The Pi-Rate Ratings

January 16, 2009

PiRate Ratings For The NFL Conference Championship Games–January 18, 2009

PiRate Ratings For NFL Playoffs

Conference Championship Games: January 18, 2009

 

We’re down to the Final Four of the NFL, and I got it right for once.  Last week, I picked the Ravens, Steelers, Cardinals, and Eagles to win, and they won for the reasons I postulated here.

 

As I mentioned in the last two weeks’ NFL previews, 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 16, 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

 

SUNDAY, JANUARY 18, 2009

 

Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals

Time:           3:00 PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Sunny, light winds, temperatures in the upper 70’s (But roof likely to be closed for maximum noise)

 

PiRate:                Philadelphia by 7

Mean:                  Philadelphia by 3

Bias:                    Tossup

 

Vegas:               Philadelphia by 3½      

Ov/Un:               47

Money Line:       Phil -190     Ari +165

 

100 Sims:           Arizona 50  Philadelphia 50

Avg Sim Score:  Arizona 27  Philadelphia 27

Outlier 1a Sim:  Arizona 38  Philadelphia 19

Outlier 1b Sim:  Philadelphia 41  Arizona 17

The last time two teams met in the game before the Super Bowl and neither team won double digit games in the regular season was 1967, when the 9-4-1 Green Bay Packers defeated the 9-5-0 Dallas Cowboys in the infamous Ice Bowl game at Lambeau Field.  The weather will be much more comfortable some 41 years later.

 

These teams met on Thanksgiving night, and the Eagles annihilated the Cardinals by four touchdowns.  Look for the home team to be ready to exact revenge. 

 

In the five games where Philadelphia scored 17 points or less, Donovan McNabb was held in check by the opposing pass defense.  He averaged less than 5.5 yards per attempt in those games, and he was forced to throw several dump passes that got his team nowhere.

 

Can the Cardinal defense force McNabb into one of those poor passing games?  The first time around, McNabb had one of his best passing games ever.  He tossed four touchdown passes and completed nearly 70% of his attempts.  Many passes converted key third downs that day.  The Cardinals looked much better defensively last week when they stopped Jake Delhomme in Charlotte. 

 

Kurt Warner’s two playoff games have shown he is close to as good as he was in the “Greatest Show on Turf” days in St. Louis.  When he plays in good weather or in domed stadiums, he can be nearly unstoppable.  The Eagles’ defense is strong enough to slow him down, but I don’t believe they can totally stop him, and I believe there’s a 50-50 chance Warner will top 300 yards Sunday, especially if Anquan Boldin is anywhere close to 100% healthy.

 

The Eagles are banged up in the offensive line, and Brian Westbrook is going to play injured in this game.  I have to believe that the Eagles will have to win by playing great defense and hoping McNabb can equal or top Warner through the air.

 

I’m going with the underdog at home.  The Cardinals have been given very little respect, as they just barely finished above .500 in the weakest division in the NFL.  I think when the gun sounds Sunday afternoon, the Cardinals will be headed to their first Super Bowl.  I’ll call it a 28-20 win.

 

 

Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers

Time:           6:30 PM EST

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Light snow, low winds, temperatures falling from the mid to low 20’s

 

PiRate:                Pittsburgh by 2

Mean:                  Pittsburgh by 2

Bias:                    Pittsburgh by 2

 

Vegas:               Pittsburgh by 6       

Ov/Un:               33½

Money Line: Pit -250        Bal +200

 

100 Sims:           Baltimore 52  Pittsburgh 48

Avg Sim Score:  Baltimore 19  Pittsburgh 18

Outlier 1a Sim:  Baltimore 27  Pittsburgh 3

Outlier 1b Sim:  Pittsburgh 13  Baltimore 0

This isn’t the first time that division rivals have met for a third time to determine the conference champion.  Pittsburgh has been involved twice in the past with games just like this.  They defeated the Houston Oilers in both 1978 and 1979.

