San Francisco (+7.5) 22 CHICAGO 26
The 49ers have not played well on the road so far this season with a 0-5 SU and 1-4 ATS record, being outscored 14-35 with an average loss against the spread of -12.6 points. Away from home they have simply been non-competitive and are only averaging 286 yards per game at 4.8 yppl while giving up 467 total yards at 7.3 yppl. Facing a surging Bears team that has won 3 of their last four games SU and seven of their last eight ATS, the 49ers are in a tough spot. Making matters worse is the fact that they’ll be facing Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who was released in the off-season by the 49ers. Fangio is working magic in Chicago with a defense that is playing above its’ talent level and he’ll have his unit fired up to play a big game against Blaine Gabbert and company.
My model favors the Bears by 7.7 points but the 49ers qualify in 181-106-7 and 160-93-3 contrarian situations. With the worse coach and quarterback combination playing on the road, I’m staying away. Based on the situations, I’ll lean slightly with the 49ers.
Atlanta (+1) 25 TAMPA BAY 24
The Falcons have been on a steep decline for a number of weeks now, losing five of their last six straight up and seven in a row ATS while the Bucs seem to be an ascending team, winning two of their last three straight up and five of their last seven ATS. If you have been reading any of my write-ups over the past few years you know that usually means to play on the team that’s on the decline as the public and the odds-makers over-adjust based on perception and divergent recent performances. That’s the case here as well.
Atlanta is a bit better than average overall from an adjusted yards-per-play perspective but they’ve been bitten by turnovers at critical times and have an overall turnover differential of -3 with an unlucky -4 net fumble difference. On the other side, the Bucs have a slightly better statistical profile with a better than average offense (both rushing and passing the ball), a good rush defense (-.3 ypr better than average), but a pass defense that is .2 yps worse than the average of the opponents they have played. Unlike the Falcons, however, their good results have been partly the result of good fortune as they are +2 in net turnovers including +2 in net fumbles.
There should be some points scored in this game with both offenses moving the ball well according my projections and my model favors the Bucs by 2.5 points. Tampa does, however, qualify in a negative 238-372-13 situation that plays against certain home favorites that will have me leaning with the Falcons.
BUFFALO (-3) 22 Houston 17
The Bills have now lost two in row in tough spots against the Patriots in New England two weeks ago and then last week against the red hot Chiefs in Kansas City. Meanwhile, the Texans have played well recently, winning five of their last six games SU and ATS. Buffalo should play well back at home after three consecutive road games while the Texans will have to keep up their level of play on the road for the first time in three weeks.
The Bills match up pretty well with a rush offense that is averaging 138 yards at 4.8 ypr (+.6 ypr better than their opponents allow) facing a Texans rush defense that is -.2 ypr worse than the average of the opponents they have faced. Meanwhile, the Texans rush offense is subpar in averaging just 99 yards at 3.6 ypr against opponents that allow 105 yards at 4.1 ypr. Buffalo should win the rushing battle but Houston has been a much better passing offense with Brian Hoyer in the game (15 touchdowns and just 5 interceptions) while the Bills have been just better than average defending the pass this season (allowing 254 yards at 6.3 yps against teams that gain 257 yards at 6.5 yps).
Tyrod Taylor might have his hands full facing a pass rush that will see J.J. Watt matched up against a banged up Bills offensive line. In addition, the Texans secondary has played much better recently and on the season are only allowing 220 yards at 5.8 yps to teams that gain 247 yards at 6.5 yps.
I don’t have any situations in play but my model favors the Bills at home by 6.2 points. I lean with the Bills plus the points.
Arizona (-6) 24 ST. LOUIS 17
Arizona is clearly the better team in this game but the Rams match-up pretty well and could keep this one close. Back in Week 4 St. Louis went to Arizona and won as big dogs. They did it on the strength of their strong running game that churned out in 165 at 6.6 ypr and they won the turnover battle with a +3 margin (1 interception and 2 recovered fumbles).
Things have changed quite a bit for the Rams since then, however, with a run game that has gone flat due to multiple injuries along their offensive line. Since those injuries the Rams are only averaging 90 rushing yards per game at 4.0 ypr with some of that coming on long gadget runs by Tavon Austin. They haven’t had a consistent traditional running game in a few weeks now and I don’t see it getting better anytime soon. Partly because the threat of the pass is just not there with Nick Foles and a passing offense that is among the leagues’ worst – generating just 181 yards at 5.7 yps against teams that allow 247 yards at 6.6 yps. Facing a Cardinals defense that defends both the run and the pass well (allowing 4.0 ypr against teams that gain 4.2 ypr while allowing 6.2 yps against teams that gain 6.5 yps) the Rams will be hard pressed to score points in this game.
On the other side the Cardinals are among the leagues’ best offenses, generating 412 total yards at 6.6 yppl against teams that allow 369 yards at 5.8 yppl and are above average running and passing the ball. In addition, Arizona has been a bit unlucky this season as well with a -4 net fumble differential so if the ball starts bouncing their way they are going to be very hard to beat.
My model clearly favors the Cards in this game to the degree where a math play has been triggered – (I get Arizona -13.3 points) but the Rams qualify in a couple of good bounce back and home dog situations that are 156-105-4 and 142-91-7. With conflict on the numbers and the situations, it’s a pass for me with a lean to the Cardinals minus the points.
