The Pi-Rate Ratings

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.

November 26, 2008

PiRate Ratings Week 13 NFL Previews: November 27-December 1, 2008

PiRate Ratings For NFL Week 13

Can It Be Giants Vs. Jets In Super Bowl XLIII

 

The two hottest teams in the NFL both call East Rutherford, New Jersey, home.  The New York Giants at 10-1 reign supreme over the NFC.  The New York Jets are 8-3, and Brett Favre and company have won five games in a row by an average score of 34-18.  Three of those wins have come against teams with winning records, and two of them came against teams likely to contend with them for the AFC Championship.

 

 

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 & Ratings

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

New York

10

1

0

329

199

110.19

115.97

110.53

2

Dallas

7

4

0

265

251

100.76

101.99

104.65

2

Washington

7

4

0

201

199

99.39

99.65

101.51

2

Philadelphia

5

5

1

271

229

104.14

102.50

100.63

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Chicago

6

5

0

267

234

102.58

100.77

101.77

2

Minnesota

6

5

0

253

246

102.41

102.33

102.05

2

Green Bay

5

6

0

303

260

105.09

102.86

101.49

2

Detroit

0

11

0

193

346

87.33

90.06

88.18

3

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Tampa Bay

8

3

0

257

180

105.88

104.23

105.53

2

Carolina

8

3

0

250

200

104.27

101.91

104.74

2

Atlanta

7

4

0

276

226

104.07

101.95

102.91

2

New Orleans

6

5

0

317

278

102.97

102.16

102.73

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Arizona

7

4

0

318

265

103.17

102.77

104.09

3

San Francisco

3

8

0

252

310

93.22

94.58

93.86

3

Seattle

2

9

0

207

277

93.26

94.23

93.20

3

St. Louis

2

9

0

147

344

83.36

88.48

87.67

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

New York

8

3

0

323

234

105.83

105.68

107.01

2

New England

7

4

0

267

222

101.94

102.33

102.56

2

Buffalo

6

5

0

273

249

99.30

99.62

100.29

3

Miami

6

5

0

237

245

99.16

98.19

99.97

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Pittsburgh

8

3

0

236

160

107.36

104.39

105.25

2

Baltimore

7

4

0

258

187

107.39

105.27

104.24

3

Cleveland

4

7

0

207

237

97.72

97.16

96.48

2

Cincinnati

1

9

1

148

276

92.44

92.92

92.78

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Tennessee

10

1

0

257

165

108.61

105.77

106.38

2

Indianapolis

7

4

0

247

244

102.98

102.44

103.39

2

Jacksonville

4

7

0

224

240

98.45

98.57

96.91

3

Houston

4

7

0

252

293

96.90

98.78

97.24

3

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Denver

6

5

0

258

302

94.90

96.24

98.13

2

San Diego

4

7

0

274

252

102.15

100.47

99.83

2

Oakland

3

8

0

159

245

92.67

94.49

93.14

2

Kansas City

1

10

0

196

327

90.16

91.11

90.76

2

 

Note: due to the Thanksgiving holiday, weather forecasts and odds are those as of Wednesday 8 AM EST

 

NFL Previews-Week 13

 

Tennessee (10-1-0) at Detroit (0-11-0)

Time:           12:30 PM EST, Thursday 11/27

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:         Tennessee by 18                   

Mean:           Tennessee by 13

Bias:             Tennessee by 18

Vegas:        Tennessee by 11      -630/+530

Ov/Un:        44½

Strategy:     Tennessee -1 in 10-point teaser, Tennessee +2 in 13-point teaser, Tennessee -630 as part of money line parlay     

This game would have been much more interesting if the Titans had won last week, as no 11-0 team has played an 0-11 team in an NFL game.

 

Detroit is banged up quite a bit, while Tennessee has minimal injury concerns.  I would tend to pick the Titans to rebound and blow the Lions off the field by three or more touchdowns, but some gut instinct tells me this game will be closer than expected.  I actually believe the Lions will keep this one within striking distance and actually have a chance at the big upset.  I am too shy to take the Lions at +11, and I don’t even like taking them at +21 and +24 in teasers.  I do think Tennessee has a 90-95% chance of winning, so I will go with the Titans in the teasers, as well as using them as part of a money line parlay.

 

Seattle (2-9-0) at Dallas (7-4-0)

Time:           4:15 PM EST, Thursday November 27

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Chance of Showers, light wind, temperature in the upper 60’s

 

PiRate:         Dallas by 10

Mean:           Dallas by 10

Bias:             Dallas by 13

Vegas:        Dallas by 12       -710/+610 

Ov/Un:        46½

Strategy:     Dallas -2 in 10-point teaser, Dallas +1 in 13-point teaser, Seattle +22 in 10-point teaser, Seattle +25 in 13-point teaser, Dallas -710 as part of a money line parlay

Even with Felix Jones out for the year, Dallas has enough offensive weapons to outscore most of the opponents remaining on the schedule.  However, after this game, the final four opponents are all capable of beating them.  This is a must-win game for Dallas, while Seattle is just playing out the schedule. 

 

The Seahawks have been outscored 119-45 in their four road games on the East Coast.  This is their first road game in the Central Time Zone, but I expect the result to be similar. 

 

Dallas doesn’t blow opponents off the field, and Seattle has been losing by less than a dozen of late, so I like both ends in 10 and 13-point teasers.

 

Arizona (7-4-0) at Philadelphia (5-5-1)

Time:           8:15 PM EST, Thursday, November 27

TV:               NFL Network

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, light wind, temperature falling from the upper to mid 30’s

 

PiRate:         Philadelphia by 3

Mean:           Philadelphia by 2

Bias:             Arizona by 1

Vegas:        Philadelphia by 3     -145/+125   

Ov/Un:        46½  

Strategy:     Arizona +13 in 10-point teaser, Arizona +16 in 13-point teaser, Over 33½ in 13-point teaser

How do you figure Philadelphia?  Are they the team that beats Pittsburgh 15-6?  Are they the team that loses to Dallas 41-37?  Or, are they the team that ties the then 1-8 Bengals and loses to the Ravens 36-7 in their most recent games?

 

Coach Andy Reid could be on his way out and quarterback Donovan McNabb may be joining him.  They better come up with their A-games this week.

 

Arizona could probably lose all their remaining games and still win their division at 7-9.  This isn’t a must-win game for the Cardinals, but don’t expect them to lie down and play dead in the city of brotherly love this week.

 

Kurt Warner should have a 300+ passing yard day this week, and Arizona should top 24 points.  It’s all up to the Eagle offense.  They could lay another egg and lose by two touchdowns; they could play a decent game and make it a close game either way; or, they could play like they know their backs are against the wall and win by two touchdowns.  The Cardinals have a decent chance or winning, a great chance of losing by a touchdown or less, and an outstanding chance of covering at double digit points.

 

Denver (6-5-0) at New York Jets (8-3-0)

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Showers possible, light wind, temperature in low 40’s

 

PiRate:         Jets by 13

Mean:           Jets by 11

Bias:             Jets by 11

Vegas:        Jets by 7½  -325/+295       

Ov/Un:        47½

Strategy:     Jets +2½ in 10-point teaser, Jets +5½ in 13-point teaser, Jets -325, Under 60½ in 13-point teaser   

Denver should have the services of at least two capable running backs this week, but that isn’t going to solve the Broncos’ woes.  They are fortunate that 8-8 can win their division this year, because they may struggle to finish 8-8.  They could easily finish 1-4 to end up at 7-9 and become the first team with a losing record to make the playoffs in a non-strike-shortened season.

 

The Jets are playing as good right now as they have since Joe Namath led them to victory in Super Bowl III.  Dominating Tennessee in Nashville last week was no small task.  Add wins over New England and Buffalo, and this is a powerful team.  As of this writing, I rate the Jets as the top team in the AFC.

 

The weather could be the only intangible keeping this game close.  I see the Jets winning this one with relative ease, but a wet field could keep the margin down under the line. 

