Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Monday, October 6, 2014 at 2:00 PM
As students here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping, you should always be on the lookout for surprising developments in all the major wagering sports. Since we’re now five weeks deep into a new NFL season, all sorts of dynamics should be attracting your attention from game telecasts, boxscores, season-to-date stats, and game-day betting from the sharpest market influences.
I’m generally not very specific when it comes to something like this. When I find a development of note, I want to protect that information for my clients. But, today’s topic involves something that I’m fully confident that markets have noticed and reacted to. Maybe they haven’t reacted enough. We’ll see about that in the coming weeks. Sharp betting action the past two Sundays has made it very clear that the Wise Guys are fading Philadelphia!
Why would smart money be betting so hard AGAINST what’s supposed to be a revolutionary offense that’s going to take the NFL by storm? Why would smart money bet against a returning playoff team that should be getting better as its young quarterback and second-year head coach get the hang of pro football? I believe it’s because defenses are figuring out Chip Kelly’s attack…and they’re finding ways to disrupt what Nick Foles is trying to do in the pocket.
That would have been more obvious the past two weeks if the Eagles hadn’t scored touchdowns on a blocked punt return and a fumble return vs. the St. Louis Rams, and a blocked punt return, an interception return, and a punt return at San Francisco against the 49ers!
Look at these key stat categories on a game-by-game level through the 2014 season. Philadelphia may be 4-1 in the standings. Is this the offense of a 4-1 team?
27 offensive points, 420 yards, 3 turnovers, 5.1 yards-per-play vs. Jacksonville
30 offensive points, 458 yards, 1 turnover, 7.0 yards-per-play at Indianapolis
30 offensive points, 379 yards, 1 turnover, 5.7 yards-per-play vs. Washington
0 offensive points, 213 yards, 4 turnovers, 3.8 yards-per-play at S. Francisco
20 offensive points, 352 yards, 3 turnovers, 5.0 yards-per-play vs. St. Louis
The Eagles are still capable of exploiting “passive” defenses that sit back and give them a lot of room. That’s what Chip Kelly’s offense is designed to exploit! Pressure them, and things fall apart. It’s easier to see the demise if you look at per-game averages.
Last year: 417 yards-per-game on 6.3 yards-per-play, 1.2 turnovers-per-game
This year: 364 yards-per-game on 5.4 yards-per-play, 2.4 turnovers-per-game
That’s a drop of over 50 yards per game for a team that was basically Wildcard caliber last season (they won the weak NFC East, then lost their playoff opener to Wildcard New Orleans). That’s a drop of almost a full yard-per-PLAY (!). And, you can see that turnovers have become a big issue. Nick Foles is making more mistakes as defenses figure out how to attack his weaknesses.
Speaking of Foles, let’s look at Philadelphia’s passing lines so far…
27-45-1-275 vs. Jacksonville
21-37-1-331 at Indianapolis
27-41-0-325 vs. Washington
21-43-2-191 at S. Francisco
24-37-1-207 vs. St. Louis
A ton of incomplete passes for what’s supposed to be a “safe” passing offense. Believe it or not, Philadelphia currently ranks #28 in the NFL in completion percentage at 59.1%. That’s only better than Tennessee (injury issues and mediocre QB’s), Minnesota (injury issues and mediocre quarterbacks), the NY Jets (Geno Smith issues!), and Arizona (injury issues and mediocre quarterbacks). Nick Foles is throwing incomplete passes like he’s an injured Geno Smith!
Remember all the hype last year about the truly fantastic TD/INT ratio Foles posted of 27/2 after he took over as starter. This year it’s a much more pedestrian 8/5 through five games. Triple that, and you’re looking at 24/15 through 15 games, almost a full season. Big step backward, rather than the small regression most were expecting.
Particularly in the last two weeks…
*Philadelphia’s offense is flunking the eye test, because the offense looked truly helpless against the strong NFC West defenses of San Francisco and St. Louis. Hard to see how this team excels in the playoffs even if this 4-1 start launches them back to the postseason.
*Philadelphia’s offense is flunking the stat test, with inconsistent and sometimes ugly numbers that confirm what the eye is seeing. Yes, that rally vs. Indianapolis was impressive…indoors on a fast track against a defense that was playing not to lose. The numbers in SF were a joke.
*Philadelphia as a team is flunking the market test, because the sharpest wagerers in the marketplace have been loading up against them. And, those sharps cashed at their target prices despite FIVE non-offensive touchdowns (note that St. Louis didn’t cover the closing line because the Wise Guys had bet them so heavily at earlier prices of +8 and +7). There’s no way the Eagles can keep scoring so many non-offensive TD’s (at least one in four of their five games so far!).
Again, the cat is mostly out of this bag, so I feel comfortable making it part of the coursework here in our studies. Perhaps there’s still value to be had in the coming weeks if oddsmakers continue to misprice their openers, or if the public is only paying attention to final scores and not actual production. We should all monitor that in the coming weeks.
Sunday: vs. NY Giants in prime time on NBC
Oct 19: bye
Oct 26: at Arizona (another NFC West team)
Nov. 2: at Houston
Nov. 10: vs. Carolina on Monday Night Football
Nov. 16: at Green Bay
That’s three tough road games that will definitely be testers after the bye week. And, the NY Giants should put up quite a fight this week since they’ve been playing better ball recently.
What’s important for you to remember that several teams are dealing with something similar right now. And, YOU serious students of handicapping need to be applying the eye test, the stat test, and the market test to all 32 NFL teams. Who ELSE is backtracking on offense or defense in a way that the sharps have noticed? Who are the pleasant surprises who keep attracting Wise Guy attention and getting results? You can’t trust ESPN or the NFL Network to go in-depth on stories like this. They have a vested interest in maintaining the storylines they’ve been promoting (and they promoted the heck out of Chip Kelly revolutionizing NFL offenses).
Do the work and reap the rewards.
If you’d like some additional help as you determine your own selections each and every day in all the Las Vegas betting sports, BEST BETS in both football and baseball can always be purchased right here at this very website with your major credit card. Questions about full season packages or combination packages featuring both football and the baseball playoffs can be answered personally by one of my representatives in the Vegas-Sports-Masters office at 1-888-777-4155.
That will do it for this week’s coursework. The Dean of Sports Handicapping will be back early next week for another discussion. I want to thanks all of you who continue to show up energetic and eager to learn. It’s gratifying that so many have improved their personal Las Vegas performance by following the guidelines we’ve been publishing through the years. See you again next week.