A workmanlike Sunday in the NFL, as favorites won 10 of 11 games straight up and covered most of the point spreads. Even if you’re groggy from staying up REALLY late for baseball (Astros won 13-12 in 10 innings!), grab your gear because OUR work week begins right now in VSiN City.
With the thrill-a-minute World Series taking Monday off for travel, we’ll save our weekend baseball recap for the Tuesday report. We’ll also preview Game 6 for you at that time, as Justin Verlander and Rich Hill try to stem these offensive tides.
NFL: Favorites win 10 of 11 Sunday, cover 7 of 11 morning lines
The only “upset,” if you can call it that, was Carolina (plus 1.5) beating Tampa Bay. We talked earlier in the week about how that point spread didn’t really match recent market pricing. Arguably a false favorite given Tampa Bay’s poor form…so NO surprises in the NFL this week (yet)!
We’ll run through the games in Nevada rotation order for those of you who want to go back and make notes in your handy South Point schedule sheets.
Minnesota (-11) 33, Cleveland 16 (in England)
- Yards-per-Play: Minnesota 4.8, Cleveland 4.7
- Third Down Pct: Minnesota 38%, Cleveland 31%
- Turnovers: Minnesota 1, Cleveland 2
- Rushing Yards: Minnesota 88, Cleveland 115
- Passing Stats: Minnesota 27-43-1-287, Cleveland 18-34-0-161
- TD Drive Lengths: Minnesota 60-75-84, Cleveland 37-82
Cleveland led at the half, which must have felt like a victory to Browns fans not used to even those small joys. Minnesota would win the last two quarters 21-3 to pull away for a cover. A lot of Sunday morning steam pushed the point spread through the critical number of -10 all the way to -11. You don’t really see dominance in the stats above. Minnesota won total yardage 375-276, running a lot more plays. They obviously finished drives better as well. As valuable as yards-per-play can be as an indicator…sometimes 4.8 can be a marching machine while 4.7 can be erratic and inconsistent. Young quarterbacks, in particular, take awhile to learn how to get the most out of their yards. Deshone Kizer’s still overwhelmed by all he has to learn. Minnesota moves to 6-2…in great shape to make the playoffs…and very much in play to earn a first round bye. Cleveland falls to 0-8, and will need to run into a disinterested opponent to get a win.
New Orleans (-7.5) 20, Chicago 12
- Yards-per-Play: Chicago 4.7, New Orleans 6.4
- Third Down Pct: Chicago 47%, New Orleans 22%
- Turnovers: Chicago 1, New Orleans 2
- Rushing Yards: Chicago 157, New Orleans 101
- Passing Stats: Chicago 14-32-1-150, New Orleans 23-28-0-286
- TD Drive Lengths: Chicago 72, New Orleans 81-85
The line closed at Saints -8. So, some bettors pushed this one. Only one good drive for Mitchell Trubisky, which was keyed by his own 50-yard run on a scramble up the middle of the field. He did move the chains a few times before stalling. Baby steps. The Saints were just 2 of 9 on third downs, and fumbled twice (including one very late when they were trying to run out the clock). A slew of teams this year that are kind of “OK,” but look better when avoiding turnovers, generic otherwise. New Orleans wins its fifth straight game to move to 5-2. Still a half-game ahead of Carolina, and a full game ahead of Atlanta. A three-way race in the NFC South of “okay” teams who got to face “less than okay” this week. Bears are now 3-5. Chicago is still playing “Broncos style football” under John Fox…referring to the recent grinding years. This one stayed Under by double digits. Bears are 1-3 to the Under in Trubisky’s four starts. The Over only cleared because there were three non-offensive TD’s in the game (24-all at the end of regulation in Baltimore only would have landed on 27 without those flukey TD’s).
Atlanta (-6) 25, NY Jets 20
- Yards-per-Play: Atlanta 6.2, NY Jets 4.7
- Third Down Pct: Atlanta 36%, NY Jets 33%
- Turnovers: Atlanta 2, NY Jets 1
- Rushing Yards: Atlanta 140, NY Jets 43
- Passing Stats: Atlanta 18-29-0-246, NY Jets 26-34-0-236
- TD Drive Lengths: Atlanta 64-62, NY Jets 75-43
Pretty miserable playing conditions, but not impossible. Falcons continued their trend of dominating stats while still having to sweat the ending. We won’t run those numbers again because we’ve done it so often already. The Atlanta defense gives up more points than it should based on the YPP they allow. Falcons are 4-3, and very much in the playoff hunt in the NFC. The Jets are 3-5, and still playing like they care, even with outmanned talent.
