Author's Note: 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 new NFL Week 9 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.
Raiders (+1.5) @ Chargers **Best Bet**
Last week in a bad weather matchup with the Browns with winds over 20 miles per hour the Raiders were not able to rely on there strong passing game that ranks 8th in DVOA but instead had to rely on their inconsistent running attack that ranks 27th in DVOA but Josh Jacobs led the way rushing for 128 yards and over 4 YPC to lead the Raiders to a outright double digit win. This week weather shouldn’t be an issue in a division matchup with the Chargers. The Chargers continue to blow big leads as they blew another one against the Broncos last week. Both quarterbacks are playing on a similar level as both rank 8th and 9th in QBR with a score around 77 but it is the Raiders who have shown the ability to finish off games they have an opportunity to win and with them being short road dogs I like them to get another win this week. The Raiders have the better record and I have them being two points better so grab the 1.5 point and even put something on the money line.
Like: Raiders +1.5 AND Raiders ML (+104)
Seahawks (-3) @ Bills (**Teaser Pick**)
Russell Wilson continues to impress and remains the front runner for the MVP coming off last week where he threw for 261 yards, 4 touchdowns and a QBR of 88.6 and will have a chance to produce similar results against a Bills defense that is ranked 23rd in DVOA while facing the 18th toughest schedule of offenses. Last week the Bills struggled to put away a bad Patriots team and if it wasn’t for a Cam Newton fumble the Patriots have a shot to win that game in overtime. Luck more than likely won’t be on their side going against Russell Wilson. Also after Josh Allen’s hot start to the season he’s reverted back to his mediocre play from last season as he’s averaging only 194.3 passing yards and has only thrown 2 touchdowns in his last three games. In order to have a shot against the Seahawks you have to be able to put up points and with Allen’s recent play this won’t get the job done.
Like: Seahawks +3 (**Tease by 6**)
Ravens (-2.5) @ Colts
A trend is starting to develop on how to defend Lamar Jackson and teams like the Chiefs and Steelers are putting the blueprint on tape. I think the Colts have the personnel to copy the blueprint and give themselves a shot at pulling of an upset. Jackson struggled with throwing the ball and making reads downfield last week against the Steelers and the Colts should give him the same problems as they’re ranked 3rd overall in defensive DVOA and 5th against the run. The Colts don’t make to many explosive plays but Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines present matchup problems out of the backfield that help Phillip Rivers. Since Frank Riech became the head coach of the Colts in 2018 they’ve been profitable with a 20-18-3 record with a margin of victory of +3.3 and exceeding expectations ATS with a point differential of +2.1 and this year so far with a veteran quarterback he trusts to run his system they’ve been ever better going 57.1% ATS with a +8.9 margin of victory and exceeding expectations ATS with a point differential of +3.6.
Like: Colts +2.5
Dolphins (+4.5) @ Cardinals
Last week Tua made his first NFL start but wasn’t needed to do much to get a win over the Rams who were in a tough scheduling spot. This week I think we see more from Tua. For the first time in a few years going into the second half of the season the Dolphins are in the mix to make the playoffs so the rest of the roster around Tua I expect them to play with some added motivation since this franchise hasn’t been in the playoffs since 2016. Teams coming off their bye week that played well usually come and don’t play well their first game back from their bye week so I’ll be banking on that. This season the Dolphins are 3-1 ATS (1-0 on the road) when they’re an underdog getting 0 to 6.5 points compared to the Cardinals who are 0-2 ATS (0-1 at home) when they’re the favorite between 0-6.5 points so with oddsmakers anticipating a close game I’ll take the Dolphins and Tua has a bigger performance than his debut.
Like: Dolphins +4.5
Broncos (+3.5) @ Falcons
The Broncos are coming off a come from behind win last week (with a little help from the refs) but give them credit for coming back from being down 21 points in the 2nd half. Drew Lock started to show signs why John Elway was so high on him as he completed 63% of his passes, threw for 248 yards and three touchdowns against a pretty solid Chargers defense and this week he should have a similar performance against a weaker defense in the Falcons (ranked 29th in DVOA pass defense). The Falcons coming off a mini bye as they played last Thursday and Matt Ryan did just enough in bad weather conditions to get a win SU and ATS and he should have another solid day against the Broncos. With both quarterbacks coming off good performances I think the over is a solid play. Over their last three games both teams combine to score 50.7 PPG and both teams are 50% or better to the over. I see value in the total up to 53 so I’ll play over 50.