CLEVELAND (+9.5) 20 Cincinnati 25
Austin Davis the starter over Johnny Manziel. Davis played pretty well last week in relief of McCown, completing 7 of 10 passes for 77 yards with a touchdown and I was fairly impressed with his play in his nine appearances with the Rams last season (12 TD’s for 4.2% touchdown rate and 9 interceptions for 3.2% interception rate and an 85.1 passer rating). I don’t expect that they’ll lose very much with Davis in the line-up but Cleveland is going to have to get more out of a running game that is averaging 74 yards at 3.4 ypr against teams that allow 100 yards at 4.1 ypr if they are going to be competitive in this game. While they have talent on the offensive line and in the backfield it just hasn’t translated into consistent production so far this season, but they might be able to have some success against a Cincinnati rush defense that’s .3 ypr worse than average.
While the stats point the Bengals way and my model favors them by 10.1 points, there are several strong situations that favor the Browns. With the Bengals +6 and the Browns -3 in net turnovers, Cincinnati qualifies in very negative 374-540-14 contrary turnover angle that plays against certain teams that have a significant difference in turnover margin relative to their opponent. The premise being that turnovers will regress back towards the mean, creating value on the team with the negative difference to date. That situation wins year in and year out and this season is already 7-10. In addition, the Browns benefit from another negative 96-177-3 let-down situation that plays against the Bengals.
This is just too many points to be laying a divisional foe on the road – I like the Browns plus the points.
Jacksonville (+2.5) 22 TENNESSEE 23
The Jaguars shut down the run well – allowing just 95 yards at 3.6 ypr against teams that gain 107 yards at 4.2 ypr and should have success against a Tennessee offense that has really struggled to run the ball (averaging 94 rushing yards at 3.9 ypr against teams that allow 112 yards at 4.3 ypr). Titans coach Mike Mularkey may have Mariota run the ball more and that will help but Jacksonville should win in the trenches. Offensively, the Jags should run at about a league average rate against a Titans rush defense that allows 108 yards at 4.1 ypr against teams that gain 107 yards at 4.2 ypr. I like Mariota better than Bortles in the match-up of quarterbacks but both should have success against below average pass defenses.
This game looks like a bit of a toss-up to me but my model favors the Titans by 2.7 points while Tennessee qualifies in a negative 96-160-5 situation that will have me leaning with the Jags plus the points.
OAKLAND (+3) 24 Kansas City 21
Sun Dec-06-2015 at 01:05 PM Pacific Rotation: 374 Over/Under 44.0 – Matchup Stats
The Raiders got back on track last week with a 24-21 win in Tennessee and climbed back into the playoff picture but at 5-6 are on the outside looking in at a possible Wild Card berth. On the other side, no team in the NFL has been as hot as the Chiefs as they have now won five straight SU and ATS (immediately after a streak of five straight SU and ATS losses). With that recent streak, the Chiefs have played themselves into the postseason mix and if the playoffs started today they’d be the 5 seed. That being said, the Raiders know that this is a crucial game for them to win as a loss would be a devastating blow to their playoff hopes.
Because of that, I expect to get the Raiders best effort in this game. This game is similar to the set-up of last years’ Raiders home win against the Chiefs as heading into that game Kansas City appeared to be in good position for a playoff berth after five consecutive wins, but that 24-20 loss began a slump that ultimately kept the Chiefs out of the playoffs. The difference this year is that the Raiders are a much better team that they were last season, and have the added motivation of playoff positioning themselves.
Kansas City has played well from a yards-per-play perspective but the main reason they have been so good is that they have not turned the ball over – they are best in the league at protecting the ball with just 8 giveaways the entire season (3 interceptions and five fumbles). As a result, they are second in the league overall with a +12 net turnover differential, including being +1 in fumbles. On the other side, the Raiders are -1 in net turnovers, including an unlucky -5 in net fumbles. The Raiders have fumbled the ball 19 times this season, losing 10, while their opponents have only fumbled 8 times, losing 5. So, the Raiders have been somewhat unlucky while the Chiefs have had some luck.
Oakland qualifies in a 142-91-7 home dog situation while the Chiefs qualify in a 96-177-3 let down situation and the math likes Oakland in this game as well. I like the Raiders plus the points.
PITTSBURGH (-7) 32 Indianapolis 19
The Steelers are just 2-2 SU and 1-3 ATS since big Ben has returned from injury and last week lost a tough one to the Seahawks in a game where the offenses ruled the day. Pittsburgh rolled up 539 total yards at 7.3 yppl but gave up 437 yards at 7.5 yppl and were -4 in net turnovers (all four interceptions). When the Steelers offense is clicking as it has been the past few games (and doesn’t turn the ball over), it’s very difficult to stop and I expect the Colts will have problems this week keeping up on the scoreboard. With Roethlisberger in the line-up the Steelers are averaging 26.3 points per game and 345 passing yards as compared to 20.5 points and 163 passing yards without him. Pittsburgh should move the ball well in this game against a Colts defense that is below average defending both the run and the pass (Indy is .2 ypr worse than average against the run and .2 worse than average against the pass).
On the other side the question is whether or not the Colts offense will be able to keep up. Matt Hasselbeck has played well in replacement of an injured Andrew Luck and could have some success against a Steelers defense that is allowing 284 passing yards at 6.9 yps to teams that gain 255 yards at 6.8 yps. The problem will be running the ball as a below average Colt running game (averaging just 91 rushing yards at 3.8 ypr against teams that allow 100 yards at 4.0 ypr) will face a pretty good run defending Steelers operation (allowing 94 yards at 4.0 ypr to teams that gain 106 yards at 4.3 ypr). Without the benefit of a decent running game, Hasselbeck will have a hard time consistently generating offensive production.
Situations favor the Steelers as they qualify in a 692-520-41 fundamental rushing situation while the Colts qualify in a couple of negative let down situations that are 121-198-13 and 34-62-4. My model favors the Steelers by 9.8 points so I’m leaning with the Steelers minus the points.