The Pi-Rate Ratings

October 19, 2018

An Analytical Look at the 2018 Mid-term Elections

Filed under: News & Views — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 10:37 am

The PiRate Ratings consist of a group of mathematical nerds that love to look at ratings of all types.  Sports ratings dominate about 95% of what we publish, but we are big-time followers of the political scene, as our founder was once a journalist and has worked as an official in past elections.

We do not have our own polling data.  However, we handicap other polls based on past accuracy and whether the polls show bias one way or another.  Then, we go use the various dates of each handicapped poll and use linear regression analysis to come up with a prediction.

This takes a lot of time to search for the polls we believe are the most accurate.  Very few were all that accurate in 2016, but there were some major polling efforts that showed President Trump leading the electoral vote count in the final days before the election.

Today, we look at the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Gubernatorial Races.  The result is a split decision for 2019.

The United States Senate

Safe Seats

21 of the 35 seats are considered safe, where the candidate in the lead today has a greater than 95% chance of winning in November.

Dianne Feinstein (D)
Feinstein is like a Supreme Court Justice in the Golden State. She will hold this seat for life, or until she retires. This easily stays a safe seat for the Democrats.

Chris Murphy (D)
Connecticut has become much bluer in the last 15 years, and Murphy will win this seat with token opposition to retain it for the Democrats.

Tom Carper (D)
Carper is almost as safe as if he were running unopposed. This seat is retained by the Democrats.

Mazie Hirano (D)
The same thing about Carper applies here. Hirano cruises to an easy victory to retain this seat for the Democrats.

Angus King (I)
King caucuses with the Democrats, so this seat in essence is retained by the Democrats.

Ben Cardin (D)
Cardin wins a third term in a safe race to retain this seat for the Democrats.

Elizabeth Warren (D)
Her chances of becoming the next President are most likely gone now, but Warren should retain this seat for the Democrats by a healthy margin.

Debbie Stabenow (D)
This seat remains Democrat with a safe win for Stabenow.

Amy Klobuchar (D)
Klobuchar should win re-election by a landslide of more than 20% to retain this seat for the Democrats

Minnesota Special Election
Tina Smith (D)
This race was never all that close, and Smith has maintained a double-digit lead to retain this seat for the Democrats.

Roger Wicker (R)
Wicker may score the largest GOP landslide victory in the 2018 elections to retain this seat for the Republicans

Deb Fischer (R)
Fischer has a large lead and will win a second term in the Cornhusker State and retain this seat for the Republicans.

New Mexico
Martin Heinrich (D)
Like Fischer, Heinrich easily wins re-election to a second term and retains this seat for the Democrats

New York
Kirsten Gillibrand (D)
This could be the largest landslide victory for the party of Jefferson and Jackson. Gillibrand will then have to address the rumors about whether or not she will launch a Presidentail campaign for the 2020 election. The Democrats retain this seat.

Sherrod Brown (D)
This race was never close, and the Democrats will easily retain it in a landslide.

Rhode Island
Sheldon Whitehouse (D)
It’s a third term for Whitehouse, and the Democrats retain this seat.

Mitt Romney (R)
The former GOP Presidential candidate will win by 30+% to retain this seat for the Republicans.

Bernie Sanders (I)
Sanders caucuses with the Democrats and will win re-election by a large landslide. His announcement for the 2020 Presidential race should come sometime in the Spring or early Summer of 2019.

Tim Kaine (D)
The former Vice-presidential candidate and running mate for Hillary Clinton might become a Presidential contender in 2020, but for now, he retains this seat for the Democrats.

Maria Cantwell (D)
Cantwell wins for the fourth time and could stay in this seat for two or three more terms. She won by less than 1% in 2000, by 17% in 2006, and by 20+% in 2012, and she could win by 20+% again this time. The Democrats keep this seat.

John Barrasso (R)
Barrasso should win this race by 50%, to safely retain this seat for the Republicans.


Contested Seats

Martha McSally (R) 52.5
Kyrsten Sinema (D) 47.5
Arizona stays Republican after negative ads against Sinema, using her own voice, are quite effective.

Bill Nelson (D) 50.3
Rick Scott (R) 49.7
Florida race is too close to call at this point, but if the election were today, Nelson would retain this seat for the Democrats.

Joe Donnelly (D) 48.2
Mike Braun (R) 47.4
Lucy Brenton (L) 4.4
This race is trending toward Donnelly in the most recent polls, and the Democrats look like they will retain this seat unless something drastic changes the race in the final two weeks.

Mississippi Special Election Primary
Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) 37.2
Mike Espy (D) 34.7
Chris McDaniel (R) 24.0
Toby Bartee (D) 4.1
It’s hard to see how Mississippi would flip, but Espy is probably the Democrats’ best possible candidate in the Magnolia State. This race is too close to call, but if the general election were held today, Hyde-Smith would win to keep this seat Republican.

Josh Hawley (R) 51.5
Claire McCaskill (D) 48.5
This race now looks like it is trending to Hawley after Project Veritas releases damaging evidence in McCaskill’s own words on hiding her actual stance on gun control with the quote that “People just can’t know that.” This state will flip from Democrat to Republican.

Jon Tester (D) 51.1
Matt Rosendale (R) 48.9
Tester holds on to a narrow lead, but the President has been in Big Sky Country four times in this election cycle, and this race has moved from leaning Democrat to narrowly Democrat. It is too close to call officially, but if the election were today, Tester would squeak by with re-election and keep this seat Democrat.

New Jersey
Robert Menendez (D) 53.8
Bob Hugin (R) 46.2
This seat is close to safe for a Menendez re-election, and the Democrats retain it.

Dean Heller (R) 53.7
Jacky Rosen (D) 46.3
This race was closer earlier in the campaign cycle, but Heller has a somewhat comfortable lead and should retain this seat for the Republicans.

North Dakota
Kevin Cramer (R) 55.9
Heidi Heitkamp (D) 44.1
This seat is almost assured of flipping from Democrat to Republican. Heitkamp had the numbers working against her in a red state that went for Trump.

Bob Casey (D) 57.6
Lou Barletta (R) 42.4
This race has opened up by a healthy enough margin to guarantee it for Casey and retain the seat for the Democrats.

Marsha Blackburn (R) 53.8
Phil Bredesen (D) 46.2
In another case where Project Veritas produced damning evidence that Bredesen had lied about his support for Justice Kavanaugh, this race has moved by several points in favor of Blackburn. It is not decided yet, as Tennessee has never elected a female to statewide office, and in past years, females that held the lead in polls lost on election day. It is a tossup state, but if the election were held today, the Republicans would narrowly hold onto this seat.

Ted Cruz (R) 54.1
Beto O’Rourke (D) 45.9
In a state where gun ownership is above the national average, O’Rourke’s statement that Texas should lead the nation conversation for gun control can be considered a gaffe that will cost him a couple of points and make this race close to safe for Cruz to win re-election and retain this seat for the Republicans.

West Virginia
Joe Manchin (D) 54.6
Patrick Morrisey (R) 45.4
Joe Manchin showed his intelligence in a very red state when he voted for Justice Kavanaugh. He will win by close to double digits and retain this seat for the Democrats. Manchin considered retiring, and he later would not make a comment on the possibility of switching parties. Manchin has tried to encourage other Democrats to work with the President, as in his opinion this is how his party can add to its numbers. His words are falling on deaf ears.

