The Pi-Rate Ratings

January 24, 2018

PiRate Ratings Super Bowl Teaser

We come to the last football picks post of the season.  The PiRates stayed away from the college bowl season and the NFL playoffs to this point, but we are staring at a little deficit for the season.

For three consecutive years, the PiRate Ratings earned a “profit” with our “imaginary” bank roll.  Wagering an equal fake $100 on every selection, we have enjoyed two marvelous seasons and one minor success in the last three years.

The 2017-18 season brought us back down to Earth, but a late surge brought the losses to the point where one final win would give us a winning season even more miraculous than the Jets beating the Colts in SB III.

So, with that in mind, we issue our final selection for the football season.  And, it is not even a money line selection like almost all of our picks.  We go back to a 10-point teaser parlay, something that used to give us some success, but something we got away from when we became rather lucky with money line parlays.

Because our computer ratings and simulations show this game to be as tight as it can be, and the standard deviation of our simulations comes in rather lean, we believe it is possible to make four picks in this game and combine them into a 4-event parlay at +136 odds.  The deficit sits at $-146, so a win would make a 3% loss become a 2% profit for the year.

So, without further adieu, here is our pretend final play of the season.

The wager for this game is doubled to $200.


Super Bowl 52  Sunday, February 4, 2018 6:30 PM EST 
10-point teaser 
 $200 on 4-team parlay @ +136 $200 wins $472
Team 1 Team 2 Number
New England Philadelphia +4.5
Philadelphia New England +15.5
New England Philadelphia Under 57.5
New England Philadelphia Over 37.5

October 22, 2015

Selections Against The Spread: October 22-26, 2015

Okay folks.  Let’s not get carried away.  We welcome your comments here, and especially to our sister site at  Yes, we know that a certain part of this weekly edition has been destroying the books in theory, theory being if you actually used these picks.

We will not name names, since you guys probably don’t want your name being called out, but we will post here a couple of the comments to our sister site.

From a small city in Georgia: “If you would have played your Money Line picks the last three weeks, you would be rich today.”


From Vancouver, BC: “Do you know what your profit margin would have been this week if you wagered that mythical $100 on each of your four parlays?  That $400 would have won you almost $900.


From Henderson, NV: “Your money line selections have been killing it.  You should just do Money Line parlays.  I am going to wager on your selections next week.”


From Ada, OK: “Do you realize how well you did with those parlays?  You don’t know jackxxxx about the baseball dude.”


From Glenarm IL: “You nailed the parlay picks this week.”


We get about 40-50 comments a week, and usually they are not as flattering as these.  We read them all and usually get a laugh, because we perpetually remind you to NEVER, EVER, EVER use these fun-only selections to wager real money.  Just because we are having an incredibly hot streak with our money line selections, it does not mean they will continue.  We could easily go 0-4 with the picks we are going to issue today.


You have been warned, especially the gentleman in Henderson, NV, who supposedly is going to wager real money this week against our warnings.

Since you guys and gals like these money line parlays with better than even money odds, that’s all we’re going to submit this week.  We have made four selections again, each with a return that will give you more in winnings than you would invest if it were real.


Money Line Parlay 4 Teams at 7-5   $242 payout on $100
Favorite Underdog   Must Win
East Carolina Temple   East Carolina
Alabama Tennessee   Alabama
North Carolina Virginia   North Carolina
Southern Miss. Charlotte   Southern Miss.


Money Line Parlay 6 Teams at 13-5   $355 Payout on $100
Favorite Underdog   Must Win
Toledo Massachusetts   Toledo
Michigan St. Indiana   Michigan St.
Rice Army   Rice
Cincinnati Connecticut   Cincinnati
Mississippi St. Kentucky   Mississippi St.
Florida St. Georgia Tech   Florida St.


Money Line Parlay 3 Teams at 9-5   $277 payout on $100
Favorite Underdog   Must Win
St. Louis Cleveland   St. Louis
New England N. Y. Jets   New England
Carolina Philadelphia   Carolina


Money Line Parlay 2 Teams at 6-5   $218 payout on $100
Favorite Underdog   Must Win
Buffalo Jacksonville   Buffalo
Miami Houston   Miami



October 8, 2015

This Week’s Selections: October 8-12, 2015

Filed under: PiRate Picks_College & Pro — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 7:25 am

We told you last week, and it came true last week.  A broken clock is correct twice a day, and the PiRate clock just happened to experience one of those instances where we lucked into a nice winning weekend.

