Kansas City shocks defending Super Bowl champion New England (and many bettors) with a dominating 42-27 victory in the 2017 NFL season opener.
NFL: So…about the New England Patriots going undefeated in 2017…
Not going to happen! Despite some in the Northeast media suggesting it was “likely” because of New England’s perceived talent dominance over the rest of the league, the Patriots were anything but dominant in Thursday night’s season opening loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Kansas City (plus 9) 42, New England 27
- Yards-per-Play: Kansas City 8.3, New England 5.0
- Total Yards: Kansas City 537, New England 371
- Rushing Yards: Kansas City 185, New England 124
- Passing Stats: Kansas City 28-35-0-352, New England 16-36-0-247
- Turnovers: Kansas City 1, New England 0
- Touchdown Drive Lengths: Kansas City 90-92-75-90-60-79, New England 73-82-54
Wow. Other than the one giveaway, that’s about as clean as it gets in the NFL from the Kansas City perspective. It’s not easy to gain 500-plus yards on 8-plus yards-per-play in this league. Particularly on the road against the best power-rated team in the sport.
If you didn’t get a chance to watch, Kansas City won with “the big play” as opposed to grinding out yardage while moving the chains. The Chiefs only converted 4 of 11 third-down tries. But in the air and on the ground, they exploited opening after opening. Good enough for six TD drives of 60 yards or more, five of which were 75 yards or more, and THREE of which were 90 yards or more.
It didn’t feel like a great “defensive” performance for the Chiefs. But this is the high-octane Patriots they were facing. Only allowing two long TD drives while forcing 20 incomplete passes from Brady, then getting stops on 10 of 15 third down tries and both fourth down tries…that’s a big performance on that side of the ball as well.
As much as that result shook the earth in the NFL…it also had a huge impact on Las Vegas betting…
- Sharps who liked the dog took all those points with a tip of the cap and a wink.
- New England to win the game on the money line was very popular in public parlays, particularly when paired with other big college and pro favorites this week (and even the Los Angeles Dodgers in Thursday night baseball). All parlays with New England either laying points or just to win outright are already losers.
- New England was a popular choice in teasers because it felt “safer” to move the line down six points (or more with other options) just in case there was any sort of Super Bowl hangover. We told you the other day…they’re called “teasers” for a reason. Any teaser involving the Patriots, even those where you could move the line 7, 10, or 14 points, are all losers already. New England missed the spread by 24 points.
- New England got hit VERY hard on its early Regular Season Win totals this past summer. Obviously, those aren’t losers yet. But the Patriots must now play at an extremely high level on a weekly basis the rest of the way to reach 13, 14, or 15 wins.
- New England was a popular choice to win the Super Bowl. But in their last two games against playoff-caliber opponents, the Patriots trailed by 25 points late in the third quarter, and then 15 points in the fourth quarter. And neither of those were “road” games. No locks in this league.
The loss of Julian Edelman for the season was certainly a contributing factor to Brady throwing 20 incomplete passes and struggling on key downs. Danny Amendola suffered a head injury in this game that put him in the concussion protocol. Such a fine line between dominant and vulnerable whenever key injuries are involved.
New England will visit the New Orleans Saints a week from Sunday. The Patriots will likely be favored by a TD or less depending on how Drew Brees and company perform Monday night in Minnesota. (The Pats will definitely be favored by less than a TD if Amendola can’t return.) Kansas City has extra time to get ready for its home opener against Philadelphia, who will be coming off a divisional rivalry game in Washington. Kansas City will likely be favored in the 3-5 range depending on this weekend’s developments.
College Football: This week’s eight “showcase” prime time TV teams won by an average of 36 points in openers, and went 6-2 ATS as double-digit favorites
As handicappers and bettors look to find edges in the four prime-time showcase games that they’ll be channel hopping through Saturday night, they’re confronted with the fact that all eight teams looked pretty darn lethal in their season openers.
