Sep 08

NFL 2016 Pick’em

Merry Pickmas to all NFL fans out there. Besides the serial Thursday Night Football action, play begins earlier than usual this week. The bulk of the action occurs on Saturday to give most football family the Christmas Sunday off. This means there were will be a lot of joy (and a lot of sorrow) heading into the holiday.

Week 16 starts with the Tri-State rivalry between the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles. This match-up is important that either a postseason berth (Giants) or the conference’s top seed (Dallas Cowboys) will be clinched. We will go with the Giants to win, meaning that they will become the third NFC team to clinch a playoff ticket. Most of the experts think this will happen as well.

Speaking of the Pick’em competition, with only a two-game and one-point deficit, there is little reason to get too aggressive in this week’s approach. However, that’s impossible, given all the interesting match-ups that could make up the difference and give us the top spot. As you’ll know see, NOW is this time to go for the regular season championship, given the manner of which top competitors picked games this week. Thanks to the top-notch folks at NFL Pickwatch, we can see how the top experts are picking the key games of this the Week 16 slate:

  • Chris Burke, Sports Illustrated: Buffalo, Chicago, Carolina, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh
  • Gordon McGuinness, Pro Football Focus: Miami, Chicago, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Cincinnati, Baltimore
  • Mike Middlehurst-Schwartz, USA Today: Buffalo, Washington, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Houston, Pittsburgh
  • Adam Dobrowolski, TABMathletics: Miami, Washington, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh
  • Lorenzo Reyes, USA Today: Miami, Washington, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Houston, Pittsburgh
  • KC Joyner, ESPN: Buffalo, Washington, Atlanta, New Orleans, Houston, Pittsburgh

Those are the five other experts within close distance heading into this week, along with the match-ups which do not have unanimity among the five. This likely will be what determines pecking order for the postseason. It’s an honest surprise that Washington and Atlanta weren’t unanimous picks. Both offenses should roll, especially with postseason hopes on the line. The other four match-ups are a lot tougher. Dolphins-Bills might be the toughest of them all, given Rex Ryan’s previous late-season wins over playoff hopefuls. At least the unit match-up advantages should be obvious on the ground. The big difference will be felt through the air, with an underappreciated Matt Moore v. Tyrod Taylor duel. Moore isn’t much of a step down from Ryan Tannehill, if at all. Ultimately, Miami is the team to trust more, given that the Dolphins have found ways to win and the Bills have found ways to lose.

The 4pm game features another tough one in the Buccaneers-Saints match-up. Here, you have a similar dynamic to the AFC East toss-up, except for the two advantage are distinct in the air. The run differential isn’t much, though. That will leave it up to the intangibles, and the Buccaneers have found ways to win while the Saints have found ways to lose. Thus, Tampa Bay gets the nod. The 8pm game features a sneaky tough one with the Bengals-Texans match-up. Houston is in a unique situation as an offense, switching from Brock Osweiler to Tom Savage while running back Lamar Miller is uncertain to play. And yet, with help from the Jaguars, Houston can win the AFC South by defeating Cincinnati. The Bengals aren’t much more of an appetizing choice. They are more proven and stable on offense, though, so they get the nod. Finally, for the Christmas afternoon game, the classic Ravens-Steelers rivalry could possibly feature an elimination game for Baltimore. They should give the visit a little extra juice, but Pittsburgh is definitely the more balanced team at this point of the season. The Steelers allowed only 14 points per game during their five-game win streak, while the offense will always be dangerous with the Roethlisberger-Brown-Bell trio. They are definitely the team to pick to win.

Looking further, there’s still the Upset of the Week and a few other interesting match-ups to get through. Games like Titans-Jaguars (because Jacksonville lost seven consecutive by no more than 10 points) and Lions-Cowboys (if the Eagles pull off the Thursday night upset) are interesting potential upset picks. Then there’s the 49ers-Rams match-up somehow featuring a clean sweep for Los Angeles and the Chargers-Browns match-up that acts as Cleveland’s last literal chance to win in 2016. Both are truly legitimate non-upset picks that could lead to games and points against the grain. All said, there’s too much on the line this weekend to take things conservative. Week 16 is certainly the make-or-break week in the Pick’em competition.

Bonus note: Green Bay gets the lock this week instead of Oakland. First, the Packers are on a red-hot tear through the TABRankings. Second, they face an ice-cold Vikings team, as opposed to a Colts team that averages exactly 30 points per road game. This is a rare case for which the match-up advantages best favor one of the Games of the Week.