Our straight picks against the side went 4-2-1, and our Money Line parlays returned 70% on investment.  Yes, it was a nice winning week for those that theoretically used our picks as their investment advice.  And, we received positive comments from some of you, two of whom thanked us for supplying research data by commenting at our sister site:

This disturbs us.  How many times have we warned you readers not to use our picks as your method of choice to wager real money?  How many times can we say that you are getting exactly what you paid for–NOTHING!

Our selections are strictly for fun, much in the way you might play a game of Strat-o-Matic baseball against a friend.  Your 1927 Yankees may beat your friend’s 1954 Indians 5-3, and 15 minutes later, it is forgotten (unless you live in a make-believe world).  These picks should be considered Strat-o-Matic wagering.  Use your Monopoly money to make wagers; please do not use these picks for real.  We have no experts here.  We lose nothing, and we do not regret doing it just for fun when we have a successful week like the last one.

Don’t be like the poor soul that took his pickup truck in the high waters in South Carolina after failing to heed the warnings not to attempt to drive through the flooded street.  We cannot bail you out if your financial pickup truck takes on too much water and flips over.

Please read the above paragraphs once more before skipping down to this week’s picks.

Okay, here are this week’s Pretend Picks.  We are going with what worked last week and sort of worked the week before–13 straight side picks against the spread and four money line parlays where the odds give us a payout better than 1-1.

Straight Selections Against the Spread

Home Visitor Line Our Pick
Purdue Minnesota -2.5 Minnesota
Army Duke -12.5 Army
Iowa Illinois 11 Illinois
Northern Illinois Ball St. 10.5 Ball St.
Georgia St. Appalachian St. -15.5 Appalachian St.
Tennessee Georgia -2.5 Georgia
Michigan Northwestern 8 Northwestern
Houston Indianapolis -2.5 Indianapolis
Kansas City Chicago 10 Chicago
Cincinnati Seattle 3 Cincinnati
Oakland Denver -4.5 Denver
N.Y. Giants San Francisco 7 N.Y. Giants
San Diego Pittsburgh 3 San Diego

Money Line Parlays

Money Line Parlay 5 teams at 6-5   $216 payout on $100
Favorite Underdog   Must Win
Oklahoma Texas   Oklahoma
Akron Eastern Michigan   Akron
Temple Tulane   Temple
Alabama Arkansas   Alabama
Oregon Washington St.   Oregon
Money Line Parlay 5 teams at 6-5   $222 payout on $100
Favorite Underdog   Must Win
Notre Dame Navy   Notre Dame
Arizona St. Colorado   Arizona St.
Boise St. Colorado St.   Boise St.
Texas Tech Iowa St.   Texas Tech
Michigan St. Rutgers   Michigan St.
Money Line Parlay 3 Teams at 6-5   $218 payout on $100
Favorite Underdog   Must Win
Baltimore Cleveland   Baltimore
Atlanta Washington   Atlanta
Green Bay St. Louis   Green Bay
Money Line Parlay 3 Teams at 3-2   $246 payout on $100
Favorite Underdog   Must Win
New England Dallas   New England
Denver Oakland   Denver
N.Y. Giants San Francisco   N.Y. Giants

September 10, 2015

Selections Against The Spread–September 10-14, 2015

It started out great for the PiRate Ratings last week, as we hit on both of our early games to begin the season at 2-0.  Saturday was the reverse of fortune, as we tripped up on all three selections to finish 2-3 for the first week.  Once again, we are going with five games.  This week, we selected three college games and two NFL games.  It might be noted that we were more in agreement on these five games this week than we were on last week’s games.  Take that for what it’s worth.  In the past, when we had one really good prognosticator, often he was right on a game, while the rest of us were wrong.

Remember this: these are free selections against the spread, and you are getting what you paid for.  We highly advise using our selections strictly for entertainment purposes.  You are free to reply to this post with your own picks, as long as your time stamp pre-dates the day of the game you select.  This is strictly for fun.

Here are our selections for the week of September 10-14, 2015.

