NFL Week 8

It’s a short week of games with six teams on the bye, making this week and next the most football-less weekends of the season.  With Michigan taking a week off for some reason, it’s a fairly empty weekend for me in general.  And the games we do have aren’t necessarily the most compelling; the smallest line is around 3, there are four in double digits, and we sent the Jaguars to London as some kind of punishment.  On the plus side, since the Rams are crappy (and likely to be more crappy with Bradford out) and the Cardinals will have a home World Series game at the same time, I just got Monday Night Football tickets for pretty cheap.  Let’s see what the models say about this week’s slate.

Our ‘closest’ games this week are Detroit-Dallas, Oakland-Pittsburgh, and Arizona-Atlanta.  I’m not going to say anything about Detroit, since the Lions exist to foil my every prediction.  But the models disagree on Raiders-Steelers with Luigi and Yoshi 2 thinking that Oakland is a small favorite (contrary to their status as home underdogs) and Yoshi 1 thinking that Oakland is appropriately a small dog.  Oakland has the run game advantage, although both teams are somewhat good against the run.  Both teams get sacked too often, and Oakland also throws too many interceptions, but their pass efficiency is otherwise very even.  Neither team gets many interceptions and Pittsburgh is terrible at pressuring the QB, but the Steelers definitely have the better defensive pass efficiency.  So you can roughly see how this is a toss-up.  Atlanta and Arizona is a little easier to sum up; Atlanta is bad on defense and Arizona is mediocre while Atlanta is good on offense (despite their injuries) while Arizona is mediocre at best.  The models lean to different directions on this one, but all three have the predicted difference at less than a point.  So one perspective would be to take the underdogs, and another would be to throw up your hands and just stay away.  Here are the rest of the spread picks:

home away Spread Odds Luigi Yoshi 1 Yoshi 2
TB Carolina 6 -110 -5.35 -4.41 -3.56
Detroit Dallas -3 -110 2.21 2.23 2.49
KC Cleveland -7 -110 7.99 0.84 6.64
NE Miami -6 -110 3.06 -0.37 2.79
NO Buffalo -11 -110 9.8 3.14 8.46
Philly Giants -5 -110 6.81 7.23 6.78
Jacksonville SF 14.5 -110 -9.68 -6.4 -6.94
Cincy Jets -5.5 -110 5.09 0.26 4.7
Oakland Pittsburgh 2.5 -110 1.18 -1.35 1.52
Denver Washington -11 -100 11.34 7.36 9.08
Arizona Atlanta -2.5 -115 -0.07 0.66 -0.54
Minnesota GB 8 -110 -6.6 -3.5 -4.7
StL Seattle 11 -110 -3.44 0.92 -1.96

Coming off a pretty terrible week, Bill Simmons already got the Thursday game correct.  I also like his chances to get the 49ers while my models are mostly going for the Jags, just because I have negative confidence in Jacksonville doing anything.  But the most fearsome thing of all is that he picked the Lions, which is like a kiss of death.  I only have two hopes left:  the Lions win by 1 or 2 so that Simmons is wrong but they still win, or that Bill has no idea what he’s doing.  Support for that second idea:  he’s taking the Chiefs simply (mostly?) because Cleveland is coming in with Jason Campbell.  Is Campbell that much worse than the other guys who have suited up for the Browns?  I guess we’ll find out.  Here are all Bill’s picks and lines.

home away Simmons Spread Simmons Luigi Yoshi 1 Yoshi 2
TB Carolina 6.5 Carolina TB TB TB
Detroit Dallas -3 Detroit Dallas Dallas Dallas
KC Cleveland -7.5 KC KC Cleveland Cleveland
NE Miami -7 Miami Miami Miami Miami
NO Buffalo -11.5 Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo
Philly Giants -5 Giants Philly Philly Philly
Jacksonville SF 16 SF Jacksonville Jacksonville Jacksonville
Cincy Jets -6.5 Jets Jets Jets Jets
Oakland Pittsburgh 3 Oakland Oakland Oakland Oakland
Denver Washington -13 Washington Washington Washington Washington
Arizona Atlanta -2 Arizona Atlanta Atlanta Atlanta
Minnesota GB 9.5 GB Minnesota Minnesota Minnesota
StL Seattle 11.5 Seattle StL StL StL

On the double-digit spread front, underdogs are still a good guess to cover.  If I had to guess, aside from my models:  the 49ers cover against Jacksonville, Seattle covers against the Rams, Washington covers against Denver (just because of the crazy Dallas shootout), and Buffalo covers against the Saints (just because).  But obviously you take the big favorite to win; a line like that implies they should win like 80% of the time.  Here’s what the models think of the moneylines:

home away Home Line Away Line Luigi Yoshi 1 Yoshi 2
TB Carolina 240 -260 0.312 0.396 0.49
Detroit Dallas -160 140 0.607 0.622 0.579
KC Cleveland -350 290 0.755 0.516 0.629
NE Miami -265 225 0.589 0.62 0.573
NO Buffalo -550 425 0.789 0.538 0.648
Philly Giants -240 200 0.739 0.627 0.647
Jacksonville SF 950 -1450 0.208 0.236 0.447
Cincy Jets -240 200 0.652 0.623 0.601
Oakland Pittsburgh 115 -135 0.527 0.475 0.558
Denver Washington -550 425 0.823 0.606 0.65
Arizona Atlanta -140 -120 0.471 0.46 0.511
Minnesota GB 310 -370 0.266 0.184 0.472
StL Seattle 475 -650 0.403 0.59 0.517

And we’ll wrap up with the over/under picks as usual.  The high-scoring games this week should be Denver-Washington, maybe Philly-Giants, and Detroit-Dallas.  Let’s hope we get some good ones!

home away Over/Under Luigi Yoshi 1 Yoshi 2
TB Carolina 39 41.05 38.35 41.73
Detroit Dallas 51 49.71 45.25 48.62
KC Cleveland 39 41.35 43.47 42.53
NE Miami 45.5 42.49 41.73 42.87
NO Buffalo 48 45.88 41.51 45.56
Philly Giants 51 45.79 39 45.33
Jacksonville SF 40.5 44.3 37.15 44.12
Cincy Jets 41.5 43.03 40.96 43.37
Oakland Pittsburgh 40 41.27 41.55 42.07
Denver Washington 59 54.08 46.76 52.19
Arizona Atlanta 46 45.92 44.37 45.43
Minnesota GB 47 47.51 42.01 46.66
StL Seattle 42.5 45.42 40.49 44.97
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