Week 2: Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets

Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets (-3, 44)

Line: This is an early sell high spot on the Jets. They demolished the Lions on Monday Night Football, in front of national TV. They scored in every possible way and Sam Darnold looked like the real deal. However, it was a Lions team which didn’t look like an NFL team with an atrocious defense that lost their best two players (Ziggy Ansah & Darius Slay) during the game. The long touchdown pass to Robby Anderson should have been intercepted. The key reception by Quincy Enunwa on third down that set up a touchdown shouldn’t have been ruled a catch. After the game, Jets players admitted they knew which plays and routes the Lions were gonna run based on formations and Stafford’s hand signals. The Dolphins impressed me in their game against the Titans and they will be a different opponent than the Lions. My line for this game is Dolphins -2. Some shops opened this game at Miami PK/-1, before re-opening it at +3 after the Jets MNF game. Three points of value just because of one single score.

Situation: The Jets are flying high after a prime-time domination and will face the Dolphins on a short week. Slight advantage for Miami.

Matchup: We were expecting the Jets to orchestrate a couple scoring drives against a bad Lions defense. Detroit wasn’t able to challenge New York’s weak offensive line and after Ansah went out in the second quarter, OC Jeremy Bates and Sam Darnold had a field day. The Dolphins have a deeper pass rush and they also have a deeper secondary. They just need to get the pass rush on the field. They weren’t able to generate a consistent rush against a good Titans line, but they should have more success against the Jets. Bates will seek for mismatches in the horizontal passing game against a weak Dolphins linebacking corps and try to get Quincy Enunwa going out of the slot, who had the most snaps on MNF. Enunwa has shown incredible chemistry with Darnold. But the Dolphins actually have a very good matchup for slot receivers with rookie cornerback/safety hybrid Minkah Fitzpatrick. Minkah has already played decently against TEN and made some plays. Darnold – as good as he looked – is still a rookie who had turnover issues coming out of college. He showed that with the pick-six which was reckless. Against a potentially stronger pass rush combined with Minkah sitting on Quincy Enunwa and Xavien Howard on either Jermaine Kearse or Robby Anderson, I expect the Jets to struggle to move the ball consistently in this matchup. They won’t get blanketed and will get scoring opportunities, but it will be different from Monday.

The Dolphins actually impressed me. I expected Ryan Tannehill to show some rust in his first game back and he had two picks that can be applied to a lack of routine. Other than that, he looked sharp throughout the game, distributing the ball accurately across the field. The Fins scored 20 offensive points, but they should have scored 26 at least. They turned the ball over on downs inside the Titans’ red zone when Kenyon Drake didn’t catch a pass inbounds. Malcolm Butler picked rookie TE Mike Gesicki on a goal-line fade that Tannehill underthrew. Against the Fins, the Jets defense won’t recognize plays and routes based on formations and hand signals. Free safety Marcus Maye is still out which hurts the secondary. The challenging part on the Jets side will be getting enough pressure on Ryan Tannehill behind an offensive line without guard Josh Sitton and I doubt they will without a real outside rush. I see the Dolphins with a higher scoring ability and with less turnover risk. At +3, this is a great value after an overreaction.

The Pick: Miami Dolphins +3 +100 (LowVig, 09/11 10.10 AM EST)

Week 1: Jacksonville Jaguars @ New York Giants

Jacksonville Jaguars @ New York Giants (+3, 43.5)

Update: Brandon Linder is off the injury report and Giants pass rusher Olivier Vernon will not play. As mentioned in the write-up, I capped the game with Linder playing.  I doubt Vernon not playing makes the difference in this matchup and it doesn’t move my Power Rating line away from line value.

Line: I don’t think the Jaguars (and Blake Bortles) should lay -3 on the road in week one, they are overpriced based on last year’s results. Last season they would have covered a spread of -3 on the road just four times in ten games with their only impressive cover being at Pittsburgh. Different teams, but in Bortles’ career, the Jags are 7-27 SU away from home. I don’t think they have “earned” our respect as a road favorite of a field goal or more just yet. My Power Rating makes the line Giants +1.5, but all factors included, I cap it around a PK. Pinnacle is currently showing +3 +102 (09/03).