Tammy Baldwin (D) 54.7
Leah Vukmir (R) 45.3
Baldwin has excellent organization in the Badger State, and she should win this race without much concern that the GOP can sneak up on election day like the state did for the President. The Democrats retain this seat.


The 65 Senators not up for re-election
Republicans 42
Democrats 23

There are 35 seats up for grabs this year due to two special elections.
Safe for Democrats 21
Safe for Republicans 5

Republicans 47
Democrats 44

*** Nine states will decide the balance of power in the US Senate. ***
Three lean to the Democrats today

Six lean to the Republicans today
Mississippi Special Election
North Dakota

The current prediction is:
Republicans 53
Democrats 47


The United States House of Representatives

Republicans 235
Democrats 193

2018 Safe seats (411)
Democrats 212
Republicans 199

2018 Contested Seats (27)

Forecasting the 27 races individually is more than our tiny group can handle.  We have used our regression analysis to look at net gains and net losses in the polls.  It is not as accurate as looking at each race individually, but we do prefer to get at least 4 hours of sleep a night.

If the election were held today
Democrats 222
Republicans 216


Gubernatorial Races if the election were held today
Republicans 27
Democrats 23


So, who will be the big winner in November?  It’s hard to say, but if we do end up with a split decision, the biggest winners may be all the political bloggers and online political sites that will have a field day cramming their opinions down the country’s throats.

The only political commentary we will make is this: Many people fail to understand that the elected official that most affects his or her life is the councilman or alderman in his or her neighborhood.  Yet, history shows that these elections receive the lowest turnout of all races.

Please vote in your local elections wherever you live and for whomever you believe will best represent your views and opinions and who best will respond to any redresses you might have.  In most cases, you can talk personally with your councilman or alderman.  Most of us can never speak directly with any other elected official, other than one or two seconds in a handshake line during an election cycle.

We live in interesting times!


August 19, 2018

2018 Southeastern Conference Preview

Filed under: College Football — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 2:38 pm

Note: The preseason ratings you see in the previews may not be the same as the ratings you see for the first game. We update every team’s rating based on player injuries, changes to the depth charts, and other factors that may change during preseason practice.
Our Power 5 Conference preseason ratings and won-loss predictions were figured before knowing the outcome of recent suspensions to Coaches Urban Meyer and D.J. Durkin at Ohio State and Maryland. Because our ratings set 100.0 as average, and the mean of all 130 teams must be 100.0, taking points away from Ohio State and Maryland require redistributing points to the other 128 teams. Expect these ratings to change prior to August 25.

There is an old saying that the three toughest conferences in football are the NFC, the AFC, and the SEC. The Southeastern Conference is the big dog of college football. It is followed by zealots who treat it like a religion. The fans know more about an incoming freshman than most businesses know about new employees. Some fans basically take off from work on Wednesday to take their RVs on the road for a Saturday game. Tailgating in the SEC could be a regular TV program on the Food Network. SEC Football is one of the most successful industries in the world!



In an effort to show you a little more about how the PiRate Ratings are made, we are going to reveal one of the pre-season rating scores we apply to each team. We will show you the scores of each unit on the 14 teams. These include, the Offensive Line, Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Wide Receivers, Defensive Line, Linebackers, Defensive Backs, and Special Teams. This does not make up the entire rating. This is just one look at each team, but it is the one you don’t need to understand any advanced analytics to fully understand and appreciate.

Each unit is graded on a scale of 60-100 at the FBS level. The grades are 95% mechanical and could be performed by anybody that has the key to how the mechanical grading is made. The other 5% is a minor adjustment based on the players’ original recruiting rankings, which sometimes can predict a player to improve by more than another.
These scores look like school grades, but in this system, the difference between 70 and 90 is much less than the difference in test grades in schools. The difference in a 90 offensive line and a 70 offensive line can be as little as 3-4 points of PiRate Rating.

We take these grades and assign a weighting to the units. Obviously the quarterback is much more important than the long snapper. We add or subtract points based on depth, coaching changes, and other intangibles to come up with one part of the three PiRate Ratings. Each PiRate Rating has 5 to 7 different systems that measure talent and coaching of the 130 teams, which is why it takes basically 130 days to rate 130 teams. We start as soon as a team wraps up Spring Practice and sends out their Spring Media Guide. Last year’s final rating is the starting point, and all the preseason work presents a plus or minus adjustment to the PiRate, Mean, and Bias Ratings.

Remember that these rankings include starters and reserves, and these are not Pro football draft ratings; an option quarterback might be rated ahead of a potential 1st round NFL selection, because we are only concerned with how the players affect the college game. Starters count for about 80% and reserves about 20% for each unit, unless the position has co-starters or the starting QB has yet to be named; there is a different algorithm for these instances. Also, these ratings do not include injuries incurred in August practices, so the sad news about Alabama losing outstanding outside linebacker Terrell Lewis is included in their score, but the recent loss of Christopher Allen is not. His injury will be reflected in Alabama’s opening rating against Louisville a week from Tuesday.

About the units: Tight ends are included in both the receivers and offensive line. Running backs are included as part of the receivers. When there is a true blocking fullback, he is part of the offensive line rating and contributes almost nothing to the running back score. If he is used as a receiver like an H-Back, then he is treated the same way as a tight end.

The style of defense factors minimally in the ratings for each unit. A 3-4 linebacker unit will be more important than a 4-2-5, so the linebackers will be given more weight in the algorithm at the end of the ratings’ process.



Quarterback: 80
Receivers: 83
Offensive Line: 82
Running Backs: 91
Defensive Line: 94
Linebackers: 88
Defensive Backs: 93
Special Teams: 86

Outlook: The recovery period for the Gators will be brief. This team quit on the previous staff after narrow losses to LSU and Texas A&M. The defense is better than it played last year, and Mullen brought Todd Grantham with him from Mississippi State, where the Bulldogs were much better defensively than their talent level predicted.
The schedule is almost a dream. Three cupcakes in non-conference play, home games with Kentucky, LSU, Missouri, and South Carolina, and road games against Tennessee and Vanderbilt make nine wins possible and eight wins probable. The Gators aren’t ready to challenge Georgia for the East Division championship, but they figure to compete for number two in Mullen’s first year back at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

The Captain Says: 5-3 in the conference and 8-4 overall

Quarterback: 89
Receivers: 91
Offensive Line: 96
Running Backs: 97
Defensive Line: 93
Linebackers: 91
Defensive Backs: 94
Special Teams: 95

Outlook: Normally, a team that lost as much as Georgia lost on defense would be expected to fall back by at least two wins if not more. Also, when a team that lost first and second round-drafted running backs, the offense lost might decline enough to cost the team another win. That is far from the case with Georgia. With potential future All-American Jake Fromm returning at quarterback after an incredible freshman year that saw him finish a close second in passing efficiency, Fromm should top 3,000 yards passing behind a top-notch offensive line. The defense returns more than enough talent to keep holding opponents to around 17 points per game, and the schedule gives the Bulldogs a chance to run the table to the SEC Championship Game.

