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Week 11 Primetime Moneymakers: Like Looking Into a Mirror

After weeks of having at least one stinker on the primetime NFL slate, we finally get treated to great matchups across the board in Week 11. All six teams are in the playoff hunt and two of the games feature divisional opponents. We also have no fewer than four MVP candidates and a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year. You could say it’s pretty loaded.

Week 10 was a rough one. We committed a cardinal sin in betting: betting with the heart and not with the mind (looking at you, Chicago Bears), resulting in an 0-3 week. It’s the first winless week of the year and it stings. The record now stands at 8-11. Yuck. It is what it is and we won’t be dissuaded. As usual, there’s money to be made and if anyone is going to make it, it might as well be us!

Primetime Moneymakers: Like Looking in a Mirror

Arizona Cardinals (6-3) at Seattle Seahawks (6-3)

Spread: Seahawks -3

O/U: 57.5

Arizona Cardinal’s (5-4 ATS) Kyler Murray Hail Mary’ed himself back into the MVP race with his late-game heroics in Week 10. A 43-yard heave found stud wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins in the end zone in the middle of three Buffalo Bills defenders. After starting the season 2-2, the Cardinals have won four of their last five to pull into a tie with their opponent in this very game. Arizona leads the league in total yards, rushing yards, and rushing touchdowns. They’re also seventh in points per game. And they’re far from one-sided, ranking ninth in scoring defense and have allowed just 23 touchdowns, four off the league-lead.

Russell Wilson has seen his MVP stock dip in recent weeks. He threw 19 touchdowns to just three interceptions through the first five weeks. He’s thrown nine scores to seven picks and lost three fumbles in the four games since. The Seattle Seahawks (5-3 ATS) need Wilson to play perfectly because their defense is as porous as they come. Seattle ranks 32nd in total yards and passing yards allowed. They’re a respectable fourth against the run but are 28th in scoring defense. It’s why they’ve lost three of their last four after starting off 5-0. Letting Russ cook has led to them getting burned.

This is the matchup that started the recent woes for the Seahawks. Tyler Lockett was dominant and D.K. Metcalf famously hawked safety Budda Baker but the Cardinals won 37-34 in overtime.  A Wilson interception essentially sealed that one too. Arizona has won the last two meetings between these two squads after losing the previous three. These two teams are trending in different directions heading into this battle for a leg up in the chase for the NFC West crown. Ride the heater and take the Cardinals plus the points. Speaking of points, expect a lot of them. Arizona has allowed an average of 32.6 PPG over its last three contests while Seattle has allowed 32.7 in their last four.

 

Kansas City Chiefs (8-1) at Las Vegas Raiders (6-3)

Spread: Raiders +8

O/U: 56.5

Led by MVP-frontrunner Patrick Mahomes, the Kansas City Chiefs (6-3 ATS) sit just behind the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers for the best record in the NFL. The Chiefs are first in offense DVOA, per Football Outsiders, tied for first in points per game, and fifth in total yards. Mahomes is third in the NFL with 25 touchdown passes to just one interception. Kansas City may also get wide receiver Sammy Watkins back this week as well. He hasn’t played since Week 5 when these teams last met. They will be without tackle Mitchell Schwartz, however. Their defense is no slouch either. While they rank 14th in defense DVOA, they are sixth in scoring defense, allowing just over 20 PPG.

It’s been about as good of an inaugural season in Sin City as the Las Vegas Raiders (6-3 ATS) are off to their best start since 2016. They finished that season 12-4 but lost to the Houston Texans in the Wild Card round. Derek Carr was an MVP candidate that season but suffered a broken leg in Week 15. Flash forward and Carr is having the best statistical season of his career while the Raiders offense is eighth in scoring, ninth in DVOA, and 13th in total yards. Their defense is ungood so they rely on a run game ranked fifth in rushing attempts and touchdowns, and seventh in rushing yards to keep them looking average statistically.

Las Vegas pulled off the shocker last time these two met, walking out of] Kansas City with a 40-32 victory over the defending Super Bowl champs. The Raiders are 3-1 since that game and have averaged 34 PPG over their last two contests. Too bad for them they are facing an Andy Reid team. His record coming off of extra rest is the stuff of legend. Add in the extra incentive of revenge and this could be a recipe for disaster if, unlike last time, the Raiders fail to establish the run. Look for the Chiefs to be aggressive early to eliminate that threat and protect their 27th ranked (30th in DVOA) run defense. Take K.C. but just moneyline as the Las Vegas ground game could keep this one close. That also makes the under appealing.

Los Angeles Rams (6-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3)

Spread: Bucs -4

O/U: 48

It’s been a bit of a mixed bag for the Los Angeles Rams ( 5-4 ATS) of late. Despite coming off their bye week to beat the Seahawks, they’re just 2-2 in their last four games after starting the season 4-1 with road losses to the San Francisco 49ers and Miami Dolphins. Jared Goff is 12th in passing attempts and 11th in passing yards but has just 13 touchdowns (and six picks) to show for it. L.A. is eighth in rushing and their 14 rushing touchdowns rank second but they’re only 18th in scoring. The Rams defense is second in total yards, third against the pass, and fourth in stopping the run.

Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-5) are second in total DVOA while he leads the league in pass attempts and sits fourth in pass attempts. This is the Bucs best start since 2010 when they also started 7-3. They finished 10-6 that season but still missed the playoffs. That shouldn’t be an issue this year as they sit behind the 7-2 New Orleans Saints in the NFC South but Drew Brees just went on IR and Taysom Hill is starting his first-ever game in the NFL. The Bucs could easily find themselves in the catbird seat with a win. Tampa also boasts the number one defense in DVOA, though the unit has allowed 26 PPG over the last four games; nearly four points higher than their season average.

