Friday, November 12, 2004

Football Picks – Week 10: This week we continue our experiment with picks based on the DVOA ratings (background) produced by Football Outsiders. This week's DVOA ratings are here. This week's point spreads are here (I'm using the spreads as of about 8 PM eastern on Friday night).

Let's start with the big differences in DVOA. Philly is 50.2 DVOA points higher than Dallas and giving 6.5 points in odds. Even better, Pittsburgh is 40.5 DVOA points higher than Cleveland and giving only 3.5 points in odds. I'm hoping to have a rule of thumb where if a team is 40 or more percentage points higher in DVOA and is giving less than a touchdown, you take the favorite. So my first two picks are Philly -6.5 over Dallas and Pittsburgh -3.5 over Cleveland.

New England is close. They are 39.8 DVOA points higher than Buffalo and giving 7 points in odds. That's borderline. It's tempting, but I'm going to keep them on provisional watch because they are banged up (remember DVOA will not take into account injuries until their effect is worked into the plays and scores of the season) and because Buffalo is improving and they are at home.

Next, there are 5 match-ups where the team with the stronger DVOA is the underdog:
  • Detroit is +6.9 in DVOA over Jacksonville but Jax is giving 3.5

  • Cincinnati is +6.4 in DVOA over Washington but Washington is giving 3.5

  • Minnesota is +13.1 in DVOA over Green Bay but Green Bay is giving 4.5

  • Chicago is +13.6 in DVOA over Tennessee but Tennessee is giving 6

  • Carolina is +19.3 in DVOA over San Francisco but San Francisco is giving 1

Well. I'm going to pass on Detroit and Cincy since 6.x is not all that much of the difference and the three and a half points are roughly the advantage the other teams should have for being at home. Too dicey.

Minnesota is tempting, but the injury to Randy Moss plus the game being at Lambeau, makes me think it's best to pass here also.

The other two are sweet. Chicago has a reasonably better DVOA and gets a solid six points, and Carolina has a significantly higher DVOA than SF and still gets a point. Add two more picks: Chicago +6 and Carolina +1. We can keep provisional watch on the other higher rated underdogs.

In the remaining games there a couple of other opportunities. I can get a pick 'em on Seattle vs. St. Louis, yet Seattle is 28.9 points higher in DVOA, this is also something of a revenge game for Seattle after the tough loss to the Rams a few weeks ago. And Baltimore is 3.8 points in DVOA better than the New York Jets with a pick 'em. Bearing in mind the Chad Pennington is down and the less talented substance abuser Quincy Carter is leading the Jets, while the talented and probably angry substance abuser Jamal Lewis is making his return after suspension for the Ravens. I'm guessing the Ravens take this one handily. So add two more picks, Seattle and Baltimore even steven.

To recap, I'm making six picks (a lot for me):
  • Philly -6.5 over Dallas

  • Pittsburgh -3.5 over Cleveland

  • Chicago +6 over Tennessee

  • Carolina +1 over San Francisco

  • Seattle over St. Louis straight up

  • Baltimore over New York Jets straight up

Vegas is getting closer everyday.