We’re one game down to start the week thanks to the Cowboys winning handily against the Bears. Chicago didn’t have anything to play for, and it didn’t help that Brandon Marshall missed half the game (and will now miss the rest of the season). It was a big win for Dallas though, as it keeps them strong in the playoff hunt. They would end Sunday tied for the division lead (at least on record) if the Eagles lose to the Seahawks, which seems like a distinct possibility. I don’t think in general that the team that ‘needs it more’ wins, but chalk one up for that team this week.
There are a lot of games that are important for both teams involved, including that Philly-Seattle game along with Bengals-Steelers, Saints-Panthers (to the extent that Carolina is depressingly still in the playoff hunt), Miami-Baltimore, Denver-Buffalo, Green Bay-Atlanta, San Diego-New England, Arizona-Kansas City, and Cleveland-Indianapolis. That’s 9 games! Three of them are expected to be lopsided though, with Denver, New England, and New Orleans all favored by double digits. The rest, on the other hand, should be pretty decent games, with the largest other favorite being Patriots by 4. Luigi likes every home team on that list to win except for Miami, which seems like it couldn’t possibly happen.
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There are a lot of meaningful games this weekend, and by total points scored it looks like there might be some exciting ones as well. The over/under is high for Chicago-Dallas (and they hit it), Saints-Panthers (Luigi is pessimistic), Browns-Colts (maybe), Chargers-Pats (seems likely), and Packers-Falcons (presumably more on the GB side).
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If Luigi were to get every winner right (and he won’t), the weekend will end with the Eagles still ahead of the Cowboys, the Packers still ahead of the Lions, the Saints moving ahead of the Falcons, Arizona staying ahead of Seattle while the 49ers move up to tie them, the Patriots losing but Miami and Buffalo failing to take advantage, Cincinnati staying one step ahead of Baltimore and Cleveland, Houston moving a step closer towards the Colts, and the Broncos staying ahead of the Chargers while the Chiefs fall potentially out of the playoff hunt (or at least putting themselves at a disadvantage). I expect maybe half of those things to happen, but I don’t know which half.
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Bill Simmons’ picks are here. After a rough week last week, the models are in shouting range of a tied season. They’ll need to do well in any games where they disagree with Bill though. This week that looks like Washington, Jacksonville, Philly, and Atlanta.
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Finally, the same principle goes for the SuperContest. If the models want to just break even this year, they need to go at least 3-2 each week the rest of the way. This week Luigi is going with Atlanta +12.5, Washington +2.5, San Diego +3.5, Cleveland +3.5, and Oakland +7.5. I have to say, I hate it when the models support a bunch of crappy teams. Yoshi 1 is going with Oakland, Minnesota -6, Washington, Arizona +0, and Tennessee +0 barely over Cleveland. Tennessee and Arizona are both tiny underdogs now, so we’ll see how those go. Yoshi 2 is going with Atlanta, Washington, Cleveland, San Diego, and Oakland (the same teams as Luigi).