The Pi-Rate Ratings

November 1, 2016

NFL Ratings And Spreads For Week 9: November 3-7, 2016

Our First Look At The Playoff Hunt
We like to wait for the first half of the season to come to its end before beginning our playoff projections, as it is virtually useless to start it earlier than the halfway point. With bye weeks, this is sort of the 7 1/2 game point and not the exact midway point, but then next week will be past halfway.

The playoff race is still wide open for most of the teams. In the AFC, Cleveland is the only team with zero chance to make the playoffs. In the NFC, San Francisco is the only team with virtually no chance. That means 30 teams are still alive.
At the other end of the perspective, New England is basically the only team that is close to 100% assured to make the playoffs. This creates a wide open second half race for 11 of the 12 spots among 29 teams.

Let’s start with the old proverbial “If the season ended today” look.

AFC
East: New England #1 Seed
North: Pittsburgh #4 Seed
South: Houston #3 Seed
West: Oakland #2 Seed
Wildcard: Kansas City #5 Seed
Wildcard: Denver #6 Seed

NFC
East: Dallas #1 Seed
North: Minnesota #2 Seed
South: Atlanta #4 Seed
West: Seattle #3 Seed
Wildcard: Green Bay #5 Seed
Wildcard: New York #6 Seed

In the AFC, the wildcard teams have just two losses, and no other competitor is within a game, as the 7th and 8th seeds this week are Tennessee and Buffalo, both at 4-4. The NFC is much closer, as the 4-3 Packers and Giants hold a precarious place on their wildcard spots. There are two other three-loss teams in Philadelphia and Washington, and there are four additional four-loss teams just one game back.

Here is our look at each division at this point in the year.

AFC
East
New England has this division wrapped up even if Tom Brady were to become injured. The Patriots are up three games, and they would have to go 2-6 in the second half to surrender this division to any division rival. Rex Ryan fired his offensive coordinator after a Monday Night game in which the Bills’ defense was embarrassed. The Bills’ defense keeps stubbing its toes week after week, and the offense cannot score enough points to win consistently. This has the look of an 8-8 team that will miss the playoffs. The Dolphins and Jets don’t have the talent to get to 9-7, and it will probably take a 10-6 or better record to become a wildcard this year.

North
Pittsburgh is a very weak 4-3 team with Ben Roethlisberger out. If he miraculously recovers from his knee surgery and plays in the next week or two, his already weak scrambling skills will be that much worse, and the Steelers don’t have an offensive line capable of sustaining the pass rush long enough for Big Ben to survey the field like he tends to do. Thus, we believe that 3-4-1 Cincinnati and 3-4 Baltimore are still very much in this race. This could be the year where it only takes eight wins to earn the division title, whether it be Pittsburgh or Baltimore at 8-8 or Cincinnati at 8-7-1.

South
Can Houston’s defense overcome its inconsistent offense and hang on to the division lead? Tennessee started 1-3 and is now 4-4, but the Titans need another wide receiver to become potent enough to storm past the Texans. Indianapolis and Jacksonville have not shown any tendency to play consecutive games like they deserve to make the playoffs, so for now, we believe Houston will be a weak 9-7 division winner.

West
We cannot find anything to fault the three top teams in this division. Oakland has the easiest schedule of the trio, but they also have the weakest defense of the three. We forecast that Denver will go 12-4, Kansas City will go 11-5, and Oakand will go 10-6, all three making the playoffs.

NFC
East
Dallas has the overall best record in the conference, so could Jason Garrett (Jerry Jones) be foolish enough to bring Tony Romo back to the starting quarterback job when he is healthy enough to play again? Actually, there is precedent, and one quarterback from the past can be used as an example.
Earl Morrall was the backup quarterback for the Baltimore Colts in 1968, when legendary great Johnny Unitas could not get healthy enough to play. Morrall earned the NFL MVP Award and guided the Colts to the NFL’s best record at 13-1 for Coach Don Shula, and then he led the team to back-to-back playoff wins to win the 1968 NFL Championship by beating the Vikings and Browns.
In the Super Bowl, Unitas was healthy enough to play again, but Shula went with the arm that got him there. Morrall performed poorly against the New York Jets’ quick defense, and by the time Shula inserted Unitas into the game, it was too late for Johnny U to bring the Colts back.
Four years later, Shula was the head coach of the Miami Dolphins. His start quarterback Bob Griese went down to injury early in the season and was done until January. Once again, Shula turned to the backup, which just so happened to be Morrall again. Morrall repeated the 1968 performance, winning the league MVP award as he guided Miami to a perfect 14-0 record. By the time the playoffs started, Griese was healthy enough to play again. Using his past experience with the Colts, Shula placed Griese back in the starting slot, and Griese guided the Dolphins to the Super Bowl title.

There is a big difference between that Dolphins’ team and this Dallas team. Miami only needed a signal caller that was competent at carrying out ball fakes while handing the ball to the league’s best fullback in Larry Csonka and one of the top halfbacks in Mercury Morris. Miami won by passing the ball about a dozen times per game, letting its league best defense carry the team. Dallas cannot get to the Super Bowl by riding its defense and handing the ball to Ezekiel Elliott 30 times a game. They need a pass rush, and Elliott needs a QB that is a threat to fake to him and run the ball in the opposite direction, which is not Romo.

The rest of the division can all come back and beat out Dallas if the Cowboys falter in the second half, or if Romo becomes the starter again. All four teams are good enough to win any of the other NFC divisions this year, but they will beat up on each other and be lucky to provide one wildcard member much less two. Washington looks to us to be the best of the other three, but the Redskins have a tough second half schedule. Philadelphia has the rookie quarterback, and the Giants have a defense that hasn’t gelled this year, but their offense can score enough points to get to 10-6 with a little luck.

North
There’s a twin personality in the Twin Cities, as Minnesota has seen the best of times for five weeks and the worst of times during the last two weeks. The Vikings’ offense looks easy to defend without Adrian Peterson, and Sam Bradford has shown he is closer to Marcia Brady than Tom Brady the last two weeks. Even if the Vikings go 9-7, they could still win the division, because Green Bay is uber-wounded, Detroit is mediocre on both sides of the ball, and Chicago is Chicago.

South
This division looked like Atlanta’s in a runaway a couple weeks ago, but the Saints and Panthers may not be dead just yet. With Drew Brees guiding New Orleans to 30 point games, the Saints can recover to a 10-6 record in the second half. Carolina is still a mystery team, but the Panthers looked like the 2015 NFC Champions last week and could easily go on a long winning streak. Tampa Bay is not yet there and needs another year at the minimum.

West
Seattle will win this by default. Arizona might fall to third place in this division, and the Rams match the personality of Mr. 8 and 8, Jeff Fisher. The 49ers could be pressed to win another game this year, as Chip Kelly does not have the pieces in place to run his system. Whereas just a couple players kneel before the game, the entire team finds itself on the ground for the next 60 minutes of action.

This Week’s PiRate Ratings

A F C
East PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
New England 110.7 109.2 111.8 110.6 67 44
Buffalo 103.2 103.4 103.7 103.4 63 40
N. Y. Jets 98.6 97.1 99.3 98.3 58 40
Miami 96.8 97.3 96.7 96.9 59 38
             
North PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Pittsburgh 103.9 103.4 104.8 104.0 63 41
Cincinnati 102.0 101.7 102.2 102.0 61 41
Baltimore 97.4 99.2 96.8 97.8 61 37
Cleveland 90.3 90.8 90.2 90.4 57 33
             
South PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Houston 98.1 99.0 97.9 98.3 61 37
Indianapolis 96.3 97.8 95.7 96.6 62 35
Tennessee 96.1 97.6 95.7 96.5 58 39
Jacksonville 92.4 94.2 91.5 92.7 58 35
             
West PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Denver 107.1 105.3 107.0 106.4 63 43
Kansas City 104.4 104.2 105.0 104.5 65 40
San Diego 100.4 101.1 100.3 100.6 65 36
Oakland 98.6 99.4 98.8 98.9 64 35
             
N F C
East PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Philadelphia 104.0 102.0 103.7 103.2 63 40
Dallas 101.4 100.8 101.7 101.3 61 40
Washington 100.3 100.1 100.3 100.2 62 38
N.Y. Giants 98.6 98.5 98.6 98.6 62 37
             
North PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Minnesota 103.8 102.8 103.9 103.5 60 44
Green Bay 102.3 101.9 102.2 102.1 63 39
Detroit 98.3 98.2 98.0 98.2 61 37
Chicago 95.4 94.0 95.1 94.9 56 39
             
South PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Carolina 103.4 103.1 103.5 103.3 61 42
Atlanta 102.6 104.0 102.9 103.1 68 35
New Orleans 99.0 100.4 98.9 99.4 65 34
Tampa Bay 96.5 96.9 96.1 96.5 60 37
             
West PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Seattle 106.5 104.0 107.1 105.8 62 44
Arizona 105.1 103.4 105.4 104.6 66 39
Los Angeles 98.5 99.6 98.2 98.8 57 42
San Francisco 90.1 91.3 89.4 90.3 53 37

This Week’s Games

November 3-7, 2016
Home Visitor PiRate Mean Bias Totals
Tampa Bay Atlanta -3.6 -4.6 -4.3 55
Baltimore Pittsburgh -4.0 -1.7 -5.5 46
Cleveland Dallas -8.6 -7.5 -9.0 47
Kansas City Jacksonville 15.0 13.0 16.5 49
Miami New York Jets 1.2 2.9 0.4 40
Minnesota Detroit 8.0 7.1 8.4 42
New York Giants Philadelphia -3.4 -1.5 -3.1 50
Los Angeles Carolina -1.4 0.1 -1.8 35
San Francisco New Orleans -5.4 -5.6 -6.0 48
Green Bay Indianapolis 9.0 7.1 9.5 53
San Diego Tennessee 7.3 6.5 7.8 50
Oakland Denver -5.5 -2.9 -5.2 51
Seattle Buffalo 6.8 4.1 6.7 42

 

 

 

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August 27, 2015

2015 AFC North Preview

Three of the four AFC North teams have won at least two division titles in the past six years.  Only Cleveland has yet to get into the race, and we see much of the same again this year.  Baltimore, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh could all finish 10-6.  Pittsburgh’s offense is good enough to score 450 points, but their defense might give up 400.  Baltimore has a defense capable of dominating with an offense that is inconsistent.  Cincinnati is not as strong offensively as Pittsburgh or defensively as Baltimore, but they are better offensively than Baltimore and defensively than Pittsburgh.

 

Baltimore breaks in yet another offensive coordinator after Gary Kubiak went to Denver.  Deposed Bears’ head coach Mark Trestman comes to the Harbor when the team has reeled in an incredible catch for QB Joe Flacco.  Breshad Perriman arrives from Central Florida, where the speedster’s slash line of 50/1044/9 foretells future greatness on Sundays.

 

Cincinnati is looking for its fifth consecutive playoff appearance.  Maybe one of these years, the Bengals will actually win a playoff game.  Fans and media alike blame QB Andy Dalton, but the last time we checked, Dalton did not have massive holes open up in the defensive line, nor did he drop any passes thrown right at his numbers.  Dalton is more a reason why the Bengals are in the playoffs and not the reason they lose in the first round.  Last year, Cincinnati swept Baltimore.

 

After week 12, the AFC North standings looked like this:

Cincinnati  7-3-1

Cleveland  7-4-0

Baltimore  7-4-0

Pittsburgh 7-4-0

Yes, Cleveland was right in the thick of the race and had wins over Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.  Four of their final games were against playoff teams, while the fifth came against a team that went 9-7.  The Browns dropped all five games to finish 7-9, and now most pundits believe they will not match that win total this year.

 

Pittsburgh enters 2015 without two defensive icons in the Steel City.  Troy Polamalu retired, while defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau resigned and took the head defensive position with the Tennessee Titans.  The Steel Curtain Defense has become moth-eaten, and Pittsburgh may have to outscore opponents in shootouts to get back to the playoffs.

 

Baltimore Ravens

Ravens Starting Lineup
Offense
WR Kamar Aiken
WR Breshad Perriman
WR Steve Smith
TE Crockett Gillmore
LT Eugene Monroe
LG Kelechi Osemele
C Jeremy Zuttah
RG Marshal Yanda
RT Ricky Wagner
QB Joe Flacco
HB Justin Forsett
FB Kyle Zuszczyk
   
Defense
DE/DT Timmy Jernigan
DT Brandon Williams
DE Chris Canty
LB Terrell Suggs
LB C. J. Mosley
LB Daryl Smith
LB Courtney Upshaw
CB Ladarius Webb
S Will Hill
S Kendrick Lewis
CB Jimmy Smith
N5 Kyle Arrington
   
Special
Kicker Justin Tucker
Punter Sam Koch
KR Asa Jackson
PR Michael Campanero
Baltimore Ravens
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Off. Coordinator Marc Trestman
Def. Coordinator Dean Pees
2014 W-L-T 10-6-0
Pts 25.6
Opp 18.9
   
Ratings  
PiRate 106.7
Mean 105.1
Bias 108.2
Average 106.7
   
Grades  
Running C
Passing B
Vs. Run A-
Vs. Pass B+
Special Teams A
Coaching + Intangibles A
   
Predicted W-L 9-7-0
Division Rank 1
Conference Rank 2
Overall Rank 4
Postseason Yes

 

Cincinnati Bengals

Bengals Starting Lineup
Offense
WR A. J. Green
WR Mohamed Sanu
TE Tyler Eifert
TE Ryan Hewitt
LT Andrew Whitworth
LG Clint Boling
C Russell Bodine
RG Kevin Zeitler
RT Andre Smith
QB Andy Dalton
HB Jeremy Hill
FB Mark Weisman
   
Defense
DE Carlos Dunlap
DT Domata Peko
DT Geno Atkins
DE Michael Johnson
LB Emmanuel Lamur
LB Rey Maualuga
LB Vontaze Burfict
CB Dre Kirkpatrick
S George Iloka
S Reggie Nelson
CB Adam Jones
N5 Leon Hall
   
Special
Kicker Mike Nugent
Punter Kevin Huber
KR Brandon Tate
PR Adam Jones
Cincinnati Bengals
Head Coach Marvin Lewis
Off. Coordinator Hue Jackson
Def. Coordinator Paul Guenther
2014 W-L-T 10-5-1
Pts 22.8
Opp 21.5
   
Ratings  
PiRate 102.9
Mean 103.3
Bias 102.9
Average 103.0
   
Grades  
Running B+
Passing C+
Vs. Run B-
Vs. Pass B
Special Teams B+
Coaching + Intangibles C+
   
Predicted W-L 10-6-0
Division Rank 2
Conference Rank 5
Overall Rank 9
Postseason Yes

 

Cleveland Browns

Browns Starting Lineup
Offense
WR Andrew Hawkins
WR Brian Hartline
WR Taylor Gabriel
TE Gary Barnidge
LT Joe Thomas
LG Joel Bitonio
C Alex Mack
RG John Greco
RT Mitchell Schwartz
QB Josh McCown
HB Isaiah Crowell
FB Luke Lundy
   
Defense
DE Randy Starks
DT Phil Taylor
DE Desmond Bryant
LB Paul Kruger
LB Chris Kirksey
LB Karlos Dansby
LB Scott Solomon
CB Tramon Williams
S Donte Whitner
S Tashaun Gipson
CB Joe Haden
N5 K’Waun Williams
   
Special
Kicker Carey Spear or Travis Coons
Punter Andy Lee
KR Marlin Moore
PR Travis Benjamin
Cleveland Browns
Head Coach Mike Pettine
Off. Coordinator John DeFilippo
Def. Coordinator Jim O’Neil
2014 W-L-T 7-9-0
Pts 18.7
Opp 21.1
   
Ratings  
PiRate 95.4
Mean 92.7
Bias 95.6
Average 94.6
   
Grades  
Running C
Passing C-
Vs. Run C
Vs. Pass B+
Special Teams D
Coaching + Intangibles C-
   
Predicted W-L 6-10-0
Division Rank 4
Conference Rank 13
Overall Rank 27
Postseason No

 

Pittsburgh Steelers

Steelers Starting Lineup
Offense
WR Antonio Brown
WR Markus Wheaton
WR Martavis Bryant
TE Heath Miller
LT Kelvin Beachum
LG Ramon Foster
C Cody Wallace
RG David DeCastro
RT Marcus Gilbert
QB Ben Roethlisberger
HB Le’Veon Bell
FB Will Johnson
   
Defense
DE Cameron Hayward
DT Steve McLendon
DE Stephon Tuitt
LB Arthur Moats
LB Ryan Shazier
LB Lawrence Timmons
LB Jarvis Jones
CB Cortez Allen
S Shamarko Thomas
S Mike Mitchell
CB William Gay
N5 Brandon Boykin
   
Special
Kicker Garrett Hartley
Punter Brad Wing
KR Markus Wheaton
PR Antonio Brown
Pittsburgh Steelers
Head Coach Mike Tomlin
Off. Coordinator Todd Haley
Def. Coordinator Keith Butler
2014 W-L-T 11-5-0
Pts 27.3
Opp 23.0
   
Ratings  
PiRate 102.8
Mean 102.8
Bias 102.5
Average 102.7
   
Grades  
Running B+
Passing A
Vs. Run C-
Vs. Pass C-
Special Teams C
Coaching + Intangibles C+
   
Predicted W-L 8-8-0
Division Rank 3
Conference Rank 6
Overall Rank 11
Postseason No

 

August 27, 2013

2013 AFC North Preview

2013 A F C North Preview

The AFC North Division returns the defending Super Bowl Champion this year, but the Baltimore Ravens have lost a lot of veteran talent from that team.

 

We have added a new wrinkle to our coverage this year.  In the past, friends of ours have asked us if we knew how to recreate the exact colors of their favorite team so that they could print those colors on their computer.  We have found this information from multiple sites in the last couple of months, and we are going to show you the RGB numbers so you can replicate those colors.  These can be used in graphics programs, but it can easily be used in MS-Word and MS-Excel.

 

Here are the official colors for the AFC North

 

South

Color

Red

Green

Blue

Baltimore Ravens

Purple

36

23

115

 

Black

17

28

36

 

Metallic Gold

176

140

13

Cincinnati Bengals

Orange

249

70

28

 

Black

17

28

36

Cleveland Browns

Brown

51

43

42

 

Orange

249

70

28

Pittsburgh Steelers

Black

17

28

36

 

Gold

255

182

18

 

2012 Final Standings & PiRate Ratings

AFC North

PiRate

Mean

Biased

W-L-T

Pts

Opp

Cincinnati Bengals

103.5

103.7

103.8

10-6-0

391

320

Baltimore Ravens

102.5

102.9

103.2

10-6-0

398

344

Pittsburgh Steelers

100.0

100.8

101.4

8-8-0

336

314

Cleveland Browns

95.0

95.4

95.7

5-11-0

302

368

 

2013 Preseason PiRate Ratings

North

PiRate

Mean

Biased

Baltimore Ravens

105.0

104.2

105.3

Cincinnati Bengals

102.5

102.7

102.6

Pittsburgh Steelers

100.7

100.0

100.5

Cleveland Browns

94.4

95.4

94.8

 

PiRate Previews

Team

Baltimore Ravens

               
Head Coach

John Harbaugh

O-Coord.

Jim Caldwell

D-Coord.

Dean Pees

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Projected Starting Lineup

Position

Player

 

Offense

Quarterback

Joe Flacco

Running Back

Ray Rice

H-Back

Vonta Leach

Wide Receiver

Torrey Smith

Wide Receiver

Jacoby Jones

Tight End

Ed Dickson

Left Tackle

Bryant McKinnie

Left Guard

Kelechi Osemele

Center

Gino Gradkowski

Right Guard

Marshal Yanda

Right Tackle

Michael Oher

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Defense

Left End

Arthur Jones

Nose Tackle

Haloti Ngata

Right End

Chris Canty

Left OLB

Terrell Suggs

Left ILB

Josh Bynes

Right ILB

Daryl Smith

Right OLB

Elvis Dumervil

Left CB

Ladarius Webb

Right CB

Corey Graham

Strong Safety

James Ihedigbo

Free Safety

Michael Huff

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Special Teams

Kicker

Justin Tucker

Punter

Sam Koch

K-Return

Jacoby Jones

P-Return

Jacoby Jones

 

 

Predictions

 

Record

10-6

Division

1st Tie (1st in tiebreaker)

 

 

Team

Cincinnati Bengals

               
Head Coach

Marvin Lewis

O-Coord.

Jay Gruden

D-Coord.

Mike Zimmer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Projected Starting Lineup

Position

Player

 

Offense

Quarterback

Andy Dalton

Running Back

BenJarvus Green-Ellis

Fullback

Orson Charles

Wide Receiver

A. J. Green

Wide Receiver

Mohamed Sanu

Tight End

Jermaine Gresham

Left Tackle

Andrew Whitworth

Left Guard

Clint Boling

Center

Kyle Cook

Right Guard

Kevin Zeitler

Right Tackle

Andre Smith

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Defense

Left End

Carlos Dunlap

Nose Tackle

Domata Peko

Right Tackle

Geno Atkins

Right End

Michael Johnson

Sam LB

James Harrison

Mike LB

Rey Maualuga

Will LB

Vontaze Burfict

Left CB

Terrence Newman

Right CB

Leon Hall

Strong Safety

George Iloka

Free Safety

Reggie Nelson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Special Teams

Kicker

Mike Nugent

Punter

Kevin Huber

K-Return

Brandon Tate

P-Return

Adam Jones

 

 

Predictions

 

Record

10-6

Division

1st Tie (2nd in tiebreaker)

 

Team

Cleveland Browns

               
Head Coach

Rob Chudzinski

O-Coord.

Norv Turner

D-Coord.

Ray Horton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Projected Starting Lineup

Position

Player

 

Offense

Quarterback

Brandon Weeden

Running Back

Trent Richardson

Fullback

Chris Ogbonnaya

Wide Receiver

Josh Gordon

Wide Receiver

Greg Little

Tight End

Jordan Cameron

Left Tackle

Joe Thomas

Left Guard

John Greco

Center

Alex Mack

Right Guard

Shaun Lauvao

Right Tackle

Mitchell Schwartz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Defense

Left End

Ahtyba Rubin

Nose Tackle

Phil Taylor

Right End

Desmond Bryant

Left OLB

Paul Kruger

Left ILB

Craig Robertson

Right ILB

D’Qwell Jackson

Right OLB

Jabaal Sheard

Left CB

Joe Haden

Right CB

Buster Skrine

Strong Safety

T. J. Ward

Free Safety

Tashaun Gipson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Special Teams

Kicker

Shayne Graham

Punter

Spencer Lanning

K-Return

Johnson Bademosi

P-Return

Travis Benjamin

 

 

Predictions

 

Record

7-9

Division

4th

 

Team

Pittsburgh Steelers

               
Head Coach

Mike Tomlin

O-Coord.

