NFL Power Rankings Week 10
The single most overrated angle in NFL betting is to assume that teams coming off a bye week are going to be more prepared for their upcoming game.
Last week was another perfect example of the phenomenon, which routinely buries bettors. Arizona, Washington, Jacksonville and Houston were coming in after weeks off. Houston played Jacksonville, so that was a wash against the spread. Arizona and Washington? Both lost outright as post-bye week favorites.
Teams coming off a bye week are just 5-7 against the spread over the last three weeks and just 9-9 ATS on the season. Over the last month, teams that were favored after their week off have gone a terrible 3-7 ATS.
This isn’t a short-term trend, either. Over the last eight years, teams coming off the bye week during the regular season have gone just 107-135 ATS (44.2 percent).
Total: 107-135 ATS
Only once over past seven years has blindly betting on teams off a bye week shown a profit. It just doesn’t work.
Keep that in mind this week as Philadelphia, Cleveland, Cincinnati and the Los Angeles Rams return from their byes in Week 10. The Eagles, Browns and Rams all return and dress up as favorites. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
Here is Doc’s Sports NFL Power Rankings:
1. Kansas City Chiefs (8-1) – I wasn’t that surprised that the Chiefs struggled to put away a feisty Panthers team last week. Now Kansas City has two weeks to prepare – and to dodge the Coronavirus – as they prepare for a revenge matchup with Las Vegas.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-0) – It was a clear letdown spot for the Steelers last week after physical, emotional wins over the Titans and Ravens. It is still disconcerting to see Pittsburgh struggle with an incompetent Cowboys team like that. We also saw just enough of Mason Rudolph to be reminded that Pittsburgh’s entire season rests on Big Ben’s balky knee.
3. Baltimore Ravens (6-2) – They don’t ask how, they ask how many. I feel like the Colts knocked some confidence back into the Ravens last week. Baltimore is not going to have any sympathy for long-time rival New England this week. This will be the 10th meeting, including playoffs, between these two since 2010. The Ravens crushed New England 37-20 in their meeting last November, but the favorite is just 2-7 ATS in the last nine in this series.
4. New Orleans Saints (6-2) – That was a completely dominating effort from the Saints over the Bucs. And things would’ve gotten even uglier if the Saints hadn’t lost two fumbles, including one in the red zone. Now that Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are back, this offense is at full tilt. And if the defense can continue its Top 5 effort, then this is clearly the best team in the NFC.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-3) – The Bucs have really been a master’s class in shifting public perceptions and their impact on NFL betting markets. They appear to be following a two-win, two-loss against the spread pattern that is just toying with the emotions of everyone betting on or against them. After shooting two blanks the last two weekends, the public is jumping ship yet again. Carolina is catching 70 percent of the early action this week and the line has dropped from 6.0 to 4.5.
6. Tennessee Titans (6-2) – Big-time game in the AFC South this Thursday when the Titans host the Colts with division supremacy on the line. The short week generally favors the home team, but Tennessee is just 2-5 ATS in its last seven Thursday games. The favorite is 6-1 ATS in the Colts-Titans series, but Tennessee has actually lost three of its last four games against their division rivals.
7. Green Bay Packers (6-2) – Sunday’s game in Lambeau could be another wind-impacted game for the Packers. Two weeks ago, they played in 30 mile per hour winds in a 28-22 loss to the run-heavy Vikings. This week the early forecast calls for 20-25 mile per hour winds. But that shouldn’t benefit a Jaguars team that can neither run the ball (No. 27) nor stop the run (No. 27).
8. Seattle Seahawks (6-2) – Russell Wilson has turned the ball over seven times over his last two games. He’s obviously trying to do too much. But what is a guy supposed to do when shackled with an All-Time Accidental Defense? (What is an accidental defense, you ask? It means that any stop that the Seahawks get is purely by accident and that I’m pretty much stunned whenever the opposition doesn’t score.)
9. Indianapolis Colts (5-3) – The Colts have only three days to recover from that slugfest with the Ravens. That was a punishing game. And it has to be extremely frustrating the that Colts came up short against Baltimore since they looked like the better team for three quarters on Sunday. The Colts are 13-4 ATS in their last 17 games against the Titans and 6-2 ATS in their last eight games in Tennessee.
