Vince Lombardi

QuantCoach.com

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THE CHALKBOARD

Week 14: QC's Best Bets

Sometime you just have to get right back on the horse after it bucks you. Last week, QC went 3-4 with plays involving the Chiefs (L x2), Browns (L), Cowboys (W), Raiders (L x2), Steelers (L), Rams (W), and Vikings (W). All of those team are back on QC's card this week.

1. Chiefs -6.5 over Ravens
This is a classic matchup between the league's best offense and the league's best defense. Kansas City leads the NFL in QCYPA and explosive plays. Baltimore leads the NFL in D-QCYPA and preventing explosive plays. The Ravens have run the ball at least 31 times for 165 yards in their last 3 games since Lamar Jackson took over at QB and are 6-1 ATS when they run the ball at least 28 times. But Baltimore is just 1-5 ATS when its QB is sacked for -10 yards or more and the Chiefs have sacked opposing QBs for at least -10 yards in 10 of 12 games. DC Bob Sutton's pass rush didn't make it back from bye last week in Oakland and Raiders QB Derek Carr went up and down the field on the Chiefs. QC expects a better performance this week. The turnover battle may be a problem for John Harbaugh as his team has committed 11 of its 15 TO on the road and Andy Reid's team has committed just 4 of its 14 TO at home. QB Pat Mahomes and company did not seem to miss released RB Kareem Hunt last week in Oakland as they led wire-to-wire and scored 40 points. Kansas City leads the NFL in Q1 scoring at 9.2 points per game. If the Chiefs get out of the gate quickly and force Jackson to throw the ball more than Harbaugh wants, Kansas City should have little trouble covering this number. The Chiefs have laid at least -10 points in the 3 games they have failed to cover.

2. Colts +4.5 over Texans
If ever an HC needs to take a class about reliance interest it is Indy's Frank Reich. Last week, in a 6-0 loss to Jacksonville, the Colts went for it on 4DN 3 times and came up empty every time. It is never a good idea to squander the compensation your team has earned chasing the compensation you want against a team with Cody Kessler at QB. In addition, QB Andrew Luck was not his magic self on 3DN. But nobody bounces back from a loss like Luck. Since entering the league in 2012, the Colts are 20-6 off a SU loss with Luck at QB and 22-7 SU against the AFC South. To bounce back again, Reich needs RB Marlon Mack to get back in the groove. Indy is 6-0 SU when it throws less than 40 times and 0-6 SU when Luck throws 40 or more times. Mack is the key to reducing Luck's burden to carry the team. Houston has looked impressive the last two weeks against middle-of-the-pack teams Tennessee and Cleveland, but the Texans frequently have played down to the level of their competition and escaped with wins over Washington, Denver, Buffalo, and Dallas. Bill O'Brien's team did not escape against the NY Giants. Although it won going away, Houston yielded over 300 yards passing the last 2 weeks. Look for Mack to get traction and Luck to take advantage of the Texans' suspect pass coverage and rebound with a win... provided Reich does not squander the earnings.

3. Browns +2 over Panthers
Carolina has lost 4 games in a row and this is its 4th road game in 5 weeks. That is a tough stretch. The Panthers are -7 TO during the losing streak and have committed 11 of their 15 TO on the road. Carolina RB Christian McCaffrey is explosive in the running game and nobody in the NFL gives up more explosive runs than the Browns because DC Gregg Williams is frequently guessing with his blitzes. But the Panthers are just 1-3 SU when they average 6.7 yards per rush or better. Ron Rivera's team averaged 8.15 and 8.84 yards per rush the last two weeks and lost both games to Seattle and Tampa Bay. Cleveland QB Baker Mayfield is more comfortable at home where the Browns are +9 TO. Mayfield has not been sacked in 3 games, but last week in Houston Mayfield's 3 interceptions took Cleveland out of the game quickly. Mayfield should still be smarting from that performance and should be a little more careful against this week. In addition, because the Browns fell behind so quickly in Houston, OC Freddy Kitchens could not get RB Nick Chubb going and Cleveland ran the ball just 9 times. The Browns are 6-1 ATS and though they took a thumping at home from the Nos. 1 and 2 designed teams (Chiefs and Chargers), they are 4-0 ATS at home against middle-of-the-pack teams like Carolina.

