Well, its been a little while!
After posting articles five days a week at the height of Owl Eats Football, this will mark the low point of production as this is just the second post this week.
But let me reassure you, there will be three articles moving forward:
Mon - “What Didn’t Happen” Recap
Wed - Early Best Bets
Friday/Saturday - Best Bets
With that reiterated, though, you are probably sitting there fuming as you think “That’s all fine and well, but where was the article this past Wednesday?!” And quite honestly I don’t have an excuse, but I am ready to let you behind the curtain and perhaps that will soften your stance.
This past week was my first week writing for The Duel (https://www.fanduel.com/theduel) a site that provides betting and fantasy advice as an offshoot of FanDuel. The writing is much different than what I do here; quick-hitting, informational, and digestible pieces that are written en masse for any and all fans of every possible fan base.
Additionally, next Saturday will mark my first NBA DFS (Daily Fantasy Sports) article for Fantasypros. You can find my debut appearance here:
Now, a side effect of this may be the evolution of Owl Eats Football into Owl Eats Sports, but we don’t have to worry about that. No, now we just need to worry about appreciating where we are and what this site is starting to accomplish.
Thank you for being a part of it and do not fear. This will always be my priority and you will always be my people.
So without further ado, let’s stop talking business and start talking money. Here are the Week 7 Best Bets, brought to you by the Owl Eats Football empire:
SF -10 @ WAS
This line feels like a prank. Like Vegas is playing a cruel joke and they are going to reveal that Michael Vick in his prime is now the Washington quarterback alongside a prime Barry Sanders, Jerry Rice, and Lawrence Taylor.
Because honestly, anything short of that means this line is way off.
Let me put this in context.
After beating the worst team in football history (not officially, but officially) by one point, Washington is now only a ten point underdog against one of the best two teams of the first half of the NFL season.
Not enough? Try this on for size: the Niners are currently the second best team in the NFL in terms of point differential per game with an average of +16.6 points. Washington is second worst, with an average of -12.8.
Furthermore, Washington is allowing almost 30 points a game while San Francisco is allowing 12.8.
Still want more? Washington’s current weakness on offense is an o-line that is unable to protect a quarterback who turns the ball over frequently (4 INTs and 4 fumbles through 4 and a half games). San Fran’s strength is a defensive line that relentlessly attacks quarterbacks and has forced seven interceptions and recovered five fumbles.
In fact, the Niners have the third most takeaways in the league despite ALREADY HAVING HAD THEIR BYE. In other words, even in playing less games than most other teams, they still have the third most total takeaways as a defense.
I could go on and on about how pathetic Washington is as a franchise and how impressive San Francisco has been, but all you need to know are the numbers, and they tell us that this game is more likely to be a twenty point victory than a ten point one.
Oh, and the Niners coach, Kyle Shanahan, was fired (along with his dad) by this same Washington ownership, so the chances that San Francisco pumps the breaks is none existent.
Let’s take all those Patriots winnings from the past two weeks and double them up again, this time on the NFC’s best team.
JAX -3.5 @ CIN
Classic Owl Eats Football-ism here, but I grabbed this line at -3. And then I grabbed it again. And again. And then I put it in every parlay and teaser I could find.
I have emphasized over and over here how Vegas has a problem with making lines for the worst teams in the league. I talked about it on the podcast I appear on (which I cannot name because my mom reads this blog and this is not a mother approved podcast). It is the story of the season; the difference between the below average and the bad is gigantic and the lines for the Washingtons, Miamis, and Cincis of the world are rarely right.
Another trend that I have talked less about, however, is the vanishing effects of home field advantage. Except in extreme circumstances like an elemental difference (i.e. Denver), a crazy crowd (i.e. Seattle), or a long distance (i.e. coast to coast) home field advantage is worse less today than ever before.
This can be attributed to the improved travel, better planning, advancements in training, and removal of die hard fans in favor of fantasy football players who have allegiance to people and not teams (hi!). No matter what the reason, though, Vegas has shown an inability to keep up with this and still attributes too many points to terrible home teams.
And that is the case we have here.
Jacksonville could easily have two more wins with a better two-point conversion against Houston and a better closeout against Denver, but even without those things they are vastly superior to the Bengals.
The Bengals, meanwhile, have shown the ability to move the ball on offense, but are doing so in garbage time and without the help of any sort of explosive play. Their schedule and results show a team that has hung in a lot of games, but this is immediately debunked when you take a look at their scoring splits by quarter.
