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Sep 08

NFL 2016 Pick’em

WEEK 13: BAD WEEK KNOCKS US OUT OF TOP-LEVEL PERCH
First, looking at Thursday Night Football, the Cowboys and Vikings square off in one of our Games of the Week. While Minnesota’s defense may be the stiffest challenge for the Dallas offense so far, the Cowboys actually hold a distinct advantage of defense. They pursue and tackle as well as any team, which fits well against Minnesota’s short-passing offense. Also of note, the Vikings will be without head coach Mike Zimmer, due to emergency eye surgery. Combining these two factors, we’ll take the Cowboys to win their 11th consecutive game.

There are three other Games of the Week, which have extra importance relative to previous weeks. That’s because there are no intra-divisional games this week, meaning each match-up has either a one- or three-point value. For the Chiefs-Falcons game, this ultimately comes down to the speculation if the Chiefs can keep up with the high-scoring Falcons. Note that just last week, Alex Smith earned only his fifth win as a starting quarterback (131 career starts) when his team allows 27+ points. It would make a HUGE statement if he can do it again against the Falcons. However, we will go with the larger sample size and claim the Falcons outgun the Chiefs.

As for the two late afternoon games, we have the Bills-Raiders and the Giants-Steelers match-ups. The former match-up is basically 50-50 in our guys. It’s tough to once again go against the Raiders, as it would be the third time in this four-game “homestand” that we picked against them. Oakland just keeps persevering over the challenges presented by the schedule (see: 5-0 in road games, all of which had a 10am PST kickoff). However, our gut feels the Bills are also a good pick. They are a top-12 team for good reason, as they can beat on offense and defense. Consistency is the big problem, but the big-game feel might actually elevate the play for Buffalo. In the end, we’ll go with the team that keeps proving us wrong, and that’s the 9-2 Raiders. Meanwhile, we will take the Steelers over the Giants in PIttsburgh. While New York has allowed only 17.5 points per game during its six-game winning streak, the G-Men haven’t faced a tough slate of offenses. Pittsburgh provides a stiff challenge that the Giants arguably haven’t yet faced. The Steelers score just enough points to get the much-needed home win.

As for the remaining slate, the experts are most split on the Philadelphia-Cincinnati, San Francisco-Chicago and Washington-Arizona match-ups. We need to correctly predict at least two of these outcomes, or we are likely to lose ground in this competition. We like the Eagles, Bears and Cardinals to win those respective games. In the first instance, defense is our theme. In the other two instances, home-field advantage is the theme.  Beyond that, we will take the favorites to win, save for the upset special. That will be reserved for the Broncos-Jaguars match-up, as Trevor Siemian is expected to miss his second start of the season. We can’t Paxton Lynch against a Jaguars defense that actually quite stingy. Jacksonville is allowing only 5.04 yards per play. The problem instead lies in the team’s league-low seven takeaways.

Games of the Week (3 points each)
(1) Dallas Cowboys (10-1) at (7) Minnesota Vikings (6-5)
(5) Kansas City Chiefs (8-3) at (4) Atlanta Falcons (7-4)
(12) Buffalo Bills (6-5) at (2) Oakland Raiders (9-2)
(11) New York Giants (8-3) at (9) Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5)

The Rest (1 point each)
(17) Detroit Lions (7-4) at (15) New Orleans Saints (5-6)
(27) Los Angeles Rams (4-7) at (3) New England Patriots (9-2) **Lock of the Week**
(8) Denver Broncos (7-4) at (31) Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9) **Upset of the Week**
(22) Houston Texans (6-5) at (21) Green Bay Packers (5-6)
(19) Philadelphia Eagles (5-6) at (25) Cincinnati Bengals (3-7-1)
(18) Miami Dolphins (7-4) at (16) Baltimore Ravens (6-5)
(30) San Francisco 49ers (1-10) at (28) Chicago Bears (2-9)
(10) Washington Redskins (6-4-1) at (23) Arizona Cardinals (4-6-1)
(13) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-5) at (14) San Diego Chargers (5-6)
(24) Carolina Panthers (4-7) at (6) Seattle Seahawks (7-3-1)
(26) Indianapolis Colts (5-6) at (29) New York Jets (3-8)

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Results: Record and Points
Week 13: 10-5 and 16 points (out of 23 possible points)
Season: 124-66-2 and 203 points (65.10 win and 63.24 point percentage)
GotW: 3-1 record (23-18-1 overall… 55.95 win percentage)
Divisional: 0-0 record (37-18-1 overall… 66.96 win percentage) [includes 6-4-1 in GOTW]
Upsets: 7-6 overall (116 ranking points)
Locks: 11-2 overall (current streak: Chiefs, Cardinals, Giants, Steelers, Patriots… best streak: 6 weeks)

