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Sep 08

NFL 2016 Pick’em

WEEK 12: THANKSGIVING WEEKEND FEATURES TWO GREAT TURKEY DAY MATCH-UPS
Happy Thanksgiving to all! We hope you are feeling thankful, just like us. On the football front, there is much for which to say thanks, especially with the Minnesota-Detroit and Washington-Dallas match-ups. As we get settled in, this is where we focus our analysis. (Re: We got safely will take Pittsburgh over Indianapolis, given that Andrew Luck is replaced to be out due to concussion for the Colts.) We expect the former game to have the biggest swing of the day, as most likely will settle in with the Cowboys in the latter game.

Looking at the first game, the Vikings are hoping to have received some momentum from Sunday’s win against Arizona. Despite that win, the defense seems to have reverted a bit from elite form. Minnesota allowed 10-16 points in each of its first five games (5-0), only to allow 20-26 points in each of its last five (1-4). That included a 22-16 overtime loss at home at Detroit that honestly should’ve been a 16-13 win if the Vikings defensively schemed better for Detroit’s last-gasp scoring drive in regulation. Meanwhile, the Lions are hoping to remain confident, given their fourth-quarter success. Matthew Stafford is the first quarterback in NFL history to tally six fourth-quarter comebacks in his team’s first 10 games.  However, that comes with the knowledge that the Lions trailed in all 10 games in the fourth quarter. This includes blowing three double-digit second half leads before eventually getting the lead back (re: this excludes Detroit blowing a 12-point lead in a loss to the Titans).

At the end, this is the best way to spin it: (1) the Vikings have yet to lose a turnover battle this season (6-1 with turnover margin… only loss to the Lions), while (2) the Lions are 6-2 with a fourth-quarter comeback opportunity. These signs points to a close game for which neither team will gain separation. In the end, this comes down which team is a little more composed all around the football. While the Vikings have their legitimate troubles on offense, they’ve at least been efficient in completing passes (68.31 percent) and avoiding turnovers (0.58 interception percentage). Thus, we like the Vikings to win.

Meanwhile, in big D, this features a match-up of team’s who are 8-0 (Dallas) and 6-1-1 (Washington) since the preceding Week 2 clash that saw the Cowboys emerge victorious in come-from-behind fashion, 27-23. That was actually the last time Dallas tallied fewer than 400 total yards of offense. The 2016 Cowboys are only the third team in NFL history (joining the 2007 Patriots and 2013 Broncos) to post an eight-game streak of 24+ points scored and 400+ offensive yards. Neither one of the first two teams got to 400 yards on the ninth try. Still, the Cowboys should be looked at the favorite because of this impressive streak.

Despite the feeling at this winning streak eventually has to come to an end, we will take the Cowboys to reach a 10-game winning streak primarily because the Washington run defense is poor. Washington owns a pathetic 116.92 Defensive Rusher Rating, which should allow Dallas to control the sticks on offense just like in the previous nine weeks.

Looking beyond the Thanksgiving games, there are many overwhelming favorites in the Week 12 slate. We will obviously only pick one for the “Upset of the Week.” The Titans, Bills, Ravens, Falcons, Giants, Saints, Dolphins, Seahawks, Raiders and Patriots are all getting unanimity or near-unanimity in our competition this week. This puts A LOT on the Chargers-Texans, Chiefs-Broncos and Packers-Eagles match-up to go our favor if there are any pitfalls on Thanksgiving, especially for the game in Detroit.

Games of the Week (3 points each)
(7) Minnesota Vikings (6-4) at (16) Detroit Lions (6-4)
(9) Washington Redskins (6-3-1) at (1) Dallas Cowboys (9-1)
(5) Kansas City Chiefs (7-3) at (8) Denver Broncos (7-3)

Non-GOTW Divisional Games (2 points each)
(23) Cincinnati Bengals (3-6-1) at (17) Baltimore Ravens (5-5)
(2) New England Patriots (8-2) at (29) New York Jets (3-7)

The Rest (1 point each)
(11) Pittsburgh Steelers (5-5) at (26) Indianapolis Colts (5-5) **Lock of the Week**
(22) Tennessee Titans (5-6) at (28) Chicago Bears (2-8)
(31) Jacksonville Jaguars (2-8) at (10) Buffalo Bills (5-5)
(21) Arizona Cardinals (4-5-1) at (6) Atlanta Falcons (6-4)
(12) New York Giants (7-3) at (32) Cleveland Browns (0-11)
(27) Los Angeles Rams (4-6) at (19) New Orleans Saints (4-6)
(30) San Francisco 49ers (1-9) at (15) Miami Dolphins (6-4)
(20) San Diego Chargers (4-6) at (14) Houston Texans (6-4)
(4) Seattle Seahawks (7-2-1) at (18) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-5)
(24) Carolina Panthers (4-6) at (3) Oakland Raiders (8-2) **Upset of the Week**
(25) Green Bay Packers (4-6) at (13) Philadelphia Eagles (5-5)

