Scoring had been up last week going into Monday Night Football, with the first fifteen games of Week 4 averaging 50.3 combined points. After three weeks of the regular season, games were averaging only 42.1 combined points per game, the lowest mark since 2010. We expected scoring to rise with offensive players getting more in synch after not taking many snaps in the preseason. The Week 4 numbers included high-scoring games that had 93 combined points between Seattle and Detroit and 72 combined points between Kansas City and Tampa Bay last night. Yet seven of the fifteen games still finished under the number so far in Week 4 before the Los Angeles Rams played at the San Francisco 49ers Monday night. Five of the games did not see more than 42 combined points scored. For the season, the under has a 37-25-1 record. For prime-time games, the under has cashed in nine of the twelve games.
Of course, the Sunday Night Football scoring fest between the Chiefs and Buccaneers demonstrated that it would be foolish to simply take the under became the game happens to be played at night in front of a nationally-televised audience. On the other hand, perhaps that game follows a different script if Rachaad White does not fumble the opening kick-off to give the ball to Patrick Mahomes deep in Tampa Bay territory. When Kansas City had a 7-0 lead in the first minute of the game, the Buccaneers played the entire game from behind and abandoned their rushing attack. So, each game needs to be treated differently.
We passed on the over/under bet for Sunday Night Football, preferring the side plays with the Chiefs. We did endorse the under for Monday Night Football with that NFC West showdown involving two teams that like to run the football and who have played seven of their previous nine games played in San Francisco under the number. We were rewarded with a comfortable under with the 49ers' 24-9 victory. Jimmy Garoppolo was efficient if not explosive by completing 16 of 27 passes for 239 yards while leading San Francisco to 327 total yards of offense. Yet they only scored 17 offensive points with their final touchdown being from a 52-yard interception return for a touchdown.
The struggles on offense for the reigning Super Bowl champions continued as they gained only 257 yards behind a banged-up offensive line. Matthew Stafford completed 32 of 48 passes for 254 yards, yet lost 54 yards from getting sacked seven times. Stafford has been sacked fourteen times in the last two games. He has gone 87 straight pass attempts without a touchdown pass. In his last eight games including the playoffs last year, he has thrown sixteen interceptions. Lingering elbow and shoulder injuries may be impacting his performance.
Week 5 begins Thursday night with the under having a 38-25-1 record. For prime-time games, the under has cashed in ten of the thirteen games. Yet that was not enough for us to endorse the Indianapolis/Denver under for the opening Thursday night contest for the week. The oddsmakers installed the over/under in the 43-point range and the market bet that number down all week with both teams missing their starting running backs, Jonathan Taylor for the Colts and Javonte Williams for the Broncos. While we were willing to be the under with the low number on Monday, injuries on a pair of defensive units not as good as the Rams and 49ers played a large role in passing (and instead taking the side play). As we continue to preach, these long-term under trends are interesting to observe but not nearly enough to expect to continue on their own.
Good luck - TDG.