The Pi-Rate Ratings

November 6, 2008

PiRate Ratings Week 10 NFL Previews: November 6-10, 2008

PiRate Ratings For NFL Week 10

 

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

7

1

0

226

129

109.14

107.20

108.43

2

Washington

6

3

0

171

168

101.74

102.36

101.48

2

Philadelphia

5

3

0

220

144

110.07

106.36

107.24

2

Dallas

5

4

0

216

219

101.30

101.71

100.36

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Chicago

5

3

0

223

173

107.23

103.65

103.43

2

Green Bay

4

4

0

210

178

104.67

103.70

102.33

2

Minnesota

4

4

0

182

188

101.75

100.67

100.84

2

Detroit

0

8

0

137

239

89.18

90.56

90.31

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Carolina

6

2

0

174

127

107.60

104.89

105.56

2

Tampa Bay

6

3

0

200

147

105.89

103.85

102.61

2

Atlanta

5

3

0

177

154

102.86

101.51

102.13

2

New Orleans

4

4

0

216

195

101.57

100.90

100.55

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Arizona

5

3

0

234

184

104.89

103.95

104.23

3

San Francisco

2

6

0

171

230

92.37

92.64

94.36

3

Seattle

2

6

0

151

210

92.73

94.48

94.80

3

St. Louis

2

6

0

125

235

88.22

92.18

92.84

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

New York

5

3

0

208

187

98.82

100.05

100.73

2

New England

5

3

0

168

150

97.96

101.13

100.78

2

Buffalo

5

3

0

182

169

98.19

98.80

99.16

3

Miami

4

4

0

171

163

100.66

99.80

99.85

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Pittsburgh

6

2

0

178

116

109.21

107.03

106.91

2

Baltimore

5

3

0

171

137

104.08

103.73

103.42

3

Cleveland

3

5

0

142

160

99.50

99.87

98.13

2

Cincinnati

1

8

0

125

236

90.87

92.55

93.74

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Tennessee

8

0

0

199

103

110.47

108.75

108.70

2

Indianapolis

4

4

0

167

177

101.55

101.48

100.66

2

Jacksonville

3

5

0

160

172

98.69

99.15

98.13

3

Houston  

3

5

0

196

213

98.14

98.36

98.46

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Denver

4

4

0

190

221

93.84

95.57

97.04

2

San Diego

3

5

0

224

199

101.35

100.72

99.87

2

Oakland

2

6

0

107

201

86.91

91.22

90.88

2

Kansas City

1

7

0

126

223

88.42

91.10

92.06

2

 

Note: due to Thursday games for the next few weeks, weather forecasts and odds are those as of Wednesday Noon EST

 

NFL Previews-Week 10

 

Denver (4-4) at Cleveland (3-5)

Time:           8:15 EST Thursday 11/06

TV:               NFL Network

Forecast:     Clear, light winds, temperature falling from upper 50’s to lower 50’s

 

PiRate:         Cleveland by 6  

Mean:           Cleveland by 6

Bias:             Cleveland by 3

Vegas:        Cleveland by 3   -150/+170

Ov/Un:        46

Strategy:     Cleveland -3, Cleveland +7 in 10-point teaser, Cleveland +10 in 13-point teaser, Over 33 in 13-point teaser

Brady Quinn takes over at quarterback for the Browns, and I would normally penalize Cleveland some for this.  However, he will be facing a Bronco secondary that is weak and getting weaker due to injuries.  I expect Quinn to complete about 20-25 passes for 225-275 yards.  The Browns’ running attack should pick up some important yardage, even though it will be measured in quality and not quantity.

 

Jay Cutler is on pace to pass for more than 4,000 yards, but it’s starting to look like Denver’s offense will not score enough points to counter their atrocious defense.  The Broncos could very well give up close to 450 points, and no team makes the playoffs when giving up that many points.  For this game, half of the Denver starting secondary will be out, and top tackler D.J. Williams will be out as well.

 

For this reason, and also because it is a weeknight primetime affair, I like teasing the Over to start off week 10.  Because Denver is on the decline, and this is a must win game for Romero Crennel’s team (Cleveland must finish 9-7 or better or he’s gone).  I like the Browns at home, and a field goal isn’t much to cover in what should be a high scoring game.  Even with Quinn under center, I expect Cleveland to win 34-27 or something like that.  It should be quite an entertaining game for the small percentage of fans that can pick up the NFL Network.   

 

Jacksonville (3-5) at Detroit (0-8)

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:         Jacksonville by 10

Mean:           Jacksonville by 6

Bias:             Jacksonville by 6

Vegas:        Jacksonville by 6½         -260/+240

Ov/Un:        36½

Strategy:     Detroit +16½ in 10-point teaser, Detroit +19½ in 13-point teaser, Over 23½ in 13-point teaser   

Jacksonville was humiliated by the winless Bengals last week, and now the Jags get the opportunity to go double or nothing with the final winless team.  This is a Detroit team without its starting quarterback as well.  Daunte Culpepper is the likely starter for this game, and he was cast away by the lowly Dolphins and Raiders the last two years.

 

This looks like a chance for Jacksonville to right their listing ship, but I don’t expect the Jaguars to win by two touchdowns.  They should regroup and pick up the win this week, but they will have to play well for four quarters to do so, as I cannot see them blowing any opponent off the field (their three wins were by two, three, and seven points).

 

Tennessee (8-0) at Chicago (5-3)

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Mostly cloudy, strong wind, temperature in the upper 30’s

 

PiRate:         Chicago by 1     

Mean:           Tennessee by 3

Bias:             Tennessee by 3

Vegas:        Tennessee by 3        -150/+130  

Ov/Un:        38½

Strategy:     Chicago +13 in 10-point teaser, Chicago +16 in 13-point teaser, Under 51½ in 13-point teaser

The Titans will be facing their toughest opponent of the season this week when they head to Soldier Field.  Weather conditions will be as harsh as they have seen in a long time, and the Bears are good enough to peg a loss on the last undefeated team.

 

The Titans’ defense is riddled with key injuries, as Kyle Vanden Bosch and Keith Bulluck could both miss the game.  Albert Haynesworth cannot make all the plays.  On offense, Kerry Collins is not 100%, and if he has to come out of the game, I am not sure Vince Young is ready to return to the field.

