The Pi-Rate Ratings

August 25, 2010

Introducing the PiRate NFL Pass Rating Formula

Introducing the PiRate NFL Pass Rating Formula

 

The National Football League has been using the same pass rating formula for multiple decades.  It uses a combination of completion percentage, yards per attempt, touchdowns, and interceptions.  If you want to calculate it on your own, here it is:

 

I.     (Completion Percentage-30.0) * 0.05 +

II.    (Yards per attempt-3.0) * 0.25 +

III.   (20 * touchdowns per pass attempt) +

IV.   2.375 – (25 * interceptions per pass attempt)

 

If any of these four components are greater than 2.375, then cap the value at 2.375

 

Add these four stats together and multiple them by 16.667 to get the passer rating.  Here is an example:

 

In 1963, Y. A. Tittle had these stats for the New York Giants

Completions 221  Attempts 367  Yards 3145  Touchdowns 36  Interceptions 14

 

I.     (60.20 – 30.0) * 0.05 = 1.51  +

II.    (8.57-3.0) * 0.25 = 1.39        +

III.   (20 * .098) = 1.96                +

IV.   2.375 – (25 * .038) = 1.43    +

 

 Subtotal = 6.29     6.29 * 16.667 =

                     104.8

 

Once you know this formula, you can easily plug it into a spreadsheet and figure the ratings.  However, these ratings are a poor way to select the most efficient passer.

 

Let’s take a look at two opposing passers, Smith and Jones.

 

Smith completes 15 of 24 passes for 3 touchdowns with no interceptions.

 

Jones completes 10 of 24 passes for 0 touchdowns and 1 interception.

 

Smith is obviously much better, correct?  No, not correct.  It depends on several other things.  What if Jones has a lousy offensive line or receivers that drop every other pass thrown to them?  What if Smith has all day to pass with Jerry Rice-type receivers?  All these stats show us are just that—their stats.

 

Smith could have completed six passes to backs behind the line of scrimmage with the backs following blocking for long gains.  Jones could have threaded the needle with 30 yard passes to the deep sidelines only to have had them dropped by inept receivers.

 

In essence no pass-rating formula is worth a grain of salt.  Let’s look at two separate plays.  Passer A completes 13-yard pass for a touchdown.  It is a dump pass into the flat to the tailback with the tailback avoiding three defenders as he streaks into the end zone.  This one pass gets the NFL Maximum rating of 158.3.

 

Now, let’s look at Passer B.  His team is backed up at their own 1 yard line. He drops back and fires a bomb 55 yards through the air that comes down perfectly in the hands of his flanker.  The flanker takes off down the sideline and is knocked out just one yard from scoring.  This 98-yard pass gives Passer B a rating of 118.8!  Peyton Manning actually had a better total season rating than this a couple years ago, and even though he ranks among the best ever, he was not worth a 98-yard completion every time he threw the ball!

 

Can this be?  You betcha!  The rating is flawed.  Obviously the brilliantly thrown pass that travelled 55 yards past the line of scrimmage that comes down perfectly in the hands of the intended receiver should be worth a lot more than the dump pass that I could complete given two seconds protection.

 

Here is where the PiRate Pass Rating Formula tries to correct the incorrect values of the NFL Pass Rating Formula.

 

Our formula looks at just two statistics.  The first is interception percentage.  An intercepted pass is worth anywhere from 3 to 7 points for the other team on average.  We realize that all interceptions are not the same.  A poorly thrown pass into the flat at the offense’s 20-yard line hurts much more than a 3rd and 25 pass thrown 40 yards downfield and intercepted by the defense. 

 

The second stat is called “Air Yards Per Attempt,” or AYPA.  It is simply the passing yardage minus the yards after catch.  If Passer A completed a 51-yard pass for a touchdown, but the play consisted of a pass completed to a tailback one yard past the line of scrimmage with the back running for 50 yards, the passer gets credit for an AYPA of 1 yard (51 yard pass – 50 yards after the catch).

 

Here is the PiRate Pass Rating Formula:

[AYPA * 7 – (11 * Interception %) + 105] * 0.8

 Interception percentage is figured as: (Interceptions/Attempts) *100

 Anything over 100 is an excellent rating.  Over 90 means the QB is above average.  80 would be considered average; below 80 means this QB should be looking over his shoulder for a replacement to take his job.

 In our passer rating, we don’t include passing percentage or touchdown passes.  Yards gained are what matters.  Three consecutive completed passes that gain a total of nine yards means 4th & 1.  Two incomplete passes followed by an 11 yard completion means 1st & 10.  Which outcome is better?

 Touchdowns skew the ratings.  If one coach sends in passing plays at the opponents’ one yard line, while another sends his 240-pound power back to plunge over the goal, the quarterbacks will get too much credit in once instance and no credit in the other. 

 Let’s take a look at the PiRate Rating in action.  First, you must be wondering where can you find AYPA?  There is an excellent website that carries this stat, so you don’t have to try to figure out the YAC for each QB.  Go to: www.advancednflstats.com

 Here is a look at both ratings side-by-side:

Player

PiRate QB Rating

 

Player

Official NFL Rating

Aaron Rodgers

108.9

|||

Drew Brees

109.6

Drew Brees

107.5

|||

Brett Favre

107.2

Brett Favre

106.7

|||

Phil Rivers

104.4

Tony Romo

105.6

|||

Aaron Rodgers

103.2

Phil Rivers

104.8

|||

Ben Roethlisberger

100.5

Ben Roethlisberger

97.9

|||

Peyton Manning

99.9

Matt Schaub

97.8

|||

Matt Schaub

98.6

Peyton Manning

97.2

|||

Tony Romo

97.6

Donovan McNabb

96.3

|||

Tom Brady

96.2

David Garrard

96.1

|||

Kurt Warner

93.2

Kyle Orton

94.7

|||

Eli Manning

93.1

Brad Gradkowski

94.4

|||

Donovan McNabb

92.9

Tom Brady

93.8

|||

Joe Flacco

88.9

Kurt Warner

93.4

|||

Kyle Orton

86.8

Eli Manning

92.8

|||

Jason Campbell

86.4

Vince Young

92.1

|||

Carson Palmer

83.6

Joe Flacco

87.7

|||

David Garrard

83.5

Marc Bulger

86.7

|||

Vince Young

82.8

Jason Campbell

85.4

|||

Alex Smith

81.5

Matt Ryan

83.0

|||

Matt Ryan

80.9

Carson Palmer

81.7

|||

Brad Gradkowski

80.6

Chad Henne

80.8

|||

Jay Cutler

76.8

Alex Smith

79.7

|||

Chad Henne

75.2

Brady Quinn

78.4

|||

Matt Hasselbeck

75.1

Matt Hasselbeck

75.7

|||

Trent Edwards

73.8

Matt Cassel

75.7

|||

Marc Bulger

70.7

Kerry Collins

72.1

|||

Matt Cassel

69.9

Trent Edwards

69.9

|||

Ryan Fitzpatrick

69.7

Kyle Boller

69.1

|||

Brady Quinn

67.2

Jay Cutler

67.3

|||

Kerry Collins

65.5

Ryan Fitzpatrick

64.3

|||

Mark Sanchez

63.0

Mark Sanchez

60.9

|||

Kyle Boller

61.2

JaMarcus Russell

56.4

|||

Matt Stafford

61.0

Matt Stafford

54.1

|||

Josh Freeman

59.8

Jake Delhomme

51.5

|||

Jake Delhomme

59.4

Josh Freeman

46.4

|||

JaMarcus Russell

50.0

Derek Anderson

46.3

|||

Derek Anderson

42.1

 

Coming tomorrow: We reveal the initial NFL PiRate, Mean, and Bias ratings for the 2010 season and give our predictions for each division.

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January 30, 2009

PiRate Ratings Super Bowl 43 Preview

Super Bowl 43 Preview

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

­ The PiRate Pro Ratings (Rating)

 

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

 

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

 

 

The Mean Ratings (Mean)

 

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

 

The Bias Ratings (Biased)

 

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

 

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

 

Super Bowl Ratings

PiRate:  Pittsburgh by 11.3

Mean:    Pittsburgh by 9.7

Bias:      Pittsburgh by 7.2

 

Game Simulations

100 Sims:            Pittsburgh 53  Arizona 47

Average Score:    Pittsburgh 27  Arizona 25

Outlier 1a Sim:    Pittsburgh 30  Arizona 10

Outlier 1b Sim:    Arizona 31  Pittsburgh 16

 

Las Vegas

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Weather Forecast For Tampa

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

 

The Matchups

 

When Pittsburgh Runs The Ball

 

Steeler Run Blockers

LT:  78-Max Starks           

LG:  68-Chris Kemoeatu   

C:    62-Justin Hartwig

RG: 72-Darnell Stapleton

RT:  74-Willie Colon

TE:  83-Heath Miller & 89-Matt Spaeth

FB:  38-Carey Davis

 

Steeler Rushers

TB:  39-Willie Parker & 21 Mewelde Moore

 

Cardinal Defensive Line

RE:  55-Travis Laboy

RT:  90-Darnell Dockett

NT:  97-Bryan Robinson

LE:  94-Antonio Smith

 

Cardinal Linebackers

Will LB:  58-Karlos Dansby

Mike LB: 54-Gerald Hayes

Sam LB: 56-Cheake Okeafor

 

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

 

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

 

When Pittsburgh Passes The Ball

 

Steeler Passers/Receivers

QB:        7-Ben Roethlisberger & 4-Byron Leftwich

WR:       86-Hines Ward & 85-Nate Washington

WR:       10-Santonio Holmes & 14-Limas Sweed

 

Cardinal Secondary

LCB:              26-Rod Hood & 20-Ralph Brown

SS:         24-Adrian Wilson & 47-Aaron Francisco

FS:         21-Antrel Rolle & 22-Matt Ware

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

When Arizona Runs The Ball

 

Cardinal Run Blockers

LT:  69-Mike Gandy

LG:  74-Reggie Wells

C:    63-Larry Sendlein

RG: 76-Deuce Lutui

RT:  75-Levi Brown

TE:  82-Leonard Pope & 89-Ben Patrick

FB:  45-Terrelle Smith

 

Cardinal Rushers

TB:  32-Edgerrin James & 34-Tim Hightower

 

Steeler Defensive Line

LE:  91-Aaron Smith

NT:  98-Casey Hampton

RE:  99-Brett Keisel

 

Steeler Linebackers

Sam LB: 56-LaMarr Woodley

Mike LB: 51-James Farrior

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

Will LB:  92-James Harrison

 

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

 

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

 

When Arizona Passes The Ball

 

Cardinal Passers/Receivers

QB:        13-Kurt Warner & 7-Matt Leinart

WR:        11-Larry Fitzgerald & 85-Jerheme Urban

WR:       81-Anquan Boldin & 15-Steve Breaston

 

Steeler Secondary

LCB:              24-Ike Taylor & 22-William Gay

SS:         43-Troy Polamalu & 23-Tyrone Carter

FS:         25-Ryan Clark & 27-Anthony Smith

RCB:      26-Deshea Townsend & 20-Bryant McFadden

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Special Teams Play

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Coaching

 

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

 

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

 

Summary

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The Infamous Ads

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Our thanks go to Ari for her candid comments.