L.A. is looking for just its third win this season over a team with a winning record after beating the Chicago Bears a few weeks back in addition to the Seahawks last week. Tampa is still seeking its first. If we look at the season, all three of the Buccaneers losses have been against teams in the top-five in DVOA. Their only win against a team in the top half of the league in defense DVOA is against the Denver Broncos. The Rams are eighth. But Los Angeles is just 2-3 on the road this season while Tampa Bay’s lone loss at home was to the Saints. Both teams are just 2-2 ATS over their last four, so we revert back to home-field advantage (and Goff’s disadvantage). That makes the Bucs the preferred play and with these defenses, hit the under.

Week 9 Primetime Moneymakers: Game of the Week

Just when we thought it was safe, here we go again with COVID possibly interfering with the NFL schedule. Week 9 will see the Chicago Bears taking on the Tennessee Titans in Nashville down four starters and now a backup. If they actually get to play the game that is. This isn’t the only game to be impacted by COVID as the virus is popping up in more facilities.

We went 2-1 last week picking winners (thanks Carolina) but when it came to the spreads, fuggedaboutit. That does bring us to 6-7 on the season (don’t call it a comeback). Despite the COVID concerns, there is still money to be made. And, as usual, if anyone is going to make it, it might as well be us!

COVID Impacting Primetime Moneymakers in Week 9

Green Bay Packers (5-2) at San Francisco 49ers (4-4)

Spread: 49ers +7

O/U: 48.5

We get to see the impact of COVID right away in Week 9, as both teams have been affected. The Green Bay Packers (5-7 ATS) will be without running back Jamaal Williams due to COVID and still aren’t sure Aaron Jones is ready to return. Green Bay has the second-ranked offense in Football Outsiders DVOA, thanks in large part because of Aaron Rodgers. He’s thrown 20 touchdowns to just two interceptions. But the Packers also have the 29th ranked defense in DVOA. They typically need every bit of that offense.

No team has been hit harder by injuries than the San Francisco 49ers (4-4 ATS). They have already lost a lot of talent, including Nick Bosa. Now, Jimmy Garoppolo is set to miss the rest of the season (#NickMullensSZN) and George Kittle could return in Week 17, though there likely won’t be much incentive to do so. San Fran has managed to rank ninth and 12th in offensive and defensive DVOA, respectively.

It bears mentioning that the Packers are 2-2 against the spread in their last four contests, though the 49ers are too so it probably doesn’t help you much. What does is the health of these teams. For as beat up as the Pack has been at running back they aren’t even sniffing what the Niners are going through. A Green Bay win is the easy call. Also, seven points just don’t seem like nearly enough here for San Francisco. Three of their four covers came against the dregs of the NFL. The other was against the up and down Rams.

New Orleans Saints (5-2) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-2)

Spread: Buccaneers -4

O/U: 51

This is easily the game of the week, yes, even over Seahawks-Bills. The New Orleans Saints (2-5 ATS) should get Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders back for this one and Antonio Brown will make his Tampa Bay debut. Did I mention this is easily the game of the week? New Orleans comes in as winners of four straight. They haven’t exactly beaten a murderer’s row of opponents (they were a combined 13-17) but they are still seventh (offensive) and eighth (defensive) in DVOA.

It truly has become Tom-pa Bay after Tom Brady (successfully) lobbied for Brown after his head coach made it clear that wouldn’t be a possibility. At any rate, Brown joins a Buccaneers (4-4 ATS) offense that ranks sixth in DVOA and is flush with weapons. That’s good for Tampa in theory but can Brown stay in line if he isn’t being fed a heavy dose of targets? At any rate, the Bucs have won three in a row after their one-point loss to the Chicago Bears back in Week 5.

Can the Buccaneers superior pass-rush penetrate the Saints top-notch line? Can Tampa, who might be without guard Ali Marpet, hold up against a New Orleans rush that is pretty average? Neither team has been great against the number and clashes like these are often unpredictable. Given the Bucs are at home, though, and their superior defense (first in DVOA), they should be able to make it four straight. Forget the spread but jump on the over.

New England Patriots (2-5) at New York Jets (0-8)

Spread: Jets +7.5

O/U: 41.5

Yuck. Ideally, that would be the end of this entry but, alas, we must break it down. These two teams are more in a race for the first overall pick than contention for anything. Adam Gase has managed to alienate players en route to a 7-17 record over the last two years and still have a job. Cam Newton is quickly finding out how little patience New England Patriots (3-4 ATS) fans have for celebrity athletes that don’t perform to snuff. This was viewed as a transitional season anyway, but New England hasn’t started 2-5 since 2000. They finished 5-11 that season. They did, however, win the Super Bowl the next season.

Sam Darnold is dealing with a shoulder injury but the New York Jets (1-7) are confident he will play in this one. Will it matter for a Jets squad that ranks 32nd in points and 31st in totals yards? Darnold has missed two games this season and has thrown just three touchdowns to six picks. He did have an impressive rushing score against the Broncos a few weeks ago, but he is on track for his worst touchdown rate and second-worst interception rate of his young career. As bad as Newton has been in New England, Darnold hasn’t been much better.

It just doesn’t make any sense to bet on the Jets to do anything right. Their lone cover came in a shocker against the Bills but they have been mostly uncompetitive in 2020. New England, and Newton, in particular, started well but talent deficiencies have been evident as Cam has struggled post-COVID. He’s still facing the worst team in the NFL. If he can’t pull this one off, no matter who his weapons are, it might just be time to see what Jarrett Stidham can do. Don’t get cute, take the Pats. And while you might feel alright about the under might be the better play with how bad these two teams have been.