The Pi-Rate Ratings

December 11, 2008

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

PiRate Ratings For NFL Week 15

And Down The Stretch They Come!

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

The PiRate Pro Ratings (Rating)

 

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

 

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

 

The Mean Ratings (Mean)

 

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

 

The Bias Ratings (Biased)

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Current NFL Standings
NFC East Won   Lost   Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

New York

11

2

0

366

226

110.21

109.88

108.46

2

Dallas

8

5

0

312

280

102.02

102.78

103.60

2

Philadelphia

7

5

1

339

263

107.18

105.64

105.81

2

Washington

7

6

0

218

246

99.03

99.74

100.60

2

NFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Minnesota

8

5

0

307

276

103.51

103.71

104.09

2

Chicago

7

6

0

304

278

102.34

101.17

102.15

2

Green Bay

5

8

0

355

319

104.62

102.10

100.99

2

Detroit

0

13

0

219

413

87.55

88.46

87.65

3

NFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Carolina

10

3

0

323

254

105.75

104.74

106.54

2

Tampa Bay

9

4

0

303

238

105.14

103.85

105.04

2

Atlanta  

8

5

0

323

271

104.40

103.44

103.62

2

New Orleans

7

6

0

366

326

103.61

103.00

102.17

2

NFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Arizona

8

5

0

372

323

101.44

100.95

102.52

3

San Francisco

5

8

0

286

327

95.22

96.48

96.19

3

Seattle

2

11

0

237

335

92.29

92.89

92.48

3

St. Louis

2

11

0

169

394

83.23

86.90

84.67

2

AFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

New York

8

5

0

354

292

101.26

101.10

102.52

2

New England

8

5

0

301

276

99.57

101.16

102.79

2

Miami

8

5

0

269

260

98.26

98.56

102.01

2

Buffalo

6

7

0

279

275

96.33

95.31

97.37

3

AFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Pittsburgh

10

3

0

289

183

108.86

108.01

107.22

2

Baltimore

9

4

0

316

200

109.24

108.03

106.70

3

Cleveland

4

9

0

222

275

97.55

97.36

95.03

2

Cincinnati

1

11

1

154

345

90.35

91.54

88.23

2

AFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Tennessee

12

1

0

332

184

110.21

108.83

108.85

2

Indianapolis

9

4

0

292

253

104.85

105.51

105.92

2

Houston

6

7

0

306

331

99.15

100.04

100.08

3

Jacksonville

4

9

0

251

293

97.23

96.78

94.85

3

AFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Denver

8

5

0

316

336

96.27

98.09

100.92

2

San Diego

5

8

0

324

281

102.60

100.41

100.85

2

Oakland

3

10

0

179

299

90.57

91.98

89.56

2

Kansas City

2

11

0

233

364

90.15

91.53

90.58

2

                         

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

NFL Previews-Week 15

 

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

Time:           8:15 PM EST, Thursday

TV:               NFL Network

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

 

PiRate:                Chicago by 1                   

Mean:                  Tossup

Bias:                    Chicago by 2

Vegas:               Chicago by 2.5, 3

Ov/Un:               44.5, 45, 45.5

100 Sims:           Chicago 64 New Orleans 36

Avg Sim Score:  Chicago 27 New Orleans 23

Outlier 1a Sim:  Chicago 34 New Orleans 13

Outlier 1b Sim:  New Orleans 30 Chicago 17

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

Time:           1:00 PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Mostly cloudy, moderate wind, temperature around 70

 

PiRate:                Green Bay by 9

Mean:                  Green Bay by 2

Bias:                    Green Bay by 6

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

Ov/Un:               45, 45.5

100 Sims:           Green Bay 58 Jacksonville 42

Avg Sim Score:  Green Bay 25 Jacksonville 22

Outlier 1a Sim:  Green Bay 37 Jacksonville 21

Outlier 1b Sim:  Jacksonville 20 Green Bay 10

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

Time:           1:00 PM EST

TV:               Fox

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

 

PiRate:                Indianapolis by 19

Mean:                  Indianapolis by 19

Bias:                    Indianapolis by 20

Vegas:               Indianapolis by 17,18   

Ov/Un:               Indianapolis by 44.5, 45

100 Sims:           Indianapolis 100 Detroit 0

Avg Sim Score:  Indianapolis 34 Detroit 12

Outlier 1a Sim:  Indianapolis 56 Detroit 7

Outlier 1b Sim:  Indianapolis 27 Detroit 24

 

Strategy:     Over 31½ in 13-point teaser

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               Fox

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

 

PiRate:                Washington by 7

Mean:                  Washington by 6

Bias:                    Washington by 10

Vegas:               Washington by 6.5, 7, 7.5          

Ov/Un:               36.5, 37

100 Sims:           Washington 82 Cincinnati 18

Avg Sim Score:  Washington 26 Cincinnati 18

Outlier 1a Sim:  Washington 38 Cincinnati 13

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

 

Strategy:            Over 23½ in 13-point teaser

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:                Atlanta by 1

Mean:                  Atlanta by 2

Bias:                    Atlanta by 1

Vegas:                Atlanta by 2.5, 3  

Ov/Un:               44.5, 45

100 Sims:           Atlanta 53 Tampa Bay 47

Avg Sim Score:  Atlanta 23 Tampa Bay 22

Outlier 1a Sim:  Atlanta 28 Tampa Bay 14

Outlier 1b Sim:  Tampa Bay 23 Atlanta 14

(note: 7 sims went to OT)

