The Pi-Rate Ratings

March 31, 2019

PiRate Ratings NCAA Tournament For Sunday, March 31, 2019

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 6:02 am

 

Home

Rating

HCA

Visitor

Rating

Spread

Kentucky

118.3

0.0

Auburn

116.5

1.8

Duke

122.1

0.0

Michigan St.

121.2

0.9

Today’s Schedule

Team

Team

TIME (EDT)

TV

LOCATION

Kentucky

Auburn

2:20 PM

CBS

Kansas City

Duke

Michigan St.

5:05 PM

CBS

Washington, D.C.

 

August 19, 2016

2016 FBS Independents Football Preview

Filed under: College Football — Tags: , , , , , , , — piratings @ 7:40 am

At one time, there were 30 college football teams at the highest level playing as independents not affiliated with any conference. There was a veritable who’s who of college football members that lived a nomadic existence. Notre Dame, Penn State, Miami, Georgia Tech, Florida State, Air Force, Houston, Boston College, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and others once made hay in the sunshine of the independent ranks.

In 2016, one new team has been added to the independent ranks, bringing the total to just four. With conferences scrambling to add conference games to their schedules (Big Ten moved up to 9 this year, while Big 12 and Pac-12 already play 9), it could be tough for these teams to make future schedules, or at least schedules strong enough to sell tickets.

Notre Dame is fortunate. The Irish can participate in the ACC in all other sports, plus they get the benefit of having five guaranteed games against ACC football members, and they can also take one of the ACC’s automatic bowl bids, even with one-fewer win than the ACC regular team. Let’s see: A 6-6 Notre Dame team or a 7-5 Wake Forest team: which one would the next bowl in the pecking order take?

BYU is almost as fortunate as Notre Dame. The Cougars still have enough prestige based on a gloried past to sell seats on the road, while their home base is very loyal. BYU could be a future member of the Big 12, but the Cougars do not want to play Sunday games, and it could be a problem for some sports like baseball. Our guess is that the Big 12 will find a way to play Thursday-Saturday games against BYU.

Army West Point remains the lone service academy not in a conference. The Black Knights are no longer a power player like they once were in the days of Colonel Earl “Red” Blaik, who went 121-33-10 in 18 years at West Point, including three national championships and three more seasons where Army kept a goose egg in the loss column.

Today, Army must rely on scheduling games against FCS schools, MAC teams, and the two service academy rivals. Still, the Cadets cannot manage a winning record and bowl eligibility. Worse, their losing streak to Navy has now reached 14, and the chances for that number hitting 15 are better than 50%.

Army fans should cheer up some, because the PiRates believe the Black Knights have a decent shot at getting to six wins and taking an at-large bowl bid this year, even if Navy is not one of those wins. Coach Jeff Monken has two experienced quarterbacks, and enough talent returning to make the offense add a few points per game to the average, while the defense should see major improvement this year, shedding at least a field goal off the generosity of last year. Nine of their 12 games are winnable, so getting to 6-6 is quite possible this year.

Massachusetts was not a great fit in the Mid-American Conference. The Minutemen may be a better option one day in the AAC, but UMass must first become respectable on the gridiron. Their record for the last four seasons is just 8-40, and it’s not like they have been playing a difficult schedule. The biggest loss for this school is not having Eastern Michigan, Miami of Ohio, and Kent State on their schedule. Other than weak FCS member Wagner, there are no other guaranteed wins on the Minutemen’s 2016 slate.

There is no pre-season media polls for the four independents. Therefore, here is the consensus of computer ratings (including the three PiRate Ratings) for the teams to start the season. There are no surprises.

Independents
# Team
Includes PiRate Retrodictive
1 Notre Dame
2 BYU
3 Army
4 Massachusetts

Here are the initial PiRate Ratings for the quartet.

Independents
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Notre Dame 116.0 110.8 114.6 113.8
BYU 110.4 102.7 110.1 107.7
Army 84.7 93.7 87.1 88.5
Massachusetts 74.9 84.4 76.1 78.5
         
Independents Averages 96.5 97.9 97.0 97.1

The PiRate Ratings are meant to be used only to predict the outcomes of the next week of games, and are not best used to predict beyond that point. Because we use algorithms that include automatic adjustments by each team based on depth and experience, two different teams can win by the exact score we predict, and their new ratings might change differently.

Thus, using our ratings to predict won-loss records and bowl projections is a bit comical, but then we all need some laughs every now and then. So, laugh away at our projected standings and bowls.

Independents Projected Standings
Team Conference Overall Bowl
Notre Dame x 9-3 Orange
BYU x 6-6 Poinsettia
Army x 6-6 [Cure]*
Massachusetts x 1-11  
       
* Army fills in as an at-large team in the Cure Bowl

Starting Saturday, August 20: The PiRates begin previewing the Power 5 Conferences.  First up–The Big Ten.  Can a new team emerge as the team to beat in 2016, or will it be a repeat?

 

January 18, 2016

PiRate Ratings NFL Conference Championship Preview

Filed under: Pro Football — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 3:07 pm

Note: We will have computer simulations for the two Conference Championship games on Friday.