 

Chicago’s defensive strength is against the run, and Tennessee’s primary offensive weapon is the running game.  I believe the Bears will hold LenDale White and Chris Johnson under 100 combined yards in this game and force the Titans to pass the ball to receivers who have not caught passes in 35-degree temperatures this year. 

 

Chicago’s offense could be what prevents them from pulling off the upset.  Starting quarterback Kyle Orton may or may not play due to an ankle injury.  If he plays, he won’t be very mobile against a defense that likes to send extra pass rushers.  If backup Rex Grossman plays, the Bears may see their offense grind to a halt like it did in the past.

 

I think this game will be decided on special teams play.  Chicago’s Devin Hester has yet to break a long punt return and only has one relatively long kick return.  Tennessee’s kick and punt coverage units are the team’s liabilities.

 

New Orleans (4-4) at Atlanta (5-3)

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:         Atlanta by 2

Mean:           Atlanta by 3

Bias:             Atlanta by 3

Vegas:        Tossup         -110/-110

Ov/Un:        50½

Strategy:     Atlanta +10 in 10-point teaser, Atlanta +13 in 13-point teaser, Under 63½ in 13-point teaser   

I would tend to pick the Falcons straight up in this game, but they are returning from a West Coast trip while New Orleans had a week off.  They may not have needed Sam Baker to protect Matt Ryan against the Oakland defense, but he will be missed some this week.

 

When two teams are relatively even as a whole, it is a rare event for the home team to lose by two touchdowns.  That is the main reason why I like Atlanta in teaser plays.  The Falcons’ defense has yet to yield 28 points in any game, and I think they will hold the Saints’ outstanding offense to 27 points or less.  I cannot see Atlanta topping 35, so I love the 13-point teaser above.

 

St. Louis (2-6) at New York Jets (5-3)

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               Fox

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

 

PiRate:         Jets by 10

Mean:           Jets by 10

Bias:             Jets by 9

Vegas:         Jets by 8     -335/+325

Ov/Un:        44½

Strategy:     Jets +2 in 10-point teaser, Jets +5 in 13-point teaser, Over 31½ in 13-point teaser

The Rams’ modest rebound with two wins and a near loss is now a recent memory.  Last week, Arizona brought St. Louis back to reality.  The Rams have several key injuries, most notably at running back where Steven Jackson and Antonio Pittman are both hurt.  Jackson may play, but he will not be all that effective if he goes.

 

The Rams had great difficulty defending the magical arm of Kurt Warner when the former Ram returned to St. Louis.  Now, they must play in the new hometown Favreorite in the Big Apple.  Brett Favre could have his best day in a Jets’ uniform.  I expect a 250-yard passing game from number four, and I believe the running game will add another 120 or more yards. 

 

St. Louis will score about 13-17 points in this game, and I expect the Jets to top 24.  Thus, playing it a little defensively, I like teasing the Over here. 

 

Buffalo (5-3) at New England (5-3)

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:         Buffalo by 1

Mean:          New England by 4

Bias:            New England by 3

Vegas:        New England by 3½ -185/+175

Ov/Un:        41½

Strategy:     New England -185, New England -3½, New England +6½ in 10-point teaser, New England +9½ in 13-point teaser, Under 54½ in 13-point teaser   

Buffalo has found the going a little tough once they began playing teams from their own division.  Consecutive losses at Miami and at home to the Jets have brought the Bills back to the pack.  A loss this week, and the Bills will fall out of first place and possibly into last place.

 

New England is going to prod along the second half of the season and finish with a 10-6 record (give or take a game).  They should make the playoffs, but they won’t be expected to get to the AFC Championship Game.  They lost last week at Indianapolis, and I expect them to rebound with a win this week.

 

Baltimore (5-3) at Houston (3-5)

Time:           1PM EST

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, moderate wind, temperature in the upper 70’s

 

PiRate:         Baltimore by 2

Mean:           Baltimore by 2

Bias:             Baltimore by 2

Vegas:        Baltimore by 1   -120/+100

Ov/Un:        42

Strategy:     Baltimore +9 in 10-point teaser, Baltimore +12 in 13-point teaser, Houston +14 in 13-point teaser, Over 29 in 13-point teaser, Under 55 in 13-point teaser

Baltimore is an intriguing team.  If Joe Flacco can continue to play just a tad above average, this team can become a dark horse candidate for getting to the Super Bowl.  Even with Willis McGahee on the shelf, the Raven ground game excelled with the running of Ray Rice.  This Baltimore is considerably better than the Super Bowl Champion team eight years ago.  The defense is not as strong, but it is good enough for the Ravens to finish with 11 wins.

 

Houston is still in the mix at 3-5, but they have no room for error.  They will have to go at least 7-1 in the second half to make the playoffs.  I don’t see it happening.  They will be tough to beat at Reliant Stadium, but they are beatable.  I am looking to play both ends against the middle in the teasers in this one.

 

Seattle (2-6) at Miami (4-4)

Time:           1:00 PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Chance of showers, light wind, temperature in the upper 70’s

 

PiRate:         Miami by 9

Mean:           Miami by 7

Bias:             Miami by 7

Vegas:        Miami by 8½      -350/+320

Ov/Un:        43

Strategy:     Miami -350, Miami +1½ in 10-point teaser, Miami +4½ in 13-point teaser, Over 30 in 10-point teaser, Over 27 in 13-point teaser 

The Seahawks have flown to the East Coast three times this season and have an 0-3 record to show for it.  Those losses came by a combined 98-26 score against Buffalo, the Giants, and Tampa Bay.  Miami is just a small notch behind the average strength of those three teams, and I expect more of the same in this one.  It’s asking too much for the Dolphins to cover at 8½ points, but I think their chances of winning are more than good enough to look at the Money Line.  I have a new wager I am playing this week to help make that type of wager less dangerous.

 

I am looking for the Dolphins to win their third game in a row and reveal to the rest of the league that they are serious contenders for a playoff berth.  Let’s go with a Miami win in the neighborhood of 27-20.

