Two stats that I will be referencing throughout this weekly matchups column are Yards Per Point (YPP). and DVOA (Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average). The goal of YPP is for an offense or defense to make the most of their opportunities when it comes to scoring points, but there are some important things that YPP doesn’t account for that DVOA does. In fact, DVOA accounts for everything YPP does plus important factors like turnovers, field position (where your drive starts) and special teams. These stats not only play a big part in scoring/preventing points, but they also play a big part in winning/covering spreads. With these statistics, my goal is to help us figure out which are the teams that are the most efficient at scoring AND at preventing points. Now, without further adieu, let’s officially get into our NFL Week 7 matchup breakdowns column!
A quick primer on YPP and its importance in our handicapping: One of, if not THE most powerful measuring statistics in football, to measure how great an offense or defense is (or isn’t), in my opinion, is Yards Per Point (YPP). Yards Per Point is effective because it measures how many yards an offense gains before they score a point. A different stat that is regularly used by handicappers isYards Per Play, which only takes into account how many yards an offense gains and not its scoring. Gaining yards is a good thing to measure, sure, but in this world, we need to score points, and it does us no favors if a team gains yards without producing those points. This is where YPP will come into play for us. For an offense, the lower the YPP is, the better. Between 10-13 is a very good YPP number for an NFL offense, while 14-15 is average and 16 or lower I consider to be below average for an NFL offense. For defenses, the higher the YPP number is, the better. A defense with a high YPP doesn’t give up a lot of points for the yards that are gained against them. Throughout our weekly matchups column I will reference this stat quite often here.
Giants (+4.5) @ Eagles
The Eagles had a rough start to the season playing the Rams, Steelers and Ravens while dealing with injuries again to both sides of the ball but their schedule lightens up over the next few weeks playing the Giants twice in four weeks. The Eagles have faced the 3rd toughest schedule for defenses and the Giants are currently ranked 17th so Carson Wentz should take advantage of a divisional defense he’s familiar with even with the injuries to his offensive line and some key skilled players. On a short week and a divisional game the under might be the logical side but with a low total of 45 and both teams allowing their opponents to score 25 PPG or more a look to the over makes the most sense in this spot.
Lean: Giants/Eagles Over 45
Jaguars (+9) @ Chargers **Best Bet**
Last week I gave out the Lions -3.5 as my best bet over the Jaguars and this week I’m gonna fade them again. This line opened at 7.5 and I still think there’s value all the way up to 11. The Chargers are 1-4 straight up but tied for a league best record at 4-1 ATS and doing so against the better teams in the league like the Chiefs, Buccaneers and Saints (who they should’ve beat). The Chargers also rank 16th respectfully in DVOA on offense considering they’ve been up against the 4th toughest schedule of defenses. This week they’ll catch a big break going up against the Jaguars defense that currently ranks 32nd in DVOA on defense with some key guys either banged up or listed as out. Justin Herbert has also been impressive since he’s been named the starter as he’s currently playing 23.7% better than an average quarterback (ranks 7th) with a QBR of 72.9 (ranks 12th) and averaging 300 YPG. The Jaguars also struggle with defending the run as they give up 143.8 YPG on the ground (ranks 28th) and even worse on the road giving up 152.3 so the Chargers should take full advantage of this weakness as they average 122.4 YPG on the ground (ranks 12th) and 150 at home. Look for the Chargers to send the Jaguars into their bye week with another blowout loss as they’ve lost their last 3 games by an average of 14 PPG while giving up 32.3 PPG - best bet.
Best Bet: **Chargers -7.5 over Jaguars (buy up to -9)**
Cowboys (PK) @ Washington **Teaser**
In their first game without Dak Prescott the Cowboys offense looked terrible. Last week they were ranked 12th overall in DVOA on offense and after Monday nights game against the Cardinals they dropped down to 24th and it won’t get any easier against Washington who are currently ranked 7th on defense in DVOA and can get after the quarterback with their front seven. Andy Dalton was considered to be the best backup quarterback in the league but looked nothing like that in his first start. He was 32.8% worse than an average quarterback while recording a QBR of 28.8 which is 5 points worse than dead last in that category. The Cowboys would like to run the ball and take some pressure off of Dalton but Washington is pretty solid at defending the run at home giving up 110 YPG on the ground (rank 16th) and rank 17th overall in DVOA defending the run. Kyle Allen was solid last week considering he was up against the 8th best defense in DVOA going into week 5 in the Rams and this week he should be even better against the Cowboys defense that’s been bad all year and rank 28th in DVOA on defense. Allen recorded a 70.4 QBR that would rank 15th if he qualified. Teasing Washington up to 6 is a strong play and I think they have a strong chance of winning this game outright and putting themselves in position to be tied for 1st in the worst division in football (NFC East).