Home Visitor Line Our Pick
Rutgers Washington St. 2.5 Rutgers
Ohio U Marshall -3 Marshall
Arkansas St. Missouri -10.5 Missouri
San Francisco Minnesota -2.5 49ers
Arizona New Orleans 1 Cardinals

January 29, 2015

Super Bowl XLIX Simulator

Filed under: Pro Football — Tags: , , , , , — piratings @ 9:09 am

Thanks to finally gaining access to the simulator of a prestigious college computer lab, the PiRates have simulated Super Bowl XLIX 10,000 times.  Without further adieu, here are the key essential numbers.


Weather was input into the simulation.  We used the current forecast for Phoenix at the approximate time of halftime–64 degrees.  We used a 7 MPH wind from the Southeast with mostly cloudy skies and relative humidity of 60%.


10,000 Simulations (rounded to the nearest whole number)

New England Patriots Won 63%

Seattle Seahawks Won 37%

Average Margin of victory: New England by 2

Average Total Points Scored: 54

New England at -1 Covered the Spread: 59%

Seattle at +1 Covered the Spread: 37%

Push (NE won by 1): 4%

New England Won by 14 or more points: 7%

New England Won by 7-13 points: 17%

New England Won by 4-6 points: 21%

New England Won by 1-3 points: 18%

Seattle Won by 14 or more points: 2%

Seattle Won by 7-13 points: 8%

Seattle Won by 4-6 points: 11%

Seattle Won by 1-3 points: 16%

Game went Over 48 points: 56%

Game went Under 48 points: 40%

Game total exactly 48 %: 4%

Game Went to Overtime: 9% (This is rather high, but 896 of the 10,000 simulations showed the game going to overtime, and one simulation had the game going into the second period of OT.  Could we be looking at the first OT in Super Bowl history?  9% is still just one chance in 11, but there has not been a league championship game ending with overtime since the Dallas Texans defeated the Houston Oilers in the AFL Championship in the 1962 season, and not since the Baltimore Colts defeated the New York Giants in the NFL Championship in 1958.  That means 58 consecutive pro football championships have not ended in overtime. 

There have been a couple of very close finishes where the last play of the game stopped an overtime from happening in a Super Bowl.

Super Bowl V ended with Colts’ kicker Jim O’Brien connecting on the game-winning FG as the clock expired in what became known as the “Kick heard ’round the world.” 


Super Bowl XXXIV ended with Tennessee Titan receiver Derek Mason being stopped one yard short of the goal line with the St. Louis Rams up by seven.


November 7, 2013

PiRate Picks for November 6-11, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 1:01 pm

The saying goes that when picking football games against Las Vegas, the fools play the exotic wagers, while the smarts play the sides and totals.

We are the anti-fools here on the PiRate ship.  We tried our hand at going with mostly sides last week with nine selections, and we threw four exotic selections in as well.

The nine straight side selections went 2-7.  The four exotic selections finished 3-1.  We’ll let those with the sayings make their wagers, and we’ll go back to what has worked for us for the long term.

This week, we are picking no straight sides.  It’s all teasers and money line parlays.

1. 10-point Teaser

Oklahoma +26 vs. Baylor

Cincinnati +1 vs. SMU

Duke + ½ vs. North Carolina St.


2. 10-point Teaser

Missouri -4 vs. Kentucky

Florida Pk. vs. Vanderbilt

Colorado St. + ½ vs. Nevada


3. 10-point Teaser

USC -6 ½ vs. California

Central Florida – ½ vs. Houston

Alabama -2 ½ vs. L S U


4. 13-point Teaser

UL-Lafayette -1 vs. Troy

Iowa -2 vs. Purdue

Western Kentucky +7 ½ vs. Army

East Carolina -4 vs. Tulsa


5. 13-point Teaser

Minnesota +11 vs. Penn St.

North Carolina – ½ vs. Virginia

Wyoming +22 vs. Fresno St.

Ole Miss -4 vs. Arkansas


6. 13-point Teaser

Navy -4 vs. Hawaii

Notre Dame +8 ½ vs. Pittsburgh

Arizona +14 vs. U C L A

San Jose St. +6 ½ vs. San Diego St.


7. Money Line Parlay @ -116

Texas A&M over Mississippi St.

East Carolina over Tulsa

Navy over Hawaii

Ole Miss over Arkansas

North Carolina over Virginia


8. Money Line Parlay @ -102

Texas A&M over Mississippi St.

Missouri over Kentucky

Alabama over L S U

Florida over Vanderbilt


9. Money Line Parlay @ -112

Texas A&M over Mississippi St.

