Tag Archives: Cam Newton

Week 14 Primetime Monemakers: Lights, Cam-era, Action

Don’t look now, or quote us on this, but it appears we are back to a regular schedule in Week 14 in the NFL. We’re talking complete with Thursday Night Football and all. Just a week after having two games played at non-traditional times due to positive COVID tests with the Baltimore Ravens delaying their matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers from Thanksgiving night to the following Wednesday. Baltimore was the big mover. Others had positives along the way too though. It’s a position we saw the Tennessee Titans in earlier in the year, which also impacted Pittsburgh.

Last week was solid as we went 2-1. We ended up leaving the Baltimore-Dallas game alone. That was due to the uncertainty up until kickoff when they still had Dez Bryant test positive. In fact, the only thing that kept it from being great was the Washington Football Team upsetting the Pittsburgh Steelers. Our record sits at (an unacceptable) 11-15 even with the good week. But last week was just the start of our winning streak to close out the year. As always, there’s money to be made. If anyone is going to make it, it might as well be us.

Pats @ Rams Leads Week 14’s Primetime Moneymakers

New England Patriots (6-6) at Los Angeles Rams (8-4)

Spread: Rams -4.5

O/U: 44

Quiet as kept, the New England Patriots (6-6 ATS) have won two in a row and four of their last five. Cam Newton, averaging less than 200 passing yards per game, has cleaned up his act of late. He’s still well under 200 yards per and has thrown three touchdowns and just two interceptions. Major improvement after he threw seven interceptions but just two touchdowns over his first six games. His offense is 23rd in DVOA, per Football Outsiders. But it’s gone from averaging just over 19 points per game to more than 27 PPG in that same span. The defense, also 23rd in DVOA, has made a similarly positive switch. It’s gone from allowing 23 PPG to 17 PPG (the shutout helped).

Not to be outdone, the Los Angeles Rams (7-5 ATS) have won three of four since their bye. They’ve beaten Seattle, Tampa Bay, and Arizona in that span but did drop one to San Francisco. Still, they’re fourth in offense DVOA and fifth in defense DVOA. They’ve been mediocre scoring points, ranking just 17th despite them being third in yards. But their defense has been stingy, ranking fifth in points and second in yards allowed. Jared Goff has completed better than 73 percent of his passes. That’s a stretch of accuracy only outdone by his performance from Weeks 2 to 5. But he has thrown four touchdowns to four interceptions and has lost two fumbles in that time.

Both of these teams are 3-1 ATS the last four weeks, making this more complicated than it should be. They last met in Super Bowl LIII, a game the Patriots won 13-3. This one shapes up as another defensive showdown so the under is probably the most appealing play. The Rams are 4-1 at home but their (small) record against the Patriots doesn’t lend much confidence to backing them straight up. Can you talk yourself into taking the Pats given what we know about both teams over the last month? It’s tough, but take the Pats plus points. They’ve failed to cover a spread less than a touchdown just twice and haven’t lost to L.A. since 2001.

Pittsburgh Steelers (11-1) at Buffalo Bills (9-3)

Spread: Bills -2

O/U: 48.5

In a loss that was equal parts surprising and a long time coming, the Pittsburgh Steelers (8-4 ATS) fell to the Washington Football Team in Week 13. As Chase Young and Monte Sweat mused after the game though, Baltimore had exposed some things the week prior. Pittsburgh has also failed to hit the century mark as a team on the ground in six of the last seven games. They’ve failed to crack 50 yards as a team in four of them. That’s a large part of why their offense is 17th in offense DVOA. Their defense is still first in DVOA but they just gave up 273 passing yards to the Football Team, the most they’ve allowed all season.

The Buffalo Bills (7-5 ATS) started 4-0 but went 3-3 over their next six games, including a loss to Arizona right before the bye. They’ve gone 2-0 since returning with wins over the Chargers and 49ers so it’s hard to say if they’ve truly regained their form from earlier in the year. They are 3-2 against teams currently in the playoffs. But their last such win came back in Week 9 at home against the Seahawks, who have gone 2-2 since. Buffalo, is seventh in offense DVOA and 16th in defense DVOA. They’ve been reliant on the passing game, hitting 100 team rushing yards in just five games (90-plus in two others) despite the threat of Josh Allen. Defense is the opposite.

