Welcome to the recap blog. Weekly results are a silly thing to track -- the small sample and high variance nature of the NFL makes them totally irrelevant. However, I do feel it's important to have an easy place to track all our bets, where we can easily see how we're performing over a larger sample size.
Dallas (+8.5) over Tampa
The model wasted no time to get rolling, electing to the take the visiting Cowboys on Thursday night over the defending Super Bowl champs. We had a few things go our way -- a Tom Brady tipped pass landed in the hand of Trevon Diggs, giving the Cowboys the ball at their own 20. Ronald Jones also lost a fumble that fell directly into defensive end Randy Gregory's hands. On the other side, Cowboys kicker Greg Zurlein was uncharacteristically bad, missing 2 field goals (including one from 31) and an extra point. It was an exciting back and forth game, but it was clear the entire way that the spread was simply too large. Dallas was able to get their offense rolling and keep pace with Brady and the Bucs. A relatively sweat free cover for us.
Final score: Tampa Bay 31, Dallas 28
LA Chargers @ Washington (+1)
Moving onto the model's favorite bet of the week. By closing, the spread had moved all the way to making Washington a 1.5 point favorite. Such line movements are typically a good sign that we're on the right side. I ranked the Football Team as the 19th best in the league and the Chargers at 24. I felt this was a no brainer, and the model confirmed. Unfortunately, the result didn't follow.
Ryan Fitzpatrick was only able to attempt 6 passes before a hip injury forced him to give way to Taylor Heinicke. Heinicke played safe football, going 11/15 (73.3%), good for 122 yards (8.1) attempt and a 50.3 PFF grade. It simply wasn't enough to get the offense going. On the other side, Justin Herbert completed 31/37 passes for 337 yards and a 84.7 PFF grade. The big story line coming was if the Chargers offensive line could slow down the Football Team's beast of a defensive line -- Herbert took care of that himself by getting rid of the ball on average of 2.39 seconds, which lead to him being kept clean on 87.8% of dropbacks. The Football Team also had no answer for Keenan Allen, who caught 9 balls for 100 yards. At the end of the day, there simply wasn't enough offense to get the win.
Final score: LA Chargers 20, Washington 16
San Francisco @ Detroit (+7.5)
This line ended up going away from us, closing at 9.5. We at Firstandthirty whole heartedly recommend getting your bets in as early as possible since the lines typically move toward the model, but if you were lazy and waited, things worked out well for you. Process always over results, however, you should still feel bad.
The 49ers were easily the better team, jumping out to a 31-10 lead at the half. The Lions predictably had issues at wide receiver, instead relying on TE TJ Hockenson (8 catches, 97 yards, 1 TD), and RBs D'Andre Swift (8 catches, 65 yards, 1 TD) and Jamaal Williams (8 catches, 56 yards) as their primary receivers. On the other side, Deebo Samuel lit up the Lions secondary (9 catches, 189 yards, 1 TD) as did Elijah Mitchell on the ground (19 carries, 104 yards, 1 TD). The Lions were able to back door cover for all you +9.5 folks by recovering an onside kick and scoring a TD, and converting the 2 point attempt with 1:07 to go. For us, it was a big L.
Final score: San Francisco 41, Detroit 33
Green Bay @ New Orleans (+4)
This game was hilarious. I'm here to spread the narrative that Aaron Rodgers is in Green Bay to deliberately fuck with them. Meanwhile, Jameis Winston was a god damn beast. It's always good to get a runaway win.
Final score: New Orleans 38, Green Bay 3