All things considered, it was a great day to have a great day for “America’s Game.” But Sunday’s NFL showcase of shockers and thrillers was absolutely brutal for favorite bettors!
NFL: Dream day for dog lovers and Over bettors…a nightmare for favorite players, particularly with money lines and teasers
In sports betting, this was the kind of event that comes along every so often to remind the general public that using money line parlays or teasers “to make favorites cheaper” does nothing of the sort. You’re almost always paying a steeper price than you realize. When so many favorites come out flat on an NFL Sunday…disaster for the public, a windfall for sports books.
Sunday in the NFL
Favorites went 3-11 against the spread
Favorites went 6-8 straight up (equating to 6-15.8 on the money line)
Favorites went 6-8 ATS even if granted 6 points for two-team teasers
Favorites went 6-8 ATS even if granted 10 points for three-team teasers!
You must SWEEP your choices to win money line parlays or teasers. Much harder to sweep in such barren soil. (Note: I’m counting Minnesota as a dog, because anybody who wanted to bet the Vikings as a dog had a chance to do so the past few days...Tampa Bay was only pick-em for a limited time in some spots).
A slew of Overs (10-4) helped lessen the blow for some public bettors, because fans like rooting for points. But if those were in “favorite and Over parlays…only Atlanta and Over, and Tennessee and Over cashed as combinations.
Let’s run through the matchups in official Nevada Rotation order.
Jacksonville (plus 3.5) 44, Baltimore 7 (in London)
- Yards-per-Play: Baltimore 3.4, Jacksonville 6.0
- Third Down Conversions: Baltimore 27%, Jacksonville 25%
- Turnovers: Baltimore 3, Jacksonville 0
- Rushing Yards: Baltimore 134, Jacksonville 166
- Passing Stats: Baltimore 14-27-2-52, Jacksonville 20-33-0-244
- TD Drive Lengths: Baltimore 76, Jacksonville 80-28-32-2-85
Jags dominated…but needed a little help to get all the way up to that size of a victory margin. You see three cheap touchdowns in the mix. Blake Bortles did a great job of cashing in opportunities while playing very clean himself. If he could play clean just half of the time, the Jaguars might become a team that matters. Both the Ravens and Jags are now 2-1. You get the sense Baltimore wasn’t all that fired up for its trip overseas.The Ravens didn’t break their backs trying to rally after falling behind. Baltimore’s offense has only managed 4.5, 5.0, and 3.4 YPP thus far. Cheap points from a 10-3 turnover advantage helped hide that the first two weeks. Now it’s 10-6, and the offense better kick things up a notch.
Indianapolis (plus 1) 31, Cleveland 28
- Yards-per-Play: Cleveland 5.0, Indianapolis 5.3
- Third Down Conversions: Cleveland 38%, Indianapolis 47%
- Turnovers: Cleveland 3, Indianapolis 1
- Rushing Yards: Cleveland 111, Indianapolis 92
- Passing Stats: Cleveland 22-47-3-235, Indianapolis 17-24-0-243
- TD Drive Lengths: Cleveland 75-75-58-70, Indianapolis 70-75-97-45
Even stats with an even final score. A bit misleading because Indy built a big early lead while Cleveland picked up most of its yardage against a prevent while playing from behind. Cleveland is down 8-3 in turnovers in its two road games. Rookie quarterback! Indy moves to 1-2, Cleveland is still winless at 0-3. Both are clearly down in the bottom batch of league dregs. Those guys can still play entertaining games against each other.
Chicago (plus 7) 23, Pittsburgh 17 (in overtime)
- Yards-per-Play: Pittsburgh 4.8, Chicago 4.9
- Third Down Conversions: Pittsburgh 36%, Chicago 33%
- Turnovers: Pittsburgh 2, Chicago 2
- Rushing Yards: Pittsburgh 70, Chicago 220
- Passing Stats: Pittsburgh 22-39-0-212, Chicago 15-22-1-84
- TD Drive Lengths: Pittsburgh 77-16, Chicago 29-75-74
Pittsburgh has a knack for laying eggs on the road. It’s like they’re thinking that if they take care of business at home, and mostly split out on the road…they’re in the playoffs. Nobody’s said that’s the philosophy…but results suggest that might be the mindset. Equal stats here…but the Bears dominated on the ground, and went 74-yards to paydirt in extra time to get the win. Pittsburgh’s rushed for just 35 and 70 yards on the road…against Cleveland and Chicago teams down near the bottom of league Power Ratings. Few expected that. Another quietly struggling offense, with YPP of 5.4, 4.9, and 4.8 so far. Pittsburgh is 2-1, facing opposing quarterbacks Deshone Kizer, Case Keenum, and Mike Glennon.
