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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Week 13: #NFL Game Predictions (w/ spreads & analysis)


Week 13: #NFL Game Predictions (w/ spreads & analysis)
Week 12 results: 13-3 wins (season: 94-55; .631); 7-8-1 v. spread (season: 71-76-2); .477)

 I bet at this point whatever Dak Prescott would want to say to Ezekiel Elliot wouldn't be very pleasant.

Washington Football Team 5-6 (-1.5) @ Dallas Cowboys 5-6 (45.5): Washington 24-21
Thursday, 8:25 PM, AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX (Weather: Indoors)

Reasons: The game started as a pick and slowly morphed into the Washington Football Team being favored by 1.5 points, which on the road means they’re really favored by almost five points. The pick probably made more sense because these teams could not be more evenly matched, at least statistically. Not only do these teams share the same losing record, both teams are ranked within five teams of each other in points, points against, yards gained, yards allowed and yards per play, and aren't far apart in turnover ratio. In fact, statistically Washington loses games by an average score of 23.5-25.1; by the same measure Dallas loses games by an average score of 22.5-24.5. As you can see, both teams have similar point differentials, too. The teams are also dealing with similar attrition issues, which is the main reason both teams have played so inconsistently. That doesn’t change tonight as Dallas could be without three starting offensive linemen to accompany two missing linebackers, including their best defender in Sean Lee. Washington is dealing with issues on defense, but will that even matter against this shambled Dallas offense?

Minnesota Vikings 9-2 (+3) @ Atlanta Falcons 7-4 (47): Falcons 23-21
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Mercedes-Benz Dome, Atlanta, GA (Weather: Indoors)

Reasons: The last time the Vikings lost was Week 4, to the Detroit Lions, 14-7, and since then Minnesota has won seven straight by an average score of 27-17, which would put them near or at the top in point differential over those seven weeks (Minnesota ranks 6th at 6.9 ppg for the season). The Falcons are on their own little three-game winning streak, including wins vs. Dallas and at Seattle. The Falcons, normally safe at home, are only 3-2 on the year so far this season, however, and only four of their wins came against teams with a shot at the playoffs, and those teams include Green bay and Detroit. To boot, only two of Atlanta’s four losses have come against quality teams (NE; CAR). Regardless, the Falcons feel due, for whatever that’s worth. Julio Jones is coming off his best game of the season and the Vikings trying to make a quarterback controversy out of nothing when the team has been playing great is concerning.

New England Patriots 9-2 (-9) @ Buffalo Bills 6-5 (48.5): Patriots 27-21
Sunday, 1:00 PM, New Era Stadium, Buffalo, NY (Weather: Sunny; high 40s)

Reasons: The Bills are still alive in the AFC and the Patriots have had issues traveling to Buffalo late in the season in the past, but all that really tells me is the Patriots won’t cover, but I’ve said that most of the season and I’ve been wrong. Buffalo’s offense is a disaster in November, but the Patriots have serious attrition issues on defense, so maybe the Bills score more than the 17.75 ppg they averaged in November. 

 The New England Patriots will look to keep Tom Brady upright and healthy against the Buffalo Bills Sunday afternoon.

San Francisco 49ers 1-10 (+3) @ Chicago Bears 3-8 (41): 49ers 21-20
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Soldiers Field, Chicago, IL (Weather: Sunny; high 50s)

Reasons: I’m such a homer I’m taking Jimmy G on the road vs. Chicago in an early afternoon game over the hapless Bears led by rookie Mitch Trubisky, who I wouldn’t taker over Jimmy G if my life depended on it.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4-7 (+2.5) @ Green Bay Packers 5-6 (45): Packers 24-20
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI (Weather: Sunny; high 40s)

Reasons: Aaron Rodgers was seen flinging the football all over the place this week and the one consensus coming out of practice in Green Bay was, “We wish we hadn’t put Rodgers on IR…” Ohh, shucks. The Packers won’t get Rodgers back until at least Week 15, but they could be out of the playoffs by then considering the woeful Buccaneers have nearly the same chance of making the playoffs.

