For the season, the GE model is 86 - 75 against the spread and 28 -27 for the Big Five Bets. We have six more weeks left to the regular season so with a plethora of data at our disposal, we are confident we can finish strong.
Our first bet for Week 12 was Minnesota to cover the +2.5 point spread at Detroit (explanation displayed on an earlier post to our site). It looks like that was going to happen until Stafford marched his team down the field for a game tying field goal in the final few minutes and then unfortunately Bradford foolishly threw an errant pass for an interception to give Detroit a chance to seal the game with another field goal. Our model really liked Minnesota to win the game by 2 - 3 points so no regrets but divisional matchups seem to be prone to the kind of randomness we witnessed on Thanksgiving.
So who are the other four teams we will be rolling with this week?
Minnesota +2.5 (No Cover :/)
Tampa Bay +6
Here are our explanations.
Buffalo is favored to win by 12.83 points according to the GE model. This provides great value since the line at Westgate Casino and Sportsbook is -7.5. Yes, that is quite a lot of chalk and we would like to buy this line down to -6.5 if we can. Still, we get a team that is playing pretty well and in the playoff hunt going up against a team whose season is pretty much over. Buffalo is also at home where the weather will be cold. Blake Bortles is a Florida boy having played high school, college, and professional football all in the Sunshine State. He has been awful on the road in cold weather locations. In fact, he lost in Cincinnati and Baltimore during his rookie year when the temperature was below 50 degrees. The forecast for Buffalo tomorrow is 42 degrees with the possibility of rain/snow. The Jaguars are simply God awful on the road going 1-4 with their only road win against the Bears in Chicago who are also terrible. Even though Bortles hasn't been sacked this year as often as he was the previous two seasons, the Bills happen to rank #1 in adjusted sack rate according to Football Outsiders. Bills running back LeSean McCoy should be ready to go. On the flip side, the Jags have no run game whatsoever and this will make the Jags very one dimensional and predictable. Expect another Jags road loss as the Bills try to make their way to the postseason.
Miami is favored to win by 11.58 points according to the GE model. Again, really good value since the line is -7.5 (just like the Buffalo game). Also, this is a good degree of chalk but let's consider the Dolphins opponent. The 49ers are clearly in shambles and this season is a forgettable one for them. The talk now about the 49ers is what they will do with Trent Baalke (hopefully fire him!) and how they will go about the draft and free agency (spend some money for God's sake!). The Dolphins are clearly a team on the rise after winning their last 2 games in the clutch on the road. In fact, Miami has won five games in a row while the 49ers have lost 9 consecutive games. It's apparent that these two teams are going in opposite directions. The Dolphins are a legitimate playoff contender. I will say that I am a bit concerned about the injuries the Dolphins have to their O-line but the 49ers cannot stop anyone in the run game and running back Jay Ajayi has been a stud for the last few games. The bottom line is that the Dolphins can win the war in the trenches while the 49ers cannot. The Dolphins D-line is really solid and will get after Kaepernick. On the flip side, the Dolphins O-line (even with the injuries) will maul the 49ers D-line (perhaps the worst in NFL history). Finally, this game is an early start (1 PM EST) which will feel like 10 AM PST for the 49ers. With the cross-country travel for the 49ers, the early start, the temptation of South Beach (wasn't Kaepernick accused of sexual assault in Miami), and the 49ers having a lost season, I just don't see how they will have the focus to compete against the Dolphins. This game should be a rout as has been the case for most of the 49ers road games this season.
Tampa Bay is expected to lose by 2.19 points according to the GE model. The line is at +6 so we will gladly take the home dog here. Yes, one of the top teams in the NFC comes to town but Seattle is not the same team it was during its championship years. They have won just 2 of their 5 road games this year and the Bucs are a 5-5 team. No way should a .500 team this late in the year be an underdog at home by a touchdown to a team that can't even win half of its road games. Jameis Winston has grown as QB this year and should be able to keep this game close. We can't say much about the Bucs defense but they held their own in KC last week by winning 19-17 and destroyed the Bears 36 - 10 the previous week. Getting 6 points at home is really great value for Tampa Bay, especially for a team with a two game winning streak and hosting a team that has to deal with cross country travel.
We end with another NFC South underdog: Carolina Panthers. The Panthers are actually expected to lose by 8.25 points to the Oakland Raiders according to the GE model. So why are we taking the Panthers at +3?! The previous week's games, that's why. Both teams did win close games but the Panthers were at home and played Thursday of the previous week. The Raiders played Monday night in Mexico City where the elevation is over 7000 feet. In the Panthers, we get a team that has 4 extra days of rest whereas the Raiders looked completely gassed after pulling off a miraculous victory at Estadio Azteca. The Panthers also have a decent pass rush and should penetrate a Raiders O-line that won't have enough time to recover after having to deal with international travel, short rest, and of course the insane elevation of Mexico City. The Panthers finally seem to be clicking and we see a letdown game for Oakland. Also, Cam Newton happens to have a great record after Thanksgiving so even a money line play for Carolina can be good value.
Here are our predictions for the rest of the NFL games.
WAS +7 (COVER!)
IND +8( No cover. Should have known better without Andrew Luck)
Good luck this weekend!