YOU LIKE THAT CAPTAIN KIRK!?! I’m a Jets fan and typically a Kirk Cousins stan but BOY WAS I FIRED UP when Bills Pro Bowl CB Tre’davious White tossed Kirk’s catchphrase right back in his face. Between that and Josh Allen’s hurdle of the century, we were treated to one of the most entertaining upsets in recent memory on Sunday. Perhaps the Vikings were looking ahead to their looming slugfest with the Rams on Thursday night or even to Leif Erikson Day on October 9th, but that isn’t nearly enough of an excuse to justify a 21 point loss in a spot where they were FAVORED BY 17.5 POINTS!!!
Fortunately for the Vikes, most of the top teams not named the Rams were underwhelming in their Week 3 bouts. I unfortunately don’t have time to highlight some teams this week (also no segment for this post – deeply sorry), but let’s take a look at my powerful POWER RATINGS to see where those teams ended up:
|Rank||Team||TMC Score||Last Score||Score Diff.|
If you’ve checked the site in the past few days or follow me on Twitter, you probably saw that I fired away at a few Week 4 bets on Sunday and Monday. This was after a mediocre Week 3 in which I went 1-2 with my bets and lost 1.18 units. I still have a nice cushion in the black thanks to my big Week 1, but I need to get back on track with some winners and it (hopefully) starts with these three picks for Week 4.
Minnesota Vikings +6.5 vs. LOS ANGELES RAMS (-110) for 2 Units – As you all will see in the next few paragraphs, I absolutely defend the logic behind this wager, but boy did I time this bet wrong. When I placed this wager on Sunday night I was anticipating sharp action to swoop in and bet the Vikings from +6.5 through the minor key number of 6 to +5.5. That did not happen – the sharps avoided this game (to my knowledge) instead and the public has predictably pounded the Rams over the past few days. As of the time of this writing, I could get Vikings +7.5 -115 at my book, which is way more valuable than +6.5 -110. Hypothetically, I could bet more on the Vikings to get a taste of that +7.5 action, but I don’t want to risk more than 2 units betting against the best team in the league. This just goes to show that WHEN you bet is just as important as WHAT you bet. HOW you bet is also important – don’t do parlays children – and WHERE you bet can net you some extra value and/or keep you out of prison.
But even at my cruddy +6.5, I still do like the Vikings. My Power Ratings have the Rams rated 3.5 points higher than Minny, and as I mentioned last week in my handicap of the NFL’s Battle of L.A., I really don’t think the Rams deserve the standard 3 points of home field advantage for any regular season game. Even with last week’s home win, the team DOES NOT have a great track record at home (6-11 since moving to L.A.), an energized crowd, or a notable advantage with the L.A. weather. I’ll concede that this is a BIG home game for them, but kickoff is a little after 5 PM on a Thursday. Even when accounting for the standard 12-to-4 California workday, there’s going to be at least an hour of traffic for every ten miles traveled in L.A. By the time most Rams fans park their hybrid eco-friendly bandwagons in the stadium lot it will be halfway through the third quarter.
All California jokes aside, if you disagree with my take on the Rams HFA you should
COME AT ME BRO consider the personnel matchups, particularly with the biggest weaknesses of each team. Right now, the Vikings biggest weakness is their offensive tackles – they’re not great to begin with, two of them are banged up, and they managed to allow Bills pass rusher Jerry Hughes to get 15 PRESSURES on Kirk Cousins. Jerry Hughes is a solid player but he’s certainly no Von Miller, and thankfully for Kirk, the Rams don’t even have an edge rusher of Hughes caliber on their roster. Between roster construction and injuries, the Rams are now weak at edge rusher, linebacker, and cornerback (depending on the injury status of Marcus Peters), and those weaknesses let Minnesota off the hook for their weak offensive tackle play while also enabling them to attack the middle of the field. With weapons like Adam Thielen and Kyle Rudolph, that bodes well for the VIkings.