Colorado St. over Nevada

Auburn over Tennessee


10. 13-point Teaser

Washington +11 ½ vs. Minnesota

Tennessee +1 vs. Jacksonville

Philadelphia +14 vs. Green Bay

Indianapolis +3 ½ vs. St. Louis


11. 13-point Teaser

Seattle +7 ½ vs. Atlanta

Cincinnati +11 ½ vs. Baltimore

Detroit +13 vs. Chicago

Dallas +19 ½ vs. New Orleans

October 3, 2013

PiRate Picks for October 3-7, 2013

Filed under: PiRate Picks_College & Pro — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 11:47 am

Going With The Flow

We have a nice little thing going and have not even noticed it when making our weekly selections.  Our PiRate Ratings have done quite well against the spread through four NFL weeks, coming in just under 60%.  Our Ratings for college are above the profit line of 52.4%, but there is no way this can be used.


So, we looked at the NFL games this week and chose eight contests where the PiRate Ratings differ from the line and where we also believed the PiRate Rating was the better predictive factor of the game.  It is not an exact science, and we really should just pick the entire 14 games as the PiRate Ratings see them, but we are having a little fun trying to raise that 60% to more than 62.5%, or the magical number used to get oneself banned from most books if it is routinely topped.


As for college, we have just one strategy doing well so far this season, and that has been the money line parlays.  We will throw three in for you to peruse.


1. Money Line Parlay @ -108

U C L A over Utah

Virginia Tech over North Carolina


2. Money Line Parlay @ -108

Oklahoma over TCU

Northern Illinois over Kent St.

Georgia over Tennessee


3. Money Line Parlay @ -114

Navy over Air Force

Boston College over Army

North Carolina St. over Wake Forest


N F L Straight Sides

 4. Tennessee +3 vs. Kansas City

 5. New England +2 vs. Cincinnati

 6. New Orleans Pk. vs. Chicago

 7. Carolina -2 vs. Arizona

 8. San Diego -4 vs. Oakland

 9. Denver -7 vs. Dallas

10. Houston +6 ½ vs. San Francisco

11. NY Jets +10 vs. Atlanta

September 19, 2013

PiRate Picks For September 19-23, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 5:10 am

The PiRate Ratings Picks broke even last week, and they have not performed well at the beginning of the season.  We selected much more conservatively this week, hoping to get on the plus side.  This week, the number played more importance than the game itself, so we shall see if this method works a little better.  Trends are real in this genre, so maybe the successful trends of the last few years have now played out.


If you are playing for real, and thus are ignoring everything we say here (where we do not play for real), our best suggestion is to select your choices as soon as you can find a line.  Then, if the line moves enough, you can play the middle and take the other side.  That is the probably your best chance to win consistently, as it only needs to work one time in 19 for you to make a profit (not counting any pushes that leave you 1-0-1 on the selection.)


We chose nine selections this week, as we get a little leaner and meaner.


1. Minnesota -3 vs. San Jose St.


2. Green Bay -2 ½ vs. Cincinnati


3. Money Line Parlay @ -109

Florida over Tennessee

Michigan over Connecticut

Ball St. over Eastern Michigan

Toledo over Central Michigan


4. 10-point Teaser

Western Michigan +29 ½ vs. Iowa

Tennessee +27 vs. Florida

Rice +12 ½ vs. Houston


5. 13-point Teaser

Clemson -1 vs. North Carolina St.

Pittsburgh +9 vs. Duke

Michigan -5 vs. Connecticut

Ball St. +2 vs. Eastern Michigan


6. 13-point Teaser

Cincinnati -9 ½ vs. Miami (O)

