The Pi-Rate Ratings

September 20, 2021

PiRate Ratings NFL For September 23-27, 2021

This Week’s PiRate Ratings Spreads

New EnglandNew Orleans-3.6-1.8-4.9
Kansas CityLA Chargers9.28.98.8
N.Y. GiantsAtlanta3.74.01.7
Las VegasMiami1.51.31.1
DenverN.Y. Jets10.99.99.8
LA RamsTampa Bay2.33.22.9
San FranciscoGreen Bay2.63.23.1

This Week’s PiRate Rating Totals

New EnglandNew Orleans40.5
Kansas CityLA Chargers54.5
N.Y. GiantsAtlanta50.5
Las VegasMiami45.5
DenverN.Y. Jets39.5
LA RamsTampa Bay56
San FranciscoGreen Bay50.5

This Week’s PiRate Ratings

New England100.9100.3100.3100.518.51-1
N. Y. Jets92.593.693.593.221.50-2



Kansas City106.2106.2106.0106.1311-1
LA Chargers100.1100.3100.2100.223.51-1
Las Vegas97.798.198.398.0262-0

N.Y. Giants96.196.295.395.921.50-2

Green Bay102.7102.1102.4102.426.51-1

New Orleans107.5105.1108.1106.9221-1
Tampa Bay107.1106.9106.6106.9282-0

LA Rams106.5107.1106.5106.7282-0
San Francisco102.3102.4102.5102.4242-0

September 8, 2021

PiRate Picks For September 9-13, 2021

Last week’s opening picks missed, as Virginia Tech made Sam Howell look like Thurston Howell. Duke then failed to show up against Charlotte, and poof, our two picks were destroyed. Such is life when you wager on parlays that return the odds we look for when we place our imaginary wagers.

We have two more picks returning some fat odds this week, and maybe we’ll get lucky and hit on one. We will also tell you a week 1 tip for the NFL. Although we are here just for Money Line Parlays this year, it doesn’t mean we cannot give out a little interesting information.

Here are our two Money Line Parlays for Week two of the college season. We will eventually pick some NFL games, but Week one is not the time and place for that.

Parlay 1

Must WinOpponent

Parlay 2

Must WinOpponent
Mississippi St.North Carolina St.

Here’s our tip for Week 1 of the NFL season. Underdogs of 1 to 3 points tend to win outright 50% of the time, but they also lose by less than 3 points another 8-10% of the time. That’s 58-60% success for wagering on 3-point Underdogs.

There are seven games as of this writing with a 3-point spread. The Dogs are:

Houston against Jacksonville

Arizona against Tennessee

Philadelphia against Atlanta

Indianapolis against Seattle

Cincinnati against Minnesota

Miami against New England

N.Y. Giants against Denver

August 20, 2021

Pac-12 Conference Preview

The Pac-12 Conference is a victim of longitude.  Nine of the league’s 12 teams are in the Pacific Time Zone, while the other three teams are in the Mountain Time Zone.  For purposes of drawing the most fans possible to Stadiums, games need to be played at night.  However, a 7 PM kickoff on the West Coast means it is 10 PM on the East Coast.  Thus, millions of football fans, media, and poll voters don’t see these teams play.

In order to play at a time when the East Coast can see the league play, games must kickoff before 4:30 PM.  It is not possible to televise six different conference games between 11 AM and 4:30 PM.  In order to play in the 12 Noon time slot on the East Coast, a Pac-12 game would need to kickoff at 9 AM.

Another issue with this league is the economy on the West Coast.  California, Oregon, and Washington have suffered in recent years, and the lower and middle income levels in these states do not earn a livable wage in high-priced living conditions.  Thus, several hundred thousand former residents of the Pacific Coast have left for the South and Southwest.  According to statistics from U-haul and their one-way rental statistics, the three states that have seen the most migration from the West Coast are, in order, Tennessee, Texas, and Florida.  With Texas moving to the Southeastern Conference and Texas A&M already there, all three states gaining population at the expense of the West Coast are SEC cities.  With this population, football recruits are also moving to the South and not likely to return to the West Coast for college.

The Pac-12 has been rather competitive in recent years.  While there have been very few double-digit losing teams, there also have been no undefeated teams and very few one-loss teams.  It figures that at the least, in order to make the Playoffs, a team from the Pac-12 would need to have nor more than 1 loss.  The last time a Pac-12 team had only one loss (not counting 2020’s Covid season) was 2016, when Washington finished 11-1 in the regular season, won the Pac-12 Championship Game, and became the last Pac-12 team to make the Playoffs, where they lost to Alabama 24-7 in the Peach Bowl.  The last team to finish a regular undefeated season was Oregon in 2010, before the league expanded to 12 teams.

Unfortunately for the Pac-12, in 2021, the best team figures to have two conference losses, and the worst team figures to have two conference wins, so it appears as if the league will not have a Playoff team this year.

Here’s how the Pac-12 media predicted the order of finish at the conference media days.

Pac-12 Media Poll
North Division1st PlOverall
Oregon St.71
Washington St.65

South Division1st PlOverall
Arizona St.6170

Pac-12 ChampionshipVotes

Here is how the PiRate Ratings look to start the season.

Pac-12 Conference
North Division
Oregon St.106.7106.7107.3106.9
Washington St.102.3103.2102.1102.5

South Division
U S C118.8118.4120.9119.4
Arizona St.112.4113.5113.6113.1
U C L A110.5110.5110.6110.5

Pac-12 Averages107.0107.8107.8107.5

North Division

Oregon has enjoyed multiple exceptional recruiting classes, but Coach Mario Christobal has seen his Ducks teams lose games they had no business losing in his three years in Eugene.  Last year, Oregon lost to Oregon State and California, backing into the Pac-12 Championship Game when Washington won the division but had to opt-out due to Covid.

Offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead is a proponent of up-tempo, no-huddle spread offense with one back and one tight end.  It requires a quarterback that can master the run-pass option.  He had a capable QB last year, but Tyler Shough decided to transfer to Texas Tech rather than return to Oregon.  New quarterback Anthony Brown has not yet proven to the Oregon coaching staff that he’s ready to take over the Duck offense as the starter.  True freshman, and 5-star recruit, Ty Thompson may move up to first team early in the season if not at the beginning.  Regardless of who starts the Fresno State game on September 4, the quarterback running Moorhead’s offense is likely not to be as effective as what Shough would have been had he stayed.

Oregon should be okay at running back, if former 1,000-yard rusher C.J. Verdell can stay healthy.  Last year’s co-regular Travis Dye also returns, so the Ducks should have a decent running game.  

The Ducks return all three of their starting wideouts from last year, and the trio is very good but not star quality.  What is star quality is the offensive line led by Rimington Award contender Alex Forsyth at center.

Oregon averaged 31.3 points and 413 yards per game last year.  It’s likely that the Ducks will make a minor retreat in both statistics, but the offense will still be a plus.

Defensively, Oregon was a disappointment in 2020.  The Ducks had the talent to compete for top honors in the league, but they finished sixth in scoring defense and fifth in total defense giving up more than 28 points and 400 yards per game.  The biggest addition to the Duck defense this year is coordinator Tim DeRuyter who replaces Andy Avalos, now the head coach at Boise State.  DeRuyter is a master of the 3-3-5 defense, and Oregon has a lot of talented depth to make this defense work.  The only problem is that sometimes first year defensive changes occasionally malfunction for a handful of plays in early games due to lack of having 11 players carry out their assignments.  

Leading the defense is top pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux, the top pass rusher in the Pac-12 last year.  The rest of the defensive line will have new starters and could be a tad vulnerable against power running games.

The overall strong suit of this side of the ball is the five-man secondary.  Cornerback Mykael Wright led the conference in passes defended.  Star (middle safety) Jamal Hill is an excellent roaming defender who finds his way to the ball.

What may hamper Oregon’s chances of making a playoff run this year is there schedule.  Road games against Ohio State, Washington, UCLA, and Utah are likely to result in at least two losses, and as we mentioned before two losses eliminates a Pac-12 team.

Washington almost won the Pac-12 in anonymity last year.  The Huskies didn’t play a game until mid-November, and then they defeated Oregon State, Arizona, and Utah.  With a very slim chance at earning a Playoff Bid, they came up short in their season finale against Stanford.  Then, the team closed up shop for the year as a Covid casualty.

Second year coach Jimmy Lake returns about the same total experience as Oregon, and the Huskies benefit from hosting the Ducks in early November, so Washington figures to be the actual top contender for the Pac-12 North flag this year.

The Huskies have a tiny quarterback as quarterbacks go these days.  Dylan Morris is just six feet tall.  Morris wasn’t flashy in his four-game starting trial last year, but he was an excellent game manager.  In the wings should Morris falter is five-star recruit Sam Huard, the son of former Husky star Damon Huard and the nephew of Brock Huard.  He will be a fan favorite, and the second team quarterback is usually the darling of the fans any way.

The top receiver on the team is tight end Cade Otton.  Otton won 1st team All-Pac-12 honors last year after catching 18 passes in four games for three touchdowns and at a 14.3 yard per catch clip.  Additionally, he blocks like a Pro Bowl guard.

Washington won games by pounding the opponents into submission with a power running game last year, and there is no reason to expect they won’t use the same tactic in 2021.  Sean McGrew, Kamari Pleasant, and Richard Newton bring different skill sets to this position, but if Newton can regain his 2019 form, he might leapfrog to the primary assault position.

Whoever totes the pigskin, he will be operating behind one of the finest offensive lines in college football.  All five starters return from what may have been the finest interior wall in Seattle since the 1991 team won the national championship.  For this reason alone, UW figures to have the most efficient and consistent offense in the Pac-12 this year. 

How much the defense can improve will likely determine if Washington can make a long shot run at playoff contention this year.  Pass defense has been the strong point of Husky defenses for the last several seasons, and this year should be no different.  Washington led the Pac-12 in passing yards and total yards allowed last year.

Washington runs a unique defense, a 2-4-5 alignment with two tackles, four linebackers, and a nickel defensive backfield.  The two defensive tackles rarely post impressive stats, but they are the key to the defense, forcing double team blocks from the offense.  If they can occupy four of the five offensive linemen, it leaves nine defensive players to stop seven offensive players, basically just six against teams where the quarterback is not a running threat.  Opposing offensive coaches have learned that they cannot pound the ball between the tackles, because three defensive players pursue to the ball with little or no interference.

The inside linebackers have to be tough in this defense, and UW has an excellent tandem in Edefuan Ulofoshio and Jackson Sirmon.  The outside linebackers become the principal pass rushers in this defense, and UW goes two-deep with talent here.

The five-spoke secondary has capable talent led by cornerback Trent McDuffie.  However, even though there is talent in the backfield, it lacks the experience the Huskies have had in recent years, and it will be the one unknown early in the season until the talented players gain the experience. 

After a breather to start the season, Washington travels to Ann Arbor to face Michigan in week two.  A win over the Wolverines will get UW some Eastern publicity.  The schedule is then favorable to give the Huskies a slim chance to run the table heading into their game against Oregon at Husky Stadium in November.  Because there is so much parity in the Pac-12, we just can’t pull the trigger and call this team a legitimate Playoff contender, but we will call them a co-favorite to win the North Division.

Oregon State was just 2-5 in the shortened 2020 season, but the Beavers were in all seven games thanks to a well-balanced offense.  The 2021 OSU record may still be on the minus side of .500, but with just a tad more production than expected, the Beavers have the potential to challenge for a 6-6 season.

Fourth year coach Jonathan Smith may feel the pressure to win this year, but he took over a program that needed a good five years to return to decency.  Whether the school will give him a fifth year may hinge on how much better year four is than year three.

