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Week Three NFL Sports Betting: Picks Against The Spread
Davis Mattek September 20, 2019 2:21PM EST

Week Three NFL Sports Betting: Picks Against The Spread

The start of the NFL Sports Betting season has gotten pretty well for those who believe the adage that elite offense matters more than elite defense. Of course, the Miami Dolphins and the Luke Falk-led New York Jets are giving us some of the biggest lines that the NFL has seen in 30 years. Picking against Miami right now is more of an art form than it is a science, especially with the switch from mega-error prone Ryan Fitzpatrick to only-sort-of-mega-error prone Josh Rosen. There likely won’t be very many picks for or against Miami in this column throughout the year simply because it is hard for stat-based models (and I am heavily weighing the Sports Grid betting model with my picks) to pick up how objectively terrible they are.

We had a good week last week which brings the record for the year to 5-1 against the spread, though I would caution everyone that sort of return is pretty unlikely. If we end up at 57% at the end of the year, we will be very happy! Kansas City has a much tougher matchup this week so we don’t get the free pick of them against a bad team.

 

Davis Mattek Record: 5-1 ATS

Week Three NFL Sports Betting Picks

Arizona -2.5

Arizona is now 2-0 against the spread and they could arguably be 2-0 straight up if Kliff Kingsbury wasn’t a coward. Last week, in a road game where the Cardinals were 14 point underdogs, Kowardsbury elected to kick three field goals INSIDE the five-yard line. He did this despite having Kyler Muarry and some of the most inventive offensive packages in the NFL at his disposal. My hope and guess is that Kliff is slowly evolving to the NFL game and is trying to minimize as many disaster results as possible.

This game is now Kyler Murray vs Kyle Allen (who coincidentally was Kyler’s teammate at Texas A&M). Allen was not a good college quarterback though I mostly agree with the conjecture that he can’t be meaningfully worse than the injured, non-rushing version of Cam Newton we have seen the last few weeks. Arizona is gaining slightly more yards per play (5.4 to 5.1) on offense than the Panthers and I feel extremely confident in saying they have the better quarterback in this game.

Taking Arizona on blind faith in Kyler and the Air Raid system in the first two weeks worked out well for us. Kyler Murray is well off the league average in TD rate (under 3%) which is somewhat to be expected because Arizona will be one of the pass heavier teams in the NFL. However, even with some slight regression in touchdowns, the Arizona offense should fairly easily be in the top half of the league which makes them the right pick against Carolina.

Atlanta +1/+1.5/+2 (varying lines)

I don’t like backing Matt Ryan any more than you do. The fact that this line hasn’t found a clear place to settle between +1 and +2.5 is a clear indication that the makers of the market don’t really want to back him either. This is, however, a decent Falcons offensive team especially if they continue to focus on passing the ball instead of running the ball. The Colts have been one of the run-heaviest teams in neutral game scripts this year while the Falcons have been one of the pass heaviest teams.

Ryan has 89 passing attempts through two games and something I have really been trying to hammer on early in the year is that offenses that pass the ball more gain more yards more effectively. Well, duh. If you aren’t betting every single game, every single week (and most of us aren’t) then the spots to actually wager on are where one team is playing a non-optimal style of football. The Colts have 67 rushing attempts to only 55 passing attempts this year.

The Colts might actually be the better put-together roster than the Falcons but at the highest level, the Falcons have a more talented/accomplished quarterback (career 7.5 YPA) than the Colts and use that quarterback more often. The SportsGrid model also thinks that the Falcons side is the analytically correct side which makes sense. When my initial sense for a game lines up with the Sports Grid model, it will find its’ way to go the card.

Seattle -4.5

Even if Seattle’s defense is bad (and we are starting have some mounting evidence that it isn’t very good), 4.5 points just not enough for them over the New Orleans Saints without Drew Brees. The drop from Brees to Bridgewater is prodigious as Bridgewater’s 5.5 YPA from last week showed but the drop from Brees to Taysom Hill is even worse. Seriously, Taysom Hill is one of the sub-optimal players on an NFL roster right now and Sean Payton is intimating that he might be using a two-QB system against Seattle.

Historically, Seattle has one of the best home-field advantages in the NFL due to the cumulation of long travel for other teams, excellent run game for the last 10 years and now, Russell Wilson. The Seahawks are in the top half of the league in net adjusted yards per pass attempt but actually bottom half of the league in expected points added on offense because of their insistence on running with Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny. That sounds like a neg on them as a bet this week but really I am just setting the scene.

The Saints are going to try and run a much more conservative system on the road and when two conservative offenses meet, I will generally side with the 1) better quarterback which Seattle wins by miles in this game and 2) the home team. Really, this is a wager on Russell Wilson being significantly better than the Bridgewater/Taysom Hill which is not hard to believe.

 

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