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Northern Illinois vs Western Michigan Odds, Picks: Expect Some Offense

Northern Illinois vs Western Michigan Odds, Picks: Expect Some Offense article feature image

Michael Hickey/Getty Images. Pictured: Northern Illinois tight end Tristen Tewes.

Northern Illinois vs Western Michigan Odds

Wednesday, Nov. 9
7 p.m. ET
Northern Illinois Odds
-110o / -110u
Western Michigan Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

We have a battle of basement dwellers in Kalamazoo on Wednesday night when Northern Illinois takes on Western Michigan for some midweek MACtion.

Both teams have struggled on paper and on the field this year, with Western Michigan ranking in the bottom 20 of most advanced offensive metrics. Meanwhile, Northern Illinois sits in the bottom 20 of most advanced defensive metrics.

The spider chart on the right might be one of the most pathetic I've seen this year:

However, with terrible teams comes great gambling opportunity.

Northern Illinois Huskies

The Huskies come into this season as losers of four of their last five games. Their lone win came against an Eastern Michigan team that's tied for 108th in our Action Network betting power rankings.

Before Husky fans make fun of the Eagles, just remember Northern Illinois is not much better, coming in at 105th.

Let's take a look at this chart to see if we can pinpoint where their weaknesses lie:

If you guessed on defense, you would be correct. The Huskies rank in the bottom 12 of almost every metric that we have deemed a "Five Factors" metric. For those keeping score at home, that's laughably bad.

This is especially puzzling considering Northern Illinois ranked ninth in Defensive TARP entering the season.

This Huskies offense has actually performed fairly well for a team that's had its starting quarterback for only four games this season — and Rocky Lombardi played sparingly in two of those.

While NIU hasn't thrown the ball often (114th in passing plays rate), it's been fairly effective, ranking 48th in PPA/Play and 39th in Success Rate when it puts the ball in the air.

Lombardi is listed as questionable for this matchup, but I wouldn't count on him playing.

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Western Michigan Broncos

The Broncos are experiencing a similarly frustrating season, just winning two of their last five games. They're actually ranked behind Northern Illinois in our power rankings at 111th.

Take a look at this chart and see where their problem lies:

Western Michigan's offense has struggled mightily up to this point.

The Broncos rank in the bottom 16 in four of the five offensive metrics that are considered part of the Five Factors. In fact, Western Michigan may be the worst team in regard to field position in the country.

To add to its struggles coming into this game, its best offensive player, wide receiver La'Darius Jefferson, has been ruled out.

This team has been an absolute grind to watch, and I don't see that changing in this matchup. The Broncos have been held to under 20 points in their last three games, including a nine-point outing against Bowling Green State — in a game they still almost won.

Their defense has constantly allowed teams to move the ball on them, but they've actually held relatively fast when the opposition crosses the 40. But due to consistent terrible field position, opposing offenses don't have to drive very far to get into field goal range.

However, holding teams to field goals has been one of the few bright spots in Kalamazoo this year.

Northern Illinois vs Western Michigan Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Northern Illinois and Western Michigan match up statistically:

Northern Illinois Offense vs. Western Michigan Defense
Rush Success81116
Line Yards8758
Pass Success3988
Pass Blocking**1814
Finishing Drives5030
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Western Michigan Offense vs. Northern Illinois Defense
Rush Success11974
Line Yards11368
Pass Success104119
Pass Blocking**2169
Finishing Drives115116
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling8437
PFF Coverage11980
SP+ Special Teams7547
Seconds per Play28.0 (100)27.0 (81)
Rush Rate59.2% (28)55.6% (54)
Data via (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.

Northern Illinois vs Western Michigan Betting Pick

The spread opened up with Northern Illinois as 2.5-point underdogs and has moved closer to a pick'em. However, I'm more interested in the total, which has finally settled at 49.5 after some significant movement from the open.

To be more specific, I'm more interested in the team total for Northern Illinois. Western Michigan has allowed opponents to move the ball easily all season, and I don't expect Wednesday night to be any different.

If the Huskies can score touchdowns instead of field goals, they should have a good night —especially if Lombardi plays.

Pick: Northern Illinois Team Total Over 24.5 (Play to -120)

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