2015 Week 8 NFL ATS Picks
Week 7 Review (Week 3-1-1, Season 19-15-1, All Time 165-140-3)
Last week the picks got back on track going 3-1-1 ATS, with the push coming from a game ending Joe Flacco INT deep in the Cardinals’ red-zone. Overall, last week was an excellent example of the market mispricings that are as prevalent now as they are at any point during the year. Collectively, we knew that Seattle was a good team, but a late collapse against Carolina perpetuated a storyline that the team had lost its Super Bowl edge. Seattle decisively proved that storyline wrong when they dominated the 49ers on the road. In an opposite example of the same concept, the narrative of the then 5-0 Patriots was that they could potentially rival their 2007 counterparts who went 16-0 in the regular season. As a result, there was huge value on their underrated opponent, the Jets, who covered in a close game. Moving forward, my picks will focus more on potential market mispricings like these than on football matchups.
Week 8 Picks
Baltimore -3.5 (105) vs San Diego
Of all the things San Diego did poorly last week against the Raiders, the most damning was their inability to set the edge against the run. The Raiders consistently gashed the Chargers on runs to the outside. While this is an easy issue to fix, it speaks to an alarming lack of effort and focus on fundamental football concepts. An early East Coast game is not likely to jumpstart the effort level of this team. On the other side, Baltimore showed again why they are perhaps the most undervalued team in the league. Against one of the best teams in the NFC, the Ravens were 5 yards from a game tying touchdown before Joe Flacco turned it over and the Ravens lost their 6th game by less than a score. I like Baltimore to finally get a good bounce and beat the Chargers at home.
Cincinnati PK @ Steelers
How many points is Big Ben worth? Full health and maybe a touchdown, but with a knee full of fluid, probably not the 5.5 points this line moved when it was announced he could start. Even with both teams at full health, the Bengals are simply a better team than the Steelers, who still lack an elite defense. Historically, the Steelers have dominated this rivalry, but if we have learned anything about this year's Bengals, it's that they are unlike any other year's Bengals. While the market is pricing this game like a let down for the Bengals, I fully expect them to play with the same intensity and execution that has kept them undefeated so far this year.
New York -3 (100) vs Oakland
In so many ways the Raiders remind me of the Dolphins. The entire thesis for each team is that improved play from a young QB will propel the team to the next level. David Carr and Ryan Tannehill are first round picks, so it's convenient to factor in significant year-over-year improvement, but statistically there is no reason to expect either will develop into a franchise QB. Both teams have struggled against good competition, but when they did experience success against bad opponents, the market treated it as validation of the thesis that these teams are good. Just as the Dolphins collapsed against good competition on Thursday, I expect the Raiders to collapse against good competition this Sunday.
Green Bay -2.5 @ Denver
This season, I have picked the Broncos quite a bit. I thought the story line that Manning was done was overplayed and I thought the offensive line would consistently improve each week. I don't think it's time to completely throw that theory out the window, but Manning and the Offense are behind schedule and have relied on their defense in more than one instance. I don't think they should be undefeated and I think they are being generally overvalued (even if they are being valued below 'elite'). However, I don't think Green Bay is perfect either. While Rodgers has played as expected and the defense has been great, the receivers have thoroughly disappointed, which has aversely effected the offense. Overall, I think Denver is being overvalued just a bit more than Green Bay is, which makes this one of the rare occasions when I get to pick Aaron Rodgers. It should be a tight defensive strugle, but I like Green Bay to win by a score.