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Capper’s Corner – World Series of Handicapping (Week 7)

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Atlanta Falcons (49.5)  @ Baltimore Ravens (-7.0)

Atlanta has 39% of the public bets. Baltimore has 61% of the public bets.
The Spread Line opened at -6.5 and now sits at -7.0

The Ravens have an obvious advantage headed into Sunday’s contest vs the Falcons in ‘the battle of the birds’.

QB Joe Flacco and the Ravens boast a 4-2 record headed into week 7, and are looking for their 5th win.
They definitely have their work cut out for them as Atlanta’s QB Matt Ryan has thrown for the same amount of touchdowns as Flacco, and Matt Ryan has 1850 yards where Flacco has only thrown for 1596 yards. That said, the Ravens have a top 10 run-game as well as a top 12 passing game so they’re well rounded and have an extensive arsenal to move the 1st down markers.

The spot where these 2 goliaths vary is of no small consequence. Ryan has thrown for 7 interceptions while Flacco has only given up 3. This is a big deal as interceptions are a direct commentary on a team’s competency, communication, unity, fluidity and overall efficiency. After all, what good are passing yard statistics if you’re giving back possession and putting your defense back on the field early?

Before the WR Harry Douglas’ foot injury, Atlanta was good for 103 points across their first 3 weeks. But in comparison, Atlanta has only marked 61 points in their last 3 weeks and this could spell out that Douglas was a fundamental piece of the Atlanta offense. Douglas did not practice and won’t be taking the field this Sunday.

Atlanta’s troubles don’t end there. Also injured are WR Devin Hester and WR Julio Jones, who both were limited in practice on Wednesday. While both look to be playing on Sunday, neither of them is at 100%.

Hester has 15 receptions averaging 15.7 yards per play, and a total of 235 yards all season. Despite battling a hamstring injury he’s still seen some passes, but his performance is clearly hampered. Although it’s likely Hester will see some passes again this coming Sunday, the quality of his play is highly dubious. The real problem for Atlanta, however, is Julio Jones. Jones, likewise, is an absolute key piece to the Atlanta scoring machine as well. Jones boasts 3 TDs across 44 receptions and a whopping 620 yards. Jones currently sits 3rd in the league in receiving yards. He’s been limited participation in practices but will give it another try vs the Falcons. Last week, Jones only caught 4 of 12 passes which is by far his worst performance of the season. The Bears are bottom 10 in defense, confirming that it was an injury hampered offensive unit that led to the Falcons’ 27-13 defeat, and not some mastermind defensive unit on the part of the Bears.

The Falcons are not without injuries but most participated in a full practice, and those that didn’t, don’t play any integral roles.
With the Falcons marking 3rd in the league in passing, and with a slew of Wide Receivers that can’t play at 100%, it leaves their entire offensive aresenal fangless, and they should show more of the same lackluster offense as they did versus the Bears; only this time, they’re up against a winning team that is looking to make a statement on their home field. Atlanta, being bottom 10 in rushing, doesn’t have the run game to fall back on making them effectively a one-trick pony. So at the end of the day, unless Baltimore has some kind of internal debacle, the Ravens’ status quo is more than enough to dismantle the Falcons by at least 7 points.

The WSOH 7-unit play of the week and with full confidence:

Baltimore Ravens -7.5
New Orleans (48) vs. Detroit Lions (-2.5)
Saints have 61% of the bets. Lions have 39% of the bets.
The Spread Line opened at -2.5 and has touched -3 but currently remains steady at -2.5.

This game is worth a look due to how bizarre this matchup is. Sports handicappers and sports bettors cover a lot of statistics, injuries and situations, but in this game, the injury matchup is a very noteworthy example. When combined with overall season stats we see a few interesting pictures begin to develop.

In the weeks leading up to this coming Sunday, the Lions have tallied themselves into 6th from last place in scoring.
Since last week, the Detroit Lions have had their offense gutted by injury. TE Eric Ebron did not practice. RB Theo Riddick did not practice. RB Reggie Bush had limited practice and can’t be expected to put up the same numbers. But most importantly WR Calvin Johnson, the Lions’ #2 receiver, did not practice. This is a major blow because even with these guys in the lineup, the Lions were having troubles moving the markers. Without them, the Lions’ offense is toothless and it’s tough to see where they’ll have chances to score, much less win, much less by a spread. What’s unique about this injury list is that they are all on the offensive side of things and they are integral names.

The New Orleans Saints are definitely not without a substantial injury list as well; however, on the Saints’ side of things, their woes are completely of a defensive nature. Where they’re likely to cover the spread on Sunday vs this already low-scoring Detroit squad, the following week, week 8, when they face the 6th ranked offense in the league in the Green Bay Packers, they will get run over if some of their defensive line can’t return healthy. This Sunday, the Saints will likely be short, LB Ramon Humber who did not practice, LB Kyle Knox who did not practice, LB Ronald Powell who did not practice, Cornerback Keenan Lewis who did not practice, and Cornerback Patrick Robinson who did not practice.The Saints were already bottom tier in their defense leading up to week 7, so with these additional injuries, the Saints are actually highly susceptible to give up more points than normal.

Based on the Lions’ weakened offense and the Saints’ weakened defense, this would normally be a case of “movable object meets resistible force”, but where we found an edge here was not with the spread, but rather, with the total. The total here is what’s particularly interesting. The Lions have the number 1 defense in the league…and it’s healthy. The Saints’ scoring is mid-fare. The Lions’ scoring is offline to begin with, and should be even worse this coming week due to missing key elements on their offensive line.

So after sports bettors add up the factors, we realize that the total is set at a generous 48 points and begs the UNDER evaluation.

Due to the Lions’ Fort Knox defense, due to the Lions’ incapacity to score big (even on their best days), it’s difficult to see how this game caps 48 points. This game should have plenty of punts and it should be decided by small-score field-goals, not big scores touchdowns.

ATS Forecast predicts this to go under the total by 4.24 points.

ATS Stats Database shows a strong tendency for these teams to score OVER the total in this position, but this will be a large part of why Vegas has set the line so high. Given the extenuating circumstances, we feel that this line is misplaced and we absolutely aim to take advantage on this point.

The WSOH 6-unit play of the week:

Saints@Lions to go UNDER 48