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NFL Week 3 – Previews, Articles, Info. Sunday 9/27/15

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    NFL Week 3 Essentials
    By Tony Mejia

    Underdogs barked loudly in the second week of the NFL season, winning outright in 10 of the 16 games. Johnny Manziel was a winner. The Bucs, who were 2-14 last season, handed New Orleans its sixth consecutive Superdome loss as Jameis Winston won for the first time. To say it was a puzzling week would be an understatement. Let’s look ahead to Week 3:

    Pittsburgh at St. Louis: The physical nature that’s expected to carry the Rams into playoff contention simply wasn’t there against Washington, which could be attributed to a young team suffering a hangover after beating the Seahawks but may be something greater. The Steelers bounced back from their opening night loss in New England by thrashing the 49ers and get Le’Veon Bell back in the fold. Considering how poorly St. Louis fared against the run in Landover, the AFC’s top rusher in 2014 could be in line for a big debut. Backup DeAngelo Williams has rushed for 204 yards and three scores, so the Steelers definitely have their ground game going. St. Louis was 14th against the run last season and was counting on taking a step forward in that department. How they fare against the Steelers ground game will likely dictate whether they can take down another heavyweight down at home in the dome. First-round pick Todd Gurley (ACL) may be available to help the Rams try and control tempo in what would be his NFL debut.

    San Diego at Minnesota: Despite a horrible season-opening performance in San Francisco and a short week of preparation, the Vikings mauled Detroit, surviving Adrian Peterson’s fumbling issues as Teddy Bridgewater showed a pulse. The biggest plus was the physical nature they displayed after being blown off the ball by the 49ers. Minnesota will be expected to replicate that effort at home against a Chargers offensive line dealing with health concerns. San Diego is on the road for a second consecutive week. Teams in that situation in Week 2 went 0-5 SU and ATS.

    Tampa Bay at Houston: Winston still made mistakes, but was cool under pressure in his first road game and didn’t turn the ball over while also making some big throws on third down. He’ll take those building blocks on the road against a Texans defense that gave up 350 yards against Cam Newton and Carolina, coming up with just two sacks. Ryan Mallett will make his first home start since being promoted to starting quarterback in place of Brian Hoyer, but he came up short on the Texans final drive in their bid to tie the game. Don’t expect Mallett’s job to be made easier by Arian Foster, who will miss at least one more week.

    Philadelphia at N.Y. Jets: No team appeared more embarrassed in Week 2 than the Eagles, who rightfully drew boos at home in a 20-10 loss to Dallas where they accomplished little other than knocking out rival Tony Romo out of action for a couple of months. Their offensive line was physically dominated, which doesn’t bode well when facing a Jets defense whose strength is its imposing front line. Fortunately for Philly, undefeated New York faces a short week of preparation and remains without suspended DT Sheldon Richardson.. Teams faced with short weeks after the opening MNF doubleheader went 2-2 straight up and ATS in Week 2.

    Jacksonville at New England: The Patriots have rolled through two of the more talented teams in the AFC East in wins over the Steelers and Bills, but now Bill Belichick has to guard against complacency as his Patriots handle the role of double-digit favorite for the first time. His job is made easier by the Jaguars upset win over Miami, which is certain to get his team’s attention. Despite the absence of top offensive tackle Luke Joeckel and top defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks, the Jags controlled the line of scrimmage. Jacksonville was also without key safety Johnathan Cyprien and tight end Julius Thomas, so monitor their availability here.

    New Orleans at Carolina: There was something evidently wrong with Drew Brees, who had a miserable afternoon against Tampa Bay and was hit hardest on a play where he appeared to suffer an injured shoulder early in the second quarter, fumbling and never again looking like his normal self. A physical Panthers defense that survived at home without top LB Luke Kuechly should make it difficult for Brees to find a rhythm if he’s out there. Kuechly is scheduled to participate in non-contact drills on Wednesday as he begins the process of being cleared through the NFL’s concussion protocol.

    Cincinnati at Baltimore: It’s early, but potentially must-win time for the 0-2 Ravens, who make their home debut after a pair of frustrating West Coast setbacks that may have turned out differently if they were able to execute in the red zone. The Bengals could take an early stranglehold on the AFC North if they’re able to move to 3-0 here. Cincinnati potentially faces a running back controversy after starter Jeremy Hill was pulled following a pair of key fumbles against San Diego. Speedy Giovani Bernard came on and ran for 123 yards on 20 carries, potentially wrestling away the job. The powerful Hill is still the better goal-line threat.

    Oakland at Cleveland: Second-year QB David Carr shook off a hand injury and lit up Baltimore in a 37-33 upset, throwing for a career-high 351 yards and completing 7-for-9 on the game-winning drive. Considering the Ravens do have a Super Bowl-caliber defense, Carr’s emergence may be the start of something big since he didn’t lock in on any one receiver, completing passes to 10 different players as both Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper topped the 100-yard mark. Browns head coach Mike Pettine confused rookie Marcus Mariota into multiple miscues and utilized his superb secondary well to earn his team their first win, so this should be an intriguing chess match. It remains to be seen whether Josh McCown returns from his concussion or Manziel keeps the QB job.

    Indianapolis at Tennessee: The winless Colts have been dominant against AFC South rivals throughout the entire Andrew Luck era, sporting a 16-2 record that includes a 13-game winning streak. He’s never lost to the Titans, outscoring them 68-24 last season. Mariota will be out to change that, but he’s nursing his first battle scars as a pro, suffering an injured ankle and numerous bumps and bruises after being tossed around in Cleveland. Tennessee’s chances to pull off an upset would improve if they get back the services of TE Delanie Walker from a hand injury.

    Atlanta at Dallas: Staying afloat without Tony Romo begins at home against a Falcons team that has overachieved in opening 2-0. Can Brandon Weeden and a Dez Bryant-less receiving corps do enough to keep pace with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones? The Dallas coaching staff will be counted on to help manage the process and will earn their money here. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli won last week’s game with help from the special teams, but will probably need a little help from that big offensive line that no longer has any room for error since Weeden lacks Romo’s improvisational skills.

