No matter how you feel personally about the Green Bay Packers and/or the New England Patriots, an admission needs to be made that Aaron Rodgers vs. Tom Brady is the perfect made-for-TV matchup. The two future Hall of Famers haven’t met since 2014, when both threw a pair of touchdown passes in the Packers’ 26-21 victory.
STATS and the majority of Las Vegas sportsbooks see another close battle taking place in prime time on Sunday Night Football, but there’s a difference in projections that’s enough to put this game on our value radar.
STATS uses unique metrics, deep-dive analytics and proprietary roster rankings to project NFL spreads for every game, every week. STATS calculates roster quality based on injuries, statistical data and depth at each position, then compares that to an opponent and arrives at a conclusion – the projected spread. Using those projected spreads, STATS can compare them to spreads from the majority of Las Vegas sportsbooks, find where STATS differs the most, and extract value from those games.
Here’s a look at why we see the Packers presenting a good amount of value, along with a couple other games that caught our attention.
Green Bay at New England
STATS: Packers +3.2
Vegas: Packers +5.5
This would be hands-down the game of the week just about any other week of the year, but it’s being overshadowed by Rams-Saints. Fortunately, the games are at different times and we get to enjoy them both. After the Pats opened favored by a touchdown, this line has moved all the way down to Pats -5 on some books. If you can get this above that number, we like the Packers bet.
Yes both QBs are good, and they’ll undoubtedly be the focus of the broadcast Sunday night. Rather than add to all the QB hype, we’ll focus on the remainder of the two teams. STATS identifies five areas of the game that most impact the ability to win: Skill players creating productive plays, pass defense, pass rush, rush offense, and pass protection.
“Duh,” you might be saying.
What’s unique about STATS’ metrics is the context with which we surround our data. We look at productivity rather than total result. For instance, a 3-yard rush on 3rd and 1 is valued higher than a 5-yard rush on 3rd and 7. More yards, but the added value to the team is less, and that’s what we’re measuring.
In this matchup, the Packers are better in all five categories. That’s not to say the Patriots are bad at anything. In fact, they’re above average in everything except pass rush. The Packers just have a loaded roster, and they’re finally healthy. The Patriots, on the other hand, have a number of players who could miss the game.
Green Bay’s offensive line has balled this year. Bakhtiari and Bulaga are both top five at their respective positions by STATS’ offensive line metrics, and Linsley is a top-10 center. Together, they’re a top-five line in the NFL right now. The Pats’ strength on their line is the interior, where Thuney, Andrews, and Mason have been great all season. However, their tackles leave something to be desired, and they haven’t been helped by injuries.
Pass catchers have been comparable for the two teams. Both have four players projected for a target share over 10 percent, and each of those eight players has been better than the average receiver this year.
Defensively, our metrics really like the rebuilt Packers secondary. Rookie Jaire Alexander and second-year player Kevin King have both been superb. Their potential weakness will be the safety position, where Kentrell Brice and Jordan Whitehead have been less than good this year. The Packers’ pass rush starts from the inside, where Kenny Clark and Mike Daniels would be the best interior duo in the NFL if it weren’t for Donald and Suh out in L.A. One key matchup to watch will be Daniels and Clark against the Patriots’ interior offensive line.
Yes, we like the Patriots to win, but the difference is essentially home field advantage. In such a close matchup, we’ll take the points.
Kansas City at Cleveland
STATS: Browns +6.1
Vegas: Browns +9.5
We don’t think the Mayfield-Mahomes sequel will be quite as thrilling as the original, but we see some value with the Browns. The Chiefs might be starting backup linemen at all three interior positions, and Eric Fisher hasn’t been great at left tackle so far. Myles Garrett and Co. should have an opportunity to harass Mahomes, and while we think the Chiefs’ defense is better than most, we think the Browns can keep this to a one-score game.
Chicago at Buffalo
STATS: Bills +4.9
Vegas: Bills +10
Yep, Bills again. We felt so good about last week until that brutal two-play sequence of an overturned TD and pick-6. The Bills’ defense was as advertised, however, and held the Pats’ offense to just 18 points and one touchdown. Banking on Peterman to put up any kind of offense makes this bet tough to swallow, but we’ll bet on the Bills’ defense to keep this one close. Jerry Hughes and Tre White might be the best at their positions in the NFL right now.