Week 2: A tie and a day for underdogs

Jeff Fogle  
VSiN City newsletter

Playoff caliber action all over the Sunday NFL card, highlighted by Vikings-Packers going overtime and Patriots-Jaguars possibly unveiling a new AFC juggernaut. Stat recaps plus Canelo and Keselowski cashing tickets in VSiN City!

NFL: Second tie in two weeks as Minnesota-Green Bay settles nothing

Fans of both the Vikings and the Packers were furious after Sunday’s NFC North thriller ended in a tie. Packers’ fans believed a late “rough the passer” penalty against Clay Matthews should never have been called. Vikings fans will point out that their kicker missed THREE field goals! Bettors rooking for the Packers plus the points and Over got the money. But those rooting for the Over for either team on Regular Season Win Totals took a virtual loss. 

Green Bay (plus 1.5) 29, Minnesota 29 (in overtime)

Yards-per-Play: Minnesota 7.1, Green Bay 5.0

Total Yardage: Minnesota 480, Green Bay 351

Third Down Pct: Minnesota 50%, Green Bay 31%

Turnovers: Minnesota 1, Green Bay 0

Rushing Yards: Minnesota 68, Green Bay 98

Passing Stats: Minnesota 35-48-1-412, Green Bay 30-42-0-252

TD Drive Lengths: Minnesota 57-71-75-75, Green Bay 75

Dominant day for Minnesota in the numbers. Green Bay scored an early touchdown on a blocked punt return. You can see that the Vikings won “offensive touchdowns” by a count of 4-1. Special teams disasters erased the impact of all of those stats. A new kicker will be in uniform next week. Green Bay can’t really complain about 1-0-1 straight up all things considered. But, that was a borderline call at best on Matthews late in regulation. Minnesota has to be happy with Kirk Cousins. Maybe they shouldn’t have replaced both their punter and placekicker? Minnesota still the favorite to win the division because the rematch (and tie-breaker if needed) will be at home. 

In other early afternoon finishes…

*Indianapolis (plus 6) won at Washington 21-9. Andrew Luck led three 75-yard touchdown drives. The offense didn’t do much else in its other possessions. Washington could only drive for field goals. Yards-per-play tied at 4.7 apiece. Poor follow-up for Washington off the Arizona rout. That may not have meant anything, with Arizona looking like the Buffalo of the NFC. Both Indy and Washington are 1-1. Neither looks like playoff material yet. 

*Atlanta (-5) beat Carolina 31-24. Both rebounded from low scoring ugly games to play better offense but worse defense. Falcons won yards-per-play 7.4 to 6.8, total yardage 442-439, rushing yardage 170-121, and third downs 55-45%. You can see why they won and covered. Both teams also 1-1 here.

*The LA Chargers (-7) won at Buffalo 31-20. Bills had a player retire at halftime. As weird as that is…they were down 28-6 at the time after getting crushed at Baltimore last week. As we talked about in the midweek Power Ratings report, Buffalo is currently expansion caliber. Chargers looked to have called off the dogs a bit in the second half, limiting their stat volume. Jared Allen is going to be a work in progress at QB for the Bills. Their passing line today was 18-33-2-209. 

*Tennessee (plus 3) beat Houston 20-17. That thrilled Vegas oddsmakers who had taken big bets on the Texans. Deshaun Watson has lost his magic from last season, which is prone to happen to running quarterbacks after the league has had an offseason to review tape. He still put up some yardage. But, he was sluggish at times…and then foolish when running out the clock on himself in the final seconds of regulation. Blaine Gabbert played QB for Tennessee with Marcus Mariota out. A blocker on the punt team threw a long touchdown pass.  Hard to be impressed with either team other than that trick play. 

*Kansas City (plus 4) won at Pittsburgh 449-475. Both of these quarterbacks are going to put up big yardage totals this season. Each offense had five touchdown drives of more than 60 yards. Chiefs also had an early cheapie of 10 yards that turned out to be the difference maker. KC now 2-0 on the season, and nobody there is regretting that Alex Smith went to another team. Pittsburgh is 0-1-1…out of synch on the field and off. Still plenty of time for this to be a playoff preview. 

