• @WizeOwlSports

2014 NFL Week 5: Hope Springs Eternal

Updated: Aug 5, 2021

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We got off to a quick start last Thursday when the underdog New York Giants trounced Washington 45-14. Eli Manning's stellar evening included four touchdown passes, while opposing quarterback, Kirk Cousins, accounted for five of his team's six turnovers.

Unfortunately, of our five picks, the Thursday Night Football match-up would be the only game we win betting week 4 of the NFL. Interestingly, line movement during the week endorsed most of our picks. The Atlanta Falcons , for instance, closed as 5.5 point favorites at Minnesota -- a full 3 points wider than our wager at -2.5. Nonetheless, we finished the week 1-4, which leaves us 10-9 through the first four weeks of the 2014 NFL season.


History suggests our system is better than 20%, so, while disappointed, we are undeterred by our first losing week. In fact, the math implies that a 3-1 week is required to get our win rate back up to 56.5% on the season. We think that figure is closer to our long-term hit rate (last year we won 59% of our NFL wagers using the same system), and we are thus excited about the week to come.

Dallas Cowboys -6 vs. Houston Texans (Sunday, October 5, 10:00AM Pacific)

After a week 1 loss versus the number as 3 point dogs against the 49ers, Dallas has rattled off three straight wins, both straight up and against the spread -- including two road wins. Back at home, last week's victory over the Saints was most impressive. Romo recorded three touchdowns by air and DeMarco Murray chipped in two by land, on the way to the Cowboys definitive 38-17 win. We are betting that America's Team can keep their mojo working at home Sunday versus the Texans.

In line with our view, VegasInsider and The Linemakers report that the Boys opened as 3.5 point favorites, but the spread has increased to 6.5 at most Vegas sportsbooks. Offshore bookmakers, like 5dimes and Bovada, are currently pricing this game at Dallas -7.

As CappersMall reports that 82% of the 1200+ wagers they have tracked have gone Dallas' way, we appear to be betting with the masses, a generally undesirable position.

Atlanta Falcons +4 at New York Giants (Sunday, October 5, 10:00AM Pacific)

We are also fading the Giants in favor the Falcons this week. This is perhaps a curious choice considering that the Giants delivered our sole win last week, while the Falcons disappointed us two games in a row -- 1st by decimating our Bucs in week 3, and then by allowing a coming out party, of sorts, last week for the Vikings rookie QB, Teddy Bridgewater (Atlanta's 29th ranked defense let Bridgewater complete 63% of his attempts for over 300 yards; the Vikings beat the Falcons 41-28).

We expect that Falcons QB Matt Ryan is perfectly capable of keeping the ball moving through the air. We also anticipate RB Steven Jackson will put up above average numbers versus the Giants' mediocre run defense.

One Vegas shop opened the Falcons early as 1.5 point road underdogs (most books opened later at 3.5). The line quickly adjusted to 4 though, but has tightened a half point most recently to 3.5. Betting flows are consistent with the tightening of the spread since Saturday. On the strength of last week's rout of the Redskins, early money lined up with the Giants. The betting public is more even now though.

Another modestly compelling tidbit on sentiment: All of the 'experts' at CBS Sports are likewise picking New York against the spread. Over the couple of years that I have been following their picks, betting against CBS Sports pros unanimous picks has been quite profitable. All of the week 5 where this group is in agreement are shown below.

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Buffalo Bills +7 at Detroit Lions (Sunday, October 5, 10:00AM Pacific)

If Buffalo is to win against the spread, AccuScore sees strong QB play as a key to their success. In the 40% of simulations where the Bills covered, their average touchdown-to-interception ratio was 2.6:1, compared to about 1:1 in losses. Of note, starting Bills quarterback, E.J. Manuel, has been benched in favor of veteran backup Kyle Orton. Orton, who has not played this season, introduces some uncertainty into the analysis.

Also, AccuScore indicates that Buffalo RB Fred Jackson needs a stronger than usual showing in order for his his team to get over the hump tomorrow. Jackson posted OK numbers in week 1 against he Bears -- whose defense has proved to be below average versus the run, but he has been sub-par since.

Admittedly, counting on strong offensive play is no small feat against the best all around defense in the league (the Lions also rank in the top quartile against the run). However, working in the Bills favor, Detroit is hobbled by injury: starting defensive End, Jason Jones, was lost for the season after sustaining a knee injury last week against Washington, and four of the Bills starters on defense are listed as probable. Not to mention superstar WR Calvin Johnson's ankle may limit his productivity, or keep him sidelined altogether (Megatron's physical limitations reduced him to being a decoy last week versus the Jets, and he will be a gametime decision for Sunday).

CappersMall reported Saturday that 83% of the spread action on their radar for the Bills at Lions game flowed Detriot's direction. Bills bettors since have reduced that extreme to 73%. Accordingly, the spread is down from Buffalo +7 to +5.5.

Kansas City Chiefs +6 at San Francisco 49ers (Sunday, October 5, 13:25PM Pacific)

In our final week 5 selection, our quantitative overlay-based system (which is the primary basis for all of our NFL picks) instructs us to ride the Chiefs bandwagon. Kansas City has covered their last three games from the underdog position, staying within one score at the Broncos and beating the Dolphins and the Patriots outright. Conversely, the Niners are a lowly 1-3 ATS, and have not beat the number since their week 1 victory over Dallas. In fact, the 49ers lost outright (as favorites) to Chicago and Arizona in weeks 2 and 3.

AccuScore points to the running back position as the difference maker in this contest. They believe a Kansas City win will likely coincide with Jamaal Charles offsetting (if not besting) the production of Frank Gore. Though Kansas City has racked up 514 yards on 110 carries over their last three contests, San Francisco sits near the top of the heap on the basis of run defense, so this expectation is by no means a 'gimme'.

We, on the other hand, are anticipating that NFL players with the surname Smith can continue to torch their former teams -- surely a sound approach to handicapping.

Supporting our position, San Francisco opened at -7.5, but the line has since compressed, reducing the Niners 4.5 point favorites at present. Consensus looks pretty evenly split by wagering volume.

Happy betting!!