The Pi-Rate Ratings

September 8, 2016

PiRate Ratings Money Line Parlay Picks–September 8-12, 2016

Did you heed our biggest piece of advice given here last week? If so, then you were smart and lost none of your hard-earned money by following our selections. Our two picks both lost in the opening week. Army did not upset Temple. The Black Knights won impressively enough to prove that their win was no fluke. It wasn’t Davis and Blanchard running over opponents, but this has the look of a bowl-bound team. The Cadets entertain Rice at Michie Stadium this week, and chances for a 2-0 start are strong.

The other loss came about when LSU got Lambeau Leapt by Wisconsin. One late fumble sent our mythological winning week down the tubes.

We start out the season down 200 imaginary dollars in our fake bankroll.

Oh well, a new week brings new fun only picks, and with the NFL season beginning in a matter of hours from the time this is written, we have more opportunities to wager our fake bankroll. These days, a fake bankroll is what so many of us tend to have.

We are going with five parlay picks this week, two with college games, and three with NFL games. Usually, we like to be overly conservative at the start of the NFL season, because there is enough parity that a 4-12 team from the year before could become a playoff team this year, while a playoff team last year could swoon to 4-12 this year. However, we are going with three NFL parlays because we were able to get better than even money odds by parlaying just two teams in each selection.

Our two college parlays both contain rivalry games within each selection. It is not the norm for rivals to play so soon in the season, but it happens when said rivals are not members of the same conference. Thus, in week two, New Mexico plays New Mexico State, and Iowa plays Iowa State. We believe these are almost free games, as the favorites are overwhelmingly superior to their rival. Of course, this can bite us on the fanny, because weaker rivals can play well over their heads, especially early in the year before injury and other attrition has decimated their already thin-talented rosters.

There is also an issue with taking a slow-starting team against a quick-starting team, because sometimes, the quick-starting underdog might score so many points early that the slow-starting favorite cannot come back from the deficit. However, we are still going with two slow-starting Sunshine State schools. South Florida, and their smashmouth style of play, hosts Northern Illinois, and the Bulls were a bit sluggish on the defensive side in their season opening win over FCS member Towson State. However, NIU lost at Wyoming last week, and USF is considerably more talented than the Cowboys. Also, playing in muggy Tampa might give the Bulls an extra couple points of home field advantage.

Florida has not been the offensive juggernaut under Coach Jim McElwain that they were under Steve Spurrier or Urban Meyer, but the Gators won the SEC East Division by taking care of business with strong defense. The Gators gave up just 73 points in their seven SEC wins last year. Meanwhile, Kentucky scored 35 points quickly against Southern Miss last week, before watching like a deer in the headlights as the Eagles stormed back and scored on the porous Wildcat defense like it was just a skeleton unit. We believe the Gators will win this game by 7-17 points, as McElwain knows that he only needs his offense to play it safe and avoid turnovers, while the defense and special teams sets up the offense for low-risk scoring drives.

Now to the NFL. We begin tonight by taking the Super Bowl loser from last year. You no doubt are familiar with the recent trend of Super Bowl losers performing considerably worse the following year. However, this on the surface looks like a gift tonight. Both teams lost some key talent since the last time they played, but Denver clearly lost more. Even though Peyton Manning was like Babe Ruth with the Boston Braves in 1935, the Broncos will have a totally untested quarterback and rookie backup trying to face the NFC’s best defense. Peyton might have guided Denver to 17 points. Trevor and/or Paxton will be lucky to score 17 and might give the Panthers a score with costly mistakes. Also, we have seen Wade Phillips’ defenses regress the year after they dominate, and we feel that Cam Newton is going to play this game like it is the Super Bowl again. We believe Carolina wins an ugly game tonight.

Miami could be a surprise team this year, but they still have a lot to prove. New Coach Adam Gase is already considered to be the top new coach in the league, and he has been tagged as a potential superstar in the business. However, even superstar coaches must have decent talent to succeed, and the Dolphins still have a lot of questions. Having to travel as far away as they can without playing at a neutral site, and having that game come against the team with the best home field advantage in the NFL makes us believe that Seattle is a gift choice. Of course, we could be wrong, but when there are just 16 NFL games, you have to isolate the couple that look the most promising and offer a good rate of return on your investment, even if said investment is as real as the Man in the Moon.

The second game of the Monday Night doubleheader looks to us to be a gift as well, but what do we know? The Los Angeles Rams (doesn’t that sound so wonderful again) go up the coast to take on their former and future arch-rival San Francisco 49ers, and the 49ers look like a train wreck. However, Chip Kelly can coach offense, and Jeff Fisher-coached teams have a history of starting out slow. In this game featuring recycled quarterbacks, we believe that Case Keenum has more weapons at his disposal than Blaine Gabbert, and the Rams’ defense is worth an extra touchdown saved over the 49ers’ defense, so in our possibly deluded mind, we think the Rams at low odds offer us an excellent base for a parlay.

Now to the turnaround game in our minds. We think that Baltimore is ready to rebound to at least a better than mediocre season, while Buffalo takes a small step backward this year. The Ravens have enough offense to score on Rob Ryan’s defense, while brother Rex’s offense does not offer very much.

Once again, when you see the odds, you will notice that all 5 games present better than even money.

When you see that money line at +X, add $100 to the X, and this would show you how much money you would receive if the parlay wins, and you invested $100, because when you win, you get back your initial investment plus your winnings, just like with paramutuel wagering at the horse track.

For instance, if you play a money line game or money line parlay at +120, and you invest $100 in this selection, if you win, you will receive $220 ($120 profit plus your $100 investment). If you lose, you are out your $100 investment.

Here are our parlays for the week.

#1–College Parlay at +118
Navy over Connecticut
New Mexico over New Mexico State
Florida over Kentucky

#2–College Parlay at +134
Duke over Wake Forest
Louisville over Syracuse
South Florida over Northern Illinois
Iowa over Iowa State

#3–NFL Parlay at +106
Los Angeles Rams over San Francisco
Seattle over Miami

#4–NFL Parlay at +121
Carolina over Denver
Kansas City over San Diego

#5–NFL Parlay at +131
Baltimore over Buffalo
Green Bay over Jacksonville

February 6, 2016

PiRate Ratings Super Bowl Preview

Filed under: Pro Football — Tags: , , , , , , — piratings @ 5:19 am

We have done something we’ve never done before for Super Bowl 50.  Normally, when we run computer simulations, we run them 100 times.  It take about .1 second to run it 100 times.  Last night, after inputting the statistical data and weather forecast, we ran the simulation 10,000 times.  It took much longer, almost .3 second.  We then ran it again subbing Brock Osweiler for Peyton Manning, simulating a Manning injury or inability to perform as acceptable levels.  To be fair, we then ran it again with Cam Newton leaving the game in the second quarter due to injury, just to see how the game was affected.

What we found out is rather obvious:  Newton is much more valuable to the Panthers than Manning is to the Broncos.  With Manning leaving the game at halftime and Osweiler entering in the second half, Denver’s percentage of winning the game fell by just 2.7%.  With Newton leaving the game and unable to play in the second half, Carolina scored an average of just 4.2 points in 10,000 simulations.  Derek Anderson, in relief, could not lead the Panthers to Paydirt against the Bronco defense.

 

Let’s take a look at the numbers.

SUPER BOWL 50

Date: Sunday, February 7, 2016

Time: 3:30 PM Pacific Standard Time (6:30 PM Eastern)

Location: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, California

Santa Clara is about 40 miles Southeast of Downtown San Francisco in the greater San Jose area.

TV Network: CBS

Announce Team: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson, and Evan Washburn

Also Available: cbssports.com, live streaming for Verizon Wireless customers with Super Bowl app, Xbox One, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Chromecast, and Roku).

Canada: CTV

United Kingdom: BBC2  and on radio on BBC Radio 5 Live

Australia: Seven Network and Foxtel

Radio: Westwood One 

Announce Team: Kevin Harlan, Boomer Esiason, Dan Fouts, James Lofton, and Mark Malone.

 

Participants

AFC Champion–Denver Broncos

NFC Champion–Carolina Panthers

 

Las Vegas

Las Vegas Line: Carolina by 5 1/2

Totals: Over or Under 44 1/2

Money Line: Carolina -230, Denver +190

 

Weather Forecast: 69 degrees at kickoff with nominal winds and humidity–near perfect weather!

 

PiRate Ratings

PiRate: Carolina by 7.0

Mean: Carolina by 7.7

Bias: Carolina by 9.0

Average: Carolina by 7.9

Average Score: Carolina 26 Denver 18

 

10,000 Computer Simulations 

Carolina wins 63.47%

Denver wins 36.53%

Average Score: Carolina 24.3  Denver 17.1

Standard Deviation: 9.42

Outlier A: Carolina 41  Denver 13

Outlier B: Denver 30  Carolina 7

 

Simulation 2–Manning out for second half

Carolina wins 65.93%

Denver wins 34.07%

Average Score: Carolina 25.0  Denver 15.9

 

Simulation 3–Newton injured late in Q2

Carolina wins 43.7%

Denver wins 56.3%

Average Score: Denver 20.6  Carolina 16.2

 

August 30, 2015

2015 NFC South Preview

Rarely does a team win five fewer games than the season before and still make the playoffs, but the Carolina Panthers repeated as NFC South champions in 2014 with a 7-8-1 record following a 12-4-0 finish in 2013.  The Panthers won the division because the New Orleans Saints fell four games off their 2013 pace, the Falcons only improved to 6-10, and the Bucs ended up earning the first pick in the draft.