Todd Haley

D-Coord.

Dick Lebeau

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Projected Starting Lineup

Position

Player

 

Offense

Quarterback

Ben Roethlisberger

Running Back

Isaac Redman

Fullback

Will Johnson

Wide Receiver

Emmanuel Sanders

Wide Receiver

Antonio Brown

Tight End

Heath Miller

Left Tackle

Mike Adams

Left Guard

Ramon Foster

Center

Maurkice Pouncey

Right Guard

David DeCastro

Right Tackle

Marcus Gilbert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Defense

Left End

Ziggy Hood

Nose Tackle

Steve McLendon

Right End

Brett Keisel

Left OLB

Lamarr Woodley

Left ILB

Larry Foote

Right ILB

Lawrence Timmons

Right OLB

Jason Worilds

Left CB

Cortez Allen

Right CB

Ike Taylor

Strong Safety

Troy Polamalu

Free Safety

Ryan Clark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Special Teams

Kicker

Shaun Suisham

Punter

Drew Butler

K-Return

Emmanuel Sanders

P-Return

Antonio Brown

 

 

Predictions

 

Record

8-8

Division

3rd

 

January 30, 2009

PiRate Ratings Super Bowl 43 Preview

Super Bowl 43 Preview

 

Do a little search on the Internet; read your local paper; listen to the radio; watch ESPN for hours.  You get the same positional breakdown of Super Bowl 43 in Tampa.  Every one of these breakdowns compare Kurt Warner to Ben Roethlisberger and determine which team has the edge.  Then, they proceed to do this for all the other positions.

 

Tell me something.  At what point in the game will Warner and Roethlishberger line up against each other on a scrimmage play?  I can only think of one time where they will be competing directly against each other, and that will be on the coin flip.  I don’t think we can determine much from that.

 

On this preview, we here at the PiRate Ratings will analyze the positions as the players actually line up against.  In other words, we will analyze Kurt Warner against the Steeler’s pass defense.

 

Let’s start with the usual statistics you see here each week.

 

­ The PiRate Pro Ratings (Rating)

 

The NFL version of the PiRate Ratings is not the same as the collegiate version.  The NFL version is strictly a statistical formula than could be reproduced by anybody who knew the equations I use to devise the formula.  No subjective data is used.

 

The formula combines scoring margin, strength of schedule, and early in the season, last year’s scoring margin and strength of schedule.  As the season progresses, last year’s data decreases to where it has little effect by mid-October. 

 

 

The Mean Ratings (Mean)

 

Just like the PiRate Ratings, the NFL Mean Ratings are not the same as the collegiate version.  The NFL Mean Ratings consist of a dozen different calculations.  Three calculations consist of different ways to look at point differential and strength of schedule.  Five calculations look at yards gained and allowed rushing and passing and special teams play with the strength of the opponents’ rushing and passing.  Point values are assigned based on each set of data.  The remaining four ratings are my old four pro ratings from the 1970’s and 1980’s.  The 12 ratings are given equal weight, and then I take the average (mean) to get the rating.

 

The Bias Ratings (Biased)

 

The Bias Ratings consist of five of the components of The Mean Ratings.  The five ratings are not given equal weight.  The five ratings are weighted at 37.5%, 25%, 12.5%, 12.5%, and 12.5%.  I have back tested these ratings and found that this weighting gives the rating its best predictive percentage.

 

All three ratings are normalized so that 100 is average.  If I don’t mess up with the math, each of the three ratings should average 100.  The teams’ ratings show how many points above or below average they are in comparison with the rest of the league.  A rating of 107 means that team is a touchdown better than average, while a rating of 93 means that team is a touchdown weaker than average.

 

Super Bowl Ratings

PiRate:  Pittsburgh by 11.3

Mean:    Pittsburgh by 9.7

Bias:      Pittsburgh by 7.2

 

Game Simulations

100 Sims:            Pittsburgh 53  Arizona 47

Average Score:    Pittsburgh 27  Arizona 25

Outlier 1a Sim:    Pittsburgh 30  Arizona 10

Outlier 1b Sim:    Arizona 31  Pittsburgh 16

 

Las Vegas

Line:             Pittsburgh is favored by 6½ or 7 points, depending on the book

 

Totals:          Again, depending on the book, you can find the totals for this game at 46½, 47, or 47½

 

Moneyline:    If you want to take Pittsburgh, the best moneyline odds you can find are -210 on multiple offshore books, while the best Vegas odds are -220.

 

                     If you want to take Arizona, the best odds you can find are +200

 

Weather Forecast For Tampa

How about perfect football weather?  It should be partly cloudy skies, a light wind out of the east southeast (less than 10 MPH) with temperatures starting out around 65 at kickoff and dropping to around 60 by game’s end.  It will be a little on the humid side, and there’s always a chance of rain (about 10% or less).

 

The Matchups

 

When Pittsburgh Runs The Ball

 

Steeler Run Blockers

LT:  78-Max Starks           

LG:  68-Chris Kemoeatu   

C:    62-Justin Hartwig

RG: 72-Darnell Stapleton

RT:  74-Willie Colon

TE:  83-Heath Miller & 89-Matt Spaeth

FB:  38-Carey Davis

 

Steeler Rushers

TB:  39-Willie Parker & 21 Mewelde Moore

 

Cardinal Defensive Line

RE:  55-Travis Laboy

RT:  90-Darnell Dockett

NT:  97-Bryan Robinson

LE:  94-Antonio Smith

 

Cardinal Linebackers

Will LB:  58-Karlos Dansby

Mike LB: 54-Gerald Hayes

Sam LB: 56-Cheake Okeafor

 

This is not the Steelers’ strong point this year.  Against good defensive front seven’s, the run blocking has fallen apart and even broken down at times. 

 

The Cardinals have performed quite well against the run in the playoffs, but the run stoppers were average or a little better during the regular season.  I tend to give about three times more importance to the playoffs when diagnosing unit vs. unit comparisons.  Arizona won’t stop the Pittsburgh running game like Baltimore did, but I expect the Cardinals to give up between 80 and 110 rushing yards in this game.  The key here is how the defense will perform in short yardage situations, as the Steelers will try to run the ball straight up the gut and force Gerald Hayes to stop them.  One thing is for sure:  the Steelers will not run the ball at Darnell Dockett; look for them to run toward Travis Laboy and up the middle.

 

When Pittsburgh Passes The Ball

 

Steeler Passers/Receivers

QB:        7-Ben Roethlisberger & 4-Byron Leftwich

WR:       86-Hines Ward & 85-Nate Washington

WR:       10-Santonio Holmes & 14-Limas Sweed

 

Cardinal Secondary

LCB:              26-Rod Hood & 20-Ralph Brown

SS:         24-Adrian Wilson & 47-Aaron Francisco

FS:         21-Antrel Rolle & 22-Matt Ware

RCB:      29 Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie & 27-Michael Adams

 

Here is where the game will be decided.  We have a rare Super Bowl game where both quarterbacks already sport Super Bowl Championship rings.  Roethlisberger is a better quarterback now than he was when he led the Steelers to victory in Super Bowl XL.  However, the pass blockers are not close to as competent as that 2005 team.  Big Ben has taken a lot of punishment throughout the 2008-09 season, and he will be facing a pass rush that is almost as good as the Ravens and Titans. 

 

The Cardinals will send a linebacker or two or three on a host of red dogs and combination stunts, and I expect Roethlishberger to go down at least twice if not four or five times.  There’s always a chance that he will be shaken up and miss some playing time.  There’s also a chance that he could throw a wild pass due to the pressure.

 

Rookie Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has been the secondary star of the playoffs for Arizona.  He will keep Santonio Holmes from getting open deep on the sideline.  The Cardinals safeties plus Gerald Hayes will offer little open space in the deep middle.

 

The key here is the health of Hines Ward.  If he is not close to 100%, then I believe the Steelers are in trouble.  Without him, their passing game falls below average, and I don’t think Pittsburgh can win this game with Willie Parker trying to emulate Franco Harris. 

 

Note: The 100 simulations did not factor in the health problems of Ward and assumed every starter was 100% healthy. 

 

When Arizona Runs The Ball

 

Cardinal Run Blockers

LT:  69-Mike Gandy

LG:  74-Reggie Wells

C:    63-Larry Sendlein

RG: 76-Deuce Lutui

RT:  75-Levi Brown

TE:  82-Leonard Pope & 89-Ben Patrick

FB:  45-Terrelle Smith

 

Cardinal Rushers

TB:  32-Edgerrin James & 34-Tim Hightower

 

Steeler Defensive Line

LE:  91-Aaron Smith

NT:  98-Casey Hampton

RE:  99-Brett Keisel

 

Steeler Linebackers

Sam LB: 56-LaMarr Woodley

Mike LB: 51-James Farrior

Mac LB:  50-Larry Foote & 94-Lawrence Timmons

Will LB:  92-James Harrison

 

Arizona‘s run blocking has improved by leaps and bounds in the playoff run.  Make no mistake about it; Edgerrin James has returned to form because he has had ample running room.  He is still relatively fresh as he didn’t get many carries during the regular season.  Think of a well-rested starting pitcher in the World Series.

 

Pittsburgh‘s run defense is close to the top of the NFL if not the best.  The beefy front three occupy a lot of space at the line of scrimmage, and they can keep the enemy offensive line away from their fabulous quartet of run-stopping linebackers.  I believe the Steelers will contain the Cardinal running game for most of the evening.

 

When Arizona Passes The Ball

 

Cardinal Passers/Receivers

QB:        13-Kurt Warner & 7-Matt Leinart

WR:        11-Larry Fitzgerald & 85-Jerheme Urban

WR:       81-Anquan Boldin & 15-Steve Breaston

 

Steeler Secondary

LCB:              24-Ike Taylor & 22-William Gay

SS:         43-Troy Polamalu & 23-Tyrone Carter

FS:         25-Ryan Clark & 27-Anthony Smith

RCB:      26-Deshea Townsend & 20-Bryant McFadden

 

This is going to be a great contest of strength versus strength.  Warner and his bevy of receivers are made much more potent by an excellent pass blocking corps.  Give Warner three seconds, and he can tear apart even the best secondary.  Fitzgerald and Boldin can stretch defenses out enough to open seams in the short zones and make the running game better as well.  Warner should pass for more than 250 yards in this game.  If he tops 275 and throws no interceptions, look for the Cardinals to be hoisting the trophy Sunday night.

 

The Steelers will try to unnerve Warner by throwing a bevy of blitz schemes.  They have the horses to get to him, but they will also leave themselves vulnerable to a big play if the Cardinals pick up the blitz and stop the pressure.  It isn’t wise to leave Fitzgerald or Boldin in single coverage.

 

All-in-all, I look for this to be an even match.  Warner will hurt the Steelers with his arm about half the time he drops back to pass, and the Steelers will defend the pass well the other half. 

 

Special Teams Play

 

I tend to downplay special teams play in the Super Bowl.  Usually, both teams are well-equipped to eliminate big plays if they have gotten this far.

 

There is a small chance that Arizona could capitalize a little bit here.  The Steelers have not covered punts or kickoffs all that well as of late, and the Cardinals have ample weapons to exploit any openings. 

 

Steeler punter Mitch Berger’s punting has left a lot to be desired in the last few games.

 

Both place-kickers are above average, and I see no real advantages here.

 

Coaching

 

Can Steeler head coach Mike Tomlin and defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau find a way to stop the vaunted Arizona passing game in two week’s preparation time?  The answer is definitely a yes, but strategy alone may not be enough to actually stop it.  I could devise a plan to beat Lebron James in a game of 1 on 1, but that plan wouldn’t stand a chance if I didn’t have Marcus Camby or Kevin Garnett as my defender.

 

The Steelers have enough Camby’s and Garnett’s to slow down the Arizona offense, but their own offense may not be adequate enough to outscore the Cardinals.

 

Summary

 

If you have read this blog at all during the 2008-09 NFL season, you know we at the PiRate Ratings love to be contrarians.  It is the overwhelming consensus here that Arizona will pull off the upset and win a close game Sunday. 

 

In a majority of past Super Bowls, the team that strikes quickly with either early offense or a big scoring surge in the second quarter, is the team that wins this game.

 

Pittsburgh is more likely to try to force a 13-10 game, while Arizona may come out more loose and try to make this look like an AFL Championship Game from the 1960’s.

 

The way we see it here is that after a dull first quarter, the Cardinals will score double digit points in the second quarter and take a nice halftime lead.

 

At this point, Roethlisberger will have to take to the air, and the Steelers will begin to score in the second half.  Pittsburgh will have to win this game with a comeback in the final period.  We believe they will have the ball late in the game with a chance to win it at the end.

 

There are five of us here who contribute to this blog.  Two of us believe the Cardinals will win by a score similar to 28-24.  Two of us believe the Steelers will win by a similar score.  The fifth, who is the originator of this blog, believes this could be the first overtime game in Super Bowl history and could be decided by the coin flip and a field goal attempt.

 

The Infamous Ads

 

We’ve turned this section over to our E-mail friend Ari, who is an insider in the entertainment business.  Here’s what she wrote:

 

The $3 million for each 30-second commercial is a bargain in my opinion.  The entire world will be watching, and unlike any other time, many will purposely be watching to actually view the commercials rather than the programming.  The advertisers will gear many of their ads to the women watching.

 

My personal favorite most years has been GoDaddy.com.  They only advertise one day a year, and they put all of their eggs in the Super Bowl basket.  It has worked well for them.

 

I am a softie for animals, and this year Pedigree will air Super Bowl ads for the first time ever.  Without spoiling the ad for you, it involves exotic animals and why you should never own them.  It left me wanting more.

 

Coke and Pepsi will have an ad war in this game, but Pepsi already won when they anted up to keep Coke out of the entire first half.  I’ve seen both of their ads, and I think they will not deliver what they hope to deliver.  There is a remake of the old Mean Joe Greene football jersey throw from years ago, but this one involves a current Steeler player.  Don’t ask me who he is, since I don’t know anything about the teams other than Matt Leinart.

 

Denny’s has a couple of different ads.  One is really good, while the other is so-so.

 

GoDaddy’s this year has two different ads.  One will air depending on a vote by the public.  You will have to go online to see the “shocking” conclusion to see what happens with Danica Patrick.  Spoiler Alert:  Don’t count on the conclusion being what it’s hyped to be.  Danica isn’t one of Hef’s girls.

 

Heineken and Budweiser will have an undeclared war in this game.  Bud goes for the theatrics, while Heineken features one of my favorite actors, John Turturro, in a classy 30-second spot.  You have to “read between the lines” to “get it.”

 

The predicted winner of this years ads war might be Sobe.  They will air a 3-D commercial, and you will need to get yourself some 3-D glasses.  It will be the most talked-about ad on Monday morning, and regardless of whether the talk is positive or negative, you will still remember the Sobe brand name this summer.

 

Our thanks go to Ari for her candid comments.

January 9, 2009

PiRate Preview Of The NFL Playoffs: Divisional Round–January 10-11, 2009

PiRate Ratings For NFL Playoffs

2nd Round: January 10-11, 2009

 

We’re down to the Elite Eight of the NFL after the Colts, Dolphins, Vikings, and Falcons began their off-season last weekend.  I must say I was shocked at the Chargers beating Indianapolis.  I wasn’t shocked that San Diego was that good, but I thought the Colts were playing better football than they did when they won the Super Bowl a few years back.

 

As I mentioned in last week’s NFL preview, I pick games in the playoffs by trying to determine which teams have distinct advantages.  Let’s start by trying to figure out these distinct advantages by finding what consistently works in the NFL post-season.  In the old days, it was all about running the ball and stopping the run.  Today, it’s mostly about passing the ball and stopping the pass.  The days of winning by running it down the throats of the defense have come and gone.  When a team gets to the playoffs, they have good enough defenses to avoid getting burned for 200 rushing yards.

 

Let me clarify what I mean by passing and pass defense.  This is not merely an exercise to find which teams pass for the most yards.  The key here is to find the team that has a passing attack that cannot be stopped.  It might be a team that throws the ball 25 times a game, and it might be a team that throws the ball 40 times a game.  I dare say that if team A passes the ball 25 times and completes 15 passes for 240 yards, while their opponent passes the ball 40 times and completes 24 passes for 240 yards, then team A has enjoyed a much better day.  Team A will win most of the time in this instance.

 

Look at it this way.  If a team can complete 33% of its passes by completing one pass and then throwing two incomplete passes, and they always pick up 12 yards per completion, then they are unstoppable.  If they start at their own 28 yard line, they will score a touchdown in 16 plays.

 

Here’s another adjustment I use in figuring passing strength.  When you see a quarterback throw the ball to a back in the backfield, and the back picks up three yards, do not count that as passing yards.  The swing pass to the back who then sweeps around the perimeter and picks up or loses yardage is the 21st Century version of the old Lombardi Sweep.  It is a pass in name only.  The difference is merely in the manner the quarterback delivers the ball to the back.

 

The running game isn’t to be totally dismissed.  It’s just that I am looking for something a little different than rushing average and rushing yardage.  I’m looking for teams that can count on their running attack to get the job done on 3rd and short and when they are within three yards of pay dirt.

 

Let’s say team A averages 3.7 yards per rush, while team B averages 4.4 yards per rush.  Team B isn’t necessarily a more potent running team.  Let’s say that in 10 rushing attempts, team B rushed for 8, 6, 7, 9, 4, 5, 5, 2, 1, and -3.  If you give the ball to team B at their 20 yard line, and they ran the ball 10 consecutive times, resulting in the above order, team B would have picked up three first downs and faced 4th and 10 at other team’s 36 yard line. 

 

Now, let’s say team A with their 3.7 yard average ran the ball 10 consecutive times and picked up 3, 4, 4, 4, 4, 3, 4, 3, 4, and 4.  Starting at their 20 yard line, team A would have picked up three first downs and had the ball 2nd & 6 at the opponents’ 43 yard line.  Team A’s running attack would be considered almost impossible to stop, whereas Team B’s running attack would have been stopped.

 

It’s the teams that can pick up the bulk of their yards passing the ball down the field and counting on their running games to pick up the critical yards in short yardage situations that score in the playoffs.  Defensively, it’s the teams that can curtail the opponent’s passing games and stop the opponent’s running games in critical situations that stop teams in the playoffs.

 

Special teams, penalties, turnovers, and the like play a part in deciding playoff games.  I consider interceptions as part of the pass defense equation I described above.  I consider forced fumbles as part of both pass and run defense.  Special teams rarely decide playoff games, and penalties may determine a playoff outcome only once every 25 years.

 

The PiRate Pro Ratings (Rating)

 

The NFL version of the PiRate Ratings is not the same as the collegiate version.  The NFL version is strictly a statistical formula than could be reproduced by anybody who knew the equations I use to devise the formula.  No subjective data is used.

 

The formula combines scoring margin, strength of schedule, and early in the season, last year’s scoring margin and strength of schedule.  As the season progresses, last year’s data decreases to where it has little effect by mid-October. 

 

 

The Mean Ratings (Mean)

 

Just like the PiRate Ratings, the NFL Mean Ratings are not the same as the collegiate version.  The NFL Mean Ratings consist of a dozen different calculations.  Three calculations consist of different ways to look at point differential and strength of schedule.  Five calculations look at yards gained and allowed rushing and passing and special teams play with the strength of the opponents’ rushing and passing.  Point values are assigned based on each set of data.  The remaining four ratings are my old four pro ratings from the 1970’s and 1980’s.  The 12 ratings are given equal weight, and then I take the average (mean) to get the rating.

 

The Bias Ratings (Biased)

 

The Bias Ratings consist of five of the components of The Mean Ratings.  The five ratings are not given equal weight.  The five ratings are weighted at 37.5%, 25%, 12.5%, 12.5%, and 12.5%.  I have back tested these ratings and found that this weighting gives the rating its best predictive percentage.

 

All three ratings are normalized so that 100 is average.  If I don’t mess up with the math, each of the three ratings should average 100.  The teams’ ratings show how many points above or below average they are in comparison with the rest of the league.  A rating of 107 means that team is a touchdown better than average, while a rating of 93 means that team is a touchdown weaker than average. 

 

I do not attempt to rate teams from different years.  A 107-rated team in 2008 is not the same as a 107-rated team from 1972.  We all know that due to the evolution of strength and quickness, today’s Detroit Lions would blow the 1972 Miami Dolphins off the field.

 

Notes

Weather forecasts and odds are those as of Friday, January 9, 2009, 12 Noon EST

 

In December, I listed multiple odds from multiple Vegas and offshore books.  For the playoffs, I have decided to list the odds from the Sports Pit at Harrah’s in Las Vegas. 

 

Average Simulation Scores for each game are now rounded to nearest whole number.

 

 

Game Previews

 

SATURDAY, JANUARY 10, 2009

 

Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans

Time:           4:30 PM EST

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Cloudy, moderate winds, temperatures falling through the 40’s

 

PiRate:                Tennessee by 1              

Mean:                  Tennessee by 2

Bias:                    Tennessee by 4

 

Vegas:               Tennessee by 3

Ov/Un:               34½

Money Line: -155      +135

 

100 Sims:           Baltimore 61  Tennessee 39

Avg Sim Score:  Baltimore 22  Tennessee 16

Outlier 1a Sim:  Baltimore 27  Tennessee 7

Outlier 1b Sim:  Tennessee 13  Baltimore 0

Tennessee last finished with the best record in the NFL in 2000.  That year, they relied on a strong running game, and excellent all-around defense, and great special teams play to win 13 games.  The Titans had home field advantage, but they were upset in the divisional playoffs even though the statistics showed they dominated the game.  The opponent took advantage of four key plays; that opponent did mostly nothing all day on offense.  That opponent was Baltimore!

 

The Ravens come into this game much the same way they entered that January, 2001 game.  Things are a little different though.  This defense is still quite strong, but the 2000 defense was overpowering.  The 2000 offense was one-dimensional, but the 2008 offense can win games in a shootout if need be.

 

It is my opinion that the Ravens are now the best remaining team in the AFC.  I think lightning is going to strike twice in the Music City, and it won’t be a Music City Miracle.

 

Baltimore’s defense is going to pressure Kerry Collins into making mistakes.  The Raven pass rush will get to him, and he must make a conscious effort to avoid injury.  If Collins goes down, the Titans might as well run the single wing formation because Vince Young would be lucky to complete one downfield pass per quarter against this defense.

 

Chris Johnson may get one double-digit yard rush in this game, but don’t count on the Titans running the ball successfully in this game. 

 

Joe Flacco should be the difference maker Saturday.  He played well against Miami, and he now has playoff experience.  Watching him play against the Dolphins brought back memories of Daryle Lamonica with the Buffalo Bills and Oakland Raiders.  Flacco has a strong arm combined with quick legs.  If he stays healthy, he should become one of the game’s top quarterbacks.