 

Green Bay (4-4) at Minnesota (4-4)

Time:           1:00PM EST

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:         Green Bay by 1

Mean:           Green Bay by 1

Bias:             Tossup

Vegas:        Minnesota by 2½     -130/+120

Ov/Un:        45½

Strategy:     Green Bay +2½, Green Bay +120, Green Bay +12½ in 10-point teaser, Green Bay +15½ in 13-point teaser, Over 35½ in 10-point teaser, Over 32½ in 13-point teaser  

The first time these teams played, the teams’ two offenses had not yet put it all together.  The Vikings needed a new quarterback, and the Packers needed their new quarterback to get his feet wet.

 

This time around, both teams are considerably better on the attack side, with Gus Frerotte now the starting quarterback of the rejuvenated purple attack and Aaron Rodgers playing like a seasoned veteran.

 

This game has more meaning than just the old rivalry.  The winner will be 5-4 and on the top side of the wildcard bubble, while the loser will be 4-5 and on the bottom of the bubble.  With the Bears playing Tennessee, it gives the winner of this game a chance to be in a first place tie.

 

You might want to check Friday to see how Rodgers’ shoulder is before making a selection in this game.  Since I cannot do so due to there being a Thursday night game, I am guessing Rodgers will be just fine on Sunday.  If so, I can see the Pack pulling off the season’s sweep.

 

Carolina (6-2) at Oakland (2-6)

Time:           4:05 PM EST

TV:               Fox

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

 

PiRate:         Carolina by 18

Mean:          Carolina by 12

Bias:             Carolina by 13

Vegas:         Carolina by 9½         -400/+360

Ov/Un:        37½

Strategy:     Carolina -400, Carolina +½ in 10-point teaser, Carolina +3½ in 13-point teaser, Under 50½ in 13-point teaser

Did you see the Oakland-Atlanta game last Sunday?  If so, let me tell you how sorry I am that you had nothing better to do.  The Raiders act like they wish they could be doing anything else but playing football.  If they had punted on first down every time they had the ball in the first half last week, they would have finished with two more total yards than they actually had going to the locker room.

 

It is starting to look like JaMarcus Russell is going to be a miss.  At the least, he needs more time to study the game.  He cannot learn much running for his life 20 times a game.

 

The Panthers have won just one road game thus far, but it was at San Diego.  The Carolina players know this is a must win game, for they cannot afford to lose to the lowly Raiders and expect to win a division where 8-8 could be sole possession of last place.

 

I expect the Panthers to play it a little close to the vest and rely on superior talent match-ups to produce a plodding, but assured victory.  I see a 28-14 win in the offing.

 

Kansas City (1-7) at San Diego (3-5)

Time:           4:15PM EST

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Mostly sunny, light wind, temperature in mid to upper 60’s

 

 

PiRate:         San Diego by 17

Mean:           San Diego by 12

Bias:             San Diego by 10

Vegas:        San Diego by 15½   -1000/+700

Ov/Un:        47

Strategy:     San Diego -1000, San Diego -5½ in 10-point teaser, San Diego -2½ in 13-point teaser, Over 34 in 13-point teaser, Under 60 in 13-point teaser 

Okay, now just settle down a minute!  I am not advocating that you risk a grand to win a c-note.  I don’t care if the Chargers are playing a high school team from Kansas City; it’s never worth it to play at 1-10 odds.  You will have to read down at the bottom to see why I have this game listed as part of my strategy.

 

On the surface, the Chargers have about a 90-95% chance of winning, so the odds of playing at 1-10 are honest.  Still, I would never play with that type of risk.  However, I really don’t love taking San Diego in the teasers.  They could escape with a close win and still not meet the spread.

 

San Diego had an extra week to prepare for a weak team.  It could lead to a big slaughter, but it could also lead to complacency, as the players might believe they won’t have to play 100% to win the game. 

 

Indianapolis (4-4) at Pittsburgh (6-2)

Time:           4:15PM EST

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Rain possibly mixed with snow, light wind, temperature falling from low 40’s to mid 30’s

 

PiRate:         Pittsburgh by 8

Mean:           Pittsburgh by 8

Bias:             Pittsburgh by 8

Vegas:        No Line       

Ov/Un:        None

Strategy:     None

Ben Roethlisberger may or may not play, so there is no official line for this game. I have seen an unofficial line of Pittsburgh -3.  If the line was at three, I would like the Colts in a 13-point teaser at +16. 

 

New York Giants (7-1) at Philadelphia (5-3)

Time:           8:15PM EST

TV:               NBC

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

                    

PiRate:         Philadelphia by 5

Mean:           Philadelphia by 1

Bias:             Philadelphia by 1

Vegas:        Philadelphia by 3     -140/+130

Ov/Un:        43

Strategy:     Philadelphia -3, Philadelphia -140, Philadelphia +7 in 10-point teaser, Philadelphia +10 in 13-point teaser, Over 30 in 13-point teaser

Normally, I would tend to side with the Giants in this game.  However, the defending Super Bowl Champions are playing their third consecutive tough/rivalry game.  Philadelphia has had an easier road the last month.

 

While I believe New York is the better team, I like the Eagles in this one due to several intangibles.  Throw in the fact that this is the top Sunday night game to date, and the Eagles will be ready to show the country that they are back and ready to compete for the NFC title.  I believe Philly will win by five to eight points with a final score around 24-17.

 

San Francisco (2-6) at Arizona (5-3)

Time:           8:30PM EST Monday

TV:               ESPN

Forecast:     Clear, light wind, temperature falling from the low 70’s to low 60’s

 

PiRate:         Arizona by 16   

Mean:           Arizona by 14

Bias:             Arizona by 13

Vegas:        Arizona by 9½   -380/+350

Ov/Un:        46

Strategy:     Arizona -380, Arizona +½ in 10-point teaser, Arizona +3½ in 13-point teaser,  San Francisco +19½ in 10-point teaser, San Francisco +22½ in 13-point teaser, Over 36 in 10-point teaser, Over 33 in 13-point teaser   

This may not be the biggest marquee game this week, but in my opinion, it has a great chance to be an interesting game.  The 49ers are a big bust in my opinion.  They should have been competitive this season.  Instead, they are mired in a three-way tie for second (or the cellar depending on how you look at it).  Because the Cardinals will not go 3-5 in the second half of the season, San Francisco will have to go a minimum of 7-1 to win the division title.  It will never happen.  This race is over, but the 49er players may think they still have a chance.  They have enjoyed an off week, giving them some time to get accustomed to Coach Mike Singletary’s coaching.  Mike Martz has had an extra week preparing against a Cardinal defense that doesn’t remind anybody of the Titans or Ravens.