This Week’s Games
         
Week Number: Conference Championships      
Date of Games: 24-Jan    
         
Home Visitor PiRate Mean Bias
Denver New England -0.1 0.1 1.2
Carolina Arizona 2.5 3.3 3.8

January 19, 2010

NFL Conference Championship Previews

And Then There Were Four

Okay, first let’s get the bad news out of the way.  Our picks straight up against the spread finished 2-2, which is mediocre, but great in comparison to the totals, which went 0-4.  That brings or NFL playoff record to 5-3 vs. the sides and 3-5 vs. the totals.  It gets much harder from here, as little things mean a lot.  Then again, missed chip-shot field goals and stupid mistakes shouldn’t be much of a factor when you get this far.  But then again, Vikings fans can remember Gary Anderson hitting every extra point and every field goal during the 1998 season, and then he shanked a simple 30-yarder that kept the purple and white out of the 1999 Super Bowl.

Sunday,  January 24

New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts

Time: 3:00 PM EST     Network: CBS

Forecast–Dome Stadium, No Weather

PiRate:  Colts by 6.5

Mean:  Colts by 2.9

Bias:  Colts by 0.8

100 Sims:  Indianapolis 52  New York 48

Avg. Sim Score: New York 18.1  Indianapolis 16.9  

Outlier Score A:  Indianapolis 20  New York 13 (6 others by 7 points)

Outlier Score B:  New York 24  Indianapolis 10

Vegas: Colts by 7 ½     Totals: 39   

Analysis

The Colts have done it with timely Peyton Manning passes and just enough defense to get by.  Last week, the Ravens helped the Colts’ defense more than the Colts’ defense stopped the Ravens.  However, the Indy defense will face a considerably weaker Jets’ offense this week.  

The Jets cannot completely shut down Manning’s passing game unless they knock him out of the game.  Indianapolis cannot win running the ball, but they will get two yards on 3rd and 1.  That doesn’t show up in the statistics after the game, but it is successful when it accomplished that feat.

These two teams played in Week 16, when the Colts were 14-0 and the Jets were 7-7 and facing a must-win game.  Indianapolis led this game before removing the key starters, and then the Jets came from behind to win.  

All signs point to New Orleans becoming Peyton’s Place once again.  9-7 teams rarely beat 14-2 teams on the road, and there’s a reason the Jets lost seven times.  Passing and stopping the pass wins championships in the 21st Century.  The Jets cannot consistently stop the Colts’ passing game, while an average NFL defense can stop the Jets’ passing game.  Indianapolis has an above-average pass defense.

The spread is 7 ½ points, and we at the PiRate Ratings never recommend anybody giving up more than a touchdown in a playoff game.  We don’t necessarily like the Jets at +7 ½ either, but the logical choice is to take the Jets and hope they will lose by just a touchdown at the most.  We advise leaving this spread alone unless it drops below 7.

As for the Totals, we think New York will try their best to control the clock and make it a low-scoring game.  Miami tried that against Indy in September, and there were still 50 points scored in that game.  We believe Indianapolis will top 21 points in this game, but the Jets will be hard-pressed to get to 17.  If we have to choose, we’ll play the law of averages and take the OVER, but we aren’t in love with this pick either.  This is the week for a teaser play, and you’ll see it at the end of this feature.

Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints

Time: 6:30 PM EST     Network: Fox

Forecast–Dome Stadium, No Weather

PiRate: Saints by 1.9

Mean:  Saints by 3.0

Bias:  Vikings by 0.8

100 Sims:  New Orleans 61  Minnesota 39

Avg. Sim Score:  New Orleans 33.2  Minnesota 25.4

Outlier Score A:  New Orleans 37  Minnesota 17

Outlier Score B:  Minnesota 31  New Orleans 23

Vegas: Saints by 3 ½     Totals: 52  

Analysis

This is the game most fans have wanted to see since early October.  The two best teams in the NFC face off in an emotional contest.  The Saints have never gotten this close to the Super Bowl, and they are one win away from hosting the big game in their own stadium.  As for the Vikings, they share the dubious distinction with the Buffalo Bills for being 0-4 in Super Bowls (at least the Bills have two AFL Championships to their credit).  

The key to this game will be defense.  It is a given that both teams can move the football on anybody’s defense.  It will be the defense that comes up with the big play at the opportune time that decides which way this game should turn.

New Orleans’ defense rose to the challenge against Kurt Warner last week, while the Vikings looked like the old Purple People Eaters of Alan Page, Carl, Eller, and company when they humiliated Dallas.

The Vikings’ defense has consistently shown they are capable of coming up with great efforts every week, while the Saints’ defense has had a tendency to follow up a good showing with a mediocre one.  

That’s where we think this game is headed.  It’s hard to select the enemy of the Packers with our former quarterback piloting the team, but that’s what we must do this week.  We believe Favre will get to close out his career with one final attempt to win a ring.  We’ll go with the Vikings to win a close one.  So, that means we take Minnesota and the points.

As far as the Totals go, 52 is an awful lot for a conference championship game.  Take the UNDER.

13-point Teaser

 

There are six different selections that can be made to satisfy the four picks in a 13-point Teaser.  They are: Jets +20 ½, Colts +5 ½, OVER 26, and UNDER 52 for the AFC game; and: Vikings +16 ½, Saints +9 ½, OVER 39, and UNDER 65.  Here are the four we’d take for our teaser:

Colts +5 ½, Jets & Colts UNDER 52, Vikings +16 ½, and Vikings & Saints UNDER 65.  That’s our one true recommended play this week.

January 12, 2010

NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF ROUND PREVIEW

We’re down to just eight teams left in the road to Miami and Super Bowl 44.  As luck would have it, one team from each of the eight divisions remains.

Due to a weather problem preventing us from gaining access to the computer simulator until late Friday last week, we refunded the purchases of everybody who purchased our playoff package.  For those who still had time to play our picks, we went 3-1 against the spread, losing only the Packers-Cardinals Game.  We were also 3-1 in totals, missing only on the Ravens-Patriots.

