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Storylines, Trends and Big Questions
How do we value homefield (“HFA”) advantage? - For years HFA was generally around three points. Last year it came down with no fans, and given all the improvements in travel, it was assumed by the market to be roughly 2.5 this year, with some expectation that fans would have more impact early in the year. Well, road teams have gone 19-12 ATS so far this year; small sample size, but this could be significant. Some of the sharps are talking about making HFA 2 points or even 1.75 points.
Week 3 Trends - 0-2 Teams in week 3 since 2010 are 59% ATS and since 2003 are 56.7% ATS (0-2 teams - Lions, Jets, Jags, Vikings, Giants, Falcons). 0-2 ATS teams since 2016 are 68.4% ATS in week 3 and since 2011 are 60.7% ATS. (0-2 ATS teams - Jets, Chiefs, Jags, WFT, Falcons). 2-0 teams at home in week 3 go over the game total 69% of the time. (2-0 at home - 49ers, Raiders, Rams, Broncos)
Primetime Game Overs - Thursday went under with Davis Mills and Carolina, but before that, the league started 6-0 to the over in all six primetime games. GB and SF coming up this week, could be another fun one.
NFL Officiating - As usual, NFL officiating has been horrible. This new taunting rule is ridiculous. I don’t like being the grumpy guy blaming refs for everything, but one trend to keep an eye on: through all of 2020, there was never a week with over 200 penalties called. So far this season: Week 1 - 214 penalties, and Week 2 - 221 penalties.
Undefeated Teams – Four somewhat surprising teams in the Raiders, Broncos, Panthers and Cardinals are undefeated. Who is real and who is not out of this group?
Can any of the 0-2 Teams make the playoffs? - Do the Vikings, Giants or Colts have a shot? Are they worth a wager?
Tools and Resources
Their proprietary Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) system breaks down every single NFL play and compares a team's performance to a context-specific league baseline to determine value over average.
NFL Power Rankings
NFL.com Power Rankings (updated for week 3)
Steve Fezzik NFL Power Rankings (updated for week 3)
Jord’s NFL Power Rankings (See below, updated for week 3)
QB Rankings (The most important position in Sports)
I think Chris Simms is the best QB evaluator in the media and it’s not close, especially when evaluating QB prospects where he is not afraid to go against consensus. His record speaks for itself.
A League wide poll of the best QB’s by 50 NFL executives
NFL QBR (updated after week 2)
The best QB metric.
PFF O-line Rankings (need to pay for the week-to-week updates)
O-line is the second most important position group in football to me. Having a sense of O-line groups when making wagers can give you an edge.
Don’t forget to shop for the best numbers!
Action Network App is a great tool in general. This report especially will help you understand who the public teams are and who the pro teams are. For example: Team A in a given matchup has 70% of the tickets bet on them but only 35% of the money; public is on Team A, sharps (big money) is on Team B (Pros vs Joes).
A great resource that sweeps the internet for injury news and will notify you as the news is released.
Podcast Picks Report
Below is a breakdown of my favorite football podcasts that make picks ATS. I think you can separate these into 3 different categories: the pro betters/analysts, the tape evaluators (scouts/ former players), and the media opinion-givers. I will track all the picks and adjust this list as we move through the season. Note: Longshot Money line picks will not be counted in pick records.
In my opinion this is the best and sharpest sports betting podcast. Steve Fezzik is the only 2-time Westgate Super contest winner. He is great with derivatives, calculations behind line moves/juice and identifying bet and fade spots in the schedule. RJ Bell keeps Fez in check and is very sharp himself, a contrarian thinker on the NFL and always finding unique angles, AJ is a college expert and improving on NFL.
Super Contest picks - All three guys pick 5 games weighted 5 star* Best Bet (BB) down to 1 star. Then they come up with a consensus top 5 picks for the contest (These 5 can change by Saturday when they make the picks depending on line moves, injuries etc.) Disagreements are automatic crossfire bets.
Contest picks: 3-2 Week 2, 4-5-1 Overall
Fezz 5* BB ATL +3 (AJ 1*) (RJ Crossfire)
RJ and AJ BB 5* SF -3.5 (Fezz 4* Crossfire)
AJ 4* LAC +6.5 (RJ Crossfire)
Fezz 4* GB +3.5 (RJ/AJ crossfire 5*)
RJ 4* Tampa -1.5
AJ 3* NE -3
Fezz 3* Vikings +1.5 (RJ Crossfire)
RJ 3* Colts +5.5 (AJ 2*) (Fezz Crossfire)
AJ 2* Colts +5.5
Fezz 2* LAC +6.5
RJ WFT +8 (Fezz Crossfire)
Fezz 1* Buff -8 (RJ crossfire)
AJ 1* ATL +3
RJ 1* Denver -10
Warren is super sharp and especially good with the models on game totals. You have to pay for most of his picks, but you can pick up his leans from listening to his pods. Some of the other guys, especially, Mark Derosa, another pro, are sharp as well.