January 19, 2009

Pro Football Computer Simulation League Conference Championship Games–January 19, 2009

Pro Football Computer Simulation League Playoffs

Conference Championships

 

The third round of the 2009 Pro Football Computer Simulation League Playoffs are in the books.  In this round of coverage, I will reveal the scores of the games, the statistics, and how the scoring happened.  In the Simper Bowl next week, I will actually list the play-by-play.

 

NFC

 

1996 Green Bay Packers    34

1999 St. Louis Rams           27

 

Team

1

2

3

4

OT

F

1999 Stl

7

6

14

0

 

27

1996 GB

14

3

10

7

 

34

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stl

Stat

GB

 

 

 

 

19

FD

21

 

 

 

 

29-107

Rush-Yds

33-126

 

 

 

 

246

Pass Yds

266

 

 

 

 

19-31-1

Passes

20-31-1

 

 

 

 

2-15

Sacks

1-7

 

 

 

 

5-42.8

Punt

4-44.0

 

 

 

 

2-19

PR

3-46

 

 

 

 

6-52

Pen

7-55

 

 

 

 

1-0

Fum

0-0

 

 

 

 

62

Play

65

 

 

 

 

338

Tot Yds

385

 

 

 

Stl: Bruce 19 yd. pass from Warner, Wilkins Kick 1st Qtr. 11:48

GB: Levens 3 yd run, Jacke Kick 1st Qtr. 8:58

GB: Levens 4 yd. run, Jacke Kick 1st Qtr. 2:33

Stl: Wilkins 42 yd. FG 2nd Qtr. 9:11

GB: Jacke 46 yd. FG 2nd Qtr. 5:09

Stl: Wilkins 39 yd. FG 2nd Qtr. 0:06

Stl: Holt 31 yd. pass from Warner, Wilkins Kick 3rd Qtr. 12:28

GB: Jacke 48 yd. FG 3rd Qtr. 8:17

GB: Freeman 43 yd. pass from Favre, Jacke Kick 3rd Qtr. 6:13

Stl: Faulk 9 yd. run, Wilkins Kick 3rd Qtr. 2:27

GB: Jackson 12 yd. pass from Favre, Jacke Kick 4th Qtr. 1:19

 

 

1998 Denver Broncos                    31

2007 New England Patriots        21

 

Team

1

2

3

4

OT

F

1998 Den

3

7

14

7

 

31

2007 NE

14

0

7

0

 

21

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Den

Stat

NE

 

 

 

 

22

FD

20

 

 

 

 

29-142

Rush-Yds

27-97

 

 

 

 

235

Pass Yds

283

 

 

 

 

19-30-0

Passes

21-37-2

 

 

 

 

0-0

Sacks

3-22

 

 

 

 

4-48.8

Punt

5-34.4

 

 

 

 

1-7

PR

3-21

 

 

 

 

4-35

Pen

9-79

 

 

 

 

2-1

Fum

1-1

 

 

 

 

59

Play

67

 

 

 

 

377

Tot Yds

358

 

 

 

NE: Moss 18 yd. pass from Brady, Gostkowski Kick 1st Qtr. 13:02

NE: Moss 16 yd. pass from Brady, Gostkowski Kick 1st Qtr. 9:12

Den: Elam 50 yd. FG 1st Qtr. 2:56

Den: Davis 22 yd. run, Elam Kick 2nd Qtr. 6:11

NE: Morris 2 yd. run, Gostkowski Kick, 3rd Qtr. 10:00

Den: Sharpe 14 yd. pass from Elway, Elam Kick 3rd Qtr. 6:34

Den: Burns 4 yd. blocked punt return, Elam Kick 3rd Qtr. 1:21

Den: Davis 4 yd. run, Elam Kick 4th Qtr. 9:47

 

Simper Bowl II

 

The 1998 Denver Broncos will face the 1996 Green Bay Packers in Simper Bowl II next week.  Look for the play-by-play action to be posted some time next Monday, January 26, 2009.

 

In Simper Bowl I, the 1967 Oakland Raiders defeated the 1968 Dallas Cowboys to win the inaugural championship in the Pro Football Computer Simulation League.

January 16, 2009

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

PiRate Ratings For NFL Playoffs

Conference Championship Games: January 18, 2009

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The PiRate Pro Ratings (Rating)

 

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

 

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

 

 

The Mean Ratings (Mean)

 

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

 

The Bias Ratings (Biased)

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Notes

Weather forecasts and odds are those as of Friday, January 16, 2009, 12 Noon EST

 

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

 

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

 

 

Game Previews

 

SUNDAY, JANUARY 18, 2009

 

Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals

Time:           3:00 PM EST

TV:               Fox

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

 

PiRate:                Philadelphia by 7

Mean:                  Philadelphia by 3

Bias:                    Tossup

 

Vegas:               Philadelphia by 3½      

Ov/Un:               47

Money Line:       Phil -190     Ari +165

 

100 Sims:           Arizona 50  Philadelphia 50

Avg Sim Score:  Arizona 27  Philadelphia 27

Outlier 1a Sim:  Arizona 38  Philadelphia 19

Outlier 1b Sim:  Philadelphia 41  Arizona 17

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers

Time:           6:30 PM EST

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:                Pittsburgh by 2

Mean:                  Pittsburgh by 2

Bias:                    Pittsburgh by 2

 

Vegas:               Pittsburgh by 6       

Ov/Un:               33½

Money Line: Pit -250        Bal +200

 

100 Sims:           Baltimore 52  Pittsburgh 48

Avg Sim Score:  Baltimore 19  Pittsburgh 18

Outlier 1a Sim:  Baltimore 27  Pittsburgh 3

Outlier 1b Sim:  Pittsburgh 13  Baltimore 0

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

January 9, 2009

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

PiRate Ratings For NFL Playoffs

2nd Round: January 10-11, 2009

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The PiRate Pro Ratings (Rating)

 

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

 

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

 

 

The Mean Ratings (Mean)

 

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

 

The Bias Ratings (Biased)

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Notes

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Game Previews

 

SATURDAY, JANUARY 10, 2009

 

Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans

Time:           4:30 PM EST

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:                Tennessee by 1              

Mean:                  Tennessee by 2

Bias:                    Tennessee by 4

 

Vegas:               Tennessee by 3

Ov/Un:               34½

Money Line: -155      +135

 

100 Sims:           Baltimore 61  Tennessee 39

Avg Sim Score:  Baltimore 22  Tennessee 16

Outlier 1a Sim:  Baltimore 27  Tennessee 7

Outlier 1b Sim:  Tennessee 13  Baltimore 0

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers

Time:           8:00 PM EST

TV:               Fox

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

 

PiRate:                Carolina by 9

Mean:                 Carolina by 9

Bias:                   Carolina by 7

 

Vegas:                Carolina by 9½          

Ov/Un:               48½

Money Line:       -450      +325

 

100 Sims:           Carolina 77  Arizona 23

Avg Sim Score:  Carolina 30  Arizona 22

Outlier 1a Sim:  Carolina 37  Arizona 10

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

SUNDAY, JANUARY 11, 2009

 

Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants

Time:           1:00 PM EST

TV:               Fox

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

 

PiRate:                Giants by 2

Mean:                  Giants by 3

Bias:                    Giants by 2

 

Vegas:               Giants by 4½     

Ov/Un:               40

Money Line:       -220      +180

 

100 Sims:           Giants 52  Philadelphia 48

Avg Sim Score:  Giants 25  Philadelphia 25

Outlier 1a Sim:  Giants 38  Philadelphia 16

Outlier 1b Sim:  Philadelphia 41  Giants 17

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

San Diego Chargers at Pittsburgh Steelers

Time:           4:30 PM EST

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:                Pittsburgh by 7

Mean:                  Pittsburgh by 6

Bias:                    Pittsburgh by 5

 

Vegas:               Pittsburgh by 6½           

Ov/Un:               38

Money Line: -270      +210

 

100 Sims:           Pittsburgh 60  San Diego 40

Avg Sim Score:  Pittsburgh 22  San Diego 18

Outlier 1a Sim:  Pittsburgh 30  San Diego 7

Outlier 1b Sim:  San Diego 13  Pittsburgh 3

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

December 18, 2008

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

PiRate Ratings For NFL Week 16

A Preview Of The Conference Championship Games?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The PiRate Pro Ratings (Rating)

 

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

 

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

 

The Mean Ratings (Mean)

 

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

 

The Bias Ratings (Biased)

 

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

 

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

 

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

Current NFL Standings

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

New York

11

3

0

374

246

108.62

107.01

106.50

2

Dallas

9

5

0

332

288

102.95

103.96

105.36

2

Philadelphia

8

5

1

369

273

107.60

106.03

106.70

2

Washington

7

7

0

231

266

97.77

98.22

98.97

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Minnesota

9

5

0

342

290

105.12

105.24

106.65

2

Chicago

8

6

0

331

302

103.12

101.77

101.95

2

Green Bay

5

9

0

371

339

104.35

101.02

97.85

2

Detroit

0

14

0

240

444

88.47

89.81

88.23

3

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Carolina

11

3

0

353

264

106.47

105.55

107.58

2

Tampa Bay

9

5

0

313

251

105.19

103.84

105.78

2

Atlanta

9

5

0

336

281

104.71

103.45

103.21

2

New Orleans

7

7

0

390

353

103.29

102.62

100.96

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Arizona

8

6

0

386

358

100.03

99.65

100.31

3

San Francisco

5

9

0

295

341

94.85

96.51

96.25

3

Seattle

3

11

0

260

355

91.65

93.14

92.53

3

St. Louis

2

12

0

189

417

83.33

87.70

84.98

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

New York

9

5

0

385

319

101.06

100.30

102.45

2

New England

9

5

0

350

302

100.33

101.54

102.55

2

Miami

9

5

0

283

269

98.18

99.21

101.65

2

Buffalo

6

8

0

306

306

96.18

95.64

95.74

3

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Pittsburgh

11

3

0

302

192

109.24

108.44

108.71

2

Baltimore

9

5

0

325

213

108.79

107.24

107.78

3

Cleveland

4

10

0

232

305

96.76

96.59

94.25

2

Cincinnati

2

11

1

174

358

91.41

92.93

91.84

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Tennessee

12

2

0

344

197

109.87

107.77

108.10

2

Indianapolis

10

4

0

323

274

104.76

104.55

106.44

2

Houston

7

7

0

319

343

100.27

101.56

101.34

3

Jacksonville

5

9

0

271

309

98.34

97.85

96.61

3

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Denver

8

6

0

326

366

95.50

97.62

99.00

2

San Diego

6

8

0

346

302

101.75

100.18

99.56

2

Oakland

3

11

0

205

348

89.46

90.76

89.22

2

Kansas City

2

12

0

254

386

90.65

92.31

90.97

2

 

If The Playoffs Started Today

 

