In Monday TPS reports, we’ll review the slate of NFL games and what to make of it all from a betting perspective. Or more specifically, what to make of teams as we move forward, evaluate their identities and look for betting opportunities.
Sunday Night Football between the Seattle Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts saw a classic tale of two halves — the first belonging to the Colts (led 15-10 at halftime) and the second entirely to the Seahawks, who poured on five touchdowns (including a defensive TD) for covers on the spread (-13) and total (41.5) by a mile in the 46-18 rout. The Colts managed only 33 yards of offense in the second half as Seattle clamped down, looking more like the Seahawks of old. Here’s the full snapshot on Week 4 and the season:
Here’s the full snapshot on Week 3 (via Oddshark):
Underdogs/Favorites (ATS): 9-6 (34-25-2)
Game total over/under: 8-7 (30-32)
Home teams (ATS): 5-10 (29-30-1)
Underdog wins straight up: 7 (24 on season)
NFL Week 4 Saw Seven Underdogs Win Straight Up And Home Teams Take a Beating
New Orleans Saints 20 “at” Miami Dolphins 0: Not a single point scored in the first half — first time it’s occurred in six NFL seasons, settling up a way-under final total of 20 (total was 52!). The improved Saints secondary (hat tip CB Ken Crawley) is helping to stamp out the “Saints defense sucks” talk. The Dolphins (+3) are now scoreless through two games when numbers are on the clock (their lone touchdown at the Jets occurred on the last play of the game with 0:00 on the clock). Given the dismal back-to-back outings, they will probably offer some value next week at home, finally, to the possibly Marcus Mariota-less Titans.
Carolina Panthers 33 at New England Patriots 30: The Patriots once again put themselves in a big hole and nearly climbed out in the fourth quarter, although the Panthers cover (+9) was already assured. The Patriots are the antidote for every sluggish offense this season as the Panthers had scored just one touchdown in the previous two weeks combined (both home games) but erupted in Foxborough for a season-high 444 yards of offense, including 316 passing for Cam Newton, who’s apparently over his shoulder injury. Panthers skill players ripped through the Patriots’ zones as coverage broke down and the offensive line created some promenade-sized running lanes. At 63 combined points the total went way over the 48.
Buffalo Bills 23, Atlanta Falcons 17: The Falcons lost their top two wideouts for much of the game (Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu), which explains their offensive sluggishness, but it’s no excuse. It’s time to take these Bills (+8.5) for real. The defense brought heavy pressure on Matt Ryan and hit him seven times and also contributed a pick-six. Turns out new Bills got the defensive-minded head coach they wanted in Sean McDermott without all the Rex Ryan bluster.
Tennessee Titans 14 at Houston Texans 57: Holy. Effing. Points! The Texans (+2.5) scored a franchise record 57 points and appear to have the franchise quarterback they’ve desperately needed. Rookie QB Deshaun Watson (25-34 passing, 283 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT) is looking sharp and has developed in-pocket comfort. Things are not so swell on other side for Marcus Mariota, who got lifted because of a hamstring injury. Texans game totals will be ticking upwards and spreads down as they head toward a Week 5 Sunday Night Football showdown against the still-undefeated Chiefs.
Jacksonville Jaguars 20 at New York Jets 23 (OT): After a Week 3 beatdown of the Ravens in London, the Jaguars (-3.5) suffered a letdown against the talent-challenged but inspired Jets. The Jets did the majority of their damage on two long touchdown runs (Bilal Powell 75 yards, Elijah McGuire 69 yards) while Jags QB Blake Bortles managed a stunningly pathetic four yards per attempt (15 of 35 for 140 yards). He’s not the only one to blame (Marqise Lee costly drop and muffed punt) but Bortles really lowers the ceiling on this team.
Pittsburgh Steelers 26 at Baltimore Ravens 9: The line suggested and we expected a field goal game but the visiting Steelers (-3) showed up with their running game (passing game not there yet) as Le’Veon Bell pounded out 35 carries for 144 yards and two scores. The Ravens have no offensive identity and mustered only 77 yards through the first half.
Los Angeles Rams 35 at Dallas Cowboys 30: My oh my, oh my. The former “Middle School Offense” as Todd Gurley put it last year has advanced to college and showed up on the road where the Rams (+6) fought back from down 24-14. Rams QB Jared Goff looks great in Sean McVay’s offense and Wade Phillips’ defense stepped up when it counted, forcing three second half punts and a turnover on downs on the last Cowboys drive. The Rams are now favored at home by 2.5 after opening at 1 point in their favor.
Philadelphia Eagles 26 at Los Angeles Chargers 24: The winless Chargers (-1) had to win this game to save their season. They didn’t. Running back Melvin Gordon couldn’t run through a wet paper bag (10 carries, 22 yards). The Chargers drew within two points late but the defense couldn’t get the offense back on the field as the Eagles bled the final 6:44 thanks to three conversions on third-and-two or shorter. Bet the Chargers at your own peril; no situation apparently is too ripe to pick.
Detroit Lions 14 at Minnesota Vikings 7: Well I’ll shut my face now about the Lions (+2.5), which covered and improved to 3-1 in an offensively-challenged punt fest. They have the ability to win ugly and finally showed a real ground game as Ameer Abdullah rushed for 94 yards and the snakebitten Vikings have lost rookie RB Delvin Cook to a torn ACL (MRI pending). Detroit is currently favored by 3 in Week 5 over the visiting Panthers.
Cincinnati Bengals 31 at Cleveland Browns 7: Never a contest as the Bengals (-3) got their first win as Andy Dalton (25 for 30, 286 and four TDs) led the way and the Browns moved in reverse, managing just 215 total yards. The Browns (4-12 against the spread in ‘16) are a difficult team to back, unless you find a very favorable line and/or are a masochist.
San Francisco 49ers 15 at Arizona Cardinals 18 (OT): The Cardinals (+7) have zero running game, which certainly doesn’t help Carson Palmer (six sacks) who felt the strength of the Niners defense – the front four, which is comprised of first round picks from 2015-2017. This was an “easy” cover by 49ers, which head to the Colts as 1.5-point underdogs looking for their first win. I like their chances to get it at Indy against a softer defense.
New York Giants 23 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 25: The Giants (+3) managed to dig out of a 13-0 early hole after allowing O.J. Howard to sneak into a vacant parking lot-sized patch of grass and score the easiest touchdown of his life. Importantly, the Giants did cover in a desperation spot and the offense has proved more competent with Odell Beckham healthy and bruiser RB Wayne Gallman taking handoffs at Tampa. The Giants host the Chargers (+3.5) in Week 5 in the Underachievers Bowl. Your guess is as good as mine.
Oakland Raiders 10 at Denver Broncos 16: The No Fly Zone grounded the Raiders (Amari Cooper two catches, nine yards) as Derek Carr (back spasms) had to exit early, leaving EJ Manuel in his place. This was an ugly game but the Broncos (-2.5) play ugly well. The Raiders (2-2) and Marshawn Lynch couldn’t rush the ball at all: 15 for 24 yards. Denver heads into their bye feeling good with a home date versus the Giants on tap, for which they’ll probably be favored about 7.