10. Buffalo Bills (7-2) – That was a peak performance from Buffalo last week. They played their best and Seattle played its worst, and the game was really never as close as the final score looked. Now, after huge home wins against the Patriots and Seahawks, they are in a prime letdown spot traveling across the country to face an unfamiliar foe in Arizona. The Bills are just 1-5 ATS in their last six road games and 1-4 ATS as an underdog. However, they are 6-2 ATS in their last eight as a road underdog.
11. Arizona Cardinals (5-3) – I am 100 percent OK with Kliff Kingsbury’s decision to kick a game-tying field goal against Miami. Who thinks that their kicker is going to be short on a 49-yarder? Also, the Cardinals need to get things figured out in the secondary. They’ve gotten torched for 600 passing yards the last two weeks and now welcome the No. 7 pass offense in football.
12. Los Angeles Rams (5-3) – This week is a season-defining game for the Rams. Coming out of a bye week, Los Angeles can take over first place with a win at home against the teetering Seahawks. The Rams have won four of their last five against Seattle, and they are 7-3 in the last 10 in this series. Los Angeles is 6-2 ATS at home against the Seahawks, but the favorite is just 6-14 ATS in the last 20 meetings.
13. San Francisco 49ers (4-5) – It had to have been a giant kick in the balls that the Niners had to scrap five players for last Thursday’s game against Green Bay because of coronavirus protocols only to be able to activate them on Friday.
14. Las Vegas Raiders (5-3) – I think that this is a really dangerous game for the Raiders. Las Vegas is coming off back-to-back wins, including a thrilling final-play victory over the Chargers. They also have a rematch with Super Bowl champion Kansas City next week. Smack in between is a dangerous game against Denver, in a series where the underdog is on a 4-0 ATS run.
15. Miami Dolphins (5-3) – There is absolutely nothing fluky about Miami’s four-game winning streak. I don’t think there is any doubt that Brian Flores has been the Coach of the Year through the first half of the season. And dating back to last year, the Fins are now on a stellar 8-2 ATS run. This week Miami catches the Chargers off another heartbreaking loss, with Los Angeles having to make that long cross-country flight. I think Miami will be one of the biggest public bets of the weekend.
16. Chicago Bears (5-4) – Yes, Matt Nagy needs to give up play-calling duties immediately. I don’t know how to tell him that his inside trap and inside draw running plays never, ever, ever work and never, ever, ever gain more than three yards. David Montgomery is one of the worst players in football. And the fact that Nagy continues to give him the ball – ever – is one of the most damning indictments of his judgment. Finally, the fact that Nagy didn’t know to go for two when the Bears cut the lead to 24-16 (it’s a win probability thing), and the fact that Chicago is the most penalized team in football, offer even more proof that Nagy may have reached Peter Principle status.
17. Cleveland Browns (5-3) – Turnovers are the No. 1 predictive statistic for success in the NFL. Case in point: last year through eight games the Browns had just 10 takeaways and a -7 turnover differential. They were 2-6. This season Cleveland has 14 takeaways and a +4 differential. If Cleveland keeps that number above water the rest of the way, this team will win at least nine games and likely hit the postseason.
18. Carolina Panthers (3-6) – Carolina’s first game against Tampa Bay was a little closer than the final score suggested. A Leonard Fournette 46-yard touchdown run (if he had just gone down, the game would’ve ended) gave the Bucs a front door cover and pushed the game ‘over’ the total. The Panthers are 5-0 ATS as an underdog and 5-2 ATS in their last seven games. They are, however, just 1-5 ATS as a home underdog and 1-7 ATS at home.
19. Minnesota Vikings (3-5) – Just give it to Dalvin and get out of the way. Those two one-point losses against the Titans and Seahawks are anchors around this team’s neck right now in the playoff race. But they are on a 5-1 ATS run and this team is better than its record. The secondary is still shaky as hell, but I don’t think the Bears’ feeble passing attack will be able to take advantage. Minnesota is just 1-5 ATS in their last six games against the Bears.
20. Los Angeles Chargers (2-6) – There are no words for the weekly fresh hell that the Chargers have inflicted upon their backers.
