Hope you enjoyed one of the busiest and most impactful NFL trade deadlines ever this week, which The Ringer’s Robert Mays explains nicely right here. At about the season’s regular season midway point it gets harder to find value as teams have effectively shown what they, oddsmakers and bettors have adjusted accordingly (for the most part). But there will still be value on the board.
What we know for sure: The Washington Redskins are liable to bungle away covers by allowing otherwise meaningless last-second defensive defensive touchdowns. Let’s take a closer look at some numbers of note that may point us to covers.
What We’ve Learned: 7 NFL Betting Notes Heading Into Week 9 And the NFL’s Halfway Mark
1. The Arizona Cardinals are the against-the-spread cellar dwellers (1-6) via TeamRankings.com. Not only are they failing to cover but by spectacular margins: Their average margin against the spread is -10.4 points, almost 3 more than the 31st-ranked Colts. The loss of star running back David Johnson in Week 1 due to a dislocated wrist basically ended their season before it started. Now that Carson Palmer is also on injured reserve after suffering a broken arm in a 33-0 shutout loss to the Rams, their days of being favored are probably over. No, not quite.
With backup Drew Stanton under center in Week 9, the Cards are favored by 2 points (as of Thursday) at the winless San Francisco 49ers, and they’re garnering public support. Maybe this is the week San Fran finally gets into the win column. In Week 4 the Niners forced overtime at Arizona in an 18-15 Niners loss in which Brian Hoyer started (now a Patriot). The Niners sacked Palmer six times on 56 dropbacks.
2. The Atlanta Falcons have fared poorly against the spread as well — they’re just 2-5. Hard to repeat their league-leading 33.8 points-per-game success if ’16 (Saints were 2nd with 29.3) but the spreads and game totals have shown (some) respect for that capacity. What’s changed for the offense? Receivers are just not getting the same separation and explosive plays under new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. In 2016 they amassed 69 passing plays of 20+ yards (ranked 1st) and this year are on pace for just 46, which would have ranked 20th last year. They’re playing at almost the exact same pace. Perhaps they just need to throw Julio Jones the damn ball:
— Dan Hanzus (@DanHanzus) November 1, 2017
3. The Philadelphia Eagles not only lead the league in covering spreads at 6-2 (+6.8 point margin), but they’ve outscored their implied team total in 7 of 8 games (leading the league). They only failed to cover in Kansas City in Week 2 as 4-point underdogs (27-20 final) while their game totals have ranged between 43 and 49.5. Philly’s implied team total this week against is 26 at home against the Broncos, who have allowed an average of 21 (ranked 13th). Denver will start Brock “The Ostrich” Osweiler at QB for the first time this season.
4. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ record for game totals through 8 contests is 1-7 (seven games have gone under). Their reputation for lots of offense is factoring, but they’re scoring only 20.9 points in’17 and the defense has improved, ranking 2nd in scoring with only 16.4 points allowed per game, trailing only Jacksonville (15.7). The combination has kept the totals low by an average margin of 6.1. Pittsburgh has a bye this week but in Week 10 will visit the Colts… who are allowing a league-worst 30.8 points per game (San Fran is ranked 31st with 27.4 allowed). We’ll see where that total opens.
5. Speaking of Jacksonville and their defense: The so-called Sacksonville D of ‘17 has led to some haywire results. In their four wins they have destroyed spreads with victories of 29-7 (Week 1, Texans), 44-7 (Week 3, Ravens), 30-9 (Week 5, Steelers) and 27-0 (Week 8, Colts). As a result of the blowouts, they lead the league in ATS margin at +11.7. When they get a lead they force opponents into passing situations against their top-ranked passing defense (Football Outsiders) and then the pass rush just manhandles offensive lines. This doesn’t bode well for the Bengals’ woeful offensive line and QB Andy Dalton, who struggles under pressure. Plus the Jaguars just added Marcell Dareus (and his huge contract) to the defensive line via a trade with the Bills. The line opened with the Jags a 3.5-point favorite in Week 9 but it’s out to 5 as of Thursday.
6. Now for a high scoring/over team: The Houston Texans have morphed into an offensive juggernaut since offensive rookie of the year candidate Deshaun Watson took over at QB. Since Week 3 at New England, Houston has averaged 39 points per game and each of its games have gone over. Totals in those affairs ranged from 43 to 46, most recently 45 at Seattle where they combined for a wholly unexpected 79 points. For Week, the total has ticked up to 51.5 against the Colts’ sieve-like defense. Can the Colts score 13? Houston is allowing 26.9 per outing and Indy is averaging 17.8 on offense. [UPDATE: DISREGARD PRETTY MUCH ALL OF THIS IN THE WAKE OF DESHAUN WATSON’S SEASON-ENDING KNEE INJURY.]
7. Speaking of the Seahawks and Texans: Will Seattle’s offense become less one-dimensional after the trade deadline swap that sent Texans left tackle Duane Brown (a huge upgrade for Seattle over Rees Odhiambo) to the Pacific Northwest in exchange for a pair of draft picks. At one point during their Week 8 tilt, the ‘Hawks managed to grab a 34-31 lead despite a combined negative rushing yard total by running backs (-1) on 12 carries by Eddie Lacy and Thomas Rawls; striking Russell Wilson’s 30 yards rushing, J.D. McKissic led the team with 6 rushing yards on 4 carries.
Seattle’s offense consists of three parts Russell Wilson and one part pass catchers. Per Rotoworld’s Rich Hribar, Wilson has accounted for 94.1 percent of the Seattle’s offensive touchdowns, highest among all NFL QBs. This Seattle team is difficult figure out week-to-week so I’m going to see what impact Brown has on the offensive line as a whole, and if the ‘Hawks even bother to rush the football.
Come back on Friday for the Three-Point Stance Report, looking at the full slate of Sunday games and the Packers-Lions Monday Night clash.