Everyone should know the drill by now!
*Note – DVOA stands for Defense-adjusted Value Over Average: It’s Football Outsiders’ primary efficiency statistic and I believe it to be the best and most predictive measure of assessing the strength of NFL teams
**Note – You may notice that on the link to Football Outsiders’ DVOA page, I will consult another statistic called DAVE. Simply put, DAVE is DVOA, only with preseason projections factored in.
***Note – All betting odds courtesy of Bovada
****Note – Public betting refers to the amount of wagers taken on the spread
Records to Date
Straight Up: 17-16 (LW: 8-8)
Spread: 20-12-1 (LW: 8-8)
Over/Under: 13-20 (LW: 6-10)
Locks: 3-2 (LW: 2-2)
Best Bets: 13-9 (LW: 4-6)
Spread: ARZ -4.5 Over/Under: 47
’16 DVOA: ARZ (2) > BUF (22)
Public Betting: ARZ 80%
The spread in this game is interesting. Arizona is the heavy public favorite, but the line has actually moved from -5 to -4, which suggests that sharp money actually likes the 0-2 Bills to cover the spread. For this reason, I’ll side with the sharps (and against the House) and buy low on Buffalo. Yet as for the outcome of the game itself, I don’t see how Buffalo slows down Arizona’s passing attack after getting lit up by Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets passing offense last Thursday night. The Bills may hang around because the NFL is a crazy league and things never quite play out the way you think they will, but I have enough faith in the Cardinals offense.
Arizona 28, Buffalo 24
Spread: OAK -1 Over/Under: 47
’16 DVOA: OAK (20) > TEN (24)
Public Betting: OAK 66%
Wasn’t the Raiders defense supposed to be good this year? Instead, they’ve allowed 500 yards in each of their first two games. Luckily they play a Titans team this week that isn’t very explosive. Plus, Oakland’s offensive line ranks first in both run and pass blocking through two games (they were one of the NFL’s better lines last year as well). I think they’ll dominate the line of scrimmage and free up Amari Cooper and the Raiders’ other play-makers en route to victory.
Oakland 30, Tennessee 24
Spread: MIA -10 Over/Under: 42
’16 DVOA: CLE (32) < MIA (31)
Public Betting: MIA 71%
Despite an 0-2 start, I think the Dolphins have to be feeling pretty good about their first two performances. They led Seattle with under a minute to play in Week One and then they came within one score of at least sending their game last week against New England to overtime. Ryan Tannehill and company will take of business against a soft Browns defense.
*Miami 27, Cleveland 16
Spread: BAL -1 Over/Under: 47
’16 DVOA: BAL (7) > JAC (30)
Public Betting: JAC 53%
Tough game to call. I don’t think anyone picking the Jaguars this weekend is going to bet their mortgage on it. However, the Ravens may be the weakest 2-0 team in the NFL after grinding out wins over mediocre-at-best competition. Since I don’t have a quarter lying around for me to flip, I’ll use my default strategy whenever I have no idea about a certain game: Take the team with the better coach-QB tandem.
Baltimore 23, Jacksonville 20
Spread: GB -7 Over/Under: 47.5
’16 DVOA: DET (9) < GB (8)
Public Betting: GB 53%
The Lions certainly have a shot. After all, they went into Lambeau last year and won as 10.5 point underdogs. Plus, as evidenced by their loss to a Sam Bradford-led Vikings team last week, Green Bay hasn’t been their usual selves since the middle of 2015. However, the good news for the Packers is that Detroit’s two best defensive players, linebacker DeAndre Levy and defensive end Ziggy Ansah, won’t be playing. If Green Bay can’t get their offense going this week then they may really have problems.
Green Bay 24, Detroit 20
Spread: CIN -3 Over/Under: 42
’16 DVOA: DEN (11) < CIN (10)
Public Betting: DEN 62%
I’m tempted to take the Bengals since they are coming off a loss and appear to be the public underdog with the spread. But I won’t for a few reasons. First, Cincinnati is still without two of their key players in Tyler Eifert and Vontaze Burfict. Surprisingly, this hasn’t affected the Bengals too much in the first two weeks; however, Cincinnati hasn’t gotten nothing from its rushing attack and has had trouble protecting Andy Dalton. They’ll need to fix those two problems if they’re going to beat the defending Super Bowl champions today. I don’t think they’ll make enough adjustments against Von Miller and company.
Denver 23, Cincinnati 17
Spread: CAR -7 Over/Under: 43
’16 DVOA: MIN (15) < CAR (6)
Public Betting: CAR 57%
It isn’t just the injury to Adrian Peterson that hurts the Vikings. Left tackle Matt Kalil also was placed on IR this week and defensive tackle Shariff Floyd has been ruled out for Sunday as well. Minnesota certainly still may be talented enough to give the Panthers a scare. But Carolina has just been too damn good at home recently.
*Carolina 19, Minnesota 13
Spread: NYG -3.5 Over/Under: 46.5
’16 DVOA: WSH (27) < NYG (19)
Public Betting: NYG 56%
With a loss to the undefeated Giants, Washington will find themselves in a three game hole in the NFC East that they may not be able to climb out of, particularly if Philadelphia keeps winning. This means that they should be hungry for a win against an improved yet fortunate to be 2-0 New York team. Plus, I think the panic over Kirk Cousins struggles to begin this season are overblown. The Redskins have averaged 6.8 yards per play through their first three games, which is good for 3rd in the NFL. They just haven’t executed down in the red zone and have shot themselves in the foot with turnovers. I bet they’ll turn things around on Sunday and pull a minor upset in the Meadowlands.
