Share this article

print logo

NFL Bettors Guide: Early stats rankings can be misleading

Are the Bills really the third-best defense in the National Football League? Are the Ravens the best?

Is the Kansas City defense really Swiss cheese?

Or are statistical rankings only six games into the season somewhat deceiving, a product of who you played rather than your own prowess in offense or defense?

The Bills certainly turned in a strong defensive game in a win at Minnesota, but the offensive ineptness of the Titans and Texans, and even a below-par performance by gimpy Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, certainly have helped their ranking.

The Ravens' reputation may be deserved. They have 26 quarterback sacks and opponents have converted only 26.5 percent of the time on third down. But it's beneficial, too, to have faced offensively challenged opponents such as the Bills, Browns and Titans.

Kansas City's numbers have suffered from the quality of the offenses the Chiefs have faced. The Chiefs' resume includes games against  Philip Rivers and the Chargers (412.5 ypg), Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers (417.7), the Broncos (387.7) and Tom Brady and the Patriots (381.2).

Of course, a deeper look into the metrics may bring more reliable results, but why make things more complicated than they need to be? A capsule look at the Week 7 games:

Game of the day

Saints (4-1) at Ravens (4-2)

Kickoff: 4:05 p.m.

The line: Ravens -2 1/2.

ATS: Saints 3-2; Ravens 4-2.

Over/under: 49 1/2.

Times over/under: Saints 4/1; Ravens 2/4.

The scoop: It's the No. 3 offense (New Orleans, 424) versus the No. 1 defense (270.8). ... Saints have covered their last three. They come in after a bye week. QB Drew Brees leads league with 122.3 passer rating mainly because he has not been intercepted in 190 attempts.

Outlook: Saints have won four straight since opening loss to Bucs and two were on the road at Falcons and Giants. Sean Payton is 0-3 versus Baltimore in coaching career, 0-2 against John Harbaugh. Ravens, 28-20.

Top attractions

Bengals (4-2) at Chiefs (5-1)

TV: NBC. 8:20 p.m.

The line: Chiefs -6.

ATS: Bengals 4-2; Chiefs 5-1.

Over/under: 59 1/2.

Times over/under: Bengals 4/2; Chiefs 5/1.

The scoop: Will Bengals be up to strong showing on road at Arrowhead after another demoralizing loss to rival Steelers? Cincy pass rush couldn't come through against Ben Roethlisberger last week to protect one-point lead in last 1:18. ... Chiefs stormed the gates in Foxborough to take brief lead after falling behind by 15 at half, but league's worst defense didn't have a chance of holding off Brady.

Outlook: With heroics of Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt, you forget that Sammy Watkins (22 catches, 272 yards, one TD) is on Chiefs' roster. Playing at home, K.C. will recover better from last week's disappointment. Chiefs, 38-28.

Patriots (4-2) at Bears (3-2)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Patriots -3.

ATS: Patriots 3-3; Bears 3-2.

Over/under: 49 1/2.

Times over/under: Patriots 4/2; Bears 4/1.

The scoop: Pats favored every game so far. ... Did Bears' defense wilt in Miami heat last week or did Brock Osweiler blossom? Bill Belichick keeps uncovering running backs who thrive in Pats' system. Combo of rookie Sony Michel and James White is very effective.

Outlook: Expecting Bears to rebound, but they haven't beaten Pats since BB (Before Brady) in 2000. Patriots, 27-20.

Lions (2-3) at Dolphins (4-2)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: No line.

ATS: Lions 3-1-1; Dolphins 4-2.

Over/under: No line.

Times over/under: Lions 4/1; Dolphins 3/3.

The scoop: The Lions have covered their last three as underdogs. ... It looks like Dolphins are not going away. One thing Miami has for a change is speed. Receiving trio of Albert Wilson, Jakeem Grant and Kenny Stills has been potent so far. Osweiler filled in for Ryan Tannehill last week and passed for career-high 380 against mighty Bears defense. Tannehill is out again this week. ... Lions coming off bye week after upsetting rival Packers.