NY Jets (plus 6) 20, Miami 6
- Yards-per-Play: Miami 3.6, NY Jets 5.7
- Third Down Conversions: Miami 8%, NY Jets 31%
- Turnovers: Miami 2, NY Jets 1
- Rushing Yards: Miami 30, NY Jets 103
- Passing Stats: Miami 26-45-2-195, NY Jets 18-23-0-233
- TD Drive Lengths: Miami 80, NY Jets 71-49
Before the season began more than a few pundits “couldn’t find any losses” on New England’s schedule…and “couldn’t find any wins” on New York’s schedule. The Patriots lost their season opener and are lucky not to be 1-2 out of the gate. New York’s still going to be bad…but they actually crushed Miami in the stats in this victory. Always being an underdog doesn’t mean you’re always going to lose. Miami had one good drive, which finished as time expired to avoid the shutout. Total yardage ended 336-225 against Miami even with that 80-yard finale included. Some in media thought that the “early bye” for Miami and Tampa Bay from the hurricane would help them stay fresh. Both looked extremely rusty in road games this week. Well, WORSE than “extremely rusty” until both had fallen way behind (TB scored its first TD down 28-3, Miami down 20-0). A good spot to remind of the dangers about teasing 6-point favorites down to pick-em because “all they have to do is win.” Miami couldn’t win. New Orleans was at -6 earlier in the week vs. Carolina. Philly did win, barely. A favorite around -6 is a “vulnerable” favorite because the market has them below the key number of seven. They're far from a sure thing to win straight up.
Buffalo (plus 3) 26, Denver 16
- Yards-per-Play: Denver 5.5, Buffalo 4.3
- Third Down Conversions: Denver 43%, Buffalo 38%
- Turnovers: Denver 2, Buffalo 0
- Rushing Yards: Denver 111, Buffalo 75
- Passing Stats: Denver 24-40-2-255, Buffalo 20-26-0-197
- TD Drive Lengths: Denver 79, Buffalo 74-69
Weird output for the Bills, who managed two long TD drives despite only getting 4.3 yards-per-play (after getting just 3.5 in Baltimore). Turnover differential helped neutralize Denver’s edges across the board. Good place to remind casual teaser players about the dangers of moving a team from -3 to plus 3. Even though it might sound good because you think your team is going to win the game anyway, and three is a key number…that’s about the worst hunk of change you can pocket in the NFL in terms of real value. Final margins of 1 and 2 aren’t that common…and you’re getting each TWICE! Landing on plus 3 doesn’t do much accept for creating possible pushes. But you’re not betting teasers for pushes. It’s like buying half-empty gallons of milk, or ordering half-pizzas for full-priced delivery. Horrible use of a six-point move.
New England (-14) 36, Houston 33
- Yards-per-Play: Houston 6.2, New England 6.6
- Third Down Conversions: Houston 43%, New England 46%
- Turnovers: Houston 2, New England 1
- Rushing Yards: Houston 125, New England 59
- Passing Stats: Houston 22-33-2-292, New England 25-35-0-337
- TD Drive Lengths: Houston 51-70, New England 44-12-75-81-75
Very entertaining game. New England scored in the final seconds to snatch the victory. Houston won total yardage 417-396 even with that 75-yard Patriots drive in the mix. Great outing for Deshaun Watson. Maybe New England isn’t exactly playing with a defensive chip on its shoulder yet this year. But that’s real production in a big game. Interceptions come with being a rookie. Huge potential if he keeps learning from his mistakes. Note that Houston had a fumble return touchdown, which is why only two TD drives are listed. Scary to think of the carnage for “money line parlay” bettors if Brady hadn’t thrown that late TD pass. Though, few of the teams paired with the Pats probably held up their end.
