Confidence: Week 15 NFL Gambling Preview

Confidence is an NFL gambling preview, using statistics, matchup analysis and other metrics to create predictions readers can use at their discretion.

Week 14 Misses Reviewed

There is nothing like the relaxing and satisfying feeling of going to bed with a 31-7 halftime lead. All Green Bay needed to do was keep on the pressure and wrap things up comfortably. But my sweet dreams turned into nightmares as Atlanta stormed back to lose by a mere six, busting my teaser. Raise your mouse if you expected that second-half outcome. Aside from Bernice Ryan , I doubt anyone else in the United States of America including Michael Ryan has their mouse in the upright and elevated position.

Speaking of poor rest, in what could have been a classic matchup between two former successful Pac-12 coaches, Chipadelphia had a nightmare of their own against Pete Carroll and the Seattle defense. The Eagles’ offense had the ball for a meager 18:04 ‒ less than a third of the game ‒ and netted an anemic 139 yards.

Teams to Tease in Order of “Confidence”

This is a week of small plays. I don’t love any line in particular, but there are six opportunities for minor gains. You can mix and match any of the following: New England, Detroit, New York Giants, Kansas City, Philadelphia, and Atlanta.

New England vs Miami -7.5 (-1.5)

What I like: The Patriots are like fine wine: they get better as they age over the course of a season. A lot has changed for New England since their Week 1 dismantling in Miami. After starting the season 2-2, the Patriots have gone 8-1 and have the NFL’s second-best weighted total DVOA (31.0%). Since the bye week, New England’s offensive line and running game have gone from putrid – non-existent, really – to capable and even successful, averaging what would be the second-best offensive rushing DVOA (21.93%). Rob Gronkowski is back at full steam and Tom Brady and his receiving corps are in rhythm to the tune of the fourth-best offensive passing DVOA (42.6%). Making Miami’s task more difficult, the Dolphins have considerable home/road defensive splits, with only the 17th-best road overall defensive DVOA (3.2%). New England hasn’t lost at home since Week 15 of 2012. Don’t look for history to repeat itself in Week 15 of 2014.

What I don’t like: Miami has the 4th-best offensive rushing DVOA (7.2%) and in Week 1 the Dolphins ran for 191 net yards and 5.0 ypc against the Patriots. Miami also has the 4th-best defensive passing DVOA, they can dial up the pressure with the second-best pass rushing score from Pro Football Focus (+39.2), and they own Football Outsider’s’ third-best defensive adjusted sack rate (8.0%).

The Call: Tease New England, -1.5. (Wong Teaser)

Detroit vs Minnesota -7.5 (-1.5)

What I like: Detroit is a nightmare matchup for Minnesota on defense. The Lions have the best overall total defensive DVOA at -18.3% with the third-best defensive passing DVOA (-8.9%) and best overall defensive rushing DVOA (-34.9%). There is a considerable 16.9% gulf between Detroit’s passing efficiency on offense (11.8% DVOA) and Minnesota’s defensive passing DVOA (5.1%). The Vikings’ young offense has a significant home/road split with the fifth-worst total road offensive DVOA (-21.1%).

What I don’t like: Matthew Stafford is worth at least one boneheaded turnover per game, while Teddy Bridgewater has been getting better as the season progresses. Bridgewater posted back-to-back 117+ QB ratings in outings against Carolina and the Jets, and has thrown for 9 TDs and only 3 INTs in his past 6 games.

The Call: Tease Detroit -1.5 (Wong Teaser)

New York Giants vs Washington -6.5 (-0.5)

What I like: I’m writing this on Thursday and The Washington Football Team still hasn’t named their starting QB for this game. But when your choices are a hygenic cleanser and a turd sandwich you don’t have good options.


Washington is a bad team in every aspect of the game and New York just has more advantages (all % in DVOA):


When NY Has The Ball When WAS Has The Ball
Team Rushing Passing Rushing Passing
New York Giants -12.20% 3.60% -1.70% 6.80%
Washington -16.20% 28.70% -10.40% -4.20%
Gap -28.40% 32.30% -12.10% 2.60%


The Giants will throw the ball early and often against this terrible passing defense and handle whatever Washington “brings” on offense.

