NFL Week 4 Pick Recap
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We had a “feel good” GreenZone pick for a tasty little win to get us going on Thursday Night. Nothing takes the edge off the mid-week anxiousness for football like a good collection. The rest of the slate for this weekend is going to take a little bit more #Trust. The first 6 or so weeks of the season are always a little bit of a feeling out process and waiting for teams to display their true level of ability. The data is getting a little firmer, but with only 3 observed weeks we are still seeing a lot of sides of the ball taking shape. We are going to stay the course and dance with the one who got us here. Nothing fancy about the 4 additional definite Greenies and the two games that we backed-off a touch due to the reasons outlined in the write-up….system, system, system.
Last week, the GreenZone went 4-5 overall and we gave back 7.1 units. This took us to 28.15 units for the season, but after that big, 5.9-unit, GreenZone win by the Packers we are back up to a juicy 34.05 units through 3+ weeks of the season. The GreenZone is sitting just about right where it should be with a 16-10-1 record which is good for a 62% win rate. We are going to have GREAT weeks and we may have ones every time to time that aren’t monumental. A 4-5 NFL weekend isn’t what we wait all week for, but it’s not going to break the bank. If the Lions don’t get absolutely robbed with the bullshit, “play reviewed so we run off the clock and end the game” job, than it would have been 5-4. We’ll get some breaks this year and we’ll get jammed into the #BoneZone here and there…that’s part of the biz.
[5.9 Units] Philadelphia Eagles (+1.5) at LA Chargers
The Chargers just can’t seem to catch a break the last couple years. If we hadn’t seen a final score each week and had to take a guess at their record based only on the first three quarters played of each game, we doubt a lot of people would say 0-3. But, here we are. The Eagles have to be pretty happy with their 2-1 start when they were staring down the barrel of at divisional rival Washington, at Arrowhead, and home with divisional rival Giants. What makes a big difference in close games and for the win-loss record…special teams. The Eagles are currently 10th in football outsiders special teams rankings while the Chargers are dead last. Placekicker, Younghoe Koo, certainly hasn’t helped that, bagging 40% of his attempts…yikes! Special teams aren’t going to decide every game, but in the case of a pretty close matchup, which we have here, it’s always nice to have an edge. There’s no doubt Philly, who won on a 61-yard field goal last week, has a major advantage for every play where someone’s foot is hitting the ball. The Eagles have been pretty consistent on the offensive side of the ball and are currently a top-10 offense. The Chargers D is above average, but they aren’t game wreckers and we don’t anticipate their little soccer stadium home field doing a lot to make things harder for Wentz. No Fletcher Cox is disappointing for this play, but the numbers still say this Schwartz-led unit will do enough to get a W. Our models have the Eagles winning this one outright, so we’ll take the points on the road. Note: at time of writing the Eagles are actually getting 2.5 instead of the 1.5 given in the Super Contest.
[5.5 Units] Carolina Panthers (+9) at New England
The Panthers burned us last week when they went against the #31 defense in the league and still struggled to produce anything that could loosely be referred to as “offense”. Well, now they go against the #32 defense and we are going to listen to the system again. New England’s defense is playing at a historically bad clip right now. We took the Texans at Foxboro last week and if not for Tommy being Tommy, they would have won outright while being 13-14 point dogs! By the end of the season, this Panthers offense will be better than the Texans and the Panthers still have a top 5-ish defense. Do the Patriots win the game…yes. Can the Patriots defense cause enough stops to win by double-digits…no. No public Joe bettor is going to take the Panthers after watching them limp around on offense for 3 weeks and we are fine with that. Take the defense and a monster spread and more times than not it’s going to work out. We have this as a 5-point game which is plenty of GreenZone juice for us.
[5.2 Units] Detroit Lions (+2.5) at Minnesota
The Lions getting screwed out of being able to attempt a sneak could ironically be what is allowing this game to be in the GreenZone. If they would have won that game last week against the Falcons and got to 3-0, every talking head in the country would have been discussing if they are the best team in the NFC. Well, 6 inches and a 10 second runoff kept them under the radar for at least one more week. Here’s the deal with the Lions…they currently have a top-10 defense, the #1 special teams in the league, and an offense that can make plays (except for when the clock gets run off) when they need to. They are a complete team and are forcing a lot of turnovers. Minnesota, with Keenum running the show for two full games, is actually playing like a top-5 offense right now and carrying a defense that has greatly underperformed where they’ve been the last several years. As the numbers stand now, the Lions still have the edge. What will be interesting is to see if both of the Vikings units regress…offense taking a step back and their defense taking a step forward. This should be a hard-fought divisional game…both teams are very familiar with each other and the Lions got tore up a bit by Keenum on the Rams last year. If we get a couple “KEENUMS” and the Lions defense continues to be ball hawks, the potential for a comfortable DET win exists. That’s a little positive optionality for us, but in the base case we take the points in what should be a close game.
[4.9 Units] Indianapolis Colts (+13) at Seattle
Here we have another “scary one” that have been working out so far for us this year. Texans at NE, 49ers at Seattle…now Colts at Seattle. Anything over 12 points is a “worst team in the league vs. best team in the league” type of spread. The Seahawks finally scored over 10 points for the first time all year last week. The Seahawks defense is still good, but they aren’t at their “terrifying” levels they have reached in recent past. Additionally, their offense is still pretty sad. The Colts have an average defense and shouldn’t give up a lot on that side of the ball. As long as this Colts offense can avoid turnovers (not always the easiest thing to do in SEA), they should be able to keep this one under 14 points.
[1.4 Units] New York Jets (+3.5) home with Jags
This is a straight-system play we are backing off the size because these two teams are absolutely bipolar. Jacksonville has looked good, fucking terrible, and then fucking amazing in the first three weeks. We have NO idea who they are and the data has had such a wide variance that we don’t feel too strongly about trusting it. The model has the Jets as about 3-point favorites, which means they are getting almost 7-points of value. That’s great, but it’s still the JETS. We are putting some action on them because of the overwhelming system data, but this isn’t any game to try to be a hero on in week 4. Stay away or take a little taste, but don’t allow yourself to get burnt by BORTLES or the JETS.
[1.3 Units] Miami Dolphins with Saints in London
Before the season started we all agreed internally that we would not be betting any London games because of the long travel and the uncertain impacts to both teams. Well, we must have had short-term memory loss last week when we took the Ravens big and watched them get dismantled in possibly the biggest blowout we’ve ever been on the wrong side of as ProMathletics. What a disaster! This is the same story as the above game. The data supports the Dolphins, but we are discounting by a large margin due to the over-the-pond aspect. Also, our man, @TyinVegas did some research on the Dolphins travel schedule the last month and it is not pretty. They had to evacuate for the H-word and have basically been nomads for the last 4-weeks. They got to go home for a couple days this week which meant they took a Friday flight to London. Saints on the other hand have been over there all week….proceed with CAUTION.