Warren: 0-3 Week 2, 1-5 Overall,
NE/NO under 43 (.75units)
Tampa/LAR over 54.5 (1 unit)
GB/SF first half over 23.5 (1 unit)
Texans Team total under 17.5 (.5 units)
Miami +4.5 (.5 units)
Pitt/Cincy first half under 21.5 (.5 units)
Derosa: 2-3 Week 2, 6-4 Overall
Kelly, now with Barstool Bets, is very sharp and typically a contrarian better fading public sentiment and money. I think similarly so I like to keep an eye on her picks.
Kelly 2-2 Week 2, 7-4 Overall
6 Point Teaser: Vikings +8/Ravens -2
6 Point Teaser: Ravens -2/Bills -1.5
6 Point Teaser: Vikings +8/Bills -1.5
BB Rams +1.5
Chad Millman, the CTO of the Action network hosts this podcast with sharp pro better Simon Hunter. They do a 5-pick contest and make their final decision on the 5 on Sunday but Simon lets you know all his sides below.
2-3 Week 2 Contest Sides, 4-6 Overall
Cincy +3.5 *
Chargers +6.5 *
Miami +4.5 *
New podcast for me, just getting to know the hosts, Chris and Stuckey. Action network is a great resource, and the NFL Sunday 6 pack from Stuckey and Chris as been a great listen and profitable. They each pick 3 sides, weighted BB 1 to 3, one total, one teaser and one underdog ML.
Stuckey: 3-1 Week 2, 5-4 Overall
BB Miami +4
Ravens/Lions under 50
6 Point Teaser: Vikings+8/Rams+7.5
ML Dog Saints
Chris: 3-1 Week 2, 6-3 Overall
BB Atl +3
Jets/Broncos Under 41.5
6 Point Teaser: Balt +1.5/Vikings+8
ML Dog GB
Payne is a pro and offers great insight, data and statistics on the NFL. A lot of his plays you need to pay for but this podcast he will give some free best bets and talk you through his angles.
Payne: 0-1 Week 2, 1-1 Overall
Colin is surprisingly sharp with his blazing 5 and is now getting advice from Chad Milliman from Action on his weekly picks.
Colin: 2-3 Week 2, 4-6 Overall
New England -2.5
Cincy +3.5 and to win outright
Geoff is a tape guy, former player and relatively sharp. What I like are his takes from an O-lineman’s perspective.
Geoff: 0-5 Week 2, 3-7 Overall
Bill is one of the pioneers of podcasting and an entertaining media personality. He is more of an NBA specialist but does two solid shows on NFL betting: Guess the lines with Cousin Sal every Sunday night and Million Dollar picks with Peter Schrager every Thursday. Bill can be sharp and square but is entertaining, and Schrags offers some relevant inside info.
BS: 2-3 Week 2, 4-5 Overall
6 point teaser: Ravens-1.5/Bills -1
6 point teaser: Vikings +8.5/Raiders +1.5
underdog ML parlay Bears and Eagles +789
Great QB evaluator and NFL talent evaluator, but relatively square when it comes to making picks ATS. His insight is worth listening to for picking up tidbits on players and teams to implement in your picks, but his picks themselves offer moderate value.
Chris: 3-0 Week 2, 4-2 Overall
Florio: 1-2 Week 2, 3-3 Overall
What I’m thinking and Who I’m picking
Quick recap of my plays last week: 3-2, winning week! Let’s keep it rolling. That Panthers team is much better, especially on defense, than most people expected. New Orleans was in a tough spot and Jameis came back to earth. I went 2-1 on the square side of those road favorites with SF, Buff, KC; I definitely will take that. Credit to that Baltimore defense for switching up what they do and not blitzing Mahommes – it worked out, they only blitzed him four times and he torched them on each one. I am still not sold on Baltimore, though. KC defense is a big question mark, especially that defensive front. That said, I was still confident I was on the right side until the last few minutes. Warren Sharpe is absolutely killing me on the totals! That Chargers-Cowboys game was quite a display of horrible officiating and coaching. Both offenses put up a ton of yards but very few points and went way under the total.
Week 3 Picks
This was one of the weeks where jumping on lines early in the week had some value. WFT opened -9.5 down to -7, Cincy +4.5 down to +3, Tampa opened +1 and moved to -1.5. All those games got hit early by sharp money. I think those are the right sides, so if you got in on those early numbers, good job.
