Another Sunday with bad injury news, as Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers was lost for the season to a broken collarbone. But a GREAT week for dog lovers as NFL puppies go 11-2 against the spread.
NFL: Packers QB Aaron Rodgers likely out for season, wagering public not far behind
After losing Odell Beckham Jr. and J.J. Watt for the season last week, the last thing the NFL needed was to lose Aaron Rodgers this week. Marquee players are becoming scarce. Nevada sportsbooks may soon be worried about the relative scarcity of NFL bettors. The public loves betting favorites…and it hasn’t been a good season for that mindset.
- Favorites are 2-11 ATS so far, with MNF out
- Favorites are only 4-9 straight up
- Favorites are a woeful 4-9 even with SIX points in their favor on teaser lines
Betting the favorites was a debacle. Trying to get cute by just playing them on the money line was a bigger debacle because that equated to a 4-32 record thanks to Atlanta going down at -1100, and Denver losing Sunday night at -900. Using a bunch of favorites in money line parlays was likely a big money loser too unless you only focused on Houston, New England, New Orleans, and Washington while ignoring everyone else (and, who was going to ignore Atlanta and Denver when they seemed like such sure things?).
Teasers? Baltimore was in that “red flag” range we talked about in Point Spread Weekly, where casual fans figured “all the Ravens have to do is win the game straight up.” They couldn’t. Trying to make Atlanta, Washington, and Denver “cheaper” didn’t work out. (Note that the few “basic strategy” qualifiers which crossed both the 3 and 7 did come through, moving Houston down from -7.5 to -1.5, and moving the LA Rams and Arizona up from plus 2-ish to plus 8-ish.)
It’s been an underdog season in pro football. This was the doggiest day so far.
Before we run through Sunday’s games in Nevada rotation order, a quick note on “non-offensive” touchdowns. There was a slew of them Sunday. More like three slews. That created some high scores, and false perceptions for handicappers who limit their analysis to scoreboard watching.
Week-by-week totals of non-offensive TD’s:
Off the charts, even in a bye week featuring fewer games. No two weeks had more non-offensive touchdowns than this one week. And there’s still one game to go Monday night when Indianapolis visits Tennessee.
Let’s run some numbers…
Houston (-7.5) 33, Cleveland 17
- Yards-per-Play: Cleveland 3.9, Houston 5.4
- Third Down Pct: Cleveland 21%, Houston 38%
- Turnovers: Cleveland 3, Houston 1
- Rushing Yards: Cleveland 118, Houston 74
- Passing Stats: Cleveland 20-37-3-113, Houston 17-29-1-217
- TD Drive Lengths: Cleveland 50, Houston 87-71-65
Definitely “Under” stats in a game that went Over because both teams scored on interception returns. Total yardage was only 340-247 for Houston. Kevin Hogan was awful for the Browns, as the team totaled just 113 passing yards on 37 attempts. Dinks and duds. Better to think of this as a 26-10 grinder for the Texans. Houston is 3-3. Cleveland falls to 0-6, and may see much of the franchise fired since they chose not to draft Deshaun Watson.
New England (-9) 24, NY Jets 17
- Yards-per-Play: New England 6.0, NY Jets 5.4
- Third Down Pct: New England 54%, NY Jets 53%
- Turnovers: New England 2, NY Jets 3
- Rushing Yards: New England 118, NY Jets 74
- Passing Stats: New England 20-38-1-257, NY Jets 31-47-2-334
- TD Drive Lengths: New England 93-63-75, NY Jets 88-78
You probably know about the controversial “deleted” touchdown for the Jets. We’ll save that for pundits because our point of emphasis is on the stats. Very competitive stuff from a Jets team that was supposed to be a doormat. A lot of slop with the turnovers and 16 incomplete passes. But they sure forced some slop from the Pats too. New England has only played like a championship contender in the road win at New Orleans. Defense is still a big concern. New England is now 4-2. The Jets fall to 3-3. Many expected those records to be 6-0 and 0-6 through six games back in August.