First, overnight lines from Thursday in the Saturday Night Slam…
- Auburn at Clemson (-5.5) on ESPN
- Georgia at Notre Dame (-4.5) on NBC
- Oklahoma at Ohio State (-7 or -7.5) on ABC
- Stanford at USC (-6.5) on FOX
Those eight won their season openers by a combined score of 393-102, beating market expectations in six of the eight games. And, one of the misses was only by half a point!
Two ATS Failures
- Auburn -34.5 beat Georgia Southern 41-7
- USC -28 beat Western Michigan 49-31
Auburn just missed, and Georgia Southern’s only touchdown came on a kickoff return. Auburn held GS to 0 of 15 on third down tries. About as impressive as a non-cover can get.
We mentioned the other day that we’ll be emphasizing yards-per-play and the lengths of touchdown drives in our boxscore summaries this season. Those two categories by themselves help paint a very accurate picture of who is moving the ball and finding the end zone. A quick trip through those stats from the openers suggest more success is probably on the way for these eight Saturday night co-stars.
Auburn (-34.5) 41, Georgia Southern 7
- Yards-Per-Play: Georgia Southern 1.4, Auburn 6.7
- TD Drive Lengths: Georgia Southern none, Auburn 60-58-54-61-95
The surprise here was the great defense for Auburn. Everyone was focused on new QB Jarrett Stidham. He was a fairly calm 14 of 24 for 185 yards with two TD’s and a pick (considering they were five-TD favorites). Can the defense slow down Clemson?
Clemson (-38) 56, Kent State 3
- Yards-Per-Play: Kent State 2.4, Clemson 8.5
- TD Drive Lengths: Kent State none, Clemson 65-70-54-55-89-55-80-92
Kent State sure didn’t slow down Clemson. Some handicappers were concerned about a sandwich spot for the Tigers…coming off winning a national championship the last time out…then looking ahead to the huge test against Auburn. Solid results even accounting for soft opposition.
Georgia (-12.5) 31, Appalachian State 10
- Yards-Per-Play: App State 4.4, Georgia 5.8
- TD Drive Lengths: App State 21, Georgia 39-86-57-66
Skeptics about either Georgia or the SEC in general were making upset calls with Appalachian State. Georgia would lead 31-0 before the road dog got on the board late. And, App State’s TD was very cheap. Not awesome YPP numbers for the Bulldogs, which might be a strike against depth.
Notre Dame (-20) 49, Temple 16
- Yards-Per-Play: Temple 4.6, Notre Dame 8.2
- TD Drive Lengths: Temple 75-70, Notre Dame 70-59-72-76-80-34-69
Impossible to know yet whether Temple is a total doormat, or if the Irish have improved off last year’s debacle. It’s possible that neither Georgia nor Notre Dame really belong in the “blockbuster” discussion long term. Everyone thought Notre Dame/Texas was a huge game last season, until both turned in lemons.
Oklahoma (-42) 56, UTEP 7
- Yards-Per-Play: UTEP 3.5, Oklahoma 9.1
- TD Drive Lengths: UTEP 78, Oklahoma 76-75-92-90-80-79-45-85
At least OU continues the prior Stoops tradition of scoring at will and running up the score on weaklings.
Ohio State (-21) 49, Indiana 21
- Yards-Per-Play: Ohio State 6.9, Indiana 4.6
- TD Drive Lengths: Ohio State 75-85-74-75-11-87, Indiana 87-80-62
Ohio State played an ugly first half…with a pass defense that did show some vulnerability until Indiana basically wore themselves out with a lightning fast pace. Might be a door OU’s offense can kick open. Joey Galloway of ESPN keeps talking about how this first half of OSU/Indiana suggested to him that the elite teams just aren’t that much better than the next tier. Tough case to make when all the Top 15 favorites won their games by double digits, with most covering. If you ONLY watched this first half, and Washington/Rutgers, you might think that.
Stanford (-29) 62, Rice 7
- Yards-Per-Play: Rice 3.9, Stanford 8.9
- TD Drive Lengths: Rice 80, Stanford 75-45-66-71-80-78-49-65
Stat slaughter, and it was a neutral site game rather than a home scrimmage.