Washington 27, New York 24
Spread: TB -6 Over/Under: 42
’16 DVOA: LA (18) > TB (26)
Public Betting: TB 70%
The Buccaneers are favored by a few too many points in this matchup. According to DVOA, the Rams are actually the slightly better team than the Bucs based on Football Outsiders’ preseason projections as well as the two-game sample size from this year. You’d think that Vegas would have this line at around 2-3 points in favor to Tampa to indicate that these teams are even if the game were played on a neutral field. Nonetheless, 70% of public betters are pounding the Buccaneers even though both Doug Martin and Lavonte David–two integral parts of their team–will be out on Sunday. Los Angeles may not have much of an offense, but their terrific defense will at least keep it close, perhaps even close enough to pull off an upset.
Los Angeles 17, Tampa Bay 13
Spread: SEA -9 Over/Under: 41
’16 DVOA: SF (28) < SEA (1)
Public Betting: SF 62%
On the surface, it appears that the 49ers offense is doing well: They are averaging 27.5 points per game through two weeks. However, they’ve only averaged 4.4 yards per play. That doesn’t bode well for them in Seattle today against a Seahawks defense that has only allowed one offensive touchdown through two weeks against similarly mediocre offenses. This game may be low-scoring enough for San Francisco to keep it close, but I’m not hesitating in picking Seattle.
*Seattle 24, San Francisco 13
Spread: KC -3 Over/Under: 42
’16 DVOA: NYJ (16) < KC (4)
Public Betting: NYJ 60%
I think the Jets can exploit Kansas City’s defense, which hasn’t been able to generate much pressure without Justin Houston, and contain the Chiefs’ offense, which may have trouble getting their running game going against New York’s stout front. However, I still have a little more faith in Kansas City overall. They’re ranked higher in DVOA and they’re a good “buy low” candidate after their loss last week at Houston.
Kansas City 23, New York 17
Spread: IND -1.5 Over/Under: 51
’16 DVOA: SD (12) > IND (21)
Public Betting: IND 55%
This might be the toughest game to predict of the weekend. On one hand, I think San Diego is in trouble because Phillip Rivers will be without his top three offensive weapons in Keenan Allen, Danny Woodhead, and Antonio Gates. However, Indianapolis is dealing with numerous injuries of their own, particularly in the secondary. That’s great news for the Chargers because the Colts defense is horrible as is. For that reason, I have a feeling San Diego could win this game in a high-scoring affair. But I’m going to take the 0-2 Colts because they’re the more desperate team.
Indianapolis 31, San Diego 30
Spread: PIT -4 Over/Under: 47
’16 DVOA: PIT (3) > PHI (13)
Public Betting: PIT 74%
As we know, Philadelphia is 2-0. But they haven’t exactly played a top-tier team yet. Moreover, as good as Carson Wentz has looked at times, the Eagles offense has only averaged 4.8 yards per play through their first two games, including a pedestrian 4.1 clip against Chicago. In short, Philadelphia could be in for some trouble against an improved Pittsburgh defense. Nonetheless, I’m not keen on siding with the Steelers with the spread because they are heavy public favorites on the road (remember, I always like siding with the House). Ben Roethlisberger and company will do enough to pull out a close win, though.
Pittsburgh 23, Philadelphia 20
Spread: DAL -7 Over/Under: 44
’16 DVOA: CHI (29) < DAL (14)
Public Betting: DAL 62%
Let me tell you why I love Dallas on Sunday night. First, the Bears are starting Brian Hoyer in place of the injured Jay Cutler. Remember how bad Hoyer was in the playoffs last year for Houston? Yeah, so do I. In addition, Chicago is dealing with numerous injuries aside from Cutler: linebacker Danny Trevathan has already been ruled out and Alshon Jeffrey, Willie Young, and both of Chicago’s starting corners are listed as questionable. Even if some of these guys are just dealing with bumps and bruises, it will be tough for them to overcome these injuries after playing on Monday night. As for the Cowboys…well, I just know they’re better than the Bears.
*Dallas 31, Chicago 20
And lastly, here are my best bets for Week Three…
- Oakland vs Tennessee OVER 47
- GREEN BAY (-300) over Detroit
- Teaser: DENVER (+9) over Cincinnati & DETROIT (+13) over Green Bay
- Teaser: Green Bay vs Detroit UNDER 53.5 & Minnesota vs Carolina UNDER 49
- Minnesota vs Carolina UNDER 43
- LOS ANGELES (+6) over Tampa Bay
- Los Angeles vs Tampa Bay UNDER 42
- Teaser: CAROLINA (-1) over Minnesota & San Francisco vs Seattle OVER 35
- SEATTLE (-480) over San Francisco
- KANSAS CITY (-145) over New York Jets
- Teaser: Pittsburgh vs Philadelphia UNDER 53 & Chicago vs Dallas OVER 38
- DALLAS (-280) over Chicago
Stay tuned for my predictions for tomorrow’s night game between Atlanta and New Orleans in the Sunday Recap.