tThe Chiefs are 1-10 in their last 11 games against the spread. I say that to say this: football doesn’t make sense in small sample sizes. It is irrational, infuriating, and makes you want to burst through a wall “Kool-Aid Man style” when the Dolphins drag their lifeless bodies into overtime against a Raiders team that had every chance in the world to close them out. The Raiders won, but the Dolphins covered. But, let’s go back to the Chiefs and their spread anomaly.
Gambling is about following trends, but not always in the way you think. The easiest way to describe it is a roulette table. If white has hit in 10 of the last 11 rolls, is your instinct to continue to bet white, or would you be more willing to gamble on the fact that the numbers will regress back to the mean, with black hitting more? While you want to ride the hot streak on white, the inevitability odds state that black is going to start to hit.
Look at the Chiefs’ upcoming schedule: at the Eagles, home for the Bills, at Washington, at Titans, home for Giants. Kansas City will be favored in all five (though it will be close with Buffalo). The Eagles have trouble slowing down opposing offenses, which should and will play into the Chiefs’ hands. The Bills will be a GAME. Then Washington, Titans, and Giants. Three games that the team will not only win but should wins they should decisively notch.
Don’t let small sample sizes of this season so far be the thing that keeps you from betting on a team. There are some teams you should obviously not be betting on at this point (Jaguars, Jets) and teams you should be betting on until further notice (Rams, Bills). Everything in between is more about betting the team you think is going to win the game/cover the spread. But take 50 dollars, and bet it this week on the Chiefs to win. Then, bet 50 dollars on them every week for the rest of the season. You will end up with more money than you started with. The Chiefs have two losses through three games, but you are going to wish you had faith in them when they only lose three of their next fourteen games.
Tennessee Titans (-7.5) at New York Jets
The Jets’ defense might not be bad. They are 11th in the NFL so far in rushing yards per attempt, and they have given up the 10th fewest passing yards thus far. They have also had the tenth-fewest defensive penalties on the year. There seems to be a baseline competency to the team, at least on defense. That makes sense, as their coach is Robert Saleh, the architect behind a number of very good 49ers defenses over the most recent seasons.
Yet, they give up scores on 47.1 percent of their opponent’s drives, the seventh-most in the NFL. One thing that is becoming obvious is that, not only is the offense bad for this team, they are actively harming every other aspect of their team. One stat we can look at that is very glaring is “Expected Points Contributed.” This stat is determined by the quality of offensive plays a team contributes to over the course of the game. Garbage time touchdowns are worth less than touchdowns in a close game. Running 9 yards on a draw play on 3rd and 20 isn’t worth the same as running six yards on 3rd and 4.
The Jets “Expected Points Contributed” for their offense is -50.24. That negative isn’t there by mistake. Eight teams have a negative offensive expected points contributed. They have combined for six total wins so far this season. The Bears, who had 1 net passing yard over an entire game in the year 2021, not 1921, are second with -31.73. That means that the Jets are nearly 20 points worse by this statistic than any other team in the league. The 12 best teams this season by this stat are clustered by less than 20 points.
How do the Jets get to this point? Pretty easy. They have the 4th worst turnover percentage rate in the NFL so far. They are tied for the NFL lead with seven interceptions so far. They have had the seventh most penalty yards in the NFL on offense. In three games, they have scored an anemic 20 points on offense, a full 20 points behind the next closest team. They have the third-fewest yards per play so far. They have the fewest first downs. They have the third-fewest passing yards. This offense isn’t just bad. They have an opportunity to be historically bad.
On the other side, they are playing a team in the Tennessee Titans that created only one turnover on the season. They are middle of the road in both passing yards (seventeenth-fewest) and rushing yards (eleventh-fewest) given up. Their defense has the fifth-most penalty yards against them.
You really have one question to ask in this game. Who can win a race to baseline competence on the field on Sunday: the Titans’ defense or the Jets’ offense? The Titans’ defense is bad, but the Jets’ offense is potentially historically atrocious.
While most see this as a game to avoid, I like the Titans in a teaser with a couple of other teams. Bring the point line down and boost the odds by latching them to other teams. Until proven otherwise, I can’t trust my money to a Jets team that doesn’t seem to know what they are doing offensively.
Cleveland Browns (-2.5) at Minnesota Vikings
On top of not being very good, the Vikings have given up the fourth-most yards per attempt on the ground this season. The Browns have the second-most rushing yards on the season. Cleveland is averaging 2.67 rushing touchdowns per game early in the season. The Vikings are giving up a touchdown per game so far.
Remember the yard expectancy-value I mentioned earlier when discussing the Jets? Well, there is a defensive yard expectancy as well. And the Vikings are seventh-worst in the NFL when it comes to the stat. Their defense has actively cost their team around 30 points so far this season. Teams worse than them include such luminaries as the Jaguars, Lions, and Giants.