I also think that the Vikings have a bit of a motivational edge here. They’re 1-1-1 in what projects to be a competitive division AND they’re coming off of a humiliating loss. Meanwhile, the Rams are 3-0 and all signs point to them cruising to a division title now that Jimmy G is done for the season (sorry San Fran). In fact, the Rams could lose this game and still be in the driver’s seat for the top seed in the NFC. I’m confident that we’re getting the best version of the Vikings here and I’m less confident that we’re getting the best version of the Rams. That’s the flip side of betting on a team coming off of a terrible loss – although their Power Rating may have to be dropped a few points, which is a major downgrade for a team that hasn’t lost its starting QB for the season (sorry again San Fran), they will very likely be fully motivated for their next game.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS (-3) vs. Baltimore Ravens (-105) for 2 Units – Fun fact about the Ravens as it relates to this blog – I’ve wagered on all 3 Ravens game this season, either on them or against them, and in those wagers I’m 3-0. Maybe it’s just luck but I think I have a good feel for this team. In my opinion, what people and the betting market are missing is that a) they have a great HFA that is often overlooked, and b) without ace CB Jimmy Smith in the lineup, this defense is much better equipped to handle teams that aren’t a threat to throw deep.
The early returns of this season back up those claims. The Ravens won both of their home games against quarterbacks that struggle to throw deep (Nathan Peterman and Case Keenum) and lack deep threats in their receiving corps. However, the Ravens one loss came in Cincinnati in Week 2, when the Ravens had no cornerback that could cover Green and thus were discouraged from stacking the box at the possibility of Dalton connecting to Green on a deep ball. The Bengals offense went on to eviscerate the Ravens defense in the first half, and although Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense was able to put up some points in the second half, it wasn’t enough to get them back in the game.
Do the Steelers have a receiver that could win matchups against decent cornerbacks and a QB that could connect with him on a deep ball? UHHHH, YA. Unless Antonio Brown gets doubled on every play, he should be able to find openings at will against this defense, and the fact that he gets to play in Heinz Field with Big Ben means that he could actually be thrown catchable passes. And if the Ravens end up doubling Antonio Brown, they leave themselves vulnerable to a deep ball to JuJu, a pass over the middle of the field to (*insert big white dude here*), or a run for James Conner behind a great offensive line against a six man box. I could see the Steelers hanging 30+ points on the Ravens here just like the Bengals did in Week 2.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (-6.5) vs. Miami Dolphins (-115) for 3 Units – Being a Jets fan, my AFC East bias may have very well interfered with my intent to handicap this game more thoroughly before placing my wager here. I’ve watched the Patriots destroy my favorite team for OVER 15 YEARS and I’m convinced that Tom Brady is immortal and Bill Belichick is a god amongst men. It’s flat out IMPOSSIBLE to envision them dropping three games in a row, even though Belichick clearly doesn’t care about winning games in September. I think the notion that the Patriots would effectively be 3.5 games out of first place in the AFC East with a loss here is enough to ignite a flame under Belichick’s sub-zero buttocks.
Their last two losses weren’t pretty, but I would argue that the Patriots were in terrible spots in both of those games. Going back to Week 2 in Jacksonville, it was apparent from the onset of that game that the Jaguars wanted that game a lot more than the Pats did. In retrospect, it makes total sense – that was a huge revenge spot for the Jags following their AFC Championship defeat AND it was the biggest game played in Jacksonville in a very long time, possibly ever. After that loss came last week’s bout with the Lions, and similar to the Jags game, it was clear that the Lions wanted and NEEDED that game more than the Pats by the end of the first quarter. Not only are the Lions led by much-maligned former Pats DC Matt Patricia, but they were also coming off of an 0-2 start to their season and thus desperate for a win. This Patriots team is seemingly more flawed than most of the New England squads in recent memory, but they’ve been hit with the perfect storm of bad spots over the past two weeks.
On the other hand, Miami was gift wrapped a cupcake schedule to start the season, even though it doesn’t make sense to gift wrap a cupcake or a schedule. I don’t want to undermine what this team has been able to do – starting 3-0 is difficult no matter which teams you face and they’ve had some impressive breakout performances by individual players – but let’s pump the brakes a bit. This team got to play a beat-up Titans squad in a home game with four hours of weather delays, a young Jets team that was coming off of a huge win, and an ancient Raiders team that doesn’t know how to close games. Of those three games, only the Raiders game was an unfavorable situation (an 0-2 team facing a 2-0 team) and they didn’t exactly win that game convincingly. Again, this Dolphins team has impressed me overall – I’ve upgraded them 2.5 points since the start of the season – but with the Pats finally in a good spot and desperate for a win, I think we see some convincing evidence as to why the Pats have dominated this division over the past 15 years.