GAMBLING RECAP

Week 14: Eagles fans, Wentz in pain

Carson Wentz will no longer be on the field for the Eagles. Philadelphiaeagles.com

Wince verb- To flinch as if in pain or distress. To make a face indicating disgust or dislike.

First and goal, just inside four minutes left in the third quarter, the Eagles illusion of a Super Bowl title quickly descended.  On a play that will never show up on the box score due to a penalty, it inevitably showed up in Vegas. Immediately after the confirmation of the season-ending injury, Philadelphia plummeted from a 4-1 Super Bowl favorite to  10-1 at most places. But just how significant is the drop off from Carson Wentz to the new play-caller Nick Foles?

In 2013, Foles was spectacular. By now, we all have heard about the 27-2 touchdown to interception season. The question is how did he achieve such phenomenal numbers? Was it a product of the overly fast-paced offensive schemes of Chip Kelly that the NFL had yet to adjust to? Foles would go on to finish the season with an astounding 119.2 passer rating while averaging a career-high 9.1 yards per pass attempt. So how did others fair in Chip Kelley's high octane offense? Let's just use Mark Sanchez for example. Following his record-breaking 2013 campaign, Foles went down to an injury and was replaced by Sanchez. The backup quarterback would go on to throw 14 touchdowns in 8 starts while averaging a career-high 7.1 yards per attempt. That pace would have given him 28 touchdowns on the year, also a career high. So, were the numbers from the QB position inflated by the system in which they worked within?

The ability to improvise when the pocket breaks down and extend plays is what separates Wentz from the field. The problem that comes with Foles having to do the same is he has had numerous injuries in his career causing him to miss time.

 


Can Nick Foles stay healthy enough to lead this team to a playoff run?

Week 14 was pretty leveled out regarding wagering. Favorites and home teams both went 9-7 ATS. Again, as we have seen all season, of the seven underdogs that covered the number, five won outright.

The number that does stick out is Unders went 10-5-1 in week 14. High scoring affairs is what Vegas and bettors anticipated last week. Instead, we saw many contests start slow making it impossible to catch up to the number; take the Raiders vs. Chiefs, for example: they only put up 3 points combined in the first quarter but ended with 41.

Biggest Underdog to Cover

Dolphins +11.5 (Moneyline +450)

The Patriots have been on the road four of the last five weeks with a trip to Mexico in their itinerary. With one eye on this week's showdown with the Steelers, the Patriots struggled to find energy all night. Throw in the fact that Brady owns a 7-9 record at Miami while throwing 15 interceptions.

Biggest Favorite to cover

Chargers-6

A wire to wire winner, the Bolts defense dominated once again. In the last three contests, they have allowed opponents to score a scarce 9.7 points per game. After starting the season 0-4 straight up and 1-3 ATS, the Chargers have reeled off four wins in a row while going 7-2 ATS since the pitiful start. With the defense playing lights out, the under is 7-1 in their last eight contests.

Most Bet Teams

1) Packers 76%

2) Seahawks 74%

3) Cowboys 73%

4) Steelers 74%

5) Bills 70%

Play action or Pass went 3-4-1 bringing us to 33-27-1 in 2017

Eagles +2.5 WIN

Giants +4.5 LOSS

Cardinals +4 WIN

Jaguars-2.5 WIN

Chiefs vs. Raiders over 48 LOSS

Teasers 7 point

Eagles+9.5/ Oak-KC over 41 PUSH

Teaser 10 point

Patriots-1/Eagles+12.5/Steelers+5 LOSS

Patriots-1/Eagles+12.5/Oak-KC over 38 LOSS

Super Bowl  Current Odds

New England Patriots    9-4

Pittsburgh Steelers         3-1

Minnesota Vikings         8-1

Philadelphia Eagles       10-1

Atlanta Falcons              12-1

New Orleans Saints       12-1

Jacksonville Jaguars     12-1

Los Angeles Rams         14-1

ESPN Power Rankings

Steelers

Patriots

Eagles

Rams

Vikings

Saints

For any questions or comments reach me at @JerryBoKnowz on twitter.