Wyoming +9 ½ vs. Air Force

Maryland +7 ½ vs. West Virginia

Florida Atlantic +17 ½ vs. Middle Tennessee


7. 13-point Teaser

L S U -4 vs. Auburn

Missouri +10 ½ vs. Indiana

San Diego +16 vs. Tennessee

Baltimore +15 ½ vs. Houston


8. 13-point Teaser

St. Louis +17 vs. Dallas

New Orleans +5 ½ vs. Arizona

Detroit +15 ½ vs. Washington

Green Bay +10 ½ vs. Cincinnati


9. 13-point Teaser

NY Giants +14 ½ vs. Carolina

Atlanta +15 vs. Miami

Seattle -6 ½ vs. Jacksonville

Chicago +10 ½ vs. Pittsburgh


September 12, 2013

PiRate Picks for College and NFL Football–September 12-16, 2013

A Week to Forget

Historically, the second week of the college football season and the first week of the NFL season has been a good one for us, but we stunk up the joint with our picks last week.  There is a reason the books call them “teasers.”  They tease you into thinking these selections are so easy to win, but they are quite the opposite.  Most people lose their shirts playing these sucker selections, but we have done quite well with them in the past due to the crossing of certain key numbers.  Oh, well: we wagered $0, so we would have either won big and collected $0, or lost big and lost $0.  That is how we suggest you wager as well—just for the fun of it.


This week, we have the following 17 fun selections for you to peruse.


College Sides

1. Texas Tech +3 ½ vs. T C U

2. Troy +8 vs. Arkansas St.

3. Louisville -13 ½ vs. Kentucky

4. Ohio U +8 ½ vs. Marshall

5. Virginia Tech -7 ½ vs. East Carolina

6. Connecticut +7 vs. Maryland

7. Wake Forest -3 vs. Louisiana-Monroe

8. Western Kentucky – 9 ½ vs. South Alabama

9. Illinois +10 vs. Washington


N F L Sides

10. Baltimore -6 ½ vs. Cleveland

11. Indianapolis -2 ½ vs. Miami

12. Oakland -5 ½ vs. Jacksonville


College Totals

13. Connecticut & Maryland UNDER 48


14. 10-point Teaser

Western Kentucky + ½ vs. South Alabama

UCLA +14 ½ vs. Nebraska

Texas +7 ½ vs. Ole Miss


15. 10-point Teaser

Illinois +20 vs. Washington

Ohio St. -5 ½ vs. California

Northwestern -20 vs. Western Michigan


16. 13-point Teaser

Bowling Green + 15 ½ vs. Indiana

Virginia Tech +5 ½ vs. East Carolina

Connecticut +19 ½ vs. Maryland

Florida St. -20 ½ vs. Nevada


17. 13-point Teaser

Iowa St. +15 ½ vs. Iowa

Alabama +5 vs. Texas A&M

Auburn +7 ½ vs. Mississippi St.

South Carolina – ½ vs. Vanderbilt


September 11, 2013

PiRate Ratings for NFL Week 2: September 15-16, 2013

Filed under: Pro Football — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 11:38 am

PiRate Ratings—NFL Week 2—September 15-16, 2013


It is always quite whimsical for us old geezers at the PiRate Ratings when the opening week of the season brings a good share of surprises.  It still amazes us how quickly the media and the public change their opinions so quickly.  Let’s look at a few examples:

1. Before: The New York Jets were the worst team in football since the Detroit Lions went 0-16.  They had absolutely no chance this year, and Rex Ryan would be gone before the end of September.

After the Jets beat Tampa Bay: Rex Ryan proved he still knows how to coach defense.  The Jets have their new comeback king in Geno Smith.  This team could challenge the Patriots for the AFC East Crown.

2. Before: The Hurry-up Oregon Duck offense that Chip Kelly used in college could never succeed in the NFL, because the defensive players are too quick and strong for a gimmick like the spread to work.  Michael Vick won’t last a half.

After: What can the rest of the league do to slow down this unstoppable offense?  Teams don’t rush for close to 300 yards in an NFL game unless they have O. J. Simpson slashing through the line, or they have Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris in a split backfield.  Just how long will it be before 10 other teams are running some form of this offense?  It has always been our opinion that the split backfield used for years in the NFL was still an excellent philosophy where a halfback ran mostly off-tackle, sweeps, and traps, and a fullback ran the line plunges.  The Spread is similar to a split backfield in the zone read, where the QB reads the defense like in the veer and either gives on the dive or keeps off-tackle.  It is the best of both worlds, because offenses can still keep three or even four wideouts.

3. Before: The Pittsburgh Steelers were a team to watch out for this year, because they were mad and ready to seek revenge for a so-so season.

After: The Steelers cannot score points, and they are doomed.  They were basically shut out by the lowly Tennessee Titans in week one, getting a gift safety on the opening kickoff and then scoring a mop-up touchdown late when behind 16-2 and with the Titans in a dime package and playing quarters defense allowing 20 yard passes to be completed underneath.  The Dick Lebeau defense had its moments, but it gave up too many first down conversions.