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               Fox

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

 

PiRate:                Miami by 5

Mean:                  Miami by 4

Bias:                    Miami by 8

Vegas:               Miami by 6.5, 7  

Ov/Un:               41.5, 42

100 Sims:           Miami 57 San Francisco 43

Avg Sim Score:  Miami 22 San Francisco 20

Outlier 1a Sim:  Miami 27 San Francisco 10

Outlier 1b Sim:  San Francisco 21 Miami 13

 

Strategy:            Under 55 in 13-point teaser

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           1:00 PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:                Seattle by 7

Mean:                  Seattle by 4

Bias:                    Seattle by 6

Vegas:               Seattle by 3

Ov/Un:               43, 43.5  

100 Sims:           Seattle 61 St. Louis 39

Avg Sim Score:  Seattle 26 St. Louis 19

Outlier 1a Sim:  Seattle 24 St. Louis 3

Outlier 1b Sim:  St. Louis 17 Seattle 10

 

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

Time:           1:00PM EST

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:                Jets by 7

Mean:                 Jets by 8

Bias:                    Jets by 7

Vegas:                Jets by 7, 7.5

Ov/Un:               41

100 Sims:           Jets 73 Buffalo 27

Avg Sim Score:  Jets 32 Buffalo 24

Outlier 1a Sim:  Jets 48 Buffalo 17

Outlier 1b Sim:  Buffalo 28 Jets 20

 

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

Time:           1:00 PM EST

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:                Tennessee by 8

Mean:                 Tennessee by 6

Bias:                    Tennessee by 6

Vegas:                Tennessee by 3, 3.5

Ov/Un:               44.5, 45

100 Sims:           Tennessee 66 Houston 34

Avg Sim Score:  Tennessee 29 Houston 22

Outlier 1a Sim:  Tennessee 33 Houston 14

Outlier 1b Sim:  Houston 28 Tennessee 16

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

Time:           3:15PM EST

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:                Baltimore by 3

Mean:                  Baltimore by 3

Bias:                    Baltimore by 2

Vegas:               Baltimore by 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5

Ov/Un:               34, 34.5

100 Sims:           Baltimore 50 Pittsburgh 50

Avg Sim Score:  Baltimore 20 Pittsburgh 19

Outlier 1a Sim:  Baltimore 17 Pittsburgh 0

Outlier 1b Sim:  Pittsburgh 20 Baltimore 7

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           4:15PM EST

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:                Carolina by 11

Mean:                 Carolina by 9

Bias:                   Carolina by 8

Vegas:               Carolina by 7, 7.5, 9

Ov/Un:               47, 47.5, 48

100 Sims:           Carolina 54 Denver 46

Avg Sim Score:  Carolina 29 Denver 28

Outlier 1a Sim:  Carolina 45 Denver 24

Outlier 1b Sim:  Denver 41 Carolina 24

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

Time:           1:00 PM EST

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:                San Diego by 10

Mean:                 San Diego by 7

Bias:                   San Diego by 8

Vegas:                San Diego by 4.5, 5, 5.5

Ov/Un:               45, 45.5, 46, 46.5

100 Sims:           Kansas City 52 San Diego 48

Avg Sim Score:  Kansas City 25 San Diego 24

Outlier 1a Sim:  Kansas City 28 San Diego 17

Outlier 1b Sim:  San Diego 40 Kansas City 20

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           4:15 PM EST

TV:               Fox

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

 

PiRate:                Arizona by 1

Mean:                 Tossup

Bias:                   Arizona by 1

Vegas:                Arizona by 3   

Ov/Un:               47.5, 48

100 Sims:           Arizona 59 Minnesota 41

Avg Sim Score:  Arizona 33 Minnesota 24

Outlier 1a Sim:  Arizona 52 Minnesota 31

Outlier 1b Sim:  Minnesota 27 Arizona 17

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

Time:           4:15 PM EST

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:                New England by 7

Mean:                  New England by 8

Bias:                    New England by 11

Vegas:               New England by 7

Ov/Un:               39,40

100 Sims:           New England 89 Oakland 11

Avg Sim Score:  New England 24 Oakland 15

Outlier 1a Sim:  New England 37 Oakland 7

Outlier 1b Sim:  Oakland 21 New England 16

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           8:15PM EST

TV:               NBC

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

                    

PiRate:                Giants by 6

Mean:                  Giants by 5

Bias:                    Giants by 3

Vegas:               Dallas by 2.5, 3

Ov/Un:               44, 44.5, 45

100 Sims:           Giants 58 Dallas 42

Avg Sim Score:  Giants 23 Dallas 19

Outlier 1a Sim:  Giants 28 Dallas 12

Outlier 1b Sim:  Dallas 24 Giants 10

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           8:30PM EST Monday

TV:               ESPN

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

 

PiRate:                Philadelphia by 12  

Mean:                  Philadelphia by 10

Bias:                    Philadelphia by 13

Vegas:                Philadelphia by 14, 14.5, 15

Ov/Un:               38.5, 39

100 Sims:           Philadelphia 90 Cleveland 10

Avg Sim Score:  Philadelphia 29 Cleveland 13

Outlier 1a Sim:  Philadelphia 44 Cleveland 6

Outlier 1b Sim:  Cleveland 28 Philadelphia 24

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Hurray For A Good Week

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

ALL 5 WAGERS = 13-POINT TEASERS

 