Carolina (plus 1.5) 17 Tampa Bay 10
- Yards-per-Play: Carolina 4.0, Tampa Bay 4.4
- Third Down Pct: Carolina 47%, Tampa Bay 17%
- Turnovers: Carolina 1, Tampa Bay 3
- Rushing Yards: Carolina 100, Tampa Bay 85
- Passing Stats: Carolina 18-32-1-154, Tampa Bay 21-38-2-194
- TD Drive Lengths: Carolina 82-48, Tampa Bay no TDs
Beautiful weather. So, awful performances from the quarterbacks. From the Carolina perspective, basically a replay of its miserable performance in Chicago last week (4.2 YPP last week, 293 total yards last week compared to 254 yards here). Main difference is that they only lost the ball once in this one, instead of three times last week (two of which went for Chicago TD’s). This wasn’t “Carolina getting things figured out” as some postgame chatter was insinuating. Considering how badly Tampa Bay’s defense had been playing in recent weeks, this was dreadful for the Panthers’ offense. But a win and cover because the Bucs were even more dreadful against the stellar Carolina D. Panthers move to 5-3, but aren’t playing like a playoff team. Tampa Bay falls to 2-5. They were supposed to be better than this. Bucs just 1-5-1 against the spread, and not within shouting distance of their summer expectations.
Philadelphia (-13) 33, San Francisco 10
- Yards-per-Play: San Francisco 3.7, Philadelphia 4.6
- Third Down Pct: San Francisco 20%, Philadelphia 29%
- Turnovers: San Francisco 2, Philadelphia 1
- Rushing Yards: San Francisco 94, Philadelphia 112
- Passing Stats: San Francisco 17-36-2-144, Philadelphia 18-32-1-192
- TD Drive Lengths: San Francisco 21, Philadelphia 56-75-62
The Niners may still be out of gas given their combined 73-20 loss to Dallas and Philly the past two games. Weather was an issue. One of Philadelphia’s TD’s came on a pick-six. That’s why the numbers above don’t paint the picture of 33 points. Eagles move to 7-1 with the win, a virtual lock to make the playoffs. San Francisco is still winless…and has to think about tanking out vs. Cleveland since there’s no perk for winning when you’re this bad.
Buffalo (-3) 34, Oakland 14
- Yards-per-Play: Oakland 5.8, Buffalo 5.2
- Third Down Pct: Oakland 30%, Buffalo 40%
- Turnovers: Oakland 4, Buffalo 0
- Rushing Yards: Oakland 54, Buffalo 166
- Passing Stats: Oakland 32-49-2-313, Buffalo 20-27-0-165
- TD Drive Lengths: Oakland 40-75, Buffalo 64-80-48
A turnover-fueled blowout for the host. Buffalo played it safe and accepted gifts when offered. Oakland had to crank up the risk after falling behind…which led to an implosion. The soft Raiders defense has now forced ZERO turnovers vs. Tennessee, Denver, Baltimore, Kansas City, and Buffalo. You just can’t win with that little intimidation. Particularly when your own offense likes to wing the ball around. Buffalo is now 5-2 (5-1-1 ATS), solidifying its hold on a playoff spot. Remember that Buffalo and Miami held the AFC Wildcard spots entering the week. Oakland falls to 3-5 (1-5 the last six), needing “extra time” vs. the Chiefs last week to avoid 2-6 for the season. Things sure went south quickly for the future Vegas Raiders.
Cincinnati (-11) 24, Indianapolis 23
- Yards-per-Play: Indianapolis 4.7, Cincinnati 5.2
- Third Down Pct: Indianapolis 50%, Cincinnati 36%
- Turnovers: Indianapolis 1, Cincinnati 2
- Rushing Yards: Indianapolis 115, Cincinnati 58
- Passing Stats: Indianapolis 25-39-1-216, Cincinnati 17-29-0-218
- TD Drive Lengths: Indianapolis 48-88, Cincinnati 91-77
A lot of little things suggesting Cincinnati has thrown in the towel on the season, even though they won here. The Colts have been blowout fodder in the second half for a few weeks now. Cincinnati could only win the last two quarters 14-10 to barely win the game as a double-digit favorite. The Bengals couldn’t move the chains or rush the ball against a defense that’s looked like matadors at the point of attack against anyone who knows what they’re doing. Any illusion of relevance was popped in Pittsburgh two Sundays ago. Cincy creeps to 3-4. Indy falls to 2-6.
