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2 more QBs fall; Pittsburgh, Seattle, and New England re-assert themselves

By Jeff Fogle  ( 

October 22, 2017 10:52 PM

Another Monday, another review of high-profile NFL injuries as Carson Palmer (broken arm) and Jay Cutler (rib injury) are knocked out of action. Plus a recap of a chalky day and a foggy night in pro football action. 

NFL: Favorites go 8-3-2 vs. the number as league powers like Pittsburgh, Seattle, and New England re-assert their authority

What had been profitable season for underdog bettors slammed into reverse Sunday with a big day for favorites. Chalk (Vegas slang for favorites from the days when odds were written on big chalkboards) went 4-2-2 ATS in the early kickoffs, 3-1 ATS in the late afternoon session, with a bonus winner in the Sunday nighter when the New England Patriots “extended” their second-half dominance from last year’s Super Bowl in a comfortable win over Atlanta.

An 8-3-2 day for favorites won’t fully make up for six weeks of puppy power. You have to feel for chalk players that finally gave up on the strategy just as the tide turned back in their favor.

Before we get to the stat summaries, a quick update on non-offensive touchdowns. Last Sunday we noted that a stunning 14 has been scored (before #15 for the week was added Monday night). The scoreboard illusions created by that disappeared this week, with only THREE scored on Sunday (two defensive scores by the Bears, a punt return by the Chargers). The week-by-week line is now… 


Not coincidentally, totals were 5-8 to the Under Sunday. Let’s get to the recaps. Games are presented in Nevada Rotation order. That means Cincinnati/Pittsburgh will appear as the third game even though it was time-changed to a later kickoff. 

Tennessee (-5) 12, Cleveland 9 (in overtime)

  • Yards-per-Play: Tennessee 4.0, Cleveland 4.2
  • Third Down Pct: Tennessee 29%, Cleveland 23%
  • Turnovers: Tennessee 1, Cleveland 3
  • Rushing Yards: Tennessee 80, Cleveland 66
  • Passing Stats: Tennessee 21-34-0-189, Cleveland 22-39-0-218
  • TD Drive Lengths: Tennessee no TDs, Cleveland no TDs

One of two early kickoffs that didn’t have any offensive touchdowns. The more experienced team and quarterback figured out how to win in the extra period. Very ugly. Note that Cody Kessler played the second half and OT at QB for the Browns after Deshone Kizer threw his second interception. Kizer is only 21 years old. The floundering of he and Christian Hackenburg of the Jets may inspire an unwritten rule about forcing guys that young to start at this level. He’s in so far over his head he can’t even compete. Being 6’4” isn’t helping him. Kizer’s TD/INT ratio is 3/9, and two of the TD’s came against the horrible Colts defense. Tennessee moves to 4-3 despite this awful performance. Cleveland is still winless at 0-7, well-positioned for another draft. The Browns do get the cover, just the second of the season (2-5 ATS). That puts “the Browns are so bad you can’t bet on them” to rest for at least a week. Tennessee is 3-4 ATS with the non-cover.

Jacksonville (-3) 27, Indianapolis 0

  • Yards-per-Play: Jacksonville 8.0, Indianapolis 3.5
  • Third Down Pct: Jacksonville 57% Indianapolis 33%
  • Turnovers: Jacksonville 2, Indianapolis 0
  • Rushing Yards: Jacksonville 188, Indianapolis 96
  • Passing Stats: Jacksonville 18-27-0-330, Indianapolis 22-37-0-136
  • TD Drive Lengths: Jacksonville 75-70-91, Indianapolis no TDs

Gill Alexander was all over this low point spread back on Monday in his “Guessing Lines” segment with Vinny Magliulo on “A Numbers Game.” Jacksonville’s only -3?! Jags had it covered after their first drive…on the way to a 518-232 yardage advantage. In Indy’s prior two outings vs. non patsy-class teams, opponents had waited a half before turning it on. Seattle won the second half 36-3 three weeks ago. Tennessee won it 27-9 this past Monday with Indy’s only TD on a pick six. Jags went for the jugular out of the gate and partied all day. Jacksonville moves to 4-3 straight up and ATS, still tied with the Titans atop the AFC South. Indy falls to 2-5 straight up and 3-4 ATS. Fortunate to draw home games vs. league dregs Cleveland and San Francisco, and eke out wins over them. 