*Miami (plus 3) won at the NY Jets 20-12. Dolphins jumped ahead 20-0 in the first half…but they weren’t exactly explosive. One TD drive was only 15 yards. Another less than 50. Jets would win total yardage for the game 362-257, and 5.7 to 4.4 yards-per-play. Two interceptions for Sam Darnold. He’s going to make plays, but he’s going to make mistakes too. Dolphins move to 2-0, but might still be 6-10 caliber. Jets fall to 1-1, likely to be a smarter bet as a feisty dog than a favorite that needs to win on command to cover. 

*Tampa Bay (plus 3) beat Philadelphia 27-21. A bunch of dogs cashing tickets on the early slate! Ryan Fitzpatrick had two different 75-yard TD passes. He wasn’t supposed to be able to have two monster games in a row. Eagles fall to 1-1 after trying to play catch up all day. Bucs 2-0 when many thought they’d be in trouble without Jameis Winston. Some media entities thought Philly -3 was an INSULT to the defending league champs! 

*New Orleans (-9.5) only beat Cleveland 21-18. Dogs are 8-2 against the spread to this point in the week as the Nevada schedule flies (counting the Bengals Thursday night). Stunning, with the Saints in an obvious bounce back spot at home after a home loss…and the Browns in an obvious letdown spot after a draining divisional overtime tie. Cleveland almost won! Browns won total yardage 327-275, yards-per-play 5.5 to 4.5, and rushing yards 93-62. Numbers like that are a huge step up for Cleveland. Well…numbers like that combined with a plus 1 turnover count. Great defense…relatively safe “grinding” offense with a stud running back. A lot to like about the new-look Browns. They still have to learn how to win. Now 2-0 against the spread. Saints 1-1 straight up, 0-2 ATS. 

That wraps up the early slate. 

NFL: Jaguars get revenge on Patriots in overpowering win 

It may not mean much to “avenge” a loss against an opponent that’s known to peak in January rather than September. That said…look at the numbers below!

Jacksonville (plus 1.5) 31, New England 20 

Yards-per-Play: New England 5.0, Jacksonville 7.0

Total Yardage: New England 302, Jacksonville 481

Third Down Pct: New England 33%, Jacksonville 71%

Turnovers: New England 1, Jacksonville 2

Rushing Yards: New England 82, Jacksonville 104

Passing Stats: New England 24-35-0-220, Jacksonville 29-45-1-377

TD Drive Lengths: New England 48-75, Jacksonville 56-84-75-61

Not quite perfect because of the turnover category. But, we have a Jacksonville team that “should” have won in Foxboro in the AFC Championship last season, coming out and obliterating the Pats much more emphatically than the score suggests. You can’t call it an AFC “changing of the guard” until it happens in the playoffs. And, we don’t want to suggest that Bortles is about to surpass Brady in any meaningful way. The point is…the Jags as a complete team are learning how to play championship caliber football as the Pats drift back within the pack of elites. 

In other late afternoon action…

*The LA Rams (-12) beat Arizona 34-0. Like Buffalo, Arizona looks to be in way over its head during a period of transition. Non-competitive here. Rams coasted to a 432-137 edge in yardage on 6.4 to 3.2 yards-per-play. Sam Bradford doesn’t make things happen by himself. He has no help. Rams 2-0 both ways, Cards 0-2 both ways. 

*San Francisco (-6) only beat Detroit 30-27. Lions were down 30-20 before getting close, and then failing on what could have been a game-winning drive. San Francisco’s Jimmy Garappolo wasn’t all that impressive at 18-26-0-156 for an offense that only converted 27% of third down tries. Both teams finished at 5.8 yards-per-play. SF owned the ground game 190-98. Niners 1-1 straight up and ATS. Lions 0-2 straight up, but get the cover here. 

*Denver (-6) only beat Oakland 20-19. That continues the underdog theme in daylight action. Raiders were up 12-0 at the half, as Derek Carr rarely hit the ground with any passes (29-32-0-281). Denver rallied late to kick a last-second field goal. Case Keenum just 19-35-1-217.  Denver is 2-0 straight up, 0-1-1 ATS. Oakland 0-2 and 1-1 in those categories. 

Sunday Night NFL: Dallas drops the NY Giants in defensive struggle

Neither team could make it to 300 yards at a time when offense is exploding cross the league. The Giants only managed 35 rushing yards. Dallas wasn’t bad on a per-play basis…but only converted 30% of third down tries. Didn’t feel like a battle of playoff contenders. 