Buffalo is 4-0 ATS the last four weeks while Pittsburgh is in the midst of a 0-2 skid. And while the Steelers still the analytics darling defensively, the Bills passing game certainly passes the eye test. Of course, there is something to be said for your head coach calling you out to to the media for your effort. It’s very possible for the Steelers to come out clicking at a level we haven’t seen for weeks. That puts the over squarely in play in a matchup of top-10 scoring outfits. It’s been mostly unders in Steelers games this year but they haven’t faced many offenses like the Bills. However, the Bills haven’t seen many pass rushes like the Steelers. Pittsburgh plus the points.

Baltimore Ravens (7-5) at Cleveland Browns (9-3)

Spread: Browns +3

O/U: 47

This will be a good test of whether the Baltimore Ravens (6-6 ATS) really turned a corner last week or if they just beat up on a bad team in Dallas. Conventional wisdom might point to the latter being the case as they had lost three straight before that. But they were missing several key players due to injury and COVID issues so maybe the last month is just the side-effect of that. The defense is carrying the Ravens. It ranks seventh in DVOA while the offense ranks just 21st. Baltimore also has just one win against a playoff team all season; against the Colts back in Week 9. 

It’s a new day in Cleveland as the Browns (5-7 ATS) are will have a winning season for the first time since 2007. That’s amazing not only for that reason but also when considering how the talk around the team sounded just a few weeks ago when losses to the Steelers and Raiders had folks talking about the Browns beating up on weak teams. Flash forward and Cleveland’s current four-game streak seemed doomed for the same type of talk before they took the Titans to the woodshed in Week 13. Cleveland is 23rd in total DVOA making them the second-lowest ranked playoff team behind the Giants.

So which team would be beating up on a weaker opponent here? If it was in the preseason the easy answer would be the Ravens are the bully. But the last few weeks they’ve struggled to beat bad or similarly-struggling squads. That doesn’t bode well against a Browns squad that is feeling itself in the run-up to its first playoff appearance in over a decade. Cleveland has the worse record against the number. But a home dog against a questionable opponent seems too good pass on. The difference could be injuries along the defensive front for Baltimore. This game will be decided on the ground. That could also make the under attractive.

All line information courtesy of Covers.com.

Week 10 Primetime Moneymakers: Smash-Mouth Football

Granted, we didn’t get a preseason. But this season is absolutely flying by. We’re already in Week 10 and the playoff picture is taking shape. Kansas City is once again looking like the class of the AFC and really the entire NFL. That’s because the NFC is a clouded mess. Three to four teams can make a legitimate claim for best in the conference.

Another 2-1 week brings us to 8-8 on the season. Still not great but it has been a climb from the sub-.500 basement we were in. We are still struggling to nail down these totals, but that is secondary to calling winners. As usual, there is more money to be made and if anyone is going to lay claim to it it might as well be us.

Smash-Mouth Football On Tap in Week 10 Primetime Moneymakers

Indianapolis Colts (5-3) at Tennessee Titans (6-2)

Spread: Titans +1

O/U: 48.5

The Indianapolis Colts (4-4 ATS) come in allowing the fewest total yards (second in rushing and third in passing) in the NFL anchored by Darius Leonard and DeForest Buckner. They are also third in defensive DVOA (second in run defense DVOA). Boasting superb line play on either side of the ball, they might struggle against Tennessee middling run defense but they should give Philip Rivers plenty of time in the pocket. He had seemingly regained his form, throwing six touchdowns and zero interceptions in the two games before his dud in Baltimore in Week 9. Those other secondaries are closer to what the Titans have been.

