2015 Week 4 NFL ATS Picks
Week 3 Review (Week 0-5, Season 7-8, All Time 153-133-2)
It is difficult to say anything positive about going 0-5 in any week in the NFL. I was at least generally wrong about all of the games, and was resoundingly wrong about both the Jaguars and 49ers. If there is any remotely positive takeaway from my 0-5 Week 3, it is that the picks weren't nearly as disastrous as they appeared. The single most determinant statistic in NFL games is turnover differential, which can often be quite random. In Week 3, these 5 teams collectively turned the ball over 11 times for a turnover differential of -8. Could a better differential resulted in a winning week? Probably not, but it's important to remember that these 5 teams are likely better than the final scores indicated. Ultimately, this blog's picks have tended to represent a contrarian opinion, and in a week when public consensus picks went 11-4 against the spread, an 0-5 record becomes much less surprising.
Week 4 Picks
Atlanta -5.5 (120) vs Houston
After three weeks of NFL play, most people likely don't have a great grasp on either Atlanta or Houston. While Atlanta is 3-0, their wins have required late game heroics that are difficult to produce on a recurrent basis. Atlanta could easily be 2-1, or even 1-2, but would this really change how we view them as a team? If Atlanta had only been able to win one game on the road, it would have still been impressive. Houston on the other hand has been unimpressive without qualification. Houston's conservative offense was unable to move the ball against any of the three mediocre defenses it faced. Defensively, Houston has been good against the run, but porous at best in the secondary. This week, Houston will face its first truly elite QB-WR combination, and I expect them to struggle to keep up.
Buffalo -5 vs New York
Last week, I presented a contrarian analysis of New York. While many believed New York, had been unlucky on their way to an 0-2 start, I thought they had gotten just as many good bounces as bad. On Thursday, New York continued to perform better than expected on defense, but did benefit from quite a few turnovers and inconsistent play from Washington. Overall, I don't think New York is any better or worse now than I did one week ago and Buffalo's offensive injuries have done little to close the talent gap between these two teams. Buffalo should win comfortably at home.
Washington +3.5 (120) vs Philadelphia
Philadelphia finally got its first win last week as they jumped out to a big lead against New York and were able to hang on till the end. Despite winning, Philadelphia still didn't look very impressive on offense, as they were held to under 4.0 yards per play yet again. On the other side, Washington has had over a week to dwell on a bad division loss and prepare for what is sure to be another close matchup in the wide open NFC East. At this point in the season, Philadelphia isn't significantly better than Washington, and shouldn't be favored on the road.
Cincinnati -4 vs Kansas City
These two teams have started the 2015 on completely different trajectories. Cincinnati has looked incredible against average competition, while Kansas City has struggled against multiple Super Bowl contenders. I think Cincinnati is being valued fairly for the first time this year, while Kansas City remains significantly overvalued. It's not surprising that Kansas City is 1-2 after playing Denver and Green Bay, but poor offensive performances against both is cause to reevaluate their Week 1 performance against Houston. In that game, which Kansas City won by a single score, Kansas City benefited from two drives that started in Houston's redzone. Overall, Kansas City wasn't as impressive offensively as their 27 point total made them seem to be. I think Kansas City's offensive struggles will continue against Cincinnati.
Minnesota +6.5 (105) @ Denver
After laying egg in a late Monday night opener in San Francisco, Minnesota has looked impressive both defensively and in the running game. Significantly above average play in these areas have covered up the play of Teddy Bridgewater whose sophomore campaign is off to a rocky start. Denver's 2015 story has not been that different from Minnesota's. Absolute dominance from the defense has largely covered up below average play from Peyton Manning and the rest of the offense. This game is shaping up to be a defensive struggle, which is likely to make the margin of victory low. Denver should win at home, but Minnesota has a reasonable chance of pulling out a tight victory.