 

Kurt Warner may once again be the best quarterback in the NFL.  He is on pace to pass for close to 4,700 yards and more than 30 touchdowns.  He doesn’t have a strong running game, but Arizona can get by averaging 3.6 yards per run as long as they run on second and three and third and one.

 

I believe this will be a game that is still to be decided in the final seven minutes.  As most Monday night games go, I am looking for an offensive shootout.  Call it a 35-28 win for the Cardinals to virtually clinch the NFC West with a four game lead.

 

 

The Imaginary Bank Account Makes A Deposit

 

Last week’s picks finished 6-3-0 adding $140 to the bank account.  For the season, my picks against the spread are now 65-38-6 (63.1%).  The account balance is $1,665.  For the year, my Return on investment is 15.3%.

 

Both the straight wager and teaser picks broke even.  The teasers made me my profit last week, as I connected on five of the seven I picked.

 

For this week, I am going to play a little defensively.  The weather could play a factor in several games, but the weather forecasts are not as reliable because they are coming a day earlier than normal.  Also, there are some quarterback issues with some teams.  Since I am not a fan of these teams, when I tell you I don’t like the changes at QB, it’s strictly because it greatly changes the norm for these teams.  It’s the norm that is our friend when we try to pick games.  We are ultimately fans of our bank account, so we don’t want change we cannot believe in.

 

Here are my wagers for week 10 (all wagered to win $100):

 

1 Cleveland

-3

vs.

Denver

   

 

 

 

2 Philadelphia

-140

vs.

NY Giants

   

 

 

 

3 Arizona

-380

vs.

San Francisco

   

 

 

 

4 Money Line Parlay

 

 

 

(This 3-game parlay calculates at -130)

  Miami

-350

vs.

Seattle

  Carolina

-400

vs.

Oakland

  San Diego

-1000

vs.

Kansas City

   

 

 

 

5 10-point teaser

 

 

 

  Detroit

+16 1/2

vs.

Jacksonville

  Chicago

+13

vs.

Tennessee

  Atlanta

+10

vs.

New Orleans

   

 

 

 

6 10-point teaser

 

 

 

  NY Jets

+2

vs.

St. Louis

  Baltimore

+9

vs.

Houston

  Miami

+1 1/2

vs.

Seattle

   

 

 

 

7 10-point teaser

 

 

 

  Miami & Seattle

 

Over 30

  Green Bay

+12 1/2

vs.

Minnesota

  Carolina

+ 1/2

vs.

Oakland

   

 

 

 

8 10-point teaser

 

 

 

  Philadelphia

+7

vs.

NY Giants

  Arizona

+ 1/2

vs.

San Francisco

  San Francisco & Arizona

 

Over 36

   

 

 

 

9 13-point teaser

 

 

 

  Cleveland & Denver

 

Over 33

  Detroit

+19 1/2

vs.

Jacksonville

  Chicago

+16

vs.

Tennessee

  Atlanta

+13

vs.

New Orleans

   

 

 

 

10 13-point teaser

 

 

 

  Detroit & Jacksonville

 

Over 23 1/2

  NY Jets

+5

vs.

St. Louis

  New England

+9 1/2

vs.

Buffalo

  Baltimore

+12

vs.

Houston

   

 

 

 

11 13-point teaser

 

 

 

  NY Jets & St. Louis

 

Over 31 1/2

  New England & Buffalo

 

Under 54 1/2

  Miami

+4 1/2

vs.

Seattle

  Green Bay

+15 1/2

vs.

Minnesota

   

 

 

 

12 13-point teaser

 

 

 

  Miami & Seattle

 

Over 27

  Green Bay & Minnesota

 

Over 32 1/2

  Carolina

+3 1/2

vs.

Oakland

  Philadelphia

+10

vs.

NY Giants

   

 

 

 

13 13-point teaser

 

 

 

  Carolina & Oakland

 

Under 50 1/2

  Philadelphia & NY Giants

 

Over 30

  Arizona

+3 1/2

vs.

San Francisco

  San Francisco & Arizona

 

Over 33

     

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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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.

October 10, 2008

PiRate Ratings Week 6 NFL Previews: October 12-13, 2008

PiRate Ratings For NFL Week Six

 

The PiRate Pro Ratings

 

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

 

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

 

The Mean Ratings

 

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

 

The Bias Ratings

 

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

 

Current NFL Standings

(listed alphabetically by division)  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Dallas

4

1

0

151

111

109.97

106.14

108.09

2

New York

4

0

0

127

49

110.99

107.61

109.19

2

Philadelphia

2

3

0

127

97

107.44

104.55

104.27

2

Washington

4

1

0

109

98

110.22

106.43

108.20

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Chicago

3

2

0

128

87

108.76

105.32

105.29

2

Detroit

0

4

0

66

147

80.19

87.10

83.93

3

Green Bay

2

3

0

133

128

101.21

100.01

99.71

2

Minnesota

2

3

0

101

109

103.20

101.93

100.50

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Atlanta

3

2

0

117

107

99.39

98.31

99.61

2

Carolina

4

1

0

114

70

110.14

105.07

107.31

2

New Orleans

2

3

0

138

130

105.33

101.24

100.78

2

Tampa Bay

3

2

0

114

94

107.69

103.31

103.47

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Arizona

3

2

0

147

120

106.98

102.26

103.12

3

St. Louis

0

4

0

43

147

73.25

85.65

81.05

2

San Francisco

2

3

0

115

127

92.32

94.27

95.59

3

Seattle

1

3

0

83

124

82.87

93.40

92.92

3

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC East

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Buffalo

4

1

0

126

104

95.52

99.24

102.62

3

Miami

2

2

0

79

74

105.18

100.62

102.43

2

New England

3

1

0

79

79

97.34

101.44

102.83

2

New York

2

2

0

115

116

103.98

100.74

102.22

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC North

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Baltimore

2

2

0

75

56

105.99

102.08

103.48

3

Cincinnati

0

5

0

74

118

97.21

96.25

92.76

2

Cleveland

1

3

0

46

78

93.05

96.47

93.17

2

Pittsburgh

4

1

0

103

79

103.82

104.39

105.91

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC South

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Houston

0

4

0

83

130

90.59

96.30

92.65

3

Indianapolis

2

2

0

83

94

97.57

100.80

101.54

2

Jacksonville

2

3

0

100

111

97.36

100.41

100.82

3

Tennessee

5

0

0

115

56

111.01

107.17

108.51

2

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFC West

Won

 

