by Walter Football
We are partnering with Walter Football this season who puts out insightful football analysis and wanted to show how these insights can be applied to winning theSCOREX:NFL FREE contest for $5k or your own league that you set up with your friends or coworkers.
Here are Walt’s Buys and Sells (from Walter’s Overrated/Underrated)
Note: the dollar change is from Week 4 to Week 5.
Dallas Cowboys ($15.06 -$1.34)
Last week, the FOX play-by-play guy had this to say during the game:
“This is starting to look like 2016!”
Really? Because of a two-point victory over a pedestrian Detroit team?
This week, the NBC announcers were citing how much Dallas had improved its offensive line, which was a foolish thing to say. The Cowboys have battled some very weak competition this year, as four of their five games have been against the Giants, Seahawks, Lions and Texans. Those four teams have a combined record of 7-13.
No. Sorry. The Cowboys aren’t bad, but they’re certainly not good, especially without Sean Lee. Despite the Leighton Vander Esch addition, Dallas had plenty of breakdowns in the back seven, which is discouraging.
Aaron Rodgers is definitely not nearly himself. He missed so many throws against the Bills that he normally would make in his sleep. The Packers crushed Buffalo because Josh Allen imploded, but the way Rodgers is playing right now, they will have trouble topping the Bears in the division.
I wrote this last week, and the Packers couldn’t even beat the Lions. Mason Crosby will be blamed for four missed field goals and a whiffed extra point, but while he was horrible, Rodgers was guilty of two lost fumbles that gave the Lions 10 free points. Rodgers still isn’t quite himself.
One caveat: Rodgers, at some point, will improve his health. There’s a good chance the Packers will be a dangerous Super Bowl contender by December, though I can’t really say that with certainty because it’s unknown how severe Rodgers’ knee injury really is.
The Rams looked unstoppable against the Vikings on a recent Thursday night. But be wary of teams that appear that way on national TV. They can often disappoint afterward because they’re way overvalued. Remember the Eagles from numerous years ago with their controversial quarterback when they couldn’t be stopped against the Redskins? That’s what the Rams’ win over Minnesota felt like.
The Rams have beaten five teams that are a combined 9-15-1. Because looking at numbers is lazy, let’s analyze the wins:
- Rams beat the Raiders after trailing at halftime. Oakland’s only win thus far came via horrible officiating versus a rookie quarterback making his first start.
- Rams shut out the Cardinals, who were nearly blanked at home the week before versus the Redskins.
- Rams beat the Chargers by 12. The same Chargers who nearly lost to C.J. Beathard.
- Rams defeated the Vikings by seven. Minnesota tied the Packers and a hobbled Aaron Rodgers and then was blown out by Buffalo. Plus, some poor officiating buried the Vikings.
- Rams snuck out a win against a pedestrian Seattle team, as Los Angeles couldn’t stop the run.
I understand that the Rams seem unstoppable, but that’s precisely what makes them overrated.
I’ve been down on the Vikings the whole summer, betting a prop on them to not make the playoffs this year at +240. They looked bad heading into the Philadelphia game, but while they won, it wasn’t a very convincing victory. The Eagles made so many countless errors, yet despite this, Philadelphia was still in position to win in the fourth quarter – until, at least, Alshon Jeffery dropped a pass that would’ve converted a third-and-20.
The Vikings struggle in many areas. They have trouble covering downfield against receivers that Xavier Rhodes isn’t blanketing. They can’t cover the middle of the field because their linebackers struggle against the pass. They can’t block because their offensive line sucks. The cherry on top is Everson Griffen’s condition, which is hurting the pass rush.
San Angeles Chargers ($19.35 +$0.26)
The Chargers stink. I don’t know why the public suddenly thinks they are good because they beat the Raiders by 16 points. That 26-10 score wasn’t even indicative how that game was going, as the margin was just 10-3 before a Martavis Bryant fumble turned into a Chargers touchdown. Later, Derek Carr threw an interception on first-and-goal at the 1-yard line. If you negate the Chargers’ touchdown off the Bryant fumble and give Carr the score on first-and-goal at the 1-yard line, that’s a 19-17 result.
