Editor's Note: Hello there, this is Chris Dell, your Betting Predators' Editor-In-Chief and Fantasy Football Director. Before diving into this piece by the one and only Justin "Smoove" Everett, I wanted to drop a special note here and personally thank you for reading and supporting us so far. As you might know by now, things are growing FAST at the Betting Predators with our podcast and our website. When Sleepy J, Dan Rivera and I connected this past summer we had aspirations of starting a new type of website that focused on the very best of sports betting and fantasy sports analysis. We felt that most websites either had it one way or the other, and that they often ignored the fact that most of us can't separate the two. At the Betting Predators, our goal is to give you the best of both worlds.
We're all about proving you with high quality content here at the Betting Predators, which is why each weekly article and piece that we put it out is deeply thought out and edited/produced professionally. That is also why, without further adieu, that I'm very excited and honored to bring you a brand new edition to the Betting Predators' weekly programming and content schedule: "Smoove's NFL Matchups of the Week."
If you're not familiar with the man simply known as "Smoove" already, I'd suggest you follow him on Twitter @Smoove_702 and in the pregame.com forums. Smoove brings a quantitative, high quality and deeply thought out approach to all of his handicaps, and that's what he will be doing each week here. We respect nothing more than your attention and your time, which is why each game breakdown will be no more than one to two paragraphs each, with at the very least a lean, like or prop attached. We don't just want to throw picks at you with no context or quality handicap behind them, and we also don't want to waste your time with "paralysis by analysis." We will give you the information that you need to find your edge, and to beat the books as well.
Deep diving into PFF data, Smoove will give you all of the numbers you need to know - from a sports bettor's perspective - for every single upcoming NFL matchup of the week. Sleepy J and I will also occasionally chip in with our thoughts from a betting/fantasy perspective to add more context. We hope that you enjoy this content, and as always, we welcome your feedback on how we can improve and provide you more value with each week that passes by. Thanks again for reading, retweeting, listening and supporting. As Sleepy says best, "enjoy da games."
Author's Note: 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. 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 Yards Per Point (YPP) will come into play for us. For an offense, the lower the Yards Per Point 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 this week's matchups column I will reference this stat quite often, and it will be important for our handicapping.
Chargers @ Buccaneers
The Chargers might be 1-2, but they’ve been playing better than their record would indicate compared to the Bucs. The Bucs are getting a lopsided amount of tickets (but getting less money) and I expect that to continue. The Chargers rank last in offensive yards per point (YPP) but they’ve been up against some solid competition with the average of their opponents defensive YPP being 15.9. The Bucs currently have a 15.2 defensive YPP, so I expect the Chargers to continue their offensive production and score between 17-23 points. The Bucs have a 12.2 offensive YPP, which ranks inside the top five, but it has come against defenses with an average YPP of 13.9 and the Chargers defensive YPP is 17.7, which ranks fifth overall in the league. Brady will have a tough time against this defense moving the ball, especially now that one of his top weapons in Chris Godwin is listed as doubtful and expected to miss this game. This Week 4 tilt between Los Angeles and Tampa Bay is my best bet of the week, and it is also my upset alert pick of the week.
Seahawks @ Dolphins
The Dolphins haven’t played since Thursday, so they’ll have the rest advantage here plus extra time to prepare, which they’ll definitely need against Russell Wilson. Wilson has been killing defenses so far in 2020, but it hasn’t come against a defense as good as the Dolphins, who surprisingly have a defensive YPP of 18.4 that ranks third in the league. Both defenses have seen average offenses when it comes to YPP averages, but it has been the Seahawks defense that has given up one more touchdown to their opponents than the Dolphins. The Seahawks are also coming off back to back last-minute wins, so I think they have a let down here as they look ahead to next week, where they have another prime time game on Sunday Night Football against the Minnesota Vikings. I like teasing the Fins here up to +13.
Like: Tease the Dolphins 6 points to +13
Cardinals @ Panthers
The Panthers started the 2020 season with a lot of disadvantages, bringing in a whole new coaching staff, a new quarterback and a brand new defense. They also lost their best player and the centerpiece of their offense in Christian McCaffrey after a few weeks. Despite all of that, however, they’ve been competitive in their games, including last week's road win and upset over the Los Angeles Chargers. Teddy Bridgewater did a great job last week being efficient, moving the ball downfield and not committing any turnovers. I look for that to continue in Week 4, as the Cardinals defense against the pass is allow opposing quarterbacks a 61.8 completion percentage, 224 yards per game and rank towards the bottom of the league in opponent quarterback rating (103.1) .It’s also a west coast team traveling to play on the east coast in the early time slot, so I’m also looking for a slow start by the Cardinals in this spot.
