The Pi-Rate Ratings

November 29, 2016

NFL Ratings And Spreads For Week 13: December 1-5, 2016


Current NFL PiRate Ratings
East PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
New England 109.1 107.8 109.9 108.9 67 42
Buffalo 103.4 103.5 103.8 103.6 64 40
Miami 98.5 98.9 98.6 98.6 60 39
N. Y. Jets 98.1 97.0 98.5 97.9 58 40
North PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Pittsburgh 104.5 104.1 105.1 104.6 63 42
Cincinnati 100.4 100.2 100.5 100.4 59 41
Baltimore 99.2 100.2 99.0 99.5 61 39
Cleveland 87.7 88.6 87.4 87.9 55 33
South PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Tennessee 97.8 98.9 97.5 98.1 61 37
Houston 97.5 98.3 96.9 97.6 61 37
Indianapolis 96.7 98.2 96.3 97.1 60 37
Jacksonville 93.2 94.7 92.7 93.5 59 35
West PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Denver 105.4 104.2 105.1 104.9 63 42
Kansas City 103.6 103.4 104.0 103.7 64 40
Oakland 100.5 101.1 101.2 100.9 66 35
San Diego 100.3 101.0 100.2 100.5 65 36
East PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Dallas 104.1 103.4 104.7 104.1 63 41
Washington 101.9 101.6 102.0 101.8 63 39
Philadelphia 101.3 100.0 100.9 100.7 62 39
N.Y. Giants 99.4 99.0 99.5 99.3 62 37
North PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Minnesota 102.6 101.9 102.4 102.3 59 43
Green Bay 99.5 99.3 99.3 99.4 64 35
Detroit 99.3 99.0 99.2 99.2 61 38
Chicago 93.0 92.0 92.6 92.6 56 37
South PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Atlanta 105.0 105.7 105.1 105.2 70 35
Carolina 102.8 102.8 102.8 102.8 62 41
New Orleans 101.8 102.6 102.0 102.1 68 34
Tampa Bay 100.1 100.3 100.1 100.2 62 38
West PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Seattle 106.6 104.4 107.1 106.0 62 44
Arizona 102.4 101.3 102.3 102.0 63 39
Los Angeles 96.8 97.7 96.5 97.0 55 42
San Francisco 90.0 91.0 89.6 90.2 54 36

This Week’s Spreads

Home Visitor PiRate Mean Bias Totals
Minnesota Dallas 1.5 1.5 0.7 40
Atlanta Kansas City 4.4 5.3 4.1 61
Baltimore Miami 3.7 4.3 3.4 45
Chicago San Francisco 6.0 4.0 6.0 39
Cincinnati Philadelphia 2.1 3.2 2.6 43
Green Bay Houston 5.0 4.0 5.4 55
Jacksonville Denver -9.2 -6.5 -9.4 47
New England Los Angeles 15.3 13.1 14.4 40
New Orleans Detroit 5.5 6.6 5.8 59
Oakland Buffalo 0.1 0.6 0.4 57
Arizona Washington 3.5 2.7 3.3 50
Pittsburgh New York Giants 7.6 7.6 8.1 48
San Diego Tampa Bay 3.2 3.7 3.1 55
Seattle Carolina 6.8 4.6 7.3 41
New York Jets Indianapolis 3.9 1.3 4.7 43


If The Playoffs Began Today

1 New England
2 Oakland
3 Baltimore
4 Houston
5 Kansas City
6 Miami
1 Dallas
2 Seattle
3 Detroit
4 Atlanta
5 N.Y. Giants
6 Washington


PiRate Playoff Projections

AFC Seeding
1 Oakland
2 New England
3 Pittsburgh
4 Indianapolis
5 Kansas City
6 Denver
NFC Seeding
1 Dallas
2 Seattle
3 Atlanta
4 Minnesota
5 N.Y. Giants
6 Washington


Wildcard Round
Kansas City over Indianapolis
Pittsburgh over Denver
Atlanta over Washington
N.Y. Giants over Minnesota
Divisional Round
Oakland over Kansas City
New England over Pittsburgh
Dallas over N.Y. Giants
Seattle over Atlanta
Conference Championship
Oakland over New England
Dallas over Seattle
Super Bowl 51
Oakland over Dallas



November 22, 2016

NFL Ratings And Spreads For Week 12: November 24-28, 2016

The Best Thanksgiving Day Football Season Ever

The Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys have been Thanksgiving Day fixtures in the NFL annual scheduling, and there have been some mighty exciting turkey day games as well as some outright turkeys.

In all the years of Thanksgiving Day football, one year stands out as the best ever.  It was November 25, 1971, and on that day, the four NFL teams involved were all in tight races for playoff spots.

Detroit hosted Kansas City in the early game.  The Lions were 6-3-1, chasing Minnesota but ahead of Washington for the lone NFC Wildcard spot.  Kansas City was a game behind Oakland but the leader in the Wildcard race of the AFC.  The Lions won that day to move to 7-3-1, dropping the Chiefs to 7-3-1.  KC would win out to beat out Oakland, while Detroit would drop its final three to finish 7-6-1 and out of the playoffs.

In the afternoon game, Dallas hosted the Los Angeles Rams.  The 7-3 Cowboys had won three in a row once Coach Tom Landry inserted Roger Staubach as full-time starter.  The Rams were trying to keep pace with the division leading San Francisco 49ers, and the winner of this game would be in great shape to make the playoffs.  Dallas emerged victorious to run its winning streak to four and would keep winning every week until they had their first Super Bowl title.  The Rams would miss out on the playoffs by one game.

We have yet to provide the icing on the cake for why 11/25/71 was the best ever Thanksgiving Day for football fans.  It was the college game that made this date so special.  Undefeated and #1 Nebraska played undefeated and #2 Oklahoma with the winner almost assured of facing the winner of #3 Alabama and #4 Auburn in the Orange Bowl.  It has been called the greatest college football game ever, and you can find most or all of it online with a Youtube search.

This Week’s NFL PiRate Ratings

Current NFL PiRate Ratings
East PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
New England 109.3 108.0 110.1 109.1 67 42
Buffalo 103.6 103.7 104.1 103.8 64 40
Miami 98.7 99.0 98.9 98.8 60 39
N. Y. Jets 97.9 96.8 98.3 97.7 58 40
North PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Pittsburgh 102.9 102.8 103.4 103.0 62 41
Cincinnati 100.6 100.3 100.8 100.6 60 41
Baltimore 99.0 100.1 98.7 99.3 61 38
Cleveland 87.9 88.8 87.6 88.1 55 33
South PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Indianapolis 98.3 99.5 98.0 98.6 62 37
Houston 98.0 98.7 97.5 98.1 61 37
Tennessee 97.5 98.8 97.1 97.8 61 37
Jacksonville 93.0 94.5 92.4 93.3 58 35
West PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Denver 105.8 104.5 105.5 105.2 63 42
Kansas City 103.2 103.1 103.6 103.3 63 40
Oakland 100.4 101.0 101.1 100.8 66 35
San Diego 99.8 100.6 99.6 100.0 65 35
East PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Dallas 104.1 103.4 104.7 104.1 63 41
Philadelphia 103.3 101.7 103.1 102.7 63 40
Washington 101.9 101.6 102.0 101.8 63 39
N.Y. Giants 99.2 98.8 99.3 99.1 62 37
North PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Minnesota 102.8 102.0 102.7 102.5 60 43
Detroit 99.1 98.9 98.9 99.0 61 38
Green Bay 97.5 97.6 97.1 97.4 62 35
Chicago 93.3 92.1 93.0 92.8 56 37
South PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Atlanta 103.7 104.7 103.7 104.0 69 35
Carolina 102.9 102.9 102.9 102.9 62 41
New Orleans 100.4 101.4 100.5 100.8 67 34
Tampa Bay 98.6 99.1 98.4 98.7 62 37
West PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Seattle 108.1 105.6 108.8 107.5 64 44
Arizona 103.7 102.3 103.7 103.2 64 39
Los Angeles 98.2 98.9 98.0 98.4 56 42
San Francisco 89.8 90.9 89.3 90.0 54 36

This Week’s PiRate Spreads

Home Visitor PiRate Mean Bias Totals
Detroit Minnesota -0.7 -0.1 -0.8 42
Dallas Washington 5.2 4.8 5.7 48
Indianapolis Pittsburgh -1.6 -0.3 -2.4 48
Atlanta Arizona 3.5 5.9 3.5 51
Baltimore Cincinnati 0.9 2.3 0.4 44
Buffalo Jacksonville 13.6 12.2 14.7 49
Chicago Tennessee -1.2 -3.7 -1.1 45
Cleveland New York Giants -8.8 -7.5 -9.2 49
Houston San Diego 1.2 1.1 0.9 56
Miami San Francisco 12.4 11.6 13.1 41
New Orleans Los Angeles 5.2 5.5 5.5 48
Tampa Bay Seattle -6.0 -3.0 -6.9 47
Denver Kansas City 5.6 4.4 4.9 46
Oakland Carolina 0.5 1.1 1.2 54
New York Jets New England -8.9 -8.7 -9.3 45
Philadelphia Green Bay 8.8 7.1 9.0 52

If The Playoffs Began Today

1 Oakland
2 New England
3 Houston
4 Baltimore
5 Kansas City
6 Denver
1 Dallas
2 Seattle
3 Detroit
4 Atlanta
5 N.Y. Giants
6 Washington

PiRate Ratings Playoff Projections

AFC Seeding
1 New England
2 Oakland
3 Indianapolis
4 Baltimore
5 Denver
6 Kansas City
NFC Seeding
1 Dallas
2 Seattle
3 Detroit
4 Atlanta
5 Washington
6 N.Y. Giants


Wildcard Round
Kansas City over Indianapolis
Baltimore over Denver
New York Giants over Detroit
Washington over Atlanta
Divisional Round
New England over Kansas City
Oakland over Baltimore
Dallas over New York Giants
Seattle over Washington
Conference Championship
Oakland over New England
Seattle over Dallas
Super Bowl 51
Seattle over Oakland




November 8, 2016

NFL Ratings And Spreads For Week 10: November 10-14, 2016

Beginning today, we start posting playoff projections.  Our playoff projections look ahead to remaining schedules and use a combination of Pirate Ratings and home field advantage to estimate the remaining won-loss records of all the teams.  Even though the last place teams do not figure to make the playoffs, we have to project their records as well in order to break ties.