4. Before: The Raiders will definitely have the first pick in the 2014 draft.  They may win less games than the Jaguars and Jets.

After: They may not be ready to return to their glory days, but Indianapolis had to come from behind to beat the visiting silver and black.  Oakland is much better than advertised, and the Raiders could win six or seven games.

5. Before: Norv Turner was the reason San Diego lost so many games where they blew leads.

After: Mike McCoy is no better than Norv Turner, and the Chargers will continue to look great losing late.

6. Before: Dallas is never going to return to their glory days with Jerry Jones micromanaging his team.

After: The Giants have been dismissed, and this is the Cowboys’ division to win.  The two new (old) coordinators still know their stuff, and Dallas will win like it is 1966 through 1995.

7. Chicago’s offense will struggle under Mark Trestman, because Jay Cutler is not his prototypical quarterback.

After: Trestman and Cutler look like a perfect marriage.  The Bears looked fantastic in the winning touchdown drive.

We could go on and on.  The Patriots were supposed to slaughter the Bills.  The Falcons were too good for the Saints.  The 49ers had too much going on to be as good as the last two years.  About the only expected outcomes, if you count the so-called pundits expectations as valid, were:

1. The Kansas City Chiefs looked like the team they are being hyped as, but they played Jacksonville.

2. Denver looks like the strongest team since the 2007 Patriots.

3. Seattle’s defense looks even better this year, and they won on the road on the Atlantic Coast.

4. Green Bay still has the great offense, but once again, their defense is going to cost them some games.

5. The NFC West, once the weak sister of the NFL is now the king.  The Rams could win two or three other divisions, but they will be fortunate to finish third in this one.  They could still sneak into the playoffs.  The Cardinals look like a much improved team, more like the one that started 2012 than the one that ended it.

Week 2 presents some interesting games.  Here is what we have to look forward to this weekend.

1. The Jets and Patriots:  it isn’t the Red Sox and the Yankees, but it is just as intense.  Bill Belichick likes Rex Ryan about as much as Joe Girardi likes Buck Showalter.  Look for this game to be very physical and very testy.  The Patriots have just enough vulnerabilities for a defensive guru like Ryan to exploit.  Don’t think for a minute that the Jets plan to pressure Tom Brady and try to get him out of this game.

2. The Rams and Falcons: St. Louis has the talent to send Atlanta to 0-2, and if this should happen, then the NFC West just went from strong to crazy.  Because both San Francisco and Seattle cannot possibly win this week, the Rams have a chance to go one game up on one of them (remote chance to go one half game up on both).  Atlanta must consider this game a must-win already, because they cannot afford to drop two games behind Drew Brees and company.

3. The Bears and Vikings: This looks like a must-win road game for the purple and white.  A loss sends them two games behind Chicago and possibly two games behind Detroit.  A win would keep them alive in the division and possibly cause a four-way tie at 1-1.  If the Bears win, the mighty momentum could send them on the way to matching our bettering their 10-win season of 2012.

4. The Packers and Redskins:  One of these teams will be 0-2 by Sunday afternoon, and like the other possible 0-2 teams, only around 10% of these teams recover and make the playoffs.  Both teams also have intra-divisional rivals that could be 2-0.

5. The Colts and Dolphins: This game looks like an interestingly close contest.  Should Miami win, the Dolphins will have started 2-0 with both wins on the road.  Teams that begin 2-0 on the road make the playoffs 83.3% of the time in the 21st Century.  Actually in only one season has a team started 2-0 on the road and failed to make the playoffs.  Uh Oh—it was the 2010 Miami Dolphins.  This game is important for Indianapolis as well.  A come-from-behind win over Oakland is not a statement victory.  A loss to the fish might prove as a sign that this team is not going to suffer a sophomore slump.

6. The Cowboys and Chiefs:  This one has become a lot more important than it might have been had the week one outcomes been different.  All of a sudden, this looks like a game between two playoff worthy teams rather than a game between two mediocre teams.  Our three ratings show this contest to be the most competitive of the week.

