By Joel Wirth
In Week 3, ELO took Vegas out to the woodshed for a beating and me out for a stern lecture. Analytics went 6-1 vs. Vegas, while I went a slightly less scintillating, but better than Week 2, 3-4. Heading into 4, I’ll be adding in my Guess the Line (“GTL”) early prediction for each game for bonus fun. This number is where I expect the line to be set, not necessarily which side I would lean towards when betting. As a reminder, the chosen games have a multiple-point variance between the Vegas and analytic lines.
Let’s go to the tape.
Washington at Buffalo
The numbers loved Buffalo, and I thought the Football team would be plucky enough to keep it close with the extra rest. Lesson: Ignore the Week 1 blip for the Bills. They’re every bit the Super Bowl contender they were expected to be. As for Washington, stay tuned for the Blurred Lines Game of the Week!
Baltimore at Detroit
The numbers leaned slightly toward Detroit covering, I disagreed. Lesson: Hollywood Brown needs Stickum and/or to learn how to catch a football.
Los Angeles at Kansas City
This is the lone game the numbers got wrong, and I got right. Lesson: As mentioned last week, KC isn’t a good cover team (Spoiler – I may not be good at practicing what I preach).
New Orleans at New England
ELO was tepid on the Pats, and I was in with Vegas. Lesson: Just stay away from betting the Pats (Additional Spoiler – See above spoiler).
Miami at Las Vegas
Again, ELO was tepid on the home team. I disagreed. Lesson: Point spreads are complicated. If the Raiders tackle Jacoby Brissett on 4th and goal, they win by eight and cover easily miss, and the cover is blown. They missed.
Tampa Bay at Los Angeles, Seattle at Minnesota
Vegas had the home teams as dogs, ELO and I both liked them. They both won outright. Lesson: Home field is an advantage, sometimes.
Last week: My picks, 3-4; Analytics, 6-1
Season: My picks, 3-10; Analytics, 7-6
Standard disclaimer – All opinions are my own and may or may not reflect those of this website, “Analytic Lines” are ELO point spreads from fivethirtyeight.com, and “Vegas Lines” are courtesy of thelines.com, current as of the writing of this article, and vary depending on the sportsbook.)
Line of the Week:
- Washington at Atlanta: Analytic Line: ATL (-4.5) Vegas Line: ATL (+1.5) GTL: ATL (+3.5)
Oooh, fun; Vegas and ELO disagree on who should be favored, and by quite a bit! Guessing ELO thinks Washington barely beat the Giants at home, and Atlanta won at New York, so, therefore, they should be favored here?
Verdict: I think this is a back-to-the-wall game for the Football Team, and the defense we expected to see finally shows up. Atlanta shouldn’t be a 4.5 point favorite over anyone.
Make It A Parlay
- Houston at Buffalo: Analytic Line: BUF (-18) Vegas Line(s): BUF (-16.5 to -17) GTL: BUF (-10.5)
That’s going to skew an otherwise solid week of line guessing. 18? 16.5? It’s only Week 4, are lines supposed to be that big this early?
Verdict: On principle, I refuse to lay 16-and-a-hook, let alone 18 points. Every scenario in my head says the Bills, but there’s a reason double-digit favorites don’t cover much. I’m not sure what that will be here, but I’ll go with history and say the Texans are closer to the Vegas number.
- Indianapolis at Miami: Analytic Line: MIA (-3.5) Vegas Line(s): MIA (-1.5 to -2) GTL: MIA (-1.5)
Jacoby Brissett revenge game! Not quite the build-up we want for the Sunday Night game.
Verdict: I don’t want to like Indy here, but at 0-3, it’s another back-to-the-wall game, and I’m not taking Jacoby Brissett and Miami to cover more than a field goal, revenge game or not.
- Cleveland at Minnesota: Analytic Line: MIN (-0.5) Vegas Line(s): MIN (+1.5 to +2) GTL: MIN (+1.5)
This is the 2nd straight week where Vegas has the Vikings as small home dogs. Interesting road test for Baker Mayfield. He’ll need to throw the ball well to keep up with good Kirk Cousins, assuming he continues to show up.
Verdict: Back-to-back weeks where ELO and I disagree with Vegas. Good Kirk comes out for at least one more week.
- Tennessee at New York Jets: Analytic Line: NYJ (+6) Vegas Line: NYJ (+7.5) GTL: NYJ (+8.5)
Well, Zach Wilson, here’s your chance. After a tough slate to start the season, let’s see what you can do against a mediocre defense.
Verdict: I will side with ELO here and say the Jets keep this under a touchdown. Tennessee may be down both starting WR’s on the road. That’s not ideal.
- Kansas City at Philadelphia: Analytic Line: PHI (+4.5) Vegas Line: PHI (+7) GTL: PHI (+9.5)
Philly’s O-line injuries crushed their season last year, and now, it’s deja vu all over again. Hopefully, Jalen Hurts handles it better than Carson Wentz did last year, but early returns aren’t promising.
Verdict: I know, I know, KC’s not a good cover team, but under .500 for the first time since Mahomes took over as QB, against a wounded team playing on short rest; I think we get the KC “A” game this week. Lay the points.
- Tampa Bay at New England: Analytic Line: NE (+4) Vegas Line: NE (+6.5) GTL: NE (+7.5)
Get ready. All you’re going to hear about this week is Gronk’s homecoming this, and Gronk vs. Belichick that. I think some other guy on the Bucs may have played there for a while, too.
Verdict: Seriously, you think Brady’s not going to be on an absolute mission here? Sorry, ELO, but no chance I bet against him in this spot. Tampa by a touchdown plus.
Upset of the Week
- Detroit at Chicago: Analytic Line: CHI (-6) Vegas Line: CHI (-3) GTL: CHI (-3)
A lot of questions with the Bears. Similar to Atlanta, should Chicago be a field goal plus favorite over anyone right now? Can they get more net passing yards than fingers I’m holding up? Did Justin Fields have a better offensive line at Ohio State?
Verdict: I don’t like betting games between bad teams, but rules are rules. I don’t know if Chicago loses outright, but considering the state of their O-line, I don’t see them scoring enough to cover more than three.