Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, October 3, 2014 at 4:00 PM
Today’s report will cover all 14 pro football games set for Sunday and Monday. Miami and Oakland have a bye this week. And, Minnesota visited Green Bay this past Thursday Night. That leaves 28 teams left to discuss!
Our stat briefs will focus on the following keys:
*Yards-per-Play on offense season-to-date
*Yards-per-Play allowed on defense season-to-date
*Strength of Schedule rankings according to Jeff Sagarin of USA Today
*Turnover differential season-to-date
These have proven to be the most predictive football stats over the years, which is why JIM HURLEY has always emphasized them in is game previews. You’ll get a peek at what the stathead contingent of NETWORK'S full and exclusive TEAM HANDICAPPING APPROACH is thinking by studying today’s data very carefully.
We’ll take the games in rotation order so you can make notes in your schedule….
Chicago: 5.3 on offense, 6.0 on defense, #16 schedule, +2 turnovers
Carolina: 5.3 on offense, 6.2 on defense, #17 schedule, +4 turnovers
Las Vegas Line: Carolina by 2.5, total of 45.5
Disappointing numbers for both teams considering they’ve played league average schedules. Favorable turnover differentials have helped hide issues at the point of attack. Carolina’s defense in particular has been well below expectations of late considering last year’s great numbers. Home field advantage is worth about 3 points in the NFL. You can see that the market sees these teams as virtually even on a neutral field. JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats agree. Who would have guess that grading out “even” would have looked so bad in the numbers?
Cleveland: 5.7 on offense, 6.4 on defense, #14 schedule, +4 turnovers
Tennessee: 5.6 on offense, 5.2 on defense, #1 schedule, -1 turnover
Las Vegas Line: Tennessee by 2, total of 44.5
Tennessee should be proud of those numbers considering that they’ve played the toughest schedule in the NFL! Maybe they’re not as bad as skeptics had been thinking. Cleveland’s hidden some of their weaknesses with a positive turnover differential. Can the Browns score on this underrated Titans defense? Will Tennessee ever find a productive quarterback who can stay healthy? The public won’t be paying much attention to this game, which probably means YOU should be.
St. Louis: 5.7 on offense, 6.4 on defense, #31 schedule, -2 turnovers
Philadelphia: 5.5 on offense, 5.3 on defense, #27 schedule, -4 turnovers
Las Vegas Line: Philadelphia by 7, total of 48
Wow…very soft schedules for both teams. St. Louis better get ready for divisional games that are coming up! Philadelphia’s offense has been a huge disappointment in context. They were at 6.3 yards-per-play last season…and have dropped off despite a relatively easy slate. And, this offense is supposed to avoid turnovers! You can see why sharps are souring on the Eagles. Philly opened at a line higher than a TD before the Rams drew Wise Guy interest. Litmus test game for the hosts in a lot of ways.
Atlanta: 6.8 on offense, 6.4 on defense, #12 schedule, -3 turnovers
NY Giants: 5.1 on offense, 6.0 on defense, #9 schedule, +2 turnovers
Las Vegas Line: NY Giants by 4, total of 51
The Giants have rallied after a horrible start, so they’re playing better than those numbers would suggest right now. Atlanta is once again dealing with having a strong offense, a poor defense, and issues in the risk/reward game. If those turnover troubles continue, then the Giants will win by at least a TD. If not, we could be looking at a shootout that flies over the total as long as the weather is nice. The Falcons have been feast or famine thus far. Will they follow their previous pattern and feast this week?
Tampa Bay: 5.1 on offense, 5.8 on defense, #23 schedule, -2 turnovers
New Orleans: 6.4 on offense, 6.1 on defense, #10 schedule, -5 turnovers
Las Vegas Line: New Orleans by 10, total of 48
Stunning that New Orleans is at -5 in turnovers. Drew Brees is supposed to help you avoid miscues…and opposing defenses are supposed to be mistake-prone while playing catch up. Right now, the New Orleans defense is falling apart. Will that give the young TB quarterback a chance to score a road upset for the second week in a row? Will Rob Ryan last another week as the Saints defensive coordinator if that happens?
Houston: 5.5 on offense, 5.6 on defense, #32 schedule, +2 turnovers
Dallas: 6.0 on offense, 6.5 on defense, #18 schedule, +1 turnover
Las Vegas Line: Dallas by 6, total of 47
Dallas played better than those numbers would have suggested last week. But, they’re a lot like Atlanta in that they’re likely to play shootouts where turnover differential determines the result. Houston has played the easiest schedule in the league, which hasn’t been widely reported by the mainstream media. And, they have a negative YPP differential even against that soft schedule! Dallas could really springboard into postseason discussions with another blowout win here.
Buffalo: 5.2 on offense, 5.0 on defense, #11 schedule, +5 turnovers
Detroit: 5.3 on offense, 4.6 on defense, #19 schedule, even turnovers
Las Vegas Line: Detroit by 7, total of 44
Buffalo changed quarterbacks this week. Interesting that Detroit is only fractionally better on YPP with what was supposed to be a much better offense. It’s the defense that’s been coming through for the Lions. That 4.6 mark really jumps out this season. Tough to ask Kyle Orton to make his Buffalo debut on the road against that unit. Maybe the Lions will be flat after scoring high energy wins over Green Bay and the NY Jets. The numbers are suggesting a defensive struggle, even indoors in what have historically been good scoring conditions. Rare to see an NFL game where all four YPP numbers are below 5.5, let alone 5.3.