The Captain Says: 7-1 in the SEC and 11-1 overall and berth in SEC Championship Game

Quarterback: 77
Receivers: 82
Offensive Line: 82
Running Backs: 92
Defensive Line: 78
Linebackers: 90
Defensive Backs: 90
Special Teams: 84

Outlook: Mark Stoops has slowly increased the talent level in Lexington to the point where the Wildcats are just a little behind the teams competing for second place. Close losses to Florida and Ole Miss kept Kentucky from playing in the Outback or Gator Bowl last year. Depth concerns will hurt this team, just like it did last year, when the Wildcats ran out of gas following a 5-1 start.

The Captain Says: 2-6 in the SEC and 5-7 overall

Quarterback: 94
Receivers: 89
Offensive Line: 94
Running Backs: 92
Defensive Line: 85
Linebackers: 86
Defensive Backs: 77
Special Teams: 93

Outlook: Missouri will go as far as the passing game takes them. Drew Lock had a 202.9 passer efficiency ratings in the 7 wins, all against teams with losing records or an FCS member. His efficiency rating fell to 124.9 in the six losses, all to teams that played in bowls. The Tigers might win a game or two with their special teams.

The Captain Says: 3-5 in the SEC and 7-5 overall

South Carolina
Quarterback: 85
Receivers: 94
Offensive Line: 84
Running Backs: 84
Defensive Line: 86
Linebackers: 88
Defensive Backs: 88
Special Teams: 93

Outlook: Will Muschamp has this team in contention for second place in the East, but the Gamecocks do not have a strong enough offensive or defensive line to compete with the Georgia’s and Alabama’s in this conference. South Carolina rarely dominates the stat box.

They were outgained by 258 yards in a season-opening win over North Carolina State, by 64 yards the following week in a win over Missouri, and by 54 yards in a win over Vanderbilt. Expect a better yardage output this year, but the Gamecocks are not likely to be +11 in turnovers, so the final outcome should be about the same.

The Captain Says: 5-3 in the SEC and 8-4 overall

Quarterback: 81
Receivers: 82
Offensive Line: 76
Running Backs: 79
Defensive Line: 80
Linebackers: 86
Defensive Backs: 83
Special Teams: 89

Outlook: Tennessee last competed for the SEC Championship in 2007. Derek Dooley and Butch Jones failed to make this program great again, and now the job is in the hands of Jeremy Pruitt. Pruitt is a tough disciplinarian with the ability to teach kindergarten, a rare combination. He’s also a top-notch recruiter, so it is only a matter of time before the talent level moves upward. 2018 will be a tough introduction to the head coaching world.

The Vols have decent talent on the defensive side of the ball, not enough to make noise in the SEC, but enough to win a couple times in the league and to lose games by fewer points. It’s up to the offense to move the ball and keep the defense off the field, and we don’t think the offense is up to the task.

The Captain says: 3-5 in the SEC and 6-6 overall

Quarterback: 83
Receivers: 80
Offensive Line: 81
Running Backs: 74
Defensive Line: 76
Linebackers: 75
Defensive Backs: 81
Special Teams: 82

Outlook: Derek Mason’s defensive Midas Touch turned from gold to balsa wood last year. Coming off a bowl season, the Commodores were expected to compete for another in 2017. A 3-0 start looked like Vanderbilt might have been on its way to its third 8-win regular season of the decade. Three tough games with Alabama, Florida, and Georgia left the team battered and bruised, and the Commodore ship took on too much water. That great defense gave up 505 yards and 46 points per game in the seven conference losses.

The Commodores lost seven starters off that defense, and the 2018 edition could be a little weaker. The offense could not run the ball in SEC play, averaging just 79 yards per game in the seven losses.

The Captain Says: 1-7 in the SEC and 4-8 overall

Quarterback: 96
Receivers: 86
Offensive Line: 96
Running Backs: 99
Defensive Line: 96
Linebackers: 95
Defensive Backs: 93
Special Teams: 89

Outlook: For anybody else in the league, maybe including Georgia, when a team lost as much talent as the Tide, they would be picked to drop from the national championship to maybe 9-3. When a team plugs new All-Americans into the lineup to replace those that just left, the only thing that changes are the names in the program.

Make no mistake about it: Alabama could be vulnerable against an excellent mobile quarterback that can evade the pass rush and find an open receiver (isn’t everybody vulnerable in this case). The Johnny Manziel, Deshaun Watson, and Chad Kelly type beat other Alabama defenses, so this could be the case in 2018. Who on the schedule has this type of quarterback with an offensive line that can protect him, and with receivers that can get open and pick up big yards? Well, they aren’t officially on the schedule, as least not until game number 15–Clemson.

The Captain says: 8-0 in the SEC and 12-0 overall and berth in SEC Championship Game
Quarterback: 78
Receivers: 81
Offensive Line: 82
Running Backs: 87
Defensive Line: 79
Linebackers: 83
Defensive Backs: 79
Special Teams: 91

Outlook: The Bret Bielema era is over in Fayetteville, and grocers and restaurant owners are in mourning. Chad Morris brings his spread offense where the Razorbacks have been a pro-style power team in recent years. The talent level on both sides of the ball has fallen below the top teams in the league, and Arkansas is about on par with Kentucky in the other division. The two quarterbacks competing for the starting nod, Ty Storey and Cole Kelley, are both pro-style quarterbacks not necessarily equipped to run the Morris offense. The defense lacks a lot of quality talent, but new coordinator John Chavis will get more out of this unit than last year’s showing.

The Captain says: 2-6 in the SEC and 6-6 overall

Quarterback: 92
Receivers: 90
Offensive Line: 83
Running Backs: 87
Defensive Line: 94
Linebackers: 91
Defensive Backs: 92
Special Teams: 87

Outlook: Auburn has the talent to win the SEC Championship, but the schedule will prevent the Tigers from doing so. The Tigers must play the two division favorites plus dark horse Mississippi State on the road, and we wouldn’t pick the Cam Newton Auburn team to win all three games.
This could be the year where Auburn passes the ball for more than 250 yards per game. Jarrett Stidham has a stable full of race horse receivers and an offensive line that may be better at pass blocking than run blocking. The defense is still quite strong, so Auburn will compete in every game; it’s just that they will lose some close ones away from Jordan-Hare Stadium.

The Captain says: 6-2 in the SEC and 9-3 overall

Quarterback: 78
Receivers: 82
Offensive Line: 85
Running Backs: 80
Defensive Line: 90
Linebackers: 92
Defensive Backs: 94
Special Teams: 87

Outlook: On paper, this might look like a team that is in danger of falling down to the bottom of the division. But, the Tigers still have a lot of talent, especially on defense, where it would not surprise us if LSU gives up less than 300 yards per game this year.

The offense looked to be a large negative with so much talent lost, but a little bird told us that recent Ohio State quarterback Joe Burrow is wowing the coaches in Baton Rouge. Since his arrival post Spring ball, two of the three quarterbacks expected to contend for a starting spot have transferred. Burrow had a 153.1 passer rating in very limited action with the Buckeyes. He has an accurate arm and plays with poise, but he has minimal game experience and dumped the ball to his backs even when he had open receivers downfield.