San Angeles is 3-2, but its three victories have been against the Bills, the Jimmy Garoppolo-less 49ers and the Raiders. Those three teams have a combined record of 4-11. The Chargers can’t play defense well without Joey Bosa, and I’m not convinced their offensive line is very good.
Chicago Bears ($19.76 -$0.12)
The Bears are the NFL’s true dark-horse team. They went 5-11 last year, but were very competitive in many of their losses. They would’ve beaten the Falcons in Week 1 had Jordan Howard not dropped a touchdown at the very end of the game. They nearly vanquished the Vikings on Monday Night Football. They were the closest team to defeating Jimmy Garoppolo, losing by just a point thanks to a last-second Robbie Gould field goal. Meanwhile, they beat the Steelers and Panthers at home, and they won in Baltimore.
All of this occurred with a rookie quarterback, a lame-duck coach and a horrific receiving corps. Now, Mitchell Trubisky has experience and some talented wideouts to throw to. Also, Chicago’s offensive line is excellent, while its defense could be dominant this year if Roquan Smith is as good as advertised. Chicago’s stop unit was very good last year when star linebacker Danny Trevathan wasn’t hurt, and Smith and Khalil Mack can only help matters.
The Bears lost to the Packers amid an amazing Aaron Rodgers comeback, but don’t forget that they had a double-digit lead prior to Rodgers suffering an injury. The fact that they came up short will mean that the public will continue to underestimate how good they are. Two weeks ago, they nearly lost to Arizona, but Sunday of Week 3 was a day of shocking results. The Bears were flat following their big Monday night victory, but the fact that they overcame the lethargy and still won is impressive to me. It was no surprised that the Bears thrashed the Buccaneers. Despite that win, I don’t think people understand how good Chicago is yet.
Cincinnati Bengals ($19.28 +$0.19)
The Bengals were very lucky in their first two games. They may have lost to the Colts had Jack Doyle not fumbled in the red zone on Indianapolis’ final real drive, while the Ravens lost because C.J. Mosley, Baltimore’s best defensive player, was carted off the field on the opening defensive possession. Cincinnati’s luck finally ran out in Week 3, with the ball not bouncing their way and A.J. Green going down with an injury. The Bengals were locked up in a tight battle against the Panthers prior to Green going down, so his injury made a big difference. And last week, Cincinnati barely escaped a near-loss to Miami.
So, why is a team that was lucky in two games, unlucky in the third, and engaged in a near-loss underrated? Because the Bengals got their star linebacker Vontaze Burfict back from suspension this past week. Burfict wasn’t quite 100 percent, but as he gets into game shape, Cincinnati’s defense will be much better.
It’s rare that a defending Super Bowl champion is underrated, but that happens to be the case this week, just as it was leading up to Week 1. The Eagles lost at Tennessee and then dropped a game at home versus the Vikings.
It’s alarming how many mistakes the Eagles made versus Minnesota. The errors began early when the Eagles had a confusing play-call on a third-and-inches, opting to toss the ball to fifth-string running back Josh Adams. Wendell Smallwood dropped a ball on third down in the red zone on an ensuing possession. Carson Wentz then was guilty of a lost fumble returned for a touchdown by the massive Linval Joseph. All of this occurred in the opening half, and the mistakes continued following intermission. The Eagles drove into the red zone, but Jay Ajayi lost a fumble at the 5-yard line. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Alshon Jeffery dropped a ball that would’ve converted a third-and-20, with the Eagles down just six.
I’ve been talking about how the Eagles have looked complacent for most of this season. I believe they’re just going through the motions early in the year, as elite teams are wont to do. Philadelphia will be better as the year progresses, especially with Wentz improving his health each week.
Tennessee Titans ($17.17 -$0.13)
The Titans will get some flak for losing to the Bills, but I don’t think they were very focused for that game. They were coming off a grueling overtime victory against the defending Super Bowl champions, and they simply didn’t take the Bills seriously. They had two fumbles which turned into 10 Buffalo points, and the Titans dropped a touchdown in the second half that could’ve given them the win. Tennessee was the better team, but just didn’t win the game.
Tennessee is a solid team. It plays some great defense and has decent play-makers on offense. I also like Mike Vrabel as a coach. The Titans are arguably a top-10 team, yet they happen to be home underdogs versus the Ravens this week.