 

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Here's what the data tells us about Bregman. Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Alex Bregman had a rough season in 2020 by his standards. He slashed .242/.350/.451 in 42 regular season games. His regular season included a trip to the 10-day IL for a hamstring strain he suffered in mid-August. His surface-level struggles continued in the postseason, where he slashed .220/.316/.300 in 13 games. However, that postseason sample size does include a tough luck game against the Tampa Bay Rays where he went 0-for-5 with five hard hit balls.

All-in-all, 2020 felt like a lost season for Bregman. He never really got going. He got off to a slow start, but he's always been a slow starter. Once he started to pick it up, he strained his hamstring, and he played poorly after returning from the hamstring strain. Then, he started to turn his batted ball quality around in the playoffs, but he hit into a lot of tough luck outs.

Hard Hit % - 33.6%

Barrel % - 3.9%

K% - 14.4%

BB% - 13.3%

Chase % - 18.1%

Bregman comes from the Michael Brantley school of hitters. He has elite plate discipline and elite bat-to-ball skills. This makes Bregman a fairly consistent hitter. That may sound odd considering his 2020 "struggles" but even an extended period of poor performance for him resulted in a .801 OPS and a 122 wRC+. If his valleys are still 22% better than the league average hitter, then that's a pretty reliable producer.

There aren't any alarming trends in Bregman's statistics. Yes, his K% was slightly up, his BB% is slightly down, but it isn't a massive difference in either category. His Chase % was up, but again, 18.1% is elite discipline. The biggest drop was in his Hard Hit%, where he fell from 38% to 33.6%. Even so, his average exit velocity only dropped .4 MPH, so there's not really a catastrophic trend here.

His .254 BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) was low, but he's never put up really high BABIP numbers. In fact, his BABIP has gotten worse every year of his career, from .317 to .311 to .289 to .281 to .254. While his BABIP will likely spike back up next year, it isn't enough to be the difference between the 2019 and 2020 versions of himself. His xBA and xSLG weren't out of whack either. His .256 xBA isn't much better than his .240 AVG, and his .400 xSLG is actually worse than his .451 SLG.

Bregman is as forthcoming with his hitting mechanics, approach, and mental cues as any big leaguer out there. Here is what he had to say about his swing this year. This was a Zoom press conference with the media following the Astros game on September 25th against the Rangers.

Bregman says he wants to hit balls in the air to the pull side and on a line to the opposite field, but in reality, he was hitting flares to the opposite field and hitting them on the ground to the pull side.

The data mostly backs up that claim. In 2019, on balls hit to the pull side, Bregman had an average exit velocity of 90.7 MPH at an average launch angle of 16°, a 40% Hard Hit %, and a 16% HR%. Since Bregman has elite bat-to-ball skills, most of those metrics didn't change. In 2020, his average exit velocity was 90.6, essentially the same as 2019. His Hard Hit % was 42%, a touch better than in 2019. However, his average launch angle dipped from 16° to 11°, which contributed to his HR% dropping all the way to 9%. Bregman hit 47% of his pull side swings on the ground. In 2019, that number was 40%. He absolutely had less production to the pull side in 2020.

The data gets a little hazier going the opposite way when comparing 2019 to 2020, as Bregman actually performed slightly better to the opposite field in 2020 than 2019, but he also only had 20 batted balls to the opposite field all season. Considering the small sample size, it isn't worth diving too deep into the data.

He's right that most of the balls he hit that way were flares. He had an average exit velocity of 83.4 MPH with an average launch angle of 32°, but that's about the same as what he did in 2019. A lot of the statistical drop off comes from balls that were backspun rockets to the pull side in 2019 becoming top spinners or roll overs in 2020.

Bregman also performed horribly against breaking balls in 2020. He batted .150 with a .250 SLG against them in 2020. He had an 84 MPH Average Exit Velocity against them and whiffed 26.5% of the time against them.

It was a far cry from 2019, when he hit .265 with a .588 SLG, 87 MPH average exit velo, and whiffed 18% of the time.

Those numbers lend credence to his statement on his mechanics. It's tough for a hitter to have adjustability against breaking balls if he's blowing out his front side and pulling off of the baseball.

Bregman will spend the offseason working on these mechanical fixes and getting back to the hitter he used to be. If he's consistently hitting the ball in the air to the pull side next year, and he's performing better against breaking balls, then he should be right back in the mix for AL MVP.

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