I went 1-1 on best bets last week, easily hitting Carolina +1.5 and losing the Niners -9 badly.
The hot streak for overs finally came to an end, barely, with a 7-7 count in the 14 games played this past week. Last week I talked about how we would eventually start to see the unders hitting, only because the level of inflation for these totals getting too high. To that point, Week 2 games went over by an average of 7.2 points per game, Week 3 went over by 4.1 points, Week 4 they went over by 3.1 points, and this past week it was just 1.3. The average points per game in Week 5 reached 51.5 and incredibly the overs still only went 7-7.
Now that we have at least four games, and in most cases five games, under our belt we can start to properly evaluate strength of schedules to date. So who are some of the teams that have faced the easiest schedule to date based on opponent success rates? Arizona, Green Bay, and Pittsburgh have faced the easiest set of opponents based on team net success rates (offensive – defensive success rates).
No matter what angle you examine, the Cardinals have played a ridiculously easy schedule. In fact, Arizona’s offense ranks 12th best on a raw success rate basis but has faced the 31st ranked opponent pass defensive schedule and the 26th ranked run defense. Defensively, the Cardinals rank 13th in success rate but have faced the second-easiest set of opposing pass offenses and the fourth-easiest set of opposing run offenses.
Pittsburgh’s defense ranks second-best in success rate but has faced the easiest set of both opponent run and pass offenses. When you face a set of QBs that include Daniel Jones, Jeff Driskel, and a struggling Carson Wentz, it definitely helps pad your defensive numbers.
Green Bay has also really benefitted from an easy set of opponent defenses. To be fair they have taken advantage of the easy schedule by posting the top net success rate and offensive success rate in the NFL. They have faced the easiest set of opposing run defenses and the fourth-easiest set of opposing pass defenses.
Favorite Week 6 Picks
Dallas +1.5 vs Arizona (-110):
If you follow me on Twitter, you know I was able to grab a +3 at -115 back on Monday. I personally have this as Dallas -1.5, so there is still value here. This line comes down to your perception of the downgrade between Dak Prescott to Andy Dalton as well as your evaluation of Arizona. The look-ahead line prior to last week was Dallas -3 so we are seeing a 4.5-plus point swing.
I like Dak a lot and probably have him ranked in the second tier after the elite QBs. His QBR is 11th and he ranks 14th in DVOA among QBs. Last year he ranked fourth in QBR and sixth in DVOA. To me, I have always liked Dalton more than the market and the general public. To that point, Cincinnati has gone 29-18 ats (62%) as a short underdog (<7) with Dalton at QB. Dalton has historically outperformed in a similar situation as Monday night. Dalton was only 30th in QBR and 26th in DVOA last season but it’s hard to evaluate him with that tanking team. His DVOA ranks in the prior three seasons to last year saw him finish 12th, 24th, and 17th.
I have Dalton as a slightly below-average starting NFL QB but not more than a 3-point gap from Prescott when you consider the Cowboys’ tremendous offensive weapons.
On the other hand, the Cardinals have benefitted from the easiest schedule in the NFL as mentioned above. To make matters worse, Arizona lost their best defensive player in the front 7 with the season-ending injury to Chandler Jones.
Jones was second in the NFL in sacks last year and had more than double than No. 2 man on Arizona last year in pressures. He currently sits at No. 2 on Arizona with 10 pressures and when you include that Devon Kennard has missed the last two games, is questionable, and is No. 3 on the team with 9 pressures, that pass rush takes a major hit. Dalton should be able to really move the ball on Monday.
Niners +3.5 vs Rams
I go back to the well with San Francisco this week. The look-ahead line was SF -3 prior to last week so we are seeing a major line swing here. The Rams have been impressive but they have won all four of their games against the very weak NFC East. Jared Goff has lived off of short passes, ranking 33rd among QBs in ADOT at only 6.4 yards.
The Niners were burned last week with multiple deep throws while missing multiple starters at cornerback. They should be getting back Akhello Witherspoon and Emmanuel Moseley this week but with the Rams living off of short passes, this plays into San Francisco’s hands. The Niners’ linebackers are excellent in coverage, with Fred Warner grading as the fourth-best coverage linebacker and Dre Greenlaw seventh-best, per PFF. While SF ranks 30th in DVOA deep passing defense, they rank third-best on short attempts.
On the other side of the ball, look for the 49ers to attack the very weak Rams linebackers, who grade 50th and 76th out of 86 qualified LBs in coverage. In addition, the Rams are a weak run defense, ranking 24th in DVOA run defense.
Best Bets Record YTD: 6-4-2 (60%)