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Week 7 NFL picks using the Golden Rules 2015

Laying down a few bucks in Vegas on the Week 7 lines? Or, maybe, it’s you and 49 other colleagues at the firm all staring curiously at the spreads wondering how to get a leg up in the office pool. Regardless of the reason, the Golden Rules are for you.

During the 2014 NFL season, I provided weekly insights for those betting NFL games against the spread (ATS). It’s what I like to call The Golden Rules. And I’m back for the 2015 regular season hoping to build on my 39-25 (61%) regular season record from a year ago.

There is no guarantee you can pick the winner by analyzing historical data from the past five, ten or 20 NFL seasons. But can you gain a competitive advantage? Sure you can. The Golden Rules are about asking the right questions, identifying differentiating factors and having faith that you are increasing the likelihood of success.


Sunday October 25, 2015 – New York Jets at New England Patriots (-9.5)

The New England Patriots have played the New York Jets 109 times, not counting three more occasions in the playoffs. It all began 55 years ago when the Boston Patriots claimed the franchise’s first AFL victory with a 28-24 win over the New York Titans. After five and a half decades, and a couple of name changes, the Patriots lead the franchise regular season series 56-52-1. But what is a 56-3 New England rout of their AFC East rivals at Schaefer Stadium in 1979 going to tell us about their ever important battle for first place in the division this Sunday? Not much. But could I evaluate some more recent trends to determine whether one team is more likely to beat the spread in 2015?

The table below summarizes the most recent ten regular season matchups between New England and the New York Jets. Of course, it was Rex Ryan strolling up and down the sideline and not New York’s current head coach Todd Bowles.

NFL – Regular Season Games between New England Patriots & New York Jets
Since 2010



Losing Team


Point Spread

ATS Winner

Sept. 19, 2010

Jets - 28

Patriots - 14


NE -3


Dec. 6, 2010

Patriots - 45

Jets - 3


NE -4


Oct. 9, 2011

Patriots - 30

Jets - 21


NE -7.5


Nov. 13, 2011

Patriots - 37

Jets - 16


NYJ -2.5


Oct. 21, 2012

Patriots - 29

Jets - 26


NE -10.5


Nov. 22, 2012

Patriots - 49

Jets - 19


NE -7


Sept. 12, 2013

Patriots - 13

Jets - 10


NE -11.5


Oct. 20, 2013

Jets - 30

Patriots - 27


NE -3


Oct. 16, 2014

Patriots - 27

Jets - 25


NE -9.5


Dec. 21, 2014

Patriots - 17

Jets - 16


NE -9.5


Over the previous five seasons, the Patriots have gotten the best of the Jets by taking eight of the past ten matchups. In fact, while under center for the Pats, Tom Brady is 20-5 during his career in regular season showdowns against Gang Green. New England proved dominant in a 45-3 thumping of New York in 2010 as they won an NFL record 26th straight regular season game at Foxboro. And the Patriots were stellar in a jovial 49-19 Thursday night one-sided affair in which the Jets turned the ball over five times including the infamous Mark Sanchez butt fumble.

But these are the exceptions. New York has held in their own since the butt fumble. The Jets are 1-3 over the past four regular season contests, but all four games were decided by a field goal or less. One way to observe these results is with the chart below which represents New England’s margin of victory straight-up and against the spread over their previous ten battles with the Jets.


The colored bars symbolize either a Patriots (blue) or Jets (green) straight-up victory. The larger the bar, the greater the margin of victory. The yellow dots indicate the margin of victory net of the spread. If the dot is above the “zero” line, New England beat the spread; similarly, New York covered if the dot is under. The further the dot is above or below zero means the further the ATS result was from being a push.

As you can see, the Jets are 1-5 over their last six games with New England, but they are 5-1 against the spread. Over this six-game period, the Patriots have failed to cover every time the spread has exceeded a touchdown. The two games from 2014 were even identical to this week’s line of 9.5.

Golden Rules say to take New York


Sunday October 25, 2015 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Washington (-3.5)
Sunday October 25, 2015 – Cleveland Browns at St. Louis Rams (-5.5)
Sunday October 25, 2015 – Oakland Raiders at San Diego Chargers (-4.5)

During his first 13 years as a head coach, Andy Reid was the bye week mastermind. For 13 consecutive seasons, the former Eagles head coach never lost a game coming out of a bye week. He has lost two of his last three since, but still, that’s an unprecedented run. A close second to Reid is the current streak that Green Bay’s Mike McCarthy is working on. The former Super Bowl winning head coach has posted an 8-1 record following a bye week and is a perfect 9-0 against the spread.

There were four teams taking advantage of a bye during Week 6 – Dallas, Oakland, St. Louis and Tampa Bay. I have excluded the Cowboys from my analysis because last week was only Jason Garrett’s fifth bye week and a sample of four outcomes is too small for my liking. The other three coaches, on the other hand, have plenty of experience to research. Jeff Fisher has previously come off of 19 bye weeks while Lovie Smith has 10 and Jack Del Rio has nine.

The following chart examines the straight-up winning percentages in games immediately following a bye week for all 17 current head coaches with a minimum of five post-bye week games.


As you can see, Reid and McCarthy are not the only coaches that know how to use the extra week to their team’s advantage. Although his sample size is smaller, John Harbaugh (6-1) still has an impressive straight-up record. In fact, Harbaugh is also 6-1 against the spread.

Of three coaches I analyzed coming off a bye in Week 7, Tampa Bay’s Lovie Smith is the only coach with an above median straight-up record at 6-4. Jeff Fisher of the Rams (10-8-1) sits at median among the 17 coaches with a minimum of five post-bye week games. Despite trailing the other two, Jack Del Rio isn’t too far behind with a 4-5 mark. The average straight-up performance among the three head coaches doesn’t prove that insightful in analyzing straight-up trends. So, how does the spread factor in? The chart below takes the results from the straight-up analysis above and adds a line to track ATS performance.


The way to interpret this chart is to observe where the ATS line sits in proportion to the bar representing straight-up performance. For example, Mike Tomlin might win more than he loses following a week-long break, but the Steelers have underachieved and failed to cover the spread more often than win outright. Conversely, Sean Payton is only 4-4 coming out of a bye, but the Saints have, more often than not, overachieved. This has translated into greater success against the spread for Payton and the Saints.

Tomlin’s drop in performance from straight-up to against the spread is .250 percentage points, but is still lower than Lovie Smith’s massive drop from .600 (straight-up) to .300 (ATS). With either Chicago or Tampa Bay, Smith’s teams over the past six seasons have only beaten the spread once following a bye week.

Fisher, however, has shown incrementally greater success against the spread (11-8) in comparison to his historical straight-up record (10-8-1) following a bye. Nevertheless, his .579 ATS winning percentage cannot be ignored, especially considering the large 19 game sample size.

Finally, Oakland’s offseason head coach hire, Jack Del Rio, maintained the same 4-5 ATS record as his straight-up result when he was with the Jaguars. However, his performance following the bye week is too close to the .500 mark that I will have to abstain from picking a winner in their AFC West tilt with the Chargers.

Golden Rules say to take Washington and St. Louis and pass on the Oakland/San Diego game

Bob Sullivan writes periodically for and can be followed on Twitter at @mrbobsullivan.

The Golden Rules were 1-5 during Week 6 and are 12-17 for 2015

You can access last week’s 2015 Weekly Golden Rules Analysis below.

- Week 6 NFL Picks Using the Golden Rules


Historical data on NFL spreads was accessed via Sunshine Forecast, whose latest source was, or accessed from directly. Spreads were collected by Sunshine Forecast as close as practicable to game time.



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