Surviving Week 8
It was a pretty uneventful week – until Monday night. The Ravens took out about 10 percent of pools, and at this stage, every elimination starts to matter more.
Let's take a look at this week's slate:
|Team ||Opponent ||% Picked* ||Vegas ML** ||Vegas Odds
|RAVENS ||Cardinals ||29.00% ||725 ||87.88
|49ERS ||Browns ||20.30% ||425 ||80.95
|GIANTS ||Dolphins ||20.10% ||475 ||82.61
|Saints ||RAMS ||11.10% ||850 ||89.47
|TITANS ||Colts ||8.60% ||400 ||80.00
|TEXANS ||Jaguars ||7.70% ||440 ||81.48
|BILLS ||Redskins ||1.90% ||250 ||71.43
|PANTHERS ||Vikings ||0.40% ||167.5 ||62.62
|Lions ||BRONCOS ||0.30% ||135 ||57.45
|Bengals ||SEAHAWKS ||0.20% ||137.5 ||57.89
|Chargers ||CHIEFS ||0.20% ||185 ||64.91
Home Team in CAPS
* according to OfficeFootballPools.com
** average of the two moneylines
1. New Orleans Saints
I think I like the Ravens better straight up, but the pot odds (11 percent on New Orleans vs. 29 percent on Baltimore) give the nod ever so slightly to the Saints. (Vegas disagrees with me and likes the Saints straight up, too). In any event, I don't have to explain why the Saints are a good bet to win this game, but I will say that even in a game as lopsided as this there's a real (10-12 percent chance) the Rams win. I give New Orleans an 88 percent chance to win this game.
2. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens looked awful last week in Jacksonville, but they return home to face an ineffective Cardinals team on both sides of the ball. I suppose if the Ravens can't protect Joe Flacco
this game could stay close, but the Cardinals defense hasn't stopped anyone, and I expect Baltimore to correct some of its mistakes. I give the Ravens an 89 percent chance to win this game.
3. Houston Texans
The Texans just ran roughshod over the Titans in Tennessee last week, but keep in mind the Ravens dominated them the week before. Andre Johnson
might or might not be back, and the Jaguars' defense has been legitimately good this year. The big advantage for Houston is at the quarterback position where Matt Schaub
has been very good despite missing his top receiver for much of the year, and Jacksonville has a rookie who's getting 5.7 YPA. Houston's first-rate running attack is also a plus. I give the Texans a 78 percent chance to win this game.
4. Tennessee Titans
This is my pick as I've used the top three, and I'm very nervous about it. After all, Tennessee is coming off two blowout losses in successive weeks (to the Steelers and Texans), can't run the ball to save its life and lost its only big-play wideout a few weeks ago. But that also means the Titans will be desperate to bounce back against an inferior opponent, not incidentally one that has dominated its division for the last decade. The Colts are winless and could not have been more embarrassed in a national game last Sunday night, so there's a chance they're up for this contest. But Jim Caldwell strikes me as ineffective as both a motivator and a tactician, Curtis Painter
has been terrible against the blitz and the Colts secondary has been one of the worst in the league. This is more of a pick against the Colts than for the Titans. I give Tennessee a 77 percent chance to win this game. (my pick)
5. New York Giants
The Giants are an odd team in that their passing game is elite right now, but they still choose to run the ball more than half the time with a massively ineffective ground game (3.3 YPC). Moreover, their defensive line is one of the best in league, Corey Webster
is playing at a Pro Bowl level against No. 1 receivers and yet their pass defense has been vulnerable all season. The Dolphins are a desperate animal after giving away last week's game against the Broncos, and as bad tactically as Tony Sparano has been, in contrast to Jim Caldwell he shows a pulse on the sideline. The Dolphins also have an elite playmaking wideout, and Matt Moore
looks like a competent backup, one who incidentally shredded the Giants in a game at the end of 2009. The Giants are a far better team, but I'm a little nervous about them coming off a bye (teams aren't able to practice or meet much during the off week per the new collectively bargaining terms), concerned about the possibilty they overlook the Dolphins given the difficulty of their upcoming schedule and haven't forgotten the home loss to the Seahawks three weeks ago. I give New York a 75 percent chance to win this game.
6. San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers have been very solid so far, but when you rely on a team that's defensively oriented, you're often dealing with low-scoring games that are more likely to turn on one or two big plays. Moreover, the Browns with Joe Haden
back are not exactly doormats, and I'm terrified that the bad Alex Smith
could show up at any moment. I also don't love that they're coming off the bye following an emotional win in Detroit and have essentially already locked up their division. This game has letdown written all over it. I give the 49ers a 75 percent chance to win this game.
- The Bills have shown themselves to be a consistent offensive team that creates turnovers on defense, but Washington's defense has been sound this season, and Buffalo's defense has been bad against both the pass and the run.