OK, we finally did better last week with our Big Five Bets: 3-2. For the season we are 25-25 with the Big Five Bets or 50% for those who are challenged by math. Oddly, we are 77-70 for all regular season games when picking against the spread or 52.4% which is almost profitable. Still not great numbers and we need to reflect on where we have gone wrong.
First off, it's usually not a good idea to take too much chalk unless the matchup is really lopsided. Any spread when a team is favored by 7 or more points can be considered a lot of chalk. Nine times we took a team favored by 7 or more points in our Big Five Bets and our record is 5 -4. That's OK but not great. Secondly, divisional matchups are always tough to predict. 19 out of our 50 picks for the Big Five Bets have been teams playing against a divisional opponent and our record is 7 - 12. Now that is awful.
Well guess what is happening this week? We are NOT selecting any teams that are favored by 7 more points! Also, we are NOT messing around with any divisional matchups! We will still use the GE model to guide our decisions but we are also going to use a bit of intuition. Definitely we should pay attention to what happened with the presidential election polls that had Hillary Clinton comfortably winning until we got that rude awakening on Tuesday, November 8. You can trust the data to an extent but you can't ignore the human element of elections or in this case football games which sometimes can't be easily quantified.
So here are the FIVE teams we like for Week 11 with our reasons (with a more human element in our explanations).
- Baltimore is expected to lose by 5.5 points to Dallas according to the GE model and that should not be a surprise. Dallas is a really good football team and the Cowboys are at home. They are riding high after a great win in Pittsburgh so making them a 7 point spread might seem justified. We still think that is too much. The public seems to be split on this game but we are convinced that Baltimore covers. Usually we will see a team like Dallas have a letdown game after an exciting win on the road and Baltimore does have three extra days of rest. Also, the GE model seems to like Baltimore to cover but also we think that this game will prove to be a real test for the Cowboys. They have not faced a defense as good as Baltimore and guess which team leads the league in run defense? Baltimore! Something will have to give when the best run offense goes against the best run D. As we have seen often in the NFL, defense wins championships and even though Baltimore is not truly a Super Bowl contender, they are a veteran team that knows how to win the battle in the trenches, especially on the road. We will gladly accept 7 points as we expect this game to be close.
- Miami is finally shedding it's Rodney Dangerfield image and is now getting some respect as a road favorite in LA. Usually we don't like to bet against a home dog. Also, we rarely go against the GE model which actually has the Rams favored by 1.11 points. However, we can't ignore how well the Dolphins have played. They have a very strong offensive line which some people have called the unicorns due to how rare all of them have had a chance to play together. When they do play together, look at what has happened: a 4 game winning streak with an approximate total of 750 rushing yards. The Rams defend the run pretty well but not enough to stifle the Dolphins ground attack. Also, the Rams offense is terrible and the Dolphins D picked off perennial Pro Bowl QB Phillip Rivers 4 times last week. If they can do that to Rivers, imagine what they can do to scrawny Jared Goff who will be starting in his first ever NFL game this Sunday. Even the great QBs struggled in their first few games of their careers and there is no reason to expect anything different with Goff. On the other side, Ryan Tannehill has been doing a great job of managing the game. He has no interceptions during their 4 game winning streak. Finally, we can't help but notice the notion that Miami decided to stay put in southern California this week. This is a team that is treating this road trip as a business trip instead of a vacation. Oakland and Atlanta did the same during their travels and had success. We love the focus of the Dolphins and we can't ignore the fact that LA has had to travel cross country twice a few days ago. The Dolphins will be a team ready to assert its will over the Rams and giving up 2.5 points is not asking for much.
- We have a love - hate relationship with the Eagles. Earlier in the season they treated us well and then they burned us a couple of times a few weeks later. When we don't take them even when the model tells us too, they cover. Quite a frustrating team but now we get a line we like. The GE model has Philly winning by 0.44 points and a spread of 6.5 points in favor of Seattle is just way too good of a value for the Eagles.We all know how good the Seahawks are at home but lately the have had trouble putting teams away easily at CenturyLink Field. The Eagles haven't won many games on the road this year but they do keep games close with a strong defense. Wentz is one of the more mature rookie QBs the league has seen in a while (OK, Dak Prescott is mature too!) and should be able to manage the game well with all of the talent he has at his disposal. We simply can't ignore the data when a team we feel is better than its opponent, according to the GE model, is getting 6.5 points.
- Now we move onto the night games. The Redskins host Sunday Night Football against the reeling Green Bay Packers. I am not sure what is exactly happening with the Packers but this is a team clearly going in the opposite direction as the Redskins. After starting the season 0-2, the Redskins are 5-1-1 and have somewhat flown under the radar. The Packers, on the other hand, are 1-4 in their last 5 games and that lone victory was against the Bears in a matchup that saw Brian Hoyer get knocked out of the game. The GE model has Washington winning by 5.49 points and we are pretty sure Washington will want to exact revenge against Green Bay after last year's embarrassing playoff loss to the Packers last year. You like that! :-)
- Finally, we end with the Raiders who will lose a home game when they square off with the Houston Texans in Mexico City on Monday Night Football. The GE model has the Raiders winning by 9.61 points. The Raiders have one of the best offenses in the league and Houston has kind of been winning their games with smoke and mirrors. Sure, the Texans are 6-3 but that has been against weak or mediocre teams. When they have had to play against legit teams like New England, Denver, and Minnesota, they lost by a combined total of 85 - 22. The Texans really do miss JJ Watt and Derek Carr and company will find a way to tear apart the Texans. It also helps that Oakland had a week off to prepare for this game and even get acclimated to the elevation which is over 7000 feet. In fact, the Raiders travelled to Mexico on Sunday so they do have more of an advantage here than the Texans in terms of elevation acclimation. I expect the Raiders to have a bit of letdown the following week at home against Carolina but in Mexico, we are going with the Raiders.
Here are our picks for the rest of the games.
New Orleans +3.5 (COVER!)
Kansas City -7.5
San Francisco +13
Let us know what you think. We welcome all feedback. Good luck this weekend!