Lost

 

Tied

Pts

Opp

Rating

Mean

Biased

HTA

Denver

4

1

0

149

130

103.97

100.89

104.04

2

Kansas City

1

4

0

65

131

87.57

91.16

89.82

2

Oakland

1

3

0

78

101

92.80

95.83

93.00

2

San Diego

2

3

0

148

129

107.07

103.50

103.98

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFL Previews-Week Six

 

Oakland (1-3) at New Orleans (2-3)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:         New Orleans by 15 

Mean:           New Orleans by 7

Bias:             New Orleans by 10

Vegas:        New Orleans by 7     -285/+245  

Ov/Un:        47

Strategy:     Over 37 in 10-point teaser, Over 34 in 13-point teaser

 

Oakland has a new coach and is coming off a bye week, whereas New Orleans played Monday night.  How will the Raiders respond?  Also, how much can Darren McFadden play?  These are major issues, and I wouldn’t begin to pick a side in this one, even in teasers.

 

The Saints’ defense cannot be counted on to stop enemy offenses for 60 minutes.  Given an extra week to tweak their offense, I expect the Raiders to score at least 17 points and as much as 25 points this week.  New Orleans is in a must-win situation this week, as a 2-4 start probably puts them too far behind in their division to dig themselves out.  Therefore, I tend to believe New Orleans will find a way to win, but I don’t feel confident enough to pick them at -285 in a money line selection.  I am confident that Drew Brees can pass for 300 yards and direct the offense to 20 or more points, so teasing the Over is how to play this game.

 

Cincinnati (0-5) at New York Jets (2-2)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

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

 

PiRate:         Jets by 9    

Mean:           Jets by 6

Bias:             Jets by 11

Vegas:        Jets by 5½         -240/+200   

Ov/Un:        44½  

Strategy:     Jets -240, Jets +4 ½ in 10-point teaser, Jets +7½ in 13-point teaser

 

The Jets had a bye last week, while Cincinnati had to play a rough game at Dallas.  The 0-5 Bengals must play on the road again this week with a wounded quarterback.  Even if Carson Palmer plays, he won’t be close to 100% effective.  The Jets’ defense ranks in the bottom half of the league after giving up 83 points in their previous two contests, but I expect a vast improvement following a week off.  Brett Favre should be at peak performance as well, so I like the Jets to win outright.  5½ points is tricky, so I’ll go the money line route in this one. 

 

Only one thing worries me this week: there are still four NFL teams looking for their first win of the season in week six.  How many times in the past have four teams continued to remain winless six weeks into the season?  The odds are heavily in favor of one or more of those winless teams winning this week. So, the 13-point teaser gives the Jets more than a TD at home, which I fell is quite safe.

 

Chicago (3-2) at Atlanta (3-2)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:         Chicago by 7     

Mean:           Chicago by 5

Bias:             Chicago by 4

Vegas:        Chicago by 3      -145/+135  

Ov/Un:        43½  

Strategy:     Atlanta +3, Atlanta +13 in 10-point teaser, Atlanta +16 in 13-point teaser

 

Atlanta is the top surprise in the NFC five weeks into the season.  New coach Mike Smith has the Falcons in the playoff hunt and a win in this game might be enough to guarantee the dirty birds a winning season.  The schedule is not that difficult, and at 4-2, it is easy to see 9-7 or even better for this team.

 

Chicago finds itself alone in first in the old black and blue division.  The Bears are not that far from being 5-0, losing by three at Carolina and in overtime by three to Tampa Bay. 

 

Teams that play consecutive road games and win the first one usually bounce some in the second road game and perform worse than they did in the previous game.  Many teams play much better at home after playing consecutive road games.  Both of these factors are in play this week, so I like the home team to cover in a close game.  As a double-digit ‘dog in teaser plays, Atlanta looks safe.  Chicago destroyed a weak Detroit team last week, and they will face a much tougher opponent this week.  The Falcons will rough them up, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Matt Ryan have his first 200 yard passing game.  The Bears might be able to shut down Michael Turner, or at least limit his effectiveness, but that will be at the expense of giving Ryan more holes to find in the intermediate zones. 

 

Detroit (0-4) at Minnesota (2-3)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:         Minnesota by 25      

Mean:           Minnesota by 17

Bias:             Minnesota by 19

Vegas:        Minnesota by 13       -600/+450  

Ov/Un:        45½  

Strategy:     Minnesota -3 in 10-point teaser, Minnesota Pk in 13-point teaser, Over 32½ in 13-point teaser

 

This game scares me a little.  Minnesota enjoyed a big win Monday night in New Orleans, while Detroit was reduced to fodder at home against the Bears Sunday.  The Lions have nothing to lose from here on out, as they are basically competing with the Rams for the rights to Tim Tebow, Beanie Wells, or whoever is deemed the top draft choice in 2009.

 

Minnesota is just one game out of first place in the NFC North, where 9-7 could easily win the division title.  Obviously, a loss to the lowly Lions would kill their chances.  The Vikings have an easier schedule left than the Packers, and a win Sunday could possible propel them into a first place tie.

 

Normally, you could expect Minnesota to come out flat in this situation and lay an egg.  If Detroit was as good as less than mediocre Cleveland, I would pick the Lions as an upset possibility this week.  However, with Jon Kitna likely out for this game and Calvin Johnson probably playing at less than 100% strength, what weapons can Detroit use effectively? 

