By Warren Sharp
FOX Sports activities NFL Author
This week’s NFL slate options big-time matchups with nice quarterbacks in prime-time video games. What extra might we ask for?
I ran my fashions to offer you my favourite betting edges, insights and predictions for Week 4 of the season. My objective for this weekly column is all the time to supply tidbits you didn’t know earlier than studying.
So, let’s dive into my favourite edges for this week’s card, with odds courtesy of FOX Guess.
Chiefs @ Buccaneers (8:20 p.m. ET Sunday, NBC)
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ protection ranks No. 1 vs. the cross and No. 2 general. However this has come in opposition to the No. 1 best schedule of passing offenses and No. 2 best general schedule.
The Cowboys have been with out receiving threats when Tampa Bay drew them in Week 1 (as they’re nonetheless immediately).
The Saints are a bottom-five passing offense, and the Packers have been with out key receiving threats final week and rank because the No. 13 passing assault within the NFL.
We all know the Bucs have a powerful run protection. They did final 12 months and nonetheless do that 12 months, rating No. 10 in success fee allowed (33%) and No. 8 in YPC allowed (3.8).
Final week the Bucs actually restricted the Packers sturdy run sport, holding them to simply 3.0 YPC and a paltry 22% success fee on early-down runs.
In contrast to the Packers, the Chiefs don’t care to run the ball almost as a lot. Inexperienced Bay was the fourth most run-heavy group on early downs within the first three quarters, working into the enamel of the Bucs defensive power. However the Chiefs cross the ball on the second-highest fee within the NFL on early downs.
And so they simply tangled with the Colts run protection final week, a run protection that ranks even higher than the Bucs.
The Bucs have performed nicely in opposition to the cross to date this 12 months, recording the No. 3 lowest success fee allowed to opposing early down passing assaults (35%). However that’s come in opposition to weaker passing assaults, as each Dallas and the Saints rank bottom-10 in early down offensive passing success.
The Chiefs passing assault ranks second in early down passing success and third in early down EPA/cross try.
And whereas this can be shocking, and it was to me as nicely, on early downs within the first three quarters (the place the Chiefs are the No. 2 highest pass-rate group within the NFL), the Bucs have the NFL’s No. 7 highest blitz fee however are getting strain on all dropbacks on the No. 31 fee within the NFL (16%).
We noticed this in opposition to Aaron Rodgers final week. Rodgers related on 15-of-17 early down passes within the first three quarters vs. this TB protection, recording 1 TD, 0 INTs, 8.4 YPA, +0.28 EPA/att and a 53% success fee.
However the Packers offense didn’t have extra success as a result of they referred to as run performs on 51% of early downs within the first three quarters.
And these runs generated simply 3.1 YPC, -0.27 EPA/att and a 22% success fee.
Why the Packers didn’t lean extra into their sturdy cross sport as soon as they noticed the run sport was ineffective was puzzling from an in-game playcalling perspective, however with a strong lead, my perception is that they have been attempting to shorten the sport and preserve Tom Brady on the sideline.
Third downs weren’t almost as profitable for Rodgers, and the offense would have fared higher in the event that they handed at a better fee on early downs. However I anticipate this Chiefs offense to just do that on Sunday evening.
I additionally needed to level out a perplexing remark from Buccaneers defender Shaq Barrett, who laughed in regards to the Chiefs rebuilt offensive line this 12 months.
“I actually don’t assume it’s an excessive amount of of a distinction,” mentioned Barrett. “I feel we have now lots of favorable matchups. I feel we actually have a chance to actually dominate the sport… I simply assume, yeah, we’ve obtained a chance to actually impose our will as pass-rushers, edge rushers on this sport. We will actually have like a coming-out social gathering. I do know we had six sacks the opposite sport, however we are able to actually have a coming-out social gathering as edge defenders within the place group for this sport.”
One factor is for certain, the matchup between the Chiefs offensive line and Bucs defensive position can be must-see TV on Sunday evening.
On the opposite aspect of the ball, the Chiefs, who lengthy struggled to cease the run, at the moment are almost equivalent to the Bucs defending early down RB-runs: No. 8 in YPC allowed (3.9) and No. 17 in success fee allowed (37%).
Final week the Chiefs needed to tangle with Jonathan Taylor and held the Colts RBs to simply 3.8 YPC and a 30% success fee on early-down runs.
This Bucs offense is massively struggling, they usually’ll clearly hope to search out extra success with the return of depth at receiver, however simply final week, they performed the NFL’s worst RB-run protection on early downs, the Packers, and the outcomes have been very subpar:
-0.22 EPA/att, 2.9 YPC and 50% success on all 12 RB-runs totaling solely 35 yards.
Tampa Bay both wants extra effectivity out of its floor sport in opposition to a extra stout run protection of the Chiefs, or it’ll have to return to the passing assault, which didn’t work out too nicely final week.
Each of those defenses rank top-5 in proportion of opponent’s cross makes an attempt acquire 10+ yards, so that they restrict chunk features by means of the air in addition to any defenses within the NFL, thanks, largely, to the truth that each play 2-high safeties at very excessive charges.