 

The New York defense has been hiding under the radar.  In the last seven games, they have surrendered less than 17 points per game (better than the Ravens and Titans over that time).

 

Miami (6-5-0) at St. Louis (2-9-0)

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:         Miami by 14

Mean:           Miami by 8

Bias:             Miami by 10

Vegas:         Miami by 7½      -325/+275  

Ov/Un:        44

Strategy:     Miami +2½ in 10-point teaser, Miami +5½ in 13-point teaser, Miami -325, Under 54 in 10-point teaser, Under 57 in 13-point teaser

Miami definitely must win this game to stay in the playoff hunt, as it might be necessary to post a 10-6 record to earn an AFC Wildcard spot.  At 6-5, there isn’t much room for error, and this is the easiest game remaining on their schedule. 

 

St. Louis may have to go without Marc Bulger.  As I write this on Wednesday, he is listed as very doubtful.  The Rams are headed nowhere, so it would be foolish for Bulger to risk permanent brain damage to play in this game.  Thus, I am of the belief that an almost washed-up Trent Green will be under center for the Rams. 

 

If Steven Jackson can play, the Rams may have a chance to keep this game close.  However, Jackson will be rusty even if he is close to 100% by game time.  Don’t expect a 20-100 rushing day out of him; look for something more like 7-25.  Miami will win, but it may be closer than their fans will like.

 

New York Giants (10-1-0) at Washington (7-4-0)

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Chance of rain, light wind, temperature around 40

 

PiRate:         Giants by 9

Mean:           Giants by 14

Bias:             Giants by 7

Vegas:        Giants by 3½     -190/+165  

Ov/Un:        42

Strategy:     Washington +13½ in 10-point teaser, Washington +16½ in 13-point teaser, Over 29 in 13-point teaser 

This is going to be one whale of a game.  These two opened the season in DC, and it was a real snoozer.  The Giants won 16-7, and it was assumed at that time by the so-called experts that Washington would have a tough season adjusting to new coach Jim Zorn’s offense.  Since then, the Redskins have averaged almost 20 points per game, but their defense has continued to keep them in every game.  The most they have surrendered in any game is 24 points (only Pittsburgh can say the same).

 

This is going to be a game where the outstanding running games try to plow through rather strong defenses.  Both New York’s Brandon Jacobs and Washington’s Clinton Portis enter this contest with injuries.  It is not sure whether either or both will miss this game.

 

I look for this game to stay close throughout the day, and I am going with the Redskins in the teasers.  Because there is a chance that the passing games may have to be used more than preferred, I am also teasing the Over.

 

New Orleans (6-5-0) at Tampa Bay (8-3-0)

Time:           1:00 PM EST

TV:               Fox

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

 

PiRate:         Tampa Bay by 5

Mean:           Tampa Bay by 4

Bias:             Tampa Bay by 5

Vegas:        Tampa Bay by 3½    -190/+165  

Ov/Un:        47½  

Strategy:     Tampa Bay +6½ in 10-point teaser, Tampa Bay +9½ in 13-point teaser, Tampa Bay -190, Tampa Bay -3½, Over 34½ in 13-point teaser, Under 60½ in 13-point teaser

Let’s take a look at some statistical information concerning the Saints.  At home, they are 4-1 (5-1 if you count the game in London) and average 35 points to 17 for the opposition.  On the road, they are 1-4 and average 22.6 points to 29.4 for the opposition.  Their lone road win came at lowly Kansas City.

 

Tampa Bay has taken care of the other two NFC South teams to come to Raymond James Stadium.  They should make it a perfect three for three this week.  New Orleans will bounce some from their big Monday night win, and the Buccaneers must play back-to-back road games against Atlanta and Carolina after this game. 

 

I am going with the Bucs to win and cover the spread in this game.  I believe their defense will hold New Orleans under 24 points as well.    

 

 

Indianapolis (7-4-0) at Cleveland (4-7-0)

Time:           1:00PM EST

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Snow showers possible, light wind, temperature around 35

 

PiRate:         Indianapolis by 3

Mean:          Indianapolis by 3

Bias:             Indianapolis by 5

Vegas:         Indianapolis by 5     -220/+180

Ov/Un:        45

Strategy:     Indianapolis +8 in 13-point teaser, Under 58 in 13-point teaser

Cleveland will have to go without Brady Quinn the rest of the year.  I am almost convinced that the Browns have quit on Derek Anderson.  I also believe that Coach Romeo Crennel and General Manager Phil Savage will be leaving at the end of this year. 

 

Indianapolis keeps winning by slim margins, but they keep winning.  I see no reason why they cannot run the table and finish 12-4. 

 

The weather could play a major part in many games this week, and this is one of those games where cold and wet conditions could make for slippery footballs and slippery turf.  That could neutralize some of Indy’s advantage, but I’ll take the Colts in the teasers.  I’m looking for the Colts to win 27-13.  The loss of center Jeff Saturday could cause Manning to rush a pass or two and the newfound running game to take a small step backward.

 

San Francisco (3-8-0) at Buffalo (6-5-0)

Time:           1:00 PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Snow showers likely, moderate wind, temperature in mid 30’s

 

PiRate:         Buffalo by 9

Mean:          Buffalo by 8

Bias:             Buffalo by 9

Vegas:         Buffalo by 7 -275/+255 

Ov/Un:        42½  

Strategy:     Buffalo -7, Buffalo -275, Buffalo +3 in 10-point teaser, Buffalo +6 in 13-point teaser

San Francisco has so much going against them in this game.  To start out, no West Coast team has won on the East Coast this year, and the 49ers’ three wins have come in the Pacific Time Zone.  San Francisco is not acclimated to playing in cold, snowy weather, and they are likely to get a dose of that this week.  The 49ers have nothing to play for, while Buffalo definitely must win this game to keep their playoff hopes alive.  Their final four games are all tough ones against teams competing for a playoff spot.

 

I’m looking for a Buffalo blowout by two touchdowns or more.  I won’t pick any totals in this game, because the weather could be a bigger factor than the personnel.

 

Baltimore (7-4-0) at Cincinnati (1-9-1)

Time:           1:00PM EST

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Light rain possible, light wind, temperature around 40

 

PiRate:         Baltimore by 13

Mean:           Baltimore by 10

Bias:             Baltimore by 9

Vegas:        Baltimore by 7   -300/+250

Ov/Un:        36½

Strategy:     Baltimore +3 in 10-point teaser, Baltimore +6 in 13-point teaser, Baltimore -300 in Money Line parlay, Over 23½ in 13-point teaser

Cincinnati is a mess in both of its professional sports, and the problem is in the front office in both.  Baltimore is a mess in baseball, but their football team is rather good.  The Ravens have a great chance of finishing 11-5 and challenging for the AFC North title.  Pittsburgh has a much tougher final month of games, and the Ravens could be tied for first after this week.

 

The Bengals failed to show up in Pittsburgh a week ago, and they showed no offense the week before against Philadelphia.  I don’t see them finding the solution this week against Ray Lewis and his merry men of mayhem.

 

The two big intangible factors in this game both favor Cincinnati.  The weather should make for a closer than expected game, and the Bengals get an extra three days to prepare for this one.  Thus, I believe the margin of victory will be slimmer than expected.  Even if the field is as big of a mess as the home team, I think there will be at least 25 total points scored.

 

Carolina (8-3-0) at Green Bay (5-6-0)

Time:           1:00PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Light snow, moderate wind, temperature in the upper 20’s to near 30

 

PiRate:         Green Bay by 3

Mean:           Green Bay by 3

Bias:             Carolina by 1

Vegas:        Green Bay by 3½     -170/+150  

Ov/Un:        42

Strategy:     Under 55 in 13-point teaser, Green Bay -170

This is a tough game to diagnose.  Both teams lost games last week when their defenses suffered major letdowns, and their offenses or special teams contributed to the other side of the scoreboard. 

 

I see one excellent play in this game.  When both teams surrendered a great deal of points in their last games and it was also greater than they normally surrender, look for a regression to the mean in the next game.  Thus, I believe this game will be lower scoring than expected.  The possible inclement weather should aid us in that prediction.

