Top 4 NFL Bets: Week 4
We have a motto at numberFire: there is no such thing as too many numbers. And especially when the minds in Vegas like to rely on public perception as much as anything, it pays to know exactly what the numbers behind each individual game are. At numberFire, we offer an exclusive premium product with our official game projections, totals picks, picks against the spread, and moneyline offerings, as well as how confident we are about each. If you're looking to make some serious money, that's where to turn.
But we consider ourselves nice people; we like to give a sneak peek into the numbers behind the picks we make every once in a while. So, here for the numberFire readers, are four of the trends and matchups we find extremely interesting heading into what is expected to be another wild weekend of football.
Washington at Tampa Bay
RGIII can do no wrong. The Redskins have put up at least 28 points every single game, and Griffin has taken control as the 5th best QB in the league according to our Net Expected Points statistic. It makes sense, then, that the over/under totals line for this game sits at 47.0 points, especially when Tampa Bay showed the ability to go off against the New York Giants defense. But has RGIII's season so far been a fluke? Tampa Bay has the 8th most efficient defense in the NFL according to numberFire's rankings, easily the best the Redskins have faced so far this year. The two games Washington broke out, against the Saints and the Bengals, were against numberFire's #31 and #29 ranked defenses, respectively. However, the only time they faced a defense in the top half of the league (#13 St. Louis - not even up to Tampa Bay's level), the Redskins only put up 197 yards passing and needed a first-quarter fumble return to reach 28 points. Tampa Bay, meanwhile, has seen mixed success against opposing defenses. They only scored 16 points against #26 Carolina, but roared back to put up 34 against the #15 Giants. Washington falls right in the middle at #19 according to numberFire's efficiency rankings.
Seattle at St. Louis
WILSON! Fine, I'll give in. After watching GoldenGate (Broken CenturyLink? The Game-Winning Interception Throw?), I'm fully buying in to the idea of the Seahawks as a legitimate contender. I wish I could have known what the odds were back in week 1 that the final play of that Arizona/Seattle game would determine who would be undefeated in week 4. 100 to 1? 500 to 1? Thus, it's kind of odd to see the Seahawks as only three point favorites heading into St. Louis this weekend. I know that the Seahawks aren't that great on the road; I explained as much in my 5th Monday Night Preview of that Seahawks-Packers game. But the focus in this one shouldn't be on the Seahawks as much as the Rams, and St. Louis comes into this week next-to-last in the entire league in offensive efficiency (ahead of only the Eagles). Entering week 4, Michael Vick was dead last among starting NFL QBs with -13.34 total NEP. Rookies Brandon Weeden and Ryan Tannehill were right ahead of him with -11.26 and -9.69, respectively. The #29 QB in the league? Former #1 overall pick Sam Bradford, with -5.10 NEP of value lost when compared to the average NFL player. By comparison, Russell Wilson is right near the middle of the pack for QBs, gaining 9.97 NEP of value for his team over the average replacement player. And think Steven Jackson adds an extra dimension? Think again. His -11.11 NEP of value lost to the average NFL player is third-to-last among all running backs this year, only behind Shonn Greene and the historically inept Chris Johnson.
Miami at Arizona
Let's say I told you there was a team this weekend who was third in the entire league in rushing defense. They have only allowed 2.5 yards per carry so far this season, and the longest run they have given up in total was 14 yards. This team accomplished that feat against Arian Foster, Darren McFadden, and the pound-and-ground tactics of the New York Jets. This week, they face a team with a rookie running back who has just barely gained over 100 yards rushing on the season, and that rookie's backfield mate was recently put on injured reserve. There's not much reason to fear the opposing passing attack either, as that teams' QBs have not thrown for more than 225 yards in a game. Now, that #3 rushing defense is a 6.5 point underdog. Want to jump on the Dolphins' bandwagon? Sure, there is the Tannehill factor to look at, as well as the fact that the Cardinals inexplicably can't do anything wrong this season beyond justification. But also realize that this is Arizona's first game as a favorite; they were at least three point underdogs in each of their past three games. How will they adjust to their new role?
Oakland at Denver
A little confused why the Broncos/Raiders matchup is the second-highest totals line of the week at 49.0 points? The Raiders have scored over 14 points once so far this season, and that instance occurred last week against the Steelers. How did it happen? Well, take out one long 65-yard run from Darren McFadden, and it happened on the back of only 202 yards passing and 55 yards rushing from the Oakland offense. The Steelers turned the ball over twice, giving the Raiders ample opportunity to take advantage. On the game, the Raiders only had two drives over 50 yards, and one was the aforementioned McFadden long run. But given my arguments above, that could just be matchups: the Steelers' defense is ranked much worse (#24) in numberFire's efficiency charts than either San Diego (#11) or Miami (#13). Denver's defense sits at #21 so far this year, which is worse than either the Chargers or Dolphins, but still better than Pittsburgh's. In that case, the Broncos would still need to score a decent amount to top the high line... and who's to say they can? Denver has scored over 25 points once this season: week 1 against that same Steelers team. Squaring off against the #30 defense should change their fortunes a bit, especially considering the caliber defenses they've played the last two weeks in Atlanta and Houston, but betting on them with the second-highest expected point value of the week (only GB/NO is higher) is a tough proposition.