The Pi-Rate Ratings

September 19, 2008

PiRate Ratings’ NFL Previews For Week Three–September 21-22, 2008

NFL Previews-Week Three


Kansas City Chiefs (0-2) at Atlanta Falcons (1-1)

Time:         1 PM EDT

TV:             CBS

Forecast:   Dome


PiRate:      Atl by 5

Mean:        Atl by 4

Bias:          Atl by 7

Vegas:       Atl by 6

Ov/Un:      36½

Strategy:   Over 26½ as part of 10-point teaser             

Kansas City lost at home to Oakland because they couldn’t stop the Raiders’ ground game.  With Michael Turner, Atlanta may have a better ground game than Oakland.  Matt Ryan should be fare better against Kansas City’s pass defense than Tyler Thigpen against the Falcons’ pass defense.  I expect to see Damon Huard in the game for KC in the second half.


Atlanta should move to 2-1, and I expect a high scoring second half once the Chiefs begin to move the ball some through the air.  Therefore, I’m going with the Over in a teaser and laying off any sides in this game as a conservative measure.  For those a little more aggressive than me, I could see a play on the Falcons.



Oakland Raiders (1-1) at Buffalo Bills (2-0)

Time:         1 PM EDT

TV:             CBS

Forecast: Cloudy, strong wind able to affect game, temperature in the low to mid 60’s


PiRate:      Buff by 14

Mean:        Buff by 11

Bias:          Buff by 15

Vegas:       Buff by 9½

Ov/Un:      36

Strategy:   Buffalo +½ as part of 10-point teaser

Can Darren McFadden carry the pigskin 25 times this week?  I don’t think he is well enough to do so, and with Justin Fargas more than likely out, the Raiders will have to rely on JaMarcus Russell to throw the ball.


Buffalo is looking for its first 3-0 start in years, and they should get it.  Trent Edwards torched Jacksonville’s defense last week, and Oakland’s pass defense looks like kids play next to the Jags.


I am playing a little conservatively this week, so I am going with the Bills in a teaser play.  It gives them points at home against a team traveling all the way across the country.



Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1) at Chicago Bears (1-1)

Time:         1 PM EDT

TV:             FOX

Forecast: Partly cloudy, light wind, temperature in the upper 60’s to near 70


PiRate:      Chi by 8

Mean:        Chi by 6

Bias:          Chi by 5

Vegas:       Chi by 3

Ov/Un:      35 

Strategy:   Chicago -155 Money line, Chicago +7 and Over 25 as part of 10-point teasers

This is one of those tricky games, and it may be better to leave this one alone.  There are some question marks here which could greatly affect the outcome.  Devin Hester is probable for this game, but how effective can he be with some aching ribs?  One hit could end his day.


Tampa Bay’s Joey Galloway will probably miss this game and even if he plays, he won’t bring much this week.  Michael Clayton will be replacing him, and Clayton is an unknown quantity.  Clayton has the ability to be a difference-maker, but he hasn’t shown it for the last few years.  His presence should make the outside running game better, as he is a rather strong open-field blocker.


I’m going with the Bears to win at home, but I don’t like them giving a field goal.  So, I’ll stick with the money line and take the Bears as part of a teaser.  How can you not like them getting a touchdown at Soldier Field?  The Over 25 is in play because most NFL games see more than 25 points scored.



Houston Texans (0-1) at Tennessee Titans (2-0)

Time:         1 PM EDT 

TV:             CBS           

Forecast: Partly cloudy, light wind, temperature in the upper 70’s to near 80


PiRate:      Ten by 18

Mean:        Ten by 17

Bias:          Ten by 16

Vegas:       Ten by 5

Ov/Un:      39 

Strategy:   Tennessee -215 Money line, Tennessee +5 and Under 49 as part of 10-point teasers

This is another tricky game with many off-the-field intangibles in play.  Houston missed their scheduled game with Baltimore last week.  They didn’t know their game was cancelled until the end of the week, so you cannot really give the Texans much advantage for their bye week.  A team with a scheduled bye can begin working on the opponent two weeks away, while Houston could not do so.  Throw in the fact that many of the players have spent the week without electricity in their homes and some have been dealing with insurance claims.  This could work two ways.  It could be a major distraction and prevent the players from concentrating, or it could be a nice respite and give the players a chance to escape reality for three hours.


Tennessee began to look like a contender for the AFC Championship last week at Cincinnati.  Kerry Collins showed that the Titan offense can move the ball, even facing tropical storm-strength winds, when the right pilot has the controls.  The only fly in the ointment this week is the health of Justin Gage, but even if he misses this game, I think the Titans’ defense will continue to play like the 1985 Bears.