In the AFC, we are projecting that it will take a minimum record of 10-6 to earn a wildcard spot.  It is a tiny bit easier in the NFC as of this week, as we project a 9-6-1 record will qualify for the playoffs.

This Week’s PiRate Ratings

East PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
New England 110.7 109.2 111.8 110.6 67 44
Buffalo 103.2 103.3 103.7 103.4 63 40
N. Y. Jets 98.4 97.0 99.0 98.1 58 40
Miami 97.0 97.4 97.0 97.1 59 38
North PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Pittsburgh 102.8 102.7 103.5 103.0 62 41
Cincinnati 102.0 101.7 102.2 102.0 61 41
Baltimore 98.5 99.9 98.1 98.8 61 38
Cleveland 88.9 89.6 88.6 89.0 56 33
South PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Houston 98.1 99.0 97.9 98.3 61 37
Indianapolis 97.6 98.8 97.2 97.9 62 36
Tennessee 96.0 97.5 95.6 96.4 58 38
Jacksonville 92.9 94.5 92.2 93.2 58 35
West PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Denver 105.6 104.2 105.3 105.0 63 42
Kansas City 103.9 103.9 104.3 104.0 64 40
San Diego 100.5 101.2 100.4 100.7 65 36
Oakland 100.1 100.5 100.5 100.4 65 35
East PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Dallas 102.8 102.0 103.3 102.7 62 41
Philadelphia 103.2 101.5 102.7 102.5 63 40
Washington 100.3 100.1 100.3 100.2 62 38
N.Y. Giants 99.4 99.0 99.6 99.3 62 37
North PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Minnesota 103.1 102.3 103.0 102.8 59 44
Green Bay 101.0 100.9 100.7 100.9 62 39
Detroit 99.0 98.7 98.9 98.9 61 38
Chicago 95.4 94.0 95.1 94.9 56 39
South PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Atlanta 103.8 104.9 104.1 104.2 69 35
Carolina 103.5 103.3 103.6 103.5 62 42
New Orleans 100.2 101.4 100.3 100.6 67 34
Tampa Bay 95.3 96.0 94.9 95.4 59 36
West PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Seattle 106.5 104.1 107.1 105.9 62 44
Arizona 105.1 103.4 105.4 104.6 66 39
Los Angeles 98.4 99.4 98.1 98.7 57 42
San Francisco 88.9 90.3 88.0 89.1 53 36

This Week’s PiRate Ratings Spreads

Home Visitor PiRate Mean Bias Totals
Baltimore Cleveland 12.1 12.8 12.0 48
Carolina Kansas City 2.6 2.4 2.3 45
Jacksonville Houston -2.7 -2.0 -3.2 49
New Orleans Denver -2.4 0.2 -2.0 54
New York Jets Los Angeles 3.0 0.6 3.9 35
Philadelphia Atlanta 2.4 -0.4 1.6 48
Tampa Bay Chicago 2.9 5.0 2.8 42
Tennessee Green Bay -2.0 -0.4 -2.1 45
Washington Minnesota 0.2 0.8 0.3 41
San Diego Miami 6.5 6.8 6.4 52
Arizona San Francisco 19.2 16.1 20.4 46
Pittsburgh Dallas 3.0 3.7 3.2 44
New England Seattle 7.2 8.1 7.7 43
New York Giants Cincinnati 0.4 0.3 0.4 47

If The Playoffs Began Today

1 New England
2 Oakland
3 Houston
4 Baltimore
5 Kansas City
6 Denver
1 Dallas
2 Atlanta
3 Seattle
4 Minnesota
5 New York Giants
6 Washington


PiRate Ratings Projected Playoffs 

AFC Seeding
1 New England
2 Oakland
3 Indianapolis
4 Pittsburgh
5 Denver
6 Kansas City
NFC Seeding
1 Dallas
2 Seattle
3 Atlanta
4 Detroit
5 New York Giants
6 Washington

Wildcard Round

Kansas City over Indianapolis

Pittsburgh over Denver

Atlanta over Washington

New York Giants over Detroit


Divisional Round

New England over Kansas City

Oakland over Pittsburgh

New York Giants over Dallas

Seattle over Atlanta


Conference Championships

New England over Oakland

New York Giants over Seattle



New York Giants over New England

November 1, 2016

NFL Ratings And Spreads For Week 9: November 3-7, 2016

Our First Look At The Playoff Hunt
We like to wait for the first half of the season to come to its end before beginning our playoff projections, as it is virtually useless to start it earlier than the halfway point. With bye weeks, this is sort of the 7 1/2 game point and not the exact midway point, but then next week will be past halfway.

The playoff race is still wide open for most of the teams. In the AFC, Cleveland is the only team with zero chance to make the playoffs. In the NFC, San Francisco is the only team with virtually no chance. That means 30 teams are still alive.
At the other end of the perspective, New England is basically the only team that is close to 100% assured to make the playoffs. This creates a wide open second half race for 11 of the 12 spots among 29 teams.

Let’s start with the old proverbial “If the season ended today” look.

East: New England #1 Seed
North: Pittsburgh #4 Seed
South: Houston #3 Seed
West: Oakland #2 Seed
Wildcard: Kansas City #5 Seed
Wildcard: Denver #6 Seed

East: Dallas #1 Seed
North: Minnesota #2 Seed
South: Atlanta #4 Seed
West: Seattle #3 Seed
Wildcard: Green Bay #5 Seed
Wildcard: New York #6 Seed

In the AFC, the wildcard teams have just two losses, and no other competitor is within a game, as the 7th and 8th seeds this week are Tennessee and Buffalo, both at 4-4. The NFC is much closer, as the 4-3 Packers and Giants hold a precarious place on their wildcard spots. There are two other three-loss teams in Philadelphia and Washington, and there are four additional four-loss teams just one game back.

Here is our look at each division at this point in the year.

New England has this division wrapped up even if Tom Brady were to become injured. The Patriots are up three games, and they would have to go 2-6 in the second half to surrender this division to any division rival. Rex Ryan fired his offensive coordinator after a Monday Night game in which the Bills’ defense was embarrassed. The Bills’ defense keeps stubbing its toes week after week, and the offense cannot score enough points to win consistently. This has the look of an 8-8 team that will miss the playoffs. The Dolphins and Jets don’t have the talent to get to 9-7, and it will probably take a 10-6 or better record to become a wildcard this year.

Pittsburgh is a very weak 4-3 team with Ben Roethlisberger out. If he miraculously recovers from his knee surgery and plays in the next week or two, his already weak scrambling skills will be that much worse, and the Steelers don’t have an offensive line capable of sustaining the pass rush long enough for Big Ben to survey the field like he tends to do. Thus, we believe that 3-4-1 Cincinnati and 3-4 Baltimore are still very much in this race. This could be the year where it only takes eight wins to earn the division title, whether it be Pittsburgh or Baltimore at 8-8 or Cincinnati at 8-7-1.

Can Houston’s defense overcome its inconsistent offense and hang on to the division lead? Tennessee started 1-3 and is now 4-4, but the Titans need another wide receiver to become potent enough to storm past the Texans. Indianapolis and Jacksonville have not shown any tendency to play consecutive games like they deserve to make the playoffs, so for now, we believe Houston will be a weak 9-7 division winner.

We cannot find anything to fault the three top teams in this division. Oakland has the easiest schedule of the trio, but they also have the weakest defense of the three. We forecast that Denver will go 12-4, Kansas City will go 11-5, and Oakand will go 10-6, all three making the playoffs.

Dallas has the overall best record in the conference, so could Jason Garrett (Jerry Jones) be foolish enough to bring Tony Romo back to the starting quarterback job when he is healthy enough to play again? Actually, there is precedent, and one quarterback from the past can be used as an example.
Earl Morrall was the backup quarterback for the Baltimore Colts in 1968, when legendary great Johnny Unitas could not get healthy enough to play. Morrall earned the NFL MVP Award and guided the Colts to the NFL’s best record at 13-1 for Coach Don Shula, and then he led the team to back-to-back playoff wins to win the 1968 NFL Championship by beating the Vikings and Browns.
In the Super Bowl, Unitas was healthy enough to play again, but Shula went with the arm that got him there. Morrall performed poorly against the New York Jets’ quick defense, and by the time Shula inserted Unitas into the game, it was too late for Johnny U to bring the Colts back.
Four years later, Shula was the head coach of the Miami Dolphins. His start quarterback Bob Griese went down to injury early in the season and was done until January. Once again, Shula turned to the backup, which just so happened to be Morrall again. Morrall repeated the 1968 performance, winning the league MVP award as he guided Miami to a perfect 14-0 record. By the time the playoffs started, Griese was healthy enough to play again. Using his past experience with the Colts, Shula placed Griese back in the starting slot, and Griese guided the Dolphins to the Super Bowl title.

