NFL Power Rankings Week 4
It is Gambling 101: when Everyone is certain that one thing is happening you bet the other way. And last weekend we got another vintage lesson in that oft-preached maxim of professional gamblers: go against the public.
All I read about last week (and even touched on myself in this very space) was how awful the NFL had been through two weeks of the season. Scoring was way, way down and the games had lost a lot of their luster as a result. However, it is one thing to make an aesthetic argument against pro football, as I did, and it is another thing to really dig into the nuts and bolts of the statistics behind the NFL's early season scoring drought. And the more I read about the scoring dearth the clearer it became: the NFL was primed for a rebound.
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And rebound it did.
Last week was just a classic case of statistical regression. Scoring numbers through the first two weeks of the season were so far outside the norm that things were due to bounce back the other way. And that was exactly the case, with 10 of 16 games flying over the posted total.
I expect more of what we saw last week. Again, I don't really care if it's entertaining; I just want it to pay out. I still think that the public is gun shy on totals, and I think that the books are setting the numbers a little lower than they should be in some instances. I have gone 17-2 (86 percent) with my NFL totals to start the season and I will continue to look to attack a market where both the public and the books seem to be without bearings. I suggest you do the same.
Here is Doc's Sports NFL Power Rankings for Week 4:
1. New England Patriots (2-1) - I have to give Tedy Bruschi credit. On Friday's "NFL Live" Bruschi actually predicted that the Texans would beat the Patriots outright. He was wrong, but just barely. And the guy almost nailed an amazing call on a 15-point underdog pulling the outright upset.
2. Atlanta Falcons (3-0) - For the second straight week the Falcons leapt out to a double-digit lead and for the second straight week they almost gave it away. But give this team credit. They obviously don't have a Super Bowl hangover (it's more a matter of systemic issues with their small defense) because if they did they probably would've choked away at least one of those games to the Lions or Packers.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (3-0) - At this point I truly believe you need to just bet the Chiefs every week until they cool off. This team is on a killer hot streak right now and they are playing with a ton of confidence because they know they have home run hitters on both sides of the ball. I know momentum when I see it, and these guys have it.
4. Denver Broncos (2-1) - The Broncos are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games against the Raiders and they are 4-1 ATS at home against Oakland. The favorite is 8-1 ATS in the last nine meetings, but the home team is just 5-12 ATS in the last 17 meetings.
5. Oakland Raiders (2-1) - I have no idea what was going on with Derek Carr on Sunday. I have always been quick to praise Carr. But he looked lost in Washington and the Raiders looked disinterested.
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1) - The Steelers are now 5-13 straight up on the road against teams that are below .500. That is the definition of playing down to your level of competition. And the more I see this team the more I am certain that they are not a championship-caliber group.
5. Green Bay Packers (2-1) - I feel like this is too high for this team. They are clearly overvalued. But I don't know if this short week is the time to test that theory. Green Bay is 10-3 ATS in its last 13 games against the Bears, and Aaron Rodgers absolutely owns Chicago.
8. Tennessee Titans (2-1) - Naturally it was Delanie Walker that recovered the onside kick to seal the game for the Titans. That guy does it all. The Titans are road favorites this week in Houston despite the fact that they are 1-6 ATS in their last seven trips there. The Titans are 1-6 ATS in their last seven overall against the Texans, and the road team is 1-4 ATS. The Titans are 13-35 ATS against divisional opponents and 6-15 ATS in their last 21 road games.
9. Minnesota Vikings (2-1) - Case Keenum has always thrown a pretty good ball. He's accurate and can make a lot of throws. His problem is always going to be his decision making, and that's why he is not a viable long-term option. He gets really trigger-happy after taking a few hits and gets frustrated by blitzing, press-man defenses. Don't buy into him.
10. Dallas Cowboys (2-1) - The Cowboys finally - FINALLY - realize that they need to move Dez Bryant around in formations to try to get him the ball. Bryant, as he showed on MNF, is a playmaker once the ball is in his hands. Dallas needs to adjust to the fact that Dak Prescott really doesn't want to (and isn't very good at) throw the ball more than 12 yards down the field. If they make that adjustment then their already powerful offense will be even more potent.
11. Philadelphia Eagles (2-1) - Darren Sproles, one of the most entertaining and electrifying offensive players of this generation, is done for the year with a torn ACL and a broken arm. That's a huge loss for the Eagles. Essentially any time they were "behind script" on offense - think 2-and-14 - they would go to Sproles and he almost always turned a deep down and distance into a manageable third down.
12. Seattle Seahawks (1-2) - I don't even know what to make of these guys. And after all the crap that the offense has taken after the first two weeks, it has to be bad for morale in that locker room for the defense to get torched for 420 yards allowed. Seattle is 7-2 ATS after a loss and 5-2 ATS in their last seven at home.
13. Detroit Lions (2-1) - These guys got absolutely screwed. That was absolutely a touchdown for Golden Tate, and we'll see if that loss lingers. Lions are now 0-5 ATS in their last five games against a team with a winning record. They are also 4-8 ATS in their last 12 games against the Vikings, although the underdog in the series is 8-4 ATS. Detroit is 4-11 ATS in its last 15 divisional games.
14. Washington Redskins (2-1) - I have to give the Redskins credit for being one of the most physical teams in football through the first three weeks of the season. These guys bring the lumber every week. The Redskins are just 1-6 ATS on Monday Night Football. But they are on an 11-5 overall ATS run, 10-2 ATS in their last 12 on the road, and 6-1 ATS in their last seven against teams above .500.
