Inside the Isolator, Week 16 Edition

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A look at interesting angles, concepts & analysis collected during this week’s research sessions spent strapped….. “Inside The Isolator”

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A weekly feature which will essentially be an “emptying the notebook” collection of tidbits I uncovered each week which didn’t make it into my writeups or analysis that I shared with clients for the week. Occasional free plays will also appear. This will be distributed every Saturday night over the course of the season… or until the gas cuts off inside of this thing…

To receive this weekly feature in your inbox as soon as it is released, make sure you’re on the mailing list:

What I Saw

… The New Orleans Saints yet again lose on the road.  Even if it’s a dome with turf, like their own home, they cannot get it done on the road.  Their biggest problem is not today with the Panthers, it’s what happens if they LOSE today.  Because if that happens, they will be on the road in the playoffs.  They’ve gone on the road twice in the last few years in the playoffs, and lost in Seattle and in San Fransisco.  They NEED to have this game in Carolina.

… Kirk Cousins pass for 381 yards and 3 TDs in his first start of the season.  The move to bench RGIII should have happened weeks ago, in my opinion.  He perhaps shouldn’t have even started off the season.  Was Dan Snyder behind him being rushed back for week 1, to put butts in seats and the whole “All In for Week 1″ Adidas campaign?  Regardless, the Redskins called 45 passes and only 21 rushes last week.  Hows that for balance?  They’re trying to both prove the offense is solid, but for RGIII, and that Cousins is a competent player, most likely for trade bait.  They’ll be able to put him on full display vs the Cowboys defense.

… Marc Trestman roll the dice with Cutler.  He started off the game brutally and eventually played better, but that still doesn’t mean it was the right call.  I find it funny that results are the only thing that matters.  We’ll see how Cutler performs the rest of the season, into the postseason and/or in free agency.  All I know is, McCown was on fire when he was in there, so let’s see how Jay does in a must win game tonight.

What I Want to See

… Of all the great matchups today, the least talked about one is the one featuring the most wins:  12-2 Seattle hosting 9-5 Arizona.  Last year in Seattle, the Seahawks won 58-0.  But the Cardinals have a new coach, QB and are a solid team.  They MUST WIN to stay alive in the playoff race in all reality.  But teams late in the season who have won 60%+ games and are dogs of 9+ points are just 1-11 since 1995.

… Week 16 is a dream week for the NFL.  Battles between NO/Car and Ind/KC at 1pm ET,  Sea/Ari and NE/Bal at 4pm ET, and Chi/Phi in the night cap.  There are so many great games.  Which is why I always feel there are opportunities to be had on some of the “smaller” games.  The games that aren’t on national TV that no one is talking about.

… Will the “loose” Vikings offense spoil another team’s postseason hopes?  They almost won in Baltimore, then handled the Eagles at home, and now travel to the Queen City to take on the Bengals.  The best thing about this team – they play fearless football and take risks.  That makes for fun football.

What I Don’t Want to See

… Jay Cutler struggle against the Eagles.  He’s been begging to get back on the field once he saw McCown playing better than him, and he’s in a contract year.  His stats look even better with freaks such as Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey making insane catches, but Cutler must play well and not choke tonight.  Or it will affect him, his paycheck in the future, and Trestman’s decision making when it comes to personnel.

… The Giants get pummeled in Detroit.  When I see the Giants play, I confuse them with another NY team, whose slogan is appropriate for the Giants too:  Just End The Season (J-E-T-S).  The Lions looked anything but strong vs the Ravens.  Now they face a terrible Giants team.  Will the Giants step up and at least look respectable?

… Tony Romo choke.

What I Found

… The one story I haven’t heard from anyone that was lost in the shuffle of last week’s insane comeback.  How in the world did the Packers offense score just 3 points in 1 half vs the miserable Cowboys defense, and how did they allow that mediocre Cowboys offense to put up 26 in the first half on them?

… Does ANYONE realize that the Saints have gone under in 5 straight games?  They haven’t done that since 1997!  Interesting fact about the Saints:  Everyone expects points and thinks this team is at its best when they’re crushing teams and totals.  WRONG:  Since 2010, when the Saints go over the total, they are 19-15 SU and 16-18 ATS (47%).  When the Saints go under the total, they are 22-7 SU and 17-10-2 ATS (63%).