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

 

1.    New Orleans & Chicago OVER 31½

       Green Bay & Jacksonville OVER 32

       Detroit & Indianapolis OVER 31½

       Washington & Cincinnati OVER 23½

 

2.    Tampa Bay & Atlanta OVER 31½

       San Francisco & Miami UNDER 55

       Buffalo & NY Jets OVER 28

       Tennessee & Houston UNDER 58

 

3.    Pittsburgh & Baltimore OVER 21

       Denver & Carolina OVER 34

       San Diego & Kansas City UNDER 59½

       New England & Oakland UNDER 53

 

4.    Seattle & St. Louis OVER 30

       Tennessee & Houston OVER 31½

       Minnesota & Arizona OVER 35

       NY Giants & Dallas UNDER 58

 

5.    Seattle & St. Louis UNDER 56½

       Pittsburgh & Baltimore OVER 21

       NY Giants & Dallas OVER 31

       Philadelphia & Cleveland OVER 25½   

 

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

October 31, 2008

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

PiRate Ratings For NFL Week Nine

 

The PiRate Pro Ratings (Rating)

 

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

 

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

 

The Mean Ratings (Mean)

 

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

 

The Bias Ratings (Biased)

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Current NFL Standings and Ratings

 

NFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

New York

6

1

0

191

115

107.28

105.97

108.82

2

Washington

6

2

0

165

145

103.07

103.15

103.81

2

Dallas

5

3

0

202

184

103.45

102.51

103.76

2

Philadelphia

4

3

0

194

137

110.42

105.79

108.21

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Chicago

4

3

0

196

150

109.13

104.51

103.50

2

Green Bay

4

3

0

194

159

104.51

103.36

102.34

2

Minnesota

3

4

0

154

167

101.31

100.19

99.87

2

Detroit

0

7

0

114

212

87.30

89.81

87.79

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Carolina

6

2

0

174

127

107.66

104.87

105.07

2

Tampa Bay

5

3

0

170

120

108.19

105.13

105.83

2

Atlanta

4

3

0

153

154

101.68

99.64

101.03

2

New Orleans

4

4

0

216

195

102.11

101.54

101.50

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Arizona

4

3

0

200

171

104.55

103.02

103.48

3

Seattle  

2

5

0

144

184

93.30

95.96

94.42

3

St. Louis

2

5

0

113

201

89.46

94.10

93.88

2

San Francisco

2

6

0

171

230

92.04

92.52

91.08

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Buffalo

5

2

0

165

143

99.90

100.38

101.42

3

New England

5

2

0

153

133

97.26

101.67

103.55

2

New York

4

3

0

182

170

96.97

98.49

100.46

2

Miami

3

4

0

145

146

100.01

99.10

99.39

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Pittsburgh

5

2

0

155

110

107.61

105.24

105.74

2

Baltimore

4

3

0

134

110

103.02

102.46

101.86

3

Cleveland

3

4

0

115

123

100.42

100.79

99.21

2

Cincinnati

0

8

0

104

217

89.16

90.63

90.13

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Tennessee

7

0

0

180

87

110.36

108.07

108.05

2

Jacksonville

3

4

0

141

151

100.30

100.30

99.09

3

Houston

3

4

0

175

185

98.07

98.98

99.58

3

Indianapolis

3

4

0

149

162

101.86

100.89

100.12

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Denver

4

3

0

173

195

94.48

96.17

97.70

2

San Diego

3

5

0

224

199

101.39

101.39

100.12

2

Oakland

2

5

0

107

177

87.70

92.70

90.85

2

Kansas City

1

6

0

99

193

85.98

90.58

88.28

2

                         

 

NFL Previews-Week Nine

 

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

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Sunny, no wind, temperature near 70

 

PiRate:         Tennessee by 8

Mean:           Tennessee by 7

Bias:             Tennessee by 8

Vegas:        Tennessee by 5½     -225/+205

Ov/Un:        41

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

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

 

PiRate:         Tampa Bay by 20

Mean:           Tampa Bay by 13

Bias:             Tampa Bay by 16

Vegas:        Tampa Bay by 9       -400/+350

Ov/Un:        36

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

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

 

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

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:         Baltimore by 1  

Mean:           Tossup

Bias:             Baltimore by 1

Vegas:        Cleveland by 1½      -125/+105  

Ov/Un:        36

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

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

 

PiRate:         Chicago by 24

Mean:           Chicago by 17

Bias:             Chicago by 18

Vegas:        Chicago by 12½ -600/+500

Ov/Un:        43

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

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:         Buffalo by 6

Mean:           Buffalo by 5

Bias:             Buffalo by 4

Vegas:         Buffalo by 5½    -220/+200

Ov/Un:        41

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

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:         Jacksonville by 9

Mean:          Jacksonville by 8

Bias:            Jacksonville by 7

Vegas:        Jacksonville by 7½         -335/+305

Ov/Un:        40

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:         Minnesota by 5

Mean:           Minnesota by 3

Bias:             Minnesota by 2

Vegas:        Minnesota by 4½     -210/+180

Ov/Un:        47

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           1:00PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:         Arizona by 13

