The Pi-Rate Ratings

November 20, 2008

PiRate Ratings Week 12 NFL Previews: November 20-23, 2008

PiRate Ratings For NFL Week 12

It Was A Touchdown!

 

To those who are a little poorer today than they were Sunday morning, my sincere condolences go to you and Troy Polamalu.  You should have won.  If you follow my advice and adhere to my request to do this just for fun, it only cost you a quick laugh (more about that in this week’s selections at the bottom).

 

 

The PiRate Pro Ratings (Rating)

 

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

 

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

 

The Mean Ratings (Mean)

 

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

 

The Bias Ratings (Biased)

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Current NFL Standings

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

New York

9

1

0

292

170

110.47

108.91

109.67

2

Dallas

6

4

0

230

229

101.05

101.25

102.66

2

Washington

6

4

0

181

182

99.96

100.17

101.02

2

Philadelphia

5

4

1

264

193

106.59

104.54

102.02

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Green Bay

5

5

0

274

209

107.61

105.28

102.97

2

Chicago

5

5

0

240

231

102.83

100.74

101.11

2

Minnesota

5

5

0

223

234

101.65

101.08

100.94

2

Detroit

0

10

0

173

308

87.78

90.46

90.04

3

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Carolina

8

2

0

222

155

105.40

103.89

105.25

2

Tampa Bay

7

3

0

219

160

106.19

104.15

104.86

2

Atlanta  

6

4

0

231

198

102.71

101.15

102.37

2

New Orleans

5

5

0

266

249

100.56

100.83

100.67

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Arizona

7

3

0

289

228

103.24

103.51

104.15

3

San Francisco

3

7

0

230

275

93.76

94.33

94.41

3

Seattle

2

8

0

190

257

93.57

95.18

94.55

3

St. Louis

2

8

0

144

317

83.58

89.63

89.04

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

New York

7

3

0

289

221

102.69

102.65

104.46

2

New England

6

4

0

219

194

99.73

101.92

101.33

2

Miami

6

4

0

209

197

99.79

99.38

102.03

2

Buffalo

5

5

0

219

218

97.46

97.50

98.19

3

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Pittsburgh

7

3

0

209

150

107.34

105.45

104.75

2

Baltimore

6

4

0

222

180

104.99

104.23

102.24

3

Cleveland

4

6

0

201

221

99.02

99.29

99.46

2

Cincinnati

1

8

1

138

249

92.86

93.53

94.67

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Tennessee

10

0

0

244

131

111.29

108.54

108.56

2

Indianapolis

6

4

0

224

224

102.73

102.66

102.07

2

Jacksonville

4

6

0

212

210

100.41

100.39

98.76

3

Houston

3

7

0

236

287

96.01

97.02

96.00

3

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Denver

6

4

0

248

271

96.76

97.65

100.48

2

San Diego

4

6

0

254

229

101.55

101.00

99.71

2

Oakland

2

8

0

128

235

89.60

91.62

88.84

2

Kansas City

1

9

0

165

273

90.87

92.20

92.81

2

 

Note: due to a Thursday game this week, weather forecasts and odds are those as of Wednesday Noon EST

 

NFL Previews-Week 12

 

Cincinnati (1-8-1) at Pittsburgh (7-3-0)

Time:           8:15 EST Thursday 11/20

TV:               NFL Network

Forecast:     Snow showers likely, moderate wind, temperature dropping from low 30’s to upper 20’s

 

PiRate:         Pittsburgh by 16                   

Mean:           Pittsburgh by 14

Bias:             Pittsburgh by 12

Vegas:        Pittsburgh by 10½   -600/+500

Ov/Un:        34  

Strategy:     Pittsburgh -½ in 10-point teaser, Pittsburgh +2½ in 13-point teaser, Over 24 in 10-point teaser, Over 21 in 13-point teaser

Has Cincinnati become a good team after starting the season as the Lions of the AFC?  Philadelphia has a potent offense, and holding the Eagles to 13 points in five full quarters of play is something to look at.  Pittsburgh’s offense is mediocre at the present time, and the Steelers may find the going tough, especially if inclement weather neutralizes their offense.

 

On the other hand, Pittsburgh slaughtered Cinti 38-10 just a month ago.  The Steelers’ defense is almost as strong as Tennessee’s.  I cannot see the Bengals scoring enough points in this game no matter how few they may need to score to win.  I am looking for the Steelers to come up with a big play or two, probably on the defensive side and possibly due to special teams.  Call it a Steeler win in the neighborhood of 20-7.  Because the weather could be worse or better than expected, I won’t take Pittsburgh outright in a straight play, but I do expect 25 or more points to be scored, even if there is a blizzard.     

 

Minnesota (5-5-0) at Jacksonville (4-6-0)

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               Fox

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

 

PiRate:         Jacksonville by 2

Mean:           Jacksonville by 2

Bias:             Jacksonville by 1

Vegas:        Jacksonville by 2      -140/+120

Ov/Un:        40½              

Strategy:     Minnesota +12 in 10-point teaser, Minnesota +15 in 13-point teaser, Over 30½ in 10-point teaser, Over 27½ in 13-point teaser 

This will be a tough battle between two teams just hanging on to playoff hopes.  If Minnesota wins, they get to hang on to a piece of first place in the NFC North and could possibly own it all to themselves.  If Jacksonville wins, they will still be in contention to get into contention.  If the Jags lose, their season is done.

 

I like the Vikings in the teasers because when they lose, it is usually by a touchdown or less, and when the Jags win, it is usually by a touchdown or less.  While this game could be lower scoring than normal, I cannot see it becoming a defensive struggle.  I am looking for a minimum of a 20-13 score either way and a maximum of 28-24 either way, so I am teasing the over in this game.

 

Philadelphia (5-4-1) at Baltimore (6-4-0)

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Sunny, light wind, temperature in the low 40’s

 

PiRate:         Baltimore by 1

Mean:           Baltimore by 3

Bias:             Baltimore by 3

Vegas:        Baltimore by 1          -120/+100   

Ov/Un:        39½

Strategy:     Philadelphia +11 in 10-point teaser, Philadelphia +14 in 13-point teaser, Over 26½ in 13-point teaser

We have two teams here who will be ready to play hard in an effort to erase the memories of what happened in their previous games.  The Eagles debacle with Cincinnati was made all the more worse when Donovan McNabb obviously did not know the rules of the game.  Of course, he does not call the plays, and the coaching staff knew the rules.  However, thinking that another overtime period was coming, he may not have played with the necessary hurried mentality.  On some of those plays in the second-to-last Eagle possession before the Hail Mary pass at the end, he may have thrown to a different receiver not trying to gamble when it actually was time to gamble.