The Captain says: 3-5 in the SEC and 6-6 overall

Quarterback: 81
Receivers: 96
Offensive Line: 88
Running Backs: 80
Defensive Line: 84
Linebackers: 79
Defensive Backs: 94
Special Teams: 89

Outlook: Matt Luke should have been given a special award for keeping the Ole Miss team together and bringing normalcy back to the program. Old-timers like us see a lot of John Vaught in his ability to lead a team and play an open style of offense. Ole Miss is still on probation with a bowl-ban, and it will likely cost this team a bowl game for the second consecutive season, because the Rebels can pass the ball and defend the pass well enough to win half of their games.

Quarterback Jordan Ta’amu was quite effective when he finally took over as the starter. In the final five games, his 167.3 passer rating was the best in the league over the time period, and he averaged 321 yards per game in that stretch. Of course, it is a lot easier to have great passing stats when your receiving corps is more talented than three or four NFL teams. A.J. Brown might be a leading Heisman Trophy contender if he played for Notre Dame, Oklahoma, or USC.

The Captain says: 2-6 in the SEC and 6-6 overall

Mississippi St.
Quarterback: 91
Receivers: 82
Offensive Line: 92
Running Backs: 90
Defensive Line: 93
Linebackers: 82
Defensive Backs: 90
Special Teams: 81

Outlook: Joe Moorhead comes to Starkville at the perfect time. He inherits all the pieces he needs to run a potent offense and play aggressive, smart defense. Except for the Alabama game, the Bulldogs can compete in the other 11. If Moorhead and defensive coordinator Bob Shoop can get improved play from the linebackers, and a couple of serviceable receivers can come forth to help take the heat off the running game, State could make a run at an 11-win season.

All this comes with a major caveat. Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald must be 100% healthy and able to do the same thing this year that he did prior to the injury last year. If he stays healthy for 12 games, then State should have two, 1000-yard rushers.

The Captain says: 5-3 in the SEC and 9-3 overall

Texas A&M
Quarterback: 84
Receivers: 83
Offensive Line: 84
Running Backs: 86
Defensive Line: 88
Linebackers: 91
Defensive Backs: 85
Special Teams: 93

Outlook: Jimbo Fisher figures to make a lot of changes in year one compared to how Kevin Sumlin ran the team. The offense will go from a spread passing game to a pro-style with more power running. Fisher is a great mentor of quarterbacks, but as of this writing, the starter for 2018 has not been decided. NIck Starkel is the better passer, while Kellen Mond adds a running aspect that Starkel does not have.

The Aggies are solid at all positions but not spectacular at any. They have experience at linebacker with Tyrel Dodson and Otaro Alaka back after combining for 182 tackles with 22 for loss and 11 sacks.

The Captain says: 4-4 in the SEC and 7-5 overall

Here is how the SEC Media voted in the preseason poll

East 1st Place Points
Georgia 271 1977
South Carolina 8 1535
Florida 4 1441
Missouri 0 1057
Kentucky 1 874
Tennessee 1 704
Vanderbilt 0 392
West 1st Place Points
Alabama 263 1971
Auburn 19 1664
Mississippi St. 2 1239
Texas A&M 0 1091
LSU 0 1025
Ole Miss 0 578
Arkansas 0 412

The PiRate Ratings differ minimally

Southeastern Conference
East Division
Team SEC Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Georgia 0-0 0-0 130.9 126.3 132.4 129.8
Missouri 0-0 0-0 114.4 112.7 116.0 114.3
S. Carolina 0-0 0-0 112.9 111.7 112.2 112.3
Florida 0-0 0-0 112.9 110.6 113.3 112.2
Kentucky 0-0 0-0 106.8 105.3 106.3 106.1
Tennessee 0-0 0-0 98.8 99.5 98.4 98.9
Vanderbilt 0-0 0-0 96.8 97.5 96.2 96.9
West Division
Team SEC Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Alabama 0-0 0-0 132.0 129.3 133.8 131.7
Auburn 0-0 0-0 122.0 121.2 124.4 122.5
Mississippi St. 0-0 0-0 122.5 119.2 122.7 121.5
L S U 0-0 0-0 110.1 110.3 110.7 110.4
Texas A&M 0-0 0-0 110.7 109.6 110.7 110.3
Arkansas 0-0 0-0 109.3 106.4 107.6 107.8
Ole Miss 0-0 0-0 105.3 105.1 106.1 105.5
SEC Averages 113.2 111.8 113.6 112.9

New Coaches
Dan Mullen isn’t a new coach to the league, but he is a new head coach at Florida. Mullen has a storied history with his new team. He tutored Tim Tebow during the Urban Meyer years when Florida won two national championships. He left Mississippi State stocked with incredible talent, and his recruiting efforts in Gainesville will quickly bring the Gators back to prominence.
Jeremy Pruitt has an incredible resume as a defensive genius, and he takes over a Tennessee team that did not play a lot of defense in recent years. Pruitt has produced top defenses at Georgia, Florida State, and Alabama, and he comes to Knoxville with multiple championship rings. His recruiting strengths in the Deep South should give the Volunteers a decent chance of returning to glory, but not for a few years.

Arkansas welcomes Chad Morris to Fayetteville after he turned the SMU program back into a bowl team. Morris brings his up-tempo,spread offense to the SEC West, where it has worked just fine at Auburn. The style is a complete contrast to former coach Bret Bielema’s power offense. Morris previously was offensive coordinator at Clemson and helped develop Deshaun Watson into a star.
Joe Moorhead takes over for Mullen at Mississippi State. Moorhead most recently was offensive coordinator for Penn State, where his offenses took off the last two years. He was the head coach of the Fordham Rams from 2012 to 2015, taking the Rams to three consecutive FCS Playoffs.

Jimbo Fisher takes over at Texas A&M after a brilliant career at Florida State, first as a coach-in-waiting under Bobby Bowden, and then as a national championship-winning head coach. His previous SEC experience included six years as quarterback coach under Tommy Tuberville at Auburn.

Predicted Won-Loss Records
Note: These predicted won-loss records are strictly mechanical based on the initial PiRate Ratings. No upsets are factored in these predictions. Additionally, our PiRate Ratings are only useful for the next week of games and cannot really be used to forecast past that point. Part of our weekly adjustment to our ratings includes a factor where depth issues or non-issues have been pre-set. In other words, a team without talented second stringers may lose ratings points as the season progresses even if they win games by the predicted margin, whereas a team with exceptional depth (like Alabama) will improve during the season and see its rating rise even if they win games by a little less than the predicted margin. Ohio State and Maryland could see their ratings change by large amounts depending on the outcome of the two coaching investigations.  The predicted won-loss records in the team capsules are more realistic.

Team Conference Overall
Georgia 8-0 12-1
Florida 6-2 9-3
South Carolina 6-2 9-3
Missouri 4-4 8-4
Kentucky 2-6 5-7
Vanderbilt 1-7 4-8
Tennessee 0-8 3-9
Alabama 8-0 13-0 *
Mississippi St. 7-1 11-1
Auburn 5-3 8-4
Texas A&M 4-4 7-5
Arkansas 3-5 7-5
Ole Miss 1-7 5-7
LSU 1-7 4-8

Bowl Tie-ins
1. Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, LA
2. Citrus Bowl in Orlando, FL
3. Outback Bowl in Tampa, FL
3. Texas Bowl in Houston, TX
3. Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, FL
3. Belk Bowl in Charlotte, NC
3. Liberty Bowl in Memphis, TN
3. Music City Bowl in Nashville, TN
9. Independence Bowl in Shreveport, LA
9. Birmingham Bowl in Birmingham, AL

Coming Tuesday–The PiRate Ratings return to the in-season format. Our first ratings for the pre-week one schedule debut for the 2018 season. A couple of early games begin the college football season on Saturday, August 25.