Situational analysis:  While everyone wants to win in week one, we shouldn’t ignore the fact that the Jaguars will play the Patriots at home in week two and they probably have been looking forward to that game all summer long. This inter-conference game is set up like a classic lookahead spot. It’s very hard to emphasize a team looking ahead in week one, but this is a game of nuances and the matchup against New England looks much more intriguing than an inter-conference game at New York. A few percents of the Pats in their heads might just be enough. This is also a new Giants offense and the Jags might not be able to game plan as they are used to.

Matchup: The interesting matchup in this game is Giants defensive coordinator James Bettcher against Blake Bortles. Bettcher is a very aggressive coordinator and one of the blitz-heavier coordinators in the league. We can all agree that Bortles isn’t a good quarterback. He isn’t even below average. But offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett can make him work by scheming easy plays for Bortles. But there is one thing that the worse quarterbacks in the league don’t like: blitzes and pressure. Good luck blitzing Tom Brady, but Bortles isn’t a QB who recognizes blitzes and coverages quickly – blitzing is the way to beat him. The Giants don’t have a good defense personnel-wise, but neither did the Cardinals last year. But Bettcher’s scheme still worked against the worse signal-callers. When you blitz a lot but lack great coverage at the back end, you are going to get shredded by good passing offenses and smart quarterbacks. The Eagles, Lions, Rams, Cowboys (Dak is great pre-snap) all scored at least 28 points on the Cards.

However, Bettcher was able to blank some poor passing offenses as well as Blake Bortles himself in week eleven. The Jags scored 24 points, but seven came with a fumble return touchdown and another seven on a 38-yard drive after a big return. Bortles needed to score two touchdowns on the ground – the passing offense managed an awful 3.6 net yards per pass. Overall, Bortles faced five defenses last year who ranked top-10 in rush frequency with five men, according to the Football Outsiders Almanac: TEN, NYJ, LAR, CLE, ARI & TEN. Do you smell anything? The Jags went 1-5 in those games. But only one of those defenses ranked in the top-10 in pass efficiency, it was just about the blitzing. The offense scored 16, 13, 17, 13, 17 & 3 points. They couldn’t score more than 17 points and averaged 11 PPG. In these six games, Blake Bortles had 4 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, collected 15 of his 24 season sacks and completed only 54.2% of his passes (60.2% on the season). Bortles had good games against teams like the Bengals (30th in 5men blitz rate), Colts (25th) and the Seahawks (26th). The Texans were completely decimated with injuries at the end. The Jaguars have an improved offensive line with Andrew Norwell, but Bettcher will find ways to pressure Bortles.

And the Jags might miss another x-factor: elite center Brandon Linder who suffered a knee injury against the Vikings in the preseason and has had his first limited practice yesterday. Marrone said he has no concerns but it would be a huge blow for Jax. This is also another advantage for the Giants because LB Alec Ogletree’s best (and only) strength is blitzing. Having a backup center against disguised LB blitzes might not be good at all. I capped this game with Linder, however. It would just be a “bonus”.

On the flip side, we cannot expect the Giants to light up the scoreboard against a great defense. Eli Manning is past his “prime” and the offensive line is questionable. The only strength is the receiving corps and Pat Shurmur’s unpredictability in his first game with the Giants. Eli Mannings splits with Odell Beckham are significantly better as without his star wide receiver. According to Graham Barfield (@GrahamBarfield), here are the splits of the Giants offense for Eli Manning with and without Odell since 2015 out of 32 offenses: QB Rating: 87.1 (23rd) vs 75.9 (30th) – YPA: 6.8 (23rd) vs 5.7 (32nd) -TD%: 5.01% vs 2.75% – Comp%: 63.3% vs 59.45% – TD / INT ratio: 68/31 vs 12/12 – Points Scored per drive: 1.57 (23rd) vs 1.08 (32nd). These splits show us that the Giants can be a below average offense with Odell Beckham on the field but it also shows us how dumb the Giants were to draft a running back over a potential franchise quarterback as the successor of Eli Manning. With unpredictability and guys like Odell, Barkley, Engram, and Shepard, Pat Shurmur might be able to orchestrate a couple scoring drives against a road defense that might not know what is coming.

