specifically, half-Kelly. The sizes are descending because of “assumed losses” which necessitate dynamically reducing the bankroll.
[5.9 Units] Detroit Lions (-2.5) at Chicago
The systems have this as a 3.5 to 5-point game in favor of the visiting Lions. Public opinion, as we are told, is that the Lions are a dome team and it’s late in the year outside in Chicago. That is supposedly what is keeping this number down. We don’t speculate to that degree, but what we do know is the Lions practiced outside this entire week and are in Detroit…this isn’t as if the Falcons or the Saints are coming up north and are going to be cold. The Lions had a tough 3-week stretch against the Panthers, Saints, and Steelers, but have bounced back with two-touchdown wins the last two weeks. This will be the first time the entire season that the Lions are able to trot out their true starting O-Line with LT, Decker, making his 2nd start and TJ Lang back at RG this week after sitting out with a concussion against the Browns. The Lions will also get back rookie redzone threat Kenny Golladay. Last week, he played a limited role with only 11 snaps as they eased him back. In those 11 snaps he had 2 grabs for 64 yards…the kid is a monster and they have a tremendous 3-deep at WR with him fully back. While most teams are getting banged up, this is the most overall healthy and at “full strength” the Lions have been the ENTIRE season. Even without the increased health, we have the Lions as just on the cusp of our top 10 while the Bears are firmly in our bottom 10. This is a divisional game, so the two teams know each other well. We like the visiting squad to get the win here and don’t see Trubisky being able to hurt the Lions in the air. Expect the boys in Honolulu blue to load the box on defense and see if this rookie QB can do anything about it. We aren’t worried, lay the points and watch the Lions start to hit their stride with the full offensive unit out there.
[5.5 Units] New Orleans Saints (-7.5) at home with Redskins
This isn’t your 1980 “Aints.” The 2017 New Orleans Saints are going for 8 straight wins and 8 straight covers. How can one of the most publicly backed teams the last 7 weeks still have value? No idea, but hey, we will take it. This is what we do know, the Saints are a very well balanced team and rank top-5 offensively and defensively. The offense has always had an air attack with Drew Brees under center but it’s been the run game this year that has been turning the heat up. Mark Ingram is tied for 1st in the league with 7 rushing TDs and ranks 3rd with a 55% success rate. Oh, and newcomer, Kamara can do it all, 417 rushing yards, 373 receiving yards, and 6 total TDs. Drew Brees has still been Drew Brees. He has thrown for over 2,000 yards and is completing a league best 72%, which is just stupid. The only weakness this team has shown is the run D, which ranks towards the bottom of the league. Fortunately, the team on the other side of the field, the Washington Redskins, just placed there top running back, Rob Kelly on the IR. They will have to rely on Chris Thomson who is a receiving RB rather than a true between the tackles RB. When we say receiving RB, we mean the team leading receiver. That’s not a mistake, Thomson leads the team with 494 receiving yards and 3 TDs. Lucky for us the Saints rank 10th in DVOA vs. receiving RBs. Their 2nd leading receiver has been veteran Vernon Davis. Top TE, Jordan Reed, has been battling a hamstring injury all year, which has led to Davis getting a lot of snaps. Again, good for us the Saints are ranked 2nd in DVOA vs. TEs. The Skins team is truly an average team that has been plagued by injuries and will not be able to match a red hot, healthy, above average New Orleans Saints team. The hook is scary but the numbers see this closer to a 10-point game. So, we will lay the points and hope for a blow out at home in the dome.