New Orleans (plus 5.5) 34, Carolina 13
- Yards-per-Play: New Orleans 6.4, Carolina 4.9
- Third Down Conversions: New Orleans 50%, Carolina 50%
- Turnovers: New Orleans 0, Carolina 3
- Rushing Yards: New Orleans 149, Carolina 132
- Passing Stats: New Orleans 22-29-0-213, Carolina 19-33-3-156
- TD Drive Lengths: New Orleans 75-24-75-35, Carolina 83
The Saints were a popular dog all week…as a talented 0-2 entry facing a 2-0 opponent that hadn’t really been playing well. This came through about as well as possible for that line of thinking. New Orleans came to win. Carolina’s YPP numbers are now 4.6, 3.9, and 4.9 through three games…and neither the SF nor NO defenses (1 and 3 in that string) should hold people that low. Turnovers an issue here as Carolina tried to rally from behind.
Minnesota (plus 1) 34, Tampa Bay 17
- Yards-per-Play: Tampa Bay 6.7, Minnesota 7.1
- Third Down Conversions: Tampa Bay 17%, Minnesota 54%
- Turnovers: Tampa Bay 3, Minnesota 0
- Rushing Yards: Tampa Bay 26, Minnesota 125
- Passing Stats: Tampa Bay 28-40-3-316, Minnesota 25-33-0-369
- TD Drive Lengths: Tampa Bay 46-75, Minnesota 75-76-92-66
The YPP here is a bit misleading, because Tampa Bay didn’t do anything until they were a few touchdowns behind. Minnesota scored all four TD’s on long drives, and added a long drive field goal. Total yardage ended 494-342…so almost 500 yards for the Vikes! Will be interesting to see how the market adjusts now to Case Keenum. After the Pittsburgh game, the “when we were last with you” Power Rating suggested he was about 3 points worse than Sam Bradford (roughly plus 6 at Pittsburgh with Bradford to plus 9 with Keenum). That would have suggested Minnesota as a short favorite here with Keenum. The Westgate posted Tampa Bay -3 for its contest line Wednesday, suggesting a bigger difference than 3 points. Dueling openers of Minnesota -2 offshore and Tampa Bay -2 in Nevada (not as big as it sounds because 0 and 1 are so uncommon in the big picture) eventually settled toward the Westgate’s side of things…until very late money hit the Vikings hard Sunday morning. It’s not like Bradford’s a god…and it’s not like Keenum is helpless when he has some weapons at his disposal. Minnesota hosts Detroit this week. May be a few days before a line goes up again.
Atlanta (-3) 30, Detroit 26
- Yards-per-Play: Atlanta 6.6, Detroit 4.9
- Third Down Conversions: Atlanta 44%, Detroit 23%
- Turnovers: Atlanta 3, Detroit 0
- Rushing Yards: Atlanta 151, Detroit 71
- Passing Stats: Atlanta 24-35-3-277, Detroit 25-45-0-253
- TD Drive Lengths: Atlanta 75-64-75, Detroit 75
The Falcons had much better stats than the Lions outside of the crucial turnover category. Arguably a loss based on your interpretation of that late replay. Atlanta almost lost the season opener at Chicago with a similar 6.8 to 4.8 edge in YPP. Detroit had an interception return for a TD, which is why only one TD drive is listed. This was the only favorite winner against the spread in early action.
Philadelphia (-5) 27, NY Giants 24
- Yards-per-Play: NY Giants 6.5, Philadelphia 4.8
- Third Down Conversions: NY Giants 30%, Philadelphia 36%
- Turnovers: NY Giants 2, Philadelphia 1
- Rushing Yards: NY Giants 49, Philadelphia 193
- Passing Stats: NY Giants 35-47-2-366, Philadelphia 21-31-0-161
- TD Drive Lengths: NY Giants 55-33-78, Philadelphia 90-54-75
Somehow, the Giants continued their horrid offense with a big fat zero entering the fourth quarter…then put up 24 quick points before losing a heartbreaker on a 61-yard field goal at the final gun. The bad news is that 3 of 10 on third downs, less than 50 rushing yards, and two turnovers are still red flags. But Odell Beckham Jr. found the end zone in a way that suggested better things could be ahead. Tough to recover from 0-3 to make the playoffs though. Philadelphia is already 2-0 in divisional play.
