Baltimore – Pittsburgh and 29 Other Teams Worse Than the Lions

This is probably the easiest first week of the season I’ve had in a little while; I get my data from Yahoo and the past few years they’ve changed their website layout enough that I have to do a fair amount of work to get ready to pull the numbers after the first set of games.  This year, just one tiny change.  And as if that wasn’t good enough news, the Lions won and did so in pretty convincing fashion.  Let’s take a quick look at tonight’s Thursday Night game and celebrate the Lions a little.

The Steelers are traveling to Baltimore for the first of their two annual ‘someone wins by a field goal‘ games.  Last week Pittsburgh managed to hold of Cleveland in the waning seconds of the game, surely leading us all to wonder if the Steelers have truly lost their form or if the Browns are a bit more feisty than usual.  I’m guessing that both are true.  The Ravens spent their Sunday remembering that the preseason was over, and lost to the Bengals after a slow start.  Neither the Steelers nor Ravens had games to write home about, although Pittsburgh passed and defended the run fairly well.

According to SBR, the Ravens are 2.5 point favorites, which is just under the standard home field advantage.  Given the typical closeness of these games and how the week 1 games went, that seems reasonable.  However, the models just can’t agree.  Luigi and Yoshi 2 like the Steelers to win relatively handily, and Yoshi 1 likes the Ravens to win by more than a field goal.  So who knows what will happen.

How about those Lions!?  I usually wait a few weeks to start posting my season projections and power ratings because it takes a few games for numbers to average out a bit and to lose a little noise.  But just because I don’t post them, it doesn’t mean I can’t run them.  I took a peek and Detroit is actually at the top of the list right now, ahead of Denver, Seattle, San Fran, and everyone else.  Why?  Because every year is a new year as far as the models are concerned, and the Lions did really well against the Giants.  They averaged nearly 11 yards per dropback, didn’t throw an interception, and only got sacked once.  The relative importance of passing more than makes up for the poor running game.  And on the other side of the ball they held the Giants to under 5 yards per dropback and got two sacks and two picks to boot.  They even kept the Giants’ running game worse than their own.  Yes, there were penalties, but they can only hurt so much when you own the yardage battle that clearly.  Things will probably not be so rosy after they travel to Carolina this weekend, but for now the Lions are the toast of the town.

The rest of the predictions will show up as usual this weekend.  Enjoy the game tonight!

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