The Pi-Rate Ratings

December 11, 2008

PiRate Ratings Week 15 NFL Previews: December 11-15, 2008

PiRate Ratings For NFL Week 15

And Down The Stretch They Come!

 

There’s just a furlong to go in the NFL regular season, and most of the playoff spots are still to be decided.

 

If the season ended today in the NFC, the Giants and Panthers would get first round byes, with the Cardinals, Vikings, Buccaneers, and Cowboys playing in the first round.  The Falcons still control their own destiny, even though they are the number seven team in the NFC this week.  Also in the running for a playoff spot are the Eagles, Redskins, Saints, and Bears.

 

If the season ended today in the AFC, the Titans and Steelers would get first round byes, with the Jets, Broncos, Colts, and Ravens playing in the first round.  The Dolphins and Patriots still have good chances to move up, while the rest of the conference is out of the picture (San Diego could sneak in with three wins and three Denver losses).

 

 

This week’s schedule is chock full of important games with playoff implications.  In the NFC alone, there are five games where both teams have winning records and strong playoff chances.  It will be almost like a preliminary to the playoffs.  In the AFC, all eyes will be in Baltimore for the big game between the Ravens and Steelers.  Pittsburgh must play at Tennessee next week, so the Steelers have a rough couple of road games.

 

The PiRate Pro Ratings (Rating)

 

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

 

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

 

The Mean Ratings (Mean)

 

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

 

The Bias Ratings (Biased)

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Current NFL Standings
NFC East Won   Lost   Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

New York

11

2

0

366

226

110.21

109.88

108.46

2

Dallas

8

5

0

312

280

102.02

102.78

103.60

2

Philadelphia

7

5

1

339

263

107.18

105.64

105.81

2

Washington

7

6

0

218

246

99.03

99.74

100.60

2

NFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Minnesota

8

5

0

307

276

103.51

103.71

104.09

2

Chicago

7

6

0

304

278

102.34

101.17

102.15

2

Green Bay

5

8

0

355

319

104.62

102.10

100.99

2

Detroit

0

13

0

219

413

87.55

88.46

87.65

3

NFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Carolina

10

3

0

323

254

105.75

104.74

106.54

2

Tampa Bay

9

4

0

303

238

105.14

103.85

105.04

2

Atlanta  

8

5

0

323

271

104.40

103.44

103.62

2

New Orleans

7

6

0

366

326

103.61

103.00

102.17

2

NFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Arizona

8

5

0

372

323

101.44

100.95

102.52

3

San Francisco

5

8

0

286

327

95.22

96.48

96.19

3

Seattle

2

11

0

237

335

92.29

92.89

92.48

3

St. Louis

2

11

0

169

394

83.23

86.90

84.67

2

AFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

New York

8

5

0

354

292

101.26

101.10

102.52

2

New England

8

5

0

301

276

99.57

101.16

102.79

2

Miami

8

5

0

269

260

98.26

98.56

102.01

2

Buffalo

6

7

0

279

275

96.33

95.31

97.37

3

AFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Pittsburgh

10

3

0

289

183

108.86

108.01

107.22

2

Baltimore

9

4

0

316

200

109.24

108.03

106.70

3

Cleveland

4

9

0

222

275

97.55

97.36

95.03

2

Cincinnati

1

11

1

154

345

90.35

91.54

88.23

2

AFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Tennessee

12

1

0

332

184

110.21

108.83

108.85

2

Indianapolis

9

4

0

292

253

104.85

105.51

105.92

2

Houston

6

7

0

306

331

99.15

100.04

100.08

3

Jacksonville

4

9

0

251

293

97.23

96.78

94.85

3

AFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Denver

8

5

0

316

336

96.27

98.09

100.92

2

San Diego

5

8

0

324

281

102.60

100.41

100.85

2

Oakland

3

10

0

179

299

90.57

91.98

89.56

2

Kansas City

2

11

0

233

364

90.15

91.53

90.58

2

                         

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

NFL Previews-Week 15

 

New Orleans (7-6-0) at Chicago (7-6-0)

Time:           8:15 PM EST, Thursday

TV:               NFL Network

Forecast:     Overcast sky, moderate wind, temperature falling from the upper 20’s to the mid 20’s

 

PiRate:                Chicago by 1                   

Mean:                  Tossup

Bias:                    Chicago by 2

Vegas:               Chicago by 2.5, 3

Ov/Un:               44.5, 45, 45.5

100 Sims:           Chicago 64 New Orleans 36

Avg Sim Score:  Chicago 27 New Orleans 23

Outlier 1a Sim:  Chicago 34 New Orleans 13

Outlier 1b Sim:  New Orleans 30 Chicago 17

 

Strategy:     Chicago -2½, Chicago +7½ in 10-point teaser, Chicago +10½ in 13-point teaser, Over 31½ in 13-point teaser  

Drew Brees may be held well under his 300+ yard average in passing yards in this game due to the elements and not because of the Chicago pass defense  On an average day game, Brees might pass for over 400 yards against the Bears.  The Bears’ defensive line should contain the run just enough to force Brees to pass a few times too many in this game.  I expect Brees to go down at least twice, and he may rush some throws and connect with the wrong jersey.