What the Custom Data Shows

… Last week I broke down why the Browns were NOT the #1 defense as many people STILL think they are.  Please read the week 15 Isolator if you think the Browns are a top defense.

… How strong are the Chiefs right now?  The last 4 weeks, the Chiefs have converted 54% of first downs without getting to 3rd down (3rd best mark in the NFL).  They’ve faced defenses who allow 40% YTD, so the +15% variance is 7th in the NFL.  And defensively, the last 4 weeks, the Chiefs opponents have converted 34% of first downs without getting to 3rd down (16th in NFL).  But they’ve faced offenses gaining 51% YTD (hardest schedule in the league), so the +17% variance is 4th best in the NFL.

… Hot and cold red zone offenses?  Pittsburgh, just 50% YTD, is converting 78% the last 3 weeks.  Carolina Panthers, 55% YTD, is converting just 33% the last 3 weeks.  Toss in the 49ers as well, who are 56% YTD but converting just 36% the last 3 weeks.

… Hot and cold red zone defenses?  Atlanta, who is allowing 57% YTD, is allowing only 38% the last 3 weeks.  Indianapolis, allowing 61% YTD, has allowed 100%  the last 3 weeks.

… The Bengals, Broncos, Chargers and Lions represent the 4 teams with the largest EDSR mismatches vs their opponents this week.

… The Giants are throwing the ball the 3rd most often of any team the last 3 weeks and have the HIGHEST percentage of negative pass plays, with 20% of all passes resulting in a sack or interception.  Meanwhile, the Ravens are throwing it 8th most often, but have only 3% of all passes end negatively.

… Say what you want about Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick.  But their teams are #31 and #32 in terms of least frequent pass plays called.  They run the ball OVER 50% of the time, the ONLY 2 teams in the NFL to do so.  BOTH of these QBs are being aided by their run games, something that many of the great QBs in the NFL the last decade would have LOVED to have.

… The 49ers are allowing 3rd downs to be skipped just 9% of the time, despite playing the 5th strongest opposing offenses the last month.  The Seahawks are a close #2, at 12% despite facing the 10th hardest schedule.  They rank #1 and #2 in EDSR defense recency.  Meanwhile, offensively, the Bears, Cowboys and Chiefs stack up #1 thru #3, all skipping 3rd down over 50% of the time.  Say what you want about Romo and his ill-timed interceptions, but his defense is MISERABLE and he’s been playing well for the most part this year.  But that’s typical of Romo, right?

What I’m Betting

… I’m on some strong runs in my larger plays, and am in the midst of another late season run, much like I was last year (and most years, to be honest).  71-36 (66%) in all plays larger than 1/2 unit.

… In NFL totals, I’m 60% YTD but an even stronger 68% since Thanksgiving.  I’m 3-1 in 2 unit NFL totals, and in all totals (NFL + CFB) 1.5 units or larger, I’m 5-2 (71%).

… I have a 2 unit NFL total and a 1.5 unit NFL total, both going today.

… If you aren’t on board with my Post Season Packages, you should sign up within the next week:

  • Last Bowl Season, I went 67% on 40 bowl plays (27-13) and this is my STRONGEST time of year.
  • Career in the NFL playoffs, I’m 86-48 (64%) in 7 years since inception, including 62% last year, and 11-4 (73%) in sides and totals in the Super Bowl itself.

Read ALL ABOUT my 2013 College Football Regular Season in my RECAP, and about my Post Season Packages, and GOOD LUCK on the 16th Sunday of NFL Football today!

Inside the Isolator, Week 15 Edition

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A look at interesting angles, concepts & analysis collected during this week’s research sessions spent strapped….. “Inside The Isolator”

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A weekly feature which will essentially be an “emptying the notebook” collection of tidbits I uncovered each week which didn’t make it into my writeups or analysis that I shared with clients for the week. Occasional free plays will also appear. This will be distributed every Saturday night over the course of the season… or until the gas cuts off inside of this thing…

To receive this weekly feature in your inbox as soon as it is released, make sure you’re on the mailing list:

What I Saw

… The Denver Broncos Achilles heel.  I’ve said it for weeks.  Their slow starts.  Against some of their weaker competition this year, like the Redskins, Titans, etc, they have been able to come back and dominate in the 2nd half.  But against good offenses, those who can sustain drives against them AND score a the end, they are in trouble.  And that’s who they will face in the playoffs.  Take a look at a sample of first half performances this year:  Trailed Baltimore by 3 pts & Tennessee by 1.  Were tied with Washington, and led Jacksonville by just 2 points.  And get this – ALL WERE HOME GAMES.  They finally played a team that they couldn’t overtake in the 2nd half, the Chargers, and lost outright.  The need to figure things out or they’ll end their postseason run the same way they did last year.  One and Done.  