Oregon State has an offense capable of scoring 30-35 points a game and gaining 200 or more yards both in running and passing the ball. Having four players all capable of winning the starting quarterback job is excellent when a team worries about injuries, but having four quarterbacks still in contention for the starting job two weeks before game week may not be the best situation.  We believe last year’s early season starter Tristan Gebbia will emerge as the starter for game one, but he’s not guaranteed to remain number one.  Chance Nolan is a better runner.  He lacks the accuracy of Gebbia, but he is more of a gunslinger when he throws.  

Tre-Shaun Harrison saw limited action last year after leaving Florida State for Corvallis.  Playing in the final two games of the year, Harrison caught four passes for 51 yards and a score against Stanford and five passes for 91 yards against Arizona State.  In a 12-game schedule, he could catch 60 passes for more than 800 yards.

The questionable unit on the offense is the running back group.  Losing Jermar Jefferson and his 120+ yards per game is going to hurt the Beavers this year, but OSU has a potential 1,000-yard runner in former South Carolina Gamecock DeShaun Fenwick.  Fenwick is a capable pass-catching weapon coming out of the backfield as well.  Fenwick averaged more than five yards per attempt in six different SEC games last year (Tennessee, Florida, Vanderbilt, LSU, Auburn, and Ole Miss).  If he can average more than five yards per attempt this year, the Beavers’ offense will click and score 30+ points per game.

The defense has been the issue with the Beavers basically since Dee Andros retired five decades ago.  OSU gave up 33.3 points per game and 442.3 yards per game in 2020.  Three returning starters might appear on the Pac-12 all-conference team this year, but overall, this side of the ball will be a weakness again.

Defensive end Isaac Hodgins is the best player up front, but even if the rest of the interior is mediocre at best, there is experience returning in all three spots.

Linebacker is the one strength of the defense.  Inside LB Avery Roberts was a magnet to enemy ball-carriers last year, culminated with a 21-tackle performance against Utah, in a game that OSU came close to pulling off a big upset.  Fellow inside LB Omar Speights finished runnerup to Roberts last year in tackles, while outside LB Andrzej Hughes-Murray  took advantage of the free year and returns for year six.

The secondary will be somewhat of a liability, especially on the flanks.  The Beavers have talent but lack experience at cornerback, but they are in good shape at safety.

The path to bowl eligibility in 2021 probably begins with the opener at Purdue on September 4.  The team that loses this game most likely sets the tone for a losing season, while the winner gains enough confidence to maybe pick off a favored team or two along the way.  The biggest issue with the schedule is that most of the teams the Beavers have the best chance at upsetting will be hosting OSU (Washington State, Cal, and Colorado).  It looks like the Beavers will come up a bit short this year, but the majority of their losses should be by 14 points or less.

After dropping its first two games last year to Oregon and Colorado, Stanford rebounded to win their final four games over California, Washington, Oregon State, and UCLA.  Those four wins were by a combined 10 points, and with a rebuild coming on the offensive side of the ball and a difficult non-conference schedule, 2021 could be a down year on the Farm.

Stanford coach David Shaw likes to pound the ball between the tackles, forcing defenses to put extra defenders in the box and then pass the ball over the inverted opponents.  That tactic might not be all that successful this year, namely because Shaw must find a new quarterback now that last year’s starter Davis Mills is competing for the starting job with the Houston Texans.  Jack West doesn’t have the arm strength or accuracy Mills had.  Tanner McKee has limited experience, but he could eventually emerge as the starter.

Whoever wins the QB battle, he won’t have a stable of star receivers catching his passes.  Michael Wilson is a decent but not stellar receiver, but he figures to be the best option.  Normally, Stanford has an outstanding pass-catching tight end, but the Cardinal do not have a potential star this year.

Stanford has experience at running back, but Austin Jones and Nathaniel Peat are not Christian McCaffrey and Bryce Love.  The duo might total about 1,600 rushing yards this year, but they won’t force defenses to put eight in the box.

The defense has a chance to be better in 2021 than it was last year, mainly because the Cardinal gave up 32 points and almost 440 yards per game last year.  Then, again, with the lack of experience up front, Stanford could very well be generous with enemy offenses again this year.  Opponents ran the ball with relative ease against this defense last year, and the defensive front seven was decimated by graduation after suffering multiple injuries last year.  

Defensive end Thomas Booker is one of the few returning starters in the front seven this year.  Booker is a multi-tool player, strong against outside runs, rushing the passer, defending the perimeter in pass coverag, and even blocking kicks.  Unfortunately, the geniuses on the Farm haven’t figured out how to make 10 more clones of him.

The secondary returns almost the entire two-deep, but still Stanford cannot be considered particularly strong in pass defense.  

The Cardinal face Kansas State in a neutral site game to begin the season.  They then must open Pac-12 play a week later at USC.  A trip to Nashville in week three should give them a double-digit road win over fellow academic elite Vanderbilt, but the 4,000-mile round trip might make their home opener with UCLA tougher than it should be.  The Cardinal could be 1-3 at that point, and they still will have to face Oregon, Arizona State, Washington, Utah, and Notre Dame.  Finding six wins with this schedule will be next to impossible, if Stanford doesn’t beat Kansas State and maybe UCLA.

We at the PiRate Ratings have a tradition every year when we discuss Washington State football.  No, we do not work for the Chamber of Commerce or the State Department of Tourism, but we feel obligated to inform the rest of the nation just how incredibly beautiful the Palouse is.  This area can be described as the part of Northern Idaho and Southeastern Washington, including the city of Pullman, the home of the Cougars.  Some of the most beautiful hills on the planet can be found within a short drive of the Washington State campus.  It must be an incredible recruiting bonus to players that value topography, photography, and living a relatively quiet and simple life.  

