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Sep 08

NFL 2016 Pick’em

WEEK 14: WEEK STARTS WITH A TNF BANG
As the NFL regular season hits its final quarter, we get to start with a monster Thursday Night Football between the Raiders and Chiefs. As explained last week, this is a tough match-up to figure out. Luckily, outside of KC Joyner of ESPN, most of the experts high up in the running in this competition are taking the home half. This is the team we pegged back in August to win the AFC, so we will stick with them for the sake of this competition. If the Chiefs win, they will keep the scoring low, given that they just won two consecutive games allowing 27+ points. The cold weather in Kansas City should help slow down the Oakland offense in the process.

Moving to Sunday’s Game of the Week, our trust in Buffalo seems to be waning. While the Bills can get it done on both sides of the ball, they don’t do it consistently. That defense can be beat, especially against the pass, so we expect the Steelers to keep rolling as that AFC North race heats up. Since Ben Roethlisberger stunk his first game back from injury, he’s look fantastic under center. That’s now four games and running, so perhaps Pittsburgh is finally in playoff form. Buffalo isn’t quite there yet.

Finally, to Monday night’s Game of the Week, we have a tough one to figure out. The Ravens generally play the Patriots well in New England, so this isn’t the normal case of home-field advantage for Bill Belichick’s team. Furthermore, Joe Flacco finally put together a great performance and did so against a solid Miami defense. This makes the match-up a lot closer than it seems, but we’re going to stick with a majority of the experts by taking the Patriots. Baltimore’s offense was very tame before last week, so we have to go with the bigger sample size.

Six more divisional games are on the slate, making this a very important week in terms of points value. First up, there’s the Washington-Philadelphia game, which we think goes in favor of the visitors. The Eagles just got done playing their two worst games of the season, as the both the offense and defense looks quite poor as of late. Even Philadelphia’s best strength — its dangerous pass rush — should be neutralized by the Top 5 offensive line Washington fields. Next up, the battle of Ohio sees winless Cleveland return Robert Griffin III as the starting quarterback. He’s obviously the wild card in what otherwise seems like a battle Cincinnati should win. Think could be prime upset real estate, but the two teams are only separated by seven ranks. Add in the lack of a hunch that Cleveland win, and that means we’re going with the Bengals. The next two match-ups are the easy ones to peg, as the Lions and Colts should likely prevail at home. However, the final two match-ups are much tougher to predict. The Saints-Buccaneers match-up gives us an uneasy feeling when it comes to picking a winner. New Orleans can’t seem to win when expected, but then will put a win out of nowhere. Tampa Bay is suddenly playing at a playoff level during a four-game winning streak, but this is also the same team that earlier in the year lost its first four home games of the season. We guess that the Saints winning is the more unexpected twist, so we begrudgingly go with them. Finally, there’s the Cowboys-Giants match-up on Sunday Night Football. Dallas will eventually lose a game at some point, but the NFC East title is on the line. New York may be matched up quite well, but being forced into a one-dimensional offense won’t work as well as it did in Week 1. The Cowboys are vastly more developed now at quarterback and running, so we will pick them to win and take the division.

As for the remaining games, we have only three tasks: (1) find the Upset of the Week, (2) find the Lock of the Week, and (3) figure out the winner of a Broncos-Titans match-up that became awfully close to being a Game of the Week (re: missed by one rank). Note that there are five match-ups with more than a 10-rank disparity. The best fit for a upset seems to the Packers, simply by process of elimination. Remember, Chargers-Panthers ISN’T considered an upset, because it is exactly a 10-rank disparity. That disparity is close enough for a Game of the Week, so we can’t use the same disparity for an upset. The best fit for a lock seems to the Falcons, who face the Rams in a battle between the highest-scoring offense and lowest-scoring offense. Atlanta facing a must-win game to maintain the NFC South lead should only sweeten the pot. That then leaves the Broncos-Titans game. Ultimately this comes down to whether or not Trevor Siemian will start and play relatively healthy. Remember that we took the Jaguars with our upset special last week, so that should gauge our level of confidence in Paxton Lynch. If Siemian gets the start, we’ll take Denver. If the nod goes to Lynch, we’ll take Tennessee.