15. Baltimore Ravens (2-1) - The Ravens outstanding defensive effort the first two weeks - against two of the worst teams in the NFL, by the way - covered up the fact that Joe Flacco probably shouldn't be on the field right now. He looks extremely gimpy and, much like Cam Newton in Carolina, is obviously not 100 percent and not effective in any way, shape or form.
16. Carolina Panthers (2-1) - I hate to keep banging on the guy, but I do not for one second believe that Cam Newton's struggles are an aberration. The aberration was his MVP season. This guy is a mid-tier quarterback. And now that he's down another weapon (Kelvin Benjamin), things will get worse before they get better. Carolina can't pin its offensive hopes on two rookies, with no support, and think that's a winning formula.
17. Arizona Cardinals (1-2) - I understand that Bruce Arians is ultra-aggressive and believes in taking deep shots down the field. But enough already! The Cardinals offense is horribly inefficient this year because they are taking way too many deep shots. It's not surprising opponents and it's not softening anything up for the running game. Arizona is wasting too many downs with ill-advised deep throws.
18. New Orleans Saints (1-2) - The Saints were clearly the more desperate team on Sunday in Charlotte and it paid off. I am not giving up on this team. And I love the fact that Sean Payton is staying committed to the running game. The Saints rushed for 149 yards on 27 carries, and that helps protect their defense by keeping them off the field.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1) - I have tried to tell people: Jameis Winston is not as good as people think he is. He's in that Eli Manning/Jay Cutler category where the guy can make some amazing throws and some big plays but he kills his team as much as he helps it because he's a turnover machine. Keep an eye on the Bucs injury report. They have a cluster injury problem on defense.
20. Chicago Bears (1-2) - The Bears already lost one game this year because of a drop on the half-yard line. Marcus Cooper is just lucky that he didn't make it two. Also, Chicago just can't shake the injury bug. After setting an all-time record for snaps lost to injury in 2016 they just lost starting safety Quintin Demps to a fractured forearm.
21. Buffalo Bills (2-1) - The Bills finally listened! I have been saying that due to their dearth of competent receiving options they absolutely need to make working LeSean McCoy into the passing game a priority. He led the team with seven catches on Sunday. He's their only offensive playmaker, besides Tyrod Taylor, and they need to protect him. But they need to get in the ball in position to make big plays.
22. Miami Dolphins (1-1) - It took only eight days for the Miami faithful to get the full Jay Cutler Experience. Last week he was slinging it around and led the Fins to a (fluke) road win. Then this week he was he generally disinterested, sloppy self and stood by while his team got hammered by one of the worst teams in the league. Now it's off to London!
23. Los Angeles Rams (2-1) - The Rams will have extra time to prepare for their trip to Dallas this week and they are catching the Cowboys on a short week after The 'Boys play on Monday Night Football. That's the good news. The bad news is the Rams are still 1-10 ATS against NFC opponents and 3-13 ATS in their last 16 overall.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-1) - If you ignore the third quarter of the Titans game the Jaguars have outscored their opponents 93-34 in their three games this season. For the first time, the Jaguars don't have a bye week after their trip to London.
25. Houston Texans (1-2) - I am absolutely not surprised at all that Deshaun Watson looks like an excellent young quarterback just two games into his career. I absolutely thought he was the best quarterback in the draft and I feel like this guy had one of the most underrated and underappreciated great college football careers in the last 40 years. I am definitely buying stock in this guy.
26. Los Angeles Chargers (0-3) - I understand that new coach Anthony Lynn believes that by keeping kicker Younghoe Koo he's showing his players that he is loyal. But what it really shows everyone is that he's willing to accept failure. The Chargers are now 9-26 straight up in their last 35 games.
27. New York Giants (0-3) - After scoring just 13 points in their first 11 quarters of action, the Giants exploded for 24 points in the final quarter against the Eagles. But be skeptical: one touchdown was a 79-yard catch-and-run and another was set up directly by a turnover deep in Philly territory.
28. Cincinnati Bengals (0-3) - For all that I've heard about Joe Mixon, he looks like Just A Guy out there. He had 18 rushes for 62 yards and three catches for 39 yards. That's hardly game-changing stuff right there.
29. San Francisco 49ers (0-3) - Brian Hoyer was gun shy after that horrific opening-play interception against the Rams. By the time he regained his aggressiveness it was already too late and the Niners ran out of time. I still think this offense is going to overachieve for the next few weeks. The 49ers are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games in Arizona.
30. Indianapolis Colts (1-2) - Great job by Jacoby Brissett to force the ball to T.Y. Hilton. He is one of the best playmakers in the entire NFL and the Colts' only true offensive weapon. He should be getting at least the nine targets that he received on Sunday.
31. New York Jets (1-2) - I have to give credit to Todd Bowles. He had his team ready to play on Sunday. They now have a situational advantage over a Jaguars team that is traveling back from a London game. I would absolutely love it if the Jets got a couple early season wins. It will cloud people to the fact that this team is still a horror show.
32. Cleveland Browns (0-2) - The Browns have dropped their first three games for the eighth time since 1999 and for the sixth time in the past 10 seasons. The focus is on this team's young offensive weapons, but they absolutely can't stop anyone and won't be able to all season.
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