As for the Cougar football team this year, second year coach Nick Rolovich hopes to finally fully implement the same system he used successfully at Hawaii.  Normally moving from the Air Raid offense to another offense can be a difficult and lengthy process, but Rolovich is a proponent of the old Run and Shoot offense, a first cousin of the Air Raid.  The transformation is a short one, and the Cougars should put up some incredible offensive numbers this year.  The only problem is that they might give them up to the opposition even quicker!

Last year’s co-starting quarterbacks Jayden de Laura and Cammon Cooper both return, and they are joined by former Tennessee starting quarterback Jarrett Guarantano, who definitely needed a change of scenery.  Don’t rule out walk-on QB Victor Gabalis, who has shown enough in early practices to get into the mix.   This has the makings not of a quarterback controversy but maybe one of those times where there are two or three quarterbacks playing to see which one has the hot hand.  Which QB has the best grasp of the option passing routes will ultimately take the most snaps.

WSU returns its top two running backs, but in the run and shoot, running ability takes a backseat to pass blocking and pass catching ability.  Max Borghi can block and catch like a tight end, but he can also sprint through holes in the wide-spaced offensive line.  It would not be a shock to see WSU top its rushing offense output from last year.

What should make the WSU offense more potent in 2021 is one of the top offensive lines in the conference.  Four full-time starters are back, and they have size and quickness.  Give the run and shoot offense exceptional blocking, and it can easily gain 500 yards and score 40 points.

Washington State could score 40 points in many games, but that may not be a guarantee that they win those games.  The Cougars were the 11th best defense in the Pac-12 last year, but their stats could have easily been the worst in the league in most years.  WSU surrendered 38.5 points per game, giving up 155 yards rushing and 307 yards passing per game!  When a defense gives up five yards per rush and eight yards per pass attempt, only an F-grade can be given to it.

WSU has one potential star on the defensive side of the ball.  Linebacker Jahad Woods might earn second team all-conference honors this year.

The Cougars’ key game this year may be a non-conference game against the other Cougars–BYU.  Win that game, and WSU likely goes 3-0 outside of the Pac-12.  There is a definite path to three more wins in the Pac-12 this year.  We are high on Rolovich as a coach that can develop winners.  He quickly made Hawaii a winner, and we believe he will make Martin Stadium another wonderful place to visit on your trip to the Palouse.

There are some teams that the PiRate Ratings have a tough time updating every year.  California is one of them.  The Golden Bears seem to be all over the map from one year to the next.  We thought Cal was a North Division contender last year.  While Covid hurt the Bears as much as it did any other FBS team that actually played, when the Bears were blown off the field by UCLA, making the Bruin defense look like Alabama after it gave up 48 points to Colorado, Covid couldn’t be 100% responsible.

What are we to make of this year’s Berkeley boys?  Coach Justin Wilcox should mold a rather competent offense together, but the defense might be in for a heap of trouble, especially against the offenses the Bears must face this year.

Start with the good.  Chase Garbers may be the best player on the Cal roster, and QB is where you want to have a star.  Garbers never got on track last year, and his stats were not indicative of his ability.  In 2019, Garbers had a 14/3 TD/INT ratio and averaged more than eight yards per pass attempt.  Garbers has three of his starting four receivers returning this year, but there is no star talent on board. 

There is depth at running back, but unless Christopher Brown, Jr. returns to his pre-injury 2019 form, defensive coordinators won’t stay up nights worrying about the Cal running game.

The defense has led the way during most of the Wilcox tenure in Berkeley.  Wilcox lost his defensive coordinator to Oregon, and he lost seven starters to boot.  It will be difficult to approach last year’s numbers.  The lone bright spot on this side of the ball will be at the linebacker spot, where outside linebackers Cameron Goode and Kuony Deng provide excellent run containment with the ability to blitz and stop plays in the backfield.  The duo might need to combine for 200 tackles this year to make Cal a big winner.

As we warned above, our ratings have missed on Cal more than average in past years.  This year, we cannot see a path to a winning record for the Bears, but that might be just want Bear fans want to hear!

South Division

Which Pac-12 team almost went undefeated last year?  It was the USC Trojans, and Southern Cal dominated the stat sheet against Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship Game, except for the all-important turnover margin.  Three interceptions prevented USC from staking a claim as the first undefeated Power 5 Conference Champion to not even be in the discussion for the Playoffs.  USC was #13 in the Playoff Rankings before their Championship Game against Oregon.  Had the Trojans won that game, it would have been controversial to take a couple of one-loss ACC teams over a Power 5, 6-0 team.

USC begins the 2021 season as the leading contender for the Pac-12 South Division title.  The Trojans, like a majority of Pac-12 teams, are considerably stronger on the offensive side of the ball than on the defensive side.  The Trojans’ Air Raid offense finished first in the league with almost 320 passing yards per game last year, and the Coach Clay Helton welcomes back Kedon Slovis, the second best passer in the West after Carson Strong at Nevada.  Slovis had some shoulder issues last year after a freshman season that was on par with Trevor Lawrence’s first year.  Slovis proved last year that he can bring a team back to victory after trailing in the fourth quarter, as he did so multiple times.  He had the composure of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.

Amon-Ra St. Brown has moved to the Detroit Lions, but USC still has two star receivers, and it should make this unit the best in the Pac-12.  Drake London should become the go to guy after averaging 84 receiving yards per game last year.  Bru McCoy was a five-star recruit, and he should emerge as another big-time receiver this year.

Once considered Tailback U with all the superstar running backs starting with Heisman Trophy winner Mike Garrett in the mid-1960’s, USC failed to gain 100 rushing yards per game last year.  Vavae Malepeai led the Trojans with just 238 yards and three touchdowns.  

Four starters return to the offensive line, but there are multiple players with past starting experience.  While this will be the weakest unit on the offense, it won’t necessarily be a weakness.  USC should score more than 35 points and gain more than 425 yards per game this year.

If the Trojans are to compete for a top 10 finish in 2021, the defense will need to make a considerable leap forward from decent to very good.  USC gave up 26 points per game, which was good enough for third best in the league last year, but against 2021 teams like Washington State, Notre Dame, and UCLA, a better defense might be required.