To me, this game comes down to James Bettcher against Blake Bortles and great line value fading the Jaguars on the road who are overpriced. I think the Giants offense will make fewer mistakes than the Jaguars in this one. I rather trust an unpredictable Giants team with a defensive scheme that will force Bortles into mistakes on the road. I am expecting a bad outing from the Jags pass offense which should be enough for the Giants to take advantage of. Bortles has shown that he cannot play from behind – as soon as his team doesn’t have a comfortable lead, it can get ugly. The probability isn’t low to see this happen again. Let’s take the Giants at home!

Pick: New York Giants +3 +100 (Pinnacle, 09/04 08.30 AM EST)

NFL Betting Tips to Help You Pick More Winners

Sports betting is hard work. You can get lucky and be on the bright side of variance for extended periods. But picking winners consistently demands a lot of focus, knowledge, and patience. Approaching sound money management and building the skill to beat the closing line will help any sports bettor in any given sports. When it comes to pro football, there are a few NFL betting tips one should consider when distributing his hard-earned money in one of the biggest betting markets in the world.

NFL Betting Tips Part One

At the beginning of the football week, preferably earlier, you should already know at which price you would bet the Sunday Night Football game. Your betting results from the afternoon don’t change your pricing on the night game. As the week advances, you should get a pretty clear picture for the Sunday slates. Don’t let losses get in your mind, don’t chase!

Recency bias is one of the biggest enemies for sports bettors. In a football game, a lot of things can happen. Teams can have a pretty good week where everything works out their way. They can also have an awful week where everything works against them. In conclusion, sports teams don’t perform to their standard week in week out. Separating outlier performances and applying them to the mean is one of the most important skills for sports bettors. Therefore, it’s the easiest NFL betting tip I can tell anyone.

Be Aware of Steam Moves

When you open the NFL odds board at Sportsbook Review prior to the Sunday kickoff, you realize a lot of different colors. It’s when spreads and totals move the most. A lot of bettors come in late in the week and there’s also a lot of influential money moving the markets late. 90 minutes prior to kickoff, NFL teams have to hand out their final inactive report. There are reasons to bet late, but those moves shouldn’t dictate your own betting behavior. Don’t follow big late moves just for the sake of it. There is no correlation between steam moves and the outcomes of NFL games.

Sports betting is math, and many bookmakers are good at their job. They wouldn’t offer you options to buy points if they didn’t profit off that action. Buying points will increase your chances of winning a bet. However, most of the time the cost of buying (the difference in price) negates your advantage which leads to a -EV (Expected Value) bet. You will hurt your Return on Investment long-term. Buying or selling points merely is a math thing. It is barely an NFL betting tip, but an important nugget in general.

Beware of the Hype

ESPN headlines – or the ones of any other big sports media outlet – can dictate opinions. How many times did the media fool us with the narrative that the Patriots have nothing left in the tank? Most recently in 2018. I wasn’t high on them either, but that’s a different story. Draw your conclusions on your own and don’t get fooled by public opinions.

First of all, I don’t know of a reliable tracking system which proves that reverse line movement holds any value. It indicates a shift in the market opinion, nothing more. Big websites sell this concept to make money. Secondly, as soon you bet into reverse line movement, you bet into a worse number. Therefore, we need to try to anticipate line movement and create a system that helps you betting into good numbers instead.

This one is one of my favorite NFL betting tips. Because of the significant impact of fantasy sports, many bettors overvalue injuries to skill position players and tend to ignore other significant injuries. For instance, there are a few middle linebackers who can genuinely make a difference. Cornerback is one of the most critical positions. This position group can negate a lot of what the front-four does on a per-play basis. In other words, the best pass rush can get devalued with an awful secondary.

Betting Tip: Sports Betting is Math

The difference between odds of -110 and +100 is 2.38% in break-even percentage. However, the push frequency of the 4 is somewhere around 2.25%. By selling from -3.5 to -4, you only add half of the push frequency which results in an advantage of 1.13%. These are the kind of calculations every sports bettor must have in his arsenal.