I look for Tennessee to improve to 3-0 and win ugly with a score in the neighborhood of 20-16.  I’m a little weary about Tennessee covering at -5, but I love them at +5.



Cincinnati Bengals (0-2) at New York Giants (2-0)

Time:         1 PM EDT

TV:             CBS

Forecast: Mostly sunny, light wind, temperature in the mid to upper 70’s


PiRate:      NYG by 18

Mean:        NYG by 15

Bias:          NYG by 18

Vegas:       NYG by 13

Ov/Un:      41½   

Strategy:   New York -3 and Under 51½ as part of 10-point teasers  

Cincinnati is a team in turmoil just two weeks into the season.  The defense was supposed to be a problem, but the offense has disappeared as well.  Can the Bengals be expected to get untracked offensively against the defending Super Bowl champion Giants?  New York’s defense looks as strong now as it was during the final stretch of 2007, and it looks like the stop troops are for real.


Eli Manning could duplicate his numbers from last week at St. Louis.  He completed 20 of 29 passes for 260 yards and three scores in that one.  Brandon Jacobs is averaging almost 110 rushing yards after two games, and against the Bengal run defense, he could end up with a higher average come Sunday.


I expect the Giants to win, but I am only going to ask them to cover a field goal as part of a teaser pick.  I don’t see Cincinnati scoring more than 17 points, and Coach Tom Coughlin may play it more to the vest once his team has the game comfortably in control.  So, I am looking at a score no worse than 31-14 and as close as 24-20.  Either way, it is well under 51½ points, and I like the Under as part of a teaser.



Carolina Panthers (2-0) at Minnesota Vikings (2-0)

Time:         1 PM EDT

TV:             Fox            

Forecast: Dome


PiRate:      Car by 1

Mean:        Pick’em

Bias:          Car by 6

Vegas:       Min by 3½

Ov/Un:      38  

Strategy:   Carolina +13½ and Under 48 as part of 10-point teasers

The Vikings are about five plays from being a 2-0 team instead of an 0-2 team, while the Panthers are the most fortunate 2-0 team.  If the records were reversed, how would you look at this game?


I’d say it’s a moot point in week three.  The major point in this game can be summed up in two words-Adrian Peterson.  Will Peterson play in this game, and if so, can he equal his production to date?  Without him, how does Minnesota move the ball at all this week?  With Peterson, the Vikings have managed just 19 and 15 points.  Without him, can they even escape single digits?


Gus Frerotte is not very mobile and prone to throw into a crowd when under heavy pressure.  Whereas Tarvaris Jackson couldn’t move the ball through the air in his first two games, he hasn’t been liable to throwing interceptions, and he has been exemplary at escaping pressure.


Carolina may pick up their third consecutive close win this week.  I don’t expect Jake Delhomme to have a great game, but his stats should be a little better than last week’s showing against the Bears.  Some of that will be due to the lack of a ground attack against the Vikings’ run defense.  I don’t expect Jonathan Stewart to rush for 50 yards in this one, unless the Panthers get a two touchdown lead.  Then, he could run for 60 to 70 yards but with a low average per carry.


This has all the makings for a low-scoring game.  In that case, I will go with Carolina getting almost two touchdowns in a 10-point teaser and look to get the second third of a 10-point parlay by taking the Under.  Neither team should top 24 points in this one.



Miami Dolphins (0-2) at New England Patriots (2-0)

Time:         1 PM EDT

TV:             CBS

Forecast: Partly cloudy, light wind, temperature near 70


PiRate:      N E by 26

Mean:        N E by 21

Bias:          N E by 22

Vegas:       N E by 12½

Ov/Un:      36 

Strategy:   Miami +22½ and Under 46 as part of 10-point teasers

This is strictly a philosophical play here.  I don’t see the Dolphins having any chance of pulling off the upset in this game, and I would be inclined to take the Patriots as a money line selection except for the fact that I don’t play -750 favorites.


New England has scored less than 20 points in both games, while Miami has at least scored in both games and should score at least one touchdown this week.  If they get seven points, then the Pats would have to score 30 to beat you in a 10-point teaser play.  For the same reason, I like teasing the Under in this one.



