- The Redskins are not a backable team currently
- Kirk Cousins on the road in Chicago with that pass rush never stood a chance
- The Bills defense made Tom Brady and the Patriots offense look like the Dolphins
I want to briefly recap what happened in Week 4 of the NFL and, most importantly, things I got right, what I got wrong, and some hidden stats beyond the standard box score that may show things that we shouldn’t overlook. I went 3-3 on my sides against the spread and the 0.5 and 1.0 unit player props went a disappointing 4-5 for the weekend and on Monday night.
What I was wrong about:
The side I was wrong most about: Washington +3.
This is as bad a call as you can get, and I am paying for backing the team I thought would be the worst team in the NFL before the season. My handicap was that Daniel Jones would come back to earth and that after facing Dallas, Philly, and Chicago that going up against this putrid Giants defense would be a good remedy for the Skins offense. Unfortunately, news came out Sunday morning that Terry McLaurin and Brandon Scherrf would both be out, after I had already wagered on +3. Not only were the two best offensive players out for Washington but after just one quarter, Case Keenum was pulled for rookie Dwayne Haskins. As much as people rag on Keenum, he had entered the game with a top 10 QB rating and is at least a steady hand. Haskins had no business playing on Sunday and is clearly not ready. It was an utter disaster and I will not be backing the Skins in the near future.
The player prop I was most wrong about: Sammy Watkins over 80.5 receiving yards
I figured the matchup was perfect. Not only was Darius Slay out, taking away the Lions best cover CB, but Watkins would get to go up against CB Justin Coleman, who entered the game with one of the worst numbers covering WRs in the slot. He had allowed an opponent passer rating above 100 with three TDs allowed. Entering the game, Watkins ran 66% of his total routes from the slot and caught 12 passes for 126 yards from there. In the game, Watkins caught only three passes for 54 yards on six targets against Coleman. Unfortunately, those were all the targets that Watkins received and couldn’t get near the 80.5 prop. The Lions did a great job limiting Patrick Mahomes and the KC WRs all game long.
What I was right about:
The side I was right most about: Chicago -1.5 over Minnesota
There are times where I feel strongly about a side but the line movement in the opposite direction gives me pause. The Bears opening -3 and dropping to -1 in some spots before their game against the Vikings was one of those situations. I couldn’t quite grasp why so many people were climbing over each other in order to bet the Vikings in Chicago. Here was a team with the 31st ranked offensive line, when it comes to pass blocking according to PFF, matched up with the No. 1 rated pass rush in the Bears. All the while doing this on the road in Chicago with Kirk Cousins as your QB. It made no sense to me.
Yes, the Bears had Mitch Trubisky as their QB, but this wasn’t about him. He just needed to not turn the ball over, make a few plays here and there and let his defense control the game. It didn’t hurt at all when he went down with an injury and was replaced by Chase Daniel. The game plan didn’t change for the Bears and he got the job done. One of the first and most important rules of betting the NFL, that I constantly need to remind myself, is that you should never back a team with a bad OL going up against a top pass rush, on the road. This game proved that out and was a complete mismatch along the lines.
The player prop I was most right about: Austin Ekeler over 45.5 receiving yards
Ekeler has been awesome so far for the Chargers without Melvin Gordon, and he continued his excellent play on Sunday. Ekeler entered Sunday, fifth in the NFL in targets among running backs with 19. He had caught all of his targets for 208 yards in three games. There was no reason why his 66 yards receiving per game would drop in a game where not only was his backup Justin Jackson out, but so were WRs Mike Williams and Travis Benjamin. As long as Ekeler is the starter and playing most of the snaps, he is always going to be a big part of the game plan in the pass game. He easily surpassed his 45.5-yard receiving prop with 62 yards.
Inside the Box Scores: what stood out from Week 4:
- The Packers outgained the Eagles 6.6 to 5.6 in yards per play. The difference in the game was the red zone, where Philly was a perfect 4-4 while the Packers were a putrid 3-7. That was the difference in the game.
- The Browns absolutely demolished the Ravens. Not only did the Browns outgain the Ravens 8.7 to 5.9 on a yards per play basis, but they were excellent on first down. On an EPA per play basis, the Browns produced 0.32 EPA on early downs against only 0.07 for the Ravens. On 21 early down passes, the Browns were electric, with a 52% success rate and a 0.43 EPA per play.
- The 27-10 final score in the Arizona vs Seattle game was not nearly indicative of the game itself. Seattle only outgained Arizona, 5.8 to 5.4 on a yards per play basis. The main difference in the game was a fluky tipped pass that turned into a Jadaveon Clowney pick-6 on the Cards’ second drive and two missed FGs by kicker Zane Gonzalez in the first half. Without that INT return and if Gonzalez had converted on the two kicks, the game would have turned out completely differently. Gonzalez had not missed a kick prior to his two first half misses.
- As if you needed more evidence, the Buffalo defense is nasty and LEGIT. It takes a herculean effort to hold Tom Brady to a minuscule 3.8 yards per attempt on only 46% completions. The Pats had a minus-0.46 EPA per play in the passing game and the Bills defense was even more incredible on first down passes, allowing minus-0.56 EPA per play to New England. Hats off to the Bills for making Brady and the Pats offense look like the Dolphins for one game.