Wednesday, September 17, 2014

NFL Week 3 Game Picks

GameAPRSRSLine
Chiefs @
Dolphins
Dolphins
ρ=2.1764
Dolphins
δ=37.3
Dolphins
-4½
Bears @
Jets
Bears
ρ=1.7745
Bears
δ=34.7
Jets
-2½
Titans @
Bengals
Bengals
ρ=1.6820
Bengals
δ=16.3
Bengals
-6½
Raiders @
Patriots
Patriots
ρ=1.6064
Patriots
δ=23.4
Patriots
-14
Texans @
Giants
Texans
ρ=1.5697
Texans*
δ=28.0
Texans
-2
Chargers @
Bills
Bills
ρ=1.5286
Bills
δ=27.3
Bills
-2½
Buccaneers @
Falcons
Falcons
ρ=1.3513
Falcons
δ=8.9
Falcons
-6½
Cowboys @
Rams
Cowboys
ρ=1.3216
Cowboys
δ=26.5
Cowboys
-1½
Broncos @
Seahawks
Seahawks
ρ=1.2383
Seahawks
δ=10.8
Seahawks
-4½
Ravens @
Browns
Ravens
ρ=1.1953
Ravens
δ=18.0
Ravens
-2
Steelers @
Panthers
Panthers
ρ=1.0990
Panthers
δ=11.0
Panthers
-3
49ers @
Cardinals
49ers
ρ=1.0958
49ers*
δ=16.6
49ers
-2½
Vikings @
Saints
Saints
ρ=1.0447
Vikings
δ=6.5
Saints
-9½
Colts @
Jaguars
Colts
ρ=1.0430
Colts
δ=13.4
Colts
-6½
Packers @
Lions
Lions
ρ=1.0194
Lions
δ=6.9
Lions
-1
Redskins @
Eagles
Redskins*
ρ=1.0060
Redskins*
δ=9.9
Eagles
-6

Comments:

  • Lots of agreement again this week, although given how things came out last week, that's not necessarily a good sign.

  • Can the Chiefs come away with an upset this week? I don't think they're as bad as their 0-2 record, and without Knowshon Moreno, the Dolphins offense might be pretty anemic.

  • The Lions scored 35 points on the Giants, and then 7 points on the Panthers. So the question this week is, just how bad is the Packers defense, and can the Packer offense maintain the momentum they developed the last three quarters against the Jets? I feel like the Packers have a decent shot at an upset here.

  • The Broncos have known since last February they'd be playing the Seahawks in Seattle. But just to make it worse, the Seahawks are coming off a road loss, and really not wanting to fall to a 1-2 record. This could get very ugly for Denver.

  • And speaking of games that could get ugly, the 49ers are another team that would fall to 1-2 with a loss this week. And while the Cardinals' defense has been playing well, their offense has been struggling. More bad news, it doesn't really sound like Carson Palmer will be ready to play Sunday, which would mean another start for Drew Stanton, who struggled against the Giants last Sunday.

    Maybe Drew Stanton struggled because the Giants have a good defense. Maybe Drew Stanton will do better in his second start. Maybe the Cardinals defense can carry the day. Or maybe the 49ers are just gonna clobber the Cardinals in their home stadium.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

NFL Week 2 Pick Results

Winning team in bold.

Unanimous Picks (5-5)

Right:

Cardinals @ Giants
Texans @ Raiders
Chiefs @ Broncos
Jaguars @ R*dskins
Falcons @ Bengals

Wrong:

