Awful injury news in the NFL overshadows Week 5 results. We review key boxscore stats for handicappers, with Monday’s MLB “grand slam” pitcher previews as a bonus in VSiN City.
NFL: Beckham, Watt lost to serious injuries
In the first game on the Sunday card, one of the most popular offensive players in the league suffered a fractured ankle. In Sunday night’s finale, one of the most popular defensive players was lost to an even worse leg injury. Handicappers and bettors must now evaluate the market impact from the losses of Odell Beckham Jr. and J.J. Watt.
Numbers and notes for bettors from Sunday. Games are covered in Nevada rotation order.
LA Chargers (plus 3) 27, NY Giants 22
- Yards-per-Play: LA Chargers 5.2, NY Giants 5.1
- Third Down Pct: LA Chargers 44%, NY Giants 33%
- Turnovers: LA Chargers 1, NY Giants 2
- Rushing Yards: LA Chargers 124, NY Giants 152
- Passing Stats: LA Chargers 21-44-1-258, NY Giants 21-36-1-183
- TD Drive Lengths: LA Chargers 77-92-11, NY Giants 64-80-75
The biggest news, of course, wasn’t from the boxscore. The NY Giants kept enduring injuries to their receiving corps in such dramatic fashion that it probably makes sense to tank the season. Odell Beckham Jr. suffered a fractured ankle. They were awful earlier this season when he wasn’t 100%. Injuries to other receivers create a bleak outlook moving forward for the 0-5 G-men. An indictment of the Chargers that they needed a very cheap TD off an Eli Manning fumble to eke out the victory. LAC moves to 1-4 on the season. They still seem disorganized and uncertain on offense under their new head coach. Neither seems like a good investment unless opponents are giving them a lot of points.
Cincinnati (-3) 20, Buffalo 16
- Yards-per-Play: Buffalo 3.3, Cincinnati 6.1
- Third Down Pct: Buffalo 33%, Cincinnati 40%
- Turnovers: Buffalo 1, Cincinnati 3
- Rushing Yards: Buffalo 82, Cincinnati 65
- Passing Stats: Buffalo 20-37-1-139, Cincinnati 22-36-2-323
- TD Drive Lengths: Buffalo 23, Cincinnati 77-75
Very important to read this boxscore. One of a few like that today. If you were only scoreboard watching (tempting with such an ugly early slate), this must have seemed like a competitive battle. Cincinnati actually CRUSHED the Bills in the stats…but a 3-1 loss in the turnover category kept the game close. Note that Cincinnati had two long TD drives (keyed by big plays), while Buffalo had one very cheap one. Buffalo’s per-play offense is now 3.5, 4.3, 4.8, and 3.3 the past month. Abysmal. But some pundits were crediting the Bills with “finding” an offense in the win at Atlanta, when a defensive TD inflated their scoring. Buffalo falls to 3-2. Cincinnati is 2-3 after back-to-back wins.
NY Jets (pick-em) 17, Cleveland 14
- Yards-per-Play: NY Jets 4.2, Cleveland 6.0
- Third Down Pct: NY Jets 33%, Cleveland 43%
- Turnovers: NY Jets 1, Cleveland 3
- Rushing Yards: NY Jets 34, Cleveland 140
- Passing Stats: NY Jets 23-30-1-178, Cleveland 24-36-2-279
- TD Drive Lengths: NY Jets 13-97 Cleveland 75-86
Another misleading final score created by turnover differential. Run your fingers down those categories one-by-one. Then be aware that Cleveland won total yardage 419-212 as well. The Jets may be 3-2…but they’re still a bottom-level team. Yardage losses on the road have been 408-214, 410-271, and 419-212…and they may not have faced a playoff caliber opponent in the bunch (Buffalo, Oakland, Cleveland). Browns QB Deshone Kizer was benched at halftime, as his horrific season continued. He has 2 TD’s and 8 interceptions in his last four starts. His completion percentage has been below 50% each time, in a league where you can pad that stat with dinks and dunks. He’s only 21…but this really isn’t out of line for a guy who could only lead Notre Dame to a 4-8 record last season. Very tough to ask kids that young to thrive at QB in this league. Browns now 0-5.