 

This game should be close, because these teams will play conservatively throughout the first half.  The first time around, Tennessee won at Baltimore 13-10.  I think the scoring will be just a tad higher this time around.  Look for the Ravens to advance to the AFC Championship Game with a 17-10 win.

 

Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers

Time:           8:00 PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Rain showers likely, moderate winds, temperatures holding steady around 50

 

PiRate:                Carolina by 9

Mean:                 Carolina by 9

Bias:                   Carolina by 7

 

Vegas:                Carolina by 9½          

Ov/Un:               48½

Money Line:       -450      +325

 

100 Sims:           Carolina 77  Arizona 23

Avg Sim Score:  Carolina 30  Arizona 22

Outlier 1a Sim:  Carolina 37  Arizona 10

Outlier 1b Sim:  Arizona 34  Carolina 27 (2 sims)

The Cardinals are two cities removed from their last NFL Championship.  They last won it all in 1947 when as the Chicago Cardinals, they defeated Philadelphia in a game played at Comiskey Park.

 

In the Wildcard Weekend Playoff round, Kurt Warner showed that he can still pick apart quality defenses.  The Cardinals still needed help in the form of a Falcon flop on offense.

 

Carolina’s fortunes in this game rest in the hands of Steve Smith.  He is the one player who can change the outcome of this game.  Quarterback Jake Delhomme is competent, but he is not going to win this game on his own merits.

 

I realize that the three ratings and the computer simulations heavily favor Carolina in this game, but I believe the Cardinals have close to a 50% chance of winning.  If Warner gets enough pass protection, he can move Arizona down the field consistently.    The Panthers’ pass defense is average, and an above-average passer should enjoy a successful day.

 

I believe Warner will top 250 yards passing in this game, and if he tops 300, then Arizona is in the NFC Championship Game.  I will call this game a true tossup, which means I would consider taking the Cardinals and the points.

 

 

SUNDAY, JANUARY 11, 2009

 

Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants

Time:           1:00 PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Mostly cloudy with a few flurries, moderate winds, temperatures struggling to reach 32

 

PiRate:                Giants by 2

Mean:                  Giants by 3

Bias:                    Giants by 2

 

Vegas:               Giants by 4½     

Ov/Un:               40

Money Line:       -220      +180

 

100 Sims:           Giants 52  Philadelphia 48

Avg Sim Score:  Giants 25  Philadelphia 25

Outlier 1a Sim:  Giants 38  Philadelphia 16

Outlier 1b Sim:  Philadelphia 41  Giants 17

This is my pick for best game of the weekend.  This rivalry is fast becoming something akin to the Yankees and Red Sox in baseball.  Two months ago, the Giants won an exciting and close game in Philadelphia.  Last month, the Eagles returned the favor at the Meadowlands, winning with their backs against the playoffs wall.

 

Down the stretch, Philadelphia played the best ball in the NFC.  Starting with the 28-point slaughter of the Cardinals, the Eagles outscored the opposition by an average score of 29-12.  Their 26-14 win at Minnesota last week proved they definitely deserve to be here.

 

The Giants played their best 2007 ball down the stretch and almost beat undefeated New England in the final weekend of the regular season.  They continued to play well in the postseason and knocked off Tampa Bay, Dallas, and Green Bay, all on the road to reach the Super Bowl, where Tom Coughlin and Steve Spagnuolo figured out how to stop the Patriots great offense.  This season, the Giants played their best ball early in the year.  Down the stretch, they struggled, and they enter the playoffs not firing on all cylinders.

 

I think Philadelphia has a better than 50-50 chance of pulling off the upset in this game.  The Eagles are playing much like the 2007 Giants, the 2006 Colts, and the 2005 Steelers were playing at the end of the regular season. 

 

Once again, the three computer ratings and 100 simulations fall on the other side of the argument from me personally.  I believe the Eagles will cover in this game, and I think they have a 60% chance of pulling off the upset.

 

San Diego Chargers at Pittsburgh Steelers

Time:           4:30 PM EST

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Cloudy with slight chance of snow, light winds, temperatures holding steady in the low 20’s

 

PiRate:                Pittsburgh by 7

Mean:                  Pittsburgh by 6

Bias:                    Pittsburgh by 5

 

Vegas:               Pittsburgh by 6½           

Ov/Un:               38

Money Line: -270      +210

 

100 Sims:           Pittsburgh 60  San Diego 40

Avg Sim Score:  Pittsburgh 22  San Diego 18

Outlier 1a Sim:  Pittsburgh 30  San Diego 7

Outlier 1b Sim:  San Diego 13  Pittsburgh 3

This is the toughest game to analyze.  Let’s start with the few obvious intangibles.  San Diego must travel more than 2,500 miles across three time zones to play in weather conditions for which they cannot prepare for in their home zip code.  The Chargers had to play an overtime game last week, while the Steelers had a bye.  And, possibly most importantly, the top running back in the 21st Century, LaDainian Tomlinson, is injured.  If he plays, he will be virtually useless in this game.

 

Okay, that said, I should go with the Steelers in a breeze, correct?  The short answer is, “no.”  Tomlinson wasn’t needed last week against the Colts.  Philip Rivers, Darren Sproles, and a nice corps of receivers were enough to win.  The Chargers’ defense is the key to this game.  If they can play as adequately as they played last week, they should hold Pittsburgh’s offense in check.  If that happens, then we are looking at a low-scoring game that could come down to a big play or even another overtime game.

 

There is one caveat here.  Ben Roethlisberger could prove to be a “Mr. January.”  He has enjoyed some of his better days in the month of January, and if that holds true this year, the Steelers could not only win this game, but they could win it by a large amount.

 

I tend to believe that we will get the typical Roethlisberger game, and he won’t set the field ablaze with his arm.  Thus, I am looking for this game to be decided on that big play.  I still think the Steelers are the team more likely to come up with the big play, so I am picking the home team to win by five to 14 points.  I expect the final score to be something like 24-14.

December 18, 2008

PiRate Ratings Week 16 NFL Previews: December 18-22, 2008

PiRate Ratings For NFL Week 16

A Preview Of The Conference Championship Games?

 

What a coincidence!  The Steelers go to Nashville, and the Panthers go to the Meadowlands in what could very well be a preview of the AFC and NFC Championship games.  Personally, I don’t think we will see either of these games replayed in the same venues in four weeks.

 

There are several other key games this week.  Indianapolis can clinch the number five playoff spot in the AFC if they defeat Jacksonville.  Baltimore and Dallas hook up in an important Saturday night game.  The loser of this game might need help in week 17. 

 

Miami faces a possible trap game at Kansas City, where the temperature is going to be well below freezing. 

 

Philadelphia and Washington play an eliminator game, where the loser can hang it up for the season. 

 

Arizona has a tough date at New England, where the Patriots are almost in a must-win situation. 

 

Atlanta and Minnesota play in the Fox second game, and the winner will be in great shape, while the loser is in trouble (especially if Chicago wins Monday night). 

 

The Jets must travel to the West Coast for the fourth time this season.  They are 0-3 so far. 

 

Denver can secure the AFC West with a win over swooning Buffalo or a San Diego loss at Tampa Bay.  The Bucs need to win against the Chargers. 

 

On Monday night, the Bears may be playing for a chance to knot the NFC North, or they could already be eliminated depending on what happens in Minneapolis.

 

The PiRate Pro Ratings (Rating)

 

The NFL version of the PiRate Ratings is not the same as the collegiate version.  The NFL version is strictly a statistical formula than could be reproduced by anybody who knew the equations I use to devise the formula.  No subjective data is used.

 

The formula combines scoring margin, strength of schedule, and early in the season, last year’s scoring margin and strength of schedule.  As the season progresses, last year’s data decreases to where it has little effect by mid-October. 

 

The Mean Ratings (Mean)

 

Just like the PiRate Ratings, the NFL Mean Ratings are not the same as the collegiate version.  The NFL Mean Ratings consist of a dozen different calculations.  Three calculations consist of different ways to look at point differential and strength of schedule.  Five calculations look at yards gained and allowed rushing and passing and special teams play with the strength of the opponents’ rushing and passing.  Point values are assigned based on each set of data.  The remaining four ratings are my old four pro ratings from the 1970’s and 1980’s.  The 12 ratings are given equal weight, and then I take the average (mean) to get the rating.

 

The Bias Ratings (Biased)

 

The Bias Ratings consist of five of the components of The Mean Ratings.  The five ratings are not given equal weight.  The five ratings are weighted at 37.5%, 25%, 12.5%, 12.5%, and 12.5%.  I have back tested these ratings and found that this weighting gives the rating its best predictive percentage.

 

All three ratings are normalized so that 100 is average.  If I don’t mess up with the math, each of the three ratings should average 100.  The teams’ ratings show how many points above or below average they are in comparison with the rest of the league.  A rating of 107 means that team is a touchdown better than average, while a rating of 93 means that team is a touchdown weaker than average. 

 

I do not attempt to rate teams from different years.  A 107-rated team in 2008 is not the same as a 107-rated team from 1972.  We all know that due to the evolution of strength and quickness, today’s Detroit Lions would blow the 1972 Miami Dolphins off the field.

Current NFL Standings

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

New York

11

3

0

374

246

108.62

107.01

106.50

2

Dallas

9

5

0

332

288

102.95

103.96

105.36

2

Philadelphia

8

5

1

369

273

107.60

106.03

106.70

2

Washington

7

7

0

231

266

97.77

98.22

98.97

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Minnesota

9

5

0

342

290

105.12

105.24

106.65

2

Chicago

8

6

0

331

302

103.12

101.77

101.95

2

Green Bay

5

9

0

371

339

104.35

101.02

97.85

2

Detroit

0

14

0

240

444

88.47

89.81

88.23

3

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Carolina

11

3

0

353

264

106.47

105.55

107.58

2

Tampa Bay

9

5

0

313

251

105.19

103.84

105.78

2

Atlanta

9

5

0

336

281

104.71

103.45

103.21

2

New Orleans

7

7

0

390

353

103.29

102.62

100.96

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Arizona

8

6

0

386

358

100.03

99.65

100.31

3

San Francisco

5

9

0

295

341

94.85

96.51

96.25

3

Seattle

3

11

0

260

355

91.65

93.14

92.53

3

St. Louis

2

12

0

189

417

83.33

87.70

84.98

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

New York

9

5

0

385

319

101.06

100.30

102.45

2

New England

9

5

0

350

302

100.33

101.54

102.55

2

Miami

9

5

0

283

269

98.18

99.21

101.65

2

Buffalo

6

8

0

306

306

96.18

95.64

95.74

3

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Pittsburgh

11

3

0

302

192

109.24

108.44

108.71

2

Baltimore

9

5

0

325

213

108.79

107.24

107.78

3

Cleveland

4

10

0

232

305

96.76

96.59

94.25

2

Cincinnati

2

11

1

174

358

91.41

92.93

91.84

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Tennessee

12

2

0

344

197

109.87

107.77

108.10

2

Indianapolis

10

4

0

323

274

104.76

104.55

106.44

2

Houston

7

7

0

319

343

100.27

101.56

101.34

3

Jacksonville

5

9

0

271

309

98.34

97.85

96.61

3

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Denver

8

6

0

326

366

95.50

97.62

99.00

2

San Diego

6

8

0

346

302

101.75

100.18

99.56

2

Oakland

3

11

0

205

348

89.46

90.76

89.22

2

Kansas City

2

12

0

254

386

90.65

92.31

90.97

2

 

If The Playoffs Started Today

 

NFC 1st Round

#6 Tampa Bay at #3 Minnesota

#5 Dallas at #4 Arizona

 

#1 New York Giants would host lower surviving seed

#2 Carolina would host higher surviving seed

 

Still Alive

Atlanta 9-5-0, Philadelphia 8-5-1, Chicago 8-6-0, Washington 7-7-0

 

AFC 1st Round

#6 Baltimore at #3 New York Jets

#5 Indianapolis at #4 Denver

 

#1 Tennessee would host lower surviving seed

#2 Pittsburgh would host higher surviving seed

 

Still Alive

Miami 9-5-0 leads New England 9-5-0

San Diego would beat out Denver if both finished 8-8-0

 

Note: due to the Thursday game, weather forecasts and odds are those as of Wednesday 12 Noon EST

 

You will now see multiple numbers given in the Vegas line and Ov/Un.  I am listing the range given by the different books in Vegas and offshore as of 12 Noon EST Wednesday, so you can use the one that best meets your needs.  Remember though, if you use parlays and teasers, you must use the same source.  You cannot play a parlay using the odds from different books.  What you will see in my “imaginary picks” below will show different books, but each teaser will be composed of games from the same book.  When I believe it is okay to play different spreads of the same game, I have put those numbers in parentheses.  If you don’t see different choices, then I only recommend that single spread for that game.

 

I leave it to you to find out the book in question.  Generally, some of the big ones in Vegas are: Hilton, Caesar’s-Harrah’s, MGM Mirage, Stations, Leroy’s, Wynn, Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, and The Palms.  Some of the large offshore books include: BetUs, Bodog, Sportsbook, BetJamaica, and Pinnacle.

 

Average Simulation Scores for each game are now rounded to nearest whole number.

 

NFL Previews-Week 16

 

Indianapolis (10-4-0) at Jacksonville (5-9-0)

Time:           8:15 PM EST, Thursday

TV:               NFL Network

Forecast:     Clear, light wind, temperature falling from the upper to mid 60’s

 

PiRate:                Indianapolis by 3                  

Mean:                  Indianapolis by 4

Bias:                    Indianapolis by 7

 

Vegas:               Indianapolis by 6, 6.5, 7

Ov/Un:               44, 44.5

 

100 Sims:           Indianapolis 79  Jacksonville 21

Avg Sim Score:  Indianapolis 27  Jacksonville 22

Outlier 1a Sim:  Indianapolis 38  Jacksonville 13

Outlier 1b Sim:  Jacksonville 27 Indianapolis 17

 

Strategy:     Over 44, Indianapolis +4 in 10-point teaser, Indianapolis +7 in 13-point teaser, Indianapolis -250, Over 34 in 10-point teaser, Over 31 in 13-point teaser

 

Indianapolis has something to play for in this game as well as some revenge for a nasty loss in September.  Jacksonville will finish in last place in the division after being picked to win it by many pundits.

 

The Colts have won seven games straight after losing at Tennessee to fall to 3-4.  It is my belief that they will win this game and win next week against Tennessee to finish in a tie for first in the division (Titans hold the tiebreaker edge).

 

By winning this game, Indianapolis will sew up the #5 seed in the AFC Playoffs, and that means playing at Denver (San Diego) rather than the AFC East Champion.  I think they will be ready to play, and it will lead to a touchdown or more victory.  Then, watch out for Peyton Manning in the playoffs.

 

 

Baltimore (9-5-0) at Dallas (9-5-0)

Time:           8:15 PM EST, Saturday

TV:               NFL

Forecast:     Thunderstorms possible, then clearing as a cold front moves through, moderate wins, temperature at kickoff in the low to mid 60’s but dropping rapidly to the low 40’s

 

PiRate:                Baltimore by 4

Mean:                  Baltimore by 1

Bias:                    Tossup

 

Vegas:               Dallas by 4, 4.5, 5   

Ov/Un:               39, 39.5, 40

 

100 Sims:           Dallas 52  Baltimore 48

Avg Sim Score:  Dallas 19  Baltimore 18

Outlier 1a Sim:  Dallas 21  Baltimore 7

Outlier 1b Sim:  Baltimore 20  Dallas 10

 

Strategy:     Baltimore +15 in 10-point teaser, Baltimore +18 in 13-point teaser, Under 53 in 13-point teaser

 

This could be the last game ever played in Texas Stadium, as the Cowboys could only host the NFC Championship if they finish as the higher-seeded wildcard team and they play the lower-seeded wildcard team.

 

Both teams played critical games last week and should enter this game at less than full strength, if only psychologically.  Baltimore should be ready to rebound.  I am not sure about the Dallas players.  Combine the dissension with the probable bounce from beating the Giants, and I think they could play below expectations this week.

 

I believe Baltimore has the better chance of winning, but I will play it close to the vest and select the Ravens in the teasers.  While I would normally tease the Over for a primetime game, I am guessing that the Ravens’ anger will benefit their defense and not their offense.  I am looking for a 17-13 Baltimore win.  Ray Lewis is mad, and that’s worth four points.

 

 

New Orleans (7-7-0) at Detroit (0-14-0)

Time:           1:00 PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:                New Orleans by 12

Mean:                  New Orleans by 10

Bias:                    New Orleans by 10

 

Vegas:               New Orleans by 6.5, 7, 7.5   

Ov/Un:               50, 50.5, 51, 51.5

 

100 Sims:           New Orleans 87  Detroit 13

Avg Sim Score:  New Orleans 36  Detroit 22

Outlier 1a Sim:  New Orleans 55  Detroit 20

Outlier 1b Sim:  Detroit 34  New Orleans 27

 

Strategy:     Detroit +7½, Detroit +17½ in 10-point teaser, Detroit +20½ in 13-point teaser 

 

Detroit has two weeks left to avoid a history-making season they definitely do not want to have.  They will be playing these last two games like they are playoff games.  I think this may be their better shot.

 

New Orleans was eliminated from the playoff hunt last week, and they have nothing to play for.  Reggie Bush may not play in this game, and you beat the Lions by running the ball down their throats.

 

New Orleans’ defense is just weak enough for Dan Orlovsky to pass for 200 yards.  I don’t know if it will be enough to win, but I think the Lions can beat the spread, even if they give up 400 passing yard to Drew Brees.

 

 

Cincinnati (2-11-1) at Cleveland (4-10-0)

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Snow, strong wind, temperature in the mid to upper 30’s

 

PiRate:                Cleveland by 7

Mean:                  Cleveland by 6

Bias:                    Cleveland by 4

 

Vegas:               Cleveland by 2.5, 3        

Ov/Un:               33.5, 34, 34.5

 

100 Sims:           Cleveland 63 Cincinnati 37

Avg Sim Score:  Cleveland 23 Cincinnati 19

Outlier 1a Sim:  Cleveland 40 Cincinnati 21

Outlier 1b Sim:  Cincinnati 28 Cleveland 14

 

Strategy:     Over 23½ in 10-point teaser, Over 20½ in 13-point teaser      

 

This is strictly a strategy pick here.  I think the average NFL team could put their defensive players on offense and have a good chance of scoring 20 points against the Bengals.  I think the Bengals have a 65% chance of scoring 20 points against the Browns.  The weather is the only negative intangible.  If it is really windy with blowing snow, it could hold the score down.  Still, I have to believe that a 14-10 final is about as low as the scoring could be in this one.  The actual attendance for this game might rival the attendance for the Humanitarian Bowl in a couple weeks.

 

Miami (9-5-0) at Kansas City (2-12-0)

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, strong wind, temperature in the upper teens

 

PiRate:                Miami by 6

Mean:                  Miami by 5

Bias:                    Miami by 9

 

Vegas:                Miami by 3.5, 4

Ov/Un:               39.5, 40

 

100 Sims:           Miami 83  Kansas City 17

Avg Sim Score:  Miami 23  Kansas City 18

Outlier 1a Sim:  Miami 27  Kansas City 10

Outlier 1b Sim:  Kansas City 21 Miami 16 (4 others ended in 5-point wins)

 

Strategy:     Kansas City +14 in 10-point teaser, Kansas City +17 in 13-point teaser, Under 53 in 13-point teaser

 

Again, this game is another strategy pick game.  The Dolphins cannot prepare for 15-degree weather and wind chills below zero.  Kansas City seems to be the champion of losing close games.  Six of their losses have been by a touchdown or less.

 

Miami’s offense has been sputtering the last month or so, and I think the reason for it is that defenses have figured out how to play the single wing package.  The Dolphins’ defense should still control the Chiefs’ offense for most of the day, and I look for a final score of about 17-10 in favor of Tony Sparano’s Fish.

 

 

Pittsburgh (11-3-0) at Tennessee (12-2-0)

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Chance of light rain, strong wind, temperature in the upper 40’s

 

PiRate:                Tennessee by 3

Mean:                  Tennessee by 1

Bias:                    Tennessee by 1

 

Vegas:               Pk, Pittsburgh by 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5  

Ov/Un:               34.5, 35

 

100 Sims:           Pittsburgh 61  Tennessee 39

Avg Sim Score:  Pittsburgh 19  Tennessee 15

Outlier 1a Sim:  Pittsburgh 24  Tennessee 10

Outlier 1b Sim:  Tennessee 16  Pittsburgh 7

 

Strategy:     Pittsburgh Pk, Pittsburgh +10 in 10-point teaser, Pittsburgh +13 in 13-point teaser, Over 24½ in 10-point teaser, Over 21½ in 13-point teaser, Pittsburgh -130 

The winner of this game will have control over home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.  The Titans seemed to have it clinched a few weeks ago when they held a three-game lead over the field.  After losses to the Jets and Texans and with Pittsburgh on a five-game winning streak, it sets up this big game.

 

The Steelers come into this game rather healthy for Week 17.  The Titans are hurting big time.  Both Kyle Vanden Bosch and Albert Haynesworth are finished for the regular season, and the Titans cannot rely on greybeard Jevon Kearse to be his old freakish self. 

 

Neither team strikes fear in opponents with their offenses, but Ben Roethlisberger is considerably better than Kerry Collins, and the Steelers’ receiving corps is much better than that of the Titans.

 

I believe the Steelers will outmuscle the Titans in the trenches and win an ugly game that leaves both teams in even worse shape as the final week approaches.  It is highly possible Tennessee will limp into the playoffs with a three-game losing streak, while Pittsburgh enjoys a seven-game winning streak with home field advantage theirs.

 

 

Philadelphia (8-5-1) at Washington (7-7-0)

Time:           1:00 PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Rain, freezing rain, and sleet, light wind, temperature falling through the 30’s

 

PiRate:                Philadelphia by 8

Mean:                  Philadelphia by 6

Bias:                    Philadelphia by 6

 

Vegas:               Philadelphia by 4.5, 5, 5.5

Ov/Un:               39, 39.5

 

100 Sims:           Philadelphia 60  Washington 40

Avg Sim Score:  Philadelphia 26  Washington 20

Outlier 1a Sim:  Philadelphia 38  Washington 16

Outlier 1b Sim:  Washington 24  Philadelphia 13

 

Strategy:     Philadelphia -4½, Philadelphia -215, Philadelphia +5½ in 10-point teaser, Philadelphia +8½ in 13-point teaser, Over 26 in 13-point teaser

Since Thanksgiving, the Eagles have played the best ball of all the NFC teams, while the Redskins performance has been no better than St. Louis or Detroit.

 

Both teams technically still have a chance to reach the playoffs, but Washington’s chances are about the same as one of their players winning the mega millions lottery.