Dallas (-3) 20, NY Giants 13

Yards-per-Play: New York 3.8, Dallas 6.0

Total Yardage: New York 255, Dallas 298

Third Down Pct: New York 47%, Dallas 30%

Turnovers: New York 1, Dallas 0

Rushing Yards: New York 35, Dallas 138

Passing Stats: New York 33-44-0-220, Dallas 16-25-0-160

TD Drive Lengths: New York 75, Dallas 75-82

Giants threw 44 times for only 220 yards…which is an awful ratio the way the game is played right now. And, the G-men only scored after falling behind by double digits. Dallas is 1-1 straight up and ATS. Giants 0-2 both ways. And, this result was much worse than the competitive loss at home to Jacksonville last week. No instant fix for Eli Manning’s offense under Pat Shurmur. 

MLB: Pennant picture firming up

We’re going to skip our usual Monday “Magnificent 7” coverage this week because not much relevant is happening with those teams beyond what would naturally be covered amid the pennant races. Red Sox visit the Yankees this week, and the series only matters to one team!

Let’s go right to our “shorthand” for looking at divisional races. The numbers below are games over the .500 mark. Starting in the senior circuit…

NL East: Atlanta plus 17, Philadelphia plus 4

NL Central: Chicago plus 25, Milwaukee plus 20, St. Louis plus 14

NL West: Colorado plus 15, LA Dodgers plus 14, Arizona plus 6 

NL Wildcard: Milwaukee plus 20, St. Louis plus 14, LA Dodgers plus 14, Arizona plus 6

Atlanta will win the East. Chicago will play in October, probably as Central champs. Milwaukee is in great shape for at least one wildcard if it can keep grinding out wins. Only drama left is deciding which two of Colorado, the LA Dodgers, and St. Louis will also reach the brackets (would be very tough for Arizona and Philadelphia to crash that party from where they currently sit). Dodgers made a statement in St. Louis this weekend, despite losing the finale (after taking the first three). Colorado visits LAD in a three-game series beginning Monday night. One of those teams will win the West. St. Louis is in Atlanta Monday-Wednesday. 

AL East: Boston plus 56, NY Yankees plus 33, Tampa Bay plus 16

AL Central: Cleveland plus 17

AL West: Houston plus 39, Oakland plus 30, Seattle plus 15

AL Wildcard: NY Yankees plus 33, Oakland plus 30, Seattle plus 15

We popped Tampa Bay back into the picture because it just won a couple from Oakland…keeping the Rays’ temporarily alive mathematically. Pretty obvious who the five playoff teams are going to be. A’s and Yanks still have to determine who will host their one-game knockout. 

South Point 400: Brad Keselowski wins THIRD straight NASCAR race, knocking off favorites again

Visitors in Las Vegas for an exciting NASCAR weekend invested heavily in red-hot Brad Keselowski. The South Point had him priced at 10/1 earlier in the week (other spots higher). He closed on race day at 5-1. A prop featuring “the big three” of Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, and Martin Truex Jr. vs. the rest of the field (including Keselowski) sunk from -190/plus 170 to -175/plus 155 on race day. Keselowski was first to the checkered flag for the third race in a row (and his third time in Las Vegas).

South Point 400 Final Results

1…Brad Keselowski

2…Kyle Larson

3…Martin Truex Jr.

4…Joey Logano

5…Ryan Blaney

Congrats to VSiN’s NASCAR handicapping ace Jeff Cogliandro for winning two of his three matchup selections…including Keselowski plus 130 over Larson.

Hope all you visiting from out of town had a great weekend! 

Boxing: Are you ready for Canelo/GGG III? Bettors are!

Canelo Alvarez won Saturday night’s big fight with Gennady Golovkin at the T-Mobile Arena. Alvarez closed as a small underdog. Two of three judges had it 115-113 for Alvarez. One had it a draw at 114-114.

Not a controversial decision…though most observers felt it was a very close bout that deserved a closing chapter in a trilogy. Madison Square Garden is the early favorite to host that expected spectacular, as GGG knows it’s tough to impress judges in front of Canelo’s boisterous Vegas support.  

Back with you Tuesday to run the numbers from Seahawks/Bears on Monday Night Football, and to check in on some college highlights (like Ohio State/TCU). 

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