Like: Tease Panthers by 6 points to +9.5
Colts @ Bears
I don’t think that an undefeated NFL team has ever replaced their starting quarterback so early in the season, but the Bears didn’t bring in Nick Foles for no reason. Foles replaced Mitch Tribusky last week and sparked a comeback win against the Falcons, and it's now his starting job to lose. The Colts will be a tougher matchup for the Bears, however, as Indianapolis wants to run the ball and be physical as they rank sixth in the NFL by running the ball 48.4% of the time. The Bears defense, on the other hand, rank 26th in the league against the run, allowing 119 yards per game and five yards per carry. Jonathan Taylor has a good chance of having his second 100-yard rushing game of the season here. With Foles at quarterback the Bears will probably look to throw the ball more often, but the Colts defense is pretty good against the pass, allowing opposing quarterbacks a lowly 62.6 completion percentage, 132 yards per game (ranks first overall) and a 64 QB rating (ranks first overall). Both teams have a defensive Yards Per Point that’s either average or better, so this could also be a low scoring game in Chicago.
Lean: Under 43 points
Saints @ Lions
The Saints aren't living up to their preseason hype and 2020 Super Bowl expectations. New Orleans sits at 1-2 right now, and its defense is playing awful. The Saints rank bottom five in the league in Yards Per Point (11.2). Both teams want to throw the ball here in this matchup, as the Saints and Lions each throw the ball nearly 60% of the time. It's going to come down to which defense will step up and defend the pass in this game. The Lions pass defense has been better thus far, as they are allowing opposing QBs a 60.4 completion percentage, 237 yards per game and a 94.2 QB rating. The Saints aren't the same on offense without Michael Thomas, but they anticipate him returning this week, although I’m not sure how effective he can be still dealing with his ankle injury. Detroit's pass defense should hold up this week regardless.
Lean: Lions +4
Jaguars @ Bengals
The Jaguars have the rest and preparation advantage here, as they haven’t played since last Thursday's loss to the Miami Dolphins. Jacksonville didn’t look good against the Dolphins, but the Dolphins actually have a legit defense that ranks top three in yards per point, and the Bengals defense on the other hand can't compare to Miami. Both teams depend heavily on the pass, so this one again will come down to which team defends the pass better. The Bengals defense has the better stats defending the pass, but the offenses they’ve faced have an average Yards Per Point of 18.5, which isn’t very good, and they’ve given up 22 PPG in the process. The Jaguars defense has faced tougher offenses, however, while their opponents have an average Yards Per Point of 14.1 and they’ve given up 23.3 PPG, albeit while facing tougher offenses. I think both quarterbacks will play well, but I expect Gardner Minshew to be better.
Like: Jaguars +3
Browns @ Cowboys
Cleveland's new head coach, Kevin Stefanski, is establishing the identity of this team as a run-first squad. More than 52% of the Browns' plays are runs (ranks second overall). With all the weapons the Cowboys have at receiver, and with them being down so early in their games so far, they’ve been forced to throw probably more than they want to - Dallas has thrown it on 65.6% of their plays (ranks fourth overall). The Browns defense has been solid defending the pass in 2020, but the Cowboys defense has not been able to stop the run, as they allow 127.7 YPG on nearly 4 YPC. The Browns come in with a dominant tandem at running back in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, so it could be another long day for that Dallas defense.
Like: Nick Chubb over 80.5 rushing yards
Vikings @ Texans
Both of these teams have had some tough matchups to open up the 2020 NFL Season, but the Texans offense will benefit more from going up against the soft Vikings defense this week. Houston's first three games this year have against their defensive opponents that allow an average Yards Per Point of 17.6, but the Vikings have a 12.9 defensive Yards Per Point average, which is much worse, and because of this I expect Deshaun Watson to have a big day in this spot. The Vikings defense against the pass is putrid, allowing opposing quarterbacks a 69.8% completion percentage, 292.3 YPG and a 103.5 QB rating. Buy low on Watson now.
