After a steady stream of only missing one or maybe two games due to byes, this week there are only 13 games out of a possible 16. It even includes the Lions, which will maybe give them a chance to get healthy. Despite the relatively small number of games, there are some interesting lines as there are four teams favored by double digits (or nearly so, depending on where you look) and five home underdogs (one of which already lost and failed to cover: the Panthers on Thursday). At least in the recent past, home and big underdogs have been good for covers, so let’s see if that pans out this week.
The game that most people will be looking forward to is the Pats and Broncos. New England is a 3 point underdog at home. Assuming I counted correctly from Bill Barnwell’s review of the Brady-Manning series, the favorite has a cover record of 6-8-1 so far, so maybe that’s a slight nod to New England (for absolutely no good reason, since the teams have changed maybe just a little bit over the past 13 years). As a side note to that article, I found the boxing scoring to be pretty stupid. As in actual boxing (or at least MMA, which I’ve seen more of), there’s a reluctance to give scores other than 10-9, and so things look close in the end. Barnwell ends up with Brady ahead of Manning 143-141, with only one game given a 10-8 score (in favor of Peyton). But then you get to the QB summary stats at the end and see that while Brady has thrown fewer times, probably because his team has often been winning, he has the better completion percentage, yards per attempt, TD%, interception%, and rating. How do you win every category but only come ahead two rounds on the scorecard? Foolishness. Anyway, Luigi and Yoshi 2 actually have the Pats as tiny favorites while Yoshi 1 thinks the line is right. I would stay away and just enjoy the game.
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Your high-scoring games this week look to be Panthers-Saints (didn’t come through), Pats-Broncos, and Giants-Colts. Aside from one playoff game, the Brady-Manning match-ups have only scored less than 40 total points once and have broken 70 a couple times. I don’t see why it would stop this week.
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One critical game already happened this week, with the Saints giving their playoff odds a good boost with the win over Carolina. But even more important is the Eagles-Texans game, as the Eagles are a key part of the NFC death race and Houston is in the clump of a suddenly impressive number of good-to-mediocre AFC teams. An Eagles win is bad for virtually every other team in the NFC while a Texans win is bad for most of the AFC.
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Bill Simmons threw his picks into a little sidebar on an article with a title so clickbait-y that he had to admit to it upfront. I won’t give them any more time than he did.
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Finally we’re to the SuperContest. There aren’t a lot of big disagreements for Luigi this week, but he’s going with Oakland +15, Pats +3, Houston +2, Washington +2.5, and Jacksonville +11. Rams +10 and Cleveland -6.5 aren’t far behind. Yoshi 2 is in fact switching in the Rams and going with Oakland, St. Louis, the Pats, Houston, and Jacksonville. Yoshi 1 is going with Oakland, Jacksonville, San Diego +1.5, St. Louis, and Washington. So there’s some consensus this week, but it so happens that five of the teams picked here (Oakland, Houston, San Diego, Jacksonville, and St. Louis) are the only games the models agree on (according to the SBR lines). Something like 4-1 or 4-2 would be pretty good.