Outlook: Lions are dangerous middle-of-the-pack team, but are not good road team with losses so far at 49ers and Cowboys. Dolphins, 24-17.

Vikings (3-2-1) at Jets (3-3)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Vikings -3 1/2.

ATS: Vikings 3-3; Jets 3-3.

Over/under: 47.

Times over/under: Vikings 3/3; Jets 3/3.

The scoop: More bad news for Bills fans. Jets are for real. They have defense that takes ball away (15) and a running game and passing game that is just dangerous enough with rookie Sam Darnold. ... Two of Vikings wins over lowly 49ers and Cardinals, but win at Eagles was impressive. Minnesota QB Kirk Cousins has 12-3 TD-INT ratio and Adam Thielen leads league with 58 receptions.

Outlook: Doubt that Latavius Murray will run for 155 against Jets at MetLife like he did last week against Cards. Jets, 23-20.

Panthers (3-2) at Eagles (3-3)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Eagles -4 1/2.

ATS: Panthers 2-3; Eagles 2-4.

Over/under: 45.

Times over/under: Panthers 3/2; Redskins 2/3.

The scoop: Carson Wentz had three-TD passing game as Eagles finally covered after not beating the number four in a row. Two of their three wins are over 1-5 Colts and 1-5 Giants. ... Panthers dug themselves a hole on road at Washington last week and couldn't get out.

Outlook: Statistically, teams are just about even. Panthers are 0-2 on road with losses at Atlanta and Washington. Eagles slowly coming back to 2017 form. Eagles, 27-20.

Best of the rest

Titans (3-3) vs. Chargers (4-2), London

Kickoff: 9:30 a.m.

The line: Chargers -6 1/2.

ATS: Titans 2-3-1; Chargers 3-3.

Over/under: 45.

Times over/under: Titans 2/3; Chargers 5/1.

The scoop: Game is at Wembley Stadium. Titans were shut out 21-0 at home by Ravens last week and have not scored a touchdown in three of their last four. Exception was home upset of the Eagles. Is the problem QB Marcus Mariota's injured arm or coordinator Matt LaFleur's offense? ... Chargers' Rivers has 15 TDs only three INTs.

Outlook: Only Chargers losses to unbeaten Rams and 5-1 Chiefs, and last week they crushed Browns who had been very competitive. Titans don't score or travel well. Chargers 31-10.

Texans (3-3) at Jaguars (3-3)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Jaguars -5.

ATS: Texans 1-3-2; Jaguars 3-3.

Over/under: 41 1/2.

Times over/under: Texans 2/3; Jaguars 4/2.

The scoop: Aside from Rams (6), Texans are one of three teams with next longest active win streak (3), but have looked awful doing it. Win over Bills last week was gift. Previous two were by three points each. ... A year ago, everybody was raving about Texans young QB DeShaun Watson the way they are about Mahomes now. Then NFL defensive coordinators honed in on him. ... Tom Coughlin must be seething. Coach Doug Marrone's Jaguars are biggest disappointment aside from Falcons so far. Vaunted defense has given up 30 to Chiefs and 40 to Cowboys in last two.

Outlook: Leonard Fournette sightings are very rare and Jaguars need him. With a pick or two, it's Texans, who must remember 45-7 rout in Jax last December. Texans, 17-14.

Browns (2-3-1) at Buccaneers (2-3)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Buccaneers -3.

ATS: Browns 4-2; Bucs 3-3.

Over/under: 50.

Times over/under: Browns 2/4; Bucs 3/2.

The scoop: Two teams yielding 400 or more yards a game. Gregg Williams' Cleveland unit has suddenly blown a gasket, giving up 45 to Raiders on road three weeks ago and 38 to Chargers last week. Cleveland QB Baker Mayfield playing like a rookie, five INTs and taking some physical punishment trying to outrun NFL athletes. ... Bucs fired defensive coordinator Mike Smith this week after allowing 30 or more points in five of six games.