Mean:           Arizona by 7

Bias:             Arizona by 8

Vegas:        Arizona by 3      -155/+135

Ov/Un:        48

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

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           4:05PM EDT

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:         Miami by 4

Mean:           Miami by 1

Bias:             Tossup

Vegas:        Denver by 3 -185/+160

Ov/Un:        50½

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           4:15 PM EDT

TV:               Fox

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

 

PiRate:         Atlanta by 12

Mean:           Atlanta by 5

Bias:             Atlanta by 8

Vegas:        Atlanta by 3       -145/+125

Ov/Un:        41

Strategy:     Under 54 in 13-point teaser

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

 

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

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

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

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

—Steve Sabol (NFL Films)

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           4:15PM EDT

TV:               Fox

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

 

 

PiRate:         Giants by 6

Mean:           Giants by 5

Bias:             Giants by 7

Vegas:        Giants by 9        -400/+325

Ov/Un:        41

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           4:15PM EDT

TV:               Fox

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

 

PiRate:         Philadelphia by 14

Mean:           Philadelphia by 7

Bias:             Philadelphia by 11

Vegas:        Philadelphia by 6½         -270/+250

Ov/Un:        42½

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           8:15PM EDT

TV:               NBC

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

             

PiRate:         Indianapolis by 7

Mean:           Indianapolis by 1

Bias:             New England by 1

Vegas:        Indianapolis by 6     -260/+220

Ov/Un:        44

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Time:           8:30PM EDT Monday

TV:               ESPN

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

 

PiRate:         Pittsburgh by 3

Mean:           Tossup

Bias:             Tossup

Vegas:        Washington by 1½         -125/+105

Ov/Un:        36½

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

         

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

 

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

October 17, 2008

PiRate Ratings Week Seven NFL Previews: October 19 & 20, 2008

PiRate Ratings For NFL Week Seven

 

The PiRate Pro Ratings

 

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

 

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

 

The Mean Ratings

 

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

 

The Bias Ratings

 

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

 

All three ratings are normalized so that a rating of 100 is average.

 

Current NFL Standings (listed alphabetically by divisions)

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Dallas

4

2

0

175

141

109.00

105.04

104.68

2

New York

4

1

0

141

84

101.74

103.65

104.75

2

Philadelphia

3

3

0

167

123

109.19

104.82

103.47

2

Washington

4

2

0

126

117

108.60

102.77

104.14

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Chicago

3

3

0

148

109

109.63

104.18

102.83

2

Detroit

0

5

0

76

159

84.05

89.24

88.13

3

Green Bay

3

3

0

160

145

104.53

100.84

101.14

2

Minnesota

3

3

0

113

119

106.16

100.20

101.34

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Atlanta

4

2

0

139

127

99.42

99.71

101.70

2

Carolina

4

2

0

117

97

104.05

102.40

103.16

2

New Orleans

3

3

0

172

133

110.04

103.29

105.74

2

Tampa Bay

4

2

0

141

97

112.13

106.03

105.50

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Arizona

4

2

0

177

144

105.29

103.24

105.38

3

St. Louis

1

4

0

62

164

76.28

89.46

88.42

2

San Francisco

2

4

0

141

167

90.14

93.84

95.67

3

Seattle

1

4

0

100

151

80.53

92.71

92.32

3

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Buffalo

4

1

0

126

104

94.82

99.48

100.73

3

Miami

2

3

0

107

103

102.46

99.80

99.32

2

New England

3

2

0

89

109

90.70

99.55

98.12

2

New York

3

2

0

141

130

103.58

101.22

103.43

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Baltimore

2

3

0

78

87

100.87

99.20

98.88

3

Cincinnati

0

6

0

88

144

95.15

95.12

95.73

2

Cleveland

2

3

0

81

92

100.23

100.22

98.96

2

Pittsburgh

4

1

0

103

79

106.66

104.77

105.35

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Houston

1

4

0

112

158

97.37

97.52

96.65

3

Indianapolis

3

2

0

114

97

107.12

104.22

104.74

2

Jacksonville

3

3

0

124

128

102.44

102.15

102.19

3

Tennessee

5

0

0

115

56

112.04

107.20

108.72

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Denver

4

2

0

166

154

101.37

99.54

100.85

2

Kansas City

1

4

0

65

131

83.12

90.67

91.23

2

Oakland

1

4

0

81

135

85.43

93.10

92.18

2

San Diego

3

3

0

178

139

105.92

104.82

105.22

2

 

NFL Previews-Week Six

 

San Diego (3-3) at Buffalo (4-1)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Mostly sunny, light winds, temperature in the mid 50’s

 

PiRate:         San Diego by 8 

Mean:           San Diego by 2

Bias:             San Diego by 1

Vegas:        Buffalo by 1 -115/+115

Ov/Un:        44

Strategy:     Over 34 in 10-point teaser, Over 31 in 13-point teaser, Buffalo +9 in 10-point teaser, Buffalo +12 in 13-point teaser, Buffalo -1

 

Buffalo had a week off after the embarrassing loss at Arizona.  San Diego won a big primetime game over New England Sunday night and must now travel 2,700 miles across three time zones.

 

I am not sold on the Bills even at 4-1, and I think the Chargers have the talent to overcome the obstacles in this game.  I’m going with the Bills in the teasers because I still think they have a little better than 50% chance of winning this one.  Even if San Diego wins, I don’t see it being by more than a touchdown. 

