Sep 08

NFL 2016 Pick’em

Outside of Thursday night’s game, which features a battered Green Bay Packers backfield against the higher-ranked-than-expected Chicago Bears, every game in Week 7 features a match-up between teams within two games of each other in win-loss record. It makes for an exciting week of game, but it also makes picking the Lock of the Week and the Upset of the Week quite tough.

Because there’s no major ranking disparity besides Bills at Dolphins (re: the only match-up separated by more than 15 spots in the TABRankings), we use the coast-to-coast narrative to determine our lock and our upset. For the lock, we feel safest looking at the likely shootout in Atlanta. Despite now ranking third in points scored per game, the Chargers are only 2-4 on the season. Obviously, a large part of that has to do with blown leads in the fourth quarter (three within two-minute warning; two by double digits within the fourth quarter), but it also speaks to the vulnerabilities on defense. With a cross-country trip to face the league’s best offense, we expect the going to get rough. For the upset, we focus on Oakland’s fourth attempt to win in the East Coast. The Raiders already defeated the Saints, Titans and Ravens (all with a 1pm EST) to start 3-0 on the road thus far. They face the Jaguars and Buccaneers with an early kickoff the next two weeks. Oakland can honestly stay in Florida for the week to prep for Tampa Bay, which would make things easier, so now is probably the best time for a coast-to-coast loss.

Those picks have a relatively low confidence level, but they will have to do. Besides, the make-or-break games are elsewhere in the Week 7 slate. That’s where the three Games of the Week come into play. New England is obviously a near unanimous pick to win in Pittsburgh after Ben Roethlisberger suffered a knee injury in Miami last week, so that’s either a collective three or zero points for the experts. However, the Vikings-Eagles and Seahawks-Cardinals games should be much more closely contested. Revenge is the chosen narrative in Minnesota, with Sam Bradford returning to Philadelphia, but we like the story more about Minnesota’s rest defense looking to continue what Washington did to the Eagles last week. Meanwhile, the NFC West might be the toughest one to pick, but Arizona’s passing regression in 2016 has played a prominent role in the team’s home losses to the Patriots and Rams. Against Seattle’s elite defense, that’s going to be the difference maker again.

Speaking of the Seahawks, our own Adam Dobrowolski spent much of the week dispelling all the myths of Russell Wilson v. Andrew Luck on Twitter this week. And yet, we cite the Seahawks D for a win and also take Luck to win in Tennessee despite a nine-rank disadvantage against the Titans. Just because we have the case of all cases to show how much better Wilson is than Luck, it doesn’t mean we don’t think the Colts signal caller is bad. We definitely think he’s still by and far the class of the AFC South.

Looking elsewhere in the divisional games, the favorites rule the roost. Believe it or not, we’re most intrigued by the Bills-Dolphins match-up. Miami may be giving 25 spots in the TABRankings, but a win could mark consecutive triumphs over teams ranked third at the time of game. The Dolphins would suddenly go from arguably the worst team in the NFL, but a potential spoiler for the rest of 2016. Buffalo hasn’t yet graduated to “expected” winner territory despite the high ranking, so this will be interesting.

As for the rest, it’s worth nothing the much more clear revenge factor in the Texans-Broncos game. Brock Osweiler felt spurned by Denver moving to Peyton Manning in last year’s postseason for some reason. That and money played a key role in him leaving Denver for Houston in free agency, and the dividends have paid off for both teams despite both teams having a negative relative scoring offense. That’s where Denver’s defense comes into play. They carried the franchise to its third Super Bowl victory, and they’d like to show exactly how to Osweiler. We expect an ugly night for the quarterback on Monday Night Football, even if his best moments are in primetime.

This week’s commentary ends with the toughest match-up of the week, which features the game in Detroit. It wasn’t too long ago that Washington was 0-2, while Detroit’s 1-3 record is an even more recent memory. And yet, two teams with a .500 record or better now duke it out. Detroit’s offense isn’t as good as the numbers say, but it at least makes for a terrible defense. Meanwhile, Washington’s defense numbers overvalue the unit, but the offensive line should set Kirk Cousins for a wonderful afternoon. The latter factor plays out a just bit more to give Washington the slightest edge in this match-up.

Unfortunately, our analysis didn’t help us rack up enough wins to keep up ahead of the rest.


Games of the Week (3 points each)
(1) Minnesota Vikings (5-0) at (8) Philadelphia Eagles (3-2)
(2) New England Patriots (5-1) at (7) Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2)
(6) Seattle Seahawks (4-1) at (14) Arizona Cardinals (3-3)

Non-GOTW Divisional Games (2 points each)
(23) Chicago Bears (1-5) at (9) Green Bay Packers (3-2)
(29) Indianapolis Colts (2-4) at (20) Tennessee Titans (3-3)
(32) Cleveland Browns (0-6) at (25) Cincinnati Bengals (2-4)
(3) Buffalo Bills (4-2) at (28) Miami Dolphins (2-4)