 

All four teams begin 2015 with key additions.  For Atlanta, it’s a head coach, as Dan Quinn becomes a head coach for the first time after putting together the great Seattle defense.  Carolina hopes it has plugged a leak in their offensive line with the signing of left tackle Michael Oher, while bringing in Ted Ginn, Jr. at receiver.  New Orleans added a cover corner in Brandon Browner, while Tampa Bay had the biggest addition of all–they have Jameis Winston, the league’s top pick.

 

This may be the most difficult division to forecast, as even the weak Bucs have improved enough and have the schedule to challenge for the division title.  Atlanta has the passing game and should be improved defensively, and since 8-8 could win the division, in theory, they only need to improve by two wins.  New Orleans’ defense needs improvement, and the Saints will have to score a lot of points this year.  Bear in mind that Jimmy Graham has left the building.  That leaves Carolina; can the Panthers three-peat?  Yes, it is quite possible, but in reality, this is a team that fell to a losing record last year, and a couple game slide this year could find the Panthers in last place.

ATLANTA FALCONS

Falcons Starting Lineup
Offense
WR Julio Jones
WR Roddy White
WR Leonard Hankerson
TE Jacob Tamme
LT Jake Matthews
LG Mike Person
C Joe Hawley
RG Chris Chester
RT Ryan Schraeder
QB Matt Ryan
HB Devonta Freeman
FB Patrick DiMarco
   
Defense
DE Vic Beasley
DT Ra’Shede Hageman
DT Paul Soliai
DE Tyson Jackson
LB Justin Durant
LB Paul Worrilow
LB Brooks Reed
CB Desmond Trufant
S William Moore
S Ricardo Allen
CB Robert Alford
N5 Jalen Collins
   
Special
Kicker Matt Bryant
Punter Matt Bosher
KR Devin Hester
PR Devin Hester
Atlanta Falcons
Head Coach Dan Quinn
Off. Coordinator Kyle Shanahan
Def. Coordinator Richard Smith
2014 W-L-T 6-10-0
Pts 23.8
Opp 26.1
   
Ratings  
PiRate 95.7
Mean 96.1
Bias 95.8
Average 95.9
   
Grades  
Running C
Passing A-
Vs. Run C
Vs. Pass C-
Special Teams A
Coaching + Intangibles C
   
Predicted W-L 7-9-0
Division Rank 3
Conference Rank 13
Overall Rank 25
Postseason No

 

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Panthers Starting Lineup
Offense
WR Corey Brown
WR Ted Ginn, Jr.
WR Devin Funchess
TE Greg Olsen
LT Michael Oher
LG Andrew Norwell
C Ryan Kalil
RG Trai Turner
RT Mike Remmers
QB Cam Newton
HB Jonathan Stewart
FB Mike Tolbert
   
Defense
DE Charles Johnson
DT Star Lotulelei
DT Kawann Short
DE Kony Ealy
LB A. J. Klein
LB Luke Kuechley
LB Thomas Davis
CB Charles Tillman
S Roman Harper
S Tre Boston
CB Josh Norman
N5 Bene Benwikere
   
Special
Kicker Graham Gano
Punter Brad Nortman
KR Ted Ginn, Jr.
PR Ted Ginn, Jr.
Carolina Panthers
Head Coach Ron Rivera
Off. Coordinator Mike Shula
Def. Coordinator Sean McDermott
2014 W-L-T 7-8-1
Pts 21.2
Opp 23.4
   
Ratings  
PiRate 100.8
Mean 100.0
Bias 101.0
Average 100.6
   
Grades  
Running C-
Passing C
Vs. Run A-
Vs. Pass C+
Special Teams C
Coaching + Intangibles C+
   
Predicted W-L 7-9-0
Division Rank 1
Conference Rank 7
Overall Rank 15
Postseason No

 

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Saints Starting Lineup
Offense
WR Brandin Cooks
WR Marques Colston
WR Brandon Coleman
TE Benjamin Watson
LT Terron Armstead
LG Tim Lelito
C Max Unger
RG Jahri Evans
RT Zach Strief
QB Drew Brees
HB Mark Ingram
FB Austin Johnson
   
Defense
DE Akiem Hicks
DT John Jenkins
DT Kevin Williams
DE Cameron Jordan
LB Hau’oli Kikaha
LB David Hawthorne
LB Dannelle Ellerbe
CB Keenan Lewis
S Kenny Vaccaro
S Jairus Byrd
CB Brandon Browner
N5 Rafael Bush
   
Special
Kicker Zach Hocker
Punter Thomas Morstead
KR C. J. Spiller
PR C. J. Spiller
New Orleans Saints
Head Coach Sean Payton
Off. Coordinator Pete Carmichael
Def. Coordinator Rob Ryan
2014 W-L-T 7-9-0
Pts 25.1
Opp 26.5
   
Ratings  
PiRate 100.1
Mean 95.4
Bias 101.1
Average 98.9
   
Grades  
Running C+
Passing A
Vs. Run C-
Vs. Pass C+
Special Teams C-
Coaching + Intangibles B+
   
Predicted W-L 8-8-0
Division Rank 2
Conference Rank 10
Overall Rank 20
Postseason Yes

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Buccaneers Starting Lineup
Offense
WR Vincent Jackson
WR Mike Evans
WR Louis Murphy
TE Austin Serferian-Jenkins
LT Donovan Smith
LG Logan Mankins
C Evan Dietrich-Smith
RG Garrett Gilkey
RT Patrick Omameh
QB Jameis Winston
HB Doug Martin
FB Jorvorskie Lane
   
Defense
DE Jacquies Smith
DT Gerald McCoy
DT Clinton McDonald
DE George Johnson
LB Danny Lansanah
LB Bruce Carter
LB Lavonte David
CB Alterraun Verner
S Major Wright
S Brad McDougald
CB Johnathan Banks
N5 D. J. Swearinger
   
Special
Kicker Conner Barth
Punter Michael Koenen
KR Kaelin Clay
PR Kaelin Clay
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Head Coach Lovie Smith
Off. Coordinator Dirk Koetter
Def. Coordinator Leslie Frazier
2014 W-L-T 2-14-0
Pts 17.3
Opp 25.6
   
Ratings  
PiRate 92.1
Mean 93.4
Bias 92.0
Average 92.5
   
Grades  
Running D
Passing C+
Vs. Run C
Vs. Pass C
Special Teams C
Coaching + Intangibles C+
   
Predicted W-L 6-10-0
Division Rank 4
Conference Rank 16
Overall Rank 30
Postseason No

August 31, 2013

2013 NFC South Division Preview

2013 N F C South Preview

The South Division of the NFC was a one-team race last year with the Atlanta Falcons quickly separating from the pack and cruising to a six-game defeat of the other three teams.  It was expected after the New Orleans Saints entered the season with coaching suspensions.  By the time the Saints started to turn things around, it was too late.

 

2013 should be an interesting season.  The Falcons once again look like the class of the division, but of course with scheduling, they will play two other first place teams from last year, while New Orleans and Carolina face easier competition in those two games.  Tampa Bay also faces an easier schedule, but we do not believe the Buccaneers can rock the boat in the South this year.

 

Next to Green Bay, Atlanta has the best passing attack in the NFC.  Matt Ryan is quickly becoming one of the elite passers in the league, while Julio Jones, Roddy White, and the ageless wonder, tight end Tony Gonzalez, form a top-notch receiving corps.  If Steven Jackson has one more good year in his legs, the Falcons just may be ready to advance that final step to the Super Bowl.

 

New Orleans had the best offense in the NFC last year, by 25 points over the second best team.  On the other hand, the Saints gave up the most points in the NFC by 10 points.  Thus, the Saints finished 7-9.  Can new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan work magic on a defense that played like 11 matadors last year?  On top of the improvement needed, the Saints will switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4 alignment.  And, they will not get much immediate help from their draft class.

 

Carolina has enough talent now to contend for a playoff berth.  Cam Newton may not complete 60% of his passes, but he will average more per completion than average.  He will also be hard on enemy pass rushers with his ability to make them miss.  A nice defensive rush that might result in a sack on most QBs, could very well result in a 10 to 20 yard gain on a scramble.

 

The Panthers will have to get by without Jonathan Stewart for six games after he was placed on the PUP list.  DeAngelo Williams is starting to show his age, so the Panthers may struggle unless rookie Kenjon Barner can take up the slack.  The receiving corps is average at best, and the offensive line is better blocking for the run than the pass.

 

The Panthers should be improved this year because their defense looks much better, especially in the line and at linebacker.  Look for rookie tackle Star Lotulelei to be a key right away.  He won’t make 10 tackles a game, but he will command double blocks on several plays, and that will allow the linebackers to look much better.