 

Baltimore thought they were near the equal of the defending Super Bowl champions, and they had their hat handed to them when they played the Giants last week.  The Ravens are still on the good side of the playoff bubble and could still win 11 games this year.  That won’t happen if they don’t win this game.

 

I expect a close, hard-fought game that goes down to the wire.  I consider it a 50-50 contest, so I’ll play the teasers that give me the most points (taking the underdog).  I expect both offenses to be on their game and look for more than 30 total points in this game.  The 13-point tease on the Over looks like a gift here.

 

New England (6-4-0) at Miami (6-4-0)

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Chance of showers, strong wind, temperature in the low to mid 70’s

 

PiRate:         Miami by 2

Mean:           New England by 1

Bias:             Miami by 3

Vegas:        Miami by 2         -125/+105

Ov/Un:        42

Strategy:     New England +12 in 10-point teaser, New England +15 in 13-point teaser, Under 55 in 13-point teaser

11 weeks ago, who would have thought that this game would match two teams with identical records, and who would have thought that Miami would have clobbered the Patriots in the earlier meeting?  This game will be all about payback.  New England cannot afford to lose this game and remain a serious playoff threat.  Two losses to the Dolphins may leave them on the outside looking in for the rest of the season.

 

Miami has been winning ugly the last few games.  The Dolphins narrowly defeated weak Seattle and Oakland teams.  The Patriots will come out and play the best defense they can play, and I cannot see Miami topping 17 points.  The single wing won’t exploit the Pats like it did in the first game.

 

I expect New England to win this one outright, but I am going to play it safe and just take them and double digit points in the teasers.  Since Miami’s defense is quite capable, I will tease the Under at 13 points.  At 55 points, we still win if the final is 34-17, and I cannot see either team scoring 28 points in this game.

 

Chicago (5-5-0) at St. Louis (2-8-0)

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:         Chicago by 17

Mean:           Chicago by 9

Bias:             Chicago by 10

Vegas:         Chicago by 8      -350/+320  

Ov/Un:        43

Strategy:     Over 33 in 10-point teaser, Over 30 in 13-point teaser, Chicago +5 in 13-point teaser

The Bears are on the ropes after seemingly being in control of the NFC North two weeks ago.  They stopped the Titans’ ground game but lost the war when they allowed Kerry Collins to look like Peyton Manning.  Last week, Aaron Rodgers and company put a big whipping on them, and now there is a sense of urgency to avoid falling in the crapper.

 

St. Louis is back to being the dregs of the NFC.  I’m not sure they could beat Detroit today.  Injuries have hit, and the Rams just don’t have any depth.

 

Chicago scares me.  Kyle Orton obviously is not 100% healthy, and Rex Grossman is not the man who can run this offense.  Against an inept Rams’ defense, a semi-healthy Orton should put up 24 points or more.  The Rams have a chance at the upset, but even if they were to win, I can only see it coming by a field goal at the most.  Thus, I like taking the Bears in a 13-point teaser, as it gives us 5 points.  A teasing of the Over looks safe.

 

Houston (3-7-0) at Cleveland (4-6-0)

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, moderate wind, temperature in the upper 30’s

 

PiRate:         Cleveland by 5

Mean:           Cleveland by 4

Bias:             Cleveland by 5

Vegas:        Cleveland by 3          -155/+135  

Ov/Un:        49½

Strategy:     Over 36½ in 13-point teaser

Both of these teams have been huge underachievers this year.  When two underachievers meet, there can be four outcomes each with about 25% of happening.  One team can play like they should have been playing while the other continues not to live up to its potential (that’s two different scenarios since it could be either team).  Both teams could play like they were supposed to be playing all along, or both teams could continue to play poorly.

 

Since there is a 50% probability that one of the two teams will play great while the other continues to stink, it makes playing a side too much of a risk.  However, I like the Over in a 13-point tease.  If only one team plays well, that team should top 35 points.  If both teams play well, it should be a track meet with both teams topping 24 points.  If both teams play poorly and underachieve once again, then two poor defenses should lead to a game with 60 or more total points.

 

San Francisco (3-7-0) at Dallas (6-4-0)

Time:           1:00 PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Chance of showers, moderate wind, temperature in upper 60’s

 

PiRate:         Dallas by 9

Mean:           Dallas by 9

Bias:             Dallas by 10

Vegas:        Dallas by 10  

Ov/Un:        47

Strategy:     Dallas Pk in 10-point teaser, Dallas +3 in 13-point teaser, Under 60 in 13-point teaser, Over 34 in 13-point teaser

Having Tony Romo back makes Dallas more than 10 points better than when he is out.  The Cowboys will win this game with about 95% certainty, but I wouldn’t advise giving away 10 points.  Play it safe and take Dallas as part of your parlay on a teaser.  This is a must-win game, and a one-point win is as good as an 11-point win for them.  Let it be that way for you too.

 

The teasing both ways of the totals are secondary plays in this game.  I see a final score being at least 21-17 and as much as 35-13.  Both scenarios fall within the 26-point range of both sides of the 13-point teaser.

 

Tampa Bay (7-3-0) at Detroit (0-10-0)

Time:           1:00PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:         Tampa Bay by 15

Mean:          Tampa Bay by 11

Bias:             Tampa Bay by 12

Vegas:         Tampa Bay by 8       -355/+325

Ov/Un:        41

Strategy:     Tampa Bay +2 in 10-point teaser, Tampa Bay +5 in 13-point teaser, Under 54 in 13-point teaser

Detroit last won a game on the Sunday before Thanksgiving eight years ago.  That was a Lion team that had a winning record, and it came against an opponent that finished 5-11.

 

Tampa Bay is headed to the playoffs as either NFC South champs or a wildcard.  Detroit is just hoping to win a game this year.  They will be thinking about the annual turkey day game on national television, and this game won’t be the one they win.  Look for the Lions to be 0-11 on Thanksgiving day, and it would be ironic if they face an 11-0 Tennessee team.

 

Tampa Bay has more than a 95% chance of winning this game.  By taking the Bucs in 10 and 13-point teasers, we get them as an underdog.

 

Tampa Bay’s defense should do a number on Detroit’s offense.  The Lions will be lucky to reach 17 points, and I believe they could be held under 14.  Tampa Bay isn’t a team that blows opponents off the field.  The Bucs could win 31-10, and that wouldn’t come close to topping our Over.

