2014 Week 8 Review & Week 9 Picks
Week 8 Review (Week 1-4, Season 17-23, All Time 120-102-2)
Though clichéd, the expression “any given Sunday” certainly applied to several games last week. Most notably was the Pittsburgh / Indianapolis game, where Ben Roethlisberger had one of the best games in the history of quarterbacking against what had been a well above average defense. We were also extremely surprised by just how badly Chicago performed against New England. Though we did not expect them to win, we certainly didn’t expect them to be that careless and unfocused on offense. In picking games, we try to avoid high variance games, but there are some weeks in this league where that just can’t be helped. Our strategy will remain the same moving forward.
Week 9 Picks
Cleveland -6.5 vs Tampa Bay
Last week, we liked Tampa Bay largely because we thought Minnesota’s offense would be ineffective on the road. However, we also had some concern that Tampa Bay would struggle against Minnesota’s above average defense. We were right on both, and Minnesota ended up winning, ironically, on a defensive touchdown. Now on the road themselves, we see no reason to believe that Tampa Bay’s offense will be effective, even against a below average Cleveland defense. Conversely, we believe that Cleveland will have success throwing and running the ball against a Tampa Bay defense that will most likely be playing with low effort following the trade of Mark Barron to St. Louis. Tampa Bay has given up on their season while Cleveland is in a tight divisional race, and for this reason, we like Cleveland to win big.
Arizona +3 (105) @ Dallas
While we do believe Arizona is being slightly overrated, this is simply an awful spot for Dallas, which is beginning to get hit by injuries. Washington was successful against the Dallas offense last week because they blitzed constantly and effectively against a hobbled Tony Romo. Conveniently for Arizona, their defense blitzes more often and more effectively than almost anyone else in the NFL. On the other side of the ball Dallas is suffering from the injury of Justin Durant, who has been a key reason for why this defense has outperformed this year. We like Arizona to win outright.
Oakland +14.5 @ Seattle
In our opinion, Seattle is being pretty undervalued in general following a tough stretch of games, and normally we would like to be on them in their first game back home since the Dallas loss, but two touchdowns is simply too much for an NFL team to be favored by. Though not in a great way, Oakland has been incredibly consistent offensively, scoring either 13 or 14 points in a majority of their games. If Oakland can put up double digit points, it wouldn’t require a herculean effort from their defense to cover this spread. We like Oakland to lose by less than two touchdowns.
Denver -3 (120) @ New England
By this point in the season, our opinions on New England should be well understood, but in this game specifically, we think Denver is being undervalued, and New England overvalued. Denver has only taken the slightest step back on offense from last year, but has improved their defense significantly. This improvement has flown under the radar simply because people like to focus on Manning and the offense. Denver has been beating the best teams in the league by substantial margins. New England on the other hand has been beating up on some pretty bad teams, and we think their offensive ability is being materially overstated. We like Denver to win handedly.
Baltimore -1 @ Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh was certainly impressive in their win last week, but we think Baltimore may have just been more impressive in their loss. Playing a desperate Cincinnati team on the road was a huge challenge and Baltimore answered the call, coming a big play and possible bad call away from a win. While there is some concern that losing Jimmy Smith to injury will change the face of their defense, Baltimore is clearly the better all-around team, and we like them to win on the road.