Games of the Week (3 points each)
(13) Minnesota Vikings (7-7) at (7) Green Bay Packers (8-6) **Lock of the Week**
(9) Baltimore Ravens (8-6) at (6) Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5)
(12) Denver Broncos (8-6) at (5) Kansas City Chiefs (10-4)

Non-GOTW Divisional Games (2 points each)
(10) New York Giants (10-4) at (26) Philadelphia Eagles (5-9)
(17) Miami Dolphins (9-5) at (16) Buffalo Bills (7-7)
(31) New York Jets (4-10) at (1) New England Patriots (12-2)
(15) Tennessee Titans (8-6) at (29) Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12) **Upset of the Week**
(4) Atlanta Falcons (9-5) at (20) Carolina Panthers (6-8)
(11) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-6) at (22) New Orleans Saints (6-8)
(25) Arizona Cardinals (5-8-1) at (8) Seattle Seahawks (9-4-1)
(30) San Francisco 49ers (1-13) at (28) Los Angeles Rams (4-10)

The Rest (1 point each)
(23) San Diego Chargers (5-9) at (32) Cleveland Browns (0-14)
(14) Washington Redskins (7-6-1) at (27) Chicago Bears (3-11)
(19) Indianapolis Colts (7-7) at (3) Oakland Raiders (11-3)
(24) Cincinnati Bengals (5-8-1) at (21) Houston Texans (8-6)
(18) Detroit Lions (9-5) at (2) Dallas Cowboys (12-2)


Results: Record and Points
Week 16: 12-4 and 23 points (out of 30 possible points)
Season: 159-79-2 and 268 points (66.67 win and 66.17 point percentage)
GotW: 3-0 record (31-18-1 overall… 63 win percentage)
Divisional: 8-3 record (55-24-1 overall… 69.38 win percentage) [includes 10-4-1 in GOTW]
Upsets: 10-6 overall (163 ranking points)
Locks: 14-2 overall (best streak: 8 weeks)


Week 16: Expert Records and Points (2 ties = 1 win + 1 loss)

Rank Expert Record Rank Expert Points
1 Adam Dobrowolski, TABM 160-80 1 A. Dobrowolski 268
2 Chris Burke, SI 157-83 2 KC Joyner, ESPN 262
2 Mike Middlehurst-Schwartz, USAT 157-83 3 C. Burke 261
2 Lorenzo Reyes, USAT 157-83 3 L. Reyes 261
5 Gordon McGuinness, PFF 155-85 5 Kurt Warner, NFLN 259
6 K. Warner 154-86 6 M. Middlehurst-Schwartz 258
7 FiveThirtyEight Elo 153-87 7 FiveThirtyEight 257
7 K. Joyner 153-87 7 G. McGuinness 257
9 Jeff Ratcliffe, PFF 152-88 9 Mike Golic, ESPN 254
10 Football Outsiders 151-89 10 Pete Prisco, CBSS 251
10 M. Golic 151-89 11 Adam Caplan, ESPN 249
12 Vinnie Iyer, SN 150-90 11 FB Outsiders 249
12 Steve Palazzolo, PFF 150-90 13 V. Iyer 247
M Mean Record 149.23-90.77 13 J. Ratcliffe 247
14 Matt Bowen, ESPN 149-91 M Mean Points 246.73
14 Dan Graziano, ESPN 149-91 15 D. Graziano 246
14 Kevin Seifert, ESPN 149-91 15 K. Seifert 246
14 Steve Mariucci, NFLN 149-91 17 M. Bowen 244
18 A. Caplan 148-92 18 Merril Hoge, ESPN 243
18 P. Prisco 148-92 18 S. Mariucci 243
20 Nate Davis, USAT 147-93 20 Jarrett Bell, USAT 242
20 Tom Pelissero, USAT 147-93 20 S. Palazzolo 242
22 M. Hoge 146-94 22 Marshall Faulk, NFLN 240
23 J. Bell 145-95 23 T. Pelissero 238
23 M. Faulk 145-95 24 Nathan Jahnke, PFF 237
23 Ron Jaworski, ESPN 145-95 24 Seth Wickersham, ESPN 237
23 S. Wickersham 145-95 26 N. Davis 236
27 Neil Hornsby, PFF 144-96 27 R. Jaworski 235
28 Mike Renner, PFF 141-99 28 N. Hornsby 233
29 N. Jahnke 140-100 29 M. Renner 232
29 Sam Monson, PFF 140-100 30 S. Monson 228

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

Finally, we made our strike on the Pick’em competition. Besides our strong week, the top experts struggled in Week 16. Among the top six, we gained three games and five points against the grain by picking the Jaguars-49ers-Browns. Better yet, the 4-2 record in the other six swing games either topped or hung close to other top competitors. In the end, Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated struggled with a 7-9 record and 15 points. Gordon McGuinness of Pro Football Focus floundered with a 6-10 record and 12 points. Mike Middlehurst-Schwartz of USA Today mustered only an 8-8 record and 15 points. Lorenzo Reyes of USA Today and KC Joyner of ESPN fared the best with a 10-6 record and 19 points.

Ultimately, going aggressive worked. Towing the line at least with the Chargers and Rams would’ve resulted in only modest gains this week. It was the shot to take, and it worked. Sure, a Josh Lambo and a Rams two-point conversion stop could’ve completely flipped the tenor of this week’s postgame assessment, but these are the breaks. (Break it up, break it up, break it up!) Now, the regular season title can be locked up with some margin for error in the Week 17 minefield. This week can be as unpredictable as Week 1 some years, so the three-game and six-point cushion is crucial. If the the choppy waters are navigated sufficiently, it will led to yet another regular season Pick’em championship.


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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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