2013 Week 8 Review & Week 9 Picks
Week 8 Review (Week 3-2-0, Season 19-19-2)
After underperforming in the first quarter of the season, our picks have made a slight comeback, finishing .500 through the first 8 weeks of the season. While a .500 record may seem to be the definition of mediocrity, it is actually quite good in an NFL season that has left many excellent pick makers scratching their heads. For instance, Colin Cowherd, an ESPN radio host who picked over 70% ATS in the 2012 season, is picking less than 25% of games correctly this year. In addition, the Las Vegas Hilton Super Contest's Top 5 Consensus picks have been correct just barely 25% of the time. A large reason for this has been the disappointing play of pre-season favorites like Houston, Atlanta, Tampa Bay and Washington, and the whipsawing Jekyll & Hyde play of teams like Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore, and Miami. However, frustrating inconsistencies also create opportunity on a weekly basis. Week 8 proved as well as any other week this season that team performance at this level is fluid. Teams that struggled in early weeks like Cincinnati can click into sync overnight and go on dominant runs. In the coming weeks, we will continue to look for teams that are poised to play either significantly better, or significantly worse than expected as there will be the most value in these sorts of games.
Week 9 Picks
Cincinnati -3 (-105) @ Miami
Week 9 will mark the 3rd straight week in a row that we have liked a road favorite in a Thursday night game. There seems to be a misconception that the sloppy play characteristic of Thursday night contests translates to closer games favoring the home underdog. In reality, the sloppy play tends to favor the overall better teams, which are generally more talented, have a more secure identity, and are better coached. Cincinnati certainly fits this description. They are perhaps the most talented team in the AFC, are well defined by their exceptional defense, and have a long tenured head coach in Marvin Lewis. Their DL should be able to dominate a Miami OL that has a brand new LT and an AWOL RT. These teams are heading in divergent directions, and we like Cincinnati to win handedly.
Cleveland +2 (-105) vs Baltimore
These two teams are almost one in the same. Each has a dominant defense that consistently struggles to make up for a hapless offense. Both teams should struggle to move the football in a defensively defined game, and in a matchup as equal as this one, it is always better to pick the team that is A) playing at home and B) getting points. We like Cleveland to win narrowly at home.
San Diego -1 (-105) at Washington
On one hand, you have a Washington team that has largely disappointed and on the other, you have a San Diego team that has surprised almost everyone in the league. At the same time, Washington has shown enough late game fight (well, in earlier weeks at least), to lead fans and analysts to believe that they can become the team they were expected to be. Conversely, San Diego has made just enough mistakes to lead the same fans and analysts to believe that their early season success has been a fluke. As mentioned above, team evaluations in Week 9 should be fluid and should not factor in pre-season expectations. Though on the road, San Diego is currently a much better team than Washington and we believe that they will be able to score points at will in a season defining road win.
Tampa Bay +15.5 @ Seattle
We thought we had finally kicked this Tampa Bay team, but just like a stubborn MRSA infection, they are hard to get rid of*. While the season is almost certainly lost for Tampa Bay, they are, at the end of the day a group of dedicated professionals with a talented defense who will come to play on a weekly basis. While we believe Seattle is a still a favorite for the Super Bowl, they have been trending downward recently due primarily to a rash of injuries suffered along the offensive line. Given the mismatch between OLs and DLs and receivers & DBs, we do not believe that Seattle will be able to put together a good offensive game. Furthermore, Seattle is coming off a short week of rest, and Tampa Bay is coming off of a very long week of preparation. We like Seattle to win at home, but not by a wide margin.
*Editor's Note - We hope Tampa Bay has cleaned up its MRSA issues and that the players affected will come back stronger and healthier than ever.
New England -6.5 (-115) vs Pittsburgh
This pick is perhaps the most difficult to rationalize of the year. Pittsburgh has been playing better in recent weeks and actually outplayed Oakland on the road, while New England's offense has continued to struggle and benefitted from some favorable calls against Miami at home. All signs point to a mismatch in public perception. At the same time however, Pittsburgh has had a notoriously difficult time playing against Tom Brady lead New England teams, and we expect New England to take a big step forward offensively in a statement home victory.