Because we had to refund the payment of all those who played, we are going to go ahead and give everybody the rest of the playoffs free here.

Satruday, January 16

Arizona Cardinals at New Orleans Saints

Time: 4:30 PM EST     Network: Fox

Forecast–Dome Stadium, No Weather

PiRate: Saints by 7.3

Mean: Saints by 7.1

Bias: Saints by 6.8

100 Sims: New Orleans 79  Arizona 21

Avg. Sim Score: New Orleans 32.9  Arizona 23.3

Outlier Score A: New Orleans 45  Arizona 17

Outlier Score B: Arizona 37  New Orleans 27

Vegas: New Orleans by 7   Totals: 56 1/2

Analysis

The Saints lost their final three games after beginning the season 13-0.  In 1969, the Los Angeles Rams won their first 11 games and clinched the NFC Coastal Division title, and then proceeded to lose their final three games.  Quarterback Roman Gabriel looked like the league MVP in the 11-0 stretch.  The Rams faced a tough first round foe in the 12-2 Minnesota Vikings, possibly the greatest defensive team in a 20-year period.  The Purple People Eaters got the best of the Fearsome Foursome that day, as the Vikings’ defense outshone the Rams’ that day.

40 years later, it’s all about the offense in this game.  Drew Brees against Kurt Warner in a shootout.  Can a team that has not won in five weeks beat a team that is fresh and playing unbelievable football on the attack side?  The Saints’ defense did not shine in several games, and Warner will find holes all day long.

The problem for the Cardinals is they could not stop Aaron Rodgers when they had to.  Sure, the sack and fumble recovery was the winning play, but the Cards cannot be counted on to get to Brees five or six times to stop drives. 

We believe this will be an ugly game with a lot of offense and more than average mistakes (penalties, fumbles, dropped passes, etc.).  We’re contrarians here, so we think the key play in this game is UNDER 56 1/2.  At seven points, we’ll take Arizona +7, but we aren’t in love with this line.  We think New Orleans will win by about four or five.

Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts

Time: 8:15 PM EST     Network: CBS

Forecast–Dome Stadium, No Weather

PiRate: Ravens by 1.5

Mean: Colts by 1.8

Bias: Colts by 1.0

100 Sims: Baltimore 56  Indianapolis 44

Avg. Sim Score: Baltimore 22.6  Indianapolis 20.4

Outlier Score A: Baltimore 34  Indianapolis 17

Outlier Score B: Indianapolis 31  Baltimore 10

Vegas: Indianapolis 6 1/2   Totals: 44

Analysis

Here’s a game where the computer simulator believes it has found a big play.  The simulator uses a combination of least squares and absolute value regression, and it appears that the Colts not only have no homefield advantage, they play better on the road than at home.  The Ravens tend to perform just as competently on the road than at home.  Throw in the fact that Indianapolis rested its starters for two weeks, and the possibility of rust comes into play.  Could this be a big upset in the making?

The Ravens have twice knocked off the AFC team with the best record in this same situation (both times the Titans).  They will try to force Peyton Manning to throw short and then try to contain the receiver and limit yards after catch.  They should shut down the Colt running game.  The Ravens’ offense will try to hold onto the ball and keep Manning off the field, but don’t be surprised to see Joe Flacco throw long on play-action when the Colts least expect it (like 3rd and 1 at midfield).

We’re going to side with the computers.  We’re taking the Ravens to beat the spread at +6 1/2, and we think they have a 50-50 shot at winning outright.  As for the totals, we like the OVER here, but not by much.  We wouldn’t be surprised to see the total come within three of what Vegas says (44).

Sunday, January 17

Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings

Time: 1:00 PM EST     Network: Fox

Forecast–Dome Stadium, No Weather

PiRate: Cowboys by 0.2

Mean: Vikings by 1.3

Bias: Vikings by 1.1

100 Sims: Minnesota 61  Dallas 39

Avg. Sim Score: Minnesota 24.4  Dallas 20.1

Outlier Score A: Minnesota 37  Dallas 17

Outlier Score B: Dallas 35  Minnesota 16

Vegas: Minnesota by 3   Totals: 45 1/2

Analysis

Everybody is jumping on the Cowboys’ bandwagon, already proclaiming them to be certain Super Bowl Champions.  Their defense is being compared to the best of the Tom Landry years, when Lee Roy Jordan, Chuck Howley, Mel Renfro, and company put a big hurt on opponents.

One of those great Cowboy teams back then, a Super Bowl participant at that, faced a Viking team not as good as this current edition, and Minnesota beat them at the old Metropolitan Stadium 54-13!

Favre knows this is more than likely his last chance to get another ring.  He has the tools to make it to Miami.  Remember all those years where John Elway couldn’t take Denver all the way?  In the playoffs, it’s almost impossible to take a team on your shoulders and knock off three great teams.  Once Elway had a great running game backing him up, the Broncos won two titles in a row.  Favre has one of the three best running attacks in the NFL, and the Viking defense is highly underrated for a division champion.  We see the purple and white advancing to the NFC Championship Game.

Minnesota is a 3-point pick.  It’s hard to win by less than three, especially when you know there cannot be a tie.  We’ll take the Vikings as a short favorite.  If the line moves to 3 1/2, things might change, and if the line moves down to 2 1/2, we will love this spread.  As for the totals, at 45 1/2 points, this is right on the mark we agree with.  We don’t like playing the totals in this game, but if we have to pick, we’ll take the OVER.  Dallas’s defense has possibly caused this number to be a point or two too low.