There is a big difference between that Dolphins’ team and this Dallas team. Miami only needed a signal caller that was competent at carrying out ball fakes while handing the ball to the league’s best fullback in Larry Csonka and one of the top halfbacks in Mercury Morris. Miami won by passing the ball about a dozen times per game, letting its league best defense carry the team. Dallas cannot get to the Super Bowl by riding its defense and handing the ball to Ezekiel Elliott 30 times a game. They need a pass rush, and Elliott needs a QB that is a threat to fake to him and run the ball in the opposite direction, which is not Romo.

The rest of the division can all come back and beat out Dallas if the Cowboys falter in the second half, or if Romo becomes the starter again. All four teams are good enough to win any of the other NFC divisions this year, but they will beat up on each other and be lucky to provide one wildcard member much less two. Washington looks to us to be the best of the other three, but the Redskins have a tough second half schedule. Philadelphia has the rookie quarterback, and the Giants have a defense that hasn’t gelled this year, but their offense can score enough points to get to 10-6 with a little luck.

There’s a twin personality in the Twin Cities, as Minnesota has seen the best of times for five weeks and the worst of times during the last two weeks. The Vikings’ offense looks easy to defend without Adrian Peterson, and Sam Bradford has shown he is closer to Marcia Brady than Tom Brady the last two weeks. Even if the Vikings go 9-7, they could still win the division, because Green Bay is uber-wounded, Detroit is mediocre on both sides of the ball, and Chicago is Chicago.

This division looked like Atlanta’s in a runaway a couple weeks ago, but the Saints and Panthers may not be dead just yet. With Drew Brees guiding New Orleans to 30 point games, the Saints can recover to a 10-6 record in the second half. Carolina is still a mystery team, but the Panthers looked like the 2015 NFC Champions last week and could easily go on a long winning streak. Tampa Bay is not yet there and needs another year at the minimum.

Seattle will win this by default. Arizona might fall to third place in this division, and the Rams match the personality of Mr. 8 and 8, Jeff Fisher. The 49ers could be pressed to win another game this year, as Chip Kelly does not have the pieces in place to run his system. Whereas just a couple players kneel before the game, the entire team finds itself on the ground for the next 60 minutes of action.

This Week’s PiRate Ratings

East PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
New England 110.7 109.2 111.8 110.6 67 44
Buffalo 103.2 103.4 103.7 103.4 63 40
N. Y. Jets 98.6 97.1 99.3 98.3 58 40
Miami 96.8 97.3 96.7 96.9 59 38
North PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Pittsburgh 103.9 103.4 104.8 104.0 63 41
Cincinnati 102.0 101.7 102.2 102.0 61 41
Baltimore 97.4 99.2 96.8 97.8 61 37
Cleveland 90.3 90.8 90.2 90.4 57 33
South PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Houston 98.1 99.0 97.9 98.3 61 37
Indianapolis 96.3 97.8 95.7 96.6 62 35
Tennessee 96.1 97.6 95.7 96.5 58 39
Jacksonville 92.4 94.2 91.5 92.7 58 35
West PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Denver 107.1 105.3 107.0 106.4 63 43
Kansas City 104.4 104.2 105.0 104.5 65 40
San Diego 100.4 101.1 100.3 100.6 65 36
Oakland 98.6 99.4 98.8 98.9 64 35
East PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Philadelphia 104.0 102.0 103.7 103.2 63 40
Dallas 101.4 100.8 101.7 101.3 61 40
Washington 100.3 100.1 100.3 100.2 62 38
N.Y. Giants 98.6 98.5 98.6 98.6 62 37
North PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Minnesota 103.8 102.8 103.9 103.5 60 44
Green Bay 102.3 101.9 102.2 102.1 63 39
Detroit 98.3 98.2 98.0 98.2 61 37
Chicago 95.4 94.0 95.1 94.9 56 39
South PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Carolina 103.4 103.1 103.5 103.3 61 42
Atlanta 102.6 104.0 102.9 103.1 68 35
New Orleans 99.0 100.4 98.9 99.4 65 34
Tampa Bay 96.5 96.9 96.1 96.5 60 37
West PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Seattle 106.5 104.0 107.1 105.8 62 44
Arizona 105.1 103.4 105.4 104.6 66 39
Los Angeles 98.5 99.6 98.2 98.8 57 42
San Francisco 90.1 91.3 89.4 90.3 53 37

This Week’s Games

November 3-7, 2016
Home Visitor PiRate Mean Bias Totals
Tampa Bay Atlanta -3.6 -4.6 -4.3 55
Baltimore Pittsburgh -4.0 -1.7 -5.5 46
Cleveland Dallas -8.6 -7.5 -9.0 47
Kansas City Jacksonville 15.0 13.0 16.5 49
Miami New York Jets 1.2 2.9 0.4 40
Minnesota Detroit 8.0 7.1 8.4 42
New York Giants Philadelphia -3.4 -1.5 -3.1 50
Los Angeles Carolina -1.4 0.1 -1.8 35
San Francisco New Orleans -5.4 -5.6 -6.0 48
Green Bay Indianapolis 9.0 7.1 9.5 53
San Diego Tennessee 7.3 6.5 7.8 50
Oakland Denver -5.5 -2.9 -5.2 51
Seattle Buffalo 6.8 4.1 6.7 42




October 25, 2016

NFL Ratings And Spreads For Week 8: October 27-31, 2016

A Look At The Metrics
Without getting into far advanced metrics that would bore all but one or two of our readers, let’s take a look at some of the main statistics every football fan is familiar with and try to determine what is affecting NFL games the most this year.

Let’s go through each big recognizable statistic and see if we can discover where the top tier in each stat is winning and in line for the playoffs, and which stats appear to mean very little this season.
Of course, we will throw out things like wins and losses and scoring margins. Obviously, these are the most important stats to determine who is performing the best so far, but we cannot look at just wins and losses and scoring margin and determine that a team is bound to win their next game or lose their next game based on these factors. Later in the season, won-loss records and scoring margins can be used to determine future wins and losses, but still there are times when these stats are not perfect. We won’t even include the fact that a team that has clinched its division and has nothing to play for in Week 17 might treat a game against a 7-8 team like an exhibition. We are talking about games when all teams are still trying to win.

We will also throw out things like Adjusted Value over Average or Air Yards per Pass Attempt. These statistics are great for individual achievements, but a forward pass includes blocking, the quarterback throwing accurately, and intelligently, the receiver catching the ball, and then the receiver looking for downfield blocks and empty space to run.

Something that should be considered is how the yards are gained. Two teams can average four yards per rush, but they may have wide ranges with how they average four yards per rush. Let’s say Team A runs for 16 yards on the first attempt and then gains nothing at all on the next three attempts. If Team A begins at their own 25 yard line and runs four consecutive times for 16,0,0,and 0 yards, they will face 4th and 10 from their own 41 yard line.

Let’s say Team B runs for exactly four yards on each attempt. Four plays later, they will also be at their own 41 yard line, but unlike Team A that is having to punt on 4th and 10, Team B will have it 2nd and 6. Consistency of gaining more than what is needed on a play is more important than regular average. A big fullback might average just 2.9 yards per rush, but if he only carries the ball at the opponents’ two yard line and also on 3rd and 1 or 2 or 4th and 1, that 2.9 yards might make him the most valuable player on the team. Then, another player with a 4.8 yard rushing average might be almost worthless, because he frequently gets stopped short of the first down marker and then gets a 35-yard run just before halftime when the defense has a 7-man secondary and is in prevent, as that 35-yard run ends the half.

After looking at all the 2016 stats that are easy enough to understand, you can completely eliminate total offense, total defense, yards per rushing attempt by offense and versus defense, and yards per passing atttempt by offense and versus defense. There are teams in line to pick high in the 2017 draft that are doing quite well in these statistics, and there are teams that could receive home field advantage in the playoffs doing poorly in these statistics.

Does your team’s coach believe that you win by running the football to set up the pass and by stopping the run first? Chances are, your team is not doing well this season. Four teams are averaging around five yards per rush this season–Buffalo, Cleveland, Miami, and Tennessee. These four have a combined 10-18 record. One team averages less than three yards per rush–Minnesota with a 5-1 record.

Okay, so you say that stopping the run is what really counts? Then, explain why the New York Jets, Carolina Panthers, and Baltimore Ravens aren’t at the top of their divisions, since they stop the run cold. Meanwhile, the Oakland Raiders are surrendering five yards per rush and have a 5-2 record.

Let’s look at the passing game. Passing the ball and defending the pass have been more accurate in predicting the winners of NFL games in the last 10 years or so. It is definitely a better indicator this season than rushing, but it is still not overly accurate. You have division leaders Atlanta, New England, and Dallas among the league leaders in yards per pass attempt, but you also have Cincinnati, San Diego, Miami, and Detroit among the top of the charts.

Defensively, Denver and Minnesota are leading the way by allowing the fewest yards per pass attempt, but right with these two division leaders are Jacksonville, Arizona, the New York Giants, and Los Angeles.

So what statistic currently corresponds with the best with the won-lost records of the NFL? There is definitely one that stands out by itself as the most accurate after seven weeks. In fact, of the top 12 in this statistic, eight would be in the playoffs if the season ended today, and two of the other four would be within striking distance but currently are on the outside due to byes giving teams a half-game lead.

What is this statistic? It is turnover margin. Turnover margin has been much more important this year than in recent seasons. Minnesota leads the league in turnover margin. Oakland and Buffalo are tied for second. Following the top three in order are: Kansas City, Philadelphia, Denver, Dallas, Arizona, and New England. Not a single team has a losing record among this group.

At the other end, of the bottom 13, only two teams have winning records, and both are just 4-3. All eight last place teams in the divisions can be found in this dirty dozen.

