Articles by Mario Puig

Mario sets the direction of RotoWire's college football and NFL draft content, with his other responsibilities primarily resting in those same subjects. He's a fan of Arvydas Sabonis and Travis Frederick.

HOU vs MIA Game Spotlight

Thursday

Houston vs. Miami

Open: 45.5 O/U, HOU -7

Live: 44.5 O/U, HOU -7.5

The 4-3 Dolphins are 1-2 on the road, where the 4-3 Texans are 2-1, yet 0-3 against the spread. The opening line on this game expected an emphatic victory for Houston, and the money to come in since has amplified that assumption.

Perhaps that money is banking on regression from Brock Osweiler, who starts his third straight in place of Ryan Tannehill (shoulder). Osweiler will always be a punchline in the NFL, but he’s been surprisingly functional in his two starts, completing 50-of-85 passes for 619 yards, five touchdowns, and two interceptions. I think we’re all expecting Osweiler to crash back down to earth, regardless of how you explain his strong 2018 numbers to this point. Both games were in Miami and with heat indexes over 90 degrees, so maybe the conditioning of the Bears and Lions defenses suffered with the climate adjustment. Or perhaps it’s just small enough of a sample to remain solid noise all the way through. You could also just chalk it up to the bet that the Houston defense is regaining its pre-2017 form. I would guess the presumed Osweiler decline is not based on the absence of Kenny Stills (groin), who saw only five targets on Osweiler’s 85 passes.

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Thursday Night Spotlight

I ran a bit longer than usual with the Thursday game in this week’s Spotlight article, so I figured I’d post it early in the blog section to keep things moving.

Arizona vs. Denver

Open: 39.5 O/U, ARZ -1.5

Live: 42.5 O/U, DEN -1.5

If the game features any flickers of extended competence, it should primarily be in the running game, for either and maybe even both teams. That’s not necessarily because either team will run well on their own account, but rather because these teams rank first (Arizona) and second (Denver) for most running back fantasy production allowed. Hooray!

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BAL vs. MIA Matchup Edge

Baltimore vs. Miami

Open: 37.5 O/U, BAL -3
Press time: 37.5 O/U, BAL -3

Woohoo. It’s Thursday, so you know what that means. It’s time to square off a career backup quarterback and one playing worse than a backup in one of the league’s lowest-scoring venues. At least we should have some turnovers.

Be it because of his back or whatever else, Joe Flacco is playing at a historically low level. With five touchdowns and eight interceptions on 224 pass attempts, Flacco owns a touchdown percentage of 2.2 and an interception percentage of 3.6. He’s averaging just 5.3 yards per pass. Going back to 1950, there are only seven instances of a quarterback throwing more than 220 passes with a YPA of 5.3 or less, a touchdown percentage of 2.2 or less, and an interception percentage of 3.6 or more. Four of those cases were in the 1960s or 1970s, when defensive pass interference basically wasn’t a thing. The other three are JaMarcus Russell (2009), Ryan Leaf (1998), and Bobby Hoying (1998). Flacco cannot be a starter in 2018 and shouldn’t be one now.

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OAK vs. KC Thursday Matchup Edge

Oakland vs. Kansas City

Open: 47.5 O/U, KC -2.5
Press time: 46.5 O/U, KC -3

We all know about Marcus Peters, but the two other Chiefs corners who play prominently, Terrance Mitchell and Phillip Gaines, are easy targets in a Kansas City scheme that refuses to move Peters based on matchup. So long as the offensive coordinator in question isn’t hopelessly inept, the best receivers who play against the Chiefs will usually run routes against their worst corners. That’s why the Chiefs are allowing 8.2 yards per target to receivers, and a league-leading nine touchdowns in five games. That’s not a great return when you have a corner as talented as Peters, but this is the choice the Chiefs have stood by to this point.

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CAR vs. PHI Matchup Edge

Carolina vs. Philadelphia

Open: 45 O/U, CAR -3
Press time: 45 O/U, CAR -3

Other than maybe Deshaun Watson, there might not be a hotter player in the league over the last two weeks than Cam Newton, who followed up an inconclusive big game against the Patriots with a convincing showing Sunday against a Detroit defense that had arguably been the league’s best in the first month.

RotoWire injury expert Jeff Stotts predicted that Newton would likely start slowly but should pick up steam as his shoulder rebuilt its strength after an offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum. Newton’s velocity noticeably lagged in his first few games, but he seemed to generate more zip last week especially. If Newton is truly himself, he’s likely one of the top quarterbacks in the league for the foreseeable future.

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TB vs. NE Matchup Edge

Tampa Bay vs. New England

Open: 53.5 O/U, NE -5
Press time: 54 O/U, NE -5

The Patriots have allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 69.7 percent of passes at 9.4 yards per attempt, with a touchdown percentage of 7.7. For the Buccaneers, the yardage and touchdowns have been contained at 7.5 YPA and a touchdown percentage of 4.7, but the completion percentage is still high at 67.7.

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Thursday Matchup Edge (GB vs. CHI)

Green Bay vs. Chicago

Open: 45.5 O/U, GB -7
Press time: 44 O/U, GB-7

Aaron Rodgers at home is usually a lock, both in regard to elite expected fantasy output, as well as a Packers victory. The latter seems a safe enough bet, but can Rodgers put up elite fantasy numbers against an underrated defense when both of his starting tackles are out? What about if the backup tackles are also out?

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