New York Jets at San Diego Chargers

Time: 4:40 PM EST     Network: CBS

Forecast–Low 60’s with a 30% chance of rain showers

PiRate: Chargers by 8.4

Mean: Chargers by 3.4

Bias: Chargers by 7.5

100 Sims: San Diego 51  New York 49

Avg. Sim Score: New York 21.5  San Diego 21.4

Outlier Score A: New York 23  San Diego 10

Outlier Score B: San Diego 17  New York 0

Vegas: San Diego by 7.5   Totals: 42

Analysis

This one surprised all five of us.  We admit that we repeated the 100 game simulation several more times to make sure it wasn’t a mistake.  Every time, it came out basically a push, but the Jets continued to hold a small edge in average sim score. 

It’s hard to determine how the computer justified these results.  The Chargers appear to have a major advantage when you compare their passing game to the Jets’ pass defense versus the Jets’ passing game to the Chargers’ pass defense.

The Jets definitely have the advantage when comparing their running game to the Chargers’ run defense as opposed to the Chargers’ running game against the Jets’ run defense.

Here is a caveat:  weather is not a variable in the simulations.  If it indeed rains Sunday afternoon, the passing game could either be helped or hurt by the surface.  If it’s just wet enough to cause slippery conditions, then the receivers get a big advantage over the defenders (they know when they will change speeds or directions and the defense has to guess).  If it rains hard and affects visibility and makes it impossible to keep the ball dry, then the passing game will suffer.

The big part of this game is the spread.  It isn’t often that a playoff team with a playoff win already under its belt finds itself a 7.5 point dog.  The Chargers didn’t fold up at the end of the year like the Colts and Saints.  They kept playing to win and ended the season on an 11-game winning streak.  On paper, they look to us to have the entire package.  We think they are the favorite to go all the way, but we aren’t about to pick them to win by more than a touchdown.  Our selection is to take the Jets at +7 1/2 and to play the OVER at 42.

Playing A 13-point Teaser

For those of you who are not familiar with teasers, here is a brief explanation.   A teaser allows you to move the pointspread or totals of a game in either direction by the number of points in your teaser (A 13-point teaser would allow you to move the pointspread or total by 13 points in either direction).  Now, before you say you want to play one of these teasers, you can’t pick one team and move the spread by 13 points.  No, in a 13-point teaser, you must pick four games and win all four after you’ve moved the points by 13 in your favor.

We like 13-point teasers in the playoffs, but only when we use it to make a favorite into an underdog or an underdog into a huge underdog.  This week, we find some good possibilities.  The problem with teasers, and thus it’s why they get their name, is that it looked really easy when you move a line by 13 points.  However, one in four games typically deviates from the pointspread by 13 or more points.  So, it isn’t easy.  We picked 52 13-point teasers during the 2009 NFL regular season.  We won 32 of them and lost 20.  Of those 20 losses, we were correct on three of the four games in each teaser 16 times.  In four of those cases, we lost when one game hit the exact pointspread (unlike straight sides wagers, you lose if one team pushes).

Here are the teasers possibilities for you this week with our grade on their playability.  If you’re lucky, you can pick four choices from among this group and find yourself a winner.  Caution:  Teasers become addictive quickly.

New Orleans +6 vs. Arizona  Grade: B+

Arizona +20 vs. New Orleans  Grade: A-

New Orleans & Arizona OVER 43 1/2  Grade: A-

New Orleans & Arizona UNDER 69 1/2  Grade: B

Baltimore +19 1/2 vs. Indianapolis  Grade: A

Indianapolis +6 1/2 vs. Baltimore  Grade: C+

Baltimore & Indianapolis OVER 31  Grade: A-

Baltimore & Indianapolis UNDER 57  Grade: B+

Minnesota +10 vs. Dallas  Grade: A-

Dallas +16 vs. Minnesota  Grade: A-

Minnesota & Dallas OVER 32 1/2  Grade: A

Minnesota & Dallas UNDER 58 1/2  Grade: A

San Diego +5 1/2 vs. New York  Grade: C

New York +20 1/2 vs. San Diego  Grade: A+

San Diego & New York OVER 29  Grade: A

San Diego & New York UNDER 55 Grade: B-

September 26, 2008

PiRate Ratings Week 4 NFL Previews–September 28-29, 2008

PiRate Ratings For NFL Week Four

(Listed Alphabetically Within Each Division)
NFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

 
Dallas

3

0

0

96

63

113.56

109.11

109.08

2

 
New York

3

0

0

83

43

105.26

105.58

107.36

2

 
Philadelphia

2

1

0

90

50

110.86

107.07

108.31

2

 
Washington

2

1

0

60

57

105.74

102.17

103.37

2

 
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
NFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

 
Chicago

1

2

0

70

60

105.16

102.48

100.27

2

 
Detroit

0

3

0

59

113

86.65

90.03

89.19

3

 
Green Bay

2

1

0

88

71

106.24

103.71

104.95

2

 
Minnesota

1

2

0

54

52

104.57

101.33

99.97

2

 
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
NFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

 
Atlanta

2

1

0

81

59

96.23

97.28

97.01

2

 
Carolina

2

1

0

56

61

101.51

101.57

102.12

2

 
New Orleans

1

2

0

80

83

104.27

100.82

101.05

2

 
Tampa Bay

2

1

0

71

57

104.04

102.73

102.85

2

 
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
NFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

