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On second thought, Jets, Rams look good

Jeff Fogle  
VSiN City newsletter

Runaway trains! Rams and Jets scored impressive Monday night road victories with big second halves. Plus, the NL playoff chase just got messier…and the build-up to Sunday’s South Point 400 begins right now in VSiN City!

NFL: Rams and Jets explode in second half (a combined 54-7!) to win road BLOWOUTS over Raiders and Lions
There was some competitive, entertaining football played on the first Monday night of the 2018 NFL season. In first halves!

Touchdown favorite Los Angeles won the second half 23-0 to pull away from the Oakland Raiders. That after the touchdown underdog New York Jets won their second half 31-7 to humiliate the discombobulated Detroit Lions.

Let’s start out West, in honor of Brent Musburger’s first regular-season radio call for the Raiders (you can hear those live all season in Sirius XM 204!)

LA Rams (-6) 33, Oakland 13
Yards-per-Play: LA Rams 6.1, Oakland 6.2
Total Yardage: LA Rams 365, Oakland 380
Third Down Pct: LA Rams 36%, Oakland 45%
Turnovers: LA Rams 0, Oakland 3
Rushing Yards: LA Rams 140, Oakland 95
Passing Stats: LA Rams 18-33-0-225, Oakland 27-38-3-285
TD Drive Lengths: LA Rams 50-58, Oakland 75

If you didn’t watch…you wouldn’t believe how good the Raiders looked in the first half. Oakland led 13-10. Maybe that half was the dress rehearsal the Rams never really had in August. After the break, the Rams looked very much like last season’s playoff team. The Raiders, like the non-factor many feared in this first season of the Jon Gruden redux. 

Those stats don’t really capture the game. The Rams would allow yardage, seemingly confident that Derek Carr would eventually throw them the ball (which he did three times, including one for a pick six). LAR had three different drives of 60 or more yards for field goals. So…very much a game management blowout down the stretch.

Let’s paint the picture this way…
Oakland: 75% of total yardage passing, with 3 interceptions
LA Rams: 62% of total yardage passing, with 0 interceptions

The Rams had the more balanced attack, and ran their offense safely while controlling the clock and scoreboard in the final two quarters. Oakland was more one-dimensional with a higher-risk approach. Derek Carr is turnover (and injury) prone when trying to be a hero. The Rams let running back Todd Gurley be a hero in later drives, and he was hurting his opponents. 

Rams host Arizona next week. Raiders visit Denver.

In the earlier game…

NY Jets (plus 7) 48, Detroit 17
Yards-per-Play: NY Jets 5.9, Detroit 5.1
Total Yardage: NY Jets 349, Detroit 339
Third Down Pct: NY Jets 43%, Detroit 23%
Turnovers: NY Jets 2, Detroit 5
Rushing Yards: NY Jets 169, Detroit 39
Passing Stats: NY Jets 16-21-1-180, Detroit 29-52-5-300
TD Drive Lengths: NY Jets 32-49-75-66, Detroit 75

It’s okay to conclude that the Jets won’t be a helpless disaster with a rookie quarterback, and that Detroit is reverting back to being a slop machine without Jim Caldwell’s conservative approach to hold Matthew Stafford’s worst instincts in check. But…don’t let this final score or many of those stats carry too much weight moving forward. 

*The Jets only won stats because of a long run in the final moments of garbage time.

*Sam Darnold threw a pick six on his first NFL pass, and is going to be prone to throwing more of them in games where he isn’t sitting on a lead for most of the second half.

*NYJ had an interception return and a punt return TD to help inflate the scoreboard

*These could both be 4-12 caliber teams when the year is in the books. All sorts of goofy things happen when bad teams play each other. 

Though…to the naked eye, it sure felt like the Jets players were responding to their new quarterback much more enthusiastically than Detroit was responding to its new head coach. If the coach is the poison in the locker room, there’s just no way to fix that. 

The Jets host Miami next week in a battle of 1-0 teams. Look out in the AFC East New England! Detroit visits San Francisco, a host in a great bounce-back spot playing a home opener against a sloppy team in a short preparation week. 