Like: Washington +6 over Cowboys (tease by 6)
Bills (-13) @ Jets **Teaser**
This will more than likely be the most popular pick on Teaser tickets this week and for good reason. The Jets are historically bad losing games by 18.3 points and failing to meet expectations ATS with a point differential of-11.3. The Bills struggled to score points last week but they were up against the 10th best overall defense in DVOA but this week they’ll face the Jets who’s ranked 24th and Josh Allen should look a lot like he did before last week as he’s currently 28.9% better than a average quarterback and ranks 3rd in QBR with a 84.9. Also with almost half the season done and the Jets at 0-6 they may be looking towards the future to lock up the 1st overall pick by playing as many young guys as possible and losing games. If it’s out there I also like the odds for them to go 0-16 as well.
Like: Bills -7 over Jets (tease by 6)
Packers (-3.5) @ Texans
Both teams come into this game with their offenses ranked inside the top ten for DVOA so this has the potential to be a shootout like the Texans were in last week with the Titans. Money throughout the week has been coming in on the Packers and has moved the line half a point to 3.5 and I have to look that way too. I expect Aaron Rodgers to have a bounce back performance after his uncharacteristic bad game last week against the Buccaneers. In three games before facing the Bucs the Packers were averaging 36.3 PPG going up against two out of three defenses that ranked in the bottom ten in DVOA and should resemble that type of production against this Texans defense that ranks 27th in DVOA. There’s some value on the home dog catching the half point on a key number but I have the Packers ten points better and should win this game by 5+. Give me Green Bay -3.5 and over 56.5.
Like: Packers -3.5 over Texans AND Over 56.5
Browns (-3.5) @ Bengals
Back in Week 2 the Bengals were able to sneak a back door cover with a touchdown in the last minutes to cover the game and I think this matchup will come down to that situation again. The Browns weren’t able to get their run game going last week against the Steelers with only 75 yards on the ground which made it tougher on Baker Mayfield in the passing game as he stayed under pressure and was sacked four times and threw two interceptions. The Bengals don’t pose that same type of threat defensively so the Browns should be able to run the ball and control the clock a lot like they did in the first matchup even though Nick Chubb will be out for this game. More than likely when the Bengals offense is on the field they’ll be playing from behind which means Joe Burrow will have to throw the ball and he did have 61 pass attempts in the first game so I’m expecting around 40-45 attempts which will give him a strong chance of going over his passing yards. The Bengals also are throwing the ball 62.2% of the time this season that ranks 8th so Zac Taylor is confident to put the ball in the hands of Burrow and let him sling it all over the field but they do need to do a better job of protecting him as he’s been sacked the second most in the league with 24 and is on pace to be sacked over 70 times.
Lean: Joe Burrow over 270 passing yards
Lions (+1) @ Falcons
Both teams were in favorable positions to play with some added motivation last week with the Falcons firing their head coach and general manager and the Lions come out of their bye week against a weak opponent in the Jaguars and both teams won comfortably. I think this both teams are in order for a letdown spot as last weeks showings are not who these teams really are. Before week 6 the Falcons were averaging 24 PPG while the Lions were averaging 24.7 and both scored over 30 with the Falcons reaching 40. With this total opening up at 56.5 with majority of the money coming in on the under dropping the total down to 55 I would look to make a play on the under as most people will overreact to these teams last performances and expect another high scoring game. Both defenses rank between 20-25 in overall DVOA but they’ve faced top ten schedule for offenses and with as many recognizable names both offenses have they still rank between 19-23 in offensive DVOA.
Like: Lions/Falcons Under 55
Panthers (+9) @ Saints
Even with the Saints missing their best weapon in Michael Thomas the last few games they still found a way to score at least 30 PPG with Drew Brees throwing for 286.3 YPG with Emmanuel Sanders getting involved with the offense with Alvin Kamara and Jared Cook. Now Thomas is expected to be back and he’ll bring another level to their offense that they’ve been missing. The Panthers defense ranks 21st overall in DVOA while facing the 12th toughest schedule for offenses and will face their toughest offense so far in the Saints with Michael Thomas returning. This line opened up at 6.5 and majority of the money for this game has been coming in on the Panthers but the line has moved in favor of the Saints to -9. I have this line at -13 for the Saints so even at -9 there’s still value on them but this is a divisional game and 9 is to much for me to lay so a better bet would be to look to Drew Brees going over his passing yards total now that he has all of his weapons available to play in Week 7.