Cowboys @ Titans
Last week, the Cowboys turnovers (including a trio of ugly interceptions) put them in a deep hole they were never able to get out of. This week, Tony Romo didn't throw any interceptions, DeMarco Murray ran for 167 yards. Meanwhile, the Cowboys' defense shut down the Titans' running game, and intercepted Jake Locker twice, and the Cowboys won easily.
Rams @ Buccaneers
The Buccaneers made mistakes in pretty much every aspect of the game. Josh McCown threw an interception in the end zone. Special teams gave up a blocked punt and a blocked field goal attempt. Their defense gave up a 12 play, 71 yard drive that took 4:37 off the game clock, and gave the Rams what turned out to be the winning field goal. All in all, a very sloppy game for Lovie Smith's squad (especially considering his Bears' teams were known for solid defense and special teams).
Bears @ 49ers
I mentioned last week the Bears' defense actually had a pretty good game. This week, they had an excellent game, intercepting Colin Kaepernick 4 times (just the second time in his career he's had a 4-interception game).
The Bears' offense didn't have an amazing game, but they didn't make any mistakes, and made the most of their opportunities. As a result the Bears were able to put a very sour note on the 49ers first game in their new stadium.
Seahawks @ Chargers
Last year, the Chargers used a ball control/defense strategy to steal a win in Denver. This game was a play out of that same strategy, and the same success. The Chargers ran nearly twice as many plays as the Seahawks (75 versus 40), and dominated the time of possession (42:15 to 17:45). This had a major impact on the Seahawks offense (Marshawn Lynch only had 6 carries, in spite of the fact that they were within one score for nearly the whole game).
The Chargers offense really only had two sustained drives, but they got touchdowns on both of them. Include in a couple of field goals, and a touchdown off a turnover, and it added up to more than the Seahawks were able to overcome.
Dolphins @ Bills
The Dolphins lost Knowshon Moreno early in this game, and that turned out to be a big problem. He had 134 yards rushing in week 1, and the Dolphins didn't have anyone to take his place after he went out. Ryan Tannehill threw mostly short passes (4.4 yards per attempt average), and that was only enough to sustain 2 drives longer than 29 yards before garbage time.

Split Picks: (APR 3-3, SRS 2-4, Line 4-2)

Patriots (Line) @ Vikings (APR, SRS)
Well, no surprise that the Adrian Peterson-less Vikings had a tougher time against a good team. Perhaps what is surprising is that QB Matt Cassel threw a back-breaking 4 interceptions. It might only take one more bad game for it to be Teddy Bridgewater time in Minnesota.
Eagles (APR, SRS) @ Colts (Line)
For the second week in a row, it's the tale of two halves for the Eagles. Besides a couple field goals, their first half on offense produced 3 punts, a missed field goal, and an interception. By contrast, they scored on 4 of their 5 second half drives, including the game winning field goal.
The Colts seemed to be more consistent, but once the Eagles found their offensive groove, they just didn't have enough to keep up.
Jets (APR, SRS) @ Packers (Line)
This game started out really ugly for the Packers, falling into a 3-21 hole early in the second quarter. But then Aaron Rodgers seemed to shake off his funk, find Jordy Nelson, and the Packers outscored the Jets 28-3 the rest of the way. Jets fans may grouse about the touchdown-nullifying timeout, but their real problem was Aaron Rodgers throwing for 346 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Lions (SRS) @ Panthers (APR, Line)
Apparently the Panthers' defense is a lot better than the Giants. The Lions had 8 drives end in a punt or a turnover. which is no way to win a football game.
Saints (Line) @ Browns (APR, SRS)
Another ugly road game for the Saints defense. The worst of it was, the Saints offense punted the ball away with a 1-point lead and 2:46 to play. All the Saints defense needed to do is get one more stop, and they likely go home with a win. Instead, they gave up a clock-killing 52 yard drive, that put the Browns in position to kick the winning field goal.
Steelers (APR, SRS) @ Ravens (Line)
In spite of an early fumble, the Steelers made a game of this for the first two quarters, and were only trailing 6-10 at halftime, which seems like a pretty typical Steelers-Ravens score. But (a lot like last week) the Steelers defense just fell apart in the second half and (again, a lot like last week) the offense didn't do much of anything. Meanwhile, the Ravens scored on every second half drive except the last one (which ended with the clock expiring).
It's only two games, but the Steelers have been outscored 40-6 in the second half. If this continues to be a trend, Mike Tomlin is gonna be on the hot seat real quick.

Totals

An inauspicious start to things, but perhaps fitting in a week where 18 teams are 1-1.

