And just like that, it’s Week 14.
There are four weeks left in the NFL season, and although that might not seem like a lot, in a 16-game season it is monumental.
Each team still has a quarter of its games left to play, and in case those numbers don’t drive home the scale of the remaining schedule, perhaps these notes on what has changed in the last four games will. Four weeks ago:
Tennessee was in last place in the AFC South at 4-5. Now they are second at 7-5 (one game behind Houston)
Carolina was 5-3 and in second place in the NFC South, fighting for a playoff spot. Now they are 5-7, eliminated from playoff contention and they just fired their head coach.
San Francisco was undefeated and the unquestioned number one seed in the NFC. Now they are 10-2 and are the five seed by virtue of a tie-breaker with Seattle.
Tampa Bay was 2-6; now 5-7. Detroit was 3-4-1; now 3-8-1. The Chargers were 4-5; now 4-8.
The point being that all of the possibilities that can occur in four weeks actually make it a massive stretch by NFL standards, and the same can be said for this website and gambling everywhere.
There was not recap this week due to Thanksgiving travel and subsequent turkey hangover, but it was scheduled to be a look back at all that has changed.
For OEF, the last four weeks have been a whirlwind.
It was four weeks ago that we launched WORMS. What started as a formula I was crunching by hand weekly has grown into a computerized and more robust algorithm for predicting games. In just that short time we have realized that we have something special on our hands.
Per the Night Owl, the shadowy statistician bringing my formula to life, during the first four weeks of WORMS the spread was correct 71% of games and the moneyline 59% of games.
One month ago this didn’t exist and now it is predicting games at a profitable margin. The NO and I want to remind you that despite four weeks allowing a lot to happen, it is still a small sample size. These numbers are great but they are not final.
And since they are a work in progress, let’s briefly talk about the next four weeks and what will change within them. The biggest goals the Night Owl and I have is to turn WORMS into more of a money allocating resource as well as a pick maker. It is great that we can predict these games, but if some games are more valuable, we want to be able to communicate how valuable.
So, debuting this week, we will be indicating what percentage of your spread bankroll and what percentage of you moneyline bankroll should be bet on each game. For example, if you entered the week with $200 to bet, and were going to bet $100 on spreads and $100 on moneylines, then you would place the percentage amount on each game.
In a concrete example, this week WORMS likes Tennessee against Oakland. The suggestion is to bet 17% of your spread money here and 19% of your moneyline money here. Currently, this does not take into account odds, but it does tell you WORMS is more confident Tennessee will win that it is that Tennessee will cover.
Again, these percentages are not set in stone orders, but rather a recommendation. The goal is to allow you to be more intentional with your bets and make the WORMS information more actionable. For evidence that this can work, we have been tracking the percentages made over the past few weeks, and our model has our spread investments up 45% and our moneyline investments up 42%.
The really exciting part is that this is including a lot of the lower Delta bets, which are far more unsuccessful than the higher Delta bets. If you were to bet on only higher Deltas over this stretch, then you would have been more successful given that Deltas above 15 are 7-1 against the spread and 7-2 moneyline.
We will get more into the success of the various Deltas next week, but for this week be on the lookout for the bankroll percentage suggestions in the WORMS tab and here in this article.
A lot can change in four weeks, so let’s embark on this last (almost) quarter of the season trying to make positive changes and set ourselves up for a profitable end of year run.
Here are the Week 14 Early WORMS Best Bets:
KC @ NE
Vegas: NE -3 WORMS: KC -19 Delta: 22 Spread %: 20 Moneyline %: 16
This is why we need robots to do this.
Objectively, and without bias, New England has been a mediocre team over the past month.
After being blow out by Baltimore, the Patriots have skated by the Eagles (who just lost to the Dolphins) and the Cowboys (who just got blown out by the Bills) before losing again to the Texans.
In that span their offense has looked pedestrian and they have given up production to good offenses.
In my mind, though, they win this game because… actually let’s save that for Saturday’s article.
What WORMS is seeing here, though, is what a lot of people are seeing. Over those last three games mentioned above, New England has averaged the 26th most points in the league at 17.6, right behind the New York Giants.
