NFL upset of the week: Wentz looks to take over, with 49ers' break over
On the surface, the Jaguars' win in the last upset of the week wasn't that impressive. By nature, when given out, the +165 price was above our self-appointed threshold to qualify for a UOTW (which sounds like a Div-III basketball powerhouse). Then, by the time the game kicked off on Sunday morning, the line had dropped to Dolphins -1.5.
That's the point, though. This exercise is designed to take advantage of inefficiencies and inaccuracies in the market. People throw the word "value" around wantonly, but it actually means getting something for a better price than you should. Win or lose - on a pair of Jacksonville's wild field goals - getting value is the point, which is why this article comes out on Wednesdays. After that, it's out of our hands.
That said, it's not like the Jaguars have won within the calendar year, so calling our shot is pretty fun ... and the money still counts the same. We improve to 4-2 (+6.25 units) on the moneyline for contests that require a bet on something longer than +150 or +3.5 points.
With 32 teams in a league where we focus on each side as if it's our own, it can still be easy to get locked into a position on the lower profile franchises. That might be what's happening here with the Colts.
Indianapolis' conversation always starts with Carson Wentz and his infuriating inconsistency. The tendency for turnovers in his time with the Eagles has made us skeptical of the former second overall draft pick. This year, preseason injuries resulted in no live-action time for Wentz with his new club until the season opener.
|vs. SEA||23.8||1 FUM|
|vs. LAR||57.6||1 INT|
Wentz had a fumble in the opener and threw his only interception of the campaign against the Rams before leaving with two sprained ankles - an injury that he played through in Week 3. Since then, it's only gotten better for Wentz as he's settled into running the Colts' offense.
The 28-year-old passer hasn't been the only one battling injuries all season, but as he gets healthy, so do many of his teammates. T.Y. Hilton struggles to stay in the lineup, but he brings the speed necessary to stretch the field when he's available. This provides more room for Wentz's bigger intermediate targets and acts as a threat that keeps defenses from stacking the box against Jonathan Taylor.
Taylor is third in the NFL in yards after contact, behind both of the Browns' injured running backs. The 49ers' average run defense is secondary to the fact that they don't cause turnovers, with their 3.6% turnover rate ranking second-last in the league. Indianapolis is 4th in the NFL by comparison - causing opposing turnovers at a rate better than 18% - and health is improving within the defensive unit led by Darius Leonard, who looked his best last week.
San Francisco should get Jimmy Garoppolo back at the pivot, but until Trey Lance showed his inexperience, Garoppolo's role as a starter was very much in question. The team will continue to try to get its ground game going on Sunday night, but considering the Colts' run defense has shown itself capable of snapping the Ravens' 100-yard game streak, this will be a tough task.
The 49ers get credit for being the better team, but there's nothing in their resume to indicate that's the case. And speaking of accreditation, a lot of Kyle Shanahan's 31-38 career record gets explained away by injuries, so it's Frank Reich that I'm trusting to make positive expected-value in-game decisions.
With no discernible home-field advantage, the distinct possibility that Indianapolis might be developing into the better team, and San Francisco's inability to win the turnover battle, this game feels like the kind of coin flip that - if we're getting better than 3:2 on our money - is worth taking.
Pick: Colts +165
Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there’s a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.