    San Francisco at Arizona: Cardinals QB Carson Palmer has thrown an seven touchdowns through two games and is the only QB that can be put on Tom Brady’s record-setting level thus far, so this is an opportunity to flex some muscle within the division. The 49ers got carved up in Pittsburgh after a strong opening performance, so this NFC West clash should give us a better indication of what to expect from this new-look defense after massive personnel turnover. New head coach Jim Tomsula will look to prevent the Cardinals from a 3-0 start by winning in Glendale for the third time in four years.

    Chicago at Seattle: Since Jay Cutler is out after straining his hamstring attempting to chase down the latest DB to pick him off, the Bears will have to ride Jimmy Clausen. Clausen started one game last season and had the Bears up 14-10 on Detroit in the fourth quarter before the Lions rallied. He hadn’t started in a win since his rookie season in Carolina back in 2010 and may not have Alshon Jeffery to throw to if the All-Pro receiver can’t make it back from his own hamstring injury. The winless Seahawks probably won’t need Kam Chancellor for this one.

    Buffalo at Miami: Both defenses looked fearsome in the opening week and got a massive dose of humility in Week 2. The Bills took apart Luck in Week 1, but were no match for Brady at home despite getting top defensive lineman Marcell Dareus back from a one-game suspension. The Dolphins stifled Washington with their pressure but failed to record a sack against the Jaguars, who were the most sacked team in the NFL in 2014. Ndamakong Suh will look to be more involved in his home debut. One of these AFC East squads will be 1-2 when this is over, which should guarantee a contentious affair.

    Denver at Detroit: The Sunday night game provides another opportunity to dissect Peyton Manning’s game as he faces the most vulnerable defense he’s encountered in 2015 following wins over Baltimore and Kansas City. Counterpart Matthew Stafford can’t be looking forward to seeing Von Miller and Co. come into Ford Field after the beating he took in Minnesota last Sunday. Stafford had to have his chest and ribs x-rayed, but should be healthy enough to start.

    • This topic was modified 7 years, 2 months ago by admin.

    Books strike back in Week 2
    By Micah Roberts

    When Week 2 NFL opening numbers were posted at the beginning of last week, it was apparent that there was luxury tax placed on a few of the teams that beat the sports books in Week 1.

    The books knew who the public was going to play, and they set numbers against their emotion, and played it brilliantly to a winning week.

    “We had a house player on the Steelers pretty heavy,” said MGM Resorts Vice President of Race and Sports Jay Rood, referring to the Steelers easy 43-18 win as six-point home favorites over the 49ers, “but it turned out to be a good day for us.”

    CG Technology VP of risk management, Jason Simbal, said their books had a good day as did Station Casinos sports book director Jason McCormick. Every book was in the black and most of it was based on the public riding the teams hard that fared well last week believing what they saw last to be gospel.

    They laid more points than they should have on overpriced teams like New Orleans, Tennessee, Baltimore, Miami, and St. Louis, much to the delight of the books.

    One of the few games where the public was correct on was the Patriots, who had moved to a 2-point underdog at Buffalo, and won 40-32. Rood said his MGM books had taken sharp action on the Bills, but that it was one-sided with public parlay money on the Patriots.

    McCormick cited the Cardinals, Steelers and combination of Patriots to OVER as being their worst decisions.

    The most one-sided game of the day at the books was the public rolling with the Rams (-3.5) at Washington at a 90 percent clip on the Rams, who had just come off a big win against the Seahawks. Washington controlled the game throughout in a 24-10 win. And things like that just continued to roll on the day for the books, just one week after having things go against them in the same fashion.

    Tampa Bay, a 10-point road underdog, would take out a popular Saints squad, 26-19, the Browns (PK) won at home over the Titans, 28-14, and then in the afternoon the Raiders (+6) beat the Ravens 37-33 and Cowboys (+6.5) won 20-10 at Philadelphia.

    “Yeah, it was a big day,” said Simbal. “The Redskins were the biggest game of the day, Raiders next and then the Browns.”

    So what happens in Week 3 with the Betting Public?

    Yes, the masses enjoyed the riches of Week 1 and they felt they had momentum and a crystal ball that was going to carry into Week 2 with another nice win. But they didn’t care that prices were inflated and some forgot that this is the NFL where any team on any given Sunday can beat any other team.

    One week after being down on the Buccaneers, you have to kind of respect its road win at New Orleans and think a little more when they’re getting up to seven points this Sunday at Houston, who has started 0-2.

    The odds on this matchup in my opinion should be Houston -5 and -5.5, which are dead numbers, but since the Bucs still have that public stigma against them, the books opened higher and that is going to give you value with them, at least for one more week. If Tampa Bay wins on the road again this week, Love Smith and company will definitely be on the radar screen for many because the public loves winners.

    One game that won’t see too much action just because the public won’t have an easy decision is Oakland getting four points at Cleveland. They hate both the teams, but at the same time, both teams showed some offense and life in their Week 2 wins at home. The Browns might actually be a little cheap at home in this spot, but who wants to lay over a field goal with them. With so many betting options in the 1:00 p.m. ET start times, this game will get buried on the level of importance while the parlays are being filled out.

    One of the most popular public teams over the past decade has been the Saints, but they’re on the slow descend out of favor with many bettors, and this week they’re catching three points at Carolina. The combination of the Saints on the road and on grass hasn’t been a good combination for New Orleans even when they were good.

    Despite a 0-2 start, you can believe the public will come strong again with the Eagles this week, a team bettors absolutely fell in love with during preseason and a team the books jacked up a team rating rarely seen so drastic during the exhibition season.

    Philadelphia opened -2.5 at the New York Jets while the total is sitting at 47.5. This was a team expected by many to regularly be cashing side to OVER parlays at 13/5 odds (Bet $100 to win $260) all season, but it hasn’t happened yet. Look for the public to go to the well one more time with a desperate Philly squad until finally jumping off Chip Kelly and his troops.