 

I see this game being very similar to the 1969 season.  In 1969, the Oakland Raiders narrowly beat the Kansas City Chiefs twice during the regular season (and one extra time in the preseason) in games that could have just as easily gone the other way.  Oakland won the AFL West with a 12-1-1 record in the final season of the old league, but in that final season, the AFL decided to add the division runners-up as wildcard teams.  Kansas City finished 11-3-0 and dismissed the defending Super Bowl Champion New York Jets 13-6 in the first playoff round.  These two teams were without a doubt the best two teams in the AFL, both offensively and defensively. 

 

In the AFL Championship game, the underdog Chiefs went to Oakland and won 17-7 as their aging but great defense shut down the top offense in the circuit.  Kansas City advanced and “matriculated” the ball down the field in a Super Bowl win over Minnesota.

 

I see the same thing happening here Sunday.  Baltimore could have just as easily won both games against Pittsburgh this year.  These teams could play 100 games and split them 50-50; the 100 simulations I ran displayed a whopping 83 games decided by a touchdown or less.  I believe this game will be memorable as a punishing defensive struggle that may play itself out just like the 1969 AFL Championship.  If the Ravens give Joe Flacco enough protection, he will come up with a game-changing play.  I will call for the Ravens to win in the neighborhood of 16-13.  Then, they will be headed back to Tampa where they won the Super Bowl eight years ago.  For what it’s worth, only Matt Stover and Ray Lewis remain as holdovers from that team.

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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.

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 10, 2008

PiRate Ratings Week 6 NFL Previews: October 12-13, 2008

PiRate Ratings For NFL Week Six

 

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

(listed alphabetically by division)  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Dallas

4

1

0

151

111

109.97

106.14

108.09

2

New York

4

0

0

127

49

110.99

107.61

109.19

2

Philadelphia

2

3

0

127

97

107.44

104.55

104.27

2

Washington

4

1

0

109

98

110.22

106.43

108.20

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Chicago

3

2

0

128

87

108.76

105.32

105.29

2

Detroit

0

4

0

66

147

80.19

87.10

83.93

3

Green Bay

2

3

0

133

128

101.21

100.01

99.71

2

Minnesota

2

3

0

101

109

103.20

101.93

100.50

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Atlanta

3

2

0

117

107

99.39

98.31

99.61

2

Carolina

4

1

0

114

70

110.14

105.07

107.31

2

New Orleans

2

3

0

138

130

105.33

101.24

100.78

2

Tampa Bay

3

2

0

114

94

107.69

103.31

103.47

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Arizona

3

2

0

147

120

106.98

102.26

103.12

3

St. Louis

0

4

0

43

147

73.25

85.65

81.05

2

San Francisco

2

3

0

115

127

92.32

94.27

95.59

3

Seattle

1

3

0

83

124

82.87

93.40

92.92

3

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Buffalo

4

1

0

126

104

95.52

99.24

102.62

3

Miami

2

2

0

79

74

105.18

100.62

102.43

2

New England

3

1

0

79

79

97.34

101.44

102.83

2

New York

2

2

0

115

116

103.98

100.74

102.22

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Baltimore

2

2

0

75

56

105.99

102.08

103.48

3

Cincinnati

0

5

0

74

118

97.21

96.25

92.76

2

Cleveland

1

3

0

46

78

93.05

96.47

93.17

2

Pittsburgh

4

1

0

103

79

103.82

104.39

105.91

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Houston

0

4

0

83

130

90.59

96.30

92.65

3

Indianapolis

2

2

0

83

94

97.57

100.80

101.54

2

Jacksonville

2

3

0

100

111

97.36

100.41

100.82

3

Tennessee

5

0

0

115

56

111.01

107.17

108.51

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Denver

4

1

0

149

130

103.97

100.89

104.04

2

Kansas City

1

4

0

65

131

87.57

91.16

89.82

2

Oakland

1

3

0

78

101

92.80

95.83

93.00

2

San Diego

2

3

0

148

129

107.07

103.50

103.98

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFL Previews-Week Six

 

