NFL Power Rankings Week 7
Apparently, handicapping the NFL has never been easier.
Just take every underdog or every road team, every week.
Now, most underdogs are road teams. So, there is a lot of overlap to those two subsets. But it doesn't really matter which way you lean. Both groups have identical records against the spread this year, going a remarkable 57-34 ATS so far this year. That is an absolutely incredible 62.6 percent success rate by either just taking every underdog or every road team each week.
Of course, when those two groups join forces, it has been nearly unbeatable. Road underdogs have gone an absolutely unbelievable 42-19 ATS this season, good for a ridiculous 68.8 percent win rate.
I know it has only been six weeks and there is still a long way to go in this season. But I can't emphasize enough how absolutely incredible those ATS statistics are.
There is any number of explanations for why underdogs are crushing it at the window each week. Quarterback play, league-wide, has regressed, and that's made everything more topsy-turvy. The sportsbooks have the most difficulty projecting teams early in the season. Defense has become en vogue in the NFL again, and that's led to lower-scoring games. Take your pick of the reason. But the reasons why don't matter. All that matters is that right now the only way to bet the NFL is to take road teams, underdogs and, when possible, road underdogs.
Here is Doc's Sports NFL Power Rankings:
1. New England Patriots (6-0) - There are so many stats regarding New England's defense to this point that are simply preposterous. Here are my two favorites: first, the Patriots are allowing opponents to convert just 14 percent of their third downs this year. Second, New England is forcing opponents to 29.3 yards per point. By comparison, last year's Pats were No. 4 in the league at 17.1 DYPP. At some point the pendulum should swing back the other way. Because these numbers are so absurd that they are completely unsustainable.
2. New Orleans Saints (5-1) - Teddy Bridgewater is now 21-12 as an NFL starting quarterback. If you throw out his final 12 starts in his rookie year, he is 15-6 in his last 21. New Orleans has one of the best home-field advantages in the NFL. But they have become a cash machine on the road, going 22-8 ATS in their last 30 road games.
3. Kansas City Chiefs (4-2) - I've said it before and I will say it again: it is sad to watch this team every week, to watch Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid, and know that this group, as presently constituted, has absolutely zero chance of winning the Super Bowl . They absolutely can't stop anyone on defense, and offensively their speed is going to be completely neutralized by the weather in January. The Chiefs are now just 5-10 ATS in their last 15 games, and that includes this year's 3-0 ATS start to the season.
4. Baltimore Ravens (4-2) - The Ravens have lost by a touchdown or more only one time in their last 13 games. Despite that, they are just 5-11 ATS against NFC opponents and they are just 2-6 ATS against teams with a winning record. Baltimore is 0-4 ATS in its last four games against Seattle, and they are in completely unfamiliar territory in the Pacific Northwest this week.
5. Seattle Seahawks (5-1) - I have basically decided that I am not going to bet on or against Seattle the rest of the season. For some reason, over the last few years, this is the one team in the NFL that I just can't wrap my head around. Whenever I expect them to flop, they play out of their minds. And whenever I expect them to roll some unsuspecting foe, they usually throw up in their laps. I'm done with these guys. Seattle is 5-11 ATS in its last 16 home games.
6. San Francisco 49ers (5-0) - Jimmy Garappolo is now 13-2 as an NFL starting quarterback. Now, take that stat with a grain of salt. Anyone that is watching the 49ers each week can plainly see that Garappolo isn't even close to playing the position at a high level. But he's getting it done. Kyle Shanahan has no love lost for Washington, one of his former stops as offensive coordinator and a franchise that basically ended his father's head coaching career. We will see if he has an extra edge to him going up against the Skins this week.
7. Green Bay Packers (5-1) - It looks like the Packers may have just lost two more receivers, as Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Geronimo Allison both left the MNF game with injuries. Green Bay now probably has the worst crop of backs/receivers/tight ends in the NFL. And that includes teams like the Dolphins and Redskins.
8. Chicago Bears (3-2) - Mitch Trubisky was throwing at practice early this week and he is 50-50 to play in this Week 7 game . That said, I almost wonder if the Bears would be better off going with Chase Daniels, who played the majority of his career in New Orleans. The Bears are 11-5 ATS in their last 16 gams, and they are 19-7 ATS in their last 26 home games. Chicago is 10-3 ATS in its last 13 conference games.