The question becomes: “Can we use this stat to predict future results? Ah, therein lies the problem. The turnover margins tend to be the least predictable, even when you have Ryan Fitzpatrick or Case Keenum as your starting quarterback. Fitzpatrick might throw 10% of his passes to the wrong colored jersey for an entire month and then not throw one for a month. A ball carrier might fumble twice in one game and then go weeks without coughing it up.

That presents quite a dilemma when trying to pick winners and losers in the NFL this year. The only rational thing to do is go with underdogs that have positive turnover margins and against favorites with negative turnover margins. And then, don’t count on being all that successful this year.

This Week’s PiRate Ratings

Current NFL PiRate Ratings
East PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
New England 108.9 107.3 109.8 108.7 65 44
Buffalo 104.3 104.6 105.0 104.6 63 42
N. Y. Jets 99.1 97.5 100.0 98.9 58 41
Miami 96.8 97.3 96.7 96.9 59 38
North PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Pittsburgh 103.9 103.4 104.8 104.0 63 41
Cincinnati 102.2 101.8 102.4 102.2 61 41
Baltimore 97.4 99.2 96.8 97.8 61 37
Cleveland 90.1 90.7 89.8 90.2 57 33
South PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Indianapolis 97.5 99.1 97.0 97.9 62 36
Houston 97.6 98.7 97.3 97.9 61 37
Tennessee 94.5 96.1 94.0 94.9 57 38
Jacksonville 94.3 96.0 93.5 94.6 59 36
West PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Denver 107.1 105.2 107.0 106.4 63 43
Kansas City 102.9 102.6 103.4 103.0 64 39
San Diego 100.6 101.4 100.5 100.8 65 36
Oakland 98.3 99.2 98.5 98.7 64 35
East PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Philadelphia 104.0 101.9 103.6 103.2 63 40
Dallas 101.4 100.9 101.8 101.4 61 40
Washington 100.1 100.0 100.1 100.1 62 38
N.Y. Giants 98.6 98.5 98.6 98.6 62 37
North PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Minnesota 106.5 105.3 106.8 106.2 62 44
Green Bay 102.5 102.0 102.3 102.3 63 39
Detroit 98.8 98.5 98.6 98.6 61 38
Chicago 92.9 91.7 92.4 92.4 54 38
South PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Atlanta 102.7 104.2 103.1 103.3 68 35
Carolina 101.9 102.0 101.8 101.9 60 42
New Orleans 97.7 99.5 97.3 98.2 64 34
Tampa Bay 96.8 97.1 96.4 96.8 60 37
West PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Seattle 107.5 104.6 108.4 106.8 63 44
Arizona 106.6 104.5 107.1 106.1 67 39
Los Angeles 98.5 99.6 98.2 98.8 57 42
San Francisco 90.1 91.3 89.4 90.3 53 37


This Week’s Games
Home Visitor PiRate Mean Bias Totals
Tennessee Jacksonville 2.7 2.6 3.0 43
Cincinnati (*) Washington 2.1 1.8 2.3 44
Atlanta Green Bay 2.8 5.2 3.8 57
Buffalo New England -1.6 0.3 -1.8 44
Cleveland New York Jets -6.5 -4.3 -7.7 39
Houston Detroit 1.8 3.2 1.7 49
Indianapolis Kansas City -2.4 -0.5 -3.4 51
New Orleans Seattle -6.8 -2.1 -8.1 50
Tampa Bay Oakland 1.5 0.9 0.9 52
Denver San Diego 9.0 6.3 9.0 49
Carolina Arizona -1.2 1.0 -1.8 45
Dallas Philadelphia 0.4 2.0 1.2 46
Chicago Minnesota -10.6 -10.6 -11.4 35
(*) This game will be played in London



October 12, 2016

PiRate Ratings Money Line Parlay Picks–October 13-17, 2016


A third consecutive winning week was practically in the bag thanks to a great Sunday comeback. Yes, a terrific 84.7% return on our investment was ours, as Joe Flacco guided the Baltimore Ravens on a fourth quarter comeback to defeat the Washington Redskins, allowing the PiRates to cash in on a really nice +199 parlay.

As Lee Corso says, “Not so fast my friends.” All scoring plays are reviewed. Breshad Perriman appeared to have both feet inbounds in real time with his heel of his second foot hitting green turf, but the instant replay told a different story, and by the distance of a few blades of grass, a big payoff turned into a 15% loss on our investment. Oh well, at least they are imaginary dollars, so we didn’t really lose anything but a little self-pride.

One good thing about doing this exercise just for fun is that you don’t become gun shy when you miss on a big payoff like this, and you don’t have to worry about trying to catch up after a loss or sustain any success; you just select the next week’s games as if the new week is in a vacuum.
We have chosen four new selections this week, three from college and one NFL. This is a strange season for the NFL, so we are lessening our amount of pro plays.

Enjoy these selections, but remember, we highly encourage you not to use them to wager real coin, currency, or plastic on them.

October 13-17, 2016

1. College Parlay @ +157
Idaho over New Mexico St.
Marshall over Florida Atlantic
Florida over Missouri
Georgia over Vanderbilt

We like the job Paul Petrino has done at Idaho and expect the Vandals to win in the Palouse this week; considering that this program has announced that they will leave FBS football to return to FCS and the Big Sky Conference in 2018, Petrino could be on the radar screen of other FBS schools should Idaho make it to 6-6 or better this year. Maybe, this year is their last-gasp effort to sneak into a bowl for the first and possibly last time since 2009 and only the third time ever. Here’s a bit of trivia for you: Idaho was once a member of what is the Pac-12 Conference today. From1922 to 1959, the Vandals were in the same league as USC, UCLA, Cal, Oregon, and Stanford. The Idaho-Washington St. rivalry remains strong since the two schools are within walking distance of each other.

Marshall is off to its weakest start in the Doc Holliday tenure, but the Herd should begin to thunder this week against FAU. The Owls lost at Charlotte last week, and Coach Charlie Partridge will be doing his cooing from another pear tree next year.

Florida and Missouri both had last Saturday off, with the Gators’ bye week coming unexpectedly. The good news for Florida was that by watching the most recent game film of the team they were supposed to play last week (LSU), they just happened to watch this week’s opponent. We think the Gators win a rather dull, low-scoring affair in the 14-10 range.

Georgia has not looked brilliant for 60 minutes in any game this year, but even playing 20 minutes brilliantly this week should be enough to win over a Vanderbilt team that is “0 for” on the road in the SEC under Coach Derek Mason and has no passing game.

2. College Parlay @ +192
Arkansas St. over South Alabama
Ohio St. over Wisconsin
Ball St. over Buffalo
Memphis over Tulane

Arkansas State might replicate what Texas A&M did in 1967. The Red Wolves began the season 0-4 and could run the table after that start. South Alabama is a team that gets up for big-time opponents and seems to not show up against opponents not considered big-time.

Wisconsin’s incredibly difficult schedule is about to come down hard in Badgerland. After losing at Michigan, we expect Ohio State to make the home team fans a bit sad as they exit Camp Randall Stadium Saturday. There is an issue of team speed in this game, and UW will eventually succumb to it.

Ball State is on the cusp of being a rather decent team in MAC football, but they are not there yet. However, this Buffalo team is at the bottom of the league, and they lost at home to Kent State last week. The Cardinals look to pick up their biggest point differential win of the season.

Memphis will have a tough time in New Orleans on Saturday, as Tulane is one of those pesky teams that opponents do not enjoy playing. First-year Green Wave coach Willie Fritz is known for his unique style of multiple option running and play-action passing plays, and his offense is eating up the clock with a true freshman quarterback guiding it, but it is the TU defense that is really getting the job done. It just goes to show that the best defense in football is a good time-consuming offense. Still, it is asking a bit too much to expect a green Green Wave squad to upset a team that thinks they can now win the West Division of the AAC.

3. College Parlay @ +172
Florida Int’l. over Charlotte
Ohio U over Eastern Michigan
BYU over Mississippi St.

Ron Turner has been in this boat before. When he coached at Illinois, Turner endured some lean seasons with just two wins, before surprising the nation with a trip to the Rose Bowl and upset of top-ranked Ohio State. Turner has slowly improved FIU from one to four to five wins in his three years in Miami, and the Panthers now could contend for a minor bowl. In order to do so, they have to beat a Charlotte team that just gained a little confidence with their first ever CUSA win last week. We expect FIU to win by at least 10-14 points.

Frank Solich has the Ohio Bobcats in the driver’s seat to win the MAC East this year, as his chief competition, Akron, has a tougher conference schedule, and the season finale between the two is in Athens. The Bobcats respect this EMU team, because this Eagles’ team is 4-2 and thinks it is going to win two more games this year. It was a tough choice, but we sided with OU in this game.

Mississippi State appears to be the 13th best team in the SEC this year, and the Bulldogs already have a home out-of-conference loss to South Alabama. Having to travel to Utah to face a BYU team that is about two touchdowns better today than they were at the start of the season means another loss for the SEC school.

4. NFL Parlay @ +220
New England over Cincinnati
Buffalo over San Francisco
Oakland over Kansas City

Do you expect Tom Brady to lose to anybody in his home debut? We’d go with the Pats to beat the NFC Pro Bowl team this week. Cincinnati could be out of the playoff race after this week, and Marvin Lewis could be in jeopardy of losing his job if the Bengals fall to third in the AFC North.

San Francisco must travel almost 3,000 to the Ontario border to face a mean Buffalo team that has turned things around since their Monday Night debacle against the Jets. Colin Kaepernick will get his first start, and we would not be surprised if subconsciously, the officials see an extra penalty here or there that costs the 49ers a crucial first down. Rex Ryan can sniff playoffs with this Bills’ team. It’s been a very long dry spell for Buffalo, even longer than the Raiders’ dry spell, and a win Sunday puts Buffalo at 4-2.