NFC 1st Round

#6 Tampa Bay at #3 Minnesota

#5 Dallas at #4 Arizona

 

#1 New York Giants would host lower surviving seed

#2 Carolina would host higher surviving seed

 

Still Alive

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

 

AFC 1st Round

#6 Baltimore at #3 New York Jets

#5 Indianapolis at #4 Denver

 

#1 Tennessee would host lower surviving seed

#2 Pittsburgh would host higher surviving seed

 

Still Alive

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

NFL Previews-Week 16

 

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

Time:           8:15 PM EST, Thursday

TV:               NFL Network

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

 

PiRate:                Indianapolis by 3                  

Mean:                  Indianapolis by 4

Bias:                    Indianapolis by 7

 

Vegas:               Indianapolis by 6, 6.5, 7

Ov/Un:               44, 44.5

 

100 Sims:           Indianapolis 79  Jacksonville 21

Avg Sim Score:  Indianapolis 27  Jacksonville 22

Outlier 1a Sim:  Indianapolis 38  Jacksonville 13

Outlier 1b Sim:  Jacksonville 27 Indianapolis 17

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

Time:           8:15 PM EST, Saturday

TV:               NFL

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

 

PiRate:                Baltimore by 4

Mean:                  Baltimore by 1

Bias:                    Tossup

 

Vegas:               Dallas by 4, 4.5, 5   

Ov/Un:               39, 39.5, 40

 

100 Sims:           Dallas 52  Baltimore 48

Avg Sim Score:  Dallas 19  Baltimore 18

Outlier 1a Sim:  Dallas 21  Baltimore 7

Outlier 1b Sim:  Baltimore 20  Dallas 10

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

Time:           1:00 PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:                New Orleans by 12

Mean:                  New Orleans by 10

Bias:                    New Orleans by 10

 

Vegas:               New Orleans by 6.5, 7, 7.5   

Ov/Un:               50, 50.5, 51, 51.5

 

100 Sims:           New Orleans 87  Detroit 13

Avg Sim Score:  New Orleans 36  Detroit 22

Outlier 1a Sim:  New Orleans 55  Detroit 20

Outlier 1b Sim:  Detroit 34  New Orleans 27

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:                Cleveland by 7

Mean:                  Cleveland by 6

Bias:                    Cleveland by 4

 

Vegas:               Cleveland by 2.5, 3        

Ov/Un:               33.5, 34, 34.5

 

100 Sims:           Cleveland 63 Cincinnati 37

Avg Sim Score:  Cleveland 23 Cincinnati 19

Outlier 1a Sim:  Cleveland 40 Cincinnati 21

Outlier 1b Sim:  Cincinnati 28 Cleveland 14

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:                Miami by 6

Mean:                  Miami by 5

Bias:                    Miami by 9

 

Vegas:                Miami by 3.5, 4

Ov/Un:               39.5, 40

 

100 Sims:           Miami 83  Kansas City 17

Avg Sim Score:  Miami 23  Kansas City 18

Outlier 1a Sim:  Miami 27  Kansas City 10

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:                Tennessee by 3

Mean:                  Tennessee by 1

Bias:                    Tennessee by 1

 

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

Ov/Un:               34.5, 35

 

100 Sims:           Pittsburgh 61  Tennessee 39

Avg Sim Score:  Pittsburgh 19  Tennessee 15

Outlier 1a Sim:  Pittsburgh 24  Tennessee 10

Outlier 1b Sim:  Tennessee 16  Pittsburgh 7

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

Time:           1:00 PM EST

TV:               Fox

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

 

PiRate:                Philadelphia by 8

Mean:                  Philadelphia by 6

Bias:                    Philadelphia by 6

 

Vegas:               Philadelphia by 4.5, 5, 5.5

Ov/Un:               39, 39.5

 

100 Sims:           Philadelphia 60  Washington 40

Avg Sim Score:  Philadelphia 26  Washington 20

Outlier 1a Sim:  Philadelphia 38  Washington 16

Outlier 1b Sim:  Washington 24  Philadelphia 13

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

Time:           1:00PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:                San Francisco by 10

Mean:                 San Francisco by 7

Bias:                    San Francisco by 9

 

Vegas:                San Francisco by 5, 5.5

Ov/Un:               43, 43.5, 44

 

100 Sims:           San Francisco 68  St. Louis 32

Avg Sim Score:  San Francisco 25  St. Louis 17

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

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

 

Strategy:     Under 57 in 13-point teaser

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

 

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

 

 

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

Time:           1:00 PM EST

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:                Tampa Bay by 5

Mean:                 Tampa Bay by 6

Bias:                    Tampa Bay by 8

 

Vegas:                Tampa Bay by 3, 3.5      

Ov/Un:               42, 42.5

 

100 Sims:           Tampa Bay 73  San Diego 27

Avg Sim Score:  Tampa Bay 29  San Diego 20

Outlier 1a Sim:  Tampa Bay 34  San Diego 13

Outlier 1b Sim:  San Diego 31  Tampa Bay 24

 

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

Time:           1:00PM EST

TV:               Fox

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

 

PiRate:                New England by 2

Mean:                  New England by 4

Bias:                    New England by 4

 

Vegas:               New England by 7.5, 8, 9

Ov/Un:               44, 44.5

 

100 Sims:           New England 57  Arizona 43

Avg Sim Score:  New England 29  Arizona 27

Outlier 1a Sim:  New England 41  Arizona 24

Outlier 1b Sim:  Arizona 45  New England 28

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

Time:           4:05PM EST

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:                Houston by 9

Mean:                 Houston by 9

Bias:                   Houston by 10

 

Vegas:               Houston by 7, 7.5, 8      

Ov/Un:               44, 44.5

 

100 Sims:           Houston 77  Oakland 23

Avg Sim Score:  Houston 26  Oakland 18

Outlier 1a Sim:  Houston 33  Oakland 14

Outlier 1b Sim:  Oakland 27  Houston 23

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

Time:           4:05 PM EST

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:                Jets by 7

Mean:                 Jets by 4

Bias:                   Jets by 7

 

Vegas:                Jets by 4.5, 5, 6

Ov/Un:               44, 44.5

 

100 Sims:           Jets 64  Seattle 36

Avg Sim Score:  Jets 32  Seattle 26

Outlier 1a Sim:  Jets 48  Seattle 21

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

Time:           4:05 PM EST

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:                Denver by 1

Mean:                 Denver by 4

Bias:                   Denver by 5

 

Vegas:                Denver by 6.5, 7, 7.5   

Ov/Un:               43.5, 44

 

100 Sims:           Denver 55  Buffalo 45

Avg Sim Score:  Denver 30  Buffalo 27

Outlier 1a Sim:  Denver 41  Buffalo 23

Outlier 1b Sim:  Buffalo 28  Denver 17

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

Time:           4:15 PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:                Minnesota by 2

Mean:                  Minnesota by 4

Bias:                    Minnesota by 5

 

Vegas:               Minnesota by 3, 3.5

Ov/Un:               43, 43.5, 44, 44.5

 

100 Sims:           Minnesota 52  Atlanta 48

Avg Sim Score:  Minnesota 24  Atlanta 24

Outlier 1a Sim:  Minnesota 28  Atlanta 16

Outlier 1b Sim:  Atlanta 23  Minnesota 13

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           8:15PM EST

TV:               NBC

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

                    

PiRate:                Giants by 4

Mean:                  Giants by 3

Bias:                    Giants by 1

 

Vegas:               Giants by 3, 3.5

Ov/Un:               37.5, 38, 38.5, 39

 

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

Avg Sim Score:  Carolina 20  Giants 19

Outlier 1a Sim:  Carolina 24  Giants 7

Outlier 1b Sim:  Giants 21  Carolina 12

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

Time:           8:30PM EST Monday

TV:               ESPN

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

 

PiRate:                Chicago by 1

Mean:                  Chicago by 3

Bias:                    Chicago by 6

 

Vegas:                Chicago by 4, 4.5

Ov/Un:               41.5, 42

 

100 Sims:           Chicago 89  Green Bay 11

Avg Sim Score:  Chicago 29  Green Bay 18

Outlier 1a Sim:  Chicago 37  Green Bay 17

Outlier 1b Sim:  Green Bay 32  Chicago 27

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 A Bad Week Follow A Good Week

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

1. Indianapolis & Jacksonville Over 44

 

2. Pittsburgh Pk vs. Tennessee

 

3. Philadelphia -4½ vs. Washington

 

4. Chicago -4 vs. Green Bay

 

5. Indianapolis -250 vs. Jacksonville

 

6. Philadelphia -215 vs. Washington

 

7. New England -335 vs. Arizona

 

8. Chicago -195 vs. Green Bay

 

9. 10-point teaser

Indianapolis +4 vs. Jacksonville

Indianapolis & Jacksonville Over 34

Baltimore +15 vs. Dallas

 

10. 10-point teaser

Detroit +17½ vs. New Orleans

Cincinnati & Cleveland Over 23½

Kansas City +14 vs. Miami

 

11. 10-point teaser

Pittsburgh +10 vs. Tennessee

Philadelphia +5½ vs. Washington

San Diego & Tampa Bay Over 32

 

12. 10-point teaser

New England +2½ vs. Arizona

New England & Arizona Over 34

Houston +3 vs. Oakland

 

13. 10-point teaser

Seattle +16 vs. New York Jets

Denver +3½ vs. Buffalo

Minnesota +7 vs. Atlanta

 

14. 10-point teaser

Carolina +13½ vs. New York Giants

Chicago +6 vs. Green Bay

Chicago & Green Bay Over 31½

 

15. 13-point teaser

Baltimore +18 vs. Dallas

Kansas City +17 vs. Miami

Pittsburgh +13 vs. Tennessee

Philadelphia +8½ vs. Washington

 

16. 13-point teaser

San Francisco & St. Louis Under 57

New England +5½ vs. Arizona

New England & Arizona Over 31

Houston +6 vs. Oakland

 

17. 13-point teaser

Seattle +19 vs. New York Jets

Minnesota +10 vs. Atlanta

Carolina +16½ vs. New York Giants

Chicago +9 vs. Green Bay

   

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

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.

November 20, 2008

PiRate Ratings Week 12 NFL Previews: November 20-23, 2008

PiRate Ratings For NFL Week 12

It Was A Touchdown!

 

To those who are a little poorer today than they were Sunday morning, my sincere condolences go to you and Troy Polamalu.  You should have won.  If you follow my advice and adhere to my request to do this just for fun, it only cost you a quick laugh (more about that in this week’s selections at the bottom).