 
Arizona

2

1

0

71

47

103.78

101.02

102.29

3

 
St. Louis

0

3

0

29

116

76.37

86.82

84.63

2

 
San Francisco

2

1

0

67

56

94.04

96.39

97.14

3

 
Seattle

1

2

0

67

70

94.51

96.81

99.47

3

 
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
AFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

 
Buffalo

3

0

0

78

49

101.85

103.16

104.75

3

 
Miami

1

2

0

62

64

94.20

96.85

95.39

2

 
New England

2

1

0

49

58

100.19

101.62

104.35

2

 
New York

1

2

0

59

81

94.49

96.99

96.90

2

 
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
AFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

 
Baltimore

2

0

0

45

20

101.46

100.74

102.42

3

 
Cincinnati

0

3

0

40

67

95.26

96.83

95.84

2

 
Cleveland

0

3

0

26

66

89.56

94.30

91.95

2

 
Pittsburgh

2

1

0

54

38

102.78

103.38

103.62

2

 
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
AFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

 
Houston

0

2

0

29

69

89.13

96.35

93.42

3

 
Indianapolis

1

2

0

52

67

101.40

101.34

101.17

2

 
Jacksonville

1

2

0

49

58

103.10

102.42

101.84

3

 
Tennessee

3

0

0

72

29

105.98

106.64

106.51

2

 
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
AFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

 
Denver

3

0

0

114

84

104.17

103.69

104.08

2

 
Kansas City

0

2

0

32

78

82.22

90.08

88.50

2

 
Oakland

1

2

0

60

73

94.45

96.52

94.39

2

 
San Diego

1

2

0

110

94

106.59

104.07

105.92

2

 

 

 

NFL Previews-Week Four

 

Denver Broncos (3-0) at Kansas City Chiefs (0-3)

Time:           1 PM EDT

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:         Denver by 20    

Mean:           Denver by 12

Bias:             Denver by 4

Vegas:        Denver by 9½

Ov/Un:        46½

Strategy:     Denver +½ in 10-point teaser, Over 36½ in 10-point teaser

On the surface, this looks like a slam-dunk game for the Broncos.  Kansas City has scored just 32 points in three games. They have already lost at home to Oakland, and Denver blew the Raiders out in Oakland.  So, why is Denver not a double-digit favorite?  The Broncos have problems on defense, and Kansas City should score a season high in points Sunday. 

 

Damon Huard will start at quarterback for the Chiefs, and while he is not a star, he will perform better than Tyler Thigpen.  Look for the Chiefs to hit the 20-point mark for the first time this year, but Jay Cutler and company will score 24 to 35. 

 

Since the Bias rating doesn’t believe Denver can cover at 9½, I am sticking with the teaser plays in this one. 

 

Cleveland Browns (0-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (0-3)

Time:           1 PM EDT

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:        Cincinnati by 8

Mean:           Cincinnati by 5

Bias:             Cincinnati by 6

Vegas:        Cincinnati by 3½

Ov/Un:        44

Strategy:     Cincinnati -3½, Cincinnati +6½ in 10-point teaser, Over 34 in 10-point teaser             

The losing coach in this game will have to purchase asbestos pants, because his seat is going to be mighty hot come Monday morning.  One of these teams will be 0-4 and have absolutely no chance of recovery.  The winner will still be in trouble at 1-3, but they will still be in the race in this division.  If you are old enough to remember 1970, the Bengals actually began that year 1-6 before winning seven in a row to take the division by a game over the Browns.

 

Neither team has a great defense, but Cincinnati began to play a little more consistently last week in New Jersey.  Cleveland might be in last place in defense if not for playing Pittsburgh in weather more suitable to trout.  The Browns’ offense has been the top disappointment in the NFL thus far, and Derek Anderson has a pitiful 43.5 QB Rating.  If he doesn’t come out of the gate hot this week, look for Brady Quinn to become the new quarterback.  Sticking with the nostalgia theme, back in 1968, Frank Ryan began the season as the Browns’ QB but in about the fourth game, Bill Nelsen took over.  Cleveland was a different team with Nelsen, and the Browns went on a long winning streak to win their division after digging themselves a hole at the beginning.

 

In this big rivalry game, I look for the Bengals to be ready to play good, but not great defense, while the Browns’ play better than they have to date and make this a great game.  It won’t be like last year’s shootout, but this one should be decided late.  I’ll go with the home team to win, but I am not wild about the selection.  I like teasing the Over, because these teams have the potential to score points quickly.

 

 

Houston Texans (0-2) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2)

Time:           1 PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Partly Cloudy, light wind, humid, temperature in upper 80’s

 

PiRate:        Jacksonville by 17

Mean:           Jacksonville by 9

Bias:             Jacksonville by 11

Vegas:        Jacksonville by 7

Ov/Un:        42½

Strategy:     Houston +17 in 10-point teaser, Jacksonville +3 in 10-point teaser, Under 52½ in 10-point teaser

Jacksonville should have some momentum after winning at Indianapolis last week.  That half-day scoring drive that consumed most of the second half was quite impressive, but it is not conducive to covering the spread when a team is favored like the Jags are this week.

 

Houston looked better than their 19-point loss to Tennessee last week.  Until a late 99-yard interception return for a touchdown, the Texans were actually threatening to cut the Titans lead to less than a touchdown with enough time to win the game.

 

I think the Texans will be a little down this week, and when you combine the high the Jaguar players will be on this week, I can only see Jacksonville winning this game.  However, as I mentioned above, the Jaguars may or may not cover the spread because of their style of play.  They could easily win 17-10.  So, I’m going with both sides as part of a 10-point teaser, and I’m teasing the Under. 