… The Ravens offense is particularly pathetic.  This is a team who almost lost at home to a Vikings squad without Adrian Peterson at the end of the game.  The Ravens trailed 12-7 late in the 4th quarter.  The defending Super Bowl champs have routinely struggled on the road but strengthened up at home.  But it’s night and day this year.  They are 6-1 at home and 1-5 on the road, losing to the Bears, Browns, Steelers, Bills and Broncos.  Aside from the Broncos, that’s NOT a murderer’s row of opposing teams.  There is only 1 sure fire playoff team of the bunch.   A big finger SHOULD be pointed at none other than:

… Joe Flacco, the “100 million dollar man”.  How has Flacco done this year?  Would you believe his passer rating is #32 in the league?  You know who is/was #31?  Matt “pick 6″ Schaub himself.  Only 2 QBs have thrown MORE interceptions than Flacco this year, 1 is a rookie and they both reside in the Big Apple.  Flacco has 17 interceptions!  His yards/attempt?  #32 in the league.  His lack of decisiveness in the pocket has him taking the 2nd MOST sacks in the league.  For so long, we heard how Joe doesn’t get the credit he deserves.  Now that he’s been paid, Joe now doesn’t get the blame he deserves.  Forget the fact his offensive line might not be perfect and he doesn’t have some weapons.  When you take $100 M from your team, you WON’T have a stacked, veteran offense surrounding you.  For years, QBs like Brady and Rodgers, even Roethlisberger and others have gotten it done with a big salary and below average offensive line’s, running games or stud WRs.  The finger should be pointed at Flacco.  The defense has exceeded EVERYONE’s expectations this year.  If they lose in the playoffs on the road, it likely will be BECAUSE of Joe.

What I Want to See

… If these road favorites in playoff contention can out muscle and out perform home dogs who are playing for pride or a 1% chance at the playoffs.  I’m talking about [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] AND [email protected]  That’s 9 of the 16 games.

… How will Carolina and New Orleans perform this week.  Both teams are strong locks for the postseason.  Both just played last weekend.  Both play next weekend.  If this sounds familiar, think back to the Denver/Kansas City series.  They played twice in 3 weeks.  In the sandwich game, the Broncos went to New England as a road favorite and lost outright, while the Chiefs hosted the Chargers as a home favorite and lost outright.  At least for the Saints and Panthers, they face far weaker competition than NE/SD, as they play the Rams and Jets.  But they still must find a way to focus on THIS game and not look ahead to their rematch next week.

… How the Redskins offense looks under Kurt Cousins.  It simply CAN’T look as bad as when RGIII was running it.  His #31 QBR was bad, but even worse when you consider the Redskins faced the league’s WEAKEST slate of opposing defenses.  Literally #32.  But the Redskins are without any real passing weapons aside from Garcon, and the QB has been under heavy pressure this year.  You could think that they get a “break” playing a weak Falcons defense, but remember, the Redskins average defensive opponent already was the weakest in the NFL.  That said, I’m pulling for success for Cousins.

What I Don’t Want to See

… Marc Trestman screw things up AGAIN with his quarterback.  Remember week 10 vs the Lions?  McCown came in weeks 7 and 9 and put up more points than his opponent while in the game.  He was replaced by a not quite 100% Cutler week 10.  His play and his play alone cost the Bears the game.  Trestman should have pulled Cutler, and he didn’t.  That was strike 1 on Trestman on an otherwise tremendous rookie coaching season.  I wish he didn’t start Cutler this week, but if Jay struggles, Trestman better get that hook quickly, because losing twice due to QB mis-management would be ridiculous, given how obviously great McCown has played.

