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Vikings prove worthy in NFL Power Ratings after Week 1

Jeff Fogle
VSiN.com

Minnesota and Denver win Monday night. Plus, updated NFL “market” Power Ratings, and another reminder that Ohio State is overrated today in VSiN City.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings rack up 470 yards on still horrible New Orleans defense in 29-19 victory 
It’s become an annual tradition…the New Orleans Saints assure everyone that they’ve addressed their defensive issues from the prior season…then they come out and keep playing terrible defense. Even more noticeable this season because there were so many stifling defensive performances on Sunday. 

Minnesota (-3) 29, New Orleans 19 

  • Yards-per-Play: New Orleans 5.8, Minnesota 7.5
  • Third Down Conversions: New Orleans 36%, Minnesota 64%
  • Turnovers: New Orleans 0, Minnesota 0
  • Rushing Yards: New Orleans 60, Minnesota 129
  • Passing Stats: New Orleans 27-37-0-284, Minnesota 27-32-0-341
  • TD Drive Lengths: New Orleans 75, Minnesota 74-95-89

Just run your finger down the right side of that stat box. Minnesota reached 7.5 yards-per-play, when 14 of 24 offenses Sunday couldn’t even make it to 5.0. Only five incomplete passes from Sam Bradford! Minnesota marched down the field all night for TD’s or field goals. New Orleans didn’t find the end zone until a last-minute garbage time TD when trailing 29-12. (That was great news for everyone betting Over!). 

Minnesota started well last year too…earning “Super Bowl contender” raves before fading down the stretch. So, nobody should go gaga over this one. But for now, the Vikings are in the mix of quality teams…and Bradford’s comfortable enough running this offense to abuse bad defenses. 

New Orleans? Same team as always, with a continuing drift from relevancy as Drew Brees ages. 

NFL: Denver Broncos dodge epic failure, survive 24-21
If you went to bed when Denver was ahead 24-7 in the fourth quarter, and CRUSHING the Los Angeles Chargers in the stats…you missed a great ending! Well, you missed a shocking comeback and an INEPT ending by the Chargers.

Denver (-3) 24, LA Chargers 21 

  • Yards-per-Play: LA Chargers 4.4, Denver 4.7
  • Third Down Conversions: LA Chargers 25%, Denver 53%
  • Turnovers: LA Chargers 1, Denver 2
  • Rushing Yards: LA Chargers 64, Denver 140
  • Passing Stats: LA Chargers 22-33-1-185, Denver 17-28-1-181
  • TD Drive Lengths: LA Chargers 75-43-38, Denver 70-56-43

Denver was absolutely dominating LAC. But an interception set up one TD. A fumble set up a second TD (those two short LAC drives you see above). Suddenly it was 24-21 and the Broncos were on the verge of a historic home choke job. LAC would get positioned for a last second field goal (despite horrible clock management). The Chargers appeared to force overtime with a made FG. But Denver had called time out a split second before the snap. Try two from rookie Younghoe Koo missed badly. Denver wins the game but Denver backers don’t get the money.

Tough to evaluate moving forward. Denver was dominating…but they don’t have much margin for error with this offense because 4.7 YPP isn’t going to get you any insurmountable leads. LAC looked helpless and disorganized all night, except for the two late drives when Denver fell asleep. All the sharp love for the Chargers may have to go on the backburner for awhile. This would have been a double-digit grinder for the host if not for those two fourth quarter giveaways. 

NFL: Estimated Market Power Ratings
We promised to post an update of our estimated “market” Power Ratings every Tuesday. Here’s where lines have settled to this point for Week 2 action. Note that lines involving Monday Night teams may scoot up or down Tuesday based on results. 

  • Houston at Cincinnati (-4/38.5)
  • Tennessee (-1/43.5) at Jacksonville 
  • Cleveland at Baltimore (-8/41)
  • Buffalo at Carolina (-7.5/42.5)
  • New England (-4.5/54) at New Orleans
  • Arizona (-7.5/44) at Indianapolis
  • Philadelphia at Kansas City (-4.5/47.5)
  • Minnesota at Pittsburgh (-7/45.5)
  • Chicago at Tampa Bay (-6.5/43)
  • Miami at LA Chargers (-4/45)
  • NY Jets at Oakland (-14/43.5)
  • Washington at the LA Rams (-2.5/46)
  • Dallas (-2/43.5) at Denver
  • San Francisco at Seattle (-12.5/43)
  • Green Bay at Atlanta (-2.5/53.5)
  • Detroit at NY Giants (-5/No total yet)