 

Tampa Bay overachieved last year, and they still finished below .500.  The Buccaneers are average or below average at every unit on offense and defense.  Quarterback Josh Freeman won’t appear on the all-pro list, and he won’t get a lot of hype, but he can pass for 300 yards on many Sundays.  However, he tends to force passes and threw too many interceptions last year.  He will continue to stretch defenses with longer passes, because that will open up running lanes for second year star back Doug Martin, one of the biggest surprises in the league last year.  Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams make up a talented one-two punch at wideout, but the Bucs need more skill players to emerge.  The defense does not have enough talent to compete for a playoff spot this year.

 

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

 

Here are the official colors for the NFC South.

West

Color

Red

Green

Blue

Atlanta Falcons

Black

17

28

36

 

Red

198

12

48

 

White

255

255

255

Carolina Panthers

Panther Blue

0

136

206

 

Black

17

28

36

 

Metallic Silver

133

136

139

New Orleans Saints

Old Gold

150

130

82

 

Black

17

28

36

 

White

255

255

255

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Red

167

25

48

 

Pewter

102

92

79

 

Black

17

28

36

 

 

2012 Final Standings & PiRate Ratings

NFC South

PiRate

Mean

Biased

W-L-T

Pts

Opp

Atlanta Falcons

104.7

105.6

106.3

13-3-0

419

299

New Orleans Saints

100.7

100.2

99.9

7-9-0

461

454

Carolina Panthers

99.7

100.0

101.4

7-9-0

357

363

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

98.6

97.6

96.8

7-9-0

389

394

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2013 Preseason PiRate Ratings

South

PiRate

Mean

Biased

Atlanta Falcons

103.6

106.6

103.1

New Orleans Saints

101.7

102.0

101.6

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

98.5

98.1

98.7

Carolina Panthers

98.4

97.7

98.1

 

PiRate Previews

Team

Atlanta Falcons

               
Head Coach

Mike Smith

O-Coord.

Dirk Koetter

D-Coord.

Mike Nolan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Projected Starting Lineup

Position

Player

 

Offense

Quarterback

Matt Ryan

Running Back

Steven Jackson

Fullback

Bradie Ewing

Wide Receiver

Julio Jones

Wide Receiver

Roddy White

Tight End

Tony Gonzalez

Left Tackle

Sam Baker

Left Guard

Justin Blalock

Center

Peter Konz

Right Guard

Garrett Reynolds

Right Tackle

Lamar Holmes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Defense

Left End

Kroy Biermann

Left Tackle

Jonathan Babineaux

Right Tackle

Corey Peters

Right End

Osi Umenyiora

Sam LB

Stephen Nicholas

Mike LB

Akeem Dent

Will LB

Sean Weatherspoon

Left CB

Asante Samuel

Right CB

Desmond Trufant

Strong Safety

William Moore

Free Safety

Thomas Decoud

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Special Teams

Kicker

Matt Bryant

Punter

Matt Bosher

K-Return

Jacquizz Rodgers

P-Return

Dominique Franks

 

 

Predictions

 

Record

12-4

Division

1st

 

Team

Carolina Panthers

               
Head Coach

Ron Rivera

O-Coord.

Mike Shula

D-Coord.

Sean McDermott

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Projected Starting Lineup

Position

Player

 

Offense

Quarterback

Cam Newton

Running Back

DeAngelo Williams

Fullback

Mike Tolbert

Wide Receiver

Steve Smith

Wide Receiver

Brandon LaFell

Tight End

Greg Olsen

Left Tackle

Jordan Gross

Left Guard

Amini Silatolu

Center

Ryan Kalil

Right Guard

Garry Williams

Right Tackle

Byron Bell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Defense

Left End

Charles Johnson

Left Tackle

Dwan Edwards

Nose Tackle

Star Lotulelei

Right End

Greg Hardy

Sam LB

Thomas Davis

Mike LB

Luke Kuechly

Will LB

Jon Beason

Left CB

Drayton Florence

Right CB

Captain Munnerlyn

Strong Safety

Mike Mitchell

Free Safety

Charles Godfrey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Special Teams

Kicker

Graham Gano

Punter

Brad Nortman

K-Return

Ted Ginn

P-Return

Ted Ginn

 

 

Predictions

 

Record

8-8

Division

3rd

Team

New Orleans Saints

               
Head Coach

Sean Payton

O-Coord.

Pete Carmichael

D-Coord.

Rob Ryan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Projected Starting Lineup

Position

Player

 

Offense

Quarterback

Drew Brees

Running Back

Pierre Thomas

Fullback

Jed Collins

Wide Receiver

Lance Moore

Wide Receiver

Marques Colston

Tight End

Jimmy Graham

Left Tackle

Charles Brown

Left Guard

Ben Grubbs

Center

Brian De La Puente

Right Guard

Jahri Evans

Right Tackle

Zach Strief

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Defense

Left End

Akiem Hicks

Nose Tackle

Brodrick Bunkley

Right End

Cameron Jordan

Left OLB

Junior Galette

Left ILB

Jonathan Vilma

Right ILB

Curtis Lofton

Right OLB

Martez Wilson

Left CB

Jabari Greer

Right CB

Keenan Lewis

Strong Safety

Roman Harper

Free Safety

Malcolm Jenkins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Special Teams

Kicker

Garrett Hartley

Punter

Thomas Morstead

K-Return

Darren Sproles

P-Return

Darren Sproles

 

 

Predictions

 

Record

9-7

Division

2nd

Team

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

               
Head Coach

Greg Schiano

O-Coord.

Mike Sullivan

D-Coord.

Bill Sheridan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Projected Starting Lineup

Position

Player

 

Offense

Quarterback

Josh Freeman

Running Back

Doug Martin

Fullback

Erik Lorig

Wide Receiver

Vincent Jackson

Wide Receiver

Mike Williams

Tight End

Luke Stocker

Left Tackle

Donald Penn

Left Guard

Carl Nicks

Center

Jeremy Zuttah

Right Guard

Davin Joseph

Right Tackle

Dernar Dotson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Defense

Left End

Da’Quan Bowers

Left Tackle

Gerald McCoy

Right Tackle

Gary Gibson

Right End

Adrian Clayborn

Sam LB

Dekoda Watson

Mike LB

Mason Foster

Will LB

Lavonte David

Left CB

Darrelle Revis

Right CB

Leonard Johnson

Strong Safety

Mark Barron

Free Safety

Dashon Goldson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Special Teams

Kicker

Lawrence Tynes

Punter

Michael Koenen

K-Return

Mike James

P-Return

Eric Page

 

 

Predictions

 

Record

6-10

Division

4th

 

September 20, 2011

PiRate Ratings: NFL For Week 3–September 25-26, 2011

Filed under: Pro Football — Tags: , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 10:43 am

Rookie Quarterbacks Need Time To Get Used To The Speed Of The Game

 

We wonder just how good Cam Newton is going to be when he becomes a seasoned veteran.  If while he is breaking in to the speed of the league, he averages more than 400 passing yards per game, will he soon be threatening the 6,000 passing yard mark?

 

The way he has played in his first two games, he sure looks like he could become the first Heisman Trophy winner to earn the Rookie of the Year award in the NFL since Sam Bradford way back in 2010.

 

It’s time to put this myth to rest.  Today’s college quarterbacks are as ready to step in and become stars in their first year in the NFL just as frequently as today’s running backs are ready.  Andy Dalton looks like a veteran, and Blaine Gabbert should become the starter at Jacksonville very soon.

 

He’s Being Paid How Much Per Yard?

 

Titans’ running back Chris Johnson’s new contract averages out to $837,500 per game.  Through two weeks of the 2011 season, he is averaging a grand total of 38.5 rushing yards per game, or a little more than $21,750 per yard.  A simple five yard gain could buy a nice house.  A one yard gain is worth about the same as a Ford Fusion.

 

All kidding aside, the Titans should consider trying him as a wideout.  Johnson has good hands, and lining up opposite Kenny Britt could give the Titans the next version of Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt, Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Bolden, or Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne.  Add Nate Washington to the mix, and the Titans might have the top receiving trio outside of Foxboro, Massachusetts.

 

The AFC East

 

Could the AFC East provide three playoff teams in 2011-12?  New England and the New York Jets appear to be lead pipe cinches to make the playoffs, but what about the Buffalo Bills?  The Bills are off to a 2-0 start and a fourth place schedule to their advantage.  We tend to believe that the runner-up in the AFC North will probably finish no worse than 10-6, so it is still a long shot.  As of today, we cannot see any AFC South or West runner-up winning more than nine games.

 

The NFC West

 

Last year, Seattle won the NFC West with a 7-9 record.  The Seahawks will be lucky to win four games this year, but they could still be in the race with four games to go.  This division may provide another losing team to the playoffs this season.  Arizona and San Francisco have played mediocre ball so far to open at 1-1, but neither team is a world-beater.  This division plays the NFC East and AFC North, and the outlook is grim for the Cardinals, Rams, 49ers, and Seahawks.  Could 6-10 actually earn a team a share of this division title?  Ugh!

 

Offense Continues To Dominate

 

Through two weeks of the NFL schedule, the average offensive score for the 32 teams is 23.5.  That is a field goal above the norm.