 

Pittsburgh (4-1) at Cincinnati (0-6)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Sunny, light or no wind, temperature rising from the low to upper 60’s

 

PiRate:         Pittsburgh by 10     

Mean:           Pittsburgh by 8

Bias:             Pittsburgh by 8

Vegas:        Pittsburgh by 9½     -420/+380

Ov/Un:        35½

Strategy:     Cincinnati +9½, Cincinnati +19½ in 10-point teaser, Cincinnati +22½ in 13-point teaser, Over 25½ in 10-point teaser, Over 22½ in 13-point teaser

 

It doesn’t take a Harvard graduate to realize the Bengals are much weaker without quarterback Carson Palmer running their offense, but it may take more than a Harvard grad to beat the Steelers.

 

On paper, Pittsburgh should win this game with relative ease.  At Paul Brown Stadium, the Bengals make this game much closer than it should be.  Even with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center, Cincinnati has enough talent to keep this one close.  Pittsburgh is the type of team that when they win road games, it is by less than a touchdown.

 

Cincinnati’s players may be ready to throw in the towel on the season, but it won’t happen this week against the perennial bullies of their division.  Expect a stellar performance from the Bengals, and thus this will not be an easy Steeler win.  I might consider the Bengals straight up on this one, but I prefer the striped helmets in the teasers.  I like teasing the Over here, as 23 or 26 points is not asking much.

 

Minnesota (3-3) at Chicago (3-3)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Clouds increasing during the day, moderate winds, temperature in the mid to upper 60’s

 

PiRate:         Chicago by 5     

Mean:           Chicago by 6

Bias:             Chicago by 3

Vegas:        Chicago by 3      -175/+155

Ov/Un:        37½

Strategy:     Chicago +7 in 10-point teaser, Chicago +10 in 13-point teaser, Under 47½ in 10-point teaser, Under 50½ in 13-point teaser 

 

This one could be the game of the week.  To the winner could go sole possession of first place in the division.  Both teams have quite exploitable weaknesses, but the Vikings seem to have less of them.  I expect this game to develop into an old fashioned guts and glory affair right out of the 1960’s.  I expect the two teams to shorten this game with around 120 plays from scrimmage.  I could see both teams failing to gain 300 total yards, and I could see the winner scoring no more than 17 points. 

 

Chicago has played just two home games, and those came against two teams better than the Vikings.  On the other hand, Minnesota is a better team today than the one that took the field against Green Bay in week one. 

 

If your opinion that a low scoring game will take place, it goes without saying that you would like your chances that the spread will be less than a touchdown.  Thus, getting the Bears at home and getting a touchdown or even 10 points becomes a favorable situation.  Additionally, if you think a game could end with a 17-13 score, then teasing the Under when that total moves to 47½ or 50½ points is something you would jump on.

 

Tennessee (5-0) at Kansas City (1-4)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Mostly sunny and quite windy, with a temperature in the upper 60’s to near 70

 

PiRate:         Tennessee by 27     

Mean:           Tennessee by 15

Bias:             Tennessee by 15

Vegas:        Tennessee by 9        -330/+300

Ov/Un:        35

Strategy:     Kansas City +19 in 10-point teaser, Kansas City +22 in 10-point teaser, Over 25 in 10-point teaser, Over 22 in 13-point teaser, Kansas City +9

 

Both teams had the week off, and still the Titans have issues at wide receiver.  Kansas City has issues at running back, where Larry Johnson has been suspended.  However, Brodie Croyle should be ready to go.

 

Kansas City’s lone win was over a then undefeated Denver team.  They have a fair chance of getting upset number two this week.  The Titans are a much better home team than they are a road team.  Their two road trips have been to Cincinnati and Baltimore.  The Bengals offered little competition, whereas the Ravens outplayed Tennessee.  The Chiefs are weaker than Baltimore but stronger than the Bengals were when the Titans beat them.

 

I give Kansas City a 35% chance of pulling off the upset, and a 75% chance of losing by a touchdown or less.

 

This is one game where I would consider the underdog straight up, but I really like the Chiefs in the teasers.  I just cannot imagine a scenario where the Titans could win this game by 20 points, especially with Justin McCareins and Justin Gage ailing.  Tennessee will try to run the ball 60% of the time, and the Chiefs will be ready.  Kansas City will pass the ball more than normal, and this gives them a fighting chance this week.  Rarely if ever would I consider keying one game in multiple teasers, but this might be one week where I would do it with this game. 

 

New Orleans (3-3) at Carolina (4-2)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

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

 

PiRate:         New Orleans by 4    

Mean:           Carolina by 1

Bias:             New Orleans by 1

Vegas:         Carolina by 3            -155/+135

Ov/Un:        44

Strategy:     Over 34 in 10-point teaser, Over 31 in 13-point teaser, New Orleans +13 in 10-point teaser, New Orleans +16 in 13-point teaser

 

This game provides me with what I think is a strong play.  These two teams know how to score points.  I think the totals line is a little low because the Saints held Oakland to a field goal last week while the Panthers laid an egg in Tampa. 

 

New Orleans has consistently scored between 24 and 34 points this year, while Carolina has averaged 26 points per game at home.  The Panthers rebounded from their first loss at Minnesota with a great game against Atlanta.  I expect another turnaround effort this week.  I’m looking for the winner of this game to score 28 to 35 points and prevail by a touchdown or less.

