Ferringo NFL Report: Dogs Have Their Day…. Again
By Robert Ferringo of Doc's Sports Predictions
I watched the first 45 minutes of "Cujo" one late night last week. You know: psychotic, violent dog running roughshod through a small, sleepy town. It got me thinking about the current state of betting in the NFL, as rabid dogs continue to lay siege to bettors' stacks each week. At first it was confusing, and maybe horrifying to some who made a mint last year when it was the favorites that couldn't be contained by some feeble Vegas spread.
This year it's the complete opposite. Now it's the dogs that can't be stopped. However, by now the path of destruction that underdogs continue to cut should be almost reassuring in its certainty. It should be readily apparent that "Take the points" is the operative logic through this final month of the NFL season.
Take Week 14 for example. Arizona over Seattle? Miami over New England? "Who saw that coming?" was what I heard all afternoon on Sunday. Well, anyone who has been paying attention to recent trends in the league, that's who.
It wasn't just that the underdogs continued to maul the general betting public and their more heralded counterparts. What was so surprising this weekend was just how convincingly the dogs devoured their opponents last weekend. Miami won by 21 while shutting out New England. Baltimore beat Kansas City by double-digits, and the Chiefs has lost at home in December only once in their past 22 games. New Orleans took over Dallas again, only this time it wasn't because of a natural disaster, and beat The Boys by 25. Finally, Green Bay won by 11 and Buffalo by 28 and both were playing on the road.
That's six upsets by an average of 19 points each. Overall, the underdogs were 9-6 last week. I'm not counting the Giants-Panthers game because both teams were underdogs at one point. But that 9-6 mark wasn't just against the spread - it was straight-up. Essentially, it shows that no one knows anything about football.
Discounting the Thanksgiving Day Massacres the favorites are just 16-28 ATS (36 percent). If you look back over the last five weeks the chalk is just 33-45 (42 percent) against the number. In fact, it's been since Week 11 that the favorites had a winning week and it's been since a 10-4 ATS push in Week 5 that the favorites have actually turned a profit.
It appears that the books have sought, and found, retribution for last year's unprecedented run of favorites covering the spread. So is it time to start blindly betting the underdogs? Not quite, though I would say that it's not an overall poor strategy. I would take the points in just about every situation at this point unless you find a favorite that you just can't pass up.
Here are the rest of my nonsensical ravings from Week 14:
- Just two weeks ago I was wondering if anyone could play this game, as teams went 5-10-1 against the total. Over the past two weeks the trend has reversed itself and clubs are on a 20-12 rush on the over. In Week 14 the over hit in 11-of-16 games. What that tells me is that I'm ready for the pendulum to swing back this weekend with another rash of under games.
- The most absurd decision of the week was Houston deciding to go with an all-out blitz against Vince Young on third-and-14 from the 39-yard line. This isn't just hindsight because he scored a touchdown - that's something Sean Salisbury would do - I was screaming about it during the play!
The idea most likely was to try to sack the Titans out of field goal range. Here's the thing: they were ALREADY OUT OF FIELD GOAL RANGE. Yes, Rob Bironas nailed a 60-yarder last week to beat Indy, but that was with a severe headwind to his back and the worst-case scenario if he missed was overtime. Here, Bironas would have been attempting a 57-yard kick, into the wind, where the WCS would be giving the ball to your opponent at midfield. I don't mind a blitz in that instance, but try only one extra guy instead of three. Just an awful decision.
- Wait, so does this mean the Cowboys aren't the Super Bowl favorites?
Isn't it disgusting how ESPN acts like a cheap slut and jumps from one team to another every week, crowing them The Next Big Thing. Personally, I love it. Driving public opinion only helps inflate lines. I knew Dallas was primed for a big fall. I've been talking about it for weeks. Now New Orleans, with its shaky defense, is in the crosshairs.
Oh, and The Boys just cost themselves a first-round bye. And there's no way they're tough enough to win three straight weekends to go to the Super Bowl.
- Seattle's loss should have been the most predictable outcome of the week. One look at the line in that game and you should've known something was up. The Seahawks aren't nearly as good as last year's version, and they've always had trouble on the road. That being said, it would be interesting to see how that game ended up if Mack Strong hadn't fumbled late in the third. Seattle was up 21-17, had just forced a three-and-out, and had all the momentum.
- Buffalo is getting outgained by an average of 75 yards per game. Yet, they're still winning and/or causing teams problems. It's amazing what a team with amazing special teams, an aggressive defense that plays with passion and a very good running back can do.
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- The Raiders haven't scored more than 24 points in their last 22 games. They're also 4-28 SU in their last 32 games on the road.
- By watching he level of preparation and execution of New Orleans vs. Cleveland last week you can see why it's so hit-and-miss when promoting coordinators to head coaching positions. Sean Payton does not have that large of a talent advantage over Romeo Crennel, yet their approaches couldn't be less similar. It just proves, once again, why the coaching match-up has to be a determinant when betting on or against a team.
- What a whiff by Darrent Williams on LaDainian Tomlinson's record-setting touchdown.
- I'm still not buying that Rex Grossman is mentally, physically or emotionally stable as the quarterback of the Chicago Bears. There's no way they make the Super Bowl with him under center.
- The Saints are good - but let's not get carried away with them. Their defense is still suspect and they have a negative turnover margin on the season. Only three teams with a winning record can make that claim (Jets, Seahawks).
- What Vince Young and the Titans are doing is amazing. That's a 9-1 ATS rush in a league where it's difficult to cover three straight weeks.
- Unbelievable is the only way to describe what Jacksonville did to Indianapolis. To rush for almost 400 yards in an NFL game is almost unfathomable. Do you think the Colts miss David Thornton and Larry Tripplet?
- I know there's a big wave of New York Giants support rolling through the mainstream, but I'm not buying. Mike Strahan is not coming back this year, Eli is still shaky as hell, and their secondary is pathetic. Don't believe the hype.
- I can't even speak about the Oakland-Cincinnati game and how we were robbed of an easy over. It's unbelievable. And if you didn't watch the game, just go to NFL.com and check out the play-by-play of the last three possessions. Just cruel.
Sometimes I hate the NFL. Sometimes I love the NFL.
Questions or comments for Robert? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out his Insider Page here.
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