Week 9 In Review: Simple Trends Prove Fruitful Bets

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Nov 05, 2012



We provided some big-picture advice before Week 9 action on Sunday, simplifying what is largely seen as the complex endeavor and picking NFL games. 

One of those largely simple facts is that great teams are great bets against the spread. Bad teams are not.

This trend proved largely true for the Cold, Hard Football Facts in Week 9, our first slate of analysis with the lovely Ms. Katherine Jenkins as our newest real and spectacular pigskin prognosticating muse.

The great teams we expected to win big did in fact win big, adding up to against the spread victories for us in each case:

  • Houston (-10) beat Buffalo 21-9
  • Chicago (-3.5) steamrolled Tennessee in the Music City Massacre, 51-20
  • Denver (-3.5) ruled the Bengals in Cincinnati, 31-23

In addition, the three games in which we expressed the utmost confidence, Houston, Chicago and Tampa Bay +1 all proved fairly easy wins, though the Texans made it a little closer than we anticipated.

It was on the margins and when we went against our own advide about superior teams that we lost against the spread:

  • Green Bay (-11) beat Arizona 31-17
  • Baltimore (-3.5) rallied to beat up Cleveland 25-15
  • and Atlanta (-4) kept its undefeated season and great home record intact with a tough 19-13 win over the Cowboys.

We slavishly follow our numbers game after game, week after week, year after year. More  often than not those numbers have guided us in the right direction – even at a rare, elite level according to analysis at the Wall Street Journal.  

In Week of the 2012 season we publicly deviated from those numbers in one game of note: that Dallas-Atlanta Sunday night.

Here’s what we wrote in our game analysis: “We’re doing something we don’t normally do: we're playing a statistical hunch that sooner or later the Cowboys will actually put together a decent game that matches their physical skills and that, sooner or later, Atlanta's weaknesses will cause it to lose a few games.

That calculated risk ultimately backfired. The undefeated Falcons, 4-point favorites, scored 13 fourth-quarter points, including a field goal with 22 seconds left to forge an against-the-spread victory in the final moments of the game.

It creates a precarious situation for us and for the lovely Ms. Katherine Jenkins in her first week as our real and spectacular pigskin prognosticating muse: We need the Eagles to cover +3 to salvage a .500 week and live to regain territory again in Week 10.

2012 season week-by-week performance

Week 1: 9-7 straight up; 7-9 ATS

Week 2: 10-6 straight up; 7-8-1 ATS

Week 3: 6-10 straight up; 8-7-1 ATS

Week 4: 10-5 straight up; 8-7 ATS

Week 5: 9-5 straight up; 6-8 ATS

Week 6: 5-9 straight up; 4-10 ATS

Week 7: 11-2 straight up; 6-5-2 ATS

Week 8: 10-4 straight up; 8-6 ATS

Week 9: 9-5 straight up; 6-8 ATS

Year to date: 79-53 straight up; 60-68-4 (.469) ATS

History to date (2009-2012): 481-404 (.544); 33 winning weeks; 16 losing weeks, 11 weeks at .500

 

Here is our Week 9 in Review

Kansas City at San Diego (-7.5)

Our pick: San Diego 24, Kansas City 20

Final score: San Diego 31, Kansas City 13

Result: A loss for CHFF (1-0 straight up; 0-1 ATS)

What we said: “The Chargers are far from elite: the bottom half of the NFL in 14 of 20 Quality Stats, and Top 10 in only one (run defense). They have the potential to win big, but not the likelihood to win big. Don't discount the fact that players in San Diego may be just as ready for a change at coach as fans in San Diego.”

 

Arizona at Green Bay (-11)

Our pick: Green Bay 21, Arizona 13

Final score: Green Bay 31, Arizona 17

Result: A loss for CHFF (2-0 straight up; 0-2 ATS)

What we said: “Green Bay has slimmer-than-expected advantages on the Relativity Index (+6 points) and in our Quality Stats Power Rankings, and even the Packers’ advantage in Passer Rating Differential is somewhat small due to Arizona’s strong defensive rankings.

As bad as the Arizona offense is, the defense has the skill to keep this game close enough to cover. The Cardinals have not given up more than 24 points all year, and it’s tough to give a defense like that 11 points.”

 

Baltimore (-3.5) at Cleveland

Our pick: Baltimore 19, Cleveland 17

Final score: Baltimore 25, Cleveland 15

Result: A loss for CHFF (3-0 straight up; 0-3 ATS)

What we said: “The Browns have been a tough “out” just about every week so far this season. Expect nothing different this Sunday. Keep in mind, too, that the Ravens are on an 0-5 skid against the spread, while the Browns are 3-1 ATS at home this year.”

 

Buffalo at Houston (-10)

Our pick: Houston 34, Buffalo 17

Final score: Houston 21, Buffalo 9

Result: A win for CHFF (4-0 straight up; 1-3 ATS)

What we said: “Buffalo’s defense is more wretched than the average CHFF reader after a four-day bender of booze and Katherine Jenkins blow-up dolls. Houston’s explosive offense (30.9 PPG, No. 2) should be primed to have a field day.”