 

Buffalo (5-5-0) at Kansas City (1-9-0)

Time:           1:00 PM EST

TV:               Fox

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

 

PiRate:         Buffalo by 5

Mean:          Buffalo by 3

Bias:             Buffalo by 3

Vegas:         Buffalo by 3 -165/+145

Ov/Un:        43½

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

Dick Jauron cost his team a chance to win Monday night.  Trent Edwards quickly led the Bills into Browns’ territory at the end of the game.  Cleveland could not stop the Buffalo two-minute offense.  The Bills were facing a moderate wind, and a 46 yard field goal attempt was more like a 55 yard field goal attempt.  Jauron ordered consecutive running plays rather than continue to pass the ball.  Sure, Edwards had problems in the first quarter, but he was exploiting Cleveland’s defense on that final drive.  Jauron showed a lack of confidence in Edwards, and that does not bode well for the Bills.  I believe they are headed to a last place finish in the AFC East, and they could easily finish 7-9 or even 6-10.

 

Kansas City has now lost 19 of their last 20 games, but the Chiefs have suffered four close losses.  Tyler Thigpen is improving, and he could pass for 250 yards in this game.  Kansas City could certainly win this game, and I give them close to a 50% chance of doing so.  If they can pull off the upset, I am sure it will be by a touchdown or less.  Playing Buffalo in a 10 and 13-point teaser gives you seven and 10 points respectively.  I’ll take them.

 

I see this game leading to 40 points, so I’ll play the Over in a 13-point teaser.

 

New York Jets (7-3-0) at Tennessee (10-0-0)

Time:           1:00PM EST

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:         Tennessee by 11

Mean:           Tennessee by 8

Bias:             Tennessee by 6

Vegas:        Tennessee by 5

Ov/Un:        40½

Strategy:     Jets +15 in 10-point teaser, Jets +18 in 13-point teaser, Over 27½ in 13-point teaser

Can Brett Favre torch the best defense in the AFC in the same manner he has done the last two months?  The Jets have averaged better than 33 points per game over the last four games, and better than 32 points per game over the last eight.

 

Tennessee leads the NFL in scoring defense, allowing just 13.1 points per game.  I believe that average will go up some this week, but maybe by just one point. 

 

This game could easily be a warm-up for the AFC Championship Game.  The Jets need it to be a high scoring game to win it, while the Titans need it to be a lower scoring game.  The weather will be perfect, and I believe Favre will be ready to play a great game.  He lives for games like this.

 

Tennessee keeps coming up with ways to win close games.  They may look awful for a half, and then in a span of five minutes, they score two touchdowns.  Then, their defense shuts down the opponents for the rest of the game.

 

I see the Titans struggling to stop the Jets this week.  I believe New York has as much chance of winning as Tennessee.  So, playing my typical strategy, I’ll take the underdog in the teasers and force the Titans to win by more than two touchdowns to beat me.  Playing the Over in a 13-point tease means we win if the score is 16-13, and I think that could be the halftime score this week.

 

Oakland (2-8-0) at Denver (6-4-0)

Time:           4:05PM EST

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:         Denver by 9

Mean:           Denver by 8

Bias:             Denver by 14

Vegas:        Denver by 9 -400/+360 

Ov/Un:        42½

Strategy:     Denver +1 in 10-point teaser, Denver +4 in 13-point teaser, Under 52½ in 10-point teaser Under 55½ in 13-point teaser

Jay Cutler took apart the Raiders’ defense in the opening week of the season.  Oakland’s defense looked like Swiss cheese.  Since then, the Raider offense has disappeared, while the defense has played admirably.

 

Oakland has no offense to speak of since the dismissal of Lane Kiffin.  The Raiders have scored a grand total of 50 points in the last six games.  Even a second-rate Denver defense will hold the silver and black under 20 points.  Denver should gain the sweep and take a commanding lead in the AFC West, but I don’t expect Cutler to repeat the numbers he put up the first time.  I see Denver winning with a score similar to 31-17, 28-10, 30-14, and if it’s really close, 24-17.  Nine points is too much to ask the Broncos to cover, but taking the home team in the teasers is a nice, conservative move.  All of the scoring scenarios I listed are under 50 total points, so an Under tease is an approved move.

 

New York Giants (9-1-0) at Arizona (7-3-0)

Time:           4:15 PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, light wind, temperature near 80

 

PiRate:         Giants by 4

Mean:          Giants by 2

Bias:            Giants by 3

Vegas:         Giants by 3

Ov/Un:        48½

Strategy:     Under 61½ in 13-point teaser

There is a second game this week that could be the preview of a conference championship game.  Arizona and the Giants could easily meet for the NFC title, but the game would take place in the Meadowlands and not in Phoenix.

 

I will be interested in seeing what the Giants do defensively to stop Kurt Warner.  The Warner that played for the Giants is not the same Warner today.  He has regained enough zip on his passes to be as dangerous as he was back in the “Greatest Show on Turf” days.

 

Remember two things.  First, the Giants figured a way to stop the Patriots’ offense last year.  That offense was considered the best ever to take the field.  Now, also remember that the Browns torched New York for 35 points. 

 

This will be the Giants’ first road game in the Mountain Time Zone.  It will be their third road game against a team with a winning record.  Those other two road games against winning teams both were in Pennsylvania.  They beat the Eagles by five and the Steelers by seven.

 

I believe Arizona is better than both Pitt and Philly.  I believe the road trip will be harder on the Giants than the hop to the Keystone State.  I believe we have another tossup game here, but I am not as confident as my writing would have you to believe.  If, and only if, you need one more game to fill out a parlay, then I would consider taking the Cardinals in a 10 or 13-point teaser.  I won’t be using that pick this week.  I only like teasing the Under in this game, because I believe the Giants will try to control the ball and eat up the clock and be happy to win 21-20.

 

Carolina (8-2-0) at Atlanta (6-4-0)

Time:           4:15 PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:         Carolina by 1

Mean:          Tossup

Bias:            Carolina by 1

Vegas:         Atlanta by 1½          -125/+105   

Ov/Un:        42½

Strategy:     Atlanta +8½ in 10-point teaser, Atlanta +11½ in 13-point teaser, Under 52½ in 10-point teaser, Under 55½ in 13-point teaser    

This game has been moved to 4:15 from 1:00, as it is an important game in the NFC South.  If the Panthers win this one, then they are in the driver’s seat in the division.  If Atlanta wins, then this race begins to look like the 1967 American League baseball pennant race.

 

The Falcons lost to Denver at the Georgia Dome last week, and they will bring their A-game this week.  Since their bye, Carolina has looked like they were not firing on all cylinders in relatively close wins over Oakland and Detroit.  They are primed to be upset.