 

The average margin of victory is a gaudy 12.9 points per game, which is well above the average.  This could be due to a small statistical sample, but it could also be an effect of the NFL Lockout.  The teams with better talent and exceptional organizational skills are taking advantage of the lack of preseason preparation.

 

NFL PiRate Ratings For Week 3: September 25-26, 2011

 

NFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

PiRate

Mean

Biased

Philadelphia Eagles

1

1

0

62

48

106.2

104.8

106.5

New York Giants

1

1

0

42

44

103.4

100.8

102.5

Dallas Cowboys

1

1

0

51

51

101.9

102.4

102.0

Washington Redskins

2

0

0

50

35

96.5

98.5

101.4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

PiRate

Mean

Biased

Green Bay Packers

2

0

0

72

57

107.2

107.2

108.3

Detroit Lions

2

0

0

75

23

105.2

102.7

104.3

Chicago Bears

1

1

0

43

42

102.0

101.9

102.5

Minnesota Vikings

0

2

0

37

48

97.2

99.2

96.3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

PiRate

Mean

Biased

New Orleans Saints

1

1

0

64

55

108.8

105.0

105.8

Atlanta Falcons

1

1

0

47

61

104.1

101.4

103.9

Tampa Bay Bucaneers

1

1

0

44

47

98.4

99.7

99.6

Carolina Panthers

0

2

0

44

58

91.6

94.4

94.1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

PiRate

Mean

Biased

San Francisco 49ers

1

1

0

57

44

96.2

97.6

97.6

St. Louis Rams

0

2

0

29

59

95.2

93.2

93.5

Arizona Cardinals

1

1

0

49

43

94.9

95.2

96.2

Seattle Seahawks

0

2

0

17

57

90.7

92.2

88.9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

PiRate

Mean

Biased

New England Patriots

2

0

0

73

45

111.5

109.9

110.1

New York Jets

2

0

0

59

27

107.7

106.9

107.4

Miami Dolphins

0

2

0

37

61

98.2

97.9

95.8

Buffalo Bills

2

0

0

79

42

96.2

98.6

101.2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

PiRate

Mean

Biased

Pittsburgh Steelers

1

1

0

31

35

107.4

104.7

104.6

Baltimore Ravens

1

1

0

48

33

103.8

105.9

105.7

Cleveland Browns

1

1

0

44

46

95.9

96.3

95.5

Cincinnati Bengals

1

1

0

49

41

95.1

97.6

96.8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

PiRate

Mean

Biased

Houston Texans

2

0

0

57

20

105.8

103.7

105.9

Tennessee Titans

1

1

0

40

29

99.8

101.2

98.8

Indianapolis Colts

0

2

0

26

61

96.5

97.2

93.3

Jacksonville Jaguars

1

1

0

19

46

95.2

95.7

96.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

PiRate

Mean

Biased

San Diego Chargers

1

1

0

45

52

105.3

103.7

103.1

Oakland Raiders

1

1

0

58

58

96.3

98.4

99.6

Denver Broncos

1

1

0

44

45

93.4

94.9

95.1

Kansas City Chiefs

0

2

0

10

89

93.0

91.4

87.5

 

This Week’s Games

Home Team in CAPS

(N) Denotes Neutral Site

       
             

Week 3: September 25-26, 2011

Vegas Line as of: Tuesday, September 20, 2011  9:30 AM EDT

             
Favorite Underdog

PiRate

Mean

Bias

Vegas

Totals

CINCINNATI San Francisco

0.9

2.0

1.2

2 1/2

41   

New England BUFFALO

14.3

10.3

7.9

8 1/2

52   

NEW ORLEANS Houston

4.5

2.8

1.4

4   

53   

PHILADELPHIA New York Giants

3.8

5.0

5.0

7 1/2

41 1/2

Miami CLEVELAND

1.3

0.6

-0.7

-3   

41   

TENNESSEE Denver

9.9

9.8

7.2

7   

42   

Detroit MINNESOTA

8.0

3.5

8.0

3 1/2

44 1/2

Jacksonville CAROLINA

2.1

-0.2

-0.4

-3    

42 1/2

SAN DIEGO Kansas City

15.8

15.8

19.1

14 1/2

45   

New York Jets OAKLAND

10.4

7.5

6.8

3   

41   

Baltimore ST. LOUIS

7.1

11.2

10.7

4 1/2

42   

Atlanta TAMPA BAY

4.7

0.7

3.3

-1 1/2

45 1/2

Arizona SEATTLE

0.7

-0.5

3.8

-3   

42   

Green Bay CHICAGO

3.2

3.3

3.8

3 1/2

45 1/2

Pittsburgh INDIANAPOLIS

9.4

6.0

9.8

10 1/2

39 1/2

DALLAS Washington

5.9

4.4

1.1

6 1/2

45   

August 21, 2010

2010 Southeastern Conference Football Preview

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Go to www.piratings.webs.com where we beat the spread 60.4% in 2009!

 

2010 Southeastern Conference Preview

We close out the conference previews with a look at the biggie.  The SEC has produced the last four national champions and five in the past decade, compared to two from the Big 12, one from the Big Ten, one from the Pac-10, and one from the Big East.  Not since Georgia in 2005 has the SEC Champion not played in the BCS National Championship Game.

We are going to predict this trend ends this season, but not without a lot of controversy.  We believe the SEC Champion, like all the other five BCS Conference champions will lose at least one game.  As we have stated in earlier previews, we believe both Boise State and TCU will win all their games and meet in Glendale for the rubber match bowl game.

One coach finds himself on a hot seat that he may not be able to cool down.  One coach is on a mildly warm seat due to fans that have ridiculously high and impossible standards.  One coach may want to hang it up at the end of this year after many years in the business.  One coach already decided to get out, leaving just before August practices began.  It is possible that four jobs in the elite conference will be available after the season. 

Note: The PiRate Ratings are not meant to be used to predict the outcome of future games.  They are usable only as a basis for the current week’s games.  We do not use these ratings to make our selections.  They are only a starting point.  The predictions given below, as for every college conference and NFL division, are not taken from the ratings themselves.

Predictions

Pos East SEC W-L
1 Florida 7-1 11-2
2 South Carolina 5-3 8-4
3 Georgia 5-3 9-3
4 Kentucky 2-6 6-6
5 Tennessee 1-7 4-8
6 Vanderbilt 0-8 1-11
       
Pos West SEC W-L
1 Alabama 7-1 12-1
2 Auburn 5-3 9-3
3 Arkansas 5-3 9-3
4 L S U 4-4 7-5
5 Ole Miss 4-4 8-4
6 Mississippi State 3-5 6-6

 

SEC Championship Game: Alabama over Florida

 

BCS Bowl (Sugar): Alabama

BCS Bowl: Florida

Capital One Bowl: Auburn

Outback Bowl: Georgia

Cotton Bowl: Arkansas

Chick-fil-A Bowl: South Carolina

Gator Bowl: L S U

Music City Bowl: Mississippi State

Liberty Bowl: Ole Miss

PapaJohns.com Bowl: Kentucky

 

 

Team By Team Breakdown

S E C  East

 

Team

Florida Gators
               
Head Coach Urban Meyer
               
Colors Blue and Orange
               
City Gainesville, FL
               
2009 Record              
Conference 8-0
Overall 13-1
               
PiRate Rating 121.4
               
National Rating 10
               
2010 Prediction              
Conference 7-1
Overall 11-2
               
Strengths: QB, RB, Offensive Line, Defensive Line, LB, DB, Special Teams
               
Weaknesses: Receiver (small weakness)
               
Schedule              
Non-Conf: Miami (O), South Florida, Appalachian State, @ Florida State
   
Key Games: @ Alabama, LSU, Georgia (n), South Carolina
   
Offense Pred. 28-32 points & 375-400 yards
               
Defense Pred. 15-19 points & 275-300 yards
               
Outlook

The Gators went 13-1 last year, and it was considered a major disappointment.  The team that returned almost every starter from a national championship was expected to go 14-0 and become the next 2001 Miami, 1995 Nebraska, 1971 Nebraska, and 1945 Army in college football.

 

Head Coach Urban Meyer briefly stepped down only to come back a few days later.  Unfortunately, Tim Tebow, Riley Cooper, Aaron Hernandez, Ryan Stamper, Joe Haden, Brandon Spikes, Dustin Doe, and Carlos Dunlap don’t have the option of coming back.  The Gators lost nine players to the NFL.  How can they possibly still be considered the top contender in the SEC East?  Simple: they still have the best overall talent in the division.

 

Quarterback John Brantley completed 36 of 48 passes for 410 yards and seven touchdowns with no interceptions in mop-up situations last year.  Not a real dual-threat runner like Tebow, he will set up in the pocket and throw downfield.  Remember, Meyer won a national title here with Chris Leak doing the same thing.

 

Brantley has fewer weapons at his disposal than Tebow had.  The loss of Cooper and Hernandez (119-1,811/14) leaves Deonte Thompson as the leading holdover.  Thompson will get help from the speedy Andre DeBose and the big-bodied Carl Moore.  Slotback Chris Rainey caught only 10 passes last year, and he will have to quadruple that mark this year for the Gators to be successful.