 

Philadelphia has some amends to make up for after losing by six to the Redskins in early October.  At the time, the Eagles were in a funk while Washington was coming up with a way to win every week.  Expect a completely different game this week.  I’m looking for Philadelphia to win by five or more points and wouldn’t be surprised if that “more” was something like 10-17 points, as I am looking for Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook to shine.  

 

 

San Francisco (5-9-0) at St. Louis (2-12-0)

Time:           1:00PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:                San Francisco by 10

Mean:                 San Francisco by 7

Bias:                    San Francisco by 9

 

Vegas:                San Francisco by 5, 5.5

Ov/Un:               43, 43.5, 44

 

100 Sims:           San Francisco 68  St. Louis 32

Avg Sim Score:  San Francisco 25  St. Louis 17

Outlier 1a Sim:  San Francisco 35  St. Louis 13

Outlier 1b Sim:  St. Louis 17  San Francisco 12

 

Strategy:     Under 57 in 13-point teaser

Since that crazy 34-14 upset over Dallas, St. Louis has averaged just 11.6 points per game in their last eight games.  Since Mike Singletary took over as coach, the 49ers have yielded just 18.5 points per game (10.3 in their last 3).  That doesn’t bode well for the Rams’ offense.  I would be shocked if they reach 17 points in this contest.  San Francisco is no juggernaut on offense, and they could very well score 17 points or less themselves.

 

This game should be close, and I cannot see a scenario where both teams reach 20 points.  The highest score I could see in this would be around 28-17, so I like teasing the Under in this game.

 

 

San Diego (6-8-0) at Tampa Bay (9-5-0)

Time:           1:00 PM EST

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:                Tampa Bay by 5

Mean:                 Tampa Bay by 6

Bias:                    Tampa Bay by 8

 

Vegas:                Tampa Bay by 3, 3.5      

Ov/Un:               42, 42.5

 

100 Sims:           Tampa Bay 73  San Diego 27

Avg Sim Score:  Tampa Bay 29  San Diego 20

Outlier 1a Sim:  Tampa Bay 34  San Diego 13

Outlier 1b Sim:  San Diego 31  Tampa Bay 24

 

Strategy:     Over 32 in 10-point teaser, Over 29 in 13-point teaser

San Diego is so unpredictable, while Tampa Bay has been out of sync the last couple of weeks.  I won’t begin to try to figure out which team will win this “must win” game, but I will surmise that both teams will top 17 points in this strategy play.  I am hesitant to pick the Buccaneers to win at home, as they have been struggling to put together a total effort in the last month. 

 

San Diego has been involved in nine close games, in which the Chargers have gone just 2-7.  They play about the same on the road as they do at home.  It wouldn’t be much of an upset if they won this game, and it wouldn’t be surprising if they found a way to lose another close one.

 

 

Arizona (8-6-0) at New England (9-5-0)

Time:           1:00PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Light snow, moderate wind, temperature in the low 30’s

 

PiRate:                New England by 2

Mean:                  New England by 4

Bias:                    New England by 4

 

Vegas:               New England by 7.5, 8, 9

Ov/Un:               44, 44.5

 

100 Sims:           New England 57  Arizona 43

Avg Sim Score:  New England 29  Arizona 27

Outlier 1a Sim:  New England 41  Arizona 24

Outlier 1b Sim:  Arizona 45  New England 28

 

Strategy:     New England +2½ in 10-point teaser, New England +5½ in 13-point teaser, New England -335, Over 34 in 10-point teaser, Over 31 in 13-point teaser 

Arizona can do nothing to change its playoff destination.  The Cardinals will host an opening round game in the playoffs whether they finish 10-6, 9-7, or 8-8.  Yes, they could be the number three or number four seed, but it really won’t make much difference.

 

New England is still very much on the playoff bubble.  At 9-5-0, they are the eighth team in the AFC, and only six teams make the playoffs.  This game is much more important to them than it is to the Cardinals.  The snow and cold weather should help them a bit in this game.

 

Arizona is just 4-4 since their bye week.  The Cardinals have been struggling against the good teams and have fattened up on the weak teams.  Against teams with a losing record, they are 6-0.  In their last eight games against teams either in the playoffs or in the hunt for a playoff spot, they have given up 38 points per game.

 

New England is a Jekyll and Hyde team.  They have two typical offensive outputs.  Either they struggle offensively and lose 24-13 or they move the ball like they did most of last year and win 45-21.  I can see no reason not to believe that this will be one of those weeks where the Patriots have little trouble advancing the pigskin, even in inclement weather. 

 

Kurt Warner may pass for 300-350 yards, but I don’t see the Cardinals matching the Pats point for point.  I’ll go with Matt Cassel and crew to win 31-21 or thereabouts.

 

 

Houston (7-7-0) at Oakland (3-11-0)

Time:           4:05PM EST

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Mostly cloudy, light wind, temperature in the upper 40’s

 

PiRate:                Houston by 9

Mean:                 Houston by 9

Bias:                   Houston by 10

 

Vegas:               Houston by 7, 7.5, 8      

Ov/Un:               44, 44.5

 

100 Sims:           Houston 77  Oakland 23

Avg Sim Score:  Houston 26  Oakland 18

Outlier 1a Sim:  Houston 33  Oakland 14

Outlier 1b Sim:  Oakland 27  Houston 23

 

Strategy:     Houston +3 in 10-point teaser, Houston +6 in 13-point teaser

Houston could easily be in the playoff mix this season if it weren’t for all the troubles the team endured at the beginning of the season due to the hurricane.  Two close losses to Indianapolis and an overtime loss to Jacksonville keep them from owning a 10-4-0 record.  The Texans have won four in a row, and they can see a winning record in their future.  They must win this game and then beat the Bears at Reliant Stadium next week to clinch their first ever winning season.

 

Oakland would just like for this season to end.  When they lost at home to the Chiefs, the Raider defense seemed to have folded up the tent for the season.

 

I think Houston could win this game in a blowout, but the Texans are coming off an emotional high after defeating Tennessee.  So, I must caution you to be conservative in this one and consider the possibility that Houston could be a little flat this week.  They may have a hard time just winning by any amount, so go with them in the teasers.

 

 

New York Jets (9-5-0) at Seattle (3-11-0)

Time:           4:05 PM EST

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Snow, light wind, temperature in the upper 20’s

 

PiRate:                Jets by 7

Mean:                 Jets by 4

Bias:                   Jets by 7

 

Vegas:                Jets by 4.5, 5, 6

Ov/Un:               44, 44.5

 

100 Sims:           Jets 64  Seattle 36

Avg Sim Score:  Jets 32  Seattle 26

Outlier 1a Sim:  Jets 48  Seattle 21

Outlier 1b Sim:  Seattle 30  Jets 24 ot (largest spread)

 

Strategy:     Seattle +16 in 10-point teaser, Seattle +19 in 13-point teaser, Under 57½ in 13-point teaser

This will be Mike Holmgren’s last home game as coach of the Seahawks, and look who will be the opposing quarterback-the guy who wears the same Super Bowl ring he wears.

 

The Jets have made three other trips to the West Coast this year.  They lost at San Diego 48-29, at Oakland 16-13 in OT, and at San Francisco 24-14.  Seattle is no worse than Oakland and split with San Francisco, so they should have a decent chance to win this one.

 

The Jets control their own destiny.  If they win this game and then beat the Dolphins next week, they are the AFC East Champions.  If they lose this week, then they will need a New England loss and a win over Miami to get into the playoffs.

 

Brett Favre usually finds a way to win this type of game.  I think the Jets realize they are unlikely to make the playoffs if they lose.  However, I don’t expect them to win by double digits.  They will be happy to win by a field goal, so I like the home team in the teasers.

 

 

Buffalo (6-8-0) at Denver (8-6-0)

Time:           4:05 PM EST

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, light wind, temperature in the upper 20’s

 

PiRate:                Denver by 1

Mean:                 Denver by 4

Bias:                   Denver by 5

 

Vegas:                Denver by 6.5, 7, 7.5   

Ov/Un:               43.5, 44

 

100 Sims:           Denver 55  Buffalo 45

Avg Sim Score:  Denver 30  Buffalo 27

Outlier 1a Sim:  Denver 41  Buffalo 23

Outlier 1b Sim:  Buffalo 28  Denver 17

 

Strategy:       Denver +3½ in 10-point teaser, Denver +6½ in 13-point teaser, Over 30½ in 13-point teaser

Two months ago, the Bills were 4-0 and the darlings of the NFL media world.  Coach Dick Jauron was a genius.  10 years go, Mike Shanahan was a genius.  Now, those same pundits believe neither coach could properly lead their teams out of paper bags.

 

The truth of the matter is that both of these teams have glaring holes on the defensive side of the ball, and both of these teams have been hurt by injuries on the attack side.

 

Trent Edwards will return to the lineup for Buffalo, and the Bills’ offense should rebound with a stellar effort.  Buffalo should top 21 points in this game.

 

Jay Cutler will go over 4,000 total passing yards in this game, as I expect him to top 275 yards against the Bills’ secondary.  Denver should top 24 points. 

 

The Broncos will win the AFC West without any help from Tampa Bay this week.  Look for the home team to win by five to eight points.    

 

 

Atlanta (9-5-0) at Minnesota (9-5-0)

Time:           4:15 PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:                Minnesota by 2

Mean:                  Minnesota by 4

Bias:                    Minnesota by 5

 

Vegas:               Minnesota by 3, 3.5

Ov/Un:               43, 43.5, 44, 44.5

 

100 Sims:           Minnesota 52  Atlanta 48

Avg Sim Score:  Minnesota 24  Atlanta 24

Outlier 1a Sim:  Minnesota 28  Atlanta 16

Outlier 1b Sim:  Atlanta 23  Minnesota 13

 

Strategy:     Minnesota +7 in 10-point teaser, Minnesota +10 in 13-point teaser, Over 30 in 13-point teaser

This is going to be a great game, and most of the nation will get to see it.  The Vikings will clinch the old black and blue division if they win, whereas the Falcons will likely move into the number six position in the playoff field if they win. 

 

Look at Minnesota’s resume since September.  The purple people eaters have won eight of their last 10 games.  The two losses have come on the road by seven and six points.  Gus Frerotte came off the bench to start the turnaround, but Tarvaris Jackson looked like an All-pro last week against Arizona.

 

Atlanta is a tough team in 2008.  They play like the Bears of the 1960’s and 1980’s.  Michael Turner should top the 1,500 yard rushing barrier some time during this game, and he should match Adrian Peterson yard for yard, even against the Vikings’ tough run defense.

 

The difference in this game could be Bernard Berrian.  He can take a simple pass reception and turn it into a 40 yard gain.  The Falcon secondary will have to play a little more loose to prevent Berrian from breaking a long one.  That should give Peterson just enough extra edge to have a five to six yards per carry average.  I’ll take the Vikings in a close one in the neighborhood of 24-21.

 

Carolina (11-3-0) at New York Giants (11-3-0)  

Time:           8:15PM EST

TV:               NBC

Forecast:     Rain, sleet, and snow, moderate wind, temperature falling from the mid 30’s to the mid 20’s

                    

PiRate:                Giants by 4

Mean:                  Giants by 3

Bias:                    Giants by 1

 

Vegas:               Giants by 3, 3.5

Ov/Un:               37.5, 38, 38.5, 39

 

100 Sims:           Giants 51 Carolina 48 1 Tie (8 OT games)

Avg Sim Score:  Carolina 20  Giants 19

Outlier 1a Sim:  Carolina 24  Giants 7

Outlier 1b Sim:  Giants 21  Carolina 12

 

Strategy:     Carolina +13½ in 10-point teaser, Carolina +16½ in 13-point teaser, Over 24½ in 13-point teaser

Carolina has its offense in gear, averaging 32.4 points in their last five games.  The Giants have played more like the Rams since the Plaxico Burress shooting incident.  Now, Brandon Jacobs is hurting, and even though it looks like he will play, don’t expect him to rush for 70 yards Sunday night.

 

Carolina has been quite fortunate to this point of the season.  Their defense has stayed healthy all season with nary a start being missed.  That could change this week as defensive tackle Maake Kemoeatu could miss this game with a tweaked ankle.

 

To the winner will more than likely go home field advantage for the playoffs.  I believe Carolina will pass the ball a little more than they normally do to set up the running game with their dynamic duo of James Stewart and DeAngelo Williams.  Jake Delhomme should pass for 200 yards, and the Panthers will win by about a field goal to a touchdown.

 

 

Green Bay (5-9-0) at Chicago (8-6-0)

Time:           8:30PM EST Monday

TV:               ESPN

Forecast:     Cloudy, moderate wind, temperature holding steady in the mid teens

 

PiRate:                Chicago by 1

Mean:                  Chicago by 3

Bias:                    Chicago by 6

 

Vegas:                Chicago by 4, 4.5

Ov/Un:               41.5, 42

 

100 Sims:           Chicago 89  Green Bay 11

Avg Sim Score:  Chicago 29  Green Bay 18

Outlier 1a Sim:  Chicago 37  Green Bay 17

Outlier 1b Sim:  Green Bay 32  Chicago 27

 

Strategy:     Chicago -4, Chicago -195, Chicago +6 in 10-point teaser, Chicago +9 in 13-point teaser, Over 31½ in 10-point teaser, Over 28½ in 13-point teaser

This is a tough game to analyze due to major intangible factors that won’t be known until Sunday evening.  If Minnesota beats Atlanta, then the Bears could be eliminated from the playoffs.  They will be eliminated from the NFC North race, and they will have only a tiny chance of gaining a wildcard spot.

 

Green Bay’s defense has gone south too many times this year, and that’s why the Packers are going to lose more than they win.  The offense hasn’t been as powerful since the first game against the Bears, and this game could see a near reversal of that one-but only if the Bears really have something to play for.

 

Regardless of the outcome in Minneapolis, I see Chicago winning this game by stopping the Green Bay offense and scoring just enough to be comfortably ahead as the fourth quarter starts.  Call it a 27-14 win on the Midway, as Kyle Orton passes for 250 yards against Aaron Rodgers’ 200 and a pick or two.

 

 

 A Bad Week Follow A Good Week

 

I made a mistake last week when I posted my picks for the week, and it wound up costing me two games.  Thus, I finished 1-4 when I should have gone 3-2.  Mistakes count, whether here or at a betting window, so I have to live with the consequences.  It made me quite upset when I realized it Sunday morning.

 

For the season, the record against the spread is now 95-79-7, which computes to 54.6%. 

 

I am going with a variety of picks this week, but I am not overly thrilled with the choices.  In past years, I have been more excited about the end of the season games than the early part of the schedule.  This year, I am finding it harder and harder to identify excellent plays as the season comes to the end.

 

Here are my wagers for week 17 (all wagered to win $100 or $100 wagered if at + odds on a parlay or money line):

 

1. Indianapolis & Jacksonville Over 44

 

2. Pittsburgh Pk vs. Tennessee

 

3. Philadelphia -4½ vs. Washington

 

4. Chicago -4 vs. Green Bay

 

5. Indianapolis -250 vs. Jacksonville

 

6. Philadelphia -215 vs. Washington

 

7. New England -335 vs. Arizona

 

8. Chicago -195 vs. Green Bay

 

9. 10-point teaser

Indianapolis +4 vs. Jacksonville

Indianapolis & Jacksonville Over 34

Baltimore +15 vs. Dallas

 

10. 10-point teaser

Detroit +17½ vs. New Orleans

Cincinnati & Cleveland Over 23½

Kansas City +14 vs. Miami

 

11. 10-point teaser

Pittsburgh +10 vs. Tennessee

Philadelphia +5½ vs. Washington

San Diego & Tampa Bay Over 32

 

12. 10-point teaser

New England +2½ vs. Arizona

New England & Arizona Over 34

Houston +3 vs. Oakland

 

13. 10-point teaser

Seattle +16 vs. New York Jets

Denver +3½ vs. Buffalo

Minnesota +7 vs. Atlanta

 

14. 10-point teaser

Carolina +13½ vs. New York Giants

Chicago +6 vs. Green Bay

Chicago & Green Bay Over 31½

 

15. 13-point teaser

Baltimore +18 vs. Dallas

Kansas City +17 vs. Miami

Pittsburgh +13 vs. Tennessee

Philadelphia +8½ vs. Washington

 

16. 13-point teaser

San Francisco & St. Louis Under 57

New England +5½ vs. Arizona

New England & Arizona Over 31

Houston +6 vs. Oakland

 

17. 13-point teaser

Seattle +19 vs. New York Jets

Minnesota +10 vs. Atlanta

Carolina +16½ vs. New York Giants

Chicago +9 vs. Green Bay

   

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 these wagers lose this week, so you shouldn’t risk a penny on these picks either.  This is strictly for fun.

November 6, 2008

PiRate Ratings Week 10 NFL Previews: November 6-10, 2008

PiRate Ratings For NFL Week 10

 

The PiRate Pro Ratings (Rating)

 

The NFL version of the PiRate Ratings is not the same as the collegiate version.  The NFL version is strictly a statistical formula than could be reproduced by anybody who knew the equations I use to devise the formula.  No subjective data is used.

 

The formula combines scoring margin, strength of schedule, and early in the season, last year’s scoring margin and strength of schedule.  As the season progresses, last year’s data decreases to where it has little effect by mid-October. 

 

The Mean Ratings (Mean)

 

Just like the PiRate Ratings, the NFL Mean Ratings are not the same as the collegiate version.  The NFL Mean Ratings consist of a dozen different calculations.  Three calculations consist of different ways to look at point differential and strength of schedule.  Five calculations look at yards gained and allowed rushing and passing and special teams play with the strength of the opponents’ rushing and passing.  Point values are assigned based on each set of data.  The remaining four ratings are my old four pro ratings from the 1970’s and 1980’s.  The 12 ratings are given equal weight, and then I take the average (mean) to get the rating.

 

The Bias Ratings (Biased)

 

The Bias Ratings consist of five of the components of The Mean Ratings.  The five ratings are not given equal weight.  The five ratings are weighted at 37.5%, 25%, 12.5%, 12.5%, and 12.5%.  I have back tested these ratings and found that this weighting gives the rating its best predictive percentage.

 

All three ratings are normalized so that 100 is average.  If I don’t mess up with the math, each of the three ratings should average 100.  The teams’ ratings show how many points above or below average they are in comparison with the rest of the league.  A rating of 107 means that team is a touchdown better than average, while a rating of 93 means that team is a touchdown weaker than average. 

 

I do not attempt to rate teams from different years.  A 107-rated team in 2008 is not the same as a 107-rated team from 1972.  We all know that due to the evolution of strength and quickness, today’s Detroit Lions would blow the 1972 Miami Dolphins off the field.

Current NFL Standings

                         
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

New York

7

1

0

226

129

109.14

107.20

108.43

2

Washington

6

3

0

171

168

101.74

102.36

101.48

2

Philadelphia

5

3

0

220

144

110.07

106.36

107.24

2

Dallas

5

4

0

216

219

101.30

101.71

100.36

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Chicago

5

3

0

223

173

107.23

103.65

103.43

2

Green Bay

4

4

0

210

178

104.67

103.70

102.33

2

Minnesota

4

4

0

182

188

101.75

100.67

100.84

2

Detroit

0

8

0

137

239

89.18

90.56

90.31

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Carolina

6

2

0

174

127

107.60

104.89

105.56

2

Tampa Bay

6

3

0

200

147

105.89

103.85

102.61

2

Atlanta

5

3

0

177

154

102.86

101.51

102.13

2

New Orleans

4

4

0

216

195

101.57

100.90

100.55

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Arizona

5

3

0

234

184

104.89

103.95

104.23

3

San Francisco

2

6

0

171

230

92.37

92.64

94.36

3

Seattle

2

6

0

151

210

92.73

94.48

94.80

3

St. Louis

2

6

0

125

235

88.22

92.18

92.84

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

New York

5

3

0

208

187

98.82

100.05

100.73

2

New England

5

3

0

168

150

97.96

101.13

100.78

2

Buffalo

5

3

0

182

169

98.19

98.80

99.16

3

Miami

4

4

0

171

163

100.66

99.80

99.85

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Pittsburgh

6

2

0

178

116

109.21

107.03

106.91

2

Baltimore

5

3

0

171

137

104.08

103.73

103.42

3

Cleveland

3

5

0

142

160

99.50

99.87

98.13

2

Cincinnati

1

8

0

125

236

90.87

92.55

93.74

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Tennessee

8

0

0

199

103

110.47

108.75

108.70

2

Indianapolis

4

4

0

167

177

101.55

101.48

100.66

2

Jacksonville

3

5

0

160

172

98.69

99.15

98.13

3

Houston  

3

5

0

196

213

98.14

98.36

98.46

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Denver

4

4

0

190

221

93.84

95.57

97.04

2

San Diego

3

5

0

224

199

101.35

100.72

99.87

2

Oakland

2

6

0

107

201

86.91

91.22

90.88

2

Kansas City

1

7

0

126

223

88.42

91.10

92.06

2

 

Note: due to Thursday games for the next few weeks, weather forecasts and odds are those as of Wednesday Noon EST

 

NFL Previews-Week 10

 

Denver (4-4) at Cleveland (3-5)

Time:           8:15 EST Thursday 11/06

TV:               NFL Network

Forecast:     Clear, light winds, temperature falling from upper 50’s to lower 50’s

 

PiRate:         Cleveland by 6  

Mean:           Cleveland by 6

Bias:             Cleveland by 3

Vegas:        Cleveland by 3   -150/+170

Ov/Un:        46

Strategy:     Cleveland -3, Cleveland +7 in 10-point teaser, Cleveland +10 in 13-point teaser, Over 33 in 13-point teaser

Brady Quinn takes over at quarterback for the Browns, and I would normally penalize Cleveland some for this.  However, he will be facing a Bronco secondary that is weak and getting weaker due to injuries.  I expect Quinn to complete about 20-25 passes for 225-275 yards.  The Browns’ running attack should pick up some important yardage, even though it will be measured in quality and not quantity.

 

Jay Cutler is on pace to pass for more than 4,000 yards, but it’s starting to look like Denver’s offense will not score enough points to counter their atrocious defense.  The Broncos could very well give up close to 450 points, and no team makes the playoffs when giving up that many points.  For this game, half of the Denver starting secondary will be out, and top tackler D.J. Williams will be out as well.

 

For this reason, and also because it is a weeknight primetime affair, I like teasing the Over to start off week 10.  Because Denver is on the decline, and this is a must win game for Romero Crennel’s team (Cleveland must finish 9-7 or better or he’s gone).  I like the Browns at home, and a field goal isn’t much to cover in what should be a high scoring game.  Even with Quinn under center, I expect Cleveland to win 34-27 or something like that.  It should be quite an entertaining game for the small percentage of fans that can pick up the NFL Network.   