    Tough choices to make this week, but you can bet they will be made.

    Best of luck on the decisions!


    NFL Opening Line Report: Oddsmakers debate Romo’s worth to Dallas’ odds
    By Colin Kelly

    After a solid 2014 season that culminated in a playoff appearance, the Dallas Cowboys had to make a tough decision: pay Dez Bryant or pay DeMarco Murray. They paid Bryant, and Murray left for greener pastures in Philadelphia.

    Then Dez Bryant went down with a broken foot in Week 1 against the New York Giants. The Cowboys hope he’ll only miss four to six weeks. And on Sunday in Week 2 at Philadelphia, quarterback Tony Romo suffered a broken left clavicle – the same injury he suffered in 2010 – and is expected to miss eight to 10 weeks.

    About the only good news for the Cowboys? Well, they’re 2-0 SU (1-1 ATS), with both wins over NFC East rivals. Dallas topped Philadelphia 20-10 as a 7-point road underdog, a week after edging the Giants 27-26 as a 7-point home favorite.

    Now, the Cowboys return home to face Atlanta (2-0 SU and ATS), which is also off to a solid start after its paltry 6-8 SU and 7-9 ATS campaign in 2014. On Sunday, the Falcons put up two fourth-quarter touchdowns – the second with just over a minute left – to nab a 24-20 victory as 2-point road underdog against the Giants.

    John Lester, senior lines manager for Bookmaker, said the opening line on this game would have to wait a bit.

    “We’re going to have to take some time here, considering everything that’s happened to Dallas personnel-wise,” Lester said. “Had Romo still been available, we would have opened around -6 for the Cowboys. The Falcons are improved from a year ago, but I don’t think they’re as good as they’ve looked thus far.”

    Johnny Avello, executive director of race and sports for Wynn Las Vegas, also had to sit tight on the opening number.

    “It’s a great start to the season for the Falcons, beating two NFC East foes. Strangely enough, those two opponents (Eagles and Giants) are 0-4 between them, as they both also lost to the Cowboys,” Avello said. “With the loss of Tony Romo, the Cowboys would be happy with a 50/50 record from this point on until he returns.”

    At offshore market, Sportsbook, they opened Atlanta as a 1.5-point favorite and took immediate action on the Falcons to the point where they pulled the game from the board and consulted some industry experts on the potential pointspread. Those experts came back with a spread of pick’em, however, Sportsbook linesmaker Peter Childs wasn’t convinced the game should be that tight.

    He reopened at Falcons -2.5 and again took one-sided action on Atlanta, forcing a move to three. Once at a field goal, Dallas bets started rolling in as well as sharp action on the Cowboys which dropped the line back down to Atlanta -2.5, which is were the book sits as of Monday morning. Childs says his biggest concern is how the Dallas offense struggled with backup QB Brandon Weeden under center, with Romo out with a back injury, against the Arizona Cardinals last season.

    “The Cowboys were competitive early, but eventually the Cardinals shutdown Weeden and the Cowboys offense and got the easy win and cover,” Childs recalled. “We lost a fortune on that game, so we knew that our customers were going to fade Weeden in this spot and all early indications are exactly that – fade Weeden. And last year for the Cowboys, they had Dez and Murray, who won’t be on the field come Sunday versus the Falcons. Interesting game, I do believe the Cowboys will be competitive but I also believe the Falcons should be a slight favorite.”

    Kansas City Chiefs at Green Bay Packers

    Kansas City was in the primetime spotlight in Week 2, when the Chiefs were dealt a stunning 31-24 home loss after Denver scored two touchdowns in the final 40 seconds – the second on a shocking fumble return. So instead of hashing things out in overtime, K.C. stumbled as a 3-point favorite Thursday night.

    With the exception of the extra three days’ rest, the Week 3 schedule doesn’t do the Chiefs (1-1 SU and ATS) any favors, as they are once again in primetime, but this time at Green Bay on Monday night.

    The Packers (2-0 SU and ATS) are coming off a rematch of the NFC Championship Game, avenging their loss last January by beating Seattle 27-17 as a 3.5-point home favorite. With that being the Sunday night game, and some injuries on the Packers, the opening line isn’t set just yet.

    “Going into Sunday night, we would have made the Packers between six and 7-point favorites for this one,” Lester said. “It’s a long layoff for the Chiefs, which I don’t think is a good thing considering how deflating their Week 2 loss was. They’ve got to be eager to get back on the field, but they’re in a holding pattern.”

    Said Avello, “Another primetime spot for the Packers, but they are quite used to it now, and the Chiefs also get their second in a row after playing last Thursday. I believe playing these games in front of a large TV audience helps motivate a team to play its best. The Chiefs let one get away against Denver, but they’re good enough to bounce back and play head-to-head with the Pack.”

    Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens (-2.5)

    Baltimore (0-2 SU and ATS) finally gets a home game after two long weeks on the road. The Ravens were dealt a tough loss at Denver in Week 1, falling 19-13 in a game they arguably should have won, then went to Oakland as a 6-point favorite and lost 37-33 on a last-minute Raiders touchdown.

    Cincinnati (2-0 SU and ATS) has gotten out of the gate quickly with a pair of wins and covers. On Sunday, the Bengals fended off San Diego 24-19 as a 3.5-point home fave.

    Avello opened Baltimore at -3.

    “The Ravens have lost three straight to the Bengals, and this is no time to extend it,” he said. “There are no must-wins this early in the season, but it sure would be a very difficult road back after falling behind the division leader by three games right from jump street.”

    Lester’s opening number was a shade tighter at Ravens -2.5.

    “We’ll have a lot of players eager to back the Bengals, but that’s what we’re counting on with this number,” Lester said. “I fully anticipate Baltimore putting forth a great effort in this matchup, as the Ravens obviously can’t afford to start the season 0-3. John Harbaugh will have his guys ready to play.”