… Gary Kubiak (stay healthy, though, coach).  I’m glad he’s done in Houston.  His coaching style was far too turtle-like.  Playing strong over weaker competition, but when there’s a threat nearby of a good team, far too often he had his team cower in their shell in the 2nd half.  That, and putting Schaub back on the field when the team trailed.  What was that all about?  If you’re trying to see what Keenum has, you need to see if he can run a hurry up style and come from behind.  Happy trails, coach.

What I Found

… Last time around, I mentioned strength of schedule, as it related to the Giants “win streak” over Josh Freeman (3rd string backup), Matt Barkley (3rd string backup), Terrelle Pryor and Scott Tolzien (3rd string backup). Well it’s still a good point to make.  This time, how about the matchup between the Bengals and Steelers on Sunday night?  Both teams have faced strong defenses but weak offenses.  The Steelers have faced the 31st rated opposing offenses this year.  So their 24th rated 3rd down defense, 19th ranked red zone defense and 20th ranked overall defense is going to struggle with the Bengals offense.  But similarly, the Bengals have played the 24th rated opposing offenses, and the Steelers offense is quietly ranking 12th in efficiency and 9th in 3rd down offense.  Against the 8th rated defenses.   This game could see more points than you may expect in a smashmouth rivalry matchup.

… People are going to commend the Chargers for running the clock out before every snap against the Broncos, thinking that’s the way to beat Denver.  But the Chargers didn’t do anything different, that’s the way they are.  They rank 31st in average seconds/play.  They take forever to get the play in, called and snapped.  They’ve done it all season.  Philip Rivers commented after the game that they controlled the clock in the first meeting of the season vs the Broncos too, but still lost.  He said time of possession is meaningless, you HAVE TO SCORE.  And that echoes my sentiments too.  To beat the Broncos, you MUST outscore them.  Sounds basic, but teams who are accustomed to playing a certain way, who intentionally slow it down and stop playing their style of offense are sure to cause more harm than good.  Execute YOUR offense, convert 3rd downs, and score TDs, not FGs.

What the Custom Data Shows

… In past weeks, I’ve highlighted the Panthers offense and defense, the Chiefs defense, the Packers offense and defense, the Chargers offense, the Chiefs offense and the Ravens offense.  Now lets look at the Browns defense.  Why?  Because I’ve heard several guys I respect refer to this Browns defense as a “top” defense.  Why?  That’s what I’d like to know.

… They’ve played the 27th ranked offenses in terms of offensive efficiency, and yet have posted a defensive efficiency metric which is 23rd in the NFL.  On average, their opponent’s offenses YTD convert 54% of red zone trips into TDs.  But the Browns have allowed them to convert 66%.  That negative 12% variance is 30th in the league!  Only the Redskins and Texans have been worse.

… Want to know why the Browns are just 1-7 in their last 8 games?  How about they allowed the Jaguars, Steelers, Bengals, Ravens, Chiefs, Packers, Lions and Patriots to convert 17 of 24 red zone trips into TDs the last 8 weeks.  That’s 71%!  Year to date, they are allowing 66% red zone conversions!  That’s 3rd WORST in the NFL!  Yet this is the “Best defense in the NFL”!?

… They rank 20th on 3rd down defense as well, and while they rank 8th overall in year long EDSR defense (skipping 3rd downs), but have faced some PITIFUL EDSR offenses the last month+.   They have played the 30th ranked slate of EDSR offenses the last month.

… Lastly, you might as well “glance” at the Browns yds/pt numbers before proclaiming them a top defense. The last 8 games, here is what they allowed opposing defenses vs their YTD avg:

Det – 11.8 yppt vs YTD avg of 16.5
GB – 11.5 yppt vs YTD avg of 17.8
KC – 13.4 yppt vs YTD avg of 13.7
Bal – 15.4 yppt vs YTD avg of 15.2
Cin – 5.5 yppt vs YTD avg of 18.4
Pit – 11.2 yppt vs YTD avg of 16.5
Jac – 9.8 yppt vs YTD avg of 30.9
NE – 17.9 yppt vs YTD avg of 16.6

… So this defense is a “top” defense because they are #2 in yds/play allowed?  Let’s just ignore their strength of schedule and ALL other metrics?  Hearing people make statements like that are just mind boggling.

What I’m Betting

… With so many public road favorites, it is a dangerous week to be a bettor or book maker.

