5 for 5 - Week 3, 2018
Week 3's 5 picks with 5 reasons for each, using the Westgate Super Contest lines:
1. NE -7 (@ Det)
2. LAR -7 (LAC)
3. Ind +6.5 (@ Phi)
4. Mia -3 (Oak)
5. Buf +16.5 (@ Min) that's right, Buffalo...
5 for 5
1. New England -7 (Det)
Pains me to go against the Loins once again for two reasons, one being a Det fan and how they came back against SF in week 2 (getting fans excited enough to break their heart) and two it was a backdoor cover after SF controlled 48 minutes of the game. The 7 points keep the backdoor open for the home team in a prime time, but I think it is worth it in this case.
1 - In Gill Alexander's MegaPod from this week, Marco D'Angelo (second straight week quoting his stat) pointed out Belichick's record in NE after losing by 10 or more points (lost 31-20 @ Jac in week 2). To say the least, it's good: 21-6
2 - (#1 part b) In those 27 games, as a favorite, NE is 14-3
3 - (#1 part c) one more from those 27 games, if the game was in a dome (a subset of the road games following a 10+ point loss), NE is 15-5
4 - Over their careers Brady has consistently outperformed the market (59.8%) and Stafford has consistently underperformed it (42.4%). Mentioned in Week 2's recap, 5dimes.eu took a look at QBs' ATS records entering the 2018 season, here is the Brady excerpt: "Brady is far more deadly in the rare occasions when the Patriots are underdogs. Brady and company are 33-13-1 ATS in 47 [70.2%] games as an underdog. That is the best record of any current quarterback with at least 16 NFL starts." Overall Brady is 150-95-6 ATS (59.8%) whereas Stafford is 53-66-6 ATS overall (42.4%), with splits of 23-35-2 ATS as an underdog (38.3%) and 30-31-4 as favorite (46.2%).
5 - Let alone the 14-8 SU record that Belichick has against former assistants (that's actually better than I thought for the assistants), it is clear that Matt Patricia is flat out not prepared or not adjusting to the opponents after seeing their game plan, as noted by Det's 3rd quarter scoring: 31-7 home to NYJ (this was when the game got out of hand) and 14-3 at SF; 45-10 in 3rd quarters is not good.
2. Los Angeles Rams -7 (LAC)
I am never a fan of taking big favorites, but pulling the trigger on LAR -7 for the second straight -7. And don't worry, we will get to an underdog...
1 - As noted by Warren Sharp and the FootballOutsiders.com DVOA rankings, LAC have played the 30th (Buf) and 32nd (KC) rated defenses so far and now they playing the 3rd. A large chunk of LAR's #3 defensive DVOA ranking comes from playing Arizona (and smashing them 34-0) but good teams crush bad opponents, something LAR consistently do while LAC has not.
2 - LAR are 9-6 as favorites (2-0 this year, 7-6 in 2017) since Sean McVay took over in 2017, according the TeamRankings.com.
3 - Joey Bosa is still out for LAC
4 - LAC already played a track meet type game versus an explosive offense (KC in week 1) and lost 28-38
5 - Ride the Rams until they stop blowing teams out... (ok, that is a lazy one)
Counterpoint - Looking at the O- and D-Line efficiencies on FootballOutsiders.com's stats. Both teams are close in the O-line numbers but LAC D-Line is top 10 in ALY and Adjusted Sack Rate while LAR are in the bottom third in both stats. That is surprising and a point to monitor throughout the year; could be small sample size but surprising that a D-line with Donald and Suh is bottom 10 after two games.
Counterpoint #2 - Rams host the Vikings on Thursday, they could easily look ahead.
3. Ind +6.5 (@ Phi)
1 - Wentz is likely to play, his first game back since tearing his ACL last season. His mobility in the pocket was a huge asset last year and helped put him in the MVP conversation, but I think he will need some time to trust his knee and get back to game speed.
2 - Luck is playing decent, but not great, he is only 18th in FootballOutsiders.com's DYAR stats while Nick Foles is 24th, however this is more of a comment on Phi's offense being out of sync. Phi played from in front more often than not last year and are not getting the same game scripts this year
3 - Frank Reich (Ind's head coach) was Phi's O-cordinator last season, he should know their tendencies and be able to put Ind in good positions; Note, and reference to Nick Francis who brought up how the coaching angle was being used for NE but against Phi, however, Matt Patricia's defenses were not great in NE, while Frank Reich's offense was excellent in Phi, I am extending the credit of those units to being able to properly game plan.
4 - These teams are 1 and 2 in ALY (run blocking) on the defensive line side of the ball but middle of the pack in Adjusted Sack Rate
5 - Ind is not that bad, it appeared to be playing calling issues and not overall play, as Warren Sharp detailed here: (excerpt) "The 2017 Colts may have finished 4-12, but in their 16-game season, the Colts trailed at halftime in only 6 games. They held halftime leads in 9 games. Yet they went 2-7 in games they led at halftime. The 2017 Colts are the ONLY team in the last 27 years to lose at least 7 games which they led at halftime. Their leads didn’t mysteriously evaporate in the 3rd quarter, however. The Colts led through three quarters in 9 games."
4. Mia -3 (Oak)
1 - Oak playing 90+ degrees and nearly 90% humidity; I think a big advantage for Florida teams in September
2 - Miami is not bad, and in fact may be good, albeit in only two games so far, but as Aaron Schatz noted in his week 2 DVOA write-up, Miami is #3 in DVOA ratings. Their competition has been Ten in a weird weather delay game and NYJ after MNF, but their defense is rated #1 in DVOA after two weeks. Even if that will surely drop after opponents adjustments are added after week 4, it shows they are playing well and better than most thought
3 - Staying on defense, Oak is 27th in defensive DVOA (note: Oak did play the Rams in week 1, so as Miami is likely to fall a bit from their #1 ranking, Oak will likely rise a bit; regardless of the adjustment, Mia's D is playing much better than Oak's)
4 - Miami's home field advantage (hahaha, just kidding), it is nice that Oak is playing it's second straight road game (@ Den in week 2)
5 - Oak does have a good O-line, in the top 10 in ALY and Adj. Sack Rate, however when looking into their D-line, their ALY (being able to stop the run) is 32nd and Adj. Sack Rate is 29th. Miami is not much better in Adj. Sack Rate on the defensive side, being 28th but are 4th in ALY and could make Oak one-dimensional.
Counterpoint - Miami travels to NE next week, this could be a look ahead for them
5. Buf +16.5 (@ Min)
1 - Buffalo can't be that terrible... can they? Yes they probably are...
2 - 16.5 points is a lot
3 - Min travels to LAR for Thursday night, they will be looking to get this game done with and may even overlook it a bit
4 - Garbage time and back door covers! Elaborating on point #2, 16.5 is a lot and Buf showed versus LAC last week they can put up some garbage time points, being down 28-6 at halftime and finishing 31-20 (this is a stretch I know but you try to justify Buffalo, it's not easy)
5 - Did I mention it was 16.5 and that I'm closing my eyes and taking such a high number?
Counterpoint - Everything about Min being a Super Bowl contender and Buf being terrible; Dear Lord.