We saw a stingy Chicago Bears defense take Derrick Henry away last week and the Titans (3-5 ATS) still came away victorious. Ryan Tannehill got the job done, throwing two touchdowns with no picks. That brings him to 19 touchdowns with only three interceptions. Henry was held to just 68 yards on 21 carries last week and 75 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers three weeks ago. An ominous sign with him facing his toughest test. Tennessee only has 10 sacks on the season so they’ll need Malcolm Butler, trade deadline-acquisition Desmond King, and the recently-activated Adoree’ Jackson to tighten things up on the back end.

This is a battle for AFC South supremacy but it’s only the first act. These two teams will face each other in two weeks so this one could put the Titans in the driver seat of the division. The Colts only victory over a team with a winning record was against the Bears. The Titans have two such wins, but one of them was also the Bears. That makes this essentially uncharted territory for both teams with a slight edge going to the Titans. Is their victory of the inconsistent Buffalo Bills convincing enough? They also almost knocked off the Steelers. Take the home team getting no respect from Vegas. Also (reluctantly) take the under as both offenses could struggle.

Baltimore Ravens (6-2) at New England Patriots (3-5)

Spread: Patriots +7

O/U: 43.5

What a matchup this would be if it were 2018. As it stands, the Baltimore Ravens (4-4 ATS) should be looking at this as a tune-up. The Ravens have been highly-scrutinized for their offensive struggles despite having the exact same record through six games as last year. That’s because they’ve fallen from having the top-ranked offense in DVOA in 2019 to 23rd here in 2020. Both phases have regressed but it’s Lamar Jackson’s passing that’s suffered the most. His touchdown rate came down from the unsustainable level of last season while he’s throwing picks at the highest rate of his career.

You’d have to go all the way back to 1994 to find a New England Patriots (3-5 ATS) team that was 3-5 through eight games. Cam Newton has regressed as the season has gone on, though he had somewhat of a bounceback against the lowly New York Jets a week ago in primetime. This is easily the stiffest challenge of Newton’s tenure in New England. His offense is already 24th in DVOA and 28th in passing DVOA. 

New England was hit the hardest of any team by COVID opt-outs; mostly on defense. It has shown. They rank 10th in yards thanks to ranking fifth against the pass. They’re 21st against the run. Sounds like the perfect recipe for Jackson and Co. to get things back on track, which is strange to type about a Bill Belichick-led Patriots team. Jackson has always given the Patriots defense some issues anyway. But in this state, a Baltimore win feels inevitable. Take the Ravens and the points. The under is also tempting but having been burned on several matchups like this, hard pass

Minnesota Vikings (3-5) at Chicago Bears (5-4)

Spread: Bears +2.5

O/U: 43

It hasn’t been the season most envisioned for the Minnesota Vikings (5-3 ATS) but they haven’t given up. They’ve won two games in a row, have an offense ranked seventh in DVOA, and have the league’s leading rusher in Dalvin Cook toting the rock. The Vikings have rightfully limited Kirk Cousins’ exposure. They’ll need to jump out to an early lead if they are to keep this all up. Cousins is 0-3 against the Bears as a member of the Vikings.

Chicago (5-4 ATS) is in the midst of a three-game losing streak. If they are going to avoid their second losing streak in as many seasons (and protect their streak against the Vikings) they will need a few things. First, figure out the ground attack as Minnesota is slightly worse at defending the run. They were already struggling to run and David Montgomery is out this week with a concussion. Could we see a Cordarrelle Patterson revenge game? Second, figure out how to protect Nick Foles. Minnesota was already vulnerable to the pass and is set to be down Cameron Dantzler at corner. 

Matt Nagy is 4-0 as a head coach against Mike Zimmer. His team has a better record too. Still, the dam feels about ready to burst. Despite all of that, the pick is the Bears plus the points. It’s not all sentimentality (admitted Bears fan here). Cook has struggled against the Bears as much as Cousins has. A one-game reprieve from the recent doldrums right before the bye is a very Bears thing to do. The under is, again, the reluctant play. Chicago suppresses their own offense even better than they do opponents. Hard to see Lazor fixing it all in one week.

