Theme of 2018 NFL betting: There’s a big gap right now between young NFL coaches (armed with an understanding of analytics & game theory), and the old school dinosaurs.
Nepotism might as well be spelled “NFL”
With a tight salary cap, player talent is distributed relatively well throughout the league. Teams and player talent are mostly about the same. Intelligent & innovative coaching schemes will be the biggest thing that separates the winners from losers.
If we can identify exactly who falls into which category (and to what degree), we can make a lot of money this season.
Note: Shop for best lines available! Big differences in prices available out there right now.
Note: all bets “to risk” for record keeping.
To Win Division:
4* LA Rams (NFC West) -140 (W)
Summary: The Rams brought in a gaggle of talented “but troubled” players. The lazy media narrative goes, “can McVay manage all the personalities?” The answer would be no if he was Bill Parcells, acting like a douche’y dictator.
But the Rams have a staff that understand how to emotionally connect with the modern (millionaire) athlete, and actually add strategic value.
The yelling, motivational bozos are mostly gone. The new breed of successful coach is a well-prepared assistant, focusing mostly on tactical things that players can do to perform better against specific opponents.
I am all-in on the Rams to win this division. Kyle Shanahan is also great, but the 49ers roster still has too many holes. Model projection: LAR 11.17 Wins, SF 7.8
3* Minnesota Vikings (NFC North) +115 (L)
Summary: The Vikings have one of those 3 tier defenses, similar to the Eagles last season. No weaknesses mixed with elite talent at every level.
John DeFilipo takes over the offense, one of the Eagles offensive analytics brain trust (Peterson + Reich + DeFilipo). He may have been the sharpest of the group, with the highest upside to continue to innovate. (Cool video of him: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDc6v-YRk0o). Anyone able to design a scheme for Nick freakin’ Foles win a Superbowl going through ATL & NE, has some ability. The Vikings have weapons but will have to work around an average OL, which I think he can.
This is also a bet against GB, who based on Greg’s research into the IT capabilities of each organization, are WAY behind the curve. Rodgers has already expressed disappointment with the new OC hiring, another dinosaur. SKOL. Model projection: MIN 9.04 Wins, GB 7.8
Season Win Totals:
2* RSW Tennessee Titans o8 -110 (W)
Summary: Perhaps my favorite team this season; they make the playoffs, win a road game, and still fire the coaching staff. That is a sign of intelligent management, who understand where the league is heading.
New HC Vrabel on Defense is fine, but new OC Matt LeFleau is the real gem. He spent 2 seasons with ATL during their rise to prominence, and last season with McVay and LAR. This dude knows things.
They have a talented roster top to bottom, with no glaring weaknesses anywhere on the field. “No glaring weaknesses” is a powerful formula in modern salary cap NFL. Especially combined with intelligent game planning (and relatively low market perception, also important for our betting purposes). If healthy, they ready to roll (up the dough). Model projection: TEN 9.07 Wins
3* RSW Chicago Bears o7 -102 (W)
Summary: Bears go from one of the worst swamps last season (John Fox) to above average nerds Ryan Pace GM and Matt Nagy (former KC OC). I honestly think that alone is enough to get them over this win total. But that’s not all…
The Bears were one of the most injured teams in the league for BOTH of the past two seasons. With a tight salary cap, when you lose your front-end talent, you are going to lose.
But now they are back, and with some luck, may stay healthy. And if they do, this is going to be a strong team. Excellent defensive coverage ratings at both secondary and linebacker level. Solid offensive line and new intelligent OC. I’m in. Model projection: CHI 8.27 Wins
2* Carolina RSW under 9 -190 (W)
Summary: Panthers organization was just sold in May, so a new hedge fund ownership group should do well once they install their organizational process. This season however, not enough time to install a new process.
It appears they are giving River Boat Ron (Madden coaching tree) one final swampy season; hiring fellow dinosaur Norv Turner as new OC. The game has passed Norv by, plus he’s a terrible philosophical fit for Cam Newton’s skill set.
Their top defensive coaches are now in Arizona and this smells like a disaster brewing. My guess – New ownership will clean house SOON, but we still have early 2018 to cash in on this swamp.
I was going to play NOT to make playoffs at -140 (but now -170). I like under 9 -190 even better. Under 8.5 -130 is also good, but even with a horseshoe up Cam’s butt I just can’t see them winning 10 games (with 9 a push). Brutal division with powerhouses ATL and NO. Also consideration (although not available many books): NOT to win NFC South -325. Model projection: CAR 8.71 Wins
4* RSW Kansas City Chiefs u8.5 -110 (L)
Summary: KC was fortunate last season: they benefited from a +12 cumulative rest differential vs opponents and were +15 in turnover differential.
The sneaky impressive Alex Smith is gone, and new gunslinger will replace. Lot’s of hype, but they also lose their solid OC (replaced by RB coach), which should slow his development.
They are the typical fantasy team I love to fade; Great skill position talent that will put up points, but also fundamentally flawed on OL & Defense. Market perception pumps these teams up a little too much, I am selling. Model projection: KC 4.93 Wins
2* RSW Jacksonville Jaguars u9 -110 (W)
Summary: AFC South is suddenly very tough: Tennessee talented roster + new intelligent OC, Indy excellent new coach + Luck returns, Houston is everyone’s darling with some talented players. The essence of this play: Jacksonville coaching staff is simply over matched. Doug Marrone’s favorite food is bologna (white bread, American cheese, spicy mustard, and bologna). That’s enough for me to be 100% OUT on his process.
They also play NE, Pittsburgh, Dallas, and Philly. Still a great D, but they may have snuck up on teams last season. Bortles being “trash” still a possibility, and -9 rest differential on schedule doesn’t help. Decent chance for a push here at 9, but hard to see them getting to 10. Also a consideration: Not make playoffs at +135, Field to win division at -210. Model projection: JAX 9.29 Wins (OFF MODEL ALERT! Perhaps a pass)
To Make Playoffs:
2* LA Rams -230 (W) Summary: See Rams to win NFC West
1* Tennessee Titans +185 Summary: See Titans Win Total
1* Atlanta +110 (L) Summary: Analytics friendly organization ready to roll.
1* New Orleans -125 (W) Summary: Analytics friendly organization ready to roll.
Full List – Season Long Plays:
Regular Season Win Totals (Summary for each below): 4* RSW Kansas City Chiefs u8.5 -110 (L) 3* RSW Chicago Bears o7 -102 (W) 2* RSW Tennessee Titans o8 -110 (W) 2* RSW Jacksonville Jaguars u9 -110 (W) 2* Carolina RSW under 9 -190 (W)
To Make Playoffs:
2* LA Rams -230 (W) 1* Tennessee Titans +185
1* Atlanta +110 (L) 1* New Orleans -125 (W)
To Win Division: 4* LA Rams (NFC West) -140 (W)
3* Minnesota Vikings (NFC North) +115 (L) .25* Chicago Bears (NFC North) +800 (W)
ADDED week10: 2* Philly (NFC East) -140 (L)
To Win Conference: .25* Tennessee Titans (AFC) +1600 .25* Chicago Bears (NFC) +50000