NFL Week 14 odds roundup: Chiefs favorites over Raiders among betting lines

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The Kansas City Chiefs have struggled to beat the spread at home and the Oakland Raiders are riding a fairly lengthy against-the-spread streak on the road. Nevertheless, the Chiefs are listed as three-point favorites on the NFL lines against the Raiders with a 46.5-point total in the Thursday Night Football matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Chiefs are just 1-7 against the spread in their last eight home games at Arrowhead Stadium whereas the Raiders are 8-0 ATS in their last eight road games, according to the OddsShark NFL Database.

Kansas City beat the Atlanta Falcons in Week 13, as the likes of OLB Derrick Johnson, CB Marcus Peters and FS Eric Berry showed they can contain a top offense. Oakland’s Derek Carr leads the NFL’s fifth-best offense. Chiefs QB Alex Smith is not flashy but efficient and Oakland, 30th in total defense, is prone to giving up a lot of yards.

The Dallas Cowboys are favored by three points on the road against the New York Giants in the Sunday Night Football matchup. Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott is up against a Giants defense which is much improved, but regressed in Week 13 by allowing Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell to rush for 118 yards. Dallas is 4-2 SU in its last six road games against the Giants, whose poor offensive line might hamper Eli Manning’s best efforts.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are favored by two points on the road against the Buffalo Bills. Snow is in the forecast. The Steelers have given QB Ben Roethlisberger excellent pass protection, and when the Bills pass rush is stopped their defense is beatable. Buffalo is getting WR Sammy Watkins back to complement star RB LeSean McCoy and the fact Buffalo is 9-3 ATS in its last 12 games as a home underdog should not be overlooked.

With the AFC South lead at stake, the Indianapolis Colts are six-point favorites against the Houston Texans. Colts QB Andrew Luck has never lost at home to Houston, which likely needs to get pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney (elbow, wrist) back on the field to have a chance. Texans RB Lamar Miller was absolutely shut down against Green Bay in Week 13, but could bounce back against a mediocre Colts defense.

The Seattle Seahawks are 2.5-point road favorites against the Green Bay Packers. Green Bay is 4-1 ATS in their last five games as an underdog and QB Aaron Rodgers, along with WR Jordy Nelson and TE Jared Cook, pose a strong test for a Seahawks defense that has plugged in FS Steven Terrell for glue guy Earl Thomas (broken tibia). Russell Wilson may actually have a ground game, judging by Thomas Rawls’ 104-yard effort last week against the Carolina Panthers.

And the New England Patriots are seven-point favorites against the Baltimore Ravens in the Monday Night Football matchup. Tom Brady, without Rob Gronkowski but still complemented by the likes of Julian Edelman and LeGarrette Blount, is facing the NFL’s No. 1-ranked defense. Ravens QB Joe Flacco is coming off a strong performance and his team is not only 5-0 ATS in its last five Monday games, but has always competed well at Gillette Stadium.

Cris Collinsworth, Pro Football Focus writers explain how analytics are changing the NFL

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Peter King is on vacation until July 15, and he lined up some guest writers to fill his Monday spot on Football Morning in America. Today, it’s a collaborative effort by Pro Football Focus, the popular football analytics website. To start, here’s PFF Majority Owner and NBC’s Sunday Night Football color analyst Cris Collinsworth.

How data is impacting the landscape of football

When I broadcast my first NFL game during the 1989 season, I had absolutely no idea what to study or how to study. NBC provided me with a handful of newspaper articles, we watched some film at the team facility on Friday before the game, and we interviewed some players and coaches. I took notes, but I didn’t even have a board with the players’ names and numbers on it.

I was thrown into the deep end of the pool. This was going to be the shortest broadcasting career ever. Luckily, I had David Michaels as my producer (yes, Al Michaels’ brother). David had worked for years with Terry Bradshaw, and Terry had created these boards for calling games. The positions were aligned on this board where they would line up on the field. Offense facing defense, back-ups behind starters. All I had to do was fill in the blanks. Once again, my friend Terry was ahead of his time, and David showed me how to use it.

When I think back to those days, it’s pretty comical. Today, I could never read, watch or study all the data that I have available to me. In 2014, I bought controlling interest in Pro Football Focus. At the time we had 60 employees evaluating every player on every play of the NFL season. Now we have nearly 500 employees, providing data to 90 NFL and NCAA teams, multiple television networks and individuals who use it for private purposes. I won’t get into all the details, but if you are a data scientist, mathematician or IT specialist, and you love football, we are hiring.