March 16, 2018

PiRate Ratings Spreads For NCAA Tournament Games of Saturday, March 17

Saturday’s PiRate Ratings Spreads For NCAA Tournament Games

Higher Seed Lower Seed Spread
Kentucky Buffalo 5.3
Tennessee Loyola (Chi.) 5.1
Gonzaga Ohio St. 2.8
Michigan Houston 1.2
Villanova Alabama 11.9
Texas Tech Florida 1.9
Kansas Seton Hall 3.8
Duke Rhode Island 10.3


This is the only green you will see on a basketball PiRate today.  None of us buckaroos can possibly wear green on this fine Saturday.  You see, we all need to be pinched all day.

Can we really be awake?  Did it really happen?  Surely, we must have fallen asleep early last night and just thought we heard a mouse roar.  Yes, the Duchy of Grand Baltimore County declared war on Virginia, but the Cavaliers did not notice for 20 minutes.  Then, just like the tiny nation of Grand Fenwick, the Retrievers Roared and won the war.

Back to reality for a moment.  Most definitely, this is an incredible, historical moment in the world of sports.  It has no equal in upsets since maybe a horse called “Upset” beat Man O’ War at Saratoga Race Course in 1919.

There is precedent for the top overall seed losing in its first game, and it happened to the same school more than one time.  However, when DePaul lost in 1980 to UCLA, there were just 32 teams in field, and the Bruins were an 8-seed.  When DePaul lost in 1981 to St. Joseph’s, there were just 40 teams in the field, and the Hawks were a 9-seed.

There are obviously no perfect brackets left in the Universe.  What would the odds be that somebody picked Montana to beat Arizona and UMBC to beat Virginia and then not pick any other crazy upsets that did not happen?  Why do you think it is called, “Madness?”

The PiRate Ratings new Criteria for Bracket Picking went a mediocre 11-5 yesterday to bring the total record to 26-10 or 72.2%.  Our only solace is that the rest of the world did about the same.  In this crazy year, there apparently is no great mechanical method to pick winners.

Nevertheless, we still have our Final Four picks alive (Cincinnati, Duke, North Carolina, and Villanova).  Three of our Elite 8 remain, although we now believe that one of those teams, Purdue, may be doomed now following the unfortunate season-ending injury loss to star center Isaac Haas.

Here is Saturday’s NCAA Tournament Schedule

Saturday, Mar 17, 2018
TIME Higher Seed Lower Seed City TV
12:10 PM 1 Villanova 9 Alabama Pittsburgh CBS
2:40 PM 2 Duke 7 Rhode Island Pittsburgh CBS
5:15 PM 5 Kentucky 13 Buffalo Boise, ID CBS
6:10 PM 3 Tennessee 11 Loyola (Chi.) Dallas TNT
7:10 PM 1 Kansas 8 Seton Hall Wichita, KS TBS
7:45 PM 4 Gonzaga 5 Ohio St. Boise, ID CBS
8:40 PM 3 Texas Tech 6 Florida Dallas TNT
9:40 PM 3 Michigan 6 Houston Wichita, KS TBS

Here is our bracket-picking criteria for this next round of games for those of you that get to pick new teams after each round.  The picks in this round do not necessarily match the original picks, because statistics have now changed from the first round, as well as expected opponents.

Villanova vs. Alabama

Both True Shooting Percentage margin and R+T margin indicate that this game could get out of hand rather quickly.  Alabama will not be able to capitalize with their quickness in this game, because Villanova can match the Tide in this respect.  After what happened to Virginia, you can bet that the remaining number one seeds will be ready to play like their opponent is another number one seed.  We expect the Wildcats to look like their 2016 championship team.

PiRate Pick: Villanova


Duke vs. Rhode Island

A lot of the media think this game should be close, with URI having a strong upset chance.  Our criteria says this is a blowout game in the making.  The true shooting percentage margins in this game are not close, as the Rams have a negative margin, while Duke has one of the best in the entire field.  Duke’s R+T Rating is in the top 5, while the Rams’ R+T Rating is mediocre among the field.  Add the fact that Duke’s schedule strength is also among the top in the field, while URI’s is mediocre once again.

Obviously, we are sticking with Coach K as long as the Blue Devils remain in the field.  They have the best criteria resume, and even though they are vulnerable to great passing teams, there are not a lot of good passing teams in this tournament.  We can see the Blue Devils winning by 15 or more.

PiRate Pick: Duke


Kentucky vs. Buffalo

Kentucky’s schedule strength forecasts a game in which the Wildcats will control the boards and prevent the Bulls from shooting a high enough percentage to catch lightning in the bottle twice in three days.  The Wildcats may not be nearly as good as past teams that made it to the Final Four, but with the top two teams in their side of the bracket gone, they have an open front door to the Elite 8.  Will they go through it?  Coach John Calipari will make sure the young players know the way through that door.

PiRate Pick: Kentucky


Tennessee vs. Loyola (Chi.)

Here’s a game where the criteria suggests that this should be a close game with the underdog having a fighting chance to pull off the upset.  Loyola plays team basketball.  The Ramblers’ offense usually works because they take what the defense gives it and rarely forces a bad shot attempt.  Their defense is more than able to put the Ramblers in the Sweet 16.

Tennessee has the inside power and the ability to pound the ball in the paint.  The Volunteers methodically pounded Wright State into submission Thursday, and they will attempt to do the same thing to Loyola.

If Loyola was an up-tempo, pressuring defensive team, we would be inclined to pick the upset.  The Ramblers have the true shooting percentage margin advantage in this game, but Tennessee gets the nod in R+T Ratings and Schedule Strength.

PiRate Pick: Tennessee


Kansas vs. Seton Hall

In our opinion, we believe there will be three incredibly exciting games today that could go down to the final horn.  In our criteria, this is a toss-up game.  To start with, Kansas has a minimal schedule strength advantage.  The Big 12 had the toughest overall schedule strength, but the Big East had two number one seeds.

Kansas has a decisive true shooting percentage margin advantage, while Seton Hall has just as much advantage in R+T Ratings.  The Pirate should win the battle on the boards, while turnovers should be a wash.

There isn’t much remaining to try to pick a winner here, and it actually went through several layers before Kansas’s near proximity to home became the deciding factor by the slimmest of margins.

PiRate Pick: Kansas


Gonzaga vs. Ohio St.

This game should be the second of the three great games of the day, and the lower seed may have the better shot at the upset in this game compared to all others.

Gonzaga did not look ready to play at the outset of the first round.  The Bulldogs finally put it all together long enough to pull away for a victory, but this first round win reminded us of the 2013 team that struggled with Southern in the first round before losing to Wichita State in the next.  The Bulldogs could not rebound against UNC-Greensboro, and now they face a better inside team in the Buckeyes.

Ohio State’s schedule strength is stronger by enough points to equalize Gonzaga’s true shooting percentage margin and R+T margin.  We expect this game to be decided late.  Gonzaga is vulnerable here, but we will stick with the criteria without letting our personal opinions change our minds.