 

I believe the Falcons have a great chance of winning this game, but so do the wise guys in Vegas.  So, I will resort to the teasers and take the Falcons.  We get more than a touchdown in 10 and 13-point teasers.  I also like teasing the Over in this game.  Atlanta’s defense will hold Carolina to 21 points or less, and the Falcons will not top 30.

 

Washington (6-4-0) at Seattle (2-8-0)

Time:           4:15 PM EST

TV:               Fox

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

 

PiRate:         Washington by 3

Mean:           Washington by 2

Bias:             Washington by 3

Vegas:        Washington by 3½         -170/+150

Ov/Un:        40½

Strategy:     Seattle +13½ in 10-point teaser, Seattle +16½ in 13-point teaser, Under 50½  in 10-point teaser, Under 53½ in 13-point teaser    

I thought the odds makers might install Seattle as a slight favorite in this game.  The Redskins are no juggernaut on the East Coast.  Let’s look at their recent history of the last month or so.  They lost at home to the Rams.  They barely edged Cleveland at home.  They had to come from behind in the fourth quarter to win at winless Detroit.  They didn’t show up in a loss at Pittsburgh, and then following a bye week, they blew the lead in a loss to Dallas.  That’s three losses in their last five games.

 

Seattle is not much better than Detroit and weaker than Cleveland.  They are better than the Rams.  While they are not in the Cowboys’ league, Washington will not be as up for this game as they were Sunday night. 

 

I give the Seahawks an excellent chance to win and almost recommend them straight up.  However, this week, I am only playing teasers, and I like getting the home team getting double digit points in this situation.  The score of Seattle games has been much lower as of late than it was at the beginning of the season.  Redskin games have been consistently lower than average, so I like teasing the Under in this one.

 

Indianapolis (6-4-0) at San Diego (4-6-0)

Time:           8:15PM EST

TV:               NBC

Forecast:     Clear, light wind, temperature falling from upper 60’s to upper 50’s

                    

PiRate:         San Diego by 1

Mean:           San Diego by 3

Bias:             San Diego by 3

Vegas:        San Diego by 3

Ov/Un:        49½

Strategy:     Indianapolis +13 in 10-point teaser, Indianapolis +16 in 13-point teaser

San Diego is the most underachieving team this season.  The 4-6 Chargers were supposed to win 12 to 14 games this year.  Now, they are just barely on playoff life support.  If they are 4-7 Monday morning, and the Broncos are 7-4, then this race is over.  The Chargers will not qualify as a wildcard if they are 4-7 after 11 games.  So, this is definitely a must-win game for the home team.

 

Indianapolis is slowly beginning to look like a 10 or 11-win team.  If they win this game, they could even run the table and finish 12-4.  After this game, the Colts have Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit, and Jacksonville and should win all four.  The season finale at home against Tennessee will only matter to the Titans if they are 15-0 then, and even at 15-0, Jeff Fisher would be crazy to stick with his key regulars and gamble on injuries.  We could see Vince Young running the zone read that week.

 

This game is not a must-win for the Colts, but we can never count out a Peyton Manning team in a nationally televised, primetime game.  I’ll take the Colts in the teasers and force San Diego to beat them big to hurt us.

 

Green Bay (5-5-0) at New Orleans (5-5-0)

Time:           8:30PM EST Monday

TV:               ESPN

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:         Green Bay by 5 

Mean:           Green Bay by 2

Bias:             Tossup

Vegas:        New Orleans by 2½        -135/+115

Ov/Un:        51½  

Strategy:     Green Bay +12½ in 10-point teaser, Green Bay +15½ in 13-point teaser, New Orleans +10½ in 13-point teaser, Over 38½ in 13-point teaser  

The Monday night games continue to be high scoring affairs, and now we get two teams that like to light up the scoreboards.  This has the makings of a possible 80-point game.  Drew Brees could pass for 350-500 yards, and Aaron Rodgers could be only a couple dozen yards behind him.  I expect a maximum number of plays, in the neighborhood of 135-140.  I cannot see either team holding the other one under 28 points.  This game actually gives us several possible plays.  The winner of this game should win by single digits.  The total points scored should be in the 40’s at the minimum.

 

Foiled By A Missed Interpretation Of The Rules And The Coaching Of Dick Jauron

 

Last week’s picks finished 9-6-0 for what looked like a winning week.  However, when looking at the “money” on the line, I lost $145.  Upon closer inspection, the wrong call in the Pittsburgh game cost me $210, which would have made it a winning week at 10-5-0 with $65 profit.  On Monday night, Buffalo was exploiting Cleveland’s secondary at the end of the game.  Trent Edwards quickly marched the Bills to the Browns 30 yard line, and then Coach Dick Jauron cost his team the game by running the ball forward for a grand total of a yard or two.  A 46 yard field goal attempt into a strong wind was not what to play for, especially when the Bills had time to drive to the goal line or at least into short field goal range.  It’s a little too late to reconsider Jauron’s long contract extension.  I advise you monitoring the Bills to see if Jauron has “lost the team.”  The Bills’ players were not happy with the end of the game management.

 

For the season, my picks against the spread are now 83-48-6 (63.4%).  The account balance is $1,920. 

 

Here are my wagers for week 12 (all wagered to win $100 or $100 wagered if at + odds on a parlay or money line):

 

1. 10-point teaser

       A. Pittsburgh -½ vs. Cincinnati

       B. Miami +12 vs. Jacksonville

       C. Philadelphia +11 vs. Baltimore

 

2. 10-point teaser

       A. New England +12 vs. Miami

       B. Dallas Pk vs. San Francisco

       C. Tampa Bay +2 vs. Detroit

 

3. 10-point teaser

       A. New York Jets +15 vs. Tennessee

       B. Denver +1 vs. Oakland

       C. Seattle +13½ vs. Washington

 

4. 10-point teaser

       A. Indianapolis +13 vs. San Diego

       B. Green Bay + 12½ vs. New Orleans

       C. Pittsburgh & Cincinnati Over 24

 

5. 10-point teaser

       A. Minnesota & Jacksonville Over 30½

       B. Atlanta & Carolina Under 52½

       C. Seattle & Washington Under 50½

 

6. 13-point teaser

       A. Pittsburgh +2½ vs. Cincinnati

       B. New England +15 vs. Miami

       C. Minnesota & Jacksonville Over 27½

       D. Houston & Cleveland Over 36½

 

7. 13-point teaser

       A. Minnesota +15 vs. Jacksonville

       B. Chicago +5 vs. St. Louis

       C. Green Bay & New Orleans Over 38½

       D. Dallas & San Francisco Under 60

 

8. 13-point teaser

       A. Philadelphia +14 vs. Baltimore

       B. Dallas +3 vs. San Francisco

       C. New England & Miami Under 55

       D. Pittsburgh & Cincinnati Over 21

 

