Written By Billy Attridge
Injuries, injuries, injuries. The NFL season has disappointed in that aspect, as far too many talented players are on the sidelines before we even reach NFL Week 3. We’ll discuss a couple games where injuries are a major factor; including a total in Philadelphia, and an 0-2 underdog heading west. Finally, we peak at a side in Lambeau field this week to see if the Packers continue to crank out wins despite their offensive struggles. Before investing this weekend, find out why these numbers have moved. As always, we conclude by revealing Week 4 look ahead lines from Las Vegas!
Denver +7.5 @ Green Bay:
Green Bay opened a 6.5-point favorite against the Broncos, and the market quickly pushed through the key number out to 8.5 before we saw real money come in on Denver. Looking at the number here, there’s currently a 1-point adjustment from the look-ahead line last week, where Green Bay was installed a 6.5-point favorite. So, what gives? Green Bay is off a home division win over Minnesota, covering as a 3-point favorite despite getting severely out-played the final three quarters where they were outgained by 4.2 yards per play over that stretch. It took a horrible Cousins interception late in the 4th, which essentially sealed it for the Pack. Overall, Green Bay lost the yards per play battle 4.9 to 7.0, and the offense is struggling to gain rhythm once the opening script wears off; ranking 27th and 22nd in rushing and passing success rate. On the other sideline, Denver is desperate for their first win after Eddie Pinero spoiled their Mile High party last week. Vic Fangio is really familiar with Rodgers having faced him with Chicago, and we would expect the pressure to be dialed up getting defensive ends (Chubb/Miller) free to make plays. With the likely return of CB Bryce Callahan, Denver’s defense could take another step towards the potential we had for them coming into this season. Despite recreational support for Green Bay, I expect this number to continue dropping.
Detroit @ Philadelphia 1H Under 23 (-120):
Detroit and Philadelphia is one of the more interesting games of the weekend, as Philadelphia is dealing with a rash of injuries across the team. WR’s Desean Jackson and Alshon Jeffrey look to be out, and TE Dallas Goedert status is still up in the air. I wouldn’t expect the Eagles to have quite the success through the air as they have had Week’s 1 and 2, with Detroit touting the 5th best defensive pass success rate thus far. The Eagles are a team fully embracing the analytics culture, and one would think we see them attack Detroit on the ground, where their defensive success rate is 19th in the league. On the other side of the ball, Detroit still likes to “establish the run” early under HC Matt Patricia, and that could lead to a slower start. Add in the fact Jim Schwartz, the Eagles DC, is familiar with Stafford and the Lions organization (fired in 2013). I would expect Schwartz to get creative with his blitz packages to get more pressure on Stafford. This total opened 49.5 at one of the sharpest offshore books, and has fallen to 46. We agree with this move, and expect a slower start to this game.
Pittsburgh +7 (-120) @ San Francisco:
The biggest news coming out of Pittsburgh is the loss of Ben Roethlisberger, after needing elbow surgery. In steps Mason Rudolph, who looked competent in his 2.5 quarters of play last week. The market responded aggressively to the change at quarterback moving Pittsburgh from the look-ahead line of San Francisco -1 out to -7. The ultimate question here is twofold: How large is the drop-off from Big Ben to Rudolph, and do we have a sell high, buy low opportunity, as well? With the market adjusting 6-points for the quarterback change (not even mentioning the immediate help of Minkah Fitzpatrick), I believe there is some inflation here. Rudolph at this point is the more mobile quarterback, and with his addition also comes the benefit of having former college teammate WR James Washington on the field instead of the less than desirable Donte Moncrief. With the signing of Fitzpatrick, it sends the message in the Steelers locker room there is hope and positive expectation with Rudolph under center. Grab +7 (-120) if you fancy an ugly dog this week, as this number may continue to drop come Sunday afternoon.
Vegas Look-Ahead Lines for NFL Week 4:
Green Bay -2.5 vs. Philadelphia
Houston vs. Carolina (N/A – Cam Newton)
Baltimore -3.5 vs. Cleveland
New York Giants -2 vs. Washington
LA Chargers -16.5 @ Miami
Indianapolis -6 vs. Oakland
Kansas City -4.5 @ Detroit
New England -6.5 @ Buffalo
Atlanta -4.5 vs. Tennessee
LA Rams -9.5 vs. Tampa Bay
Seattle -3 (-120) @ Arizona
Chicago -3 vs. Minnesota
Denver -3 vs. Jacksonville
Dallas -2.5 @ New Orleans
Pittsburgh -3.5 vs. Cincinnati
Week 4 BYE: New York Jets, San Francisco