Points have been difficult to come by at times this season. There are only 10 teams in the NFL hitting their over on total points more than 50% of the time and it makes sense as scoring is down 3.8 points per game over last season’s average. This may just be the way things are for the foreseeable future. According to some awesome investigative sports journalism over at Yahoo, Cover 2 Zone usage is up 2.9% over 2018 numbers, Cover 4 Zone is up 3.3%, and Cover 6 Zone has climbed 3.7%. It’s a shift in the way teams are defending against explosive plays and likely isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
So what do we do? We continue targeting games that feature explosive offensives and bad defenses. In the two matchups I’m highlighting today, we get two of the top four teams in beating their over on the year so let’s roll with that as a positive after all of this bad news about defensive coverages…
MIA @ DET o/u 50.5
We’ll begin with the Miami Dolphins traveling to Detroit to take on the Lions. This game features the Lions’ 31st ranked defense in terms of DVOA and the Dolphins 20th ranked defense using the same metric. On the offensive side of the ball, the Lions have lost some firepower from the first few weeks of the season but still rank 15th in total DVOA while the Dolphins rank 6th.
Detroit’s last two games were not great. A 29-0 shutout in New England and a 24-6 blowout loss to Dallas. The Patriots and Cowboys rank 9th and 2nd, respectively, in defensive DVOA. Miami is a tier or two below those teams and we can’t soon forget the Lions’ averaged 35 points per game through the first four weeks of the season. Additionally, Amon-Ra St. Brown dodged significant injury and should be ready for Sunday.
We know what the Dolphins are capable of with Tua throwing to Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill. Couple that with a good spot for Detroit’s offense to bounce back and I’m in on this game getting to that 50 point total.
Plays: Tua Tagovailoa > Dak Prescott, Tyreek Hill > Ja’Marr Chase, Jared Goff > Trevor Lawrence, Amon-Ra St. Brown > Michael Pittman Jr.
ARI @ MIN o/u 49
The second matchup features the Arizona Cardinals and Minnesota Vikings. These defenses leave a lot to be desired, which is great if you’re chasing points! The Vikings rank 24th in defensive DVOA while the Cardinals are 21st on the year. Arizona has had some struggles on offense the last two weeks scoring just 17 and 9 points against the Eagles and Seahawks. That changed last week though, as the Cardinals got DeAndre Hopkins back en route to a 42-point explosion. Kliff Kingsbury wasn’t conservative with how he employed Hopkins in his first action of 2022 as he ran 92% of the routes, was targeted on 48% of his routes run, and received a massive 50% target share. You love to see it and Hopkins gets a slightly above average matchup with Minnesota defenders this week, per PFF.
The Vikings are coming off bye and find themselves atop the NFC North at 5-1. They’ve found success passing and running the ball this year ranking 14th in offensive DVOA. That’s slightly above average but they have this guy, Justin Jefferson, perhaps you’ve heard of him? Jefferson comes into this matchup with the Cardinals with the fourth best WR/CB matchup grade and Adam Thielen has the 15th best matchup on the week.
With both teams having edges on offense, I feel good about this game getting close to that 49 point mark this week and I’m in on a handful of head-to-head matchups as well.
Plays: DeAndre Hopkins > AJ Brown, Justin Jefferson > Ja’Marr Chase, Kyler Murray > Jalen Hurts, Zach Ertz > Dallas Goedert
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