Identifying Value and NFL Week 9 Underdogs
A week after a move forward and a few touchdowns with a 3-1 ATS result in Week 7, we throw two bad interceptions and go 0-2 in Week 8. What's especially troubling is that underdogs had a strong week going 10-4 ATS and provided many leading online sportsbooks the best week of the season. The two picks on these pages were bad losers, and home underdogs went 5-1 ATS and we had the only loser on the Lions.
I managed to bet the Bengals as the line kept rising on an underserving big road favorite of the Titans, and also bet the Giants on MNF for a big 'Dog winner. I stayed away from the Broncos, and nearly added them to these pages. Denver trailed 24-3 in the third quarter and the Chargers had a 21-2 first down advantage. The Broncos rallied and pulled out a miracle win and cover on the games final play with a touchdown to win 31-30.
Other unusual Week 8 results saw the Rams outgain the Dolphins 471 to 145 with a 31-8 first down advantage, but lose the game 28-17 in Miami rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa's starting NFL debut. Three teams rushed for more than 200 yards and lost. The Ravens rushed for 265 yards and had a 457 to 221 yards edge but lost to the Steelers 28-24 as a 4-point home favorite. Four turnovers including two INT's and a pick 6 by Lamar Jackson sent my Under the total bet to the bookmaker. Many bettors were PO'd with that side and total results, and the Bears late FG to tie the game and screw more Under bettors. But the big chalk eaters got lucky too when the Eagles got a miracle cover against the Cowboys 23-9 despite just 222 yards offense for Philly.
Teams that rush for at least 150 yards in a game are now 34-12 SU and 36-10 ATS (plus pushes). Teams that outrush an opponent by at least 30 yards in a game are 52-21 SU and 52-21 ATS (plus pushes). Teams that run the ball at least 30 times in a game are 63-11 SU and 59-14 ATS (plus pushes). Scoring averaged 48.10 points per game in Week 8 and over/unders were 7-7. Season scoring is now averaging a record high 50.33 points per game. Turnover continue to be the biggest determining factor in football games, as teams that hold at least a 3 turnover margin in a game are 15-1 SU and 16-0 ATS. Teams with exactly a two turnover advantage are 25-3-1 SU and 25-4 ATS.
The handicapping needs to be better, regardless of time and market moves, and hopefully we avoid the hazards and turnovers and find more fairways and green on the gridiron the second half of the season to make up lost ground.
The 3-plus year record on these pages has fallen to 86-69 ATS (55.5%) with a worst-year 2020 record of 9-15 ATS on these pages.
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452 Buffalo (+3) vs Seattle – Bills Moneyline +140
260 Indianapolis (+2) vs Baltimore - Ravens Moneyline +110
Seattle at Buffalo
An interconference clash between division leaders and Buffalo (6-2) is a must play IMO as Seattle (6-1) travels West to far East. I've already added the Bills to my teaser plays as well, and expect a Bills win. Buffalo's defense has not performed close to last year's level, but improvement expected in the second half of the season with better health. Hope it shows up and starts this week against the Seahawks top-tier offense and MVP quarterback Russell Wilson guiding an offense averaging 414 yards per game and league best 6.4 yards per play and 34.3 points per game. Wilson has tossed 26 TD passes which is one short of the NFL record through seven games. But that Seahawks defense remains a sieve, and so poorly coordinated allowing a league worst 460 yards per game - 100 YPG worse than the Bills. The Bills offense and scoring has declined considerably the last four games, but expect Buffalo to stampede this week. These two teams net yards per play is nearly equal, and Seattle is being out-gained by an average of nearly 50 yards per game despite Wilson, DK Metcalf and the efficient offense continuing to roll up yards and points while also enjoying a plus-6 turnover margin. Many leading online sportsbooks are taking more than 80% of the point spread bets and money (handle) on the Seahawks in this match-up. That's fine by us, and not uncommon as most bettors continue to bet on favorites and pile on over-valued one's as well. I encourage and advise you not to fall for the Sea chickens this week, as they travel East in back-to-back road games and a tough opponent between division games. Buffalo is one of the toughest places to play in the NFL, and while we wish fans were in the stands and the weather was worse to make it an even louder and tougher environment, I expect a two-game losing streak to start this week and don't believe Seattle gets out of Buffalo with a win.
Baltimore at Indianapolis
The Ravens are a slight road favorite and the line will drop further as more COVID-19 news develops. Baltimore has eight players not practicing this week with contact tracing back to cornerback Marlon Humphrey, who's out after testing positive. The Ravens fell two games out of first place in the AFC North following last week's loss to the Steelers, 28-24. It's rare for a team to lose when rushing the ball 47 times for 265 yards like the Ravens did in defeat. But QB Lamar Jackson's INT's, pick 6 and four turnovers along with 9 penalties for 110 yards will usually end up in defeat. Now the Ravens offense, Lamar and his less than decisive decisions face another strong defense in the Colts, who rank top-3 in the league allowing just 293 yards per game, 4.9 yards per play and 80 rushing yards per game. The Ravens defense is still a top-tier unit ranking top-6 in those categories. The Ravens defense also blitzes on nearly half of opponents' dropbacks. Colts QB Philip Rivers has a quick release and expect the short and quick hitting passes and screens to be in play more this week. The Ravens are 0-4 ATS in recent seasons after playing rival Pittsburgh. The potential rushing edge favoring the Ravens is a little concern, but as you saw in last week's Ravens result when the Steelers rushed for just 48 yards on 16 carries, there is more to the projection that just point of attack play and ground game. Competent quarterback play favors the Colts, as does the situation returning home against a Ravens team also in an emotional letdown and not likely their best this week.
As injury reports, COVID-19 status and new quarterback news (Dallas, Jacksonville) are reported, we may add additional picks. We need to dig deeper into our rushing stats and point of attack play to determine more match-up edges and potential plays to pass along. Any news would be posted on the OSGA Twitter account with lines available at that time from leading online sportsbooks.
FairwayJay is a leading national sports handicapper and betting analyst, and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful analysts. Read more great insights from Jay here and follow him on Twitter @FairwayJay.