 

Carolina at Washington (-3.5)

Our pick: Washington 30, Carolina 24

Final score: Carolina 21, Washington 13

Result: A loss for CHFF (4-1 straight up; 1-4 ATS)

What we said: “The Panthers can move the ball and score some points in this game. But they are not a great offense (18.3 PPG, No. 26). RGIII and the Redskins, meanwhile, are a very good offense (26.6 PPG, No. 7) and they’ve played tougher against better competition this year.”

 

Chicago (-3.5) at Tennessee

Our pick: Chicago 27, Tennessee 17

Final score: Chicago 51, Tennessee 20

Result: A win for CHFF (5-1 straight up; 2-4 ATS)

What we said: “Even with Chicago’s poor offensive rankings, the Bears are still have +37 edge in Passer Rating Differential (No. 5 vs. No. 30). Chicago also creams Tennessee on the Relativity Index and in our Quality Stats Power Rankings, and should win this one going away. The Bears are on a five-game win streak, and have won four of those five by at least a touchdown.”

 

Denver (-3.5) at Cincinnati

Our pick: Denver 31, Cincinnati 21

Final score: Denver 31, Cincinnati 23

Result: A win for CHFF (6-1 straight up; 3-4 ATS)

What we said: “The Broncos dominate most of the key Quality Stats comparisons here, so we expect Manning & Co. to win solidly in what looks like one of the surer plays in the NFL this week based upon the relative strengths of each team and on recent momentum for each side.”

 

Detroit (-3.5) at Jacksonville

Our pick: Detroit 27, Jacksonville 17

Final score: Detroit 31, Jacksonville 14

Result: A win for CHFF (7-1 straight up; 4-4 ATS)

What we said: “The Lions haven’t been great this year. But they’ve played better lately and they have big enough advantages in Passer Rating Differential, on the Relativity Index (+13 points) and in our Quality Stats Power Rankings to come away with a solid win here. The Jaguars are 0-3 in front of the disinterested home crowds this year and have lost all three by at least 17 points.”

 

Miami (-2.5) at Indianapolis

Our pick: Miami 23, Indianapolis 17

Final score: Indianapolis 23, Miami 20

Result: A loss for CHFF (7-2 straight up; 4-5 ATS)

What we said: “One big concern for the Colts: since shocking the Packers nearly a month ago, they have scored just 45 points in three games, with just four touchdowns scored, and only one through the air (Luck’s OT game-winner to Vick Ballard last week).That’s not an encouraging sign against a team on a three-game win streak fielding one of the league’s better defenses.”

 

Minnesota at Seattle (-5)

Our pick: Seattle 20, Minnesota 17

Final score: Seattle 30, Minnesota 20

Result: A loss for CHFF (8-2 straight up; 4-6 ATS)

What we said: “We like the balanced team to keep it close against the flawed team, even when that imbalanced team is obviously stronger at home. Keep in mind, too, that Minnesota is 2-0 against the tough NFC West (both home games for the Vikings), including a win over the powerful 49ers, while Seattle is 0-3 in the division. This one may come down to overtime.”

 

Tampa Bay at Oakland (-1)

Our pick: Tampa Bay 27, Oakland 20

Final score: Tampa Bay 42, Oakland 32

Result: A win for CHFF (9-2 straight up; 5-6 ATS)

What we said: “Given a similar case of statistical indicators, we’d take the team like Tampa to win outright 100 times out of 100, even playing on the road three time zones away. The Bucs should be favored and will show why on Sunday.”

 

Pittsburgh at N.Y. Giants (-3.5)

Our pick: N.Y. Giants 24, Pittsburgh 23

Final score: Pittsburgh 24, N.Y. Giants 20

Result: A win for CHFF (9-3 straight up; 6-6 ATS)

What we said: “Big Ben and the Steelers have passed the ball far more effectively this year than Manning and the Giants, as evidenced by Pittsburgh’s 12-point advantage in Offensive Passer Rating. No stat this year has predicted winners better than Offensive Passer Rating, according to our Predictive Rate of Victory table. Teams that enter a game better in OPR are 73-45 (.619) this year.”

 

Dallas at Atlanta (-4)

Our pick: Dallas 26, Atlanta 24

Final score: Atlanta 19, Dallas 13

Result: A loss for CHFF (9-4 straight up; 6-7 ATS)

What we said: “We’re doing something we don’t normally do: we're playing a statistical hunch that sooner or later the Cowboys will actually put together a decent game that matches their physical skills and that, sooner or later, Atlanta's weaknesses will cause it to lose a few games.”

 

Philadelphia at New Orleans (-3)

Our pick: Philadelphia 27, New Orleans 26

Final score: New Orleans 28, Philadelphia 13

Result: A loss for CHFF (9-5 straight up; 6-8 ATS)

What we said: “We have plenty of reasons to believe that the Eagles are actually the better team. Philly keeps the turnover battle at least even, and finds a way to score enough points against one of the most dreadful defenses in football in recent years.”


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