What a week for the column! I was able to get both of my best bets, all of my teasers, and two of my moneyline bets. It was certainly the most impressive week I’ve had this season, especially since I nailed a three-team teaser (wish I bet on it) and picked the Jets and Niners to win when everyone had counted them out (I DID bet on them…but included the Panthers). It makes me feel confident that I’m back on the right track picking-wise, giving me a lot of assurance that I’m on the right sides. But that’s not the only thing that’s giving me confidence.
Win-loss records and personal opinions based on the eye test can only tell you so much about how good a team really is. Hidden beneath records and spreads are the real ability teams have of going out on the football field, performing, and covering. It’s not easy to see all of this, so this week, I created a formula based on these things, strength of schedule, and other statistics to tell me how good teams exactly are. I went even further to use it to predict the rest of the season (along with some tweaks) and to give me what it thinks will be the playoff seeds. Here’s what it looks like:
AFC: #1 Broncos (13-3), #2 Patriots (12-4), #3 Colts (11-5), #4 Ravens (10-6), #5 Chiefs (11-5), #6 Dolphins (10-6)
NFC: #1 Eagles (12-4), #2 Packers (11-5), #3 49ers (11-5), #4 Saints (9-7), #5 Lions (11-5), #6 Cowboys (11-5)
Pretty crazy, huh? Now, this formula still can’t account for everything, it will need to be adjusted pretty much weekly, and it’s 100% unproven. But I feel confident in it so I’ll give it a shot. And if it works, maybe I will turn into more of a gambling man.
Five Star Bets
CHIEFS (EVEN) over Seahawks, Confidence Rating: 5/5
If you’ve been reading this column, I’m a huge fan of the Chiefs this year, but it’s not hard to like this pick. Most importantly, keep in mind Kansas City has covered for 8 (!) straight weeks. The only game they didn’t cover was Week 1 against the Titans, and I’m convinced there were supernatural powers behind that brainbuster of a contest. According to my formula, the Chiefs are actually better than Seattle, and by a decent margin. They’re also phenomenal at home, and we know Seattle is too, but this game is at Arrowhead. Also…this is a pick em??? I believe the line started out at Chiefs -1.5, which i still think was too low, but instead it went the other way because everyone is all over the Seahawks after drubbing the Giants. Coming off a blowout win that’s inflated their egos and looking ahead to hosting Arizona next week, Seattle’s focus will not be on this game.
Bet $20, win $16.16; Bet $100, win $83.33
Texans (+3) over BROWNS, Confidence Rating: 4.5/5
A quarterback change usually bodes well for at least the first game, and that’s what I’m banking on Ryan Mallett and the Texans. Despite the poor play of Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Texans are near .500 and are actually a better team than the Browns, per my formula. Everyone’s talking to the Browns about how good they are after beating the Bengals, so they’re due for a letdown. And Houston has had two weeks to prepare for this contest, one they need to win if they want any shot at making a wild card. With the better team getting points here, I like the Texans.
Bet $20, win $21; Bet $100, win $104.99
Bills (+11.5) over DOLPHINS, Confidence Rating: 4.5/5
This is a huge game for these 5-4 division rivals, and the formula does indeed like Miami better. Both teams are coming off close losses as well. However, there are some things supporting the Bills. With Brandon Albert done for the year, the Buffalo defense will be licking their chops to get after Ryan Tannehill. Both of these teams are in a similar spot, but although the Phins are slightly better, the line is too high, especially given that Miami doesn’t have much of a homefield advantage. Tease that line up and I’m all over getting 11.5 points with Buffalo.
SAINTS (-1) over Bengals, Confidence Rating: 4.5/5
If last Thursday night’s game didn’t tell you already, the formula will: the Bengals are not a good team. Andy Dalton had an abysmal game and is just frankly not a good QB. The offense has missed Gio Bernard and a 100% A.J. Green, and the defense has not been as good as people think. The Saints, however, are pretty good despite their record. And we all know how dominant they are at home. New Orleans is coming off an emotional loss and has to travel to Baltimore next week, while Cincinnati just got blown out and has 10 days to think about it/prepare, so the Saints are not in a great spot. But they’re nearly unstoppable at home and they’re coming off a loss. With the teased line, they just have to win by more than 1, and I think Drew Brees is definitely up to the task.
CHARGERS (-4.5) over Raiders, Confidence Rating: 4/5
Coming off a bye and three straight losses, Phillip Rivers and his bolo tie will be determined to get back on track. San Diego knows they need to win this game, and they shouldn’t have any problem scoring against the lowly Raiders. Oakland actually put forth a good effort against Denver last week despite all their turnovers, so I wonder if they’ll be able to put as much of an effort in this game, especially since they have to play Thursday against the Chiefs. The only thing that worries me is that the original line is double digits and it was a close game the last time these two teams met, despite the talent differential. But I do think the Chargers get the win here, and probably a big one.
Two-team teaser: Bet $20, win $18.18; Bet $100, win $90.90
Three-team teaser: Bet $20, win $32; Bet $100, win $160
Bills over DOLPHINS, Texans over BROWNS, Eagles over PACKERS, Patriots over COLTS
The Bills have proved they belong all year and Miami doesn’t play well at home. Don’t be shocked if Buffalo pulls off the upset and moves into second place in the AFC East…Like I said before, I think the Texans are the better team. They also get (probably) an upgrade at quarterback and Jadeveon Clowney back this week…My formula actually says the Eagles are better than the Packers, and by a decent amount. Both teams may be a little flat coming off blowout wins, but no one is really giving Philly a chance in Lambeau. I don’t see why, especially given it’s still a mystery how the Packers defense is going to stop Chip Kelly’s offense…Both of these teams are neck-and-neck, but we know what happened the last time Tom Brady got points. Plus, Bill Belichick is coming off a bye.
Bet $5, win $261.75; Bet $10, win $523.59; Bet $20, win $1,047.19