While five full-time starters must be replaced, there are many career starts in what returns.  And, the Trojans have some excellent recruits ready to contribute immediately as freshmen.  Defensive end Korey Foreman may have moved up onto the first team depth chart, but a nagging groin injury might move him back to the second team to begin the season.  When healthy, he will team with Nick Figueroa and Tuli Tuipulotu to give the Trojans excellent and deep talent at the terminal positions.

The secondary figures to be a team strength with cornerback Chris Steele and safety Isaiah Pola-Mao joining Texas transfer safety Xavion Alford.  USC should be a little tougher against the pass in 2021.

While the linebacking unit may be the most vulnerable, the best player on the defense is outside linebacker Drake Jackson.  He is the best pass rusher on the team as well as a quick pursuer to the ball.

USC starts the season as the odds-on favorite to win the South Division, but there are a bit too many question marks to see a path to a 13-0 or 12-1 season.  The Trojans will lose two games at the minimum, and that will keep them out of the Playoff picture.

Arizona State was at one time our preseason favorite to be the top team in the South Division, but off the field troubles, including a recruiting investigation, could cause just enough turmoil in Tempe, that the Sun Devils are affected during the season.  And, this could be Coach Herm Edwards’ swan song if the investigation turns up any discretions on his part.

Edwards loves his running game, as he has always been a “run to set up the pass” coach.  With Rachaad White rushing for 105 yards per game last year while averaging an eye-popping 10 yards per attempt.  He had touchdown runs of 93 and 55 yards, but he still averaged 6.8 yards on his remaining 40 carries.

The Sun Devils return quarterback Jayden Daniels, a dual threat as a runner and a passer.  Daniels has a talented but less experienced receiving corps this year.  Former Utah receiver Bryan Thompson averaged 23 yards per reception in four years with the Utes, and if he can repeat that number with ASU, the Sun Devil running game will benefit from deeper secondary alignments.

A talented and experienced offensive line should make it easier for this offense to score points this year against quality competition.  Against USC and UCLA, the Sun Devils scored 45 points.  Against Arizona and Oregon State, they scored 116 points.

The defense should be strong this year.  Eight starters return to the conferences leading scoring defense, but opponents averaged 436 yards per game last year.  ASU should be a bit more stingy in yardage allowed, but the points allowed might rise a bit.  The strength of the defense is the front line, where tackle Jermayne Lole and end Tyler Johnson will make it tough on enemy running backs running the ball to their side.

The defensive backfield features three returning starters and four seniors, making it about the most experienced backfield in college football.

The Sun Devils should go 3-0 outside of Pac-12 play, but we cannot see this team winning more than six conference games in the balanced Pac-12.

Utah began the shortened 2020 season with losses to division title winners USC and Washington.  Then, the Utes rebounded with wins over Oregon State, Colorado, and Washington State.  The Utes return 10 offensive and eight defensive starters and should be a little better in 2021 than they were in 2020.  

Quarterback was not a particularly strong position in Salt Lake City last year, but Coach Kyle Whittingham brought in an experienced passer through the transfer market.  Former Baylor starter Charlie Brewer started for four years in Waco, and he should produce stats closer to what Tyler Huntley put up two years ago.  Brewer has two excellent targets coming back in tight end Brant Kuither and wide receiver Britain Covey combined for 100 receiving yards last year.

The running game will take a step backwards due to the unfortunate Christmas death of Ty Jordan.  The Utes will obviously pass the ball considerably more this year.

The defense may not be as strong this year as last, but each unit on this side of the ball has one star.  Mika Tafua leads the interior line from his end spot.  He made three quarterback sacks in five games last year.  Middle Linebacker Devin Lloyd led the Utes with 48 tackles, while Clark Phillips, III, gets another freshman season and should make the defensive backfield the strength of the defense.

The Utes have an excellent chance of winning all three non-conference games, and the South Division title could be decided when they play USC at the LA Memorial Coliseum in October.

UCLA football has had little to cheer about for seven years.  The Bruins have been playing to several thousand empty seats at the Rose Bowl, as the commute is too far for most students, and since the Rams and Chargers came back to town, there just hasn’t been enough support to go to the Sons of Westwood.  Fourth year head coach Chip Kelly has a 10-21 record, and he’s likely not going to be around for year five if the Bruins don’t make it to a bowl this year.  With 19 starters returning, including an experienced quarterback and offensive line, 2021 should be the year that Kelly’s heroes turn things around.

Offense was not the reason UCLA lost four out of seven games last year, as the Bruins scored more than 35 points per game and gained 455 yards per game running Kelly’s Spread Offense.  Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson missed 10 days of practice for undisclosed reasons, but he appears to be ready to enjoy a fantastic season after averaging 160 passing yards and 44 rushing yards last year.  He had a 12/4 TD/INT ratio.

Two fine receivers return in tight end Greg Dulcich and wideout Kyle Phillips.  Dulcich gives the Bruins one of the best pass-catching tight ends in the country, while Michael Martinez blocks for the run like another tackle.

The offensive line returns intact from last year, and Thompson-Robinson will shine with an extra half-second of protection.  The line should help the running game as well, and running back Brittain Brown should step in for Demetric Felton and put up similar averages.  The Bruins should once again score north of 30 points per game, and if the defense can improve by five points per game, this could be a team that sneaks into division title contention.

There are no big stars on the defensive side, but as a whole all three units are average to a little better than average, and if the offense maintains possession of the ball for more than 30 minutes a game, this defense can hold opponents just long enough for the offense to outscore opponents.  With 10 starters returning to the stop side, expect some improvement.  Whether it is enough is the big question.