PiRate Pick: Gonzaga


Texas Tech vs. Florida

This game should be decided on the boards, and it is our belief that the Red Raiders have the advantage here.  Florida might be able to counter it with turnover margin, but Texas Tech has faced West Virginia for enough possessions this season to face the Florida man-to-man pressure without much difficulty.

PiRate Pick: Texas Tech


Michigan vs. Houston

Upset Alert Here!  Michigan, be aware.  From out of nowhere, Houston looks like a potential Final Four team.  We believe that having no real home games this year may have actually toughened this Cougar team up, and it just may be that they are waiting to ambush the Big Ten opponent today.

Michigan’s schedule strength advantage is not all that strong in this game.  Houston’s true shooting percentage margin advantage is lost due to schedule strength, but their R+T Rating advantage is strong enough to withstand the schedule strength advantage.

Michigan has faced Michigan State enough times without getting killed on the boards, so even though the Wolverines are so-so in rebounding, while Houston is quite competent, we do not see the Cougars winning the battle on the boards by much, maybe just two or three.  However, we like Houston being able to get just enough fast break points, while they quickness eventually wears the Wolverines down just enough to lower their shooting percentage.  This will be the third close game of the day, and it could be the game with the overall best chance that the lower seed wins.

PiRate Pick: Houston


Sunday’s Schedule

Sunday, Mar 18, 2018
TIME Higher Seed Lower Seed City TV
12:10 PM 2 Purdue 10 Butler Detroit CBS
2:40 PM 3 Michigan St. 11 Syracuse Detroit CBS
5:15 PM 2 North Carolina 7 Texas A&M Charlotte CBS
6:10 PM 2 Cincinnati 7 Nevada Nashville TNT
7:10 PM 4 Auburn 5 Clemson San Diego TBS
7:45 PM 9 Kansas St. 16 MD-Baltimore Co. Charlotte TruTV
8:40 PM 1 Xavier 9 Florida St. Nashville TNT
9:40 PM 5 West Virginia 13 Marshall San Diego TBS





March 11, 2018

PiRate Ratings Conference Tournament Update–March 11 , 2018

Sunday’s PiRate Ratings Spreads for Conference Tournament Championships

Higher Seed Lower Seed Spread
Harvard Penn -1.4
Rhode Island Davidson 2.8
Tennessee Kentucky 1.1
Georgia St. Texas-Arlington 0.9
Cincinnati Houston 4.8


Sunday’s Conference Championship Schedule

All Times EDT

Time Conference Higher Seed Lower Seed TV
12:00 PM Ivy League Harvard Penn ESPN2
1:00 PM Atlantic 10 Rhode Island Davidson CBS
1:00 PM Southeastern Tennessee Kentucky ESPN
2:00 PM Sun Belt Georgia St. Texas-Arlington ESPN2
3:30 PM American Cincinnati Houston CBS

Note:  Our Final Bracket Gurus Bracketology prediction will appear on this site roughly 30 minutes after the conclusion of the Atlantic 10 Championship Game.  Davidson is a potential bid-stealer, and until our gurus know whether they have earned an automatic bid or have been eliminated, they cannot fix the Bubble.  There are about a half-dozen teams that will sweat it out during today’s Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament Championship.

Teams That Have Earned Automatic Bids Through Sunday, 6:00 AM EDT

Team Bid Conf. W-L Avg Score
Arizona AUTO P12 27-7 81-71
Bucknell AUTO Patriot 25-9 81-73
Buffalo AUTO MAC 26-8 85-77
Cal St. Fullerton AUTO BWest 20-11 73-72
Charleston AUTO CAA 26-7 75-69
Gonzaga AUTO WCC 30-4 85-67
Iona AUTO MAAC 20-13 80-76
Kansas AUTO B12 27-7 82-71
Lipscomb AUTO A-SUN 23-9 83-78
Long Island AUTO NEC 18-16 78-77
Loyola (Chi.) AUTO MVC 28-5 72-62
Marshall AUTO CUSA 24-10 84-79
MD-Baltimore Co. AUTO AE 24-10 73-71
Michigan AUTO BTen 28-7 75-64
Montana AUTO BSky 26-7 78-69
Murray St. AUTO OVC 26-5 77-66
New Mexico St. AUTO WAC 28-5 76-65
Radford AUTO B-South 22-12 67-64
San Diego St. AUTO MWC 22-10 77-68
South Dakota St. AUTO Summit 28-6 85-74
Stephen F. Austin AUTO SLC 28-6 78-68
Texas Southern AUTO SWAC 15-19 78-80
UNC-Central AUTO MEAC 19-15 70-71
UNC-Greensboro AUTO SoCon 27-7 74-62
Villanova AUTO BE 30-4 87-71
Virginia AUTO ACC 31-2 68-53
Wright St. AUTO Horizon 25-9 72-66








January 8, 2018

PiRate Ratings NFL Forecast For Divisional Playoff Round: January 13-14, 2018

All times given are Eastern Standard

Saturday, January 13, 2018

4:35 PM on NBC

Atlanta Falcons (11-6-0) at Philadelphia Eagles (13-3-0)

PiRate: Philadelphia by 5.2

Mean: Philadelphia by 5.6

Bias: Philadelphia by 5.1

Total: 46

Estimated Realistic Score: Philadelphia 26  Atlanta 20


8:15 PM on CBS

Tennessee Titans (10-7-0) at New England Patriots (13-3-0)

PiRate: New England by 11.5

Mean: New England by  11.5

Bias: New England by 11.7

Total: 44

Estimated Realistic Score: New England 28  Tennessee 16


Sunday, January 14, 2018

1:05 PM on CBS

Jacksonville Jaguars (11-6-0) at Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3-0)

PiRate: Pittsburgh by 6.1

Mean: Pittsburgh by 6.4

Bias: Pittsburgh by 5.9

Total: 43

Estimated Realistic Score: Pittsburgh 24 Jacksonville 17


4:40 PM on Fox Sports

New Orleans Saints (12-5-0) at Minnesota Vikings (13-3-0)

PiRate: Minnesota by 4.7

Mean: Minnesota by 4.8

Bias: Minnesota by 4.8

Total: 46

Estimated Realistic Score: Minnesota 24  New Orleans 20

January 1, 2018

PiRate Ratings NFL Forecast For Wildcard Playoff Round: January 6-7, 2018

All times given are Eastern Standard Time

Saturday, January 6, 2018

4:20 PM on ESPN

Tennessee Titans (9-7-0) at Kansas City Chiefs (10-6-0)

PiRate: Kansas City by 8.1

Mean: Kansas City by 8.0

Bias: Kansas City by 8.7

Total: 45

Estimated Realistic Score: Kansas City 27  Tennessee 17


8:15 PM on NBC

Atlanta Falcons (10-6-0) at Los Angeles Rams (11-5-0)

PiRate: Los Angeles by 5.4

Mean: Los Angeles by 5.0

Bias: Los Angeles by 5.7

Total: 48

Estimated Realistic Score: Los Angeles 27  Atlanta 21


Sunday, January 7, 2018

1:05 PM on CBS

Buffalo Bills (9-7-0) at Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6-0)