PFF has already changed the way I think about building a team and play-calling. I can remember a time when everybody thought Andy Reid was crazy for passing 60% of the time. He doesn’t look so crazy now. I remember when running backs were thought to be the most valuable position; now they are considered the easiest to replace based on our WAR (wins above replacement) metric. I think it is fair to say that now very few NFL contracts are negotiated without PFF data being at the heart of the debate. The agent pitches all the positive data about the player, and the team is loaded with all the not so positive data. Some of those negotiating stories are pretty entertaining.

But as much as the data has changed broadcasting, it has changed the game of football even more. “Gut instincts” are no longer good enough. Decisions must be made based on the data. Every year at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, PFF meets with nearly every team. I always laugh when somebody starts telling me about “old school” coaches in the league. I won’t mention names, but some of the “old school” coaches have recently blown me away with their knowledge of the data.

I sat in on a meeting with a team that had seven data scientists, mathematicians and IT specialists from Harvard, Stanford and M.I.T. all in the room, and they were loaded with questions that would make your head spin. Luckily, I had the people in the room with the answers. Of course, there are teams that are not quite that sophisticated, and it is getting more and more difficult for them to compete. The data arms race is very real, and it is widening the gap between those who engage, and those who don’t.

The fans are now engaged in the data arms race, as well. Fantasy football had always created a market for data, but since May 2018, when the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 against the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act that effectively barred state-authorized sports gambling, a new aspect in the arms race has opened to fans. Whether anyone likes it or not, there is no stopping state-sponsored gambling on football and other sports. We have seen a real spike in our consumer sales of our Edge and Elite products. Some fans just want to know more about their team, others want to be the smartest person at the water cooler, some want to dominate their fantasy league, and others still are writing their own gambling algorithms. Regardless, there is no going back now. Data has changed the game.

 

For more PFF writers’ analysis, read more from this week’s Football Morning in America here

Patriots settle as small favorites on Super Bowl odds 2019

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For all the narratives that can hang off the great Tom Brady and Super Bowl first-timer Jared Goff, two of the big moving parts in the matchup on Super Sunday involve the rushing phase.

The New England Patriots have settled as 2.5-point favorites on the Super Bowl odds 2019 against the Los Angeles Rams with a 56.5-point total at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com in the Super Bowl 53 matchup slated for Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Sunday.

The Bill Belichick- and Brady-led Patriots are 6-2 against the spread in their last eight games as a favorite of 3.0 or fewer points, according to the OddsShark NFL Database, while the Rams are 4-3 straight-up and ATS in their last seven games as an underdog. Interestingly enough, underdogs are 13-4 ATS in the last 17 Super Bowl games.

As so often happens, the last two teams standings are in good health. The biggest exception for New England, whose run defense has been league-average much of the season, is that defensive tackle Malcom Brown (calf) was limited in practice. The Rams claim leading rusher Todd Gurley (left knee inflammation) is 100 per cent after he had only five touches during the NFC championship game two weeks ago.

Backing the Patriots, who are 13-5 SU and 11-7 ATS on the year, involves putting stock in Brady and cohorts’ abundant Super Bowl experience, along with the fact the offense has been at peak form, averaging 38.7 points and 465.7 yards per game over its last three outings.

The Patriots’ offensive line will arguably be the unofficial playoff MVP, collectively, if it contains the Rams’ front four anchored by Aaron Donald, the best defensive lineman in football. If Brady, the subject of many Super Bowl props for Sunday, isn’t disrupted and/or the opposing pass rush is sucking wind after a ball-control drive, the Patriots passing game is lethal.

The Rams, 15-3 SU and 9-7-2 ATS, are new to the tumult of the Super Bowl. However, head coach Sean McVay thrives at creating mismatches, and two of the Rams’ season-long strengths, running out one-back, one-tight end sets and using play-action passes, are not tactics that New England has defended particularly well.

Goff also led five game-winning drives during the season, emerging victorious in quarterback matchups against stars such as Drew Brees, Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson (twice).

The total has gone OVER in seven of the Patriots’ last eight games in the playoffs. New England’s last four closely contested playoff games have featured 68, 74, 44 and 62 points.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or Spotify or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.