7. The Eagles and Chargers:  The Chargers get one less day to prepare for this offense, and they have to travel 2,000 miles across three time zones.  NFL offenses usually perform better in the second game than in the first after working out some kinks.  Could we be looking at an Oregon-like score this week?  Is it possible that Philly could top 50?  On the other hand, can David Rivers prove he can be a star for four quarters and not two and a half?  San Diego’s passing attack could keep the hurry-up off the field just long enough for the Chargers not to have to result to developing a lot of cramps.  Isn’t it funny how theses teams’ offensive stars never develop cramps?  You would think the wide receivers and running backs would be the most likely to need help off the field.  What a strange coincidence that it is just the defensive players that can most easily be replaced that develop these cramps.

8. The Giants and Broncos: The renewal of the Manning Bowl finds Peyton as the cherry on top of the hot fudge sundae, and Eli in the bottom of the compost pile.  Peyton had three extra days to study the Giants’ run of the mill defense, and New York had to play the night game on Sunday.

9. The 49ers and Seahawks:  This one is our favorite game of the week and one of our favorites of the season.  We have this little historical vignette to tell you how we compare this game to rivalries of years gone by.

We are of the age where we look back to yesteryear with fond thoughts, where everything was great.  Okay, the second half of the 1960’s were not so great, but on Sunday afternoons in the fall, we had the old American Football League, the renegade league that went head-to-head with the infallible NFL and forced a merger.  The NFL was the league of conservative, brawn over brains football.  The AFL was the gunslinger league.  In those four seasons where the AFL champion met the NFL champion, the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs played against each other like they were fighting their own civil war.  In 1966, Kansas City was king.  Len Dawson and Mike Garrett led an unstoppable offense, and the defense was huge in that timeframe.  Buck Buchanan looked more like a 21st Century defensive lineman.  Oakland was up and coming with talent throughout.  The Raiders lacked a proven QB that could get them over the hump.  Kansas City won the AFL and played in the first Super Bowl.  However, they could not sweep the Raiders.  Oakland won by three touchdowns at KC Municipal Stadium.

In 1967, Oakland owner Al Davis picked up the backup quarterback from Buffalo and made him his starter.  Overnight, Daryle Lamonica became known as “The Mad Bomber.”  The former Notre Dame standout began making the vertical passing game the biggest offensive threat in football.  A punishing defense that pulverized enemy quarterbacks made the Raiders the best team in the history of the AFL.  In the opening week, they beat Denver 51-0, holding the Broncos to negative total yards!

Meanwhile, the rest of the AFL discovered that if they stopped the Chiefs’ running game and threw the ball to the intermediate zones, they could beat Kansas City.  Oakland swept the Chiefs and won the AFL with a 13-1 record and a 40-7 blowout of Eastern Division winner Houston.  Kansas City slumped all the way down to 9-5.

Neither team won the AFL in 1968, although both were probably better than the World Champion New York Jets.  The Chiefs recovered to tie Oakland at 12-2 in the Western Division.  KC coach Hank Stram proved just how much of a coaching genius he was when the Chiefs were forced to host Oakland with zero healthy wide receivers.  Rather than try to pick up some stiffs on the waiver wire, he secretly changed the entire offense overnight.  He installed the old full-house T-formation with three running backs and two tight ends.  Oakland could not stop the incredible ground game with both ultimate power and ultimate deception.  Quarterback Len Dawson attempted just three passes all day, all of them off play-action, and the Chiefs ran the ball as effectively as Philadelphia did on Monday night.  They beat the Raiders that day.  After that week, the Raiders were a mad group of pirates, and they did not lose again in the regular season.  They marauded opponents topping 30 points in seven of the final eight games.  Included in this 8-0 finish was a revenge win over Kansas City and the infamous “Heidi Game” win over the New York Jets.

In those days, there were no tiebreakers to determine which team won the division, so when both The Chiefs and Raiders finished tied at 12-2, they had to meet in a playoff to determine the winner.  The winner of that game would then face the 11-3 Jets, the 11-3 rested Jets, for the AFL title a week later.  The Mad Bomber became nuclear that day, as Lamonica completed three first quarter long passes into Oakland touchdowns and two other bombs for scores to total 5 passing TDs, en route to a 41-6 win over the Chiefs.  The silver and black defense intercepted Dawson four times.  It was no doubt that this Raider team had enough talent to make Super Bowl III competitive against either Baltimore over Cleveland.