 

The Bears won’t exploit the Saints’ defense like some teams have, but I expect the home team to win this game by more than a field goal.  The home field advantage should be on the high side for this game between two evenly-matched teams.  I’m looking for Chicago to win by a score around 24-20 with Matt Forte having a great night.

 

The loser of this game will not make the playoffs this year, while the winner stays in contention for another week.  With Minnesota playing a tough road game, Chicago could move into a first place tie in the black and blue division with a win.

 

 

Green Bay (5-8-0) at Jacksonville (4-9-0)

Time:           1:00 PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Mostly cloudy, moderate wind, temperature around 70

 

PiRate:                Green Bay by 9

Mean:                  Green Bay by 2

Bias:                    Green Bay by 6

Vegas:               Green Bay by 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5  

Ov/Un:               45, 45.5

100 Sims:           Green Bay 58 Jacksonville 42

Avg Sim Score:  Green Bay 25 Jacksonville 22

Outlier 1a Sim:  Green Bay 37 Jacksonville 21

Outlier 1b Sim:  Jacksonville 20 Green Bay 10

 

Strategy:     Jacksonville +12½ in 10-point teaser, Jacksonville +15½ in 13-point teaser, Over 32 in 13-point teaser, Under 58½ in 13-point teaser    

Welcome to the Disappointment Bowl.  These two teams are done for the year and have nothing to play for other than pride.  The Jaguars may be as weak as Cincinnati, St. Louis, and Oakland at this point of the season.  Green Bay’s problem is an inconsistent defense, especially against the pass.

 

Jacksonville’s passing game shouldn’t do to the Packers secondary what other teams have done this year, and the running game will be hindered with the absence of Fred Taylor due to an injured thumb.

 

I am looking for this game to be lower scoring than expected but not a defensive struggle.  The Packers should win this road game, but I have no confidence in the certitude.  I’ll call for them to win this one by a score similar to 24-17.

 

 

Detroit (0-13-0) at Indianapolis (9-4-0)

Time:           1:00 PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Cloudy, moderate wind, temperature around 50 if the dome roof is open

 

PiRate:                Indianapolis by 19

Mean:                  Indianapolis by 19

Bias:                    Indianapolis by 20

Vegas:               Indianapolis by 17,18   

Ov/Un:               Indianapolis by 44.5, 45

100 Sims:           Indianapolis 100 Detroit 0

Avg Sim Score:  Indianapolis 34 Detroit 12

Outlier 1a Sim:  Indianapolis 56 Detroit 7

Outlier 1b Sim:  Indianapolis 27 Detroit 24

 

Strategy:     Over 31½ in 13-point teaser

The simulation gave Indianapolis 100 wins in 100 sims.  I haven’t run 100 simulations for that long, but I have to believe it is quite a rarity for it to return 100% success for any NFL Team in a scheduled game.

 

I estimate the Colts to have a 95% chance of winning this game and a 50% chance of winning by double digits.  Peyton Manning and company have the offense up to full speed, and I could easily see the Colts running the table to finish 12-4 and winning their wildcard playoff round.

 

Detroit’s chances to get a win are getting slim.  With New Orleans at home and Green Bay on the road, it may not happen this year.  The Lions could become the first 0-16 team in history. 

 

This week, I am looking for the Colts to win almost effortlessly.  I could see them with a 28-3 lead at the half and then cruising to a 38-10 victory.  I favor the 13-point tease of the Over in this one, as I believe Indianapolis will top 31 points.  Even if they shut out Detroit (with the Lions’ QB problems, it could happen), the Colts can cover 31½ total points by themselves.

 

 

Washington (7-6-0) at Cincinnati (1-11-1)

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Cloudy, moderate wind, temperature in the low 50’s

 

PiRate:                Washington by 7

Mean:                  Washington by 6

Bias:                    Washington by 10

Vegas:               Washington by 6.5, 7, 7.5          

Ov/Un:               36.5, 37

100 Sims:           Washington 82 Cincinnati 18

Avg Sim Score:  Washington 26 Cincinnati 18

Outlier 1a Sim:  Washington 38 Cincinnati 13

Outlier 1b Sim:  Cincinnati 24 Washington 20 (2 times)

 

Strategy:            Over 23½ in 13-point teaser

This is a must-win game for the Redskins.  In all likelihood, they have to win out to qualify as a wildcard team.  They have dropped four out of their last five games, and I doubt they will win their final three.  In fact, this game could be their last win of the season.

 

Cincinnati has mailed it in for the year.  They need major reconstruction, and I think it will be quite some time before the Bengals are competitive again.  The Reds could be in the Major League playoffs before the Bengals make the NFL playoffs.

