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Time for market to adjust to NFL's overrated teams?

Jeff Fogle
VSiN.com

November 6, 2017 12:02 AM

Parity parody! Another chalky Sunday with more than half of the favorites winning straight up by double digits (and two others just missing). Can the market adjust to so many unmotivated mediocrities playing out the string? 

NFL: Favorites now 18-4 straight up the past two Sundays, 13-7-2 ATS
There were already enough bad teams to go around, with the likes of Cleveland, San Francisco, Indianapolis, the newly shorthanded NY Giants, and possibly the newly shorthanded Green Bay Packers (we’ll see Monday night) struggling to stay competitive. The NY Jets are trying as hard as they can…but have the talent-level just above expansion level. Arizona? Miami? The bottom quarter/third of the NFL looked pretty bleak entering November.

Are new teams also down that low after hitting recent skids? Sunday may have been a market wake-up call for the following…

  • Denver was Power-Rated at 79 last week on the scale we use in our Tuesday market estimates…arguably 80 Sunday morning when the line moved to plus 7 at respected Philadelphia. But the Broncos lost 51-23, suffering their fourth straight loss and non-cover, in games which missed the market by 26, 22, 3, and points 21. That’s 72 points over four games, or 18 points per game. Denver’s been playing like they’re about a 61 the past month!
  • Atlanta was Power-Rated at 82 early last week…and arguably 84-85 over the weekend because they surged up to -2 on the road at Carolina (who we had at 81 when it was Carolina -2, but was probably seen as a 78-79 on game day). But the Falcons fell 20-17 in their fifth straight non-cover. Atlanta has missed the market by 14, 17, 13, 1.5, and 6. That’s 51.5 over five games, or more than 10 per game on average. Atlanta’s played like they’re the Jets the last five weeks rather than a defending Super Bowl team
  • Tampa Bay was Power-Rated at 78 through the week. But the Bucs fell 30-10 at New Orleans, plummeting to 0-6-1 ATS their last seven games. Tampa Bay has missed the market by 17, 0.5, 1.5, 2.5, 0, 12.5, and 13. Some close calls in there. But still a combined miss of 47 over seven games, almost a TD per game. Tampa Bay’s somewhere between the NY Giants and Arizona in ineptitude
  • Cincinnati was Power Rated at 77 heading to Jacksonville, then caught a break when the Jags suspended their starting running back. But the Bengals lost 23-7 in their third straight non-cover. Cincinnati has missed the market by 11, 10, and 10 vs. Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, and Jacksonville. Cincinnati is just another version of the Colts the past three weeks

Not exactly a rollercoaster thrill ride to review. These stats are still important for making evaluations moving head. Games are presented in Nevada Rotation order. 

Philadelphia (-7) 51, Denver 23

  • Yards-per-Play: Denver 3.8, Philadelphia 6.3
  • Third Down Pct: Denver 23%, Philadelphia 38%
  • Turnovers: Denver 2, Philadelphia 1
  • Rushing Yards: Denver 35, Philadelphia 197
  • Passing Stats: Denver 19-38-2-191, Philadelphia 16-28-0-222
  • TD Drive Lengths: Denver 75, Philadelphia 75-15-75-75-77-11-48

A mix of Brock Osweiler still being very bad…the Denver offense as a whole still being relatively helpless…and the Denver defense finally giving up hope on the road against a non-conference opponent after battling hard this past Monday against a hated divisional rival. Only 419 yards and 6.3 for the Eagles…but not much resistance when they got into scoring territory. It was 31-9 at the half, so extended garbage time helped inflate the scoreboard. Denver falls to 3-5, but they were 3-1 after beating Oakland. So, it’s 0-4 with an anvil of late. Philadelphia moves to 8-1, solidifying its grip on a potential #1 seed in the NFC. 

LA Rams (-5.5) 51, NY Giants 17

  • Yards-per-Play: LA Rams 7.8, NY Giants 4.8
  • Third Down Pct: LA Rams 50%, NY Giants 50%
  • Turnovers: LA Rams 0, NY Giants 3
  • Rushing Yards: LA Rams 162, NY Giants 111
  • Passing Stats: LA Rams 14-22-0-311, NY Giants 20-38-1-208 
  • TD Drive Lengths: LA Rams 52-50-71-75-40-18, NY Giants 67-72

A big steamer in the morning. So, apparently word was spreading that the Giants were late getting out of their pajamas even with the extra hour of sleep and prep time. Similar to the game above, beyond the favorites landing on 51. Extended garbage time after a 27-10 first half. We’re getting to the point where you may have to throw out boxscores for playoff teams in games against some of the non-caring dregs like they’re Ohio State/Army scrimmages or something. NYG falls to 1-7, and may have fired its head coach by the time you read this. Don’t forget, they were the futures favorite to win the NFC East this past summer. Injuries have played a huge role of course. And, that misleading win vs. extremely overrated Denver right after more receivers went down (Giants were outgained 412-266) helped hide what was about to happen at home against Seattle (24-7 loss) and today (51-17). The Rams are now 6-2, in great shape for a playoff run halfway through their season. 