There’s no over/Under in Detroit/NYG with because of the injury to Odell Beckham. With those lines, we now go to the Power Ratings board. Each game presents us with a “couplet” to put on the scale. If you assume a standard THREE points for home field advantage, you can deduce the distance in neutral field matchups. Cincinnati is -4 over Houston in that first game listed. That means they’re ONE point better on a neutral field. We make sure Cincinnati is one rung higher on the ladder. Do that with every game…use some common sense…tweak from last week…and you’re going to get something that looks like this…

  • 87: New England
  • 84: Pittsburgh, Green Bay
  • 83: Atlanta, Dallas, Kansas City
  • 82: Oakland, Seattle
  • 81: Minnesota, Carolina, Philadelphia, Tennessee
  • 80: New Orleans, Arizona, NY Giants
  • 79: Baltimore, Tampa Bay
  • 78: Cincinnati, Denver, Detroit
  • 77: Houston, Jacksonville, LA Chargers
  • 76: Buffalo, Washington
  • 75: Miami, Chicago, LA Rams,
  • 74: Cleveland  
  • 72: San Francisco
  • 71: NY Jets
  • 69: Indianapolis with Tolzien

The Colts have fallen down to “worst in the league” at the moment. Though there’s enough margin for error here that it could still be the Jets. Indianapolis is 11 worse than Arizona on a neutral field. Maybe that should be 82 and 71…but it’s harder to make that case with Arizona’s poor showing in Detroit. The Jets are 11 worse than Oakland on a neutral field. Don’t you think Oakland is perceived as superior to Arizona? Maybe the Raiders will get bet higher through the week in a way that suggests the Jets should fall further. 

It’s likely that New England’s line at New Orleans will rise given how bad the Saints defense looked Monday night. The Patriots are a great team…in a bounce back spot after a loss…with A LOT of extra preparation time…who now look to be facing a defense that has little chance of slowing down Tom Brady. 

If you think we have anything wrong, please drop us a note or leave a comment in the Facebook widget. Remember that you have to make the case that we have a “couplet” wrong. If you think Cleveland is too high at 74, then you also have to present evidence that Baltimore is too high at 79, since the Ravens are -8 at home this week over the Browns. 

Also, don’t forget that you can use these to project “future” pointspreads for Week 3 or later season matchups. Teams will rise and fall on the scale. But barring injuries (or the return of stars like Andrew Luck), they won’t bounce around haphazardly. The NFL market is relatively conservative and stable.

College Football: What did Saturday’s showcase results tell us about the championship chase?
Let’s run the key numbers from this past Saturday night’s college football TV blockbuster grand slam. Three of the four winners are very much in the thick of the race for a Final Four spot. The other winner established its bona fides in a conference divisional race…and will have at least one chance (maybe two) to take down Alabama later this season.

We’ll go in the order they were listed in the Nevada Rotation…

Oklahoma (plus 7.5) 31, Ohio State 16

  • Yards-Per-Play: Oklahoma 6.8, Ohio State 5.1
  • TD Drive Lengths: Oklahoma 67-92-64-27, Ohio State 44

A legitimate blowout for a visitor that wasn’t supposed to be able to win on this field…against a supposedly great defense…while playing for a rookie head coach. You can see that the Sooners had three long scoring drives while compiling almost 500 total yards on the night (a 490-350 yardage edge). 

VSiN City may be the only place you’re hearing this given all the hype about the Buckeyes entering the season…but this is a continuation of Ohio State’s struggles last season vs. opponents who didn’t blink. This result isn’t inconsistent with getting CRUSHED on a neutral field by Clemson…or by failing to beat Wisconsin, Penn State, or Michigan in regulation (the latter two were outgained by national powers in their bowls). This result isn’t inconsistent with going down to the wire as big favorites with Northwestern or Michigan State. 

Ohio State is 3-8 ATS its last 11 games. The non-covers going back in order from OU to last season were by: 22.5, 32, 4.5, 19.5, 21.5, 25.5, 10, and 7 points. Yes, they can crush people who lack athletic size. They just missed the spread by a combined 54.5 points against Clemson and Oklahoma when favored by the market as a consensus top four media team. Spread the word! 

Great result for Oklahoma, possibly thanks to sarcastically named “Big Game Bob” not mucking things up. The potential double-bill with Oklahoma State could be something special a couple months down the road. 

Clemson (-4.5) 14, Auburn 6

  • Yards-Per-Play: Auburn 1.8, Clemson 4.2
  • TD Drive Lengths: Auburn no TDs, Clemson 88-79

We’re only two games into a new season, so it’s hard to know for sure if Clemson’s defense is this fantastic, or if Auburn’s attack and transfer quarterback were just overrated. Clemson is very much back in the Final Four discussion after this victory. Can they stay sharp this Saturday night on the road against dangerous Louisville? Clemson is currently a 3-point favorite. Last year’s Clemson team had to dodge a few regular season bullets with a more experienced high impact quarterback. Auburn can’t be happy with its offense. But the defense can surely give headaches to Alabama in the Iron Bowl. 