 

The running game will need more production from real backs, because Brantley will run much less than Tebow.   Rainey will team with Chris Demps and Emmanuel Moody to carry the load.  Expect the trio to top 1,800 rushing yards this year.

 

The offensive line returns four talented blockers, including all-American center Mike Pouncey and 6-5, 360-pound guard Carl Johnson.

 

Losing three defensive players who were drafted in the 1st two rounds of the NFL Draft and two other players in later rounds, UF will be a little weaker on this side of the ball, but not too much weaker to miss out on a return trip to a BCS Bowl.

 

The Gators have strength at defensive tackle thanks to the return of Omar Hunter and Jaye Howard.  Very few teams will run the ball up the middle against them.  Meyer recruited a lot of grade A d-line talent, and three could see immediate action as true freshmen.  Keep an eye on Ronald Powell and Sharrif Floyd.

 

A.J. Jones is the lone starter returning at linebacker.  Jones plays the run and the pass well, but UF will be weaker in the second line of defense.

 

The secondary will be strong once again with the return of two starters and several talented letterwinners.  Enemy quarterbacks will throw away from cornerback Janoris Jenkins.

 

Florida must play Alabama in the regular season at Tuscaloosa on October 2.  They will probably face the Tide in Atlanta two months later in a rematch game.

Team Georgia Bulldogs
               
Head Coach Mark Richt
               
Colors Red and Black
               
City Athens, GA
               
2009 Record              
Conference 4-4
Overall 8-5
               
PiRate Rating 115.5
               
National Rating 23
               
2010 Prediction              
Conference 5-3
Overall 9-3
               
Strengths: RB, Receiver, Offensive Line ***, Linebacker, Special Teams
               
Weaknesses: Quarterback, Defensive Line, Defensive Back
               
Schedule              
Non-Conf: UL-Lafayette, @ Colorado, Idaho State, Georgia Tech
   
Key Games: @ South Carolina, Arkansas, Florida (n), @ Auburn
   
Offense Pred. 27-31 points & 375-400 yards
               
Defense Pred. 22-26 points & 350-375 yards
               
Outlook

It is ridiculous that many Georgia fans want to get rid of Coach Mark Richt, when he just guided the Bulldogs to the most successful decade in their history.  Vince Dooley did not post 10-consecutive seasons as victorious as the decade Richt produced in Athens.  Pay close attention to what happened in Minnesota when Glen Mason was fired.

 

Editorial aside, Georgia has another fine team this season.  10 starters return on the offensive side; the one position that needs to be filled just happens to be at quarterback.  Richt has basically one option here.  Redshirt freshman Aaron Murray has the job from day one, because true freshman Hutson Mason is the only real backup.

 

If Murray is worth his salt as a passer, he will have a lot of weapons at his disposal.  A.J. Green has all-American potential after grabbing 53 passes for 808 yards in an injury-plagued season.  Tavarres King and Orson Charles should both top 40 receptions.  Former quarterback Logan Gray moves to receiver, where he should contribute this year.

 

At running back, Washaun Ealey played in the final nine games and rushed for 717 yards.  Caleb King added 594 yards.  Both have a combination of power and speed and can hit anywhere on the line of scrimmage.

 

The offensive line returns all five starters from last season, and this quintet ranks second nationally to Wisconsin’s line.  Guards Chris Davis and Cordy Glenn make a terrific tandem, and when you throw in center Ben Jones, the Bulldogs will be able to run the ball inside with authority and keep defensive pass rushers from coming up the middle.

 

In the last five seasons, Georgia gave up 16.4, 17.6, 20.2, 24.5, and 25.9 points per game.  This annual deterioration has led to a change at defensive coordinator.  Enter NFL veteran Todd Grantham, and enter the 3-4 defense.

 

We are a bit concerned about the new front three, as nose guard DeAngelo Tyson is not the answer there for a 3-4 front.  Former offensive lineman Justin Anderson may eventually take over in the interior.  At 330 pounds, he is better suited to growing roots over center.

 

If the new defensive line can keep blockers away from the UGa linebackers, the defense will have a chance to improve for the first time in five years.  Watch for Justin Houston to become a fixture in opponents’ backfields.  He could register double figure sacks and 20+ tackles for loss.

 

Brandon Boykin is the only returning starter in the secondary, and there isn’t much experience taking the place of the three departed starters.  Look for the ‘Dogs to give up more passing yards this year.

 

Georgia faced a key game in week two, when they visit South Carolina.  The winner will get a chance to play for the division title later in the season against Florida, while the loser will be out of the race.

Team Kentucky Wildcats
               
Head Coach Joker Phillips
               
Colors Royal Blue and White
               
City Lexington, KY
               
2009 Record              
Conference 2-6
Overall 7-6
               
PiRate Rating 101.9
               
National Rating 55
               
2010 Prediction              
Conference 2-6
Overall 6-6
               
Strengths: Receiver, Special Teams, Defensive Back
               
Weaknesses: Quarterback, Offensive Line, Defensive Line, Linebacker
               
Schedule              
Non-Conf: @ Louisville, Western Kentucky, Akron, Chas. Southern
   
Key Games: @ Ole Miss, Auburn, South Carolina, @ Miss. St., Vandy, @ Tenn.
   
Offense Pred. 24-28 points & 300-325 yards
               
Defense Pred. 23-27 points & 350-375 yards
               
Outlook

Joker Phillips takes over as head coach in Lexington after directing the Wildcats’ offense.  Kentucky has used intelligent non-conference scheduling to gain bowl eligibility four years in a row.  The trend should continue in Phillips’ first season.

 

This will be a weaker Kentucky team, but the Wildcats will benefit from having the easiest schedule in the league.  They should sweep their four non-SEC foes for the fourth year in a row and win two conference games to make it back to a bowl for the fifth straight year.

 

Phillips has to make a decision at quarterback.  He has senior Mike Hartline and sophomore Morgan Newton as his two main options.  Hartline is a more conservative passer who seldom takes chances.  He’s got a more accurate arm, but he doesn’t have much zip on the ball.  Newton can hum the ball deep and has a quick release, but he doesn’t always put the ball where he aims.  Expect both to play, and redshirt freshman Ryan Mosakowski could see some game time as well.

 

There is another option at quarterback.  Randall Cobb is the Wildcat Offense quarterback, but he is a starting wideout.  Cobb led UK with 39 receptions and 447 yards last year.  He finished second in rushing with 573 yards, and he passed for 89 more.  If the single wing were still in vogue, he would be an all-star tailback.

 

Speaking of tailbacks, Derrick Locke returns after rushing for 907 yards.  Expect Locke to run the ball 200-225 times for more than 1,000 yards this season.

 

Besides the previously mentioned Cobb, Kentucky returns four other receivers that saw considerable action, so whoever ends up in the pocket should have some good targets running routes.

 

The offensive line could be a liability this year, as just one starter returns.  Guard Stuart Hines has all-conference potential, but three of the new starters have seen a lot of action in SEC games.  Don’t expect too many more sacks allowed by this unit.

 

The 2009 UK defense turned out to be outstanding.  Ask Tim Tebow about the pass rush.  This year, the defensive line could even be a bit better.  Ends DeQuin Evans and Taylor Wyndham (the concussion-delivering blow to Tebow) will give the ‘Cats a good pass rush from the outside.  The tackles are not as talented as the ends, and opponents will run the ball up the middle against them.

 

Only one starter returns at linebacker.  Danny Trevathan finished second in tackles last year with 82, and he had five tackles for loss.  Phillips may have some depth issues here, because several expected backups have left.

 

Half of last year’s great secondary returns.  Cornerback Randall Burden intercepted two passes and knocked down eight others.  Safety Winston Guy was an excellent run stuffer, and he broke up five passes.  The pass defense won’t come close to matching last year’s exceptional output (just 48.5% completions allowed), but it will still be quite good.

 

Kentucky has not defeated rival Tennessee since 1984, but we believe this is the season that streak ends.

Team South Carolina Gamecocks
               
Head Coach Steve Spurrier
               
Colors Garnet and Black
               
City Columbia, SC
               
2009 Record              
Conference 3-5
Overall 7-6
               
PiRate Rating 121.6
               
National Rating 9
               
2010 Prediction              
Conference 5-3
Overall 8-4
               
Strengths: Running Back, Receiver, Defensive Back
               
Weaknesses: Offensive Line
               
Schedule              
Non-Conf: Southern Miss, Furman, Troy, @ Clemson
   
Key Games: Georgia, @ Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas, @ Florida
   
Offense Pred. 26-30 points & 360-380 yards
               
Defense Pred. 18-22 points & 300-325 yards
               
Outlook

It could be now or never for Coach Steve Spurrier in Columbia.  He has enough talent to break through into the top two in the division, if he can get halfway decent production from his quarterbacks.

 

Spurrier tends to eat at his quarterbacks when they don’t play every down like they have the name “Wuerffel” on the back of their jerseys.  He has bad-mouthed two-year starter Stephen Garcia since the end of last season, and it appears he will carry the insults to the opening game.  Garcia passed for 2,862 yards and 17 touchdowns last year, and he scrambled at times when the pocket broke down.  Still, Spurrier is threatening to start true freshman Connor Shaw in the first game.