Games of the Week (3 points each)
(1) Oakland Raiders (10-2) at (4) Kansas City Chiefs (9-3)
(7) Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5) at (15) Buffalo Bills (6-6)
(10) Baltimore Ravens (7-5) at (3) New England Patriots (10-2)

Non-GOTW Divisional Games (2 points each)
(13) Washington Redskins (6-5-1) at (22) Philadelphia Eagles (5-7)
(25) Cincinnati Bengals (4-7-1) at (32) Cleveland Browns (0-12)
(27) Chicago Bears (3-9) at (12) Detroit Lions (8-4)
(23) Houston Texans (6-6) at (24) Indianapolis Colts (6-6)
(19) New Orleans Saints (5-7) at (11) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5)
(2) Dallas Cowboys (11-1) at (14) New York Giants (8-4)

The Rest (1 point each)
(8) Denver Broncos (8-4) at (17) Tennessee Titans (6-6)
(18) Arizona Cardinals (5-6-1) at (21) Miami Dolphins (7-5)
(16) San Diego Chargers (5-7) at (26) Carolina Panthers (4-8)
(9) Minnesota Vikings (6-6) at (30) Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10)
(29) New York Jets (3-9) at (31) San Francisco 49ers (1-11)
(6) Atlanta Falcons (7-5) at (28) Los Angeles Rams (4-8) **Lock of the Week**
(5) Seattle Seahawks (8-3-1) at (20) Green Bay Packers (6-6) **Upset of the Week**

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Results: Record and Points
Week 14: 10-6 and 19 points (out of 28 possible points)
Season: 134-72-2 and 222 points (64.90 win and 63.61 point percentage)
GotW: 3-0 record (26-18-1 overall… 58.89 win percentage)
Divisional: 4-3 record (41-21-1 overall… 65.87 win percentage) [includes 7-4-1 in GOTW]
Upsets: 8-6 overall (131 ranking points)
Locks: 12-2 overall (current streak: Chiefs, Cardinals, Giants, Steelers, Patriots, Falcons… best streak: 6 weeks)

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Week 14: Expert Records and Points (2 ties = 1 win + 1 loss)

Rank Expert Record Rank Expert Points
1 Chris Burke, SI 137-71 1 C. Burke 224
1 Mike Middlehurst-Schwartz, USAT 137-71 2 Adam Dobrowolski, TABM 222
3 Gordon McGuinness, PFF 136-72 2 G. McGuinness 222
4 A. Dobrowolski 135-73 4 KC Joyner, ESPN 221
4 Lorenzo Reyes, USAT 135-73 4 M. Middlehurst-Schwartz 221
6 Jeff Ratcliffe, PFF 133-75 6 L. Reyes 220
7 FiveThirtyEight Elo 132-76 7 FiveThirtyEight 218
7 Dan Graziano, ESPN 132-76 8 Kurt Warner, NFLN 217
7 Steve Palazzolo, PFF 132-76 9 Mike Golic, ESPN 215
10 K. Joyner 131-77 9 D. Graziano 215
10 K. Warner 131-77 11 J. Ratcliffe 211
12 M. Golic 130-78 12 Vinnie Iyer, SN 209
12 V. Iyer 130-78 12 Pete Prisco, CBSS 209
12 Kevin Seifert, ESPN 130-78 12 K. Seifert 209
15 Football Outsiders 129-79 M Mean Points 208.13
M Mean Record 128.5-79.5 15 S. Palazzolo 208
16 Matt Bowen, ESPN 128-80 16 Adam Caplan, ESPN 207
17 Nate Davis, USAT 127-81 16 FB Outsiders 207
17 Merril Hoge, ESPN 127-81 16 M. Hoge 207
17 Steve Mariucci, NFLN 127-81 19 Marshall Faulk, NFLN 205
17 Seth Wickersham, ESPN 127-81 20 M. Bowen 204
21 M. Faulk 126-82 20 S. Wickersham 204
21 P. Prisco 126-82 22 S. Mariucci 202
23 A. Caplan 125-83 23 Jarrett Bell, USAT 200
23 Neil Hornsby, PFF 125-83 24 N. Davis 199
23 Tom Pelissero, USAT 125-83 24 N. Hornsby 199
26 J. Bell 123-85 24 Nathan Jahnke, PFF 199
27 Ron Jaworski, ESPN 122-86 27 T. Pelissero 197
28 N. Jahnke 120-88 28 R. Jaworski 192
29 Mike Renner, PFF 119-89 28 M. Renner 192
30 Sam Monson, PFF 118-90 30 S. Monson 189

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

Despite yet another uninspiring lead, we are still in striking distance of the regular season title with three weeks left. It’s just not apparent that we have the formula for quick change. Those good tidbits used to predict so many winners, especially in 2013 and 2014, are not being found this November or December. Perhaps Week 15 will offer those opportunities. Perhaps it will have to wait for yet another week.

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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