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

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:         New Orleans by 15 

Mean:           New Orleans by 7

Bias:             New Orleans by 10

Vegas:        New Orleans by 7     -285/+245  

Ov/Un:        47

Strategy:     Over 37 in 10-point teaser, Over 34 in 13-point teaser

 

Oakland has a new coach and is coming off a bye week, whereas New Orleans played Monday night.  How will the Raiders respond?  Also, how much can Darren McFadden play?  These are major issues, and I wouldn’t begin to pick a side in this one, even in teasers.

 

The Saints’ defense cannot be counted on to stop enemy offenses for 60 minutes.  Given an extra week to tweak their offense, I expect the Raiders to score at least 17 points and as much as 25 points this week.  New Orleans is in a must-win situation this week, as a 2-4 start probably puts them too far behind in their division to dig themselves out.  Therefore, I tend to believe New Orleans will find a way to win, but I don’t feel confident enough to pick them at -285 in a money line selection.  I am confident that Drew Brees can pass for 300 yards and direct the offense to 20 or more points, so teasing the Over is how to play this game.

 

Cincinnati (0-5) at New York Jets (2-2)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:         Jets by 9    

Mean:           Jets by 6

Bias:             Jets by 11

Vegas:        Jets by 5½         -240/+200   

Ov/Un:        44½  

Strategy:     Jets -240, Jets +4 ½ in 10-point teaser, Jets +7½ in 13-point teaser

 

The Jets had a bye last week, while Cincinnati had to play a rough game at Dallas.  The 0-5 Bengals must play on the road again this week with a wounded quarterback.  Even if Carson Palmer plays, he won’t be close to 100% effective.  The Jets’ defense ranks in the bottom half of the league after giving up 83 points in their previous two contests, but I expect a vast improvement following a week off.  Brett Favre should be at peak performance as well, so I like the Jets to win outright.  5½ points is tricky, so I’ll go the money line route in this one. 

 

Only one thing worries me this week: there are still four NFL teams looking for their first win of the season in week six.  How many times in the past have four teams continued to remain winless six weeks into the season?  The odds are heavily in favor of one or more of those winless teams winning this week. So, the 13-point teaser gives the Jets more than a TD at home, which I fell is quite safe.

 

Chicago (3-2) at Atlanta (3-2)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:         Chicago by 7     

Mean:           Chicago by 5

Bias:             Chicago by 4

Vegas:        Chicago by 3      -145/+135  

Ov/Un:        43½  

Strategy:     Atlanta +3, Atlanta +13 in 10-point teaser, Atlanta +16 in 13-point teaser

 

Atlanta is the top surprise in the NFC five weeks into the season.  New coach Mike Smith has the Falcons in the playoff hunt and a win in this game might be enough to guarantee the dirty birds a winning season.  The schedule is not that difficult, and at 4-2, it is easy to see 9-7 or even better for this team.

 

Chicago finds itself alone in first in the old black and blue division.  The Bears are not that far from being 5-0, losing by three at Carolina and in overtime by three to Tampa Bay. 

 

Teams that play consecutive road games and win the first one usually bounce some in the second road game and perform worse than they did in the previous game.  Many teams play much better at home after playing consecutive road games.  Both of these factors are in play this week, so I like the home team to cover in a close game.  As a double-digit ‘dog in teaser plays, Atlanta looks safe.  Chicago destroyed a weak Detroit team last week, and they will face a much tougher opponent this week.  The Falcons will rough them up, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Matt Ryan have his first 200 yard passing game.  The Bears might be able to shut down Michael Turner, or at least limit his effectiveness, but that will be at the expense of giving Ryan more holes to find in the intermediate zones. 

