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NFL Week 2: What the line moves tell you

Jeff Fogle  
VSiN City newsletter

September 13, 2018 12:05 AM

NFL back with Baltimore-Bengals…weatherman says windy at Wake…Storm surge…Colorado cashes at Coors…stories and stats in VSiN City! 

NFL: Ravens and Bengals renew their AFC North rivalry on Thursday night football
We’ve barely digested the first full week of NFL action in 2018, and the second week is ready to begin. 

Here’s a quick stat preview for Baltimore at Cincinnati, which begins at 8:20 p.m. ET on the NFL Network. We’re going to use last season’s stats because one game doesn’t mean much…and both teams have the same head coaches and veteran starting quarterbacks. Note that Baltimore finished 2017 with a 9-7 record, Cincinnati 7-9. As we go to press, Baltimore is -1 at the South Point (most stores have it at pick-em), with an Over/Under of 44.5. 

Yards-per-Play
Baltimore: 4.6 on offense, 5.0 on defense
Cincinnati: 4.8 on offense, 5.0 on defense

Both had lousy offenses last season. Important to remember after each put up big scores last week. Baltimore faced the worst team in the league (Buffalo) and cashed some cheap points. Cincinnati was helped by a defensive TD in a win at Indianapolis. 

Third Down Conversions
Baltimore: 34% on offense, 37% on defense
Cincinnati: 34% on offense, 41% on defense

Poor numbers on third downs, which is consistent with poor YPP numbers…but odd for veteran quarterbacks. Typically, veterans can move the chains at a league average level even if the overall offense isn’t very good. Cincinnati’s defense was disappointing when it came time to get stops. 

Red Zone TD Percentage
Baltimore: 58% on offense, 49% on defense
Cincinnati: 56% on offense, 46% on defense

Here we do see veteran leadership. Baltimore’s 58% ranked #9 in the NFL last season, while Cincinnati wasn’t far behind at #11. Trouble moving the ball, and moving the chains. But, in close, these teams did find the end zone better than most. Good work on defense too. 

Turnover Differential 
Baltimore: plus 17
Cincinnati: minus 9

This was the bulk of the difference between one team going 9-7, and the other going 7-9. Virtual clones across the board until you get to turnovers. Baltimore’s defense forced a lot of mistakes. Cincinnati’s offense made too many. If you believe turnovers are a relatively random stat, that would signal a reversal for these teams in 2018. If you believe there are skill sets involved, it could be the difference-maker Thursday. 

Look for in-depth analysis throughout the day on VSiN programming. Stats and trends are available in Point Spread Weekly. We’ll recap key stats for you in our Friday report here in VSiN City. 

NFL: Week 2 “market watch”
Let’s update Wednesday night point spreads from the South Point for the rest of the NFL weekend.

Sunday
Indianapolis at Washington (-6/46.5)
Carolina at Atlanta (-5.5/44.6)
Minnesota at Green Bay (no line pending status of Rodgers)
LA Chargers (-7.5/43) at Buffalo
Houston at Tennessee (no line pending status of Mariota)
Kansas City at Pittsburgh (-4.5/43) 
Miami at NY Jets (-3/44) 
Philadelphia (-3/44) at Tampa Bay 
Cleveland at New Orleans (-8.5/49) 
Arizona at the LA Rams (-12.5/45.5) 
Detroit at San Francisco (-5.5/47/5) 
New England (-1.5/45) at Jacksonville
Oakland at Denver (-5.5/45) 
NY Giants at Dallas (-3/42)

Monday Night
Seattle at Chicago (-3.5/43) 

Washington rose from -5.5 to -6, and the Over/Under jumped a full 1.5 points at the South Point in that first game on the list. The Chargers nudged up a half a point off the key number of seven at Buffalo. Pittsburgh dropped a half a point at home against KC. Is that skepticism about the Steelers or sharps impressed with Patrick Mahomes? Jets up to -3 from -2.5 vs. the Dolphins. Little change elsewhere except New England dropping from -2 down to -1.5 at Jacksonville in the rematch from last year’s AFC title tilt. 

On the teaser watch, these options are currently in the “basic strategy” window where you move a line 6 points to cross both the 3 and the 7 in one fell swoop.

*LA Chargers -7.5
*New Orleans -8.5
*Jacksonville plus 1.5

Miami would qualify at plus 2.5 vs. the Jets, but not plus 3 (you want to CROSS both numbers). Early estimates suggest both “delayed” spots (games in Green Bay and Tennessee) could end up in the window too. 

College Football: Florence forces more postponements…and a “market watch” for marquee matchups
Two new games were taken off the schedule since the last time we talked. Here’s an updated list from the main betting board. 

