As promised, the Thursday night game went against me. But at least it was a close one this time, with the Texans putting up a good fight in a game they could have given up on after the first quarter.
Turning to the Lions, the line against the Vikings has been flying around. Detroit was originally favored by a field goal, but with Megatron looking like a no-go and Bridgewater back for Minnesota, it’s flipped all the way to Vikings -2. I think this is interesting to the extent that even with Johnson only making one catch last week, the Lions still would have won if they had a kicker capable of making field goals in a dome. Maybe more relevant, Stafford still averaged 7.5 yards per dropback. The passing game did ok. On the other hand, if Bridgewater tweaks his ankle again, the Vikings are back to relying on Christian Ponder. In case you’ve forgotten, Ponder has a career completion percentage of 59.8%, about as many touchdowns as interceptions, 6.3 yards per dropback, and a 76 QB rating. But let’s see what the models think; they don’t even take injuries into account.
The Tennessee-Jacksonville line is up in the air, I assume since there’s uncertainty in who will play QB for the Titans. Some places have Tennessee -4, some -6, and some no number at all. The models have Tennessee by about 6-7, so this could be a spot where Locker vs. Whitehurst vs. trying out the rookie could be important.
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There are a few high-scoring games for the week. One was Colts-Texans, which certainly fit the bill. The leader, surprisingly, is Browns-Steelers. You don’t typically think of AFC North games as potential shoot-outs, but the points for and points against for both teams are right around average, which could be the sweet spot that leads to a lot of points. Also, both teams are above average in yards per play, with Pittsburgh surprisingly high at 5th in the league. The other entertaining games for the week are Atlanta-Chicago and Philly-Giants.
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It’s getting further into the season, and teams floating around average (3-2, 2-3, 2-2 for the teams who’ve had a bye) need to win to get on the good side of the playoff ledger. Important games on that front are Buffalo-Pats, Miami-Packers, Pittsburgh-Cleveland, Detroit-Minnesota, and Chicago-Atlanta.
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Here are Bill Barnwell’s picks. He came back to earth after a great first week; hopefully that trend continues.
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And let’s wrap up with the SuperContest picks. The models all need a good week, as these picks have not been doing well. Luigi is going to go with Buffalo +3 and Dallas +8 as far and away his top picks, followed by Houston +3 (oops), Atlanta -3.5, and Bengals -7. Yoshi 2 is swapping in Jets +8.5 for the Bengals. And Yoshi 1 is going with the Jets, Oakland +7, St. Louis +3.5, Miami +3.5, and Buffalo +3. Basically every home underdog (Houston and Minnesota +1.5 were next on the list). We’ll see if it’s a home dog kind of week.