NFL Power Rankings Week 11
I know that relying on thoughts and feelings and anecdotal evidence is usually the first step toward certain death as a handicapper. However, I’m starting to get the feeling that rather than look at the NFL bye week as a positive when handicapping teams, maybe we are approaching the time when we should start fading teams off a week of rest.
Historically, teams coming off a bye week have been no better than a 50-50 proposition after a week of rest. Sure, there have been some situations where teams do take advantage of the extra time off. (For a long time, betting road favorites off a bye was a big-time moneymaker). But more often than not, these teams are coming out flat and not producing against the spread when they get back into action.
The public always assumes that having an extra week to prepare should be a positive. Injuries have time to heal. Coaches have more time to game plan. The reality is not much different than when you or I take a week-long vacation; we’re never operating at our peak right when we get back from time off.
NFL teams off a bye went 2-4 against the spread last week, with the Browns getting humiliated in Miami, Dallas getting upset in Green Bay, Denver playing like idiots, and San Francisco starting slowly and barely beating the Chargers (but not covering the spread). The Steelers won handily over the Saints, who were coming off a Monday night loss. The Giants scummed out an unconvincing win (and cover) against Houston.
Teams went 0-1-1 ATS off a bye the week prior. The Chiefs didn’t come close to covering the spread against Tennessee. That ‘push’ came in Week 9 when the Chargers (-3) beat Atlanta 20-17, and it 100 percent should’ve been a loss for Los Angeles, who played like trash in the first half of that game.
So far this season, teams coming off a bye week are 6-9-1 ATS. In Week 7, Houston and Las Vegas faced each other out of a bye in Week 7, so that result shouldn’t count. That means that NFL teams off a bye facing teams off a game have gone 5-8-1 ATS this season. That’s a 38 percent success rate.
Last year teams went 16-16 ATS after a bye. Two games featured both teams off a bye week, so the actual ATS record is 14-14, and it makes the two-year mark just 19-22-1 ATS for teams off a week of rest against teams that are not.
Again, that’s too small of a sample size to make a determination from. But what we can take away from that is that the bye week should not be looked at as a positive handicapping angle if you are thinking about wagering on a team.
This week Baltimore, Cincinnati, New England, and the Jets are all coming off a week of rest. Approach all four of those teams with caution, and don’t be surprised if two of them cover the number and two of them don’t.
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Here is Doc’s Sports NFL Power Rankings:
1. Kansas City Chiefs (7-2) – Oh, look, the Chiefs are right back on top. Kansas City’s game with Jacksonville was not as close as the final score looked. The Chiefs leapt out to a 20-0 lead and were never really threatened. The Chiefs are 8-1 ATS in their last nine road games against the Chargers, and the road team is 17-4 ATS in the last 21 meetings between these two teams.
2. Philadelphia Eagles (8-1) – Yes, the Eagles got screwed by poor officiating on Monday. However, they have to get over it. Too many times, in all sports, have I seen a team that just had a long winning streak snapped go out and lose the following game. It’s the letdown factor. And with the Eagles on the road, on a short week, as a favorite, I don’t know that I want any part of them this week.
3. Minnesota Vikings (8-1) – What the Vikings are doing isn’t new. We’ve seen teams go on magical regular season rushes like this, winning close game after close game and convincing themselves that they are a Team of Destiny. That delusion usually caves in during the postseason and results in a massive regression the subsequent year. For now, though, there’s nothing to do but sit back and ride it, I suppose.
4. Buffalo Bills (6-3) – Deep down, even the most Super Bowl-crazed Bills fans know that this team is going to disappoint them when it matters most. I know Josh Allen is treated as if he’s superhuman, but someone on the Buffalo coaching staff needs to get in his face and let him know that four red zone turnovers – on top of that absurd fumble at the goal line last week – are not acceptable.
5. Baltimore Ravens (6-3) – As you saw from my intro, I have reason to be wary of a bye week. Especially dressing up as a nearly two-touchdown favorite. NFL favorites of 10 or more points are just 5-13 ATS this season. It should be noted that John Harbaugh is 9-6 ATS in his last 15 games after a bye week.