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Results: Record and Points
Week 12: 12-4 and 18 points (out of 24 possible points)
Season: 114-61-2 and 187 points (64.97 win and 62.75 point percentage)
GotW: 2-1 record (20-17-1 overall… 53.95 win percentage)
Divisional: 4-1 record (37-18-1 overall… 66.96 win percentage) [includes 6-4-1 in GOTW]
Upsets: 7-5 overall (116 ranking points)
Locks: 10-2 overall (current streak: Chiefs, Cardinals, Giants, Steelers… best streak: 6 weeks)

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Week 12: Expert Records and Points (2 ties = 1 win + 1 loss)

Rank Expert Record Rank Expert Points
1 Mike Middlehurst-Schwartz, USAT 116-61 1 Adam Dobrowolski, TABM 187
2 A. Dobrowolski 115-62 1 KC Joyner, ESPN 187
2 Lorenzo Reyes, USAT 115-62 3 Chris Burke, SI 184
4 C. Burke 114-63 3 M. Middlehurst-Schwartz 184
4 Kurt Warner, NFLN 114-63 3 L. Reyes 184
6 Jeff Ratcliffe, PFF 113-64 3 K. Warner 184
7 Gordon McGuinness, PFF 112-65 7 G. McGuinness 182
8 K. Joyner 111-66 8 FiveThirtyEight Elo 181
9 FiveThirtyEight 110-67 8 Mike Golic, ESPN 181
9 M. Golic 110-67 10 J. Ratcliffe 175
11 Matt Bowen, ESPN 109-68 11 Vinnie Iyer, SN 174
11 V. Iyer 109-68 11 Pete Prisco, CBSS 174
11 Steve Palazzolo, PFF 109-68 M Mean Points 173.27
M Mean Record 108.13-68.87 13 Dan Graziano, ESPN 173
14 Kevin Seifert, ESPN 108-69 13 K. Seifert 173
14 Seth Wickersham, ESPN 108-69 13 S. Wickersham 173
16 Football Outsiders 107-70 16 Adam Caplan, ESPN 171
16 D. Graziano 107-70 16 Marshall Faulk, NFLN 171
16 Steve Mariucci, NFLN 107-70 16 Merril Hoge, ESPN 171
19 Nate Davis, USAT 106-71 19 FB Outsiders 170
19 M. Faulk 106-71 19 Nathan Jahnke, PFF 170
19 Neil Hornsby, PFF 106-71 19 S. Palazzolo 170
22 A. Caplan 105-72 22 M. Bowen 169
22 M. Hoge 105-72 23 N. Hornsby 167
22 Ron Jaworski, ESPN 105-72 23 S. Mariucci 167
22 Tom Pelissero, USAT 105-72 23 Mike Renner, PFF 167
22 P. Prisco 105-72 26 Jarrett Bell, USAT 166
27 N. Jahnke 104-73 27 R. Jaworski 165
27 M. Renner 104-73 28 N. Davis 164
29 J. Bell 103-74 29 T. Pelissero 162
30 Sam Monson, PFF 96-81 30 S. Monson 152

NOTE: M = mean (average of the 30 competitors)

We were very tempted to pick the Packers, but couldn’t trust them after the past few weeks for which they burned us (see: losses to Tennessee, Indianapolis and Washington). It seems like we should’ve went that route. Perhaps that could’ve even have acted as our upset instead of the Panthers-Raiders match, although the Panthers use the third quarter to make that game very interesting. However, we seriously question the wisdom of Carolina’s game management in the fourth quarter. It’s a 32-32 game with 5:15 left. The Panthers have Cam Newton to use for a 4th-and-1 at their own 40. Even if they don’t get the first down, they’ll have time even if the Raiders score. Instead, Carolina punts. As expected, the Raiders score, and they go up by three points under the two-minute warning after soaking up two of Carolina’s timeouts. That one decision flipped the game in our minds, and we knew as soon as the Panthers punted. Oakland is just too good in that scenario (re: Derek Carr’s fourth quarter passer rating).

So yes, there was a two-game swing for which we failed. However, at least we broke even with K.C. Joyner of ESPN and gained ground on Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz of USA Today. We can thank the wild affair in the Chiefs-Broncos game for that. The match-up had a little bit of everything, from dominant defensive play to a fourth-quarter passing explosion almost exclusively on E.J. Gaines to a kind left upright that saved us from yet another tie. In the end, that Chiefs win salvaged our week as a draw, generally speaking.

Keeping our tie in the points lead in real nice. Also, our solid record for the 2016 NFL Preview Predictions (107-68-2 record and 177 points) looks real nice as well. By the way, that’s still three games and three points better than hubrus supreme Pete Prisco! Heck, it’s just 0.13 wins below the competition mean, while the points total is 3.73 above the competition mean. We could’ve taken off all of September, October and November to settle for being just as good as the average expert in this competition.

Moving on to Week 13, there is potential for some big points this week. We expect at least four Games of the Week, one of which will probably be on Thursday Night Football (re: we don’t expect the Vikings to fall to 13th or worse in the TABRankings).

4 comments

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  1. Robert Anderson

    Adam – It would really help the pickers and give you more cred if you posted your picks before the games actually started.

    1. tabm1327

      Apologies for a busy week, but all picks in during the London kickoff!

      1. Robert Anderson

        Thanks! Really enjoy your work!

        1. tabm1327

          HOPEFULLY, it’s quicker next week and all done before the Thursday Night Football kickoff!

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