Premier Lacrosse League Week 4 expert picks and best bets: Fade the Archers?
After going 2-1 last week on my best bets (thanks, Atlas) let’s run it back for Week 4 of Premier Lacrosse League action. This is the time of year when teams are coming into form and viewers and bettors alike get a grasp on the landscape of the league. Or at least they think so. The truth is, the picture of the PLL as it stands won’t last for long. The Chaos started last year 0-3 and went on to win the championship. The #1 overall seed finished the year with a 6-3 record. The ‘best’ team in the league after 3 weeks ended up being the #4 seed in the playoffs. My point is, the parity in this league is unlike any other and there is value everywhere on the board at this point in the year. I am here to help navigate through the messy terrain that is the PLL and hopefully put some more cash in your pockets. Let’s get right into the best bets for Week 4.
Chrome/Cannons under 24.5 (-125)
Don’t get it twisted, this Chrome defense is scary good. Even the Michael Sowers-less Waterdogs hanging 14 on them last week doesn’t change that opinion. In a league with as much talent as the PLL, that is bound to happen every once in a while no matter how good you are. However, that lone performance shouldn’t blind you to the fact that they held the Archers and Redwoods well below their season average in goals per game when they played.
The Cannons offense has been reeling over the past 2 weeks, averaging only 8.5 goals per game against the lesser defenses of the Atlas and the Archers. While I believe they’ll have some positive regression this week, it’s not enough to convince me they will put up a large number on this unit. Outside of Lyle Thompson, who are the threats on the Cannons offense? Don’t get me wrong, I like some of their pieces. However, there is a difference in liking pieces and thinking they can go toe-to-toe with some of the matchups that the Chrome defense boasts.
The matchup I have my eyes on for this game is how the Cannons offense does in 2-man games. So far this year, the Cannons offense is shooting 34.5% off 2-man games while the Chrome are allowing opponents to shoot 17.2% off them. A term often used in football game planning is to, ‘find Waldo’. This means that they need to find the weak link on defense and scheme up ways for their best players to get into favorable matchups with them. The Chrome defense doesn’t have a Waldo. Anything can happen, but Chrome’s ability to switch or fight through 2-man games is among the best in the league. Being such an integral part of the Cannon’s offense, if they can’t generate good looks off 2-man games, goals may come at a premium for them.
Now, it generally takes 2 teams putting up low totals for an under to hit, and I think there is a favorable probability that the Chrome offense doesn’t come close to their Week 3 scoring output. The Waterdogs carrying a large lead in the third quarter in Week 3 more or less caused the Chrome to play outside of their comfort zone. They proved that they are capable of playing fast, but I don’t think that is their style. They prefer to slow the game down and work for the best shot possible as a means to remain efficient and keep the ball out of their opponents’ hands. You saw it in Weeks 1 and 2 as they averaged only 11.5 goals per game and still won. They want to slow the game down and force the other team to rush and make mistakes, a strategy that has worked thus far. Against a team like the Cannons, who have proved they can get up and down the field with the best of them, I would assume they don’t want to turn this game into a track meet.
I expect this game to be low-scoring and close, finishing well under the total of 24.5.
Atlas -1.5 (+120) vs. Archers
If you just used last week as a barometer, this pick may look like a scary one. Here’s why it’s not.
The Archers and the Atlas come into Week 4 boasting two of the most efficient offenses in the league. The Archers have been on a 2-week tear, averaging 18.5 goals per game even without arguably their best player, Grant Ament. However, they have had favorable matchups against offenses in the Chaos and Cannons who have made it easy for them to score goals. What I mean by that is when opposing offensive possessions end in turnovers or saves, it gives the Archers more opportunities to put up points. That sounds obvious but it won’t be as easy against a stout Atlas offense. To this point, the Atlas offensive possessions are ending in a goal 31.1% of the time. The average of the offenses the Archers played previously was 24.8%. As a baseline projection, the Archers will have fewer opportunities to capitalize on opposing offenses’ mistakes this week.
Now, that’s a small part of why I like this pick, here’s the main reason — Trevor Baptiste. Baptiste is far and away the best faceoff man in the league, winning 70% of his draws thus far. The Archers, on the other hand, sit at a mere 39% faceoff winning percentage this year. To add on, the Archers won only 34% of faceoffs against the Cannons, a team the Atlas went 80% against in the week prior. Being generous, I think it’s safe to say the Atlas should win faceoffs at around 70% this week. If the Archers are winning only 30% of possessions and the Atlas are scoring on offense at a more efficient pace than the Archers defense is used to, it could get out of hand.
The Atlas plays make-it take-it lacrosse when Baptiste catches fire. If the Atlas can put up 2, 3, or even 4 goals in a row without the Archers offense even touching the ball, it may become a hill that is too steep to climb late in the game.
If there is any team in the league I trust to keep it close despite the possession discrepancy, it’s the Archers. However, at plus-money, I’m sticking to the numbers in this one and trusting the Atlas to bounce back after a rough Week 3 loss. If you don’t feel comfortable laying 1.5, the Atlas moneyline at -120 is good value too.
Atlas/Archers under 25.5 (-120)
Yes, this one looks ugly. However, the ugly bets are often the best. I’ll save you the long-winded analysis and just throw some numbers at you.
While these are 2 of the top 3 offenses in efficiency squaring off against 2 of the bottom 3 defenses in efficiency, I like the total to go under. Since 2021, a 25.5 point-total has been posted 8 times. In 7 of those games, the total has gone under. Despite high-scoring games being the most memorable for many bettors, the average combined total in 2021 was 23.8 goals. Unders as a whole hit at a 59% rate in the PLL last season. While it’s fun to root for goals, the more fiscally responsible decision is to root against them. The proof is in the pudding, who doesn’t love rooting for some good defense?
Yes, it’s no secret that these teams boast some of the most talented offenses in the league. It’s no secret that the Archers have hung 17 and 20 on their latest opponents. It’s no secret that the Atlas average 14 goals per game. I don’t care about any of that. When teams of this caliber square off, you can expect the best effort from each of them. What people sometimes forget is that includes defenses, too.
It’s not the prettiest pick, but they can’t all be 10s! Feed me the Ghitelman vs Concannon goalie show when these teams square off on Saturday night.
Check out our full betting preview for EVERY PLL WEEK 4 GAME!