College Football: A closer look at Texas A&M’s near upset of Clemson, which helped push the SEC to 18-6 ATS on the season
Mondays are just too crowded here in VSiN City to do justice to college football recap analysis. We’ll try to pick a game or two to feature on Tuesdays as you mark the transition from one week to the next. Today we’re going to look at Clemson/Texas A&M for several reasons.

*Clemson is currently expected to reach the Final Four according to futures pricing, and will be on TV a lot the rest of the season even when not playing marquee games. That’s the new network strategy…show a lot of blowouts so you can gush about your corporate partners when they look unbeatable. Handicappers and bettors need to get a read on the Tigers. 

*Texas A&M is from the SEC…and the SEC is ON FIRE so far this season against market expectations. We’ll be talking about that in articles in the Biloxi Sun Herald and New York Post this week…so we won’t go overboard here. But, the short version is that the SEC is 21-3 straight up, 18-6 against the spread, and 6-1 ATS against teams from other Power 5 conferences. The only other game from that last category this past weekend was Mississippi State over Kansas State. Bulldogs crushed as a road favorite, winning total yardage 538-213 and rushing yardage 384-113. 

Check out how impressive A&M looks in these stats…

Clemson (-12) 28, Texas A&M 26
Total Yardage: Clemson 413, Texas A&M 501
Yards-per-Play: Clemson 7.0, Texas A&M 7.0
Rushing Yards: Clemson 115, Texas A&M 71
Passing Stats: Clemson 16-28-0-166, Texas A&M 17-27-0-298
Third Downs: Clemson 31%, Texas A&M 38%
Turnovers: Clemson 0, Texas A&M 2
Length of TD Drives: Clemson 75-64-70-75, Texas A&M 23-40-0-430

Wow…that’s 7.0 yards-per-carry and just over 500 total yards against a very highly regarded defense! Great passing line…big yardage with no picks. Two turnovers loomed large. And, it has to be said that some of this Aggie yardage differential was created by Clemson trying to run clock with its defense after jumping ahead (14-3 at halftime).  Aggies ran 72 plays, compared to 59 for the Tigers. That’s why YPP is the same, but total yardage went to A&M.

On the whole, Clemson didn’t look Final Four ready. They have a history of slow starts. Well, slow in comparison to how they’ve been finishing in recent years. Not the end of the world. But, potential vulnerability for a team that lost to Syracuse during the regular season last year. 

Impressive “big game” debut for Jimbo Fisher in College Station. The SEC West is now even tougher than expected with strong openings for LSU, A&M, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State, in a division that already has Alabama and Auburn. Tough year to be an Arkansas fan. 

Enough football…let’s get to the pennant races…

MLB Monday: Brewers beat Cubs AGAIN! Rockies drub Diamondbacks 
Two HUGE games Monday in National League divisional races. Let’s run the key stats from those before dashing through the rest of the card. 

Milwaukee (plus 110) 3, Chicago 2
Total Bases Plus Walks: Milwaukee 18, Chicago 11
Starting Pitchers: Miley 5 IP, 2 ER, Lester 5.2 IP, 3 ER
Bullpen: Milwaukee 4 IP, 0 ER, Chicago 3.1 IP, 0 ER

Chicago was sitting pretty not too long ago. A slow week allowed Milwaukee (and St. Louis) back into the NL Central race. Clean road win for the Brew Crew, more like 4.5 to 2.75 if you divide offensive bases by four (it takes four bases to score a run, and you’d be shocked how well that simple formula works on a league-wide scale). Cubs’ bats can’t be trusted in big games of late. 

Cubs fall to 83-60. Brewers are 83-62. That works out to ONE game behind for Milwaukee, who can tie for first with a win Tuesday. Brewers have won six of their last eight head-to-head against the Cubs. Both are in good shape to earn at least a Wildcard, sitting at 21 and 23 games over .500. 

Colorado (-150) 13, Arizona 2
Total Bases Plus Walks: Arizona 11, Colorado 29
Starting Pitchers: Godley 4 IP, 5 ER, Marquez 7 IP, 1 ER
Bullpen: Arizona 4 IP, 8 ER, Colorado 2 IP, 0 ER

Colorado exploded for six runs in the bottom of the fifth inning…and then exploded again in the seventh to put the game out of reach. Huge night for the Rockies, with the Dodgers losing. Colorado is now 79-64, 1.5 games ahead of LAD. Arizona is in danger of losing contact with the Wildcard. D-backs now 76-68…2-8 their last 10 and 5-12 their last 17. Still haven’t recovered from losing three low scoring nail biters at Chavez Ravine. Dropped three of four at home to Atlanta before this blowout.