Like: Over 50
Panthers (+10.5) @ Chiefs
It’s very tough to make the decision to bet against the Chiefs with Patrick Mahomes as their quarterback and Andy Reid the head coach but they could be in caught in a look ahead spot with their bye week coming up and right after that they go up against the Raiders who handed them their only loss on the season. The Panthers are a well coached team under 1st year head coach Matt Rhule as the Panthers are 3-1 ATS on the road and exceeding expectations ATS with a point differential of +4.5 plus their best player and weapon Christian McCaffrey is expected to be back so the combination of Davis and McCaffrey out of the backfield gives Carolina a great chance to control time of possession and limit the opportunities the Chiefs offense can take the field. Since both teams have the ability to run the ball and the total is relatively high I think a play on the under is a solid play. Both teams go under the total 62.5% of the time and I think this total should be around 46.5
Lean: Under 52.5
Texans (-7) @ Jaguars
The Texans haven’t shown me anything this season that warrants them being a 7 point road favorite so this line could be more about hoe bad the Jaguars are plus Jake Lutton being the starting quarterback over a Gardner Minshew. A player prop that’s been pretty consistent so far this year is Deshaun Watson going over his total passing yards as the Texans rank inside the top 5 with 63.4% of their plays coming through the air and Watson averaging 299.3 YPG. With the Jaguars defense being ranked dead last in DVOA and pass defense DVOA this should be another strong play this week.
Like: Watson over 275 passing yards
Giants (+2.5) @ Washington
With the Giants playing their best game of the season last week on Monday Night Football against the Buccaneers I think they’re in a let down spot. When two teams from the worst division get together not a lot of scoring is expected to happen as evident to the low total of 41/42 but Terry McLaurin is in a strong spot to cash his player prop over total receiving yards. McLaurin is top receiving options and showed to reliable as he’s catching 62.3% of his passes while averaging 82.4 YPG (+16.8 from his rookie year). The Giants are also ranked 28th in pass defense DVOA so Kyle Allen shouldn’t have a problem getting McLaurin the ball.
Lean: Giants +2.5
Steelers (-13.5) @ Cowboys
This has turned into a free pass season for the Cowboys in Mike McCarthy’s first season. The Cowboys defense may have some recognizable names but they may be overrated and I expect some moves to be made in the offseason. With the Cowboys having Cooper Rush and Garrett Gilbert splitting first team practice reps this has to be a play on Pittsburgh or pass and because the Steelers are 1-8 ATS when they’re a favorite of 10.5 to 14 points it’s a pass for me.
Bears (+6) @ Titans
After getting off to a slow start to the season the Bears quickly inserted Nick Foles over Mitch Tribusky but over the last three games the Bears offense hasn’t shown any type of momentum moving in the direction they thought they would be in as they’ve averaged 18.7 PPG. They’re averaging 20.1 PPG for the season (ranks 28th and only 2.6 points more than last year). I had the Titans as my best bet last week and they disappointed. They couldn’t get any pressure or sacks on Joe Burrow who’s been sacked the most this season while playing behind the worst offensive line this season and they were missing five projected starters. The Titans were considered to be a AFC contender but with their inconsistent play recently plus not being able to dominate matchups they’re expected to concerns me moving forward. They also have a division matchup next week with the Colts so it’s possible they get caught looking ahead.
Lions (+4) @ Vikings
This game is unclear from a bettor's perspective with Matt Stafford going on the COVID-19 list. The Lions were embarrassed last week losing by 20 to the Colts, and the Vikings came out of their bye week playing with motivation to turn their season around against the Packers as they won straight up as underdogs. In the offseason the Vikings made a lot of roster changes on both sides of the ball to get younger and save their salary cap so with limited practice time to prepare for the season their defense underperformed early on compared to what were use to seeing out of a Mike Zimmer defense but the performance they had last week out of the bye may lead to them having a strong second half to the season. They held the Packers to 22 points and most of their yards came in the 4th quarter when the Vikings were up two touchdowns. If this game ends up being played I would lean to the Vikings. The Lions are 0-5 ATS in the last 5 matchups against the Vikings and they’re 4-9-2 ATS in their last 15 games in Minnesota.
Lean: Vikings (-4) over Lions
Saints (+5.5) @ Buccaneers
Since the meeting in Week 1 I would say the Buccaneers have proven to be the better team of the two. With Tom Brady gaining some rhythm and continuity with his new skill position players he playing at a level I projected he would with all this talent around him and he’s adding Antonio Brown to the mix this week.Both teams might’ve been looking ahead to their Sunday matchup as both were in close games against teams (Giants & Bears) they are easily two touchdowns better than. Both teams have explosive offenses but I think the Bucs have the edge in this matchup because they have the 1st ranked defense in DVOA and I think their defense will come up with a couple stops that help decode to outcome of this game.
Lean: Buccaneers (-5.5) over Saints
Patriots (-7.5) @ Jets
The Patriots have shown no signs of being a team that can cover as 7 point road favorites so this line speaks to how bad the Jets are. If there’s a strong play in this matchup I think it’s on the under. Both teams have combined to score 19.3 PPG over their last three with the Jets only averaging 6 PPG. Both teams are also 57% or better to the under and I have this total at 37.5.
Lean: Under 42.5 points