 

 

Arizona Cardinals (2-1) at New York Jets (1-2)

Time:           1 PM EDT

TV:               FOX

Forecast:     60% chance of Thundershowers could be heavy at times and affect the game, light wind, temperature around 70

 

PiRate:        Arizona by 7

Mean:           Arizona by 2

Bias:             Arizona by 3

Vegas:        New York Jets by 1

Ov/Un:        44

Strategy:     Arizona +11 in 10-point teaser, Over 34 in 10-point teaser          

If the weather turns out to be a factor, it could actually help Brett Favre and Kurt Warner.  People mistakenly believe a wet field curtails passing.  It does not; in fact, it can be a major help.  Remember, the offensive player knows where he is going and when he is going to make a cut, while the defender has to react. 

 

Both of these hard-throwing drop back passers may also benefit from a slower pass rush if the weather is lousy.  Of course, there is a two in five chance that it won’t rain, and that produces a predicament. 

 

Either way, I don’t think the Jets are capable of beating the Cardinals by double digits, so I am going with the visitors in a teaser play.  With these two gunslingers going at it, I expect this game to see its share of scoring.  Therefore, I like teasing the Over.

 

 

San Francisco 49ers (2-1) at New Orleans Saints (1-2)

Time:           1 PM EDT

TV:               FOX

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:        New Orleans by 12

Mean:           New Orleans by 6

Bias:             New Orleans by 6

Vegas:        New Orleans by 5½

Ov/Un:        48

Strategy:     Over 48, Over 38 in 10-point teaser            

This game should be one of the more exciting games of the week.  J.T. O’Sullivan may be on the verge of becoming another Kurt Warner.  Having Mike Martz as his offensive coordinator means he will be throwing the ball for the 49ers a lot in the Superdome on Sunday.

 

Drew Brees deserves more credit than he is getting.  He is on pace for a 4,500 yard season, and it won’t be anything new if he gets it.  If the Saints’ running game can live up to its potential, then New Orleans may eventually have a more potent offense than Dallas.

 

If I had to pick a straight spread winner in this game, I’d go with San Francisco.  I don’t have much confidence in that pick, at least not enough to make it a selection.  I do think this game could be a 35-31 game, so I like the Over as a straight selection and love it as part of a teaser.

 

 

Atlanta Falcons (2-1) at Carolina Panthers (2-1)

Time:           1 PM EDT

TV:               FOX

Forecast:     30% chance of Thunderstorms could affect game, light wind temperature in the upper 70’s

 

PiRate:        Carolina by 7

Mean:           Carolina by 6

Bias:             Carolina by 7

Vegas:        Carolina by 6½

Ov/Un:        39½

Strategy:     Carolina +3½ in 10-point teaser, Under 49½ in 10-point teaser          

This is another game that could be affected by the weather, so I approach it with caution.

 

The Falcons have benefited from playing Detroit and Kansas City, two of the worst four teams in the NFL.  Carolina has played at San Diego, Chicago, and at Minnesota.  Their 2-1 record is more legitimate than Atlanta’s.  The one time the Falcons ventured on the road this season, they lost at Tampa Bay and didn’t really compete in that game.  I tend to believe that will happen again this week, but Atlanta will play a little tougher in this road game.

 

I am impressed with the Falcons’ defense this year and think that they will eventually beat a playoff-bound team.  I just don’t think it will happen this week.  However, I don’t see Carolina having their way in this game.  I can see a 21-17 score, so I am going to go with the Under in a teaser.

 

 

Minnesota Vikings (1-2) at Tennessee Titans (3-0)

Time:           1 PM EDT

TV:               FOX

Forecast:     Sunny, light wind, humid, temperature near 80

 

PiRate:        Tennessee by 3

Mean:           Tennessee by 7

Bias:             Tennessee by 9

Vegas:        Tennessee by 3

Ov/Un:        35½

Strategy:     Minnesota +13  in 10-point teaser, Tennessee +7  in 10-point teaser Over 25½ in 10-point teaser, Under 45½ in 10-point teaser        

These teams are eerily similar except for their records.  Both teams began the season with running quarterbacks that many sports analysts believed could not keep defenses honest with their passing skills.  Both teams began the season with very strong running attacks and doubts that they had adequate pass receivers.  Both teams had punishing defensive front sevens and improving pass defenses.  Both teams were supposed to win games by ugly scores with brute force on both sides of the ball.

 

Now, both teams find themselves being led at quarterback by an aging veteran, and both teams have discovered those pass receivers aren’t all that bad once a competent quarterback began to throw them the ball.

 

The difference in these two teams is that Kerry Collins became the Titans’ starting quarterback in the fourth quarter of game one, while Gus Frerotte took over for the Vikings in game three.  The Titans would be fortunate to win by a field goal in this one, so I cannot select them even at home against a team not prepared to play in hot and muggy weather.  I do think this game will be decided by less than a touchdown either way, so I like teasing both sides.  I also like teasing both of the Totals.  That 20-point range looks rather safe.  Collins and Frerotte might hook up in a mini-passing duel if both of the defensive lines prove that top-rated run defenses can stop top-rated runners. 

 

I tend to believe Adrian Peterson will find a modicum of success against Tennessee’s front wall and end up with about 90 yards on 25 attempts.  I believe the combo of Chris Johnson and LenDale White will combine for 30 carries and 105 rushing yards.  That means that the game will be decided by who has the hotter passing day.  It should be close.  I’ll go with a game with a score similar to 20-17 either way.