And Tom Brady ranks No. 2 worst within the NFL in EPA/att on brief passes (<15 yards). And when he throws lower than 15 yards vs. 2-high defenses (KC runs it on the fourth-highest fee), Brady ranks No. 31 in each EPA/att (-0.30) and success fee (33%).
There may be worth going below 45.
PICK: Below 45 factors scored mixed by each groups at FOX Guess
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Prime Time Unders
Unders are nonetheless hitting at a really constant fee this 12 months, one of many highest charges in latest historical past.
However I don’t imagine there may be something to the “Prime Time Unders” idea that has emerged this season. There all the time has been a slight edge to betting Unders in prime time, but it surely has gone underdiscussed for years.
From 2015 to 2021, prime-time video games went below at a 53.8% clip, whereas Sunday daytime video games went below at a 50.8% clip.
The typical whole for Sunday daytime video games was set at 45.7 factors, whereas prime-time video games have been set at 46.6 factors.
Naturally, oddsmakers soak up extra public cash on extra closely wager standalone video games, which clearly tilts far towards the Over. This helps to raise totals in prime-time video games. And betting Unders in prime-time video games has traditionally been extra worthwhile than betting Overs.
Nevertheless, when the distinction is simply three proportion factors (53.8% vs. 50.8%), or the win fee is simply 53.8% (worthwhile however considered by the common bettor as near flipping cash), the general public isn’t going to note or touch upon it. However when 70% of prime-time video games are going below (seven of 10 this season), it turns into a bigger speaking level.
Keep in mind, if you happen to really don’t have any opinion on a primary time whole or see no worth in it, you shouldn’t be betting it.
However if you happen to have been to wager a primary time whole for no motive aside from motion, you’ll have extra success betting the Below than the Over. And that has been true for years, not one thing that has developed simply in 2022.
That mentioned, on condition that I take advantage of a pc mannequin as the muse for betting NFL totals, I by no means have to fret about betting on a sport I see no worth on. And I’ve no worry in betting a prime-time sport Over or Below the full, because it all will depend on the place my mannequin finds worth.
The mannequin considers the road set and, thus, accounts for a barely inflated whole. But when my quantity nonetheless has sufficient worth, I’ll wager it religiously, Over or Below, prime time or daytime, because it has confirmed to be extra correct on totals than linesmakers.
Rams @ 49ers (8:15 p.m. ET Monday, ESPN)
When the 49ers meet the Rams, will probably be a battle for first place within the NFC West, very like the battle for first place within the NFC Convention in final 12 months’s playoffs.
These divisional foes have persistently battled to shut, one-score video games, which just about all the time have been 49ers wins and go below the full.
Since 2019, they’ve met seven instances. The 49ers are 6-1 SU, ATS, and the Below is 5-2.
The easy truth is Kyle Shanahan’s offensive stylings work exceptionally nicely in opposition to the Rams protection.
San Francisco will want an enormous effort out of their protection to restrict the Rams offense as a result of 49ers OT Trent Williams isn’t wholesome, and that may doubtless be an issue in opposition to this Rams cross rush.
And I’m involved about whether or not the Rams offense will do sufficient right here after they have the ball. After placing up simply 10 factors on the Payments protection in Week 1, the Rams have performed two bottom-5 defenses within the Falcons and Cardinals.
Now they have to face the 49ers protection, which restricted Matthew Stafford to six.9 YPA and a 5:4 TD:INT ratio in three video games in 2021. Stafford took 9 sacks and was hit 22 instances on 129 dropbacks.
From a sport common perspective final 12 months:
Stafford vs. the 49ers:
42% success, 6.9 YPA, 11% sack/INT fee, 7% sack fee, 30% strain fee
Stafford vs. anybody else:
50% success, 8.1 YPA, 6% sack/INT fee, 4% sack fee, 26% strain fee
Whereas this can be a massive step up in competitors for Stafford in comparison with the 2 prior defenses he confronted, it’s a giant step up in competitors for the 49ers, who’ve had the nice fortune of taking part in the Bears, Seahawks and Broncos offenses.
That’s the fourth best schedule of opposing offenses to date this season.
We all the time say you’ll be able to’t management who you play, however if you happen to’re going to be taking part in a nasty offense, you had higher dominate. And that’s what this 49ers protection has performed to start out the season.
The 49ers are getting strain on the No. 3 highest fee regardless of blitzing at a below-average fee.
San Francisco’s cross protection ranks No. 1 in success fee allowed on early downs and their run protection ranks No. 5 in success fee allowed on early downs.
As beforehand talked about, the 49ers can be with out LT Trent Williams, and whereas they did see the return of George Kittle final week, he wasn’t a distinction maker by means of the air. And I ponder on this matchup if he isn’t used extra as a blocker to assist preserve Jimmy G upright whereas Garoppolo targets Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk.
On the optimistic aspect for the 49ers offensive line, the Rams are getting strain on the seventh lowest fee regardless of blitzing on the No. 8 highest fee.
