Wednesday, 20 November 2019 20:01 EST
Click the link for our NFL Weekly Odds chart and check it out: How about those four home underdogs?
In actuality, NFLbets would not be at all surprised if you didn’t find anything anomalous. Home underdogs have nearly become the new normal: Through week 11, some 55 home teams have been underdogs at kickoff. Fair enough, the Miami Dolphins, Cincinnati Bengals and New York Jets account for 14 of those lines, but even removed the lowly trio, we’re talking an average of just about four home ’dogs per week.
And guess what? As in most areas, the sportsbooks know what they’re doing: Home underdogs are 27-28 ATS against just 18-36-1 SU. Well in a .500 winning percentage, NFLbets sees opportunity; we love universal balance more than Thanos. We tend to base our assumptions in a core principle of game theory, namely that a zero-sum result – in this case a .500 win-loss mark – is always trended toward.
So for our week 12 picks, we’re concentrating on those four home ’dogs and looking for them to go 2-2 ATS. We’ll present the NFLbets Picks Of The Week from most defensible to least, starting with…
Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders -3 at New York Jets, over/under 46½ points
This line has been steadily increasing since some sportsbooks ineffably opened this one at Raiders -1½. – and again NFLbets must side with he public. We’re not sure what inspired this wackiness, but we’ll definitely take advantage.
The biggest disadvantage the Raiders face is that old bugaboo, the West Coast-to-Est Coast trip. The thinking goes that teams who travel from the Pacific time zone to play a game in the Eastern are at a disadvantage greater than that typically afforded simply by home field. Football Outsiders supported prior to the 2016 NFL season: In considering games featuring a team based in Pacific or Mountain time zones playing in an Eastern or Central time zone-based city with a 1pm kickoff time, the Outsiders found that “The home team won 64.4% of these games; far in excess of the 57.2% win rate for home teams in general.”
Pretty compelling stuff, but allow NFLbets to slow FO’s roll a bit, for precisely after the Outsiders’ stats were published, the West Coast teams have completely turned the tables: Since 2016, the NFL’s West Coast teams (specifically the 49ers, Chargers, Raiders, Rams and Seahawks), have gone an excellent 31-25 SU and 31-24-1 ATS – and of the five, only San Francisco has a sub-.500 winning percentage in these games.
Also working against the Raiders’ favor? Penalties, a condition exacerbated by the West-to-East move. According to the same FO piece of 2016, the Western teams take an average of 10.3% more penalties – and Oakland/Las Vegas is currently second-worst overall in taking penalties, with 88 run up thus far. To which a prospective Raiders backer might say, “So what?” After all, the Jets are the league’s fifth-worst in the category with 83 whistles going against them thus far into ’19.
In the final analysis, we’re betting the football – and the better team. Take the Las Vegas Raiders -3 at the New York Jets, and take the under on an O/U of 46½ points in what could well be a sloppy, penalty-marred game.
Detroit Lions -3½ at Washington, over/under 42 points
The Lions may not exactly be impressing anybody in terms of the playoff race at 3-6-1 SU and Matthew Stafford, a QB who has salvaged whole seasons at a time for the franchise, out. Matt “The Pencil” Patricia’s guys aren’t much better ATS at just 4-7. They’ve been the favorite just twice this season – versus the Arizona Cardinals in week 1 and vs the New York Giants – and lost ATS both times.
So hardly a powerhouse … but Washington? Let’s consider the question: Is this the only team deliberating tanking? Seriously, Cincinnati appears to be trying to win games and Miami has shrugged off the “possibly worst all-time” label – but Washington has proven challenging only to writers running out of synonyms for “bad.”
How about this? Washington has scored two TDs in the past four games – and both of those came against the Jets, who had run up a 34-3 lead before taking feet off the pedal. That’s right: The 2019 New York Jets had a four-TD lead at Washington.
