SportsGrid Betting Model NFL Week 4 Picks
Welcome back for the fourth edition of the SportsGrid-DailyRoto Model Picks. Each week we will outline some of the favorite picks of the SportsGrid NFL Model, developed by Arturo Galetti. Last season was our first year using this model, and we got off to a successful start. The model, previously on DailyRoto and now exclusively on SportsGrid, finished sixth in last year’s FantasyPros betting accuracy contest. We had an overall record of 75-59, which included both picks against the spread and total selections.
In Week 3, the model picks covered in this space went 0-2 as Atlanta’s comeback bid against the Colts fell just short (missed covering by 1 point) and a hot start for the Lions against the Eagles upped the pace, leading to 51 total points (we had the Under 45.5).
Overall, the picks we have submitted for the FantasyPros betting accuracy contest this season have gone 25-19 with 18 spread submissions (10-8) and 12 plays on totals (4-8). Our threshold for submitting plays was anything rated 3-star or above.
Oakland +7 at Indianapolis, Total 45
4-star pick: UNDER
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The Colts enter this game with one of the run-heaviest attacks in the NFL:
Here’s my stab at plotting early-down pass rate in neutral situations.
It’s weird seeing the Cowboys as a pass-heavy team.
The Seahawks are still very conservative. pic.twitter.com/5zAHSj4I8Q
— new-age analytical (@benbbaldwin) September 26, 2019
Combined with a short passing game, it’s a good recipe for keeping the clock churning and the score low in a game where they are favored by a touchdown. Jacoby Brissett currently has the second lowest intended air yards per target and the seventh highest completion percentage.
On the Oakland side of things, Derek Carr is notorious for his refusal to take chances, even when playing from behind (seriously, get your eyes on his second half passing chart against Kansas City in Week 2). Evidence of his conservative nature can be found in his low yards per attempt. According to Austin Gayle, Derek Carr has the third lowest YPA from a clean pocket since 2014 among qualified passers.
To top it off, TY Hilton is listed as doubtful at the time I am writing this. If he’s unable to go, it removes the best big play guy in the game and reduces the chances that this game gets sped up.
Cleveland +7 at Baltimore, Total 45
4-star pick: BAL -7
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This is one of the more interesting games on the docket this weekend. If Baltimore wins, as they are heavily favored to do so (our model has them with an 80% win probability), they’ll have a strong leg up early on as division favorites. Meanwhile, a much hyped Cleveland team this offseason will face a truly uphill battle to make the playoffs.
Our model likes Baltimore at home to cover the 7 points. If you’re looking at solely the data through three games, it’s easy to see why. Baltimore currently ranks second in the NFL in Expected Points, while Cleveland has negative Expected Points. Football Outsider’s DVOA has it a bit of a closer fight with Baltimore ranking fifth in DVOA and Cleveland 17th.
There’s no doubt that Baltimore has been great early on, while Cleveland has been sloppy. Look no further than Lamar Jackson ranking fourth in Adjusted Net Yards per attempt while Baker Mayfield ranks 31st for evidence of that. This is why the model likes Baltimore, and it makes sense.
However, from a feel perspective, this is admittedly a pick I disagree with the model on. There’s nothing in this season’s data I can point to, and it’s possible, perhaps probable, that I’m guilty of holding onto my priors too long. But Cleveland entered the season roughly tied with the Pittsburgh with the best odds to win the division (+150), clearly ahead of Baltimore (+320). Baker Mayfield wiped the floor with Lamar Jackson as a prospect and is throwing to Odell Beckham Jr., who statistically has one of the best young careers in NFL history. On the defensive side of the ball, Myles Garrett ranks fourth in pass rush productivity according to Pro Football Focus and has the ability to make life tough on Lamar Jackson, who has been great but much of that is due to two cake matchups out of the gate. Baltimore should clearly be favored in this game, but I think 7 points is too much.