Georgia (plus 4) 20, Notre Dame 19

  • Yards-Per-Play: Georgia 4.5, Notre Dame 3.5
  • TD Drive Lengths: Georgia 62-75, Notre Dame 32

This was a borderline game in terms of “really” being a blockbuster. The name “Notre Dame” was involved. It was never likely that the winner would be a serious threat for the Final Four. Georgia needs to get much more dynamic on offense to get that far. An outright win is great, obviously. But gaining just 4.5 yards-per-play while only having two TD drives on the night is far from electric. A grinder win similar to Clemson over Auburn except these guys snuck a few more points on the board in a sloppy low-yardage game. Both teams turned the ball over twice. The two combined for 189 penalty yards on 20 flags. Great stuff from the Georgia defense. Might be enough right there to win the SEC East. 

USC (-6) 42, Stanford 24

  • Yards-Per-Play: Stanford 6.3, USC 8.4
  • TD Drive Lengths: Stanford 75-54-74, USC 80-80-75-75-90-75

Run your finger over those Southern Cal touchdown drives. Not a cheapie in the bunch on the way to SIX trips to paydirt and 42 points. Scary to think how many points these guys might score on the Texas defense that was bullied by Maryland two weeks ago. USC did turn the ball over twice, which could be the bugaboo that hurts them in a big game later in the season. Stanford can’t be considered amongst the true elite of the Pac 12 if they allowed 623 yards here.

Overall, disappointing in terms of what was hoped for. Oklahoma and USC made statements. The Clemson defense made one that it might have to repeat this week against Louisville, the only matchup matching top 20 teams Saturday with Miami/Florida State being postponed. 

MLB: Cleveland makes it 19-in-a-row…and just NOW gets back to betting profitability! 
This recent run from the Cleveland Indians has been amazing. They routed Detroit 11-0 Monday night to make it 19 straight victories. Cleveland’s 88-54 record is best in the American League. Yet, even at 32 games over .500, it took that win to push Cleveland back into betting profitability for the first time since April 9! They are fractionally below plus one betting unit for the season.

The defending AL champs won their first three games way back in April, but lost their next three at favored odds. From that point forward…it was all net money minuses amongst months of disappointment until this still-active 19 game winning streak brought them back into the black. 

Cleveland can’t rest yet if it wants to clinch home field advantage throughout the AL brackets. The Indians lead Houston by 1.5 games at the moment. Houston begins a three-game series Tuesday in Anaheim against the Angels. Cleveland hosts Detroit Tuesday and Wednesday, before hosting Kansas City for a four-game set this weekend. 

Elsewhere in the pennant races…

  • Boston leads the NY Yankees by 3 games in the AL East 
  • There are still EIGHT teams fighting for two AL Wildcard spots
  • The Chicago Cubs now lead St. Louis by 2 games, Milwaukee by 3 in the NL Central
  • St. Louis is within 3.5 games of an NL Wildcard spot

That Red Sox lead has been in a holding pattern for a few weeks. Eight teams are within FOUR games of the final Wildcard spot, though time is running out for Tampa Bay, Seattle, and Baltimore to get hot enough to matter. The Cubs just got swept at home by Milwaukee. That might help St. Louis out more because the Brewers lost ace starter Jimmy Nelson to a season ending injury this past weekend. 

Series that matter to both teams to start the week:

  • Colorado at Arizona
  • NY Yankees at Tampa Bay
  • Seattle at Texas
  • Houston at the LA Angels

This weekend, St. Louis will visit the Chicago Cubs for three games…getting a chance to match Milwaukee’s stunning Wrigley sweep. The Dodgers visit the Nationals that would have been more exciting if the Boys of Summer hadn’t slumped so badly when the leaves started to turn. In the American League: Baltimore at the NY Yankees, Boston at Tampa Bay, Seattle at Houston, and Texas at the LA Angels. 

Twenty games or less for all the playoff hopefuls now. Some knockout rounds at hand for those hanging around the .500 mark. 

Back Wednesday with another handicapping tutorial and more market discussion. If you haven’t subscribed to VSiN City, please click here for weekday morning email delivery and free access to those handy South Point betting sheets. Sign up now for Point Spread Weekly. Just $99.99 for the full season of comprehensive reference material. Click here to follow us on twitter. If you have any comments or questions about anything VSiN, please drop us a note or leave a Facebook comment below. 

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