SharpClarke's Week 15 Betting Recap: Joe Burrow Regresses
Week 15 was widely celebrated as an exciting week of football, and for good reason. The twists and turns we experienced created some high-level drama. Unfortunately, as a bettor, that doesn't mean anything compared to the results, which were slightly unfavorable for me. Losing an under bet by points scored in overtime, a Moneyline bet on a 4th-down conversion that turned into a 50-yard touchdown, and a 3.5-point underdog that not only blew a 17-point lead but lost by double-digits, was a tough way to watch the week play out. But variance happens (and also benefits me at times, like when the Patriots gave the game away to the Raiders in hilarious fashion). The most important skill set is being able to objectively evaluate the games regardless of the results. To that end, let's talk about the Bengals-Buccaneers matchup and what I learned from watching every snap.
CIN 34, TB 23
Effective Result: TB by 2.28.
The narrative coming out of this game does not match what happened. The final score reflects what people expected going in, so they feel like their priors have been validated. The Bucs taking a 17-0 lead in the first half was just a "slow start," and it was a matter of time before the Bengals turned it on, as the superior team. But that's not what I saw. Yes, the Bengals were better than the Bucs in the second half. Yes, they deserved to win the game because they made fewer mistakes and took advantage of the Bucs' mistakes. But the series of events that happened in the third quarter that shifted this game from an easy Bucs win to an easy Bengals win were far from predictive. With the Bengals trying to establish themselves as a true contender in the AFC, this game did little to raise my confidence level in them.
My evaluation metric (effectiveness), which attempts to evaluate each team's offensive performance holistically, gave a slight edge to the Bucs overall. But neither offense was impressive. The raw numbers also favored the Bucs (outside of turnovers, which we'll get to). The Bucs had 24 non-penalty first downs to the Bengals' 17 and averaged 5.7 yards per play to the Bengals' 3.8 yards per play. The Bucs ran the ball more efficiently than the Bengals, passed more efficiently, and took fewer sacks. So how did the Bengals win? It was one of the wildest sequences of events I've seen all season. Let's walk through it.
The Bucs started the third quarter with the ball and a 17-3 lead. On 4th-and-1, the long snapper snapped the ball to Giovani Bernard for a fake punt, but Bernard was not on the same page and fumbled the ball. The Bengals got the ball on the Bucs' 16-yard line but could do nothing with it. A field goal made the game 17-6. On the next drive, Tom Brady threw an interception (on third down, so they would have punted anyway, to be fair). Starting on the Bucs' 31-yard line, Burrow took a 23-yard sack on 4th-and-3, which was promptly wiped away by a defensive penalty. Automatic first down. On the next third down they threw short of the sticks, but a face mask gifted them a first down. On their third try, they scored. But they failed the 2-point attempt, 17-12. On the next drive, a sack-fumble set the Bengals up on the Bucs' 12-yard line. A lost fumble on a hand-off and another interception later, and it was 27-17 early in the fourth quarter.
Oh, and during that stretch, Burrow also threw a bad pass on an out route that should have been intercepted but the defender dropped it. All in all, it was not the dominant showing you would expect from looking at the scoreboard. The Bengals are certainly better than what they showed in this game, and can still compete in the AFC. But with a likely path that involves road games against both the Bills and Chiefs in the playoffs, I'm not buying any Bengals' futures (like I did at this point last year).
Week 15 Betting Recap
Week 15 was up and down for my bets, finishing 6-7 for -3.85 units. Unfortunately, my highest conviction bets on the Jets and Bucs disappointed. And totals continued to be challenging, with under 49.5 in the Chiefs-Texans game losing on an overtime touchdown that pushed the total from 48 to 54. A lot of my bets finished with closing line value this week, so I am not overly discouraged by the short-term negative results. I am already putting in my Week 16 plays and looking to recover the small losses.
For all my bets and analysis, you can join the 4for4 Discord via a 4for4 betting subscription (10% off with code SharpClarke) and follow @SharpClarkeNFL on Twitter for alerts. This sheet from Dan Rivera tracks all my betting picks (and those from the rest of the betting staff) on the year. Just click on the tab with my name on it for the results.
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