6. Dallas Cowboys (6-3) – I really have no idea how the Cowboys are favored this week on the road. Dallas is 6-2 ATS in its last eight games. And after getting kicked in the teeth by the general Cowboy-loving public, this feels to me like the oddsmakers are putting their foot down and overinflating the lines against America’s Team. I’d bet anything that the Cowboys are a below .500 ATS bet over their next 40 games.
7. Miami Dolphins (7-3) – I know that everyone is on the Miami bandwagon right now. I’m still not. They have beaten the Lions, Bears and Browns in the last three weeks, three teams that are a combined 9-19 SU this season. If the season ended today, they would be the No. 2 seed in the AFC. There is no way in hell they are the second-best team in the AFC.
8. Cincinnati Bengals (5-4) – This is a tough draw for Cincinnati coming out of the bye. Pittsburgh has absolutely dominated the Bengals over the last two decades, and the Bengals are just 10-23 ATS in their last 33 meetings with the Steelers.
9. San Francisco 49ers (5-4) – The 49ers are basically like the Texas Longhorns of the NFL: they just are not as good as people want them to be. I don’t know that I want any part of this team as a big road favorite next Monday. San Fran has been money under the MNF lights, going 15-4 ATS in their last 19 Monday Night Football games. This week’s MNF game will be played in Mexico, and it will be interesting to see who the home crowd sides with.
10. Tennessee Titans (6-3) – The Titans are now 29-13 SU in the regular season over the past three seasons. They are a complete statistical anomaly – they have been outgained and outscored on the season – yet they defy conventional mathematics. The Titans have held their last six opponents to just 14 points per game and have gone ‘under’ in all six games.
11. New York Giants (7-2) – Don’t be fooled by last week’s final score against Houston; the Giants should’ve lost that game. Houston had three straight second half possessions in the red zone – two inside the 10-yard line – that ended in turnovers. This team is nowhere near as good as its record states and will be wobbly as a favorite.
12. Seattle Seahawks (6-4) – Third downs told the tale in Seattle’s loss to Tampa Bay. The Seahawks went just 1-for-9 on third downs offensively and they allowed 10-for-15 defensively.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-5) – After the bye week, the Bucs have just two games, at San Francisco and home against Cincinnati in back-to-back weeks, against teams that currently have a winning record. Don’t think for one second that Tom Brady isn’t going to drag the carcass of this team to the playoffs.
14. Los Angeles Chargers (5-4) – The last three meetings between these two have been barnburners, decided by 3, 6 and 6 points. The Chargers have covered five of the last six meetings in this series and really should’ve won the Week 1 meeting between these two this year. The Chargers are just 22-44 ATS in their last 66 home games.
15. New England Patriots (5-4) – This is a massive game in the AFC East between the Patriots and Jets this weekend. And I know I said that the bye week is an overrated factor. But when you are betting this week’s game, you have to ask yourself who would’ve taken more advantage of the extra prep time: Robert Saleh or Bill Belichick?
16. New York Jets (6-3) – The Jets are just 8-20 ATS in their last 28 games against divisional opponents and they are just 1-6 ATS in their last seven games in Foxboro.
17. Cleveland Browns (3-6) – There is snow and cold in the forecast this Sunday in Buffalo, which shouldn’t bother the boys from Ohio. It will be odd going from 70+ degrees in Miami to 24 degrees with wind and snow in Buffalo from one week to the next. But the weather shouldn’t bother a Browns offense that relies on the ground game and a defense that is a mess in the secondary.
18. Washington Commanders (5-5) – It was disgusting to listen to Joe Buck and Troy Aikman heap praise on Scott Turner during Washington’s Monday night win. The play calling for the Commanders was, again, awful. Running the ball 49 times was great. But the number of risky throws that Washington got away with by the skin of Taylor Heinicke’s teeth was enormous. They should’ve been playing for three points with a 23-21 lead late in the fourth quarter, not lobbing passes up the sideline (and up for grabs) toward the end zone.
19. Atlanta Falcons (4-6) – This week the Falcons will get a full dose of What Could’ve Been. Atlanta could’ve solved its quarterback woes last year by drafting former Georgia Bulldog and local kid Justin Fields. Instead, they passed on Fields and took Kyle Pitts. If Fields torches the Falcons in Atlanta this week, it is going to be hard for the front office to hold off the overwhelming criticism that will follow.
