2020 NFL Week 4 MNF: New England Patriots @ Kansas City Chiefs
Updated: Aug 5, 2021
Taking the Points and Siding with the Road Dogs Monday Night: Pats +11.5 -110
Cam Newton, who assumed the position behind the Patriots Center this season, is inactive for week 4, after testing positive for covid-19. Prior to this announcement, the Pats were dogs of a touchdown. The line reopened in the 10-11.5 range.
Our primary framework liked New England plus the points before the shake-up, and we think the line adjustment about accurately adjusts for Brian Hoyer to step in in Newton's place.
Per Sports Input, a seven point NFL spread implies about a 75% probability of winning for the favorite, while laying 11 suggests the team laying the chalk is about 87% likely to win. Thus, the Chiefs implied probability of winning this contest improved by 12% on Newton unavailability and Hoyer's insertion in to the lineup.
To validate these figures, we looked at ESPN's Total QBR over the long-term for Cam Newton and Brian Hoyer. (Total QBR is a statistic that measures quarterbacks' contributions to winning, including how they impact the game on passes, rushes, turnovers, and penalties; QBR considers every play in the NFL in the context of its success or failure, in an effort to better ascribe the proper level of credit to the quarterback).
Since Cam was drafted in 2011, he has averaged an annual Total QBR of 54.9, suggesting he has been solid, but not great overall at his position--for context, ESPN indicates that an average QB will sport a QBR of about 50; a 75 rating indicates a Pro-Bowl caliber QB. On the other hand, Hoyer's average annual QBR over his career is 42.6.
At the individual game level, the disparity in Newton's and Hoyer's Total QBR's hint that Newton should be expected to deliver the win 12% more often than his second understudy in any particular contest.
These numbers align nicely with the change in implied probability conveyed by the shift in the betting line.
So, if bettors liked the road dogs before the news broke, they should like them still. We were on New England before it was known that Newton contracted covid-19, as we deemed the original spread to be a couple of points too generous. As such, we are getting down on the Pats as double-digit road dogs a day later.
Consistent with our power rankings-informed perspective, we have observed evidence that the betting public tends to underestimate good road dogs early in the season. Since 2003, teams that made an appearance in the prior playoffs and that are taking points from a different division have been profitable bets earlier in the year, covering by 2.5 points on average, and delivering a 13% return on investment.
This system is a compelling 5-1 ATS this year.