Except, the Raiders didn’t get that opportunity.  A week later, Oakland was a little flat against Broadway Joe Namath and the Jets.  The Raiders started slow and spotted the Jets a touchdown and field goal early.  They fought back to tie the score at 13-13 early in the third quarter, and they even took the lead in the fourth quarter.  However, in the final seven minutes of the game, the Raiders’ defense looked spent, and Namath exploited the tired pursuit for the decisive winning touchdown drive.  It was New York and not Oakland that pulled off the great Super Bowl III upset that basically proved to fans all over the country that the two leagues were now on par.

Oakland entered 1969 with a new head coach.  John Rauch, the genius behind the vertical passing game used by Lamonica had finally experienced too much meddling from owner Davis.  He left for lowly Buffalo and never really enjoyed much success with the Bills and their new phenom O. J. Simpson.  Enter one John Madden as Raiders’ coach.  The vertical passing game was still around, but Madden preferred more high percentage passes and a little more emphasis on the power running game.  Still, Oakland looked like the best team in the league.

Kansas City still had the best defense in the league, but their offense was starting to show more holes, similar to the troubles of 1967.  Dawson nursed injuries into early December, and it was debatable if he would play again after midseason.  Numerous second, third, and fourth opinions were sought to find a physician that would state it was okay for him to play.

The Jets were still strong in the East, but they were most certainly the third best team in the league.

Oakland beat Kansas City three times in 1969, but it was not enough, because the Chiefs got a fourth chance and won when it counted.  In the final year of the AFL’s existence, the now 10-team league decided to add the two second-place finishers to the playoff after seeing how much publicity the 1968 playoff game had created for the league.

Oakland finished 12-1-1, making their three year regular season record 37-4-1, the best of all time for a three-year run.  The Chiefs finished second at 11-3.  In the East, the Jets had no real competition and fiddled to a 10-4 record.  Houston had already secured second place in the Eastern Division, but going into the final week, the Oilers were just 5-6-2.  A loss to Boston would put them in the playoffs at 5-7-2, and it almost happened.  Three fourth quarter scores allowed the Oilers to finish the regular season with a .500 record.

In the first round of the AFL Playoffs, Houston had to play at Oakland.  The Raiders were a double-digit favorite, but this game looked more like the NFL All-Stars against a first-year expansion team.  Oakland quickly scored four touchdowns in the first 12 minutes and cruised to the second largest winning playoff margin in pro football history, 56-7.

The Chiefs saw to it that there would be no repeat for the AFL title game.  Their defense completely stopped Namath, while the offense mounted one nice drive for the winning touchdown in a 13-6 victory.

Now it was one final Chiefs-Raiders game to decide the Super Bowl IV participant and close out league play.  Oakland had defeated Kansas City in the preseason and swept them in the regular season, but Kansas City had one final try.  This time, the winner would face the dominant Minnesota Vikings for the World Championship.

Once again, the Chiefs’ defense proved too tough for even the most potent offense.  Lamonica could never penetrate the Kansas City secondary, and the Chief pass rush dumped him multiple times and forced him to throw off target.  Chief defensive back Emmitt Thomas picked up a pair of passes and set up a score with a long return.

Kansas City did nothing on offense either, but their defense gave them much less field to cover to score in a 17-7 lackluster win.

The Chiefs went on to pull off an equally monumental Super Bowl upset than their brethren Jets had pulled off the year before.  They stunned the Vikings, with the defense once again shutting down the opponent.

Back to the present, we see the 49ers and Seahawks as the new 21st Century version of the Chiefs and Raiders.  There is a rivalry here that is similar to that old rivalry.  It began when then Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh and then Southern Cal coach Pete Carroll did not particularly like each other.  While at Stanford, Harbaugh took a 41-point underdog Cardinal team to Los Angeles and pulled the greatest pointspread upset in college football history, ending a 35-game home winning streak for the Trojans.  He did it with a backup quarterback starting his first game ever.  Before leaving for the NFL, Harbaugh’s Cardinal ran up the score on Carroll’s Trojans in 2009.

The 49ers now have the 1960’s persona of their cross-bay rival Oakland, while Seattle takes on the persona of the 1960’s Chiefs.  The Seahawks are the challenger, while the 49ers are the champions.  If history is to pan out, then this should be the season where Seattle scrapes by San Francisco by a game or two.  Of course with the expanded playoffs, there is a chance that the two could face off for the NFC Championship, just like 1969.  This game should be one you do not want to miss.

Now, we continue with our weekly ratings and spreads.

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