What did NFL bettors learn from last week's action and how can it be applied to future matchups? Lets take a look at a few trends sure to prove profitable in the upcoming weeks.
There’s one thing that has become very clear as the NFL season enters the December stretch run. The 2015 season is an ode to mediocrity. You’re not going to find many truly elite teams, and even the bottom feeders are capable of pulling outright upsets over playoff contenders, all while providing handsome payouts to those backing them with their NFL picks.
With the Patriots ongoing injury woes, there are only three teams I’d even consider ranking as ‘elite’ right now: the Panthers, Cardinals and Bengals. And all three of those teams have enough question marks to put them a good notch or two below where my top power rated teams were last year or the year before at this stage of the campaign.
It’s a similar story at the bottom of the league. I’ve got eight teams grouped at the bottom of my power ratings: the 49ers, Chargers, Ravens, Titans, Browns, Saints, Jaguars and Rams. None of those teams are as bad as the Jaguars, Raiders, Redskins or Titans were last year. There’s mediocrity everywhere you look at the NFL level right now, offering opportunity for NFL bettors who can find ways to fade non-elites who are priced too high and while backing non-elites who are priced too low.
Let’s take a look at some pertinent Notes & Quotes from three teams that define mediocrity and could be worth a look next time you head to the NFL odds page.
The Oakland Raiders stayed alive in the AFC playoff picture with an intense, come-from-behind-in-the-fourth-quarter road win at Tennessee on Sunday, sneaking past the Titans with a three point win (and cover). That being said, while Oakland ‘found a way to win’ the reality is that they found a way to lose and were bailed out by the refs following a phantom penalty on the far side of the field on a fourth down incompletion. Titans head coach Mike Mularkey: “The one call is the call, it changes the game, changes the outcome of the game. It's frustrating, very frustrating.”
That said, notching this road win was clearly a positive for the Raiders. Head coach Jack Del Rio had a very different take on Oakland’s game winning drive: “I'm really proud of the way they guys stayed in it. It was tough. There was a reason to be discouraged. You're in control of the game, you fumble it and all of a sudden they go down and get a score. And it's `Oh my gosh, what are we going to do?' Well, we're going to go down there and find a way to get it in there and get a score."
The win was the third SU road win for Oakland this year. Over the previous three seasons, the Raiders were 2-22 SU in their 24 games away from home…
The Buffalo Bills made a myriad of mistakes on Sunday after jumping out to a double digit first half lead against the Chiefs. Rex Ryan screwed up his challenges – more than once – in a fairly embarrassing display of inept game management. The defense – Ryan’s trademark – collapsed down the stretch. And the offense managed only one scoring drive after halftime.
Bills WR Sammy Watkins had a huge first half, but was completely shut down in the second half. “We didn't get the job done. We've got to put the nail in the coffin when we play great teams like this. You give them a chance and let them live, they start making plays -- their defense starts making plays. We've got to put them away."
Bills QB Tyrod Taylor hasn’t thrown an interception in his last five outings, but he couldn’t move the offense after halftime in KC. “We made it tough on ourselves, but we've just got to take it week by week, day by day. Maintain a hungry attitude." A cluster injury problem on the defensive line (Mario Williams, Kyle Williams and Alex Carrington are all hurt) is likely to ratchet up the pressure on the offense for the December stretch run.
The Washington Redskins have the sharpest home/road dichotomy in the NFL this season, improving to 5-1 at home following Sunday’s win against the Giants, but still winless on the highway this season. Washington has struggled to run the football. They’ve struggled to stop the run. They’ve got cluster injuries in their secondary on defense. And yet we’re seeing quotes like this one from defensive end Jason Hatcher: “We're in the driver's seat right now. We've just got to continue winning games and driving the car -- right into the playoffs." The mainstream takeaway from this game was ‘Redskins good’. These two quotes from the Giants might indicate otherwise. Tom Coughlin “We `sleptwalked' -- whatever the word is.” Odell Beckham Jr, talking about the Giants first ten possessions – seven punts and three turnovers: “We came out flat. Too many mistakes.” The Redskins have opened up as favorites of more than a field goal at home against Dallas next Monday Night.