 

Jacksonville (3-5) at Detroit (0-8)

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:         Jacksonville by 10

Mean:           Jacksonville by 6

Bias:             Jacksonville by 6

Vegas:        Jacksonville by 6½         -260/+240

Ov/Un:        36½

Strategy:     Detroit +16½ in 10-point teaser, Detroit +19½ in 13-point teaser, Over 23½ in 13-point teaser   

Jacksonville was humiliated by the winless Bengals last week, and now the Jags get the opportunity to go double or nothing with the final winless team.  This is a Detroit team without its starting quarterback as well.  Daunte Culpepper is the likely starter for this game, and he was cast away by the lowly Dolphins and Raiders the last two years.

 

This looks like a chance for Jacksonville to right their listing ship, but I don’t expect the Jaguars to win by two touchdowns.  They should regroup and pick up the win this week, but they will have to play well for four quarters to do so, as I cannot see them blowing any opponent off the field (their three wins were by two, three, and seven points).

 

Tennessee (8-0) at Chicago (5-3)

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Mostly cloudy, strong wind, temperature in the upper 30’s

 

PiRate:         Chicago by 1     

Mean:           Tennessee by 3

Bias:             Tennessee by 3

Vegas:        Tennessee by 3        -150/+130  

Ov/Un:        38½

Strategy:     Chicago +13 in 10-point teaser, Chicago +16 in 13-point teaser, Under 51½ in 13-point teaser

The Titans will be facing their toughest opponent of the season this week when they head to Soldier Field.  Weather conditions will be as harsh as they have seen in a long time, and the Bears are good enough to peg a loss on the last undefeated team.

 

The Titans’ defense is riddled with key injuries, as Kyle Vanden Bosch and Keith Bulluck could both miss the game.  Albert Haynesworth cannot make all the plays.  On offense, Kerry Collins is not 100%, and if he has to come out of the game, I am not sure Vince Young is ready to return to the field.

 

Chicago’s defensive strength is against the run, and Tennessee’s primary offensive weapon is the running game.  I believe the Bears will hold LenDale White and Chris Johnson under 100 combined yards in this game and force the Titans to pass the ball to receivers who have not caught passes in 35-degree temperatures this year. 

 

Chicago’s offense could be what prevents them from pulling off the upset.  Starting quarterback Kyle Orton may or may not play due to an ankle injury.  If he plays, he won’t be very mobile against a defense that likes to send extra pass rushers.  If backup Rex Grossman plays, the Bears may see their offense grind to a halt like it did in the past.

 

I think this game will be decided on special teams play.  Chicago’s Devin Hester has yet to break a long punt return and only has one relatively long kick return.  Tennessee’s kick and punt coverage units are the team’s liabilities.

 

New Orleans (4-4) at Atlanta (5-3)

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:         Atlanta by 2

Mean:           Atlanta by 3

Bias:             Atlanta by 3

Vegas:        Tossup         -110/-110

Ov/Un:        50½

Strategy:     Atlanta +10 in 10-point teaser, Atlanta +13 in 13-point teaser, Under 63½ in 13-point teaser   

I would tend to pick the Falcons straight up in this game, but they are returning from a West Coast trip while New Orleans had a week off.  They may not have needed Sam Baker to protect Matt Ryan against the Oakland defense, but he will be missed some this week.

 

When two teams are relatively even as a whole, it is a rare event for the home team to lose by two touchdowns.  That is the main reason why I like Atlanta in teaser plays.  The Falcons’ defense has yet to yield 28 points in any game, and I think they will hold the Saints’ outstanding offense to 27 points or less.  I cannot see Atlanta topping 35, so I love the 13-point teaser above.

 

St. Louis (2-6) at New York Jets (5-3)

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, light wind, temperature in low to mid 50’s

 

PiRate:         Jets by 10

Mean:           Jets by 10

Bias:             Jets by 9

Vegas:         Jets by 8     -335/+325

Ov/Un:        44½

Strategy:     Jets +2 in 10-point teaser, Jets +5 in 13-point teaser, Over 31½ in 13-point teaser

The Rams’ modest rebound with two wins and a near loss is now a recent memory.  Last week, Arizona brought St. Louis back to reality.  The Rams have several key injuries, most notably at running back where Steven Jackson and Antonio Pittman are both hurt.  Jackson may play, but he will not be all that effective if he goes.

 

The Rams had great difficulty defending the magical arm of Kurt Warner when the former Ram returned to St. Louis.  Now, they must play in the new hometown Favreorite in the Big Apple.  Brett Favre could have his best day in a Jets’ uniform.  I expect a 250-yard passing game from number four, and I believe the running game will add another 120 or more yards. 

 

St. Louis will score about 13-17 points in this game, and I expect the Jets to top 24.  Thus, playing it a little defensively, I like teasing the Over here. 

 

Buffalo (5-3) at New England (5-3)

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Mostly cloudy, light wind, temperature in low to mid 50’s

 

PiRate:         Buffalo by 1

Mean:          New England by 4

Bias:            New England by 3

Vegas:        New England by 3½ -185/+175

Ov/Un:        41½

Strategy:     New England -185, New England -3½, New England +6½ in 10-point teaser, New England +9½ in 13-point teaser, Under 54½ in 13-point teaser   

Buffalo has found the going a little tough once they began playing teams from their own division.  Consecutive losses at Miami and at home to the Jets have brought the Bills back to the pack.  A loss this week, and the Bills will fall out of first place and possibly into last place.

 

New England is going to prod along the second half of the season and finish with a 10-6 record (give or take a game).  They should make the playoffs, but they won’t be expected to get to the AFC Championship Game.  They lost last week at Indianapolis, and I expect them to rebound with a win this week.

 

Baltimore (5-3) at Houston (3-5)

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, moderate wind, temperature in the upper 70’s

 

PiRate:         Baltimore by 2

Mean:           Baltimore by 2

Bias:             Baltimore by 2

Vegas:        Baltimore by 1   -120/+100

Ov/Un:        42

Strategy:     Baltimore +9 in 10-point teaser, Baltimore +12 in 13-point teaser, Houston +14 in 13-point teaser, Over 29 in 13-point teaser, Under 55 in 13-point teaser

Baltimore is an intriguing team.  If Joe Flacco can continue to play just a tad above average, this team can become a dark horse candidate for getting to the Super Bowl.  Even with Willis McGahee on the shelf, the Raven ground game excelled with the running of Ray Rice.  This Baltimore is considerably better than the Super Bowl Champion team eight years ago.  The defense is not as strong, but it is good enough for the Ravens to finish with 11 wins.

 

Houston is still in the mix at 3-5, but they have no room for error.  They will have to go at least 7-1 in the second half to make the playoffs.  I don’t see it happening.  They will be tough to beat at Reliant Stadium, but they are beatable.  I am looking to play both ends against the middle in the teasers in this one.

 

Seattle (2-6) at Miami (4-4)

Time:           1:00 PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Chance of showers, light wind, temperature in the upper 70’s

 

PiRate:         Miami by 9

Mean:           Miami by 7

Bias:             Miami by 7

Vegas:        Miami by 8½      -350/+320

Ov/Un:        43

Strategy:     Miami -350, Miami +1½ in 10-point teaser, Miami +4½ in 13-point teaser, Over 30 in 10-point teaser, Over 27 in 13-point teaser 

The Seahawks have flown to the East Coast three times this season and have an 0-3 record to show for it.  Those losses came by a combined 98-26 score against Buffalo, the Giants, and Tampa Bay.  Miami is just a small notch behind the average strength of those three teams, and I expect more of the same in this one.  It’s asking too much for the Dolphins to cover at 8½ points, but I think their chances of winning are more than good enough to look at the Money Line.  I have a new wager I am playing this week to help make that type of wager less dangerous.

 

I am looking for the Dolphins to win their third game in a row and reveal to the rest of the league that they are serious contenders for a playoff berth.  Let’s go with a Miami win in the neighborhood of 27-20.

 

Green Bay (4-4) at Minnesota (4-4)

Time:           1:00PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:         Green Bay by 1

Mean:           Green Bay by 1

Bias:             Tossup

Vegas:        Minnesota by 2½     -130/+120

Ov/Un:        45½

Strategy:     Green Bay +2½, Green Bay +120, Green Bay +12½ in 10-point teaser, Green Bay +15½ in 13-point teaser, Over 35½ in 10-point teaser, Over 32½ in 13-point teaser  

The first time these teams played, the teams’ two offenses had not yet put it all together.  The Vikings needed a new quarterback, and the Packers needed their new quarterback to get his feet wet.

 

This time around, both teams are considerably better on the attack side, with Gus Frerotte now the starting quarterback of the rejuvenated purple attack and Aaron Rodgers playing like a seasoned veteran.

 

This game has more meaning than just the old rivalry.  The winner will be 5-4 and on the top side of the wildcard bubble, while the loser will be 4-5 and on the bottom of the bubble.  With the Bears playing Tennessee, it gives the winner of this game a chance to be in a first place tie.

 

You might want to check Friday to see how Rodgers’ shoulder is before making a selection in this game.  Since I cannot do so due to there being a Thursday night game, I am guessing Rodgers will be just fine on Sunday.  If so, I can see the Pack pulling off the season’s sweep.

 

Carolina (6-2) at Oakland (2-6)

Time:           4:05 PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Mostly sunny, moderate wind, temperature in the upper 50’s

 

PiRate:         Carolina by 18

Mean:          Carolina by 12

Bias:             Carolina by 13

Vegas:         Carolina by 9½         -400/+360

Ov/Un:        37½

Strategy:     Carolina -400, Carolina +½ in 10-point teaser, Carolina +3½ in 13-point teaser, Under 50½ in 13-point teaser

Did you see the Oakland-Atlanta game last Sunday?  If so, let me tell you how sorry I am that you had nothing better to do.  The Raiders act like they wish they could be doing anything else but playing football.  If they had punted on first down every time they had the ball in the first half last week, they would have finished with two more total yards than they actually had going to the locker room.

 

It is starting to look like JaMarcus Russell is going to be a miss.  At the least, he needs more time to study the game.  He cannot learn much running for his life 20 times a game.

 

The Panthers have won just one road game thus far, but it was at San Diego.  The Carolina players know this is a must win game, for they cannot afford to lose to the lowly Raiders and expect to win a division where 8-8 could be sole possession of last place.

 

I expect the Panthers to play it a little close to the vest and rely on superior talent match-ups to produce a plodding, but assured victory.  I see a 28-14 win in the offing.

 

Kansas City (1-7) at San Diego (3-5)

Time:           4:15PM EST

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Mostly sunny, light wind, temperature in mid to upper 60’s

 

 

PiRate:         San Diego by 17

Mean:           San Diego by 12

Bias:             San Diego by 10

Vegas:        San Diego by 15½   -1000/+700

Ov/Un:        47

Strategy:     San Diego -1000, San Diego -5½ in 10-point teaser, San Diego -2½ in 13-point teaser, Over 34 in 13-point teaser, Under 60 in 13-point teaser 

Okay, now just settle down a minute!  I am not advocating that you risk a grand to win a c-note.  I don’t care if the Chargers are playing a high school team from Kansas City; it’s never worth it to play at 1-10 odds.  You will have to read down at the bottom to see why I have this game listed as part of my strategy.

 

On the surface, the Chargers have about a 90-95% chance of winning, so the odds of playing at 1-10 are honest.  Still, I would never play with that type of risk.  However, I really don’t love taking San Diego in the teasers.  They could escape with a close win and still not meet the spread.

 

San Diego had an extra week to prepare for a weak team.  It could lead to a big slaughter, but it could also lead to complacency, as the players might believe they won’t have to play 100% to win the game. 

 

Indianapolis (4-4) at Pittsburgh (6-2)

Time:           4:15PM EST

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Rain possibly mixed with snow, light wind, temperature falling from low 40’s to mid 30’s

 

PiRate:         Pittsburgh by 8

Mean:           Pittsburgh by 8

Bias:             Pittsburgh by 8

Vegas:        No Line       

Ov/Un:        None

Strategy:     None

Ben Roethlisberger may or may not play, so there is no official line for this game. I have seen an unofficial line of Pittsburgh -3.  If the line was at three, I would like the Colts in a 13-point teaser at +16. 

 

New York Giants (7-1) at Philadelphia (5-3)

Time:           8:15PM EST

TV:               NBC

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, light wind, temperature dropping from near 50 to the low 40’s

                    

PiRate:         Philadelphia by 5

Mean:           Philadelphia by 1

Bias:             Philadelphia by 1

Vegas:        Philadelphia by 3     -140/+130

Ov/Un:        43

Strategy:     Philadelphia -3, Philadelphia -140, Philadelphia +7 in 10-point teaser, Philadelphia +10 in 13-point teaser, Over 30 in 13-point teaser

Normally, I would tend to side with the Giants in this game.  However, the defending Super Bowl Champions are playing their third consecutive tough/rivalry game.  Philadelphia has had an easier road the last month.

 

While I believe New York is the better team, I like the Eagles in this one due to several intangibles.  Throw in the fact that this is the top Sunday night game to date, and the Eagles will be ready to show the country that they are back and ready to compete for the NFC title.  I believe Philly will win by five to eight points with a final score around 24-17.

 

San Francisco (2-6) at Arizona (5-3)

Time:           8:30PM EST Monday

TV:               ESPN

Forecast:     Clear, light wind, temperature falling from the low 70’s to low 60’s

 

PiRate:         Arizona by 16   

Mean:           Arizona by 14

Bias:             Arizona by 13

Vegas:        Arizona by 9½   -380/+350

Ov/Un:        46

Strategy:     Arizona -380, Arizona +½ in 10-point teaser, Arizona +3½ in 13-point teaser,  San Francisco +19½ in 10-point teaser, San Francisco +22½ in 13-point teaser, Over 36 in 10-point teaser, Over 33 in 13-point teaser   

This may not be the biggest marquee game this week, but in my opinion, it has a great chance to be an interesting game.  The 49ers are a big bust in my opinion.  They should have been competitive this season.  Instead, they are mired in a three-way tie for second (or the cellar depending on how you look at it).  Because the Cardinals will not go 3-5 in the second half of the season, San Francisco will have to go a minimum of 7-1 to win the division title.  It will never happen.  This race is over, but the 49er players may think they still have a chance.  They have enjoyed an off week, giving them some time to get accustomed to Coach Mike Singletary’s coaching.  Mike Martz has had an extra week preparing against a Cardinal defense that doesn’t remind anybody of the Titans or Ravens.

 

Kurt Warner may once again be the best quarterback in the NFL.  He is on pace to pass for close to 4,700 yards and more than 30 touchdowns.  He doesn’t have a strong running game, but Arizona can get by averaging 3.6 yards per run as long as they run on second and three and third and one.

 

I believe this will be a game that is still to be decided in the final seven minutes.  As most Monday night games go, I am looking for an offensive shootout.  Call it a 35-28 win for the Cardinals to virtually clinch the NFC West with a four game lead.

 

 

The Imaginary Bank Account Makes A Deposit

 

Last week’s picks finished 6-3-0 adding $140 to the bank account.  For the season, my picks against the spread are now 65-38-6 (63.1%).  The account balance is $1,665.  For the year, my Return on investment is 15.3%.

 

Both the straight wager and teaser picks broke even.  The teasers made me my profit last week, as I connected on five of the seven I picked.

 

For this week, I am going to play a little defensively.  The weather could play a factor in several games, but the weather forecasts are not as reliable because they are coming a day earlier than normal.  Also, there are some quarterback issues with some teams.  Since I am not a fan of these teams, when I tell you I don’t like the changes at QB, it’s strictly because it greatly changes the norm for these teams.  It’s the norm that is our friend when we try to pick games.  We are ultimately fans of our bank account, so we don’t want change we cannot believe in.

 

Here are my wagers for week 10 (all wagered to win $100):

 

1 Cleveland

-3

vs.

Denver

   

 

 

 

2 Philadelphia

-140

vs.

NY Giants

   

 

 

 

3 Arizona

-380

vs.

San Francisco

   

 

 

 

4 Money Line Parlay

 

 

 

(This 3-game parlay calculates at -130)

  Miami

-350

vs.

Seattle

  Carolina

-400

vs.

Oakland

  San Diego

-1000

vs.

Kansas City

   

 

 

 

5 10-point teaser

 

 

 

  Detroit

+16 1/2

vs.

Jacksonville

  Chicago

+13

vs.

Tennessee

  Atlanta

+10

vs.

New Orleans

   

 

 

 

6 10-point teaser

 

 

 

  NY Jets

+2

vs.

St. Louis

  Baltimore

+9

vs.

Houston

  Miami

+1 1/2

vs.

Seattle

   

 

 

 

7 10-point teaser

 

 

 

  Miami & Seattle

 

Over 30

  Green Bay

+12 1/2

vs.

Minnesota

  Carolina

+ 1/2

vs.

Oakland

   

 

 

 

8 10-point teaser

 

 

 

  Philadelphia

+7

vs.

NY Giants

  Arizona

+ 1/2

vs.

San Francisco

  San Francisco & Arizona

 

Over 36

   

 

 

 

9 13-point teaser

 

 

 

  Cleveland & Denver

 

Over 33

  Detroit

+19 1/2

vs.

Jacksonville

  Chicago

+16

vs.

Tennessee

  Atlanta

+13

vs.

New Orleans

   

 

 

 

10 13-point teaser

 

 

 

  Detroit & Jacksonville

 

Over 23 1/2

  NY Jets

+5

vs.

St. Louis

  New England

+9 1/2

vs.

Buffalo

  Baltimore

+12

vs.

Houston

   

 

 

 

11 13-point teaser

 

 

 

  NY Jets & St. Louis

 

Over 31 1/2

  New England & Buffalo

 

Under 54 1/2

  Miami

+4 1/2

vs.

Seattle

  Green Bay

+15 1/2

vs.

Minnesota

   

 

 

 

12 13-point teaser

 

 

 

  Miami & Seattle

 

Over 27

  Green Bay & Minnesota

 

Over 32 1/2

  Carolina

+3 1/2

vs.

Oakland

  Philadelphia

+10

vs.

NY Giants

   

 

 

 

13 13-point teaser

 

 

 

  Carolina & Oakland

 

Under 50 1/2

  Philadelphia & NY Giants

 

Over 30

  Arizona

+3 1/2

vs.

San Francisco

  San Francisco & Arizona

 

Over 33

     

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 these wagers lose this week, so you shouldn’t risk a penny on these picks either.  This is strictly for fun.

October 24, 2008

PiRate Ratings Week 8 NFL Previews: October 26-27, 2008

PiRate Ratings For NFL Week Eight

 

The PiRate Pro Ratings (Rating)

 

The NFL version of the PiRate Ratings is not the same as the collegiate version.  The NFL version is strictly a statistical formula than could be reproduced by anybody who knew the equations I use to devise the formula.  No subjective data is used.

 

The formula combines scoring margin, strength of schedule, and early in the season, last year’s scoring margin and strength of schedule.  As the season progresses, last year’s data decreases to where it has little effect by mid-October. 

 

The Mean Ratings (Mean)

 

Just like the PiRate Ratings, the NFL Mean Ratings are not the same as the collegiate version.  The NFL Mean Ratings consist of a dozen different calculations.  Three calculations consist of different ways to look at point differential and strength of schedule.  Five calculations look at yards gained and allowed rushing and passing and special teams play with the strength of the opponents’ rushing and passing.  Point values are assigned based on each set of data.  The remaining four ratings are my old four pro ratings from the 1970’s and 1980’s.  The 12 ratings are given equal weight, and then I take the average (mean) to get the rating.

 

The Bias Ratings (Biased)

 

The Bias Ratings consist of five of the components of The Mean Ratings.  The five ratings are not given equal weight.  The five ratings are weighted at 37.5%, 25%, 12.5%, 12.5%, and 12.5%.  I have back tested these ratings and found that this weighting gives the rating its best predictive percentage.

 

All three ratings are normalized so that 100 is average.  If I don’t mess up with the math, each of the three ratings should average 100.  The teams’ ratings show how many points above or below average they are in comparison with the rest of the league.  A rating of 107 means that team is a touchdown better than average, while a rating of 93 means that team is a touchdown weaker than average. 

 

I do not attempt to rate teams from different years.  A 107-rated team in 2008 is not the same as a 107-rated team from 1972.  We all know that due to the evolution of strength and quickness, today’s Detroit Lions would blow the 1972 Miami Dolphins off the field.

 

Current NFL Standings and Ratings

 

NFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

New York

5

1

0

170

101

106.25

103.64

106.38

2

Washington

5

2

0

140

128

103.71

102.63

102.67

2

Dallas

4

3

0

189

175

102.40

101.04

101.49

2

Philadelphia

3

3

0

167

123

109.63

103.82

105.29

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Chicago

4

3

0

196

150

108.85

121.83

107.54

2

Green Bay

4

3

0

194

159

103.74

102.42

103.83

2

Minnesota

3

4

0

154

167

100.81

99.70

99.10

2

Detroit

0

6

0

97

187

85.66

89.24

87.98

3

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Tampa Bay

5

2

0

161

107

109.14

105.23

106.68

2

Carolina

5

2

0

147

104

107.82

104.20

105.01

2

Atlanta

4

2

0

139

127

102.06

99.97

101.21

2

New Orleans

3

4

0

179

163

102.32

100.35

100.14

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Arizona

4

2

0

177

144

105.41

102.42

102.97

3

St. Louis

2

4

0

96

178

88.55

93.55

93.62

2

San Francisco

2

5

0

158

196

94.26

93.76

94.81

3

Seattle

1

5

0

110

171

90.36

93.22

92.72

3

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Buffalo

5

1

0

149

118

101.53

101.40

103.79

3

New England

4

2

0

130

116

98.35

101.18

101.91

2

New York

3

3

0

154

146

99.23

98.89

98.62

2

Miami

2

4

0

120

130

98.85

96.86

98.14

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Pittsburgh

5

1

0

141

89

108.55

105.95

107.90

2

Baltimore

3

3

0

105

100

102.40

100.85

100.25

3

Cleveland

2

4

0

92

106

99.63

98.88

98.10

2

Cincinnati

0

7

0

98

182

91.92

91.98

90.98

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Tennessee

6

0

0

149

66

109.91

107.60

107.30

2

Indianapolis

3

3

0

128

131

101.39

100.27

101.13

2

Jacksonville

3

3

0

124

128

100.99

100.83

102.37

3

Houston

2

4

0

140

179

94.24

96.66

96.58

3

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Denver

4

3

0

173

195

95.30

96.47

97.96

2

San Diego

3

4

0

192

162

102.88

101.48

102.87

2

Oakland

2

4

0

97

148

89.29

93.41

93.14

2

Kansas City

1

5

0

75

165

85.39

90.24

89.93

2

 

NFL Previews-Week Eight

 

San Diego (3-4) vs. New Orleans (3-4) (at London)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Light rain expected, light winds, temperature falling from the upper 50’s to the low 50’s

 

PiRate:         San Diego by 1 

Mean:           San Diego by 1

Bias:             San Diego by 3

Vegas:        San Diego by 3         -155/+145

Ov/Un:        46

Strategy:     Over 36 in 10-point teaser, Over 33 in 13-point teaser

Tally Ho!  These two teams will play in Wembley Stadium in London Sunday afternoon/evening London time.  I don’t like it when the usual tendencies for games have been altered.  Both teams have gotten out of their routines, and there isn’t enough prior history (just one year to be exact) to look back and discover patterns.  My advice is to leave this game alone, but the only thing close to safe is to look for a high scoring game with a lot of passing. 

