Against The Spread: Sheasby's Week 12 NFL Best Bets

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Week 11 was a bloodbath. Up was down. Down was up. Left was right. Right was left. Omininous as ever, we were trending well at the end of the first half until the ever-punishing witching hour cursed all bets into losing territory. 

Can we bounce back in Week 12? You know damn well we’re shooting our shot.

New York Giants -5.5 @ Cincinnati Bengals

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Any opportunity to bet against a double back-up QB feels like a good one, and that’s exactly what we have here: Joe Burrow exited with vicious knee injury last week, and Ryan Finley’s performance in the 2nd half apparently wasn’t strong enough to warrant a start. Insert Brandon Allen. 

Brandon Allen provides only one advantage over Ryan Finley: he is familiar with Zac Taylor’s offense going back to his days with the Rams. Nonetheless, both have horrid stats; Finley has completed 45.4 percent of his passes for a 55.5 passer rating, while Allen has completed 46.4 percent of his passes for a still abhorrent 68.3 passer rating. Snooze.

Enter the Giants. Out of no-where, the Giants have surged from +1000 (or deeper) odds to being in-the-hunt to win the division (currently trading around +300), and a win this week would only help strengthen their cause. 

The best news of this write up: even before the Burrow injury, the Giants were better both offensively and defensively than the Bengals team.

  • Offense: NYG averages 5.0 yard/play compared to CIN 4.9.
  • Offense: NYG averages .318 y/p compared to CIN .301
  • Defense: NYG allows 5.6 y/p compared to CIN 6.1. 
  • Defense: NYG allows .368 y/p compared to CIN .423

Downgrade those offensive stats & the NYG look even that much more appealing. 

Minnesota Vikings -3 @ Carolina Panthers

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Narrative #1: The Panthers are coming off a smackdown of the Lions and are getting their starting QB back and the Vikings just lost to the 3-8 Cowboys - they’ll easily cover (maybe win) against the Vikings.

Narrative #2: The Vikings will bounce back after a terrible loss to the 3-8 Vikings?

Meh - neither are particularly compelling if you ask me, and bettors across the world seem to agree, as 47% of bets are on the Panthers, with 53% on the Vikings. 

So where do we stand?

This week, we stand with the purple and the gold. 

Why? Looking at point differential, we don’t find much of an edge here: The Vikings are -14 and the Panthers are -19. Wash.

Looking at ATS trends, we don’t find much of an edge either: the Vikings are 6-4 in their last 10 games, including 3-2 last 5, while the Panthers are exactly the same, 6-4 L10, 3-2 L5. There is a slight edge to the Panthers looking at home/away splits, as the Panthers are 4-1 on the road ATS compared to the Vikings 2-3.

Let’s dive into yards/play and points/play:

  • Offense: MIN averages 6.5 yard/play compared to CAR 5.8.
  • Offense: MIN averages .447 y/p compared to CAR .376
  • Defense: CAR allows 5.8 y/p compared to CIN 5.7. 
  • Defense: CAR allows .419 y/p compared to CIN .389

Here we see a decisive advantage to MIN offensively with a slight advantage to CAR defensively, but going a touch deeper, we see MIN with an offensive and defensive advantage on two key percentages: 3rd down conversion and red zone scoring.

On offense, the Vikings have a 78.12 RZ scoring % compared to a 59.46 RZ scoring % for Carolina, which is a big delta. 

Defensively, the Vikings have a slight edge on opp. RZ scoring %: 55.26 vs. 58.54.

More glaring to me was looking at defensive 3D conversion %: Carolina allows a conversion 51.82% of the time compared to the Vikings 36.21%.

In short: this should be a good game. I’d imagine a high scoring affair with two above average offenses and two middle-of-the-road defenses. 

X-factor, truly for me? Dalvin Cook. Minnesota ranks 4th in run efficiency (per Football Outsiders), and Carolina defense ranks 22nd in run-defense efficiency. Jackpot.

I’ll ride the Cook train straight to profits this week with the Vikings -3.

As always, I’ll probably add a few more bets here and there, and sprinkle in some College Basketball. Follow on Twitter to never miss a pick. 

All time record: 2329-2121-92, +106.81 units

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