Pittsburgh (-3.5) 29, Cincinnati 14

  • Yards-per-Play: Cincinnati 3.5, Pittsburgh 6.2
  • Third Down Pct: Cincinnati 30%, Pittsburgh 18%
  • Turnovers: Cincinnati 2, Pittsburgh 0
  • Rushing Yards: Cincinnati 71, Pittsburgh 152
  • Passing Stats: Cincinnati 17-30-2-108, Pittsburgh 15-25-0-268
  • TD Drive Lengths: Cincinnati 53-75, Pittsburgh 75-75

After taking about the first third of the season off, the Pittsburgh Steelers finally look like the Super Bowl threat they were expected to be in summer futures prices. They outgained the Bengals here 420-179, after winning that stat 439-251 at Kansas City. They didn’t move the chains very well, but did everything else right in a very clean blowout (no giveaways, and only one penalty for five yards). The opposite for the Bengals. They had very good games vs. Cleveland and Buffalo, but now look again like the doormat they were during much of September. This was the version of the Bengals from the Baltimore and Houston losses, and the second half of the collapse in Green Bay. Pittsburgh moves to 5-2 (4-3 ATS), and may be able to start coasting again in a division with no threats. Cincinnati falls to 2-4 (3-3 ATS), and isn’t going to scare anyone the rest of the way. 

Minnesota (-5) 24, Baltimore 16

  • Yards-per-Play: Baltimore 3.2, Minnesota 5.6
  • Third Down Pct: Baltimore 38%, Minnesota 47%
  • Turnovers: Baltimore 0, Minnesota 1
  • Rushing Yards: Baltimore 64, Minnesota 169
  • Passing Stats: Baltimore 27-39-0-144, Minnesota 20-31-1-188
  • TD Drive Lengths: Baltimore 68 (as time ran out), Minnesota 45

Tough beat for anyone on Under 37.5, as the Ravens scored on the last play of the game. Baltimore barely even moved the ball all day until that final garbage time drive lifted them from 140 total yards to 208. Minnesota kicked six field goals, so Case Keenum and the Vikings weren’t turning respectable yardage into touchdowns. Minnesota leads the NFC North with a 5-2 record even with its QB issues. They’re now 4-3 ATS. Baltimore is 3-4 straight up and ATS, but might be out of the playoff picture already if the Ravens hadn’t drawn E.J. Manuel in their road start at the Raiders. Ravens have been outgained 5.6 to 3.2 by Minnesota, 4.6 to 4.2 by Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears, 5.2 to 4.2 by Pittsburgh, 6.0 to 3.4 by Jacksonville in London since Week 3. Basically a 4-12 type team. 

Miami (-3) 31, NY Jets 28

  • Yards-per-Play: NY Jets 5.4, Miami 5.5
  • Third Down Pct: NY Jets 36%, Miami 38%
  • Turnovers: NY Jets 1, Miami 2
  • Rushing Yards: NY Jets 92, Miami 53
  • Passing Stats: NY Jets 16-26-1-184, Miami 25-37-2-304
  • TD Drive Lengths: NY Jets 75-75-1-45, Miami 75-70-42-54

Jay Cutler suffered what was first called a chest injury, later clarified to a rib injury. Early reports are that he won’t be ready for Thursday’s game with the Ravens. Matt Moore came in to lead the Dolphins to victory in a surprisingly high-scoring affair. You can see the Jets had a very cheap touchdown (and another relative cheapie). NYJ only managed 276 total yards…so it’s not like the Jets' offense is catching fire. Miami is 4-2 with smoke and mirrors (3-2-1 ATS). The Jets fall to 3-4, which is still much better than most were expecting. NYJ is 4-2-1 ATS. Conceivably no drop-off moving forward between Cutler yawning his way through games and Moore trying to save his career. Let’s see how the market reacts to injury updates. 