 

I look for a low-scoring game with Washington winning in boring fashion.  Clinton Portis will probably have a great game after running his mouth all week.

 

I don’t like playing the sides in this one, even in teasers.  While I think the Bengals will struggle to score more than a touchdown in this game, I do see Washington topping 21 points.  That makes the low Over a play in a 13-point teaser.

 

 

Tampa Bay (9-4-0) at Atlanta (8-5-0)

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:                Atlanta by 1

Mean:                  Atlanta by 2

Bias:                    Atlanta by 1

Vegas:                Atlanta by 2.5, 3  

Ov/Un:               44.5, 45

100 Sims:           Atlanta 53 Tampa Bay 47

Avg Sim Score:  Atlanta 23 Tampa Bay 22

Outlier 1a Sim:  Atlanta 28 Tampa Bay 14

Outlier 1b Sim:  Tampa Bay 23 Atlanta 14

(note: 7 sims went to OT)

 

Strategy:     Under 58 in 13-point teaser, Over 31.5 in 13-point teaser

This should be a great game, possibly one of the five best games of the regular season.  Both teams are coming off tough divisional losses.  The winner of this game will hold on strong to the top of the wildcard playoff bubble, while the loser will join a host of other teams in a mix at the bottom of the bubble.

 

Matt Ryan had his worst game when these two met in St. Petersburg in September.  I expect a much better effort this time out, and I also expect Michael Turner to break off a couple of 10+ yard runs.

 

This game will be close, and I believe both teams will score in the 20’s.  The best plays here are to sandwich the expected 40-50 point total with a teasing of both the Over and Under.

 

 

San Francisco (5-8-0) at Miami (8-5-0)

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Showers likely, moderate wind, temperature in the mid to upper 70’s

 

PiRate:                Miami by 5

Mean:                  Miami by 4

Bias:                    Miami by 8

Vegas:               Miami by 6.5, 7  

Ov/Un:               41.5, 42

100 Sims:           Miami 57 San Francisco 43

Avg Sim Score:  Miami 22 San Francisco 20

Outlier 1a Sim:  Miami 27 San Francisco 10

Outlier 1b Sim:  San Francisco 21 Miami 13

 

Strategy:            Under 55 in 13-point teaser

This one is a hard one to figure out.  The 49ers are playing really good ball even though it is too late to make the playoffs.  The Dolphins are in the hunt for both a wildcard spot and divisional championship.  Obviously, this is a critical game for Miami, and a loss would put them in serious jeopardy in the AFC playoff hunt.

 

Miami has quietly won six of seven games, and I think they are quietly going to win their next two games to set up a monumental season finale against the Jets in The Meadowlands.

 

As for this game, I expect it to be a hard-fought defensive battle.  I cannot say for sure that Miami can cover at 6½ or 7 points, but I do believe both teams will score fewer than 25 points.  Thus, teasing the Over is my selection for this game.

 

Seattle (2-11-0) at St. Louis (2-11-0)

Time:           1:00 PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:                Seattle by 7

Mean:                  Seattle by 4

Bias:                    Seattle by 6

Vegas:               Seattle by 3

Ov/Un:               43, 43.5  

100 Sims:           Seattle 61 St. Louis 39

Avg Sim Score:  Seattle 26 St. Louis 19

Outlier 1a Sim:  Seattle 24 St. Louis 3

Outlier 1b Sim:  St. Louis 17 Seattle 10

 

Strategy:     St. Louis +16 in 13-point teaser, Over 30 in 13-point teaser, Under 56½ in 13-point teaser

How much would you pay for tickets to this game?  You might find someone willing to pay you to take their ticket.  It was expected that St. Louis would be where they are at this point in the season, but Seattle was supposed to be about 9-4 after 13 games.  Injuries ruined their season, and those injuries continue to plague the Seahawks.  Don’t expect Matt Hasselbeck to play in this game.  Seneca Wallace isn’t totally healthy, but he’ll likely start this game.

 

The Rams should never be expected to win a game before it starts, even if they are hosting Detroit or Cincinnati.  I do expect them to lose by no more than 14 points if at all, so I can recommend taking St. Louis in a 13-point teaser.  My guess at the total score for this game is something like 23-21, which places that in the middle between the extremes of a 13-point teaser.

 

 

Buffalo (6-7-0) at New York Jets (8-5-0)

Time:           1:00PM EST

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, light wind, temperature in the mid 40’s

 

PiRate:                Jets by 7

Mean:                 Jets by 8

Bias:                    Jets by 7

Vegas:                Jets by 7, 7.5

Ov/Un:               41

100 Sims:           Jets 73 Buffalo 27

Avg Sim Score:  Jets 32 Buffalo 24

Outlier 1a Sim:  Jets 48 Buffalo 17

Outlier 1b Sim:  Buffalo 28 Jets 20

 

Strategy:     Jets +3 in 10-point teaser, Jets +6 in 13-point teaser, Over 28 in 13-point teaser

Buffalo started 5-0, and the Bills have since gone 1-7.  Their season is done, and Dick Jauron has done nothing to earn his extension.

