EPA is Expected Points Added

ATS is Against The Spread

 

2016-17 NFL Results

2017 NFL Best Bets are 7-6 (6-5 sides, 1-0 totals, 0-1 teasers) and Strong Opinions are 9-6 (7-6 sides, 2-0 totals).

 

2016 NFL Best Bets were 100-69 (59.2%) for the season (66-26 on sides and 34-43 on totals).

 

2016 NFL Strong Opinions were 64-52-4 (55.2%) for the season (27-30-3 sides, 36-22-1 totals, 1-0 Super Bowl prop).

Philadelphia Eagles @
Carolina Panthers

Thu, Oct 12 5:25 PM

Rotation: 103, Odds: Carolina Panthers -3, Total: 45

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Cleveland Browns @
Houston Texans

Sun, Oct 15 10:00 AM

Rotation: 251, Odds: Houston Texans -9.5, Total: 47

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New England Patriots @
New York Jets

Sun, Oct 15 10:00 AM

Rotation: 253, Odds: New York Jets +9.5, Total: 47.5

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NEW YORK JETS (+9.5) vs New England

The Jets have certainly been better than expected this season but they were fortunate to beat Cleveland last week as they were outgained by nearly 2 yards per play. New York’s offense has been mediocre and the Jets defense isn’t as good as they appear to be. New York ranks 10th in my numbers using just 2017 unadjusted data, but they’ve yet to face an offense in the top half of the league. That will change today, as the Jets’ defense will face its first real test.

Despite scoring less than 20 points, New England’s offense gained an impressive 6.1 yppl against the Buccaneers last week and the Patriots offense ranks 3rd in my numbers – trailing only Kansas City and Atlanta. On the other hand, the Patriots defense ranks last and they’ve been particularly vulnerable against the pass. However, the Pats’ have basically the same level of talent as the defense that ranked 5th defending the pass last year and I expect that unit to improve going forward.

Using this year’s stats only would certainly favor the Jets here but my predictive numbers suggest passing on this game.

Miami Dolphins @
Atlanta Falcons

Sun, Oct 15 10:00 AM

Rotation: 255, Odds: Atlanta Falcons -11.5, Total: 46

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Lean – ATLANTA (-11.5) over Miami

Miami beat Tennessee last week in an ugly game featuring a pair of terrible offenses that combined to average only 3.1 yppl. The Dolphins offense ranks last in the league in my metrics, mostly because Jay Cutler hasn’t been able to get the passing game going. Cutler is averaging only 4.4 yppp, which is nearly 2 yards per pass play worse than his career average. That number should rise over the course of the season but Atlanta has the 4th ranked pass defense in my numbers and I expect Miami’s offensive struggles to continue in this game.

The Falcons probably should’ve been undefeated going into their bye last week. In week 4, Atlanta outgained the Bills 5.4 yppl to 4.8 yppl yet lost due to a -3 turnover margin, one of which was a controversial strip-sack returned for a touchdown. The Falcons are the only team in the league outgaining their opponents by more than 1 yard per play and they rank first overall in my ratings based on this season’s games only. The Dolphins defense has been fortunate to hold opponents to a less than 30% conversion rate on third down, which I don’t expect that to continue against Atlanta’s high powered offense in this game.

Overall, the number on this game is fair, as my ratings favor Atlanta by 11.4 points, but the Falcons apply to a 105-46-2 ATS off a bye week angle that has me leaning their way.

Detroit Lions @
New Orleans Saints

Sun, Oct 15 10:00 AM

Rotation: 257, Odds: New Orleans Saints -5, Total: 50

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Green Bay Packers @
Minnesota Vikings

Sun, Oct 15 10:00 AM

Rotation: 259, Odds: Minnesota Vikings +3, Total: 46.5

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Lean – MINNESOTA (+3) over Green Bay Packers

Despite the injury to Sam Bradford, that has kept him out of 3 ½ games thus far, the Vikings +0.9 net yards per play ranks second in the league with the offense averaging a surprising 5.7 yppl (9th) to go along with the predictably strong defensive numbers. The Vikings quarterback for this game hasn’t been announced yet, but whoever starts will have a good matchup against a Packers defense rated 28th in my metrics.

Minnesota’s defense ranks 11th in yards per play, but their 3rd down luck is likely to catch up with them. The Vikings held the Bears to 3 for 12 on 3rd down last week maintaining their league-best opponent 3rd down conversion rate – they’ve held opponents to just 25% on 3rd downs, which I don’t expect to continue moving forward. In fact, no team last season held opponents to under a 30% 3rd down conversion rate for the full season. That doesn’t mean that the Vikings won’t continue to be good defensively, but rather that they’re likely to give up a few more points per game as their 3rd down defense regresses to expectations.

Despite scoring more than 27 points per game, the Packers offense is gaining just 5.3 yppl. Aaron Rodgers has been held to 5.9 yppp – a full yard per play less than his career average of 6.9 yppp. Rodgers is still a very accurate thrower of the football but he’s had less time to look downfield for big plays and has been sacked third most in the league. The Vikings talented defensive line is looking for a breakout game, as they’ve been pretty mediocre in getting to the quarterback thus far, and this could be the game to boost their stats.

