The model identified value in four different games during the 1PM slate. Let’s dive into it.
Arizona @ NY Giants
Wager: ARI -2.5
Sizing: 2 units
Spread watching: The line is sticking at 2.5.
Narrative street: This spread is a clear overreaction to the Daniel Jones-less Giants beating the Seahawks last week. Variance is a real thing in football, guys. I even saw rumblings about Joe Judge entering the Coach of the Year conversation. It’s one god damn game.
The Cardinals offense (11th in DVOA) is reliant on their stars. Kyler Murray is 11th in PFF grades this year, which includes a dual threat ability – he’s second only to Lamar Jackson in rushing yards for a QB. He’ll rely heavily on DeAndre Hopkins, who is third in the league with 85 catches and 8th in PFF grades. Everything else about their offense relies on the holes that open by defenses dedicating resources to stopping Murray and Hopkins. The Giants defense is 12th in EPA/play, but they’ve faced the 2nd easiest schedule of opposing offenses, so their DVOA is 26th in the league. That’s a fancy way of saying they’re worse than you think, and they could be without one of their better players, LB Blake Martinez (questionable, back). James Bradberry and his 76.3 PFF grade/69.6 QB rating when targeted should be shadowing Hopkins. That’s still advantage Hopkins, but it does mean the Giants have some hope of slowing down Arizona.
The Giants offense is 27th in EPA/play, but they’ve faced the second toughest schedule this year, so their DVOA is 17th — aka, they are better than you think. The big question is if Daniel Jones (questionable, hamstring) will play or not — he missed last weeks game and was limited in practice all week and is a true game day decision. Even if he can play, profootballdoc predicts he’ll be limited to passing from the pocket. That won’t be fun behind the Giants dreadful offensive line. If he can’t go, Colt McCoy should get the start again. McCoy is a journeyman quarterback who has simply never been good. Needless to say, the Giants QB situation is less than ideal. The plus matchup for the Giants is their receiving core (Slayton/Tate/Shepard/Engram) vs the Cardinals corners, who have all struggled this year (yes, including Patrick Peterson). That said, the Cardinals are 12th in DVOA against the pass, so they’re found a way to avoid it being a major issue.
Kansas City @ Miami
Wager: MIA +7
Sizing: 2 units
Spread watching: The line is sticking at 7.
Matchup breakdown: The model wants you to throw 2 units against Pat Mahomes. I don’t know what to tell you guys other than
A) I trust the model, so I’m putting two god damn units against Mahomes
B) Have a stiff fucking drink ready for Sunday
Granted, there’s a slight caveat here that we’re betting two units on the Dolphins AND seven points vs Mahomes. But still, it’s a difficult pull to swallow. There isn’t any debate that the Chiefs are the best offense in football — they top the rankings in both DVOA and EPA/play, and there quarterback is… yeah, that guy. There isn’t any need to dive too deep into them, they’re really fucking good. The Dolphins defense, despite not having too many standouts on defense, is 11th in DVOA and 4th in EPA/play. You can’t stop Mahomes, but perhaps the Dolphins defense will be able to kinda/sorta slow them down for a hot second. Xavien Howard, who had a rough 2019 season, has returned to form this season and is PFF’s highest graded corner.
The Dolphins offense is sitting at 19th in DVOA, but they’ve been far better throwing the ball than running (10th in pass DVOA, 27th in running DVOA). That sets up for an interesting matchup against a Chiefs defense that seems to always be better against the pass then the run (18th overall, 13th vs the pass, 30th vs the run. Tua Tagovailoa will get his 6th start of the year — we’ve written extensively about him on this site, but the biggest issue that will hold him back is his offensive line. Tua is averaging a lightening quick 2.34 seconds to throw, which is necessary due to said offensive line, but that’s a lot to ask out of a rookie. The good news for the Dolphins is the Chiefs do not have a cornerback who can take on DeVante Parker. The Dolphins need to take advantage of the mismatch, or — in the event that Parker is double teamed, find the resulting open receiver. That shouldn’t be an issue since Jakeem Grant and Mike Gesicki are both having solid seasons.