Houston Texans 4-7 (+7) @ Tennessee Titans 7-4 (43): Titans 23-17
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN (Weather: Sunny; high 60s)

Reasons: The Texans are 1-3 since they lost Deshaun Watson for the season and have only averaged 17 ppg in that same span. To make matters worse Houston is dealing with a much attrition of any team in the league, The Titans are 5-1 in their last six games, their only loss coming to the Pittsburgh Steelers, perhaps the AFC’s best team. Tennessee is also 4-1 at home (Houston is 1-4 on the road) and don’t have a misinformed Twitter mob led by the insufferable Clay Travis bringing pitchforks and torches to protest outside the game, either, so there’s that. 

 The Tennessee Titans are on a hot streak and are looking to make it to the playoffs for the first time in Marcus Mariota's short career.

Denver Broncos 3-8 (-1.5) @ Miami Dolphins 4-7 (40): Dolphins 24-23
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, FL (Weather: Sunny; high 70s)

Reasons: The Denver Broncos were once the most feared defense in the NFL, so why are the Dolphins favored? Well, technically they’re not, being 1.5-point “favorites” at home, but Denver has become atrocious, and they’ll be missing their best secondary defender in Two Chainz to suspension. The Broncos have lost seven straight games and have only managed 14 ppg in that stretch; the Dolphins have their own five-game losing streak going, and have only managed 16.4 ppg in their own putrid stretch. By my calculations that just over two point per game, and the spread is 1.5 points. Imagine that.

Kansas City Chiefs 6-5 (-3.5) @ New York Jets 4-7 (43.5): Chiefs 24-21
Sunday, 1:00 PM, MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ (Weather: Overcast; high 40s)

Reasons: Things have become so bad in Kansas City, losers of five of their last six games after starting the season 5-0, that the Chiefs found Darrelle Revis in the junkyard and convinced themselves he was worth it. Revis is no Eric Berry, so Chiefs fans can just put that hope right back to bed. The funny thing is they signed Revis the week they played the Jets, which is funny enough in itself, but also makes me wonder if the Chiefs were as fooled by the Jets air attack as other teams have been this season (234.5 passing yards per game off the arm of Josh McCown). The Jets have also lost five of their last six games, but no one expected anything from the Jets this season. What an awful game this is going to be.

Indianapolis Colts 3-8 (+9.5) @ Jacksonville Jaguars 7-4 (40.5): Jaguars 24-17
Sunday, 1:00 PM, EverBank Field, Jacksonville, FL (Weather: Sunny; low 70s)

Reasons: The Colts are so bad it’s hard to see how they’ve won three games, but such is the NFL, the sport with the most parody, according to the NFL. That’s probably why the same four teams have represented the AFC in the Super Bowl the past 20 years. I digress. The funny thing is I would actually take the Colts quarterback, Jacoby Brissett, and put him on the Jaguars if such things were up to me, because Blake Bortles could handicap this Jaguars team. I hope Eli Manning gets released by the Giants and is reconnected with Tom Coughlin in Jacksonville so Eli can get another cheap Super Bowl like his older brother did. 

 Joe Flacco, statistically one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL in 2017, should stick to handing the ball off if the Baltimore Ravens want to win.

Detroit Lions 6-5 (+3) @ Baltimore Ravens 6-5 (43.5): Ravens 21-20
Sunday, 1:00 PM, M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD (Weather: Sunny; low 50s)

Reasons: The Lions were a few plays from tying the Vikings on Thanksgiving, but ultimately came up short against one of the league’s best defenses and overall teams. The Ravens are 3-1 since losing to those same Vikings Week 8 (24-16) and have only allowed fewer than 10 ppg in that stretch, technically making them one of the hottest teams in the NFL over the past four games. The Lions have given up nearly 24 ppg over their last four games (3-1), including that exact amount to both the Bears and the Browns over that stretch. The Lions just aren’t very good, so even the 32nd-ranked Joe Flacco, backed by one of the best defenses in the NFL, can beat them.