Jacksonville (plus 7) 30, Pittsburgh 9
- Yards-per-Play: Jacksonville 5.9, Pittsburgh 4.8
- Third Down Pct: Jacksonville 50%, Pittsburgh 47%
- Turnovers: Jacksonville 1, Pittsburgh 5
- Rushing Yards: Jacksonville 231, Pittsburgh 70
- Passing Stats: Jacksonville 8-14-1-82, Pittsburgh 33-55-5-301
- TD Drive Lengths: Jacksonville 47-98, Pittsburgh no TDs
Jacksonville’s zig-zag season continued. In Weeks 1-3-5, the defense has triggered blowout wins of 29-7, 44-7, and 30-9 thanks to a turnover edge of 12-1. In Weeks 2-4, the Jags lost by 21 to Tennessee and got outgained 471-311 by the Jets. The zig-zaggy part is a fluke, and isn’t likely to continue. But it does suggest volatility ahead because Blake Bortles can’t do much of anything unless he’s gift-wrapped field position. The Jags “offense” only scored 16 this week. There were two pick-sixes off Ben Roethlisberger. Jacksonville is obviously 3-2, in first place in the AFC South. Pittsburgh is also 3-2. But the Steelers have been so sluggish that Big Ben is wondering if it’s time to retire. His stat performance has fallen off a table this year. And, losing twice in three weeks to teams like Chicago and Jacksonville could look embarrassing later in the season. Let’s see how far the market adjusts this week. The line here dropped down to -7 Sunday morning…and that money was rewarded emphatically.
Miami (plus 3) 16, Tennessee 10
- Yards-per-Play: Tennessee 3.2, Miami 3.0
- Third Down Pct: Tennessee 15%, Miami 33%
- Turnovers: Tennessee 2, Miami 2
- Rushing Yards: Tennessee 69, Miami 100
- Passing Stats: Tennessee 21-32-0-119, Miami 12-27-1-78
- TD Drive Lengths: Tennessee 69, Miami 58
Marcus Mariota couldn’t go for Tennessee. Matt Cassell played, but couldn’t make anything go either. Horrendous offensive numbers for both teams. It’s very hard in this league to total only 119 passing yards on 32 attempts (Cassell). Jay Cutler and the Dolphins continue to look utterly helpless. We can now assume that replacing the injured Ryan Tannehill with Jay Cutler didn’t make Miami better. Miami passed for 128 and 78 yards the last two weeks. That’s after 19 incomplete passes and two picks in the bad loss to the Jets. Will the market move Miami and the NY Giants down to NYJ/Cleveland/SF/Indy level given recent developments? Tough to drop Miami after a win…but this wasn’t a good win in terms of foreshadowing success. It’s lucking into an opposing QB injury. Tennessee falls to 2-3. Miami is 2-2 thanks to a fortunate win at LAC back in its opener.
Indianapolis (-1.5) 26, San Francisco 23 (in overtime)
- Yards-per-Play: San Francisco 5.7, Indianapolis 6.1
- Third Down Pct: San Francisco 29%, Indianapolis 50%
- Turnovers: San Francisco 0, Indianapolis 1
- Rushing Yards: Jacks San Francisco 66, Indianapolis 159
- Passing Stats: San Francisco 29-46-0-336, Indianapolis 22-34-1-288
- TD Drive Lengths: San Francisco 79-89, Indianapolis 60-75
The Colts had numbers that usually lead to an easier win than this. Moving the chains at that clip with a 90-yard edge in rushing should win by at least a TD. But the Colts defense couldn’t force a turnover. So, SF moved the ball through the air with very little risk. Be careful drawing conclusions when crappy teams play each other. And remember what we’ve been saying about San Francisco’s probably shaky defense. Goofy home turf helps condense stats in their home stadium. And, they’ve drawn the struggling offenses of Seattle and Arizona within the past month. The Rams gained 7.0 yards-per-play on them (even in SF), and the Colts were over six here. Indy is 2-3 with nail-biter home wins over Cleveland and SF. (Road losses have been by scores of 46-9 and 46-18.). San Francisco is still winless at 0-5…but the road margins have been 3-0-0 at the end of regulation. Heartbreakers.
Philadelphia (-6.5) 34, Arizona 7
- Yards-per-Play: Arizona 307, Philadelphia 419
- Third Down Pct: Arizona 29%, Philadelphia 64%
- Turnovers: Cincinnati Arizona 1, Philadelphia 1
- Rushing Yards: Arizona 31, Philadelphia 122
- Passing Stats: Arizona 28-44-0-276, Philadelphia 21-30-1-297
- TD Drive Lengths: Arizona 75, Philadelphia 54-15-64-63
It mostly was as bad as it seemed if you were scoreboard watching all day. Arizona’s rush offense has only totaled 45, 83, 49, 51, and 31 this season. You just can’t do anything in this league without some semblance of a running game. You can’t move the chains…you become too turnover prone…and can’t run clock with a lead. Not that the latter was an issue here. Philadelphia moves to 4-1. Arizona is 2-3, with the wins coming in overtime against SF and Indy. Arizona goes on that list of teams that maybe should be priced like doormats moving forward (with NYG and Miami). Cards have missed the market in regulation by 20.5, 6.5, 8, 6.5, and 14 during its 0-5 ATS performance out of the gate.
