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In the second half of the season, the overall health (or lack thereof) of teams has become apparent. Thus the lines have started to reflect team-wide injuries meaning we have changed our focus to the short term and directional changes.
This is why we liked the Patriots on Thursday vs. the Falcons. The team health scores were even but New England was a riser and Atlanta was a faller. However, this “win” doesn’t count in our season-long Sunday record against the spread of 27-22-1 using health as the deciding factor.
SIC Score is our proprietary numerical injury grading system that incorporates the health of every NFL team and individual players to give sports bettors, DFS players and fantasy owners an edge each week during the season. While it purposely doesn’t take into account coaching, schemes or matchups, SIC Scores give an accurate assessment of team/player overall health heading into a game.
Here are this week’s five games against the late week spread with a couple of honorable mentions.
PHILADELPHIA -2.5 vs NEW ORLEANS
The Eagles are on the rise as a team including their defensive overall health. Solid tailback Miles Sanders should return from his ankle sprain which should improve the Eagles rushing attack. Meanwhile, the Saints are missing their top three offensive weapons (Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas and Jameis Winston) and three key offensive lineman. This leads to the lowest offensive team SIC score of the season and an overall advantage of 16.1 for the Eagles. The under of 42.5 may also be in play according to the SIC scores. The lines have already moved having started at pick’em and 43.5.
JACKSONVILLE +6.5 vs SAN FRANCISCO
The 49ers come off a big Monday Night win over the division rival Rams where they were able to dominate by running the ball. In this matchup, the standout health advantage is in favor of the Jaguars. They sport an essentially fully healthy defense which is impressive this far into the season. I am not saying that Jacksonville is poised for an upset but have the belief there is a good chance to keep it to a one score game.
CLEVELAND -12.5 vs DETROIT
The Lions didn’t lose for the first time all season last week by tying the Steelers without their starting QB. This time it is Detroit without their starter. We foreshadowed that Jared Goff’s oblique issues could have him out this week on the ProFootballDoc podcast on Monday as heard here on Outkick. We had the wrong QB starting but is there really a difference between David Blough and Tim Boyle? The Browns get back Nick Chubb and this could be a “get healthy” game for Baker Mayfield with the Lions cornerback issues. Cleveland should run away with this one based on health. The line started at 10 when we indicated Goff was likely out but now the FanDuel line has climbed to 12.5.
CAROLINA -3 vs WASHINGTON
The Panthers are almost 20 points healthier on the SIC score scale. Christian McCaffrey is fully healthy, the defense is improved with Stephon Gilmore and there is new energy for this home game with Cam Newton starting. For Washington, their best defensive player in Chase Young was lost to an ACL tear last week. They continue with offensive and defensive healthy issues. Ron Rivera certainly knows how to defend Newton but does he have the personnel to execute it? This game also featured a line move from -2 to the key 3 number.
HOUSTON+10 @ TENNESSEE
In this matchup of the best team in the AFC versus the worst team in the conference, one might expect a double-digit blowout for the home favorite. However, in this case, the Texans are actually the healthier side by a SIC score of almost 15. Houston comes off a bye against a Titans team that will have to deal with key new loses on both sides of the ball. No question this makes us nervous but by the process, the Texans should cover and this veteran team comes off a bye. Other honorable mention picks include the Chiefs -2.5, the Chargers -5.5, the Seahawks -2.5 and the Bears +5.