 

 

Green Bay Packers (2-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1)

Time:           1 PM EDT

TV:               FOX

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, light wind, humid, temperature in the mid to upper 80’s

 

PiRate:        Pick’em

Mean:           Tampa Bay by 1

Bias:             Pick’em

Vegas:        Pick’em

Ov/Un:        42½

Strategy:     Tampa Bay +10 in 10-point teaser, Under 52½ in 10-point teaser           

I have been struggling with analyzing both of these teams thus far.  I don’t think either has found its true identity as of yet.  My three ratings and the Vegas spread are basically all the same, so I am not about to begin to pick a side in this one.  If I absolutely had to go with a winner, I’d take Tampa Bay for three reasons.  First, Green Bay’s players are going to suffer more fatigue in the second half of this game than in any other game this year due to the summer-like conditions.  Next, the Packers may be a little thin in their secondary with Al Harris out and Charles Woodson, Atari Bigby, and Aaron Rouse all ailing.  Additionally, Aaron Rodgers may be a little confused facing the multiple defenses Tampa Bay will throw at him.

 

On the other hand, I am not convinced that Tampa Bay’s offense can exploit the secondary liabilities of the Packers.  Brian Griese is not the type of passer who can sting defenses with a bevy of long passes.  He’s more of the dink and doink quarterback who picks on the short zones.  On top of that, Griese is not 100% healthy this week.

 

For the reasons mentioned above, I like teasing the Under.  I can see this one ending in the range of 24-20.  I’m going with the Bucs in a teaser play as well, but I will hold off on playing the other side of that teaser.

 

 

Buffalo Bills (3-0) at St. Louis Rams (0-3)

Time:           4:05 PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:        Buffalo by 23

Mean:           Buffalo by 14

Bias:             Buffalo by 18

Vegas:        Buffalo by 8

Ov/Un:        42

Strategy:     Buffalo +2 in 10-point teaser, Over 32 in 10-point teaser     

The Rams have looked like the worst NFL team in two decades so far this season, while the Bills have shot out to the lead in the AFC East.  Still, this game scares me.  This is St. Louis’s final game before their bye week.  If they lose this game in another blowout, Coach Scott Linehan will more than likely not see game five in two weeks.  Linehan has made numerous changes this week including naming Trent Green the starting quarterback over Marc Bulger.  Bulger has come out publicly in the media and said he will not play another game for Linehan.  Star running back Steven Jackson endorsed Bulger and openly opposed his benching. 

 

One of two things will happen this week.  Either the Rams’ players will get behind their coach and show a major improvement, or this team will begin to resemble the 1952 Dallas Texans.  Either way, I think Buffalo has a great chance to win outright, but since I like to play conservatively, I’d much rather get Buffalo and points than have to worry about them covering by more than a touchdown.  I like teasing the Over because the Rams have given up more than 32 points in every game, and two of those opponents have weaker offenses than the Bills do right now.

 

 

San Diego Chargers (1-2) at Oakland Raiders (1-2)

Time:           4:05 PM EDT

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:        San Diego by 10

Mean:           San Diego by 6

Bias:             San Diego by 10

Vegas:        San Diego by 7½

Ov/Un:        45½

Strategy:     San Diego +2½ in 10-point teaser, Oakland +17½ in 10-point teaser, Over 35½ in 10-point teaser             

Did you hear what Raiders’ owner Al Davis decided to do when he was invited to a costume party?  He went as former Cleveland Cavaliers owner Ted Stepien (if you don’t know who Stepien was, Google his name).  After stepping down as head coach of the team in 1965, he hired John Rauch.  Rauch quickly made Oakland the dominant team of the old AFL.  From 1967 to 1969, the Raiders went 37-4-1 with Rauch at quarterback, but Davis couldn’t resist telling Rauch what he needed to be doing, as if 90.2% success wasn’t acceptable.  Rauch fled Oakland for the then moribund Bills.  So, the meddling isn’t anything new.  It just gets a lot more press coverage in the 24/7 media world of the 21st Century.

 

The latest episode in the gridiron serial is called, “Is he or isn’t he?”  Coach Lane Kiffin, who actually is beginning to receive more and more accolades as a young man who knows what he is doing, has been like the condemned prisoner who keeps getting a reprieve from the Governor as he is being strapped into the chair.  We all know that eventually Kiffin’s appeals will run out, and he will no longer be the head coach.

 

Until then, Kiffin and his team simply have to deal with all the distractions including having a defensive coordinator who does not get along with the head coach and does not have any loyalty to him.

 

Somehow in all this mess, the Raiders have been competitive after looking terrible on the opening week of the season.  If not for a late collapse last week, this team could be 2-1. 

 

The Raiders’ opponent this week is also 1-2, but they are the best NFL team with a losing record.  San Diego could easily be 3-0 today, and they legitimately should be 2-1.  The Chargers are a team with huge chips on the shoulders of its players and coaches.  That is a good thing, because this team knows it is in a bit of a hole being two games behind Denver.

 

The biggest concern to me in this game is the nasty spread.  I don’t like 7½-point spreads in any game unless I think it is off by five points or more.  The Chargers should be able to outscore Oakland, but it’s iffy whether they can win by eight or more.   I like teasing both sides, although I would advise against picking the Raiders in any play right now.

 

Washington Redskins (2-1) at Dallas Cowboys (3-0)

Time:           4:15 PM EDT

TV:               FOX

Forecast:     Sunny, light wind, temperature near 90

 

PiRate:        Dallas by 10

Mean:           Dallas by 9

Bias:             Dallas by 8

Vegas:        Dallas by 11

Ov/Un:        46½

Strategy:     Washington +22 in 10-point teaser, Under 56½ in 10-point teaser

The old movies where the cowboys and Indians fought it out always provided great entertainment to young and old alike back in the 1950’s and 1960’s.  Today, that type of movie would be considered politically incorrect, but we still have this epic arch-rivalry game between two franchises who like nothing more than to beat their nemesis.