 

Detroit (0-4) at Minnesota (2-3)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:         Minnesota by 25      

Mean:           Minnesota by 17

Bias:             Minnesota by 19

Vegas:        Minnesota by 13       -600/+450  

Ov/Un:        45½  

Strategy:     Minnesota -3 in 10-point teaser, Minnesota Pk in 13-point teaser, Over 32½ in 13-point teaser

 

This game scares me a little.  Minnesota enjoyed a big win Monday night in New Orleans, while Detroit was reduced to fodder at home against the Bears Sunday.  The Lions have nothing to lose from here on out, as they are basically competing with the Rams for the rights to Tim Tebow, Beanie Wells, or whoever is deemed the top draft choice in 2009.

 

Minnesota is just one game out of first place in the NFC North, where 9-7 could easily win the division title.  Obviously, a loss to the lowly Lions would kill their chances.  The Vikings have an easier schedule left than the Packers, and a win Sunday could possible propel them into a first place tie.

 

Normally, you could expect Minnesota to come out flat in this situation and lay an egg.  If Detroit was as good as less than mediocre Cleveland, I would pick the Lions as an upset possibility this week.  However, with Jon Kitna likely out for this game and Calvin Johnson probably playing at less than 100% strength, what weapons can Detroit use effectively? 

 

Adrian Peterson is going to think he is facing the Baylor defense when he played at Oklahoma.  Detroit cannot stop average backs, so expect Peterson to have a memorable day.

 

St. Louis (0-4) at Washington (4-1)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Sunny, light wind, temperature around 70

 

PiRate:         Washington by 39   

Mean:           Washington by 23

Bias:             Washington by 29

Vegas:        Washington by 13½       -625/+450   

Ov/Un:        44

Strategy:     St. Louis +23½ in 10-point teaser, St. Louis +26½ in 13-point teaser, Washington -3½ in 10-point teaser, Washington -½ in 13-point teaser, Over 34 in 10-point teaser, Over 31 in 13-point teaser   

 

Could this be a mini-trap game?  The Rams find themselves in the same situation as the Raiders this week.  They are coming off a bye with a new head coach to play a road game against a team that was extended for 60 minutes the previous game.  There are two differences between the former L.A. teams. The Raiders at least can play a little defense, whereas the Rams play matador defense.  However, the Rams still have Marc Bulger who is capable of throwing for 300 yards and leading his team on a scoring binge.  That’s a remote possibility at best, but the Redskins have to cover by two touchdowns against this possibility.

 

I won’t go with either team at + or -13½.  However, both sides look playable in a 10 or 13-point teaser.  The Redskins have yet to blow out an opponent, so asking them to cover at 23½ or 26½ points is a big stretch.  Likewise, at -3½ or -½, the home team looks great.  Teasing the totals looks promising this week.  The Rams have given up 31 or more points in every game this year, and even if they improve by 14 points off their 37 points per game allowed average, they should score at least 14 themselves this week.    

 

Carolina (4-1) at Tampa Bay (3-2)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Thunderstorms possible in the 2nd half, light wind, temperature in mid 80’s and likely dropping if rain occurs

 

PiRate:         Pick      

Mean:           Pick

Bias:             Carolina by 2

Vegas:        Tampa Bay by 1       -120/+110  

Ov/Un:        36½  

Strategy:     Tampa Bay -1, Tampa Bay +9 in 10-point teaser, Tampa Bay +12 in 13-point teaser, Over 26½ in 10-point teaser, Over 23½ in 13-point teaser 

 

This game is one where you need to check back Friday evening to peruse the injury report.  Will Brian Griese be able to play Sunday?  If not, then what difference will it make for Jeff Garcia to start?  Garcia has played in two games this year.  The Bucs lost both.  Griese has started and finished three games this year; the Bucs won all three.  The stats of the two QBs are about the same, but Tampa Bay just doesn’t score as many points when Garcia runs the offense.

 

Carolina in week six is a good touchdown or more improved from the team that opened the season.  The Panthers could take a commanding lead in the NFC South with a win and a Falcons’ loss this week.