9. 13-point teaser

       A. New York Jets +18 vs. Tennessee

       B. Tampa Bay +5 vs. Detroit

       C. Denver +4 vs. Oakland

       D. Green Bay +15½ vs. New Orleans

 

10. 13-point teaser

       A. Atlanta +11½ vs. Carolina

       B. Seattle +16½ vs. Washington

       C. Indianapolis +16 vs. San Diego

       D. Buffalo & Kansas City Over 30½

 

11. 13-point teaser

       A. New York Jets & Tennessee Over 27½

       B. Philadelphia & Baltimore Over 26½

       C. Chicago & St. Louis Over 30

       D. Buffalo +10 vs. Kansas City               

     

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

October 24, 2008

PiRate Ratings Week 8 NFL Previews: October 26-27, 2008

PiRate Ratings For NFL Week Eight

 

The PiRate Pro Ratings (Rating)

 

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

 

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

 

The Mean Ratings (Mean)

 

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

 

The Bias Ratings (Biased)

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Current NFL Standings and Ratings

 

NFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

New York

5

1

0

170

101

106.25

103.64

106.38

2

Washington

5

2

0

140

128

103.71

102.63

102.67

2

Dallas

4

3

0

189

175

102.40

101.04

101.49

2

Philadelphia

3

3

0

167

123

109.63

103.82

105.29

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Chicago

4

3

0

196

150

108.85

121.83

107.54

2

Green Bay

4

3

0

194

159

103.74

102.42

103.83

2

Minnesota

3

4

0

154

167

100.81

99.70

99.10

2

Detroit

0

6

0

97

187

85.66

89.24

87.98

3

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Tampa Bay

5

2

0

161

107

109.14

105.23

106.68

2

Carolina

5

2

0

147

104

107.82

104.20

105.01

2

Atlanta

4

2

0

139

127

102.06

99.97

101.21

2

New Orleans

3

4

0

179

163

102.32

100.35

100.14

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Arizona

4

2

0

177

144

105.41

102.42

102.97

3

St. Louis

2

4

0

96

178

88.55

93.55

93.62

2

San Francisco

2

5

0

158

196

94.26

93.76

94.81

3

Seattle

1

5

0

110

171

90.36

93.22

92.72

3

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Buffalo

5

1

0

149

118

101.53

101.40

103.79

3

New England

4

2

0

130

116

98.35

101.18

101.91

2

New York

3

3

0

154

146

99.23

98.89

98.62

2

Miami

2

4

0

120

130

98.85

96.86

98.14

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Pittsburgh

5

1

0

141

89

108.55

105.95

107.90

2

Baltimore

3

3

0

105

100

102.40

100.85

100.25

3

Cleveland

2

4

0

92

106

99.63

98.88

98.10

2

Cincinnati

0

7

0

98

182

91.92

91.98

90.98

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Tennessee

6

0

0

149

66

109.91

107.60

107.30

2

Indianapolis

3

3

0

128

131

101.39

100.27

101.13

2

Jacksonville

3

3

0

124

128

100.99

100.83

102.37

3

Houston

2

4

0

140

179

94.24

96.66

96.58

3

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Denver

4

3

0

173

195

95.30

96.47

97.96

2

San Diego

3

4

0

192

162

102.88

101.48

102.87

2

Oakland

2

4

0

97

148

89.29

93.41

93.14

2

Kansas City

1

5

0

75

165

85.39

90.24

89.93

2

 

NFL Previews-Week Eight

 

San Diego (3-4) vs. New Orleans (3-4) (at London)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Light rain expected, light winds, temperature falling from the upper 50’s to the low 50’s

 

PiRate:         San Diego by 1 

Mean:           San Diego by 1

Bias:             San Diego by 3

Vegas:        San Diego by 3         -155/+145

Ov/Un:        46

Strategy:     Over 36 in 10-point teaser, Over 33 in 13-point teaser

Tally Ho!  These two teams will play in Wembley Stadium in London Sunday afternoon/evening London time.  I don’t like it when the usual tendencies for games have been altered.  Both teams have gotten out of their routines, and there isn’t enough prior history (just one year to be exact) to look back and discover patterns.  My advice is to leave this game alone, but the only thing close to safe is to look for a high scoring game with a lot of passing. 

 

LaDainian Tomlinson should be close to 100% for the Chargers, but I expect him to get fewer carries than normal in order to protect the injured toe. 

 

Drew Brees should have a 300-yard passing game, and for that reason I think these teams will combine to score more than 40 points.

 

Kansas City (1-5) at New York Jets (3-3)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Mostly sunny, moderate winds, temperature in upper 50’s

 

PiRate:         Jets by 16

Mean:           Jets by 11

Bias:             Jets by 11

Vegas:        Jets by 13          -610/+485

Ov/Un:        39

Strategy:     Under 52 in 13-point teaser

The Chiefs’ offense has gone into hibernation.  Until late in the fourth quarter last week, Kansas City had gone eight quarters without scoring a point.  Brodie Croyle and backup Damon Huard are now both done for the season.  Third stringer Tyler Thigpen is completing just 42% of his passes for 4.4 yards per attempt.  Now, with Larry Johnson inactive again for this game, what can the Chiefs do this week?  It’s not like their defense will bail them out.  They are the 31st-rated stop troops in the NFL with a run defense that is on pace to give up more than 3,300 yards rushing.

 

The Jets had engine failure last week in Oakland, and I don’t see that problem occurring this week.  Brett Favre may not have to raise his arm too many times if Thomas Jones is his usual self.  He rushed for 159 yards last week and could easily equal or top that this week.

 

Because Coach Eric Mangini may decide to mimic Vince Lombardi and plan for his offense to grind out 80-yard drives that take 15 plays and half a quarter to score, the Jets may actually have difficulty covering the line.  I wouldn’t fool with a 13-point spread.  Instead, I am looking at a tease of the totals.  I cannot see Kansas City scoring 17 points in this game, and I cannot see the Jets topping 35.  The final score could be as low as 24-7 and as high as 35-14.  So, I like “Under 52” as part of a 13-point teaser.

 

Atlanta (4-2) at Philadelphia (3-3)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Sunny, moderate winds, temperature near 60

 

PiRate:         Philadelphia by 10  

Mean:           Philadelphia by 6

Bias:             Philadelphia by 6

Vegas:        Philadelphia by 9½         -380/+335

Ov/Un:        45

Strategy:     Philadelphia +½ in 10-point teaser, Philadelphia +3½ in 13-point teaser, Over 35 in 10-point teaser, Over 32 in 13-point teaser, Under 58 in 13-point teaser

This should be quite an entertaining game, and the Falcons believe they can pull off the upset and move on the top half of the playoff bubble.  The Eagles have all their offensive weapons healthy, and Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook, and company should find success moving the ball in this game.

