In our NFL Week 4 preview, we focused on some curious coaching decisions from the prior week and how they affected the games’ outcomes. Freddie Kitchens ran a draw play on 4th-and-9 in the fourth quarter to cost the Browns their game against the Rams, and Bruce Arians willingly took a delay-of-game penalty to move his potential game-winning field goal back five yards.
It’s time to revisit that discussion.
We can’t stress enough how important it is to integrate coaching metrics into your handicapping. The guys wearing the headsets are just as influential to the outcome of your wagers as the starting quarterbacks or middle linebackers.
When looking at on-the-field talent, New England had no business being a 13-point favorite over Cleveland last week. The Browns have a No. 1 draft pick at quarterback, two All-Pro wide receivers, a fantastic young running back, a former No. 1 draft pick on the defensive line and a former top-5 draft pick at cornerback. The Patriots are 30th in the NFL in yards per rushing attempt and 23rd in yards per play, and bettors still lined up to take New England because of the criminal mismatch between Bill Belichick and Freddie Kitchens.
The Browns were coming off a bye week, and the Patriots were coming off a Monday night road game. And yet with all of that time to prepare, Cleveland committed 13 penalties, turned the ball over three times, and Kitchens lost two replay challenges that had absolutely no chance for success.
With one timeout in his pocket and over 40 seconds left on the clock, Chicago’s Matt Nagy declined to run a play to make his potential game-winning kick easier for Eddy Pineiro. He missed.
With 3rd-and-5 from midfield where a first down would seal a Broncos’ victory, Denver’s Vic Fangio elected to run the ball and punt to Indianapolis. They lost.
With five minutes left and trailing Green Bay by a touchdown, Andy Reid elected to punt on 4th-and-3. Kansas City never got the ball back.
When you’re placing your NFL wagers every week, you have to know your coaches. You have to know that Fangio is probably the most conservative coach in the league. You have to know that Reid fumbles late-game clock situations on a regular basis. You have to know that Kitchens is in way over his head and isn’t ready to be an NFL head coach.
Seattle -6.5 vs. Tampa Bay
From the chartered flights, to the catered meals, to the luxury hotels, NFL road trips have never been easier. According to The Gold Sheet, road teams are 73-44 against the spread this season. Road underdogs are 53-29 ATS and road favorites are 20-15 ATS. Road underdogs of 3.5-6.5 points are 25-8 against the spread this season.
There are a handful of pretty good teams that have a glaring weakness with sirens and neon lights surrounding them. In Philadelphia, it was their secondary prior to getting Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills back. In Chicago, it’s Matt Nagy and Mitchell Trubisky. For the LA Chargers, it was an injured offensive line. In Tampa Bay, the heat magnet is clearly Jameis Winston.
Winston has committed TEN turnovers in Tampa Bay’s last two games. In last week’s loss to Tennessee, Tampa Bay’s defense held the Titans to 246 total yards and 4.3 yards per play. The Bucs had more yards per pass attempt, more yards per rushing attempt, and a better third-down conversion percentage. Tampa Bay was better in every area of the game. Except for Winston’s turnovers.
Much like Seattle’s game against Atlanta last week, I think the Seahawks will leave the backdoor open for Tampa Bay in the second half. The Bucs clearly have the offensive talent to score some points, as long as the ball stays in their hands and doesn’t end up on the ground.
Oakland -2 vs. Detroit
This is the Raiders’ first home game since September 15. Heading into their Week 7 game against Green Bay, Oakland’s starting offensive line hadn’t played a game together all season. With a fully-healthy offensive line, the Raiders generated 484 yards of offense on 7.8 yards per play against the Packers. Unfortunately, that lasted one week. Center Rodney Hudson injured his ankle last week in Houston, and Jon Gruden is heading back to the lineman well.
Detroit is 5-1 against the spread in their last six games as an underdog, and Matt Patricia has this team playing well. Matt Stafford is averaging 7.9 yards per pass attempt, which is top-5 in the NFL. Oakland’s passing defense is bottom-5 in the NFL, allowing 8.3 yards per pass attempt.