The big news from the past weekend is probably that every team has won a game now, after Jacksonville and Tampa broke through. The more important news has to do with playoff races though. Even though it’s still relatively early in the season, the Detroit-Chicago game was a big one; combined with Philly beating Green Bay, the Lions are now a game up in the division and have a locked-in tiebreaker against the Bears. If things play out evenly the rest of the way, that should be enough for the Lions to take the title.
Speaking of the Eagles, their win combined with Dallas’ loss put the NFC East into a tie. Both teams still have two games on Washington and the Giants, and while that doesn’t feel like a big lead in such an iffy division, it’s still pretty important with only eight games to go. Even if you think the Eagles or Cowboys can only go 3-5 or so the rest of the way, do you really trust Washington or the Giants to go 5-3 and come out with a tiebreaker? That kind of thought also applies to the maybe-looking-vulnerable-right-now Colts and Bengals.
Let’s get into the rankings.
Denver is still the cream of the crop, but they’re coming back to earth a bit. That being said, they still have as much of an advantage as the number 2 team, New Orleans, has over number 9 San Diego. That’s why (spoiler alert!) Luigi has the Broncos as big favorites at home over undefeated Kansas City this weekend. The Packers are still ranked pretty well, but that’s going to come down the longer Rodgers is out. In contrast, once he comes back, the Packers will probably be underrated. And if you’re one of those people who likes to look at rankings and say ‘Carolina just beat the 49ers but you have San Fran ahead! Fraud!’, I’ll just remind you that the rankings are based on all the games, not just one. A lot of the teams are close enough that you would call the game a coin flip anyway.
How about the season predictions?
As noted, the Lions’ win was a big one. The model thinks the Lions, Packers, and Bears are all likely to win about four more games, so have one in hand is a big deal. If Rodgers is still out at Thanksgiving so that Detroit has a better shot at winning that game, it’s even bigger. You can also notice that the Broncos and Chiefs are both expected to end up at 12-13 wins, so their home and home series is going to be critical. Seattle also appears to have a win up on the 49ers, the Saints are one up on the Panthers, Philly might have a small edge on Dallas, the Pats should have things wrapped up, the Bengals should be able to ride their lead to the division as long as no one else gets hurt, and Indy shouldn’t have too much trouble taking the AFC South.
Ok, now to run through the model results real quick. I’ll start with the Hilton SuperContest picks. This past week Luigi was 3-2. That puts my SuperContest ‘entry’ at 28-21-1 for 28.5 points, and I’m pretty much in the same place in the standings as last week. Luigi keeps floating on with these 3-2 weeks. While they aren’t bad (assuming you got every game at -110, these picks have an average return of just under $10 per game, or about 9%), they aren’t quite high enough to make the money in the SuperContest. That said, one extra point would put me at the lower limit. Yoshi 1 went 2-3 for a total of 24-25-1, and Yoshi 2 also went 3-2 for a total of 27-22-1.
In all games Luigi was 7-6-1 (Arizona-Houston was a push), but would have passed on six games and gone 4-4 on the rest. That gives Luigi a total of 65-64-2/52-48-1. Yoshi 1 was 5-8-1/4-7-1 for a total of 60-69-2/50-56-2, and Yoshi 2 was 7-6-1/7-5 for a total of 62-67-2/50-56-1. The consensus picks, where all three models agree, were 4-3 for a 38-33-1 total.
Using his lines, Bill Simmons went 7-7. Luigi went 8-6, Yoshi 1 went 6-8, and Yoshi 2 went 7-7. That makes the counts Bill 57-69-5, Luigi 66-60-5, Yoshi 1 66-60-5, and Yoshi 2 61-65-5. There were a couple of close calls in there just in terms of what spreads you got exactly; Bill had Arizona-Houston at 2.5 instead of 3, changing some picks from pushes to wins/losses. San Diego-Denver was another one, where I think 7 was a common number but if you could have gotten the Chargers at +8 at some point you would have gotten a push (or if they had just broken through on one more score).
Luigi was 4-6 on moneyline bets and came in with a very positive week thanks to Jacksonville and St. Louis. The Yoshis played more games but also came out ahead with those two games and a couple others (particularly in Yoshi 2’s case).