The Packers are a probably a better team than the Vikings moving forward, but not enough to justify laying a field goal on the road. I’ll lean with Minnesota +3 or better in this one.

Chicago Bears @
Baltimore Ravens

Sun, Oct 15 10:00 AM

Rotation: 261, Odds: Baltimore Ravens -6.5, Total: 39.5

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BALTIMORE (-6.5) vs Chicago

Chicago should’ve beaten Minnesota on Monday night – the Bears outgained the Vikings in yards per play but Chicago’s two turnovers set Minnesota’s offense up with very short fields, including the last-minute game-winning field goal. Thus far, the Bears defense is actually producing fewer takeaways per game than their worst in the league (0.7/game) number last season. I have the Bears defensive quality rated around average and I expect their defense to produce more turnovers moving forward.

Rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky had his moments but overall his numbers were underwhelming – albeit against a good defense. Trubisky may struggle again versus a Baltimore defense that ranks 8th against the pass but I expect the Bears to use their 3rd ranked running game to attack a soft Ravens’ defensive front that is 7th worst defending the run according to my metrics. Chicago is better than they appear, as the Bears’ league worst -9 turnover margin has greatly affected their scoring margin. However, the line on this game looks fair and I have no opinion.

San Francisco 49ers @
Washington Redskins

Sun, Oct 15 10:00 AM

Rotation: 263, Odds: Washington Redskins -10, Total: 46.5

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WASHINGTON (-10) vs San Francisco

Both of these teams are better than their records, as the Redskins are solidly above average on both sides of the ball in my metrics despite being just 2-2 while the Niners’ 0-5 record includes a 3-point loss, a 2-point loss, and two overtime losses in the last 4 weeks.

Washington’s offense ranks 3rd in my metrics and have been unlucky to only score touchdowns on 36% of their Redzone opportunities and I expect an offense of this quality to be better in the Redzone moving forward. The offense is led by Kirk Cousins, quietly having the best season of his career with 7.3 yards per pass play and only 1 interception in 121 attempts.

The Niners’ Brian Hoyer had a good game last week with 7.0 yppp, but he has been inconsistent this season and has a tough matchup in this one going against a Redskins defense playing excellent at home – Washington has held their opponents to 4.4 yppl at FedEx Field. I’ll pass on this game.

Los Angeles Rams @
Jacksonville Jaguars

Sun, Oct 15 1:05 PM

Rotation: 265, Odds: Jacksonville Jaguars -2.5, Total: 42.5

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers @
Arizona Cardinals

Sun, Oct 15 1:05 PM

Rotation: 267, Odds: Arizona Cardinals +1.5, Total: 45

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Lean – ARIZONA (+1.5) over Tampa Bay

The Cardinals played poorly across the board last week, but particularly in pass defense – Arizona allowed 9.6 yppp to Philadelphia. However, the Cardinals defense is still top 10 in my metrics and have been unfortunate to allow opponents to score touchdowns on 60% of Redzone opportunities, which is far too high for a unit that good overall.

Arizona signed Adrian Peterson attempting to improve their last rated rushing offense. I don’t think Peterson has much left in the tank and he’ll likely struggle against a Buccaneers defense ranked 5th at stopping the run in my numbers. Still, the threat of Peterson could help Carson Palmer get back on track and improve on a passing offense currently ranks 29th. Thankfully, Palmer has a favorable matchup this week against Tampa Bay’s 29th ranked pass defense.

My ratings like Arizona in this game, as they are better than their 2-3 record and it appears as if their dreadful 0-5 ATS record has supplied some line value. That’s pretty common for teams that are winless against the spread at this point of the season. In fact, in the last 25 years teams that are winless against the spread after 4 or more games are 45-19-2 ATS as an underdog or pick. That angle didn’t work for the Cardinals last week at Philly (although it did work for the Chargers), but there is value on their side and I’ll lean with the Cardinals plus the points.

Pittsburgh Steelers @
Kansas City Chiefs

Sun, Oct 15 1:25 PM

Rotation: 269, Odds: Kansas City Chiefs -4.5, Total: 46

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KANSAS CITY (-4.5) vs Pittsburgh

Kansas City’s offense has been special so far this season but the Chiefss defense has surrendered 6.8 yards per play the last two weeks and now rank 20th in my season ratings heading into a game against a Pittsburgh attack that is due to bounce-back after a horrendous performance in last week’s 9-30 upset loss to the Jags. The Steelers play calling was puzzling last week, as offensive coordinator Todd Haley called 57 pass plays and only gave Le’Veon Bell 15 carries against a Jaguars defense ranked 3rd against the pass and last against the run in my metrics.  The Kansas City defense pass/run splits aren’t as drastic, but the Chiefs are allowing the 6th most yards per rush to opponents this season and since losing Eric Berry, one of the league’s best run-stopping safeties, to a season-ending Achilles injury the Chiefs’ defense has allowed 5.1 yards per carry. I would be surprised if we don’t see more Le’Veon Bell this week.