 

The Jets can ill afford to lose three games in a row and make the playoffs in the highly competitive AFC.  It looks like 10-6 will be the minimum record for the successful wildcard qualifiers.  A loss in this game just may be too much to overcome.  The Jets won handily in Buffalo six weeks ago, and they should win again this week.  Thus, I like playing New York on both 10 and 13-point teasers.  The 13-point tease of the Over should win before halftime, as I see 50 total points being scored in this game.

 

 

Tennessee (12-1-0) at Houston (6-7-0)

Time:           1:00 PM EST

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Chance of thunderstorms, light wind, temperature in the mid 70’s

 

PiRate:                Tennessee by 8

Mean:                 Tennessee by 6

Bias:                    Tennessee by 6

Vegas:                Tennessee by 3, 3.5

Ov/Un:               44.5, 45

100 Sims:           Tennessee 66 Houston 34

Avg Sim Score:  Tennessee 29 Houston 22

Outlier 1a Sim:  Tennessee 33 Houston 14

Outlier 1b Sim:  Houston 28 Tennessee 16

 

Strategy:     Houston +13½ in 10-point teaser, Houston +16½ in 13-point teaser, Over 31½ in 13-point teaser, Under 58 (or 57½) in 13-point teaser     

This is a trap game for sure.  Even though the Texans cannot qualify for the playoffs this year, they still have much to play for, like their first ever winning season.  That September hurricane probably cost them a shot at the playoffs, for Houston might be 8-5 or 9-4 instead of 6-7 if it weren’t for all the troubles they endured in September.

 

In the first meeting of these two teams, Tennessee won by 19 points, but the game was much closer than the score indicated.  The Titans led 24-12 with Houston near the Tennessee goal line, when Titan CB Cortland Finnegan picked off a Matt Schaub pass and returned it 99 yards for a touchdown.

 

The Texans haven’t forgotten that game, nor have they forgotten that they had success running the ball against the Tennessee defense.  Steve Slaton topped 100 yards in that game.

 

Tennessee could wrap up home field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win Sunday.  It won’t be easy, and I think they have little more than a 50-55% chance of winning.  The Titans are the Texans’ biggest rival for obvious reasons, and they would like nothing more than to spoil that clinching chance for Tennessee.

 

I believe this game will be higher scoring than expected.  Tennessee has given up more than 21 points only once this year, and that was their lone loss.  I believe Houston will become the second opponent to top 21 points, but I’m not sure it will be enough to win the game.

 

I’m going with Tennessee to win and clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs, but I don’t think they will win by much.

 

 

Pittsburgh (10-3-0) at Baltimore (9-4-0)

Time:           3:15PM EST

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:                Baltimore by 3

Mean:                  Baltimore by 3

Bias:                    Baltimore by 2

Vegas:               Baltimore by 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5

Ov/Un:               34, 34.5

100 Sims:           Baltimore 50 Pittsburgh 50

Avg Sim Score:  Baltimore 20 Pittsburgh 19

Outlier 1a Sim:  Baltimore 17 Pittsburgh 0

Outlier 1b Sim:  Pittsburgh 20 Baltimore 7

 

Strategy:     Baltimore -1, Baltimore +9 in 10-point teaser, Baltimore +12 in 13-point teaser, Pittsburgh +15½  (14, 14½, or 15) in 13-point teaser, Over 21 in 13-point teaser, Under 47 in 13-point teaser

This is the top game of the day, and it will look like one of those Packers-Vikings games from the mid to late 1960’s.  The winner could very well score just 10 points in this game, although I am expecting Baltimore to score at least 17 points and win the game.

 

The Steelers will clinch the AFC North with a win, and if Baltimore wins, the Steelers would still hold the tie-breaker edge over the Ravens by virtue of a one-game edge in AFC games (the 4th tie-breaker scenario). 

 

Both teams face a tough opponent on the road next week, and this game takes on even greater importance.  If Baltimore wins this week, and both teams lose next week, then it will take the 5th tiebreaking rule to separate the two.  That one is strength of victory, and it could still leave them tied.  Tiebreaker number six is strength of schedule, and yes, if New England and San Diego were to lose a few more games than Miami and Oakland, this could be a push as well.  Tiebreaker numbers seven through 11 would have to decide it, because tiebreaker number 12 is a coin flip.  With the NFL having so many financial troubles and with layoffs announced, they may not have the coin to make that flip and Bank of America won’t lend one to them.

 

Seriously, I look for Baltimore to play just a little more inspired and emerge with a 17-10 victory.  Both teams will make the playoffs if they are 10-4 after this game.  If Pittsburgh should find a way to win, then next week’s game at Tennessee could be for number one in the conference.