 

This is a must-win game for Green Bay, as a loss will put them two games behind the Bears-Vikings winner.  The NFC North will not supply any wildcard teams this year, so at 5-7, the Packers can have the fork stuck in them.

 

Atlanta (7-4-0) at San Diego (4-7-0)

Time:           4:05 PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Sunny, very windy (will affect passes and kicks), temperature in the mid to upper 70’s

 

PiRate:         Tossup

Mean:          San Diego by 1

Bias:            Atlanta by 1

Vegas:         San Diego by 5  -205/+175

Ov/Un:        49

Strategy:     Atlanta +15 in 10-point teaser, Atlanta +18 in 13-point teaser, Over 36 in 13-point teaser, Under 62 in 13-point teaser

This game will be more of a rivalry game than your typical NFC South versus AFC West game.  Michael Turner warmed the bench in San Diego while LaDainian Tomlinson got the accolades in Chargerville.  Now, Turner is the big star, while Tomlinson waddles in mediocrity for the Chargers.  Turner has rushed for 1,088 yards and 13 touchdowns, while Tomlinson has rushed for 770 yards and five touchdowns. 

 

Matt Ryan is now the odds-on choice to win the Rookie of the Year title.  You will be hard pressed to find another first year quarterback with ratings like his.

 

This game has become a must-win contest for both teams.  I would have thought that San Diego would have been eliminated with a loss last week, but now it looks like 8-8 will win the pathetic West Division. 

 

I don’t really love any of the selections in this game, but if I had to guess, I would say it will be lower scoring than expected and a true tossup game.

 

Pittsburgh (8-3-0) at New England (7-4-0)

Time:           4:15 PM EST

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Rain likely, light wind, temperature in the upper 30’s

 

PiRate:         Pittsburgh by 3

Mean:          Tossup

Bias:            Pittsburgh by 1

Vegas:         New England by 1    -120/+100   

Ov/Un:        40

Strategy:     New England +9 in 10-point teaser, New England +12 in 13-point teaser, New England -1, New England -120, Under 53 in 13-point teaser

Pittsburgh has big injury issues headed into this game, and the fact that I have to preview this game five days in advance makes it difficult to get a good grasp on making selections.  The choices I have above are made with the assumption that Willie Parker will either miss this game or have very little affect on the outcome due to his sore knee.

 

I like New England to win this game by a couple of points in a defensive struggle.  The rain should help keep the score down as well.

 

 

Kansas City (1-10-0) at Oakland (3-8-0)

Time:           4:15 PM EST

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:         Oakland by 5

Mean:           Oakland by 5

Bias:             Oakland by 4

Vegas:        Oakland by 3     -160/+140

Ov/Un:        41½

Strategy:     Oakland +7 in 10-point teaser, Oakland +10 in 13-point teaser, Oakland -160, Oakland -3, Over 28½ in 13-point teaser

In years past, this would have been the game of the week this week and possibly the game of the year.  Now it could be an exciting game just because these two teams are equally inept.

 

The Raiders defeated Kansas City at Arrowhead Stadium earlier this year.  Oakland’s other two wins strangely came against two division leaders.  What’s even stranger is that if they win this game to improve to 4-8, they could possibly move into a second place tie in the AFC West and be just two games out of first place with four games to go.  They just might have an outside chance at getting to 7-9 and backing into the division title. 

 

That above fairy tale isn’t likely to happen, but I believe the silver and black will win again this week.

 

 

Chicago (6-5-0) at Minnesota (6-5-0)

Time:           8:15PM EST

TV:               NBC

Forecast:     Dome

                    

PiRate:         Minnesota by 2

Mean:           Minnesota by 4

Bias:             Minnesota by 2

Vegas:        Minnesota by 3         -160/+150

Ov/Un:        42

Strategy:     Minnesota +7 in 10-point teaser, Minnesota +10 in 13-point teaser, Chicago +13 in 10-point teaser, Chicago +16 in 13-point teaser, Over 29 in 13-point teaser

To the winner of this game goes undisputed possession of first place in the NFC North and a possibility of having a two-game cushion over Green Bay.  This will be an interesting game between two decent teams albeit with exploitable liabilities.

 

I am going with the Over tease because it is a primetime, nationally-televised game.  I also believe it will be a close game, so I think we can play both sides on 10 and 13-point teasers.

 

Since Minnesota lost 48-41 at Chicago, they have definitely been playing better football than the Bears, but I am not about to use that as a definitive fact that Minnesota will win this game.  I still think it is close to a 50-50 tossup.  The game will probably turn on one big play.  Adrian Peterson and Devon Hester are both overdue for such antics.

 

 

Jacksonville (4-7-0) at Houston (4-7-0)

Time:           8:30PM EST Monday

TV:               ESPN

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, light wind, temperature around 65

 

PiRate:         Houston by 1    

Mean:           Houston by 3

Bias:             Houston by 3

Vegas:        Houston by 3     -175/+155

Ov/Un:        48½

Strategy:     Houston +7 in 10-point teaser, Houston +10 in 13-point teaser, Houston -175, Over 35½ in 13-point teaser

Neither team has enjoyed the success many picked them to have this season.  Houston’s malaise has been more excusable because the team was displaced earlier in the season by a hurricane.

 

Jacksonville won the first meeting in overtime two months ago.  Since then, the Jags have gone 2-5, while Houston has gone 5-3. 

 

I’ll take the hotter team playing at home with a tiny axe to grind after losing a game they should have won in the first meeting.  I’ll tease the Over just because it is a Monday night game.

 

Yuck!!!

 

It had to happen.  My picking against the spread was just too highly accurate to continue week after week. Last week’s picks finished just 2-8-1, my worst week of the year.  What made it so annoying was that most of my picks were correct, but I played nothing but teasers.  You had those handful of games that were completely out of the norm that the NFL sees happening with regularity this time of the year.  Philadelphia completely laid an egg after the tie debacle of the previous week.  Denver showed why they are not in the same league with the other division leaders by getting blown out at home to the Raiders (they also lost to the 1-10 Chiefs).  Green Bay blew up on Monday night in just three plays.  Cleveland’s offense was totally lost once Brady Quinn proved that his injured finger was getting in his way. And so on and so on.  The bank account took a major hit; you can subtract $800 from the pushka, leaving me with $1,120.  That means the for the season profit stands at just $120 after all those winning weeks.  Can I get a bailout from the NFL Reserve?

 

For the season, my picks against the spread are now 85-56-7 (60.3%).  

 

I am going with a large amount of games this week, because I have noticed that when I make cuts in the games I like, I usually cut games I would have won if I had played them.

 

Here are my wagers for week 13 (all wagered to win $100 or $100 wagered if at + odds on a parlay or money line):

 

1. Tampa Bay -3½ vs. New Orleans

2. Buffalo -7 vs. San Francisco

3. New England -1 vs. Pittsburgh

4. Oakland -3 vs. Kansas City

5. New York Jets -325 vs. Denver

6. Miami -325 vs. St. Louis

7. Tampa Bay -190 vs. New Orleans

8. Buffalo -275 vs. San Francisco

9. Green Bay -170 vs. Carolina

10. New England -120 vs. Pittsburgh

11. Oakland -160 vs. Kansas City

 

12. Money Line Parlay (+130)

Tennessee over Detroit

Dallas over Seattle

NY Jets over Denver

Baltimore over Cincinnati

 

13. Money Line Parlay (+200)

Tennessee over Detroit

Dallas over Seattle

NY Jets over Denver

Baltimore over Cincinnati

Miami over St. Louis

 

14. 10-point teaser (TURKEY SPECIAL)

Tennessee -1 vs. Detroit

Dallas -2 vs. Seattle

Arizona +13 vs. Philadelphia

 

15. 10-point teaser

NY Jets +2½ vs. Denver

Miami +2½ vs. St. Louis

Tampa Bay +6½ vs. New Orleans

 

