NFL Week 5: Four Totals Plays--Bias Towards Under
Buffalo Bills @ Tennessee Titans o42.0 (-110)
Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tennessee
October 11, 2015, 12 noon CDT
Our work suggests that Buffalo and Tennessee should exceed the total of 42. In fact, a final combined score in the high-forties would not surprise us.
The Titans, who boast the league's fifth highest scoring offense, are one game into a four game home stand, and will enter the match up with the Bills well rested after last week's bye. These factors support the over. Further, both of these teams sport above average running games, and will face very poor rushing defenses (Tennessee ranks dead last at guarding against the run, while Buffalo is #28)--also consistent with the idea of a higher than expected total score.
The Titans and Bills also both have top-ten passing offenses.
While Buffalo is compromised at the Running Back position as a result of the absence of both LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams, we tend to discount injury at positions other than QB. Also, as an offset to the potential for big numbers through the air, Tennessee is ranked #2 in defending the pass, and at #7 Buffalo is not much worse.
The Bills squared off against an outstanding pass defense in week 2, when they hosted the New England Patriots. Buffalo's fifth year QB from Virginia Tech, Tyrod Taylor, went 23 of 30 for 242 yards and 3 TDs--but Tennessee fell 8 points short of stealing the win.
Per TheFootballLines.com, these teams have faced off only three times since 2009. The over is 2-1. Look for that momentum to continue.
St. Louis Rams @ Green Bay Packers u46.0 (-110)
Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin
October 11, 2015, 12 noon CDT
The three factors we rely on to forecast totals are tightly clustered around 44-45 for the Rams @ Packers. Thus, we like under 46.
At #6 Green Bay ranks just behind Tennessee in points per game, while the St. Louis is near the bottom of this totem pole at the #26 spot. The Packers and Rams combine for an average of 49.2 points per contest, or 46.7 when considering the Packer's points production at home and the Rams scoring on the road. However, we are looking for the total to disappoint in the face of the stout St. Louis defense.
This is no pipe dream, as by DVOA St. Louis #13 defending the run, while Green Bay's use of the run (as a percentage of all offensive plays) ranks them #3 (further evidencing their romance with the run, the Packers are #6 by rushing yards as a percentage of total yards). Moreover, the Rams defense top-ten vs. the pass, hinting that Aaron Rodgers is unlikely to get any 'gimmes' through the air.
The Over is 3-1in the four meetings between the Rams and Packers since 2007, but we think the stars are aligned for the law of averages to assert itself today.
Arizona Cardinals @ Detroit Lions u45.5 (-110) Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan
October 11, 2015, 4:05pm EDT
Per our work, 45 is the magic number, implying a half-point of value to takers of the under.
After putting up 31, 48 and 47 in weeks 1-3, Arizona finally slowed down their offensive pace in week 4. The Cardinals posted a mere 22 points in a home loss versus the Rams last week.
We expect numbers in the realm of the normal from the Cards again today, considering that Arizona faces the 7th best all-around defense in the league by DVOA (the Lions own the best running defense in the business, while Detroit's ability to stifle the pass ranks them #8).
With the ball, Detroit averages 16.5 points this season generally, and an even more alarming 12 PPG at home. Further, with 84% of their total yardage coming through the air, the Lions are easily the most reliant team in the NFL on the pass. But, interestingly, Detroit's aerial attack is only average (#16 per DVOA). What's more, Arizona stands out defending the pass (#6 best DVOA in this category). Thus, we anticipate below-average points production from the Lions too.
Given the combination of the Lions' commitment to defense and Detroit's low-octane offense, the under looks like the clear play.
New England Patriots @ Dallas Cowboys u50.0 (-110)
AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
October 11, 2015, 3:25pm CDT
We forecast a final aggregate total in the ballpark of 46-48 when the Patriots visit America's Team in Arlington, Texas this afternoon. As such, NE@DAL u50.0 becomes the greatest value on on our week 5 totals betting slip.
Specifically, we expect a final score of roughly 29-19 New England, suggesting that both squads will register below average scoring figures today. Dallas' offense is likely to stumble against the Pats' strong pass defense. This season the Boys have relied on their QB's arm for 71% of total yardage, versus the league of around 70%. Moreover, Dallas' passing game ranks #13 by DVOA. However, at #8, New England pass defense trumps the Cowboys' ability to throw the ball, posing a problem for Dallas.
Similarly, New England is probably just behind Detroit in terms of the Pats' utilization of the pass. However, key personnel on defense return to Dallas' lineup today (Greg Hardy and Rolando McClain are active again following four-game suspensions, while Sean Lee has been cleared per the NFL concussionprotocol). Our expectation is that a fortified Cowboys defense at home should at least hold the Patriots score in the high-20s/low-30s range...probably adequate to cash in with a play on the under.