The Steelers apply to a 132-50-8 ATS situation that is based on last week’s upset loss so I do expect them to come to play today. However, I also have an indicator that favors Kansas City in this game so I’ll just sit back and watch.

Los Angeles Chargers @
Oakland Raiders

Sun, Oct 15 1:25 PM

Rotation: 271, Odds: Oakland Raiders -3.5, Total: 50.5

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Lean – Los Angeles Chargers (+3 ½) over OAKLAND

Raiders starting quarterback, Derek Carr, will return this week after missing a game and a half. Carr averaged 6.0 yppp before his injury and replacement EJ Manuel averaged 5.0 yppp in relief. Although, it’s worth noting Manuel played against the Broncos and Ravens, two of the league’s strongest pass defenses. Oakland has been disappointing this season, but it’s mostly due to their defense, which also was below average last season.

The Raiders defense ranks 27th in yards per play allowed this season while only playing one top 10 offense, Washington, and they allowed the Redskins to gain 11.5 yards per pass play in that week 3 matchup. The Chargers will be the second top 10 offense for the Oakland defense and I expect Phillip Rivers to play well against this Raiders secondary.  Furthermore, Oakland’s defense has been fortunate to hold opponents to a 29% Redzone touchdown rate (2nd in NFL) and I certainly don’t expect a defense of this low quality to maintain that moving forward.

The Los Angeles defense ranks in the top half of the league against the pass but just 30th against the run in my numbers – the Chargers are surrendering 161 rushing yards per game, 15 more than the next worst team. However, the Chargers rush defense ranked 7th last year and I expect them to improve moving forward.

The Chargers are 1-4 but have been unlucky to lose three games decided by a field goal or less, so they’re certainly much better than their record. Los Angeles has outgained Oakland by 0.9 net yards per play this season despite facing a tougher schedule. I’ll lean with the Chargers plus the points.

New York Giants @
Denver Broncos

Sun, Oct 15 5:30 PM

Rotation: 273, Odds: Denver Broncos -13, Total: 38.5

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Indianapolis Colts @
Tennessee Titans

Mon, Oct 16 5:30 PM

Rotation: 275, Odds: Tennessee Titans -7, Total: 47

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Lean – TENNESSEE (-7) over Indianapolis

It looks like Marcus Mariota will play in this game and he will have a good matchup in his return. The Indianapolis pass defense ranks 30th in my numbers despite facing only one above average passing offense so far (Rams). The Titans averaged just 2.6 yppp on 50 pass plays with Matt Cassel under center this season, which is dreadful and far below the better than average 7.0 yppp that Mariota has averaged. I expect the Titans’ offense to get back on track Monday night against a horrible Colts’ secondary that gives up too many big plays and has allowed 7.5 yppp so far this season. It’s worth noting Mariota’s running ability may be limited in this game – however, my metrics show he has only added 0.1 points per game with his scrambles. Tennessee went just 2 for 13 on 3rd down last week dropping their season 3rd down conversion rate to 34% but I expect their offense to improve on 3rd downs moving forward with Mariota returning.

The Titans have struggled on defense this year with my metrics ranking them 24th. However, I expect that unit to get back on track against a Colts offense that is averaging just 4.8 yards per play. The Colts’ coaching staff obviously doesn’t trust backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett to throw the ball too often as Indy is 5th the league in run play percentage this season despite averaging a poor 3.4 yards per carry (29th). Brissett actually hasn’t been bad, as he’s averaged a decent 6.5 yppp with just 3 interceptions thrown on 127 pass attempts, so it would behoove the Colts to try throwing the ball more often than they have been – especially in this game against a Tennessee defense that has been poor in pass defense but ranks in the top-10 defending the run. The Titans have allowed 28.4 points per game but their defense has been unlucky to allow opponent’s touchdowns on 74% of redzone opportunities this season, which is certainly going to regress towards the mean given that no defense has been worse than that in the last 5 seasons and overall the Titans are pretty solid defensively (just 5.2 yppl allowed).

My model favors Tennessee as a play here but the Titans do apply to a 2-31 ATS subset of a 34-98-2 ATS situation and it’s certainly plausible that Mariota may not make it through the entire game with his tender hamstring. I’ll just lean with the Titans minus the points.

Football Best Bets 37-21 This Season

My Football Best Bets were 8-5 this week, 6-4 in College and 2-1 in the NFL, and I am now 37-21 (64%) on my Football Best Bets this season after going 148-107 (58%) on Football Best Bets in 2016.

My College Football has been profitable for years (55% winners since 1999 for +230.6 Stars of profit) and the NFL Best Bets are now 107-75 (59%) using the new NFL play-by-play model introduced last season, including 72-31 (70%) on sides.

 

I have 4-Week and full season subscription packages available and you can view all Best Bet subscription packages by viewing the Best Bets page. I will also have one-week passes available for this next week’s Football Best Bets available on Wednesday (possibly Thursday in the NFL).