PiRate: Jacksonville by 9.4

Mean: Jacksonville by 8.9

Bias: Jacksonville by 9.5

Total: 42

Estimated Realistic Score: Jacksonville 26  Buffalo 16


4:40 PM on Fox

Carolina Panthers (11-5-0) at New Orleans Saints (11-5-0)

PiRate: New Orleans by 5.8

Mean: New Orleans by 5.9

Bias: New Orleans by 6.0

Total: 53

Estimated Realistic Score: New Orleans 28  Carolina 24



December 26, 2017

PiRate Ratings NFL Forecast For Week 17: December 31, 2017

Week 17 PiRate Rating Spreads

Home Visitor PiRate Mean Bias Total
Baltimore Cincinnati 13.1 12.6 13.6 38
Detroit Green Bay 3.2 3.0 3.7 46
Miami Buffalo 1.8 1.6 1.3 41
Atlanta Carolina 3.3 3.8 3.0 50
Tampa Bay New Orleans -7.9 -7.3 -8.0 49
Tennessee Jacksonville -2.4 -2.2 -2.8 45
New England N.Y. Jets 16.4 16.9 16.5 39
Indianapolis Houston 3.3 3.4 3.5 44
Pittsburgh Cleveland 18.8 18.3 21.8 39
N.Y. Giants Washington -4.9 -4.6 -5.0 42
Minnesota Chicago 12.7 12.3 13.4 34
Philadelphia Dallas 6.9 6.0 8.0 46
LA Chargers Oakland 9.3 8.4 10.2 44
Seattle Arizona 8.7 8.9 8.3 41
Denver Kansas City -6.0 -6.1 -6.4 42
LA Rams San Francisco 13.7 13.3 14.1 50

Current PiRate Ratings–12/26/2017

East PiRate Mean Bias Avg Totals W-L
New England 108.3 108.4 108.4 108.3 23 12-3
Buffalo 96.0 96.3 96.1 96.1 20 8-7
Miami 95.8 95.9 95.3 95.7 21 6-9
N. Y. Jets 94.3 94.0 94.4 94.3 16 5-10
North PiRate Mean Bias Avg Totals W-L
Pittsburgh 107.0 107.1 107.2 107.1 23 12-3
Baltimore 105.5 105.7 105.6 105.6 22 9-6
Cincinnati 95.3 96.1 94.9 95.5 16 6-9
Cleveland 90.7 91.4 87.9 90.0 16 0-15
South PiRate Mean Bias Avg Totals W-L
Jacksonville 103.3 103.2 103.4 103.3 23 10-5
Tennessee 97.8 98.0 97.6 97.8 22 8-7
Indianapolis 92.3 92.7 91.8 92.3 22 4-11
Houston 91.0 91.2 90.4 90.9 22 3-12
West PiRate Mean Bias Avg Totals W-L
LA Chargers 104.5 104.1 104.7 104.4 23 8-7
Kansas City 103.1 103.2 103.5 103.3 23 9-6
Oakland 97.7 98.3 97.0 97.7 21 6-9
Denver 95.2 95.0 95.1 95.1 19 5-10
East PiRate Mean Bias Avg Totals W-L
Philadelphia 106.7 105.4 107.7 106.6 23 13-2
Dallas 101.8 101.4 101.7 101.7 23 8-7
Washington 98.4 98.6 98.2 98.4 24 7-8
N.Y. Giants 91.5 92.0 91.2 91.6 18 2-13
North PiRate Mean Bias Avg Totals W-L
Minnesota 107.4 107.0 108.1 107.5 18 12-3
Detroit 99.4 99.7 99.2 99.5 27 8-7
Green Bay 98.2 98.7 97.5 98.1 19 7-8
Chicago 96.7 96.8 96.7 96.7 16 5-10
South PiRate Mean Bias Avg Totals W-L
New Orleans 107.4 106.8 107.9 107.4 28 11-4
Atlanta 103.9 103.7 104.1 103.9 24 9-6
Carolina 103.2 102.4 103.5 103.0 26 11-4
Tampa Bay 97.5 97.5 97.9 97.6 21 4-11
West PiRate Mean Bias Avg Totals W-L
LA Rams 107.3 106.6 107.9 107.3 25 11-4
Seattle 102.9 103.0 102.3 102.7 20 9-6
Arizona 97.2 97.1 97.0 97.1 21 7-8
San Francisco 96.1 95.8 96.3 96.1 25 5-10

Playoff Scenarios

You can go to any sports site online to see the generic playoff scenarios, where you can see what must happen for each potential playoff team to earn their spot.  Let’s take a look at the logical scenarios in the order that they are most likely to occur.



The Ravens have the overwhelming advantage among the teams vying for the two wildcard spots.  The 4 division championships have been clinched.  Baltimore is the number 5 seed if they win at home over Cincinnati Sunday.  The Ravens have about a 75% chance of winning this game and getting in at #5.  Even if the Ravens lose to the Bengals, if Either Buffalo or Tennessee lose but not both, the Ravens still get in as the number 6 seed.  If Baltimore loses, and both Buffalo and Tennessee lose, then Baltimore stays at number 5.

Baltimore falls out of the playoffs only if they lose to Cincinnati, and both Buffalo and Tennessee win.  The Ravens have about a 95% chance of making the playoffs.


The Titans have the best chance of making the playoffs as the 6-seed (or even 5-seed) of the remaining contenders.  If Tennessee beats Jacksonville on Sunday, the Titans are in as the 6-seed if Baltimore wins, and the 5-seed if Baltimore loses.  What Buffalo does in this instance does not affect the Titans moving up to number 5; only what Baltimore does affects the Titans seeding if they beat a Jacksonville team that has nothing to play for (3-seed win or lose) and will most likely rest their key players.

Tennessee can still make the playoffs at 8-8 if Buffalo and the LA Chargers lose.  They hold all tiebreakers over the Bills and Chargers.

Tennessee misses out on the playoffs if the Titans lose to the Jaguars and either Buffalo or the Chargers win.  The Titans chances for making the playoffs are about 55%.

Los Angeles Chargers

This is where the scenarios get a little tricky.  First, the Chargers can only get in the playoffs if they win and Tennessee loses.  However, they still need some help.  Either Baltimore must also win or Buffalo must lose, or else the Chargers will be eliminated.  If Buffalo and Baltimore win, then the Chargers get in over the Bills, but if Buffalo wins and Baltimore loses, then the Bills take the 6-seed.  Of course, if Tennessee and Buffalo lose, and the Chargers win, then the Chargers make it over both the Titans and Bills.  The Chargers have about a 37.5% chance of making the playoffs under these scenarios.


The Bills are on life support with only a 1 in 10 chance of making the playoffs.  There are at least two different sets of scenarios that will get the Bills in.  If they win at Miami in what will most likely be Jay Cutler’s real swan song, then they can get in if Baltimore loses, which will then eliminate the Chargers.  They would move up to a 5-seed in this scenario if Tennessee loses or gets the 6-seed if Tennessee wins.

The Bills will also make it as the 6-seed if they win and both Tennessee and the LA Chargers lose.  They can then earn the 5-seed if Baltimore also loses.

Top Seed

New England holds the tiebreaker over Pittsburgh, so the only way the Steelers can get the top seed is for the Jets to beat the Pats, while the Steelers send Cleveland to 0-16.