It should go without saying that I don’t believe Minnesota will be able to stop Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. And even if they manage to, the Vikings will probably find themselves down one point with a chance to get a final winning drive, they will most likely get safetied and the Browns will still cover. I’m taking the Browns and probably parlaying it with the over on Chubb rushing yards.
Carolina Panthers (+4.5) at Dallas Cowboys
Two things: the Cowboys’ offense is probably pretty good, and two of the Panthers’ wins were against the Texans and Jets, so they shouldn’t be taken THAT seriously, yet.
More seriously, though, this is the first real test that the Panthers are going to experience. While they got the Hyde version of the Jekyll & Hyde that is Jameis Winston a couple of weeks ago, they are getting a Cowboys team this week that is coming off a 41 point performance and was able to run at will against the Eagles defense. Every defensive stat vs. offensive stat leans heavily in the Panthers’ direction. They do not give up rushing yards.
What this could come down to is a turnover/field position battle. The Panthers’ defense has only created three turnovers over their first three games, while a worse, but more opportunistic Dallas defense has already got eight takeaways on the season. The Cowboys have three turnovers on offense, which plays into the Panthers average. The Panthers only have two turnovers so far and are playing a far more conservative style of football.
For Carolina to win, they need to dominate the run game. While the Panthers are best in the league against the run, the Cowboys are no slouches themselves, as the sixth-best. The Panthers will also be without star running back Christian McCaffrey, and be dependent on rookie running back Chubba Hubbard and his backup noted Denver washout Royce Freeman. Can Sam Darnold take to the air as necessary to keep moving the ball downfield?
Personally, three years of history doesn’t change three weeks of being an average quarterback. I’m terrified at the concept of buying into the Cowboys this season, but they are at home, and this would be the type of statement game that Jerry Jones would absolutely love if I wasn’t absolutely convinced that the Cowboys weren’t just Weekend at Bernies-ing him around for the sake of the team.
I’ll take the Cowboys as part of a teaser with the Titans. Or maybe just straight up. Or against the points. Either way.
Remember at the beginning of the post, when I talked about the roulette table? Well, the Panthers have hit on white three consecutive times. Time to bet on black.
Detroit Lions (+3) at Chicago Bears
If Andy Dalton is starting, take the Lions against the spread. If Justin Fields is playing, take the Lions money line. If Nick Foles is playing, go ahead and bet the Lions on an alternate spread of -13.5, which is currently sitting at +550. The level of incompetence it takes to make me think is poorly run on the same level as the Houston Texans takes me down some dark doors, mentally.
But holy hell, this Chicago Bears team is run by the worst type of idiot: idiots who think they are smart. We have all run into them in our lives. They are inevitably all the same person, trait-wise. They have to talk themselves up relentlessly. They have been fooled like rubes on numerous get-rich schemes, but think they are smart enough to know the next one.
Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy are those rubes. I’m 99% sure that they would be fooled into a Ponzi scheme. Not just anyone. At this time next year, Nagy is going to be going door to door selling makeup or steaks in a scheme he can’t get out of, and Pace is going to hosting a public access show selling vacuums or something.
The point is, every move these two make is proof that the dumbest people in the room think they are smart and clever. In a make-or-break year, let’s draft an offensive lineman with known back problems who everyone passed on for that very reason. Let’s draft a wide receiver in the first round out of the notorious wide receiver factory, West Virginia, who only knows a limited route tree. Let’s draft a quarterback who can get out of the pocket and run but isn’t yet familiar with NFL offenses, and make him run the offense of an immobile redhead. Let’s trade up one spot to draft the third-best quarterback instead of drafting the best or the second-best quarterback. Then, in the second round of that draft, let’s double down and draft an anti-vaxxing dipshit who is so bad at what he does that he washes out at a spectacular pace. And then, in an absolute make-or-break (god willing) season, we are going to keep an aging tight end who we will proceed not to use while instead cutting a cornerback who could have helped fortify a defense that could have potentially kept this burning school bus in games.
Or they win and they are one game out of first place and this madness continues forever.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+7) at Green Bay Packers
This is as easy as this: the Steelers are already done. The Packers are very much not done. When a player on the Bengals says the Steelers are giving up on themselves before a game is over, that is a massive canary in the coal mine moment. This is the Bengals, dammit. They can’t even be considered the Sisyphus of the NFL because they haven’t even been good enough in the past four decades to merit greek mythology to be spoken about them. A more fitting parlance is that the Bengals are the Bam Margera of the NFL. Sometimes entertaining. Often cringe-worthy, and most wonder how they are still around. And THEY said the Steelers quit.