Backing Brady

Examining Tom Brady's record ATS + Justin Fields first career start

CHICAGO BEARS (1-1) AT CLEVELAND BROWNS (1-1) 1PM (ET)

LINE: BROWNS -7.5, TOTAL: 44.5

TWO THINGS THAT EVERY FAN NEEDS TO KNOW

  • Offensive Mismatch

Through two weeks, both teams are 1-1, but they’ve gotten there in completely different ways. The Bears have totaled 34 points in two games while the Browns have scored 60 points - 29 and 31 points, respectively, in their split with the Chiefs and Texans. Cleveland’s offensive unit has scored 4 touchdowns in each contest, while the Chicago offense has scored a combined 3 TDs and has gained the third-fewest total yards in the NFL. However, the Bears have spent most of their time with QB Andy Dalton at the helm; but with Dalton hurt, Justin Fields will make his first career NFL start, something Bears fans have been clamoring for since he was taken 11th overall in the NFL Draft in April.

  • Coaching Makes a Difference

Reigning NFL Coach of the Year, Browns head man Kevin Stefanski has helped turn the Browns from a perennial basement-dweller into a team that’s expected to compete for championships, or at least playoff spots. And he’s had a huge impact on QB Baker Mayfield, the #1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. In the two seasons before Stefanski’s arrival, Mayfield played in 30 games (29 starts), hit on 61.5% of his passes, threw for 49 scores and committed 40 turnovers (35 interceptions, 5 lost fumbles). In the 22 games since (including playoffs), he has a 64.2% completion percentage, with 31 TD passes and has turned over the ball only 15 times (11 interceptions, 4 lost fumbles). For his career, Mayfield is averaging more than a turnover per game, something to watch in this matchup with the Bears, who are tied for 3rd in the NFL with four takeaways so far this season (behind Dallas and New England).

TRENDS THAT EVERY SPORTS BETTOR NEEDS TO KNOW

  • Heavy Browns Backing

The Browns came into the season with very high expectations and after a strong showing in a loss to Kansas City and an easy win over Houston, the public continues to be on Cleveland. The Browns have received 62% of the tickets and 83% of the handle bet on this matchup, according to Action Network. The more interesting note is on the total in this matchup; while 52% of the tickets have been placed on the under, 71% of the money has been bet on the over, and that includes sharp action (pro bettors).

ANALYTICAL ANALYSIS THAT EVERY SPORTS NERD NEEDS TO KNOW

  • College Carryover?

If college performance is any indication, Justin Fields is going to be an excellent NFL quarterback, according to Pro Football Focus. Since PFF began tracking college football data (2014), Justin Fields rated out as their most accurate passer ever (Baker Mayfield is #2). Fields’ 2020 season was special, according to the advanced stats used by the service: he earned the third-highest PFF grade in the country at QB (only Mac Jones and Zach Wilson were higher). He was also the best dual-threat QB in the nation, as the only quarterback to rank in the top 10 in both passing and rushing grade. While Fields’ accuracy was the off-the-charts, it wasn’t because he threw short passes; in fact, he had the highest accuracy rate on passes thrown 10 or more yards downfield (65%, nearly 10 percentage points higher than second). One last point on Fields’ 2020 season at Ohio State, according to Pro Football Focus: he was very good on throws when his #1 option wasn’t open. One of the biggest knocks on Fields is that he lacks elite field awareness; however, between the 2019-20 seasons, Fields was the highest-graded PFF passer on throws to players who were not the first-read on a play (90.6). For context, here is how the other 2021 first-round quarterbacks performed by the same metric: Zach Wilson (90.1), Trey Lance (87.2), Trevor Lawrence (78.6) and Mac Jones (75.7).

College success certainly does not guarantee NFL success, but Justin Fields has shown that he has the talent to succeed at the highest-level. Today, he gets to lead his team out of the tunnel as “the guy” for the first time in his career, and he’ll do it in the state of Ohio, a fitting place to start his first professional game.


TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (2-0) AT LOS ANGELES RAMS (2-0) 4:25 (ET)

LINE: BUCCANEERS -1.5, TOTAL: 55.5

TWO THINGS THAT EVERY FAN NEEDS TO KNOW

  • Tom Brady is a Points Machine

Dating back to Week 14 of last season, and including 4 playoff games, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have won 10 straight. More notably, though is that in the last nine of those, the team has scored 30+ points, which is the longest streak in NFL history. Two teams had previously won eight straight games while scoring 30+ points in each victory: the 2010-11 New England Patriots and the 2007 Patriots, who were also quarterbacked by Tom Brady. No other quarterback has ever led his team to eight straight victories while scoring 30 or more points; Brady has done it three times.

  • McVay is the Man

Under head coach Sean McVay (2017-21), the Rams have never had a losing record, owning a combined 45-21 regular-season mark, and they are now 2-0 for the 4th consecutive year. McVay is widely known for being an offensive genius, but the LA defense has been a huge key to the team’s success. Last season, the club allowed the fewest total yards and fewest points in the NFL; they were the only team in the league that held opponents to an average of less than 300 yards per game and one of only three teams to hold opponents to less than 20 points/game (Pittsburgh and Baltimore). Former defensive coordinator Brandon Staley left in the offseason to become the head coach of the team that shares a stadium with the Rams, the Chargers. Despite that, the team has picked up right where it left off, allowing only three offensive touchdowns in two games, while totaling six sacks and four takeaways. In two games, Tom Brady has been sacked three times and the team has turned the ball over five times, which is tied for the most in the NFL with the Jets and Jaguars.

TRENDS THAT EVERY SPORTS BETTOR NEEDS TO KNOW

  • Betting Against Brady is a Losing Strategy

Tom Brady is on his way to the Hall of Fame. But that’s not what this section is about: how has he performed against-the-spread? Turns out that … yeah, he’s also very good there. For his career, Brady is 196-134 ATS (59% winning pct.). When you factor in the juice, pro bettors need to win at a 52.4% rate just to break even; a bettor that approached a career 60%-win rate, especially in NFL betting, would be considered one of the greatest of all-time.

  • Backing Brady, Duh

Looking at the above data, it puts the hardcore bettors in a tough spot. The public is almost always going to back Brady, and they would be correct, as we just noted. However, a popular strategy in sports betting is to “fade the public” -- go against whatever the average Joes are doing. This week, as in most weeks, the average Joe is once again plopping his money down on Brady and the Bucs; Tampa Bay is garnering 64% of the tickets and 61% of the total money bet, according to Action Network. However, Action has tracked some sharp money on the Rams, so some brave pros are bucking the trends and betting against Brady in his first career game played in the city of Los Angeles.

ANALYTICAL ANALYSIS THAT EVERY SPORTS NERD NEEDS TO KNOW

  • Letting it Fly

Sean McVay made it clear that he wanted a new starting quarterback because Jared Goff wasn’t cutting it. One of the biggest reasons was that Goff couldn’t get the ball down-the-field; in 2020, Goff averaged 6.5 air yards per throw, fourth-lowest in the NFL. The Rams’ new quarterback, former Lion Matthew Stafford, loves to throw the ball deep; in his final season for Detroit, Stafford average 9.0 air yards per throw, tied for fifth-highest in the NFL. There were some who questioned whether those numbers had more to do with who these players are, or the offenses in which they played. Through two weeks, it seems to be the former. Stafford, as a Ram, is averaging 8.4 air yards per throw this season, not far off from his 9.0 mark from a year ago. Goff, who is now a Lion, is at 6.7 this season, close to his mark from a year ago. It seems clear that McVay wanted a guy who could chuck the ball down-the-field and now he has that guy … and he’s not afraid to use him.