Game Flowbotics: Week 9 Picks Against the Spread
Welcome back for your weekly dose of Game Flowbotics picks against the spread. The way Week 9 lines up for me is a little troubling because I find myself predominantly leaning toward favorites. The only underdog you’ll find in my picks below is a pure process play, too, and not really one I love. I like a few other dogs as well, but not enough to write them up.
I looked back at previous weeks’ articles and noticed that favorite-heavy writeups have been the norm for me, so I’m left to question whether or not this is a blind spot in my game for 2021. Do I lean toward favorites because I naturally have an easier time identifying when it’s correct to pick them? Does the reliance of Game Flowbotics on pace and efficiency data from Football Outsiders inherently steer me toward favorites because “good team versus bad team” is easier to identify by the numbers? Or am I simply not giving enough consideration to underdogs? In any case, NFL teams play to win, not to cover, so this predilection for laying points is something I need to make sure doesn’t become problematic.
Last week was frustrating, as I went 4-4 with my picks for a loss of 0.45 units. Year to date, my record is 38-31-1 and I’m up 4.35 units overall. In the Pittsburgh-Cleveland game, I got my one underdog pick of the week right, but I missed badly in picking the over on 42 points. Honestly, I didn’t think Baker Mayfield would return for that game, and I legitimately wonder if the total would have been closer to 42 if Case Keenum had started instead. More on that later.
Picking the over for Jacksonville at Seattle didn’t work either. Geno Smith and the Seahawks held up their end of the bargain, hanging 31 on the Jags’ shoddy defense. I guess it was too much to ask for Jacksonville to score more than once. They seemed set up well, at least for some garbage-time production against Seattle’s below-average defense, but I mistakenly discounted one of the NFL’s true home-field advantages for the Seahawks and the coaching/motivation mismatch between Urban Meyer and [insert opposing coach here].
The favorite pick I got wrong was Tampa Bay (-5). Their outright loss to the Saints stung even more because I also bet the Bucs as smaller favorites on lookahead lines. New Orleans has a tendency to bring their A-game in important matchups. We’ll see how much the Jameis Winston injury affects them, but I’m not convinced it’s a season-killer. The strength of this Saints team is clearly their defense, and I’ll think twice before I lay more than a field goal against them as home dogs again.
My fourth failure from last week was hoping for the Giants to eclipse 21 points against Kansas City. They only scored 17 points, but I think the process was correct on that pick. Nothing prior to Week 8 gave us any indication the Chiefs would skew so run-heavy against New York. In fact, it didn’t even seem like Kansas City wanted to be rushing that much, it’s merely what the Giants were giving them, and they begrudgingly took it en route to a boring win. If the Chiefs keep up a more balanced attack going forward, their matchups will have a harder time going over game and team totals unless the books adjust.
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