Thursday, December 23, 2004

Football Picks -- Week 16: OK, this is the last of them. I'm not posting again until next year so maybe we'll have a recap then.

Here is all the background info. You know the routine by now.

First up teams that are 40+ points superior in DVOA and favored by less than a touchdown. There are none.

Next up, games where a team is favored by 7+ points but has less than a 30 point DVOA advantage (DVOA advantage in parenthesis):
  • Indiana (27.5) -7 over San Diego

  • Seattle (6.9) -7 over Arizona

  • Miami (6.5) -8.5 over Cleveland

I'll skip taking San Diego because of Indiana's propensity for scoring a bazillion points meaning a 7 point spread for them is more like a 4 point spread for anyone else. I'll skip taking Arizona because they are just so bad. So we come to Miami -- this is where I could begin repeating my early season mantra 'The Fins are not as bad as everyone says.' But I won’t. They still don’t have much of an o-line. I think this line is a reaction to last week's fluke win over the Patriots. So as much as it saddens me, I have to take Cleveland and the eight and a half points.

Lastly we come to games where the team with the superior DVOA is the underdog. Here we again have three, including what must be one of the most whacked out lines in history:
  • Atlanta (14.5) +5 at New Orleans

  • Houston (1.4) +7 at Jacksonville

  • Philly (76.7) +3 at St. Louis

I'm going to take the underdog and the points in all these. A lot of what goes into these is the assumption that teams that have something to play for -- some playoff scenario where it benefits them to win -- are going to be motivated enough to do better than the team that doesn’t. I'm not sold on that. See: Miami v New England last Monday.

In fact the PHL-STL game has the most whacked out spread I have seen relative to DVOA. But it is also a special situation. Philadelphia is 76.7 DVOA points superior to St. Louis, but St. Louis is the favorite by 3 points. Now this is probably the result of two things, 1) The injury to Terrell Owens and 2) the fact that Philly has nothing to play for, having clinched home field advantage through the playoffs.

But if you wan to play psychologist Philly does have something to prove in that they need to show they can win without Owens. Also, Philly is still the best team in the NFC. Also, the Rams are the most overrated team in football. I have to take Philly. If I was in Vegas, I'd bet a wad on this one.

So here's the last of them for this year:
  • Cleveland +8.5 at Miami

  • Atlanta +5 at New Orleans

  • Houston +7 at Jacksonville

  • Philly +3 at St. Louis

Whatever the outcome it's been an incredible season of picks. Maybe I'll quit my job, move south, and bet football games for a living.