It was a winning week for my power ratings going 7-6 overall in Week 10, but it was the finish that was disappointing. Heading into the late slate of games, the record on the week was at 6-1 ATS and a big bounce back week was in the cards, only to crash down in flames. A Top Bet win on Baltimore left Minnesota for the 2-0 sweep, but unfortunately the Vikings fell short splitting Top Bets 1-1 for the week.
A betting note to pass along for this week.
The Texans Raiders game may be one of the most difficult games either team has ever taken part in. Contrary to the belief of many, the game this week is in Mexico City which is NOT a beach or in the middle of a flat desert. There is also a significant travel distance from both Houston and Oakland to Mexico City. Thinking that there may be a decent amount of Houston fans because the “close proximity to the border” is ridiculous. But, aside from a week full of people humiliating themselves on TV, Radio and Social Media with poor basic geography knowledge, the biggest factor that is getting no attention in this game is the altitude. This will be the first time any of these players have competed in conditions like these in their life. Mexico City sits 2,250 meters above sea level. To put that in perspective, Denver, long known to be the most difficult place to play in the NFL sits at just 1,600 meters above sea level, almost 30% LOWER than Mexico City. Many of the highest level soccer players, who have world class cardio struggle with the conditions in Mexico City, just imagine how 300 pound linemen will hold up…
The harsh playing conditions of Estadio Azteca give Mexican home teams a massive playing advantage in international competitions such as Copa Libertadores, Sudamericana and CONCACAF Qualifiers/Champions League. One way that opposing teams from different countries combat the difficult conditions is by flying in as soon before gametime as possible, usually late the night before or early in the morning in attempt to reduce the affect on the body. This is an approach the Raiders are taking, scheduled to land late Sunday Night, less than 24 hours before kickoff. They have also begun taking approaches in practice using oxygen restricting masks. Houston on the other hand are taking it “just like a normal road trip”. In an interview, head coach Bill O’Brien said the only difference was “the passport thing” in a strange attempt to describe international customs.
From a betting perspective, it is hard to weigh this angle into the game giving either team an advantage on the point spread. I don’t think that the Texans realize how much the altitude will affect them, nor do they realize it exists…yet. Oakland on the other hand is doing something no other NFL team has ever done arriving less than 24 hours before kickoff and could easily have their rhythm upset.
For me, the one angle these extreme conditions presents itself well for is Longest Field Goal Over 43.5 yards. Novak and Janikowski are no strangers to kicking long field goals, both holding season longs greater than 53 yards, a full 10 yards greater than this price. The long grass in Estadio Azteca leads to a slower paced game and with the altitude changing the ball flight of passes, we could see drives stalled on a frequent basis. I would not be shocked to see an attempt in this game for the all time NFL field goal record, as these conditions add significant range to both of these kickers legs. Anything 60 or less should be well in range in the thin air. If you go back 11 years ago when Arizona and San Francisco played in Mexico City, there were 6 field goals kicked, 3 of which were of distance to cash this same prop. A field goal over 43.5 yards may be one of the better prop bets available all season long.
To date, my power ratings are 70-58-5 (55%) ATS overall. Top Bets (advantages of 3.5 points or more) are 25-13-1 (66%) ATS. This week there is only one team with an advantage of more than a field goal, and it is Seattle.