 

Denver (8-5-0) at Carolina (10-3-0)

Time:           4:15PM EST

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:                Carolina by 11

Mean:                 Carolina by 9

Bias:                   Carolina by 8

Vegas:               Carolina by 7, 7.5, 9

Ov/Un:               47, 47.5, 48

100 Sims:           Carolina 54 Denver 46

Avg Sim Score:  Carolina 29 Denver 28

Outlier 1a Sim:  Carolina 45 Denver 24

Outlier 1b Sim:  Denver 41 Carolina 24

 

Strategy:            Denver +19 in 10-point teaser, Denver +22 in 13-point teaser, Over 34 (34½ or 35) in 13-point teaser

It looked like the Broncos were going to swoon right out of the top spot in the AFC West after losing four of five earlier this year.  However, San Diego kept finding ways to lose, and now the Broncos have recovered as of late, winning four of five including two big road victories.

 

The time is right for the Panthers to bounce a little and come out flat in a game against a team capable of beating them in Charlotte.  Carolina played brilliantly, especially on offense, against Tampa Bay Monday night, but I don’t believe their running game will come close to repeating the production in that game.  Denver is by no means a run-stopping team, but they will concentrate their efforts on stopping the two-headed monster of Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams.  Jake Delhomme will have to pass the ball for the Panthers to win. 

 

I expect this to be a high scoring game.  Jay Cutler will not have Peyton Hillis available for this game, so I expect the Broncos will throw the ball 40 times and pick up more than 300 yards.

 

This game could see more than 135 scrimmage plays, and that should lead to both teams topping 24 points.  I like teasing the Over here, as I just cannot see the offenses being stopped all day, especially with this game set to be played in ideal football weather.

 

 

San Diego (5-8-0) at Kansas City (2-11-0)

Time:           1:00 PM EST

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Chance of showers, moderate wind, temperature in the low 50’s

 

PiRate:                San Diego by 10

Mean:                 San Diego by 7

Bias:                   San Diego by 8

Vegas:                San Diego by 4.5, 5, 5.5

Ov/Un:               45, 45.5, 46, 46.5

100 Sims:           Kansas City 52 San Diego 48

Avg Sim Score:  Kansas City 25 San Diego 24

Outlier 1a Sim:  Kansas City 28 San Diego 17

Outlier 1b Sim:  San Diego 40 Kansas City 20

 

Strategy:            Kansas City +15½ (15, 14½) in 10-point teaser, Kansas City +18½ (18, 17½) in 13-point teaser, Under 59½ (59, 58½) in 13-point teaser, Over 32 in 13-point teaser

Contrary to what the Charger brass have stated publicly, I believe this is going to be the final season for Coach Norv Turner in San Diego.  His team was robbed in that game in Denver, and that wasn’t his fault.  However, the way they reacted after that game and failed to recover is his fault.  He could even be shown the door Monday if San Diego loses to the lowly Chiefs.

 

Kansas City is not a pushover.  Just ask Denver after the Broncos had to come from behind to win at Invesco Field and avoid the sweep.  Five weeks ago at Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego escaped with a 20-19 win over Kansas City.

 

Note that the simulator gives Kansas City a 52% chance to win this game even though the Chargers are favored by more than a field goal.  I like those odds, and I am taking Kansas City in the teasers because of that.

 

Minnesota (8-5-0) at Arizona (8-5-0)

Time:           4:15 PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, moderate wind, temperature in the low 60’s

 

PiRate:                Arizona by 1

Mean:                 Tossup

Bias:                   Arizona by 1

Vegas:                Arizona by 3   

Ov/Un:               47.5, 48

100 Sims:           Arizona 59 Minnesota 41

Avg Sim Score:  Arizona 33 Minnesota 24

Outlier 1a Sim:  Arizona 52 Minnesota 31

Outlier 1b Sim:  Minnesota 27 Arizona 17

 

Strategy:     Over 34 ½ (35) in 13-point teaser

This is another one of those great NFC games this week.  While Arizona has already clinched their division, the Cardinals can still get a first round bye if they win out and Carolina and Tampa Bay lose enough games.

 

Minnesota holds a tiny one game edge over Chicago, and they have the toughest final three games of any of the NFC contenders.  The Vikings must close against the Falcons and Giants after this game.

 

I give the Cardinals a very slight advantage in this game, but I find no value in any plays on sides in this game.  My only inclination is to tease the Over.  I cannot see Minnesota’s defense holding Kurt Warner and company at bay very often, and I cannot see Arizona stopping Adrian Peterson very often.  Tarvaris Jackson gets another chance to show he belongs in the NFL, as Gus Frerotte doesn’t appear likely to play. 

