NFL Football Best Bets: Week 5 (2021)

Ryan’s Season Totals

Best Bets: 10-1, Up 1043%

Not sure any other preamble needed after you look at our season total, so let’s jump right in.

Best Bet #1: Titans -3.5 (buy the half point) at -120

Both teams come into this game off losses they should have won. According to EDJ Sports, you can see, empirically and visibly, how bad their losses really were here. Yet, this will be the second AFC South matchup for both teams, with the Titans winning their first vs. the Colts and the Jaguars losing in week one to the measly Texans. This along with their 0-4 record makes them a legitimate road underdog to the visiting Titans.

Much was said this offseason of how the divorce from the “Ryan Tannehill, Arthur Smith” marriage would affect this offense. Notably, how much their tactical advantages would shift when a heavy Pre Snap Motion AND Play-Action Rate OC leaving would affect a QB with a tumultuous career. Well, as of yet, Tannehill seems to be winning the breakup, posting a top-3 CPOE according to NFL Next Gen Stats, while staying on a somewhat familiar script of giving the ball to Derrick Henry and letting Play-Action drive up his production.

On the flip side, the Jaguars come in with what seemed like a “once-in-a-lifetime” caliber franchise QB, that has at best, yet to reach his potential. Trevor Lawrence is currently leading one of 5 teams that have been more productive running the ball vs passing it (not a good thing). According to’s passing/rushing EPA grid, the Jaguars, Bears, Browns, Titans and Colts are the only teams that have actually been better running the ball vs. passing it this season. When you realize their opponent, the Titans, and to some degree, the Browns have good reason for this claim to fame, you realize its not good company to share.

The Titans have been trying to recapture the formula that made them successful with a past OC, and doing so with some success. The Jaguars on the other hand, have lost focus and are being led by a coach that likely doesn’t want to be there. There is a major subjective/motivational edge you have to give the Titans here, along with proven on-field productivity, you simply can’t pick any other way.

Bet: Tennessee -3.5 at -120

Best Bet #2: Justin Herbet OVER .5 Interceptions (+105)

We have had alot of success with this prop this season. Most of it stems from our previous deep dives into QB’s performance by defensive coverage (Cover 1, 2, etc rates), and the likely coverage he will see that week based on opponent’s tendencies for the season. However, we found last year the correlation wasn’t THAT strong, mostly because good defenses scout well and know how well a QB plays by coverage (and hence won’t use said coverage AS MUCH, even if that is their base coverage). Which then led us down the rabbit hole of “Coverage Elasticity” (a term we coined), or how much a defense alters their base coverage based on opponent’s, etc. But that’s a story for another day.

Instead, we have found a much stronger correlation using NFL Next Gen Stats, and creating a “QB Archetype” for the year: how deep the QB throws, how long he holds on to the ball, (especially) how often he throws into tight windows,etc. Using that data to identify the QBs “taking the most risks”, and pairing that with the opponent’s strength in coverage (using PFF’s coverage grade), we have come up with and adapted last year’s “Turnover Likelihood”.

With that, Justin Herbet and the Chargers rank the highest this week on our “Turnover Likelihood” meter, not only based on the high scores in tight window throws/holding on to the ball/opponent coverage, BUT he also scored very highly in “Sack Likelihood”, or better yet for this bet: Pressure likelihood, which I will dive into on the next bet.

Between being high in both interception and pressure likelihood, we have Herbert throwing 1-2 picks this game.

Bet: Justin Herbet OVER .5 Interceptions (+105)

Best Bet #3: Derek Carr OVER 1.0 Sacks

We are waiting to get the exact number here, but it is likely to be between 1 and 1.5, and we are comfortable to go over at 1.5 as well. The reasoning is based in a new “Matchup based Advantage” we have discovered thanks to Tom Brady. For a long time its been known that Brady handles pressure well (subjectively, we know that pressure stats are NOT sticky year-to-year). Navigating the pocket, knowing when to step-up, etc has been a strength of Brady’s for sometime. However, veteran coaches and even sharp fans know that Brady is good, even when pressured, BUT mainly stepping up in the pocket. He does not like to rollout, put himself in a position to throw out of structure. Hence, inside pressure is best when it came/still does come to Tom Brady.

That was the genius of a new stat we started to track:

-We have good metrics now to know how well an O-Line Pass Protects, and we have good stats to show how well a defense creates pressure on the QB. This is mainly baked in to the game and prop numbers. BUT, what if we could dive deeper, leveraging that “Brady play”, and find something out the market may not be so keen on, like:
-Yes, Team A’s pass protection ranks here, and Team B’s defensive pressure ranks here, BUT where is that pressure coming from/the strength of the pass pro?
-Hence, “Net Inside/Outside Line Pressure Advantage” (better name coming, ha)

Essentially, we tried to find what teams’ pass protection ranks may be heavily skewed inside/out, vs their opponent’s pressure ability outside/vs in. Here is how those ranks shaped up for this week, thanks to our friends at SIS, and their datahub:

Football Team181519

As you can see, when taking in to account:

  • Defense Pressure rate from 3 technique in (outside of Guard shoulder) vs 4i out (Inside Tackle shoulder) defense’s pressure rates are skewed highly
  • When looking at the rank of Offensive Pass Protection, or better yet, where they have been most susceptible to giving up pressure based on inside/outside

You get a very different perception of what’s LIKELY to happen on an o-line in a game. And that’s the key to everything we are doing, right? It’s NOT WHAT YOU KNOW, it’s what you know relative to the market. And as they (in the sack prop market) are focusing on raw pass pro vs pressure ranks, splitting WHERE the pressure is likely to come from can give us an advantage (thanks to Tom Brady for helping me think of this).

With ALL that, the Raiders come in with the second highest “score” for the week. Coupled with Khalil Mack’s added motivation to show his old team what they’re missing, we are very high on Carr getting sacked 1-2 times during this game.

Bet: Derek Carr OVER 1.0 Sacks

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