 

Therefore, I recommend that you use the above sides’ strategies only if you are missing one piece of a three or four team parlay.  I do have more confidence in the totals’ teasers.

 

Miami (2-2) at Houston (0-4)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Partly Cloudy, light wind, temperature in the mid 80’s

 

PiRate:         Miami by 12      

Mean:           Miami by 1

Bias:             Miami by 7

Vegas:        Houston by 3     -150/+130  

Ov/Un:        45

Strategy:     Houston +7 in 10-point teaser, Under 55 in 10-point teaser (but not so hot on these two)

 

Like the previous game, I am not so hot on this game.  Houston is still a team in flux following the hurricane.  The Texans have the talent to beat Miami by 10 points, but some of the players may be about ready to fold on this season.

 

Miami is a team on the rise.  The Dolphins have just enough talent and a nice gimmick offense to sneak out of town with their third consecutive victory.  I think they have a 60% chance of winning this game outright, but I believe if they win, the Texans have a 75% chance of losing by less than a touchdown.

 

I think Miami will try to control the clock and make this game a lower than expected outcome.  Again, I warn only to use the strategies above if you need a third or fourth part of a parlay.

 

Baltimore (2-2) at Indianapolis (2-2)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:         Baltimore by 6  

Mean:           Indianapolis by 1

Bias:             Pick

Vegas:        Indianapolis by 3½        -190/+160   

Ov/Un:        38½  

Strategy:     Indianapolis -3½, Indianapolis, +6½ in 10-point teaser, Indianapolis +9½ in 13-point teaser, Over 25½ in 13-point teaser   

 

This game looks like the top play of the week.  Baltimore just played two emotional games against two physical teams and lost both games.  The come into this game with numerous injuries to key personnel (Willis McGahee, Ray Lewis, Fabian Washington, Derrick Mason).  Even if they all play, they won’t be nearly as effective as they normally would play.

 

Peyton Manning now has four games under his belt following his knee surgery.  He missed all of the preseason, so this game is almost like his normal opening game.  His stats have slowly improved as the season has progressed, and the Colts’ offense has gotten a little better each week.  If Washington cannot go for the Ravens, Manning will pick apart the Baltimore secondary.  As long as he gets protection, Indianapolis should move the ball more effectively than any Raven opponent to date.

 

I foresee a Colt double digit win this week.  Their real liability is their run defense, but Baltimore may have to go without McGahee or at the best with him playing on an injured ankle. Le’Ron McClain isn’t going to rush for 100 yards and exploit that liability.

 

I’m going with the Colts to win this one by a score similar to 24-13.  So, my strategies for this game include using the Colts straight up and in teasers, as well as teasing the Over with the belief that Indianapolis will continue to improve offensively and be opportunistic defensively.  

 

Jacksonville (2-3) at Denver (4-1)

Time:           4:05PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Thunderstorms possible, considerable winds, temperature in the mid 50’s

 

PiRate:         Denver by 9

Mean:           Denver by 2

Bias:             Denver by 5

Vegas:        Denver by 3 -175/+155  

Ov/Un:        48½  

Strategy:     Jacksonville +13 in 10-point teaser, Jacksonville +16 in 13-point teaser, Under 58½ in 10-point teaser, Under 61½ in 13-point teaser

 

The Broncos’ offense has taken a step back in recent weeks after looking more like the 2007 Patriots at the beginning of the season.  Not having Selvin Young, Ryan Torain, Tony Scheffler, and maybe Eddie Royal on hand this week isn’t going to make things any better.  Denver will have to pass, pass, pass to a group of less experienced players, and Jacksonville will be able to adjust their blitz packages to take advantage of this fact.

 

The Jaguars will continue to try to control the clock with the short passing game and power running in short yardage situations.  It’s hard to be perfect for long drives all day long on an opponent’s field, so they must play better defense if they plan on winning this game. 

