One of the readers asked if I could get my picks up a little earlier in the week. That’s tough, because the main thing for me is making picks against the spread and moneyline, and often Bovada (which I used in the past) and SBR (which I use now, but includes Bovada) didn’t have numbers for every game. But I thought I could try something new, which is to make my SuperContest picks along with the Thursday night pick. Since people have to be able to use the Thursday game in the contest, they have to have all their lines up. So we’ll start with the Eagles and Chiefs and then move on to the SuperContest. If anyone has better ideas for a fancy title besides SuperContest Showdown, I’m all ears.
The Eagles get to fill two roles in this game, both the unstoppable force and the movable object. Their offense is living up to expectations so far, standing third in points scored and second in yards gained. But they’ve been giving up as much as they’ve been taking, with the fifth-worst scoring defense and third-worst defense by yards. Thus it might not be too surprising that the Eagles are 1-1 with two close games (at least by final score; I don’t think they were too worried about the Redskins).
The Chiefs, on the other hand, feature the second-best defense by score and third-best by yards (maybe we’ll have an immovable object after all?). On offense, the Chiefs are only 26th in yardage but tied for 16th in scoring. The difference is in part because the Chiefs have an interception return for a touchdown, but also because they’ve had good field position so far. They started with the ball on Jacksonville’s side of the field three times in that game and another time at their own 43, and similarly started three drives on Dallas’ side of the field and another at their own 45. You can score a decent amount without getting a lot of yards when you do that.
So what should we expect? The Chiefs’ good defense has to be in part because they played the Jaguars, but the Cowboys can certainly move the ball when things are going well. In contrast, both the Redskins and Chargers have been known to have good offenses, so maybe the Eagles’ defense isn’t quite as bad as it looks? On offense, I think the Eagles are for real, but it’s hard to say with the Chiefs, given the field position and the Jaguars. When you put it together and have the Eagles at home, the Hilton likes them to win by 3.5. Luigi has it a little closer, at about a point for the Eagles. Yoshi 2 is a bit more in favor, but still only has it at about 2.5. And Yoshi 1, surprising given its tendency to like the home team, actually prefers the Chiefs by about a point. So in general, it looks like the models are going with the Chiefs to cover.
But is tonight the ‘best’ game for any of the models? I pick my five SuperContest games based on how far off the prediction is from the spread. With there only being about two points between the prediction and the spread for Luigi, that game isn’t going to make the list. Instead Luigi likes Indy +10 against the 49ers (actually taking the Colts for an outright win), Oakland +15 against the Broncos, Houston -2.5 against the Ravens, Tampa +7 against the Patriots, and the Chargers +3 against the Titans (also an outright win). My gut says that Luigi is underrating the 49ers because of the Seahawks game and overrating Oakland’s friskiness, but I guess we’ll see. Impressively, it thinks the Seattle -19 line against Jacksonville is almost right. Luigi’s other favorites: Green Bay, the Rams, Minnesota, New Orleans, Detroit, Carolina, Miami, the Jets, and Chicago.
Yoshi 1’s top five games are Jacksonville, Indy, Oakland, San Diego, and Arizona +7. The only different winner it likes is Atlanta over Miami. And Yoshi 2 is going with Indy, Oakland, Jacksonville, Tampa, and the Chargers. In terms of the moneyline, SBR has it at -170/+160, which the models all think is worth a look for KC, and the over/under is 50, which the models all think is too high. Enjoy the game! The full array of picks against the final numbers will show up closer to Sunday.