At dead last in key offensive categories, likesay, scoring, first downs and passing yards alone, NFLbets is thinking that a Lions offense that averages 24.4 points per game mostly against better defenses than Washington’s should be able to score, regardless of starters at the “skill positions.” Take the Detroit Lions -3½ at Washington, and take the under on an O/U of 42 points.
Pittsburgh Steelers -6½ at Cincinnati Bengals
For NFLebts, three key questions about this game come to mind:
• Are the 2019 Cincinnati Bengals really an 0-16 team?
• Does Mason Rudolph at QB really inspire the bettors’ confidence?
• Can an already weak OL really stand the loss of Maurkice Pouncey as well?
(The answers: Nah, not really, probably not.)
NFLbets has nothing tangible to prove that these Bengals can win a game SU before season’s send, but subjectively Os Davis can say that he covered the 2008 Detroit Lions as a beat writer and these guys are no ’08 Lions. The Bengals are a relatively impressive 4-6 ATS, including a 4-2 ATS mark on the road. Cincinnati certainly stymied many NFL bettors in each of their ATS wins, covering at four prospective playoffs teams: Buffalo, Seattle, Baltimore and Oakland.
Meanwhile, in Pittsburgh, the Steelers are seeing their lowest passing numbers since 1998 and Kordell Stewart. With Ben “The Human Tackling Dummy” Roethlisberger out, the offensive line has been seriously exposed, allowing 15 sacks against just 18 total offense TDs – and 10 of those scores came in the red zone, where the Steelers have a below-42% success rate.
Add in to this the absence of center Maurkice Pouncey for three games after getting busted for kicking a prone Myles Garrett in the head. (Do you suppose he argued that at least Garrett got to keep his helmet on…?) Imagine Rudolph not even getting enough time for indecision thanks to a wobbly snap. Ironically, Garrett may have cost the Steelers a SU win here and even have ruined their chances for the playoffs.
The Steelers defense may be fantastic, but NFLbets is expecting literally nothing from the Steelers passing game or the underwhelming running game. Take the Cincinnati Bengals +6½ vs Pittsburgh.
Baltimore Ravens -3½ at Los Angeles Rams, over/under 46½ points
NFLbets can guess what you’re thinking. You’re probably thinking that Lamar Jackson is unstoppable, that the Ravens are packing the league’s most electrifying QB with a traditionally stout defense. And we know that it’s not exactly #InGoffWeTrust in La La Land. But hey, let’s talk West Coast advantage – particularly in prime-time games.
Since 2016, the aforementioned five West Coast teams are a big 21-10 SU (18-10-3 ATS) in all prime-time games at home regardless of opponent. Against EST teams, the PST five are 5-5 SU/ATS in nighttime games.
Further, in all home games since 2016, West Coast teams are 75-63 SU (winning percentage of .543), but the exaggerated importance NFL bettors (and thus the sportsbooks) give these sides is readily apparent in the 54-78-6 ATS (.413) mark posted in those same games. Further, West Coast home teams hosting EST opponents are 33-26 (.559) SU, but a lowly 22-35-2 (.390) ATS.
So where does that leave NFLbets? If the Rams were favored, this’d be a no-brainer and we’d advise to simply take the Rams ML and the Ravens plus the points, but for this one…
All right, we’re going to lean toward the middle ground. At 8-2 SU and all bot locked into the AFC no. 2 seed, the Ravens are riding a four-game ATS win streak, while the Rams are 7-3 ATS, but just 2-2 in L.A. It’s extremely difficult to bet against Jackson and Baltimore right now, but here’s to thinking Sean McVeigh coaches smart enough to keep things close as the Rams essentially need to win out for a shot at the playoffs. Take the Los Angeles Rams +3½ vs Baltimore – you might even wait for this line to get pushed to Rams +4, as certainly happen before kickoff Sunday night.
NFLbets’ Picks of the Week last week: 0-2.
NFLbets’ Picks of the Week this season: 30-18.
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