Off the Schedule
East Carolina at #13 Virginia Tech
#14 West Virginia at NC State
#18 Central Florida at North Carolina
Southern Miss at Appalachian State
Marshall at South Carolina

What had been scheduled as a Thursday night ESPN telecast of Boston College-Wake Forest has been moved up to a 5:30 p.m. ET starting time. Current forecasts don’t show heavy rain as an issue. But winds are forecast to be around 20 mph. You regulars know that winds can have a big impact on scoring. Current line is Boston College -4.5 with a total of 55.5. That Over/Under may drop through the day as more is known about game time conditions. 

Now let’s look at Wednesday night lines for some of this Saturday’s featured TV games. We’ll take these in order of kickoff (rather than schedule order) so you can make your viewing plans. 

Saturday’s Featured Games (all times Eastern)
Vanderbilt at #8 Notre Dame (-14/52) (2:30 p.m. on NBC)
#17 Boise State at #24Oklahoma State (-2.5/53.50 (3:30 p.m. on ESPN)
BYU at #6 Wisconsin (-22/46) (3:30 p.m. on ABC)
#12 LSU at #7 Auburn (-10/44.5) (3:30 p.m. on CBS)
#1 Alabama (-21.5/71) at Mississippi (7 p.m. on ESPN)
#4 Ohio State (-13.5/59) vs. #15 TCU (8 p.m. on ABC)
#22 USC at Texas (-3.5/48) (8 p.m. on FOX)
#10 Washington (-6.5/47.5) at Utah (10 p.m. on ESPN)

That Ohio State-TCU game is in Arlington, Texas. So home area, but not a home game for the Horned Frogs. Remember that Las Vegas kickoffs are three hours earlier than Eastern time. Why did we include Vanderbilt in a marquee game? Vandy is 2-0 this season with two HUGE covers, part of an SEC rampage that’s 18-6 against the spread in all board games vs. outsiders. Wanted to at least get that on your radar. Let’s see if the Commodores can hang in South Bend. 

WNBA Finals: Seattle Storm are your 2018 World Champions!
The best team in the league during the regular season swept the championship series 3-0. Seattle embraced “the beautiful game” of ball movement and three-point shooting to become the Golden State Warriors of the WNBA. Fitting that the Storm shot lights out from long range in the clincher…

Seattle (plus 5) 98, Washington 82
Two-Point %: Seattle 50%, Washington 48%
Three Pointers: Seattle 13/26, Washington 8/23
Free Throws: Seattle 13/16, Washington 14/15
Rebounds: Seattle 39, Washington 28
Turnovers: Seattle 7, Washington 9

Possibly motivated by not wanting to wait around on the Eastern seaboard as a hurricane was about to hit, Seattle surged to a 47-30 lead just before halftime. Mystics got as close as six after a furious fourth quarter rally, before running out of gas. 

For the winners…

*Breanna Stewart: 30 points, 4 of 5 on treys, 8 rebounds
*Natasha Howard: 29 points, 2 of 2 on treys 14 rebounds
*Sue Bird: 10 points, 10 assists

Thanks to everyone who read our WNBA coverage this summer. Many bettors had good runs during the regular season against a slow-reacting market. Seattle would close out its championship campaign on an 18-8-1 sprint against the spread. 

MLB Wednesday: Brewers a game behind Chicago, Rockies rally in the ninth!
Chicago’s dreadful offensive performances in big games continued in a 5-1 loss to Milwaukee. Colorado hasn’t been hitting to past standards at home all season…but sure hit when it mattered last night. Let’s run the numbers from both Wednesday games matching playoff contenders head-to-head. 

Milwaukee (plus 140) 5, Chicago 1
Total Bases Plus Walks: Milwaukee 21, Chicago 10
Starting Pitchers: Anderson 4 IP, 0 ER, Hendricks 5 IP, 2 ER
Bullpen: Milwaukee 5 IP, 1 ER, Chicago 4 IP, 3 ER

Chicago’s scored a grand total of 16 runs over its last six games against the Brewers. That’s 2.7 runs per game. Some riddles must be solved before October, or Cubs fans will be sweating low scoring pitching duels or bemoaning losses come playoff time. Milwaukee is back within a game of Chicago atop the NL Central. Brewers are 84-63, Cubs 84-61. Obviously, the Cubs have two additional games to cram in before the end of the month. 

Colorado (even) 5, Arizona 4
Total Bases Plus Walks: Arizona 13, Colorado 25
Starting Pitchers: Corbin 6.1 IP, 3 ER, Gray 4 IP, 4 ER
Bullpen: Arizona 2 IP, 2 ER, Colorado 5 IP, 0 ER

Another heartbreaking one-run loss for Arizona! D-backs carried a 4-3 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning. D.J. LeMahieu hit a two-run homer to send Coors fans home happy. Though, the stats sure make it look like Colorado should have won easily. Rockies move to 80-65 atop the NL West. Arizona falls to 77-69. (Note that totals have gone 27-44-2 to the Under at Coors this season.)