 

 

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

9

1

0

292

170

110.47

108.91

109.67

2

Dallas

6

4

0

230

229

101.05

101.25

102.66

2

Washington

6

4

0

181

182

99.96

100.17

101.02

2

Philadelphia

5

4

1

264

193

106.59

104.54

102.02

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Green Bay

5

5

0

274

209

107.61

105.28

102.97

2

Chicago

5

5

0

240

231

102.83

100.74

101.11

2

Minnesota

5

5

0

223

234

101.65

101.08

100.94

2

Detroit

0

10

0

173

308

87.78

90.46

90.04

3

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Carolina

8

2

0

222

155

105.40

103.89

105.25

2

Tampa Bay

7

3

0

219

160

106.19

104.15

104.86

2

Atlanta  

6

4

0

231

198

102.71

101.15

102.37

2

New Orleans

5

5

0

266

249

100.56

100.83

100.67

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Arizona

7

3

0

289

228

103.24

103.51

104.15

3

San Francisco

3

7

0

230

275

93.76

94.33

94.41

3

Seattle

2

8

0

190

257

93.57

95.18

94.55

3

St. Louis

2

8

0

144

317

83.58

89.63

89.04

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

New York

7

3

0

289

221

102.69

102.65

104.46

2

New England

6

4

0

219

194

99.73

101.92

101.33

2

Miami

6

4

0

209

197

99.79

99.38

102.03

2

Buffalo

5

5

0

219

218

97.46

97.50

98.19

3

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Pittsburgh

7

3

0

209

150

107.34

105.45

104.75

2

Baltimore

6

4

0

222

180

104.99

104.23

102.24

3

Cleveland

4

6

0

201

221

99.02

99.29

99.46

2

Cincinnati

1

8

1

138

249

92.86

93.53

94.67

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Tennessee

10

0

0

244

131

111.29

108.54

108.56

2

Indianapolis

6

4

0

224

224

102.73

102.66

102.07

2

Jacksonville

4

6

0

212

210

100.41

100.39

98.76

3

Houston

3

7

0

236

287

96.01

97.02

96.00

3

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Denver

6

4

0

248

271

96.76

97.65

100.48

2

San Diego

4

6

0

254

229

101.55

101.00

99.71

2

Oakland

2

8

0

128

235

89.60

91.62

88.84

2

Kansas City

1

9

0

165

273

90.87

92.20

92.81

2

 

Note: due to a Thursday game this week, weather forecasts and odds are those as of Wednesday Noon EST

 

NFL Previews-Week 12

 

Cincinnati (1-8-1) at Pittsburgh (7-3-0)

Time:           8:15 EST Thursday 11/20

TV:               NFL Network

Forecast:     Snow showers likely, moderate wind, temperature dropping from low 30’s to upper 20’s

 

PiRate:         Pittsburgh by 16                   

Mean:           Pittsburgh by 14

Bias:             Pittsburgh by 12

Vegas:        Pittsburgh by 10½   -600/+500

Ov/Un:        34  

Strategy:     Pittsburgh -½ in 10-point teaser, Pittsburgh +2½ in 13-point teaser, Over 24 in 10-point teaser, Over 21 in 13-point teaser

Has Cincinnati become a good team after starting the season as the Lions of the AFC?  Philadelphia has a potent offense, and holding the Eagles to 13 points in five full quarters of play is something to look at.  Pittsburgh’s offense is mediocre at the present time, and the Steelers may find the going tough, especially if inclement weather neutralizes their offense.

 

On the other hand, Pittsburgh slaughtered Cinti 38-10 just a month ago.  The Steelers’ defense is almost as strong as Tennessee’s.  I cannot see the Bengals scoring enough points in this game no matter how few they may need to score to win.  I am looking for the Steelers to come up with a big play or two, probably on the defensive side and possibly due to special teams.  Call it a Steeler win in the neighborhood of 20-7.  Because the weather could be worse or better than expected, I won’t take Pittsburgh outright in a straight play, but I do expect 25 or more points to be scored, even if there is a blizzard.     

 

Minnesota (5-5-0) at Jacksonville (4-6-0)

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               Fox

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

 

PiRate:         Jacksonville by 2

Mean:           Jacksonville by 2

Bias:             Jacksonville by 1

Vegas:        Jacksonville by 2      -140/+120

Ov/Un:        40½              

Strategy:     Minnesota +12 in 10-point teaser, Minnesota +15 in 13-point teaser, Over 30½ in 10-point teaser, Over 27½ in 13-point teaser 

This will be a tough battle between two teams just hanging on to playoff hopes.  If Minnesota wins, they get to hang on to a piece of first place in the NFC North and could possibly own it all to themselves.  If Jacksonville wins, they will still be in contention to get into contention.  If the Jags lose, their season is done.

 

I like the Vikings in the teasers because when they lose, it is usually by a touchdown or less, and when the Jags win, it is usually by a touchdown or less.  While this game could be lower scoring than normal, I cannot see it becoming a defensive struggle.  I am looking for a minimum of a 20-13 score either way and a maximum of 28-24 either way, so I am teasing the over in this game.

 

Philadelphia (5-4-1) at Baltimore (6-4-0)

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Sunny, light wind, temperature in the low 40’s

 

PiRate:         Baltimore by 1

Mean:           Baltimore by 3

Bias:             Baltimore by 3

Vegas:        Baltimore by 1          -120/+100   

Ov/Un:        39½

Strategy:     Philadelphia +11 in 10-point teaser, Philadelphia +14 in 13-point teaser, Over 26½ in 13-point teaser

We have two teams here who will be ready to play hard in an effort to erase the memories of what happened in their previous games.  The Eagles debacle with Cincinnati was made all the more worse when Donovan McNabb obviously did not know the rules of the game.  Of course, he does not call the plays, and the coaching staff knew the rules.  However, thinking that another overtime period was coming, he may not have played with the necessary hurried mentality.  On some of those plays in the second-to-last Eagle possession before the Hail Mary pass at the end, he may have thrown to a different receiver not trying to gamble when it actually was time to gamble.

 

Baltimore thought they were near the equal of the defending Super Bowl champions, and they had their hat handed to them when they played the Giants last week.  The Ravens are still on the good side of the playoff bubble and could still win 11 games this year.  That won’t happen if they don’t win this game.

 

I expect a close, hard-fought game that goes down to the wire.  I consider it a 50-50 contest, so I’ll play the teasers that give me the most points (taking the underdog).  I expect both offenses to be on their game and look for more than 30 total points in this game.  The 13-point tease on the Over looks like a gift here.

 

New England (6-4-0) at Miami (6-4-0)

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Chance of showers, strong wind, temperature in the low to mid 70’s

 

PiRate:         Miami by 2

Mean:           New England by 1

Bias:             Miami by 3

Vegas:        Miami by 2         -125/+105

Ov/Un:        42

Strategy:     New England +12 in 10-point teaser, New England +15 in 13-point teaser, Under 55 in 13-point teaser

11 weeks ago, who would have thought that this game would match two teams with identical records, and who would have thought that Miami would have clobbered the Patriots in the earlier meeting?  This game will be all about payback.  New England cannot afford to lose this game and remain a serious playoff threat.  Two losses to the Dolphins may leave them on the outside looking in for the rest of the season.

 

Miami has been winning ugly the last few games.  The Dolphins narrowly defeated weak Seattle and Oakland teams.  The Patriots will come out and play the best defense they can play, and I cannot see Miami topping 17 points.  The single wing won’t exploit the Pats like it did in the first game.

 

I expect New England to win this one outright, but I am going to play it safe and just take them and double digit points in the teasers.  Since Miami’s defense is quite capable, I will tease the Under at 13 points.  At 55 points, we still win if the final is 34-17, and I cannot see either team scoring 28 points in this game.

 

Chicago (5-5-0) at St. Louis (2-8-0)

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:         Chicago by 17

Mean:           Chicago by 9

Bias:             Chicago by 10

Vegas:         Chicago by 8      -350/+320  

Ov/Un:        43

Strategy:     Over 33 in 10-point teaser, Over 30 in 13-point teaser, Chicago +5 in 13-point teaser

The Bears are on the ropes after seemingly being in control of the NFC North two weeks ago.  They stopped the Titans’ ground game but lost the war when they allowed Kerry Collins to look like Peyton Manning.  Last week, Aaron Rodgers and company put a big whipping on them, and now there is a sense of urgency to avoid falling in the crapper.

 

St. Louis is back to being the dregs of the NFC.  I’m not sure they could beat Detroit today.  Injuries have hit, and the Rams just don’t have any depth.

 

Chicago scares me.  Kyle Orton obviously is not 100% healthy, and Rex Grossman is not the man who can run this offense.  Against an inept Rams’ defense, a semi-healthy Orton should put up 24 points or more.  The Rams have a chance at the upset, but even if they were to win, I can only see it coming by a field goal at the most.  Thus, I like taking the Bears in a 13-point teaser, as it gives us 5 points.  A teasing of the Over looks safe.

 

Houston (3-7-0) at Cleveland (4-6-0)

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, moderate wind, temperature in the upper 30’s

 

PiRate:         Cleveland by 5

Mean:           Cleveland by 4

Bias:             Cleveland by 5

Vegas:        Cleveland by 3          -155/+135  

Ov/Un:        49½

Strategy:     Over 36½ in 13-point teaser

Both of these teams have been huge underachievers this year.  When two underachievers meet, there can be four outcomes each with about 25% of happening.  One team can play like they should have been playing while the other continues not to live up to its potential (that’s two different scenarios since it could be either team).  Both teams could play like they were supposed to be playing all along, or both teams could continue to play poorly.

 

Since there is a 50% probability that one of the two teams will play great while the other continues to stink, it makes playing a side too much of a risk.  However, I like the Over in a 13-point tease.  If only one team plays well, that team should top 35 points.  If both teams play well, it should be a track meet with both teams topping 24 points.  If both teams play poorly and underachieve once again, then two poor defenses should lead to a game with 60 or more total points.

 

San Francisco (3-7-0) at Dallas (6-4-0)

Time:           1:00 PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Chance of showers, moderate wind, temperature in upper 60’s

 

PiRate:         Dallas by 9

Mean:           Dallas by 9

Bias:             Dallas by 10

Vegas:        Dallas by 10  

Ov/Un:        47

Strategy:     Dallas Pk in 10-point teaser, Dallas +3 in 13-point teaser, Under 60 in 13-point teaser, Over 34 in 13-point teaser

Having Tony Romo back makes Dallas more than 10 points better than when he is out.  The Cowboys will win this game with about 95% certainty, but I wouldn’t advise giving away 10 points.  Play it safe and take Dallas as part of your parlay on a teaser.  This is a must-win game, and a one-point win is as good as an 11-point win for them.  Let it be that way for you too.

 

The teasing both ways of the totals are secondary plays in this game.  I see a final score being at least 21-17 and as much as 35-13.  Both scenarios fall within the 26-point range of both sides of the 13-point teaser.

 

Tampa Bay (7-3-0) at Detroit (0-10-0)

Time:           1:00PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:         Tampa Bay by 15

Mean:          Tampa Bay by 11

Bias:             Tampa Bay by 12

Vegas:         Tampa Bay by 8       -355/+325

Ov/Un:        41

Strategy:     Tampa Bay +2 in 10-point teaser, Tampa Bay +5 in 13-point teaser, Under 54 in 13-point teaser

Detroit last won a game on the Sunday before Thanksgiving eight years ago.  That was a Lion team that had a winning record, and it came against an opponent that finished 5-11.