16. 10-point teaser

Buffalo +3 vs. San Francisco

Baltimore +3 vs. Cincinnati

New England +9 vs. Pittsburgh

 

17. 13-point teaser

Tennessee +2 vs. Detroit

Dallas +1 vs. Seattle

Arizona +16 vs. Philadelphia

NY Jets +5½ vs. Denver

 

18. 13-point teaser

Miami +5½ vs. St. Louis

Tampa Bay +9½ vs. New Orleans

Indianapolis +8 vs. Cleveland

Buffalo +6 vs. San Francisco

 

19. 13-point teaser

Baltimore +6 vs. Cincinnati

New England +12 vs. Pittsburgh

Oakland +10 vs. Kansas City

Miami & St. Louis Under 57

 

20. 13-point teaser

Baltimore & Cincinnati Over 23½

Washington & NY Giants Over 29

Tampa Bay & New Orleans Over 34½

Indianapolis & Cleveland Under 58

 

21. 13-point teaser

Atlanta & San Diego Over 36

Minnesota & Chicago Over 29

Houston & Jacksonville Over 35½

Arizona & Philadelphia Over 33½        

 

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

October 24, 2008

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

PiRate Ratings For NFL Week Eight

 

The PiRate Pro Ratings (Rating)

 

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

 

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

 

The Mean Ratings (Mean)

 

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

 

The Bias Ratings (Biased)

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Current NFL Standings and Ratings

 

NFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

New York

5

1

0

170

101

106.25

103.64

106.38

2

Washington

5

2

0

140

128

103.71

102.63

102.67

2

Dallas

4

3

0

189

175

102.40

101.04

101.49

2

Philadelphia

3

3

0

167

123

109.63

103.82

105.29

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Chicago

4

3

0

196

150

108.85

121.83

107.54

2

Green Bay

4

3

0

194

159

103.74

102.42

103.83

2

Minnesota

3

4

0

154

167

100.81

99.70

99.10

2

Detroit

0

6

0

97

187

85.66

89.24

87.98

3

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Tampa Bay

5

2

0

161

107

109.14

105.23

106.68

2

Carolina

5

2

0

147

104

107.82

104.20

105.01

2

Atlanta

4

2

0

139

127

102.06

99.97

101.21

2

New Orleans

3

4

0

179

163

102.32

100.35

100.14

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Arizona

4

2

0

177

144

105.41

102.42

102.97

3

St. Louis

2

4

0

96

178

88.55

93.55

93.62

2

San Francisco

2

5

0

158

196

94.26

93.76

94.81

3

Seattle

1

5

0

110

171

90.36

93.22

92.72

3

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Buffalo

5

1

0

149

118

101.53

101.40

103.79

3

New England

4

2

0

130

116

98.35

101.18

101.91

2

New York

3

3

0

154

146

99.23

98.89

98.62

2

Miami

2

4

0

120

130

98.85

96.86

98.14

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Pittsburgh

5

1

0

141

89

108.55

105.95

107.90

2

Baltimore

3

3

0

105

100

102.40

100.85

100.25

3

Cleveland

2

4

0

92

106

99.63

98.88

98.10

2

Cincinnati

0

7

0

98

182

91.92

91.98

90.98

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Tennessee

6

0

0

149

66

109.91

107.60

107.30

2

Indianapolis

3

3

0

128

131

101.39

100.27

101.13

2

Jacksonville

3

3

0

124

128

100.99

100.83

102.37

3

Houston

2

4

0

140

179

94.24

96.66

96.58

3

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Denver

4

3

0

173

195

95.30

96.47

97.96

2

San Diego

3

4

0

192

162

102.88

101.48

102.87

2

Oakland

2

4

0

97

148

89.29

93.41

93.14

2

Kansas City

1

5

0

75

165

85.39

90.24

89.93

2

 

NFL Previews-Week Eight

 

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

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:         San Diego by 1 

Mean:           San Diego by 1

Bias:             San Diego by 3

Vegas:        San Diego by 3         -155/+145

Ov/Un:        46

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:         Jets by 16

Mean:           Jets by 11

Bias:             Jets by 11

Vegas:        Jets by 13          -610/+485

Ov/Un:        39

Strategy:     Under 52 in 13-point teaser

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Sunny, moderate winds, temperature near 60

 

PiRate:         Philadelphia by 10  

Mean:           Philadelphia by 6

Bias:             Philadelphia by 6

Vegas:        Philadelphia by 9½         -380/+335

Ov/Un:        45

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Rain likely, light winds, temperature near 80

 

PiRate:         Buffalo by 1

Mean:           Buffalo by 3

Bias:             Buffalo by 4

Vegas:        Buffalo by 1 -120/+100

Ov/Un:        42½

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

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

 

PiRate:         New England by 12

Mean:           New England by 10

Bias:             New England by 10

Vegas:         New England by 7    -315/+285

Ov/Un:        43

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

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

 

PiRate:         Carolina by 4

Mean:          Carolina by 4

Bias:             Carolina by 4

Vegas:        Carolina by 4     -200/+170

Ov/Un:        43½

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Sunny, light wind, temperature near 60

 

PiRate:         Baltimore by 16

Mean:           Baltimore by 10

Bias:             Baltimore by 10

Vegas:        Baltimore by 7          -325/+295

Ov/Un:        36

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           1:00PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:         Washington by 15

Mean:           Washington by 10

Bias:             Washington by 12

Vegas:        Washington by 7½         -315/+285

Ov/Un:        42

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           1:00PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Sunny, light wind, temperature near 80

 

PiRate:         Tampa Bay by 5

Mean:           Tampa Bay by 2

Bias:             Tampa Bay by 3

Vegas:        Dallas by 2½     -140/+120

Ov/Un:        40½

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           4:05 PM EDT

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:         Jacksonville by 4

Mean:           Jacksonville by 5

Bias:             Jacksonville by 7

Vegas:        Jacksonville by 7      -315/+285

Ov/Un:        42

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           4:05PM EDT

TV:               CBS

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

 

 

PiRate:         Houston by 5

Mean:           Houston by 8

Bias:             Houston by 9

Vegas:        Houston by 9½        -380/+335

Ov/Un:        44½

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           4:15PM EDT

TV:               Fox

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

 

 

PiRate:         Pittsburgh by 4

Mean:           Pittsburgh by 4

Bias:             Pittsburgh by 4

Vegas:        Pittsburgh by 3        -140/+130

Ov/Un:        42

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           4:15PM EDT

TV:               Fox

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

                    

PiRate:         San Francisco by 7

Mean:           San Francisco by 4

Bias:             San Francisco by 5

Vegas:        San Francisco by 5   -230/+190

Ov/Un:        40½

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

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           8:30PM EDT Monday

TV:               ESPN

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

 

PiRate:         Tennessee by 11     

Mean:           Tennessee by 9

Bias:             Tennessee by 8

Vegas:        Tennessee by 4        -200/+170

Ov/Un:        41

Strategy:     None

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

The Imaginary Bank Account Suffers First Losing Week

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 1. New England -7 vs. St. Louis

 2. New England -315 vs. St. Louis

 3. Carolina -4 vs. Arizona

 4. Carolina -200 vs. Arizona

 5. Baltimore -325 vs. Oakland

 6. Detroit +7½ vs. Washington

 7. Houston -380 vs. Cincinnati

 8. San Francisco -230 vs. Seattle

 9. Pittsburgh -3 vs. New York Giants

10. Pittsburgh -140 vs. New York Giants

 

11. 10-point teaser parlay

       A. San Diego & New Orleans Over 36

       B. Philadelphia & Atlanta Over 35

       C. Miami +11 vs. Buffalo

 

12. 10-point teaser parlay

       A. New England +3 vs. St. Louis

       B. Carolina +6 vs. Arizona

       C. Carolina & Arizona Over 33½

 

13. 10-point teaser parlay

       A. Detroit +17½ vs. Washington

       B. Tampa Bay +12½ vs. Dallas

       C. San Francisco +5 vs. Seattle

 