Like: Deshaun Watson over total 280.5 passing yards (buy up to 285.5)
Ravens @ Washington Football Team
After being embarrassed on Monday Night Football, the Ravens will come out looking to dominate Washington. Everyone knows the Ravens want to run the ball, and Washington in fact gives up 125 rush Yards Per Game on 4.4 YPC. So look for the Ravens run game to have a major bounce back performance in this matchup. Washington also has a 12.4 defensive Yards Per Point that ranks 27th overall, also giving up 27 PPG. The opposing offenses that Washington has faced have an average Yards Per Point of 15.6, which is slightly below average. The Ravens have a 11.2 offensive yards per point, which ranks top five overall, so I expect them to put up a decent amount of points in what could be the biggest blowout of Week 4.
Like: Ravens team total over 29.5
Giants @ Rams
The Giants have faced some elite defenses to start the season (Steelers, Bears, 49ers), and while they catch "a little break" this week against the Rams, it won't be enough for them to be competitive or have a shot at winning this game. Without Barkley, the Giants have been forced to depend on the pass more than they want, with nearly 70% of their plays going through the air. While the Rams are average at defending the pass, their defensive line will probably force Daniel Jones into some turnovers with constant pressure up front. The Rams changed up their identity this year and are running the ball more than any team in the league. The Giants, meanwhile, can’t defend the run and are allowing teams to rush for 123 YPG on nearly 4 YPC. Darrell Henderson and company are set up for big days on the ground for the Los Angeles Rams.
Lean: Under 48 points
Patriots @ Chiefs
The Chiefs embarrassed the Ravens on Monday Night Football, as they were able to get anything they wanted with the pass and the run. In Week 4, however, they’ll be up against a team in the Patriots who I think will be a tougher matchup than Baltimore presented. The Patriots want to run the ball early and often, as 52.2% of their plays are run (ranks third overall), and the Chiefs allow teams to rush for 153 yards per game at 5.3 YPC. Cam Newton and the trio of Patriots running backs in Michel, Burkhead and White have a great opportunity to move the ball and control clock in this one, as they sport an offensive Yards Per Point of 14.1 and they’ve faced defenses with an average defensive Yards Per Point of 16.4.
Like: Patriots +7
Bills @ Raiders
Josh Allen has simply taken his game to the next level. Allen has continued to improve each year and especially in 2020, where his 85 QBR ranks fourth overall in the league in addition to his 346 Yards Per Game (ranks second overall) and 71.1% completion percentage (tied for sixth overall). Allen's 10:1 TD:INT ratio is also top notch, as the Bills are throwing the ball 6.7% more than last year while averaging 31 PPG against some respectable defenses. Facing the Raiders this week, I expect Allen’s production to continue. Las Vegas has been average at best defending the pass, and the Raiders are at their best when they establish the run. The Bills do a great job of defending the run, allowing just 106 rush yards/game, but they do allow opposing running backs 4.6 YPC.
Lean: Bills -3
Eagles @ 49ers
After last weeks blowout win over the Giants, the 49ers proved that they might have the deepest roster in league. San Francisco was missing at least 10 key starters and still won that game comfortably. They’ll have a couple players back this week, while the Eagles are still dealing with injuries and the poor play of both their offensive line and their quarterback, Carson Wentz. The 49ers want to be a balanced offense in general, but they really depend on establishing the running game first to set up the pass. The Eagles defend the run pretty well, allowing only 106.3 rush yards per game on 3.4 YPC. The Eagles offense has been more pass heavy in a lot of negative game scripts this year, as 64.6% of their plays have come through the air, but the 49ers defense has been elite at defending the pass and has allowed opposing teams a paltry 61.5 completion percentage, 187.3 yards per game and 75.3 QB rating. The 49ers defense hasn’t faced a "efficient" offense yet in 2020, as their opponents' average offensive yards per point is 19.5. The Eagles offense hasn't been much better than that, their YPP being 17.1.
Like: 49ers -7
Falcons @ Packers
How many more games does Arthur Blank need to see Dan Quinn blow double digit leads before he realizes that it's time to get another coach? Quinn was brought in because he had a good reputation as a defensive coach, but that hasn’t shown with his time in Atlanta, especially not in 2020. The Falcons are giving up 36 PPG so far, and it doesn’t get any easier on Monday Night Football when they go up against the Green Bay Packers and their 40 PPG offense. Green Bay is destroying terrible defenses with an 11.3 Yards Per Point clip. Matt Ryan should be able to continue putting up points here though, especially if Julio Jones returns this week (was a game-time decision last week and has an extra day to prepare this week), but with so many big leads blown, I worry about the morale of this team if they happen to get down by double digits like most of the Packers opponents have done this year. Ryan will be throwing early and often in this primetime matchup, and both he and his Falcons could amass a ton of garbage time stats in the process.
Like: Matt Ryan over 335.5 passing yards