2015 Week 3 ATS Picks
Week 2 Review (Week 3-2, Season 7-3, All Time 153-128-2)
Week 2 was still a winning week, but certainly much shakier than our stellar 4-1 Week 1 performance. We got great value on our picks with the Broncos, Bengals, and Steelers, but were completely wrong about both the Rams and the Eagles. Early season picking is about managing the market overreaction to an incredibly small sample size of performances. To find value in the first few weeks, we must decide to either stick with our preseason analysis or incorporate new information that may or may not be relevant. Sometimes we are right (i.e the Bengals are really good, the 49ers aren't great), sometimes we are flat wrong (the Eagles offense will be strong), and sometimes it is just too early to tell (The Rams are a contender). Our Week 3 picks will focus on taking advantage of market over reactions.
Week 3 Picks
Colts -3.5 (105) @ Titans
Andrew Luck and the Colts have started the NFL season with two bad performances against two incredibly good defenses. Based on the media's reaction to the Colts' 0-2 start, one might surmise that hitting the panic button on the Colts offense rather than recognizing the strength of the Bills' and Jets' respective defenses, makes for a more interesting debate topic. Andrew Luck and the Colts have historically struggled against great defenses and dominated average ones. Luckily for the Colts, the Titans' defense falls into the latter category. We think the market has severely over corrected, and we like the Colts to win on the road.
Cowboys +1 vs Falcons
Until Romo and Bryant return, the Cowboys can not be considered an elite team as they are now just average both defensively and offensively. That being said, the Cowboys can still win games in the right spots. Against a bad Falcon defense, the Cowboys should be able to run effectively--even against a stacked box--and create opportunities for Weeden to complete defined looks against favorable coverages. Defensively, the Cowboys are not as good as they looked against a struggling Eagles team, but they are good enough to slow down a very one dimensional Falcons offense. We like the Cowboys to win at home.
Jaguars +13.5 @ Patriots
Over the last two seasons, the Jaguars have garnered a 10+ point spread every time they've played a good team on the road. In the past, we've felt most of these large lines to be warranted. However, this year's Jaguars are not the same Jaguars that have been in perennial danger of going 0-16. This team ranks second in pressure rate against opposing Quarterbacks, and isn't afraid to push the ball downfield on offense. Tom Brady is releasing the football at an historically fast rate, but the Jaguars' quick pressure should make them more effective than either the Steelers or Bills were. While the Patriots have looked dominant offensively, it's difficult to argue that they haven't felt the absence of Revis and Browner in the defensive secondary. For a Jaguars team that likes to get quick pressure on defense and challenge corners on offense, the Patriots aren't the worst matchup. We still like the Patriots to win, but for the Jaguars to be competitive.
49ers +6.5 @ Cardinals
The Cardinals are off to one of the best statistical starts in the history of the NFL when measured by VOA. However, the most important part of the VOA metric is that it is not opponent adjusted--that would be DVOA. Put another way, it is likely that the Cardinals look great because they've played perhaps the two worst teams in the NFL. In reality, the Cardinals have a situationally good offense, and a generally average defense. Offensively, the Cardinals are a below average running team that can throw effectively when Palmer has a clean pocket. This season, Palmer has had just that. Neither the Saints nor Bears registered a sack against the Cardinals...or any other opponent they've played this year. In fact, the Bears' pass rush is so bad they didn't even make physical contact, be it hit, hurry, or knock down, against Aaron Rodgers in Week 1. The 49ers' pass rush is a shell of its former self, but it did manage over 4 sacks against Minnesota before struggling against a fantastic Steeler front. The 49ers are not as good as the Cardinals, but they can run the ball, and show enough flashes in the passing game and on defense to be a real concern for a very overrated Cardinals team. We like the 49ers as a live dog against the Cardinals.