 

Tampa Bay is headed to the playoffs as either NFC South champs or a wildcard.  Detroit is just hoping to win a game this year.  They will be thinking about the annual turkey day game on national television, and this game won’t be the one they win.  Look for the Lions to be 0-11 on Thanksgiving day, and it would be ironic if they face an 11-0 Tennessee team.

 

Tampa Bay has more than a 95% chance of winning this game.  By taking the Bucs in 10 and 13-point teasers, we get them as an underdog.

 

Tampa Bay’s defense should do a number on Detroit’s offense.  The Lions will be lucky to reach 17 points, and I believe they could be held under 14.  Tampa Bay isn’t a team that blows opponents off the field.  The Bucs could win 31-10, and that wouldn’t come close to topping our Over.

 

Buffalo (5-5-0) at Kansas City (1-9-0)

Time:           1:00 PM EST

TV:               Fox

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

 

PiRate:         Buffalo by 5

Mean:          Buffalo by 3

Bias:             Buffalo by 3

Vegas:         Buffalo by 3 -165/+145

Ov/Un:        43½

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

Dick Jauron cost his team a chance to win Monday night.  Trent Edwards quickly led the Bills into Browns’ territory at the end of the game.  Cleveland could not stop the Buffalo two-minute offense.  The Bills were facing a moderate wind, and a 46 yard field goal attempt was more like a 55 yard field goal attempt.  Jauron ordered consecutive running plays rather than continue to pass the ball.  Sure, Edwards had problems in the first quarter, but he was exploiting Cleveland’s defense on that final drive.  Jauron showed a lack of confidence in Edwards, and that does not bode well for the Bills.  I believe they are headed to a last place finish in the AFC East, and they could easily finish 7-9 or even 6-10.

 

Kansas City has now lost 19 of their last 20 games, but the Chiefs have suffered four close losses.  Tyler Thigpen is improving, and he could pass for 250 yards in this game.  Kansas City could certainly win this game, and I give them close to a 50% chance of doing so.  If they can pull off the upset, I am sure it will be by a touchdown or less.  Playing Buffalo in a 10 and 13-point teaser gives you seven and 10 points respectively.  I’ll take them.

 

I see this game leading to 40 points, so I’ll play the Over in a 13-point teaser.

 

New York Jets (7-3-0) at Tennessee (10-0-0)

Time:           1:00PM EST

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:         Tennessee by 11

Mean:           Tennessee by 8

Bias:             Tennessee by 6

Vegas:        Tennessee by 5

Ov/Un:        40½

Strategy:     Jets +15 in 10-point teaser, Jets +18 in 13-point teaser, Over 27½ in 13-point teaser

Can Brett Favre torch the best defense in the AFC in the same manner he has done the last two months?  The Jets have averaged better than 33 points per game over the last four games, and better than 32 points per game over the last eight.

 

Tennessee leads the NFL in scoring defense, allowing just 13.1 points per game.  I believe that average will go up some this week, but maybe by just one point. 

 

This game could easily be a warm-up for the AFC Championship Game.  The Jets need it to be a high scoring game to win it, while the Titans need it to be a lower scoring game.  The weather will be perfect, and I believe Favre will be ready to play a great game.  He lives for games like this.

 

Tennessee keeps coming up with ways to win close games.  They may look awful for a half, and then in a span of five minutes, they score two touchdowns.  Then, their defense shuts down the opponents for the rest of the game.

 

I see the Titans struggling to stop the Jets this week.  I believe New York has as much chance of winning as Tennessee.  So, playing my typical strategy, I’ll take the underdog in the teasers and force the Titans to win by more than two touchdowns to beat me.  Playing the Over in a 13-point tease means we win if the score is 16-13, and I think that could be the halftime score this week.

 

Oakland (2-8-0) at Denver (6-4-0)

Time:           4:05PM EST

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:         Denver by 9

Mean:           Denver by 8

Bias:             Denver by 14

Vegas:        Denver by 9 -400/+360 

Ov/Un:        42½

Strategy:     Denver +1 in 10-point teaser, Denver +4 in 13-point teaser, Under 52½ in 10-point teaser Under 55½ in 13-point teaser

Jay Cutler took apart the Raiders’ defense in the opening week of the season.  Oakland’s defense looked like Swiss cheese.  Since then, the Raider offense has disappeared, while the defense has played admirably.

 

Oakland has no offense to speak of since the dismissal of Lane Kiffin.  The Raiders have scored a grand total of 50 points in the last six games.  Even a second-rate Denver defense will hold the silver and black under 20 points.  Denver should gain the sweep and take a commanding lead in the AFC West, but I don’t expect Cutler to repeat the numbers he put up the first time.  I see Denver winning with a score similar to 31-17, 28-10, 30-14, and if it’s really close, 24-17.  Nine points is too much to ask the Broncos to cover, but taking the home team in the teasers is a nice, conservative move.  All of the scoring scenarios I listed are under 50 total points, so an Under tease is an approved move.

 

New York Giants (9-1-0) at Arizona (7-3-0)

Time:           4:15 PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, light wind, temperature near 80

 

PiRate:         Giants by 4

Mean:          Giants by 2

Bias:            Giants by 3

Vegas:         Giants by 3

Ov/Un:        48½

Strategy:     Under 61½ in 13-point teaser

There is a second game this week that could be the preview of a conference championship game.  Arizona and the Giants could easily meet for the NFC title, but the game would take place in the Meadowlands and not in Phoenix.

 

I will be interested in seeing what the Giants do defensively to stop Kurt Warner.  The Warner that played for the Giants is not the same Warner today.  He has regained enough zip on his passes to be as dangerous as he was back in the “Greatest Show on Turf” days.

 

Remember two things.  First, the Giants figured a way to stop the Patriots’ offense last year.  That offense was considered the best ever to take the field.  Now, also remember that the Browns torched New York for 35 points. 

 

This will be the Giants’ first road game in the Mountain Time Zone.  It will be their third road game against a team with a winning record.  Those other two road games against winning teams both were in Pennsylvania.  They beat the Eagles by five and the Steelers by seven.

 

I believe Arizona is better than both Pitt and Philly.  I believe the road trip will be harder on the Giants than the hop to the Keystone State.  I believe we have another tossup game here, but I am not as confident as my writing would have you to believe.  If, and only if, you need one more game to fill out a parlay, then I would consider taking the Cardinals in a 10 or 13-point teaser.  I won’t be using that pick this week.  I only like teasing the Under in this game, because I believe the Giants will try to control the ball and eat up the clock and be happy to win 21-20.

 

Carolina (8-2-0) at Atlanta (6-4-0)

Time:           4:15 PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:         Carolina by 1

Mean:          Tossup

Bias:            Carolina by 1

Vegas:         Atlanta by 1½          -125/+105   

Ov/Un:        42½

Strategy:     Atlanta +8½ in 10-point teaser, Atlanta +11½ in 13-point teaser, Under 52½ in 10-point teaser, Under 55½ in 13-point teaser    

This game has been moved to 4:15 from 1:00, as it is an important game in the NFC South.  If the Panthers win this one, then they are in the driver’s seat in the division.  If Atlanta wins, then this race begins to look like the 1967 American League baseball pennant race.

 

The Falcons lost to Denver at the Georgia Dome last week, and they will bring their A-game this week.  Since their bye, Carolina has looked like they were not firing on all cylinders in relatively close wins over Oakland and Detroit.  They are primed to be upset.

 

I believe the Falcons have a great chance of winning this game, but so do the wise guys in Vegas.  So, I will resort to the teasers and take the Falcons.  We get more than a touchdown in 10 and 13-point teasers.  I also like teasing the Over in this game.  Atlanta’s defense will hold Carolina to 21 points or less, and the Falcons will not top 30.

 

Washington (6-4-0) at Seattle (2-8-0)

Time:           4:15 PM EST

TV:               Fox

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

 

PiRate:         Washington by 3

Mean:           Washington by 2

Bias:             Washington by 3

Vegas:        Washington by 3½         -170/+150

Ov/Un:        40½

Strategy:     Seattle +13½ in 10-point teaser, Seattle +16½ in 13-point teaser, Under 50½  in 10-point teaser, Under 53½ in 13-point teaser    

I thought the odds makers might install Seattle as a slight favorite in this game.  The Redskins are no juggernaut on the East Coast.  Let’s look at their recent history of the last month or so.  They lost at home to the Rams.  They barely edged Cleveland at home.  They had to come from behind in the fourth quarter to win at winless Detroit.  They didn’t show up in a loss at Pittsburgh, and then following a bye week, they blew the lead in a loss to Dallas.  That’s three losses in their last five games.

 

Seattle is not much better than Detroit and weaker than Cleveland.  They are better than the Rams.  While they are not in the Cowboys’ league, Washington will not be as up for this game as they were Sunday night. 

 

I give the Seahawks an excellent chance to win and almost recommend them straight up.  However, this week, I am only playing teasers, and I like getting the home team getting double digit points in this situation.  The score of Seattle games has been much lower as of late than it was at the beginning of the season.  Redskin games have been consistently lower than average, so I like teasing the Under in this one.

 

Indianapolis (6-4-0) at San Diego (4-6-0)

Time:           8:15PM EST

TV:               NBC

Forecast:     Clear, light wind, temperature falling from upper 60’s to upper 50’s

                    

PiRate:         San Diego by 1

Mean:           San Diego by 3

Bias:             San Diego by 3

Vegas:        San Diego by 3

Ov/Un:        49½

Strategy:     Indianapolis +13 in 10-point teaser, Indianapolis +16 in 13-point teaser

San Diego is the most underachieving team this season.  The 4-6 Chargers were supposed to win 12 to 14 games this year.  Now, they are just barely on playoff life support.  If they are 4-7 Monday morning, and the Broncos are 7-4, then this race is over.  The Chargers will not qualify as a wildcard if they are 4-7 after 11 games.  So, this is definitely a must-win game for the home team.

 

Indianapolis is slowly beginning to look like a 10 or 11-win team.  If they win this game, they could even run the table and finish 12-4.  After this game, the Colts have Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit, and Jacksonville and should win all four.  The season finale at home against Tennessee will only matter to the Titans if they are 15-0 then, and even at 15-0, Jeff Fisher would be crazy to stick with his key regulars and gamble on injuries.  We could see Vince Young running the zone read that week.

 

This game is not a must-win for the Colts, but we can never count out a Peyton Manning team in a nationally televised, primetime game.  I’ll take the Colts in the teasers and force San Diego to beat them big to hurt us.

 

Green Bay (5-5-0) at New Orleans (5-5-0)

Time:           8:30PM EST Monday

TV:               ESPN

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:         Green Bay by 5 

Mean:           Green Bay by 2

Bias:             Tossup

Vegas:        New Orleans by 2½        -135/+115

Ov/Un:        51½  

Strategy:     Green Bay +12½ in 10-point teaser, Green Bay +15½ in 13-point teaser, New Orleans +10½ in 13-point teaser, Over 38½ in 13-point teaser  

The Monday night games continue to be high scoring affairs, and now we get two teams that like to light up the scoreboards.  This has the makings of a possible 80-point game.  Drew Brees could pass for 350-500 yards, and Aaron Rodgers could be only a couple dozen yards behind him.  I expect a maximum number of plays, in the neighborhood of 135-140.  I cannot see either team holding the other one under 28 points.  This game actually gives us several possible plays.  The winner of this game should win by single digits.  The total points scored should be in the 40’s at the minimum.