9. Minnesota Vikings (4-2) - I know the Vikings have posted back-to-back blowout wins. But I still don't know how much I trust them as a road favorite against a division rival. They've already lost at Green Bay and at Chicago, and they are just 2-5 ATS in their last seven games after a win.
10. Los Angeles Rams (3-3) - Wait, so does this mean Sean McVay isn't an offensive genius? The Rams are going full Chernobyl on that side of the ball. If they can't find a way to ring up 30+ points against the Falcons this week - with or without Todd Gurley - then I think the Rams playoff hopes are virtually nil. The Rams are 5-0 ATS on the road and 7-2 ATS in their last nine conference games. They are also 11-3 ATS in their last 14 games after a double-digit home loss.
11. Philadelphia Eagles (3-3) - Did Doug Pederson learn nothing from now-unemployed Eagles linebacker Zach Brown? Brown spent all last week baiting Kirk Cousins and then the Eagles got lit up on defense. Dallas has lost three straight and is on life support. Why in god's name would Pederson do anything to snap the Cowboys out of their funk? The more I see Pederson coach, the more I think my theory - that Frank Reich was the real brains behind their Super Bowl run - is completely justified.
12. Houston Texans (4-2) - See, this is usually the game where it all falls apart for a Bill O'Brien-led offense. Houston has posted 84 points in its last two games. In the past, this is when everyone feels like Deshaun Watson and the offense have turned a corner, only to watch them vomit up 13 or 16 points in the next game. Can Houston actually build on their recent run of success on offense?
13. Carolina Panthers (4-2) - I know that everyone is talking about Kyle Allen, Game Manager this week. But Allen was a lot more than that against the Bucs last week. He had at least a half-dozen fantastic throws that his receivers either dropped or weren't prepared for. Allen is still inconsistent; that is due to his lack of experience. But this guy can make some serious throws. There is absolutely no doubt that he should keep the starting job even when Cam Newton returns.
14. Detroit Lions (2-2-1) - Mark it as another bizarre ending for Lions fans. I swear that no team in football has played as many insane, jaw-dropping games over the last 10 years as the Lions. Now we will see if that MNF loss carries over in their next game, another divisional tilt at home against the Vikings.
15. Indianapolis Colts (3-2) - I predict that Indianapolis' game with the Texans will come down to one stat: third down conversions. Houston is No. 1 in third down conversions on offense and the Colts are No. 9. Defensively, the two teams are tied for No. 26 in third down stops. I bet whomever wins that stat will win the game on Sunday, and cover the spread.
16. Buffalo Bills (4-1) - It is absolutely bizarre to see the Buffalo Bills as nearly 17-point favorites against another NFL team. I am interested, though, to see if the bye week and the prospect of facing the hapless Dolphins saps the Bills of a little bit of their edge this week. After two weeks of rest it has to be little tough to get 'up' for a game against a Miami team that is actively trying to lose every game.
17. Oakland Raiders (3-2) - The Raiders are coming out of a bye week. But this is also the fourth straight game in a row that they have played on the road. At some point I expect these guys to wear down from travel as much as from playing their physical brand of football. The Raiders are 1-4 ATS in their last five road games. They are also 3-13 ATS after a win and 16-37 ATS after a game in which they covered the spread.
18. Dallas Cowboys (3-3) - Hat tip to Bobby Belt for this one: since 1991, NFL teams are 90-1 when they win time of possession, total yards and turnovers, they pick up 25 or more first downs and convert at least 10 third down attempts. Dallas' loss to the Jets on Sunday is that one loss.
19. Cleveland Browns (2-4) - Wait, so does this mean the Browns aren't going to the Super Bowl this year? They shouldn't sweat it too much. Everyone will forget about them next summer, and then in 2020 they will be like this year's 49ers.
