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NFL totals report: 3 picks for Week 12

Warren Sharp returns and offers up his insight on three Week 12 showdowns. Joe Fortenbaugh

November 27, 2011
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After a one-week hiatus, the National Football Post totals report is back

Since debuting this article midway through the season, our good friend Warren Sharp from the website Sharp Football Analysis.com has posted a 9-6 record with his over/under selections and he’s been kind enough to offer up his insight in regards to three more games on the Week 12 schedule.

For more of Warren’s great analysis, be sure to check him out on Twitter.

NEW YORK GIANTS (6-4, 3-2 road) at NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (7-3, 4-0 home)

Time: 8:30pm ET (Monday night)
Opening line: O/U 52
Current line: O/U 51
Betting trends: 52% of the public is betting the UNDER.

New Orleans: The UNDER is 5-5 in ten games played this season.
New York Giants: The OVER is 5-4-1 in ten games played this season.

Over/Under Trends

1. The UNDER is 3-1-1 in the Giants’ last five games following an ATS loss.
2. The OVER is 5-1 in the Giants’ last six games against a team with a winning record.
3. The UNDER is 6-1 in the Saints’ last seven games against a team with a winning record.
4. The UNDER is 5-2 in the Saints’ last seven games in the month of November.

Warren Sharp says: “On the road in the red zone, the Saints defense allows 73%, which is dead last in the league.  But at home, New Orleans allows only 44%, which is 10th best in the league and the delta between road and home is the third largest in the NFL.  Thus, it is a huge benefit for the Saints defense to play at home in the Superdome.  The Giants defense is almost in the top 10, especially if you consider that they are trending up, allowing just 42% conversions in their last three games (11th in the league).

Eli ManningCan Eli Manning and the Giants post some big offensive numbers without running back Ahmad Bradshaw?

The Saints have seen two straight UNDERS and are now playing off of a bye week. Bye week teams this season have seen UNDERS go 12-3 if the total is set above 44.  Also, an interesting phenomenon takes place for the Saints at home.  Since 2009, for home games totaled above 45 over the first eight weeks of the season, the Saints average home total is 49 and OVERS hit six of ten times, going over by four points per game. 

However, in the second half of the season, the Saints average home total is 50.5 and the UNDER is 7-0 since 2009, going UNDER by an average of seven points per game.  The Saints have scored over 27 points just one time in their last five games and that was against the winless Colts.

Prior to the Giants’ bye in Week 7, New York was allowing opponents to score 25 points per game and their OVERS were 4-1-1 on an average 45 point total (and these were some bad offenses, including the Rams, Redskins, Cardinals and Seahawks). 

But since their bye, the offense has slowed down with the injury to running back Ahmad Bradshaw and their defense has gotten healthier. UNDERS are now 3-1 on an average 45.5 total against some much better offenses (Patriots, Eagles and 49ers).  Not only that, but the Giants really buckle down on defense when put in the role of a road underdog.  As a road dog since 2010, their UNDERS are 4-0 if the total is set above 45.”

PITTSBURGH STEELERS (7-3, 3-2 road) at KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (4-6, 2-3 home)

Time: 8:20pm ET (Sunday night)
Opening line: O/U 39.5
Current line: O/U 40
Betting trends: 62% of the public is betting the OVER.

Pittsburgh: The OVER is 6-4 in ten games played this season.
Kansas City: The UNDER is 7-3 in ten games played this season.

Over/Under Trends

1. The OVER is 6-1 in the Steelers’ last seven road games.
2. The OVER is 6-2 in the Steelers’ last eight games played in November.
3. The OVER is 5-1-1 in the Chiefs’ last seven home games against a team with a winning record.
4. The UNDER is 5-0 in the Chiefs’ last five games overall.

Warren Sharp says: “It looks like we’re getting value with this game for a few reasons:??

The first is that the Chiefs only posted three points last Monday Night at New England and the game went UNDER.  Teams off of a Monday night football game in which they scored ten or fewer points and lost by at least ten points have seen their next game go OVER 9-1 if they face a non-divisional opponent with at total set at or below 41.

Second is the fact that quarterback Tyler Palko was able to get his first start under his belt and did a lot of things well despite some costly interceptions.  The Chiefs were in desperation mode, running an up-tempo offense and trying to pull out all the stops to get the victory.  I expect them to play just as desperately this week on national television in front of a home crowd and I expect Palko to be serviceable.

