Pittsburgh at Washington – MNF Preview (Client Pick Uploaded)

The early Monday Night Football Game features two potent offenses from last year, albeit units which had success with different approaches.  Washington’s offense was one of the most efficient passing units, from an early down passing and third down passing perspective, while Pittsburgh featured the most explosive offense in the NFL last year.  In an unique match-up of styles this is a bout between a big puncher looking for the KO and the technical fighter with the consistent jab, looking to win it in the cards.

Best Bets have gone 4-0 this week, utilizing the early season model.  Get our last Best Bet of the week for the early Monday Night Game with your season package (saves over 40% from purchasing week to week), prices have been reduced early to reflect weeks remaining.

The following was the write-up clients received:

Pittsburgh (-3) @ Washington

Week 1 Methodology

With a higher degree of uncertainty surrounding teams beginning the season, game lines are the least correlated with actual performance in Week 1, with only 14% of the variance explained vs. 20%  for weeks 2-17. Our Week 1 selections are based on advanced statistics (adjusted for down, distance and opponent quality), the significance of these factors was then run through various models to systematically determine variable importance and linear/non-linear effects.  Model tuning, ensembling and testing was then performed to uncover game spread mispricings.

Why Pittsburgh Will Win
Pittsburgh faces the difficult task of going into Washington without 3 of its top 4 receiving threats penciled in to contribute at the beginning of the summer.  With L. Green, M. Wheaton and M. Bryant all out for the opening game of 2016, the PIT offense will face uncertainty from a different cast of characters.  Still with all-world WR Antonio Brown and Big Ben, the Steelers have the principal components to continue making field stretching plays this year.  While Roethlisberger and Cousins both posted two of their best years last season, Big Ben has consistently proven to be a QB who can shoulder his team, regardless of the cast.

The Case for Washington
Washington made the playoffs last year from the significant improvement they saw in their passing game, particularly through raising their passing efficiency and lowering the sacks allowed rate.  Kirk Cousins earned the starting QB role in Washington last year by playing more efficient football, on all downs, but particularly on third down, he was one of the best.  However, third down success is highly variable year to year, as having success the year prior on passing third downs does not correlate to success the next year.  Cousins also delivered the lowest interception rate of his career.  While Cousins cut his interception rate to 2%, the top of the list of QBs who have seen a similar reduction in interception rate  (under 2% over 200 attempts) is filled with signal and noise, including J.McCown (2013), J. Freeman (2010) and D. Brees (2004)


The team that wins the big play yardage margin (More % of yards come from big runs or big passes) has the higher success rate only 51% of the time, although the way visiting teams can go on the road and win (and more importantly cover) is through plays that pick up chunks of yards, as these plays limit mistakes a team can make and at the minimum help flip the field.  Road teams that win the Big Play margin battle are 61% ATS (1223-785-60) the past 15 years, and our model favors the Steelers, so we will make Pittsburgh a 1* Best Bet at -3 at -125 odds or better.
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