Outlook: Browns are a plucky bunch, but Tampa Bay can score when Jameis Winston is on target to Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard. Evans, in just his fifth season, already is Tampa Bay career leader in receiving yards. Bucs, 31-24.

Rams (6-0) at 49ers (1-5)

Kickoff: 4:25 p.m.

The line: Rams -10.

ATS: Rams 4-2; 49ers 2-3-1.

Over/under: 53 1/2.

Times over/under: Rams 4/2; 49ers 5/1.

The scoop: Powerful Rams have not covered as a road favorite in their last two. Niners had chance for upset at Packers on Monday night. All they needed was get to field-goal range for Robbie Gould, but C.J. Beathard threw deep ball that was picked off and led to winning FG by Pack. ... Rams RB Todd Gurley ran for career-high 208 at Denver and leads league with nine rushing TDs. ... Couldn't Bills use ex-Bill Marquise Goodwin, who had two TDs and averaged 31.5 on four receptions at Green Bay.

Outlook: L.A. not nearly as potent in hostile territory but Rams, 31-14.

Cowboys (3-3) at Redskins (3-2)

Kickoff: 4:25 p.m.

The line: Redskins -1 1/2.

ATS: Cowboys 2-3-1; Redskins 3-2.

Over/under: 41 1/2.

Times over/under: Cowboys 2/4; Redskins 2/3.

The scoop: Cowboys coach Jason Garrett is 11-4 versus Redskins, including routs of 33-19 and 38-14 last season. ... Washington has defeated Packers and Panthers at home, but somehow lost to Colts. ... Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott trails Rams' Todd Gurley by 37 yards for NFL rushing title.

Outlook: Rout of Jaguars last week shows QB Dak Prescott and Cowboys offense might be starting to click. Cowboys, 30-27.

Giants (1-5) at Falcons (2-4)

TV: ESPN, Monday, 8:15 p.m.

The line: Falcons - 5 1/2.

ATS: Giants 2-4; Falcons 2-4.

Over/under: 54 1/2.

Times over/under: Giants 3/2; Falcons 5/1.

The scoop: Giants have become Saquon Barkley show. He's averaging 5.2 yards per rushing attempt and had 99 receiving yards last week. ... Matt Ryan (14 TDs, 2 INTs) having strong season for Falcons, but RB Devonta Freeman has gone on IR for groin surgery. Defense has allowed 35 ppg in last four.

Outlook: Falcons coming off shaky home win over Bucs. Giants have some sensational talents (Barkley, Odell Beckham Jr.), but have lost their winning way. Falcons, 35-21.

Dog of the day

Bills (2-4) at Colts (1-5)

TV: CBS, 1 p.m.

The line: Colts -7 1/2.

ATS: Bills 3-3; Colts 2-4.

Over/under: 43 1/2.

Times over/under: Bills 2/4; Colts 3/2.

The scoop: Bills have been an underdog all six games. Colts are only team on Buffalo schedule that currently has a losing record. Nine NFL teams have losing records. The eight the Bills do not play this season are a combined 12-34-1.

Outlook: How did Colts give up 37 points at home to Texans? That's indictment of defense that is allowing 30 ppg. However, Bills not equipped to take advantage. Buffalo needs to pitch shutout against Luck. It won't. Colts, 28-13.

Last week: Including the Eagles-Giants game Thursday night, betting favorites covered the spread seven times and underdogs covered seven times. The Vikings-Cardinals game was a push with Minnesota winning by 10. Ten games went over the number, five were under.

Last week's results: 10-4 straight up, 5-8-2 versus spread.

Season's record: 44-31-2 straight up; 40-43-4 versus spread.

There are no comments - be the first to comment