20. Chicago Bears (3-7) – At this point, we need to blindly bet every Bears game ‘over’. They can’t stop anyone defensively. But no one can stop them offensively. They have averaged a whopping 31 points per game over their last four – but they’ve given up 32.5 per game during the same stretch. The Bears may have problems with Atlanta’s No. 4 ranked rushing game – but should light up Atlanta’s No. 31 ranked total defense.
21. Green Bay Packers (4-6) – Despite what Aaron Rodgers thinks, I don’t believe that was a turning point for the Packers. I think last Sunday’s win over the Cowboys was lucky and abetted by the officials. We will see if the Packers (and Rodgers) have the mental toughness to counter a chippy, dirty, physical Titans team this Thursday.
22. Arizona Cardinals (3-6) – Colt McCoy will always be one of the NFL’s biggest frauds. The guy can play. He’s a legit quarterback. He should’ve had a long career as a starter. The guy can never stay healthy, though, and I was literally laughing at the TV when he went limping off the field against the Rams. And don’t think for one second that if he starts again this week while Kyler Murray rests his hamstring that McCoy won’t get injured again.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-6) – And that right there is why T.J. Watt is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. His presence on the field sent shockwaves through the entire Steelers defense, and I don’t see these guys giving up on trying to get back to .500. The Steelers are 4-1 ATS in their last five divisional games and 6-1 ATS in their last seven home games. However, they are just 1-4 ATS against teams that are above .500.
24. Detroit Lions (3-6) – It is hard to believe that Sunday marked Detroit’s first comeback win by 14 or more in the fourth quarter since 1993 (98 games). The Lions have played in so many wild games over the last 10-15 years, I would’ve thought that they would’ve scummed out a win similar to their 31-30 decision over the Bears. That win also snapped a 13-game road losing streak for Detroit.
25. Los Angeles Rams (3-6) – I feel like the Rams could’ve survived without Matt Stafford for a few weeks. But losing Cooper Kupp is a stake through the heart of their season. Quit waiting for this team to, “turn it on”. They are done. It’s over. The Rams will finish this season as an all-time cautionary tale of the Super Bowl hangover.
26. Indianapolis Colts (4-5-1) – Jeff Saturday brought a lot of positive energy and good karma into that Colts locker room, and it was clear in how they played last week. They also have a great situational advantage this week hosting a dazed Eagles squad. Don’t be surprised by another competitive showing from a team that is 19-7 ATS at home against a team with a winning record.
27. New Orleans Saints (3-7) – I haven’t seen anything from this team to suggest that Dennis Allen deserves a second season. I’m not going to blame Allen for the injuries and the difficult schedule. But this Saints team just plays sloppy, bad football, and that ties directly to the head coach. The home team is 8-1 ATS in the series with the Rams ,but I honestly have no idea how the Saints are favored over anyone right now.
28. Carolina Panthers (3-7) – I’m still kicking myself for not betting bigger on the Panthers over Atlanta last Thursday, as Carolina scored a nice revenge win for their shocking loss in ATL two weeks prior. The good times likely won’t stay that good for long, though, as Carolina has to go back to Baker Mayfield, and that little sprite has to go up against one of his former rivals in Baltimore.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-7) – I loved the decision to pull an onside’s kick on the opening kickoff in Kansas City last week. I mean, that was one of the few highlights, and everything went downhill from there. But stuff like that tells me that this team isn’t going to mail it in down the stretch.
30. Las Vegas Raiders (2-7) – Maybe you keep Josh McDaniels, but Patrick Graham should be fired immediately. He has been the defensive coordinator for four defenses in Miami, New York and now Las Vegas. Every single defense he has taken over has gotten worse under his direction, and, more importantly, every single defense gets better the year after he leaves. The guy is worthless as a DC.
31. Denver Broncos (3-6) – I understand that in Rusty Wilson’s world all these struggles are part of God’s Plan. However, I have no idea how this team, which has lost five of six games overall and is 2-4 ATS in those tilts, is favored over anyone this week – including the hapless Raiders. Denver is 4-9 ATS in its last 13 games and 4-13 ATS in its last 17 games against AFC opponents.
32. Houston Texans (1-7-1) – Man, these guys suck.
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