Cam Newton to the New England Patriots is Perfect

It almost makes too much sense. Cam Newton, Superman, is a New England Patriot. And in the year 2020, this is exactly the kind of move we should have expected. Many did, and yet it still felt like such a longshot. Clash of cults of personality aside, there was always a strictly football-related reason for this to happen. The fact that the actual deal is good for both sides is just an added bonus.

New England Patriots Signing Cam Newton is Perfectly 2020

How Did We Get Here?

What an offseason it has been! We’ve seen a quarter of the league’s projected starters entering 2019 change teams, including a wild four-team swap with New England and 75% of the NFC South. Tom Brady joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was the shockwave of the off-season; if only slightly edging the Houston Texans swindling themselves out of DeAndre Hopkins.

Jameis Winston is now backing up Drew Brees in New Orleans and Teddy Bridgewater (Winston’s predecessor) will start in Carolina. Even Philip Rivers going to the Indianapolis Colts doesn’t compare.

Tampa Tommy is like the prodigal son going to the Darkside (which would have worked so much better had he joined the Las Vegas Raiders). Newton to the Pats is like, well T’Challa taking over for Steve Rogers. Yes, it’s on the nose, but it’s so very accurate. How else do you describe the expressive Newton heading to the most buttoned-up operation in the NFL?

What’s even better is it is two polarizing entities of opposite ends joining into one. The Patriots have been the bully on the block for much of the past 20 years. This, and a generous helping of sketchy deeds, has led to a buildup of resentment from those on the outside.

Newton, for all his charitable deeds, is more known for his scarves and attitude after losing Super Bowl 50.

Neither man is perfect. Brady was directly indicated in his fair share of the scandals during his time in New England. And, if we’re being honest, the worst Newton has done was his interaction with a female reporter a few years back. He laughed at the depth of her question and said it was “funny” a question like that came from a woman.

But on the football field, both of these men have set records.

Why It Will Work

Brady has the edge in accolades, sure. But even he has conceded it is at least equal parts situation as it is his given talent, effort, preparation, etc. Newton, if healthy, offers the total opposite. A supremely gifted athlete, he reached the edge of the mountain top without the level of coach and system he will have around him next year.

That isn’t a knock on what the Ron Rivera Panthers did either, they ran a system they felt gave them the best chance to win. The issue was they operated like Newton was a rookie for too long, not surrounding him with enough talent at receiver and/or a proper offensive line. His development seemed to stall as the Panthers found their formula.

One thing we know about the Patriots, they know the formula changes from year to year. No team has been better at adapting to their personnel.

Josh McDaniels is a very underrated part of why this will work. He was able to get seven wins out of a second-year Tim Tebow back in 2011. That was ten years ago. But Newton, a former MVP, is far and away a better passer than Tebow ever was.

People also forget the year Newton was having before he got injured in 2018. Carolina was 6-2 with Newton completing 67.3% of his passes for 1893 yards, 15 touchdowns, and four interceptions. He added another 342 yards and four scores on the ground. He over 68 percent of his passes in his remaining six games, but only threw nine touchdowns to nine picks and the Panthers went winless.

What’s The Problem?

That depends on what you thought of Brady last season. He started the season completing 64% of his passes for 2251 yards, 13 scores, and four interceptions over the first eight games. But he finished throwing for 1806 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 4 more picks while completing just 56.9% of his passes. The Patriots went 4-4 over those final eight.

Was that all Brady? He is, after all, in his 40s and has played over two and a half regular season’s worth of playoff games. It’s perfectly reasonable his abilities are in decline.

But New England lost Rob Gronkowski to retirement then lost Antonio Brown (one game) and Josh Gordon (six games) to personal issues. Julian Edelman was still around, but there aren’t many quarterbacks who can overcome that kind of talent drain before and during the season.

Newton’s health will be the biggest deterrent to any success. But he’s been out since September last year and has been seen working with Odell Beckham. Keeping him that way is paramount and dependant upon them either finding upgrades or guys like N’Keal Harry and free-agent addition Marquise Lee stepping up. Edelman and Mohamed Sanu will serve as the vets but the big hole is at tight end.

