Josh Allen: Over 36.5 Pass Attempts
Result: Loss (29 Pass Attempts)
Well, we’ve now seen two games where the Buffalo Bills defense posted shutouts through four games played in the 2021 season. These came against the Miami Dolphins and the Houston Texans. While the Bills do continue to pass at a high rate, they have shown that they are willing to use their running backs at an elevated rate in complete blowouts. We will file this away and use it in better Allen blow-up spots.
Jameis Winston: Under 202.5 Passing Yards
Result: Loss (226 Passing Yards)
Jameis Winston compiled 226 passing yards over 23 attempts, completing 17 passes in a game where 10 New Orleans Saints caught passes. Unfortunately, one of the two total passing attempts to gain 20+ yards in this game went for 58 on a long pass play to Marquez Callaway. The 23 attempts were expected as Payton continued to limit Winston’s ability to lose the game, instead feeding Alvin Kamara 20+ carries weekly, but Winston did just enough here to get over the mark.
Jonathan Taylor: Over 15.5 Rush Attempts
Result: Win (16 Rush Attempts)
While Taylor did help us avoid the 0-4 by a single carry, he still has not received the workload many had expected leading into the 2021 season. This week, Marlon Mack accounted for 10 of the backfield’s 28 total carries (36%) in what could have been an attempt to showcase the veteran back and allow him the opportunity to increase his trade interest. Interestingly, Nyheim Hines played firmly behind Mack this week, seeing two rushes and three targets, catching two for five yards. Taylor received three targets, catching all of them for 11 yards and a touchdown. If Marlon Mack were to be traded, or the Indianapolis Colts decided to cut Mack, Taylor may have an opportunity to see increased usage going forward.
Antonio Gibson: Over 14.5 Rush Attempts
Result: Loss (14 Rush Attempts)
Antonio Gibson finished his Week 4 matchup with 14 of the 23 running back carries as J.D. McKissic siphoned seven carries, with Jaret Patterson earning two rushes of his own. This was a back and forth, one score game that presented a decent game script for Gibson, but it has become apparent the thoughts of CMC lite pushed by the coaching staff during the preseason are not on the horizon. With concerns of a shin stress fracture holding Gibson back, his workload may continue to be monitored throughout the season.
Week 1: +10.0U
Week 2: -1.2U
Week 3: 0.0U (No bets placed, family weekend)
Week 4: +4.65
Book: Bet MGM (-118)
Date Available: October 8th
“Dallas leads the league in situation-neutral rush rates since Michael Gallup was placed on IR following Week 1.”
“We should expect that standard plan of attack to continue against a Giants opponent ranked 29th in adjusted line yards on defense.”
“Dallas should control this game with their surging defense and relentless ground attack.”
“Their 57% situation-neutral rush rate over the last three weeks ranks first in the NFL over that time and their pace of play is a no-longer-elite 29.18 seconds per play (seventh in the NFL).”
“After attempting 58 passes in Week 1, Dak has attempted only 27, 26, and 22 over the previous three weeks (aligning with both positive game scripts and Gallup’s absence), meaning the Giants would have to force Dallas’ hand in order for us to expect that volume to increase.”
“With the shift in offensive philosophy to a team built around the run, against an opponent that should offer little resistance in that area, expect the Cowboys to handle this game with their surging defense and relentless run game.”
“The Cowboys (as laid out above) have been a run-focused offense of late, and as touchdown favorites at home, it’s not particularly likely that they do anything differently here.”
It looks like Vegas agrees with Hilow and JM in regards to the field not yet understanding the changes within the Dallas Cowboys offensive philosophies since Michael Gallup went down in Week 1. Over the last three weeks, Dak Prescott has attempted 27, 26, and 22 passes with an increased emphasis on the running game through Ezekiel Elliot and Tony Pollard. Dallas is first in situation-neutral rush rate over the last three weeks (57%). In their Week 5 matchup against the New York Giants, we can expect much of the same after looking at the elite 5.11 net-adjusted line yards metric in favor of the Cowboys. With Both Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard working to the side with trainers during Friday morning’s practice, I feel confident in projecting both players out for Week 5, increasing the likelihood the touchdown favored Cowboys continue with the new status quo and limit Prescott’s passing numbers.
Book: Bet MGM (-115)
Date Available: October 8th
“Regardless of who starts at quarterback for the Niners, we should expect this team to lean on the run for as long as possible. Their 54% situation-neutral rush rate in games Raheem Mostert or Elijah Mitchell played ranked third in the league.”
“The team expects running back Elijah Mitchell back for Week 5 and he should immediately regain the lion’s share of running back opportunities after seeing 19 running back opportunities in each healthy week on 64% and 61% of the offensive snaps.”
“The matchup on the ground yields an above-average 4.52 net-adjusted line yards metric and the Cardinals struggle to contain running backs in the second level, exactly what this Niners zone-blocking run scheme is designed to spring open for running backs.”
“Elijah Mitchell is highly intriguing in a setup where we should expect a floor of 18-20 running back opportunities with room for more should the game environment break in San Francisco’s favor.”
Keep an eye on Friday’s injury report and the status of Elijah Mitchell going into Sunday. Regardless of who is under center (looking more and more like the starting debut of Trey Lance) the San Francisco 49ers are likely to strongly favor the run in order to protect either Jimmy Garoppolo or their shiny new toy. As outlined by Hilow, Lance did not look ready to drop back and throw at the NFL level, leading to the coaching staff being likely to lean on their strengths even more so if Garoppolo’s calf sends him to the bench. With the Arizona Cardinals playing fast while historically giving their opponents opportunities to increase their number of plays, we see a strong path for Hilow’s 18-20 touch floor projection for Mitchell. The 49ers are averaging the eighth highest combined snaps per game (128) so far in 2021, while SF/ARI games combined for 135+ total plays in both of their 2020 contests. Mitchell’s assumed workload combined with the Cardinals defense allowing the league’s highest yards per carry (5.21) provides a likely path to Mitchell producing a strong rushing game as long as the 49ers are able to keep the game relatively close.
Book: Bet MGM (-125)
Date Available: October 6th
“Facing a pathetic Texans defense that is void of talent at all levels and has failed to hold an opponent under 21 points this season, expect the Patriots to lean on their run game after skewing pass heavy last week.”
“With no clear “path of least resistance” against a Texans defense that is nothing but “least resistance,” expect the Patriots to lean on their O-line and ground attack while allowing the Texans offense to struggle.”
“Harris has a chance to get 20 plus carries with a phenomenal matchup in a game that is expected to have excellent game flow for his team.”
“I think Belichick wants to win this game bad enough that he’ll lean on his best RB, and that is Harris.”
“Anything shy of 17 touches would be relatively surprising for Harris, and he has a 25-touch game already on his ledger this year.”
The only real risk in this one is that Damien Harris has fumbled away his chance to be the lead back, but it isn’t like the rest of the backfield has done anything to write home about. As laid out in The Edge, the 91 pass attempts from Mac Jones in the last two weeks can be chalked up to game flow and smart coaching, attacking the weak spot of a given defense. It is probably not the norm for a Patriots team that would rather run the ball and win with defense- especially against the likes of Houston Texans “starter” Davis Mills. With the Texans ranked 30th in DVOA and 28th in yards allowed per carry, this matchup and game flow favor the ground and pound style of Harris in a contest the Patriots are favored by more than a full touchdown. With the Houston Texans allowing the fifth most plays per game against, Harris should have the usage and production to enjoy his strongest game of the season.