Total Domination: Week 14
A weekly look at games that could exceed or fall short of betting market expectations. Bettors can leverage recommendations at the sportsbook, while DFS players can use the specific player recommendations mentioned to their advantage. Steve Repsold deep dives each recommendation and advises us the level of bet confidence expressed in units (example: 2u = 2 units).
New York Jets at Buffalo Bills (-4) Over 38 1.5u
Two points below the Lions at Cardinals, 38 is the lowest total of the week. While I don’t expect this game to be a barn-burner, a total that low is begging for the over. I’m not going to pretend that these offenses are anything special, but there are reasons for optimism, especially on the Bills’ side of the ball. Just four weeks ago, these two teams met in Jersey and put 51 points on the board. The Bills accounted for 41 of them.
That was in a duel between Matt Barkley and Josh McCown. It also kicked off a three-game streak of over 300 yards of offense and over 400 in two of three for the Bills. The Jets’ defense has been simultaneously collapsing, with yardage allowed totals of 451, 498, and 403 since their last game with the Bills. Since then they’ve lost linebacker Darron Lee to suspension. He was an almost every-down player with speed and represents another big loss for the Jets’ defense.
It’s rare that the return of starting quarterbacks doesn’t represent a big boost in offensive potential, but that’s the case here, at least for Sam Darnold. You can make the case for Josh Allen boosting the Bills. He certainly boosts their rushing potential, with over 200 yards on the ground in his last two games, a feat that 39-year old Josh McCown could not achieve (surprising note: in researching this, I learned that Josh McCown ran an astounding 4.59 at the combine, but still, that was 16 years ago). Conveniently, the Jets have gotten smashed on the ground with over 200 yards allowed in two of the last three, including the Bills without Allen.
I think it’s fair to consider the potential impact of defensive scores and short fields due to turnovers. Both of these quarterbacks have struggled with holding onto the ball, especially Darnold. He hasn’t played in weeks and he still leads the league in interceptions (14) and pick sixes (2). Allen has done better, in part because Darnold averaged 5 attempts more per game. Allen still has a 5:7 touchdown to interception ratio in eight games played (seven started). Both these defenses have had their moments and while we can’t bank on a defensive score, it’s reasonable to assume we see some turnovers providing great field position.
Three DFS plays stand out from the crowd. The Bills D/ST is obviously in play against a turnover-machine QB and a mediocre-at-best offense. Josh Allen deserves consideration, despite the fact his salary has finally risen from the bottom-basement after his big rushing days. Finally, Zay Jones has seen his role grow in recent weeks. It goes without saying that playing any part of the Bills’ offense carries serious risks, but with the releases of Kelvin Benjamin and Andre Holmes, Zay will be the last man standing in the receiver corps. It’s easy to forget, but Jones is a freak athlete with 4.45 speed at 6’2” 201 lbs. There’s no one worth playing on the Jets, although I could see their D/ST having a surprise big day on a defensive score or two.
Ultimately, the bet comes down the insanely low total. I don’t expect too much from the Jets, but I think the Bills can pour it on against them remnants of their defense. It doesn’t take a lot of action to break 38 points.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-10) at Oakland Raiders Under 51.5 1u
This Oakland Raiders team is an affront to good football. I’m not sure if we’re witnessing the genius first stage of Jon Gruden’s tank-and-rebuild strategy or merely the flailing of bad franchise that has literally sold itself to a pair of devils in Derek Carr and Gruden (not to say that they’re evil, but questionable long-term centerpieces of the team). Wherever the truth falls in the future, what’s true now is that this is a bad team actively trying to be bad.
That’s not going to go well against the Steelers, who are stinging from a two-game losing streak, after winning their previous six games. Their defense has come alive. They’ve allowed fewer than 300 yards to five of their last seven opponents, all of whom had superior offenses. The Raiders are coming off a 33-point outburst against Kansas City’s leaky defense and are primed for an implosion against a much tougher opponent. Derek Carr has been sacked 21 times in the last five games. The Steelers D/ST is an underrated play in this road game.
The Steelers will score plenty against a Raiders’ defense that has allowed over 400 yards in six games this season. If it weren’t for James Conner’s injury, I’d recommend him as a strong play despite picking the under. However, it’s tough to do the same for replacements Jaylen Samuels and Stevan Ridley. The big question is usage. I am a huge fan of Jaylen Samuels, who should start and has top-level receiving chops for a running back. He played more of an H-back / tight end role in college and is a plus athlete with size. He’s still an interesting play with considerable upside, but figures to be popular in DFS. Ridley isn’t playable with minimal upside but could take enough away from Samuels to render both of them mediocre plays.
However, I don’t think the Steelers can score enough to push this over 51 points. I don’t see the Raiders being competitive at all. I expect the Steelers to gain an early lead and then squeeze the life out of the Raiders (assuming there was any life to begin with).
Denver Broncos (-3.5) at San Francisco 49ers Over 45 1u
I’m going to keep this pick brief. To be honest, I don’t have a lot of numbers to back this one up. It’s more of a feeling, for whatever that’s worth to you. The loss of Chris Harris rips a major hole in a Broncos defense that had already sprung leaks all over the secondary. Bradley Robey has been burned all year and they’ve turned to an uninspiring third-round rookie named Isaac Yiadom. The Broncos have been solid at curtailing opponents’ points recently, but I think that dam is about to break and 45 isn’t that high of a total.
Both teams play fast, ranking in the top half of the league in pace of play. That is always a bigger contributor to scoring than most people realize. Nick Mullens, erratic as can be, gets Marquise Goodwin back this week to complement Dante Pettis, giving him two legitimate outside threats, plus the dagger in the middle of the field named George Kittle. I think Pettis is a great play this week. He’s had big games two weeks in a row but his salary has not caught up yet. Goodwin’s return could siphon away some of his targets, but I think it’s more likely that Goodwin’s breakaway speed opens things up for Pettis. Goodwin is also an intriguing play, but as a deep threat, his low target share makes him big-play dependent.
Phillip Lindsay continues to dominate and impress. The undrafted free agent rookie is fourth in rushing, despite being 15th in rushing attempts. Among rookies, he trails only Saquon Barkley (and only by 17 yards) and is tied with Barkley for sixth in rushing touchdowns. His 6.1 yards per carry average is first in the league by a considerable margin. He’s not the biggest contributor in the passing game, but he’s getting more involved lately. Head coach Vance Joseph conceded this week that Lindsay needs even more usage. I’m not sure what more I can say about him; he’s a fantastic play.
|Meet the Experts||Content Posting Times|