 

Adrian Peterson is going to think he is facing the Baylor defense when he played at Oklahoma.  Detroit cannot stop average backs, so expect Peterson to have a memorable day.

 

St. Louis (0-4) at Washington (4-1)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Sunny, light wind, temperature around 70

 

PiRate:         Washington by 39   

Mean:           Washington by 23

Bias:             Washington by 29

Vegas:        Washington by 13½       -625/+450   

Ov/Un:        44

Strategy:     St. Louis +23½ in 10-point teaser, St. Louis +26½ in 13-point teaser, Washington -3½ in 10-point teaser, Washington -½ in 13-point teaser, Over 34 in 10-point teaser, Over 31 in 13-point teaser   

 

Could this be a mini-trap game?  The Rams find themselves in the same situation as the Raiders this week.  They are coming off a bye with a new head coach to play a road game against a team that was extended for 60 minutes the previous game.  There are two differences between the former L.A. teams. The Raiders at least can play a little defense, whereas the Rams play matador defense.  However, the Rams still have Marc Bulger who is capable of throwing for 300 yards and leading his team on a scoring binge.  That’s a remote possibility at best, but the Redskins have to cover by two touchdowns against this possibility.

 

I won’t go with either team at + or -13½.  However, both sides look playable in a 10 or 13-point teaser.  The Redskins have yet to blow out an opponent, so asking them to cover at 23½ or 26½ points is a big stretch.  Likewise, at -3½ or -½, the home team looks great.  Teasing the totals looks promising this week.  The Rams have given up 31 or more points in every game this year, and even if they improve by 14 points off their 37 points per game allowed average, they should score at least 14 themselves this week.    

 

Carolina (4-1) at Tampa Bay (3-2)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Thunderstorms possible in the 2nd half, light wind, temperature in mid 80’s and likely dropping if rain occurs

 

PiRate:         Pick      

Mean:           Pick

Bias:             Carolina by 2

Vegas:        Tampa Bay by 1       -120/+110  

Ov/Un:        36½  

Strategy:     Tampa Bay -1, Tampa Bay +9 in 10-point teaser, Tampa Bay +12 in 13-point teaser, Over 26½ in 10-point teaser, Over 23½ in 13-point teaser 

 

This game is one where you need to check back Friday evening to peruse the injury report.  Will Brian Griese be able to play Sunday?  If not, then what difference will it make for Jeff Garcia to start?  Garcia has played in two games this year.  The Bucs lost both.  Griese has started and finished three games this year; the Bucs won all three.  The stats of the two QBs are about the same, but Tampa Bay just doesn’t score as many points when Garcia runs the offense.

 

Carolina in week six is a good touchdown or more improved from the team that opened the season.  The Panthers could take a commanding lead in the NFC South with a win and a Falcons’ loss this week.

 

Therefore, I recommend that you use the above sides’ strategies only if you are missing one piece of a three or four team parlay.  I do have more confidence in the totals’ teasers.

 

Miami (2-2) at Houston (0-4)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Partly Cloudy, light wind, temperature in the mid 80’s

 

PiRate:         Miami by 12      

Mean:           Miami by 1

Bias:             Miami by 7

Vegas:        Houston by 3     -150/+130  

Ov/Un:        45

Strategy:     Houston +7 in 10-point teaser, Under 55 in 10-point teaser (but not so hot on these two)

 

Like the previous game, I am not so hot on this game.  Houston is still a team in flux following the hurricane.  The Texans have the talent to beat Miami by 10 points, but some of the players may be about ready to fold on this season.

 

Miami is a team on the rise.  The Dolphins have just enough talent and a nice gimmick offense to sneak out of town with their third consecutive victory.  I think they have a 60% chance of winning this game outright, but I believe if they win, the Texans have a 75% chance of losing by less than a touchdown.

 

I think Miami will try to control the clock and make this game a lower than expected outcome.  Again, I warn only to use the strategies above if you need a third or fourth part of a parlay.

 

Baltimore (2-2) at Indianapolis (2-2)

Time:           1PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Dome

 

PiRate:         Baltimore by 6  

Mean:           Indianapolis by 1

Bias:             Pick

Vegas:        Indianapolis by 3½        -190/+160   

Ov/Un:        38½  

Strategy:     Indianapolis -3½, Indianapolis, +6½ in 10-point teaser, Indianapolis +9½ in 13-point teaser, Over 25½ in 13-point teaser   

 

This game looks like the top play of the week.  Baltimore just played two emotional games against two physical teams and lost both games.  The come into this game with numerous injuries to key personnel (Willis McGahee, Ray Lewis, Fabian Washington, Derrick Mason).  Even if they all play, they won’t be nearly as effective as they normally would play.

 

Peyton Manning now has four games under his belt following his knee surgery.  He missed all of the preseason, so this game is almost like his normal opening game.  His stats have slowly improved as the season has progressed, and the Colts’ offense has gotten a little better each week.  If Washington cannot go for the Ravens, Manning will pick apart the Baltimore secondary.  As long as he gets protection, Indianapolis should move the ball more effectively than any Raven opponent to date.

 

I foresee a Colt double digit win this week.  Their real liability is their run defense, but Baltimore may have to go without McGahee or at the best with him playing on an injured ankle. Le’Ron McClain isn’t going to rush for 100 yards and exploit that liability.

 

I’m going with the Colts to win this one by a score similar to 24-13.  So, my strategies for this game include using the Colts straight up and in teasers, as well as teasing the Over with the belief that Indianapolis will continue to improve offensively and be opportunistic defensively.  

 

Jacksonville (2-3) at Denver (4-1)

Time:           4:05PM EDT

TV:               CBS

Forecast:     Thunderstorms possible, considerable winds, temperature in the mid 50’s

 

PiRate:         Denver by 9

Mean:           Denver by 2

Bias:             Denver by 5

Vegas:        Denver by 3 -175/+155  

Ov/Un:        48½  

Strategy:     Jacksonville +13 in 10-point teaser, Jacksonville +16 in 13-point teaser, Under 58½ in 10-point teaser, Under 61½ in 13-point teaser

 

The Broncos’ offense has taken a step back in recent weeks after looking more like the 2007 Patriots at the beginning of the season.  Not having Selvin Young, Ryan Torain, Tony Scheffler, and maybe Eddie Royal on hand this week isn’t going to make things any better.  Denver will have to pass, pass, pass to a group of less experienced players, and Jacksonville will be able to adjust their blitz packages to take advantage of this fact.