If you haven’t read our NFL preview from Tuesday, you should read what we had to write about the Oakland – Kansas City rivalry.


This game promises to be one of the best between these two franchises since the old Daryle Lamonica vs. Len Dawson days. The game even shapes up to play like it was from 1968–Oakland has the wide-open high-octane offense and some big play defensive stars, while Kansas City has the better ball-control offense to go with a top-flight defense. All that will be missing is the odd characters like Ben Davidson, Buck Buchanan, Fred Williamson, and Fred Biletnikoff, who wore shoulder pads about as thick as tissue paper and used enough Stickem that he could catch a pass without using his fingers.

October 11, 2016

NFL Ratings And Spreads For Week 5: October 13-17, 2016

Great Rivalry Week

Did the NFL purposely schedule week 6 of the NFL season in such a way as to create multiple long-time rivalry games?  If this was pure coincidence, it sure has created a reason to tune in this week.

Let’s take a look at the schedule and show you why a real NFL fan would want to take in the action this week.

San Diego & Denver: Thursday night’s game will have extra interest due to multiple factors.  First, we send our get-well wishes to Denver Coach Gary Kubiak, as we know that migraines can be a major headache.  Special Teams Coordinator Joe DeCamillis will take on the interim role this week.

This rivalry goes back to the beginning of the old American Football League, as these two teams have always been in the same division and thus have played home and home every year of their existence.  The Chargers were the Western behemoth throughout the first half of the 1960s, while the Broncos strived for mediocrity.  In the 1970s, both teams returned to prominence, with Denver featuring the “Orange Crush” defense and San Diego moving the ball via “Air Coryell.”  The two teams vied for the division championship and wildcard playoff berths.

The rivalry died down for a few years, but it came back in the 1990s with John Elway guiding a hot Broncos’ offense and Junior Seau leading Chargers’ improved defense.  In this century, the two teams have enjoyed moments of success, and their games between 2004 and 2008 were some of the best.

The 2013 season saw the rivals playing for a trip to the AFC Championship, with Peyton Manning outdueling Phillip Rivers.

There are multiple coaching ties between these clubs.  Current Chargers’ head coach Mike McCoy was the offensive coordinator of the Broncos before his hiring in San Diego.  Broncos Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips served as DC for the Chargers when San Diego repeatedly had the best defenses in the NFL.  Other assistant coaches in this game have been coaches for both rivals.

Detroit & Los Angeles: You might have to be a bit of a senior citizen to appreciate this rivalry, but there was a time when this game was like the Broncos and Patriots today.  Back in the early 1950s, these two teams dominated the West Division (or what at one time was called the National Division).  Between 1950 and 1957, one of these rivals played in the NFL Championship every year but 1956, when Chicago edged Detroit by a half game.

Both teams had celebrity quarterbacks generating headlines as much as Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have done in recent years.

The Rams had The Dutchman, Norm Van Brocklin.  Van Brocklin was the master at throwing the long pass.  Give him an option of a wide open receiver five yards down the field and one in man-to-man coverage 40 yards down the field, and The Dutchman would throw the 40-yard pass 90% of the time.  He led LA to the NFL title in 1950, and he won 70% of his starts with the Rams until he was sent to Philadelphia, where he won the Eagles’ last NFL Championship.  In this period in the early 1950’s, Van Brocklin averaged around nine yards per pass attempt, unheard of today even with Brady, Brees, Roethlisberger, or Rodgers.

Detroit had the inimitable Bobby Layne, aka The Blond Bomber.  Layne was a real gunslinger from Texas.  With him at the helm of the Lions’ signal-calling (in those days, the QB actually called his own plays, as it was illegal to signal them in from the sidelines), Detroit usually finished at or near the top in passing and scoring. If you think John Elway or Brett Favre cornered the market in fourth quarter comebacks, Layne invented the tension-filled final stanza of more contests than either modern day legend.  It was often said that Bobby Layne never lost a game as Detroit Lion QB; he just ran out of time before he finished the comeback.

The 1952 season National Conference race ended in a tie between the two teams, and Detroit won the playoff before knocking off Cleveland for the NFL title a week later.


Miami & Pittsburgh: This rivalry began in the early 1970s after the Steelers hiked from the NFL to the AFC and became a playoff regular, while Miami was enjoying its most successful years in pro football.  During the incredible 17-0 Super Bowl Champion season of 1972, the Dolphins ran into a pesky Steelers’ team in the AFC Championship Game.   The Steelers actually took the lead in the third quarter, before backup running back Jim Kiick scored a couple of rushing touchdowns to give the Fish a double-digit lead.  Still, Pittsburgh stormed back in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to four.

The following year, when the Dolphins were on the march to a second Super Bowl title in a row, they hosted the Steelers in a December game where a win would secure home field advantage for the playoffs.  After streaking to a quick 27-0 lead, Miami seemed to have this game securely in the win column, but Pittsburgh came back from a 30-3 halftime deficit to cut it to 30-26 with a chance to win the game late in the fourth quarter.

The 1976 season saw the Steelers collapse to a 1-4 record at the start of the season, and it appeared that Coach Chuck Noll’s magic had worn off, as the Steel Curtain Defense seemed to be missing some metal.  The final nine games of the season showed the world that this team had more steel power than any modern day defense in NFL history, as the Steelers won their final nine regular season games and surrendered just 28 points in those nine games!

The Steelers finally topped the Dolphins during that streak, and they did it with Terry Bradshaw injured and out of the game.  Pittsburgh held the Dolphins to a field goal in a 14-3 win, in which the Steelers threw less than 10 passes all day.

New York Giants & Baltimore: This is the rivalry that made NFL Football a national pastime.  The Giants had become a dominant team in the 1950s, featuring a veritable who’s who of top talent including quarterback Charlie Conerly, running backs Frank Gifford and Alex Webster, end Kyle Rote, an incredible defensive line featuring Andy Robustelli, Dick Modzelewski, and Rosey Grier, and the middle linebacker that became a legend thanks to an NFL film in Sam Huff.  Having two future legends as assistant coaches (see below) made rooting for the Giants just like rooting for the Yankees in baseball.

The Lions and Rams dominated the West, up through 1957, and then along came Baltimore.  The Colts had been an afterthought entry into the NFL when the Dallas Texans folded after one season in 1952.  The acquisition of an unknown quarterback cut by Pittsburgh as a rookie in 1955 turned out to be an 18-year mistake for the Steelers.  One John Unitas made the Colts the dominant Western team until Lombardi joined the Packers, and then #19 fought Green Bay to a draw from the time Lombardi took over in Title Town.

The event that made the NFL into the big boy league was the 1958 Championship game played between the Giants and the Colts.  It has been tabbed “The Greatest Game Ever Played,” and it has evidence to back it up.  In all of Super Bowl history, no game has ever finished tied after 60 minutes, forcing an overtime.  Very few playoff games of any kind have needed an overtime, and it didn’t look like this one was going to need one, as the Giants held a 17-14 lead late in the fourth quarter, with the Colts pinned back at their own 14 yard line.

New York was one final defensive stand away from salting this game away and winning another championship, but it was not to be.  Unitas showed why he was one of the best ever to play the position.  He guided the Colts on a sustained drive going to his favorite target, receiver Raymond Berry, multiple times until Baltimore was in the Red Zone.    With time for just one more play, Steve Myhra was sent into the game to attempt a 20-yard field goal.  Forget for a moment that today a 20-yard field goal is successful more than 99% of the time.  It was anything but automatic in 1958 for one main reason–there were no kicking specialists in the NFL in those days, because rosters were capped at just 33 players.

Myhra was a two-way position player in 1958, playing guard on offense and linebacker on defense.  He was the kicker because he was the best they had from among the position players.  He had made just 4 of 10 field goal attempts during the season, and he had missed from less than 20; goalposts were at the goal line in those days, so a 20-yard field goal meant the line of scrimmage was the Giants’ 13.  Thus, even a 40% accurate field goal kicker was the choice over trying to score a touchdown on one play from the 13 yard line.  Myhra’s kick wasn’t a beauty, but it sailed over the crossbar to tie the game and send it to overtime.

Other NFL games and even a couple of Championship Games had been televised before, but few fans actually saw those games on the Dumont Television Network.  On this day before a full-house at Yankee Stadium millions watched on national television.  The viewership increased greatly as the Colts made that tying drive, and the game went to overtime, except a good amount of time was lost to the public when the signal was accidentally cut for several minutes.  Everything was swell again once the overtime period started.

New York got the ball first in overtime, but the Giants couldn’t do anything with it and had to quickly punt to the Colts.  Unitas must have thought it was a gift to start this drive at his own 20, and he never gave the New Yorkers a chance to get the ball back, guiding the Colts on an 80-yard, 13-play drive that culminated with Alan Ameche plunging across the goal for the game-winning touchdown.

The extra eight minutes and change made the NFL what it is today.

Green Bay & Dallas: This rivalry built on top of the building block created by the one just mentioned.  When Tom Landry built the Cowboys into “America’s Team” in the last half of the 1960’s, there was still one team Dallas could not defeat.  Vince Lombardi’s Packers were the best team ever over the course of eight years, winning the NFL title five times.  What made this rivalry even more intense was that Landry and Lombardi were the two coordinators on that Giants team that lost to Baltimore in 1958 (Lombardi-offense & Landry-defense).  The NFL Championship Games of 1966 and 1967 helped move the NFL past Major League Baseball in followers, especially since the New York Yankees went on the decline in 1965, and the Los Angeles Dodgers would follow suit two years later.