 

 

New England (8-5-0) at Oakland (3-10-0)

Time:           4:15 PM EST

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Rain showers, light wind, temperature in the upper 40’s

 

PiRate:                New England by 7

Mean:                  New England by 8

Bias:                    New England by 11

Vegas:               New England by 7

Ov/Un:               39,40

100 Sims:           New England 89 Oakland 11

Avg Sim Score:  New England 24 Oakland 15

Outlier 1a Sim:  New England 37 Oakland 7

Outlier 1b Sim:  Oakland 21 New England 16

 

Strategy:     Under 53 (52) in 13-point teaser

The Patriots have to win this game to stay in the playoff hunt.  If they lose to the pitiful Raiders, they may just fold up.  It’s not going to be easy for Coach Bill Belichick’s team this week.  Quarterback Matt Cassel left the team following the passing of his father.  He may not be ready to play Sunday.  Rookie Kevin O’Connell would start in his place, and even the Raiders’ anemic defense would give him fits.

 

Oakland isn’t healthy by any means, and I mean physically as well as mentally.  Quarterback JaMarcus Russell has a gimpy ankle, and he hasn’t produced all that much when he has been healthy.  Former Raider quarterback Rich Gannon openly stated that he does not think Russell has a work ethic conducive to being a winner in this league.

 

I expect this to be a low scoring game if Cassel is not on hand.  The totals line has dropped, and I am sure it will drop after this blog story comes out.  I am playing the Under in a 13-point teaser while I can get that number at 53 (or 52) points because I believe this will be a 35 to 45-point game.

 

New York Giants (11-2-0) at Dallas (8-5-0)

Time:           8:15PM EST

TV:               NBC

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, moderate wind, temperature falling from the upper to mid 60’s

                    

PiRate:                Giants by 6

Mean:                  Giants by 5

Bias:                    Giants by 3

Vegas:               Dallas by 2.5, 3

Ov/Un:               44, 44.5, 45

100 Sims:           Giants 58 Dallas 42

Avg Sim Score:  Giants 23 Dallas 19

Outlier 1a Sim:  Giants 28 Dallas 12

Outlier 1b Sim:  Dallas 24 Giants 10

 

Strategy:            Giants +13 in 10-point teaser, Giants +16 in 13-point teaser, Under 58 in 13-point teaser, Over 31 in 13-point teaser

Dallas should be favored in this game, and the betting public believes that as well.  The simulator has no biases, and it believes the Giants have a 58% chance of winning this game.  All three of my computer ratings agree with the simulator and favor New York by six, five, and three points.  That data is good enough for me to take the Giants in both 10 and 13-point teasers.

 

Almost all 100 simulations of this game produced scores with total points between 35 and 55.  So, I like playing both sides in 13-point teasers.

 

I think New York will pull off the mild upset and force Dallas into must-win situations their final two weeks.  The victory may hurt New York down the stretch, as this game should be very physical.  Without running back Brandon Jacobs, there’s a chance Eli Manning could see a heavier pass rush and possibly suffer an injury in this game.  With Carolina coming up next on the schedule and Minnesota probably needing a win in week 17, the Giants could trip up as the season concludes.  They need this game more than any of the other teams that have already clinched their division.  If they lose this one to fall to 11-3, they could easily lose their last two as well.

 

Dallas could also lose their final three games and miss out on the playoffs.  Baltimore and Philadelphia are two tough hombres as the season winds down.  This is probably a must-win game for the team and Coach Wade Phillips.  I’m guessing with a loss, Dallas is on the outside looking in, and Coach Phillips is soon to be on the unemployment line.

 

Cleveland (4-9-0) at Philadelphia (7-5-1)

Time:           8:30PM EST Monday

TV:               ESPN

Forecast:     Clear, light wind, temperature holding steady in the upper 40’s

 

PiRate:                Philadelphia by 12  

Mean:                  Philadelphia by 10

Bias:                    Philadelphia by 13

Vegas:                Philadelphia by 14, 14.5, 15

Ov/Un:               38.5, 39

100 Sims:           Philadelphia 90 Cleveland 10

Avg Sim Score:  Philadelphia 29 Cleveland 13

Outlier 1a Sim:  Philadelphia 44 Cleveland 6

Outlier 1b Sim:  Cleveland 28 Philadelphia 24

 

Strategy:     Over 28½ (29) in 10-point teaser, Over 25½ (26) in 13-point teaser 

Cleveland failed to show up last week in Nashville, and now they face a hungry and mad Eagles team ready to claw them to pieces.

 

Since the tie debacle with Cincinnati and a terrible follow-up with Baltimore, Philadelphia has been a terror on the gridiron.  The Eagles destroyed Arizona and then won at the Giants.  They have a clear path to a 10-5-1 season, and I think they will bring their A-game this week to the 21st Century version of the Mistake on the Lake known as Browns Stadium.

 

I don’t like the line in this game, but I do like the totals.  Philadelphia should top 24 points in this one, so I see both the 10 and 13-point teasers as being strong plays.  Remember that almost every Monday night game this year has been an offensive shootout.  I just cannot see the Browns slowing Donovan McNabb and company much if at all.