This
Week
This
Season
%
APR 8-8 8-850%
SRS 7-9 7-944%
Line 9-7 9-756%

NFL Week 2 Power Rankings

RankTeamPower
Index
W-LThis Week
1 (↑6)Bills1.5883
(LW × 1.4668)
2-0Won by 19
vs Dolphins
2 (↑22)Bears1.3133
(LW × 1.6676)
1-1Won by 8
@ 49ers
3 (↓1)Bengals1.2546
(LW × 1.0960)
2-0Won by 14
vs Falcons
4 (-)Dolphins1.1794
(LW × 1.0358)
1-1Lost by 19
@ Bills
5 (↓4)49ers1.1329
(LW × 0.9896)
1-1Lost by 8
vs Bears
6 (↑17)Patriots1.1242
(LW × 1.3766)
1-1Won by 23
@ Vikings
7 (↓4)Texans1.0497
(LW × 0.9219)
2-0Won by 16
@ Raiders
8 (↑9)Chargers1.0391
(LW × 1.0720)
1-1Won by 9
vs Seahawks
9 (↑2)Cardinals1.0339
(LW × 0.9600)
2-0Won by 11
@ Giants
10 (-)Seahawks1.0078
(LW × 0.9354)
1-1Lost by 9
@ Chargers
11 (↑15)Ravens0.9792
(LW × 1.4580)
1-1Won by 20
vs Steelers
12 (↑10)Redskins0.9224
(LW × 1.1248)
1-1Won by 31
vs Jaguars
13 (↓4)Eagles0.9168
(LW × 0.8484)
2-0Won by 3
@ Colts
14 (↓7)Panthers0.9095
(LW × 0.8399)
2-0Won by 17
vs Lions
15 (↓4)Falcons0.8936
(LW × 0.8297)
1-1Lost by 14
@ Bengals
16 (↑11)Cowboys0.8868
(LW × 1.3311)
1-1Won by 16
@ Titans
17 (-)Saints0.8494
(LW × 0.8763)
0-2Lost by 2
@ Browns
18 (↓7)Steelers0.8276
(LW × 0.7684)
1-1Lost by 20
@ Ravens
19 (↓2)Browns0.8192
(LW × 0.8452)
1-1Won by 2
vs Saints
20 (↓15)Broncos0.8139
(LW × 0.7148)
2-0Won by 7
vs Chiefs
21 (↓5)Vikings0.8130
(LW × 0.7570)
1-1Lost by 23
vs Patriots
22 (↓7)Lions0.7918
(LW × 0.7356)
1-1Lost by 17
@ Panthers
23 (↑6)Packers0.7767
(LW × 1.2528)
1-1Won by 7
vs Jets
24 (↓18)Titans0.7459
(LW × 0.6858)
1-1Lost by 16
vs Cowboys
25 (↓14)Jets0.7401
(LW × 0.6872)
1-1Lost by 7
@ Packers
26 (↓9)Raiders0.6998
(LW × 0.7220)
0-2Lost by 16
vs Texans
27 (↓6)Colts0.6785
(LW × 0.8208)
0-2Lost by 3
vs Eagles
28 (↑4)Rams0.6710
(LW × 1.3664)
1-1Won by 2
@ Buccaneers
29 (↑1)Giants0.6688
(LW × 1.0821)
0-2Lost by 11
vs Cardinals
30 (↓6)Buccaneers0.6612
(LW × 0.8397)
0-2Lost by 2
vs Rams
31 (↓3)Jaguars0.6506
(LW × 1.0396)
0-2Lost by 31
@ Redskins
32 (↓1)Chiefs0.5419
(LW × 1.0626)
0-2Lost by 7
@ Broncos

Comments:

  • So who had the Bills and Texans going 2-0? Yeah, me neither. Of course, the Texans started out 2-0 last year, too, so don't make your January plans just yet.

    Can the Bills be the new Beast of the East? Well, you can be sure the Patriots aren't going to go along quietly with that. And the Bills have been (with perhaps a few exceptions) the doormat of the East, going back to 2000. It'll take more than a couple wins to prove they've turned that tradition around.

  • The Cardinals are perhaps the least impressive 2-0 team this year. They've trailed late in both their games, and if Ted Ginn had not run that punt back for a touchdown, this week's game might have gone very differently.

  • And did anybody have the Colts starting out 0-2? Perhaps, given they faced a couple playoff teams. The good news is, they've got the Jaguars next week, which should be a solid chance to get things going in the right direction.