In other Monday action involving playoff contenders (note that Philadelphia hosting Washington was postponed)…

*The Los Angeles Dodgers (-205) LOST at Cincinnati 10-6. As we mentioned, now 1.5 game behind the Rockies. Record is now 78-66. Dodgers are 0-5 vs. the Reds this season! Would be something if they missed the playoffs because of THAT.  

*St. Louis (-135) beat Pittsburgh 8-7. Cards rallied from down 4-0 early, and down 6-4 in the bottom of the eighth to score this crucial win.  Now 80-64, 3.5 behind the Cubs, 2.5 behind Milwaukee for the top Wildcard spot. Cards will play the Dodgers this weekend in a virtual elimination battle in the Wildcard race. September is flying by. 

*Atlanta (-120) won at San Francisco 4-1. Braves move to 80-64, in firmer control of the NL East as this nice Western swing continues. 

*Houston (-360) won at Detroit 3-2. Astros now 90-54. Playing .500 ball the rest of the way gets then to 99-63. Oakland and Seattle were both off Monday. Astros lead the A’s by three games atop the AL West, the Mariners by 10.5 games. 

*Cleveland (-150) LOST at Tampa Bay 6-5. Not a result that’s going to matter much. But, a reminder that Tampa Bay has been “playoff caliber” for most of the season. Since as early as April 15, Tampa Bay has the better record of these two teams. Rays 76-52 after a 3-12 start. Indians 73-57 since that date. 

*NY Yankees (-190) won at Minnesota 7-2. Took awhile for the pinstripe engine to start after flying in from the West Coast. Six runs in the top of the seventh sealed the deal. Yanks now 90-54, still matching Houston after both win. AL playoffs are going to be something. 

You know what else is going to be something? 

South Point 400: The big race is this week!
Now that the Brickyard 400 is in the books after an extended weather delay (won Monday by Brad Keselowski at 10/1 odds at the South Point), it’s time to focus on the NASCAR extravaganza this week in Las Vegas. VSiN will be sharing its home base with thousands of race fans in town for Sunday’s South Point 400. 

Here are the South Point’s current betting odds with percentage win equivalents in parenthesis…

South Point 400 
Kevin Harvick 5/2 (29% win equivalent)
Martin Truex Jr. 7/2 (22%)
Kyle Busch 7/2 (22%)
Kyle Larson 6/1 (14%)
Brad Keselowski 15/1 (6%)
Ryan Blaney 15/1 (6%)

If you’re good at addition, you’ll have noticed that the top six drivers already add up to a 99%-win equivalent for a race that’s 100% certain to have a winner. Sports books build a universe larger than 100% to create their house edge. 

Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer, Erik Jones, and Chase Elliott are all 20/1 (5% each) So that’s an extra 25%. Other listed drivers add about another 20%. So, the universe is in the neighborhood of 145%. 

Chris Andrews and the South Point brain trust have created a special prop for chalk lovers (betting favorites). You can take the threesome of Harvick, Truex Jr., and Kyle Busch vs. the rest of the field. 

Big Three: -190
Everyone Else: plus 170

That trio has been dominant this season. So, getting ALL THREE may sound like a steal. Worth noting though that their combined 73%-win equivalent is only about half the expanded odds universe. If the futures prices are right, that’s actually close to pick-em! If the futures prices are smiling too favorably on longshots, it’s possible that good value still exists for individual favorites at 5/2 or 7/2. 

There’s an inconsistency there based on how sports books defend against public preferences. It’s the job of handicappers to develop strategies to exploit inconsistencies. 

Our VSiN hosts are looking forward to meeting you throughout the week if you’re coming to Vegas for the race. Please stop by and say hello! Special features and attractions all through the week at the South Point and on our programing. And, of course, a special edition of “Gaughan Racin’” in its usual Thursday afternoon time slot. 

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