NFL teams might show you some of their tendencies during pre-season, but their game plans are mostly vanilla. As a result, only a few NFL coaches that put any relevance to pre-season scores. Teams who dominate in the pre-season can very well lose their first four regular-season matchups. Don’t get blinded by pre-season performances. If all, you should track the drives when teams let their starters play.

I couldn’t find any correlation between the pace of play and the scoring outputs of teams on the season level. As a result, the speed of the game has no impact on totals. An offense could make full use of the snap clock between plays. However, if they get a lot out of their snaps and are efficient, they will score anyway. Find exploitable matchups.S

2018 SoS Ranking by Pinnacle Win Totals

Pinnacle Sports is touted as the sharpest off-shore bookmaker in the industry. They don’t boost their sharp bettors, they use their action to balance their handle. They offer the season win total markets for all 32 NFL teams. When you derive those current numbers and prices, you can calculate the strength of schedule (SOS) for each team. You find the results in the following table:

2018 NFL Win Totals and SOS by Pinnacle

Return on Risk (RoR) – Why is it Important for Sports Bettors?

Everyone who invests in stocks, bets on sports, plays Fantasy or whatever, has to deal with one crucial thing: measuring the process, or return on investment. No matter what you invest in, you spend time and money, and your goal is to get a profitable performance in the long run. In the sports betting community, e.g., Gambling Twitter or betting forums, sports bettors mostly measure success. That’s the first step. Bettors generally measure success by win/loss records and the resulting winning percentage. Some more add the number of units they won or lost. Those can be good indicators of how good or bad someone is betting. But those are also absolute numbers and can be misleading. A high win percentage over 60% or “+600 units this year” don’t necessarily mean a lot without context. You also cannot compare two different handicappers by those numbers.

The problem with “units”

Winning percentage and units won/lost don’t tell you anything about efficiency. In this context, efficiency means the profit relative to what you are investing in. It depends on how many bets you make, what prices you play on and how much you spend per bet. You might have a high winning percentage when betting big MLB favorites, but you could still end up on the losing side despite hitting 60% or more. Someone who risks 5,000 units per season and is up 500 units, achieves the same return relative to the risk as someone who risks 500 units and is up 50. It just depends on how much you are investing and what the odds are. Here is a table about winning percentages required to break even depending on the average odds:

Break-Even-Win-Rates

When you play only spreads (NFL, e.g.) and your average odds are -110, you need to win 52.38% of the time to break even. That means your record over 100 games needs to be 53-47 to generate a profit. Someone who bets on an average of -120, will create a loss off a 53-47 record. Applying one unit per play, the -110 guy ends up with +1.3 units whereas the -120 guy ends up with -3.4 units. That’s a difference of 4.7 units just because the average line is ten cents lower. That also shows you how essential odds/price management is when it comes to sports betting. It even doesn’t matter whether one guy bets ten units per game or just one. The profit relative to the risk is the same.

An easy solution for everyone

What is the solution? Calculating Return on Risk (RoR). It measures the efficiency of your betting process. You divide your profit by the amount you have risked:

Return on Risk = profit / total risk

By measuring Return on Risk, or Return on Investment, you can effectively measure the efficiency of your betting process. RoR is independent of the number of units risked, the winning percentage and the average odds. Profit and total risk already process the average odds, so that the result is just the profit relative to what you are risking. Coming back to the examples above, the -110 guy achieves an RoR of +1.18% (1.3 / 110), the -120 guy ends up with an RoR of -2.83% (-3.4 / 120). Both have the same winning percentage, but the results are different just because one guy had lower odds on average.

Winning percentage and units won/lost are fine, but they are success-based and not efficiency-based. I don’t condemn anyone who quotes winning percentage and units – I do it myself. It looks good for advertising purposes, it gives you a good feeling, and most of the people are familiar with winning percentage and units. But in the end, both are just a measurement system for tracking success. Adding Return on Risk gives everyone a clue about true efficiency.