 

The Jaguars will continue to try to control the clock with the short passing game and power running in short yardage situations.  It’s hard to be perfect for long drives all day long on an opponent’s field, so they must play better defense if they plan on winning this game. 

 

This game isn’t far from being a tossup given the injuries on the Broncos’ side of the field.  If you take the underdog in a teaser, you get a nice amount of points.  Denver might have a 55-60% chance of winning this game, but they have maybe a 10-15% chance of winning by more than two touchdowns.  I’ll take the 13 and 16 points in the teasers.  Because I believe Jacksonville will try to shorten the game, I like teasing the Under as well.  If the forecasted rain comes, it could help us a little here.

 

Green Bay (2-3) at Seattle (1-3)

Time:           4:15PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Sunny, light wind, temperature in upper 50’s

 

PiRate:         Green Bay by 15      

Mean:           Green Bay by 4

Bias:             Green Bay by 4

Vegas:        Seattle by 2       -120/+110  

Ov/Un:        45½  

Strategy:     Green Bay +12 in 10-point teaser, Green Bay +15 in 13-point teaser, Over 35½ in 10-point teaser, Over 32½ in 13-point teaser 

 

We have two teams going in the same direction in this game, but unfortunately it is the wrong direction.  Seattle was the odds-on favorite to win the NFC West, but injuries have made them a mere shell of their former selves.  They never really play well on the East Coast, but they also lost at home to San Francisco.

 

Green Bay has dropped three games in a row, and the Packer defense is not getting the job done.  They cannot give up 28 points per game and think about the playoffs much less having a winning season.  Even Brett Favre would be struggling to win games if he was directing the Packers’ offense and having to score 30 points every week to win.

 

I believe the loser of this game will be out of the playoff hunt, so it becomes a must-win game for both teams.  The players on both sides probably realize this, so I expect a great game that goes down to the wire.  As I previously stated, I like teasing the underdog when I perceive a possible tossup game.  It’s like getting extra points.  Since I don’t have much faith in these two defenses, it’s understood that I would like teasing the Over as well.

 

Philadelphia (2-3) at San Francisco (2-3)

Time:           4:15PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Sunny, considerable wind, temperature in mid to upper 60’s

 

PiRate:         Philadelphia by 12  

Mean:           Philadelphia by 7

Bias:             Philadelphia by 6

Vegas:        Philadelphia by 5     -230/+190  

Ov/Un:        42½  

Strategy:     San Francisco +5, San Francisco +15 in 10-point teaser, San Francisco +18 in 13-point teaser, Over 32½ in 10-point teaser, Over 29½ in 13-point teaser 

 

Philadelphia’s 2008 plight can be summed up by reading the book A Tale of Two Cities.  When Brian Westbrook has been healthy, it has been the best of times in the city of brotherly love.  When Westbrook has been injured, it has been the worst of times in Philly.

 

Westbrook is out for this game, so I expect something close to the worst of times for the Eagles.  Add to this trouble that Donovan McNabb is far from healthy and Wide out Reggie Brown will miss the game.  Former star Kevin Curtis should finally get on the field for the first time this year, but he won’t be ready to have a 100-yard receiving day right out of the box.  I just don’t see the Eagles topping 20 points in this game.  Against a weaker than average 49er defense, they will score more than 14, but 17 points may be about their limit unless the defense and/or special teams contribute to the scoring load.

 

San Francisco is one of the hardest teams to figure out.  J.T. O’Sullivan has proven he is a legitimate starter in the NFL and is running the Mike Martz offense almost as competently as Marc Bulger and Kurt Warner ran it.  Frank Gore is keeping defenses honest.  The 49ers just cannot stop anybody.  Even a wounded Eagles’ offense should pick up 300-350 yards and the aforementioned 17 points.

 

I am going with the 49ers to win this game for a couple of reasons.  First, this is a must-win game for them.  At 2-4, they will be in too much of a hole to make up in a division where only the winner is going to qualify for a playoff spot.  Second, Philadelphia is 10 points weaker without Westbrook than they would be if he was healthy.  Third, Philadelphia is making a cross-country trip a week after being extended to the final gun against Washington, while San Francisco is at home for the second week in a row.  Finally, a loss in this game will start the ball rolling for the dismissal of Coach Mike Nolan. 

 

I see San Francisco playing their best game of the year this week and pulling off the upset.  So, I like them straight up at +5½ as well as in teasers.  I look for them to win 24-17, so I like teasing the Over as well.  If you can find a money line that has SF +220 or higher, then it might be worth a little bit of a gamble, but I won’t pursue that at +190.

 

Dallas (4-1) at Arizona (3-2)

Time:           4:15PM EDT

TV:               Fox

Forecast:     Sunny, considerable wind, temperature in mid to upper 70’s

 

PiRate:         Pick      

Mean:           Dallas by 1

Bias:             Dallas by 2

Vegas:        Dallas by 5         -220/+180  

Ov/Un:        50

Strategy:     Arizona +15 in 10-point teaser, Arizona +18 in 13-point teaser

 

Dallas has played a wee bit below their predicted expectations the last two weeks.  Arizona has lived up to their billing as a force to be reckoned with this year.  The Cardinals have the lead in the NFC West, and it looks like 9-7 could get them into the playoffs as division winner.

 

The Cardinals’ two home wins look more impressive now that Miami is playing so much better.  They look strong enough to beat just about anybody at University of Phoenix Stadium.

 

Dallas has the potential to go on the road and win by 14 or more points, but if they continue to play like they have the best two weeks, they could also find themselves in trouble in this game.

 

I am going with the percentages and progressions here in this game.  Give me the home team and more than two touchdowns, and I will be happy, especially when I get Kurt Warner and more than two touchdowns.

