Monday Night Football Betting Trends By Math Nerds (Week 6)

Manning vs. Norv on Monday Night! Read what the numberFire's analytics say about this game inside.

The media storyline for this Broncos/Chargers matchup seems to be an odd remix of "Can Peyton lose on Monday night?" and "Do you trust Norv Turner to win on Monday night?" Just looking at the headlines, the Broncos would seem to be the clear favorite. But then you turn to Vegas, and the current line is San Diego -1. Essentially, it's a Pick 'Em. Clearly, Norv can't be doing everything wrong, and Peyton Manning isn't Superman (or maybe just a slightly older, broken down Superman).

But throwing random storylines means nothing without numbers to back them up. For this game, we decided to look at what can you expect from Manning on Monday night, whether Norv Turner is really that bad on Monday Night Football, and more. If you're looking for our major picks for this game (four-star pick alert!), head over to numberFire's premium service. But for some of the stats we find interesting for this game, read below.

Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers (-1)

From what I've been hearing about Norv Turner the past couple of days, he spends Monday nights in a hyperbaric chamber recovering so his Vampire self can see the light of day for the next week. And if he doesn't get that Monday night recuperation, he will literally melt down on the sidelines. I think it's something like that. At least, when they say "he'll disappear under the bright lights", that's what I figured.

But if you actually look at the numbers, Turner hasn't been that bad on Monday Night Football since becoming the Chargers' coach. As a matter of fact, he's exactly what Vegas shoots for: average. That's not a good thing or a bad thing, it's a 4-4 since 2007 thing.

Week, Year Spread Result ATS
Week 13, 2011 SD (-3) vs. JAX W 38-14
Week 8, 2011 SD (-3) vs. KC L 20-23 (OT)
Week 11, 2010 SD (-9) vs. DEN W 35-14
Week 1, 2010 SD (-4) vs. KC L 14-21
Week 6, 2009 SD (-3.5) vs. DEN L 23-34
Week 1, 2009 SD (-10.5) vs. OAK L 24-20
Week 3, 2008 SD (-8) vs. NYJ W 48-29
Week 16, 2007 SD (-9.5) vs. DEN W 23-3

If you're evaluating this game, make sure to not include the Norv Turner Vampire Factor in your calculations. It's not a certainty he's not going to melt. Or sparkle. Or whatever it is the cool vampires are doing these days.

Total Passing Yards: Peyton Manning (Over 295.5, -115)

It intrigues me to see Peyton Manning's current season have a 97.91% comparison match with Rich Gannon's (the Pride of Delaware before Joe Flacco) 2001 season. As you may remember if you're a hardcore Raiders fan or really just like Jon Gruden, this was the season before the Raiders made the playoffs, where they went 10-6 and lost in the Divisional Playoffs. But there is one shining light to the season that many may not remember. That season, 36 year-old Gannon was good. As in really, really good.

That season, Gannon finished second in the NFL with 118.60 Net Expected Points (NEP) of value gained for the Raiders, only behind Kurt Warner and the Greatest Show on Turf's 166.01 NEP gained. With 3828 yards passing, 27 TDs, and 9 INTs, Gannon finished as one of the best, if not the single best, quarterback in the AFC.

You wouldn't call Manning the best quarterback in the AFC this season with how passing has evolved since 2001, but you can't ignore the season he's been having either. Just like Gannon, he's averaging 0.22 NEP per pass so far this season and has gained his team 42.87 NEP of value over the average NFL player. And it's paying off in numberFire's projections for this week. Even though the Chargers hold numberFire's #7 opponent-adjusted defense, Manning is still projected to have 289.22 yards (the second-highest projection of any QB this week), 2.02 passing TDs, and 0.80 INTs. Normally, Vegas overestimates a quarterback's ability, but this week, Manning is right on that Vegas line.

Totals Line: 48.5

Remember when I talked about the St. Louis/Arizona Thursday night game and how much of an absolute snoozefest I expected it to be? Then remember when that game ended up being 17-3, and the under absolutely dominated despite an already ridiculously low line?

Well, the same principle of the Two Top Ten Opponent-Adjusted Defenses (or T3OAD for not-really-short) still applies here. The Chargers come into this game with numberFire's #7 opponent-adjusted defense so far this year, while the Broncos sit just a bit higher at #5. So far this year, when two of numberFire's top ten opponent-adjusted defenses face off, regardless of offensive prowess, we've seen some low scoring affairs.

Of those seven games, the under has been the correct totals pick six times, or an 86% winning percentage. The winners were Cleveland/Philadelphia (under 42.5) in week 1, Atlanta/Denver (under 50.5) in week 2, Chicago/St. Louis (under 42), Arizona/Philadelphia (under 41), Atlanta/San Diego (under 47) in week 3, and Arizona/St. Louis (under 38) in week 5, while only Houston/Denver (43.5) in week 3 went over.

Will Antonio Gates score a touchdown? (No, -175)

Vegas has faith in Antonio Gates. The man has 76 career touchdown passes coming into tonight's game, has long been considered one of the best tight ends in the game, and has worked with Philip Rivers for years. Especially in a big game, you need to rely on your tight end, right? That's why Vegas says there is only a 36.3% chance Gates won't catch a touchdown in tonight's game.

The only problem is, however, that high percentage of a Gates TD flies in the face of all the numbers collected so far this season. It's true Gates comes into this game with 76 career TD catches. It's also true Gates came into this season with 76 career TD catches. Not a single TD pass has gone his way this season, and Rivers has eight this season. Three of those, meanwhile, went to backup Dante Rosario while Gates missed San Diego's week 2 game. It is entirely possible Gates is slowly losing Rivers' trust, and you only need to look at the catch rate to figure out why. Gates is only 13 for 25 catching passes thrown his way, an abysmal 52% so far this year. That's bad for a wide receiver; it's worse for a tight end. He has not been below a 64% catch rate on the year since 2006.

Catching touchdown passes is entirely random, but numberFire does not see Gates having a good shot at it tonight. numberFire projections have him at 0.22 TDs on the week, which placed him tied for 15th among tight ends with Aaron Hernandez and Lance Kendricks entering week 6. Gates may be one of the best historically, but he surely has not shown it so far this season.