NY Jets @ New England
Wager: NE -3.0
Sizing: 2 units
Injury news and notes: Full breakdown on injuries can be found on the injury page here. There’s nothing too major to report – the Patriots have been without Lawrence Guy (shoulder) and Ja’Whaun Bentler (also shoulder) the last two weeks, but both should be healthy enough to return if they’re so inclined. Jets RG Josh Andrews (groin) was injured last week and placed on IR, but he’s a replacement level guard. For fantasy purposes, both La’Mical Perine (COVID-19) and Grand Gore (lung contusion) are expected to miss, leaving Josh Adams and Ty Johnson to split carries. Damien Harris (ankle) could also potentially return after missing two weeks. Not that it matters since I wouldn’t touch this game with a 10 foot pole in fantasy.
Spread watching: As is typically the case with 3 point spreads, the line hasn’t budged.
Game breakdown: We have an AFC East suck fest on our hands. Two defenses that are objectively horrible (Jets are 20th in DOVA, Pats are 26th) still has an absurdly low total of 39.5. This tells us all we need to know about the quality of the offenses. But we’re here to make money regardless of our entertainment factor.
As is protocol, I’ll talk about this game anyway. The Jets on offense are a technically-not-last 31st in DVOA but a actually-you’re-last 32nd in EPA/play. Feel free to debate amongst yourselves if the Jets or Broncos have the worst offense in football, but let’s just keep it simple and conclude that they bot suck. Among 42 qualifiers, Sam Darnold is 41st in PFF grades (only Haskins is worse). Rookie WR Denzel Mims has had a decent season since coming off injury and Jamison Crowder is productive out of the slot. I’ll also highlight 2020 11th overall selection LT Mekhki Becton. He’s 28th in tackles in PFF grades and 3rd among rookies. Everyone else on offense is awful. The Patriots are coming off a season where they were the best defense in football a year ago, but now sit at a lowly 26th. The reason is due to natural defensive regression, opt outs, and injuries. Their secondary in particular has regressed in a major way and they have zero ability to generate pressure on the QB.
The Patriots on offense are 24th in both DVOA and EPA/play. Their passing offense is totally inept (31st in DVOA), but they do have a decent enough rushing offense (7th in DVOA). Cam Newton has a passing grade of 67.1, which is 28th in the league (42 qualifiers). He’s also without any decent receiving options outside of Jakobi Myers. The offensive line is solid, however, and that combined with Newton’s rushing ability is what makes them successful on the ground. The Jets defense has some talent up front, but their corner positions and linebackers are utter disasters. Marcus Maye has had a fine season at safety, but he can’t cover everybody by himself.
This bet is a classic fade recent results bet, with the Patriots coming off an ass beating on prime time and the Jets coming off a two game win streak.
Baltimore @ Cincinnati
Wager: CIN +12.0
Sizing: 1 unit
Injury news: The Ravens will likely be without #2 WR Willie Snead (ankle). Snead is questionable, but missed practice all week. C Patrick Mekari (back) is in the same boat. That’s a tough loss for an offensive line that has struggled. They could potentially get back CB Marcus Peters (calf). Peters missed the last three games and is questionable, but he practiced in full twice this week, which typically means you’re good to go. For the Bengals, they’ll get back WR Tyler Boyd but will continue to be without LB Logan Wilson (ankle) and CB William Jackson (concussion). Wilson is replacement-level, but Jackson is a tough loss.
Spread watching: The line made a fairly insignificant jump from 12 to 12.5.
Matchup breakdown: The Ravens offense (12th in DVOA/8th in EPA/play) shouldn’t have issues putting points on the board against the Bengals defense (27th in DVOA/23rd in EPA/play). Lamar Jackson is obviously an absurdly talented runner without too many receiving options, so it makes sense that the Ravens are better running the ball then throwing (20th in DVOA passing, 4th running). But the Bengals are 27th in DVOA against the pass, so it shouldn’t be much of an issue. Lamar Jackson’s passing stats have expectedly regressed from a season ago (he’s 17th in PFF passing grades). Marquise Brown will be the top option at WR — he’s a decent enough receiver but he’s totally inconsistent, having games where he’ll disappear. TE Mark Andrews is the safety net and the most efficient receiver on the team. The Bengals have struggled generating pressure but have PFF’s 6th highest grade in coverage. That said and as mentioned above, losing Williams Jackson puts a dent in that.
The Bengals on offense (28th in DVOA and 25th in EPA/play) will have a tough time against the Ravens on defense (9th in DVOA and 8th in EPA/play. They’re naturally without Joe Burrow, leaving Brandon Allen to take starting reps. Allen is a pretty bad QB — he’s 33rd in PFF grades and he’s playing behind a terrible offensive line. Tyler Boyd, AJ Green, and Tee Higgins isn’t the worst receiving trio in football, but they don’t have enough to sustain offense. The Ravens on defense like to generate pressure via the blitz, trusting their back end to hold up in coverage. Their corners have been out, though, leaving holes in the secondary. As mentioned, Marcus Peters should return, but he’s had an uncharacteristically terrible season.
This is a big spread bet that I can’t explain fully, but that’s why we have the model. If anything, it makes sense to favor dogs, as Dom explained here.