Week 5 pro football picks recap with Jason McIntyre | WHAT DID YOU LEARN?
Markets trend toward efficiency, but the market has yet to catch up with the dominance of NFL road teams so far in 2019.
Through six weeks, NFL road teams are a staggering 49-27-2 against the spread, which is over the magic 60% barrier. A snapshot of the madness could be found as Sunday afternoon bled into the evening: the Packers smothered the Cowboys in Jerry World; the winless Broncos survived the Chargers in L.A.; and the Colts stunned the world with a victory over the Chiefs in Arrowhead.
Now, to the lessons we learned this week!
1. Patrick Mahomes can’t beat you if he doesn’t have the ball
Remember last year when the winless Bills went to Minnesota and shocked the Vikings, 27-6?
The shocking Colts result on Sunday Night Football felt similar because of this: Indianapolis was down three defensive starters — including both safeties — against reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes. The result? Indy 19, KC 13. The Colts played keep-away, running Marlon Mack (132 yards) down KC’s collective throats, and holding the ball for 37:15. Patrick Mahomes turned an ankle in the first half and for the first time appeared to really miss Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins.
I like betting against double-digit favorites, but foolishly took the bait with the MVP at home at night against a beat-up Colts team.
2. Trends aren’t predictive, but the 2019 Titans are trying to disprove that
It doesn’t make a ton of sense, but it’s true anyway: The Titans are great as underdogs (2-0) and bad as favorites (0-3).
It cannot be explained with numbers, and it’s a bizarre trend, but it is the story of the 2019 Titans, who failed to cover at home as three-point favorites. The Bills? They have the best defense nobody’s talking about. Buffalo forced Tennessee to six three-and-outs and held Marcus Mariota’s offense to just 252 yards.
3. “Be greedy when others are fearful.”
The Danny Dimes story was fun for two weeks — an epic 18-point comeback on the road against Tampa followed by an uneven performance in a 24-3 rout of the Redskins — but reality set in against Minnesota. The Vikings covered easily, 28-10.
I’ll hit you over the head with it weekly until it sinks in: no NFL team is as good or bad as they were last week. Take Minnesota. The Vikings were blanked in Chicago 16-0 and looked woefully inept. Then Stefon Diggs didn’t deny he wanted to be traded, Adam Thielen called out his QB, and Kirk Cousins apologized. Pretty bad, right?
The greatest investor of our time, Warren Buffet, once said, “Be fearful when others are greedy, be greedy when others are fearful.” The public was all-in on Danny Dimes and the Giants; they were selling the Vikings. And what do you know? Minnesota outgained New York 490 to 211, and averaged 7.7 yards per play compared to New York’s paltry 3.4.
4. Nobody’s stock is currently higher than the Saints’
The narrative around Teddy Bridgewater, despite wins over the Seahawks and Cowboys, was that the Saints were unimpressive. They hadn’t gone over 300 yards of offense in either game, there were red zone struggles (0-4 vs. Dallas), and they had to rely on help from the defense and special teams (both scored TDs vs. Seattle). Couple all of that with the Bucs coming to town off 464 yards and 55 points against the previously-unbeaten Rams, and you can see why I was on the Bucs.
Mistake. Teddy Bridgewater shredded the Bucs: 314 yards passing, 76 percent completions, 4 TDs and a cushy 31-24 win and easy cover of -3.5.
5. Christian McCaffrey is a beast, but he can’t handle this workload
Christian McCaffrey magic (237 yards from scrimmage, three touchdowns vs. the Jaguars) is a real thing, and he’s emerging as the most complete running back in the NFL with Todd Gurley’s knee issue and Saquon Barkley out.
But I’m concerned about how the 5’11, 205-pound McCaffrey can possibly handle this workload. Reminder: After 29 touches and 209 yards in the opener vs. the Rams, McCaffrey looked worn down on Thursday night football (18 touches, 53 yards) vs. Tampa. McCaffrey had 27 touches vs. Arizona, then 37 vs. the Texans, and then 25 vs. the Jaguars.