New Orleans (-7) 30, Tampa Bay 10

  • Yards-per-Play: Tampa Bay 3.5, New Orleans 6.8
  • Third Down Pct: Tampa Bay 31%, New Orleans 54%
  • Turnovers: Tampa Bay 1, New Orleans 2
  • Rushing Yards: Tampa Bay 87, New Orleans 151
  • Passing Stats: Tampa Bay 15-28-0-113, New Orleans 22-27-0-256
  • TD Drive Lengths: Tampa Bay 19, New Orleans 93-72-36

The theme of the early kickoffs was obviously bad teams throwing in the towel on lost seasons while facing playoff contenders who where were grateful for the gifts. Tampa Bay’s defense has been awful for weeks (outside of a rare decent showing vs. Carolina’s sluggish offense last week). We can combine that now with Jameis Winston dealing with shoulder issues. Ryan Fitzpatrick played the second half for TB. The Saints move to 6-2. Tampa Bay falls to 2-6. Dirk Koetter’s six-year 21-28 record in Pac 12 games as coach at ASU has now been followed up by a 11-13 mark (and sinking) with the Bucs. If you can’t win within the Pac 12, how are you going to win in the NFL?

Jacksonville (-6) 23 Cincinnati 7 

  • Yards-per-Play: Cincinnati 4.0, Jacksonville 5.2
  • Third Down Pct: Cincinnati 13%, Jacksonville 67%
  • Turnovers: Cincinnati 0, Jacksonville 1
  • Rushing Yards: Cincinnati 29, Jacksonville 148
  • Passing Stats: Cincinnati 10-18-0-119, Jacksonville 24-38-0-259
  • TD Drive Lengths: Cincinnati 80, Jacksonville 96

The morning suspension of Jags running back Leonard Fournette kept chalk lovers from laying points enthusiastically. But it was basically the first three games of the day on a shorter scale. The Jags ran clock with that big edge on the ground and in third downs. Cincinnati, who had to rally last week to barely beat horrible Indy had little interest apparently. Total yardage edge of 407-148 paints the picture better than YPP in this case. Jacksonville is now 5-3, keeping pace with Tennessee in the race for both the AFC South crown and one of two Wildcard spots. Cincinnati is 3-5…but looks so much worse than that when things aren’t going well. The wins have been over Cleveland, Buffalo, and Indy (which is why you should still be skeptical about Buffalo!). 

Carolina (plus 3) 20, Atlanta 17

  • Yards-per-Play: Atlanta 6.1, Carolina 5.2
  • Third Down Pct: Atlanta 33%, Carolina 31%
  • Turnovers: Atlanta 1, Carolina 2
  • Rushing Yards: Atlanta 53, Carolina 201
  • Passing Stats: Atlanta 24-38-1-302, Carolina 13-24-0-129
  • TD Drive Lengths: Atlanta 61-92, Carolina 50-31

The Falcons seem fed up with offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian (another Pac 12 guru, like Koetter). They continued their season-long trend of making big plays in the middle of the field to create an artificially large YPP. Carolina can’t pass…but snuck through anyway thanks to a big edge on the ground. Atlanta is still alive at 4-4, but plays every week like it can’t figure out how to get gum off its shoes. Carolina is 6-3, but lost to Philly the last time they played somebody who knew what they were doing (5.2 to 3.9 in YPP for the Eagles, with a 3-1 turnover discrepancy). 

Indianapolis (plus 6) 20, Houston 14

  • Yards-per-Play: Indianapolis 6.1, Houston 4.3
  • Third Down Pct: Indianapolis 29%, Houston 29%
  • Turnovers: Indianapolis 1, Houston 1
  • Rushing Yards: Indianapolis 92, Houston 94
  • Passing Stats: Indianapolis 20-30-0-279, Houston 19-44-0-194
  • TD Drive Lengths: Indianapolis 92-91, Houston 75

From one direction, this was basically a dead-even game except the Colts busted a couple of long pass plays. On the other hand, Houston didn’t score an offensive TD until very late when trailing by more than one score. The Colts are basically an expansion team with a 3-6 record because the NFL now has so many expansion-caliber teams. Injuries have turned Houston into one. Tom Savage can’t compete at this level. Indy has a poor defense, yet Houston threw 25 incomplete passes and couldn’t score until the final moments. Texans fall to 3-5. Looked more like a 1-7 team today. 

Tennessee (-3) 23, Baltimore 20

  • Yards-per-Play: Baltimore 4.4, Tennessee 4.9
  • Third Down Pct: Baltimore 38%, Tennessee 27%
  • Turnovers: Baltimore 2, Tennessee 1
  • Rushing Yards: Baltimore 73, Tennessee 71
  • Passing Stats: Baltimore 35-53-2-268, Tennessee 19-28-1-186
  • TD Drive Lengths: Baltimore 42-75, Tennessee 46-26-75

A battle of teams at .500 or better, but still ugly. Baltimore scored when down by 10 points VERY late to force the push. They only had a cheap TD before then. Tennessee had two cheapies themselves while compiling stats that normally lose. Handicapping in the second half of the season is going to involve a lot of determining which disappointing but contending teams are going to find a way to win ugly. Tennessee is 5-3 and tied with Jacksonville. Won’t the NFL be thrilled when BOTH are in the AFC brackets! Baltimore is 4-5, needing to close strong to swipe a Wildcard. The Ravens have already lost tie-breakers head-to-head to the Jags and Titans. 