    San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals (-6.5)

    Arizona (2-0 SU and ATS) is looking stout in the early going, entering this NFC West clash after thumping Chicago 48-23 as a 2-point road chalk Sunday.

    On the flip side, San Fran is coming off a blowout loss. The Niners were dealt a 43-18 shellacking Sunday catching 6 points at Pittsburgh.

    “It’s a tale of two teams from the opener to Week 2 regarding San Francisco,” Lester said. “The Niners aren’t as bad as they looked at Pittsburgh, but this is a very difficult spot for them. Arizona has been dominant at home over the last couple of years, so we felt comfortable putting up this number. I expect it to bounce around between 6 and 7 all week, and we’ll probably get solid split action.”

    Avello went slightly tighter on the line, with the Cards at -6.

    “The Niners have had the Cards’ number, winning five of the last six and eight of the last 10,” he said. “That’s because the 49ers were good and the Cardinals weren’t. Well, a change in the guard has certainly occurred.

    “Arizona was never an easy place to get a win, but the Cardinals’ home-field advantage is stronger now than ever, and that 13-3 record over the past two-plus years demonstrates that.”


    NFL Line Watch: Brees’ shoulder has total bettors on alert

    Each week during the pro football season, Art Aronson of AAA Sports looks at the NFL odds and tells you which spread to bet now, which one to bet later and and which total to watch as the week plays out.

    Spread to Bet on Now

    Atlanta Falcons at Dallas Cowboys (+1)

    Are the Falcons finally over the hump? Atlanta owns two tight wins over NFC East opponents (Eagles and Giants), and goes for the division trifecta against the wounded Cowboys Sunday. The Falcons have twice trailed in the late going, only to storm back both times and keep pace with the Panthers in the suddenly-relevant NFC South.

    Tony Romo’s injury has caused Dallas money to dry up as bettors have pounded the Falcons 2-to-1. If you like Atlanta to make it three in a row, best lay the money down as soon as possible because the line could bump up pretty quickly.

    Spread to wait on

    Pittsburgh Steelers at St. Louis Rams (+1)

    Steelers action has already tilted this one from Rams -1 to Rams +1, and with 70 percent of early bettors backing Pittsburgh, there could be even more volatility on this game. Pittsburgh’s 25-point blowout of the 49ers in Week 2 settled nerves in western Pennsylvania after the Steelers had been manhandled by the Patriots in the opener.

    Rams fans may be in for a roller-coaster ride this season, if the early results are any indication. No one expected St. Louis to be dominated in Washington, but St. Louis just could not get its offense going.

    Total to Watch

    New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers (45)

    As Yogi would say, it gets late early around here, and at 0-2 the Saints find themselves in last place in the NFC South and with an injured quarterback. Reports about Drew Brees’s injured (throwing) shoulder are conflicting, and range from “he’s good to go on Sunday” to “he’ll be sidelined for several weeks”.

    If Brees can’t go against the Panthers, the immortal Luke McCown takes over against a Carolina team that has allowed the second-fewest points in the league this season. Not hard to do the math from that point, especially considering that the Panthers’ offense is banged up itself and has been less than mediocre so far.


    Bears huge road dogs in Seattle with Cutler out
    Andrew Caley

    The Chicago Bears have opened as huge 14.5-point underdogs for their Week 3 road game against the Seattle Seahawks with quarterback Jay Culter missing the game due to a hamstring injury.

    Backup quarterback Jimmy Clausen will get the start in Cutler’s absence. Clausen went 14-23 for 121 yards and one interception in relief of Culter last week against Arizona.



    Tuesday, NFL Wise Guy Report

    461 Pit from+1 to -1.

    Bell returns, and you could argue the Steelers will have had 17 days off after that opening day Thursday loss, then the “bye” laugher win vs. the 49ers……Pit a clear contender, and the far superior team.

    468 JETS pk up to -2.5

    Jets look good, Eagles look terrible. That was enough to move this game as soon as the Jets game went final…..

    475 Oakland +4 down to +3.5

    Oakland is terrible on the East Coast, AND terrible off a win. However, they are every bit as good as the Browns, if not better………wise guys grabbed +4. Note, money has poured in on Oakland for three straight weeks now…..

    478 Ten +4.5 down to +3.3

    A feeding frenzy of anti-Indy this morning…’s clear Indy is in big trouble in games outside their division………and maybe just in big trouble period based on this line move……


    Teams missing starting QBs step up big time for NFL bettors

    A quarterback is the most important player on his team: the focal point of an offense, the playcaller, and the face of the franchise. So naturally, when a starting quarterback goes down with an injury, most people will expect his team’s performance to be worse while he is out.

    And there’s no doubt that when a quarterback gets his injured his team will do worse. But trying to quantify that wouldn’t give you an edge in the betting market. Rather, what you want to quantify is how much a team’s performance slides relative to how much the betting public expects it to slide.

    The past two weeks, we’ve written about small imperfections in the betting market that result from the public not understanding random events. For example, if lines are properly set and each team has a 50 percent chance of covering the spread each game, then you would expect at least some teams to cover all of their last four games.

    The probability of a given team going 4-0 against the spread is (1/2)^4, or 1/16= 6%. It would be unlikely for a given team to go undefeated against the spread, but with 32 teams you would expect 32*6%= 2 teams to go undefeated against the spread just because of randomness alone, not because they are better than the spreads said they would be.

    This is often hard to understand, and may lead to people reading too much into a good ATS streak, as we saw happen when teams that finished undefeated ATS in the last four games of the previous season failed to cover in the first week of the next. The same idea holds for when an underdog wins big – some of those wins are just due to randomness, and one shouldn’t read too much into it.

    My point in saying all this is that when attempting to quantify how much the Dallas Cowboys will miss Tony Romo, or how much Team X will miss Quarterback Y, you should check to see if perhaps the public is in some way not properly accounting for the loss of a quarterback. It is these small mistakes by the public (not understanding randomness, perhaps not fully understanding how much a quarterback matters) that you should seek to exploit.