Even after Lombardi retired for a year in 1968, and the Packers became old and injured almost overnight, Landry’s arguably best Cowboys’ team could not beat Green Bay.  The rivalry is as strong as ever, and expect a hard-fought contest Sunday.

Oakland & Kansas City: The Colts and Giants made football what it is today, and the Packers and Cowboys built it even higher, but this rivalry belongs in a class by itself.  If you think the Yankees and Red Sox, Dodgers and Giants, Alabama and Auburn, Army and Navy, or North Carolina and Duke basketball rivalries are something, they pale in comparison to what this rivalry once was.  This was war in a pasture for many years, and it became a rivalry that made bitter enemies of the players, the coaches, the fans, the owners, and even the residents of the two cities.  It was Israel and Iran on the gridiron.

The Chiefs began as the second team to call itself the Dallas Texans when the AFL began in 1960.  Owner Lamar Hunt came from great wealth, as the Hunt family owned great oil interests among many other diversified investments.  Owning an NFL team was something of an adult toy for Hunt.

Hunt did not like his team being considered second-rate to the expansion Cowboys, who played in the same Cotton Bowl Stadium and seldom competed in their games, while the AFL team won the 1962 Championship.  Hunt decided he could much easier share a venue with the inept Kansas City Athletics of the American League, so he uprooted the AFL Champs to Kansas City Municipal Stadium in 1963.  With an eccentric head coach in Hank Stram, the Chiefs fit right in with the eccentric owner of the baseball team.

Oakland was never supposed to have a pro football team.  The spot had been awarded to Minneapolis, but the NFL powers that be stole the city for the senior league.  Another wealthy baron, one Barron Hilton, owned the Los Angeles Chargers and used his influence to force the fledgling league to locate a second team in the Golden State.  Oakland was chosen, even though there was no move to bring a team there.  There was no adequate place to play their games there, and most of the inhabitants of the east side of the Bay were San Francisco 49ers fans.

Ownership changed hands in the early days about as often as the Cleveland Browns change quarterbacks today.  None of  the owners had the wealth of a Hunt or Hilton, and the Raiders had to cut corners just to survive.  Finding a place to play was a burden, as they changed locales almost as often as the Browns change quarterbacks.  They played in a makeshift stadium built for less than half a million dollars with a seating capacity of just over 20,000.

Things started to change for the Raiders in the mid-1960s.  Al Davis, a former assistant coach of the Chargers, became head coach, part-owner, and after a stint as AFL Commissioner, the managing partner of the team.  Davis brought in better talent, and the Raiders moved into the new Oakland-Alameda Stadium in 1966.

Under new coach John Rauch, the Raiders gave the Chiefs a run for their money in 1966, finishing second in the West Division, but splitting the two games.  Kansas City won the AFL title and fizzled in the first Super Bowl.

The following year, Oakland picked up the Mad Bomber from Buffalo.  Daryle Lamonica guided the Raiders to the best mark in the history of the AFL, going 13-1 and sweeping the Chiefs, including an embarrassing 20+ point blowout on Thanksgiving Day in Kansas City.  The four games of 1966 and 1967 were hard-fought with several dirty blows emanating from both teams.  15-yard penalties were a dime a dozen, as were injuries and bloodshed.

1968 made this rivalry even fiercer.  First, the nation as a whole suffered through a year of violence, with two major assassinations, rioting in many major cities, a Presidential Election that experienced severe violence at one of its conventions, and the burning of Detroit following the assassination of Martin Luther King.

So, when that eccentric, cheapskate owner of the Athletics moved his baseball franchise, he chose Oakland.  That didn’t sit well with Kansas City sports fans.  The city of Oakland was no different than Hanoi to the residents of Middle America.

The Chiefs and Raiders met three times in 1968, and they would do so again in 1969.  In the first contest, Stram was strapped for talent.  None of his receivers were healthy enough to play, and there was no time to sign any free agents or acquire any in a trade.  Stram had three very fine running backs, so he had an idea.  Why not use the old-fashioned, moth-balled Power-T formation from the 1940s?  He could place his three backs in the backfield at the same time and go with his two healthy tight ends.

Can you imagine an NFL team using the wishbone offense today?  The Chiefs did the equivalent that day in October of 1968, and against the defending AFL Champion Raiders, it made the game a laugher.  No, it wasn’t what you might think.  Kansas City QB Len Dawson attempted three passes all day, two of them to backs, and one to a tight end.  He completed two, as one intended for a back was off target.  How bad did the Raiders blow the Chiefs out that day?  They didn’t, because with all the faking of multiple backs, two of whom could create their own holes and one with close to sprinters’ speed, Kansas City ran through the Oakland defense all day long.  Oakland had no answer for the power plays, inside traps, power sweeps, counters, and roll outs.  Kansas City won with ease to move into first place in the West.

Oakland got their revenge a month later, as the Chiefs were back to normal for this game.  The teams continued to win and finished with identical 12-2 records, forcing a playoff for the AFL West Division title.  It was never close.  Lamonica lived up to his moniker, as he completed three long touchdown passes in the first quarter alone.  Oakland led 21-0 after the end of the first quarter.  After Kansas City cut it to 21-6 on a couple of field goals. Lamonica went at it again with a touchdown bombs to Fred Biletnikoff and Warren Wells to put the game out of reach at 35-6, winning 41-6.

In 1969, the Raiders were the class of the league once again, and they were considered the equal of the Minnesota Vikings and Cleveland Browns of the other league.  The Jets had proven the year before that the AFL was on par with the NFL, and with Lamonica, Biletnikoff, and a wicked defense featuring Ben Davidson, it was thought that Oakland could punish any NFL team with their hoodlum style of play.

The Chiefs had become one-dimensional by then.  Their once great offense was not what it had been, but they had a terrific defense.  It wasn’t enough for Kansas City to stand toe-to-toe with Oakland that year.  The Raiders won a pre-season game over KC, and then they swept the Chiefs in the regular season in games that resembled pro wrestling as much as it did football.

However, the AFL had decided to add a week of playoffs in its final year, giving it four teams in the playoffs like the NFL.  The second place Chiefs played at East Division Champion New York, while the East runner-up, Houston at 6-6-2, played at Oakland.

Kansas City sent Broadway Joe Namath and the Jets packing by holding New York to a couple of field goals and picking off Namath three times.  In the second game of the day, Oakland dismissed Houston like Michigan recently beat Rutgers.  Lamonica’s six touchdown passes and the Raider defense’s six sacks paced Oakland to a 56-7 win that could have been much worse.  Oakland led 28-0 before the end of the first quarter.

The following week, the Raiders hosted the Chiefs in their fourth meeting of the season.  The winner would face the Purple People Eaters, the Minnesota Vikings, who had just defeated Cleveland for the NFL Championship.

Once again, an incredible Chiefs’ defense held an offensive juggernaut in check for 60 minutes.  Oakland moved the ball in the first quarter and took a 7-0 lead, but that was the end of the Raiders’ offensive success for the remainder of the game.  KC did very little with the ball all day, barely gaining 200 total yards, but the defense caught four Oakland passes and won the game 17-7.  Kansas City, and not Oakland, proved that the previous year was not a fluke, beating Minnesota on yet another fantastic defensive showing.

In 1970, the two rivals were no longer the behemoths of the AFL days.  Still, they fought tooth and nail for the new AFC West title, and their two games were nationally televised.  Oakland won the division by a game over Kansas City, but they stole this division title.  Kansas City would have won the division under today’s rules.  Early in the season, the Chiefs had basically secured a win over the Raiders, and Dawson only had to burn what was left on the clock to end the game.  He picked up the crucial first down that would allow KC to down the ball a couple of times and go home winners.

It was not to be.  When Dawson picked up the first down to apparently ice the game, the brute Davidson came in from behind and delivered a nasty cheap shot late hit, a very late hit.  All the frustrations of the numerous late hits in this game led to half of the Chiefs’ team jumping Davidson in one of the worst free-for-alls in sports history.  By the time the referees intervened (a couple of the refs were actually roughed up too), the call was for offsetting 15-yard penalties.

In 1970, any off-setting penalty, including those more than one second after the play like Davidson’s cheap shot, led to the scrimmage play being nullified.  So, Dawson’s game-clenching first down was erased.  Kansas City failed to convert the first down on the do-over.   The Chiefs had to punt, and Oakland moved the ball just across midfield where the old man, George Blanda, kicked the game-tying field goal from 48 yards out on the final play.

The next season, the NFL changed the rules so that had this play occurred in 1971, Kansas City would have kept their first down and could have run out the clock.  In 1970, it proved to be the difference in which team made the playoffs.

Back to the present: These two still bitter rivals should give the public a great game, but few will get that chance to see this game under today’s TV contract.  It won’t be the equal of any of those Chiefs-Raiders games of the late 1960’s, but it should still be a great one if you can watch it.