14. 13-point teaser parlay

       A. Jets & Kansas City Under 52

       B. Philadelphia +3½ vs. Atlanta

       C. Miami +14 vs. Buffalo

       D. New England +6 vs. St. Louis

 

15. 13-point teaser parlay

       A. Carolina +9 vs. Arizona

       B. Carolina & Arizona Over 30½

       C. Baltimore +6 vs. Oakland

       D. Baltimore & Oakland Under 49

 

16. 13-point teaser parlay

A. Detroit +20½ vs. Washington

B. Detroit & Washington Over 29

C. Tampa Bay +15½ vs. Dallas

D. Tampa Bay & Dallas Over 27½

 

17. 13-point teaser parlay

       A. Cleveland +20 vs. Jacksonville

       B. New York Giants & Pittsburgh Under 55

       C. San Francisco +8 vs. Seattle

       D. Houston & Cincinnati Over 31½  

     

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

October 3, 2008

PiRate Ratings Week 5 NFL Previews: October 5-6, 2008

PiRate Ratings For NFL Week Five

 

The PiRate Pro Ratings

 

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

 

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

 

The Mean Ratings

 

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

 

The Bias Ratings

 

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

 

Current NFL Standings & Ratings

(alphabetically by division)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

PiRate

Mean

Biased

HTA

Dallas Cowboys

3

1

0

120

89

105.62

110.24

106.84

2

New York Giants

3

0

0

83

43

106.18

107.84

105.87

2

Philadelphia Eagles

2

2

0

110

74

104.29

109.20

104.57

2

Washington Redskins

3

1

0

86

81

106.50

107.53

106.48

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

PiRate

Mean

Biased

HTA

Chicago Bears

2

2

0

94

80

108.05

107.28

103.74

2

Detroit Lions

0

3

0

59

113

77.87

91.85

85.61

3

Green Bay Packers

2

2

0

109

101

97.22

105.01

102.32

2

Minnesota Vikings

1

3

0

71

82

98.76

103.91

100.00

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

PiRate

Mean

Biased

HTA

Atlanta Falcons

2

2

0

90

83

92.71

99.62

97.33

2

Carolina Panthers

3

1

0

80

70

107.98

105.90

105.24

2

New Orleans Saints

2

2

0

111

100

110.15

105.57

105.01

2

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

3

1

0

101

78

109.21

107.44

106.40

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

PiRate

Mean

Biased

HTA

Arizona Cardinals

2

2

0

106

103

98.46

101.91

100.74

3

St. Louis Rams

0

4

0

43

147

73.72

89.51

83.12

2

San Francisco 49ers

2

2

0

94

97

88.35

98.50

97.44

3

Seattle Seahawks

1

2

0

67

70

90.56

100.41

97.66

3

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

PiRate

Mean

Biased

HTA

Buffalo Bills

4

0

0

109

63

106.64

98.99

104.80

3

Miami Dolphins

1

2

0

62

64

95.36

94.46

95.63

2

New England Patriots

2

1

0

49

58

94.77

96.65

101.35

2

New York Jets

2

2

0

115

116

99.40

96.86

99.92

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

PiRate

Mean

Biased

HTA

Baltimore Ravens

2

1

0

65

43

102.14

98.35

102.57

3

Cincinnati Bengals

0

4

0

52

87

96.20

92.47

91.80

2

Cleveland Browns

1

3

0

46

78

91.71

93.68

94.15

2

Pittsburgh Steelers

3

1

0

77

58

100.53

100.52

103.28

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

PiRate

Mean

Biased

HTA

Houston Texans

0

3

0

56

99

91.61

93.98

92.99

3

Indianapolis Colts

1

2

0

52

67

99.93

97.50

101.36

2

Jacksonville Jaguars

2

2

0

79

85

102.80

98.58

102.75

3

Tennessee Titans

4

0

0

102

46

111.36

103.45

106.63

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

PiRate

Mean

Biased

HTA

Denver Broncos

3

1

0

133

117

108.27

96.97

102.92

2

Kansas City Chiefs

1

3

0

65

97

85.33

90.22

90.98

2

Oakland Raiders

1

3

0

78

101

94.83

93.54

94.74

2

San Diego Chargers

2

2

0

138

112

111.16

101.91

105.68

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFL Previews-Week Five

 

Kansas City (1-3) at Carolina (3-1)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Sunny, light wind, temperatures 75-80

 

PiRate:         Carolina by 25  

Mean:           Carolina by 18

Bias:             Carolina by 16

Vegas:        Carolina by 9½         -420/+350  

Ov/Un:        38

Strategy:     Kansas City +19½ in a 10-point teaser, Carolina +½ in a 10-point teaser, Over 28 in a 10-point teaser

 

Kansas City looked like a different team against Denver last week, but the Chiefs won’t run the ball for 200+ yards this week against the Panthers’ defense.  Damon Huard completed a bunch of safe passes last week, but I believe he will have to throw the ball downfield more to give his team a chance to win Sunday.

 

Carolina is not the type of team that will beat an opponent 35-10.  Their 15-point win over Atlanta last week is about the limit of their ability to win.  The Panthers should move to 4-1, but I think this will be an entertaining game for most of the day.  I’m looking for Carolina to win by about 10-14 points in the neighborhood of 27-17 to 27-13.   

 

Tennessee (4-0) at Baltimore (2-1)

Time:           1PM EDT            

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, light wind, temperature around 65

 

PiRate:        Tennessee by 6

Mean:           Tennessee by 2

Bias:             Tennessee by 1

Vegas:        Tennessee by 3        -150/+130

Ov/Un:        33

Strategy:     Under 43 in 10-point teaser, Baltimore +13 in 10-point teaser          

 

If you really loved the old Packers-Vikings games back in the days when Coaches Lombardi and Grant went head-to-head, this is a must-watch game for you.  These two teams are no longer in the same division, but the rivalry is still as strong as ever.  They hate each other, and it will lead to a death-match in Baltimore. 

 

The Ravens just don’t allow teams to run the ball, and Tennessee is one of the most run-dependent teams in the NFL.  The Titans have little if any weakness on the defensive side, and they will throw multiple blitz packages at rookie quarterback Joe Flacco.  I cannot see either team winning by more than a touchdown, so I am playing the home team in a 10-point teaser.  Additionally, since I believe they are going to beat each other up, I expect the final score to be around 17-13.  Keep an eye on the Raven’s injuries in this game.  They must play at Indianapolis next week, and they are almost guaranteed to bounce.  The Titans have a bye next week, and they couldn’t have asked for a better time for it.

 

San Diego (2-2) at Miami (1-2)

Time:           1PM EDT            

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Scattered thunderstorms, windy, temperature in low 80’s

 

PiRate:        San Diego by 14

Mean:           San Diego by 5

Bias:             San Diego by 4

Vegas:        San Diego by 6½            -260/+220

Ov/Un:        45

Strategy:     Miami +16½ in 10-point teaser, Over 35 in 10-point teaser  

 

Miami actually used a real single wing offense with unbalanced line two weeks ago against New England, and the Patriots were caught with their pants down.  The Dolphins scored four touchdowns in just a handful of single wing plays, including a brilliant touchdown pass from the hands of tailback Ronnie Brown.  What’s next? Is Brown going to punt out of this formation and become a true triple-threat? 

 

Anything that upsets a teams’ normal weekly routine has an effect on the scoreboard on Sunday.  The Chargers aren’t the best defensive team in the AFC, and they have been forced to prepare for the possibility that the Dolphins will not only use it again this week, but they might have added more to the package.  I expect Miami to run this old-time formation about five to eight times, as any more usage will kill its effectiveness.

 

For these reasons, I think this should be a higher than expected scoring game, and Miami will stay in this game for longer than most people expect.  In fact, if the Dolphins’ defense can force Phillip Rivers to beat them instead of LaDainian Tomlinson, they have a decent shot at another upset.

