Week 9 Rankings & Game Flowbotics
As usual, my picks against the spread and Week 9 rankings can be found below. Those picks and ranks are influenced greatly by the matchup data presented in my Game Flowbotics spreadsheet. Here’s a link to this week’s installment:
Last week, I got off the schneid, going 3-0 in my over/under picks. Of course, that newfound success was mitigated by a mediocre week against the spread (3-3). On the year in the BettingPros accuracy contest, I’m 23-17-2 against the spread (57.5%) and 12-10 on over/unders (54.6%). In terms of units won, I rank 17th overall out of 157 qualified analysts. Here are the lines I like on the upcoming slate:
SF at ARI (+10), 43-Point Over/Under
I don’t loving picking Thursday Night Football games, but Niners-Cards is enough of a mismatch that I had to pounce when the lines opened with SF (-8). I have less confidence recommending San Francisco now that the line has moved a full two points, but if forced to choose, I would still side with the favorites. This is a matchup of DVOA’s top-ranked team (SF) versus its 27th-ranked team (ARI), and the 49ers have an average scoring differential of +18.6 points, so laying only 10 seems reasonable.
My Pick: SF (-8)
Current Pick: SF (-10)
HOU “at” JAC (+1.5), 46-Point Over/Under
I discussed this matchup with Evan Silva on this week’s episode of The Most Accurate Podcast over at 4for4.com. Houston’s defense just lost J.J. Watt for the season against Oakland, and their secondary was already a M.A.S.H. unit heading into that game. Jacksonville suffered similar setbacks on defense in Week 8, as slot cornerback D.J. Hayden and strong safety Ronnie Harrison both fell prey to injuries. With Jaylen Ramsey already long gone via trade, the Jaguars’ secondary is now in tatters. When you add it all up, both teams in this contest should have no trouble passing the ball, and defenses generally don’t travel all that well for London games in the first place, so I expect a lot of scoring.
The Pick: Over 46
MIN at KC (+2.5), N/A Over/Under
I’m assuming Patrick Mahomes continues to sit, and call me crazy, but I don’t trust Matt Moore against Minnesota’s sixth-ranked defense by weighted DVOA. On the other side of the ball, the Vikings’ offense finally looks dialed in. Human wrecking ball Dalvin Cook could have a monster day against the Chief’s 30th-ranked rushing defense (and 30th-ranked offensive line by Adjusted Line Yards). I’m going with the healthier and more well-rounded team, home field advantage be damned.
The Pick: MIN (-2.5)
IND at PIT (+1), 43-Point Over/Under
Recency bias from Pittsburgh’s Monday Night Football win over Miami caused this line to open with the Steelers as slight favorites (-1), so I pounced on Indianapolis (+1). The line has since shifted a full two points (James Conner’s injury likely played a part in the line movement as well), but I still like Indy as a slight favorite on the road. The 1-point spread effectively makes this game a pick ’em, and I prefer the analytically better team in the Colts (16th in DVOA vs. the Steelers at 20th).
My Pick: IND (+1)
Current Pick: IND (-1)
GB at LAC (+3.5), 47.5-Point Over/Under
At 3-5, this feels like a must-win game for the Chargers, but I don’t think it will matter. By DVOA, the Packers rank top-five in both passing and rushing offense, while the Chargers rank bottom-nine in both passing and rushing defense. And the “home” crowd won’t be any help to the Chargers, as their stadium is routinely overtaken by opposing fans when popular franchises like Green Bay visit Los Angeles. Considering the Packers’ average point differential of +6.5 points, only having to lay 3.5 feels like a gift.
My Pick: GB (-3)
Current Pick: GB (-3.5)
NE at BAL (+3), 45.5-Point Over/Under
Sunday Night Football is appointment viewing this week as the Patriots take their top-ranked squad by weighted DVOA to face the eighth-ranked Ravens. Baltimore has had extra time to prep for this matchup coming off their bye. Plus, they will reportedly have wide receiver Marquise Brown and cornerback Jimmy Smith healthy for this game. And despite how good the Patriots have looked through eight weeks, they haven’t faced the stiffest competition, so I was hesitant to pick this game at all. Still, you know Bill Belichick will have his team ready to go, and it’s not like they’re being asked to cover a large spread. I would stay away if you’re looking at the spread of +3.5 that I’ve seen in some places, but if it holds on the key number of +3, I like New England.
The Pick: NE (-3)
DAL at NYG (+7), 48-Point Over/Under
I’m not picking this game with a ton of confidence because NFC East divisional matchups often go off the rails, but this is ultimately a contest between a top-five team and a bottom-five team by DVOA, and Dallas just had their bye week for extra preparation. The average point differentials reinforce a slant toward the Cowboys, as they sit at +9.4 while the Giants sit at -7.5. I’m sure I’ll be dreading a backdoor cover from Daniel Jones the entire game, but for now, I’m laying the wood with Dallas.
The Pick: DAL (-7)
On to the weekly rankings…