The week is off to a poor start with the 49ers looking a little more 49ers-like and the Rams looking perfectly Rams-like. It didn’t look like it was going to be that way to start. I was ready to talk about how the 49ers were running effectively but throwing the ball more than they needed to, but then Kaepernick started throwing well and they were pretty effective at everything. On the other side, the Rams were throwing well but running too often; they ended up not running much (and be crummy at it) and not throwing so well either. Early in the game the 49ers were getting good pressure but Bradford was completing some throws anyway; eventually the rush got to him and San Fran’s secondary tightened up a bit. I don’t think anyone had high expectations for the Rams before the game, so it’s a bit unclear what this means for the 49ers exactly. But at least they didn’t lose, so fans can start hoping that the season is going to turn around.
As I noted in that Thursday post, the models all fit with Minnesota as the home team even though the game is in London. On top of that, they’ll have Matt Flynn under center instead of Christian Ponder. That may or may not be a big deal, but put together you may not want to take the predictions for that game too seriously. But, all three models like the Vikes to win by 3 or 4 and the Steelers are favored by a field goal. That’s quite a disparity, so maybe Minnesota has something going for them anyway. Here are the spread picks:
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It looks like there should be a few entertaining games this weekend, but Broncos-Eagles has to be toward the top. Denver is favored to win easily, but can they set the over/under high enough? If you combine the total with the spread to pick a final score (not a good idea, but you can do it for fun), it should end up something like 35-24. That would be the lowest point output by the Broncos so far this year. Here are the spread picks with Bill Simmons’ numbers.
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Speaking of Bill, he’s had a rough start to the season. It seems like it’s been rough all over. Dave Tuley has a column that I like on ESPN Insider, and he notes how the SuperContest picks are not doing especially well. The consensus picks so far are only at 14% and the average record overall is under 40%. Compared to that, the models are doing well. If things start to even out and the model keeps its relative performance, the models will actually do well. That would be nice. But here’s something doing pretty well so far: the moneyline picks.
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To wrap up, here are some other games that I think are potentially interesting: the Monday night undefeated game is obviously of interest, but the Saints are strong favorites over the Dolphins. The Sunday night Falcons/Pats game sounds good, and the spread and models agree it should be close, but I’m curious. I wonder how the Patriots’ pass game is going to look. Houston/Seattle is a test for the Texans, and the spread has it close, but Luigi likes the Seahawks as a big favorite. If they blow it out, Houston is going to face a lot of questions. And finishing with my Lions, they host Chicago in an important NFC North game. I think most people have the Lions as roughly home field favorites; I’ll be happy enough it that happens. Just like I’ll be happy enough if the over/under picks turn out reasonably.
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