 

New England (3-1) at San Diego (2-3)

Time:           8:15PM EDT

TV:               NBC

Forecast:     Sunny, then clear after dark, considerable wind, temperature falling from mid 60’s to upper 50’s

                    

 

PiRate:         San Diego by 12      

Mean:           San Diego by 4

Bias:             San Diego by 3

Vegas:        San Diego by 5         -220/+200  

Ov/Un:        45

Strategy:     None

 

I do not like the two prime time games this week.  This game is between two very inconsistent teams.  Which New England team will we see this week?  Will it be the team that struggled to edge the hapless Chiefs and saw the Dolphins blow them off their home field, or will it be the team that held Brett Favre and the Jets to 10 points and won all the way across the country last week?

 

San Diego keeps finding ways to lose games, but they also scored like they were a basketball team in their prior prime time game.

 

I’ll leave this one alone.  It is too risky.

 

New York Giants (4-0) at Cleveland (1-3)

Time:           8:30PM EDT Monday

TV:               ESPN

Forecast:     Partly cloudy, light wind, temperature falling through the 60’s

 

PiRate:         Giants by 16     

Mean:           Giants by 9

Bias:             Giants by 14

Vegas:        Giants by 7½     -325/+265   

Ov/Un:        43½  

Strategy:     None

 

Sooner or later, Cleveland is going to break through with a big game on offense.  They had a week off to prepare for this game, and they have too many weapons on the attack side not to bust loose eventually.  I watched these two teams play in the preseason, and the Browns gave the Giants 23 points in gifts yet still lost by three.  Obviously, the preseason is not an accurate gauge, but I believe the Browns are itching to show the defending Super Bowl champions their best effort.

 

The one thing that worries me is the health of Kellen Winslow.  He may not be able to go Monday night, but even if he misses the game, I can still see Cleveland having their best game of the year.

 

The Giants can still win this game by 10 points even if the Browns play their best game of the year.  Their defense is starting to look like one of those great stop troops of yesteryear.  You know the type I am talking about; I’m referring to those defenses that have been immortalized with a fancy nickname like the Purple People Eaters, the Fearsome Foursome, the Steel Curtain, the Doomsday Defense, the No-name Defense, etc.  They are on pace to give up less than 200 points (that equates to less than 175 points when comparing to the teams from the 14-game schedule era).

 

Two things worry me this week about the Giants.  First, even with a tough taskmaster like Tom Coughlin on the sidelines, the Giants won with such ease against Seattle last week and can only be a little too cocky this week.  They will definitely bounce some.  Second, New York has played three home games and just one road game, which was at St. Louis.  This is their first road game against a team that has enough talent to score points against their defense.

 

The problem with this game is that there are too many variables.  I like the Browns’ prospects in this game.  I think they have a better than expected chance of keeping this one close and having a shot at the big upset.  However, if this isn’t the week they awaken from their offensive slumber, this game could be another snoozer for the fans.  It isn’t one to consider in my strategies.

 

The Imaginary Bank Account Makes It Five-for-Five

 

It wasn’t pretty, but after the smoke cleared Sunday night in Jacksonville, I was a winner for the fifth consecutive week.  My picks finished 7-4 for the week, running my record to 34-16-3 for the season (68%).

 

Due to the fact that I lost a money line pick, my profit was only $80, bringing my year-to-date profit to $1,345.00.  That gives me a return on investment of 25.4%.  The come from behind victory by Washington was the killer, as if Philadelphia had held on in the fourth quarter, the difference in 7-4 and 8-3 would have been an extra $360.  Oh well, I’ll just have to be glad with being able to maintain 100% winning weeks a month and a half into the season.

 

Last week, it was the straight wagers that won for me, as I went 4-1 in those five picks, while going just 3-3 in the 10-point teasers.  I have noticed that a lot of my teaser losses have come about because one team or one total in the parlay failed to cover by one or two points.  It kills you to watch a team elect to go for a touchdown late in the game and miss on fourth down when a field goal would have covered your wager, but such is life.  Losing by one or two points should be rectifiable by playing some 13-point teasers.  Of course, it could just be the new way to lose by one or two points, and I still have a 100% record of winning weeks, so I could be setting myself up for disaster.  Remember this!  I don’t really have anything monetary to worry about since I don’t actually wager with money.  So, I can gamble a little with four-team, 13-point teaser parlays and sleep comfortably this weekend. 

 

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

 

1. New York Jets -240 vs. Cincinnati

 

2. Atlanta +3 vs. Chicago

 

3. Tampa Bay -1 vs. Carolina

 

4. Indianapolis -3½ vs. Baltimore

 

5. San Francisco +5 vs. Philadelphia

 

6. 10-point teaser

       A. Atlanta +13 vs. Chicago

       B. Minnesota -3 vs. Detroit

       C. Washington -3½ vs. St. Louis

 

7. 10-point teaser

       A. Tampa Bay +9 vs. Carolina

       B. Indianapolis +6½ vs. Baltimore

       C. Jacksonville +13 vs. Denver

 

8. 10-point teaser

       A. Green Bay +12 vs. Seattle

       B. San Francisco +15 vs. Philadelphia

       C. Tampa Bay & Carolina Over 26½

 

9. 10-point teaser

       A. Green Bay & Seattle Over 35½

       B. San Francisco & Philadelphia Over 32½

       C. Arizona +15 vs. Dallas

 

10. 13-point teaser

       A. New York Jets +7½ vs. Cincinnati

       B. Atlanta +16 vs. Chicago

       C. Minnesota Pk vs. Detroit

       D. St. Louis +26½ vs. Washington

 

11. 13-point teaser

       A. Detroit & Minnesota Over 32½

       B. Washington -½ vs. St. Louis

       C. Tampa Bay +12 vs. Carolina

       D. Indianapolis & Baltimore Over 25½

 

12. 13-point teaser

       A. Tampa Bay & Carolina Over 23½

       B. Indianapolis +9½ over Baltimore

       C. Jacksonville +16 vs. Denver

       D. Green Bay +15 vs. Seattle

 

13. 13-point teaser

       A. Green Bay & Seattle Over 32½

       B. San Francisco +18 vs. Philadelphia

       C. San Francisco & Philadelphia Over 29½

       D. Arizona +18 vs. Dallas              

 

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

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