21. Denver Broncos (3-5) – Vic Fangio’s defense is falling apart. The Broncos have allowed 107 points in their last three games, an average of nearly 36 points per game. They’ve gone ‘over’ the total in four of their last five games, and the average margin above the total in those four games is a whopping 16 points. The Broncos are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games as a road underdog but just 5-13 ATS in their last 18 divisional games.
22. Atlanta Falcons (3-6) – It works against the Falcons to have their bye this week. This team clearly has momentum. And if it wasn’t for Todd Gurley’s stupidity, they would be on a 4-0 run since Raheem Morris took over and they would be legitimately in the mix in the NFC.
23. New England Patriots (3-5) – Gross. It’s time to embrace the horror that this team is just pretty awful. I know it is odd. But there is no late-season push coming. There is no turnaround. There is no Belichick magic that is going to get this team on track. They just suck, period, and they are 0-7 ATS in their last seven games after a win, so don’t get sucked into believing otherwise.
24. Cincinnati Bengals (2-5-1) – The Bengals have been hit with a COVID outbreak in their off week. As of Tuesday, they had five players on the reserve list, including two starting cornerbacks. The Steelers are dealing with coronavirus issues of their own – including adding Ben Roethlisberger to their own reserve list – and I won’t be stunned if this game ends up getting postponed.
25. Detroit Lions (3-5) – How does Matt Patricia still have a job? For the third time in two games, the Lions lined up with 10 defensive players last week against the Vikings. They allowed a 70-yard touchdown on the play. All the Lions do is lose. Their defense – which is supposed to be his forte – is atrocious. And he offers absolutely nothing in terms of media savvy or fan excitement. Patricia needed to be fired three weeks ago.
26. Philadelphia Eagles (3-4-1) – I’m not sure why the Eagles are road favorites against anyone, yet Philadelphia is laying 3.5 this week in New York. Even more surprising is that the Eagles are taking 70 percent of the early action in this one. The road team is 5-0 ATS in the last five meetings, and Philadelphia is 10-3 ATS in their last 13 games in New York.
27. Houston Texans (2-6) – Vintage Romeo Crennel clock management at the end of the first half. Houston picked up a first down at the Jacksonville one-yard line with 51 seconds left. They had two timeouts. Instead of running the clock down inside 15 seconds, calling a timeout, and then scoring, the Texans scored with 28 seconds left. That was more than enough time for Jacksonville to run three plays, get into field goal range, and steal three points before the end of the half.
28. New York Giants (2-7) – The Giants have now played five straight games decided by three points or less. Just 10 total points have decided those games, with the Giants going 2-3 straight up and the underdog going 5-0 ATS. New York is 5-2 ATS in its last seven games against the Eagles, and the underdog is 5-2 ATS in this series.
29. Washington Football Team (2-6) – It was bizarre to watch Alex Smith lose a football game because he couldn’t stop turning the ball over. Ball security – almost to a fault – has been his calling card throughout his career. Some of it can be chalked up to rust. Some can be chalked up to bad luck (like his receiver slipping and falling on his second INT). But if Smith can take care of the ball and make a few simple throws, I think the Redskins could be a team to keep an eye on at the window in the second half of the season.
30. Dallas Cowboys (2-7) – Dallas has clearly been showing some slow, incremental improvement. Over the past four weeks, their margins of defeat have whittled their way down from 28 to 22 to 14 to just five last week. They should get healthier over their two-week break
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-7) – Losing is winning for this team, which desperately needs to finish in one of the top two draft positions in order to draft a potential franchise quarterback. We also saw what a difference a healthy D.J. Chark makes for this offense. Chark really is one of the most underrated receivers in the NFL. And in the four games he’s been healthy this season, the Jaguars are 3-1 ATS and have gone ‘over’ in all four games.
32. New York Jets (0-9) – That was brutal. The Jets were on the cusp of their first win of the season, in prime time against a hated rival, no less. Instead, they get outscored 13-0 in the fourth quarter and lose on a 51-yard field goal at the buzzer. Making absolutely everything worse is that the Jets have to sit on that heartbreak for an extra week since they have a bye.
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