20. Denver Broncos (2-4) - It was only a matter of time before Vic Fangio got his defense going. The Broncos have forced six turnovers in their last two games, allowing just 13 combined points to the Chargers and Titans. They will face a stiffer test this week from the Chiefs offense. But if they follow the Colts and Texans' game plan and try to play keep away, then that could help them keep this game 'under'. Denver has lost seven straight in this series. But four of those losses were by four points or fewer, including three straight brutal home losses to their rivals.
21. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-4) - I wouldn't completely bury the Steelers just yet. After their bye week, they get three straight games at home, including an automatic win over the Dolphins. Pittsburgh is on a 4-0 ATS run. And since their season opening loss, their three other defeats have all been extremely close games against top tier teams in Seattle (28-26), the 49ers (24-20) and the Ravens (26-23).
22. Los Angeles Chargers (2-4) - Schedule makers have done West Coast teams a lot of favors this year. In years past, a game like Chargers-Titans would be an easy 1 p.m. EST start. And for years, those West Coast teams took it on the chin in those early (10 a.m. PST) start times. This year the NFL has moved a bunch of those early kickoffs back to 4 p.m. It's a subtle thing. But something like that definitely gives the Chargers more of a chance this week.
23. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-4) - For all the 'Minshew Mania' that is flying around Jacksonville these days, the Jaguars are 27th in the league in yards per point (18.7). And over their last three games, they have posted an atrocious 20.1 yards per point. Last week's game against the Saints was particularly gruesome, with the Jags notching 37.7 OYPP.
24. Tennessee Titans (2-4) - The Titans are now 21-50 ATS in their last 71 conference games. That is an incredible 29.6 percent success rate over the last six years, meaning you could've made a killing just betting against Tennessee against any AFC opponent. They are also just 15-33 ATS against teams with losing records. This week they play a team that is both from the AFC and below .500, the Chargers.
25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4) - At this point, all you can do is point and laugh at anyone that actually thought that Jameis Winston would be a good NFL quarterback. My only hope now is that he plays well enough in these final 10 games to trick Jason Licht into signing him to a long-term deal. I want to be able to bet against Winston for years and years to come.
26. Arizona Cardinals (2-3-1) - Arizona barely beat the 0-6 Bengals, who are just a shade better than the Dolphins. And then they held off the 1-5 Falcons only due to a missed extra point. Yet all I am reading are these glowing reviews of Kliff Kingsbury's 'coaching evolution'. Are you kidding me? Kingsbury is still a proven loser, and the Cardinals are still a pathetic team.
27. New York Giants (2-4) - You have to give credit to the Giants for playing as hard as they did against the Patriots in a game that should not have been that competitive. That said, I don't know that the Giants should be laying points to anyone. They should get Evan Engram and Saquon Barkley back this week. But since neither one of them plays defense, that doesn't solve the real issue that this team has.
28. Atlanta Falcons (1-5) - The Falcons have only five sacks - as a team - this entire season. They haven't had a single sack in their last three games, and they are on pace for 13 total sacks this season.
29. Washington Redskins (1-5) - The Redskins are on a 0-5 ATS run, and they have gone 'under' in three straight. Bill Callahan's constant discussions about the need to run the ball as much as possible has pretty much guaranteed that the Redskins will go 'under' more than they go 'over' in their final 10 games as Callahan just tries to slowly bleed the clock out on this season.
30. New York Jets (1-4) - Let's hold the phone on Sam Darnold. The defender fell down on his 97-yard pass play to Robby Anderson. Take that play out, and Darnold threw for 235 yards with one touchdown and one interception. And did I mention that his big day came against the loser Cowboys? I'm still not sold on Darnold at all, and I have no problem betting against him any time, anywhere.
31. Cincinnati Bengals (0-6) - The Bengals are the only team in the league that's already allowed 1,000 or more yards rushing. They've allowed 1,107 total and have surrendered 5.3 yards per rush. And those numbers are without allowing many big plays; the Bengals have yet to allow a run of 40 or more yards.
32. Miami Dolphins (0-5) - I suppose it was only a matter of time before the Dolphins actually covered a spread. They are now just 1-7 ATS in their last eight games, and they are 3-13 ATS in their last 16 road games. Miami is just 1-6 ATS in its last seven trips to Orchard Park, and the road team is just 3-8 ATS in the last 11 meetings in this series.
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