Carolina (plus 2.5) 27, Detroit 24
- Yards-per-Play: Carolina 5.7, Detroit 4.3
- Third Down Pct: Carolina 44%, Detroit 38%
- Turnovers: Carolina 0, Detroit 1
- Rushing Yards: Carolina 28, Detroit 50
- Passing Stats: Carolina 26-33-0-334, Detroit 23-35-0-192
- TD Drive Lengths: Carolina 75-73-75, Detroit 78-69-53
If you were scoreboard watching, you know that Carolina was ahead 27-10 before Detroit rallied to make things momentarily interesting at the very end. You can see above that Carolina must have REALLY been getting the best of it before those late Lions TD drives (total yardage ended 362-242 even after those last two drives). Panthers got away without a running game here because they avoided turnovers. Great result in a potential letdown spot off the win in New England. Carolina is 4-1…and really percolating after a slow start. Detroit is 3-2…but the wins came over awful Arizona, NYG, and then Case Keenum of the Vikes. Yards-per-play per game for the Lions’ offense is 5.3, 4.6, 4.9, 3.7, and 4.3. Consistently awful. Detroit can hang with anybody, but is mostly a mirage if you’re thinking of them as a serious threat to do anything important.
Seattle (plus 1.5) 16, LA Rams 10
- Yards-per-Play: Seattle 3.7, LA Rams 5.3
- Third Down Pct: Seattle 47%, LA Rams 53%
- Turnovers: Seattle 2, LA Rams 5
- Rushing Yards: Seattle 62, LA Rams 100
- Passing Stats: Seattle 24-38-2-179, LA Rams 22-47-2-275
- TD Drive Lengths: Seattle 75, LA Rams 79
Another game that was a stat rout for a team that lost because of turnover differential. The Rams won total yardage 375-241. Seattle’s offensive woes continued. It’s hard to only score 16 points when the other team keeps handing you the ball! The question coming into this game was “Are the Rams for real?” When Goff matures beyond the point of making mistakes in the pocket, they could be very “for real.” And that could happen by mid-November. This boxscore suggests that Seattle is still overrated because the market doesn’t penalize the Seahawks enough for their offense…and that the Rams are ready to be the better team once they cut down on mistakes. Both are 3-2, sitting atop the NFC West. This result could loom large in a tie-breaker down the road unless the Rams can return the favor in Seattle.
Baltimore (plus 3) 30, Oakland 17
- Yards-per-Play: Baltimore 5.6, Oakland 4.5
- Third Down Pct: Baltimore 50%, Oakland 50%
- Turnovers: Baltimore 0, Oakland 1
- Rushing Yards: Baltimore 143, Oakland 108
- Passing Stats: Baltimore 19-26-0-222, Oakland 13-26-0-137
- TD Drive Lengths: Baltimore 75-75, Oakland 75-65
Oakland had the worst yards-per-play defense in the NFL last season at 6.1. This year, they seem to be able to bring intensity every so often…but then can’t sustain it afterward. The Raiders hung tough with Denver last week (allowing less than 300 yards on 4.8 YPP), but made struggling Baltimore look efficient today, and allowed 472 yards on 7.3 YPP to Washington the week before Denver. Zig-zaggy defense to remember later if the team brings any more emotional defensive efforts in big games. Remember that E.J. Manuel played rather than the injured Derek Carr. Manuel didn’t have any picks, but that passing line obviously isn’t good enough for the NFL. A couple nice drives, and Manuel did move the chains. Baltimore moves to 3-2…but isn’t scaring anybody. Oakland falls to 2-3, but looks more like a 4-12 team whenever Carr can’t go.