Teaser week? There are many advantage teaser (tease through key numbers 3 and 7) teams out there this week. I am hitching my wagon to the Bills at-home to win by 2 this week and have them as my anchor leg in two 6-point teases.
6-point teaser: Bills -1.5/Panthers -2 - I still have Buffalo as the third best team in the league, even though Josh Allen hasn’t played well yet. I expect that to change this week, he is due, and the Washington defense has not been as good as advertised (18th in DVOA), particularly in the secondary. I expect a lot of quick throws and completions to force the Washington defense to tackle. The Buffalo defense got back on track last week. Their secondary has been really good for years, but the pass rush seems much improved. Going up against a banged up WFT O-line with a weak RT, I expect that to continue. Heineke isn’t bad, but this is his first career NFL game on the road. Buffalo, as always, will be wild and the Bills owe their fans a performance after the dud in week 1. It also could be windy, advantage: home team. My only real concern would be this WFT D-line having a day and possibly knocking Allen out of the game.
6-point teaser: Bills -1.5/Zona -1.5 - Jags are bad, Lawrence is struggling, and that Arizona defense gets creative with blitzes and coverages, which should confuse Lawrence even more. Kyler is a video game right now and with all the weapons should put up more than 30 points again. Everything that comes out of Urban’s mouth is big-time cringe, I have very little confidence he gets this turned around quickly. All of that said, I made this bet before some of my research, and the Jags are 0-2 straight-up and ATS and fit a lot of those positive week 3 ATS trends, so I am not as confident as earlier. There could be some better teaser legs out there like Baltimore, LAR or Vikings.
6-point teaser: Cleveland -1.5/Cincy +8.5
SF -3 - I make this game -4 (and I am higher than most on GB), so I like getting it at -3. SF’s first game with fans in over a year given California’s strict COVID-19 restrictions; there will be a lot of energy in the stadium. GB defense is not good (28th in DVOA), especially the D-line, which is matched up against the best O-line in football. SF should have their way running the ball, leading to play-action opportunities (like the Lions had in the first-half last week). Rogers could ruin this play and light up the SF corners, but I suspect they play a lot of two-high safeties, like the Saints and Lions did, and force him to run the ball at this SF defensive front. If SF gets up early and GB is forced to throw, the GB O-line has really struggled in protection given the injuries. Bosa and Ford could go off. One concern is SF, historically, comes out flat in this game after playing two games on the east coast (lost outright last two times). I like that Shanahan spoke about that concern publicly, and the first home game with fans should help as well.
Browns -7 - Fading the rookie Justin Fields, I expect big-time struggles this week, and the Cleveland defense to take advantage and turn him over. Cleveland O is methodical with the power run game and Odell is back to take some shots along with the tight ends in the middle of the field. I see it similar to the Rams game where bears secondary gets beat on some big plays.
Colts +5.5 - Division dog of more than 3 points covers 54% of the time. Colts O-line is back to being healthy. I suspect they can control the game on the ground against this questionable Tennessee defense (30th in DVOA). I also expect Wentz to play (not a huge deal), but he should have time to throw behind the healthy O-line and weak Tennessee defensive front. This is arguably the Colts season here; they can’t go 0-3, so they will likely have a big motivation-edge. I like them to control the game in the trenches and keep it close or win outright.
Giants -2.5 - I am higher on the Giants and Daniel Jones than the market. They have great weapons around Jones and when he has time to throw he is a good QB. When he doesn’t he’s a mess. ATL is the worst DVOA defense in the league with one of the worst pass rushes. They are also in a great spot playing with extra rest after playing Thursday night in a tough loss. Like the Giants bouncing back against ATL.
Pats -3 - If I get 2.5 I may fire on this.
KC -6.5 - KC bounce back everyone seems to be off them after Monday night? They’re still awesome and I was not impressed by Chargers play calling last week.
Lions +8.5 and Over 50
Bucs/Rams over 55
Updated Week 3 Power Rankings
1. Tampa 7
2. Kansas City 6
3. Buffalo 5
4. San Francisco 4.5
5. LA Rams 4.5
6. Cleveland 3.5
7. GB 3
8. Seattle 2.5
9. Arizona 2
10. Baltimore 2
11. New England 1.5
12. Denver 1.5
13. LAC 1
14. Tennessee 1
15. LV 1
16. New Orleans 0.5
17. Dallas 0.5
18. Pittsburgh 0.5
19. Carolina 0
20. Miami 0
21. WFT -.5
22. Indy -1
23. Philly -1
24. Minnesota -1
25. NYG -2
26. Cincy -2.5
27. Chicago -3
28. Atlanta -4
29. NYJ -5.5
30. Detroit -6
31. JAX -7
32. Houston -8