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Sep 08

NFL 2016 Pick’em

WEEK 8: FINISHING MIDDLE OF THE PACK IN A GREAT WEEK FOR EXPERTS
For the second consecutive week, the NFL provides us with a slate of closely-competing teams. In total, 11 games features match-up between teams within two games of each other in the standings. Of the other two match-ups, one features perhaps one of the most distinct home-field advantages this week. The Saints are generally strong at home in the Brees-Payton era, while the visiting Seahawks don’t traditionally fare well on the road with an early kickoff. That leaves only one “gimme” game.

Before we get into all the predictions, let’s look at the Thursday Night Football match-up. The Jaguars-Titans series has recently seen some toss-ups, including those in the TNF slot. This match-up seems to be like another one, but the unit match-ups and the experts seem to line up together in favor of the home half in Tennessee. We’ll go safe with the Titans.

Now moving on the rest, we see three match-ups between Top 8 teams from the most recent TABRankings. New England at Buffalo features a chance for the Bills to pull off the sweep, but the first win came against the injured third-stringer in Jacoby Brissett. Green Bay at Atlanta features unit battles of strengths (Packers defense v. Falcons offense) and weaknesses (Packers offense v. Falcons defense), in which we give the advantage to both offenses. Finally, Philadelphia at Dallas may be the toughest of the lot to pick, as the Eagles are being picked by less than 15 percent of the experts for the second consecutive Game of the Week. That’s just flat out disrespect.

It’s nearly 9:1 in favor of the Patriots and Cowboys according to the collection of expert picks at NFL Pickwatch. That’s where we were leaning anyways, so we’ll still with what we originally had. However, we are especially skeptical of the game in Dallas, considering we made the same move with the Vikings last week en route to a comfortable Eagles win. That only leaves the Packers-Falcons game. We still haven’t yet seen Aaron Rodgers get back to elite form, so unless that quarterback shows up, the edge goes to Atlanta.

The remaining two-point match-ups are a bit easier to pick. Chargers-Broncos were just one combined rank away from making it a Game of the Week. Few of the experts seem deterred, once again taking Denver with a heavy majority. We took San Diego last time, but that was with the benefit of a short week against a Broncos team that didn’t have head coach Gary Kubiak on the sideline. Kubiak will be at the helm this time, and Denver’s “short week” is only abridged by one day instead of three. Meanwhile, Vikings-Bears is the lone match-up between teams separated by at least three games in the standings. We expect the Minnesota defense to harass Jay Cutler all night.

Finally, looking at the one-point match-ups, we see perhaps the toughest winners to call. Who has the advantage in London, with a battle between teams separate by only four ranks? Can the Chiefs defeat a good offense on the road? Can the Raiders make it 5-0 in the Eastern Time Zone? Are the Seahawks doomed to another early kickoff letdown in the East? Will the Lions do enough to outgun the Texans in the most compelling unit match-up battle (good Lions offense v. good Texans defense; terrible Lions defense v. terrible Texans offense) of the week? Is now the time for the Browns to get their first win? Will the bye settle for the Panthers team en route to a win?

There a legitimate case for each team in this situation. Therefore, we’re actually going to play this close to the vest within the context of this competition. We’re in good standing, so let’s pick any consensus teams among the top competitors (Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz of USA Today and Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated). Honestly, we’re going to be more creative in our own little personal pools. For here, though, strategy must win out. That means the Chiefs, Buccaneers and Seahawks are on the board.

As for the rest, check them out below with the rest of this week’s predictions!

Games of the Week (3 points each)
(2) New England Patriots (6-1) at (4) Buffalo Bills (4-3)
(6) Green Bay Packers (4-2) at (8) Atlanta Falcons (4-3)
(5) Philadelphia Eagles (4-2) at (3) Dallas Cowboys (5-1)

Non-GOTW Divisional Games (2 points each)
(29) Jacksonville Jaguars (2-4) at (25) Tennessee Titans (3-4)
(14) San Diego Chargers (3-4) at (11) Denver Broncos (5-2)
(1) Minnesota Vikings (5-1) at (28) Chicago Bears (1-6) **Lock of the Week**

The Rest (1 point each)
(15) Washington Redskins (4-3) vs (19) Cincinnati Bengals (3-4) in London
(10) Kansas City Chiefs (4-2) at (26) Indianapolis Colts (3-4)
(13) Oakland Raiders (5-2) at (21) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-3)
(7) Seattle Seahawks (4-1-1) at (23) New Orleans Saints (2-4)
(18) Detroit Lions (4-3) at (16) Houston Texans (4-3)
(27) New York Jets (2-5) at (32) Cleveland Browns (0-7)
(12) Arizona Cardinals (3-3-1) at (31) Carolina Panthers (1-5) **Upset of the Week**

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Results: Record and Points
Week 8: 8-4-1 and 16.5 points (out of 22 possible points)
Season: 76-42-2 and 129 points (64.17 win and 62.02 point percentage)
GotW: 3-0 record (15-12-1 overall… 55.36 win percentage)
Divisional: 4-1 record (25-13-1 overall… 65.38 win percentage) [includes 4-2-1 in GOTW]
Upsets: 5-3 overall (84 ranking points)
Locks: 6-2 overall (current streak: still busted!)