    To look at this, I compiled a list of starting quarterbacks who missed at least one game over the past five seasons. I then looked at how their team did ATS is the first game after they got injured (the logic being that after a game the public will realize how much the QB will actually be missed). Also because of this logic, if a quarterback got injured for two separate periods of time in the same season, I only looked at the first game that he missed in the season. I found 35 instances of this over the past five seasons.

    I then looked at how teams did ATS when they were missing their starting QB. One of the games was a push, but 23 of the other 34 games were won ATS by the team missing their quarterback – just over 67 percent.

    Doing a binomial test on this, we find that it’s nearly significant at the 0.05 level, with a p-value of 0.0576. Although it’s not statistically significant, the low p-value hints that the public may be giving too many points to team missing their starting QB, allowing them to cover the spread more often than not.

    Why is this happening? There could be several reasons, and honestly without further analysis I don’t exactly know why. Perhaps the public is just overestimating how valuable their QB is. Perhaps the team rallies around their fallen starter and plays better. Perhaps the defense steps up. Perhaps backups are better than the betting public gives them credit for. It would be hard to prove why teams do better against the spread with their QB out – something far beyond the scope of this first glance.

    Returning to this analysis, there are a few points that I should bring up. First, compared to my past pieces, this relies on fewer years of data – only five, compared to the 20-plus I used in the other pieces. Also, I had to collect this data by hand. There is a very real possibility I missed a game or two. And lastly, without the proper data it is impossible to tell which lines were adjusted to account for a QB being missing.

    When an injury occurs like the one Romo suffered, it’s easy to tell that he will miss the next game and won’t play. If a quarterback is questionable going into the weekend, the lines may not fully adjust. This is important for a few reasons.

    First, if the lines do not adjust and the QB sits than we would expect the team to lose against the spread, as presumably the backup is worse than the starter and won’t live up to the spread, which was set thinking the starter would play. With respect to the data collected, this could actually be masking some of the true effect, and if we were able to identify and not look at those games, the effect may be larger.

    Secondly, when betting on games this weekend, if you use this advice, some games may not reflect a QB being out. For example, if Sunday morning a quarterback like, say, Tom Brady announces he is out, that doesn’t mean that you should go bet on the Patriots immediately, as the line might not have time to have changed. Only if a quarterback is out for sure, and the line accounts for that, would the results of this suggest you should bet on that team.

    Looking to this weekend, it seems sure that Romo and Jay Cutler will be out, so betting on the Cowboys and Bears respectively may be smart. Drew Brees and Matt Stafford are also banged up, so it might be worth keeping an eye on them and on the Saints’ and Lions’ lines.

    Last week: 3-0 ATS
    Season: 8-1 ATS


    Steelers leading the way in the 2-point revolution

    The Pittsburgh Steelers went for a 2-point conversion following each of their first two touchdowns against the San Francisco 49ers last week, but you had best get used to it as this could be something we see more and more in the 2015 season.

    As Dale Lolley, Steelers beat reporter for the Observer-Reporter, points out, we are on pace for 56 two-point conversion attempts this season. That’s double what we saw in 2014.

    But it’s Mike Tomlin and those Steelers that are leading the way, converting all three attempts so far.

    Eleven clubs have opted for the 2-pointer instead of the extra point with six successfully converting. Only the Steelers, Indianapolis Colts and Buffalo Bills have attempted more than one.

    Furthermore, as Lolley mentioned via Twitter, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said that his club has seven-to-10 two-point conversion plays and that they will continue to use it “on many occasions”.


    Where the action is: Biggest midweek NFL Week 3 line moves

    We talk to Michael Stewart of online shop CarbonSports about some of the line adjustments to the Week 3 odds and where those spreads could end up come kickoff:

    Atlanta Falcons at Dallas Cowboys – Open: +2.5, Move: +3.5, Move: +2.5

    Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant went down in Week 1 and quarterback Tony Romo was hurt in Week 2 adding to the injury woes that have grabbed the headlines in Big D.

    Still, Dallas is 2-0 heading into its showdown with the Falcons Sunday afternoon but the prospect of Brandon Weeden isn’t exactly enticing to the betting community.

    “We opened the Falcons as 2.5-point faves heading into Dallas adjusting the juice as the week has gone on with the majority of the action on the Falcons,” Stewart says. “With the QB situation in Dallas up in the air I believe we will see this line up as high as 3-3.5 as the public will jump on Atlanta on those numbers to cover. Also, if the number gets up to Falcons -3.5 you will see the sharps come in and back the Cowboys.”

    Philadelphia Eagles at New York Jets – Open: +2.5, Move: -2.5

    Talk about two teams going in opposite directions.

    The Eagles have stumbled out to an 0-2 SU and ATS record to kick things off in 2015, while the Jets have gotten out to a 2-0 SU and ATS mark thanks to a defense that has allowed an NFL low 17 points through the first two weeks.

    As Stewart points out, action is all over the hot Jets with both sharps and public bettors loving the home team.

    “We had opened this game with the Eagles as 2-point faves last week, and with the Eagles’ second loss and the Jets convincing win on Monday night over the Colts, the action pushed the Jets to our current number (at time of writing) of Jets -2.5 with 80 percent of the action,” Stewart says. “This is a spot where we are seeing both public and sharp action backing the Jets.”

    Pittsburgh Steelers at St. Louis Rams – Open: +1, Move: +2

    The Steelers are coming off a resounding win over the San Francisco 49ers in Week 2 and are one of eight teams bring perfect 2-0 ATS records into the third week of the season.

    The Rams defeated the Seattle Seahawks in Week 1 at home before coming out flat in a 24-10 loss at the Washington Redskins in Week 2.

    This has been all Steelers money thus far and Stewart doesn’t expect that to stop as we get closer to Sunday.

    “We opened the Steelers as 1-point faves and with over 90 percent of the action backing the Steelers, we have moved them to 2-point road faves against the Rams,” Stewart. “The Steelers were dominant in last week’s game, blowing out the 49ers at home. We should see this line balloon as the week goes on if the action continues in on the Steelers.”