 

This game isn’t far from being a tossup given the injuries on the Broncos’ side of the field.  If you take the underdog in a teaser, you get a nice amount of points.  Denver might have a 55-60% chance of winning this game, but they have maybe a 10-15% chance of winning by more than two touchdowns.  I’ll take the 13 and 16 points in the teasers.  Because I believe Jacksonville will try to shorten the game, I like teasing the Under as well.  If the forecasted rain comes, it could help us a little here.

 

Green Bay (2-3) at Seattle (1-3)

Time:           4:15PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Sunny, light wind, temperature in upper 50’s

 

PiRate:         Green Bay by 15      

Mean:           Green Bay by 4

Bias:             Green Bay by 4

Vegas:        Seattle by 2       -120/+110  

Ov/Un:        45½  

Strategy:     Green Bay +12 in 10-point teaser, Green Bay +15 in 13-point teaser, Over 35½ in 10-point teaser, Over 32½ in 13-point teaser 

 

We have two teams going in the same direction in this game, but unfortunately it is the wrong direction.  Seattle was the odds-on favorite to win the NFC West, but injuries have made them a mere shell of their former selves.  They never really play well on the East Coast, but they also lost at home to San Francisco.

 

Green Bay has dropped three games in a row, and the Packer defense is not getting the job done.  They cannot give up 28 points per game and think about the playoffs much less having a winning season.  Even Brett Favre would be struggling to win games if he was directing the Packers’ offense and having to score 30 points every week to win.

 

I believe the loser of this game will be out of the playoff hunt, so it becomes a must-win game for both teams.  The players on both sides probably realize this, so I expect a great game that goes down to the wire.  As I previously stated, I like teasing the underdog when I perceive a possible tossup game.  It’s like getting extra points.  Since I don’t have much faith in these two defenses, it’s understood that I would like teasing the Over as well.

 

Philadelphia (2-3) at San Francisco (2-3)

Time:           4:15PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Sunny, considerable wind, temperature in mid to upper 60’s

 

PiRate:         Philadelphia by 12  

Mean:           Philadelphia by 7

Bias:             Philadelphia by 6

Vegas:        Philadelphia by 5     -230/+190  

Ov/Un:        42½  

Strategy:     San Francisco +5, San Francisco +15 in 10-point teaser, San Francisco +18 in 13-point teaser, Over 32½ in 10-point teaser, Over 29½ in 13-point teaser 

 

Philadelphia’s 2008 plight can be summed up by reading the book A Tale of Two Cities.  When Brian Westbrook has been healthy, it has been the best of times in the city of brotherly love.  When Westbrook has been injured, it has been the worst of times in Philly.

 

Westbrook is out for this game, so I expect something close to the worst of times for the Eagles.  Add to this trouble that Donovan McNabb is far from healthy and Wide out Reggie Brown will miss the game.  Former star Kevin Curtis should finally get on the field for the first time this year, but he won’t be ready to have a 100-yard receiving day right out of the box.  I just don’t see the Eagles topping 20 points in this game.  Against a weaker than average 49er defense, they will score more than 14, but 17 points may be about their limit unless the defense and/or special teams contribute to the scoring load.

 

San Francisco is one of the hardest teams to figure out.  J.T. O’Sullivan has proven he is a legitimate starter in the NFL and is running the Mike Martz offense almost as competently as Marc Bulger and Kurt Warner ran it.  Frank Gore is keeping defenses honest.  The 49ers just cannot stop anybody.  Even a wounded Eagles’ offense should pick up 300-350 yards and the aforementioned 17 points.

 

I am going with the 49ers to win this game for a couple of reasons.  First, this is a must-win game for them.  At 2-4, they will be in too much of a hole to make up in a division where only the winner is going to qualify for a playoff spot.  Second, Philadelphia is 10 points weaker without Westbrook than they would be if he was healthy.  Third, Philadelphia is making a cross-country trip a week after being extended to the final gun against Washington, while San Francisco is at home for the second week in a row.  Finally, a loss in this game will start the ball rolling for the dismissal of Coach Mike Nolan. 