 

LaDainian Tomlinson should be close to 100% for the Chargers, but I expect him to get fewer carries than normal in order to protect the injured toe. 

 

Drew Brees should have a 300-yard passing game, and for that reason I think these teams will combine to score more than 40 points.

 

Kansas City (1-5) at New York Jets (3-3)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Mostly sunny, moderate winds, temperature in upper 50’s

 

PiRate:         Jets by 16

Mean:           Jets by 11

Bias:             Jets by 11

Vegas:        Jets by 13          -610/+485

Ov/Un:        39

Strategy:     Under 52 in 13-point teaser

The Chiefs’ offense has gone into hibernation.  Until late in the fourth quarter last week, Kansas City had gone eight quarters without scoring a point.  Brodie Croyle and backup Damon Huard are now both done for the season.  Third stringer Tyler Thigpen is completing just 42% of his passes for 4.4 yards per attempt.  Now, with Larry Johnson inactive again for this game, what can the Chiefs do this week?  It’s not like their defense will bail them out.  They are the 31st-rated stop troops in the NFL with a run defense that is on pace to give up more than 3,300 yards rushing.

 

The Jets had engine failure last week in Oakland, and I don’t see that problem occurring this week.  Brett Favre may not have to raise his arm too many times if Thomas Jones is his usual self.  He rushed for 159 yards last week and could easily equal or top that this week.

 

Because Coach Eric Mangini may decide to mimic Vince Lombardi and plan for his offense to grind out 80-yard drives that take 15 plays and half a quarter to score, the Jets may actually have difficulty covering the line.  I wouldn’t fool with a 13-point spread.  Instead, I am looking at a tease of the totals.  I cannot see Kansas City scoring 17 points in this game, and I cannot see the Jets topping 35.  The final score could be as low as 24-7 and as high as 35-14.  So, I like “Under 52” as part of a 13-point teaser.

 

Atlanta (4-2) at Philadelphia (3-3)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Sunny, moderate winds, temperature near 60

 

PiRate:         Philadelphia by 10  

Mean:           Philadelphia by 6

Bias:             Philadelphia by 6

Vegas:        Philadelphia by 9½         -380/+335

Ov/Un:        45

Strategy:     Philadelphia +½ in 10-point teaser, Philadelphia +3½ in 13-point teaser, Over 35 in 10-point teaser, Over 32 in 13-point teaser, Under 58 in 13-point teaser

This should be quite an entertaining game, and the Falcons believe they can pull off the upset and move on the top half of the playoff bubble.  The Eagles have all their offensive weapons healthy, and Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook, and company should find success moving the ball in this game.

 

There is one big factor in this game that may not reveal itself until game time.  Falcon rookie sensation Sam Baker may not be able to play, and he is a key reason why quarterback Matt Ryan has been able to pass like he is a seasoned veteran.  In the one game where Baker was unable to go, the Falcons’ offense scored just nine points.

 

Without Baker, Atlanta cannot win this game.  With a healthy Baker, they can keep it close and have a shot at the upset.

 

Either way, I like the Eagles to win the game, so I’ll take Philly and points in the teasers.  Teasing the Totals could be iffy due to the possibility of the Falcons not being able to score without Baker in the lineup.  Without him, they could struggle to reach double digits.  If they score just 10 points, the Eagles would have to score 23 to satisfy a 13-point teaser and 26 to satisfy a 10-point teaser.  Only tease the Over if you already know Baker will start and be able to play at near 100% effectiveness.

 

I could see a 13-point tease of the Under working for us.  Under 58 would be very playable even if Baker starts.  Atlanta’s defense should hold the Eagles to 28 points or less, and their offense won’t score 30 points.

 

Buffalo (5-1) at Miami (2-4)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Rain likely, light winds, temperature near 80

 

PiRate:         Buffalo by 1

Mean:           Buffalo by 3

Bias:             Buffalo by 4

Vegas:        Buffalo by 1 -120/+100

Ov/Un:        42½

Strategy:     Miami +11 in 10-point teaser, Miami +14 in 13-point teaser, Buffalo +9 in 10-point teaser, Buffalo +12 in 13-point teaser

This is an intriguing game.  Buffalo’s 5-1 record is questionable when you consider that four of those wins came over teams buried deep in the standings.  The one lone quality win came over a mediocre Jacksonville team, and the one loss came on the road at Arizona.

 

Miami has that extraordinary win at New England when they sprung the single wing offense on an unsuspecting defense.  In the next game, a trick play pulled out the win over San Diego.  Baltimore stuffed the offense last week.  Buffalo’s defense is not in the Ravens’ class, but it is strong enough to take those pet plays away.

 

The Bills’ running game has been disappointing this year, while quarterback Trent Edwards has been a pleasant surprise.  Miami’s defense isn’t strong against the pass.  That worries me this week.  I don’t really like any of the plays in this game, as I see a huge deviation in possible outcomes.  I only list the teasers above, but I don’t heartily endorse any of them.  Miami could win by a touchdown, and the Bills could win by two touchdowns.  The score could be 28-24 or 14-10. 

 

St. Louis (2-4) at New England (4-2)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, considerable wind (enough to affect game), temperature in the mid 50’s

 

PiRate:         New England by 12

Mean:           New England by 10

Bias:             New England by 10

Vegas:         New England by 7    -315/+285

Ov/Un:        43

Strategy:     New England -7, New England -315, New England +3 in 10-point teaser, New England +6 in 13-point teaser, Under 56 in 13-point teaser

Break up the Rams!  Any team that can blow out the Cowboys by 20 points must be a force to be reckoned with.  Is Jim Haslett a super genius who can turn the weakest team in 20 years into the strongest team of 2008?  In back-to-back weeks, the Rams won at Washington and destroyed the team expected to waltz to the Super Bowl.

 

New England is the perfect embodiment of a Jekyll and Hyde team.  They lose big to the Dolphins and blow out the Broncos.  They hold the Jets’ offense to 10 points and give up 30 to the struggling Chargers.

 

I believe the weather will play an important role in this game.  The Rams are accustomed to playing indoors, and this game is going to be played with a stiff wind and cool temperatures.  This will be no big deal for the home team.

 

New England’s offense woke up last week against Denver, and I don’t see the Monday night effect hurting them this week.  They should be able to score 24 to 30 points against St. Louis even with a renewed defensive strength since the change of coaches.

 

I see the Pats winning by double digits and holding Marc Bulger and company to 17 points or less.  A score of 28-14 is quite possible, so I like a tease of the Under as well as the Patriots straight up and giving a touchdown.   New England would have to score more than 42 points to ruin a 13-point tease if the Rams score just two touchdowns.  Even a score of 35-21 wouldn’t beat us.  I would be shocked if the Pats don’t run the ball 35 or more times in this game, so total plays should be reduced.

 

Arizona (4-2) at Carolina (5-2)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Sunny, light wind, temperature in the mid 60’s

 

PiRate:         Carolina by 4

Mean:          Carolina by 4

Bias:             Carolina by 4

Vegas:        Carolina by 4     -200/+170

Ov/Un:        43½

Strategy:     Carolina -4, Carolina -200, Carolina +6 in 10-point teaser, Carolina +9 in 13-point teaser, Over 33½ in 10-point teaser, Over 30½ in 13-point teaser, Under 58½ in 13-point teaser

This game could be an NFC playoff preview.  Arizona is in complete control in the West, while Carolina is on pace to qualify as a wildcard or possible champion of the South Division.

 

The Cardinals have lost both times they have ventured into the Eastern Time Zone.  Their defense faltered both times.  This will be the toughest opponent of the three eastern teams they will have played.

 

Carolina may have the best home field advantage so far this season.  Their average score in Bank of America Stadium is 27-8, while their average road game score is 13-24.

 

Arizona had a week off, so that makes this one a bit tougher to call.  I still think the Panthers have a decided advantage in this contest.  Their pass defense should hold Kurt Warner about 75 yards below his average, and the Cardinals’ running game is not strong enough to take up the slack.  Jake Delhomme should top 200 passing yards and lead his offense to 24 or more points.  It adds up to a touchdown or more victory, so I like Carolina straight up and giving four points.

 

Oakland (2-4) at Baltimore (3-3)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Sunny, light wind, temperature near 60

 

PiRate:         Baltimore by 16

Mean:           Baltimore by 10

Bias:             Baltimore by 10

Vegas:        Baltimore by 7          -325/+295

Ov/Un:        36

Strategy:     Baltimore -325, Baltimore +3 in 10-point teaser, Baltimore +6 in 13-point teaser, Under 49 in 13-point teaser

Is their any possibility that JaMarcus Russell can solve the Ravens’ pass defense and avoid getting clobbered by their pass rush?  Will Darren McFadden be able to play this week?  Even if he can go, I doubt he will carry the ball more than eight times.  Ray Lewis and his band of mad men will make mincemeat out of Oakland’s offense.

 

The big question mark for Baltimore is who will line up at the wideout spots this week.  Yamon Figurs, Derrick Mason, and Demetrius Williams may all miss this game.  Running back Willis McGahee should play, but he won’t be at full strength. 

 

I expect a low scoring game, and Baltimore knows how to win when they score just 10-14 points.  I could see a score as low as 13-10 and as high as 21-17.  I don’t like the spread, but I think Baltimore has better than an 80% chance of winning.  Therefore, I like the money line option as well as getting the Ravens and points in the teasers.  Obviously, teasing the Under at 49 looks inviting as well.  I just cannot see a final score of 27-23 with both teams being hit with injuries on the offensive side.

 

Washington (5-2) at Detroit (0-6)

Time:           1:00PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:         Washington by 15

Mean:           Washington by 10

Bias:             Washington by 12

Vegas:        Washington by 7½         -315/+285

Ov/Un:        42

Strategy:     Detroit +7½, Detroit +17½ in 10-point teaser, Detroit +20½ in 13-point teaser, Over 29 in 13-point teaser

This is my pick as trap game of the week.  Detroit is bound to luck into at least one win this season, and this could be that week.  The Redskins have been quite fortunate to win close games every week.  They seem to play to the quality of the opposition.  Their offense has gone south the last two weeks against the Rams and Browns, two teams not noted for excellence in defense.

 

Detroit has nothing to lose except maybe the rights to Tim Tebow if they win one too many games this year.  With the loss of Roy Williams and Jon Kitna, the Lions changed their strategy last week against Houston.  Calvin Johnson was used more like Bob Hayes was used by the Cowboys in the late 1960’s.  Johnson ran deep routes, while Mike Furrey became the possession receiver.  It worked to some extent, and it opened some holes for the running game.  Dan Orlovsky’s passing line looked like one from the 1960’s AFL.

 

Washington’s offense lives or dies with the running of Clinton Portis.  Portis could rush the ball 25 times and pick up 125 yards in this game, and the Redskins will still have to score with their passing game to win this one.

 

The numbers add up to a huge Washington win, but I believe the numbers will give away some to intangibles this week.  Call it a gut instinct, but I think Detroit will keep this one close and have a chance to win it in the final period.

 

Tampa Bay (5-2) at Dallas (4-3)

Time:           1:00PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Sunny, light wind, temperature near 80

 

PiRate:         Tampa Bay by 5

Mean:           Tampa Bay by 2

Bias:             Tampa Bay by 3

Vegas:        Dallas by 2½     -140/+120

Ov/Un:        40½

Strategy:     Tampa Bay +12½ in 10-point teaser, Tampa Bay +15½ in 13-point teaser, Over 27½ in 13-point teaser

The Dallas defense has fallen on rough times, and head coach Wade Phillips will be calling the defensive plays this week.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he tries to lower the score of this game by complimenting his defensive play-calling with a time-consuming, conservative offensive game plan.

 

Tampa Bay is primed to take over the label of Super Bowl favorite this week.  A Buccaneer win would definitely place them at the top of the NFC pecking order, especially if the Giants lose at Pittsburgh.

 

Even if the Bucs cannot pull off the mild road upset, I see them keeping this game close.  Dallas was only able to beat Cincinnati by nine points at Texas Stadium, so there’s no reason to believe they can beat Tampa Bay by double digits without Tony Romo.

 

Tampa Bay is definitely one of the top three teams in the NFC and top six in the NFL.  I love the chance to get them and double digit points in any game at any location.  So, I’ll take Jon Gruden’s team and a boatload of points.  Also, I think both teams will at least reach 14 points, so I like teasing the Over as well.

 

Cleveland (2-4) at Jacksonville (3-3)

Time:           4:05 PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, light winds, temperature in the low 70’s

 

PiRate:         Jacksonville by 4

Mean:           Jacksonville by 5

Bias:             Jacksonville by 7

Vegas:        Jacksonville by 7      -315/+285

Ov/Un:        42

Strategy:     Cleveland +17 in 10-point teaser, Cleveland +20 in 13-point teaser, Under 55 in 13-point teaser

Welcome to Staphgate.  The medical news coming out of Cleveland this week has overshadowed the team’s on-the-field performance.  It could foretell a Browns’ collapse, but it could also cause the team to rally and play a fantastic 60 minutes of football.

 

Jacksonville may be the most boring team in the league unless you are an old Ohio State football fan who likes three yards and a cloud of dust football.  Not having receivers Matt Jones and Mike Walker means the Jags will run the ball even more than the norm.  Look for backs Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor to combine for 30 attempts this week.

 

Cleveland has actually been playing decent football the last couple of weeks, and they could pull off another surprise or two in the coming weeks.  The one problem this week is that Jacksonville has enjoyed an extra week of preparation.  While I see the Jags winning this game, I am not sure they will be able to win big.  Their biggest win to date is a seven point victory over Denver.

 

I like, but don’t love, taking the Browns in teasers.  Because there could be more running than normal in this game, I also like teasing the Under at 55.  I could see this game ending in a 27-20 score at a maximum.

 

Cincinnati (0-7) at Houston (2-4)

Time:           4:05PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, light winds, temperature in the low 80’s

 

 

PiRate:         Houston by 5

Mean:           Houston by 8

Bias:             Houston by 9

Vegas:        Houston by 9½        -380/+335

Ov/Un:        44½

Strategy:     Houston -380, Over 31½ in 13-point teaser

 

This game was supposed to be played the week Hurricane Ike struck the Lone Star State.  At the time, Cincinnati would have had a much better chance to win this game.  Now, Houston enters this contest on a two-game winning streak, while the Bengals have more than likely folded their hand for the season.  The Texans are almost double digit favorites.

 

The key stat for this game is the difference in the Bengals’ offense with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback instead of Carson Palmer.  With Fitzpatrick running the team, Cincinnati has averaged 12 points per game.  In Palmer’s four games, the Bengals averaged only 15.5 points per game, but they competed in those games against the likes of Baltimore, Tennessee, the Giants, and Dallas. 

 

This will actually be the first weaker than average defense Cincinnati will face this season.  I look for Fitzpatrick to lead the orange and black north of the 20-point barrier.  However, the Bengals are hurting on the other side of the ball, and they will give up considerably more than 20 points to an improving offense.  The Texans have average about 28 points per game the last four weeks against defenses that are mostly better than Cincinnati’s.

 

I could see this game being decided late, but I think Houston will make it three straight victories.  I don’t like the line, so I recommend the money line.  I am looking at a 28-21 score here, so I believe the totals can be teased safely.

 

New York Giants (5-1) at Pittsburgh (5-1)

Time:           4:15PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, moderate winds, temperature dropping from the mid 50’s to near 50

 

 

PiRate:         Pittsburgh by 4

Mean:           Pittsburgh by 4

Bias:             Pittsburgh by 4

Vegas:        Pittsburgh by 3        -140/+130

Ov/Un:        42

Strategy:     Pittsburgh -3, Pittsburgh -140, Under 55 in 13-point teaser

This is the game of the week and could be a preview of the Super Bowl.  I tend to think the Giants will not make it through the playoffs this year, but that is beyond the point this week.

 

In my opinion, the Steelers are capable of finishing 13-3 or even 14-2 and earning home field advantage throughout the playoffs.  Their defense will give up less than 250 points, and their offense will top 400 when the season ends.  Running back Willie Parker should return to the field this week.  Ben Roethlisberger is playing like an all-pro, and Hines Ward is playing with a chip on his shoulder.

 

The Giants have been relying on Brandon Jacobs to take enough heat off Eli Manning, and it has worked most weeks.  Jacobs will not run the ball for 80 yards in this game, and Manning will have to win it with a big aerial assault.  I don’t think he can pull it off.  Call it a 20-13 win for the black and gold.

 

Seattle (1-5) at San Francisco (2-5)

Time:           4:15PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Sunny, light winds, temperature in the mid to upper 70’s

                    

PiRate:         San Francisco by 7

Mean:           San Francisco by 4

Bias:             San Francisco by 5

Vegas:        San Francisco by 5   -230/+190

Ov/Un:        40½

Strategy:     San Francisco -230, San Francisco +5 in 10-point teaser, San Francisco +8 in 13-point teaser

Here, we have the initial second meeting of the season for divisional rivals.  The 49ers won the first meeting in Seattle, but things have changed since then.  Mike Nolan was shown the door last week after San Francisco lost at the Giants.  The interim coach is former Bears’ great Mike Singletary.  Offensive coordinator Mike Martz, who directed the Rams to a Super Bowl, was passed over.  Now, take into consideration that lame-duck Seahawks’  coach Mike Holmgren has had to dispel rumors all week that he will be the new 49er coach in 2009, and it makes this game much harder to diagnose. 

 

Which of these teams will be more ready to play?  I think San Francisco will play with more emotion in the early stages of the Singletary administration.  The players will fear him if they don’t bust their butts on every play.  Martz will still have full authority on the offensive play-calling, so I think the 49ers will be an improved team, at least for the next few weeks.  It adds up to a sweep in this year’s series, but I am not ready to call for a touchdown difference.  Therefore, I am going with the money line as well as taking the home team in teasers.

 

Indianapolis (3-3) at Tennessee (6-0)

Time:           8:30PM EDT Monday

TV:               ESPN

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, moderate winds, temperature dropping from upper 40’s to lower 40’s

 

PiRate:         Tennessee by 11     

Mean:           Tennessee by 9

Bias:             Tennessee by 8

Vegas:        Tennessee by 4        -200/+170

Ov/Un:        41

Strategy:     None

Let’s look at some of the facts for this game.  It is the Monday night game, and we all know how unpredictable those games have proven to be through the years.  It is the top rivalry game in the AFC South, and the two teams play like it is the old Raiders and Chiefs series from the AFL days.  Tennessee has been running over run defenses like they have Walter Payton and Barry Sanders at running back.  Indianapolis has been a feast or famine team with their offense either looking terrific or terrible from week-to-week. 

 

The Colts could score 28 points and pick up 250-300 passing yards, but they could easily watch LenDale White and Chris Johnson combine for 250 or more rushing yards.  Indianapolis hasn’t been able to stop enemy rushing attacks this year.

 

I just don’t like any possible plays here this week.  I think Indianapolis could spoil the Titans’ perfect record if Peyton Manning plays like he did against Baltimore, but if he is not on his game and has a repeat performance of last week’s game in Green Bay, this game could be ugly.  Tennessee would like nothing more than to win by three touchdowns and make the rest of the nation respect them at 7-0. 

 

 

 

The Imaginary Bank Account Suffers First Losing Week

 

It had to happen.  I knew my luck would run out eventually, and last week I suffered my first losing week of the year.  The selections went 8-9 lowering my selections against the spread for the year to 52-28-3 (65%).  The account gave up $310, and that lowered the balance to $1,675.  For the year, my Return on investment is now 20.2%.

 

My straight selections continued to do well, as I was 3-1 on those picks.  The Teasers let me down, as there were too many odd games.  The Bears-Vikings game was a huge surprise to nearly everybody.  How about that Rams-Cowboys game-somebody forgot to tell St. Louis they are no longer the “Greatest Show on Turf.”

 

This week, I am torn between playing straight picks, where I have been quite successful this season and playing the teasers, where I have been successful over the course of several years.  It’s a tough call, but I am going to play more sides than teasers this week.  

 

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

 

 1. New England -7 vs. St. Louis

 2. New England -315 vs. St. Louis

 3. Carolina -4 vs. Arizona

 4. Carolina -200 vs. Arizona

 5. Baltimore -325 vs. Oakland

 6. Detroit +7½ vs. Washington

 7. Houston -380 vs. Cincinnati

 8. San Francisco -230 vs. Seattle

 9. Pittsburgh -3 vs. New York Giants

10. Pittsburgh -140 vs. New York Giants

 

11. 10-point teaser parlay

       A. San Diego & New Orleans Over 36

       B. Philadelphia & Atlanta Over 35

       C. Miami +11 vs. Buffalo

 

12. 10-point teaser parlay

       A. New England +3 vs. St. Louis

       B. Carolina +6 vs. Arizona

       C. Carolina & Arizona Over 33½

 

13. 10-point teaser parlay

       A. Detroit +17½ vs. Washington

       B. Tampa Bay +12½ vs. Dallas

       C. San Francisco +5 vs. Seattle

 

14. 13-point teaser parlay

       A. Jets & Kansas City Under 52

       B. Philadelphia +3½ vs. Atlanta

       C. Miami +14 vs. Buffalo

       D. New England +6 vs. St. Louis

 

15. 13-point teaser parlay

       A. Carolina +9 vs. Arizona

       B. Carolina & Arizona Over 30½

       C. Baltimore +6 vs. Oakland

       D. Baltimore & Oakland Under 49

 

16. 13-point teaser parlay

A. Detroit +20½ vs. Washington

B. Detroit & Washington Over 29

C. Tampa Bay +15½ vs. Dallas

D. Tampa Bay & Dallas Over 27½

 

17. 13-point teaser parlay

       A. Cleveland +20 vs. Jacksonville

       B. New York Giants & Pittsburgh Under 55

       C. San Francisco +8 vs. Seattle

       D. Houston & Cincinnati Over 31½  

     

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 these wagers lose this week, so you shouldn’t risk a penny on these picks either.  This is strictly for fun.

October 3, 2008

PiRate Ratings Week 5 NFL Previews: October 5-6, 2008

PiRate Ratings For NFL Week Five

 

The PiRate Pro Ratings

 

The NFL version of the PiRate Ratings is not the same as the collegiate version.  The NFL version is strictly a statistical formula than could be reproduced by anybody who knew the equations I use to devise the formula.  No subjective data is used.