What I don’t like: Washington’s 11th-best defensive rushing DVOA (-16.2%) suggests they could force the Giants to be one-dimensional. New York and Washington both play with a high degree of variance. New York has the 10th-highest variance (19.5%) and Washington has the 2nd-highest (25.1%). While Washington is a terrible team with the second-worst overall weighted total DVOA at -36.4%, the Giants are only 24th (-9.2%).

The Call: Take the Giants at -6.5

Kansas City vs Oakland -10.5

What I like: Kansas City has a balanced offense with the 8th-best weighted total offensive DVOA (10.8%). The Chiefs have similar efficiency when they run the ball (a second-best offensive rushing DVOA of 9.7%) and when they throw it (the 14th-best offensive passing DVOA at 14.8%). The Raiders struggle defending the pass with only the 23rd-ranked overall defensive passing DVOA (17.9%). The Chiefs also have the advantage on defense; the Raiders have the worst road total offensive DVOA at a bone-chillingly-low -36.6%.

What I don’t like: 10.5 and 4.5 points are a lot in a divisional matchup. Kansas City lost just three weeks ago by 4 to this same Oakland team.

The Call: Take Kansas City -10.5 and/or tease Kansas City -4.5

Philadelphia vs Dallas -3

What I like: It’s December, Tony Romo is less mobile playing with a bad back, and he’s up against the third-best pass rush as scored by Pro Football Focus (+38.9) and the seventh-best adjusted sack rate (7.4%). Dallas will also have their potent rushing offense challenged; the Eagles can slow down DeMarco Murray with the eight-best run defense at +33.1. In their first matchup facing Murray, Philadelphia held him to seasonal lows in both rushing yards (73) and yards per carry (3.7). The Eagles have a mismatch when they throw the ball on offense, as the disparity between their offensive passing DVOA (8.6%) and Dallas’s horrid defensive passing DVOA (19.9%) is a succulent 28.5%.

What I don’t like: Just because Dallas’s offense failed in their first meeting with Philadelphia doesn’t mean that their 5th-best weight total offensive DVOA (13.9%) will be as ineffective again.

The Call: Take Philadelphia -3 tease them at +3

Atlanta vs Pittsburgh +3

What I like: Like most dome teams, the Falcons play better at home. The elephant in the room is Atlanta’s defense. The Falcons’ 25th ranked home total defensive DVOA is soft at 8.4%, but it’s much better than their NFL-worst total defensive DVOA (22.4%). Pittsburgh is right behind Atlanta though, with the third-worst overall road defensive DVOA (15.4%). The Falcons have the seventh-best offensive passing DVOA (28.3%) against the Steelers’ second-worst defensive passing DVOA (26.8%). Pittsburgh relies on a pass rush in lieu of an SEC-worthy secondary, but Atlanta can neutralize that with their 11th-best adjusted sack rate (5.2%). Even considering the negatives of this play (see below), getting +9 points for a home dome team with a strong passing offense against a weak passing defense is too good to turn down.

What I don’t like: Pittsburgh is going to have success throwing against Atlanta with the third-best offensive passing DVOA (43.4%). Atlanta has the third-worst defensive passing DVOA at 26.5%. Yes, Virginia, there will be a shootout in the Georgia Dome.

The Call: Tease Atlanta at +9

The Week 15 NFL Gambling Preview Plays:

  • New England -1.5 and Detroit -1.5
    • Risking 1.0 unit to win 0.91.
  • New York Giants -6.5
    • Risking 0.5 units to win 0.455
  • Detroit -1.5 and Kansas City -4.5
    • Risking 1.0 unit to win .455
  • Kansas City -10.5
    • Risking 0.5 units to win 0.455
  • Philadelphia +3 and Atlanta +9
    • Risking 0.5 units to win 0.455.
  • Philadelphia -3
    • Risking 0.5 units to win 0.455
  • Total Risk: 4 Units
  • Total Potential Reward: 3.64 Units

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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