This Week’s PiRate Ratings

Current NFL PiRate Ratings
East PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
New England 107.4 105.8 107.9 107.0 64 43
Buffalo 104.2 104.4 104.8 104.5 62 43
N. Y. Jets 101.1 99.3 102.1 100.8 60 41
Miami 93.1 94.2 92.5 93.2 56 37
North PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Pittsburgh 107.0 106.2 108.4 107.2 66 41
Cincinnati 103.2 102.7 103.6 103.2 61 42
Baltimore 97.9 100.0 97.4 98.4 61 37
Cleveland 89.4 90.2 89.0 89.5 57 33
South PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Houston 98.5 99.6 98.4 98.8 62 37
Indianapolis 96.5 98.2 95.7 96.8 61 36
Tennessee 96.0 97.4 95.8 96.4 57 39
Jacksonville 95.3 97.0 94.6 95.6 59 37
West PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Denver 107.6 105.4 107.7 106.9 63 44
Kansas City 101.3 100.9 101.9 101.4 63 38
Oakland 98.8 99.8 98.8 99.1 64 35
San Diego 98.9 100.1 98.3 99.1 64 35
East PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Philadelphia 104.1 101.3 103.6 103.0 64 39
Dallas 99.2 99.0 99.5 99.2 59 40
Washington 98.8 99.5 98.8 99.0 61 38
N.Y. Giants 98.1 97.7 97.9 97.9 62 36
North PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Minnesota 107.6 106.3 108.1 107.3 62 45
Green Bay 104.3 103.6 104.2 104.0 64 40
Detroit 98.7 98.3 98.4 98.5 61 38
Chicago 93.5 92.0 93.1 92.9 55 38
South PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Atlanta 102.8 104.6 103.3 103.5 68 36
Carolina 102.3 102.1 102.3 102.2 60 42
New Orleans 97.2 99.5 96.6 97.8 64 34
Tampa Bay 95.2 95.7 94.6 95.2 59 36
West PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Seattle 107.7 104.4 108.6 106.9 63 44
Arizona 104.9 103.0 105.4 104.4 66 38
Los Angeles 98.8 100.0 98.6 99.2 57 42
San Francisco 92.7 93.5 92.5 92.9 55 38

This Week’s Spreads

Home Visitor PiRate Mean Bias Totals
San Diego Denver -5.7 -2.3 -6.4 48
Buffalo San Francisco 15.0 14.4 15.8 38
Chicago Jacksonville 1.2 -2.0 1.5 40
Detroit Los Angeles 2.9 1.3 2.8 40
Green Bay Dallas 8.1 7.6 7.7 44
Houston Indianapolis 5.0 4.4 5.7 52
Miami Pittsburgh -11.4 -9.5 -13.4 45
New England Cincinnati 7.2 6.1 7.3 42
New Orleans Carolina -2.1 0.4 -2.7 48
N. Y. Giants Baltimore 2.2 -0.3 2.5 52
Oakland Kansas City 0.5 1.9 -0.1 54
Seattle Atlanta 7.9 2.8 8.3 50
Tennessee Cleveland 9.6 10.2 9.8 43
Washington Philadelphia -3.3 0.2 -2.8 49
Arizona N. Y. Jets 6.8 6.7 6.3 48




September 28, 2016

PiRate Ratings Money Line Parlay Picks–September 29-October 3, 2016

First Big Payday (even if it wasn’t real)

After failing miserably in the opening two weeks, and then failing minimally in week three, the PiRates reaped quite an imaginary booty of riches last week when our money line parlays returned 75% on investment. Thanks to winning big on the NFL Parlay of Indianapolis, Oakland, and Dallas, and to the nice college parlay of Arizona State, Cincinnati, Minnesota, and Memphis, our imaginary $400 wagered returned us $699 for a profit of $299 and ROI of 75%.
For the season, we are still in the hole to the tune of $193 on $1,600 wagered and an ROI of -12%. Let’s hope that like last year, once we began to win, we won consistently every week. On the other hand, one winning week out of four, even if it was big, is not enough to convince us that we are on to something again this year.

In fact, this week’s games do not excite us very much. We had to peruse the odds carefully multiple times just to come up with three parlays. At least, these parlays go off at such odds that winning just one of any of these three would make our week profitable. The glass half-empty types, which represents 95% of the players, might say that the odds on these three games are so stacked against us that there is no way any of them could win. Since our wagers are imaginary, we can see that our glass is half-full with liquids about to be poured to fill it up. In other words, we don’t feel any stress going with these three parlays this week.

1. College Parlay at +218
Ohio U over Miami of Ohio
Louisiana-Lafayette over New Mexico State
Iowa over Northwestern

You may notice that a high percentage of our college plays is made in games involving teams outside the Power Five. It is our opinion that the odds can be off more in these Group of Five games than in games where the nations’ sports eyes are more focused. Whereas games like Michigan and Wisconsin are perused carefully by the betting public, games from the MAC or Sun Belt don’t see the same amount of action, and thus we feel like the odds are a little bit off. UL-Lafayette is properly favored over New Mexico State, but we think they should be favored by more than what the line says. We feel the same way about Ohio over Miami. The Iowa-Northwestern line is about where we feel it should be, but in this case, we think the Hawkeyes have a strong chance of winning and completing the triplet parlay for a $318 return on $100 invested.

2. College Parlay at +273
Tennessee over Georgia
Akron over Kent St.
Old Dominion over Charlotte
Florida over Vanderbilt

This parlay presents us with three separate psychologies, as well as the belief that the favorites are just plain better than the underdogs and should win without any added psychologies. The public expects Tennessee to venture between the hedges and come out flat, while Georgia rebounds in a big way after losing to Ole Miss by more than 30. We feel that Georgia is just much weaker than normal this year, and the loss in Oxford was not an anamoly. The talent in Athens is just not what it normally has been in typical years. Thus, we believe that the Volunteers will win by up to two touchdowns in this game.

The Akron and Old Dominion games are further examples of Group of Five game odds being off. We believe the two favorites should be more heavily favored and choose to take advantage of the odds being favored in our direction for higher potential payouts.

The Florida-Vanderbilt game is the polar opposite of the Tennessee-Georgia game in one way, and the exact same thing in the other way. Florida had the Tennessee game secured by halftime and then saw an orange tornado vanquish their Gator bite in the second half. They can ill afford to lose two games in a row in the Volunteer State. Vanderbilt won a hard-fought overtime game at Western Kentucky last week after the Hilltoppers squandered opportunities to put the game away.

Last year, a shanked punt allowed Florida to kick a field goal and win a sloppy game 9-7 in the Swamp. The public is looking at this game and believes this one could be similar with a possible upset. However, this Vanderbilt team lacks the defense that last year’s team had. In fact, it is one of the weakest among the Power Five teams, and Florida should play four quarters similar to how they played the first two in Knoxville last week.

3. NFL Parlay at +331
Cincinnati over Miami
Houston over Tennessee
Baltimore over Oakland
Pittsburgh over Kansas City

The Dolphins had to go to overtime to beat a lowly Browns’ team using a third string quarterback. Now, they must face Cincinnati on Thursday night on national television after the Bengals dropped back-to-back games against two tough teams. Cinti should win by 10 or more.

Houston can take a commanding lead in the AFC South this week by winning this game and hoping Jacksonville can dispense of Indianapolis. The Texans had an extra three days to prepare for a team they have owned in recent years. Tennessee has a potentially potent offense hiding behind an ineffective smashmouth offense. When Marcus Mariota is forced into a quick score situation, he guides the Titans like he did at Oregon. But, the Titans refuse to use this gameplan until all hope is lost or close to lost. Expect Houston to shoot out to a double-digit lead, and then when the Titans have to play catch-up, they will make the game closer but not close enough.

Baltimore looks to begin the season at 4-0 as they host Oakland. The Raiders are having to make a 2,000-mile trip for the second week in a row, and the Raiders may show signs of fatigue after having to play last week in the oppressive heat with temperatures in the 90’s. We believe the Raiders will be just a tad slow to react on defense and not quite as explosive on offense, leading to a Ravens’ win.

The Steelers are in the same boat as the Texans this week. Following an embarrassing loss in which they were manhandled by Philly, look for Pittsburgh to bounce back with their best performance of the season.

September 27, 2016

NFL Ratings And Spreads For Week 4: September 29-October 3, 2016

Skill Position Rookie Class Could Be Best Ever
Take a look at the passing leaders in the NFL through three weeks of the season. Two of the top quarterbacks are rookies, while another is a second year player with no experience as a rookie last year. And, none of the three are top pick in the 2016 NFL Draft Jared Goff.

Number two selection Carson Wentz has the Philadelphia Eagles off to a 3-0 start, and he has the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defensive players calling him a Hall of Fame player! Wentz torched the Steelers for 301 yards at almost 10 yards per pass attempt. For the season, Wentz has a QB Rating of 103.8. He has five TD passes with no interceptions. And, there were scouts of some teams that claimed he didn’t have the polished skills to be a first round pick! Sounds like there are some scouts that don’t have the skills to be NFL scouts.

Dak Prescott was not expected to see much action if any this year for the Dallas Cowboys, but his play could conceivably make Tony Romo the Wally Pipp of football. Combining with fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliott, Prescott has the Cowboys’ offense looking like the old Roger Staubach/Tony Dorsett team. Prescott is averaging 256 passing yards per game to go with a big enough running threat to force defenses to spy on him rather than key on Elliott. The threat that Prescott can fake to Elliott going one way, while keeping and going the other way is enough to give Elliott just enough room to break free for long gains.

Elliott is on pace for more than 1,460 yards rushing. Defenses have to stop his threat, which means Prescott has a bit more time to locate Dez Bryant, Jason Whitten, Terrance Williams, and the surprising Cole Beasley, who is on pace to grab more than 100 passed for close to 1,150 yards. The NFC East could be the most exciting division in the NFL thanks to the two rookie QBs joining Eli Manning to make this a wide-open race.

He is only the third string quarterback, but New England’s Jacoby Brissett isn’t that far behind Prescott talentwise. Brissett played conservatively and made few mistakes in his game and a half action after Jimmy Garoppolo went down with an injury against Miami.

Elliott isn’t the only running back excelling through three games. In Oakland, Jalen Richard has averaged 8.6 yards per carry, including a big touchdown run of 75 yards. Richard was an undrafted free agent, so 31 other teams missed the boat on him.

While Richard has been threatening to break off long runs with every touch, it’s another rookie in silver and black that has been picking up the bruising yards between the guards. DeAndre Washington, a fifth round pick out of Texas Tech, is averaging 6.5 yards per carry and is proving to be as efficient at picking up first downs as Hewritt Dixon and Mark van Eeghen once did for the champion Raiders’ teams of the past.