Third is that the Chiefs have seen seven of their last eight games go UNDER, but a closer look at those games tells the story of why they are going UNDER.  In four of the last five UNDERS Kansas City faced: 

1. A reined in Patriots offense—who had seen four of five go UNDER.
2. The first game with the fully installed "Tebow" offense.
3. The Dolphins (who are the biggest UNDER team in the league at 9-1).
4. The Raiders the week after quarterback Jason Campbell was injured and Kyle Boller started. 

Ben RoethlisbergerBig Ben and the Steelers head to Kansas City for a Sunday night showdown with the Chiefs.

After the Steelers lost a low-scoring game in Houston, offensive coordinator Bruce Arians figured out that his team needed to accentuate quicker throws, smarter runs, and occasional shots, instead of 7-step drops while trying to go deep half the time.  By maintaining more balance, the offense—which was averaging only 16 points per game over their first four outings—has averaged 26 points per game over their last six contests and the only two UNDERS in those six games came on an obscenely high total of 52.5 points vs. New England and vs. the Jaguars, who have one of the best defenses in the league.

The Steelers have seen 12 low-totaled Sunday road games, set at 40 or lower, since Week 2 of the season.  Three of those games were against the Ravens, two of which went UNDER.  The nine contests that were not against Baltimore all went OVER by a solid ten points per game. 

The Chiefs were able to hold down the Patriots for most of the game using tight press man coverage, as the Patriots have no speedy receivers on the edges who could beat this strategy.  The Steelers have the fastest starting wide receiver tandem in the league in Mike Wallace and either Emmanuel Sanders or Antonio Brown, depending on which one gets the start.  Big Ben has also been consistently hitting tight end Heath Miller as of late.  We saw the success that Rob Gronkowski had against Kansas City, catching multiple long scoring passes for touchdowns.  There is a very good chance both Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown could be receiving similar big play TDs on Sunday.”

CLEVELAND BROWNS (4-6, 1-3 road) at CINCINNATI BENGALS (6-4, 2-2 home)

Time: 1:00pm ET
Opening line: O/U 36
Current line: O/U 37.5
Betting trends: 56% of the public is betting the OVER.

Cleveland: The UNDER is 6-4 in ten games played this season.
Cincinnati: The OVER is 8-2 in ten games played this season.

Over/Under Trends

1. The OVER is 4-1 in the Browns’ last five games on fieldturf.
2. The OVER is 5-2 in the Browns’ last seven games vs. AFC North opponents.
3. The OVER is 7-1 in the Bengals’ last eight games vs. AFC opponents.
4. The OVER is 4-1 in the Bengals’ last five home games.

Warren Sharp says: “This game opened at 36 and moved north through 37.  The reason it opened at 36 is primarily because the Browns are considered an UNDER team this season and have one of the worst offenses in the NFL.  Cleveland has played nine of their ten games on totals set below 44. 

In these aforementioned contests, the Browns average only 14 points per game, but the real reason why these games are going UNDER is not entirely the Browns’ fault, it's because of the team they are playing.

Andy DaltonAndy Dalton and the Bengals have been rolling up the points as of late.

If Cleveland’s opponent is able to score at least 17 points in the game, the OVER has actually gone 4-1.  But the problem has been that four of their opponents were only able to put up 16 or fewer points.  This isn’t because the Browns are a defensive stalwart—they are good on defense but not great—but because the teams they are playing did not have good offenses:  the Jaguars, Rams, Seahawks and the Dolphins.

The Bengals are not one of these “bad” offenses.  Cincinnati has had just one game go UNDER by over one point this year and has scored at least 17 points in every game this season but one.  This offense has improved light years since these two teams met back in Week 1, a game which the Bengals won 27-17, sailing well over the posted total of 35.5. 

Rookie quarterback Andy Dalton has impressed and really picked up the Jay Gruden offense.  Cincinnati’s red zone offense currently ranks 13th best in the league, but they are converting a remarkable 66% in their last three games against three very good defenses (Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Tennessee), the fifth-best percentage in the NFL.

Cleveland will also be without free safety TJ Ward, who led the NFL in tackles by a defensive back last year.  Lastly, the Browns are coming off a low-scoring affair with the Jaguars.  The Jags are a nasty team, with a good defense and a bad offense, that produces a ton of UNDERS.  But, that usually lowers the line the following week, providing optimal value.

This season, teams who just faced the Jaguars have seen OVERS go 8-0 in their next game by an average of nine points per contest.”

Follow Warren on Twitter: @SharpFootball

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh

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