  • The Chiefs are another surprise 0-2 team. But with the Dolphins, Patriots, 49ers, and possibly improved Chargers coming up on their schedule, it could be a very rocky start to their season this time around.

    I kind of thought the Chiefs played a bit over their heads last year, and had some things go their way in getting to 11 wins. This year could see a regression to more like what they really are (it doesn't help any that they've drawn the NFC West as opponents, one of the toughest divisions in football right now).

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

NFL Week 2 Game Picks

GameAPRSRSLine
Chiefs @
Broncos
Broncos
ρ=2.2324
Broncos
δ=23.0
Broncos
-13
Cardinals @
Giants
Cardinals
ρ=1.7426
Cardinals
δ=22.0
Cardinals
-2½
Jets @
Packers
Jets
ρ=1.7372
Jets
δ=25.0
Packers
-8
Cowboys @
Titans
Titans
ρ=1.6326
Titans
δ=27.0
Titans
-3½
Rams @
Buccaneers
Buccaneers
ρ=1.6037
Buccaneers
δ=22.0
Buccaneers
-5½
Steelers @
Ravens
Steelers
ρ=1.6036
Steelers
δ=10.0
Ravens
-2½
Bears @
49ers
49ers
ρ=1.4537
49ers
δ=14.0
49ers
-7
Patriots @
Vikings
Vikings
ρ=1.3151
Vikings
δ=41.0
Patriots
-3
Jaguars @
R*dskins
R*dskins
ρ=1.3104
R*dskins
δ=6.0
R*dskins
-6
Eagles @
Colts
Eagles
ρ=1.3074
Eagles
δ=24.0
Colts
-3
Texans @
Raiders
Texans
ρ=1.1747
Texans
δ=16.0
Texans
-3
Seahawks @
Chargers
Seahawks
ρ=1.1116
Seahawks
δ=21.0
Seahawks
-5
Falcons @
Bengals
Bengals
ρ=1.0629
Bengals
δ=4.0
Bengals
-5½
Dolphins @
Bills
Dolphins
ρ=1.0515
Dolphins
δ=10.0
Dolphins
-1
Lions @
Panthers
Panthers
ρ=1.0061
Lions
δ=15.0
Panthers
-2½
Saints @
Browns
Browns
ρ=1.0000
Browns
δ=0.0
Saints
-7

Comments:

  • A fair amount of agreement, given just one week's worth of data as input.

  • The Jets won last week and the Packers didn't, so the algorithms are picking the Jets to win this week. But the Jets will certainly find beating the Packers on the road is a lot harder than beating the Raiders at home.

  • The Steelers won last week and the Ravens didn't, so again the algorithms are picking them to win. In this case, it's maybe not so out of line. I don't have a good feel yet for how good either of these teams are, but I think maybe the whole Ray Rice fiasco could push this game in favor of the Steelers, especially on a short week.

  • Likewise the Vikings and Patriots. The happy times in Minnesota will have a lot stronger foundation if they can send the Pats home 0-2 this week.

  • I think Bears fans gotta have a very bad feeling about going into Levi Stadium on Monday night. After the way the 49ers demolished the Cowboys last week, this could be another easy win over a struggling team for them.

  • Saints @ Browns is a tie, and as such, the pick goes to the home standing Browns. I'm not totally sure this is a bad pick. The Browns took the Steelers to the wire on the road last week, and (as noted in last week's pick results) the Saints can be notoriously weak on the road.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

NFL Week 1 Pick Results

Winning team in bold.

Unanimous Picks (9-4)

Right:

49ers @ Cowboys
Vikings @ Rams
Packers @ Seahawks
Jaguars @ Eagles
Browns @ Steelers
Colts @ Broncos
Raiders @ Jets
Giants @ Lions
Chargers @ Cardinals

Wrong:

Titans @ Chiefs
Last year, the Chiefs made it to 11 wins by playing tough defense, running the ball, and taking advantage of opportunities on special teams. In what might be an ugly preview to how this season will go, they pretty much failed to do any of these. Jake Locker threw for 266 yards and a couple touchdowns, the Titans rushed for 162 yards, and it was the Titans' defense that looked dominant, intercepting Alex Smith 3 times, and holding the Chiefs to just 67 yards rushing.
Bills @ Bears
The good news for the Bears is, they held their opponent to 20 points in regulation, something they only did twice last year. The bad news is, they only scored 20 points themselves, and couldn't keep the Bills out of field goal range in overtime. An inauspicious start for a team expected to content for the NFC North this year.
Saints @ Falcons
You know how the Saints kinda sucked on the road last year? It doesn't seem like that's changed much. The offense had their problems (including that back breaking turnover in overtime), but it's hard to get past the fact their defense gave up 34 points to a Falcons team that only made it to 34 points once last year. No matter how good your offense is, it's tough to win games when you gotta score 5 touchdowns to do it.
Patriots @ Dolphins
You know how the Patriots kinda sucked on the road last year? Yeah, same deal. The Patriots sprinted out to a 20-10 halftime lead, and then pretty much didn't do anything on either side of the ball the second half, including giving up 23 points to the Dolphins. It's gonna be a long year for the Pats if they play like that, even if it is just in road games.

Split Picks: (Pythag 2-1, Line 1-2)

Panthers (Pythag) @ Buccaneers (Line)
Looking at the boxscore for this game, I'm not seeing a lot of noticeable differences in how these two teams played. Both teams struggled offensively (unsurprising given Derek Anderson and Josh McCown were the quarterbacks on the field). Probably the key difference was Josh McCown threw a couple interceptions, and Derek Anderson did not.
Bengals (Pythag) @ Ravens (Line)
Maybe the Line picked the Ravens on their reputation (they won the Super Bowl a year and a half ago, remember?) But they weren't a very good team last year, and the Ray Rice situation had to be an ugly distraction (even before it went nuclear yesterday).
As I indicated in the power rankings, I wasn't real impressed with the Bengals' performance in this game, especially in the second half, but at least it was enough to get them a road win in the division.
R*dskins (Pythag) @ Texans (Line)
The good news for Washington is they held their opponent to 17 points, something they only did once all last year. The bad news is their offense was pretty bad, and the two times they got sustained drives going, they fumbled the ball away.
If their defense can get keep playing well, they may actually not be that far from being in contention, but you really need to hang onto the ball, and you really need to be able to sustain more than a couple drives a game.

I thought these picks seemed kind of conservative in the game picks, but an 11-5 record for Pythag, and 10-6 for the Line bear out that was not out of line.

Monday, September 8, 2014

NFL Week 1 Power Rankings

RankTeamPower
Index
W-LThis Week
149ers1.14481-0Won by 11
@ Cowboys
2Bengals1.14471-0Won by 7
@ Ravens
3Texans1.13861-0Won by 11
vs R*dskins
4Dolphins1.13861-0Won by 13
vs Patriots
5Broncos1.13861-0Won by 7
vs Colts
6Titans1.08771-0Won by 16
@ Chiefs
T 7Bills1.08281-0Won by 3
@ Bears
T 7Panthers1.08281-0Won by 6
@ Buccaneers
9Eagles1.08071-0Won by 17
vs Jaguars
10Seahawks1.07741-0Won by 20
vs Packers
T11Steelers1.07701-0Won by 3
vs Browns
T11Cardinals1.07701-0Won by 1
vs Chargers
T11Falcons1.07701-0Won by 3
vs Saints
T11Jets1.07701-0Won by 5
vs Raiders
15Lions1.07631-0Won by 21
vs Giants
16Vikings1.07411-0Won by 28
@ Rams
T17Saints0.96930-1Lost by 3
@ Falcons
T17Browns0.96930-1Lost by 3
@ Steelers
T17Chargers0.96930-1Lost by 1
@ Cardinals
T17Raiders0.96930-1Lost by 5
@ Jets
21Colts0.82660-1Lost by 7
@ Broncos
22R*dskins0.82000-1Lost by 11
@ Texans
23Patriots0.81670-1Lost by 13
@ Dolphins
T24Buccaneers0.78750-1Lost by 6
vs Panthers
T24Bears0.78750-1Lost by 3
vs Bills
26Ravens0.67160-1Lost by 7
vs Bengals
27Cowboys0.66620-1Lost by 11
vs 49ers
28Jaguars0.62580-1Lost by 17
@ Eagles
29Packers0.62000-1Lost by 20
@ Seahawks
30Giants0.61800-1Lost by 21
@ Lions
31Chiefs0.51000-1Lost by 16
vs Titans
32Rams0.49110-1Lost by 28
vs Vikings

Comments:

  • As usual, don't take this too seriously. Note that winning teams are ranked 1-16, and losing teams are ranked 17-32.