Miami (plus 13) 20, Atlanta 17
- Yards-per-Play: Miami 4.5, Atlanta 6.1
- Third Down Pct: Miami 42%, Atlanta 55%
- Turnovers: Miami 1, Atlanta 1
- Rushing Yards: Miami 138, Atlanta 100
- Passing Stats: Miami 19-33-1-151, Atlanta 24-35-1-239
- TD Drive Lengths: Miami 75-51, Atlanta 90-61
If you believe in building narratives, it looks like Atlanta started thinking about next week’s Super Bowl rematch with New England when they were up 17-0 at the half. Miami would win the second half 20-zip, with a crappy offense and supposedly no leadership. You can see Atlanta still won the stats like it was a comfortable victory. Seems like we’ve been making that point a few times this season. Check out this yards-per-play dynamic…
- Atlanta outgained Chicago 6.8 to 4.8 but had to sweat the ending
- Atlanta outgained Detroit 6.6 to 4.9 but had to sweat the ending
- Atlanta outgained Buffalo 5.4 to 4.8 but lost outright
- Atlanta outgained Miami 6.1 to 4.5 but lost outright
Rare to see such a phenomenon run so consistently in this particular stat. For now, Atlanta’s offense is not making the most of its per-play volume, while the defense isn’t being stingy enough at keeping opponents out of the end zone. Analytics types will continue to project big victory margins. Some sort of bug in that ointment at the moment. Both teams are 3-2. How in the world is this Miami team 3-2?!
New Orleans (-5) 52, Detroit 38
- Yards-per-Play: Detroit 4.6, New Orleans 5.6
- Third Down Pct: Detroit 50%, New Orleans 17%
- Turnovers: Detroit 5, New Orleans 3
- Rushing Yards: Detroit 66, New Orleans 193
- Passing Stats: Detroit 25-52-3-281, New Orleans 21-31-2-186
- TD Drive Lengths: Detroit 75-75-61, New Orleans 75-31-75-54
What a goofy game. New Orleans once led 41-10, mostly on gifted scores (three defensive TD’s on the day). Detroit rallied all the way back to 41-35 thanks to a punt return TD and a pick six. So FIVE non-offensive scores in this one game alone. Oddly, an ugly day for Drew Brees in terms of passing volume and moving the chains. Detroit managed to rally on just 4.6 YPP. Our rudimentary “stat score” formula that turns stats into a scoreboard equivalent (2 times rushing yardage, plus passing yardage, times 0.67, divided by 15) suggests a more reasonable 26-18 win for the Saints. New Orleans is 3-2, tied with Atlanta for first place in the NFC South. Detroit is 3-3, but may be best positioned to take advantage of the Aaron Rodgers injury in the NFC North.
Minnesota (plus 3) 23, Green Bay 10
- Yards-per-Play: Green Bay 3.5, Minnesota 4.9
- Third Down Pct: Green Bay 24%, Minnesota 33%
- Turnovers: Green Bay 3, Minnesota 2
- Rushing Yards: Green Bay 72, Minnesota 112
- Passing Stats: Green Bay 20-37-3-155, Minnesota 24-38-1-239
- TD Drive Lengths: Green Bay 18, Minnesota 42-84
Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone early in the game. New quarterback Brett Hundley just isn’t NFL-ready at this point. You can see that GB managed only 3.5 YPP while not moving the chains. Its only TD was a field position gift. Case Keenum didn’t exactly sparkle…but he’s better than Hundley. Green Bay is still 4-2 on the year, but will now be power-rated down with the dregs of the league (more on that Tuesday). Minnesota is also 4-2…but probably needs Sam Bradford to come back at full health to be a serious playoff threat.
Chicago (plus 5) 27, Baltimore 24 (in overtime)
- Yards-per-Play: Chicago 4.6, Baltimore 4.2
- Third Down Pct: Chicago 29%, Baltimore 17%
- Turnovers: Chicago 2, Baltimore 3
- Rushing Yards: Chicago 231, Baltimore 125
- Passing Stats: Chicago 9-17-0-111, Baltimore 24-41-2-166
- TD Drive Lengths: Chicago 20-66, Baltimore no TDs
That’s right, Baltimore scored 24 points with no offensive touchdowns. They “rallied” from way down thanks to a kickoff return TD, and a very late punt return TD. Chicago’s scoring was boosted by a pick six (and a 20-yard drive). Both teams were sloppy, and unable to move the chains. Mitchell Trubisky gets a win…but his passing was barely there. Very ugly. Chicago is 2-4, and actually has a chance to climb into the watered down NFC North race if they keep improving. Baltimore is 3-3, with the wins coming over Andy Dalton when the Bengals turned the ball over FIVE times, Deshone Kizer, and E.J. Manuel. They couldn’t beat Blake Bortles or Mitchell Trubisky.