On defense, including that Baltimore game, the Pats are giving up 21 points a game, but that includes nine against the Cowboys and 10 against the Eagles.
So to recap, New England can’t score and can’t stop teams that play outside of potentially the worst division in history (as measured by winning percentage outside of the division).
Meanwhile, the Chiefs have been doing what they do – scoring – and are 3-1 in their last four with a narrow loss to the Titans holding them back from a 4-0 run.
In that span, they are third in the league at 32 points per game, but perhaps more importantly they are fifth in points per play, trailing only the Ravens, Niners, Saints, and Titans (!) – five of the hottest teams in the league.
So, what WORMS sees here is a team that is red hot on offense coming to Foxboro to play a team that can’t score and whose defense has looked vulnerable these past few weeks.
You’ll hear something about this game Saturday, but for today, the robot we employ is telling you to get your money in on Kansas City before all of the humans catch on.
TEN @ OAK
Vegas: TEN -3 WORMS: TEN –21.5 Delta: 18.5 Spread %: 17 Moneyline %: 19
You might have sensed it in the previous game’s write up, but I LOVE this Tennessee team.
If you have been following our picks here, we have been making a ton of money on a Titans team that no one seems to want to believe in. Again, we have a chance to take a discount on a team that is playing the best football in the league right now (outside of Baltimore).
Here are the categories that the Titans lead over the last month with Ryan Tannehill as their starter: 1st in points per game, 1st in points per play, 4th in yard per game, 1st in yards per play, 2nd in rushing yards per game, and LAST in plays per game.
To translate this into a more digestible form, the Titans have been scoring more points per game than anyone in the league despite running the fewest plays. They are a hyper-efficient, world-destroying juggernaut.
Ok, deep breath.
It might not be quite that big, but it is still impressive and worth taking note. Tennessee is clicking on all cylinders and they deserve some respect.
On the flip side, any good will that Oakland has generated has quickly dissipated.
After a 6-4 start, the Raiders promptly got blown out by the Jets (!) and Chiefs in back-to-back weeks and now sit at .500.
What is more concerning for them, however, is that their point differential on the season is -87. This is much more in line with a four-win team like the Jags or Jets who both have point differentials in the 70s. In fact, no team with four wins has a worse point differential than the Raiders.
(Super quick side note, the 4-8 chargers have a POSITIVE point differential!! Not relevant but something I needed to tell someone. Back to the Raiders…)
But it gets worse for Oakland.
Over their last three games, which include a win against Cincinnati, the Raiders have the second worst point differential in the league, ahead of only the Jags.
This is a team that is cratering on offense, never had a strong defense, and is now facing the best offense in the league over the last month.
WORMS loves this game for all those reasons, and I am hard pressed to find a reason to disagree.
CIN @ CLE
Vegas: CLE -8.5 WORMS: CLE –19.5 Delta: 11 Spread %: 10 Moneyline %: 17
Overall, compared to the last couple of weeks, WORMS does not think this is a great week to bet. There are few high Delta games and the ones that are there all have some holes that can be poked in them.
This game being the third highest Delta is a great example, as it is difficult to find reasons to be supremely confident about this matchup.
But let’s try to explain WORMS’ thinking here.
First, and most obvious, is that Cincinnati is bad. They are a one win team with a rookie coach who benched their starter only to bring him back for no apparent reason. They have a poor offensive line and a defense that, although improved, still lacks the pieces to be truly effective. On the season, they have the second worst point differential, losing by an average of ten points a game.
Secondly, although the eye test may tell you the Browns are a dumpster fire organization, the reality is that they have been playing well recently. They have a point differential of eight points a game over their last three, and are 3-1 in their last four. In that span they have beaten the Bills and the Steelers, the two wild card teams ahead of them.
Their loss to the Steelers this past weekend was disappointing for anyone who bet on them, but not entirely surprising considering it was on the road and Baker Mayfield found himself injured halfway through the game.
So, although there are warning flags and despite the fact that this game may not have been third any other week, there is reason to be confident in WORMS’ prediction.