 

The formula combines scoring margin, strength of schedule, and early in the season, last year’s scoring margin and strength of schedule.  As the season progresses, last year’s data decreases to where it has little effect by mid-October. 

 

The Mean Ratings

 

Just like the PiRate Ratings, the NFL Mean Ratings are not the same as the collegiate version.  The NFL Mean Ratings consist of a dozen different calculations.  Three calculations consist of different ways to look at point differential and strength of schedule.  Five calculations look at yards gained and allowed rushing and passing and special teams play with the strength of the opponents’ rushing and passing.  Point values are assigned based on each set of data.  The remaining four ratings are my old four pro ratings from the 1970’s and 1980’s.  The 12 ratings are given equal weight, and then I take the average (mean) to get the rating.

 

The Bias Ratings

 

The Bias Ratings consist of five of the components of The Mean Ratings.  The five ratings are not given equal weight.  The five ratings are weighted at 37.5%, 25%, 12.5%, 12.5%, and 12.5%.  I have back tested these ratings and found that this weighting gives the rating its best predictive percentage.

 

Current NFL Standings & Ratings

(alphabetically by division)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

PiRate

Mean

Biased

HTA

Dallas Cowboys

3

1

0

120

89

105.62

110.24

106.84

2

New York Giants

3

0

0

83

43

106.18

107.84

105.87

2

Philadelphia Eagles

2

2

0

110

74

104.29

109.20

104.57

2

Washington Redskins

3

1

0

86

81

106.50

107.53

106.48

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

PiRate

Mean

Biased

HTA

Chicago Bears

2

2

0

94

80

108.05

107.28

103.74

2

Detroit Lions

0

3

0

59

113

77.87

91.85

85.61

3

Green Bay Packers

2

2

0

109

101

97.22

105.01

102.32

2

Minnesota Vikings

1

3

0

71

82

98.76

103.91

100.00

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

PiRate

Mean

Biased

HTA

Atlanta Falcons

2

2

0

90

83

92.71

99.62

97.33

2

Carolina Panthers

3

1

0

80

70

107.98

105.90

105.24

2

New Orleans Saints

2

2

0

111

100

110.15

105.57

105.01

2

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

3

1

0

101

78

109.21

107.44

106.40

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

PiRate

Mean

Biased

HTA

Arizona Cardinals

2

2

0

106

103

98.46

101.91

100.74

3

St. Louis Rams

0

4

0

43

147

73.72

89.51

83.12

2

San Francisco 49ers

2

2

0

94

97

88.35

98.50

97.44

3

Seattle Seahawks

1

2

0

67

70

90.56

100.41

97.66

3

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

PiRate

Mean

Biased

HTA

Buffalo Bills

4

0

0

109

63

106.64

98.99

104.80

3

Miami Dolphins

1

2

0

62

64

95.36

94.46

95.63

2

New England Patriots

2

1

0

49

58

94.77

96.65

101.35

2

New York Jets

2

2

0

115

116

99.40

96.86

99.92

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

PiRate

Mean

Biased

HTA

Baltimore Ravens

2

1

0

65

43

102.14

98.35

102.57

3

Cincinnati Bengals

0

4

0

52

87

96.20

92.47

91.80

2

Cleveland Browns

1

3

0

46

78

91.71

93.68

94.15

2

Pittsburgh Steelers

3

1

0

77

58

100.53

100.52

103.28

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

PiRate

Mean

Biased

HTA

Houston Texans

0

3

0

56

99

91.61

93.98

92.99

3

Indianapolis Colts

1

2

0

52

67

99.93

97.50

101.36

2

Jacksonville Jaguars

2

2

0

79

85

102.80

98.58

102.75

3

Tennessee Titans

4

0

0

102

46

111.36

103.45

106.63

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

PiRate

Mean

Biased

HTA

Denver Broncos

3

1

0

133

117

108.27

96.97

102.92

2

Kansas City Chiefs

1

3

0

65

97

85.33

90.22

90.98

2

Oakland Raiders

1

3

0

78

101

94.83

93.54

94.74

2

San Diego Chargers

2

2

0

138

112

111.16

101.91

105.68

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFL Previews-Week Five

 

Kansas City (1-3) at Carolina (3-1)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Sunny, light wind, temperatures 75-80

 

PiRate:         Carolina by 25  

Mean:           Carolina by 18

Bias:             Carolina by 16

Vegas:        Carolina by 9½         -420/+350  

Ov/Un:        38

Strategy:     Kansas City +19½ in a 10-point teaser, Carolina +½ in a 10-point teaser, Over 28 in a 10-point teaser

 

Kansas City looked like a different team against Denver last week, but the Chiefs won’t run the ball for 200+ yards this week against the Panthers’ defense.  Damon Huard completed a bunch of safe passes last week, but I believe he will have to throw the ball downfield more to give his team a chance to win Sunday.

 

Carolina is not the type of team that will beat an opponent 35-10.  Their 15-point win over Atlanta last week is about the limit of their ability to win.  The Panthers should move to 4-1, but I think this will be an entertaining game for most of the day.  I’m looking for Carolina to win by about 10-14 points in the neighborhood of 27-17 to 27-13.   

 

Tennessee (4-0) at Baltimore (2-1)

Time:           1PM EDT            

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, light wind, temperature around 65

 

PiRate:        Tennessee by 6

Mean:           Tennessee by 2

Bias:             Tennessee by 1

Vegas:        Tennessee by 3        -150/+130

Ov/Un:        33

Strategy:     Under 43 in 10-point teaser, Baltimore +13 in 10-point teaser          

 

If you really loved the old Packers-Vikings games back in the days when Coaches Lombardi and Grant went head-to-head, this is a must-watch game for you.  These two teams are no longer in the same division, but the rivalry is still as strong as ever.  They hate each other, and it will lead to a death-match in Baltimore. 

 

The Ravens just don’t allow teams to run the ball, and Tennessee is one of the most run-dependent teams in the NFL.  The Titans have little if any weakness on the defensive side, and they will throw multiple blitz packages at rookie quarterback Joe Flacco.  I cannot see either team winning by more than a touchdown, so I am playing the home team in a 10-point teaser.  Additionally, since I believe they are going to beat each other up, I expect the final score to be around 17-13.  Keep an eye on the Raven’s injuries in this game.  They must play at Indianapolis next week, and they are almost guaranteed to bounce.  The Titans have a bye next week, and they couldn’t have asked for a better time for it.

 

San Diego (2-2) at Miami (1-2)

Time:           1PM EDT            

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Scattered thunderstorms, windy, temperature in low 80’s

 

PiRate:        San Diego by 14

Mean:           San Diego by 5

Bias:             San Diego by 4

Vegas:        San Diego by 6½            -260/+220

Ov/Un:        45

Strategy:     Miami +16½ in 10-point teaser, Over 35 in 10-point teaser  

 

Miami actually used a real single wing offense with unbalanced line two weeks ago against New England, and the Patriots were caught with their pants down.  The Dolphins scored four touchdowns in just a handful of single wing plays, including a brilliant touchdown pass from the hands of tailback Ronnie Brown.  What’s next? Is Brown going to punt out of this formation and become a true triple-threat? 

 

Anything that upsets a teams’ normal weekly routine has an effect on the scoreboard on Sunday.  The Chargers aren’t the best defensive team in the AFC, and they have been forced to prepare for the possibility that the Dolphins will not only use it again this week, but they might have added more to the package.  I expect Miami to run this old-time formation about five to eight times, as any more usage will kill its effectiveness.

 

For these reasons, I think this should be a higher than expected scoring game, and Miami will stay in this game for longer than most people expect.  In fact, if the Dolphins’ defense can force Phillip Rivers to beat them instead of LaDainian Tomlinson, they have a decent shot at another upset.

 

Seattle (1-2) at New York Giants (3-0)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Mostly sunny, light wind, temperature around 65

 

PiRate:        New York by 18

Mean:           New York by 9

Bias:             New York by 10

Vegas:        New York by 7          -330/+270

Ov/Un:        43½

Strategy:     New York -7, New York +3 in 10-point teaser, Over 33½ in 10-point teaser

 

Both teams had two weeks to prepare for this game.  The last time these two teams played a game when both they and their opponents had two weeks to prepare were their two most recent Super Bowl games.  The Giants fared rather well in their Super Bowl, while the Seahawks did not.  That’s not the only reason I like the Giants this week.  Seattle just doesn’t show up when they travel from coast to coast.  Buffalo drilled them 34-10 in week one, so the trend continues in 2008.

 

New York can realistically think about a 6-0 start before heading to Pittsburgh in week eight.  The Giants are winning games in the same manner as they finished 2007-with strong defense and ball-control offense.  They are emulating the Packers of the 1960’s.  This team is not resting on its laurels, and Coach Tom Coughlin, like Vince Lombardi, is too tough of a guy to allow the team to just show up expecting to win.  I think the Giants can win by 14 or more points in this game, so I like them straight up as well as in a teaser.  I’m considering teasing the Over because 34 total points is easily possible in this game.

 

Washington (3-1) at Philadelphia (2-2)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, light wind, temperature around 65

 

PiRate:        Pick

Mean:           Philadelphia by 4

Bias:             Pick

Vegas:        Philadelphia by 6            -260/+220

Ov/Un:        42

Strategy:     Washington +16 in 10-point teaser, Over 32 in 10-point teaser, Philadelphia -260, Philadelphia +4 in 10-point teaser           

 

They’re talking do-or-die up in the City of Brotherly Love.  While the Phillies are getting the headlines, the Eagles cannot afford to begin the season 2-3 in the league’s top division.  It’s possible that three NFC East teams will make the playoffs for the second straight year, but the Eagles could be the odd team out once again if they fall two games behind the other three teams.

 

The Redskins rode an emotional high all week after thumping the Cowboys in Big D last Sunday.  They can only bounce this week, but this will still be a close game.  Washington has played four close games so far, while the Eagles have played three consecutive nail-biters after toying with the St. Louis Lambs.  There’s no reason to think this game will be any different.  It should be exciting, but I think the Eagles will be ready to stay in the playoff hunt.  I’m looking at a final score of Philadelphia 24  Washington 20.

 

Indianapolis (1-2) at Houston (0-3)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Sunny, light wind, temperature near 85 (this game will be an outdoor game due to roof damage at Reliant Stadium)

 

PiRate:        Indianapolis by 5

Mean:           Indianapolis by 1

Bias:             Indianapolis by 5

Vegas:        Indianapolis by 3            -170/+150

Ov/Un:        47

Strategy:     Indianapolis -3, Indianapolis +7 in 10-point teaser, Over 37 in 10-point teaser, Indianapolis -170

 

Either the Colts are going to get off the mat and begin to play like the Colts that we all know, or this is going to quickly become a long season in Indy.  They are heading into a shootout in Houston this week, as the Texans finally get a home game.  Reliant Stadium has undergone some changes thank to Ike’s Construction Company.  That blowhard Ike took off the roof and temporarily turned it into an open venue. 

 

If Houston wins this game, Peyton’s place will be last in the AFC South.  I just cannot see that happening, especially when Indianapolis had a week off to prepare.  The Colts should square their record and win this game by at least a touchdown.  I also think this week will see them reaching 28 points for the first time this year, so I like teasing the Over.  My guess at the final score is 28-17 Indianapolis.

 

Atlanta (2-2) at Green Bay (2-2)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Scattered showers, light wind, temperature in low 50’s

 

PiRate:        Green Bay by 7

Mean:           Green Bay by 7

Bias:             Green Bay by 7

Vegas:        No Line        (Aaron Rodgers ?)

Ov/Un:        No Line

Strategy:     N/A

 

As of Friday morning, Aaron Rodgers is still questionable for this game, so no official line has been issued.  Rodgers is probably worth 5-7 points, so if Matt Flynn starts and plays, Green Bay is in trouble.  The Falcons are capable of winning a low-scoring game on the road with two rookie quarterbacks playing.  The weather may also force both teams to stick to a ground game.

 

Chicago (2-2) at Detroit (0-3)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:        Chicago by 27

Mean:           Chicago by 12

Bias:             Chicago by 15

Vegas:        Chicago by 3½         -200/+170

Ov/Un:        44½  

Strategy:     Detroit +13½ in a 10-point teaser, Under 54½ in 10-point teaser

 

Chicago has a chance to take over first place in the old black and blue division.  If Rodgers cannot go for Green Bay, Chicago could easily be alone at the top of the standings if they can edge an old, weak rival this week.

 

Don’t expect Detroit to hand over the game to the Bears.  The Lions can score points, and they could force Chicago to reach the 30-point mark to beat them.  The Lions have had an extra week to prepare for this game, and they could be this week’s Kansas City Chiefs.  I don’t believe Chicago is capable of blowing Detroit off their home field, so I like the 10-point teaser in this one.  Since I believe the Bears will try to control the clock and hold the score down, I also like the Under in a teaser.  This game could easily be a 24-21 affair.  Even if it goes to overtime at 24-24, a touchdown won’t kill the teaser.  However, a big day by Devin Hester and/or Calvin Johnson could push the total over 55.

 

Tampa Bay (3-1) at Denver (3-1)

Time:           4:05 PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Isolated thunderstorms, light wind, temperature around 60

 

PiRate:        Denver by 1

Mean:           Tampa Bay by 8

Bias:             Tampa Bay by 1

Vegas:        Denver by 3       -170/+150

Ov/Un:        47½

Strategy:     Tampa Bay +13 in 10-point teaser, Over 37½ in 10-point teaser

 

This should be a quite entertaining game.  I call it close to a 50-50 tossup.  The Broncos were tamed in Kansas City last week, and they should be more focused for this game and not suffer a four turnover repeat.

 

Tampa Bay’s offense has improved a little every week thus far, and the Bucs have to be considered a serious contender for the NFC Championship.  Their defense is strong enough to keep Jay Cutler and company from scoring 30 points, but I think Denver is still capable of scoring 24-28 points.

 

Denver’s defense has yet to prove they can stop a competent offense, and Tampa Bay should easily top 20 points in this one.  Denver has a 55-60% chance of winning outright, but they won’t win convincingly, and the game should still be up for grabs well into the fourth quarter.  Thus, I like the underdog Bucs getting double digits in a 10-point teaser, and I like the Over in a teaser.

 

Cincinnati (0-4) at Dallas (3-1)

Time:           4:15 PM EDT            

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, windy, temperature in upper 80’s

 

PiRate:        Dallas by 11

Mean:           Dallas by 20

Bias:             Dallas by 17

Vegas:        Dallas by 17              -1500/+1100

Ov/Un:        44

Strategy:     Cincinnati +27 in 10-point teaser, Over 34 in 10-point teaser

 

This is purely a numbers’ pick here.  I don’t think Cincinnati has a chance to win this game, even if Carson Palmer is able to play.  I don’t think they can stay within 10 points of Dallas even if Palmer has a 250 yard passing day.  However, 27 points is just plain ridiculous to get in a teaser.  Dallas could jump out to a 28-0 lead and then cruise to a 38-14 win, and they wouldn’t cover at 27.

 

The Cowboys have an excellent shot at topping 35 points and satisfying the Over in a teaser, but for our sake let’s hope we get that 38-14 blowout and nothing worse.

 

Buffalo (4-0) at Arizona (2-2)

Time:           4:15 PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, windy, temperature around 80

 

PiRate:        Buffalo by 5

Mean:           Buffalo by 6

Bias:             Buffalo by 1

Vegas:        Pick              Arizona -115, Buffalo -105

Ov/Un:        44½  

Strategy:     Arizona Pk, Arizona +10 in 10-point teaser, Over 34½ in 10-point teaser

 

I’ve been keying on this game all week.  I think the Cardinals should be favored by at least a field goal, and it looks like the start of a nice gift as a pick.  Right off the bat, a 10-point teaser looks like a 13-point cushion to me. 

 

Buffalo is a good team, but they are not so good that they can go on the road 2,000 miles and beat a playoff-quality team.  I just don’t see the Bills at 5-0 on Monday morning. 

 

Arizona has only played one home game, and they looked strong in their destruction of the Dolphins.  When Miami thumped New England the following week, the 21-point Cardinals’ victory looked even better.  Throw in the fact that the Bills are making a second consecutive road trip, and I think they will be just a little off this week.  I like the Cardinals to win outright at home, and I could see this one becoming a shootout.  My guess is Arizona will win by a score similar to 35-28.

 

New England (2-1) at San Francisco (2-2)

Time:           4:15 PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Showers likely, windy, temperature in mid to upper 60’s

 

PiRate:        New England by 3

Mean:           San Francisco by 5

Bias:             New England by 1

Vegas:        New England by 3           -200/+170

Ov/Un:        41

Strategy:     San Francisco +13 in 10-point teaser

 

This game is this week’s toughest for me to gauge.  New England lost big at home against Miami two weeks ago.  With two weeks to prepare for the 49er passing game, the Patriots’ defense should be up to the challenge.  I think they will hold J. T. O’Sullivan below his average of 240 passing yards per game. 

 

San Francisco has moved the ball this year, but the 49ers have struggled to put points on the board at times.  Their current average of 14.2 yards gained per point scored is not going to get them into the playoffs, but it could allow them to win this game.  They are likely to struggle to reach 300 yards in this game.  If they gain 280 total yards, that would mean they would fail to score 20 points.  However, the Patriots haven’t scored 20 points in any of their first three games.  Throw in the fact that they are traveling west more than 3,000 miles, and the edge begins to tilt toward the upstart home team.

 

Whether or not San Francisco can win and possibly stay in a first place tie in the weak NFC West is up for debate, but I cannot see New England winning by 14 points.  Thus, I think taking the 49ers in a 10-point teaser is the way to go with this game.

 

Pittsburgh (3-1) at Jacksonville (2-2)

Time:           8:15 PM EDT

TV:               NBC

Forecast:     Clear, windy, temperature dropping from 80 to the low 70’s

 

PiRate:        Jacksonville by 5

Mean:           Jacksonville by 1

Bias:             Jacksonville by 2

Vegas:        Jacksonville by 4             -215/+185

Ov/Un:        36

Strategy:     Over 36, Over 26 in 10-point teaser, Jacksonville +6 in 10-point teaser 

 

If you have Ben Roethlisberger on your fantasy team, you could see him throw the ball 40-50 times this week.  I’m not into fantasies, so the only way that could help me is to see Big Ben connect on 25-30 of those passes for 300-400 yards and a couple of touchdowns.  What that would do is make this game a higher than expected offensive exhibition.

 

Jacksonville likes to hold onto the ball for long drives and take chunks off the clock, but I don’t think the Jaguars can do that against the Steelers’ defense.  The Jags gave up 27 to Houston, and Pittsburgh should top 20 as well even with no running attack whatsoever.  What it means to me is that Jacksonville should score points aplenty this week and win by a score of something like 31-24.  The Over 26 becomes my top priority in a 10-point teaser parlay, and if I was an aggressive guy, I might play this in every parlay.  Since my imaginary bank account is up by over a grand from the start of the season, I won’t be liberal even with play money, so I will use it just once.

 

Minnesota (1-3) at New Orleans (2-2)

Time:           8:30 PM EDT Monday

TV:               ESPN

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:        New Orleans by 13

Mean:           New Orleans by  4

Bias:             New Orleans by  7

Vegas:        New Orleans by 3           -215/+185

Ov/Un:        46½  

Strategy:     Over 36½ in 10-point teaser 

 

Monday night games tend to be higher than average scoring games.  New Orleans can score points with anybody in the league, and the Vikings can score points when their running game gets untracked.

 

Adrian Peterson is facing a Saints’ defense that surrendered 82 rushing yards in 16 attempts to Frank Gore, 65 yards in 11 attempts to Selvin Young, 96 yards on 21 attempts to Clinton Portis, and 91 yards on 10 attempts to backup Buc runner Earnest Graham.  Look for A.P. to run the ball 25 times for 150-200 yards in this game.  Minnesota will reach their season-to-date high point on the scoreboard Monday night; the Vikings should hit or top the 24-point mark.

 

Will 24 points be enough to win at the Superdome?  I’m not sure, but I am sure without a doubt that the Saints will top 14.  24 plus 14 means this game should easily go Over in a 10-point teaser.  Let’s lay off any side in this one and watch our Over win early in the second half.

 

The Imaginary Bank Account Turns A Profit For A Fourth Straight Week

 

Four weeks does not a season make, but I must admit I am quite pleased with how my picks against the spread have fared so far.  I not only made it a perfect four for four in winning weeks, I finished better than 70% for the second time in three weeks.  My picks finished 5-2-2 for 71.4% for the week, and those two pushes were on third parts of teasers.  For the season, my record against the spread stands at 27-12-3 for 69.2%, and my bank account added another $260 to make the new profit $1,265 for the season.  My return on investment is now 30.1%.  I am going to stick with what has been winning, namely 10-point teaser parlays.  I will use that 10-point change to turn favorites into underdogs and force favorites to blow out their opponents to beat me.  I will tease the totals line to give me very opportunistic numbers.

 

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

 

1.    New York Giants -7 vs. Seattle

 

2.    Philadelphia -260 vs. Washington

 

3.    Indianapolis -3 vs. Houston

 

4.    Indianapolis -170 vs. Houston

 

5.    Arizona Pk vs. Buffalo

      

6.    10-point teaser

       a.    Carolina +½ vs. Kansas City  

       b.    Baltimore +13 vs. Tennessee

       c.    Miami +16½ vs. San Diego

 

7.    10-point teaser

       a.    Kansas City & Carolina Over 28

       b.    Miami & San Diego Over 35

       c.    New York Giants +3 vs. Seattle

 

8.    10-point teaser

       a.    Washington +16 vs. Philadelphia

       b.    Indianapolis +7 vs. Houston

       c.    Detroit +13½ vs. Chicago

 

9.    10-point teaser

       a.    Detroit & Chicago Under 54½ 

       b.    Tampa Bay +13 vs. Denver

       c.    Jacksonville +6 vs. Pittsburgh

 

10.  10-point teaser

       a.    Tampa Bay & Denver Over 37½ 

       b.    Cincinnati & Dallas Over 34

       c.    Arizona +10 vs. Buffalo

 

11.  10-point teaser

       a.    Cincinnati +27 vs. Dallas

       b.    Arizona & Buffalo Over 34½

       c.    Pittsburgh & Jacksonville Over 26

 

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 nine wagers lose this week, so you shouldn’t risk a penny on these picks either.  This is strictly for fun.