Buffalo (-3) 30, Tampa Bay 27

  • Yards-per-Play: Tampa Bay 6.4, Buffalo 6.5
  • Third Down Pct: Tampa Bay 55%, Buffalo 63%
  • Turnovers: Tampa Bay 3, Buffalo 1
  • Rushing Yards: Tampa Bay 69, Buffalo 173
  • Passing Stats: Tampa Bay 32-44-1-378, Buffalo 20-33-0-261
  • TD Drive Lengths: Tampa Bay 75-75-54, Buffalo 78-75-75

A rare, true shootout, with Tampa Bay winning total yardage 447-434 but taking the worst of turnover differential in a coin flip loss. As often happens, the team with the big rushing advantage was able to avoid high impact miscues…while the team that had to throw 40-plus passes ran into turnover trouble. Buffalo is now 4-2 straight up, and 4-1-1 ATS. The three AFC East teams who aren’t New England are 11-5-3 ATS this season. That sure wasn’t supposed to happen. Tampa Bay falls to 2-4 straight up and 1-4-1 ATS. Haven’t heard too much chatter about how bad Tampa Bay’s defense has become. Check this out…against the struggling offenses of Buffalo, Arizona, the NY Giants, and Minnesota when Keenum got his first start…

434 yards allowed, 24 points on drives of 60-plus yards, 6.5 YPP to Buffalo

432 yards allowed, 24 points on drives of 60-plus yards, 7.3 YPP to Arizona

379 yards allowed, 20 points on drives of 60-plus yards, 4.9 YPP to NYG

494 yards allowed, 31 points on drives of 60-plus yards, 7.1 YPP to Minnesota

Horrible numbers vs. THOSE offenses! Yet, the Patriots only scored 19 points in a Thursday nighter. 

Chicago (plus 3) 17, Carolina 3

  • Yards-per-Play: Carolina 4.2, Chicago 4.1
  • Third Down Pct: Carolina 40%, Chicago 18%
  • Turnovers: Carolina 3, Chicago 0
  • Rushing Yards: Carolina 108, Chicago 68
  • Passing Stats: Carolina 21-34-2-185, Chicago 4-7-0-85
  • TD Drive Lengths: Carolina 4.2, Chicago 4.1

No offensive touchdowns in this one either. A fumble return TD came on an inexplicable pitch play from Carolina in damp conditions (announcers had just mentioned that footing was slick even though it hadn’t rained). Second came on a pick six after a Cam Newton pass was deflected high in the air. A lot of media “trivia” buzz about Trubisky completing fewer than 5 passes in a win. Hadn’t happened since Tim Tebow. Coach John Fox looks like he decided he’d play it safe in the second half until Carolina got within a score. Panthers never did. Only 33 plays run for the Bears, compared to 64 for Carolina. The cat might be out of the bag…but John Fox’s Bears sure are starting to look like the Broncos during the end of his tenure there. Hit hard on defense and don’t screw anything up on offense. Total combined offensive points in the last three Bears games are 6 and 30, and 37. Chicago’s gained 4.9, 4.6, and 4.1 with Trubisky. Very low. Carolina falls to 4-3 in the competitive NFC South (3-4 ATS). Chicago is 3-4 straight up (and feisty as heck at home), 5-2 ATS.