    NFL’s biggest betting mismatches: Week 3
    By Jason Logan

    Each week, Jason Logan breaks down some of the underlying mismatches in the NFL, hoping to give you an inside edge when handicapping the schedule and setting your daily fantasy lineup. Here are four of the biggest betting mismatches from Week 3:

    Atlanta Falcons at Dallas Cowboys (+1, 45)

    Falcons’ pass protection vs. Cowboys’ poor pass rush

    Kyle Shanahan has done a good job implementing his new offensive schemes in Atlanta, and the most obvious improvement is that quarterback Matt Ryan is staring at the stadium roof a lot less through the first two games of the season.

    After allowing 44 sacks in 2013 and 31 last season, the Falcons have given up only three sacks and watched Ryan get hit 11 times in his 85 total dropbacks in 2015. Atlanta is throwing far less, 59.29 percent compared to 64.06 percent of the time in 2014, but when he does have the ball in the pocket, he’s got ample time to find his deep threats – more specifically WR Julio Jones.

    Dallas’ defense is once again toothless when it comes to the pass rush. The Cowboys struggled to get pressure on opposing passers last season, recording only 28 sacks and 48 QB hurries in 2014, and are on a similar path with only two sacks and two hurries through two games this fall.

    Losing rookie DE Randy Gregory to injury was bigger than people think, and Dallas hasn’t really faced a deep threat like Ryan-Jones this season (both Giants and Eagles throw quick, short passes). Dallas’ weak secondary will be tested – and likely exposed – if the pass rush keeps getting pushed around.

    Daily Fantasy Watch: QB Matt Ryan, WR Julio Jones

    Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins (-2.5, 43.5)

    Bills’ penalty problems vs. Dolphins’ defensive line

    The Bills have a discipline issue and head into Week 2 of the season as the most penalized team in the league, with 25 flags flying for a grand total of 253 penalty yards against. Buffalo was whistled for 14 infractions in the loss to New England last weekend, handing the Patriots 140 free gains.

    The biggest culprit has been the Bills’ protection, which has been flagged for six offensive holding penalties in two games – almost double the league average. Those holds are a killer for a run-heavy offense, leading to a 34.62 third down percentage in the first two weeks.

    Miami’s defense has a lot to prove in Week 3, coming off an embarrassing waxing at the hands of the Jaguars. The Dolphins defensive line, which was supposed to be the nastiest in the NFL after adding Ndamukong Suh this offseason, has a big goose egg in the sacks column after two games.

    If anything, the Fins’ formidable front line has caused a lot of clutching and grabbing from opposing pass protectors, creating six offensive holding calls this year. Overall, Miami has done a good job drawing penalties, with foes forcing 20 flags to fly for a total of 181 yards in the Dolphins favor – sixth most in the league.

    Daily Fantasy Watch: Miami defense

    San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals (-6.5, 44)

    Niners’ red-zone defense vs. Cardinals’ red-zone offense

    With Carson Palmer back under center, the Cardinals have picked up where they left off before their veteran QB went down with a knee injury last November. Arizona is 2-0 and leads the league in points scored, averaging 39.5 per game.

    The Cardinals don’t pass up a chance to strike pay dirt, going a perfect 7-for-7 in the red zone in the first two games. And we’re not talking field goals, either. Arizona has scored a touchdown every time it’s entered the 20-yard line, and that’s made bettors happy. Picking up seven instead of three is the reason why the Cards have covered the spread by an average of 16.5 points so far this fall.

    San Francisco’s defense is still trying to figure out how to plug all those holes in the dam. The 49ers’ offseason losses are starting to show when push comes to shove, magnified when opponents creep inside the red zone.

    The Niners, who held Minnesota to 0-for-1 inside the twenty in Week 1, were blown up by the Steelers last Sunday, with Pittsburgh posting a perfect 5-for-5 inside the red zone – all of which were for touchdowns. This isn’t anything new for San Francisco after allowing teams to pick up six on 61.36 percent of their red-zone chances last season. That ranked fifth worst in the NFL.

    Daily Fantasy Watch: QB Carson Palmer, WR Larry Fitzgerald/Jaron Brown, RBs Chris Johnson/David Johnson

    Denver Broncos at Detroit Lions (+3, 44.5)

    Broncos’ third-down dependency vs. Lions’ third-down defense

    The Broncos offense isn’t what it used to be but is still getting the job done. The run game is failing and Peyton Manning’s dead arm isn’t posing a deep threat anymore, but we’re still talking about Peyton Manning here. The Broncos aren’t moving the chains as easy as past season, using up all three downs to pick up the next set.

    Denver boasts a league-high 17 third downs per game – converting only 41.18 percent of those – but that has helped it chew up clock and hog the football for 34:09 per game – almost four more minutes than last season. Manning’s favorite target in those crunch spots is WR Emmanuel Sanders, who has 11 catches for 117 of his total 152 yards and two touchdowns on third down.

    Detroit’s defense is forcing 12.5 third downs per game to start the season but has allowed opponents – San Diego and Minnesota – to convert on 52 percent of those, which stands fifth worst in the league heading into Week 3. This stop unit was among the stingiest in the NFL in third-down conversions in 2014, giving up the first down just 37.56 percent of the time.

    However, the Lions pass rush has just seven QB hurries and three sacks in 2015 and can’t duplicate the pressure of last year in those blitz situations. Last Sunday, the Vikings moved the chains on seven of their 14 third downs and converted on a fourth-and-1 for a touchdown in the second quarter.

    Daily Fantasy Watch: WR Emmanuel Sanders


    Preview: Atlanta at Dallas

    When: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, September 27, 2015
    Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas

    The Dallas Cowboys are off to a 2-0 start but each of their wins have come with a heavy price. Star wide receiver Dez Bryant suffered a broken bone in his foot in the season opener and quarterback Tony Romo fractured a collarbone in last week’s win for the Cowboys, who will face another unbeaten team when the Atlanta Falcons pay a visit Sunday afternoon.