 

I like taking the Saints in the teasers because if they score their usual 24-34 points in this one, look how much Carolina will have to score to beat us.

 

San Francisco (2-4) at New York Giants (4-1)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Sunny, light winds, temperature in the mid to upper 50’s

 

PiRate:         Giants by 14     

Mean:           Giants by 12

Bias:             Giants by 11

Vegas:        Giants by 10½          -430/+390

Ov/Un:        46½

Strategy:     Giants -½ in 10-point teaser, Giants +2½ in 13-point teaser, Under 56½ in 10-point teaser, Under 59½ in 13-point teaser, Giants -430   

 

Just how much did last week’s blown game to the Eagles take out of the 49ers?  We may know the answer this week.  San Francisco was on its way to a 3-3 record to stay in the playoff hunt before mistake after mistake allowed the Eagles to score 23 unanswered points in the fourth quarter.  Blowing a nine point league in less than a full quarter is inexcusable when you are at home playing a team that has traveled across the country and is missing one of its top offensive weapons.

 

Coach Mike Nolan is now on thin ice, and it doesn’t bode well that he must take his team to the East Coast to play a mad bunch of Giants.  The defending Super Bowl champs were embarrassed on national TV Monday night, and they will be ready to play this week.

 

I don’t like taking the Giants and having to give 10½ points, as this could be one of those games where New York chooses to grind it out on the ground and consume the clock much like Jacksonville.  They could dominate for 60 minutes and still win by a score of 21-12.  So, give me the teaser plays in this one.  San Francisco would have to win outright to beat me.  I usually don’t like playing a money line where a loss could cripple the chances of a winning week overall, but the Giants should probably be listed at -600.   

 

Baltimore (2-3) at Miami (2-3)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Partly cloudy with a 20% chance of rain showers, considerable winds, temperature in the low 80’s

 

PiRate:         Miami by 4 

Mean:           Miami by 3

Bias:             Miami by 2

Vegas:        Miami by 3         -140/+120

Ov/Un:        36½

Strategy:     Baltimore +13 in 10-point teaser, Baltimore +16 in 13-point teaser, Over 26½ in 10-point teaser, Over 23½ in 13-point teaser 

 

This game is a playoff eliminator.  The winner moves to 3-3 to stay alive in the playoff chase, while the loser more than likely is headed to a 6-10 record or worse.  Baltimore has dropped three in a row after winning their first two, while Miami has been playing like a team with a chance to go 8-8.

 

I don’t really like any of the possibilities in this game, as I could see a variety of scenarios playing out this week.  Just one or two plays early in this game could change the outcome completely.

 

How will the Dolphins’ single wing package perform against a Ravens’ defense that could stop it completely?  Can Dan Henning come up with the right strategy to exploit Ray Lewis in company?

 

Baltimore has done absolutely nothing on offense the past two weeks, and the Dolphins have already held much better offenses under 14 points.

 

With so many tossup games this week, you might see a pattern in my selections.  Go with the underdog in a teaser, since it allows you to in essence get a few extra points in your favor without having to rely on your pick pulling off a mild upset.

 

Teasing the Over is still a slight risk in this one, as I included it only as a last pick to fill out a parlay.  One big play on special teams or one big turnover could allow the total to hit 30 points.

 

Dallas (4-2) at St. Louis (1-4)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:         Dallas by 31      

Mean:           Dallas by 14

Bias:             Dallas by 14

Vegas:        Dallas by 7         (no money line)

Ov/Un:        44

Strategy:     Leave this one alone, unless you know for sure the status of Tony Romo.  If he doesn’t play, then teasing the Under at 54 & 57 looks good  

 

Tony Romo is actually going to try to play with a broken finger on his throwing hand.  I would leave this game alone.  It could be a ruse by the Cowboys to try to take the heat off Brad Johnson.  The only logical play here is to tease the Under, because Dallas could beat the Rams with Marion Barber at quarterback.  If Romo plays, I don’t expect Dallas to throw the ball more than 20-25 times.  If Johnson has to go, I expect a similar strategy.

 

Marc Bulger didn’t have much luck against Dallas last year, but I expect him to fare a little better this season.  It could allow the Rams to keep it close for a long time, but seven points is too tricky to play either way.  My advice is to forget this game; there are better options available.

 

Detroit (0-5) at Houston (1-4)

Time:           4:05PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Mostly sunny, light winds, temperature around 80 (all 2008 games at Reliant Stadium are now outdoors)

 

PiRate:         Houston by 16  

Mean:           Houston by 8

Bias:             Houston by 12

Vegas:        Houston by 9½        -400/+360

Ov/Un:        46½

Strategy:     Houston +½ in 10-point teaser, Houston +3½ in 13-point teaser, Detroit +19½ in 10-point teaser, Detroit +22½ in 13-point teaser, Over 36½ in 10-point teaser, Over 33½ in 13-point teaser  

 

Houston finally won a game last week, while Detroit was on the verge of getting a victory.  Now, the Texans are favored by almost double digits.  A lot of that has to do with the Lions sending Roy Williams packing to Dallas. 

 

The question in this game is how much the loss of Williams will affect the ability to get the ball to Calvin Johnson.  Johnson won’t be open as often, as defenses begin to key on him.