 

Foiled By A Missed Interpretation Of The Rules And The Coaching Of Dick Jauron

 

Last week’s picks finished 9-6-0 for what looked like a winning week.  However, when looking at the “money” on the line, I lost $145.  Upon closer inspection, the wrong call in the Pittsburgh game cost me $210, which would have made it a winning week at 10-5-0 with $65 profit.  On Monday night, Buffalo was exploiting Cleveland’s secondary at the end of the game.  Trent Edwards quickly marched the Bills to the Browns 30 yard line, and then Coach Dick Jauron cost his team the game by running the ball forward for a grand total of a yard or two.  A 46 yard field goal attempt into a strong wind was not what to play for, especially when the Bills had time to drive to the goal line or at least into short field goal range.  It’s a little too late to reconsider Jauron’s long contract extension.  I advise you monitoring the Bills to see if Jauron has “lost the team.”  The Bills’ players were not happy with the end of the game management.

 

For the season, my picks against the spread are now 83-48-6 (63.4%).  The account balance is $1,920. 

 

Here are my wagers for week 12 (all wagered to win $100 or $100 wagered if at + odds on a parlay or money line):

 

1. 10-point teaser

       A. Pittsburgh -½ vs. Cincinnati

       B. Miami +12 vs. Jacksonville

       C. Philadelphia +11 vs. Baltimore

 

2. 10-point teaser

       A. New England +12 vs. Miami

       B. Dallas Pk vs. San Francisco

       C. Tampa Bay +2 vs. Detroit

 

3. 10-point teaser

       A. New York Jets +15 vs. Tennessee

       B. Denver +1 vs. Oakland

       C. Seattle +13½ vs. Washington

 

4. 10-point teaser

       A. Indianapolis +13 vs. San Diego

       B. Green Bay + 12½ vs. New Orleans

       C. Pittsburgh & Cincinnati Over 24

 

5. 10-point teaser

       A. Minnesota & Jacksonville Over 30½

       B. Atlanta & Carolina Under 52½

       C. Seattle & Washington Under 50½

 

6. 13-point teaser

       A. Pittsburgh +2½ vs. Cincinnati

       B. New England +15 vs. Miami

       C. Minnesota & Jacksonville Over 27½

       D. Houston & Cleveland Over 36½

 

7. 13-point teaser

       A. Minnesota +15 vs. Jacksonville

       B. Chicago +5 vs. St. Louis

       C. Green Bay & New Orleans Over 38½

       D. Dallas & San Francisco Under 60

 

8. 13-point teaser

       A. Philadelphia +14 vs. Baltimore

       B. Dallas +3 vs. San Francisco

       C. New England & Miami Under 55

       D. Pittsburgh & Cincinnati Over 21

 

9. 13-point teaser

       A. New York Jets +18 vs. Tennessee

       B. Tampa Bay +5 vs. Detroit

       C. Denver +4 vs. Oakland

       D. Green Bay +15½ vs. New Orleans

 

10. 13-point teaser

       A. Atlanta +11½ vs. Carolina

       B. Seattle +16½ vs. Washington

       C. Indianapolis +16 vs. San Diego

       D. Buffalo & Kansas City Over 30½

 

11. 13-point teaser

       A. New York Jets & Tennessee Over 27½

       B. Philadelphia & Baltimore Over 26½

       C. Chicago & St. Louis Over 30

       D. Buffalo +10 vs. Kansas City               

     

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

November 6, 2008

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

PiRate Ratings For NFL Week 10

 

The PiRate Pro Ratings (Rating)

 

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

 

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

 

The Mean Ratings (Mean)

 

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

 

The Bias Ratings (Biased)

 

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

 

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

 

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

Current NFL Standings

                         
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

New York

7

1

0

226

129

109.14

107.20

108.43

2

Washington

6

3

0

171

168

101.74

102.36

101.48

2

Philadelphia

5

3

0

220

144

110.07

106.36

107.24

2

Dallas

5

4

0

216

219

101.30

101.71

100.36

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Chicago

5

3

0

223

173

107.23

103.65

103.43

2

Green Bay

4

4

0

210

178

104.67

103.70

102.33

2

Minnesota

4

4

0

182

188

101.75

100.67

100.84

2

Detroit

0

8

0

137

239

89.18

90.56

90.31

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Carolina

6

2

0

174

127

107.60

104.89

105.56

2

Tampa Bay

6

3

0

200

147

105.89

103.85

102.61

2

Atlanta

5

3

0

177

154

102.86

101.51

102.13

2

New Orleans

4

4

0

216

195

101.57

100.90

100.55

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Arizona

5

3

0

234

184

104.89

103.95

104.23

3

San Francisco

2

6

0

171

230

92.37

92.64

94.36

3

Seattle

2

6

0

151

210

92.73

94.48

94.80

3

St. Louis

2

6

0

125

235

88.22

92.18

92.84

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

New York

5

3

0

208

187

98.82

100.05

100.73

2

New England

5

3

0

168

150

97.96

101.13

100.78

2

Buffalo

5

3

0

182

169

98.19

98.80

99.16

3

Miami

4

4

0

171

163

100.66

99.80

99.85

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Pittsburgh

6

2

0

178

116

109.21

107.03

106.91

2

Baltimore

5

3

0

171

137

104.08

103.73

103.42

3

Cleveland

3

5

0

142

160

99.50

99.87

98.13

2

Cincinnati

1

8

0

125

236

90.87

92.55

93.74

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Tennessee

8

0

0

199

103

110.47

108.75

108.70

2

Indianapolis

4

4

0

167

177

101.55

101.48

100.66

2

Jacksonville

3

5

0

160

172

98.69

99.15

98.13

3

Houston  

3

5

0

196

213

98.14

98.36

98.46

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Denver

4

4

0

190

221

93.84

95.57

97.04

2

San Diego

3

5

0

224

199

101.35

100.72

99.87

2

Oakland

2

6

0

107

201

86.91

91.22

90.88

2

Kansas City

1

7

0

126

223

88.42

91.10

92.06

2

 

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

 

NFL Previews-Week 10

 

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

Time:           8:15 EST Thursday 11/06

TV:               NFL Network

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

 

PiRate:         Cleveland by 6  

Mean:           Cleveland by 6

Bias:             Cleveland by 3

Vegas:        Cleveland by 3   -150/+170

Ov/Un:        46

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:         Jacksonville by 10

Mean:           Jacksonville by 6

Bias:             Jacksonville by 6

Vegas:        Jacksonville by 6½         -260/+240

Ov/Un:        36½

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

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:         Chicago by 1     

Mean:           Tennessee by 3

Bias:             Tennessee by 3

Vegas:        Tennessee by 3        -150/+130  

Ov/Un:        38½

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:         Atlanta by 2

Mean:           Atlanta by 3

Bias:             Atlanta by 3

Vegas:        Tossup         -110/-110

Ov/Un:        50½

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

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               Fox

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

 

PiRate:         Jets by 10

Mean:           Jets by 10

Bias:             Jets by 9

Vegas:         Jets by 8     -335/+325

Ov/Un:        44½

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:         Buffalo by 1

Mean:          New England by 4

Bias:            New England by 3

Vegas:        New England by 3½ -185/+175

Ov/Un:        41½

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

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:         Baltimore by 2

Mean:           Baltimore by 2

Bias:             Baltimore by 2

Vegas:        Baltimore by 1   -120/+100

Ov/Un:        42

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

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           1:00 PM EST

TV:               Fox

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

 

PiRate:         Miami by 9

Mean:           Miami by 7

Bias:             Miami by 7

Vegas:        Miami by 8½      -350/+320

Ov/Un:        43

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

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           1:00PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:         Green Bay by 1

Mean:           Green Bay by 1

Bias:             Tossup

Vegas:        Minnesota by 2½     -130/+120

Ov/Un:        45½

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           4:05 PM EST

TV:               Fox

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

 

PiRate:         Carolina by 18

Mean:          Carolina by 12

Bias:             Carolina by 13

Vegas:         Carolina by 9½         -400/+360

Ov/Un:        37½

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           4:15PM EST

TV:               CBS

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

 

 

PiRate:         San Diego by 17

Mean:           San Diego by 12

Bias:             San Diego by 10

Vegas:        San Diego by 15½   -1000/+700

Ov/Un:        47

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           4:15PM EST

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:         Pittsburgh by 8

Mean:           Pittsburgh by 8

Bias:             Pittsburgh by 8

Vegas:        No Line       

Ov/Un:        None

Strategy:     None

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

 

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

Time:           8:15PM EST

TV:               NBC

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

                    

PiRate:         Philadelphia by 5

Mean:           Philadelphia by 1

Bias:             Philadelphia by 1

Vegas:        Philadelphia by 3     -140/+130

Ov/Un:        43

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

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           8:30PM EST Monday

TV:               ESPN

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

 

PiRate:         Arizona by 16   

Mean:           Arizona by 14

Bias:             Arizona by 13

Vegas:        Arizona by 9½   -380/+350

Ov/Un:        46

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

The Imaginary Bank Account Makes A Deposit

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

1 Cleveland

-3

vs.

Denver

   

 

 

 

2 Philadelphia

-140

vs.

NY Giants

   

 

 

 

3 Arizona

-380

vs.

San Francisco

   

 

 

 

4 Money Line Parlay

 

 

 

(This 3-game parlay calculates at -130)

  Miami

-350

vs.

Seattle

  Carolina

-400

vs.

Oakland

  San Diego

-1000

vs.

Kansas City

   

 

 

 

5 10-point teaser

 

 

 

  Detroit

+16 1/2

vs.

Jacksonville

  Chicago

+13

vs.

Tennessee

  Atlanta

+10

vs.

New Orleans

   

 

 

 

6 10-point teaser

 

 

 

  NY Jets

+2

vs.

St. Louis

  Baltimore

+9

vs.

Houston

  Miami

+1 1/2

vs.

Seattle

   

 

 

 

7 10-point teaser

 

 

 

  Miami & Seattle

 

Over 30

  Green Bay

+12 1/2

vs.

Minnesota

  Carolina

+ 1/2

vs.

Oakland

   

 

 

 

8 10-point teaser

 

 

 

  Philadelphia

+7

vs.

NY Giants

  Arizona

+ 1/2

vs.

San Francisco

  San Francisco & Arizona

 

Over 36

   

 

 

 

9 13-point teaser

 

 

 

  Cleveland & Denver

 

Over 33

  Detroit

+19 1/2

vs.

Jacksonville

  Chicago

+16

vs.

Tennessee

  Atlanta

+13

vs.

New Orleans

   

 

 

 

10 13-point teaser

 

 

 

  Detroit & Jacksonville

 

Over 23 1/2

  NY Jets

+5

vs.

St. Louis

  New England

+9 1/2

vs.

Buffalo

  Baltimore

+12

vs.