New Orleans (-4.5) 26, Green Bay 17

  • Yards-per-Play: New Orleans 6.5, Green Bay 5.2
  • Third Down Pct: New Orleans 53%, Green Bay 36%
  • Turnovers: New Orleans 2, Green Bay 1
  • Rushing Yards: New Orleans 161, Green Bay 181
  • Passing Stats: New Orleans 27-38-2-324, Green Bay 12-25-1-79
  • TD Drive Lengths: New Orleans 53-59-56, Green Bay 75-75

There were all sorts of opinions about how big a market adjustment should be made for Brett Hundley replacing Aaron Rodgers. For awhile, it was as much as 11-12 points from what the Packers “would have been” as a home favorite with Rodgers, vs. the temporary plus 6 they were earlier in the week. Respected money hit the home dog hard enough to bring the line down a bit. Wrong choice, as Hundley passed for a very low total while throwing a pick in a non-cover loss. The rudimentary formula we use to create a “stat score,” meaning what the final score “should” have been without turnover or non-offensive TD influences (2 times rushing yards, plus passing yards, times 0.67, divided by 15), shows New Orleans winning 29-20. So, the scoreboard margin is right. It’s going to be tough for GB to avoid a huge drop if the best Lindley can do vs. a soft defense like the Saints is 12-25-1-79. New Orleans is now 4-2 straight up and ATS. Green Bay is 4-3 straight up (3-4 ATS), but might be Power Rated like they’re San Francisco until they play a good game. 

Quick digression on the Saints’ offense. There was some punditry suggesting the New Orleans offense was going to regress or come back to earth after the “big explosion” vs. Detroit. While the TEAM scoring total was virtually certain shrink, because the 52 points vs. Detroit were inflated by three non-offensive touchdowns…the offense didn’t exactly rack up the yards vs. the Lions.

Saints gained 379 yards on 5.6 yards-per-play with 17% 3D conversions vs. Detroit

Saints gained 485 yards on 6.5 yards-per-play with 53% 3D conversions vs. GB

In fact, THIS was the offensive explosion that the Saints DIDN’T have vs. the Lions. New Orleans wasn’t “due” for a down week offensively off the generic totals vs. the Lions. They ended up having a big offensive week.

LA Rams (-3) 33, Arizona 0

  • Yards-per-Play: Arizona 4.1, LA Rams 5.4
  • Third Down Pct: Arizona 25%, LA Rams 68%
  • Turnovers: Arizona 2, LA Rams 1
  • Rushing Yards: Arizona 25, LA Rams 197
  • Passing Stats: Arizona 15-32-2-168, LA Rams 22-37-1-228
  • TD Drive Lengths: Arizona no TDs, LA Rams 18-88-80

Basically, a replay of Arizona’s road loss at Philadelphia 34-7, except the game was in England and Carson Palmer broke his arm. He’s likely to miss the season. That might create some “tank” initiative, though the veteran head coach who was already on the hot seat, and backup quarterback Drew Stanton may not be interested in that approach. Arizona falls to 3-4 straight up but 1-6 ATS. The Rams are now two games clear of the Cards at 5-2 straight up, but only 4-3 ATS because the market caught on to their improvement fairly quickly. (Quick apology…last Tuesday I didn’t notice this was a London game because it was down in the middle of the Nevada rotation…sorry about messing up the estimated “market” Power Ratings on the two teams as a result. Always feel free to give us a heads up on stuff like that, either in the Facebook widget below, or directly to me on twitter @JeffFogle.)

Dallas (-6) 40, San Francisco 10

  • Yards-per-Play: Dallas 7.2, San Francisco 4.5
  • Third Down Pct: Dallas 64%, San Francisco 46%
  • Turnovers: Dallas 0, San Francisco 3
  • Rushing Yards: Dallas 265, San Francisco 103
  • Passing Stats: Dallas 17-27-0-236, San Francisco 22-38-0-187
  • TD Drive Lengths: Dallas 20-74-86-72-80-29, San Francisco 75

San Francisco finally ran out of gas after playing mostly nailbiters all season. Dallas put it away early. Be careful putting too much weight on the stats. Most NFL offenses can run up numbers on bad opponents who just ran out of gas! Dallas accepts the gift to get back to .500 at 3-3 (3-3 ATS as well). San Francisco falls to 0-7 straight up, 4-3 ATS. Note that C.J. Beathard played QB for the Niners. 