 

Detroit’s offense didn’t set the woods on fire the last three times out with Williams on the roster.  They scored 30 points.  Houston has surrendered 28 or more points in every game so far.  That streak will come to an end this week, and I expect the Texans to win their second consecutive game.  The Lions are going to struggle without Williams, and it is hard to find a winnable game on their remaining schedule.

 

Indianapolis (3-2) at Green Bay (3-3)

Time:           4:15PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Mostly cloudy, moderate winds, temperature dropping from low 60’s to the mid 50’s

 

PiRate:         Indianapolis by 1    

Mean:           Indianapolis by 3

Bias:             Indianapolis by 2

Vegas:        Indianapolis by 2     -130/+110

Ov/Un:        47

Strategy:     Indianapolis +8 in 10-point teaser, Indianapolis +11 in 13-point teaser, Over 37 in 10-point teaser, Over 34 in 13-point teaser

 

If the Bears-Vikings game isn’t the best one this week, then it’s probably this game.  This one could be the most exciting match as well. 

 

Straight away, I like the possibility that this could be a game where the losing team scores 24 or more points.  The weather could be much worse this time of the year at Lambeau Field. Instead, it will be ideal for Brown County, Wisconsin, in mid-October.  Just close your eyes and smell in all the brats being steamed in beer and then grilled to perfection.  Then, watch two quarterbacks put on an aerial display as good as the annual one in Oshkosh.

 

This is one game where I’d prefer to take the favorite in a teaser play.  The Colts are the most improved team in the league since the second week of the season.  Peyton Manning is almost back to his old self, and he will pick apart the Packers’ defense.  The Colts should top 30 points for the third consecutive week.

 

Aaron Rodgers will need a 300 yard effort to give the Packers a chance to win this game.  If they are to pull off the mild upset, I think they will have to score 35 points. 

 

New York Jets (3-2) at Oakland (1-4)

Time:           4:15PM EDT

TV:               CBS

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

 

 

PiRate:         Jets by 16  

Mean:           Jets by 6

Bias:             Jets by 9

Vegas:        Jets by 3     -175/+155

Ov/Un:        41

Strategy:     Oakland +13 in 10-point teaser, Oakland +16 in 10-point teaser, Over 31 in 10-point teaser, Over 28 in 13-point teaser

 

This is a trap game.  The Jets are better than average, while Oakland stinks.  However, the Raiders can be counted on to come up with a decent game every other week or so.  They failed to show up last week in New Orleans, but they will perform much better this week.

 

The Jets are making their second of four trips to the West Coast this week.  Their first visit to the Pacific Ocean ended in a 19-point drowning in San Diego.  I expect a much better effort this time out, but I cannot see them winning big.  This could be a 28-20 game.  King Brett may connect for three touchdown passes, but he could also throw a couple of critical picks that allows Oakland to pick up some easy points. 

 

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

Time:           4:15PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Sunny, light winds, temperature dropping from around 60 to the low 50’s

 

 

PiRate:         Washington by 10

Mean:           Washington by 5

Bias:             Washington by 5

Vegas:        Washington by 7½ -300/+270

Ov/Un:        41½

Strategy:     Cleveland +17½  in 10-point teaser, Cleveland +20½  in 13-point teaser, Over 31½ in 10-point teaser, Over 28½ in 13-point teaser

 

How do you gauge a team that won at Dallas and lost at home to St. Louis?  How do you gauge a team that looked dead for three weeks, won a sloppy game against a winless team, and then destroyed the undefeated defending Super Bowl Champions on Monday night?

 

This game is definitely tricky.  It should be expected for the Browns to bounce some after the emotional win over the Giants.  Having to play on Monday night could put more rubber into that bounce. 

 

The big question is how will the Redskins respond after losing at home to the worst team in the NFL?

 

The logical play here is to force Washington to win big to ruin the pick.  The Redskins have yet to win a game by a touchdown. 

 

The Browns could bounce big time and still lose by less than 17 points.  Their offense should put up enough points to allow this game to go well over the 30 total. 

 

 

Seattle (1-4) at Tampa Bay (4-2)

Time:           8:15PM EDT

TV:               NBC

Forecast:     Clear to partly cloudy, moderate winds, temperature dropping from the upper 70’s to the lower 70’s

                    

PiRate:         Tampa Bay by 34    

Mean:           Tampa Bay by 15

Bias:             Tampa Bay by 15

Vegas:        Tampa Bay by 10½         -445/+405

Ov/Un:        38

Strategy:     Tampa Bay -½ in 10-point teaser, Tampa Bay +2½ in 13-point teaser, Over 28 in 10-point teaser, Over 25 in 13-point teaser, Tampa Bay -445 

 

There is a big question with this game.  Who will start at quarterback for the Seahawks?  Matt Hasselbeck is definitely out.  Seneca Wallace is injured yet could still play, but Charlie Frye may have to go if Wallace isn’t ready Sunday.  Frye attempted 23 passes last week against the Packers’ mediocre secondary, and he averaged a measly 3.6 yards per attempt with two interceptions.  Two sacks brought his production down under 2.6 yards per pass play.

 

Tampa Bay won big over Carolina last week, and the Bucs could be ready to go on a run to a possible 12-win season.  This game should be close to a cinch for the home team.  Jeff Garcia played competently if not brilliantly last week subbing for Brian Griese.  I’m looking for a 28-10 Tampa Bay victory, but I’ll play it safe and take the Bucs in the teasers.