Houston

   

 

 

 

11 13-point teaser

 

 

 

  NY Jets & St. Louis

 

Over 31 1/2

  New England & Buffalo

 

Under 54 1/2

  Miami

+4 1/2

vs.

Seattle

  Green Bay

+15 1/2

vs.

Minnesota

   

 

 

 

12 13-point teaser

 

 

 

  Miami & Seattle

 

Over 27

  Green Bay & Minnesota

 

Over 32 1/2

  Carolina

+3 1/2

vs.

Oakland

  Philadelphia

+10

vs.

NY Giants

   

 

 

 

13 13-point teaser

 

 

 

  Carolina & Oakland

 

Under 50 1/2

  Philadelphia & NY Giants

 

Over 30

  Arizona

+3 1/2

vs.

San Francisco

  San Francisco & Arizona

 

Over 33

     

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

October 31, 2008

PiRate Ratings Week 9 Previews: November 2-3, 2008

PiRate Ratings For NFL Week Nine

 

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

6

1

0

191

115

107.28

105.97

108.82

2

Washington

6

2

0

165

145

103.07

103.15

103.81

2

Dallas

5

3

0

202

184

103.45

102.51

103.76

2

Philadelphia

4

3

0

194

137

110.42

105.79

108.21

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Chicago

4

3

0

196

150

109.13

104.51

103.50

2

Green Bay

4

3

0

194

159

104.51

103.36

102.34

2

Minnesota

3

4

0

154

167

101.31

100.19

99.87

2

Detroit

0

7

0

114

212

87.30

89.81

87.79

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Carolina

6

2

0

174

127

107.66

104.87

105.07

2

Tampa Bay

5

3

0

170

120

108.19

105.13

105.83

2

Atlanta

4

3

0

153

154

101.68

99.64

101.03

2

New Orleans

4

4

0

216

195

102.11

101.54

101.50

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Arizona

4

3

0

200

171

104.55

103.02

103.48

3

Seattle  

2

5

0

144

184

93.30

95.96

94.42

3

St. Louis

2

5

0

113

201

89.46

94.10

93.88

2

San Francisco

2

6

0

171

230

92.04

92.52

91.08

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Buffalo

5

2

0

165

143

99.90

100.38

101.42

3

New England

5

2

0

153

133

97.26

101.67

103.55

2

New York

4

3

0

182

170

96.97

98.49

100.46

2

Miami

3

4

0

145

146

100.01

99.10

99.39

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Pittsburgh

5

2

0

155

110

107.61

105.24

105.74

2

Baltimore

4

3

0

134

110

103.02

102.46

101.86

3

Cleveland

3

4

0

115

123

100.42

100.79

99.21

2

Cincinnati

0

8

0

104

217

89.16

90.63

90.13

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Tennessee

7

0

0

180

87

110.36

108.07

108.05

2

Jacksonville

3

4

0

141

151

100.30

100.30

99.09

3

Houston

3

4

0

175

185

98.07

98.98

99.58

3

Indianapolis

3

4

0

149

162

101.86

100.89

100.12

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Denver

4

3

0

173

195

94.48

96.17

97.70

2

San Diego

3

5

0

224

199

101.39

101.39

100.12

2

Oakland

2

5

0

107

177

87.70

92.70

90.85

2

Kansas City

1

6

0

99

193

85.98

90.58

88.28

2

                         

 

NFL Previews-Week Nine

 

Green Bay (4-3) at Tennessee (7-0)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Sunny, no wind, temperature near 70

 

PiRate:         Tennessee by 8

Mean:           Tennessee by 7

Bias:             Tennessee by 8

Vegas:        Tennessee by 5½     -225/+205

Ov/Un:        41

Strategy:     Green Bay +5½, Green Bay +15½ in 10-point teaser, Green Bay +18½ in 13-point teaser, Over 31 in 10-point teaser, Over 28 in 13-point teaser    

The Titans are coming off an emotional Monday night win over the Colts, while the Packers are coming off a bye week.  If ever there was a better time to go against a 7-0 home favorite, this would be that week.

 

Tennessee, on paper, looks to be too strong for Green Bay, but I expect a less than stellar performance from the Titans.  The defense will have a harder time stopping Donald Driver and Greg Jennings than they did in stopping the Colts’ receivers.  The Titan passing game faced an old “60 defense” scheme from the Colts Monday night, and still Kerry Collins could not pass for 200 yards.  Look for Green Bay to bring an eighth player into the box and force Collins to beat the Packers through the air.  Green Bay’s secondary is better than Indy’s, and I think they will be ready to hold Tennessee to 17 points or less.

 

Aaron Rodgers should be able to pass for 200 yards in this game, but the Packer running game may be ground to a halt.  Green Bay may not score more than 14 or 17 points either, but that should be enough to cover.

 

Tampa Bay (5-3) at Kansas City (1-6)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

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

 

PiRate:         Tampa Bay by 20

Mean:           Tampa Bay by 13

Bias:             Tampa Bay by 16

Vegas:        Tampa Bay by 9       -400/+350

Ov/Un:        36

Strategy:     Tampa Bay +1 in 10-point teaser, Tampa Bay +4 in 13-point teaser, Over 23 in 13-point teaser

Tampa Bay’s offense came to a crushing hall last week in the Big D, but it should bounce back this week against the moribund Chiefs’ defense.  Kansas City played much better on offense last week against the Jets, and they should come close to matching that output this week.  I think the Chiefs can give the Bucs a good game, but in the end Tampa Bay should be strong enough to emerge with some type of victory.  I expect both teams to top 14 points, so I like teasing the Over, especially at 13 points.

 

Baltimore (4-3) at Cleveland (3-4)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:         Baltimore by 1  

Mean:           Tossup

Bias:             Baltimore by 1

Vegas:        Cleveland by 1½      -125/+105  

Ov/Un:        36

Strategy:     Baltimore +11½ in 10-point teaser, Baltimore +14½ in 13-point teaser, Over 26 in 10-point teaser, Over 23 in 13-point teaser

The Ravens embarrassed the Browns in the first meeting between these two teams.  Cleveland was leading 10-7, and then Derek Anderson threw two touchdown passes-unfortunately to Baltimore defenders.  The Ravens went on to win 28-10.

 

Anderson had possibly his worst day as a pro that day, and he will be ready to show Baltimore he can play much better.  Still, he will have to worry about the Ravens’ pass rush, and that could mean it won’t be a stellar day on the lake.

 

I think Cleveland has a strong chance of winning this game and moving into a 2nd place tie in the AFC North at 4-4 after starting the season 0-3.  4-4 would put them in the wildcard hunt, especially in the mediocre NFL this season.

 

I cannot see the Browns winning big in this game.  The Ravens could conceivably move into a first place tie this weekend, so they will be ready for bear.  In this tossup contest, I’ll tease the underdog to get what I feel are extra points.  Even though this game won’t be an offensive assault, I think the totals line is a tad conservative, so I’ll tease the Over for the same reason I teased the Ravens.

 

Detroit (0-7) at Chicago (4-3)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, light wind, temperature in upper 50’s

 

PiRate:         Chicago by 24

Mean:           Chicago by 17

Bias:             Chicago by 18

Vegas:        Chicago by 12½ -600/+500

Ov/Un:        43

Strategy:     Chicago -2½ in 10-point teaser, Chicago +½ in 13-point teaser, under 56 in 13-point teaser 

This was a major slaughter the first time around in the Motor City, and the Bears should be able to win big again this week.  Should doesn’t mean will, as usually the second time around after a team is blown out, they perform somewhat better.  Detroit blew a chance to pull out the upset at home last week against Washington, so I think the players will be a little down in the dumps this week.  I am almost brazen enough to take Chicago at -600 in the money line, but I cannot pull the lever on that one.  I’ll play it safe and take the Bears in a teaser.

 

I don’t see Detroit scoring more than 17 points in this game, and I don’t see the Bears winning by 30 or more, so I like playing the Under in a 13-point teaser.  A final of 35-20 still wins for us in this one.

 

New York Jets (4-3) at Buffalo (5-2)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, moderate wind, temperature in low to mid 40’s

 

PiRate:         Buffalo by 6

Mean:           Buffalo by 5

Bias:             Buffalo by 4

Vegas:         Buffalo by 5½    -220/+200

Ov/Un:        41

Strategy:     Buffalo -220, Buffalo +4½ in 10-point teaser, Buffalo +7½ in 13-point teaser, Jets +18½ in 13-point teaser, Over 31 in 10-point teaser, Over 28 in 13-point teaser  

This could be the most interesting game of the week.  A Jet win could mean a three-way tie for first come Sunday night.  A Bills win would put them in a commanding position for breaking the long playoff drought.

 

This will be the first game for both teams played in what I call winter-like weather, and when that happens, it usually means the passing game suffers some.  The team with the better running game against the opponent’s run defense usually fares better than expected.  Buffalo has the advantage in this phase, and I think that’s all they will need to emerge with a small victory margin.  I see this one ending 21-17 in favor of the home team.

 

Jacksonville (3-4) at Cincinnati (0-8)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:         Jacksonville by 9

Mean:          Jacksonville by 8

Bias:            Jacksonville by 7

Vegas:        Jacksonville by 7½         -335/+305

Ov/Un:        40

Strategy:     Jacksonville +2½ in 10-point teaser, Jacksonville +5½ in 13-point teaser, Under 53 in 13-point teaser

Have the Bengals quit on the season?  Since the nine-point loss at Dallas, it looks like the team has just gone through the motions in their three most recent losses.  Scoring just six points against Houston reveals this team has hit rock bottom.  Carson Palmer will not play once again, and the striped-helmets just don’t move the ball without him under center.

 

Jacksonville is on the verge of dropping out of the playoff race.  This is a must win for the Jags, because at 3-5 they will be looking up at too many other teams.  They haven’t possessed the killer instinct.  They play up or down to the competition.  I expect them to play down some this week, and thus I cannot call for them to do to Cinti what the Jets, Steelers, and Texans did in the last three games.  Jacksonville could very well win by 10-14, but they could easily be forced to either come from behind to nip the Bengals or hold off a late rally in order to escape with a win. 

 

I’ll surmise that they will attempt to control the clock and eat up time with long drives, so I’m going to predict a final score of no more than 50 total points.  This is an iffy prediction, and I would only rely on it to fill out the last part of a four-game parlay when you don’t have any other options.

 

Houston (3-4) at Minnesota (3-4)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:         Minnesota by 5

Mean:           Minnesota by 3

Bias:             Minnesota by 2

Vegas:        Minnesota by 4½     -210/+180

Ov/Un:        47

Strategy:     Houston +14½ in 10-point teaser, Houston +17½ in 13-point teaser, Over 37 in 10-point teaser, Over 34 in 13-point teaser

After a horrendous 0-4 start amidst the recovery from Hurricane Ike, the Texans have won three straight games to back into a tie for second place in the AFC South.  Minnesota has sputtered like an engine needing a tune-up.  The Vikings are also 3-4, but they look more like a team headed to a 6-10 record, while Houston looks more like a team headed to a 9-7 record.