    “They were tough blows losing both of those guys, obviously,” Dallas tight end Jason Witten said. “You don’t replace guys like that. It does create opportunity and I’m confident guys are going to step in. this team will rally around that.” Brandon Weeden stepped in after Romo was hurt and completed all seven pass attempts in a 20-10 victory at Philadelphia last weekend. Atlanta will be attempting to make it three straight wins over NFC East opponents after outlasting the Eagles in Week 1 and erasing a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit in a 24-20 victory at the New York Giants last week. “We won’t look too far ahead,” first-year coach Dan Quinn said. “We’re trying to stay in the present and continue to battle for wins every week.”

    TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Falcons -1. O/U: 45

    ABOUT THE FALCONS (2-0): Wideout Julio Jones has been limited in practice this week due to a sore hamstring, but he has been unstoppable in the first two games, scoring twice while tying to the league lead with 22 receptions and ranking second with 276 yards. Quarterback Matt Ryan threw for 363 yards in last week’s win over the Giants and will likely be without starting rookie running back Tevin Coleman (ribs), meaning an increased workload for backfield mate Devonta Freeman. The Falcons were the league’s worst team against the pass in 2014, giving up an average of 279.9 yards, and they have already been gouged for 313.5 yards per game this season.

    ABOUT THE COWBOYS (2-0): Dallas turned in a superb performance in limiting Philadelphia to 226 yards of total offense and seven yards rushing behind a 14-tackle effort from linebacker Sean Lee, who was named the NFC’s Defensive Player of the Week. The Cowboys swung a deal with Buffalo to acquire quarterback Matt Cassel to back up Weeden, a former first-round pick with Cleveland who will make his first start since throwing a pair of interceptions for Dallas in a loss to Arizona last November. Owner Jerry Jones wants to see improvement from a running game that has been average at best, with Joseph Randle leading the way with 116 yards on 34 carries.


    1. Witten is dealing with a pair of sprained ankles and an ailing knee for Dallas, which is 2-0 for the first time since 2008.

    2. Jones has 54 receptions for 889 yards and four TDs in his last six games.

    3. The Cowboys are yielding an NFL-low 53.0 yards rushing per game.

    PREDICTION: Cowboys 23, Falcons 20


    Preview: Indianapolis at Tennessee

    When: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, September 27, 2015
    Where: Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tennessee

    After falling to a pair of AFC East teams, the Indianapolis Colts will try their luck within their own division when they visit the AFC South rival Tennessee Titans on Sunday afternoon. Speaking of luck, Andrew Luck tossed three of his five interceptions in Indianapolis’ 20-7 setback to the New York Jets on Monday to remain winless after two weeks for the second straight season.

    “My play, turning the ball over, fumbles, interceptions, it’s a pretty glaring issue,” said Luck, who threw for 393 yards and four touchdowns in a 41-17 rout of Tennessee on Sept. 28. A date with the Titans should provide some comfort for the Colts, who have won seven in a row versus their division rival and 12 of the last 13 meetings. Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota will receive his first taste of AFC South play, as the second overall pick came back to earth following a scintillating four-touchdown performance in the season opener with two fumbles in a 28-14 loss to Cleveland. When asked how he can improve, Mariota matter-of-factly stated that he needed to “keep two hands on the football.”

    TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Colts -3.5. O/U: 45

    ABOUT THE COLTS (0-2): Coach Chuck Pagano failed to hide his displeasure after Luck’s latest performance, telling reporters that “he’s got to take care of the football. It’s not that hard. It’s not trigonometry.” The math also is not adding up for Frank Gore (23 carries, 88 yards), who was acquired in the offseason to give the backfield some much-needed punch. The veteran nearly knocked out his own team with a costly goal-line fumble on Monday for Indianapolis, which has rushed for just 157 yards – good enough for 26th in the league.

    ABOUT THE TITANS (1-1): Mariota has connected with 11 different receivers this season, with Kendall Wright and tight end Anthony Fasano leading the way with just six catches. Wright scored a touchdown and rolled up 101 yards in Tennessee’s season-opening 42-14 triumph over Tampa Bay, but was limited to just two catches versus Cleveland. Second-year running back Bishop Sankey rushed for 74 yards and a score last week, but was held to just 52 yards rushing in two meetings with the Colts in 2014.


    1. Following Sunday’s tilt, Indianapolis can right the ship with dates against division rivals Jacksonville and Houston before hosting New England in a rematch of last season’s AFC Championship Game.

    2. Six Tennessee players have at least one touchdown reception this season, more than any other team in the league.

    3. Colts WR Donte Moncrief leads the team in receptions (13) and receiving touchdowns (two), but had just five catches for 30 yards in two meetings with the Titans in 2014.

    PREDICTION: Colts 31, Titans 21


    Preview: Oakland at Cleveland

    When: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, September 27, 2015
    Where: FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio

    The Cleveland Browns turn back to Josh McCown as they search for their second consecutive victory when they host the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. Cleveland posted a 28-14 triumph over Tennessee last week behind Johnny Manziel, who threw two touchdown passes for the first time in his brief career as McCown was sidelined with a concussion.

    McCown will be attempting to get the Browns off to their best start since 2011 as he faces the team for which he started nine games in 2007. Oakland is looking to post back-to-back victories for the first time since October 2012 after rallying for a 37-33 win over Baltimore in Week 2. Derek Carr returned from a hand injury suffered in the season opener and threw for a career-high 351 yards, including a game-winning 12-yard TD pass to Seth Roberts with 26 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. The Raiders will need to be stingier on defense if they hope to make it two in a row, as they have surrendered a league-high 889 yards through two games.

    TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Browns -3.5. O/U: 42

    ABOUT THE RAIDERS (1-1): One of the reasons Oakland has given up 653 yards through the air is the fact it hasn’t registered a sack. But defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. is not concerned. “You can’t worry about the sacks, they come in bunches,” he told the team’s website. “Just keep your fundamentals, keep working really hard and keep your discipline, and things are going to happen.”