  • Well, the Packers managed to make things interesting for at least a little while, but the defense doesn't seem like it's any better than last year, and losing OT Bulaga was a huge blow.

    The good news is, Bulaga's injury isn't that bad, the Seahawks are probably the toughest opponent the Packers will face in the regular season, and there's lots of time to fix what's wrong.

  • I'm not sure how much to read into the Vikings and Lions respective victories this week. Their opponents looked pretty overmatched. And in the Rams were playing their 3rd string QB by the second half.

  • As a conference, the AFC looked pretty bad last year, and are not off to a good start this year. None of the AFC playoff teams looked dominant. The Broncos, Patriots, and Bengals all got outscored in the second halves of their respective games, and the Colts, Chargers and Cheifs all lost.

    Like I said above, there's still a lot of football left to play, but I'm not sure I'd pick any AFC team to win the Super Bowl right now.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

NFL Week 1 Game Picks

GamePythagPythag RHLine
Panthers @
Buccaneers
Panthers
0.3926
Panthers
0.1103
Buccaneers
-1
Jaguars @
Eagles
Eagles
0.3904
Eagles
0.3343
Eagles
-10.5
Packers @
Seahawks
Seahawks
0.3176
Seahawks
0.4397
Seahawks
-5
Saints @
Falcons
Saints
0.3066
Falcons*
0.0698
Saints
-2.5
Bengals @
Ravens
Bengals
0.2492
Ravens*
0.1250
Ravens
-1.5
Titans @
Chiefs
Chiefs
0.2232
Chiefs
0.1512
Chiefs
-4.5
49ers @
Cowboys
49ers
0.2115
49ers
0.1449
49ers
-5
Patriots @
Dolphins
Patriots
0.1889
Patriots
0.1168
Patriots
-4.5
Giants @
Lions
Lions
0.1809
Lions
0.3540
Lions
-4
Browns @
Steelers
Steelers
0.1723
Steelers
0.3029
Steelers
-6
Colts @
Broncos
Broncos
0.1403
Broncos
0.2164
Broncos
-7
Vikings @
Rams
Rams
0.0926
Rams
0.2938
Rams
-4
R*dskins @
Texans
R*dskins
0.0383
Texans*
0.0319
Texans
-2.5
Bills @
Bears
Bears
0.0370
Bears
0.2735
Bears
-6.5
Raiders @
Jets
Jets
0.0273
Jets
0.2143
Jets
-4.5
Chargers @
Cardinals
Cardinals
0.0159
Cardinals
0.1990
Cardinals
-3

Comments:

  • So the big question (for me, anyway): can the Packers beat the Seahawks? I think they've got at least a chance, and the new emphasis on hands to the face might help. But they'll be playing with at least one backup guy on the o-line, and who knows what the defense is gonna be like.

    The Seahawks schedule looks pretty easy, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them get to 12 or 13 wins again. Which means winning this game might be the Packers only real chance of getting a higher playoff seed than the Seahawks.

  • Cam Newton has a broken rib, which is presumably at least part of why the Bucs are favored to win. But the Bucs have a new head coach, and Josh McCown (reportedly) as their starting quarterback. Seems like a game that says "stay away".

  • So, R*dskins or Texans? Both had disasterous seasons last year, and both have new head coaches. But the Texans also have Ryan Fitzpatrick as their starting quarterback, now starting for his fifth team. Maybe home field tilts this the Texans' way, but I think the R*dskins have a solid chance to come away with the upset here.

  • Can the Rams win without Sam Bradford? They reportedly have a pretty good defense, and Matt Cassel is not the most amazing quarterback in the league, so I think if they can stop Adrian Peterson on defense, they may not need to score a huge number of points to beat the Vikings.

  • Other than that, it seems like the line is pretty much assuming things will take up more or less where they left off last year. As usual, it's gonna take a couple of games to have an idea of where things really stand.