Washington (-11) 26, San Francisco 24
- Yards-per-Play: San Francisco 4.9, Washington 5.9
- Third Down Pct: San Francisco 35%, Washington 50%
- Turnovers: San Francisco 0, Washington 2
- Rushing Yards: San Francisco 85, Washington 94
- Passing Stats: San Francisco 23-46-0-250, Washington 25-37-1-325
- TD Drive Lengths: San Francisco 75-1-75, Washington 75-64-89
Similar to Miami/Atlanta in that a big favorite jumped out to a double-digit lead only to gag it away in the second half. Big YPP edge for the home favorite too, and 50% on third down conversions. Almost the same game, except somebody got to Washington in time to perform the Heimlich maneuver. Washington is 3-2, with a big divisional rematch at Philadelphia next Monday night. San Francisco is 0-6, with five straight losses of three points or less (first time in league history that’s happened). The Niners have managed to inspire their fans with effort while also staying well positioned for the next draft! Note that Brian Hoyer was benched in favor of C.J. Beathard.
LA Rams (plus 2.5) 27, Jacksonville 17
- Yards-per-Play: LA Rams 4.4, Jacksonville 5.9
- Third Down Pct: LA Rams 31%, Jacksonville 27%
- Turnovers: LA Rams 1, Jacksonville 1
- Rushing Yards: LA Rams 142, Jacksonville 169
- Passing Stats: LA Rams 11-21-0-107, Jacksonville 23-35-1-220
- TD Drive Lengths: LA Rams 66, Jacksonville 75-75
Study this one closely. If you were watching better TV games, it’s easy to imagine Jared Goff having a big performance to lead the upstart Rams to an impressive road victory. What happened instead is that a kickoff return TD and a blocked punt return TD helped hide what a lousy day Goff was having. Jags likely would have won a field goal decision without those special teams miscues. The Rams are now 4-2, and are going to matter for awhile. Jacksonville falls to 3-3, losing both games where they were favored (NYJ and LAR), but going 3-1 straight up as underdogs (double-digit wins over Houston, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh).
Arizona (plus 2.5) 38, Tampa Bay 33
- Yards-per-Play: Tampa Bay 6.5, Arizona 7.3
- Third Down Pct: Tampa Bay 50%, Arizona 44%
- Turnovers: Tampa Bay 2, Arizona 2
- Rushing Yards: Tampa Bay 68, Arizona 160
- Passing Stats: Tampa Bay 27-42-2-346, Arizona 18-22-1-272
- TD Drive Lengths: Tampa Bay 75-63-79-65, Arizona 75-86-95-33-1
Arizona compiled its stats while building a 31-0 lead. Tampa Bay didn’t do anything until way behind. And a fumble return TD helped make it interesting. Well, it was interesting right around the two-minute warning for a few seconds. Jameis Winston left the game in the first half with a shoulder injury. You may have heard more informed reports by the time you read this. Ryan Fitzpatrick posted a bunch of garbage time stats in his absence. Arizona is 3-3, but this was its first win in regulation (OT wins vs. dregs Indianapolis and SF). Tampa Bay is 2-3…and isn’t much of a threat to Atlanta, New Orleans, or Carolina without Winston.
Pittsburgh (plus 4) 19, Kansas City 13
- Yards-per-Play: Pittsburgh 7.0, Kansas City 4.8
- Third Down Pct: Pittsburgh 36%, Kansas City 27%
- Turnovers: Pittsburgh 1, Kansas City 0
- Rushing Yards: Pittsburgh 194, Kansas City 28
- Passing Stats: Pittsburgh 17-25-1-245, Kansas City 19-34-0-223
- TD Drive Lengths: Pittsburgh 75-75, Kansas City 82
Somehow, Pittsburgh didn’t obliterate Kansas City despite posting obliteration type stats. Total yardage was 439-251…and the Chiefs got a lot of those yards very late when the Steelers were nervously “running out the clock” on defense. A regression game, as Pittsburgh was long overdue to play toward anticipated form…and the Chiefs weren’t going to run the table vs. top competition. Steelers fans should be concerned that the offense didn’t make more hay out of what they were gaining between the 20’s. Pittsburgh is 4-2 despite a sluggish start. Kansas City is 5-1.
