Week 17 Recap

We put a very solid week in the books this weekend, going 4–1–1 for +8.64 units, hitting on our two biggest plays. But the most important part of my process is objectively analyzing every pick to see what I can learn, what I did well, and what I did poorly. Sometimes getting the win doesn’t mean I read the game right (and vice-versa). So let’s dive in.

LAR +3.5 (-117) v. ARI (5 Units): Win 4.27 Units, LAR 18–7.

It’s tough to draw too much from this game, because Kyler Murray didn’t play most of it. Granted, the three drives he did play in led to zero points. But I can’t deny they moved the ball much better with him, and importantly, he probably would not have thrown the pick-six that ended up sealing this game for the Rams. Happy with the big win, and the potential for Murray to get re-injured was something I specifically mentioned in my write-up, but I’m not going to run victory laps here. Wolford was very disappointing and the Rams easily could have lost had Murray finished the game. The cautionary lesson is not to put too much on the line with a completely sight-unseen quarterback. This should have stayed a 2–3 unit play. Ultimately, though, I put my faith in the Rams’ defense and they came through.

NYG +3 v. DAL (4 Units): Win 3.64 Units, NYG 23–19.

I nailed this game. I predicted (1) the Giants would move well enough on offense to score 23–27 (they scored 23), (2) the Cowboys would struggle for offensive consistency and score more field goals than touchdowns (they had 4 FGs to 1 TD), and (3) that the Giants would be protecting a lead in the 4th quarter of a tight game (they held on as the Cowboys were threatening to score late). The Giants got very unlucky early in the game and managed to hold on anyway because they were better team. The takeaway here is that you can’t simply look at box scores to determine which team is hot, and you can get good value going against the trend when there is an explanation for why it looks better than it is.

GB -5.5 at CHI (2 Units): Win 1.82 Units, GB 35–16.

Right on here as well. The Bears kept it interesting for a while by extending drives with short, controlled passes and consistent positive yardage on runs. Oh and the Packers’ fumbled punt return certainly didn’t help. But Rodgers was laser sharp, and would have had a bigger win if MVS didn’t drop a big touchdown. He really wanted to solidify the MVP and did so. Trubisky converted their first 5 4th downs, but eventually came up short because that type of success is not sustainable. When he did, the Pack ran up the score as predicted. The line did not reflect the disparity between these two teams.

TEN -7.5 at HOU (2 Units): Loss 2 Units, TEN 41–38.

My mistake here was taking a favorite of more than a touchdown knowing that their defense was bad and the other team’s offense had the potential to take advantage. Tennessee did deserve to win this game, and arguably by more than 7, but Henry’s uncharacteristic fumble late in the 3rd quarter while looking to extend a 10 point lead allowed the Texans a key possession to turn it into a shootout. When your defense can’t make a stop, everything has to go right for you to cover a big number. That didn’t happen; so the Titans didn’t cover. I would probably still make this play, but it’s something to be cautious about with big favorites.

JAC +14 at IND (1 Unit): Push, IND 28–14.

This one was a major disappointment for two reasons. First, if I had waited to bet, the line moved up to +15 later in the week and I could have secured a win instead of a push. Second, it was 20–14 late in the 4th, and the Colts had a big rushing touchdown with 3 minutes left and got the 2-point conversion to make it 28–14. Another game I can’t draw too much from though, because the spread was about right. I was playing with fire taking a bad team, but 14 points is always a lot in the NFL and this could have been a win. Moving on.

BAL -12.5 (1 Unit): Win 0.91 Units, BAL 38–3.

Crushed this one. When the Ravens can dominate the line of scrimmage, they are a strong offense and it’s tough to stop them. It takes relentless pursuit by the first and second level to have a chance to stop Jackson, and it was not surprising that the Bengals failed to accomplish this. Meanwhile their defense is finally healthy and predictably shut down Brandon Allen, who looks like a different quarterback when he doesn’t have time and his receivers don’t get separation. The takeaway here is not to be afraid of a big number when you expect domination on both sides of the ball and the team has a history of big covers.

Overall, a fantastic week. I’ll keep rolling with my playoff picks in a few days.

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