Confidence: Week 12 NFL Gambling Preview

Confidence is back. John Limberakis makes his triumphant return to Inside The Pylon after a stint on short-term injured reserve. “John is writing as well as ever, really executing his sentences and punctuation well. We’re glad to have him back,” said Managing Editor Mark Brown. The NFL Week 12 Gambling Preview features the picks to have “confidence” in.

Teams to Tease in Order of “Confidence”

There are three games I like this week: Green Bay at Minnesota, San Francisco at home facing Washington, and Denver hosting Miami. I am assuming one of Emmanuel Sanders or Julius Thomas suits up for Denver. If neither do, I wouldn’t tease the Broncos.

Green Bay at Minnesota -9.5 (-3.5)

This game can be boiled down to one sentence: Green Bay’s offense will score often on Minnesota’s defense and force the Vikings to pass the ball, something they have not succeeded at all season.

Green Bay’s offensive passing DVOA is the NFL’s 2nd-best at 44.5% and the Packers should move the ball at will against the Vikings secondary (2.7% DVOA). The strength of Green Bay’s pass defense (a 9th-best DVOA of 1.8%) will be more than enough to contain Minnesota’s air attack, which has the 2nd-worst offensive passingDVOA (-25.8%). In a game that will be determined by who has more success throwing the ball, would you rather bet on Aaron Rodgers shooting the ball to Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, or rookie Teddy Bridgewater passing the pigskin to an over-the-hill Greg Jennings and a dynamic but inconsistent Cordarrelle Patterson? The last time these two teams met, Green Bay won in a 42-10 blowout. Anticipate a similar result this Sunday.

If Minnesota controls the flow of the game by running successfully on Green Bay, wins the turnover battle by a 2+ margin, generates a modicum of success in the passing game, and holds Green Bay to field goals in the red zone, then they can cover and possibly win. However, that’s far too many “ifs.”

The Call: This is a high “Confidence” pick. Take Green Bay -9.5, and tease them too, -3.5.

San Francisco vs. Washington -9 (-3)

San Francisco isn’t a team without its warts. Their defensive depth has been tested by numerous injuries, head coach Jim “Khakis” Harbaugh is rumored to be on the way out, and Colin Kaepernick isn’t developing as quickly as expected. But the situation in San Francisco looks like tea time at court compared to the mecca of drama in our nation’s capital. At the center of the soap opera is Robert Griffin III, who made this an easy call.

In the three full games RG3 has played in, Washington’s offensive passing DVOA average was a putrid -39.8% without a single positive game. The 49ers’ passing defense is best in show at -14.8% and will shut down The Washington Football Team’s aerial game. San Francisco’s run defense, with their 12th-best DVOA of -16.7%, will contain Washington’s 15th ranked running game (DVOA -4.7%).

On the other side of the ball, San Francisco should be able to exploit Washington’s horrid passing defense, ranked 29th with a 24.1% DVOA. Jim Haslett’s secondary is so bad that they rank 24th or worse in this metric defending against #1 WRs, #2 WRs, Other WRs (for those of you keeping score at home, that’s all the WRs), and TEs. Kaepernick does well when his first read gets separation because he often hones in on that target. Against Washington, all of his receivers should have more than adequate space and separation.

The Call: This is a high “Confidence” pick. Take San Francisco -9, and tease them too, -3.

Denver vs Miami -7 (-1)

The following pictures are scientific representations, brought to you by the hard-working research team at Inside The Pylon, that capture the essence of the Broncos’ home/road splits so far this year.

This image depicts the Broncos’ play on the road:


This photograph captures the Broncos’ efforts at home:


Let’s take a look under the Broncos’ hood to see how significant the splits are:

Denver DVOA Home DVOA Away DVOA Overall
Offense 47.6% -7.4% 18.5%
Defense -17.8% -16.6% -17.2%

Even Inspector Clouseau could deduce the problem here. Denver goes from having the league’s best offensive DVOA at home (by a 10%+ margin) to owning the 22nd “best” offense on the road. Luckily for the Broncos, they host the Dolphins this weekend.

Denver’s defense is one of the least talked about units in the NFL, but that can happen when Peyton Manning’s presence overshadows everything else. The Broncos’ defense will hamstring Miami’s offense in both the passing and running games. The Broncos’ 2nd-best defensive rush by DVOA, -35.5%, will severely limit Miami’s 7th-best rushing attack sporting a 2.1% DVOA. Miami will have its hands full in the passing game as Denver owns the 5th-best passing defense at -7.6%. Denver will clearly be able to limit Miami on offense.

There is less clarity, however, when Denver has the ball. Every team will have a subpar two-or three-game stretch each season and the Broncos are no exception, having put up 3 of their bottom 4 offensive DVOA performances in the last three weeks. Blitzes and the pass rush have suddenly become Manning’s kryptonite, and his timing and accuracy are off. Denver’s offensive line shoulders a large portion of the blame, having given up more sacks in the last three games (6) then they did in the first seven (5) – let’s just say they’ve had some problems with protection. More likely, this is just a bad three-game slump for the Broncos rather than a sign of their impending doom. The sky is not falling in Denver. Sorry, rival AFC fans: The Broncos will bounce back.

The Denver passing attack is so potent at 3rd-best in the league (44.2% DVOA) that it will give fits to Miami’s 2nd-ranked passing defense (-13.9% DVOA). As long as Emmanuel Sanders or, preferably, Julius Thomas plays this weekend, the Broncos will have the skilled players on offense to burn the Miami secondary. But if neither player suits up it’s too tight of a line to take Denver.

The Call: This is a high “Confidence” pick. Take Denver -1.

Smaller Plays:

Arizona at Seattle +7 (+13)

What I like: Arizona has a favorable matchup on defense against a battered Seattle offensive line. The Seahawks’ defensive passing DVOA ranks only 18th (8.3%), and Arizona should be able to take advantage with their passing attack, which ranks in passing offensive DVOA (16.3%.)

What I dislike: Drew Stanton playing in Seattle.

Closing Thoughts:

Without a truly dominant team in the league and with a higher rate of blowouts this season, gambling has been more difficult this year than it has been since I can remember. Consequently, I’m going to have less teasing going forward.

New England hosting Detroit is going to have the excitement of a James Cameron winter blockbuster minus the social commentary. If you’re watching only one game this weekend, make it that one.

The Week 12 NFL Gambling Preview Plays:

  • Green Bay -3.5 and San Francisco -3
    • Risking 2 units to win 1.82.
  • Green Bay -9.5
    • Risking 1 unit to win .91
  • San Francisco -9
    • Risking 1 unit to win .91
  • Denver -1* and Arizona +13
    • Risking 0.75 units to win 0.6825.
  • Total Risk: 4.75 Units
  • Total Potential Reward: 4.3225 Units

*Use Green Bay or San Francisco here if neither Emmanuel Sanders or Julius Thomas suit up.

John Limberakis is Inside The Pylon‘s gambling analyst, using statistics and trends to break down the betting lines, and finding the winning edge to wager with confidence.

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