September 26, 2008

PiRate Ratings Week 4 NFL Previews–September 28-29, 2008

PiRate Ratings For NFL Week Four

(Listed Alphabetically Within Each Division)
NFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

 
Dallas

3

0

0

96

63

113.56

109.11

109.08

2

 
New York

3

0

0

83

43

105.26

105.58

107.36

2

 
Philadelphia

2

1

0

90

50

110.86

107.07

108.31

2

 
Washington

2

1

0

60

57

105.74

102.17

103.37

2

 
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
NFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

 
Chicago

1

2

0

70

60

105.16

102.48

100.27

2

 
Detroit

0

3

0

59

113

86.65

90.03

89.19

3

 
Green Bay

2

1

0

88

71

106.24

103.71

104.95

2

 
Minnesota

1

2

0

54

52

104.57

101.33

99.97

2

 
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
NFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

 
Atlanta

2

1

0

81

59

96.23

97.28

97.01

2

 
Carolina

2

1

0

56

61

101.51

101.57

102.12

2

 
New Orleans

1

2

0

80

83

104.27

100.82

101.05

2

 
Tampa Bay

2

1

0

71

57

104.04

102.73

102.85

2

 
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
NFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

 
Arizona

2

1

0

71

47

103.78

101.02

102.29

3

 
St. Louis

0

3

0

29

116

76.37

86.82

84.63

2

 
San Francisco

2

1

0

67

56

94.04

96.39

97.14

3

 
Seattle

1

2

0

67

70

94.51

96.81

99.47

3

 
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
AFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

 
Buffalo

3

0

0

78

49

101.85

103.16

104.75

3

 
Miami

1

2

0

62

64

94.20

96.85

95.39

2

 
New England

2

1

0

49

58

100.19

101.62

104.35

2

 
New York

1

2

0

59

81

94.49

96.99

96.90

2

 
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
AFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

 
Baltimore

2

0

0

45

20

101.46

100.74

102.42

3

 
Cincinnati

0

3

0

40

67

95.26

96.83

95.84

2

 
Cleveland

0

3

0

26

66

89.56

94.30

91.95

2

 
Pittsburgh

2

1

0

54

38

102.78

103.38

103.62

2

 
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
AFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

 
Houston

0

2

0

29

69

89.13

96.35

93.42

3

 
Indianapolis

1

2

0

52

67

101.40

101.34

101.17

2

 
Jacksonville

1

2

0

49

58

103.10

102.42

101.84

3

 
Tennessee

3

0

0

72

29

105.98

106.64

106.51

2

 
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
AFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

 
Denver

3

0

0

114

84

104.17

103.69

104.08

2

 
Kansas City

0

2

0

32

78

82.22

90.08

88.50

2

 
Oakland

1

2

0

60

73

94.45

96.52

94.39

2

 
San Diego

1

2

0

110

94

106.59

104.07

105.92

2

 

 

 

NFL Previews-Week Four

 

Denver Broncos (3-0) at Kansas City Chiefs (0-3)

Time:           1 PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Sunny, light wind, temperature in upper 70’s

 

PiRate:         Denver by 20    

Mean:           Denver by 12

Bias:             Denver by 4

Vegas:        Denver by 9½

Ov/Un:        46½

Strategy:     Denver +½ in 10-point teaser, Over 36½ in 10-point teaser

On the surface, this looks like a slam-dunk game for the Broncos.  Kansas City has scored just 32 points in three games. They have already lost at home to Oakland, and Denver blew the Raiders out in Oakland.  So, why is Denver not a double-digit favorite?  The Broncos have problems on defense, and Kansas City should score a season high in points Sunday. 

 

Damon Huard will start at quarterback for the Chiefs, and while he is not a star, he will perform better than Tyler Thigpen.  Look for the Chiefs to hit the 20-point mark for the first time this year, but Jay Cutler and company will score 24 to 35. 

 

Since the Bias rating doesn’t believe Denver can cover at 9½, I am sticking with the teaser plays in this one. 

 

Cleveland Browns (0-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (0-3)

Time:           1 PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Partly Cloudy, light wind, temperature in upper 70’s

 

PiRate:        Cincinnati by 8

Mean:           Cincinnati by 5

Bias:             Cincinnati by 6

Vegas:        Cincinnati by 3½

Ov/Un:        44

Strategy:     Cincinnati -3½, Cincinnati +6½ in 10-point teaser, Over 34 in 10-point teaser             

The losing coach in this game will have to purchase asbestos pants, because his seat is going to be mighty hot come Monday morning.  One of these teams will be 0-4 and have absolutely no chance of recovery.  The winner will still be in trouble at 1-3, but they will still be in the race in this division.  If you are old enough to remember 1970, the Bengals actually began that year 1-6 before winning seven in a row to take the division by a game over the Browns.

 

Neither team has a great defense, but Cincinnati began to play a little more consistently last week in New Jersey.  Cleveland might be in last place in defense if not for playing Pittsburgh in weather more suitable to trout.  The Browns’ offense has been the top disappointment in the NFL thus far, and Derek Anderson has a pitiful 43.5 QB Rating.  If he doesn’t come out of the gate hot this week, look for Brady Quinn to become the new quarterback.  Sticking with the nostalgia theme, back in 1968, Frank Ryan began the season as the Browns’ QB but in about the fourth game, Bill Nelsen took over.  Cleveland was a different team with Nelsen, and the Browns went on a long winning streak to win their division after digging themselves a hole at the beginning.

 

In this big rivalry game, I look for the Bengals to be ready to play good, but not great defense, while the Browns’ play better than they have to date and make this a great game.  It won’t be like last year’s shootout, but this one should be decided late.  I’ll go with the home team to win, but I am not wild about the selection.  I like teasing the Over, because these teams have the potential to score points quickly.

 

 

Houston Texans (0-2) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2)

Time:           1 PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Partly Cloudy, light wind, humid, temperature in upper 80’s

 

PiRate:        Jacksonville by 17

Mean:           Jacksonville by 9

Bias:             Jacksonville by 11

Vegas:        Jacksonville by 7

Ov/Un:        42½

Strategy:     Houston +17 in 10-point teaser, Jacksonville +3 in 10-point teaser, Under 52½ in 10-point teaser

Jacksonville should have some momentum after winning at Indianapolis last week.  That half-day scoring drive that consumed most of the second half was quite impressive, but it is not conducive to covering the spread when a team is favored like the Jags are this week.

 

Houston looked better than their 19-point loss to Tennessee last week.  Until a late 99-yard interception return for a touchdown, the Texans were actually threatening to cut the Titans lead to less than a touchdown with enough time to win the game.

 

I think the Texans will be a little down this week, and when you combine the high the Jaguar players will be on this week, I can only see Jacksonville winning this game.  However, as I mentioned above, the Jaguars may or may not cover the spread because of their style of play.  They could easily win 17-10.  So, I’m going with both sides as part of a 10-point teaser, and I’m teasing the Under. 

 

 

Arizona Cardinals (2-1) at New York Jets (1-2)

Time:           1 PM EDT

TV:               FOX

Forecast:     60% chance of Thundershowers could be heavy at times and affect the game, light wind, temperature around 70

 

PiRate:        Arizona by 7

Mean:           Arizona by 2

Bias:             Arizona by 3

Vegas:        New York Jets by 1

Ov/Un:        44

Strategy:     Arizona +11 in 10-point teaser, Over 34 in 10-point teaser          

If the weather turns out to be a factor, it could actually help Brett Favre and Kurt Warner.  People mistakenly believe a wet field curtails passing.  It does not; in fact, it can be a major help.  Remember, the offensive player knows where he is going and when he is going to make a cut, while the defender has to react. 

 

Both of these hard-throwing drop back passers may also benefit from a slower pass rush if the weather is lousy.  Of course, there is a two in five chance that it won’t rain, and that produces a predicament. 

 

Either way, I don’t think the Jets are capable of beating the Cardinals by double digits, so I am going with the visitors in a teaser play.  With these two gunslingers going at it, I expect this game to see its share of scoring.  Therefore, I like teasing the Over.

 

 

San Francisco 49ers (2-1) at New Orleans Saints (1-2)

Time:           1 PM EDT

TV:               FOX

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:        New Orleans by 12

Mean:           New Orleans by 6

Bias:             New Orleans by 6

Vegas:        New Orleans by 5½

Ov/Un:        48

Strategy:     Over 48, Over 38 in 10-point teaser            

This game should be one of the more exciting games of the week.  J.T. O’Sullivan may be on the verge of becoming another Kurt Warner.  Having Mike Martz as his offensive coordinator means he will be throwing the ball for the 49ers a lot in the Superdome on Sunday.

 

Drew Brees deserves more credit than he is getting.  He is on pace for a 4,500 yard season, and it won’t be anything new if he gets it.  If the Saints’ running game can live up to its potential, then New Orleans may eventually have a more potent offense than Dallas.

 

If I had to pick a straight spread winner in this game, I’d go with San Francisco.  I don’t have much confidence in that pick, at least not enough to make it a selection.  I do think this game could be a 35-31 game, so I like the Over as a straight selection and love it as part of a teaser.

 

 

Atlanta Falcons (2-1) at Carolina Panthers (2-1)

Time:           1 PM EDT

TV:               FOX

Forecast:     30% chance of Thunderstorms could affect game, light wind temperature in the upper 70’s

 

PiRate:        Carolina by 7

Mean:           Carolina by 6

Bias:             Carolina by 7

Vegas:        Carolina by 6½

Ov/Un:        39½

Strategy:     Carolina +3½ in 10-point teaser, Under 49½ in 10-point teaser          

This is another game that could be affected by the weather, so I approach it with caution.

 

The Falcons have benefited from playing Detroit and Kansas City, two of the worst four teams in the NFL.  Carolina has played at San Diego, Chicago, and at Minnesota.  Their 2-1 record is more legitimate than Atlanta’s.  The one time the Falcons ventured on the road this season, they lost at Tampa Bay and didn’t really compete in that game.  I tend to believe that will happen again this week, but Atlanta will play a little tougher in this road game.

 

I am impressed with the Falcons’ defense this year and think that they will eventually beat a playoff-bound team.  I just don’t think it will happen this week.  However, I don’t see Carolina having their way in this game.  I can see a 21-17 score, so I am going to go with the Under in a teaser.

 

 

Minnesota Vikings (1-2) at Tennessee Titans (3-0)

Time:           1 PM EDT

TV:               FOX

Forecast:     Sunny, light wind, humid, temperature near 80

 

PiRate:        Tennessee by 3

Mean:           Tennessee by 7

Bias:             Tennessee by 9

Vegas:        Tennessee by 3

Ov/Un:        35½

Strategy:     Minnesota +13  in 10-point teaser, Tennessee +7  in 10-point teaser Over 25½ in 10-point teaser, Under 45½ in 10-point teaser        

These teams are eerily similar except for their records.  Both teams began the season with running quarterbacks that many sports analysts believed could not keep defenses honest with their passing skills.  Both teams began the season with very strong running attacks and doubts that they had adequate pass receivers.  Both teams had punishing defensive front sevens and improving pass defenses.  Both teams were supposed to win games by ugly scores with brute force on both sides of the ball.

 

Now, both teams find themselves being led at quarterback by an aging veteran, and both teams have discovered those pass receivers aren’t all that bad once a competent quarterback began to throw them the ball.

 

The difference in these two teams is that Kerry Collins became the Titans’ starting quarterback in the fourth quarter of game one, while Gus Frerotte took over for the Vikings in game three.  The Titans would be fortunate to win by a field goal in this one, so I cannot select them even at home against a team not prepared to play in hot and muggy weather.  I do think this game will be decided by less than a touchdown either way, so I like teasing both sides.  I also like teasing both of the Totals.  That 20-point range looks rather safe.  Collins and Frerotte might hook up in a mini-passing duel if both of the defensive lines prove that top-rated run defenses can stop top-rated runners. 

 

I tend to believe Adrian Peterson will find a modicum of success against Tennessee’s front wall and end up with about 90 yards on 25 attempts.  I believe the combo of Chris Johnson and LenDale White will combine for 30 carries and 105 rushing yards.  That means that the game will be decided by who has the hotter passing day.  It should be close.  I’ll go with a game with a score similar to 20-17 either way.

 

 

Green Bay Packers (2-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1)

Time:           1 PM EDT

TV:               FOX

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, light wind, humid, temperature in the mid to upper 80’s

 

PiRate:        Pick’em

Mean:           Tampa Bay by 1

Bias:             Pick’em

Vegas:        Pick’em

Ov/Un:        42½

Strategy:     Tampa Bay +10 in 10-point teaser, Under 52½ in 10-point teaser           

I have been struggling with analyzing both of these teams thus far.  I don’t think either has found its true identity as of yet.  My three ratings and the Vegas spread are basically all the same, so I am not about to begin to pick a side in this one.  If I absolutely had to go with a winner, I’d take Tampa Bay for three reasons.  First, Green Bay’s players are going to suffer more fatigue in the second half of this game than in any other game this year due to the summer-like conditions.  Next, the Packers may be a little thin in their secondary with Al Harris out and Charles Woodson, Atari Bigby, and Aaron Rouse all ailing.  Additionally, Aaron Rodgers may be a little confused facing the multiple defenses Tampa Bay will throw at him.

 

On the other hand, I am not convinced that Tampa Bay’s offense can exploit the secondary liabilities of the Packers.  Brian Griese is not the type of passer who can sting defenses with a bevy of long passes.  He’s more of the dink and doink quarterback who picks on the short zones.  On top of that, Griese is not 100% healthy this week.

 

For the reasons mentioned above, I like teasing the Under.  I can see this one ending in the range of 24-20.  I’m going with the Bucs in a teaser play as well, but I will hold off on playing the other side of that teaser.

 

 

Buffalo Bills (3-0) at St. Louis Rams (0-3)

Time:           4:05 PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:        Buffalo by 23

Mean:           Buffalo by 14

Bias:             Buffalo by 18

Vegas:        Buffalo by 8

Ov/Un:        42

Strategy:     Buffalo +2 in 10-point teaser, Over 32 in 10-point teaser     

The Rams have looked like the worst NFL team in two decades so far this season, while the Bills have shot out to the lead in the AFC East.  Still, this game scares me.  This is St. Louis’s final game before their bye week.  If they lose this game in another blowout, Coach Scott Linehan will more than likely not see game five in two weeks.  Linehan has made numerous changes this week including naming Trent Green the starting quarterback over Marc Bulger.  Bulger has come out publicly in the media and said he will not play another game for Linehan.  Star running back Steven Jackson endorsed Bulger and openly opposed his benching. 

 

One of two things will happen this week.  Either the Rams’ players will get behind their coach and show a major improvement, or this team will begin to resemble the 1952 Dallas Texans.  Either way, I think Buffalo has a great chance to win outright, but since I like to play conservatively, I’d much rather get Buffalo and points than have to worry about them covering by more than a touchdown.  I like teasing the Over because the Rams have given up more than 32 points in every game, and two of those opponents have weaker offenses than the Bills do right now.

 

 

San Diego Chargers (1-2) at Oakland Raiders (1-2)

Time:           4:05 PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Sunny, light wind, temperature in low 70’s

 

PiRate:        San Diego by 10

Mean:           San Diego by 6

Bias:             San Diego by 10

Vegas:        San Diego by 7½

Ov/Un:        45½

Strategy:     San Diego +2½ in 10-point teaser, Oakland +17½ in 10-point teaser, Over 35½ in 10-point teaser             

Did you hear what Raiders’ owner Al Davis decided to do when he was invited to a costume party?  He went as former Cleveland Cavaliers owner Ted Stepien (if you don’t know who Stepien was, Google his name).  After stepping down as head coach of the team in 1965, he hired John Rauch.  Rauch quickly made Oakland the dominant team of the old AFL.  From 1967 to 1969, the Raiders went 37-4-1 with Rauch at quarterback, but Davis couldn’t resist telling Rauch what he needed to be doing, as if 90.2% success wasn’t acceptable.  Rauch fled Oakland for the then moribund Bills.  So, the meddling isn’t anything new.  It just gets a lot more press coverage in the 24/7 media world of the 21st Century.

 

The latest episode in the gridiron serial is called, “Is he or isn’t he?”  Coach Lane Kiffin, who actually is beginning to receive more and more accolades as a young man who knows what he is doing, has been like the condemned prisoner who keeps getting a reprieve from the Governor as he is being strapped into the chair.  We all know that eventually Kiffin’s appeals will run out, and he will no longer be the head coach.

 

Until then, Kiffin and his team simply have to deal with all the distractions including having a defensive coordinator who does not get along with the head coach and does not have any loyalty to him.

 

Somehow in all this mess, the Raiders have been competitive after looking terrible on the opening week of the season.  If not for a late collapse last week, this team could be 2-1. 

 

The Raiders’ opponent this week is also 1-2, but they are the best NFL team with a losing record.  San Diego could easily be 3-0 today, and they legitimately should be 2-1.  The Chargers are a team with huge chips on the shoulders of its players and coaches.  That is a good thing, because this team knows it is in a bit of a hole being two games behind Denver.

 

The biggest concern to me in this game is the nasty spread.  I don’t like 7½-point spreads in any game unless I think it is off by five points or more.  The Chargers should be able to outscore Oakland, but it’s iffy whether they can win by eight or more.   I like teasing both sides, although I would advise against picking the Raiders in any play right now.

 

Washington Redskins (2-1) at Dallas Cowboys (3-0)

Time:           4:15 PM EDT

TV:               FOX

Forecast:     Sunny, light wind, temperature near 90

 

PiRate:        Dallas by 10

Mean:           Dallas by 9

Bias:             Dallas by 8

Vegas:        Dallas by 11

Ov/Un:        46½

Strategy:     Washington +22 in 10-point teaser, Under 56½ in 10-point teaser

The old movies where the cowboys and Indians fought it out always provided great entertainment to young and old alike back in the 1950’s and 1960’s.  Today, that type of movie would be considered politically incorrect, but we still have this epic arch-rivalry game between two franchises who like nothing more than to beat their nemesis.

 

Dallas has the upper hand these days, but Washington is improving and capable of winning in their last scheduled visit to Texas Stadium.  I see one of the best plays here this week.  I am going with the underdog in a teaser.  When you get 22 points with a decent team, it makes it quite difficult for the other team to beat you.  Dallas is coming off an emotional Sunday night game at Green Bay, and they may have just enough of a bounce to allow the Redskins to stay in the game.  Washington’s defense and ball control offense should keep this game lower scoring than normal, so I like teasing the Totals line as well.

 

 

Philadelphia Eagles (2-1) at Chicago Bears (1-2)

Time:           8:15 PM EDT

TV:               NBC

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, 20% chance of rain, light wind, temperatures falling from the mid 60’s to upper 50’s

 

PiRate:        Philadelphia by 4

Mean:           Philadelphia by 3

Bias:             Philadelphia by 6

Vegas:        Philadelphia by 3

Ov/Un:        40½

Strategy:     Chicago +13 in 10-point teaser, Philadelphia +7 in 10-point teaser, Over 30½ in 10-point teaser

If you consider that Dallas has a home field advantage of about three points, then Philadelphia must be about as powerful as the Cowboys right now.  However, not many football fans would agree with the Cowboys being a three-point pick over the Bears.  The spread would be more like seven to nine points if Dallas were venturing to Soldier Field this week.

 

Both teams have major injury concerns for this game.  The Bears top receiver, Brandon Lloyd, has a sore hip.  He did not practice today (Thursday) and is questionable for Sunday.  Devin Hester is still suffering from sore ribs, and he has been limited in practice.  He too is listed as questionable.  Without one or both of these stars, the Bears become a much easier team to defend.

 

Philadelphia has some question marks as well.  Quarterback Donovan McNabb will play with a sore chest, while running back Brian Westbrook has an ankle injury and will be a game-time decision. 

 

Factoring all the injuries into the equation as well as the possibility that there could be some rain in this game, I look for it to be a close decision.  I think Philadelphia is the better team, but Chicago may be the hungrier team.  Therefore, I am playing both sides in a teaser here.  If the Bears win, I expect it to be by one to five points, and if the Eagles win, I cannot see it being by more than seven or eight points.

 

Baltimore Ravens (2-0) at Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1)

Time:           8:30 PM EDT Monday

TV:               ESPN

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, 20% chance of rain, light wind, temperatures falling from the mid 60’s to upper 50’s

 

PiRate:        Pittsburgh by 3

Mean:           Pittsburgh by 5

Bias:             Pittsburgh by 3

Vegas:        Pittsburgh by 5

Ov/Un:        34½

Strategy:     Pittsburgh +5 in 10-point teaser 

Are the Ravens for real this year?  Could it be that last year was just a fluke?  How about the Steelers?  Can they score enough points to win this game after doing nothing on the attack side the prior two games?

 

Of all the games on this week’s schedule, this is the most intriguing to me.  I don’t like playing the Under in Monday Night Football games, because they tend to become more of a theatrical event with a high number of points scored.  If this game were a 1 PM game on Sunday, I would be playing Under 44½ in a teaser, because I would be picking this game to be a 14-13 affair.  I cannot recommend a play here. 

 

Baltimore will be without the services of leading tackler Dawan Landry after Jamal Lewis steamrollered over him last week.  Additionally, cornerback Samari Rolle could miss the game.  Pittsburgh will not have starting running back Willie Parker available for this game, and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will play with multiple injuries.   

 

 

The Imaginary Bank Account Increases Again In Week Three

It wasn’t as beautiful as the first two weeks, but I maintained my perfect record of having a winning week in week three.  I finished 6-4-1, with a profit of $95.  For the year, that makes me 22-10-1 (68.8%) with a profit of $1,005.  For the year, I now have a return on investment of 30.5%.

 

As week four begins, I feel the urge to play a little conservatively and protect my investment.  I like teasing the totals lines when I believe the folks in Las Vegas have struggled with either lowering or raising it too much.  Moving that line by 10 points in our advantage gives me the sense that we are getting 15 points when it appears that the totals line has been moved more toward the average.

 

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

 

1. Jacksonville -300 Money Line

 

2. Pittsburgh -230 Money Line

 

3. New Orleans and San Francisco Over 48

 

4. 10-Point Teaser

       a. Denver & Kansas City Over 36½

       b. Houston +17 vs. Jacksonville

       c. Houston & Jacksonville Under 52½

 

5. 10-Point Teaser

       a. Jacksonville +3 vs. Houston

       b. Arizona +11 vs. New York Jets

       c. Arizona & New York Jets Over 34

 

6. 10-Point Teaser

       a. San Francisco and New Orleans Over 38

       b. Carolina + 3½ vs. Atlanta

       c. Minnesota +13 vs. Tennessee

 

7. 10-Point Teaser

       a. Tennessee +7 vs. Minnesota

       b. Tampa Bay +10 vs. Green Bay

       c. Buffalo +2 vs. St. Louis

 

8. 10-Point Teaser

       a. Buffalo & St. Louis Over 32

       b. San Diego +2½ vs. Oakland

       c. San Diego & Oakland Over 35½

 

9. 10-Point Teaser

       a. Oakland + 17½ vs. San Diego

       b. Washington +22 vs. Dallas

       c. Philadelphia +7 vs. Chicago      

 

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 nine wagers lose this week, so you shouldn’t risk a penny on these picks either.  This is strictly for fun.

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