4. Cowboys -3 over Eagles
So the Cowboys beat the Saints at home by 3 and now all they have to do to cover agains the Eagles is win again by the same 3 points after 10 days to prepare? Got it. Dallas HC Jason Garrett has historically awful record as a favorite and the defending Super Bowl Champion Eagles are playing for their playoff lives, but QC likes the Cowboys. Dallas is 5-0 ATS when opponents attempt more than 30 passes and Philadelphia QBs have attempted at least 30 passes in 11 of 12 games. Philadelphia has struggled to run the ball all year and that is not likely to change against Cowboys' defense that has yet to see more than 20 rushing attempts during its current 4-game SU and ATS win streak. In addition, the Eagles have played a relatively easy schedule. Philadelphia has faced only 3 teams that currently are design positive and are 1-3 SU and ATS and 0-3 SU and ATS on the road (Buccaneers, Titans and Saints). Dallas design is strongly positive since WR Amari Cooper joined the team and provided a vertical stretch to open thing up for QB Dak Prescott and RB Zeke Elliott. Philadelphia has yet to win 2 games in a row and the if that trend continues they are due for another "L." Most Las Vegas sports books are offering -3.5 with reduced juice, but CG Technology has -3 as this is being written and QC hates to lay the hook with a home favorite.

5. UNDER 51.5: Raiders vs. Steelers
Pittsburgh is 0-3 SU and ATS vs. the AFC South (Chiefs, Broncos, and Chargers). Mike Tomlin's team can't fall to 0-4 agains the lowly Raiders, can they? Pittsburgh has not won in Oakland since 1995 and Raiders' backers will receive a 10+ point subsidy. But it is the total that is attractive to QC here. The Steelers' defense relies on a nasty pass rush (-.635 sack yards per pass attempt) backed by fairly straight forward coverages on the back end. Extremely well coached teams like the Chiefs, Chargers and Patriots give Pittsburgh trouble, but the system has worked pretty well against negagively designed teams. Against such teams this year, the Steelers have held opposing QBs to less than 5.8 QCYPA in 5 of 6 games and 5 of those 6 games have finished under this 51.5 total. (Only a wipeout of Carolina at home on short week has gone over 51.5). In addition, Ben Roethlisberger and company have had TO trouble on the road, committing 14 of the 20 TO away from home. And Big Ben won't have top RB James Conner, who is out with an ankle injury, and will be exploring rookie RB Jaylen Samuels skill set. Raiders QB Derek Carr can still do damage, particularly at home, when he has time to pass. Last week he carved up Kansas City, which did not have its usual pass rush. But when Carr has been sacked for -20 yards or more in a game, Oakland scores about 8 points per game. The play here is that the Pittsburgh offense will continue to find itself in the Black Hole, but the Steelers pass rush will rise up and lead Pittsburgh to a relatively low scoring win. QC was on the under with both of these teams last week and did not take the money. Let's hope history does not repeat itself.

6. Bears +3 over Rams and
7. OVER 51.5: Bears vs. Rams

Chicago will be happy to see QB Mitch Trubisky return from a shoulder injury. Backup Chase Daniel did OK, splitting his two starts (both on the road), but Trubisky brings more big play ability with both his arm and his legs. The Bears are 5-1 ATS at home and the only blemish was the result of special teams break downs against the Patriots. The Chicago D has collected 30 takeaways, which has fueled the Bears 8-4 run to the over. LA has not been quite as explosive without WR Cooper Kupp and last week lost backup RB Malcolm Brown. HC Sean McVay called the loss of Brown "devastating." Still, QB Jared Goff and the Rams have scored at least 29 points in 11 of 12 games. But the LA defense has given up an average of 34.7 points per game to positively designed teams like the Bears. That number explains why the Rams are 1-4-1 ATS vs. positively designed teams.

8. Seahawks -3 over Vikings
This handicap begins and ends with Seattle's powerful ground game: The Vikings are 0-4 when opponents run the ball and the Seahawks have run the ball at least 28 times in 10 straight games. Mike Zimmer's team better double buckle those chin straps. Pete Carroll's team also seems to have recaptured its home field swagger (4-1 ATS) and is 5-1-1 ATS vs. negatively designed teams like Minnesota. The Vikings are 5-0 ATS when QB Kirk Cousins attempts less than 40 passes, but he has attempted 40 or more passes in 4 of his last 6 games (1-3 ATS) and 7 of 12 games overall (1-5-1 ATS). QB Russell Wilson and his teammates have not committed more than 1 TO in a game since Week 2 and are +11 TO. If that trend continues, then Seattle RBs Chris Carson and Rashad Penny will grind clock and Cousins will have little margin for error or help from the Seahawks and it could turn into a long night in the Pacific Northwest for the Vikings.

Last Week: 3-4
Season: 49-33-3 (.598)

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