Arizona (-2.5) 20, San Francisco 10

  • Yards-per-Play: Arizona 5.0, San Francisco 4.5
  • Third Down Pct: Arizona 44%, San Francisco 35%
  • Turnovers: Arizona 2, San Francisco 2 
  • Rushing Yards: Arizona 167, San Francisco 63
  • Passing Stats: Arizona 15-30-1-201, San Francisco 24-51-1-266
  • TD Drive Lengths: Arizona 6-75, San Francisco 75

Weird spot where both teams know that they’re not currently using their quarterback of the future, and neither has been playing with fire lately. Arizona did move to 4-4 with the victory…but they’re not positioned with Drew Stanton to chase anybody down. Hopefully Jimmy Garappolo gets the start next week for the 0-9 Niners when they host the NY Giants. Would they wait until after an open date to introduce him against Seattle on November 26? Maybe. 

Washington (plus 8) 17, Seattle 14

  • Yards-per-Play: Washington 4.1, Seattle 5.8
  • Third Down Pct: Washington 31%, Seattle 36%
  • Turnovers: Washington 1, Seattle 2
  • Rushing Yards: Washington 51, Seattle 148
  • Passing Stats: Washington 21-31-0-193, Seattle 24-45-2-289
  • TD Drive Lengths: Washington 71-70, Seattle 66-71

What you should notice about that boxscore? It was the stat summary of another home favorite blowout. Somehow, Seattle dominated this one the way most of the other favorites were dominating, but found a way to come up short. Our “stat score” formula (2 times rushing yards, plus passing yards, times 0.67, divided by 15) suggests Seattle 26-13 was a more reasonable score. What happened? Seattle had an extra turnover and missed three field goals. Seattle falls to 5-3 with the home loss. Worse, they’ve seemingly lost the ability to intimidate anyone but the dregs. Washington’s back in the Wildcard hunt at 4-4. 

Dallas (-2.5) 28, Kansas City 17

  • Yards-per-Play: Kansas City 5.9, Dallas 5.8
  • Third Down Pct: Kansas City 36%, Dallas 58%
  • Turnovers: Kansas City 1, Dallas 0
  • Rushing Yards: Kansas City 68, Dallas 131
  • Passing Stats: Kansas City 25-34-1-255, Dallas 21-33-0-244
  • TD Drive Lengths: Kansas City 63-62, Dallas 61-82-75-87

You probably saw that creative Kansas City touchdown on the final play of the first half (Tyreek Hill behind “The Flying Wedgie” considering how humiliated the Cowboys defense looked afterward?). Take that play out and it was 28-10 Dallas, and yards-per-play moves to 5.8 to 5.1 for the hosts. Even with that play in the mix, the Cowboys still won total yardage 375-323. Another strong performance for the Pokes, just in time to lose Ezekiel Elliot for six games to the legal process. They’re 5-3 with the ability to grab a Wildcard and have him back for the playoffs. Kansas City is 6-3…but still looks like they peaked in September. Chiefs are 1-3 ATS their last four, with the cover coming by a field goal thanks to the five turnovers gifted them by the self-destructing Denver Broncos last week. 

Oakland (-3) 27, Miami 24

  • Yards-per-Play: Oakland 6.5, Miami 6.5
  • Third Down Pct: Oakland 53%, Miami 41%
  • Turnovers: Oakland 2, Miami 1
  • Rushing Yards: Oakland 84, Miami 86
  • Passing Stats: Oakland 21-30-1-295, Miami 34-42-0-309
  • TD Drive Lengths: Oakland 81-67-87, Miami 82-75-83

Very similar stats. Bad news for both if they’re equal to each other. To the degree there was a meaningful difference, Oakland was more productive when the game was close. Miami picked up some garbage time yards after falling behind 27-16. One drive moved, then failed. The Dolphins got the ball back in time to get the back-door push (similar to Baltimore/Tennessee earlier in the day). Turned Oakland and Under into push and Over. Miami still has the better record at 4-4, but will be computer-rated down near the bottom of the league. Oakland is 4-5, trying to hang around the Wildcard race too. 

Today’s “Big Money Monday” showcase is Detroit at Green Bay. 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 Lions/Packers from all angles. Did a bye week help Brett Hundley develop a winning gameplan? Our best brains debate this “Black and Blue” battle while monitoring the markets for meaningful money moves. 

Back Tuesday with updated “market” Power Ratings in the NFL, a stat summary from Detroit/GB, and probably a look at key stats from this past Saturday’s college football chaos.

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