Tennessee (-2.5) 33, Seattle 27
- Yards-per-Play: Seattle 6.0, Tennessee 6.3
- Third Down Conversions: Seattle 29%, Tennessee 29%
- Turnovers: Seattle 0, Tennessee 0
- Rushing Yards: Seattle 69, Tennessee 195
- Passing Stats: Seattle 29-49-0-364, Tennessee 20-32-0-225
- TD Drive Lengths: Seattle 86-75-75-72, Tennessee 75-54-75
The game wasn’t quite as close as the stats make it seem. Seattle moved the ball very easily when down 30-14 and 33-20, less impressively when it mattered in tighter quarters. Big advantage on the ground for the Titans, which often correlates to a better ability to control one’s destiny in a game. Seattle falls to 1-2, and could just as easily be 0-3. Tennessee is 2-1…and the top of the AFC South has a chance to be interesting if Deshaun Watson develops quickly in Houston (reasonably likely), and Blake Bortles cuts down on his implosions (less-so).
Kansas City (-3.5) 24, LA Chargers 10
- Yards-per-Play: Kansas City 6.1, Chargers 4.9
- Third Down Conversions: Kansas City 33%, Chargers 38%
- Turnovers: Kansas City 0, Chargers 3
- Rushing Yards: Kansas City 189, Chargers 104
- Passing Stats: Kansas City 16-21-0-122, Chargers 20-40-3-226
- TD Drive Lengths: Kansas City 43-34-80, Chargers 89
Kansas City continues to be incredibly efficient, with YPP of 8.3, 6.7, and 6.1 this season and just ONE giveaway through three games. Philip Rivers and the Chargers continue to be erratic. (Quick aside…San Diego did move the ball vs. Miami’s defense…which now looks to be a big indictment of Miami…Rivers was 31-39-0-323 last week, McNown of the Jets 18-23-0-233 today…likely to be telling us something important.) Kansas City remains undefeated…and all the peripheral evidence suggests they’re a legitimate championship contender. Chargers still winless.
Green Bay (-7.5) 27, Cincinnati 24 (in overtime)
- Yards-per-Play: Cincinnati 5.0, Green Bay 5.3
- Third Down Conversions: Cincinnati 33%, Green Bay 47%
- Turnovers: Cincinnati 1, Green Bay 1
- Rushing Yards: Cincinnati 110, Green Bay 64
- Passing Stats: Cincinnati 21-27-0-191, Green Bay 28-42-1-280
- TD Drive Lengths: Cincinnati 79-60-45, Green Bay 60-75-75
Cincinnati played a great first half…which is a big improvement over its prior form. Worth noting here that last week’s Thursday night teams (Houston/Cincy) both had excellent first halves on the road against tough opponents. Houston only trailed New England 21-20 when the market expected an easy Pat win today. Cincinnati was up 21-7 before fading. Last week’s “rested” teams off the Week One Thursday nighter were Kansas City and New England. Chiefs only led the Eagles 6-3 at the break, before pulling away later for the cover. Patriots led New Orleans 30-13 at the break. Something to think about for Rams and Niners next week. Not likely to hold true forever…but the market will notice this. Big cover advantages in 1H and full game thus far, with three of the four “fresh” teams covering the full game by a TD or more in regulation.
Washington (plus 3) 27, Oakland 10
- Yards-per-Play: Oakland 2.7, Washington 7.3
- Third Down Conversions: Oakland 0%, Washington 47%
- Turnovers: Oakland 3, Washington 2
- Rushing Yards: Oakland 32, Washington 116
- Passing Stats: Oakland 19-31-2-96, Washington 25-30-0-356
- TD Drive Lengths: Oakland 18, Washington 67-72-75
Raiders played like it was a bad body clock game instead of a Sunday-nighter. They didn’t get on the board until a muffed third quarter Washington punt return set up a very short field. Probably best not to overreact to Oakland’s no-show or Washington’s suddenly godlike stats. Ultimately an outlier for both that won’t seem so relevant in the second half of the season. Obviously, STUPENDOUS stats for Kirk Cousins. Both teams are now 2-1.
Back Tuesday with a recap of Monday night’s Dallas/Arizona game, updated NFL Power Ratings, plus some college football notes.
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