Buffalo defensive back Tre’Davious White lining up opposite Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins is only one reason STATS views the Bills-Texans matchup as presenting the most value of this week’s slate based on advanced analytics.
A double-digit Las Vegas line in any NFL game is going to stand out. The wheels start turning about which way to go, presenting a case to yourself for the team on each side of the spread. It’s rarely an easy decision.
Both Buffalo (at Houston) and Arizona (at Minnesota) are 10-point underdogs in Vegas for this week’s slate of NFL games, and STATS kind of agrees with the latter. But the Bills? STATS sees some value there.
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. This week, the Bills check in as only a 5.7-point underdog against the Texans, with the 4.28-point difference from the Vegas spread being the largest gap of any game this week.
We break down why the Bills present the most value this week below, while also looking into a couple other games that caught our attention.
Buffalo at Houston
STATS: Bills +5.7
Vegas: Bills +10
No, we don’t think the Bills are good – at least not offensively. They are fourth-worst at generating quality plays on the ground and second-worst at generating quality plays through the air. Kelvin Benjamin might be the worst receiver in the league, and their only pass-catcher who has performed above league average is Jason Croom, and he’s seen just 11 targets. Josh Allen has the worst throw accuracy among current starting QBs. Their pass protection has been surprisingly solid, considering they’re always playing from behind the chains. In fact, by STATS’ expected pressures metric, the Bills are the hardest offense to pass protect. So despite being 17th in the league in pressures allowed, they move to eighth when we look at how many they allow compared to how many they’re expected to allow.
Despite all this inefficiency on offense, the Bills have won twice – against two teams that went to the playoffs in 2017. Their defense, along with their ability to protect Allen, has been their saving grace. Corners Tre White and rookie nickelback Taron Johnson have performed at a high level in the early going, and they might get All-Pro safety Micah Hyde back this week. Their pass rush is league average, led by Jerry Hughes, and these come together as STATS’ 15th-ranked defense.
On the other side of the ball, we still don’t believe in the Texans. We took the points against them last week, and our line of Houston +0.4 felt like a win when the game went to overtime, and we’ll take the points against them this week. Deshaun Watson got pummeled during their OT win against the Cowboys last week, and while the Bills’ pass rush isn’t the Cowboys’ pass rush, the Texans’ offensive line is still below average.
Houston might have the best receiving corps in the NFL, and it keeps getting stronger with the emergence of Keke Coutee. The matchups of White on DeAndre Hopkins and Johnson on Coutee will be keys to watch. Their run defense is another strength, but that’s about all they have.
Allen will have to make some plays, and we don’t project a Bills victory, but we do think this game will be a one-score affair. Take the points.
Indianapolis at New York Jets
STATS: Jets -5.5
Vegas: Jets -2.5
We actually kind of like the Jets, and have them at 17th in our power rankings. The Colts, however, are still pretty bereft of talent on both sides of the ball. Specifically, the Jets WR tandem of Enunwa and Anderson should get some good chances against the banged up Colts secondary.
Baltimore at Tennessee
STATS: Titans -0.3
Vegas: Titans +3
Two teams coming off road losses to not-great teams. Both teams protect the passer well, both teams play good pass defense, both are below-average pass-rushing defenses – but we give the Ravens a slight edge in both sides of the run game. Where we see the Titans with enough of an advantage is the skill players, largely because the Ravens group is rather ineffective. In such an even matchup, we’ll take the home ‘dogs.