LA Chargers (plus 3) 17, Oakland 16
- Yards-per-Play: LA Chargers 5.3, Oakland 5.2
- Third Down Pct: LA Chargers 43%, Oakland 50%
- Turnovers: LA Chargers 1, Oakland 2
- Rushing Yards: LA Chargers 80, Oakland 109
- Passing Stats: LA Chargers 25-36-0-263, Oakland 21-30-2-165
- TD Drive Lengths: LA Chargers 82-59, Oakland 62-65
The Chargers finally won a game in the final seconds! Talk about being overdue for something. Derek Carr passed mostly like a guy with a bad back. Short stuff, and two interceptions anyway. Both teams are 2-4, and went home hoping to get some help from the NY Giants in the Sunday nighter. They got it!
NY Giants (plus 12) 23, Denver 10
- Yards-per-Play: NY Giants 4.9, Denver 5.5
- Third Down Pct: NY Giants 29%, Denver 29%
- Turnovers: NY Giants 0, Denver 3
- Rushing Yards: NY Giants 148, Denver 146
- Passing Stats: NY Giants 11-19-0-118, Denver 31-54-2-366
- TD Drive Lengths: NY Giants 75, Denver 58
Of course. Of course! At the end of a long day like this, a supposedly hopeless, helpless, shorthanded underdog was going to win outright as a double-digit underdog against a playoff contender. On the road at altitude! The Giants had a pick-six, finishing off the day’s defensive scores in this turnover driven victory. New York gets its first win of the season to move to 1-5. Denver falls to 3-2.
ALCS: Houston Astros take 2-0 series lead to the Bronx for Game Three Monday against the Yankees
We’ll get caught up with the NLCS tomorrow, as Monday is a travel day for the Cubs and Dodgers heading to the Windy City. Favored LAD leads that series 2-0. Here are quick stat boxes for the first two games in the ALCS, both won by the Astros...
Game 1: Houston (-170) 2, NY Yankees 1
- Totals Bases Plus Walks Drawn: NY Yankees 11, Houston 7
- Tanaka: 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 K, 1 BB, 0 HR’s
- Keuchel: 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 10 K, 1 BB, 0 HR’s
Game 2: Houston (-120) 2, NY Yankees 1
- Totals Bases Plus Walks Drawn: NY Yankees 9, Houston 13
- Severino: 4.0 IP, 1 ER, 0 K, 2 BB, 1 HR
- Verlander: 9.0 IP, 1 ER, 13 K, 1 BB, 0 HR’s
(Severino injured his wrist on a come-backer that was the final out of the fourth inning)
The Yankees’ edge on offensive bases in the first game is a bit misleading because it was 7-7 into the ninth (very low for both), and then the visitors hit a solo home run that didn’t end up mattering. Two pitchers’ duels in the best pitchers’ park in Major League Baseball the past two seasons. Both offenses have created 20 bases…which is good for one game but not for two.
Monday’s Game 3: Houston at the NY Yankees (8 p.m. ET, 5 p.m. PT on FS1)
- Money line: NY Yankees -125, Houston plus 110
- Run line: NY Yankees -1.5 runs (plus 165), Houston -1.5 runs (-185)
- Over/Under: 8.5
Pitching “Three True Outcomes” from Regular Season
- Morton: 3.58 xFIP, 26.4 K%, 8.1 BB%, 0.86 HR’s per 9 IP
- Sabathia: 4.11 xFIP, 19.3 K%, 8.0 BB%, 1.27 HR’s per 9 IP
Both offenses are in “tea kettle” mode, meaning scoring could bubble over at any moment. Morton had the better K-rate and was much better at avoiding home runs this season (only 2 allowed on the road!). Sabathia really enjoyed pitching in his old stomping grounds of Cleveland. Won’t enjoy that hidden perk any more. Must-win for the Yankees, against the best road offense the sport has seen in a long time.
Back Tuesday with a recap of Monday night’s Indianapolis/Tennessee NFL game, updated “market” Power Ratings in pro football, and more from the MLB playoffs.
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