 

Seattle (1-2) at New York Giants (3-0)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Mostly sunny, light wind, temperature around 65

 

PiRate:        New York by 18

Mean:           New York by 9

Bias:             New York by 10

Vegas:        New York by 7          -330/+270

Ov/Un:        43½

Strategy:     New York -7, New York +3 in 10-point teaser, Over 33½ in 10-point teaser

 

Both teams had two weeks to prepare for this game.  The last time these two teams played a game when both they and their opponents had two weeks to prepare were their two most recent Super Bowl games.  The Giants fared rather well in their Super Bowl, while the Seahawks did not.  That’s not the only reason I like the Giants this week.  Seattle just doesn’t show up when they travel from coast to coast.  Buffalo drilled them 34-10 in week one, so the trend continues in 2008.

 

New York can realistically think about a 6-0 start before heading to Pittsburgh in week eight.  The Giants are winning games in the same manner as they finished 2007-with strong defense and ball-control offense.  They are emulating the Packers of the 1960’s.  This team is not resting on its laurels, and Coach Tom Coughlin, like Vince Lombardi, is too tough of a guy to allow the team to just show up expecting to win.  I think the Giants can win by 14 or more points in this game, so I like them straight up as well as in a teaser.  I’m considering teasing the Over because 34 total points is easily possible in this game.

 

Washington (3-1) at Philadelphia (2-2)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, light wind, temperature around 65

 

PiRate:        Pick

Mean:           Philadelphia by 4

Bias:             Pick

Vegas:        Philadelphia by 6            -260/+220

Ov/Un:        42

Strategy:     Washington +16 in 10-point teaser, Over 32 in 10-point teaser, Philadelphia -260, Philadelphia +4 in 10-point teaser           

 

They’re talking do-or-die up in the City of Brotherly Love.  While the Phillies are getting the headlines, the Eagles cannot afford to begin the season 2-3 in the league’s top division.  It’s possible that three NFC East teams will make the playoffs for the second straight year, but the Eagles could be the odd team out once again if they fall two games behind the other three teams.

 

The Redskins rode an emotional high all week after thumping the Cowboys in Big D last Sunday.  They can only bounce this week, but this will still be a close game.  Washington has played four close games so far, while the Eagles have played three consecutive nail-biters after toying with the St. Louis Lambs.  There’s no reason to think this game will be any different.  It should be exciting, but I think the Eagles will be ready to stay in the playoff hunt.  I’m looking at a final score of Philadelphia 24  Washington 20.

 

Indianapolis (1-2) at Houston (0-3)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Sunny, light wind, temperature near 85 (this game will be an outdoor game due to roof damage at Reliant Stadium)

 

PiRate:        Indianapolis by 5

Mean:           Indianapolis by 1

Bias:             Indianapolis by 5

Vegas:        Indianapolis by 3            -170/+150

Ov/Un:        47

Strategy:     Indianapolis -3, Indianapolis +7 in 10-point teaser, Over 37 in 10-point teaser, Indianapolis -170

 

Either the Colts are going to get off the mat and begin to play like the Colts that we all know, or this is going to quickly become a long season in Indy.  They are heading into a shootout in Houston this week, as the Texans finally get a home game.  Reliant Stadium has undergone some changes thank to Ike’s Construction Company.  That blowhard Ike took off the roof and temporarily turned it into an open venue. 

 

If Houston wins this game, Peyton’s place will be last in the AFC South.  I just cannot see that happening, especially when Indianapolis had a week off to prepare.  The Colts should square their record and win this game by at least a touchdown.  I also think this week will see them reaching 28 points for the first time this year, so I like teasing the Over.  My guess at the final score is 28-17 Indianapolis.

 

Atlanta (2-2) at Green Bay (2-2)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Scattered showers, light wind, temperature in low 50’s

 

PiRate:        Green Bay by 7

Mean:           Green Bay by 7

Bias:             Green Bay by 7

Vegas:        No Line        (Aaron Rodgers ?)

Ov/Un:        No Line

Strategy:     N/A

 

As of Friday morning, Aaron Rodgers is still questionable for this game, so no official line has been issued.  Rodgers is probably worth 5-7 points, so if Matt Flynn starts and plays, Green Bay is in trouble.  The Falcons are capable of winning a low-scoring game on the road with two rookie quarterbacks playing.  The weather may also force both teams to stick to a ground game.

 

Chicago (2-2) at Detroit (0-3)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:        Chicago by 27

Mean:           Chicago by 12

Bias:             Chicago by 15

Vegas:        Chicago by 3½         -200/+170

Ov/Un:        44½  

Strategy:     Detroit +13½ in a 10-point teaser, Under 54½ in 10-point teaser

 

Chicago has a chance to take over first place in the old black and blue division.  If Rodgers cannot go for Green Bay, Chicago could easily be alone at the top of the standings if they can edge an old, weak rival this week.

 

Don’t expect Detroit to hand over the game to the Bears.  The Lions can score points, and they could force Chicago to reach the 30-point mark to beat them.  The Lions have had an extra week to prepare for this game, and they could be this week’s Kansas City Chiefs.  I don’t believe Chicago is capable of blowing Detroit off their home field, so I like the 10-point teaser in this one.  Since I believe the Bears will try to control the clock and hold the score down, I also like the Under in a teaser.  This game could easily be a 24-21 affair.  Even if it goes to overtime at 24-24, a touchdown won’t kill the teaser.  However, a big day by Devin Hester and/or Calvin Johnson could push the total over 55.

 

Tampa Bay (3-1) at Denver (3-1)

Time:           4:05 PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Isolated thunderstorms, light wind, temperature around 60

 

PiRate:        Denver by 1

Mean:           Tampa Bay by 8

Bias:             Tampa Bay by 1

Vegas:        Denver by 3       -170/+150

Ov/Un:        47½

Strategy:     Tampa Bay +13 in 10-point teaser, Over 37½ in 10-point teaser

 

This should be a quite entertaining game.  I call it close to a 50-50 tossup.  The Broncos were tamed in Kansas City last week, and they should be more focused for this game and not suffer a four turnover repeat.

 

Tampa Bay’s offense has improved a little every week thus far, and the Bucs have to be considered a serious contender for the NFC Championship.  Their defense is strong enough to keep Jay Cutler and company from scoring 30 points, but I think Denver is still capable of scoring 24-28 points.

 

Denver’s defense has yet to prove they can stop a competent offense, and Tampa Bay should easily top 20 points in this one.  Denver has a 55-60% chance of winning outright, but they won’t win convincingly, and the game should still be up for grabs well into the fourth quarter.  Thus, I like the underdog Bucs getting double digits in a 10-point teaser, and I like the Over in a teaser.

 

Cincinnati (0-4) at Dallas (3-1)

Time:           4:15 PM EDT            

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, windy, temperature in upper 80’s

 

PiRate:        Dallas by 11

Mean:           Dallas by 20

Bias:             Dallas by 17

Vegas:        Dallas by 17              -1500/+1100

Ov/Un:        44

Strategy:     Cincinnati +27 in 10-point teaser, Over 34 in 10-point teaser

 

This is purely a numbers’ pick here.  I don’t think Cincinnati has a chance to win this game, even if Carson Palmer is able to play.  I don’t think they can stay within 10 points of Dallas even if Palmer has a 250 yard passing day.  However, 27 points is just plain ridiculous to get in a teaser.  Dallas could jump out to a 28-0 lead and then cruise to a 38-14 win, and they wouldn’t cover at 27.

 

The Cowboys have an excellent shot at topping 35 points and satisfying the Over in a teaser, but for our sake let’s hope we get that 38-14 blowout and nothing worse.

 

Buffalo (4-0) at Arizona (2-2)

Time:           4:15 PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, windy, temperature around 80

 

PiRate:        Buffalo by 5

Mean:           Buffalo by 6

Bias:             Buffalo by 1

Vegas:        Pick              Arizona -115, Buffalo -105

Ov/Un:        44½  

Strategy:     Arizona Pk, Arizona +10 in 10-point teaser, Over 34½ in 10-point teaser

 

I’ve been keying on this game all week.  I think the Cardinals should be favored by at least a field goal, and it looks like the start of a nice gift as a pick.  Right off the bat, a 10-point teaser looks like a 13-point cushion to me. 