    ABOUT THE BROWNS (1-1): Travis Benjamin is coming off a tremendous performance against Tennessee that helped earn him Special Teams Player of the Week honors. He returned six punts for 154 yards – including a 78-yard touchdown – and made three catches for 115 yards, with scoring receptions of 60 and 50 yards. Benjamin – who won the award for the third time in his career – also had a 54-yard TD catch in the season opener, making him the first player with four 50-yard scores in the first two weeks of a campaign since Jim Brown in 1963.


    1. Browns LB Armonty Bryant was nominated for AFC Defensive Player of the Week after recording 2.5 sacks and six tackles while also forcing a fumble.

    2. Oakland has lost 11 straight and 19 of its last 20 on the road.

    3. Cleveland DE Desmond Bryant is questionable to face his former team due to a shoulder injury.

    PREDICTION: Browns 24, Raiders 23


    Preview: Cincinnati at Baltimore

    When: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, September 27, 2015
    Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland

    The Cincinnati Bengals look to continue their strong start at the expense of a division rival when they visit the struggling Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. Cincinnati, which sits atop the AFC North as one of nine undefeated teams in the NFL, is hoping to open at 3-0 for the second straight season after posting a 24-19 victory over San Diego in Week 2.

    The Bengals have an emerging potential star in tight end Tyler Eifert, who has 13 receptions for 153 yards and three touchdowns – one behind New England’s Rob Gronkowski for the league lead. On the other end of the spectrum is Baltimore, which has begun the season with two losses for the first time since 2005 and looks to avoid the first 0-3 start in franchise history. The Ravens were 26 seconds away from victory last week before allowing a go-ahead touchdown en route to a 37-33 loss at Oakland. Baltimore enters Week 3 as one of nine winless teams in the league but remains hopeful of turning things around, as 24 clubs have qualified for the postseason after starting 0-2 since the current playoff format was instituted in 1990.

    TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Ravens -3. O/U: 44.5

    ABOUT THE BENGALS (2-0): Andy Dalton and Giovani Bernard both were nominated for the AFC Offensive Player of the Week Award, as the former passed for 214 yards and three touchdowns while the latter gained 139 yards from scrimmage – 123 on the ground. Dalton owns a 42-23-1 regular-season record for a .640 winning percentage, the highest of any quarterback who has started at least 20 games for the franchise. A.J. Green, who has caught a touchdown pass in three straight contests against Baltimore, needs one 100-yard performance to pass Isaac Curtis (20) for second place on the franchise list.

    ABOUT THE RAVENS (0-2): Visiting Baltimore in September has not been a pleasant experience of late. Joe Flacco has been nearly unbeatable at home in the month, guiding the Ravens to a 13-1 record. Baltimore attempted to upgrade its secondary after allowing 351 yards through the air against Oakland, acquiring cornerback Will Davis from Miami for a seventh-round pick in the 2016 draft. To make room on the roster, the Ravens released running back Terrence Magee.


    1. Dalton enters Week 3 as the only quarterback in the league who has started each of his team’s first two games and has yet to be sacked or throw an interception.

    2. Baltimore WR Steve Smith, Sr. raised his career receptions total to 927 last week, moving ahead of Torry Holt (920) for 17th on the all-time list.

    3. The Bengals have won three straight meetings with the Ravens.

    PREDICTION: Bengals 24, Ravens 17


    Preview: Jacksonville at New England

    When: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, September 27, 2015
    Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts

    Tom Brady is 38 years old and coming off an offseason during which he was forced to spend nearly as much time protecting his reputation as he was preparing for the campaign. None of that was evident in the first two weeks for Brady, who will try to continue his hot start when the New England Patriots host the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.

    Brady has yet to throw an interception in a league-high 91 pass attempts and threw for seven touchdowns in leading the Patriots to wins over Pittsburgh and Buffalo to begin the campaign. “He has high expectations and high goals for himself,” New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels told reporters. “He knows that it’s going to take a tremendous amount of work to continue performing at the level that he wants to play at, and he deserves a lot of credit for that.” Jaguars second-year quarterback Blake Bortles does not boast the career resume of Brady but is playing with some confidence after coming off a turnover-free performance in a win over Miami. Jacksonville is looking to post back-to-back victories for the first time since a three-game winning streak bridged November and December in 2013.

    TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Patriots -13.5. O/U: 47.5

    ABOUT THE PATRIOTS (2-0): While Brady has the offense humming along in high gear, the defense has been more effective than expected in the early going. Forced to switch tactics after watching cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner leave during the offseason, New England is loaded along the front seven and has recorded an NFL-best 11 sacks over the first two weeks. Chandler Jones (three sacks) and Jamie Collins (2.5) will have their sights set on Bortles while Malcolm Butler, Duron Harmon and Logan Ryan, who combined for three interceptions in a win at Buffalo last week, patrol the passing lanes.

    ABOUT THE JAGUARS (1-1): Bortles could be missing one of his biggest weapons with running back Denard Robinson (knee) questionable, but rookie T.J. Yeldon is ready to step up. The Alabama product took on the extra workload with 25 carries in last week’s 23-20 triumph over Miami and managed 75 yards. “(Yeldon) can turn a negative-yardage play into a couple-yard gain, and a couple-yard gain into a seven- or eight-yard gain,” coach Gus Bradley told reporters. “It’s great to see him with the limited reps that he had in preseason to come out and perform like he’s doing. Our hope is he only gets better.”


    1. Brady needs one more TD pass to become the fourth QB in NFL history with at least 400 (Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, Dan Marino).

    2. Ryan (shoulder) and New England LB Dont’a Hightower (shoulder) both were limited in practice on Wednesday.

    3. Jacksonville G Brandon Linder (shoulder) and T Luke Joeckel (ankle) both are questionable.

    PREDICTION: Patriots 38, Jaguars 21

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