Freedman’s NFL Week 15 Odds, Trends & Picks: 3 Early Bets on Patriots-Colts, Texans-Jaguars & Falcons-49ers
Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Patriots outside linebacker Dont’a Hightower (54) gets a high-five from cornerback Jalen Mills (2)
We have one month left of regular-season football.
Let’s make it not horrible.
Although I’m not a trends bettor, I find that using the Action Labs database helps me identify spots I should consider further when analyzing games.
Abbreviations: Against the spread (ATS), return on investment (ROI).
- Kickoff: 8:20 p.m. ET Saturday
- TV: NFL Network
Say whatever you want about the Patriots and their league-best +150 point differential. If you think it’s fluky, fine.
But for the season they are No. 2 in defensive expected points added (EPA) per play (-0.100, per Ben Baldwin’s RBs Don’t Matter website). They’ve held opponents to a league-low 200 points scored. They have a very real defense.
And in their seven-game winning streak — since Week 7 — their offense has been even better, ranking No. 1 in EPA per play (0.153), spurred by the stepwise development of rookie quarterback Mac Jones, who in that span is No. 2 in composite EPA and completion percentage over expectation (CPOE, 0.156), trailing only Aaron Rodgers.
The Colts aren’t a bad team. With running back Jonathan Taylor (NFL-high 1,348 yards and 16 touchdowns rushing), they should be able to attack the Patriots on the ground, but quarterback Carson Wentz (7.5 adjusted yards per attempt) is the type of inconsistent player Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has historically been able to exploit with his defense.
Even on the road, the Patriots should not be underdogs.
Since 2003 (as far back as the Action Labs database goes), Belichick on the road is 90-61-3 ATS (17.6% ROI). As an underdog, he’s 32-17-2 ATS (27.5%).
As a road dog, he’s 27-14-2 ATS (28.7%).
Over their seven-game winning streak, the Patriots are 7-0 ATS and have covered the spread by a margin of +18.6 points per game.
For two months, the market has underappreciated just how good this Patriots team is.
Action: Patriots +2 (-110) at DraftKings
Limit: Pick’Em (-110)
- Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET Sunday
- TV: CBS
When this game was first posted, I thought hard about Texans +3.5, but they might be in “tank mode” more than the Jaguars are, and they’re both in the running for the No. 1 overall pick with their 2-11 records.
It just felt best to stay away from the spread.
Besides, I like under better anyway.
The Jaguars have a league-worst 2-11 over/under record. They are totally incompetent.
In offensive pace, they are No. 1 in the league with 24.5 seconds per snap (per the FTN NFL Pace & Run/Pass Report). Of course, they rank No. 31 with 13.8 points per game — and since the Week 7 bye they have averaged a mere 9.1 points per game. When they have the ball, they are in an utter hurry to go nowhere.
And in defensive pace the Jaguars are No. 32 with 29.6 seconds per snap — because opponents have zero motivation to play quickly against an offense that can’t score, a defense that can’t stop them (No. 31 with 0.121 EPA per play), and a coaching staff in disarray.
And for the Texans — they’re No. 32 with 13.6 points per game.
Both of these teams dream to be mediocre — and they’re divisional rivals. When they faced each other in Week 1, they combined for 58 points. I strongly doubt we’ll see that kind of scoring outburst this week.
As seasons progress, defenses coalesce, weather worsens and familiar foes rematch, totals tend to underwhelm. In divisional games played outdoors in December and January, the under is 295-234-15 (8.5% ROI).
Framed differently: In this game, we have two of the three worst teams by record playing each other — and they’re quarterbacked (Trevor Lawrence, Davis Mills) and coached (Urban Meyer, David Culley) by rookies.
Why would I bet on points?
Action: Under 41 (-110) at Caesars
Limit: 39.5 (-110)
- Kickoff: 4:05 p.m. ET Sunday
- TV: CBS
49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan is a walking galaxy brain.
In Weeks 1-10, wide receiver Deebo Samuel proved himself to be one of the most dynamic pass catchers in the league (54-979-5 receiving on 86 targets in nine games) — so naturally Shanahan has used Samuel most as a change-of-pace running back over the past month (22-187-4 rushing, 3-49-0 receiving in three games).
Shanahan is a play-calling Narcissus: He’s so in love with his genius that he’d rather die in beauty than live in reality.
If he were an author, he’d rather pen one 1,000-page obscure masterpiece read only by a dozen scholars than five 200-page paperback bestsellers enjoyed by millions of morons.
As a play caller, Shanahan is prolific — but as a head coach he is unprofitable.
Throughout his tenure in San Francisco, Shanahan has displayed the outstanding ability to dull the sharpest of edges. At home, Shanahan is 12-22-1 ATS; as a favorite, 14-23-1 ATS.
And when you’ve put those two factors together, that has been good for anti-Shanahan bettors. As a home favorite, Shanahan has gifted road dogs and their backers a sterling record of 15-4-1 ATS (49.1% ROI).
And this season road dogs are 69-50-1 ATS (11.7% ROI).
Action: Falcons +8 (-110) at FanDuel
Limit: +7 (-110)