 

Another true freshman might start from day one and become the best running back the Gamecock’s have had since George Rogers.  Marcus Lattimore is the real deal.  He was the top running back recruit in the nation last year.  Returning starter Kenny Miles and backups Brian Maddox and Jarvis Giles return, so the USC running game may produce the most yards here since Lou Holtz was coaching.

 

The receiving corps welcomes back leading pass catcher Alshon Jeffery, who finished 2009 with 46 receptions for 763 yards and six touchdowns.  He will team with Tori Gurley to form a formidable pair of wideouts.  If tight end Weslye Saunders can improve on his 32 receptions, the Gamecocks are going to be potent on the attack.  Saunders was one of the college stars present at that South Beach agent party, so he could miss some or even all of 2009.

 

The offensive line has played inconsistently the last couple of years, but it should be a team strength this season with four returning starters. 

 

The USC defense gave up just 20 points and 300 yards per game last year, and seven starters return to keep it strong in 2010.  Two starters return to the front four, including all-conference end Cliff Matthews.  Matthews made 47 tackles with seven sacks and three other tackles for loss, and he proved valuable against the pass with three knocked down passes.

 

At linebacker, leading tackler Shaq Wilson returns after making 85 stops last year.  Rodney Paulk returns to the middle linebacker spot after missing two seasons due to injury.  If he is close to 100% after suffering an ACL injury, the Gamecocks will be strong here.

 

The secondary is the strength of the defense.  USC has a top notch pair of cornerbacks in Stephon Gilmore and Chris Culliver.  They broke up 17 passes last year, and they should pick up a couple more interceptions this season.

 

Everything is in place for Spurrier to take USC to the next level.  They have a chance in all eight conference games, as they get to host Alabama and Georgia, and they play Florida in Gainesville in a year where the Gators will have a minor rebuilding season.  If the Gamecocks repeat with a 7-6 season, Spurrier may hang it up.

Team Tennessee Volunteers
               
Head Coach Derek Dooley
               
Colors Orange and White
               
City Knoxville, TN
               
2009 Record              
Conference 4-4
Overall 7-6
               
PiRate Rating 101.9
               
National Rating 54
               
2010 Prediction              
Conference 1-7
Overall 4-8
               
Strengths: Receiver
               
Weaknesses: Quarterback, Offensive Line, Linebacker, Defensive Back
               
Schedule              
Non-Conf: UT-Martin, Oregon, UAB, @ Memphis
   
Key Games: @LSU, @ Georgia, @ S. Carolina, Ole Miss, @ Vandy, Kentucky
   
Offense Pred. 16-20 points & 275-300 yards
               
Defense Pred. 20-24 points & 300-325 yards
               
Outlook

Welcome to the annual soap opera known as “All My Coaches.”  The Volunteers have their third coach in three seasons and fourth offensive coordinator in four seasons.  Add to this that several players have left and more have suffered injuries, and this is going to be the weakest team on the hill in Knoxville in more than 30 years.

 

The offense starts with a new quarterback that threw for 39 yards in very limited action at Louisville two years ago.  Matt Simms is the son of Phil Simms.  The junior transfer will compete with true freshman Tyler Bray, but whoever winds up as the starter will not come close to matching the stats compiled by departed starter Jonathan Crompton.

 

Three talented receivers will give the new QB a decent chance at having some success against weaker pass defenses.  Wideouts Gerald Jones and Denarius Moore and tight end Luke Stocker teamed up for 115 receptions, 1,609 yards, and 16 touchdowns.  True freshman Justin Hunter could see extensive action.

 

The running game has to start from scratch with the loss of the top two rushers.  Tauren Poole and David Oku are serviceable backs, but neither will threaten to run for 1,000 yards.

 

The weakest unit on the team is the offensive line.  All five starters are gone.  Guard Jarrod Shaw started three games last season, and the rest of this unit has no career starts.

 

This will be the weakest offense at UT since before Doug Dickey’s time as coach in the mid-1960’s.

 

The defense should be better off than the offense, but there are no Reggie White’s or John Henderson’s on this team.  There are also no Eric Berry’s.  Berry finished his career with seven tackles for loss and nine passes defended last season.  The all-American strong safety was the fifth overall pick in the draft.

 

Darren Myles was going to be the new stud of the secondary, but he was dismissed from the team this spring.  Expect opponents to shred this secondary for 200+ passing yards this season.

 

The defensive line took a major hit with injuries, and there will be a problem stopping the run and rushing the passer.  Southern Cal transfer Malik Jackson could see immediate playing time.  Chris Walker will be the lone serious QB sack threat.

 

Tennessee has a similar history to Penn State when it comes to producing linebackers.  They have two fine ones this year who should combine for 100-120 tackles.  LaMarcus Thompson and Nick Reveiz won’t make all-conference teams, but they won’t be liabilities either.

 

Tennessee should win three of their four non-conference games this year, but once conference play begins, the Vols may have to wait to November to get a league win.  Coach Derek Dooley’s first season in Knoxville could produce a 4-8 record.  Since the Vols started playing football in 1902, they have never lost eight games in a season.

Team Vanderbilt Commodores
               
Head Coach Robbie Caldwell
               
Colors Black and Gold
               
City Nashville, TN
               
2009 Record              
Conference 0-8
Overall 2-10
               
PiRate Rating 96.1
               
National Rating 68
               
2010 Prediction              
Conference 0-8
Overall 1-11
               
Strengths: Running Back
               
Weaknesses: QB, Receiver, Offensive Line, Defensive Line, LB, Defensive Back
               
Schedule              
Non-Conf: Northwestern, @ Connecticut, Eastern Mich., Wake Forest
   
Key Games: @ Ole Miss, @ Kentucky, Tennessee
   
Offense Pred. 13-16 points & 275-300 yards
               
Defense Pred. 23-26 points & 375-400 yards
               
Outlook

Vanderbilt was supposed to contend for another bowl game last year and maybe win as many as eight games with a veteran squad returning from a seven-win season that included a bowl victory.  Instead, the Commodores suffered through numerous injuries and crashed to a 2-10 season.  The offense could not move the ball on Army much less a conference foe.  Vanderbilt averaged just 8.9 points and 234 yards of offense in conference play, numbers not seen in the SEC since the mid-1960’s.

 

To add insult to injury, Bobby Johnson decided in July that he could take no more of this.  He retired, leaving the job to Robbie Caldwell.  Vanderbilt is a team that must stay healthy to have a chance in the SEC, and immediately after practice began, serious injuries put a major crimp in the offense.  It is going to be a long season in Nashville, and the Commodores are going to be underdogs in all but one game.

 

Larry Smith returns at quarterback after suffering through a sophomore slump season that ended in the first quarter of the ninth game.  He will compete with holdovers Jared Funk and Charlie Goro and junior college transfer Jordan Rodgers, the younger brother of Aaron Rodgers.  We expect Smith to start the opener with Northwestern, but we wouldn’t be surprised if more than one quarterback played in that game.

 

The running back situation appeared to be a team strength until practice began.  Sophomore Warren Norman rushed for 783 yards as a freshman, while fellow freshman Zac Stacy added 478.  Stacy sprained his MCL in practice and is out for the first couple of games.  Backup backs Kennard Reeves and Wesley Tate (younger brother of Golden Tate) are nursing injuries as well, so depth will be an issue here.

 

The Commodores are rather weak at receiver.  There is not a deep ball threat on the roster, and there is only one consistent possession man.  John Cole led the team with just 36 receptions and 382 yards.  Tight end Brandon Barden finished second with 29 catches for 357 yards.  No receiver had more than one touchdown reception.  Expect another year of struggles through the air.

 

The offensive line lost its one all-conference caliber blocker when tackle James Williams was lost to academic difficulties.  One starter returns to the blocking corps–guard Kyle Fischer.

 

This looks like an offense that will possibly score fewer than 10 points per game in conference play for a second consecutive season.

 

The Vanderbilt defense was decent last year, but the offense forced it to defend too many plays, more than 70 to be exact.  Injuries and graduation will make this side of the ball weaker than last year.  Tackle Adam Smotherman tore his ACL in Spring drills, and he will not be 100% at all this season.  He will probably miss some games as well.  End Theron Kadri will become the sack specialist on this team, but we don’t expect Vanderbilt to top 20 sacks with this defense.

 

Chris Marve is an all-conference talent at middle linebacker after leading the Commodores with 121 tackles last year.  He will have two new partners starting with him in the second line of defense.

 

The back line of defense loses its leading pass defender, but cornerback Casey Hayward returns after intercepting two passes and batting away seven others.

 

We cannot see the Commodores breaking through with a conference victory this season.  Vanderbilt’s non-conference schedule is the toughest of any SEC team.  They face Northwestern, Connecticut, and Wake Forest, and we see these opponents defeating the Commodores in close games.  That leaves an October 9 home game with Eastern Michigan as possibly the only chance to pick up a victory.

