Hot & Not Report – Week 4

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Week of September 23rd

If you were able to catch last week's piece you'll know that the angle of backing those winless ATS teams out on the road in Week 3 turned out to be profitable once again.

Seven different teams fit that role for Week 3, and with Chicago's outcome still pending tonight, the other six (Carolina, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Miami, NYG, NYJ) ended up going 5-1 ATS. Only the hapless Dolphins failed to cover the number on Sunday, while three of those teams (Carolina, New Orleans, NYG) managed to pull off the outright victory as well.

Going against the Rams was a result that most oddsmakers across the country wanted to see cash, but LA was having none of it. It's hard to say if LA went out and got that game on SNF vs the Browns, or if Cleveland just remains too undisciplined for their own good. The Browns over-thought some playcalling decisions as well, and yet, they still had a 1st and goal to tie the game with under a minute left. Fading the money earners just didn't work out on Sunday night.

This week we are staying in the NFL, and while something like discussing the fact that division games are on a 4-10 O/U run so far in 2019 – keep that in mind for the Cleveland/Baltimore, New England/Buffalo, Washington/NYG, Seattle/Arizona, Minnesota/Chicago, and Cincinnati/Pittsburgh games next week – there are actually two more specific spots involving two of the seven 3-0 SU teams in this league that need to come to light. With Detroit being 2-0-1 SU there are actually eight remaining unbeaten squads, but it's two that entered 2019 as legit Super Bowl contenders that present solid betting angles. So let's get right to them.

Who's Hot

Games featuring an AFC team vs. NFC team with the home side as underdogs are a perfect 5-0 to the 'Under' in 2019

Non-conference games tend to lack the hatred something like rivalry or even conference tilts bring has there can be lingering memories from recent playoffs etc that add extra elements to those games. But unless you are one of the few teams that have met New England in the Super Bowl in recent years, AFC/NFC games tend to lack the animosity that can be associated with 'under' plays. There isn't the same type of familiarity in terms of understanding what the opposition prefers to run, and coaching staffs prefer to focus on more immediate concerns like divisional rivals because the easiest path to a playoff berth is by winning one's division.

So while you will hear thoughts about non-conference games being ones that can fly 'over' the number more often given that lack of hatred, that's not particularly been the case this year (6-8 O/U overall this year) in general. But more specifically, when the home team is catching points in these non-conference tilts, you only want to look low. Week 4 brings us only one specific spot where this run will be tested, as it does involve Patrick Mahomes and the high-powered, undefeated, Kansas City Chiefs.

KC is laying about a TD in Detroit on Sunday, and the total has already seen the vig get a few more cents added to the 'over' side of things. Both teams do own a 2-1 O/U record on the year as well, and with KC averaging 33.7 points per game and Detroit averaging 22.3 points per game offensively, just having both sides hit those averages would see an 'over' ticket cash.

However, defensively, neither side gives up more then 21.3 points per game on average, and given the specific home/road splits here, KC's defense comes in at 18 ppg allowed on the road, with Detroit clocking in at 10 ppg at home. Extremely small sample size for those numbers to be sure, but if you zoom out and look at the scenario on the whole – home underdog against a non-conference team – you can see why 'unders' in these games do tend to make a lot of sense.

First off, as a home underdog, you know you are up against it in terms of talent, skill, etc and there are certain generic strategies in that role that can/should be employed. Shortening the game by controlling time of possession and moving the sticks with the running game is one of those, and it doesn't matter who the Chiefs opponent is or where they are playing, limiting KC's time with the ball is something all 29 other teams are looking to do against KC. Detroit may not have the best running game in the league, but Stafford's dink-and-dunk approach throwing the ball plays into that as well.

Furthermore, offensively execution tends to come a bit tougher in hostile territory for these road favorites. Whether it be crowd noise, general discomfort, or the home dog defense 'rising up' to play over their heads against a better squad, KC's offense might not work as smoothly as some may think. KC might have scored 61 points in their last two games combined, but you take out the 2nd quarter, and the Chiefs just have 10 total points in all of those six other frames. They've been blanked in four of those quarters so it's not like they can't be held down as it is.

So chances are we see this total likely go higher before it goes down, but with that hook sitting there on a key number like 53 and plus-money on the 'under' to boot, it may not hurt to get at least a partial unit down on this 'under' in Week 4 and go from there.

Who's Not

Backing home favorites in the first five weeks of the season, prior to playing a road game on Thursday Night Football
(2-9 ATS and SU last three years)

Thursday Night football games continue to generally be slopfests in terms of quality of play as the short week is just tough to overcome for all involved. Maybe one day that will change and we can get rid of them all together (highly doubtful) and have weekly MNF double-headers or something instead, but until then, I'll gladly try to use an angle like this to cash.

Simply put, when teams are laying chalk at home the Sunday prior, and then have a quick turnaround WITH travel for TNF, it's those Sunday games that tend to get glossed over. Not only are home favorites in that role 2-9 against the number, but ALL NINE ATS losses have been outright losers as well. That's really quite shocking when you step back and think about it.

It's not like they are loaded with losses by two or three-point home favorites either. Last year we saw Minnesota lose to Buffalo (27-6) laying 16.5 points prior to a road TNF game, and even the great New England Patriots fell victim to this trend back in 2017 when they lost at home to Carolina (33-30) as nine-point home chalk.

And while it may feel like after last week's piece, I am picking on LA Rams fans/backers, I can assure you that I'm not. But this week, it's the undefeated Los Angeles Rams who find themselves in this dreaded role, currently laying -10.5 at home to a visiting Tampa team prior to the Rams travelling to Seattle for a divisional game on TNF in Week 5.

Considering Tampa's likely to be quite salty this week after blowing that big lead at home to the New York Giants with a rookie QB starting, it's not hard to figure the Bucs will be out to be at their best this Sunday. Offensively, they are more then capable of keeping up with LA should the game be a back-and-forth affair, and Tampa themselves know how hard it is being in the role that LA finds themselves in, as the Bucs got burned by being in that spot in Week 1 as small home chalk to the 49ers.

That Bucs loss in Week 1 started the 0-3 ATS and SU run this trend has been on just this year alone with Philly losing at home yesterday as the latest victim. So my apologies go out to Rams supporters this week for the second week in a row. You proved me wrong last week, and hopefully as the year goes on the Rams will find themselves in a favorable 'play on' role for one of these pieces, but it's taking the points or nothing with Tampa Bay for me this weekend.

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