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Teddy's Vegas Wiseguy Report: Bye Weeks

By Teddy_Covers | View all Posts
Posted Monday, October 22, 2012 03:59 AM   2 comments

There are three strong prevailing trends this season in the NFL. 

NFC Underdogs – any underdog in any game – have gone 34-7-2 this season, even after suffering their first losing week of the season (2-3-1 ATS in Week 7). 

Teams heading into the bye week are 1-13 ATS, discounting the games where one pre-bye team faced off against another (0-2 ATS in Week 7). 

And teams coming out of the bye are on a 7-2 ATS streak heading into the Bears-Lions showdown on Monday Night (2-1 so far in Week 7). 

All three trends pass the ‘does it make any sense’ test. The NFC underdogs trend has a relatively simple explanation.  All the worst teams in the NFL are in the AFC this year.  Carolina, St Louis and Tampa Bay – the three lowest rated NFC teams in my power ratings – all rank above the likes of Jacksonville, KC, Buffalo, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Tennessee and Oakland.  No surprise, then, that the NFC has dominated interconference play thusfar.  And without any weaklings to beat up on, we’ve seen NFC favorites struggle to build margins against their in-conference competitors.

The pre-bye trend of failure is an interesting one to consider.  There’s no short or long term database history to support it, which means that many bettors are going to conclude that it’s just ‘static’; a quick blip on the betting radar screen.  I’m not convinced that’s the case. 

The NFL signed a new labor agreement with the players last year.  That labor agreement ensured that every team gets four full days off during their bye, a stipulation that was NOT in previous agreements.  The prospect of a four day vacation in the midst of a brutal six month stretch with no other time off appears to be quite a distraction….at least so far.

Of course, the flip side of that is that after their four day break, we’re seeing a renewed focus from the post-bye squads. And with so many of those teams playing so poorly before the bye, it’s no surprise that we’re seeing significantly better efforts in their first game back.

Do the trends hold any water?  This week, I focused on five teams coming into or going out of the bye week.  Here are my thoughts.

Bills:

This defense has spent most of the last month getting gashed -- who can forget the 90 points they allowed in a six quarter span against the Pats and 49ers!  This game was no better; the fourth straight week they’ve allowed 180+ on the ground.  The Titans had two touchdowns on the board before they faced their first third down try.  No penetration from the front four.  No contain from the linebackers.  Poor coverage in the secondary.  This defense needs some major schematic adjustments during their bye week! 

This offense is going to move the football against the lesser defenses that they face -- good balance, strong running between the tackles, and when Ryan Fitzpatrick isn't under pressure, he's a pretty good decision maker in the pocket.  Lots of 2nd and short situations thanks to Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller’s powerful rushing, even behind a banged up offensive line.  But every week, Fitzpatrick seems to make three or four simply awful throws, the type of throws that make you grit your teeth if you have a Bills ticket in your pocket; like the INT that cost them the game here. 

Panthers:

After this loss, the Panthers dropped to 1-9 SU in games decided by seven points or less in the Ron Rivera/Cam Newton era; including each of their last three ballgames.  This offense finished fifth in the NFL in scoring last year.  This year, they’ve exceeded 14 points only twice all year with most of the same personnel.  One major culprit?  Poor offensive line play.  Against a four man rush, they couldn't protect Cam Newton, and neither DeAngelo Williams nor Jonathan Stewart had any room to run. 

This team lacks all sorts of fundamentals -- blocking and tackling are not their strong points; not what you would expect to see from a well-coached team coming out of a bye week.  Cam Newton was somewhat better at settling for checkdown routes today than he was earlier in the season and this offense utilizes his running ability extremely effectively.  So why can't this team score any points; it's baffling.  A team with this kind of balance and these kinds of playmakers should not be scoring in the low teens week after week. 

Ravens:

Talk about a no-show before the bye-week!  Then again, maybe this is what Baltimore really is right now.  This defense came into the game ranked in the bottom quartile of the NFL in both run yardage and total yardage.  They had Terrell Suggs back in the lineup; the only true pass rusher this team has.  Suggs got a sack and knocked away balls in pass coverage downfield - you just can't do this stuff six months removed from ACL surgery.  He was amazing.  Unfortunately for Baltimore, the other ten defenders spent the afternoon getting gashed, unable to stop the run or the pass while allowing six scoring drives (including four TD’s) in a 35 minute span.

Joe Flacco simply isn't the same QB on the highway as he is in Baltimore.  He's much more tentative in the pocket, holds the ball too long, and his accuracy is problematic.  This offense averaged three yards per play, truly woeful numbers.  Flacco started 7-20 with two INT's and zero third down conversions in the first half.  His career numbers show a dramatic home/road split; this year's splits are even greater.  That’s why the Ravens highest scoring game on the road this year matches their lowest point total at home.

Saints:

Anyone that thinks the NFL isn’t a quarterback driven league needs to watch New Orleans for a game or two.  This defense remains a sieve; allowing the Bucs to gain a season high 513 total yards.  With the game on the line late in the fourth quarter, this defense gave up the tying TD pass twice; one negated by a heel out of bounds; the other on a penalty.  In other words, they got a little bit lucky to escape with this win.  The Saints are getting very little from their backs these days; not a good running team either.

A great passing game without complimentary pieces can win Super Bowls -- just look at the Packers two years ago for a recent, prime example.  And considering the fact that the Saints early 14-0 deficit turned into a seven point halftime lead with four consecutive tong touchdown drives, it's hard to count this team out completely either for one reason and one reason only – Drew Brees is that good.  Can't bet this team Under; Saints totals still aren't high enough even after six consecutive 50+ point games to open the season. 

Texans:

Even though this offense torched the Ravens defense, I still have questions whether Houston can trade points with the elite attacks of the NFL.  The Texans lack playmakers, plain and simple; a slow, plodding ball control offense.  But Houston’s defense is every bit as good as advertised -- this team blows up the line of scrimmage and doesn't seem to allow any open receivers downfield.  No team in the league bats down more passes at the line of scrimmage -- even when they don't reach the passer, they're having a positive impact.  Houston leads the league with 25 forced 'three and outs' this season after holding the Ravens to three plays or less on seven different drives.  Very well coached football team, for sure!

2 comments
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imaxfli says:
10/24/12 07:30AM
Houstons defense good? Yea, if playing the likes of Baltimore...against GB their DB's let the Packer WR's free off the line every play...and Rodgers threw for 6 TD's...good against a lousy offense maybe, not against a team that actually has plays!!!
wiseguy43 says:
10/27/12 08:50AM
every team is allowed to have one bad game. Look at who they played, not many teams hold the packer offense to begin with and they were coming off a short week to begin with. Houston ranks in the top 3 in almost every defensive stat and will finish the season in the top three
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