Lean: Drew Brees over 250 passing yards
Seahawks (-3) @ Cardinals
Seahawks have the rest advantage as they’re coming out of their bye week and the Cardinals are on a short week playing on Monday Night. Cardinals performance against the Cowboys is still fresh on the mind for a lot of people but I don’t think they are as good as they dominated the Cowboys. The Cowboys are a bad team right now with some key guys out on defense and Dak Prescott might be proving to be more valuable to that team more than we or Jerry Jones thought. Plus Kyler Murray only completed 9 out of 24 passes and going up against tougher competition like Russell Wilson and the Seahawks that won’t be good enough. The Seahawks are currently ranked 1st in offense DVOA while not being tested much to this point facing the 28th easiest schedule of defenses and I don’t see the Cardinals being much of a threat as this will be the toughest offense they’ve faced so far and will test that 9th ranked defense in DVOA. This line opened at 3 and stayed around that number with majority of the money coming in on the Seahawks and I have Seattle 4-5 points better here.
Like: Seahawks -3 over Cardinals (buy up to -4.5)
49ers (+2) @ Patriots
Jimmy Garoppolo had his best game of the season while looking healthier and with Raheem Mostert on the short IL because of a high ankle sprain the 49ers will need more games of good play from the passing game led by Jimmy G. The good news is they have the weapons with George Kittle, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk to do so the bad news is this week their up against arguably the greatest coach of all time in Bill Belichick who Garoppolo played for and probably knows how to play him into his flaws. The Patriots got off to a pretty good start to the season but have dealt with recent adversity with their team being hit with COVID cases that’s limited their practice time and has rescheduled games and it’s showed with their rhythm and timing in their most games against the Chiefs and Broncos. Now they’re dealing with key guys being limited to practice due to injury so the 49ers have an opportunity to get another win while they’re also dealing with injuries of their own. This line opened at Patriots -5.5 and moved 3.5 points to the 49ers so if you were to take the 49ers now you’d have to like them to win the game outright (which I lean towards that way) because the value in the line is gone.
Lean: 49ers +2 over Patriots AND 49ers ML (+105)
Chiefs (-10.5) @ Broncos
Now that the Chiefs have a running game with Clyde Edwards-Helaire and also picking up LeVeon Bell, their showing the football world they can now win games by being a run heavy team if they need to and control the clock and time of possession which gives their opponents one more thing to worry about as if Patrick Mahomes isn’t enough. The Broncos won an unusual game last week by scoring no touchdowns and their kicking making six field goals. That simply won’t happen against the Chiefs and it’s tough seeing Drew Lock having a good performance against this Chiefs defense that’s ranked 10th in DVOA while facing the 9th toughest schedule of offenses. The only chance this Broncos defense has of slowing down this Chiefs offense is that this game will be played in the snow in 20 degrees but the Chiefs have played in the snow before and it could hurt the Broncos offense more. This line opened at -9.5 and money coming in moved it in favor of the Chiefs and I agree with the line movement as I have the Chiefs three scores better than their division rival Denver Broncos.
Like: Chiefs -10.5 over Broncos
Buccaneers (-3.5) @ Raiders
With the recent news of the Raiders having to send their entire offensive line home and adding starting left tackle Trent Brown to the COVID list it’s hard to see this game being played Sunday night with all the precautions that will be taking place over the next few days. I would think this game gets rescheduled to Monday or Tuesday of next week because the Buccaneers would have a huge advantage if this game was still scheduled to be played on Sunday Night Football.
Steelers (+1) @ Titans
This matchup looks like the game of the week with two of the three undefeated teams left. This game will be a battle of who’s strength of the team is legit. The Steelers defense is ranked 2nd in DVOA but they’ve faced the easiest schedule ranked 32nd while the Titans offense is ranked 3rd in DVOA but they’ve faced the 31st easiest schedule of defenses. Another factor for this game will come down to quarterback play and to this point Ryan Tannehill has been better playing 35.8% better than an average quarterback compared to Ben Roethlisberger who’s playing 13% better than an average quarterback. I don’t have a strong opinion on this game because of so many unknown factors so this is a pass spot for me and I’ll learn more about these two teams from this game moving on forward.
Bears (+6) @ Rams
The Bears are 5-1 and in first place in their division and they’re getting six points on the road has to be a first. They’re wins haven’t been impressive from an offensive standpoint but their defense ranks 5th in DVOA but against the 22nd easiest schedule of offenses while the Rams offense is currently ranked 5th in DVOA but it’s come against the 25th easiest schedule of defenses. This matchup is a lot like the Steelers and Titans with still some learning to do on both teams and I think coming out of this game I’ll have a stronger opinion on both moving forward.