USC (-28) 49, Western Michigan 31
- Yards-Per-Play: W. Michigan 5.0, USC 7.8
- TD Drive Lengths: W. Michigan 59-84-75, USC 75-45-83-56-83-66
USC’s offense is still impressive. But the defense may set them up to play a lot of shootouts. Allowing 5.0 YPP is good enough normally. Not so much when you’re a 28-point favorite against a team with a lot of new faces. Can Stanford’s efficient grinding offense take advantage of that four full quarters? Try to predict YPP in Stanford/USC if you’re trying to justify laying the points.
We’ll figure out a way to crunch a lot of weekend college and pro numbers for you early next week here in VSiN City. These four TV events will definitely go under our microscope.
MLB: Huge weekend series matches the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs
With only 22 games left in the 2017 season for both the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs, a make-or-break weekend for the Brew Crew is at hand at Wrigley Field. Getting swept in a three-game series at Cincinnati has dropped them FIVE games behind the Cubs in the NL Central. The second Wildcard spot is in closer reach. But a bad weekend in Chicago could put that in doubt too.
It’s been awhile since we ran a series preview. Let’s take a look at this one. For offense, we use league rankings in weighted-runs-created-plus, an analytic stat that is popular because it’s park-adjusted. For bullpens, we use league rankings in reliever xFIP. Then we use xFIP for projected starting pitchers as well. That’s a fielding-independent evaluation that’s designed to run along the same scale as ERA. (All stats from fangraphs).
Milwaukee Brewers (72-68) at the Chicago Cubs (77-63)
- Milwaukee (#9 NL offense, #6 NL bullpen)
- Chicago Cubs (#4 NL offense, #5 NL bullpen)
- Friday: Nelson (3.14 xFIP) vs. Lackey (4.56 xFIP)
- Saturday: Anderson (4.58 xFIP) vs. Montgomery (4.32 xFIP)
- Sunday: Davies (4.44 xFIP) vs. Hendricks (3.99 xFIP)
The Cubs are the better team…have been in better form since the All-Star Break…and know that they can virtually knock the Brewers out of the divisional race with a sweep. Tough to come from eight games back with only 18 to play. (In that scenario, if the Cubs were to finish 9-9, the Brewers would have to go 17-1 to force a tie).
The good news for Brewers fans is that Jimmy Nelson starts things off in a very winnable game. John Lackey is -125, Nelson plus 115 because the Cubs have home field and the superior offense. It gets dicier for Milwaukee after that with Anderson and Davies.
St. Louis is tied with Milwaukee, which means they have the same challenges to win a division or Wildcard. The Cards host Pittsburgh this weekend. The most impactful matchups in the American League this weekend involve the Wildcard race. Those are the NY Yankees at Texas, Minnesota at Kansas City, and the LA Angels at Seattle.
US Open: Stephens stuns Venus, Keys up next; Nadal the betting favorite on the men’s side
The least likely U.S. women’s player to survive the semis upset crowd favorite Venus Williams Thursday night at Flushing Meadows. Sloane Stephens (plus 140) overcame a New York bagel to win 6-1, 0-6, 7-5. She’ll face Madison Keys in Saturday’s final, a 6-1, 6-2 winner over outmatched Coco Vandeweghe. Keys was -145 in that one.
- Madison Keys -220 vs. Sloane Stephens plus 180
The men take the court Friday for their Final Four. Here are the overnight exchange prices to win the tourney from Betfair, and match lines from Bookmaker.eu.
Betfair Exchange Odds to Win
- Rafael Nadal -160
- Juan Del Potro plus 350
- Kevin Anderson plus 700
- Pablo Carreno Busta plus 2100
Bookmaker.eu Match Prices for Friday’s Semis
- Rafael Nadal -285 vs. Juan Del Potro plus 235
- Kevin Anderson -240 vs. Pablo Carreno Busta plus 200
Time to settle in for wall-to-wall weekend football for the forseeable future. Be sure you stay on top of developments Friday, Saturday, and Sunday with our newly expanded broadcast schedule. We’ll be back on Monday to review scoreboard and market highlights from a handicapping perspective.
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