2015 Week 7 NFL ATS Picks
Week 6 Review (Week 1-4, Season 16-14, All Time 162-139-2)
After benefiting from good breaks and going 4-1 in back-to-back weeks, luck finally turned against my picks. Despite a losing week, my perception of teams hasn’t changed materially. I still think Carolina, Cleveland, and Miami are overrated, while Seattle and Denver are underrated. Historically, this is my favorite time of the season to make picks. Enough games have been played for me to really understand the dynamics of each team, but not so many games have been played that the market can correct for distorting factors like Strength of Schedule and turnover differential. There is huge value to be had if you are willing to pull the trigger early before sharp action eats up mispricings. This value will evaporate with each passing week, so hopefully I can take advantage of it while it's still abundant.
Week 7 Picks
St. Louis -4.5 vs Cleveland
Though picking against Cleveland last week ended poorly as Denver failed to cover the four point spread in their 23-20 win, the overall thesis was correct. Cleveland’s offense came back down to earth and pass protection continued to be an issue. This game wasn’t a blowout as predicted largely because of Denver’s inability to run against Cleveland, which is more an indictment against Denver’s offense than anything else. St. Louis should be an even worse matchup for Cleveland as the Rams excel in the Browns’ trouble areas (pass rush vs pass protection, and Todd Gurley vs stoping the run). I like St. Louis to have a very impressive showing a home.
New York +9 @ New England
After six weeks of play, the Patriots are unquestionably the best team in the NFL. At the same time, they haven’t looked completely invincible. Their defense was porous against Pittsburgh, their offense was shut down for a half by a below average Dallas defense, and Indianapolis was a misguided fake punt playcall away from giving the Patriots a serious look at loss number one. The Patriots are—and should be—undefeated, but there is definitely a tinge of irrational exuberance surrounding this team, which makes them overvalued. The Jets are a good team and I think they have a real chance of winning in Foxborough, making +9 points in this spot extremely attractive.
Washington -3.5 (100) vs Tampa Bay
After a solid stretch of games where Washington was able to successfully play ball control football, they stumbled against the Jets in a pretty ugly game. There's a sense that people were waiting for a Washington miscue to prove the hypothesis that Washington's unexpected good play was all flukiness. I disagree with that stance. Despite a poor win-loss record, Washington has shown enough on both defense and offense for me to believe that they are a semi-competitive football team. They have some talent, are well coached, and play with a palpable edge. The most impressive unit for Washington has been their defensive line, which has been (for the most part) stout against the run. On the other side of this matchup are the Bucs, who have found a winning offensive formula built around a Doug Martin led ground game. Given Winston’s rookie struggles, it’s clear that Tampa Bay wants to win with a run first offense. However, I think this game plan will be very difficult to execute against Washington and Tampa Bay will be forced to rely on Winston to win. I like Washington in that kind of game.
Baltimore +8 @ Arizona
The only thing worse than Baltimore's 1-5 win-loss record? Their 0-5-1 ATS record. The Ravens have clearly underperformed this season (as indicated by their ATS record), but the market has been very slow to adjust. Baltimore has been given the benefit of the doubt this year because of their overall organizational excellence, but it looks like the market has finally adjusted--and perhaps by too much. Though Baltimore is only 1-5, they haven't lost a game by more than a single score. Baltimore has lost games because their defense is horrendous, but they've been in every game because their offense is actually pretty solid. I don't expect the Ravens to beat the Cardinals, but I do expect them to find some rhythm running the ball, and I expect them to keep this game close.