When the Bruins enter conference play against Stanford in Palo Alto on September 25, they could have a 1-2, 2-1, or possibly a 3-0 record.  An opening game win over Hawaii is close to a sure thing.  Getting the benefit of playing in Week 0, the second game against an LSU team playing its first game is the pivotal contest of the year.  A team usually improves its most between game one and game two.  If the Bruins improve enough, they could be sky high and ready to play their best game in the Kelly era when the Bengal Tigers come to the Rose Bowl.  UCLA should earn bowl eligibility regardless of the outcome of the LSU game, but if they should pull off the upset over the Southeastern Conference opponent, watch out Pac-12 rivals.  This team may be ready to sneak into contention in the South.

The biggest surprise in the league last year and probably the biggest surprise among any of the Power 5 conferences was the Colorado Buffaloes.  Former UCLA head man Karl Dorrell was a later hire after Mel Tucker left for Michigan State.  Expected to be lucky to beat out Arizona to avoid the South Division basement, CU merely won its first four games over UCLA, Stanford, San Diego State, and Arizona to set up a pivotal regular season finale against Utah with a chance to earn the South Division title.  The Buffs lost that one and then lost to Texas in the Alamo Bowl to finish 4-2.

2021 figures to be a return to normalcy in Boulder, and this team has the most rebuilding to do of any team in the Pac-12.  The offense begins the year behind the eight-ball as two players that might have been the starting quarterback have injuries that will force them to the sidelines.  True freshman Drew Carter and redshirt freshman Brendon Lewis are the last two standing in Boulder.  Lewis appears to have the edge as the starter for the opening game.

The Buffaloes will rely more on the running game, and they return the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year in Jarek Broussard, who ran for almost 150 yards per game last year.   The passing game is going to be tough to achieve much success, and having a raw receiving corps along with a freshman quarterback might allow opponents to concentrate more on stopping the CU running game.

Defense was not particularly a strong point last year, but last year’s defense had more talent than what returns to Boulder this year.  If not for having the weakest team in the league in their division, Colorado’s defense would likely finish last this year.  Still, we expect the Buffaloes to give up more than 35 points per game this year.  And, we also expect a return to the wrong side of .500 in the league.  CU can still earn a minor bowl, and their key game may be against Minnesota in Boulder on September 18.

As for Arizona, the Wildcats start over from scratch with Coach Jedd Fisch.  Fisch comes to Tucson after a one-year stint as the quarterbacks coach with the Patriots after spending two years as an offensive assistant with the Rams.  Fisch played for Steve Spurrier at Florida at the end of the 20th Century, and Wildcats’ fans are hoping he can install his version of the Fun and Gun offense.  Arizona has been a member of the Pac-10/Pac-12 since 1978, but the Wildcats have never won the conference championship and only once have won the South Division title.

The Wildcats start from the bottom, so having to replace the most starters of any Pac-12 team isn’t that much of a burden, considering they finished 2020 with an 0-5 record, ending with a 70-7 loss to their in-state rival.

As of August 19, Fisch has yet to decide on his starting quarterback, and he commented that gut instinct may be how he picks his starter.  The problem isn’t one of choosing among great options.  Whoever is named to start game one, he will be the #12 starting QB in the 12-team league.

The same can be said of the running game where UA’s best offensive threat of 2020 has graduated.  Michael Wiley may be the best offensive threat this year.

The offensive line is just as deficient as the other two units, even with the return of three 2020 starters.  The one unit that has a little depth and experience.  Four players with starting experience return after combining for 60 catches and 647 yards.

The really bad news is that now that you have read how much the offense figures to be a major liability in 2021, it will be head and heels better than the defense.  Arizona gave up 40 points per game and 473 yards per game last year.  Teams only passed the ball for a little over 200 yards per game, but they rarely passed the ball much in the second half.  Expect the pass defense to give up more than 250 passing yards this year.  

Outside linebacker Anthony Pandy returns after leading the Wildcats in tackles and interceptions.

Arizona has one major asset, but he won’t be utilized enough.  Kicker Lucas Havrisik may be the best kicker in the league.

Here’s the good news about Arizona in Fisch’s first year.  The Pac-12 is a crazy league.  We actually expect the Wildcats to upset a team or two and win three games overall.

The PiRate Ratings are designed to predict the next game on a team’s schedule and not to look forward past the next game.  Nevertheless, we issue predicted won-loss records for fun.

Pac-12 Conference
North DivisionConf.Overall
Washington St.3-65-7
Oregon St.2-74-8

South DivisionConf.Overall
Arizona St.5-48-4
* USC picked to win Pac-12 Championship Game

February 10, 2021

PiRate Ratings College Basketball Spreads

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 11:30 pm

February 11, 2021

KansasIowa St.12.3
Air ForceFresno St.-5.3
Boise St.UNLV10.1
ArizonaadoOregon St.10.1
Arizona St.Oregon-2.4
Washington St.UCLA-5.5

An answer to a frequent question: Will you have Bracketnomics this year?

Answer: We plan to introduce an updated, new Bracketnomics edition this year. We actually hoped to have this debut last season, but obviously, the nasty virus ended the basketball season just before the NCAA Tournament brackets were chosen.

Another Question from many of you: Where have you been? You have not produced what you normally have.

Answer: Our basketball ratings were delayed because the ratings are based on advanced statistical metrics produce too much variance until about 3,500 total games have been played. Many teams have played too few games to lower the variance.

Additionally, we have been working many hours creating an advanced sabermetric tabletop baseball strategy game, one that includes many factors that other games do not have. We hope to be ready to debut this game in March. Stay tuned to this page for information on the new game and its website.