 

 

Hurray For A Good Week

 

I played it conservatively last week and stuck with what I had studied the most-playing teasers with totals instead of sides.  It produced a 5-2 record for the week and just missed by a whisker of going 7-0 (one game of each losing teaser just missed).  The return on the $700 “wagered” was $950 for a nice profit of $250 and ROI of 35.7%.

 

For the season, the record against the spread is now 94-75-7, which computes to 55.6%.  I’m under 60%, where I was for most of this season, but it least we are headed back up again.

 

I don’t really like most of the games this week insofar as picking point spread winners.  This is going to be a fun week for watching some big games.  I will stay with my minimalist view for another week and try to find the top values rather than go for quantity.

 

Here are my wagers for week 15 (all wagered to win $100 or $100 wagered if at + odds on a parlay or money line):

 

ALL 5 WAGERS = 13-POINT TEASERS

 

For those not familiar with a 13-point teaser, you can move the lines 13 points in your favor, but you must play a four-game parlay and all four games must win to win the wager.  You play at odds of 10-13, meaning you put up $13 for every $10 the book puts up.

 

1.    New Orleans & Chicago OVER 31½

       Green Bay & Jacksonville OVER 32

       Detroit & Indianapolis OVER 31½

       Washington & Cincinnati OVER 23½

 

2.    Tampa Bay & Atlanta OVER 31½

       San Francisco & Miami UNDER 55

       Buffalo & NY Jets OVER 28

       Tennessee & Houston UNDER 58

 

3.    Pittsburgh & Baltimore OVER 21

       Denver & Carolina OVER 34

       San Diego & Kansas City UNDER 59½

       New England & Oakland UNDER 53

 

4.    Seattle & St. Louis OVER 30

       Tennessee & Houston OVER 31½

       Minnesota & Arizona OVER 35

       NY Giants & Dallas UNDER 58

 

5.    Seattle & St. Louis UNDER 56½

       Pittsburgh & Baltimore OVER 21

       NY Giants & Dallas OVER 31

       Philadelphia & Cleveland OVER 25½   

 

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

October 24, 2008

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

PiRate Ratings For NFL Week Eight

 

The PiRate Pro Ratings (Rating)

 

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

 

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

 

The Mean Ratings (Mean)

 

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

 

The Bias Ratings (Biased)

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Current NFL Standings and Ratings

 

NFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

New York

5

1

0

170

101

106.25

103.64

106.38

2

Washington

5

2

0

140

128

103.71

102.63

102.67

2

Dallas

4

3

0

189

175

102.40

101.04

101.49

2

Philadelphia

3

3

0

167

123

109.63

103.82

105.29

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Chicago

4

3

0

196

150

108.85

121.83

107.54

2

Green Bay

4

3

0

194

159

103.74

102.42

103.83

2

Minnesota

3

4

0

154

167

100.81

99.70

99.10

2

Detroit

0

6

0

97

187

85.66

89.24

87.98

3

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Tampa Bay

5

2

0

161

107

109.14

105.23

106.68

2

Carolina

5

2

0

147

104

107.82

104.20

105.01

2

Atlanta

4

2

0

139

127

102.06

99.97

101.21

2

New Orleans

3

4

0

179

163

102.32

100.35

100.14

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Arizona

4

2

0

177

144

105.41

102.42

102.97

3

St. Louis

2

4

0

96

178

88.55

93.55

93.62

2

San Francisco

2

5

0

158

196

94.26

93.76

94.81

3

Seattle

1

5

0

110

171

90.36

93.22

92.72

3

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Buffalo

5

1

0

149

118

101.53

101.40

103.79

3

New England

4

2

0

130

116

98.35

101.18

101.91

2

New York

3

3

0

154

146

99.23

98.89

98.62

2

Miami

2

4

0

120

130

98.85

96.86

98.14

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Pittsburgh

5

1

0

141

89

108.55

105.95

107.90

2

Baltimore

3

3

0

105

100

102.40

100.85

100.25

3

Cleveland

2

4

0

92

106

99.63

98.88

98.10

2

Cincinnati

0

7

0

98

182

91.92

91.98

90.98

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Tennessee

6

0

0

149

66

109.91

107.60

107.30

2

Indianapolis

3

3

0

128

131

101.39

100.27

101.13

2

Jacksonville

3

3

0

124

128

100.99

100.83

102.37

3

Houston

2

4

0

140

179

94.24

96.66

96.58

3

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Denver

4

3

0

173

195

95.30

96.47

97.96

2

San Diego

3

4

0

192

162

102.88

101.48

102.87

2

Oakland

2

4

0

97

148

89.29

93.41

93.14

2

Kansas City

1

5

0

75

165

85.39

90.24

89.93

2

 

NFL Previews-Week Eight

 

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

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:         San Diego by 1 

Mean:           San Diego by 1

Bias:             San Diego by 3

Vegas:        San Diego by 3         -155/+145

Ov/Un:        46

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:         Jets by 16

Mean:           Jets by 11

Bias:             Jets by 11

Vegas:        Jets by 13          -610/+485

Ov/Un:        39

Strategy:     Under 52 in 13-point teaser

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Sunny, moderate winds, temperature near 60

