We’ll blaze through the picks a bit this weekend, since I’ve already covered Thursday night’s game along with the models’ outright predictions. The Eagles turned the ball over way too much to really be competitive and the Chiefs took enough advantage of good field position (again) to get the win. So we’re off to a good start, and I’ll sprinkle some other thoughts in with the numbers below.
Since we’re on the topic of the Eagles: I think all the talk about time of possession is silly. Let’s say the Eagles’ offense runs exactly as planned: quick snaps and explosive big plays. That means a good drive might only be something like 5 or 6 plays in a few minutes (the Eagles actually don’t have a drive longer than 3:41 so far this year). Now let’s say they score and kick off to the other team. If the other team puts together a good drive with a more typical offense, it might be something like 10 or 12 plays in eight minutes (the longest drives given up by the Eagles in their three games have been 7 minutes, 8:55, and 8:15). If you trade those back and forth, which it seems like the Eagles might actually do this year, you would have a tied game where the Eagles were out-possessed by 15-20 minutes. And it would be according to plan, at least as far as the offense is concerned. If the Eagles get a lead and run the ball to run the clock that number might tighten up a bit, but the plan is to lose the time of possession game. Your against-the-spread picks for the weekend:
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Here are the picks with Bill Simmons’ numbers. One interesting difference is that Bill has taken all three big favorites to cover (Denver, Seattle, and San Fran). In contrast, all three models like the underdogs to cover in those games. For the last few years that I’ve been collecting spreads, double-digit underdogs are 41-52-2 against the spread. I’m not going to claim that’s necessarily different from 50-50, but it certainly leans towards the underdog covering. This is one of those ‘past results do not guarantee future returns’ situations, but you have to imagine that at least one and maybe two of Jacksonville, Indy, and Oakland will cover.
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In contrast to the three big favorites, I have five games where one team is favored by a single point. I largely agree that those games are toss-ups, but an interesting one is Baltimore-Houston. Luigi and Yoshi 2 have Houston as the obvious favorite. Baltimore hasn’t looked great so far, so I guess we’ll see if this is their return to form. Houston has also been a bit iffy, but their week 1 win on the road against the Chargers maybe doesn’t look so bad after the Eagles-Chargers game. Houston might need a return to last year’s form as well. Next up, your moneyline picks.
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Last thoughts to go with the usually iffy over/under picks: my Lions and Wolverines are making me sweat. The Wolverines have had to go the distance with Akron and Connecticut now, and the Lions had a rough ending last week in Arizona. They haven’t won in Washington in forever, but this seems like it might be the year to break through. It’s one of the one-point games though, so we’ll see. Everyone (SBR and the models) are unanimous that the Lions are a tiny favorite, which probably means that their upcoming loss will be even more bitter. Enjoy the games!
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