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Week 8: Expert Records and Points (2 ties = 1 win + 1 loss)

Rank Expert Record Rank Expert Points
1 Mike Middlehurst-Schwartz, USAT 78-42 1 Adam Dobrowolski, TABM 129
2 A. Dobrowolski 77-43 2 KC Joyner, ESPN 128
3 Chris Burke, SI 76-44 3 M. Middlehurst-Schwartz 126
4 K. Joyner 74-46 4 C. Burke 123
4 Gordon McGuinness, PFF 74-46 5 G. McGuinness 121
4 Jeff Ratcliffe, PFF 74-46 6 FiveThirtyEight Elo 120
7 Neil Hornsby, PFF 73-47 6 Kurt Warner, NFLN 120
7 FiveThirtyEight 73-47 8 N. Hornsby 119
7 Tom Pelissero, USAT 73-47 8 Lorenzo Reyes, USAT 119
7 K. Warner 73-47 10 Mike Golic, ESPN 118
11 Vinnie Iyer, SN 72-48 11 Jarrett Bell, USAT 117
12 L. Reyes 71-49 11 T. Pelissero 117
M Mean Record 70.33-49.67 13 V. Iyer 116
13 J. Bell 70-50 13 Kevin Seifert, ESPN 116
13 M. Golic 70-50 M Mean Points 115
13 Dan Graziano, ESPN 70-50 15 D. Graziano 115
13 Steve Palazzolo, PFF 70-50 15 Merril Hoge, ESPN 115
17 Matt Bowen, ESPN 69-51 15 J. Ratcliffe 115
17 Adam Caplan, ESPN 69-51 18 A. Caplan 114
17 Nate Davis, USAT 69-51 18 Pete Prisco, CBSS 114
17 M. Hoge 69-51 20 S. Palazzolo 113
17 Steve Mariucci, NFLN 69-51 21 M. Bowen 111
17 K. Seifert 69-51 22 Marshall Faulk, NFLN 110
17 Seth Wickersham, ESPN 69-51 22 Football Outsiders 110
24 P. Prisco 68-52 24 Nathan Jahnke, PFF 109
25 FB Outsiders 67-53 24 S. Wickersham 109
25 Ron Jaworski, ESPN 67-53 26 N. Davis 108
25 Mike Renner, PFF 67-53 26 S. Mariucci 108
28 M. Faulk 66-54 26 M. Renner 108
29 N. Jahnke 64-56 29 R. Jaworski 104
30 Sam Monson, PFF 60-60 30 S. Monson 98

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

Based on what we were trying to do, this week can be looked at as a slight positive. After breaking even with Middlehurst-Schwartz (who picked Houston and Arizona) and gaining a game on Chris Burke (who picked Washington and Cleveland), we at least secured possession of second place in the win-loss competition. Meanwhile, by earning a much-needed sweep of the Games of the Week, that first place spot in the points competition remains in tact. That primary goal of regaining first place all around will continue Week 9.

Elsewhere, because consensus favorites also went 8-3-1, there were several experts who fared better than us in Week 8. This was by two games and two points at the most, meaning there wasn’t serious ground gained. Just look at this way: the three closest match-ups by expert consensus were Raiders-Buccaneers, Lions-Texans and Cardinals-Panthers. We lost two of those three match-ups. Anybody who grabbed two or even three of those wins likely gained ground this week.

Comparing us to ourselves, we’d like to illustrate what happens when (1) you don’t plan out the first four weeks by using predictions made for the 2016 NFL Preview Predictions and (2) if you just use those predictions from the 2016 NFL Preview Predictions for all 17 weeks. In the first situation, we own only a 66-52-2 record, as early struggles from Weeks 1-4 also affected some later week picks as well. In the second situation, we own a 71-47-2 record with 117 points. As this two cases show, the best way to handle this is kind of any coaches offensive game plan. Set up the prediction for first handful of weeks before the season, and only made adjustments if there’s some glaring change. Meanwhile, veer away from the original gameplan after the context from the actual season plays out to a sufficient sample size. This is the optimal route to go about make these predictions over a 17-week regular season.

Looking ahead to Week 9, it seems like the most compelling match-ups will be those between divisional teams. Try on Falcons-Buccaneers, Lions-Vikings, Steelers-Ravens, Jets-Dolphins, Eagles-Giants and Broncos-Raiders (expected GotW) on for size. That’s probably 13 points on the line right there, and we’d be surprised to see any clean sweeps for the experts.

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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