NFL: Week 4 model projections from Jonathan Von Tobel


Week 4 NFL model projections

This is part of a recurring series on in which VSiN host Jonathan Von Tobel tracks the progress of a model he created for the NFL season


Top NFL Resources:

Week 3 Best Bets: 3-2 ATS | Overall Best Bets: 11-4 ATS
Week 2 Overall: 10-6 ATS | Overall Record: 31-16-1 ATS

Week 3 Recap

When it comes to football contests consistency is key. It’s great to be able to smack some doubles and the occasional home run, but to place in the money it’s more beneficial to maintain a solid winning pace and that is what Jon Von Model has done to this point.

For the third consecutive week both the best bets and overall record finished above water. Best bets had its worst week at just 3-2 but if a winning record is a bad week Mitch Moss and I will take it. The same goes for the overall edges, which improved to 31-16-1 on the season.

As usual, I will express cautious optimism about this experiment. Three weeks is still a very small sample size, but as the sample size grows it is great to see how this model continues to be in step with the betting market on most games while also churning out positive results on its edges.

Week 4 Adjustments

This week brought some unique challenges – outside of leaving my car at an autoshop in Bakersfield, California – and it caused me to run quite a few changes to the backend of the model.

One of the biggest adjustments that needed to be made was to Miami.

The initial projections spit out Buffalo by 11.36 points which is obviously incorrect to project given how well the Dolphins have been playing on offense. So, I went in and updated not only Tua Tagovailoa’s numbers – PFF passing grade, turnover worthy play rate and dropback success rate – but also the team’s offensive numbers as a whole. I wanted the model to get a better sense of how Miami had played this season, and the adjustments returned a number right in line with the betting market, so that eased my angst somewhat.

The other adjustment that needed to be done was with Green Bay.

As I have stated in past entries, this model is based off of overall team statistics, and that obviously means team statistics from last season. In other words, the Packers were being viewed as a better team by JVM than it should have been. Green Bay is good, but not as good as the initial projection of 3.77 points that came out.

Not only did I make sure Jordan Love’s numbers were updated, but I also went through and updated the team metrics to include the production from this season. This knocked the line down back to within a reasonable margin of the betting line. JVM still has a 3.77 point edge toward the Packers tonight – as Green Bay is +2 at home – but it’s not a projection I agree with.

I also wanted to point out that I have been working on another version of Jon Von Model which is built purely on 2023 statistics. There were about six projections that came out in line with the betting market, but there quite a few – like Buffalo by 16.1 points – that were extreme. I predict that in three weeks I will be on that version of JVM entirely, but time will tell.

Week 4 Projections

The first thing that sticks out to me about this week’s projections are how tight the majority of the edges are this week. Seven games are within a point of the current betting line, and 10 games are within two points of the market. To be honest, I am not sure if it is good or bad that JVM is as tight as it is on some of the games, but there are still six games with good edges worth playing.

With that out of the way, let’s look at what Mitch and I’s card will look like in the contest this weekend. The five biggest edges this week are as follows:

Chiefs (-9.5)
Patriots (+6.5)
Bengals (-2.5)
Rams (PK)
Raiders (+5.5)

For the fourth straight week the Chiefs are on the betting card, and that is going to be the case for some time. JVM views Kansas City as the best team in the NFL, and considering the team has covered the last two weeks – which we have used as contest legs – it is hard to push back too hard. I believe that this will expire once we switch over to the full 2023 version of the model, but for now Kansas City is once again a best bet.

The surprise for me this week is New England. It might make sense to those reading considering what Dallas did last weekend against Arizona, but remember that this model is still running off statistics from a season ago for the most part. I made no adjustments to either the Patriots or Cowboys this week, and yet JVM has a significant edge with the underdog in this contest. It is likely the defensive metrics that pull New England to within the margin this week, but it is still surprising given how high the model had been on Dallas through the first three weeks of the season.

Cincinnati is surprising only because of the projection itself. The Bengals have been playing below expectations to start the season, and it is somewhat surprising to see how high the model is here, especially because last week I did update the backend with the current iteration of Joe Burrow. Burrow’s numbers have not been electric, but he has still been very good, specifically in turnover worthy play rate, which the model uses. His rate is the best among qualified passers at 0.7%, so that combined with a growing passing grade probably has the Bengals still rated well by JVM.

Finally, the plays which I feel almost nothing about: the Rams and Raiders.

Last week I mentioned that I had upgraded the Los Angeles Rams to mirror the team this season as opposed to last, and it brought me much more in line with the betting market on their game with Cincinnati. Not a surprise then that it would be favored here against Indianapolis. For those wondering, there is no discernable difference via the model between Gardner Minshew and Anthony Richardson, so for now this has Richardson as the starting quarterback.

As far as the Raiders are concerned, I do not hate it but I do not love it. Los Angeles is just 1-2 ATS this season and somewhat overvalued by the betting market. Meanwhile, Las Vegas is also 1-2 ATS and coming off a brutal loss to Pittsburgh. Much like Raiders fans, I feel nothing about this play. I would rate it as the one I have the least confidence in of the five.

But, I have had the same feeling about quite a few of the best bets Jon Von Model has spit out, and it’s led to a good place. Hopefully that continues this weekend.