Vince Lombardi

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Week 3: QC's 5 Best Bets

If you listen to ex-NFL coach and personnel man Pat Kirwan on NFL Radio, you frequently will here him say coaches need 3 games of video to start figuring out new players. QC believes it is pretty much the same with linemakers. Until 3 games are in the bank, the linemakers (and bettors who shape the lines) are pretty much taking views that are based more on prior year performance than current performance. In Week 3, QC has noticed that: 1) Week 3 is the worst week of the year to bet better designed teams except 2) better designed teams that have started out very strong tend to stay very strong and the linemakers do not charge excessive premiums until after the Week 3 results are in.

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1. Colts +1 over Browns
A consensus quickly formed that Indy is the worst team in the NFL after the LA Rams routed Chuck Pagano's team in Week 1. But we have learned since then that LA coach Sean McVay and QB Jared Goff are going to move the ball on just about everyone. Pagano also quickly made adjustments to his defense by inserting rooke DBs Malik Hooker and Quincy Wilson into the starting lineup and the Indy D looked a lot better before falling to Arizona in OT, 13-10. Also, new DT Margus Hunt is creating good gut pressure. Wilson is out for this game, but there is a pretty good chance that top DB Vontae Davis will make his 2017 debut so expect the Indy defense to bend but not break again. Cleveland, on the other hand, is in a bit of flux offensively. QC is fan of HC Hue Jackson as a play designer, but thus far his designs have not meshed well with rookie QB DeShone Kizer. Despite signing two FA pass protectors, Kizer has been sacked 9 times and the Browns lead the league in deep pass attempts. Jackson has not been able to get RB Isaiah Crowell going and that might be hard to do against an Indy D that has yielded just 2.5 yards per rush (No. 2 in the NFL). There is a term for what Jackson and his team are going through: "Growing Pains." The Colts' will experience some growing pains too, especially with QB Jacoby Brissett, but Pagano has enough veterans on offense (Frank Gore, T.Y. Hilton, Jack Doyle) to weather those pains a little better and get a close win at home.

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2. Bengals +8.5 over Packers
Not scoring a TD in the first 2 games cost Cincinnati OC Ken Zampese his job. In the afermath of the firing, several Bengals said Zampese's designs were too complicated. QB Andy Dalton, who has struggled mightily, said new OC Bill Lazor, will try to simplify things. This actually might work. Lazor made the University of Virginia's offense potent when he was OC in Charlottesville. Nick Foles and Ryan Tannehill played well using Lazor's designs in his prior stops in Philadelphia and Miami. When the Dolphins faced the Packers in Lambeau in 2014, Miami put up 24 points despite 3 turnovers. Moreover, Dalton cannot be this bad. Dalton threw only 8 interceptions in 2016 and already has tossed 4 this year. He will miss TE Tyler Eifert, but if Lazor can get WR Tyler Boyd back into the flow and getting the running game going, the Bengals should show improvement. It will help that Green Bays' front 7 is not nearly as imposing as Cincinnati's first two opponents (Baltimore and Houston), particuarly if DL Mike Daniels does not play or is slowed by his hip injury. The Falcons gashed the Packers on the ground in Week 2 and the Bengals have runners (Joe Mixon, Jeremy Hill, Gio Bernard) who present problems. On the other side of the ball, Green Bay QB Aaron Rogers was stymied by Atlanta's sticky pass coverage until the outcome was decided. Rogers was the best player in the NFL when he followed the play designs between the 20s and used his uncanny ad lib ability and accuracy in the red zone to throw TDs. But for the last few years, Rogers has mostly ad libbed all over the field and Green Bay's QCYPA had steadily deteriorated. Rogers' current QCYPA is 6.7, down from 7.4 in 2016, and the Bengals D-QCYPA is a suffocating 5.3. Rogers is by far the best passer the Bengals have faced and he has been known to light up Lambeau in matchups like this, but it is more likely Cincinnati's D keeps the Bengals in the game and perhaps pulls off the upset if it can coax a turnover or two from the Pack.

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3. Bears +7.5 over Steelers
Pittsburgh is No. 1 in the NFL in QCYPA at 4.9 and Chicago ranks near the bottom of the league in QCYPA at 5.8. On the surface, it appears that Mike Glennon has no chance to move the ball in the air against the Steelers. But Glennon should get a little more help this week. Ex-Pitt WR Markus Wheaton is slated to make his debut in Chicago and G Kyle Long also is expected to play for the first time this year. Getting those two back should helpt the offense alot. The Bears WR corps is in dissarray. Wheaton may not be a No. 1 NFL WR, but he was a pretty good deep threat in 2015 before injuries cost him the 2016 season. RB Tarik Cohen has been targeted far more than any other RB so far in 2016 and he should help too. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh will be without dynamic rookie LB T.J. Watt who is out with an injury. On offense, Ben Roethlisberger and Le'Veon Bell have not been able to crank up the offense yet. It would not be surprising if they continue to find the sledding tough against Chicago's defense. The Bears gave up 29 points on the scoreboard in Week 2 in Tampa, but 7 of those points came on a pick-6, 7 more points came on a 1-play drive after Cohen fumbled a punt, and 7 more of those points came on a driver of less than 40 yards after another turnover. Chicago has just 1 takeaway through 2 games after equalling an NFL record with just 11 takeaways in 2016. But the Bears defense is too good for such ineptness to continue forever. And on the road Big Ben can almost always be counted on to throw at least one ghastly interception.

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4. Chiefs -3 over Chargers
Through two weeks, the surprising Chiefs are unbeaten and +10.02% better designed then their opponents. Here is how such teams have faired in Week 3 since 2009 (better designed team in bold):
2009: Saints 27 Bills 7
2009: Colts 31 Cardinals 10
2009: Jets 24 Titans 17
2010: Bears 20 Packers 17
2011: Lions 26 Vikings 23
2012: Cardinals 27 Eagles 6
2013: Seahawks 45 Jaguars 17
2013: Broncos 37 Raiders 21
2014: Bengals 33 Titans 7
Ironically, the only team on this list to lose--the 2012 Eagles--was coached by Andy Reid. But don't pay any attention to that. The 2012 Eagles committed 9 turnovers in their first 2 games and squeaked by the Browns and Ravens by 1 point apiece. Philly was a total mirage, imploded, finished 4-12, and cost Reid his job. This Kansas City team is not that. The Chiefs have two dynamic playmakers in Tyreke Hill and Kareem Hunt and a ferocious pass rush led by blooming star Chris Jones. Sand Diego (0-2), on the other hand, looks like a lot of the "going nowhere teams" that make up the losing side of the list. Look for KC to roll again and the linemakers to start increasing premiums to bet the Chiefs significantly.

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5. Raiders -3 over Redskins
Washington has a win but it has yet to win a design battle and its -9.2% play design differential is better only than the Colts and the Jets (combined 0-4). The Redskins ripped LA last week for 229 yards on the ground, but the 49ers showed Thursday night that the Rams D may not be who we thought they were and it is almost impossible to run over an opponent in the NFL two weeks in a row. Oakland's D is yielding 4.5 yards per carry, but that figure doesn't matter if the opponent is playing from behind as the Raiders' first two opponents have been. QB Derek Carr is averaging over 8.8 QCYPA and has tossed 5 TD passes. Meanwhile, Washington's D is yielding over 8.7 D-QCYPA. Look for Carr and his receivers to have another big game. With Carr under center, Oakland has cover 7 of its last 8 road games. The Redskins have failed to cover their last 3 home games. Don't overthink it. Lay the points with the Raiders before the linemakers make it cost prohibitive to do so.

Last Week: 5-0
Season: 8-2

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