Philadelphia has clinched the top seed.  If Minnesota beats Chicago in Minneapolis, the Vikings get the 2-seed.  Minnesota can still get the 2-seed, if they lose to the Bears, and they will still get the 2-seed unless Carolina wins, New Orleans, loses, and the Rams lose. Then, Carolina would get this seed.  Chances are better than 95% that Minnesota gets the 2-seed.

For the 3-seed, the LA Rams hold the tiebreaker over New Orleans and Carolina, while New Orleans holds the tiebreaker over Carolina.

The 5-seed will go to either Carolina or New Orleans, whichever does not win the NFC South (New Orleans has about a 60% chance and Carolina a 40% chance).

The 6-seed is what is up for grabs


The Falcons earn this spot with a win over Carolina or a Seattle loss to Arizona.


The Seahawks must win and Atlanta must lose.

Here are our Playoff Projections for this week.

AFC Seeding
1 New England
2 Pittsburgh
3 Jacksonville
4 Kansas City
5 Baltimore
6 Tennessee
NFC Seeding
1 Philadelphia
2 Minnesota
3 LA Rams
4 New Orleans
5 Carolina
6 Atlanta
Wildcard Round
Kansas City over Baltimore
Jacksonville over Tennessee
Carolina over New Orleans
LA Rams over Atlanta
Divisional Round
New England over Kansas City
Jacksonville over Pittsburgh
Carolina over Philadelphia
LA Rams over Minnesota
Conference Championship
New England over Jacksonville
LA Rams over Carolina
Super Bowl 52
LA Rams over New England




November 21, 2017

PiRate Ratings Money Line Parlays for November 21-25, 2017

Ugh!  After a nice streak of winning weeks to get us into the black, albeit by a sliver, our picks wore the collar last week.  Now, we are 9% in the red with just a couple weeks left to go to try to make it three consecutive winning seasons.  Boycotting the NFL picks has really hurt us this year, but that had to be done.

Maybe with 5 picks this week, we can hit on something that we have not been able to do well in the last few years–hit big on rivalry week.  In past years, we have played it safe and issued only one or two parlays on this week.  When a 2-9 team plays its 9-2 rival, the outcome isn’t as cut and dry as the week before when 2-8 played 8-2 in a non-rivalry game.

We only went with five games to throw a lot of darts on the board and hope we can somehow come out with a high enough score to win.  We need to win any three of these parlays to put us back in the black for the year, but winning three of five during rivalry week is crazy.  So, if we do, it is more pure dumb luck than our strategy.

As always, this is just an exercise for fun among one PiRate Captain and his 5 lasses.

Nov 21-25
#1 @ +147  
Must Win Must Lose
Akron Kent St.
Florida Int’l. Western Ky.
#2 @ +137  
Must Win Must Lose
Texas Texas Tech
Tennessee Vanderbilt
#3 @ +155  
Must Win Must Lose
La.-Lafayette Georgia Southern
Florida St. Florida
Clemson South Carolina
#4 @ +154  
Must Win Must Lose
North Texas Rice
Middle Tenn. Old Dominion
Alabama Auburn
Wisconsin Minnesota
#5 @ +156  
Must Win Must Lose
Eastern Mich. Bowling Green
Georgia Georgia Tech
Northwestern Illinois
Virginia Tech Virginia
San Diego St. New Mexico


November 9, 2017

PiRate Ratings Money Line Parlays for November 9-11, 2017

The Captain has regained control of the helm, and he is steering the PiRate ship once again.  Actually, the lasses suffered a loss last week, and they were too shy to come up with any parlays this week.  The Captain on short notice was only able to create two parlays, as he believes this may be a week to look at other wagering philosophies with several key games being played.

If you are new to this site, this weekly feature picks money line parlays that go off at better than +120 odds.  As a general rule, we look for 3-game parlays, but in some cases (like today), we will combine four or more games, and in fact, we once issued a 7-game parlay at +225 odds and won the wager.

Here are this week’s two parlay selections.  As always, consider this when deciding how you will make use of this publication: No PiRate booty has been jeopardized in the making of this feature.  We only play with pretend currency when selecting our parlays.

#1 @ +170  
Must Win Must Lose
Northwestern Purdue
South Carolina Florida
Southern Miss. Rice
#2 @ +157  
Must Win Must Lose
Pittsburgh North Carolina
Florida Int’l. Old Dominion
Missouri Tennessee
Middle Tenn. Charlotte



October 12, 2017

PiRate Ratings Money Line Parlays for October 12-14, 2017

Ouch!  We took it on the chin and everywhere else last week, as all four of our parlays went down in flames.  It wasn’t even close, as we were 0-4 quite quickly.

About all we accomplished in the last two weeks is that we now have two of our followers experimenting with their own formulas.  One is using IF bets, while the other is going with single games.  Neither of them accomplished what they hoped so far, but both are mathematically sound.  The issue is that there is a bit more parity in football this season, and the teams that you and we just know will win for sure go off at Money Line odds of -1000 or worse.  If you are totally sure that Ohio State will beat Nebraska, Mississippi State will beat BYU, Alabama will beat Arkansas, Oklahoma State will beat Baylor, Georgia will beat Missouri, South Florida will beat Cincinnati, Clemson will beat Syracuse, and Iowa State will beat Kansas, you can put down a wager on this parlay and feel about 85% confident you will win this wager.  And guess what you will receive for every $1 you wager on this “sure thing”?  If you bet $1 and win, you will receive $1.35 in winnings, which includes your original buck invested.  Yes, it would be a 35% return on your investment, and even Warren Buffett and Seth Klarman would accept a 35% ROI over 3 days in the investment.  But, they would still hold off on this one, because the Margin of Safety would not be there, and the chances of losing all of the investment would outweigh the chance to make a 35% profit in 3 days.

This week our little ship of buccaneers and queens of the sea were not in agreement on many supposed sure-thing winners that would allow us to construct parlays with odds of +120 or better.  We only came up with two parlays, one of which forced us to go four-deep in games.  We are in the hole a bit too much to risk additional funds on games we do not all believe can win.

We almost made a decision to double our investment on this week’s games, but the Captain warned us that doubling down almost always ballooned into something out of control.  If you lose $100 this week, bet $200 next week; if you lose again, then bet $400 the next week; then $800, $1,600, $3,200, etc.  If you get on a really cold streak, soon you are betting your house and car, and your family, and your kidney, etc.  So, we stick with equal unit wagers on all games.

REMEMBER THIS: We are playing with imaginary currency.  So, we actually could double down, because $200 of fake dough is equal to $100 of fake dough.  We do know that a large number of you reading this use the real stuff, so we are going to approach this weekly feature as if it was real.  Also, there are more than one of you that have told us that you modify our selections and our Ratings’ Spreads and actually do quite well with the data.  One of you has even told us about how you have been ultra successful, but we did not press this issue in order for you to keep your method private.  Any method that really works quickly doesn’t work once the world discovers the secret, because the odds then change, making the system worthless.

Here are our picks for this week.  We hope they are a tad better than worthless, but we have our doubts.

#1@ +170  
Must Win Must Lose
UL-Lafayette Texas St.
South Carolina Tennessee
San Diego St. Boise St.


#2 @ +137  
Must Win Must Lose
Miami (O) Kent St.
Temple Connecticut
Tulane Florida Int’l.
Houston Tulsa


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