The major news resulting from the playing of Week 3’s games was the knee injury suffered by Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger that is expected to sideline the elite signal caller for perhaps as much as two months.
Big Ben joins Dallas’ Tony Romo as an elite QB who will be sidelined for perhaps two months. Another pair of injured quarterbacks who missed action last week – Chicago’s Jay Cutler and New Orleans’ Drew Brees – remain uncertain to return to action this week or perhaps even over the next few weeks.
If they are cleared to return due to necessity (both teams are off to 0-3 starts) they are likely to be less than fully healthy, which could lead to further injuries down the line if they return too soon.
With all but Monday night’s Kansas City and Green Bay game in the books, here’s are some tidbits about how the 2015 season is unfolding.
Favorites are 23-22-1 against the spread with one game closing at pick ‘em (last Sunday’s Atlanta at Dallas contest).
Perhaps the most unusual aspect of early season point spread performance is that the spread has mattered in just three games. Aside from the opening game of the season, which ended in a point spread push (New England’s 28-21 win over Pittsburgh), only Dallas’ one point win over the Giants in the opening Sunday night game and both Carolina’s win over New Orleans and the Colts’ win at Tennessee this past Sunday involved favored teams winning by less than the point spread.
Thus, aside from the lone point spread push, if you had just picked the straight up winner of the game and either laid or taken the points, you would have cashed in 43 of 46 games!
Those results include 19 underdogs winning their games outright which would have nicely rewarded bettors who backed those underdogs on the money line.
To put these results into perspective point spread history shows that the winning team covers the points roughly 83 percent of the time, or about 5 times in 6. Hence, the points come into play in about 1 of every 6 games.
With the early season results so skewed towards the point spread not coming into play we could see a push in the other direction in coming weeks.
This would be reflected in more games in which favorites win straight up but by less than the points they are laying.
Last week produced the first double digit favorites of the season and both favored teams covered. New England cruised to an easy 51-17 home win over Jacksonville while Seattle overcame a sluggish first half en route to a 26-0 home win over Chicago. The Pats closed as 14 point favorites over the Jaguars and the Seahawks were bet up from 14.5 to 16.5 point favorites over the Bears.
There were 5 more OVERS than UNDERS this past week heading into Monday night. The OVER has a 26-21 edge for the season with an average of 46.7 total points scored per game.
Byes begin this week with New England and Tennessee having the week off.
Here’s a preview of Week 4 games, including the first of the games to be played in London, England.
Pro Football – Thursday
Baltimore +2.5 at Pittsburgh (44): The Ravens continue to have concerns on defense as shown in their inability to hold a late fourth quarter lead last week at home vs. Cincinnati. Pittsburgh’s defense will show improvement as the season progresses but now must play with the pressure of not having Big Ben. OVER.
Pro Football – Sunday
Miami PK vs. NY Jets (London): The Jets have played the much better football over the first three weeks and Miami will face a defense every bit as tough as the Buffalo defense they faced at home against last week. Of the two teams the Jets appear to be the one most likely to bounce back. NY JETS.
Jacksonville +8.5 at Indy (47): Indy has dominated this series with 5 straight wins, each by at least 17 points. The Jags have scored 10 points or less in 4 of those 5 games. This may not be as one sided a loss as they suffered last week, but until the Jags show they can give the Colts a competitive contest it’s hard to back them at a line less than double digits. INDIANAPOLIS.
Houston +6.5 at Atlanta (46.5): Houston continues to have concerns at QB which may be alleviated if RB Arian Foster is cleared to play. The Texans’ strength remains their defense and the high potent Atlanta offense will face the best defense they will have seen thus far. HOUSTON.
Carolina -3 at Tampa Bay (40): Tampa Bay is 1-2 with a defense that has played better than expected but an offense that remains a work in progress with rookie QB Jameis Winston. The last 3 meetings between these teams have failed to produce more than 36 total points. UNDER.
NY Giants +6 at Buffalo (47): The Giants have allowed over 300 passing yards in each of their first three games. Buffalo has run for at least 147 yards in each of its first 3 games and that combination suggests Buffalo QB Tyrod Taylor, who passed a big test in Miami, will be a threat as he continues to gain confidence with each game. BUFFALO.
Oakland -2.5 at Chicago (44): The Bears are likely to again have backup QB Jimmy Clausen in for the injured Jay Cutler. Clearly the Raiders are an improved team but to favor them on the road against a team stepping way down in class in quality of foe seems a bit premature. CHICAGO.
Philly -3.5 at Washington (47.5): The Eagles have seen their passing yardage drop from 336 to 219 to 108. Both teams won their home meetings last season, each by exactly a FG. The Eagles are questioning themselves while Washington has been more competitive than expected. WASHINGTON.
Kansas City (no line) at Cincinnati: Aside from RB Jamaal Charles the Chiefs do not have a proven play maker. It’s been noted before that the Bengals may have the best overall roster in the NFL. Their issues don’t begin until the Playoffs. CINCINNATI.
Cleveland +7.5 at San Diego (44.5): San Diego is off of back to back road losses at quality foes (Cincinnati and Minnesota) and man for man have the edge at virtually every position vs. the Browns, especially at quarterback. Competitive road losses such as those suffered by the Chargers rarely call for downward Power Rating adjustments but do provide incentives for above average efforts upon returning home. SAN DIEGO.
Green Bay (NL) at SF: Pending the results of Monday night’s game against KC and any injuries, Green Bay figures to be almost a 10 point road favorite. The Packers are one of the top teams in the NFL and San Francisco is unlikely to be able to trade points. But they still should be able to participate in the scoring with Kaepernick unlikely to repeat last week’s performance against a middle of the road defense. OVER.
Minnesota +6.5 at Denver (43): The Denver offense continues to struggle running the football but QB Peyton Manning still shows his capability of making big plays at key times. Minnesota’s defense also appears much improved which suggests the total may provide the best option. UNDER.
St. Louis +6.5 at Arizona (42.5): If QB Carson Palmer stays healthy the Cards are legitimate Super Bowl contenders. Until proven otherwise, or unless the price gets too expensive, it’s hard to fade the Cards. At a TD or less that is not the case here. ARIZONA.
Dallas NL at New Orleans: The uncertain status of New Orleans QB Drew Brees keeps this game off the boards as of Monday although it would seem unlikely that Brees will play considering the type of injury (rotator cuff). Dallas is already relying on backup Brandon Weeden with starter Tony Romo out. The Dallas defense was unable to protect several double digit leads in their loss to Atlanta. The Saints also allowed over 400 yards in their loss at Carolina. Often when weakened offenses meet weak defenses the offenses fare better. OVER.
Pro Football – Monday
Detroit +10 at Seattle (42.5): Against the Broncos Detroit QB Stafford seemed clearly bothered by his ailing ribs and figures to be at less than 100 percent against a revitalized Seattle defense now that Kam Chancellor is back. The home crowd, their two game deficit to Arizona in the NFC West and the more talented roster all point to the hosts who will also be motivated to produce a better effort from the offense. SEATTLE.
NFL Last Week: 6-9-0
NFL Season: 23-24-0
Andy Iskoe, and his Logical Approach, provides his popular and unique handicapping statistics to GamingToday readers and online visitors. He has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football. Email: [email protected]