One of the reasons we invented WORMS was so that you don’t rely on your eyes.
Remembers, worms have no eyes and thus are not swayed by ugliness or beauty; they just burrow through the dirt and manure and find the truth.
Considering this game is a pile of manure, maybe we should trust them.
BAL @ BUF
Vegas: BAL -5.5 WORMS: BAL –14.5 Delta: 9 Spread %: 8 Moneyline %: 12
And here we have another example of why this week is so brutal.
Anyone who tells you they know what is going to happen in this game is full of it. The bottom line is that these are two teams playing extremely well in similar styles but different executions. The game is in Buffalo in December, which is a notoriously hard place to play. Both teams are coming off huge wins while Buffalo has three extra days to prepare. Both teams need this win to position themselves against the Patriots, looking to capitalize on a potential New England loss to Kansas City or keep pace with a win.
So now that we have outlined why this game is totally unpredictable, let’s look at why WORMS’ prediction is the right one.
Although Buffalo is playing great right now, their last six games are actually not all that impressive. If we assume for the sake of this argument (and based on reality) that a win against Dallas is not impressive, then the Bills have four unimpressive wins, beating Washington, Miami, Denver and Dallas. Their two losses in that span were to the mediocre Philadelphia and Cleveland teams.
In other words, Buffalo has been beating bad teams and losing to OK teams. Baltimore will be the best team they have faced since the Patriots in Week 4.
Baltimore, however, is the exact inverse. In their last six games, Baltimore is 6-0 beating Seattle, New England, Houston, LA (Rams), and San Fancisco in addition to Cincinnati. Removing the Bengals from the equation, the combined record of those teams is currently 45-15. It includes three division winners and four playoff teams. They have outscored those five teams 173-66.
So although there is a lot of uncertainty in this game, WORMS is reminding us that there is plenty of certainty too. We are certain that Baltimore is playing like the best team in the league and we are certain that they consistently beat good teams by plenty. Buffalo is a good team, but that hasn’t mattered to the Ravens.
If we agree with WORMS that Baltimore is as good as they’ve looked, then this is a must bet.
WAS @ GB
Vegas: GB -13 WORMS: GB –5 Delta: 8 Spread %: 7 (on WAS) Moneyline %: 4 (on GB)
And with our final pick, we see our first instance of the spread and moneyline bets being for opposite teams.
Before we get into the analysis, a shout out to Owl Eats Football superfan Robert, who used WORMS to bet the Washington moneyline and make a boatload of money last weekend. You can always feel free to reach out with stories of success (or otherwise) in the comments below or to the OEF email in the upper right corner of the page.
Back to the game, though, what Robert and WORMS both saw in Washington is a team whose defense and special teams are playing too well for them to be underdogs by massive amounts, and who can carry them to success.
Over the past three weeks, Washington has had its offense account for the fourth fewest percentage of their points in the league. What this means is that they are getting scoring from other areas at one of the highest clips, and although this might not always be sustainable, in this case it is worth noting.
The reason for this is Washington’s D has allowed 21 points or fewer in four of its last six games. Scoring is still a problem, but not as much as it used to be. Despite being ranked 32nd in the league in points per game on the season, Washington is 15th in the league over their last three. A big part of this is their run game, which features the fresh legs of Derrius Guice, coming off an injury to provide a much needed offensive punch.
This running game and defensive emergence places them in perfect position to give the Packers trouble.
Green Bay is actually just behind Washington in the last three game pints per game, and the Packers have shown the ability to lay eggs when they get behind in games. They have scored less than 12 in two of their last four games.
It gets worse. On the season the Packers are 25th in the league in rushing yards allowed per game at 123. They are 29th in rushing touchdowns allowed at 1.1. If Washington’s defense shows up and they are able to control the clock by running against this Packers team, it could get ugly quickly in Green Bay.
None of this is to say that Washington should be favored, or that we should be surprised if the Packers blow them out. But given WORMS’s success and Robert’s real life example of how going with the numbers over our heads can be lucrative, maybe we turn off our brains and let WORMS do the thinking for us.
If that’s the case, Washington +13 is very juicy.