 

There is one big factor in this game that may not reveal itself until game time.  Falcon rookie sensation Sam Baker may not be able to play, and he is a key reason why quarterback Matt Ryan has been able to pass like he is a seasoned veteran.  In the one game where Baker was unable to go, the Falcons’ offense scored just nine points.

 

Without Baker, Atlanta cannot win this game.  With a healthy Baker, they can keep it close and have a shot at the upset.

 

Either way, I like the Eagles to win the game, so I’ll take Philly and points in the teasers.  Teasing the Totals could be iffy due to the possibility of the Falcons not being able to score without Baker in the lineup.  Without him, they could struggle to reach double digits.  If they score just 10 points, the Eagles would have to score 23 to satisfy a 13-point teaser and 26 to satisfy a 10-point teaser.  Only tease the Over if you already know Baker will start and be able to play at near 100% effectiveness.

 

I could see a 13-point tease of the Under working for us.  Under 58 would be very playable even if Baker starts.  Atlanta’s defense should hold the Eagles to 28 points or less, and their offense won’t score 30 points.

 

Buffalo (5-1) at Miami (2-4)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Rain likely, light winds, temperature near 80

 

PiRate:         Buffalo by 1

Mean:           Buffalo by 3

Bias:             Buffalo by 4

Vegas:        Buffalo by 1 -120/+100

Ov/Un:        42½

Strategy:     Miami +11 in 10-point teaser, Miami +14 in 13-point teaser, Buffalo +9 in 10-point teaser, Buffalo +12 in 13-point teaser

This is an intriguing game.  Buffalo’s 5-1 record is questionable when you consider that four of those wins came over teams buried deep in the standings.  The one lone quality win came over a mediocre Jacksonville team, and the one loss came on the road at Arizona.

 

Miami has that extraordinary win at New England when they sprung the single wing offense on an unsuspecting defense.  In the next game, a trick play pulled out the win over San Diego.  Baltimore stuffed the offense last week.  Buffalo’s defense is not in the Ravens’ class, but it is strong enough to take those pet plays away.

 

The Bills’ running game has been disappointing this year, while quarterback Trent Edwards has been a pleasant surprise.  Miami’s defense isn’t strong against the pass.  That worries me this week.  I don’t really like any of the plays in this game, as I see a huge deviation in possible outcomes.  I only list the teasers above, but I don’t heartily endorse any of them.  Miami could win by a touchdown, and the Bills could win by two touchdowns.  The score could be 28-24 or 14-10. 

 

St. Louis (2-4) at New England (4-2)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, considerable wind (enough to affect game), temperature in the mid 50’s

 

PiRate:         New England by 12

Mean:           New England by 10

Bias:             New England by 10

Vegas:         New England by 7    -315/+285

Ov/Un:        43

Strategy:     New England -7, New England -315, New England +3 in 10-point teaser, New England +6 in 13-point teaser, Under 56 in 13-point teaser

Break up the Rams!  Any team that can blow out the Cowboys by 20 points must be a force to be reckoned with.  Is Jim Haslett a super genius who can turn the weakest team in 20 years into the strongest team of 2008?  In back-to-back weeks, the Rams won at Washington and destroyed the team expected to waltz to the Super Bowl.

 

New England is the perfect embodiment of a Jekyll and Hyde team.  They lose big to the Dolphins and blow out the Broncos.  They hold the Jets’ offense to 10 points and give up 30 to the struggling Chargers.

 

I believe the weather will play an important role in this game.  The Rams are accustomed to playing indoors, and this game is going to be played with a stiff wind and cool temperatures.  This will be no big deal for the home team.

 

New England’s offense woke up last week against Denver, and I don’t see the Monday night effect hurting them this week.  They should be able to score 24 to 30 points against St. Louis even with a renewed defensive strength since the change of coaches.

 

I see the Pats winning by double digits and holding Marc Bulger and company to 17 points or less.  A score of 28-14 is quite possible, so I like a tease of the Under as well as the Patriots straight up and giving a touchdown.   New England would have to score more than 42 points to ruin a 13-point tease if the Rams score just two touchdowns.  Even a score of 35-21 wouldn’t beat us.  I would be shocked if the Pats don’t run the ball 35 or more times in this game, so total plays should be reduced.

 

Arizona (4-2) at Carolina (5-2)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

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

 

PiRate:         Carolina by 4

Mean:          Carolina by 4

Bias:             Carolina by 4

Vegas:        Carolina by 4     -200/+170

Ov/Un:        43½

Strategy:     Carolina -4, Carolina -200, Carolina +6 in 10-point teaser, Carolina +9 in 13-point teaser, Over 33½ in 10-point teaser, Over 30½ in 13-point teaser, Under 58½ in 13-point teaser

This game could be an NFC playoff preview.  Arizona is in complete control in the West, while Carolina is on pace to qualify as a wildcard or possible champion of the South Division.

 

The Cardinals have lost both times they have ventured into the Eastern Time Zone.  Their defense faltered both times.  This will be the toughest opponent of the three eastern teams they will have played.

 

Carolina may have the best home field advantage so far this season.  Their average score in Bank of America Stadium is 27-8, while their average road game score is 13-24.

 

Arizona had a week off, so that makes this one a bit tougher to call.  I still think the Panthers have a decided advantage in this contest.  Their pass defense should hold Kurt Warner about 75 yards below his average, and the Cardinals’ running game is not strong enough to take up the slack.  Jake Delhomme should top 200 passing yards and lead his offense to 24 or more points.  It adds up to a touchdown or more victory, so I like Carolina straight up and giving four points.

 

Oakland (2-4) at Baltimore (3-3)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Sunny, light wind, temperature near 60

 

PiRate:         Baltimore by 16

Mean:           Baltimore by 10

Bias:             Baltimore by 10

Vegas:        Baltimore by 7          -325/+295

Ov/Un:        36

Strategy:     Baltimore -325, Baltimore +3 in 10-point teaser, Baltimore +6 in 13-point teaser, Under 49 in 13-point teaser

Is their any possibility that JaMarcus Russell can solve the Ravens’ pass defense and avoid getting clobbered by their pass rush?  Will Darren McFadden be able to play this week?  Even if he can go, I doubt he will carry the ball more than eight times.  Ray Lewis and his band of mad men will make mincemeat out of Oakland’s offense.