 

I am not asking the Texans to win this road game, especially since Minnesota had an extra week to prepare.  I am looking for them to keep it close and have a chance to win it in the fourth quarter.  I cannot see a two-touchdown Viking conquest. 

 

I think this could be a 35-31 type game, so I am tempted to tease the Over.  However, 34 points is still a lot even in a 13-point teaser.  Likewise, I am not confident about teasing an Under at 60 points.

 

Arizona (5-2) at St. Louis (2-5)

Time:           1:00PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:         Arizona by 13

Mean:           Arizona by 7

Bias:             Arizona by 8

Vegas:        Arizona by 3      -155/+135

Ov/Un:        48

Strategy:     St. Louis +13 in 10-point teaser, St. Louis +16 in 13-point teaser, Under 61 in 13-point teaser

Not only is this the return of the former St. Louis team, it is the return of the former Ram quarterback who led the current St. Louis team to its Super Bowl Championship.

 

Both teams were in rough and tough games that went to the wire last week, and both teams enter this game with some possible injury concerns on offense.  That makes me feel comfortable about teasing the Under in this one.  I can see this game being lower scoring than expected, so I also like teasing the home underdog as well.  It wouldn’t shock me to see this one end with a final of 24-17.  If the Rams can pull off the upset, they will actually be in contention to be in contention in the NFC West.  9-7 could be good enough to win this division if St. Louis can win this game.  If the Cardinals win, then they are in great shape.

 

Miami (3-4) at Denver (4-3)

Time:           4:05PM EDT

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:         Miami by 4

Mean:           Miami by 1

Bias:             Tossup

Vegas:        Denver by 3 -185/+160

Ov/Un:        50½

Strategy:     Denver +7 in 10-point teaser, Denver +10 in 13-point teaser, Miami +13 in 10-point teaser, Miami +16 in 13-point teaser

These two teams are hard to figure out; they are both Jekyll and Hyde teams.  The reason for that is they have potential but not confirmed stars in several key positions.  One week, you see the potential beginning to pay off, while the next week you see just how green these players are.

 

My thoughts on these two teams are that they could play 10 times and all 10 games would be within 10 points either way, and they would have both low and high scoring contests in those 10 tilts.  For that reason, I would stay away from the totals.

 

On the other hand, I find playing both sides on a teaser (especially the 13-point variety) enticing.  I look for this game to be decided on a couple of big plays, and either team could win (although I give Denver about a 60% chance of winning).  My guess is the Broncos could win by as much as 14 points or lose by as much as a TD. 

 

Atlanta (4-3) at Oakland (2-5)

Time:           4:15 PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Good chance of rain, strong wind that should affect the game, temperature in the upper 50’s

 

PiRate:         Atlanta by 12

Mean:           Atlanta by 5

Bias:             Atlanta by 8

Vegas:        Atlanta by 3       -145/+125

Ov/Un:        41

Strategy:     Under 54 in 13-point teaser

This is another interesting game.  But first, I must post my annual Raiders’ tribute for their first November game.

 

The autumn wind is a pirate
Blustering in from sea
With a rollicking song he sweeps along
swaggering boisterously

His face is weather beaten
He wears a hooded sash
With his silver hat about his head
And a bristly black mustache

He growls as he storms the country
A villain big and bold
And the trees all shake and quiver and quake
As he robs them of their gold

The autumn wind is a Raider
Pillaging just for fun
He’ll knock you around and upside down
And laugh when he’s conquered and won

—Steve Sabol (NFL Films)

 

Unfortunately, the autumn wind emanating from Oakland, California, these days is nothing but a bunch of hot air.  The dirty birds from the Deep South may be the team pillaging for fun this week.  Atlanta is a strong wildcard contender, and first year head coach Mike Smith is a strong contender for Coach of the Year.

 

My guess here is that Atlanta will try to win this game with defense and ball-control and not force Matt Ryan to play like John Elway in order to win.  I don’t know if this will be successful, but I do believe it will lead to both teams scoring less than 24 points.  That makes a teasing of the Under look inviting.

 

Dallas (5-3) at New York Giants (6-1)

Time:           4:15PM EDT

TV:               Fox

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

 

 

PiRate:         Giants by 6

Mean:           Giants by 5

Bias:             Giants by 7

Vegas:        Giants by 9        -400/+325

Ov/Un:        41

Strategy:     Dallas +19 in 10-point teaser, Dallas +22 in 13-point teaser, Under 54 in 13-point teaser

 

No Tony Romo.  Maybe no Felix Jones or Jason Witten either.  Dallas would have a tough time beating the Giants at the Meadowlands with those three at full strength, so their chances of doing so with Brad Johnson at quarterback and possibly missing two key contributors doesn’t bode well for the Cowboys. 

 

The Giants are rather healthy heading into this game, and they could end remove one of their three NFC East challengers from serious contention. 

 

New York should win and push Dallas into last place in the division, but I don’t expect them to blow the Cowboys off the field.  What’s more likely to happen is that New York will get the lead in the first half and then play conservatively in the last 30 minutes.  They still have to play at Texas Stadium when Romo should be back, and they don’t need to give Dallas extra incentive in that game.

 

I expect to see the Giants win by 7-15 points this week and keep the total score under 50 points; I expect a score similar to 27-14.

 

Philadelphia (4-3) at Seattle (2-5)

Time:           4:15PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Showers likely, light wind, temperature in the mid to upper 50’s

 

PiRate:         Philadelphia by 14

Mean:           Philadelphia by 7

Bias:             Philadelphia by 11

Vegas:        Philadelphia by 6½         -270/+250

Ov/Un:        42½

Strategy:     Seattle +16½ in 10-point teaser, Seattle +19½ in 13-point teaser, Over 29½ in 13-point teaser  

If this game were in Philly, I would have no trouble explaining how the Eagles would claw the Seahawks into the ground.  However, it’s Philly that must travel all the way across the country and take on Seattle in what could be messy field conditions.  Philadelphia has already played once on the West Coast and came away with a high-scoring win over the 49ers.  That final flurry of points was an oddity, and Seattle won’t surrender them.  Thus, I am looking for this game to be played a little more conservatively.

 

Seattle emerged from their slumber last week to annihilate San Francisco.  Returning home this week, I expect them to maintain some of that momentum.  Seneca Wallace had a breakout game as did fullback Leonard Weaver.  The Eagles will have to concentrate extra coverage to stop this combo from hooking up on any more long TD plays, and that should allow Seattle to run the ball with some success.  Weaver may be more valuable as a receiver than as a run blocker.

 

This is a must win game for both teams.  2-6 teams rarely recover in the second half to make the playoffs, so Seattle knows it has its back against the wall.  Philadelphia is in the toughest division in the NFL, and 4-4 is good enough for last place.

 

I’ll take the home team in the teasers and also tease the Over, as I expect both teams to top 17 points.

 

New England (5-2) at Indianapolis (3-4)

Time:           8:15PM EDT

TV:               NBC

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, light wind, temperature dropping from low 60’s to the low 50’s if roof is open, but it is likely to be closed

             

PiRate:         Indianapolis by 7

Mean:           Indianapolis by 1

Bias:             New England by 1

Vegas:        Indianapolis by 6     -260/+220

Ov/Un:        44

Strategy:     New England +16 in 10-point teaser, New England +19 in 13-point teaser, Over 31 in 13-point teaser

I don’t like this game.  It’s not the teams, it’s their collective health.  Between these two, you could stage a football game inside a hospital, especially on the Colts’ side of the field.

 

There is no way to know for sure (Thursday evening) which of the injured players will be available, and there are too many quality Colts on the fence as of now.  So, I cannot really make an official guess at the score for this game.  I do know that even at 100% healthy, I do not see the Colts winning by two touchdowns.  So, using the opinion that Indianapolis will be somewhat hampered with injuries, I see the Patriots either winning this game or losing by single digits.  Either way, New England should cover the spread in the teasers.

 

Peyton Manning should be able to lead his team to 21 or more points win or lose, so I like teasing the Over as well.

 

Pittsburgh (5-2) at Washington (5-2)

Time:           8:30PM EDT Monday

TV:               ESPN

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

 

PiRate:         Pittsburgh by 3

Mean:           Tossup

Bias:             Tossup

Vegas:        Washington by 1½         -125/+105

Ov/Un:        36½

Strategy:     Washington +8½ in 10-point teaser, Washington +11½ in 13-point teaser, Over 23½ in 13-point teaser 

Every Monday night game has been high scoring this season, and I cannot find any reason to expect anything different this week.  Both teams should score in excess of 17 points in this game, so the relatively low Over/Under line makes this one appealing as an Over tease. 

 

I like the home team as a touchdown plus underdog as well, so teasing the Redskins is another option.

 

 

The Imaginary Bank Account Loses A Little On A Break-Even Week

 

Last week’s picks finished 7-7-3.  Of course, when you go .500 picking games, it is a losing week.  The picks lost $150.  For the season, my picks are now 59-35-6 (62.8%).  The account balance is $1,525.  For the year, my Return on investment is down to 15.3%, or about half of what it was two weeks ago.

 

Both the straight wager and teaser picks broke even.  The straight picks finished 4-4-2 and the teasers finished 3-3-1.

 

This week, I am going to play fewer games and try to find the games that I feel strongest about in my chances to be correct.

 

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

 

  • 1. Green Bay +5½ vs. Tennessee
  • 2. Buffalo -220 vs. New York Jets

 

  • 3. 10-point Teaser
  • A. Green Bay & Tennessee Over 31
  • B. Tampa Bay +1 vs. Kansas City
  • C. Baltimore +11½ vs. Cleveland

 

  • 4. 10-point Teaser
  • A. Chicago -2½ vs. Detroit
  • B. Buffalo + 4½ vs. New York Jets
  • C. Houston +14½ vs. Minnesota

 

  • 5. 10-point Teaser
  • A. New York Jets & Buffalo Over 31
  • B. Denver +7 vs. Miami
  • C. Seattle +16½ vs. Philadelphia

 

  • 6. 13-point Teaser
  • A. Green Bay +18½ vs. Tennessee
  • B. Tampa Bay +4 vs. Kansas City
  • C. Baltimore +14½ vs. Cleveland
  • D. Chicago +½ vs. Detroit

 

  • 7. 13-point Teaser
  • A. Green Bay & Tennessee Over 28
  • B. Tampa Bay & Kansas City Over 23
  • C. Chicago & Detroit Under 56
  • D. New York Jets & Buffalo Over 28

 

  • 8. 13-point Teaser
  • A. Houston +17½ vs. Minnesota
  • B. St. Louis & Arizona Under 61
  • C. Denver +10 vs. Miami
  • D. Dallas +22 vs. New York Giants

 

  • 9. 13-point Teaser
  • A. Seattle +19½ vs. Philadelphia
  • B. New England +19 vs. Indianapolis
  • C. New England & Indianapolis Over 31
  • D. Washington & Pittsburgh Over 23½

         

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.

 

NOTE: Due to the scheduling of Thursday games for the next few weeks, expect this column to run on Thursday afternoons during that time.

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