The Sportfolio Strategists’ NFL Week 4 X-Ray Report
Karma clan, we welcome you to check out our weekly deep-dive recap of several key games from the previous week, providing you with actionable insights that see through the final score and into the most substantive key takeaways, many of which will be incorporated into future sportfolio positioning. I think we can all appreciate that relying on ESPN storylines and highlights to frame your understanding of a team's performance or the evolution of a game is a disservice to your bankroll. Our X-Ray Report will isolate critical factors that misalign with the media's broader narrative of a game, providing you with more opportunity to capitalize on mispricings in the market.
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What we learned: Brett Rypien is a servicable QB in short stints, has zip and accuracy, very cerebral, but can also get sloppy and make poor decisions under pressure. The Broncos still have weapons as well across the offense, even given their current injury status. Don't sleep on Tim Patrick. However, a lot of the Broncos' offense success was a direct result of the Jets' league-worst defense. The Jets are unbettable at this point and could only be looked at in + double-digit territory. May only be a matter of time before team explicitly gives up on coach Gase, if they haven't already. It's unlikely we'll lean in this team's direction until Gase is fired and the team feels a renewed sense of urgency.
What we learned: Even with the Saints' injury woes, their superior game plan and coaching was sufficient to overcome an early double-digit hole into a double-digit lead and 6 point cover and win. Bettors pounded the Lions into kickoff, closing at 3 point underdogs, from an opener of 6. The negative point value associated with coach Patricia simply cannot be underestimated. The Lions were able to move the ball in spots, but the Saints' defensive pressure collapsed the pocket around Stafford too many times. Golloday was back for the Lions but barely made an impact beyond on early TD score. The Lions have the talent to win games and cover, and perhaps still capture this division title (yes, we think so), but definitely have not incorporated the Patricia Effect to the extent we should have. Nonetheless, as the Lions' secondary get healthier, this can, and we believe will, be a bet on team.
What we learned: The Dolphins should have won this game SU. Hard to imagine, given that they didn't even cover, but after a Dolphins FG put game at 10-9 heading into halftime, their defense relaxed and the Seahawks scored a TD in 17 seconds. In addition, the Dolphins were inside the Seahawks' 30 five separate times, all leading to FGs. Granted, this goes toward the Dolphins' broader incompetence and inability to cash in, which is why they are a 1-3 team. That said, even even one or two of these events go toward the Dolphins, they easily cover and maybe win. Moving forward, the Dolphins remain a bet-on team in the right circumstances, especially at home. But expect to get screwed over more often than not, even more so if playing against a competent offense, which the Seahawks are and then some. The Seahawks came in across the country and accomplished what they needed to: get a gritty win on the road. It wasn't pretty, but no downgrade of the Seahawks is warranted.
What we learned: Herbert has a nice deep ball and is outperforming critics' preseason evaluations of the rookie QB. He has the weapons to capitalize, so we see continued upside from Herbert. The offense put 31 points up on the road v a solid defense, which is impressive. Chargers had a nice 21-7 lead, but a beat-up and vulnerable defense let Brady and co quickly get back into the game. Chargers' defense is what many thought would be the team's core strenght, but injuries have compromised that assessment, and they are in no position to stop a capable offense. the Bucs' offense continues to pick up momentum, and if they stay healthy, can be a top 5 offense by the end of the season in our view. That said, expect some still clunky performances from this team until at least the latter half the year. Brady's pick 6 and early game deficit demonstrates that this team is not where it wants or needs or expects to be. careful betting Bucs in the wrong situation, but we see Chargers as a bet-on team moving forward, especially if getting a sufficient amount of points v a poorly coached team. Spot good opporunities to get some Chargers after a poor performance.
What we learned: The Ravens can still cover big point spreads and can move the ball down the field quickly, especially if focused. That said, Jackson looks considerably worse passing the ball. He missed several deeper throws in this game, some of which stunted drives. Jackson compiled a highlight reel 50 yard TD run so his underperformance may get swept under the rug, but this bares watching moving forward. 2019 Ravens win this game by far more than 14 points. A garbage time TD by Washington following a RG3 interception made the score closer than it actually was, but the Ravens do lack some of the explosiveness of last year. Defenses may have caught up a bit. This isn't to say we are downgrading the Ravens, but be careful with some larger point spreads v teams that have the capability to score and get at least a few stops. We also haven't seen the aggressiveness out of the Ravens that we saw last year - another aspect worth monitoring as the season matures. Washington on the other hand was able to move the ball in spots, but Haskins' inaccuracy killed drives. Gibson and McLaurin are real talents that we believe Kyle Allen will have more success capitalizing on. If Washington's DL gets healthier, we see them as a bet-on team moving forward.
What we learned: Wentz' ability to move in the pocket and pick up yards with his feet is one of the only saving graces for the Eagles. The Niners could have easily won and covered this game, if not for a Mullens meltdown. Mullens threw a pick in the redzone following an impressive drive that leveraged the return of Deebo Samuel, and then threw a pick 6 on another drive. This is -10 points minimum, and likely -14 points. The Eagles were also able to capitalize on some low-probability deep balls to no-name WRs that they turned into points. That said, for a team like the Eagles to stay competitive, they are going to need these kinds of plays, and in the past, they seem to put themselves in positions to get lucky more oftne than not. So we don't want to discount this too much. The team is still well-coached and still have pockets of talent on the defensive side of the ball.
What we learned: Many will say that the Chiefs are lucky to cover this game, after Hoyer/Stidham collapse in the 2H of the game resulted in a bevvy of turnovers and short-fields for the Chiefs. That is certainly true, but the close call in our view is more a consequence of the Chiefs using a vanilla playbook and forcing the run and trying to do as little as possible to capture a win and not reveal too much creativity or put their players in too many spots to get injuried. "Shorten the game, get in and get out with a win, even if ugly," may be the Chiefs' gameplan for most of the season in most matchups. This means you need to be careful betting the Chiefs this season, especially v out-of-division matchups or v teams that they don't need to put in a full effort against. Of course, in games v teams like the Ravens, with a lot at risk, you will get a focused effort. But v the Texans, the Chargers, and now the Patriots, we have seen lukewarm performances. They still have robust talent and the ability to get a quick score, but don't expect them to want to leverage it to the same extent they have in the past. This is a unqiue season, and we think the Chiefs recognize this, and won't put the pedal to the metal until at least the playoffs or in very meaingful games.