New England (-6.5) 21, LA Chargers 13
- Yards-per-Play: LA Chargers 6.7, New England 5.0
- Third Down Pct: LA Chargers 30%, New England 47%
- Turnovers: LA Chargers 1, New England 0
- Rushing Yards: LA Chargers 157, New England 97
- Passing Stats: LA Chargers 17-30-1-192, New England 32-47-0-317
- TD Drive Lengths: LA Chargers 88-67, New England 77
Kind of a rope-a-dope win for the Pats. They didn’t make any mistakes, and used that 5.0 YPP to drive for one TD and a bunch of field goals. San Diego made some big plays, but couldn’t move the chains, had a costly turnover, and also returned a punt backwards 20 yards for a New England safety. Total yardage was friendlier for the Pats at 414-349 because they ran so many more plays. Fundamentals can pay off in this league just because screwing up less than the other guy is enough to put you over the top. Works for Tom Brady, works against Philip Rivers, and that all lined up here for a Pats win and cover. New England is 6-2, and is still well positioned to make a run at a bye even if they’re not sizzling like we’re used to seeing. The Chargers are 3-5.
Seattle (-6) 41, Houston 38
- Yards-per-Play: Houston 7.4, Seattle 7.5
- Third Down Pct: Houston 20%, Seattle 42%
- Turnovers: Houston 3, Seattle 1
- Rushing Yards: Houston 142, Seattle 33
- Passing Stats: Arizona Houston 18-30-3-367, Seattle 26-41-1-446
- TD Drive Lengths: Houston 75-82-84-71-75, Seattle 75-75-75-80
Amazing game. Total yardage was 509-479 for the visitors. Deshaun Watson is going to be a playmaker until the inevitable leg injury that fells all young running quarterbacks. Hopefully that’s way off in the distance rather than looming ahead like a pothole. Houston’s defense was really hurt by those injuries a few weeks ago. The coaching mindset is having trouble adjusting from “our defense will hold this lead” to “our defense can’t be trusted to hold leads any more.” Houston was one play away from winning it. Seattle moves to 5-2, but it feels much hollower. The Texans are 3-4…and may continue this frustrating tease through the second half of the season.
Dallas (-3) 33, Washington 19
- Yards-per-Play: Dallas 4.9, Washington 4.9
- Third Down Pct: Dallas 36%, Washington 31%
- Turnovers: Dallas 1, Washington 3
- Rushing Yards: Dallas 169, Washington 49
- Passing Stats: Dallas 14-22-0-138, Washington 26-39-1-236
- TD Drive Lengths: Dallas 75-2, Washington 75-75
Another bad-weather game. That 33 for Dallas was mostly a scoreboard illusion. You can see they had a 2-yard TD drive. They ended the game with a pick six that drove the game Over the Vegas total. Yes, Ezekiel Elliot is back to last year’s form. The offense as a whole was much less impressive today than the TV scoreboard shows were suggesting. Clean, run-heavy play earned them a legitimate, but un-explosive win. Dallas moves to 4-3. Washington falls to 3-4…but with such ugly losses in back-to-back weeks to the Eagles and Cowboys that it seems like the playoffs were a pipe dream.
Pittsburgh (-3) 20, Detroit 15
- Yards-per-Play: Pittsburgh 6.5, Detroit 7.0
- Third Down Pct: Pittsburgh 50%, Detroit 17%
- Turnovers: Pittsburgh 2, Detroit 1
- Rushing Yards: Pittsburgh 75, Detroit 71
- Passing Stats: Pittsburgh 17-31-1-317, Detroit 27-45-0-411
- TD Drive Lengths: Pittsburgh 75-98, Detroit no TDs
I’d like to tell you how Detroit turned 482 yards and 7.0 YPP into no touchdowns and five field goals. But I was watching the baseball game like most of the rest of you! The boxscore suggests a lot of movement in the middle of the field…but a woeful 2 of 12 on third downs, and 0 of 2 on fourth downs. Pittsburgh took “bend but don’t break” to what would seem like the ultimate extreme. That’s now 6-2 for Pittsburgh after a sluggish start. Detroit will take a 3-4 record into “Big Money Monday” next week at Green Bay.
Today’s “Big Money Monday” is Denver at Kansas City. A full game preview (plus additional stats and trends) for that matchup is available in Point Spread Weekly. Be sure you join VSiN programming all day for comprehensive coverage of Broncos/Chiefs from all angles.
We’ll be back with you Tuesday to talk about the World Series. If you’re wondering about the “Total Bases plus Walks” counts for the offenses after Sunday night’s marathon…
Game 3: Houston 23, LA Dodgers 11
Game 4: LA Dodgers 14, Houston 10
Game 5: Houston 37, LA Dodgers 33
The tea kettle really boiled over once hitters had adjusted to the unique visibility in Minute Maid park, and bullpen arms had worn down. Looking forward to Tuesday’s series resumption.
Also tomorrow, updated “market” Power Ratings in the NFL, and a stat summary from KC.
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