By Marc Lawrence — Some very interesting research was published last week by FiveThirtyEight.com. The piece is largely about college football, and how unpredictable it has been this year, but has some analysis on the NFL betting markets as well. It turns out that at least so far, NFL favorites have only covered the spread on 45 percent of games this year, the lowest percentage since 2006. The phrase we often hear, “Any given Sunday” is used to describe how unpredictable the NFL can be. But that phrase has a cousin, with arguably larger implications: “Any given year.” The Athletic has built a tool to help find estimated win probability and expected spread (EPR Point Spread) for home teams in the upcoming games. As we’ve seen this year, with EPR is just above the break-even point this season despite performing better in previous years. Not a surprise in this wacky COVID season. To see the Home EPR Probabilities on today’s NFL card click here.
Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer is fuming over the lack of effort by his defense. “If you go back, and honest, I’m not trying to make excuses, it was embarrassing today. We’re missing four defensive linemen, we’re missing a safety, we’re missing three corners, we’re missing six linebackers, I believe, from where we started. We’re just a little undermanned. That’s still no excuse,” said Zimmer after Saturday’s 52-33 loss at New Orleans. “Really disappointed defensively. You’ve gotta work really hard to give up 52.” It was the most points given up by the Vikings since they allowed the St. Louis Cardinals to score 56 in October 1963, two years after the franchise took the field for the first time. Look for the Vikes to load up defensive players in this year’s free agent market as well as the Draft.
2-Minute NFL Handicap
From this week’s PLAYBOOK Football Newsletter: Cleveland: 1-5 $ away off away … Cincinnati: 5-1 $ vs. AFC South … Chicago: 1-5 $ after division away game … Carolina: 0-6 $ before Saints … NYG: 8-1 $ as a road dog of 7 or more points … Atlanta: 0-7 $ away vs. AFC opp … Dallas: series host 4-0 $ vs. Eagles.