Cleveland Browns 0-11 (+14) @ Los Angeles Chargers 5-6 (44): Chargers 27-17
Sunday, 4:05 PM, Stub Hub Center, Carson, CA (Weather: Sunny; high 60s)

Reasons: Don’t look now but the Chargers are, well, charging. Los Angeles is 5-2 in their last seven games after starting the season 0-4, and the two losses in those seven games came to New England (21-13) and Jacksonville in OT (20-17). Phillip Rivers is heating up and the defense has only allowed 18.4 ppg on the season, let alone those seven aforementioned games (15.6 ppg allowed). The Cleveland Browns are winless and that’s really all you need to know about them.

New York Giants 2-9 (+8.5) @ Oakland Raiders 5-6 (41.5): Raiders 24-20
Sunday, 4:25 PM, Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, CA (Weather: Sunny; low 60s)

Reasons: The Giants were “supposed” to have a top-five defense in 2017, yet the Raiders defense, as bad as anticipated, has allowed 0.6 fewer points per game than the Giants. Let’s not even get into these two offenses, please; they’re offensive. Sorry. But I’m not as sorry as these two teams, easily two of the biggest underachievers in the NFL this season. The Giants doubled down this week by benching quarterback Eli Manning, who was in the midst of a 210-consecutive game playing streak, the longest active streak in the NFL until the Giants rudely placed the 2-9 record blame squarely on his shoulders, despite having a terrible head coach and a defense that imploded, to put it politely. 

Despite the Carolina Panthers 8-3 record it seems like it's been an up-and-down year for Cam Newton and the Panthers

Carolina Panthers 8-3 (+5) @ New Orleans Saints 8-3 (48.5): Saints 27-21
Sunday, 4:25 PM, Superdome, New Orleans, LA (Weather: Indoors)

Reasons: Both teams come into the game leading the NFC South with 8-3 records. The Panthers come in allowing only 18.8 ppg, good for a top-ten defense; the Saints come in scoring 29.3 ppg, good for a top-four offense. Something has to give and I’m guessing it’ll be that top-ten defense on the road in New Orleans. Carolina’s inconsistent offense is on the mend again, and Cam Newton will have a lot more trouble moving the ball on this Saints defense (12th points allowed; 15th yards allowed, many coming in garbage time) than in previous years.

Los Angeles Rams 8-3 (-7) @ Arizona Cardinals 5-6 (44.5): Rams 28-20
Sunday, 4:25 PM, Univ. of Phoenix Stadium, Phoenix, AZ (Weather: Indoors)

Reasons: The last time these two teams played (Week 8) the Rams won 33-0. Expect the same result with a slightly less lopsided score.

Philadelphia Eagles 10-1 (-5) @ Seattle Seahawks 7-4 (47): Eagles 24-21

Sunday, 8:30 PM, CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA (Weather: Cloudy; high 40s)
Reasons: The Eagles come into this game healthy and on fire. Their second-year quarterback Carson Wentz is an MVP front-runner leading the league’s top offense (31.9 ppg) and the Philadelphia defense is one of the best in the league, allowing only 17.4 ppg (3rd points allowed; 6th yards allowed). The Seahawks defense is right up there (8th yards allowed; 9th points allowed), although they’re not nearly as intimidating as in years past, but that’s due to attrition more than anything else. Seattle’s offense, anchored by Russell Wilson’s magical ways, is suddenly a top-ten offense (8th yards allowed; 10th points scored). You read that right; Seattle has nearly identical ranks on both sides of the ball in respective categories, which is not only weird, but indicative of a great team, certainly better than their 7-4 record would indicate. I bet the Seahawks get up for this game and…cover.

Pittsburgh Steelers 9-2 (-5) @ Cincinnati Bengals 5-6 (43): Steelers 21-17
Monday, 8:30 PM, Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH (Weather: Sunny; high 50s)

Reasons: On paper the Steelers destroy the Bengals, but this game won’t be played on paper, but rather on a bloody field in southern Ohio. These two teams hate each other, which marginalizes statistical analysis to point where it’s almost point-less. Truth be told the Steelers are a much better football team that really hasn’t even reached their offensive potential, although the one respectable aspect of the Bengals team is their defense (10th points allowed: 19.5 ppg), so there’s a chance it may not be reached in Week 13, either, especially with Antonio Brown questionable. The Steelers should continue their six-game winning streak Monday night, but it may come with a price.

Stay tuned for Tuesday’s Gone: Week 13 #NFL Game Reviews coming Wednesday.

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