The Pi-Rate Ratings

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   

September 13, 2011

PiRate Ratings–Pro Football Week Two: September 18-19, 2011

Filed under: Pro Football — Tags: , , , , , — piratings @ 12:01 pm

The lack of OTAs and minicamps affected the week one games more than most people realized.  The average total of the 16 games was 47.0, or about three points more than the 2010 average.  The difference appears almost infinitesimal at first look.  The Vegas Line totals for those 16 games averaged out to just 40.5, because the masses of bettors thought the opposite would be true, thinking that the offenses would not be ready; in Week One of 2010, the 16 games averaged a total of 36.6 points per game, or 10.1 points per game less than this year’s opening week games. 

 

We took advantage of the low totals to reduce them by another 13 points on sweetheart teasers, and it led to a profitable week—at least on paper, because we do not wager with Federal Reserve Notes. 

 

Injuries to quarterbacks made for huge swings in two games.  Without Peyton Manning, the Colts looked about as weak as they did in the latter years in Baltimore.  Matt Cassel played for the Chiefs, but the Bills quickly realized his rib injuries prevented him from throwing anything more than short passes.  They capitalized by stuffing the short zones, and most of his passes were thrown no more than five yards downfield.  For the day, he averaged just 3.3 yards per attempt.

 

Did you see the Oakland Raiders on Monday night?  Was that an old-fashioned full-house T formation being used a few times?  And, did the Broncos seem to have trouble defending the multiple faking in the backfield?  It makes you wonder what might happen if someone tried the single wing buck lateral.  Vince Lombardi once told reporters in the mid 1960’s that NFL defenses would be very embarrassed if someone tried running the single wing offense.

 

Since today’s defenses are geared to stop today’s offenses, if an offensive coordinator was brash enough to install a series from an old offense, like the full-house T or single wing, it just may prove to be lethal until all the other teams’ offensive coordinators began copying from it.

 

Tennessee’s Chris Johnson received 40-million dollars plus and rushed for 24 yards in the Titans’ first game.  Has anybody realized that Johnson’s best rushing games came with Vince Young at quarterback?  Could it be that defenses realize there is no way any QB other than Young is going to bootleg away from Johnson and run to daylight?  Kerry Collins was not about to take off last year, and once Collins replaced Young, Johnson’s rushing yardage took a nosedive.  Matt Hasselbeck will not be confused for Bobby Douglas, so without another running option in the backfield and with a weak passing game, expect the Titans’ offense to continue to fizzle.  Baltimore held Pittsburgh to seven points; they can pitch a shutout against Tennessee if they do not turn the ball over.

 

PiRate Ratings For Week Two—September 18-19, 2011

 

NFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

PiRate

Mean

Biased

Philadelphia Eagles

1

0

0

31

13

107.0

105.4

108.3

New York Giants

0

1

0

14

28

102.9

100.9

99.4

Dallas Cowboys

0

1

0

24

27

101.6

102.0

103.0

Washington Redskins

1

0

0

28

14

96.7

99.0

98.4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

PiRate

Mean

Biased

Green Bay Packers

1

0

0

42

34

107.6

108.0

109.6

Chicago Bears

1

0

0

30

12

104.8

103.5

105.1

Detroit Lions

1

0

0

27

20

100.9

100.1

101.8

Minnesota Vikings

0

1

0

17

24

97.4

100.3

94.6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

PiRate

Mean

Biased

New Orleans Saints

0

1

0

34

42

105.9

103.4

105.3

Atlanta Falcons

0

1

0

12

30

103.3

101.2

103.8

Tampa Bay Bucaneers

0

1

0

20

27

98.2

98.6

97.4

Carolina Panthers

0

1

0

21

28

91.2

93.3

90.8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

PiRate

Mean

Biased

San Francisco 49ers

1

0

0

33

17

96.5

97.7

99.3

St. Louis Rams

0

1

0

13

31

95.6

93.3

94.0

Arizona Cardinals

1

0

0

28

21

94.7

94.6

94.1

Seattle Seahawks

0

1

0

17

33

91.5

93.3

91.4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

PiRate

Mean

Biased

New England Patriots

1

0

0

38

24

110.8

109.9

111.8

New York Jets

1

0

0

27

24

106.3

105.1

107.5

Miami Dolphins

0

1

0

24

38

99.0

98.7

100.6

Buffalo Bills

1

0

0

41

7

95.7

98.7

98.7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

PiRate

Mean

Biased

Baltimore Ravens

1

0

0

35

7

107.6

108.1

109.0

Pittsburgh Steelers

0

1

0

7

35

106.5

104.1

103.2

Cincinnati Bengals

1

0

0

27

17

95.6

97.6

100.3

Cleveland Browns

0

1

0

17

27

93.3

94.6

93.2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

PiRate

Mean

Biased

Houston Texans

1

0

0

34

7

105.0

103.2

103.9

Indianapolis Colts

0

1

0

7

34

99.6

99.0

96.6

Jacksonville Jaguars

1

0

0

16

14

96.5

97.2

96.2

Tennessee Titans

0

1

0

14

16

96.0

98.7

94.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

PiRate

Mean

Biased

San Diego Chargers

1

0

0

24

17

106.0

104.4

106.7

Kansas City Chiefs

0

1

0

7

41

97.2

93.7

93.8

Oakland Raiders

1

0

0

23

20

96.8

98.0

96.4

Denver Broncos

0

1

0

20

23

92.9

94.5

91.9

 