Wendell Smallwood has been a consistent gainer for the Eagles. The fifth round choice from West Virginia converted numerous first downs against Pittsburgh, rushing for five or more yards on seven different attempts after the Eagles took the lead.

As good as the quarterback and running back group of rookies are, the wide receiver spot may be the best of all. Before breaking his hand, former Baylor standout Corey Coleman was off to a smashing start with Cleveland. First round pick Will Fuller disappeared against New England last week, but the former Notre Dame star topped 100 receiving yards in both of Houston’s first two games. Sterling Shepard was highly heralded coming out of Oklahoma, and the second round choice has given Eli Manning and the Giants an excellent compliment to Odell Beckham, Jr. Fellow second round pick Michael Thomas from Ohio State could emerge as Drew Brees’ top receiver in New Orleans.

He isn’t a rookie, but it is his first year of experience, so Trevor Siemian Denver was expected to struggle and win close games with defense after losing Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler. Osweiler is doing a less than mediocre job with Houston, while rookie Trevor Siemian looks like a long-term solution in the Mile High City. Siemian has looked better in each successive game so far, and he looked like an Elway or Manning in Denver’s road win against the Bengals. He passed for 312 yards and four scores against a playoff-caliber defense, as the Broncos improved to 3-0.


This Week’s Ratings

Current NFL PiRate Ratings
East PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
New England 104.1 102.1 104.8 103.7 61 43
Buffalo 101.1 101.7 101.5 101.4 60 41
N. Y. Jets 101.6 99.6 102.6 101.3 61 42
Miami 95.3 96.2 95.1 95.5 58 38
North PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Cincinnati 105.3 104.5 106.0 105.3 62 43
Pittsburgh 103.4 103.0 104.4 103.6 64 40
Baltimore 98.8 101.0 98.5 99.4 61 38
Cleveland 90.7 91.6 90.3 90.9 57 34
South PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Houston 99.2 100.3 99.2 99.6 62 38
Indianapolis 97.3 99.1 96.5 97.6 61 37
Jacksonville 95.0 96.8 94.3 95.4 58 37
Tennessee 93.5 95.2 92.9 93.9 54 40
West PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Denver 108.3 105.2 108.6 107.3 63 44
Kansas City 104.2 103.6 105.1 104.3 64 40
San Diego 99.7 100.7 99.2 99.9 64 36
Oakland 98.1 99.1 98.1 98.4 63 35
East PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Philadelphia 104.5 101.5 104.2 103.4 62 38
Washington 98.0 98.6 97.9 98.2 61 37
N.Y. Giants 98.3 97.8 97.8 98.0 62 37
Dallas 95.9 95.9 95.6 95.8 56 39
North PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Minnesota 106.2 105.0 106.9 106.0 60 43
Green Bay 104.4 103.7 104.4 104.2 64 40
Detroit 99.2 99.0 98.8 99.0 62 37
Chicago 93.1 91.3 92.6 92.4 56 39
South PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Carolina 107.1 106.1 107.8 107.0 64 43
Atlanta 98.6 101.4 98.6 99.5 64 36
New Orleans 96.9 99.4 96.1 97.5 64 34
Tampa Bay 95.2 96.4 94.2 95.3 59 36
West PiRate Mean Bias Avg Off Def
Seattle 106.7 103.8 107.5 106.0 63 43
Arizona 106.5 104.3 107.1 106.0 68 38
Los Angeles 98.9 100.1 98.6 99.2 57 42
San Francisco 95.0 96.0 95.0 95.3 56 39

This Week’s Spreads

September 29-October 3, 2016

Home Visitor PiRate Mean Bias Totals
Cincinnati Miami 13.0 11.3 13.9 42
Jacksonville (*) Indianapolis -2.3 -2.3 -2.2 45
Atlanta Carolina -6.0 -2.2 -6.7 50
Baltimore Oakland 4.2 5.4 3.9 53
Chicago Detroit -3.6 -5.2 -3.7 42
Houston Tennessee 8.7 8.1 9.3 41
New England Buffalo 6.0 3.4 6.3 39
New York Jets Seattle -1.6 -0.7 -1.4 42
Washington Cleveland 10.3 10.0 10.6 49
Tampa Bay Denver -10.1 -5.8 -11.4 44
Arizona Los Angeles 10.6 7.2 11.5 47
San Diego New Orleans 5.8 4.3 6.1 60
San Francisco Dallas 2.1 3.1 2.4 37
Pittsburgh Kansas City 2.2 2.4 2.3 49
Minnesota New York Giants 10.9 10.2 12.1 45




September 21, 2016

PiRate Ratings Money Line Parlay Picks–September 22-26, 2016

After improving a bit last week and losing only $23 of our imaginary bank roll, we have decided to expand our plays to include a couple of underdogs we believe can win outright. Thus, two of our four chosen plays this week will return big payoffs of imaginary cash should they come through with winners.
First, we must take care of official business. Last week, we played five parlays, winning $277 and losing $300. For the year, we have now wagered $1,200 in imaginary money, and have a loss of $442 to date, meaning still no return on our unreal investment. We warned you that Money Line Parlays can be really tough, but we love to play them, especially since it costs us nothing.
Here are our picks for this week. Remember, don’t actually wager on these. This is just for fun, and we would never put a dime of real money on these plays, even if it returned over 40% on investment last year. It’s doing squat so far this year.

1. College Parlay at +450
Army over Buffalo
Tulane over Louisiana-Lafayette
Arkansas over Texas A&M

Arkansas is the underdog in this parlay and the reason it offers a return of 4.5 times the amount invested. The Razorbacks have been slowly developing a balanced offense with an improving defense. Winning at TCU is enough to show us that the Hogs are on the way back to great things. Texas A&M has struggled in their two wins over quality opposition, and we believe the Aggies are due for continued struggles.

Army is off to a great start, and the Black Knights now face a Buffalo team that has already lost to a FCS opponent. This could be the type of game that allows the Cadets to play their plebes. Coach Jeff Monken learned well from his mentor Paul Johnson, and the Army rushing attack looks like it could move the ball on most FBS teams this year. They should light up the scoreboard against Buffalo.

Tulane is also running the option under first year coach Willie Fritz. Fritz does not have all the pieces in place yet in New Orleans, but with his Texas ties, it is only a matter of time until the Green Wave are winning once again. For now, TU has an exceptional defense with a clock-consuming offense that allows that defense to stay fresh and strong enough to hold ULL to 10 points, which is few enough that we see the olive green and blue winning this week.

2. College Parlay at +126
Arizona St. over California
Cincinnati over Miami (O)
Minnesota over Colorado St.
Memphis over Bowling Green

Arizona State had to rally in the fourth quarter to win at UTSA, while Cal pulled off a nice home upset of Texas. With the Golden Bears playing in the heat in Tempe, and with ASU’s players more focused, we believe Todd Graham’s Sun Devils will play their best game of the season to date, while Cal has trouble with the heat and the speed of the ASU receivers.

Cincinnati should beat Miami of Ohio by 3 touchdowns, but even if the in-state rival underdogs play their best possible and the Bearcats stink up the joint, Cinti should win by at least 10.

Minnesota is a team flying under the radar. They win, but they don’t win convincingly and don’t win with flashy play. The offense is better than most think, and the defense is not shabby. This Gophers team is not yet the equivalent of the Sandy Stephens’ teams of the early 1960’s, but it could be as good as any in Minneapolis since Laurence Maroney and Bryan Capito were moving the pigskin.

This year’s Memphis team has not really been challenged yet, and Bowling Green is not the team to bring that challenge. The Tigers should have little problem disposing of the Falcons, as this is a different BGU team without Dino Babers at the controls.

3. NFL Parlay at +373
Indianapolis over San Diego
Oakland over Tennessee
Dallas over Chicago

Oakland is the second underdog we will use in our parlays this week. The Raiders’ starting offensive and defensive lines manhandled the Titans starting offensive and defensive lines in the preseason game. Preseason games don’t reveal a lot, but when you see one front consistently moving the opposing front in the same direction, it is a good bet that they will do so no matter the importance of the game. We believe the Raiders will score more points than the Titans are capable of scoring, and thus we go with the underdog.

Indianapolis faces a must-win scenario at home. Even with a sore Andrew Luck, we believe the Colts will find a way to eke out a small win. If not, then the AFC West is going to be one incredible 4-team race.

Dallas should handle the Bears with relative ease. Without Jay Cutler, Chicago will have to play conservatively and hope they can rattle Dak Prescott. We believe that the nifty rookie will continue to play brilliantly week after week and could be the odds-on favorite to win the Rookie of the Year Award.

4. NFL Parlay at +143
Miami over Cleveland
New York Giants over Washington
Carolina over Minnesota

If Cleveland couldn’t win with RGIII and John McCown at quarterback, then how can they win with Cody Kessler, who wasn’t good enough to make the active roster when all the QBs were healthy. Miami is not playoff worthy at this point, but Adam Gase can design a game plan that will make Kessler’s debut a nightmare.

The Giants look like the Giants of old when Eli Manning had multiple quality receivers to throw to, and the defense came up with big stops. Well, Manning has multiple quality receivers again, and the defense is coming up with big stops. NY could be looking at a season where they are playing at home in January.

The Carolina-Minnesota match worried us for hours today. The Vikings will have to go without Adrian Peterson, but their defense looks as strong as it has looked since the days of Eller, Page, and company. Meanwhile, there is unrest in Charlotte, and it could carry over to the team. We decided that in the end, we would go with the home team to capitalize on the weakened running game and thus to slow down Sam Bradford.

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