Baltimore: 5.7 on offense, 5.8 on defense, #21 schedule, +1 turnover
Indianapolis: 6.0 on offense, 6.0 on defense, #29 schedule, +2 turnovers
Las Vegas Line: Indianapolis by 3.5, total of 48.5
Before you fall in love with the Colts after their recent blowouts, note that they’ve managed a dead even YPP differential against a very soft schedule. Baltimore’s in the same boat…drawing raves for good early performances while putting up nice scoring totals on inconsistent opposition. Great test here for both teams, and a great learning opportunity for handicappers. This may tell us which team has a chance to go further come January. Their won-lost records are better than their stats right now.
Pittsburgh: 6.3 on offense, 5.7 on defense, #25 schedule, -2 turnovers
Jacksonville: 4.7 on offense, 6.1 on defense, #5 schedule, -5 turnovers
Las Vegas Line: Pittsburgh by 6.5, total of 47
Jacksonville’s been dealing with a brutal early schedule. It eases up a bit here in the sense that Pittsburgh just lost to Tampa Bay. But, we know the Steelers are better than they showed in the second half last week. Though, poor second halves have been a problem for them! The Steelers can’t be taken seriously as a true AFC threat until they fix their turnover issues. This defense just doesn’t force them any more.
Arizona: 5.4 on offense, 5.0 on defense, #6 schedule, +2 turnovers
Denver: 5.5 on offense, 5.3 on defense, #4 schedule, +1 turnover
Las Vegas Line: Denver by 7.5, total of 48
Wow…great matchup in the numbers…and a great chance for Arizona to show what they’re really made of. They didn’t make the playoffs last year despite winning 10 games. They sure impressed recently against divisional foe San Francisco. Can they hang tough in Denver? Indianapolis and Kansas City have stayed within the number so far on this field. Both teams are coming off a bye, by the way. This one could have a real playoff feel to it if Arizona can maintain their composure at altitude.
Kansas City: 5.3 on offense, 5.7 on defense, #15 schedule, -2 turnovers
San Francisco: 5.5 on offense, 5.0 on defense, #7 schedule, +4 turnovers
Las Vegas Line: San Francisco by 6, total of 44
Kansas City is in a huge letdown spot after that Monday Night blowout over New England. Now Alex Smith has to go on the road to face his former team. He’ll be fired up for that, but will his teammates be there with him after that statement victory? The numbers suggest a chance for a San Francisco squash if KC does come out flat. The Chiefs project to less than 5.0 yards-per-play in this spot.
NY Jets: 5.4 on offense, 4.8 on defense, #28 schedule, -5 turnovers
San Diego: 5.4 on offense, 5.5 on defense, #8 schedule, +5 turnovers
Las Vegas Line: San Diego by 6.5, total of 43.5
The Jets have played a very soft schedule, which makes their turnover issues even more alarming. Differential in YPP has been good, but will regress back to even against a tougher slate. San Diego has more than held its own against a tough September challenge. The defense looks to have improved from last season. That could be enough to push the team to the next level. We’ll need to see a better YPP differential for the Chargers before getting too enthusiastic. Good situational spot for the Chargers who stay at home after a virtual bye last week vs. Jacksonville.
Cincinnati: 6.1 on offense, 4.9 on defense, #24 schedule, +6 turnovers
N. England: 4.6 on offense, 5.0 on defense, #22 schedule, +3 turnovers
Las Vegas Line: Cincinnati by 1, total of 46
Important to note that both have played subpar schedules. Cincinnati has dominated its slate, while New England is negative YPP anyway! Amazing how far the Patriots finally fell in the marketplace once oddsmakers fully accepted that what you see is what you get with the team right now. New England’s offense has been a disaster, and now they’re facing what’s been a truly elite defense.
Seattle: 5.9 on offense, 4.8 on defense, #2 schedule, +2 turnovers
Washington: 6.1 on offense, 5.2 on defense, #26 schedule, -5 turnovers
Las Vegas Line: Seattle by 7.5, total of 46
Seattle is still grading out as a champion with a +1.1 YPP differential against a killer schedule. Think about this…the defense has allowed only 4.8 YPP while facing Green Bay, San Diego, and Denver! Jay Cutler is likely to move the ball given his personal numbers, but he’d better not have another turnover disaster or this game is going to blow up just as quickly as NYG/Washington did a week ago Thursday. Very big differences here in schedule strength and turnover likelihood.
JIM HURLEY will have this weekend’s NFL selections posted well in advance of the Sunday afternoon kickoffs. Be sure you build your bankrolls with college football Friday and Saturday so you have plenty to play with in the pro’s. Game day BEST BETS are always available for credit card purchase here at the website. And, that includes the baseball playoffs! If you have any questions about seasonal packages, or combination packages for football and baseball, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155.
Back with you Monday for more football coverage as NETWORK’S annual OCTOBERFEST keeps rolling strong. Get great handicapping information here in the NOTEBOOK. Then, link up with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK for BIG, JUICY WINNERS!