 

This Week’s PiRate, Mean, and Biased Picks—September 18-19, 2011

 

This Week’s Games

Home Team in CAPS

(N) Denotes Neutral Site

       
   

 

 

 

 

 

Week 2: September 18-19, 2011

 

 

 

 

 

Vegas Line as of 1:00 PM EDT Tuesday

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

Favorite Underdog

PiRate

Mean

Bias

Vegas

Totals

NEW ORLEANS Chicago

1.6

0.4

0.7

7   

47   

DETROIT Kansas City

7.7

10.4

12.0

8   

44 1/2

NEW YORK JETS Jacksonville

12.3

10.4

13.8

9 1/2

38   

Oakland  BUFFALO

0.1

-1.7

-3.3

4   

41 1/2

WASHINGTON Arizona

4.5

6.9

6.8

4 1/2

44   

Baltimore TENNESSEE

9.1

6.9

12.5

6   

37 1/2

PITTSBURGH Seattle

18.0

13.8

14.8

14 1/2

39 1/2

Green Bay CAROLINA

15.4

13.7

17.8

10   

46 1/2

Tampa Bay MINNESOTA

0.8

-1.7

2.8

-3   

40 1/2

INDIANAPOLIS Cleveland

7.8

5.9

4.9

-2 1/2

37 1/2

Dallas SAN FRANCISCO

1.1

0.3

-0.3

-3   

42 1/2

Houston MIAMI

6.0

4.5

3.3

-3   

47   

NEW ENGLAND San Diego

6.3

7.0

6.6

6 1/2

52 1/2

Cincinnati DENVER

1.2

1.6

6.9

-4 1/2

40   

Philadelphia ATLANTA

2.2

2.7

3.0

2 1/2

49 1/2

NEW YORK GIANTS St. Louis

8.3

8.6

6.4

6   

42   

 

January 9, 2009

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

PiRate Ratings For NFL Playoffs

2nd Round: January 10-11, 2009

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The PiRate Pro Ratings (Rating)

 

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

 

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

 

 

The Mean Ratings (Mean)

 

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

 

The Bias Ratings (Biased)

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Notes

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Game Previews

 

SATURDAY, JANUARY 10, 2009

 

Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans

Time:           4:30 PM EST

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:                Tennessee by 1              

Mean:                  Tennessee by 2

Bias:                    Tennessee by 4

 

Vegas:               Tennessee by 3

Ov/Un:               34½

Money Line: -155      +135

 

100 Sims:           Baltimore 61  Tennessee 39

Avg Sim Score:  Baltimore 22  Tennessee 16

Outlier 1a Sim:  Baltimore 27  Tennessee 7

Outlier 1b Sim:  Tennessee 13  Baltimore 0

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers

Time:           8:00 PM EST

TV:               Fox

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

 

PiRate:                Carolina by 9

Mean:                 Carolina by 9

Bias:                   Carolina by 7

 

Vegas:                Carolina by 9½          

Ov/Un:               48½

Money Line:       -450      +325

 

100 Sims:           Carolina 77  Arizona 23

Avg Sim Score:  Carolina 30  Arizona 22

Outlier 1a Sim:  Carolina 37  Arizona 10

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

SUNDAY, JANUARY 11, 2009

 

Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants

Time:           1:00 PM EST

TV:               Fox

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

 

PiRate:                Giants by 2

Mean:                  Giants by 3

Bias:                    Giants by 2

 

Vegas:               Giants by 4½     

Ov/Un:               40

Money Line:       -220      +180

 

100 Sims:           Giants 52  Philadelphia 48

Avg Sim Score:  Giants 25  Philadelphia 25

Outlier 1a Sim:  Giants 38  Philadelphia 16

Outlier 1b Sim:  Philadelphia 41  Giants 17

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

San Diego Chargers at Pittsburgh Steelers

Time:           4:30 PM EST

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:                Pittsburgh by 7

Mean:                  Pittsburgh by 6

Bias:                    Pittsburgh by 5

 

Vegas:               Pittsburgh by 6½           

Ov/Un:               38

Money Line: -270      +210

 

100 Sims:           Pittsburgh 60  San Diego 40

Avg Sim Score:  Pittsburgh 22  San Diego 18

Outlier 1a Sim:  Pittsburgh 30  San Diego 7

Outlier 1b Sim:  San Diego 13  Pittsburgh 3

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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.

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