The offensive line is the bigger concern. Brady took 17 of his 27 sacks over the back half of the year. That line lost center Ted Karras and didn’t add anyone in free agency or the draft until the sixth round. They kept Joe Thuney, though.

The defense underwent a facelift but should be a smoother transition than anything the offense will go through. New England took defensive players with their first three picks and all are expected to contribute early. That’s good with the losses New England suffered at linebacker. Boasting one of the best secondaries in the NFL, though, they should be just fine.

Superman is a Patriot

Cam Newton has had to carry his offenses for much of his career, literally. In New England, he will get a chance to be a part of the machine. They will cater the offense to him week-to-week. His athleticism gives them an added dimension they didn’t have (or need) with Brady. He would also be the first non-Patriots draft pick to start for the team since Scott Secules in 1993.

Doubters will point to Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer and say Newton isn’t a lock to start. But as long as he’s healthy, neither the second-year Stidham nor the journeyman Hoyer is beating him out. The Patriots don’t need the publicity this brought (even with the penalties handed down) but Belichick would love the prestige winning with Newton would bring. We know what’s really on the line here.

Is the NFL Season Bubble-ing Over?

Are you ready for some fooooootbaaaaaallll? Different football that is!  This 2020 movie keeps on rolling and the upcoming NFL season doesn’t lack suspense.  When will players report to camp? What will camp look like? Where will Cam Newton land? Will Colin Kaepernick sign with a team?  This will be one of, if not the most anticipated football seasons ever because of the unknowns.  Not to mention HBO has recently announced their acclaimed show Hard Knocks will feature both LA teams, Rams and Chargers.

We can’t talk about the upcoming football season without mentioning sports’ nemesis: COVID-19.  That’s why we’re at this point. March 12th, 2020 the day sports stopped.  The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci has indicated the NFL should take the bubble approach or not have a season at all, according to an MSNBC article.

Bubble-ing Over: NFL Season at Risk?

Is the Bubble Viable

The NBA and NHL have already set COVID-19 parameters for the bubble when those respective leagues return to action. With the number of personnel and players for each of the teams, it’s doable. Look at an NBA team, for example. There are only 15 players on a roster for which only 13 are active. Along with coaches and trainers, you’re dealing with about 25 or so people per team. Not to mention the facility staff. Other than the players on the court, social distancing in this environment is challenging but can be done. Even with the measures that the NBA has taken, nobody can say that it will prevent the players from contracting coronavirus.

Looking at the juggernaut that is the NFL, there would need to be one big bubble!  Just one team consists of more than two NBA teams combined.  There are 90 players alone that report to training camp, which is cut down to 53 by the start of the season.  Social distancing?  There’s no way this is possible in the sport of football. Sure, the NFL has already suspended combined team practices. You still have over 100 people on the field together.

What about when the season starts? When the NBA restarts on July 31st all the games will be played in the Walt Disney dome in Orlando, FL. It’s hard to envision one central location for the NFL season. I’m sure most people are asking how is this viable? Even the Hall of Fame Game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys has been canceled. Though it was the Hall of Fame’s decision to do so, it could be foreshadowing of what’s to come. Being the billion-dollar industry the shield is, commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL will find a way to pull it off.

How Will the Players React

Even though these are superior athletes, concerns still high for their health and well being. Not only for them but their families as well. Three coaches for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have contracted COVID-19.  Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott tested positive for the virus last week and has recently voiced his concerns.  New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins also made a statement indicating football is non-essential and shouldn’t go on if it’s not safe. The league will surely develop a protocol to ensure to keep players, staff, and fans alike as safe as possible but will it be enough.

There’s always the unknown and human nature.  There will be parameters and set rules in place but players will push boundaries. Like the old saying goes, “rules are meant to be broken.” Per Kevin Seifert of ESPN, the NFL has already announced plans to start on time next month. It’s like being in the Forex market trading but instead of trading currencies, it’s people. The reward is greater than the risk, we’ll training camp is around the corner, we’ll see if the NFL will “take profit” or “stop loss.”