 

I see San Francisco playing their best game of the year this week and pulling off the upset.  So, I like them straight up at +5½ as well as in teasers.  I look for them to win 24-17, so I like teasing the Over as well.  If you can find a money line that has SF +220 or higher, then it might be worth a little bit of a gamble, but I won’t pursue that at +190.

 

Dallas (4-1) at Arizona (3-2)

Time:           4:15PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Sunny, considerable wind, temperature in mid to upper 70’s

 

PiRate:         Pick      

Mean:           Dallas by 1

Bias:             Dallas by 2

Vegas:        Dallas by 5         -220/+180  

Ov/Un:        50

Strategy:     Arizona +15 in 10-point teaser, Arizona +18 in 13-point teaser

 

Dallas has played a wee bit below their predicted expectations the last two weeks.  Arizona has lived up to their billing as a force to be reckoned with this year.  The Cardinals have the lead in the NFC West, and it looks like 9-7 could get them into the playoffs as division winner.

 

The Cardinals’ two home wins look more impressive now that Miami is playing so much better.  They look strong enough to beat just about anybody at University of Phoenix Stadium.

 

Dallas has the potential to go on the road and win by 14 or more points, but if they continue to play like they have the best two weeks, they could also find themselves in trouble in this game.

 

I am going with the percentages and progressions here in this game.  Give me the home team and more than two touchdowns, and I will be happy, especially when I get Kurt Warner and more than two touchdowns.

 

New England (3-1) at San Diego (2-3)

Time:           8:15PM EDT

TV:               NBC

Forecast:     Sunny, then clear after dark, considerable wind, temperature falling from mid 60’s to upper 50’s

                    

 

PiRate:         San Diego by 12      

Mean:           San Diego by 4

Bias:             San Diego by 3

Vegas:        San Diego by 5         -220/+200  

Ov/Un:        45

Strategy:     None

 

I do not like the two prime time games this week.  This game is between two very inconsistent teams.  Which New England team will we see this week?  Will it be the team that struggled to edge the hapless Chiefs and saw the Dolphins blow them off their home field, or will it be the team that held Brett Favre and the Jets to 10 points and won all the way across the country last week?

 

San Diego keeps finding ways to lose games, but they also scored like they were a basketball team in their prior prime time game.

 

I’ll leave this one alone.  It is too risky.

 

New York Giants (4-0) at Cleveland (1-3)

Time:           8:30PM EDT Monday

TV:               ESPN

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, light wind, temperature falling through the 60’s

 

PiRate:         Giants by 16     

Mean:           Giants by 9

Bias:             Giants by 14

Vegas:        Giants by 7½     -325/+265   

Ov/Un:        43½  

Strategy:     None

 

Sooner or later, Cleveland is going to break through with a big game on offense.  They had a week off to prepare for this game, and they have too many weapons on the attack side not to bust loose eventually.  I watched these two teams play in the preseason, and the Browns gave the Giants 23 points in gifts yet still lost by three.  Obviously, the preseason is not an accurate gauge, but I believe the Browns are itching to show the defending Super Bowl champions their best effort.

 

The one thing that worries me is the health of Kellen Winslow.  He may not be able to go Monday night, but even if he misses the game, I can still see Cleveland having their best game of the year.

 

The Giants can still win this game by 10 points even if the Browns play their best game of the year.  Their defense is starting to look like one of those great stop troops of yesteryear.  You know the type I am talking about; I’m referring to those defenses that have been immortalized with a fancy nickname like the Purple People Eaters, the Fearsome Foursome, the Steel Curtain, the Doomsday Defense, the No-name Defense, etc.  They are on pace to give up less than 200 points (that equates to less than 175 points when comparing to the teams from the 14-game schedule era).