Arizona Cardinals (2-0) at Washington Redskins (1-1)

Time:         1 PM EDT

TV:             FOX

Forecast:   Mostly sunny, light wind, temperature in the upper 70’s   


PiRate:      Was by 4

Mean:        Was by 3

Bias:          Was by 2

Vegas:       Was by 3

Ov/Un:      42½  

Strategy:   Arizona +155 Money line, Arizona +3, Arizona +13 as part of a 10-point teaser 

The Redskins are hurting at the linebacker position this week with both Marcus Washington and London Fletcher questionable and end Jason Taylor expected to play at less than 100% strength. 


Give Kurt Warner an inch, and he won’t take a mile, but he could throw for close to ¼-mile in this game.  The Cardinals look for real after two weeks, and their win at San Francisco looked even better after the 49ers won at Seattle in week two.


Washington’s offense is still a work in progress.  Their showing against the Saints last week may be more of a statement about the New Orleans defense than the Washington offense.


At +155, I like the Cardinals as an upset pick.  Obviously, I like them getting three straight up, and I love them getting 13 in a teaser.


St. Louis Rams (0-2) at Seattle Seahawks (0-2)

Time:         4:05 PM EDT     

TV:             Fox

Forecast: Showers likely, light wind, temperature in the upper 50’s


PiRate:      Sea by 16

Mean:        Sea by 11

Bias:          Sea by 14

Vegas:       Sea by 9½

Ov/Un:      43½    

Strategy:   Seattle +½ and Over 33½ as part of 10-point teasers   

If the Seahawks lose this game to start the season 0-3, Mike Holmgren’s final season can be made into a movie entitled, “Playoffless in Seattle.”  Losing to the Rams may be a reason to go ahead and hang it up fourteen weeks prematurely.


St. Louis is the weakest of the 32 teams according to all three of my ratings.  Scott Linehan’s days are numbered as coach of the Rams, and I could see his tenure ending a week from Monday if the Rams lose this one and next week’s game at home against Buffalo.


I think Seattle has about a 95% chance of winning this game, and I think their offense will score more than 30 points.  So, the two teaser plays above become obvious choices.



Detroit Lions (0-2) at San Francisco 49ers (1-1)

Time:         4:05 PM EDT     

TV:             FOX

Forecast: Partly cloudy, wind gusts able to affect game, temperature in the mid 60’s


PiRate:      S F by 6

Mean:        S F by 5

Bias:          S F by 9

Vegas:       S F by 4

Ov/Un:      46½   

Strategy:   San Francisco -205 Money line, San Francisco -4, Over 46½, San Francisco +6 and Over 36½ as part of 10-point teasers  

Mike Martz would like nothing better than to embarrass the team that let him go last year.  He knows the Lions’ defensive tendencies better than any other offensive coordinator in the league. 


J.T. O’Sullivan didn’t get to see much action in Detroit, but he finds himself the starter in San Francisco.  He shredded Seattle’s defense last week, and now he gets perhaps the worst defense in the NFL.  He should top 300 yards passing, and he could possibly pass the 400 yard mark.  The major obstacle to his not having a big day could be the success of his own team’s running game.  Detroit is slow on the perimeter, and even an ailing Frank Gore could be too much for the Lions to handle.


Detroit should be good for 20 to 28 points in this game, as Calvin Johnson is quickly proving to be the 21st century equivalent of Otis Taylor.  Too bad the rest of the Lions cannot compare to the 1960’s Chiefs.  I’m looking for a 35-24 game in favor of the home team.



New Orleans Saints (1-1) at Denver Broncos (2-0)

Time:         4:05 PM EDT     

TV:             FOX

Forecast: Isolated thunderstorms, light wind, temperature in the low 70’s


PiRate:      Den by 6

Mean:        Den by 6

Bias:          Den by 7

Vegas:       Den by 5½  

Ov/Un:      51   

Strategy:   Denver -215 Money line, Denver +4½ and Over 41 as part of 10-point teasers   

I’m not sure I trust New Orleans to play enough defense to win on the road against a good offensive team.  The Saints should stay in the game thanks to an excellent offense, but they cannot be counted on to come up with the crucial stop.


Denver’s players have heard all week how lucky they were to get the two calls against San Diego last week, and I think by now they have 53 chips on 53 shoulders.  Their win over the Raiders was chalked up as a win over a lousy team, so the Broncos have yet to gain the respect of the nation. 


Jay Cutler has a QB rating of 118.6 after two games, and he will face a Saints’ defense that surrendered 321 passing yards to Jason Campbell last week, while still allowing Clinton Portis to rush for 4.6 yards per carry.


I don’t think the Saints are the team to beat in the NFC South, and I have some doubts about their wildcard chances.  On the other hand, Denver has a chance to open up a lot of space in the AFC West.  The Broncos should be 3-0 on Sunday night, and I think the final outcome of this game could be in the neighborhood of 35-28.



Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2) at Indianapolis Colts (1-1)

Time:         4:15 PM EDT     

TV:             CBS

Forecast: Dome


PiRate:      Ind by 4   

Mean:        Ind by 4

Bias:          Ind by 7

Vegas:       Ind by 5

Ov/Un:      41½  

Strategy:   Indianapolis +5 and Under 51½ as part of 10-point teasers   

This game has the air of anxiousness about it.  Jacksonville will never recover from an 0-3 start if they lose this game and the Titans beat Houston.  Indianapolis could be in serious trouble if they lose this one at home to fall to 1-2.  It is almost a must-win game for both teams.


Peyton Manning began to look more like his usual self in the final quarter last week at the Metrodome.  He may not be back to 100%, but if he’s 80% of his old self, it could be good enough to win this week.


The Jaguars’ pass defense disappeared in the fourth quarter against the Bills last Sunday.  All the intangibles were on Jacksonville’s side after they took the lead and held onto the ball for almost the entire third quarter.  With the heat index well over 90, the Bills came back to win as the Jags’ secondary watched Trent Edwards pick them apart.


Manning at 80% is better than Edwards at 100%, plus the Colts get this game at home.  I see Indianapolis getting their first win at Lucas Oil Stadium, and I see it being another lower than average scoring game.  Look for the Colts to win by about 24-14.



Cleveland Browns (0-2) at Baltimore Ravens (1-0)

Time:         4:15 PM EDT     

TV:             CBS

Forecast: Mostly sunny, light wind, temperature near 80


PiRate:      Bal by 4

Mean:        Bal by 3

Bias:          Bal by 2

Vegas:       Bal by 2½

Ov/Un:      38½   

Strategy:   Cleveland +12½ and Over 28½ as part of 10-point teasers 

This is the most puzzling game for me to figure out this week.  So many people had the Browns picked to win the AFC North this year.  After looking inept against the Cowboys, the Browns’ defense looked quite capable last week against Pittsburgh.  Of course, Ben Roethlisberger played that game with a separated shoulder.


The big surprise has been the disappearance of the vaunted Cleveland offense, which has scored 16 points in two games.  Derek Anderson has not been able to connect on any long plays thus far, and Jamal Lewis cannot carry the load without some threat of Anderson going deep.  Braylon Edwards has been silent, and without Donte Stallworth, it leaves Kellen Winslow to carry the load.  Cleveland would have trouble beating Kansas City or St. Louis without scoring more than 21 points.


Baltimore got an unexpected week off, and just like Houston, they don’t benefit from getting two weeks to prepare for this game.  I think they will be a little out of tune in this one, and their offense could struggle more than the Browns.


I believe the Browns know the desperation they would face at 0-3.  I think this is close to a tossup game, so I am going to play the underdog as part of a teaser.  I don’t see the Ravens winning by two touchdowns.  Teasing the Over is a slight risk, because this game could end 13-10.  However, I just cannot see Cleveland tanking it on offense for a third consecutive week.



Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0) at Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)

Time:         4:15 PM EDT     

TV:             CBS

Forecast: Mostly sunny, light wind, temperature near 80


PiRate:      Phi by 11

Mean:        Phi by 3

Bias:          Phi by 4

Vegas:       Phi by 3½

Ov/Un:      44½   

Strategy:   Pittsburgh +13½ as part of a 10-point teaser

This game presents me with a play that I find quite attractive.  Philadelphia had a rough game on the road on Monday night.  Pittsburgh won on the road at their arch-rival Sunday night.  I think we are looking at an exciting game that could go down to the wire this week. 


The Steelers can smell blood this week as they make the trek east to the other side of the Keystone State.  I am not crazy enough to pick them to win on the road against a mad group of Eagles, but I cannot see them losing by double digits.  Therefore, I am going with the underdog in a teaser play.



Dallas Cowboys (2-0) at Green Bay Packers (2-0)

Time:         8:15 PM EDT     

TV:             NBC

Forecast: Partly cloudy, light wind, temperature dropping form the upper to lower 50’s


PiRate:      Dal by 6

Mean:        G B by 2

Bias:          Pick’em

Vegas:       Dal by 3

Ov/Un:      51½   

Strategy:   Green Bay +13 and Over 41½ as part of 10-point teasers   

Can the Cowboys play a second straight big game on a day’s less rest and preparation and continue to look as strong as any of the great Dallas teams of the Tom Landry and Jimmy Johnson eras?  Can the Packers continue to play like it’s 1996 all over again?  The answer to both questions could be “yes,” so expect possibly the best game that NBC will have this year.