 

The big question mark for Baltimore is who will line up at the wideout spots this week.  Yamon Figurs, Derrick Mason, and Demetrius Williams may all miss this game.  Running back Willis McGahee should play, but he won’t be at full strength. 

 

I expect a low scoring game, and Baltimore knows how to win when they score just 10-14 points.  I could see a score as low as 13-10 and as high as 21-17.  I don’t like the spread, but I think Baltimore has better than an 80% chance of winning.  Therefore, I like the money line option as well as getting the Ravens and points in the teasers.  Obviously, teasing the Under at 49 looks inviting as well.  I just cannot see a final score of 27-23 with both teams being hit with injuries on the offensive side.

 

Washington (5-2) at Detroit (0-6)

Time:           1:00PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:         Washington by 15

Mean:           Washington by 10

Bias:             Washington by 12

Vegas:        Washington by 7½         -315/+285

Ov/Un:        42

Strategy:     Detroit +7½, Detroit +17½ in 10-point teaser, Detroit +20½ in 13-point teaser, Over 29 in 13-point teaser

This is my pick as trap game of the week.  Detroit is bound to luck into at least one win this season, and this could be that week.  The Redskins have been quite fortunate to win close games every week.  They seem to play to the quality of the opposition.  Their offense has gone south the last two weeks against the Rams and Browns, two teams not noted for excellence in defense.

 

Detroit has nothing to lose except maybe the rights to Tim Tebow if they win one too many games this year.  With the loss of Roy Williams and Jon Kitna, the Lions changed their strategy last week against Houston.  Calvin Johnson was used more like Bob Hayes was used by the Cowboys in the late 1960’s.  Johnson ran deep routes, while Mike Furrey became the possession receiver.  It worked to some extent, and it opened some holes for the running game.  Dan Orlovsky’s passing line looked like one from the 1960’s AFL.

 

Washington’s offense lives or dies with the running of Clinton Portis.  Portis could rush the ball 25 times and pick up 125 yards in this game, and the Redskins will still have to score with their passing game to win this one.

 

The numbers add up to a huge Washington win, but I believe the numbers will give away some to intangibles this week.  Call it a gut instinct, but I think Detroit will keep this one close and have a chance to win it in the final period.

 

Tampa Bay (5-2) at Dallas (4-3)

Time:           1:00PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Sunny, light wind, temperature near 80

 

PiRate:         Tampa Bay by 5

Mean:           Tampa Bay by 2

Bias:             Tampa Bay by 3

Vegas:        Dallas by 2½     -140/+120

Ov/Un:        40½

Strategy:     Tampa Bay +12½ in 10-point teaser, Tampa Bay +15½ in 13-point teaser, Over 27½ in 13-point teaser

The Dallas defense has fallen on rough times, and head coach Wade Phillips will be calling the defensive plays this week.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he tries to lower the score of this game by complimenting his defensive play-calling with a time-consuming, conservative offensive game plan.

 

Tampa Bay is primed to take over the label of Super Bowl favorite this week.  A Buccaneer win would definitely place them at the top of the NFC pecking order, especially if the Giants lose at Pittsburgh.

 

Even if the Bucs cannot pull off the mild road upset, I see them keeping this game close.  Dallas was only able to beat Cincinnati by nine points at Texas Stadium, so there’s no reason to believe they can beat Tampa Bay by double digits without Tony Romo.

 

Tampa Bay is definitely one of the top three teams in the NFC and top six in the NFL.  I love the chance to get them and double digit points in any game at any location.  So, I’ll take Jon Gruden’s team and a boatload of points.  Also, I think both teams will at least reach 14 points, so I like teasing the Over as well.

 

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

Time:           4:05 PM EDT

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:         Jacksonville by 4

Mean:           Jacksonville by 5

Bias:             Jacksonville by 7

Vegas:        Jacksonville by 7      -315/+285

Ov/Un:        42

Strategy:     Cleveland +17 in 10-point teaser, Cleveland +20 in 13-point teaser, Under 55 in 13-point teaser

Welcome to Staphgate.  The medical news coming out of Cleveland this week has overshadowed the team’s on-the-field performance.  It could foretell a Browns’ collapse, but it could also cause the team to rally and play a fantastic 60 minutes of football.

 

Jacksonville may be the most boring team in the league unless you are an old Ohio State football fan who likes three yards and a cloud of dust football.  Not having receivers Matt Jones and Mike Walker means the Jags will run the ball even more than the norm.  Look for backs Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor to combine for 30 attempts this week.

 

Cleveland has actually been playing decent football the last couple of weeks, and they could pull off another surprise or two in the coming weeks.  The one problem this week is that Jacksonville has enjoyed an extra week of preparation.  While I see the Jags winning this game, I am not sure they will be able to win big.  Their biggest win to date is a seven point victory over Denver.

 

I like, but don’t love, taking the Browns in teasers.  Because there could be more running than normal in this game, I also like teasing the Under at 55.  I could see this game ending in a 27-20 score at a maximum.

 

Cincinnati (0-7) at Houston (2-4)

Time:           4:05PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, light winds, temperature in the low 80’s

 

 

PiRate:         Houston by 5

Mean:           Houston by 8

Bias:             Houston by 9

Vegas:        Houston by 9½        -380/+335

Ov/Un:        44½

Strategy:     Houston -380, Over 31½ in 13-point teaser

 

This game was supposed to be played the week Hurricane Ike struck the Lone Star State.  At the time, Cincinnati would have had a much better chance to win this game.  Now, Houston enters this contest on a two-game winning streak, while the Bengals have more than likely folded their hand for the season.  The Texans are almost double digit favorites.

 

The key stat for this game is the difference in the Bengals’ offense with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback instead of Carson Palmer.  With Fitzpatrick running the team, Cincinnati has averaged 12 points per game.  In Palmer’s four games, the Bengals averaged only 15.5 points per game, but they competed in those games against the likes of Baltimore, Tennessee, the Giants, and Dallas. 

 

This will actually be the first weaker than average defense Cincinnati will face this season.  I look for Fitzpatrick to lead the orange and black north of the 20-point barrier.  However, the Bengals are hurting on the other side of the ball, and they will give up considerably more than 20 points to an improving offense.  The Texans have average about 28 points per game the last four weeks against defenses that are mostly better than Cincinnati’s.

 

I could see this game being decided late, but I think Houston will make it three straight victories.  I don’t like the line, so I recommend the money line.  I am looking at a 28-21 score here, so I believe the totals can be teased safely.