S E C  WEST

Team Alabama Crimson Tide
               
Head Coach Nick Saban
               
Colors Crimson and White
               
City Tuscaloosa, AL
               
2009 Record              
Conference 8-0
Overall 14-0
               
PiRate Rating 126.1
               
National Rating 2
               
2010 Prediction              
Conference 7-1
Overall 12-1
               
Strengths: Quarterback **, Running Back ***, Defensive Line, Linebacker
               
Weaknesses: Defensive Back
               
Schedule              
Non-Conf: San Jose State, Penn State @ Duke, Georgia State
   
Key Games: @ Arkansas, Florida, @ S. Carolina, Auburn
   
Offense Pred. 34-38 points & 400-425 yards
               
Defense Pred. 15-19 points & 275-300 yards
               
Outlook

What can the Tide do for an encore?  They had maybe two tough games in their march to a 14-0 record and national championship.  The had the Heisman Trophy winner as well.  How can a team lose nine starters on their defensive side and still be a legitimate contender for another national championship?

 

That’s simple.  When you have a top five recruiting class three years in a row, you have exceptional talent past your two-deep.  There are players on this team that may see no more than a few snaps of game action per year that could be starting for other bowl teams.

 

Let’s start on offense, where the Tide will be tough to slow down.  The second best running attack in college football starts with the best individual back.  Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram is back after rushing for 1,658 yards and 17 touchdowns.  He added 32 receptions for 334 yards and three more scores.  Backup Trent Richardson rushed for 751 yards and eight scores, earning 1st Team Freshman All-American honors! 

 

Handing the ball off to this dynamic duo is a quarterback that has never lost a game at the college or high school level.  Greg McElroy didn’t get much publicity with Ingram running roughshod over opponents, but he completed better than 60% of his passes for 2,508 yards and 17 touchdowns to just four interceptions.  He could top 3,000 yards this year.

 

McElroy’s receivers are not as talented as the running backs, but they are still quite talented in their own right.  Julio Jones led the Tide with 43 catches, even though he missed the better part of seven games.  Marquis Maze is a deep threat in his own right, and he will see mostly single coverage.

 

The offensive line returns three starters but has several talented newcomers, including redshirt freshman tackle D.J. Fluker, who has all-conference written all over his chest.

 

The defense has some major reloading to do.  13 of the top 16 tacklers are gone, and that number could become 14 of 16. Middle linebacker Dont’a Hightower and strong safety Mark Baron are the only two returning starters, and Hightower only started four times before going down for the season with an ACL injury. 

 

Baron could be a 1st Team all-American this year.  He led the SEC with 18 passes defended (7 Int./11 PBU).  There is very little experience joining him in the secondary, but there is a lot of raw talent waiting for Coach Nick Saban to mold into the next tough pass defense.

 

Sophomore Nico Johnson made the SEC All-Freshman team last year in limited action, and he will team with Hightower to form a splendid pair at linebacker.

 

The front line could have another major blow.  End Marcell Dareus, a sack machine, may be declared ineligible for part or all of the season for his attendance at the South Beach agent party.

 

Alabama will give up more points and yards this year, but they will still finish in the top 20 in the nation in total defense.

 

The schedule is really tough for all SEC West teams this year, as every team could easily be bowl eligible.  Throw in a game with Florida, and it doesn’t look possible for a third consecutive undefeated regular season.  Call it a one-loss year and trip to the Sugar Bowl.

Team Arkansas Razorbacks
               
Head Coach Bobby Petrino
               
Colors Cardinal and White
               
City Fayetteville, AR
               
2009 Record              
Conference 3-5
Overall 8-5
               
PiRate Rating 124.9
               
National Rating 4
               
2010 Prediction              
Conference 5-3
Overall 9-3
               
Strengths: Quarterback ***, Receiver
               
Weaknesses: Defensive Line
               
Schedule              
Non-Conf: Tenn. Tech, UL-Monroe, Texas A&M (n), UTEP
   
Key Games: @ Georgia, Alabama, @ Auburn, Ole Miss, @ S.Car, LSU
   
Offense Pred. 40-44 points and 450-475 yards
               
Defense Pred. 24-28 points & 375-400 yards
               
Outlook

Arkansas has half of the best team in the nation.  Their offense is unrivaled by any team.  They may not finish atop the total offense and scoring offense statistics, but the teams that beat them out won’t play SEC defenses.  If the Razorbacks played a CUSA schedule, they might average close to 55 points per game this year.

 

Ryan Mallett is the best quarterback in the SEC and one of the five best in the nation.  Last year, he passed for 3,624 yards and 30 touchdowns versus just seven interceptions.  His 55.8% completion rate was lower than others, because Mallett tends to throw deeper passes.  He averaged nine yards per attempt and more than 16 yards per completion.

 

The vertical passing game works so well, because Arkansas has the best group of receivers in the SEC.  Three Hog pass catchers can burn a secondary for a quick six on a go route.  Greg Childs, Jarius Wright, and Joe Adams teamed up for 118 receptions, 2,143 yards (18.2 avg), and 19 touchdowns.  Tight end D.J. Williams added 32 receptions, and he can take a pass over the middle and go the distance.

 

Pass defenders will have to cede territory in their alignments, and that will make the running game have more room to run when backs break free from the line.  Arkansas doesn’t run the ball much, and they have little need to do so, but when they do, expect the backs to improve on last season’s average per attempt.  Ronnie Wingo and Broderick Green should average a combined five yards per rush this year.

 

The offensive line returns four starters from last year, and this group will give Mallett ample time to locate his deadly receivers.

 

The defense is a different kettle of fish.  Arkansas gave up 25 points and 400 yards per game last year, giving up 52 points to Georgia. 

 

Two starters return to the defensive line, but neither was a star.  The two new starters saw extensive time last year, so this unit will be about as mediocre as it was last year.  Look for true freshman Bryan Jones to see immediate action in the trenches.

 

The Hogs will be improved at linebacker.  Two starters, the numbers one and three tacklers, return.  Jerry Franklin collected 94 tackles and played admirably against both the run and pass.  Jerico Nelson was a better run-stopper than pass defender.  New starter Freddy Burton started seven games last year, so he can be considered a half-starter.

 

The defensive backfield is the weak spot of the defense.  The Razorbacks gave up far too many big plays last year.  Arkansas gave up 248 passing yards per game last year.  With three starters returning, there should be some improvement.  However, none of them intercepted a pass.

 

Expect another entertaining season out of Coach Bobby Petrino’s Razorbacks.  We believe they will average more than 40 points per game.  We also think they may be the team that upsets Alabama.  However, they have too many holes on defense to run the table.  Call it a second or third place finish in the tough West.  Jerry Jones would love for his alma mater to play in his stadium at bowl season.

Team Auburn Tigers
               
Head Coach Gene Chizik
               
Colors Navy and Burnt Orange
               
City Auburn, AL
               
2009 Record              
Conference 3-5
Overall 8-5
               
PiRate Rating 117.8
               
National Rating 19
               
2010 Prediction              
Conference 5-3
Overall 9-3
               
Strengths: Receiver, Offensive Line, Linebacker
               
Weaknesses: Defensive Line
               
Schedule              
Non-Conf: Arkansas State, Clemson, La.-Monroe, Chattanooga
   
Key Games: S. Carolina, Arkansas, LSU, @ Ole Miss, Georgia, @ Alabama
   
Offense Pred. 28-32 points & 400-425 yards
               
Defense Pred. 22-26 points & 350-375 yards
               
Outlook

What a difference a year made!  In their last season with Tommy Tuberville in charge of this program, Auburn averaged 17 points and 300 yards per game in offense and gave up 18 points and 320 yards.  In their first season under Gene Chizik, and with offensive guru Gus Malzahn’s offense being implemented, Auburn’s offense improved to 33 points and 430 yards per game.  Unfortunately, their defense weakened to 28 points and 375 yards allowed.

 

The end result was an 8-5 record that included a bowl win over Northwestern.  In year number two, Chizik has the pieces in place to win more games and even possibly challenge for the SEC West division title.

 

Former Florida signee Cam Newton takes over at quarterback this year.  He is a dual-threat that could add to the running game, but he won’t pass for as many yards as this team had in 2009.

 

Newton’s excellent running ability will help take some heat off the backs.  Mario Fannin and Onterio McCalebb combined for just 850 subbing for departed star Ben Tate, and we believe they will team for 1,600 or more yards.  True freshman Michael Dyer is a tank with quickness, and he could take away some of the snaps from the other two.

 

Newton has an outstanding receiver to aim for in Darvin Adams, who caught 60 passes for 997 yards and 10 touchdowns.  Terrell Zachery added 26 receptions for 477 yards and five scores.  Fannin also proved to be a valuable weapon out of the backfield, taking 42 passes.  Look out for true freshman Trovon Reed, who could actually supplant one of the starters.

 

Four starting offensive linemen return to provide excellent pass protection and to open holes for the running backs.  Center Ryan Pugh and tackle Lee Ziemba are both stars.

 

Look for Auburn to rush for 225-250 yards and pass for 150-175 yards.  It looks like another big year from the offense.

 

Auburn returns half of their starting defensive line, but the loss of Antonio Coleman makes this unit considerable weaker.

 

Linebacker is a major asset with the return of all three starters.  Josh Bynes, Craig Stevens, and Daren Bates finished one-two-and four in tackles last year.  Expect Jonathan Evans to see considerable time here as well and possibly crack the starting lineup.

