Sunday Night Football: Patriots, Brady betting favorites vs. Packers

Leave a comment

The New England Patriots and Tom Brady have lost only two home games in November in the last 10 seasons, which leaves bettors to probe for signs that the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers can buck the trend.

The Patriots are 5.5-point betting favorites against the Packers with a 56.5-point total for Sunday Night Football at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Since 2009, the Patriots are 13-2 straight-up during home games in November and as far as recent trends go, the OddsShark NFL Database notes the Patriots are 11-0 SU and 9-2 against the spread in their last 11 home games, with an average winning margin of 14.82 points.

For all Rodgers’ near peerlessness as a pure passer, the Packers are 0-5 SU and 1-4 ATS in their last five road games, with an average losing margin of 11.0 points.

As so often seems to be the case, the Packers, who are 3-3-1 SU and 3-4 ATS, will be counting on Rodgers to make up for their deficiencies. Rodgers may get ample opportunity to extend plays against a Patriots defense that ranks eighth in the NFL in yards-per-pass allowed (7.1), but is 29th, fourth from bottom, with only 12 sacks.

Favorite target Davante Adams should also be able to find some busts in coverage. The Packers are quite efficient in the rushing phase with Jamaal Williams.

The total has gone OVER in seven of the Packers’ last eight night games, so it’s not hard to imagine Rodgers going touchdown for touchdown with Brady. It might be more of a question of whether Green Bay can keep up for the full four quarters.

The Patriots, who are 6-2 SU and 5-3 ATS, have been rolling since what seems to be their tradition slumbering start in September. Brady and his deep and versatile receiving corps that includes tight end Rob Gronkowski, wide receivers Josh Gordon, Chris Hogan and Julian Edelman and speedster Cordarrelle Patterson are facing a Packers defense that is 22nd in yards per pass allowed (7.7), even though its schedule has included the execrable Buffalo Bills offense.

Green Bay is also playing its first game since the trade of safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, a pass defender who would likely draw “Gronk detail.”

New England is 17-3 SU and 15-5 ATS in its last 20 home games as a favorite of 3.5 to 6.5 points (that is, between a field goal and a converted touchdown). Their strong offensive line will be without right guard Shaquille Mason (calf) as it faces a strong Packers interior pass rush led by nosetackle Kenny Clark and defensive end Mike Daniels, but it would probably take an uncharacteristic breakdown for that to throw New England off its game plan.

The total has gone OVER in seven of the Packers’ last eight road games, with an average combined score of 50.63. The total has also gone OVER in seven of the Patriots’ last 10 home games in November.

 

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.

 

 

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

Getty Images
Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

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.