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STATS vs. Las Vegas: Finding the Most Value in Week 5

By: Andy Cooper

Houston’s only win through four games was a gifted overtime victory in Week 4. But the oddsmakers in Las Vegas still believe in the Texans heading into this week’s matchup with the Dallas Cowboys. STATS sees an opportunity based on some advanced metrics.

A home favorite in the NFL is not surprising to see when the Las Vegas sportsbooks release spreads each week. They make up the majority of the lines consistently. And STATS certainly factors in home-field advantage when calculating its weekly spreads, too.

But when Houston opened as a three-point favorite this week against visiting Dallas, a deep dive into STATS metrics showed Vegas might be giving too much credit to a Texans team that has struggled mightily on the offensive line.

STATS uses unique metrics, deep-dive analytics and proprietary roster rankings to project NFL spreads for every game, every week. STATS calculates roster quality based on injuries, statistical data and depth at each position, then compares that to an opponent and arrives at a conclusion – the projected spread.

Using those projected spreads, STATS can compare them to spreads from the majority of Las Vegas sportsbooks, find where STATS differs the most, and extract value from those games. This week, STATS’ metrics projected the Cowboys as a 0.4-point road favorite. Even more telling, if Dallas was playing this game at home, it would project out as a five-point favorite.

The 3.37 difference from STATS’ spread to Vegas’ is the largest margin of the week in STATS’ projections, therefore giving the Cowboys the most value. STATS projects the Cowboys to not only cover, but win the game outright.

A major reason is Houston’s offensive line that grades as the third-worst in the NFL by STATS metrics, going up against Dallas’ pass rush that STATS ranks No. 3 in the league. The importance of the Texans keeping Deshaun Watson unscathed and upright is something STATS can’t ignore. While Houston’s receiving corps is possibly the best in the league, Watson will still need time to throw, and the Cowboys’ pass rush has been a thorn in every QBs pocket time thus far.

The rest of the matchup is largely strength on strength. Dallas has the third-best rush offense, but Houston counters with the fifth-best run defense. The Texans’ bevy of talented skill players ranks as the fifth-best pass-catching unit in the league, while the pass coverage of the Cowboys is also a top-10 unit.

But will Houston’s line be able to protect Watson enough from the Cowboys’ stout pass rush and give him the time necessary to try and beat Dallas’ pass D? STATS metrics don’t project that to be the case, and that’s why the Cowboys possess the most value in Week 5 when compared to the Las Vegas spread.