35-24-2 (59 percent)
Los Angeles Chargers +3.5 @ Pittsburgh Steelers
In terms of ANY/A Value, this is not really close to being called a matchup of close NFL teams.
Offensively, the Los Angeles Chargers have an ANY/A Value of +905 yards, good for fourth-best in the NFL. The Pittsburgh Steelers, who do rank sixth in the NFL, have an ANY/A Value of +425 yards. That means that on average, the Chargers passing offense this year is about 45 yards more valuable than the Steelers on a per game basis. That’s worth well over a one-point swing on a line in itself.
Defensively, the teams are roughly the same, with the Chargers posting a +300 number and the Steelers entering Week 13 at +309. In the end, their team ANY/A Values are as such:
- Chargers +1,205 yards
- Steelers +734 yards
The difference (470 yards) is roughly the distance from the Steelers to the Indianapolis Colts, Atlanta Falcons or Baltimore Ravens. If Pittsburgh visited any of those teams, they would be less three-point underdogs. We shouldn’t expect less for the Chargers in a spot when juxtaposing equidistant opponents based on this season. Los Angeles is just the better team here, by a good margin. As long as this is over the key number of three, this is a quality play.
Cleveland Browns @ Houston Texans -4.5
With no preconceived notions, answer which one of these offenses you would rather have:
- Team A) 5.0 ANY/A
- Team B) 6.4 ANY/A
And now for defense:
- Team A) 5.6 ANY/A
- Team B) 5.2 ANY/A
If you answered Team B, you think the Houston Texans are the better squad than the Cleveland Browns! In terms of ANY/A Value, the Texans are playing north of 600 yards better on the season than Cleveland. To put that into perspective, only the top six and bottom six teams in the NFL have a wider distance from the NFL average than the Texans have from the Browns.
This isn’t really a close matchup. People will point to Baker Mayfield getting hot, but we know that you shouldn’t just trust a small sample of quarterback play from a rookie when the overwhelming picture painted by rookie starters is that they do not make a positive difference over a season.
Washington Redskins +7 @ Philadelphia Eagles
File under: Another “there isn’t that big of a difference” game.
- Washington’s offensive ANY/A Value this season: -378 yards
- Washington’s defensive ANY/A Value this season: +84 yards
- Washington’s total ANY/A Value this season: -293 yards
- Philadelphia’s offensive ANY/A Value this season: -125 yards
- Philadelphia’s defensive ANY/A Value this season: -209 yards
- Philadelphia’s total ANY/A Value this season: -334 yards
Overall, Washington has been the better team this year, even after Colt McCoy’s performance against the Dallas Cowboys. In the end, this probably should be a push, not counting whatever dropoff you assume from Alex Smith to McCoy, which should be nothing but also should not act as if Smith is Aaron Rodgers. Considering the fact that Washington has extended rest, knowing that the McCoy we saw was a backup quarterback on a short week, is there really a four-point difference between who Smith was and who we expect McCoy to be?
If you don’t think so, you’re with me on Washington.
New York Jets +9.5 @ Tennessee Titans
Why on earth are the New York Jets almost double-digit dogs to an OK Tennessee Titans team? For reference, the Jets have an ANY/A Value of -807 yards this season and the Titans have an ANY/A Value of -489 yards. That means that the difference between them is 318 yards. To put that into perspective, the Green Bay Packers and Arizona Cardinals are 1,350 yards apart in ANY/A Value, 424 percent of this game, but the Packers are 14.5-point home favorites, just 152 percent of this game.
Accounting for three points for home field advantage, Jets-Titans on the relative scale of Cardinals-Packers would have the Titans as 5.5- to 6-point favorites. That’s far from a 9.5-point line.
Minnesota Vikings +6.5 @ New England Patriots
Let’s blind item this one:
- QB A) 318 of 447 for 3289 yards, 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions
- QB B) 262 of 402 for 3031 yards, 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions
Pretty close, right?
Now pick a defense:
- Defense A) 229 of 358 for 2,432 yards, 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions
- Defense B) 266 of 439 for 2,967 yards, 22 touchdowns and 12 interceptions
Slight lean to Defense A. That’s the Minnesota Vikings.
The truth is that there’s really no difference between the production that the Patriots are getting out of Tom Brady and the production that the Vikings are getting out of Kirk Cousins. There is, however, a decent lean toward the Vikings defensively. This game should be much closer to a push in terms of power rankings than it is billed to be. The Patriots should be no higher than -3 in this situation.