5 for 5 - Week 2, 2018
It is easy to overreact after only seeing one game so far this season. Only four days after Bal handled Buf 47-3 they lost to Cin 34-23. Was a fluke game for Bal? Is Buf really that bad? And regarding other teams, is Arizona really that bad? Is Tam good? Fun questions to see play out in week 2, here are the Westgate Super Contest lines we are going off of, let's get some:
5 for 5
1. San Francisco -6 (Det)
This pains me as a Lions fan and here is to hoping I'm wrong, unfortunately I have seen this show before...
1 - Lions traveling west on a short week (MNF football last week)
2 - As discussed by Michael Lombardi on Ringer NFL Show - GM Street podcast, Matt Patricia might be losing the veterans in the locker room already. Let's walk through this one and I'll paraphrase some of Lombardi's points and add my perspective: Patricia takes over a 9-7 Det previously coached by Jim Caldwell, who was allegedly a player friendly coach and very liked. Patricia came in trying to change the culture, inherently stating that things were bad. The Lions have gone 9-7 the past two years, not 2-14, some players think they were good and close to making a leap (side note: Lions were bad but certainly not good, they could never beat the league's best, see #4 for more on this). A drastic change in culture, team rules, and training camp to then be beat by the Jets, at home, on MNF, by 31 points has players questioning the coach. That loss may beat the Lions twice.
3 - SF might be good, they lost by 8 at Min but that also included a dropped touchdown bomb to Kittle (the next play was a pick-6) and a fumble on the 1 yard line. Who knows how the rest of the game plays out but those three plays could have meant a +21 swing; what you have thought if you saw SF win in Min 30-17?
4 - If you think SF is good, then the Lions are in trouble...As noted in the Football Outsiders 2018 Almanac, Det has been bad against good teams. Stafford is now in his tenth year and his record against teams with winning records is 6-52 (0.103). That is almost Cle bad.
5 - The last point on this game is, I think, the most telling: the coaching match-up here is the same as the O- and D-coordinator match-up from Super Bowl LI, when Kyle Shanahan's Atl Offense took on Matt Patricia's NE defense. The first half of that was 21-3, and we all know the result, but it was obvious that Shanahan knew how to attack that defensive scheme. I think SF will have the gas pedal to the floor in their home opener.
2. Los Angeles Rams -12.5 (Ari)
I am not a big fan of taking many favorites early in the season, and this is now the second of two picks, but I think in this case it is the right move, here's why:
1 - Ari has a new coaching staff and is changing defensive scheme, going from 3-4 to 4-3, that takes time to adjust and the Rams offense was tied for 2nd in the league last year in points per game (1. Phi - 29, 2. NE and LAR - 28.9)
2 - LAR have a reputation for keeping the foot on the pedal when leading
3 - Ari does NOT have a high-powered offense, in their miserable 24-6 loss to Washington in week 1, Bradford had only 4.3 yards per attempt passing (29th) and only 145 Net Passing Yards
4 - After week 1 (albeit only 1 game), LAR are 2nd in FootballOutsiders.com's DAVE (DVOA but includes preseason) while Ari is 26th
5 - A Rams defensive line with Donald and Suh versus Bradford
3. Houston PK (@ Ten)
1 - In two games last year, Hou and Ten split; however it was 57-14 (Hou) in Hou when Deshaun Watson played and 23 -14 (Ten) in Ten when Tom Savage played.
2 - You did not look great in week 1 but that was versus NE, who held Watson in the pocket and Hopkins relatively in check, I do not trust Ten to have the same defensive scheme capabilities as Belichick
3 - Cautionary note: Hopkins and Fuller (who missed game 1) are both listed as questionable, and Fuller is key, he was an added dimension and a big part of Watson's crazy-good stats before his injury last season, catching 7 touchdowns in 10 games over the season but all 7 of Fuller's TDs came in a 4-game stretch during October with Watson
4 - If Mariota did not play well at Miami last week and may not play Sunday, either way it is an injured Mariota or Blain Gabbert playing QB in Ten
5 - Level of competition, elaborating on point #2, both teams did not look great in week 1 and their DVOA and DAVE are relatively close, Hou lost at NE but I put more weight on Ten losing to Mia (although in Mia humidity to start the season and an unusually 7 hour game due to lightning strikes)
Counterpoint - Teams playing their first two games on the road to open the season have a terrible ATS record (I believe 0-12 in recent years but can't find the stat but credit to Marco D'Angelo on Gill Alexander's MegaPod)
4. New York Giants +3 (@ Dal)
1 - If not for a pick-6 it is likely NYG beats Jacksonville last week (big if with Eli not looking great)
2 - Eli typically does not have two bad games in a row
3 - Dal scored only 8 points versus a good Carolina defense
4 - Elliot is being severely under utilized (see Warren Sharp's twitter for some great rants)
5 - In week 1, NYG has 5.3 YPA while Dal had 4.8, both in the bottom half of the league and both having played good defenses, however NYG played Jac D (top of league) and Dal played Car (above average) but more telling is that NYG have Beckham as their top target and Dal's lead target is Cole Beasley
Counterpoint - NYG offensive line is NOT good and Eli could be under consistent pressure
5. Chicago -3.5 (Sea)
1 - Chicago's defense will get to Wilson, last week, Denver had Wilson under pressure in 18 of 40 pass attempts
2 (1 part b) - Wilson was sacked 6 times for 56 yards
3 - Case Keenum put up over 300 yards and 3 TDs (albeit 3 Int as well) versus Sea defense
4 - After the GB comeback win over Chi, I expect Chi to stay aggressive and
5 - Home opener on MNF (although it didn't go so great for the Lions last week)
The 6th / First Out - Phi -3.5 (@ Tam)
I cannot take another favorite, especially on the road, and with Nick Foles not looking great. Although, Fitzpatrick has a history of being inconsistent, so could be good time to fade him.