With both offenses scoring lots of points, and both defenses helping by setting up scores, it looks like this should be another high scoring affair like last year’s game.  Dallas won that won 37-27; it was the game where Packer quarterback Aaron Rodgers showed the club he was ready to take over the offense. 


I look for the Packers to be sky high for this game and give their best effort yet this year.  Considering they are 2-0, that’s saying plenty.  Dallas may be a little flat early in this game, so I expect the Cowboys to be behind at some point.  They may come from behind to win, but I don’t see them winning by double digits. 



New York Jets (1-1) at San Diego Chargers (2-0)

Time:         8:30 PM EDT Monday         

TV:             ESPN

Forecast: Partly cloudy, light wind, temperature dropping from near 70 to the mid 60’s


PiRate:      S D by 10

Mean:        S D by 9

Bias:          S D by 7

Vegas:       S D by 9

Ov/Un:      44½    

Strategy:   New York +19 and Over 34½ as part of 10-point teasers   

For the second week in a row, the folks at ESPN get a great Monday night match.  Both teams come off heart-wrenching losses, and I expect both to bring their A-games to the stadium this week.


San Diego should have won last week’s game, but an inadvertent whistle prevented them from doing so.  Mistakes happen, and the Chargers need to concentrate on playing better defense and making one official mistake not matter.  If the players and coaches are still sulking this week, then the bolts may be done for the season.


Now, add to the equation the fact that LaDainian Tomlinson will play at less than 100%.  If this game were played on Sunday, he might not be ready, but the extra 27 hours should make a lot of difference.


Brett Favre always plays great on Monday night, or so it seems.  I don’t expect a bad game here against this defense.  San Diego couldn’t stop Jay Cutler for most of the day, and Cutler is almost Brett Favre, the Second.  Look for Broadway Quatro to pass for 225-250 yards, while Thomas Jones comes close to matching LT in rushing yards.  It adds up to a barn-burner that could come down to the final possession.  I’ll play it safe and take Favre York and 19.



The Imaginary Bank Account Strikes It Big In Week Two


If you saw me this week, you would see black and blue marks on my body.  It isn’t what you think.  I had one of the best Sundays picking against the spread in a long time.  The 10-3 record picking games against the spread had me pinching myself all day as most of the games went my way.  It produced a profit of $650 and a return on investment of 50%.  For the year, my record is now 16-6 for 72.7% against the spread and a two week profit of $910 for a return on investment of 41.4%. 


If this had been for real, I might have just taken the rest of the season off and taken that money to the mall to do my holiday shopping early.


What can I do for an encore?  I make no promises; I have done a lot of research this week looking for some mistakes in the spreads and totals, and I hope I have found some more winners.


Here are my wagers for week three (all wagered to win $100):


1. Arizona +3 vs. Washington


2. San Francisco -4 vs. Detroit


3. Tennessee -215 vs. Houston


4. Chicago -155 vs. Tampa Bay


5. 10-point Teaser

        A. Kansas City & Atlanta Over 26½

        B. Buffalo +½ vs. Oakland

        C. Tennessee +5 vs. Houston


6. 10-point Teaser

        A. New York Giants -3 vs. Cincinnati

        B. Arizona +13 vs. Washington

        C. Miami +22½ vs. New England


7. 10-point Teaser

        A. Miami & New England Under 46

        B. Chicago +7 vs. Tampa Bay

        C. Carolina +13½ vs. Minnesota


8. 10-point Teaser

        A. Chicago & Tampa Bay Over 25

        B. Seattle +½ vs. St. Louis

        C. San Francisco +6 vs. Detroit


9. 10-point Teaser

        A. Seattle & St. Louis Over 33½

        B. San Francisco & Detroit Over 36½

        C. Denver & New Orleans Over 41


10. 10-point Teaser

        A. Pittsburgh +13½ vs. Philadelphia

        B. Indianapolis & Jacksonville Under 51½

        C. New York Jets & San Diego Over 34½


11. 10-point Teaser

        A. Green Bay & Dallas Over 41½

        B. New York Jets +19 vs. San Diego

        C. Cleveland +12½ vs. Baltimore            



AND REMEMBER!!!  Do not use these picks for real.  I have no real money on the line in this mathematical experiment.  I won’t lose a penny if all 11 wagers lose this week, so you shouldn’t risk a penny on these picks either.  This is strictly for fun.


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