 

Buffalo is a good team, but they are not so good that they can go on the road 2,000 miles and beat a playoff-quality team.  I just don’t see the Bills at 5-0 on Monday morning. 

 

Arizona has only played one home game, and they looked strong in their destruction of the Dolphins.  When Miami thumped New England the following week, the 21-point Cardinals’ victory looked even better.  Throw in the fact that the Bills are making a second consecutive road trip, and I think they will be just a little off this week.  I like the Cardinals to win outright at home, and I could see this one becoming a shootout.  My guess is Arizona will win by a score similar to 35-28.

 

New England (2-1) at San Francisco (2-2)

Time:           4:15 PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Showers likely, windy, temperature in mid to upper 60’s

 

PiRate:        New England by 3

Mean:           San Francisco by 5

Bias:             New England by 1

Vegas:        New England by 3           -200/+170

Ov/Un:        41

Strategy:     San Francisco +13 in 10-point teaser

 

This game is this week’s toughest for me to gauge.  New England lost big at home against Miami two weeks ago.  With two weeks to prepare for the 49er passing game, the Patriots’ defense should be up to the challenge.  I think they will hold J. T. O’Sullivan below his average of 240 passing yards per game. 

 

San Francisco has moved the ball this year, but the 49ers have struggled to put points on the board at times.  Their current average of 14.2 yards gained per point scored is not going to get them into the playoffs, but it could allow them to win this game.  They are likely to struggle to reach 300 yards in this game.  If they gain 280 total yards, that would mean they would fail to score 20 points.  However, the Patriots haven’t scored 20 points in any of their first three games.  Throw in the fact that they are traveling west more than 3,000 miles, and the edge begins to tilt toward the upstart home team.

 

Whether or not San Francisco can win and possibly stay in a first place tie in the weak NFC West is up for debate, but I cannot see New England winning by 14 points.  Thus, I think taking the 49ers in a 10-point teaser is the way to go with this game.

 

Pittsburgh (3-1) at Jacksonville (2-2)

Time:           8:15 PM EDT

TV:               NBC

Forecast:     Clear, windy, temperature dropping from 80 to the low 70’s

 

PiRate:        Jacksonville by 5

Mean:           Jacksonville by 1

Bias:             Jacksonville by 2

Vegas:        Jacksonville by 4             -215/+185

Ov/Un:        36

Strategy:     Over 36, Over 26 in 10-point teaser, Jacksonville +6 in 10-point teaser 

 

If you have Ben Roethlisberger on your fantasy team, you could see him throw the ball 40-50 times this week.  I’m not into fantasies, so the only way that could help me is to see Big Ben connect on 25-30 of those passes for 300-400 yards and a couple of touchdowns.  What that would do is make this game a higher than expected offensive exhibition.

 

Jacksonville likes to hold onto the ball for long drives and take chunks off the clock, but I don’t think the Jaguars can do that against the Steelers’ defense.  The Jags gave up 27 to Houston, and Pittsburgh should top 20 as well even with no running attack whatsoever.  What it means to me is that Jacksonville should score points aplenty this week and win by a score of something like 31-24.  The Over 26 becomes my top priority in a 10-point teaser parlay, and if I was an aggressive guy, I might play this in every parlay.  Since my imaginary bank account is up by over a grand from the start of the season, I won’t be liberal even with play money, so I will use it just once.

 

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

Time:           8:30 PM EDT Monday

TV:               ESPN

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:        New Orleans by 13

Mean:           New Orleans by  4

Bias:             New Orleans by  7

Vegas:        New Orleans by 3           -215/+185

Ov/Un:        46½  

Strategy:     Over 36½ in 10-point teaser 

 

Monday night games tend to be higher than average scoring games.  New Orleans can score points with anybody in the league, and the Vikings can score points when their running game gets untracked.

 

Adrian Peterson is facing a Saints’ defense that surrendered 82 rushing yards in 16 attempts to Frank Gore, 65 yards in 11 attempts to Selvin Young, 96 yards on 21 attempts to Clinton Portis, and 91 yards on 10 attempts to backup Buc runner Earnest Graham.  Look for A.P. to run the ball 25 times for 150-200 yards in this game.  Minnesota will reach their season-to-date high point on the scoreboard Monday night; the Vikings should hit or top the 24-point mark.

 

Will 24 points be enough to win at the Superdome?  I’m not sure, but I am sure without a doubt that the Saints will top 14.  24 plus 14 means this game should easily go Over in a 10-point teaser.  Let’s lay off any side in this one and watch our Over win early in the second half.

 

The Imaginary Bank Account Turns A Profit For A Fourth Straight Week

 

Four weeks does not a season make, but I must admit I am quite pleased with how my picks against the spread have fared so far.  I not only made it a perfect four for four in winning weeks, I finished better than 70% for the second time in three weeks.  My picks finished 5-2-2 for 71.4% for the week, and those two pushes were on third parts of teasers.  For the season, my record against the spread stands at 27-12-3 for 69.2%, and my bank account added another $260 to make the new profit $1,265 for the season.  My return on investment is now 30.1%.  I am going to stick with what has been winning, namely 10-point teaser parlays.  I will use that 10-point change to turn favorites into underdogs and force favorites to blow out their opponents to beat me.  I will tease the totals line to give me very opportunistic numbers.

 

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

 

1.    New York Giants -7 vs. Seattle

 

2.    Philadelphia -260 vs. Washington

 

3.    Indianapolis -3 vs. Houston

 

4.    Indianapolis -170 vs. Houston

 

5.    Arizona Pk vs. Buffalo

      

6.    10-point teaser

       a.    Carolina +½ vs. Kansas City  

       b.    Baltimore +13 vs. Tennessee

       c.    Miami +16½ vs. San Diego

 

7.    10-point teaser

       a.    Kansas City & Carolina Over 28

       b.    Miami & San Diego Over 35

       c.    New York Giants +3 vs. Seattle

 

8.    10-point teaser

       a.    Washington +16 vs. Philadelphia

       b.    Indianapolis +7 vs. Houston

       c.    Detroit +13½ vs. Chicago

 

9.    10-point teaser

       a.    Detroit & Chicago Under 54½ 

       b.    Tampa Bay +13 vs. Denver

       c.    Jacksonville +6 vs. Pittsburgh

 

10.  10-point teaser

       a.    Tampa Bay & Denver Over 37½ 

       b.    Cincinnati & Dallas Over 34

       c.    Arizona +10 vs. Buffalo

 

11.  10-point teaser

       a.    Cincinnati +27 vs. Dallas

       b.    Arizona & Buffalo Over 34½

       c.    Pittsburgh & Jacksonville Over 26

 

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

September 6, 2008

AFC West Preview

AFC West Preview

 

With this preview, I will reveal the PiRate Ratings for each of the four teams in the AFC West Division.  Following those ratings are the Mean Ratings and my own biased opinion (last year’s final PiRate Rating combined with how much stronger or weaker I personally think each team is compared to last season).  That will give you three different ratings for the teams.

 

When all three ratings predict the same side to win a game against the spread, then that is a playable line.  If all three ratings agree on the winner of the game, and the Las Vegas Line is single digits, then that becomes a playable game on the Money line.  The reason for not playing any double digit spreads is that the Money line odds would be too prohibitive for a double digit favorite, where just one loss could result in a losing season.  During the season, I will also supply a list of games to be played with an imaginary bank account.

 

The predicted records are not tied to the PiRate or Mean Ratings; they are strictly from my biased ratings.

 

This is a three-tiered division.  San Diego is on the top tier; Denver is on the middle tier; Oakland and Kansas City are on the bottom tier.  The Chargers should cruise to another division title and contend for a Super Bowl berth.  Denver has an outside shot at a wildcard bid.  The Raiders could win a game or two more than last year.  As for the Chiefs, they will be lucky any week they win a game this year.