Also Tuesday…

*The Los Angeles Dodgers (-185) won at Cincinnati 8-1. Finally, a win over the little Red machine! That avoids a full-season sweep. Dodgers now 79-67. Playing .500 ball the rest of the way only gets them to 87-75. Still work to do in a crowded field. 

*St. Louis (-115) LOST to Pittsburgh 4-3. Cards fall to 81-65 with little margin for error. As much as they hate the Cubs, Cards had better Wildcard hopes if Chicago stomped Milwaukee the past couple of weeks. St. Louis 2.5 games back of the Brew crew. 

*Atlanta (-140) won at San Francisco 2-1. Braves now 82-64. That’s 7.5 games ahead of free-falling Philadelphia, who lost again Thursday to Washington. (Nats now just a half game behind the Phils for second place!)

No late finishers, so we can pop in our shorthand for studying pennant races. The numbers you see are games over .500…

NL East: Atlanta plus 18, Philadelphia plus 3, Washington plus 2
NL Central: Chicago plus 23, Milwaukee plus 21, St. Louis plus 16
NL West: Colorado plus 15, Los Angeles plus 12, Arizona plus 8
NL Wildcards (2 spots): Milwaukee plus 21, St. Louis plus 16, Los Angeles plus 12, Arizona plus 8

In the American League Wednesday…

*Houston (-280) won at Detroit 5-4. Astros now 92-54. 

*Oakland (-210) won at Baltimore 10-0. A’s now 89-57.

*Cleveland (pick-em) lost at Tampa Bay 3-1. Indians now 82-64.

*Boston (-295) beat Toronto 1-0. Red Sox become the first team to reach 100 wins by at least a week. Stunning record of 100-46 for the profit machine. 

*NY Yankees (-215) LOST at Minnesota 3-1. At least Luis Severino didn’t get rocked. Yanks are in real danger of blowing home field in the Wildcard game. 

AL East: Boston plus 54, New York plus 34
AL Central: Cleveland plus 18
AL West: Houston plus 38, Oakland plus 32
AL Wildcards (2 spots): New York plus 34, Oakland plus 32

One interleague game we want to mention so we can update the National League’s chase to end the American League’s long-running dominance. 

*San Diego (plus 120) beat Seattle 5-4. That brings the National League to 147-133 for the season. There will be 300 total games played weather permitting. It takes at least 150 wins to forge a tie, and 151 to win the season. Senior Circuit now just four victories away with 20 left to play. 

South Point 400: South Point adjusts race odds and posts head-to-head matchup prices
More betting options as visitors arrive this week for the much-anticipated South Point 400 NASCAR race. Chris Andrews and the South Point brain trust made some odds adjustments. Let’s start with those (percentage win equivalents in parenthesis)…

South Point 400 
Kevin Harvick 5/2 (29% win equivalent)
Kyle Busch 5/2 (29%) 
Martin Truex Jr. 9/2 (18%)
Kyle Larson 6/1 (14%)
Brad Keselowski 10/1 (9%)
Ryan Blaney 15/1 (6%)
Joey Logano 15/1 (6%)
Erik Jones 15/1 (6%)

Everyone at 15/1 or below now adds up to 117%. Sports books build a universe larger than 100% to create a house edge. If you weren’t with us earlier in the week, Kyle Busch has leapfrogged Martin Truex Jr. on the ledger. Busch and Kevin Harvick are now co-favorites. 

No change on the “big three” prop bet. You can bet the trio of Harvick, Kyle Busch, and Truex Jr. at -190 (if any of the three win, you cash your bet), or take the rest of the field against those three at a return of plus 170. Using the percentages above, the big three (76%) only grade out to a price of -185 vs. the next five biggest threats (41%) (76 divided by 41 is 1.85)

Something to think about as you ponder your betting strategy. As are these!

Head-to-Head Matchups
Kevin Harvick (-110) vs. Kyle Busch (-110)
Kevin Harvick (-175) vs. Martin Truex Jr. (plus 155)
Kevin Harvick (-185) vs. Kyle Larson (plus 165)
Kyle Busch (-175) vs. Martin Truex Jr. (plus 155)
Kyle Busch (-185) vs. Kyle Larson (plus 165)
Martin Truex Jr. (-130) vs. Kyle Larson (plus 110)

The master of matchup handicapping in NASCAR is are own Jeff Cogliandro. He’s having a terrific season. You can hear him on VSiN’s “Gone Racin’” Thursday at 5 p.m. ET, 2 p.m. in Las Vegas. This week’s special guest is Jimmie Johnson. Ron Flatter, Brendan Gaughan and Jeff Motley are your hosts.

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