The Bengals rank 21st in first quarter scoring and 28th in second quarter scoring. What this indicates is that they are frequently way behind at the half and fill out the score sheet in the second half.
Even without this, though, Jacksonville has a dynamic quarterback and receiver combination as well as a healthy running game that is due for some positive regression.
But more than anything: Jacksonville is below average while Cincinnati’s season is over. This game shouldn’t be within a touchdown and should be a nice way to compliment our guaranteed winnings from the Niners.
LAR -3 @ ATL
Man, this is a theme this week!
Let me save us about 300 words - the Rams are a flawed good team, Atlanta is a terrible team, home field doesn’t exist for a team without fans, this line is too low.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk inches!
If you read the recap at the beginning of the week, you’ll remember that the rams were a couple of inches away from beating Seattle a couple of weeks ago, and that if they were 4-2 with a loss to San Francisco, no one would be nearly as worried. Meanwhile, Atlanta is inches away from being 0-6, and that would make this line look ridiculous.
Getting into the nitty-gritty, the Rams have struggled for essentially one reason: their offensive line has not been able to protect a quarterback who cannot function under pressure. This is the reason they lost to the Bucs and it is the overriding lesson we learned from their game with Niners last week.
Here’s some good news for us Rams bettors: Atlanta is the only team in the league with less sacks than games played this season!
Jared Goff will be standing in a clean pocket with his choice of receivers who will be competing against cornerbacks who have not shown the ability to stop anyone this season. If you want to have some fun, go check out Bill Barnwell’s Twitter to see the diagrams of the same crossing routes teams have used to beat the Falcons in three consecutive weeks. They are bad and they do not adjust.
The cherry on top of this is that the Rams will be playing with Jalen Ramsey this week, who has a real shot to slow down one arm of the explosive passing game in Atlanta.
I, however, bet this line before that trade was made, and think that the benefit here is that the Rams are suffering from a deflated perception. In reality this team can beat anyone and will most certainly have their way with a team that has lost to the Cardinals and Titans.
Lets bet against the worst of the worst when they are getting as much respect as a team that was a few plays away from winning the Super Bowl last season.
BUF -17 vs MIA
Perhaps you are unnerved by the fact that we are just hammering the worst teams in the league, but for me, it shows we are in a good rhythm for the season.
We have felt out the league to date and identified the spots where value is intrinsic in the line. These are the places where Vegas cannot make lines that benefit them and not us.
In this case, 17 seems outrageous at first glance, but at second it seems outrageously low.
Here are the Dolphins margins of loss in their first five games of the season: 49, 43, 25, 20, and 1.
Let’s ignore Washington because they deserve to be ignored, and what we are left with is four games that show Miami struggles to keep games within three touchdowns, let alone within the teens.
Conversely, Buffalo has been a defense that has allowed almost nothing all season long, trailing only San Francisco and New England in points allowed per game.
So we have the worst team ever facing the third best defense, and the line is less than twenty?
If we play this out, Miami has a 50-50 shot to make it to ten points, meaning Buffalo would just need to hit 28. The only team to not score 28 on Miami? The Team That Must Be Ignored.
By continuing to exploit lines that cannot be made big enough, we are protecting out money and winning our bets. Let’s profit off of Miami’s misery.
BAL @ SEA over 48.5
I insist on betting one over/under in Best Bets despite the fact that it is often my undoing.
In this case, though I feel fairly confident.
Each of these teams is masquerading a little bit, riding off of a string of close wins against opponents that shouldn’t be able to keep it close.
But one thing both of these organizations are not faking are their offenses.
With two dynamic quarterbacks that can overcome shaky line play and create opportunities, each is capable of generating offense just by themselves. Currently Wilson is first in MVP betting odds and Jackson is eighth (although that number probably deserves to be sixth as neither Aaron Rodgers nor Tom Brady are actually having MVP seasons).
On the flip side, neither of these defenses has been able to stop anyone. A news stat that I am becoming more and more obsessed with is points per play; it takes out a lot of the noise in the points per game stats and merely focuses on how many plays it takes an opposing team to score some number of points. Instead of worrying about game flow, turnover luck, ball control, etc. we just focus on whether the defense lets the other team score and how easily they do so.
In this case, Baltimore is 28th and Seattle is 25th in points per play allowed at .423 and .408 respectively. For context, New England leads the league at .141 (no one else is below .2) and Miami is last in the league at .549 (no one else is above .5 although Atlanta is trying).