 

Dallas has the upper hand these days, but Washington is improving and capable of winning in their last scheduled visit to Texas Stadium.  I see one of the best plays here this week.  I am going with the underdog in a teaser.  When you get 22 points with a decent team, it makes it quite difficult for the other team to beat you.  Dallas is coming off an emotional Sunday night game at Green Bay, and they may have just enough of a bounce to allow the Redskins to stay in the game.  Washington’s defense and ball control offense should keep this game lower scoring than normal, so I like teasing the Totals line as well.

 

 

Philadelphia Eagles (2-1) at Chicago Bears (1-2)

Time:           8:15 PM EDT

TV:               NBC

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, 20% chance of rain, light wind, temperatures falling from the mid 60’s to upper 50’s

 

PiRate:        Philadelphia by 4

Mean:           Philadelphia by 3

Bias:             Philadelphia by 6

Vegas:        Philadelphia by 3

Ov/Un:        40½

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

If you consider that Dallas has a home field advantage of about three points, then Philadelphia must be about as powerful as the Cowboys right now.  However, not many football fans would agree with the Cowboys being a three-point pick over the Bears.  The spread would be more like seven to nine points if Dallas were venturing to Soldier Field this week.

 

Both teams have major injury concerns for this game.  The Bears top receiver, Brandon Lloyd, has a sore hip.  He did not practice today (Thursday) and is questionable for Sunday.  Devin Hester is still suffering from sore ribs, and he has been limited in practice.  He too is listed as questionable.  Without one or both of these stars, the Bears become a much easier team to defend.

 

Philadelphia has some question marks as well.  Quarterback Donovan McNabb will play with a sore chest, while running back Brian Westbrook has an ankle injury and will be a game-time decision. 

 

Factoring all the injuries into the equation as well as the possibility that there could be some rain in this game, I look for it to be a close decision.  I think Philadelphia is the better team, but Chicago may be the hungrier team.  Therefore, I am playing both sides in a teaser here.  If the Bears win, I expect it to be by one to five points, and if the Eagles win, I cannot see it being by more than seven or eight points.

 

Baltimore Ravens (2-0) at Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1)

Time:           8:30 PM EDT Monday

TV:               ESPN

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, 20% chance of rain, light wind, temperatures falling from the mid 60’s to upper 50’s

 

PiRate:        Pittsburgh by 3

Mean:           Pittsburgh by 5

Bias:             Pittsburgh by 3

Vegas:        Pittsburgh by 5

Ov/Un:        34½

Strategy:     Pittsburgh +5 in 10-point teaser 

Are the Ravens for real this year?  Could it be that last year was just a fluke?  How about the Steelers?  Can they score enough points to win this game after doing nothing on the attack side the prior two games?

 

Of all the games on this week’s schedule, this is the most intriguing to me.  I don’t like playing the Under in Monday Night Football games, because they tend to become more of a theatrical event with a high number of points scored.  If this game were a 1 PM game on Sunday, I would be playing Under 44½ in a teaser, because I would be picking this game to be a 14-13 affair.  I cannot recommend a play here. 

 

Baltimore will be without the services of leading tackler Dawan Landry after Jamal Lewis steamrollered over him last week.  Additionally, cornerback Samari Rolle could miss the game.  Pittsburgh will not have starting running back Willie Parker available for this game, and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will play with multiple injuries.   

 

 

The Imaginary Bank Account Increases Again In Week Three

It wasn’t as beautiful as the first two weeks, but I maintained my perfect record of having a winning week in week three.  I finished 6-4-1, with a profit of $95.  For the year, that makes me 22-10-1 (68.8%) with a profit of $1,005.  For the year, I now have a return on investment of 30.5%.

 

As week four begins, I feel the urge to play a little conservatively and protect my investment.  I like teasing the totals lines when I believe the folks in Las Vegas have struggled with either lowering or raising it too much.  Moving that line by 10 points in our advantage gives me the sense that we are getting 15 points when it appears that the totals line has been moved more toward the average.

 

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

 

1. Jacksonville -300 Money Line

 

2. Pittsburgh -230 Money Line

 

3. New Orleans and San Francisco Over 48

 

4. 10-Point Teaser

       a. Denver & Kansas City Over 36½

       b. Houston +17 vs. Jacksonville

       c. Houston & Jacksonville Under 52½

 

5. 10-Point Teaser

       a. Jacksonville +3 vs. Houston

       b. Arizona +11 vs. New York Jets

       c. Arizona & New York Jets Over 34

 

6. 10-Point Teaser

       a. San Francisco and New Orleans Over 38

       b. Carolina + 3½ vs. Atlanta

       c. Minnesota +13 vs. Tennessee

 

7. 10-Point Teaser

       a. Tennessee +7 vs. Minnesota

       b. Tampa Bay +10 vs. Green Bay

       c. Buffalo +2 vs. St. Louis

 

8. 10-Point Teaser

       a. Buffalo & St. Louis Over 32

       b. San Diego +2½ vs. Oakland

       c. San Diego & Oakland Over 35½

 

9. 10-Point Teaser

       a. Oakland + 17½ vs. San Diego

       b. Washington +22 vs. Dallas

       c. Philadelphia +7 vs. Chicago      

 

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

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