NFL Point Spread Picks - Week 12 Thanksgiving Day

This week all picks will be posted here as way to appreciate everyone who has ever supported me through this site in the past 15 years. It's been a rollercoaster ride for years, but in the end it's been a good one. Let's gobble up some wins this Thursday and over the weekend:

A whole slew of injuries on both sides are reporting including the two starting QBs. That might be a good thing for Chicago as Andy Dalton came in last week and performed better in two quarters than Fields has in two games. The new Bears WR star Mooney seems like he's a go, but Allen Robinson in questionable. Aside from the injuries:
  • Both offenses are horrible. The Bears rank 26th in offensive DVOA (30th in passing DVOA) and the Lions ranking 30th (32nd in passing)
  • On the other side of the ball, the Bears rank 16th in the league in DVOA. That's not great, but it's still far better than a Lions unit that ranks 28th
  • The DVOA variance for Detroit is one of the lowest, meaning they have been consistently bad
  • The models are split for this one but the better ones are saying Bears by a TD with a percent confidence of 55%
  • Currently 53% of the bets and 64% of the money is going to Detroit but that's when it was at +3.5. That key number is now down to 3.
  • Lots of talk of Nagy getting fired. Not sure which way this goes, but players' jobs on the line as well meaning they will play. 
  • Road teams with small spreads are covering a lot more this year (and last year). When in doubt, go with the road favorite under a field goal
Pick: Chicago -3

Everyone is focused on Dallas going 1-9 ATS in the last 10 Thanksgiving days. These seem like independent events with a whole new talented team this year. The Cowboys fell against a raging and upcoming Kansas City Chiefs last week, that should have been expected that they were going to be out-coached. Now they are catching just a TD against the free falling Raiders. Amari Cooper is out and CeeDee Lamb is questionable so their offense won't be looking as dominant if these two again won't play this week.
  • The Dallas defense is ranked #3 against the pass which is ideal against a Raiders offense that can't run the ball and ranks #30th on the ground attack
  • The Raiders' weakness on defense is on the air where they rank #23rd. This could be trouble against an offense that is ranked #7th in the league on the air attack.
  • The spread has gone down to 7 points in some places as more money is getting placed on the Raiders but the totals is still that 58% of the money is on the Cowboys (with 66% of the bets)
  • With a healthy offense, my models estimate a Cowboys win by 17 points well over the 7 or 7.5 point spread. 
  • Although the offense is banged up, the Dallas D is the one who's going to show up and ensure the Cowboys clear a win and cover on Turkey day
Pick: Dallas -7.5

Is the value in the road favorites this Thursday? Is being chalky the right move? This game you should probably stay away the same way you shouldn't have that extra piece of pie. But who are we kidding, you're gonna bet it. Since you are here is our recommendation.

Buffalo has looked like a Super Bowl contender and like a team that doesn't even have what it takes to make the playoffs. New Orleans is still figuring it out their offense, they've lost 3 in a row, and now face a team that is trying to win a division while the Saints chances of beating the Bucs are getting slimmer.
  • Injuries plague the Saints. Especially on the passing front and now they face the #1 passing defense in the league!
  • The Bills have lost 2 of the last 3 and we predicted it last week. Now they are playing for their division against a weak team. This recency bias keeps this spread under a TD. They just need to control Kamara which shouldn't be as much as he'll be the only threat.
  • All my models like the Bills to win by over 10 points...blowout potential
  • The Saints D has allowed over 29 points per game in the last 4 and now face one of the most scoring offenses in the league
Pick: Bills -6 (and over 45)

All chalk on Thursday I know. It is hard to see Buffalo losing this one and falling even lower on the standings. Same for Dallas' Defense against a Raiders team that's falling apart. Chicago vs Detroit is a race to see who is the worst. Tough one, so the Bears D shows up and makes it an interesting game.

NFL Point Sprea Picks - Week 9

Although the chosen games last week went 1-3, the models went 67% across all games. That's good, the math is working. The improvement needed is in finding better ways to identify the winning games. I got a few ideas besides situational confidence that I'm gonna test this week. Let's dig in!

Indianapolis -10

Thursday night football the Colts hosts the Jets who are coming off a huge win last week. The Colts are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 and have arguably the best running back in the league. The #10 overall team against the #28th is a weak vs strong case we always like to be on the strong side. Additionally,

  • Models estimate between 16 and 24 giving the Colts room for a cover.
  • Recency bias, huge, for the Jets
  • Slight QB edge for Carson Wentz who shines against weak teams
  • Big spreads have been covering this year going 9-2 ATS
  • 40% of the bets and 42% of the money on the Colts

Conclusion: Bet the strong avoid the weak

Buffalo -15

Don't over think it. Jacksonville is trash. Buffalo is top. Another weak vs strong case. 

Arizona pick

Kyler Murray is questionable but likely to play Sunday. A game time decision, but this time the betting markets are assuming that he will play. Articles like this one, also point at him playing. The longer week should also help. Remember that last week, Dak Prescott was a "game-time decision" but 3 days before the game the spread had moved to Vikings -3. Assuming he plays, here's the break down:

  • All models are estimating this game at or close to Cardinals by 10! The situational confidence is not as strong, but this week they aren't facing anything close to Aaron Rodgers
  • Their loss last week and 49ers win against the Bears is making this game a pick vs 3 or even 7 points for the Cards
  • Bets and money ~60% going to the Cardinals
  • SF is surprisingly ranked 9th in DVOA against the Cardinals #2, but the 49ers defense which ranks 17th overall and 22th against the pass will be exposed setting up a potential blowout
  • Away teams at a pick are 42-30 ATS since 2010
  • A huge QB advantage for the Cards (if Murray plays)

Conclusion: This line will move a bit once Murray is officially announced the starter, but even a one or two point move won't be enough. All signs point that the Cardinals bounce back from their first loss to win again.

Get the rest of the picks and the machine learning model results on Rokfin.