January 3, 2021

PiRate Ratings For NFL Wildcard Round

PiRate Ratings Spreads For Wildcard Round


SeattleLA Rams3.03.33.1
WashingtonTampa Bay-9.0-9.1-9.9
New OrleansChicago8.68.98.9


SeattleLA Rams49.5
WashingtonTampa Bay51.5
New OrleansChicago46.5

NFL Playoff Schedule–Wildcard Round

DayDateTime (ET)NetworkHomeVisitor
SatJan 91:05 PMCBSBuffaloIndianapolis
SatJan 94:40 PMFOXSeattleLA Rams
SatJan 98:15 PMNBCWashingtonTampa Bay
SunJan 101:05 PMESPNTennesseeBaltimore
SunJan 104:40 PMCBSNew OrleansChicago
SunJan 108:15 PMNBCPittsburghCleveland

December 28, 2020

PiRate Ratings For NFL Week 17: January 3, 2021

This Week’s PiRate Ratings Spreads

ChicagoGreen Bay-4.7-5.3-5.4
Kansas CityLA Chargers14.714.614.4
New EnglandN.Y. Jets8.16.97.3
N.Y. GiantsDallas-1.2-0.7-0.6
Tampa BayAtlanta6.87.57.5
CarolinaNew Orleans-5.1-5.1-4.9
DenverLas Vegas-0.6-0.6-0.1
LA RamsArizona2.63.03.1
San FranciscoSeattle-2.4-3.3-3.2

This Week’s PiRate Ratings Totals

ChicagoGreen Bay45
Kansas CityLA Chargers48.5
New EnglandN.Y. Jets37.5
N.Y. GiantsDallas47
Tampa BayAtlanta56
CarolinaNew Orleans53.5
DenverLas Vegas49
LA RamsArizona51
San FranciscoSeattle52.5

This Week’s PiRate Ratings

Dec. 29, 2020
New England97.196.696.296.619.56-9
N. Y. Jets90.090.789.990.2182-13



Kansas City109.5109.6109.4109.526.514-1
Las Vegas99.199.098.698.929.57-8
LA Chargers96.396.596.596.4226-9

N.Y. Giants93.994.694.494.320.55-10

Green Bay107.8108.0108.6108.124.512-3

Tampa Bay108.0108.0108.5108.23110-5
New Orleans105.8105.5105.8105.72711-4

LA Rams102.9102.9103.0102.9239-6
San Francisco100.8100.4100.5100.6256-9

This Week’s Playoff Projections


1-Seed: Kansas City

2-Seed: Buffalo

3-Seed: Pittsburgh

4- Seed: Indianapolis

5-Seed: Baltimore

6-Seed: Cleveland

7-Seed: Tennessee


1-Seed: Green Bay

2- Seed: New Orleans

3-Seed: Seattle

4-Seed: Washington

5-Seed: Tampa Bay

6-Seed: LA Rams

7-Seed: Chicago

Wild Card Round

Buffalo over Tennessee

Cleveland over Pittsburgh

Baltimore over Indianapolis

New Orleans over Chicago

Seattle over LA Rams

Tampa Bay over Washington

Divisional Round

Cleveland over Kansas City

Buffalo over Baltimore

Green Bay over Tampa Bay

New Orleans over Seattle

Conference Championships

Buffalo over Cleveland

Green Bay over New Orleans

Super Bowl

Buffalo over Green Bay

December 21, 2020

PiRate Ratings For NFL Week 16: December 25-28, 2020

Filed under: Pro Football — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 9:29 pm

This Week’s PiRate Ratings Spreads

New OrleansMinnesota7.87.98.1
DetroitTampa Bay-10.7-11.1-11.7
Las VegasMiami-0.9-1.8-1.8
N.Y. JetsCleveland-11.5-11.1-12.5
ArizonaSan Francisco4.85.25.1
LA ChargersDenver0.20.30.3
Kansas CityAtlanta9.610.810.3
BaltimoreN.Y. Giants15.514.715.1
SeattleLA Rams2.02.21.9
Green BayTennessee3.63.53.7
New EnglandBuffalo-6.0-7.2-7.5

This Week’s PiRate Ratings Totals

New OrleansMinnesota51.5
DetroitTampa Bay59
Las VegasMiami55
N.Y. JetsCleveland43.5
ArizonaSan Francisco55
LA ChargersDenver42.5
Kansas CityAtlanta53.5
BaltimoreN.Y. Giants45.5
SeattleLA Rams52.5
Green BayTennessee53.5
New EnglandBuffalo41

This Week’s PiRate Ratings

December 22, 2020
New England99.799.298.999.3196-8
N. Y. Jets88.388.987.988.4181-13



Kansas City109.9110.2110.1110.127.513-1
Las Vegas99.199.098.698.929.57-7
LA Chargers96.296.496.496.322.55-9

N.Y. Giants93.994.694.494.320.55-9

Green Bay105.7105.8106.3105.924.511-3

Tampa Bay105.8105.7106.2105.9319-5
New Orleans104.7104.3104.5104.52610-4

LA Rams103.6103.7103.9103.7249-5
San Francisco99.699.199.199.3265-9

This Week’s PiRate Ratings Playoff Projections

AFC Seeding
1Kansas City

NFC Seeding
1New Orleans
3Green Bay
5Tampa Bay
6LA Rams

Wildcard Round
Buffalo over Baltimore
Cleveland over Tennessee
Indianapolis over Pittsburgh
Seattle over Chicago
Green Bay over LA Rams
Tampa Bay over Washington

Divisional Round
Kansas City over Indianapolis
Cleveland over Buffalo
Tampa Bay over New Orleans
Green Bay over Seattle

Conference Championship
Kansas City over Cleveland
Green Bay over Tampa Bay

Super Bowl
Kansas City over Green Bay

December 14, 2020

PiRate Ratings for NFL Week 15: December 17-21, 2020

This Week’s PiRate Ratings Spreads

Las VegasLA Chargers4.64.74.4
Green BayCarolina8.59.19.0
LA RamsN.Y. Jets21.721.423.0
AtlantaTampa Bay-2.3-3.2-3.2
MiamiNew England1.93.22.9
N.Y. GiantsCleveland-3.1-2.3-2.9
New OrleansKansas City-3.7-4.4-4.1
DallasSan Francisco-5.4-4.9-5.5

