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Titans step up on MNF; Pats step back in Power Ratings

By Jeff Fogle  ( 

Tennessee Titans the screws in the second half…Yankees hit the ball on the screws to hammer Houston…and our “market” Power Ratings are getting screwy! Naturally, we also hit the hardwood Tuesday in VSiN City...

NFL: Tennessee outgains Indy 321-111 in the second half to pull away to a 36-22 victory

It was another ugly first half for a favorite Monday night in the AFC South battle featuring the Indianapolis Colts and the Tennessee Titans. Underdog Indy led 13-9 after two quarters, outplaying the Titans to the tune of 186-152 in total yardage, and 6.6 to 5.4 in yards-per-play. Were we going to have a replay of all those Sunday shockers?

No! Tennessee turned up its intensity several notches in the final two quarters, surging to a blowout win and cover.  

Tennessee (-7) 36, Indianapolis 22

  • Yards-per-Play: Indianapolis 5.2, Tennessee 7.1
  • Third Down Indianapolis 22%, Tennessee 46%
  • Turnovers: Indianapolis 1, Tennessee 1
  • Rushing Yards: Indianapolis 85, Tennessee 168
  • Passing Stats: Indianapolis 21-37-0-212, Tennessee 23-32-1-305
  • TD Drive Lengths: Indianapolis 73, Tennessee 87-75-87

Tennessee won the second half 27-9 on that yardage edge of 321-111. The only Colts touchdown came on an interception return (because there HAD to be another one of those this week), so it was more like 27-3 in terms of real scoreboard dominance. Marcus Mariota was one-dimensional because of an ailing hamstring. He barely ventured out of the pocket, finding his form when it was time to win the ball game. 

If you were watching baseball, or otherwise decided to skip watching this game. Be aware that it was tight until the final moments thanks to that defensive TD for the Colts. Indianapolis had the ball in Tennessee territory down 29-22. A failure on fourth down turned the ball over. Derrick Henry busted a 72-yard TD run to get the money for Titans backers, and infuriate dog lovers who had riding time for 59 minutes. Second time in three weeks we’ve seen that kind of final minute point spread drama on MNF.

Tennessee moves to 3-3 on the season, tied for first in the AFC South with Jacksonville and Houston. Indianapolis falls to 2-4, and just doesn’t have the moxie to compete with the upper two thirds of the NFL for four full quarters. Indy’s wins have come in home nailbiters against Cleveland and San Francisco. 

A quick note that Tennessee was a “basic strategy” qualifier for two-team six-point teasers through the morning, before a line of Titans -7.5 formally dropped to the key number of -7. For you newcomers, “basic strategy” involves connecting ONLY teams who cross both the 3 and the 7 in one fell swoop (favorites of 7.5, 8, and 8.5 down to 1.5, 2, and 2.5, or moving underdogs the other direction from plus 1.5, 2, and 2.5 up to Plus 7.5, 8, and 8.5.) Anyone linking yesterday’s qualifiers with the Titans finished out an undefeated teaser week. Many sharps also pair Monday night qualifiers with options from the following Sunday (at locales that let you do that). 

NFL: New Estimated Market Power Ratings

Normally, this deep into a new season, we’d be feeling pretty confident about our estimate of how “the market” is rating all 32 pro football teams. But this week’s lines suggest the market is having trouble pinning things down. It doesn’t know how to deal with inconsistent teams (like Arizona, or Miami, or a half-dozen others). It’s just as shocked at you are that so many big ugly dogs are playing nailbiters. Makes it tough for “mind-readers” like us!

Here are the Monday evening lines we’ll be using to build the scale…

Kansas City (-3/47) at Oakland

Tennessee (-6.5/No total yet) at Cleveland

Jacksonville (-3/No total yet) at Indianapolis

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh (-5.5/41)

Baltimore at Minnesota (-5.5/39.5)

NY Jets at Miami (-3/38.5)

Tampa Bay at Buffalo (no line pending Winston status)

Carolina (-3.5/41) at Chicago

New Orleans (-6/47.5) at Green Bay

Arizona at the LA Rams (-3.5/47.5)

Dallas (-6/47) at San Francisco

Seattle (-6/38.5) at the NY Giants

Denver at the LA Chargers (-1.5/42)

Atlanta at New England (-3.5/54.5)

Washington at Philadelphia (-5/48.5)

We use a standard home field advantage of three points to create “couplets” that are placed on the scale below. For the time being, we’ll also be allotting ONE point for teams enjoying a significant rest advantage off a bye week or a Thursday nighter that allowed extra preparation time. Though, those teams didn’t perform well against the spread last week, there still seems to be consideration given to them in this week’s early prices. (Rested Cincinnati is closer to Pittsburgh than you would have expected based on prior ratings, for example).