Green Bay (plus 2.5) 35, Dallas 31
- Yards-per-Play: Green Bay 5.9, Dallas 5.4
- Third Down Pct: Green Bay 43%, Dallas 58%
- Turnovers: Green Bay 0, Dallas 1
- Rushing Yards: Green Bay 160, Dallas 163
- Passing Stats: Green Bay 19-29-0-182, Dallas 24-35-1-217
- TD Drive Lengths: Green Bay 75-75-88-75, Dallas 75-75-57-79
Felt a lot like the Rams/Cowboys game last week. Dallas led that one 24-16 at the half, but lost the rest of the game 19-6. Here, Dallas led 21-12 at the half but lost the rest of the game 23-10. So…45-28 at the half vs. quality opposition (stats are suggesting the Rams are quality opposition!), but then a 42-16 collapse in the second half with both games on the line. Green Bay is 4-1…but not really establishing quality beyond what we’ve become used to seeing with them. They could have lost at home to Cincinnati. (Interesting side note…Green Bay outgained Seattle at home 370-225, and the Rams did that Sunday 375-241…so that’s a second same-site, same-opponent comp that suggests the Rams are close to being the Packers outside of QB experience…worth filing away for future reference.) Dallas falls to 2-3 as the regression from last season continues.
Kansas City (-1.5) 42, Houston 34
- Yards-per-Play: Kansas City 6.2, Houston 6.9
- Third Down Pct: Kansas City 56%, Houston 30%
- Turnovers: Kansas City 0, Houston 1
- Rushing Yards: Kansas City 127, Houston 144
- Passing Stats: Kansas City 29-37-0-323, Houston 16-31-0-248
- TD Drive Lengths: Kansas City 62-75-70, Houston 75-78-70-37-75
Houston defensive star J.J. Watt suffered a left leg fracture in the first half. That sucked the life out of the stadium, and obviously made the Texans more vulnerable against the team playing the best football in the NFL five games into the new season. If you didn’t watch, Kansas City led more comfortably most of the night than that final score makes it seem. It was 23-7 at the half, 39-20 midway through the fourth quarter. Kansas City is now 5-0…against a very solid schedule. Houston falls to 2-3…but 2-2 with Deshaun Watson as a starter, also against a very solid schedule (possibly three 2017 AFC divisional winners).
MLB Playoffs: Monday pitching matchups and key stats
We’ll get caught up tomorrow with more detailed playoff coverage. After that long NFL dissertation, only room to run “three true outcome” analytics stats for Monday’s probable starting pitchers.
Game 4: Houston at Boston (1:08 p.m. ET, FS1; Houston leads 2-1)
- Morton: 3.58 xFIP, 26.4 K%, 8.1 BB%, 0.86 HR’s per 9 IP
- Porcello: 4.43 xFIP, 20.5 K%, 5.4 BB%, 1.68 HR’s per 9 IP
- Early Line: Houston -115, total of 10.5 (Under -120)
- Total Bases Plus Walks Earned by Game: Houston 29-14 in G1, Houston 27-12 in G2, Boston 26-18 in G3.
Game 3: Washington at the Chicago Cubs (4:08 p.m. ET, TBS; series tied 1-1)
- Scherzer: 3.28 xFIP, 34.4K%, 7.1 BB%, 0.99 HR’s per 9 IP
- Quintana: 3.73 xFIP, 26.2 K%, 7.7 BB%, 1.10 HR’s per 9 IP
- Early Line: Washington -120, no total until game day
- Total Bases Plus Walks Earned by Game: Cubs 9-5 in G1, Washington 18-16 in G2.
Game 4: Cleveland at the NY Yankees (7:08 p.m. ET, FS1; Cleveland leads 2-1)
- Tomlin: 4.11 xFIP, 18.6 K%, 2.4 BB%, 1.47 HR’s per 9 IP
- Severino: 3.04 xFIP, 29.4 K%, 6.5 BB%, 0.98 HR’s per 9 IP
- Early Line: NY Yankees -165, total of 7.5
- Total Bases Plus Walks Earned by Game: Cleveland 15-7 in G1, NYY 26-21 in G2 (despite loss), NYY 13-9 in G3.
Game 3: LA Dodgers at Arizona (10:08 p.m. ET TBS; LAD leads 2-0)
- Darvish: 3.65 xFIP, 27.3 K%, 7.6 BB%, 1.30 HR’s per 9 IP
- Greinke: 3.34 xFIP, 26.8 K%, 5.6 BB%, 1.11 HR’s per 9 IP
- Early Line: LA Dodgers -115, total of 9 (Over -115)
- Total Bases Plus Walks Earned by Game: Arizona 26-24 in G1 (despite loss), LAD 18-17 in G2.
Back Tuesday with a recap of Monday night’s Minnesota/Chicago NFL game, updated “market” Power Ratings in pro football, and a recap of the divisional round of the MLB playoffs.
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