This Week’s PiRate Ratings Totals

Las VegasLA Chargers52
Green BayCarolina52.5
LA RamsN.Y. Jets42
AtlantaTampa Bay57
MiamiNew England46.5
N.Y. GiantsCleveland47
New OrleansKansas City52.5
DallasSan Francisco50.5

This Week’s PiRate Ratings

New England100.499.999.7100.0206-7
N. Y. Jets86.186.685.486.0180-13



Kansas City109.9110.2110.1110.12712-1
Las Vegas99.599.599.299.429.57-6
LA Chargers95.895.995.895.822.54-9

N.Y. Giants95.095.995.795.620.55-8

Green Bay105.7105.8106.3105.92510-3

Tampa Bay105.7105.6106.1105.8318-5
New Orleans104.7104.3104.5104.525.510-3

LA Rams105.8106.0106.4106.1249-4
San Francisco100.8100.4100.5100.6255-8

Playoff Projections

AFC Seeding
1Kansas City

NFC Seeding
1Green Bay
2New Orleans
3Los Angeles
6Tampa Bay

Wildcard Round
Buffalo over Indianapolis
Pittsburgh over Baltimore
Cleveland over Tennessee
Arizona over New Orleans
Los Angeles over Tampa Bay
Seattle over Washington

Divisional Round
Kansas City over Cleveland
Buffalo over Pittsburgh
Green Bay over Arizona
Los Angeles over Seattle

Conference Championship
Kansas City over Buffalo
Green Bay over Los Angeles

Super Bowl
Kansas City over Green Bay

December 8, 2020

PiRate Ratings–NFL For Week 14: December 10-14, 2020

This Week’s PiRate Ratings Spreads

LA RamsNew England5.15.66.2
DetroitGreen Bay-9.3-9.6-10.4
MiamiKansas City-7.2-6.5-7.0
N.Y. GiantsArizona-2.7-1.6-1.7
Tampa BayMinnesota8.48.68.8
Las VegasIndianapolis-0.3-0.2-0.4
SeattleN.Y. Jets16.215.516.5
PhiladelphiaNew Orleans-7.8-7.7-8.7
LA ChargersAtlanta-6.0-5.3-6.0
San FranciscoWashington5.04.34.7

This Week’s PiRate Ratings Totals

LA RamsNew England45
DetroitGreen Bay52
MiamiKansas City52.5
N.Y. GiantsArizona51
Tampa BayMinnesota57
Las VegasIndianapolis52
SeattleN.Y. Jets48
PhiladelphiaNew Orleans48.5
LA ChargersAtlanta50.5
San FranciscoWashington47

This Week’s PiRate Ratings

New England101.5101.1100.9101.220.56-6
N. Y. Jets87.988.687.488.019.50-12



Kansas City109.9110.2110.1110.126.511-1
Las Vegas101.1101.2101.0101.1287-5
LA Chargers94.994.994.794.823.53-9

N.Y. Giants96.397.297.196.921.55-7

Green Bay105.8105.9106.5106.1259-3

New Orleans105.9105.6106.0105.825.510-2
Tampa Bay105.3105.1105.5105.331.57-5

LA Rams104.6104.7105.1104.824.58-4
San Francisco101.6101.2101.4101.425.55-7

Playoff Projections

AFC Seedings

1Kansas City

NFC Seedings

1New Orleans
2Green Bay
3Los Angeles
5Tampa Bay

Wildcard Round
Pittsburgh over Baltimore
Buffalo over Tennessee
Cleveland over Indianapolis
Green Bay over Minnesota
Los Angeles over Seattle
Tampa Bay over Washington

Divisional Round
Cleveland over Kansas City
Buffalo over Pittsburgh
Tampa Bay over New Orleans
Green Bay over Los Angeles

Conference Championship
Buffalo over Cleveland
Green Bay over Tampa Bay

Super Bowl
Green Bay over Buffalo

December 2, 2020

PiRate Ratings–NFL For Week 13: December 6-8, 2020

This Week’s PiRate Ratings Spreads

N.Y. JetsLas Vegas-11.1-10.7-11.9
AtlantaNew Orleans-1.2-1.5-1.2
SeattleN.Y. Giants10.59.910.0
ArizonaLA Rams-0.7-0.9-1.3
Green BayPhiladelphia10.510.611.6
LA ChargersNew England0.50.70.8
Kansas CityDenver15.215.815.8
San FranciscoBuffalo3.12.12.9

This Week’s PiRate Ratings Totals

N.Y. JetsLas Vegas46
AtlantaNew Orleans54
SeattleN.Y. Giants52
ArizonaLA Rams53
Green BayPhiladelphia48
LA ChargersNew England44
Kansas CityDenver44.5
San FranciscoBuffalo45.5

This Week’s PiRate Ratings

New England99.098.698.498.719.55-6
N. Y. Jets87.788.387.087.7190-11



Kansas City110.4110.8110.8110.726.510-1
Las Vegas101.3101.5101.4101.4276-5
LA Chargers97.497.497.297.324.53-8

N.Y. Giants94.995.795.595.422.54-7

Green Bay105.7105.7106.2105.9258-3

New Orleans105.8105.4105.7105.626.59-2
Tampa Bay105.3105.1105.5105.331.57-5

LA Rams103.7103.7104.1103.8247-4
San Francisco102.9102.5102.9102.8255-6

This Week’s Playoff Projections

AFC Seeding
2Kansas City

NFC Seeding
1Green Bay
3New Orleans
5Los Angeles
6Tampa Bay

Wildcard Round
Kansas City over Cleveland
Indianapolis over Tennessee
Buffalo over Miami
Minnesota over Seattle
Tampa Bay over New Orleans
Los Angeles over Washington

Divisional Round
Pittsburgh over Indianapolis
Kansas City over Buffalo
Green Bay over Minnesota
Los Angeles over Tampa Bay

Conference Championship
Kansas City over Pittsburgh
Green Bay over Los Angeles

Super Bowl
Kansas City over Green Bay
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