 

PiRate:         Philadelphia by 10  

Mean:           Philadelphia by 6

Bias:             Philadelphia by 6

Vegas:        Philadelphia by 9½         -380/+335

Ov/Un:        45

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Rain likely, light winds, temperature near 80

 

PiRate:         Buffalo by 1

Mean:           Buffalo by 3

Bias:             Buffalo by 4

Vegas:        Buffalo by 1 -120/+100

Ov/Un:        42½

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

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

 

PiRate:         New England by 12

Mean:           New England by 10

Bias:             New England by 10

Vegas:         New England by 7    -315/+285

Ov/Un:        43

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

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

 

PiRate:         Carolina by 4

Mean:          Carolina by 4

Bias:             Carolina by 4

Vegas:        Carolina by 4     -200/+170

Ov/Un:        43½

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Sunny, light wind, temperature near 60

 

PiRate:         Baltimore by 16

Mean:           Baltimore by 10

Bias:             Baltimore by 10

Vegas:        Baltimore by 7          -325/+295

Ov/Un:        36

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           1:00PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:         Washington by 15

Mean:           Washington by 10

Bias:             Washington by 12

Vegas:        Washington by 7½         -315/+285

Ov/Un:        42

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           1:00PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Sunny, light wind, temperature near 80

 

PiRate:         Tampa Bay by 5

Mean:           Tampa Bay by 2

Bias:             Tampa Bay by 3

Vegas:        Dallas by 2½     -140/+120

Ov/Un:        40½

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           4:05 PM EDT

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:         Jacksonville by 4

Mean:           Jacksonville by 5

Bias:             Jacksonville by 7

Vegas:        Jacksonville by 7      -315/+285

Ov/Un:        42

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           4:05PM EDT

TV:               CBS

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

 

 

PiRate:         Houston by 5

Mean:           Houston by 8

Bias:             Houston by 9

Vegas:        Houston by 9½        -380/+335

Ov/Un:        44½

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           4:15PM EDT

TV:               Fox

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

 

 

PiRate:         Pittsburgh by 4

Mean:           Pittsburgh by 4

Bias:             Pittsburgh by 4

Vegas:        Pittsburgh by 3        -140/+130

Ov/Un:        42

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           4:15PM EDT

TV:               Fox

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

                    

PiRate:         San Francisco by 7

Mean:           San Francisco by 4

Bias:             San Francisco by 5

Vegas:        San Francisco by 5   -230/+190

Ov/Un:        40½

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

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           8:30PM EDT Monday

TV:               ESPN

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

 

PiRate:         Tennessee by 11     

Mean:           Tennessee by 9

Bias:             Tennessee by 8

Vegas:        Tennessee by 4        -200/+170

Ov/Un:        41

Strategy:     None

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

The Imaginary Bank Account Suffers First Losing Week

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 1. New England -7 vs. St. Louis

 2. New England -315 vs. St. Louis

 3. Carolina -4 vs. Arizona

 4. Carolina -200 vs. Arizona

 5. Baltimore -325 vs. Oakland

 6. Detroit +7½ vs. Washington

 7. Houston -380 vs. Cincinnati

 8. San Francisco -230 vs. Seattle

 9. Pittsburgh -3 vs. New York Giants

10. Pittsburgh -140 vs. New York Giants

 

11. 10-point teaser parlay

       A. San Diego & New Orleans Over 36

       B. Philadelphia & Atlanta Over 35

       C. Miami +11 vs. Buffalo

 

12. 10-point teaser parlay

       A. New England +3 vs. St. Louis

       B. Carolina +6 vs. Arizona

       C. Carolina & Arizona Over 33½

 

13. 10-point teaser parlay

       A. Detroit +17½ vs. Washington

       B. Tampa Bay +12½ vs. Dallas

       C. San Francisco +5 vs. Seattle

 

14. 13-point teaser parlay

       A. Jets & Kansas City Under 52

       B. Philadelphia +3½ vs. Atlanta

       C. Miami +14 vs. Buffalo

       D. New England +6 vs. St. Louis

 

15. 13-point teaser parlay

       A. Carolina +9 vs. Arizona

       B. Carolina & Arizona Over 30½

       C. Baltimore +6 vs. Oakland

       D. Baltimore & Oakland Under 49

 

16. 13-point teaser parlay

A. Detroit +20½ vs. Washington

B. Detroit & Washington Over 29

C. Tampa Bay +15½ vs. Dallas

D. Tampa Bay & Dallas Over 27½

 

17. 13-point teaser parlay

       A. Cleveland +20 vs. Jacksonville

       B. New York Giants & Pittsburgh Under 55

       C. San Francisco +8 vs. Seattle

       D. Houston & Cincinnati Over 31½  

     

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

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