[5.2 Units] Jacksonville Jaguars (-7.5) at Cleveland
ProMathletics co-founder, Rob Santini, is our resident Browns fan. He has tabbed this one as his hunch of the year that the Browns win the game outright. Luckily, for our sake, we trust the numbers and don’t have you guys taking the Brownies money line like he is rooting for! This Jacksonville defense is number 1 in the league against the pass. This Browns offense is the worst pass attack in the league and Kizer’s ribs are already brittled up heading into the game. The ONLY shot Cleveland has is using their top-10 run game to grind this game away and not make any mistakes in the passing game. We aren’t banking on the Browns being able to do that…any mistakes early or big plays by the Jags and this one will be over. Trying to sling it around against the Jags will likely lead to some big-time shots on Kizer and at least a couple turnovers. Taking 7.5-point road favorites in the NFL is not what a public bettor would typically look for, but we have this as a 10.5-point game and love the passing defense on passing offense matchup. You have to be able to throw the ball in the NFL or the box will get stacked and that will be the end of your day. In the Patriots we have the single best passing offense vs. the single worst passing defense and in this one we have the single best pass D vs. the worst pass O. The Browns blew their wad last week coming off the bye…played Detroit tough for about 3 quarters and are going to come out sad on Sunday….we’ll take the Jags in one where the ladies watching will be frightened by the massacre and be begging the refs to stop the fight!
[4.9 Units] New England Patriots (-6.5) in Mexico City with Raiders
There is a little bit of noise in this matchup in Mexico City. Very difficult to predict who the crowd will back, but it probably won’t be an environment where either team has limited ability to communicate at the line of scrimmage. Another aspect of the location is the elevation. Mexico City is at about 7,400 feet which is substantially higher than “Mile High” Denver which is exactly 5,280 feet. That elevation has a serious impact on some people who are not accustomed to it which is why the Broncos have more of a home field advantage than any other team in the league. Well, we probably aren’t the first folks to report this, but Bill Belichick is fucking smart. The Pats played at Denver last week and then stayed in Colorado all week so they would remain at elevation. The impacts of going to 7,400 feet should be more muted for them than the Raiders who were in LA at 233 feet. Location impacts aside, this Patriots pass attack is going to fucking shredddd this Raiders defense. We have the Raiders as the worst pass defense in the league by a mile. The Patriots pass defense, which we ragged on for most of the first half of the year, still isn’t great, but it’s substantially better than the Raiders. The only shot the Raiders have is in an absolute shoot out and we don’t have a lot of faith in them being able to keep pace with Tommy and the boys. We see this as another 7.5 to 10-point game and like the angle of the Patriots being better physically prepared. This is the afternoon game of the week, so sit back and enjoy the surgical dismantling of the Raiders secondary by Brady…it should be a thing of beauty.
[4.6 Units] Green Bay Packers (+2) at home with Ravens
This makes it a third week in a row that we are on the Packers who are getting passed over by the public. As we said last week, we were a little premature on that Lions matchup, but Hundley has now accounted for half of their offensive snaps this year and our models have them still ranked as an above average offense. The Ravens are a bipolar team this year (aren’t they always) so who knows what Joe Flacco will show up in Lambeau. The Ravens are coming off a bye, but their defense is powered by keying off turnovers. Hundley has settled in and McCarthy has figured out how to make the most of his skillset without putting them in a position where he can hurt them…as evidenced by zero interceptions his last two games after throwing 3 INTs his first 3 quarters when being thrown in the game ill prepared. Our models have the packers as about 3-point favorites, so we have to trust the numbers and roll with the data. It is hard to win road games against average teams in the NFL and we see these two as about the same level of talent, so we will gladly take the home dog in that scenario.
[2.5 Units] New York Giants (+10.5) at home with Chiefs
Let’s cut straight to the chase: the New York Football Giants are a fucking mess right now. We do not put any faith in them being able to find a way to win this game, specially against Andy Reid who is 16-2 as a head coach when coming off a bye. The Chiefs got their bye week right when they needed it, as they had lost 3 of their last 4. Their defense isn’t the same without Eric Berry and they have been forced to play a lot more of a “bend but don’t break” style. The Giants, despite their record, are a league average offense. Kansas City is surprisingly all the way down into our bottom-10 defenses, so we think the G-men will be able to keep this within striking distance. Our proprietary models have this as about a 7 to 7.5-point game. We are discounting the weighting on the bet because of the free-fallin’ status of the Giants and the Andy Reid bye factor.