Seattle (-3.5) 24, NY Giants 7

  • Yards-per-Play: Seattle 6.0, NY Giants 3.1
  • Third Down Pct: Seattle 46%, NY Giants 17%
  • Turnovers: Seattle 1, NY Giants 1
  • Rushing Yards: Seattle 104, NY Giants 46
  • Passing Stats: Seattle 27-39-0-321, NY Giants 19-39-0-131 
  • TD Drive Lengths: Seattle 59-38-50, NY Giants 17

Seattle has a way of struggling through the first half to give opponents hope, only to wear them down when it’s time to win the game. You see the stats of a blowout. (Don’t skip over the stats…read ‘em!) But NYG led 7-3 into the second half. And, it was still only 10-7 Seattle with 10 minutes to go in the game. Over the last five games, Seattle is 0-3-2 straight up in the first half, 4-1 in the second half. They move to 4-2 straight up for the season (3-3 ATS), still very much in the championship chase even if they haven’t looked strong vs. quality. The Giants fall to 1-6 (3-4 ATS), and played as bad this week as everyone expected them to in Denver last week. Only a very cheap TD averted a shutout. 

LA Chargers (plus 1) 21, Denver 0

  • Yards-per-Play: Denver 4.3, LA Chargers 4.4
  • Third Down Pct: Denver 21%, LA Chargers 25%
  • Turnovers: Denver 3, LA Chargers 0
  • Rushing Yards: Denver 69, LA Chargers 80
  • Passing Stats: Denver 25-35-1-182, LA Chargers 15-26-0-162
  • TD Drive Lengths: Denver no TDs, LA Chargers 65-92

Speaking of shutouts. Scoreboard watchers were talking about the Chargers finally getting their act together as Denver’s collapse continues. Can’t argue about the Denver collapse part. This is an awful performance in what should be a bounce-back spot off the Giants debacle. But LAC didn’t really sparkle either. Two good TD drives…but that’s about all they did for the afternoon. More than half their 242 total yards came on those two drives. Denver won total yardage 251-242 in what was a statistical dead heat outside the turnover department. LAC is still mediocre. Denver’s players may have officially given up on Trevor Siemian. Denver falls to 3-3 (2-3-1 ATS), and that easy win over the Cowboys is now a distant memory. Broncos have been outscored 80-42 since against Buffalo, Oakland (with Carr getting hurt), NYG, and LAC. Playoff caliber teams wouldn’t do that. The Chargers (3-3-1 ATS) have won three straight outright after starting 0-4, meaning they’ll break the hearts of their new fans in short order. 

New England (-3) 23, Atlanta 7

  • Yards-per-Play: Atlanta 6.1, New England 6.0
  • Third Down Pct: Atlanta 22%, New England 54%
  • Turnovers: Atlanta 0, New England 0
  • Rushing Yards: Atlanta 120, New England 162
  • Passing Stats: Atlanta 23-33-0-223, New England 21-29-0-241
  • TD Drive Lengths: Atlanta 88, New England 74-53

Huge letdown for anyone hoping the Super Bowl rematch would get sports fans re-energized about the NFL. New England grinded out a 17-0 halftime lead. Then fog set in until the last few minutes of the game. Atlanta couldn’t get anything going until the final moments (with that 88-yard drive equalizing some of the stats in a misleading way). Fitting metaphor for the cloud hanging over this particular NFL season with off-the-field issues and a slew of high profile injuries. New England moves to 5-2 straight up (3-4 ATS). Atlanta falls to 3-3 (2-4 ATS) in what’s becoming a gnarly NFC South. In the past month, Atlanta has surprisingly gone 0-3 straight up vs. the AFC East, at a combined point spread of -19.

Back Tuesday to preview the 2017 World Series matching the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers from an analytics perspective. The Dodgers are -160 to win the series (Houston plus 140) as of Sunday evening. We’ll also recap the Big Money Monday showdown in the NFC East matching the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles before updating our estimated “market” Power Ratings in the NFL.

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