… If you aren’t on board with my Post Season Packages, you should sign up within the next week:

  • Last Bowl Season, I went 67% on 40 bowl plays (27-13) and this is my STRONGEST time of year.
  • Career in the NFL playoffs, I’m 86-48 (64%) in 7 years since inception, including 62% last year, and 11-4 (73%) in sides and totals in the Super Bowl itself.

Read ALL ABOUT my 2013 College Football Regular Season in my RECAP, and about my Post Season Packages, and GOOD LUCK on the 15th Sunday of NFL Football today!

2013 College Football Review: Results + Closing Line Value

Warren netted +12 units during the 2013 College Football season, and as is typical, he got stronger results as the season went on.  After a very strong start to the season, Warren hit a 2 week rough stretch in weeks 8 and 9.  A decent week 10 transitioned into a typical strong late season performance from November onward:

Hitting 57% on all plays issued from CFB Week 11 (starting Nov 5) thru now, Warren’s record on full game plays was even stronger.

Removing Weather Unders, First Half Plays and Team Totals, and looking ONLY at full game plays (typically played at larger unit size):

Warren went 77-55 (58%) over the entire 2013 season, including 44-22 (67%) since Halloween.

In last week’s Conference Championship Package, Warren went 4-2-1 (67%) on full game plays, and hit his only Heavyweight play.

His Heavyweight Plays are VERY rare, but are 100% and without a loss on the year.

If you want a long standing track record, take a look at historical results as well:

  • 2012 College Totals: 169-123 (58%), including 45-20 (69%) from Thanksgiving thru the National Championship game
  • 2011 College Totals:  96-64 (60%)

Warren has shown both short and long term success with College Totals, and has ALWAYS done better later in the season.

But with Warren, it’s not just winning and historical success.  Its also market influence and beating the closing number.

Here is just a sample of results since the start of November.   Below are all the games Warren released graded from the release number vs the Pinnacle closing number:

  • Week 10:  Total of +16 pts closing line value over 9 games (+1.8 avg).  8-0-1 vs the closing number (zero games with negative line movement)
  • Week 11:  Total of +24 pts closing line value over 10 games (+2.4 avg).  9-1 vs the closing number (1 game with negative line movement)
  • Week 12:  Total of +26.5 pts closing line value over 15 games (+1.8 avg).  13-0-2 vs the closing number (zero games with negative line movement)
  • Week 13:  Total of +14.5 pts closing line value over 13 plays (+1.1 avg).  8-1-4 vs the closing number (1 game with negative line movement)
  • Week 14:  Total of +23.5 pts closing line value over 13 plays (+1.8 avg).  8-1-4 vs the closing number (1 game with negative line movement)
  • Week 15:  Total of +13 pts closing line value over 7 plays (+1.9 avg).  6-0-1 vs the closing number (zero games with negative line movement)

In themselves, these numbers are very impressive.  However, they get even more impressive when you realize that Warren releases these plays ON GAME DAY in the early morning.

Unlike a popular College Totals service named RAS (which charged ~ $2,000 for 8 weeks of CFB totals and won a total of +2.2 units on CFB totals in 2013, beating the closing number by +1.7 ppg on avg):

  • Warren does NOT release his CFB totals 2+ days in advance of the games, when the college totals market is SIGNIFICANTLY smaller, less matured (and more difficult to get “down” on) and its FAR EASIER to move lines.
  • Warren does NOT focus on smaller conference schools, knowing that these markets are even SMALLER and EASIER to manipulate.

Warren plays the entire board: power conference schools, big games, prime time matchups on ABC, CBS, ESPN, etc, and releases these plays ON GAME DAY, when the market is FULLY SATURATED and MATURED.

And yet Warren is still CRUSHING the closing number.  The largest move he saw was a 6.5 pt move, but there are routinely +3.5 to +4 pt moves in his favor each week, and these occur minutes or hours after his releases ON GAME DAY.
Last Year’s Bowl Package went 27-13 (67%).

  • If you want to be on the side which sees the professional money, and has gone 52-3 (95%) against Pinnacle’s closing number since the start of November, subscribe now for the 2013 Bowl Package.

Don’t miss out on the “Postseason Combo Package” to get all College Bowls + NFL Playoffs for a reduced price.

And DON’T forget – EVERY SINGLE PACKAGE costs NOTHING now – PAY in 6 months (June, 2014) -> Just choose “Bill Me Later” when you check out.