 

New York Giants (5-1) at Pittsburgh (5-1)

Time:           4:15PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, moderate winds, temperature dropping from the mid 50’s to near 50

 

 

PiRate:         Pittsburgh by 4

Mean:           Pittsburgh by 4

Bias:             Pittsburgh by 4

Vegas:        Pittsburgh by 3        -140/+130

Ov/Un:        42

Strategy:     Pittsburgh -3, Pittsburgh -140, Under 55 in 13-point teaser

This is the game of the week and could be a preview of the Super Bowl.  I tend to think the Giants will not make it through the playoffs this year, but that is beyond the point this week.

 

In my opinion, the Steelers are capable of finishing 13-3 or even 14-2 and earning home field advantage throughout the playoffs.  Their defense will give up less than 250 points, and their offense will top 400 when the season ends.  Running back Willie Parker should return to the field this week.  Ben Roethlisberger is playing like an all-pro, and Hines Ward is playing with a chip on his shoulder.

 

The Giants have been relying on Brandon Jacobs to take enough heat off Eli Manning, and it has worked most weeks.  Jacobs will not run the ball for 80 yards in this game, and Manning will have to win it with a big aerial assault.  I don’t think he can pull it off.  Call it a 20-13 win for the black and gold.

 

Seattle (1-5) at San Francisco (2-5)

Time:           4:15PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Sunny, light winds, temperature in the mid to upper 70’s

                    

PiRate:         San Francisco by 7

Mean:           San Francisco by 4

Bias:             San Francisco by 5

Vegas:        San Francisco by 5   -230/+190

Ov/Un:        40½

Strategy:     San Francisco -230, San Francisco +5 in 10-point teaser, San Francisco +8 in 13-point teaser

Here, we have the initial second meeting of the season for divisional rivals.  The 49ers won the first meeting in Seattle, but things have changed since then.  Mike Nolan was shown the door last week after San Francisco lost at the Giants.  The interim coach is former Bears’ great Mike Singletary.  Offensive coordinator Mike Martz, who directed the Rams to a Super Bowl, was passed over.  Now, take into consideration that lame-duck Seahawks’  coach Mike Holmgren has had to dispel rumors all week that he will be the new 49er coach in 2009, and it makes this game much harder to diagnose. 

 

Which of these teams will be more ready to play?  I think San Francisco will play with more emotion in the early stages of the Singletary administration.  The players will fear him if they don’t bust their butts on every play.  Martz will still have full authority on the offensive play-calling, so I think the 49ers will be an improved team, at least for the next few weeks.  It adds up to a sweep in this year’s series, but I am not ready to call for a touchdown difference.  Therefore, I am going with the money line as well as taking the home team in teasers.

 

Indianapolis (3-3) at Tennessee (6-0)

Time:           8:30PM EDT Monday

TV:               ESPN

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, moderate winds, temperature dropping from upper 40’s to lower 40’s

 

PiRate:         Tennessee by 11     

Mean:           Tennessee by 9

Bias:             Tennessee by 8

Vegas:        Tennessee by 4        -200/+170

Ov/Un:        41

Strategy:     None

Let’s look at some of the facts for this game.  It is the Monday night game, and we all know how unpredictable those games have proven to be through the years.  It is the top rivalry game in the AFC South, and the two teams play like it is the old Raiders and Chiefs series from the AFL days.  Tennessee has been running over run defenses like they have Walter Payton and Barry Sanders at running back.  Indianapolis has been a feast or famine team with their offense either looking terrific or terrible from week-to-week. 

 

The Colts could score 28 points and pick up 250-300 passing yards, but they could easily watch LenDale White and Chris Johnson combine for 250 or more rushing yards.  Indianapolis hasn’t been able to stop enemy rushing attacks this year.

 

I just don’t like any possible plays here this week.  I think Indianapolis could spoil the Titans’ perfect record if Peyton Manning plays like he did against Baltimore, but if he is not on his game and has a repeat performance of last week’s game in Green Bay, this game could be ugly.  Tennessee would like nothing more than to win by three touchdowns and make the rest of the nation respect them at 7-0. 

 

 

 

The Imaginary Bank Account Suffers First Losing Week

 

It had to happen.  I knew my luck would run out eventually, and last week I suffered my first losing week of the year.  The selections went 8-9 lowering my selections against the spread for the year to 52-28-3 (65%).  The account gave up $310, and that lowered the balance to $1,675.  For the year, my Return on investment is now 20.2%.

 

My straight selections continued to do well, as I was 3-1 on those picks.  The Teasers let me down, as there were too many odd games.  The Bears-Vikings game was a huge surprise to nearly everybody.  How about that Rams-Cowboys game-somebody forgot to tell St. Louis they are no longer the “Greatest Show on Turf.”

 

This week, I am torn between playing straight picks, where I have been quite successful this season and playing the teasers, where I have been successful over the course of several years.  It’s a tough call, but I am going to play more sides than teasers this week.  

 

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

 

 1. New England -7 vs. St. Louis

 2. New England -315 vs. St. Louis

 3. Carolina -4 vs. Arizona

 4. Carolina -200 vs. Arizona

 5. Baltimore -325 vs. Oakland

 6. Detroit +7½ vs. Washington

 7. Houston -380 vs. Cincinnati

 8. San Francisco -230 vs. Seattle

 9. Pittsburgh -3 vs. New York Giants

10. Pittsburgh -140 vs. New York Giants

 

11. 10-point teaser parlay

       A. San Diego & New Orleans Over 36

       B. Philadelphia & Atlanta Over 35

       C. Miami +11 vs. Buffalo

 

12. 10-point teaser parlay

       A. New England +3 vs. St. Louis

       B. Carolina +6 vs. Arizona

       C. Carolina & Arizona Over 33½

 

13. 10-point teaser parlay

       A. Detroit +17½ vs. Washington

       B. Tampa Bay +12½ vs. Dallas

       C. San Francisco +5 vs. Seattle

 

14. 13-point teaser parlay

       A. Jets & Kansas City Under 52

       B. Philadelphia +3½ vs. Atlanta

       C. Miami +14 vs. Buffalo

       D. New England +6 vs. St. Louis

 

15. 13-point teaser parlay

       A. Carolina +9 vs. Arizona

       B. Carolina & Arizona Over 30½

       C. Baltimore +6 vs. Oakland

       D. Baltimore & Oakland Under 49

 

16. 13-point teaser parlay

A. Detroit +20½ vs. Washington

B. Detroit & Washington Over 29

C. Tampa Bay +15½ vs. Dallas

D. Tampa Bay & Dallas Over 27½

 

17. 13-point teaser parlay

       A. Cleveland +20 vs. Jacksonville

       B. New York Giants & Pittsburgh Under 55

       C. San Francisco +8 vs. Seattle

       D. Houston & Cincinnati Over 31½  

     

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

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