 

Two things worry me this week about the Giants.  First, even with a tough taskmaster like Tom Coughlin on the sidelines, the Giants won with such ease against Seattle last week and can only be a little too cocky this week.  They will definitely bounce some.  Second, New York has played three home games and just one road game, which was at St. Louis.  This is their first road game against a team that has enough talent to score points against their defense.

 

The problem with this game is that there are too many variables.  I like the Browns’ prospects in this game.  I think they have a better than expected chance of keeping this one close and having a shot at the big upset.  However, if this isn’t the week they awaken from their offensive slumber, this game could be another snoozer for the fans.  It isn’t one to consider in my strategies.

 

The Imaginary Bank Account Makes It Five-for-Five

 

It wasn’t pretty, but after the smoke cleared Sunday night in Jacksonville, I was a winner for the fifth consecutive week.  My picks finished 7-4 for the week, running my record to 34-16-3 for the season (68%).

 

Due to the fact that I lost a money line pick, my profit was only $80, bringing my year-to-date profit to $1,345.00.  That gives me a return on investment of 25.4%.  The come from behind victory by Washington was the killer, as if Philadelphia had held on in the fourth quarter, the difference in 7-4 and 8-3 would have been an extra $360.  Oh well, I’ll just have to be glad with being able to maintain 100% winning weeks a month and a half into the season.

 

Last week, it was the straight wagers that won for me, as I went 4-1 in those five picks, while going just 3-3 in the 10-point teasers.  I have noticed that a lot of my teaser losses have come about because one team or one total in the parlay failed to cover by one or two points.  It kills you to watch a team elect to go for a touchdown late in the game and miss on fourth down when a field goal would have covered your wager, but such is life.  Losing by one or two points should be rectifiable by playing some 13-point teasers.  Of course, it could just be the new way to lose by one or two points, and I still have a 100% record of winning weeks, so I could be setting myself up for disaster.  Remember this!  I don’t really have anything monetary to worry about since I don’t actually wager with money.  So, I can gamble a little with four-team, 13-point teaser parlays and sleep comfortably this weekend. 

 

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

 

1. New York Jets -240 vs. Cincinnati

 

2. Atlanta +3 vs. Chicago

 

3. Tampa Bay -1 vs. Carolina

 

4. Indianapolis -3½ vs. Baltimore

 

5. San Francisco +5 vs. Philadelphia

 

6. 10-point teaser

       A. Atlanta +13 vs. Chicago

       B. Minnesota -3 vs. Detroit

       C. Washington -3½ vs. St. Louis

 

7. 10-point teaser

       A. Tampa Bay +9 vs. Carolina

       B. Indianapolis +6½ vs. Baltimore

       C. Jacksonville +13 vs. Denver

 

8. 10-point teaser

       A. Green Bay +12 vs. Seattle

       B. San Francisco +15 vs. Philadelphia

       C. Tampa Bay & Carolina Over 26½

 

9. 10-point teaser

       A. Green Bay & Seattle Over 35½

       B. San Francisco & Philadelphia Over 32½

       C. Arizona +15 vs. Dallas

 

10. 13-point teaser

       A. New York Jets +7½ vs. Cincinnati

       B. Atlanta +16 vs. Chicago

       C. Minnesota Pk vs. Detroit

       D. St. Louis +26½ vs. Washington

 

11. 13-point teaser

       A. Detroit & Minnesota Over 32½

       B. Washington -½ vs. St. Louis

       C. Tampa Bay +12 vs. Carolina

       D. Indianapolis & Baltimore Over 25½

 

12. 13-point teaser

       A. Tampa Bay & Carolina Over 23½

       B. Indianapolis +9½ over Baltimore

       C. Jacksonville +16 vs. Denver

       D. Green Bay +15 vs. Seattle

 

13. 13-point teaser

       A. Green Bay & Seattle Over 32½

       B. San Francisco +18 vs. Philadelphia

       C. San Francisco & Philadelphia Over 29½

       D. Arizona +18 vs. Dallas              

 

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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