 

Neiko Thorpe has all-conference potential at cornerback.  He intercepted two passes and broke up nine others last year.  He joins two safeties with past starting experience, so the pass defense should be a little tighter this season.

 

Auburn hosts both LSU and Arkansas, the two teams they will compete with for second place in the SEC West.  We give them the edge over the other two.

 

Team Louisiana State Tigers
               
Head Coach Les Miles
               
Colors Royal Purple and Gold
               
City Baton Rouge, LA
               
2009 Record              
Conference 5-3
Overall 9-4
               
PiRate Rating 113.0
               
National Rating 28
               
2010 Prediction              
Conference 4-4
Overall 7-5
               
Strengths: Receiver, Special Teams
               
Weaknesses: Offensive Line, Linebacker
               
Schedule              
Non-Conf: North Carolina (n), West Virginia, McNeese St., UL-Monroe
   
Key Games: @ Florida, @ Auburn, Alabama, Ole Miss, @ Arkansas
   
Offense Pred. 20-24 points & 300-325 yards
               
Defense Pred. 18-22 points & 290-310 yards
               
Outlook

The Tigers were a major disappointment last year, finishing 9-4 and fielding very little offense.  Coach Les Miles is on a very hot seat, and we believe this will be his last season in Baton Rouge, because the Tigers lost too much talent to improve on last year’s record.

 

Six starters return on offense, but those starters did not shine.  Quarterback Jordan Jefferson completed 61.5% of his passes for 2,166 yards with a TD/Int. ratio of 17/7.  However, Jefferson (and backup QB Jarrett Lee) took 37 sacks because of difficulty reading defensive coverage.  We don’t see the quarterbacking position being all that much improved this season.

 

Two receivers caught almost 56% of all completed passes last year, and one is no longer here.  Terrence Toliver caught 53 passes for 735 yards.  Former quarterback Russell Shepard has moved to receiver full-time and will start immediately.

 

The running game averaged 123 yards per game (skewed by all the sacks).  Take away the four non-conference breathers, and the Tigers averaged just 97 rushing yards per game.  The top two runners are gone, leaving a major hole at this position. 

 

The offensive line lost its top two blockers, so even with three starters returning, we expect little or no improvement here.

 

Opposing defenses will beg LSU to run the ball and take away the passing lanes.  Jefferson will have a hard time of it this season, and we expect the offense to boggle down yet again.

 

It was defense that won most of LSU’s games last year.  Only four starters return to this side of the ball.  Four of the top five tacklers must be replaced.

 

Only one starter returns to the defensive line.  Tackle Lazarius Levingston made eight tackles for loss and batted away four passes.  Drake Nevis will team with Levingston to make a great tandem at tackle and prevent many gains up the middle.  The news isn’t so rosy at end, where there isn’t a real proven pass rusher present.

 

Mike linebacker Kelvin Sheppard led the Tigers with 110 tackles, including 8 ½ for loss.  Expected starter Ryan Baker will be out until October, so the Tigers will have some concerns in their first four games.

 

The secondary is the strongest unit on the entire team, and it returns just two starters.  Cornerback Patrick Peterson is one of the league’s top three players at his position.  He picked off two passes but batted away 13 others.

 

LSU’s defense will still be powerful, but we doubt they will hold opponents to 16 points per game like last year.  The Tigers will struggle to score enough points week after week, but they will still win more than they lose.  But, it won’t be enough to save Miles’ job.  Three years ago, after supposedly being in line to take over the Michigan job, he chose to stay at LSU.  In a strange twist of fate, if Rich Rodriguez were to have a big year at Michigan and this job came open, he might be a candidate here.

Team Ole Miss Rebels
               
Head Coach Houston Nutt
               
Colors Cardinal and Navy
               
City Oxford, MS
               
2009 Record              
Conference 4-4
Overall 9-4
               
PiRate Rating 108.3
               
National Rating 41
               
2010 Prediction              
Conference 4-4
Overall 8-4
               
Strengths: Quarterback, Running Back, Defensive Back
               
Weaknesses: Offensive Line
               
Schedule              
Non-Conf: Jacksonville St., @ Tulane, Fresno State, UL-Lafayette
   
Key Games: Kentucky, @ Arkansas, Auburn, @ Tennessee, @ LSU, Miss. St.
   
Offense Pred. 31-34 points & 410-430 yards
               
Defense Pred. 18-22 points & 325-350 yards
               
Outlook

Brett Favre left Mississippi to return to the Minnesota Vikings.  Ole Miss has their own version of Favre, so to speak.  They will rent a quarterback for the season with hopes of winning a conference championship.  Enter Jeremiah Masoli, who was booted off the Oregon Ducks’ team for two infractions.  Masoli would have been a Heisman Trophy candidate at OU.  He led the Ducks to the Rose Bowl last season after running for 668 yards and 13 touchdowns and passing for 2,147 yards and 15 touchdowns.

 

The Rebels lost a great all-purpose back in Dexter McCluster.  He topped 1,100 yards last year.  Brandon Bolden returns after running for 614 yards.  Keep an eye of Enrique Davis.  The former highly sought after back has floundered so far, but the junior could be getting ready to come into his own.

 

The Rebels lost their top two receivers from last year, and that may keep Masoli from putting up passing stats like he did at Oregon.  Markeith Summers is the leading returnee with 394 yards on 17 receptions.

 

The offensive line lost three multi-year starters, but both tackles return.  Expect a small step backward in pass protection, but Masoli is much more mobile than last year’s quarterback, Jevan Snead.

 

The defense is in a little better shape with the return of six starters.  Three starters return up front, and the Rebels should be strong against the run and also have another good pass rush.  Jerrelle Powe could make the 1st Team All-SEC list after coming up with 12 tackles for losses last year.

 

Linebackers Jonathan Cornell and Allen Walker return to form a good mix in the second line of defense.  Cornell is a better run-stopper and Walker is a better pass defender.

 

The secondary will take a step back with just one starter returning.  Safety Johnny Brown finished second with 81 tackles last year.

 

Coach Houston Nutt’s Rebels benefit from a great schedule.  Ole Miss could easily open 5-0 and should be no worse than 4-1.  The Rebels then get an off week to prepare for their October 16 game at Alabama.  We believe Ole Miss will win eight regular season games for the third consecutive year.

Team Mississippi State Bulldogs
               
Head Coach Dan Mullen
               
Colors Maroon and White
               
City Starkville, MS
               
2009 Record              
Conference 3-5
Overall 5-7
               
PiRate Rating 110.8
               
National Rating 36
               
2010 Prediction              
Conference 3-5
Overall 6-6
               
Strengths: Defensive Line
               
Weaknesses: Quarterback, Receiver
               
Schedule              
Non-Conf: Memphis, Alcorn State, @ Houston, U A B
   
Key Games: Kentucky, Arkansas, @ Ole Miss
   
Offense Pred. 24-28 points & 375-400 yards
               
Defense Pred. 23-27 points & 360-380 yards
               
Outlook

Coach Dan Mullen’s first year in Starkville almost produced bowl eligibility when the Bulldogs had been picked to possibly lose 10 games.  If not for a mix-up at the line of scrimmage at the end of the LSU game, Miss. State would have gone 6-6 instead of 5-7.

 

We think the Bulldogs will get that extra win this year and earn a trip back to a bowl for the first time in three years.  Seven starters return on both sides of the ball.

 

One position that must be replaced is at quarterback.  Chris Relf has a rifle arm, and he is mobile.  He should add another dimension to the Bulldog offense.  He also should cut down on the number of interceptions State quarterbacks threw last season (17).  Tyler Russell, a redshirt freshman, should also see some playing time this year.

 

There isn’t a lot of talent at wide receiver, but the top two pass catchers do return.  Wideout Chad Bumphis and Tight end Marcus Green have some breakaway potential, but they won’t remind anybody of Mardye McDole.

 

Replacing Anthony Dixon at running back is not possible with the running backs on the roster; Vick Ballard is expected to get the lion’s share of the load, but the roster is really thin behind him.

 

The offensive line returns four experienced starters, and they should give Relf room to run and time to pass.  We would not be surprised if Relf led the Maroons in rushing yards while passing for close to 2,000 yards.

 

The biggest loss on defense may have been defensive coordinator Carl Torbush.  Now, the Bulldogs will have their third DC in three years.  Chris Wilson from Oklahoma and Manny Diaz from Middle Tennessee will share the responsibility.

 

Mississippi State’s defense will rely on a talented defensive line to set the tone.  End Pernell McPhee is one of the best in the league.  He comes off a year in which he had five sacks, 12 total tackles for loss, and four knocked down passes.  New starter Sean Ferguson will give State a strong end tandem.

 

The top two returning tacklers return to the second line of defense.  Linebackers Chris White and K.J. Wright combined for 157 stops a year ago.

 

The Bulldogs have a terrific trio of starting defensive backs returning this year.  Safeties Charles Mitchell and Johnathan Banks both intercepted four passes last year; cornerback Corey Broomfield had six!

 

Look for State to improve on this side of the ball and allow fewer points this year.  We believe it will bring them one more win and bowl eligibility.

Coming Next Week: The initial PiRate, Mean, and Biased Ratings for the NFL, and the entire first week of the college football season 

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