Statistical tangents aside, the other factor here is that it could be raining. One of the biggest misconceptions about any weather other than wind is that it downgrades the offense. In actuality, however, it is the defense who suffers the most. They are playing a reactionary game and are much more prone to sharp cuts and are often running backwards or laterally. If the weather is bad here I would still love this over and I would pound the prop bet overs for both Jackson and Wilson rushing yards.
I’m going to hit an over/under eventually, let’s make it this one and let’s win some money on a game that has a high likelihood of shooting out.
OTHER Best Bets
ARI +3 @ NYG
I’m officially on the Kyler Murray train even if they are serving Kliff Kingsbury Oatmeal Cookies.
This offense is good, the defense gets Patrick Peterson back, and the Giants aren’t quite as good as that first game with Danny Dimes indicated (remember Anchor Syndrome!).
Yes, the Giants get Saquon back. Yes, the Giants get Evan Engram back. But even with those two, this team has a porous defense that is not getting any better.
Maybe I’m biased after seeing the Cardinals underdogs to a similarly bad Atlanta team last week, but this Cardinals team could be over .500 right now and this Giants team is not even close.
PHI +3 @ DAL
No analytics here, just a rant about the Cowboys (with a little analytics).
With Zeke out, this team ran play-action at one of the highest rates in the league. With him back, they have resorted to just plowing him into the line and accepting their two-yard gains.
Against the Jets on Sunday, while trailing in the second half, the Cowboys ran on first down almost 70% of the time! These runs averaged 2 yards per attempt, and are a clear signal that Jason Garrett has reinserted himself into the offense. The team was constantly in 2nd/3rd and long and repeatedly fell behind the sticks.
Currently, the Cowboys are without their best offensive lineman and their best wide receiver. This offense has looked disastrous when this is the case, and coming to town is a Philly team that doesn’t allow the run and pressures the QB. Granted they have no ability to cover wide receivers, but the fact of the matter is that there may not be receivers to cover, especially when Zeke is falling into the line every first down.
I like this Philly team and I think Carson Wentz is a sneaky MVP bet at 20-1, but more than that I hate what Dallas has done to an offense that was thriving with Tony Pollard at running back.
I’m going to turn this hate into money, if you’d like to join.
NO +4 @ CHI
Alvin Kamara is out, I know, but people seem to forget that this is a team built to win in a season where they might not always have everyone they want.
They spent a chunk of money bringing in Latavius Murray this off-season, and he is a starting quality RB who will slot right in. Their offense is still going to be the grinding, efficient machine it has been, albeit a little less explosive.
But mostly, this bet is a trenches bet.
Chicago has a formidable defensive line, but New Orleans has an o-line that can contain just about anyone. The really scary part for the Bears is that they will be trotting out their decrepit, bottom-of-the-league against Cameron Jordan and newly minted star Marcus Davenport.
If the Saints can pressure the quarterback in this game, then Chicago might not be able to do much on offense. If that’s the case, this could be a low-scoring but easy win for perhaps the best complete roster in the NFL.
NE -10.5 @ NYJ
You knew it was coming.
This is a great time to bet this line as the Jets are at an all-time high and the Pats looked shaky against the Giants.
But, if we’re being honest, we feel great about taking the best defense in the league in a ten point spread. For this not to hit, the Jets will either have to score two touchdowns (something no offense has done to the Patriots this season) or hold an offense averaging 30+ to less than 20.
It’s not a Best Bet, but it could still be a cash cow.
The Big Money Makers
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of losing these.
Full disclosure, I did hit a parlay for a pretty penny last week involving the Cardinals’ and Saints’ underdog moneylines, but that didn’t appear here so it doesn’t count. Well, I mean it counts for my bank account but not for my pride.
And so this is an attempt to regain the most valuable currency a man has: his publicly-posted, parlay pride.
No teasers this week, just big money parlays involving a lot of the lines and game we mentioned above. We’re going all in on our picks this week, and if they hit then next week we may see a triple digit parlay play. If none of them hit then it’ll be a sixteen-leg, penny play.
Either way, join me on the ride and let’s see if we can break through and restore my pride.
Here they are:
BUF -17 (-110)
NE -10 (-110)
LAR -3 (-115)
JAX -3 (-115)
SF -10 (-110)
20 to win $466.40
KC -3.5 (-120)
ARI +3 (-120)
NE -10 (-110)
LAR -3 (EV)
JAX -3 (-115)
SF -10 (-110)
$25 to win $1,142.74
Even More Dangerous PARLAY
NO to win (+145)
SF to win (-440)
JAX to win (-210)
BAL to win (+150)
LAR to win (-150)
AZ to win (+130)
NE to win (-440)
$15 to win $768.07