Those six are: bye teams Buffalo, Cincinnati, Dallas, Seattle; and the Thursday teams Philadelphia and Carolina.

If you’re new to this project, Kansas City is -3 at Oakland this week…we use three points for home field advantage…so Kansas City must go SIX spots higher on this scale (KC at 84, Oakland at 78 in this case). We use the lines to create couplets for every game…then try to find the most logical spot for that couplet to sit.

84: New England, Kansas City

83: Atlanta, Pittsburgh

82: Philadelphia, Carolina 

81: Dallas, New Orleans, Seattle, Washington

80: Denver 

79: Tennessee, Jacksonville, Cincinnati, Denver, Detroit, Minnesota 

78: Houston, Buffalo, LA Chargers, Oakland, Tampa Bay, LA Rams

77: Arizona 

76: Baltimore, Chicago

75: Miami, NY Jets 

73: Indianapolis, San Francisco 

72: NY Giants, Green Bay

70: Cleveland 

The market has FINALLY dropped the Patriots back to the pack. New England is only -3.5 vs. Atlanta in Foxboro…which means only a half-point to one point better than the Falcons on a neutral field. And, that’s after Atlanta lost at home to Miami as a big favorite last week. We went with 84 and 83…but it’s certainly possible that 83 and 82 are a better fit for the market's mindset. Maybe the composite of important influences finally does have Kansas City as best in the NFL. Though, THAT would be weird after the Chiefs lost at home to Pittsburgh. 

Honestly…New England might be down at 83…and Kansas City/Oakland might be more accurate at 83/77 given how poorly the Raiders are playing. Results have been so messy out of the gate that this is even more guesswork than usual. We’re not going to pretend otherwise. 

You want to put a ceiling at 82 until things work themselves out? Might not be a bad idea. Maybe we’ll try that next week. This is a fun project to play around with…but the market is so fluid that Arizona can be seen as 5.5 points worse on a neutral field than disappointing Tampa Bay last week, but only a half-point worse than the surging LA Rams this week (!). How was Tennessee with Mariota as a confirmed starter only -7 at home over the Colts in MNF given other recent pricing? Tennessee was -2.5 on this field over Seattle (and covered). Indianapolis was plus 12.5 at Seattle, and lost by 28.  

We encourage you to have some fun building your own scale. It’s a great way to try to read the mind of the market…even if it means that what you’re “seeing” right now is, maybe 50% confidence, 30% confusion, and 20% chaos amidst all the recent surprises. 

(Note that Green Bay has fallen from one of the best to one of the worst after Aaron Rodgers was likely lost for the season to a broken collarbone. No respect for Brett Hundley!)

ALCS: Yankees hit a pair of 3-run homers to handle Houston 8-1

It was a must-win spot for the New York Yankees, who trailed the Houston Astros two-games-to-none as they took the field Monday night in the Bronx. Todd Frazier hit a 3-run homer in the second inning to help NYY grab an early lead. Aaron Judge (all rise!) added a 3-run shot in the fourth to end the team side drama for the evening. (Though, Over/Under drama lasted all the way until the ninth inning when the Astros drew a bases-loaded walk to the thunderous cheers of those who bet Over 8.5). 

NY Yankees (-130) 8, Houston 1

  • Totals Bases Plus Walks Drawn: Houston 12, NY Yankees 17
  • Morton: 3.2 IP, 7 ER, 3 K, 2 BB, 1 HR
  • Sabathia: 6 IP, 0 ER, 5 K, 4 BB, 0 HR’s

Another great postseason performance from C.C. Sabathia. Charlie Morton didn’t shine under the NY spotlight. Though, New York didn’t do much besides hitting those homers, as eight of its 17 “offensive bases” came from the two balls that cleared the fence. Houston had about the least dynamic “12” offensive bases possible on four singles and eight walks. That last walk was all that mattered to totals bettors. For the series…

  • Game 1: NY Yankees 11, Houston 7
  • Game 2: Houston 13, NY Yankees 9
  • Game 3: NY Yankees 17, Houston 12

Houston still leads the ALCS 2-1, but the Yankees lead in raw offensive production 37-32 in bases earned at the plate. A long way to go. 

After the game, Houston announced that Lance McCullers would get the start against Sonny Gray. Houston was apparently considering bringing back Dallas Keuchel on short rest before thinking better of it. Look for Keuchel to pitch G5 in New York. Justin Verlander should be recovered from his 120-plus pitch effort in G2 for G6 back in Minute Maid. 

