Top 4 NFL Betting Trends: Week 6
Sometimes football is unpredictable. I mean seriously, who had the Titans even coming close against the Steelers last night?
Oh yeah, we did. numberFire's premium service had the Titans (+6) as a two-star selection, and the moneyline at Titans (+225) as a three-star selection. There are four different four-star selections or above for the rest of the weekend, but you'll need to get a numberFire premium account for those. But as a peek into our stats-riddled minds, we'll give you a few of the numbers we're looking at for different games this weekend.
Kansas City Chiefs at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-4.5)
The largest spread for the rest of this week is Atlanta (-9) against Oakland. That makes sense. After that is San Francisco (-7) against the Giants. The Giants are a good team, but then again, San Francisco just murdered two different AFC East franchises. I'll allow it. The third largest spread is... Tampa Bay (-4.5) against Kansas City. Wait, what?
The 1-4 Kansas City Chiefs have been absolutely terrible this season; they have numberFire's #30 opponent-adjusted offense and the #20 opponent-adjusted defense. The 1-3 Bucs, meanwhile, have not been favored by this much in over a full season (-10 against Indianapolis week 4, 2011) and have only been favored in one game so far this year.
But against the spread, you find a different story for the Bucs. They have gone 3-1 ATS so far this year; oddly enough, the only game they lost ATS was that Washington game in which they were favored. In both week 2 and week 3, the Bucs were 7.5 point underdogs, but were barely able to sneak out the cover against tough opponents in the Giants and Cowboys, respectively. Week 1 against the Panthers, they won straight up despite being underdogs.
Determining whether the Bucs will be able to cover those 4.5 points may come down to the faith you have in their defense. Tampa Bay only holds numberFire's #26 opponent-adjusted offense but are right up near the top on defense at #11 in numberFire's rankings. They have played three different offenses in numberFire's top 11 so far this season, as well as the #22 Dallas Cowboys, and still rank right near the middle of the league with 22.8 points given up per game. The Giants' 41 point beatdown of the Bucs seems to be an outlier at this point, especially in crunch time. In the past two games, the Bucs have not given up a single second-half touchdown and have only nine points against them past halftime. If those top offenses haven't gotten going, do you expect numberFire's #30 offensive unit to do so?
St. Louis Rams at Miami Dolphins: Total 38
Meanwhile, the lowest totals line of the week belongs to those hapless souls in Miami, where Vegas thinks there is a decent chance the Rams and Dolphins will not combine for more than 38 points this weekend. As evidenced by last Thursday's rousing Rams-Cardinals affair, doctors have now begun prescribing the Rams offense as a fully-functional sleep aid. A seven-completion Sam Bradford will do that for you.
However, answering whether the line should be that low, and not just sleep-inducing, is another animal. According to numberFire's fantasy projections, Sam Bradford and Ryan Tannehill are projected to be this week's 26th and 27th best quarterbacks, respectively. That's not great. But that does not necessarily preclude both from scores. Bradford is projected to have 1.18 passing TDs, or 8.26 expected points for the Rams. Tannehill, meanwhile is projected to have 1.02 passing TDs, or 7.14 expected points for the Dolphins. Meanwhile, the two lead backs for the Rams, Steven Jackson and Daryl Richardson, are projected to have only a combined 0.36 TDs (2.52 expected points) while Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas are projected for 0.67 TDs (4.69 expected points). Well, maybe they are all precluded from scores.
With only 22.61 expected points from quarterbacks and running backs in this game, it will take a good number of field goals (yes, or safeties or defensive/special teams TDs) for the 38 point totals line to be hit. Especially with the Rams holding numberFire's #9 defense and #31 offense, and the Dolphins holding numberFire's #12 defense and #19 offense, this could be a sad, sorry game for offense.
New York Giants (+7) at San Francisco 49ers
The Giants are good. Their 1.60 nERD rating means they're numberFire's eighth-best NFL team. The 49ers are better. Their 4.27 nERD rating means they're first. And that's how you get the second-largest spread of the week in a game between two top-ten teams.
Looking at historical data does not make life any better for those favoring the Giants. The Giants' #1 historical comparison over the past dozen years is the 2006 Cincinnati Bengals, the team that was looking to recover after Carson Palmer's 2005 playoff injury but could only make it to 8-8. That team matches the current Giants squad with 95.78% similarity, so it makes sense to take a look at that Bengals team to see how they matched up against the best of the best in that 2006 season.
The current numberFire projections have the 2012 Niners finishing with a 10.2-5.8 record, so for consistency's sake, let's take a look at how the Bengals performed against all teams that ended 2006 with at least 10 wins. The answer is a slightly bitter pill to swallow: the Bengals went 2-4 straight up against these teams, with victories against the Ravens and Saints, and defeats against the Ravens (division foe), Patriots, Colts, and Chargers. Against the spread happened to fall along the exact same lines: 2-4, with the victories being victories against the spread as well and the losses being the same.
However, there is one major difference between that Bengals team and the current Giants: the Bengals were favored in four of those six games, and they were never more than a three-point underdog. Of those four spreads lost against 10-win opponents, two (Ravens and Chargers) were losses by eight points or less but simply had small spreads. The trend says to not trust the Giants unless you believe they can win outright, but I would check the numberFire premium page before pulling the trigger just because of the high spread number.
Indianapolis Colts (+160) at New York Jets
After that display last week, are you really going to give the Colts only a 38% chance of winning this game? I'll let you choose which display I'm talking about, either the Colts victory over the Packers or the Jets' destruction against the Texans. Both would seem to indicate some sort of trend to me.
But if that isn't enough, Mr. Vegas Sportsbook, then these numbers from numberFire surely disagree with you. The Colts only have numberFire's #25 opponent-adjusted defense, but the Jets aren't better, sitting at only #23. Meanwhile, on the offensive side of the ball, the Luck factor has the Colts all the way up to the #16 opponent-adjusted offense this season, while the Jets languish all the way down at #29. According to numberFire's nERD power rankings, which even takes last season's performance into account as well, the Colts are the #14 team in the NFL while the Jets are down at #26.
So, in closing Mr. Vegas Sportsbook, I would just like to say thank you. Because trusting Mark Sanchez would keep me up at night.