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Week 13: Expert Records and Points (2 ties = 1 win + 1 loss)

Rank Expert Record Rank Expert Points
1 Mike Middlehurst-Schwartz, USAT 127-65 1 Chris Burke, SI 204
2 C. Burke 126-66 1 KC Joyner, ESPN 204
3 Adam Dobrowolski, TABM 125-67 3 A. Dobrowolski 203
3 Gordon McGuinness, PFF 125-67 3 G. McGuinness 203
5 Lorenzo Reyes, USAT 124-68 5 FiveThirtyEight Elo 201
6 Jeff Ratcliffe, PFF 123-69 5 M. Middlehurst-Schwartz 201
7 FiveThirtyEight 122-70 7 L. Reyes 199
7 K. Joyner 122-70 8 Kurt Warner, NFLN 198
7 K. Warner 122-70 9 Mike Golic, ESPN 194
10 Steve Palazzolo, PFF 121-71 10 Vinnie Iyer, SN 191
11 V. Iyer 120-72 10 J. Ratcliffe 191
11 Kevin Seifert, ESPN 120-72 10 K. Seifert 191
13 Matt Bowen, ESPN 119-73 13 Dan Graziano, ESPN 190
13 M. Golic 119-73 M Mean Points 189.17
M Mean Record 118.3-73.7 14 Adam Caplan, ESPN 189
15 Football Outsiders 118-74 15 S. Palazzolo 188
15 D. Graziano 118-74 16 FB Outsiders 187
17 Seth Wickersham, ESPN 117-75 16 Merril Hoge, ESPN 187
18 Marshall Faulk, NFLN 116-76 16 Pete Prisco, CBSS 187
18 Steve Mariucci, NFLN 116-76 19 M. Bowen 185
20 J. Bell 115-77 19 M. Faulk 185
20 A. Caplan 115-77 19 Nathan Jahnke, PFF 185
20 M. Hoge 115-77 22 Jarrett Bell, USAT 184
20 Neil Hornsby, PFF 115-77 22 S. Wickersham 184
20 Tom Pelissero, USAT 115-77 24 S. Mariucci 182
25 Nate Davis, USAT 114-78 24 Mike Renner, PFF 182
25 Ron Jaworski, ESPN 114-78 26 N. Hornsby 180
25 P. Prisco 114-78 27 R. Jaworski 178
28 N. Jahnke 113-79 27 T. Pelissero 178
28 M. Renner 113-79 29 N. Davis 176
30 Sam Monson, PFF 106-86 30 S. Monson 168

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

This should sum up the week: we wanted to switch our 4pm pick from the Raiders to the Bills because we thought we needed to stay on the top line. However, it ended up if the Bills lost, we were at risk of moving out of the Top 5 in the competition. Therefore, we opted out of the amendment and stuck with the Raiders in order to just the “L” this week. Cooler heads needed to prevail.

Here’s the problem, though. We have quite frankly been stuck in a holding pattern for the better part of two months that’s now start to slip for the worse. Back at Week 7, we were one game back of the win-loss record lead while holding a two-point lead. We’re now two games and one point back (and it could be two by Tuesday morning) of the respective leads. That’s NOT progress over the six-week span in question. Because of this, we’re starting to get restless. Hence the near catastrophe for the Bills-Raiders. (Hey, at least the Bills led by 15 at one point!)

Moving forward to Weeks 14-17, we need to find our rhythm. It really doesn’t help that so many teams are pretty good but not great this year. Specifically, most of these teams are strong on one side of the football, but poor on the other. Even the great teams like Cowboys (11-1) and Raiders (10-2) look like teams in years past that were “due” to lose, but it’s not a thing this year. They’ve been as challenging as any team to pick, but we are admittedly more familiar with the Cowboys (re: being a 27-year fan will do that), so we’ve fared much better in scouting out their win streak. These dynamics are why we don’t have a rhythm — these are not situations we generally thrive on in Pick’em competitions.

And guess what — the Raiders play at the Chiefs this Thursday night to start Week 14. Here, we have a Raiders team giving us fits, especially with that 7-1 one-possession record clouding up their 10-2 record. They face a Chiefs team that is defying the Alex Smith narrative. He was 3-29 as a starter with his team allowing 27+ points from 2005-2015. This year, he is 3-1. Thus, we are understandably not comfortable with picking a winner just yet. We have a lot to digest just for Thursday night, let alone the remaining 15 games of this upcoming week and the 48 games to follow for the rest of the regular season. Time to get down to work and change our Pick’em fate.

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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