Tuesday’s Game Four: Houston at the NY Yankees (5 p.m. ET, 2 p.m. PT on FS1)

Money line/Total: Not yet posted as of late Monday night

Let’s run the numbers to see if that will give us a hint at where the line will come…

Pitching “Three True Outcomes” from Regular Season

  • McCullers: 3.17 xFIP, 25.8 K%, 7.8 BB%, 0.61 HR’s per 9 IP
  • Gray: 3.76 xFIP, 22.6 K%, 8.4 BB%, 1.05 HR’s per 9 IP 

Actually, that won’t tell us much because McCullers’ stats were frontloaded before he became “injury plagued.” He had ace caliber stats through June. But then an ERA of 9.64 in July, 6.92 in September (after sitting out August), before allowing two runs in three innings vs. Boston in the divisional round. It’s been a long time since McCullers looked like the guy with that great xFIP. 

That recent form suggests the Yankees will be favored…and the Over/Under will be the highest we’ve seen this series.

NLCS: Dodgers lead 2-0 as series switches to Chicago 

These marquee franchises took Monday off to travel. Let’s see what the market is saying about Tuesday’s resumption…

Tuesday’s Game Three: LA Dodgers at the Chicago Cubs (9 p.m. ET, 6 p.m. PT on TBS)

  • Money line: Chicago Cubs -115, LA Dodgers even
  • Run line: Chicago Cubs -1.5 runs (plus 195), LA Dodgers -1.5 runs (-220)
  • Over/Under: not posted until game day at Wrigley Field

As long as the wind isn’t blowing out, we’re going to see a low Over/Under with Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks on the mound. It’s been a pitchers’ series so far.

Pitching “Three True Outcomes” from Regular Season

  • Darvish: 3.65 xFIP, 27.3 K%, 7.6 BB%, 1.30 HR’s per 9 IP
  • Hendricks: 3.76 xFIP, 21.6 K%, 7.0 BB%, 1.10 HR’s per 9 IP 

Keep in mind that Darvish made several starts with the Texas Rangers…in what is traditionally a hitters' park in the DH league. His xFIP is about a half run lower than what you see above since he joined the Dodgers. Hendricks was an ace down the stretch, and has been pitching even better than those solid numbers would suggest under pressure. 

The series is due to bust out some big blows…but you’ve got to make contact (or draw walks) to create offense. Checking on TB plus W for these offenses so far…

  • Game 1: LA Dodgers 20, Chicago Cubs 8
  • Game 2: LA Dodgers 19, Chicago Cubs 7

Basically, identical games at first blush. But it took NINE walks to push the Dodger to 19 in that second game (which was decided on a 3-run homer in the ninth inning). It’s telling that LAD leads the walk category 13-2 through two games. They’re being much more patient at the plate, or the Cubs pitchers are throwing more timidly.  Even if you take out the walks, the Dodgers are still up 26-13 in “bases from the bats.” 

So far, it’s just holding serve. But the Cubs don’t have much chance to win four of the next five games if they don’t do something about that walk category. Too many free bases being granted.

NBA: Defending conference champs tip off 2017-18 season in Tuesday TNT twinbill

We’re not going to have enough room to delve too deeply into the NBA until football winds down. Thanks to all of you who were with us through the NBA playoffs last season. We’ll come closer to THAT level of intensity in college and pro hoops come January. 

For now, we’ll pick our spots for game capsules of the most important matchups. Like…maybe…THESE!

Tuesday on TNT

  • Cleveland -3.5, total of 212.5 vs. Boston (8:05 p.m. ET)
  • Golden state -9.5, total of 230.5 vs. Houston (10:35 p.m. ET)

Those could be a preview of the 2018 conference championship rounds. Kyrie Irving returns to his old stomping grounds in his Celtics’ debut. That right there is worth the price of admission. Note that home court advantage is usually worth 3 points in the NBA (more on longer trips, or at altitude). So, out of the gate, the market sees the Cavs as fractionally better than the Celtics. Let’s monitor that on game day. Golden State is well clear of Houston on a neutral court, and well clear of the rest of the West as well.

Another great week of sports has started! If you haven’t yet taken advantage of our FREE subscription to the VSiN City newsletter, please click here. You’ll receive every issue in your morning email, along with links to very handy betting sheets from the South Point. 

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Click here to download the new VSiN app. Click here to follow us on twitter. If you’d like to drop us a note with questions or comments about anything in the VSiN universe, please click here or post a comment in the Facebook widget below. 

Back Wednesday for more baseball…a recap of the baskets…our weekly look at college football “market” Power Ratings…and who knows what else!

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