 

Denver (4-2) at New England (3-2)

Time:           8:30PM EDT Monday

TV:               ESPN

Forecast:     Mostly clear, moderate winds, temperature falling from mid 50’s to mid 40’s

 

PiRate:         Denver by 9

Mean:           New England by 2

Bias:             Denver by 1

Vegas:        New England by 3           -160/+150

Ov/Un:        48

Strategy:     Under 58 in 10-point teaser, Under 61 in 13-point teaser

 

These two teams are among the most inconsistent in the league.  The one thing I think I can predict with some rationality is that Denver will continue to struggle to score points.  This is their first trip east this year.  The Pats should play better this week after playing two consecutive road games on the West Coast. 

 

I’m teasing the Under in this one.  The odds makers always inflate the totals for Monday night games, so I feel like I’m getting a couple of bonus points here.  My guess is New England will win by a score of something like 20-16.

 

The Imaginary Bank Account Makes Another Nice Deposit

 

It’s now six winning weeks out of six!  Not only did I have a sixth consecutive winning week, I was 10-3 to bring my record for the year against the spread to 44-19-3 (69.8%).  I was close to finishing 11-2 until the 49ers committed more mistakes in five minutes than they used to commit in an entire season during their glory years.  It’s starting to look bleak for Coach Nolan.

 

The profitable weekend brought me $640, bringing the bank account for the year up to $1,985, just 15 bucks shy of doubling the initial $1,000 investment in six weeks.  For the season, my return on investment is 30.1%.

 

Once again, I did rather well with the straight wagers, getting four out of five correct.  The new 13-point teaser parlays finished 3-1, while the tried and true 10-point teaser parlays finished 3-1. 

 

This week, I am having quite a bit of difficulty coming up with straight wagers, as the schedule is not favorable for playing them that way.  Not counting the Dallas-St. Louis game and the Tony Romo situation, I see seven games that could easily go either way not only against the spread but in which team will win outright.  Even the game that looks like a blowout (Titans-Chiefs) may be a huge trap.  Tennessee could easily lose this one.  Cincinnati is a lively upset threat this week as well. 

 

As a result, I will be relying heavily on teaser parlays this week, trying to pick games that give me what looks like ridiculous odds in my favor.  Sure, one or two of these games will be ridiculous and ruin some of the parlays, but I am banking on the law of averages.  Hopefully, it will lead to another profitable weekend. 

 

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

 

1. Buffalo -1 vs. San Diego

 

2. Cincinnati +9½ vs. Pittsburgh

 

3. New York Giants -430 vs. San Francisco

 

4. Tampa Bay -445 vs. Seattle

 

5. 10-point teaser

       A. Buffalo +9 vs. San Diego

       B. Cincinnati +19½ vs. Pittsburgh

       C. Chicago & Minnesota Under 47½ 

 

6. 10-point teaser

       A. Chicago +7 vs. Minnesota

       B. Kansas City +19 vs. Tennessee

       C. New Orleans +13 vs. Carolina

 

7. 10-point teaser

       A. Kansas City & Tennessee Over 25

       B. New Orleans & Carolina Over 34

       C. Detroit & Houston Over 36½

 

8. 10-point teaser

       A. New York Giants -½ vs. San Francisco

       B. Baltimore +13 vs. Miami

       C. Houston +½ vs. Detroit

  

9. 10-point teaser

       A. Indianapolis +8 vs. Green Bay

       B. Cleveland +17½ vs. Washington

       C. Tampa Bay -½ vs. Seattle

 

10. 10-point teaser

       A. Indianapolis & Green Bay Over 37

       B. Oakland & New York Jets Over 31

       C. Cleveland & Washington Over 31½

 

11. 10-point teaser

       A. Buffalo & San Diego Over 34

       B. Tampa Bay & Seattle Over 28

       C. Denver & New England Under 58

 

12. 13-point teaser

       A. Buffalo & San Diego Over 31

       B. Kansas City +22 vs. Tennessee

       C. Indianapolis & Green Bay Over 34

       D. Tampa Bay & Seattle Over 25

 

13. 13-point teaser

       A. Buffalo +12 vs. San Diego

       B. New Orleans & Carolina Over 31

       C. Baltimore & Miami Over 23½

       D. Oakland +16 vs. New York Jets

 

14. 13-point teaser

       A. Cincinnati +22½ vs. Pittsburgh

       B. New Orleans +16 vs. Carolina

       C. Houston +3½ vs. Detroit

       D. Oakland & New York Jets Over 28

 

15. 13-point teaser

       A. Cincinnati & Pittsburgh Over 22½

       B. Kansas City & Tennessee Over 22

       C. Detroit +22½ vs. Houston

       D. Cleveland +20½ vs. Washington

   

16. 13-point teaser

       A. Chicago +10 vs. Minnesota

       B. New York Giants +2½ vs. San Francisco

       C. Detroit & Houston Over 33½

       D. Cleveland & Washington Over 28½

  

17. 13-point teaser

       A. Chicago & Minnesota Under 50½

       B. Baltimore +16 vs. Miami

       C. Indianapolis +11 vs. Green Bay

       D. Tampa Bay +2½ vs. Seattle

 

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

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