However that has come in opposition to a really completely different kind of quarterback.
The Rams have performed Josh Allen, Marcus Mariota and Kyler Murray this season — all dual-threat QBs which might be extraordinarily cell within the pocket. The other of these adjectives would describe Jimmy G., and if the Rams can collapse the pocket, they’ll disrupt this 49ers passing assault in a manner they couldn’t in opposition to the extremely cell QBs they’ve confronted.
They need to have the ability to get strain on Jimmy G and drive him to dump the ball shortly or take a sack.
And the 49ers are essentially the most delicate to sacks of any group within the NFL.
Zero sacks on drives?
A 28% punt fee, the No. 9 lowest of any group.
However at the least one sack on a drive? A 60% punt fee, the No. 5 highest of any group.
This offense is just not constructed to beat sacks.
Lastly, you’ve gotten one other factor going for you on this sport: the ref crew. Brad Allen, the ref for this sport, leads a crew that’s within the decrease tier calling defensive cross interference, defensive holding and has not but referred to as any unlawful contact. However they do lead the NFL in false begin penalties. And his crews are 58% to the Below, together with 66% in divisional video games.
There was extra worth on this when it was 46 or 47 factors earlier this week once I wager it Below, and though I nonetheless lean to the Below, there isn’t sufficient worth at 42 factors (but when it will get to 43, look Below).
Payments @ Ravens (1 p.m. ET Sunday, CBS)
Up to now on the season, the Ravens have performed the Jets, Dolphins and Patriots.
Within the first three quarters of video games, the Jets and Dolphins are two of the three groups to make use of 2-high safeties on the lowest fee within the NFL. They merely don’t play these 2-high shells in any respect.
The Jets are a couple of league-average fee.
However the Payments play 2-high on the No. 2 highest fee within the NFL. Utterly completely different than what the Ravens have confronted up to now.
The opposite factor that’s related about all of the defenses the Ravens have performed to this point is their blitz fee. The Ravens and Dolphins each blitzed Lamar at a nicely above common fee, which is basically no shock for the Dolphins specifically. And the Jets didn’t blitz as a lot however generated no strain until they did blitz. When not blitzing, they generated strain at only a 19% fee, nicely beneath NFL common.
The Payments, then again, don’t blitz in any respect, actually, and nonetheless rank No. 2 in strain fee at simply over 40%.
Jackson has completely diced defenses that blitzed him. He has the No. 1 effectivity vs. the blitz of any quarterback this 12 months.
Jackson has confronted 2-high protection groups final 12 months with lots of success, however many of the high groups within the NFL, just like the Chiefs, Payments, Bucs, Packers and Eagles are all utilizing 2-high much more than common, so this can be a nice check for the Ravens passing assault and the primary time this season they’ll face a protection who performs a ton of 2-high, doesn’t blitz and information lots of strain.
I feel the Ravens may very well be a frisky house underdog in one of many weekend’s finest video games.
Broncos @ Raiders (4:25 p.m. ET Sunday, CBS)
Up to now, Denver’s offense has confronted the defenses of the Seahawks, Texans and 49ers. The one good protection in that bunch is the 49ers.
Let’s begin with Russell Wilson vs. strain.
He’s the second most delicate quarterback to strain this 12 months, behind Joe Burrow.
On early downs, have a look at these splits:
When not pressured:
+0.21 EPA/att (#8)
-0.66 EPA/att (#29)
The Raiders have been strong at making use of strain, in contrast to the Seahawks or Texans, two of Wilson’s prior three opponents.
On all downs within the first three quarters, the Raiders have gotten strain at a 33% fee, No. 7 within the NFL. The Texans and Seahawks rank No. 20 and No. 21, respectively.
The place the Raiders strain fee actually stands out is on third down, the place they’ve gotten strain on the third highest fee.
That can be large as a result of this Seahawks offense has been horrible on early downs however has discovered a solution to be excellent on third down to remain on the sector.
Early down success is predictive of future success.
Third downs aren’t.
And the Broncos have been the worst offense within the NFL on early downs, No. 32 in success fee. However they’ve the No. 11 success fee on third downs.
It’s fully unsustainable.
Denver is averaging 7.7 yards-to-go on third down.
That’s fifth worst within the NFL, barely forward of the Chicago Bears.
This rivalry has been a low-scoring affair over time. 9 of the final 11 video games have gone below the full. And the final 5 video games the Broncos have performed on the highway in opposition to the Raiders have gone below the full, with Denver failing to attain greater than 16 factors in any sport.
That is yet one more sport I’d look to the Below.
Warren Sharp is an NFL analyst for FOX Sports activities. He’s the founding father of Sharp Soccer Evaluation and has labored as a advisor for league franchises whereas additionally beforehand contributing to ESPN and The Ringer, amongst different shops. He studied engineering earlier than utilizing his statistical acumen to create predictive soccer fashions. You’ll be able to observe Warren on Twitter at @SharpFootball.
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