The Rest (1 point each)
(18) New York Giants (3-3) vs (19) Los Angeles Rams (3-3) in London
(21) New Orleans Saints (2-3) at (12) Kansas City Chiefs (3-2)
(10) Washington Redskins (4-2) at (22) Detroit Lions (3-3)
(11) Oakland Raiders (4-2) at (26) Jacksonville Jaguars (2-3) **Upset of the Week**
(16) Baltimore Ravens (3-3) at (31) New York Jets (1-5)
(24) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3) at (27) San Francisco 49ers (1-5)
(17) San Diego Chargers (2-4) at (5) Atlanta Falcons (4-2) **Lock of the Week**
(13) Houston Texans (4-2) at (15) Denver Broncos (4-2)


Results: Record and Points
Week 7: 7-7-1 and 13.5 points (out of 25 possible points)
Season: 68-38-1 and 112.5 points (64.02 win and 60.48 point percentage)
GotW: 1-1-1 record (12-12-1 overall… 50 win percentage)
Divisional: 3-1-1 record (21-12-1 overall… 63.24 win percentage) [includes 2-2-1 in GOTW]
Upsets: 4-3 overall (65 ranking points)
Locks: 6-1 overall (current streak: busted!)


Week 7: Expert Records and Points

Rank Expert Record Rank Expert Points
1 Mike Middlehurst-Schwartz, USAT 69.5-37.5 1 Adam Dobrowolski, TABM 112.5
2 Chris Burke, SI 68.5-38.5 2 KC Joyner, ESPN 110.5
2 A. Dobrowolski 68.5-38.5 3 M. Middlehurst-Schwartz 109.5
4 G. McGuinness 66.5-40.5 4 C. Burke 107.5
5 Neil Hornsby, PFF 65.5-41.5 4 Gordon McGuinness, PFF 107.5
5 Kurt Warner, NFLN 65.5-41.5 6 N. Hornsby 104.5
7 K. Joyner 64.5-42.5 6 Lorenzo Reyes, USAT 104.5
7 Tom Pelissero, USAT 64.5-42.5 6 K. Warner 104.5
9 FiveThirtyEight 63.5-43.5 9 Kevin Seifert, ESPN 103.5
9 Vinnie Iyer, SN 63.5-43.5 10 FiveThirtyEight Elo 102.5
9 Jeff Ratcliffe, PFF 63.5-43.5 11 Mike Golic, ESPN 101.5
9 L. Reyes 63.5-43.5 11 V. Iyer 101.5
13 K. Seifert 62.5-44.5 11 T. Pelissero 101.5
M Mean Record 62.03-44.97 14 Dan Graziano, ESPN 100.5
14 Matt Bowen, ESPN 61.5-45.5 M Mean Points 99.5
14 M. Golic 61.5-45.5 15 Merril Hoge, ESPN 99.5
14 D. Graziano 61.5-45.5 16 Jarrett Bell, USAT 98.5
14 M. Hoge 61.5-45.5 16 Pete Prisco, CBSS 98.5
14 Steve Palazzolo, PFF 61.5-45.5 18 M. Bowen 97.5
19 Adam Caplan, ESPN 60.5-46.5 18 A. Caplan 97.5
19 Ron Jaworski, ESPN 60.5-46.5 20 Marshall Faulk, NFLN 96.5
19 Steve Mariucci, NFLN 60.5-46.5 20 S. Palazzolo 96.5
22 J. Bell 59.5-47.5 20 J. Ratcliffe 96.5
22 P. Prisco 59.5-47.5 23 Mike Renner, PFF 94.5
22 M. Renner 59.5-47.5 24 Nathan Jahnke, PFF 93.5
22 Seth Wickersham, ESPN 59.5-47.5 25 Football Outsiders 92.5
26 Nate Davis, USAT 58.5-48.5 25 R. Jaworski 92.5
26 M. Faulk 58.5-48.5 25 S. Wickersham 92.5
28 FB Outsiders 57.5-49.5 28 S. Mariucci 91.5
29 N. Jahnke 56.5-50.5 29 N. Davis 89.5
30 Sam Monson, PFF 53.5-53.5 30 S. Monson 85.5

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

Yikes. Losses by Washington, Jacksonville, Baltimore and San Francisco combined to knock us off the perch in the win-loss standings for the first time this season. Early leads were to lost by the Ravens (10-0) and 49ers (14-0), while a late comeback for the lead by Washignton (17-13) was Matthew Stafford’s continuing heroics (re: fourth fourth-quarterback comeback) in Detroit.

Luckily, the ground we lost didn’t affect our points load. In an unexpected twist, it’s now the points battle where we stand tall. Oh how we didn’t expect that just a few weeks ago. A few experts picked the Dolphins to upset the Bills, but only Burke was close to the top of the standings. Meanwhile, only ONE expert picked the Eagles to win against Minnesota, which seems a bit disrespectful of the eight-ranked team. That one expert? Mr. Hubris Supreme himself in Pete Prisco. That means we weren’t threatened one bit by the outcome (which certainly made us feel comfortable to pick the Vikings).

Moving on to Week 8, the theme continues. This time, 11 of 13 games features a match-up of teams within two games of each in the standings. That doesn’t even include Seattle playing in New Orleans with an early start time just one week after the draining overtime tie against the Cardinals. The challenges remain, so the going stays tough for now. Hopefully, next week’s picks will fare better. Showdowns in Buffalo, Atlanta and Dallas will probably make or break our week.


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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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