 

Denver Broncos

 

PiRate

94.3

Mean

101.5

Biased

97.6

Run Offense

C

Pass Offense

B+

Run Defense

D

Pass Defense

B

Special Teams

F

Predicted Record

8-8

Offense: Jay Cutler should show vast improvement this year following a 2007 season in which he played with an undiagnosed case of Type 1 Diabetes.  He lost 30 pounds and lacked his usual strength.  The amount he improves will be muffled to some extent if the Broncos don’t come up with a better running game.  Neither Selvin Young nor Andre Hall strike fear in opposing run defenses.  I doubt either one can play all 16 games.  When Cutler passes, he’ll have to hope his new receivers fit better in Coach Mike Shanahan’s system than they fared with their former teams.  Darrell Jackson and Keary Colbert were disappointments last year.

 

Defense: The Broncos couldn’t stop the run last year, and they haven’t improved much to indicate they will be any better against the run this season.  Tackle Marcus Thomas is the only front four defender who is a decent run stuffer.  His mate at the other tackle, Dewayne Robertson, comes over from the Jets.  He might help with the run some, but I expect the Broncos to yield about 2,250 rushing yards this season.  The pass defense is a different story.  Denver has a decent pass rush and a rather good secondary.  Of course, teams don’t have to throw the ball all that often when they can run the ball down the Broncos’ throats. 

 

Special Teams: This is the worst unit in the NFL.  To start with, Jason Elam left via free agency.  The new kicker, Matt Prater, is no Elam.  Punter Brett Kern is an untested rookie.  Rookie Eddie Royal will handle the return duties.  There just isn’t any experience in the special teams, and that is a concern.  The Broncos could lose a game or two because of this inexperience.

 

Summary: Denver might score 50 more points in 2008 than they did in 2007, but they Broncos could easily give up 50 more points.  I have a hunch that this will be Shanahan’s last season in Denver.  The Broncos last made the playoffs in 2005, and they won’t be going this year with a shoddy run defense and special teams.

 

Kansas City Chiefs

PiRate

91.9

Mean

97.2

Biased

93.3

Run Offense

B-

Pass Offense

C-

Run Defense

C-

Pass Defense

C-

Special Teams

D

Predicted Record

2-14

Offense: Any chance for Kansas City to have a successful offense this year rests in the legs of Larry Johnson.  Johnson missed half of 2007 and rushed for just 559 yards last year.  Quarterback Brodie Croyle registered a 69.9 passer rating last year, and it’s debatable whether he’ll develop into the player scouts believed he could be.  It doesn’t help that he has a mediocre set of receivers to catch his passes.  Dwayne Bowe could become a 1,000 yard receiver, but he isn’t going to win many games with his catches.  The offensive line is one of the weakest, if not the weakest, in the NFL.

 

Defense: Kansas City’s defense was rather decent last year, but it’s going to head south this year; the weaker offense is going to force the stop troops to stay on the field much longer as well.  Losing Jared Allen makes the pass rush go from being a plus to a minus.  Allen led the NFL with 15½ sacks, but he is now a Viking.  With a weaker pass rush, the secondary will give up at least 30 and maybe as much as 70 more passing yards this year.  It’s going to get ugly at Arrowhead Stadium.

 

Special Teams: As weak as the offense and defense are, special teams are even worse.  Kicker Nick Novak isn’t going to win games with his leg, and he is a candidate for getting cut during the season.  Punter Dustin Colquitt may lead the league in total number of punts, but his net average is going to drop due to punt coverage weaknesses.  B.J. Sams gets first crack as the return specialist.  He was decent with the Ravens last year.

 

Summary: This is the start of a long rebuilding project in Kansas City this year.  The Chiefs only won four times last year, and they don’t have as much talent this year.  They should contend with their cross-state rivals for the first pick in the 2009 draft.  It could give them the rights to Tim Tebow or Jim Laurinaitis.

 

Oakland Raiders

 

PiRate

94.3

Mean

91.6

Biased

94.3

Run Offense

A-

Pass Offense

C

Run Defense

C+

Pass Defense

B+

Special Teams

C+

Predicted Record

6-10

Offense: Justin Fargas, Darren McFadden, and Michael Bush make up a terrific trio of running backs.  Fullback Justin Griffith is one of the better run blockers, and he can catch the ball coming out of the backfield.  JaMarcus Russell will take his lumps in his first full season under center, but he will have some games where he shows he belongs here.  The once excellent pass catchers are no longer wearing the silver and black.  Javon Walker is not the speedster he once was, and injuries will limit his ability to play every down.

 

Defense: Head coach Lane Kiffin planned on firing defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, but owner Al Davis stepped in and prohibited the action.  Now, there is speculation that Kiffin could be the former Raider head coach as early as the end of September if the team begins the year poorly.  Kiffin knew what he was getting into when he agreed to coach this laughingstock franchise.  The Raiders have a problem stopping the run, and that’s not a good thing when you must play San Diego and Kansas City twice each.  With a little better pass rush, the Raiders could have a fairly good defense against the pass.  Losing Warren Sapp to retirement will be tough, but Oakland brings in two new secondary starters in DeAngelo Hall and Gibril Wilson.  Hall and Wilson improve the back line and give the Raiders a chance to hold the opposition well under 200 passing yards per game.

 

Special Teams: The two Oakland kickers probably have the strongest combined leg strength of any unit in the NFL.  Punter Shane Lechler almost averaged 50 yards per boot last year, but he outkicked his coverage many times.  Kicker Sebastian Janikowski reaches the end zone with his kickoffs more than any other kicker in the league, but he doesn’t have the best accuracy, and that hurts the Raiders in field goal situations.  The return game stunk last year and will have new players manning those spots this year.

 

Summary:  Al Davis meddles with his team more than George Steinbrenner meddled with the Yankees.  While Davis actually used to coach the Raiders, this is neither a healthy atmosphere nor a winning one.  Oakland will struggle once again but should play a little better than last season.  Look for a game or two improvement. Whether that’s enough to save Kiffin’s job is up for debate.

 

San Diego Chargers

PiRate

108.1

Mean

106.1

Biased

103.1

Run Offense

A+

Pass Offense

B+

Run Defense

A-

Pass Defense

B+

Special Teams

B+

Predicted Record

12-4

Offense: The only thing keeping LaDainian Tomlinson from being a perennial 2,000 yard rusher is a passing game that is too strong to give LT enough carries.  It is a nice predicament to have.  Quarterback Phillip Rivers earned the respect of the football world last year when he played on a torn ACL.  Whether he can return to form following another injury is the key to the season.  If Rivers is healthy enough to pass for more than 3,000 yards again, then the Bolts could still be playing in February this season.  Chris Chambers, Vincent Jackson, and Antonio Gates make a first-rate receiving corps, and they will force defenses not to jam the box.  That will allow LT to break a bevy of long runs.

 

Defense: The Chargers have allowed less than 20 points per game each of the last four years, and there’s no reason to think they won’t do so once again.  With an offense that should average about 26 points per game, the defense will allow Coach Norv Turner to sleep easily at night.  The strength of the stop side is an excellent secondary corps.  Cornerbacks Antonio Cromartie and Quentin Jammer rank up near the top in the NFL.  Safety Eric Weddle has Pro Bowl potential.  Helping this unit is a brilliant pass rush.  Outside linebacker Shawn Merriman is a pass rushing beast, but he begins the season not 100% healthy.  Once he’s back to normal, expect the Chargers to make life miserable for enemy passers.  Shaun Phillips on the opposite side of Merriman could record double digit sacks this year, so it’s not a one-man show. 

 

Special Teams: Nate Kaeding played last year with a ligament injury in his non-kicking leg, yet the kicker had a rather good year.  Expect better numbers from him this year.  Punter Mike Scifres isn’t far behind Lechler at Oakland.  Return specialist Darren Sproles scored on both a kick and punt return last year.  This is a strong unit.

 

Summary: I expect San Diego to win seven of their eight intradivisional games, and that should be good enough for the Chargers to win this division by at least four games and possibly as much as six games.  The pieces are there for San Diego to go all the way.

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