Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers: 2014 Week 13 NFL Pick

Seattle Seahawks (7-4) at San Francisco 49ers (7-4)

The Seahawks beat the Cardinals in Seattle in impressive fashion last week, but they are not nearly as good on the road as they are at home. Since 2007, the Seahawks are 46-20 at home, including playoffs and they aren’t just having success straight up as they are 44-21-1 ATS. They outscore opponents on average by 7.80 points per game at home. This is opposed to a 24-42 record away from home (28-37-1 ATS), getting outscored by 3.76 points per game. This season, they are 2-3 on the road, as opposed to 5-1 at home. On the road, they’ve moved the chains at a 77.18% rate, as opposed to 76.81% for their opponents, a differential of 0.37%.

They’re even worse on the road as road underdogs, going 15-25 ATS in that spot since 2007, including 9-18 ATS as road underdogs off a home game. This is only the 3rd time they’ve been road underdogs over the past 2 seasons, but for good reason (the other two instances were last year in San Francisco and two weeks ago in Kansas City). They aren’t as good as they were last season (the fact that they’ll be without Brandon Mebane and Max Unger this week doesn’t help) and San Francisco is solid.

San Francisco isn’t quite as good as their record, ranking 16th in rate of moving the chains differential, moving the chains at a 71.47% rate, as opposed to 70.98% for their opponents, a differential of 0.49%. However, they’re still solid and Seattle only ranks 9th, moving the chains at a 75.89% rate, as opposed to 72.15% for their opponents, a differential of 3.74%. As I said, they aren’t as good this season, especially on the road. San Francisco definitely deserves to be home favorites here. As they did in their other two instances as road underdogs over the past two seasons and as they did in their previous two trips to San Francisco with Russell Wilson, I expect the Seahawks to lose straight up here.

San Francisco is also in the better spot as their next game is in Oakland. They will have absolutely no distractions with such an easy game coming up in ten days, while Seattle has another tough game in Philadelphia up next, where they could once again be road underdogs. San Francisco, meanwhile, will almost definitely be significant road favorites. Teams are 87-57 ATS since 2012 before being 3+ point road favorites, including 55-33 ATS before being 4+ point favorites, and 23-7 ATS before being 7+ point favorites. I have confidence that the 49ers will win here.

San Francisco 49ers 24 Seattle Seahawks 17

Pick against the spread: San Francisco -1

Confidence: Medium

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Arizona Cardinals at Atlanta Falcons: 2014 Week 13 NFL Pick

Arizona Cardinals (9-2) at Atlanta Falcons (4-7)

The Falcons lost at home last week, but that hasn’t been the norm for them at home in the Matt Ryan/Mike Smith era. They are 31-21-1 ATS at home (38-15 straight up) since those two came in back in 2008, as long as Matt Ryan is healthy, including 7-3 ATS as home underdogs, as they are here. The fact that they lost last week actually makes it more likely that they cover this week as they’re very good off of a loss in the Matt Ryan/Mike Smith era. They are 26-14 ATS off of a loss since 2008, including 17-9 ATS at home and 5-1 ATS as home underdogs.

We’re also getting line value with the Falcons as field goal underdogs here, even before we get into how good they’ve been at home. The Cardinals are not as good as their 9-2 record, moving the chains at a 72.14% rate, as opposed to 69.33% for their opponents, a differential of 2.81% that ranks just 11th. They’ve been way too reliant on a +12 turnover margin this season, powered by a 65.00% rate of recovering fumbles (2nd in the NFL), a 2-0 record in games decided by a touchdown or less, and a +3 return touchdown margin. Atlanta, meanwhile, ranks 20th, moving the chains at a 73.56% rate, as opposed to 75.27% for their opponents, a differential of 1.71%.

Arizona is also really missing Carson Palmer, their starting quarterback who is out for the season with a torn ACL.  Palmer completed 62.9% of his passes for an average of 7.26 YPA, 11 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions, while backup Drew Stanton has completed 53.6% of his passes for an average of 7.08 YPA, 5 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. They’ve moved the chains at a 69.47% rate in games that Drew Stanton started and a 73.96% rate in games started by Carson Palmer. They have no business being field goal favorites. They were exposed last week in Seattle and I think they will continue to be exposed this week in Arizona. They’ll be looking to get an easy win off of a very disappointing loss and I think they could overlook an Atlanta team that, as bad as their record is, is very tough at home generally.

The only reason this isn’t a bigger play on the Falcons is because they have to go to Green Bay next week. Teams are 99-126 ATS since 2002 as non-divisional home underdogs before being non-divisional road underdogs, while teams are 42-86 ATS since 2010 before being double digit underdogs, which the Falcons undoubtedly will be next week. Still, there’s enough stuff here for me to feel confident grabbing the field goal with the Falcons, especially with the public all over Arizona.

Atlanta Falcons 24 Arizona Cardinals 23 Upset Pick +130

Pick against the spread: Atlanta +3

Confidence: Medium

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Washington Redskins at Indianapolis Colts: 2014 Week 13 NFL Pick

Washington Redskins (3-8) at Indianapolis Colts (7-4)

The Redskins stand at 3-8, but they aren’t as bad as their record. Their -56 point differential isn’t as bad as their record. They have just 2 losses by more than 11 points. They’ve also been killed by the turnover battle (-9) and the return touchdown battle (-4), two things that tend to even out in the long run. On the season, they move the chains at a 71.47% rate, as opposed to 71.43% for their opponents, a differential of 0.04% that ranks 18th in the NFL. The Colts, meanwhile, move the chains at a 77.04% rate, as opposed to 72.70% for their opponents, a differential of 4.34% that ranks 6th. This line is way too high at 10 points.

The Redskins have been better on the road than at home, as they don’t have a single road loss by more than 11 and the only two road games they’ve lost by more than 4 points involved the other team returning a touchdown. They only lost by 4 points last week in San Francisco as 10 point underdogs and they could easily keep it close here in Indianapolis. The Redskins have benched Robert Griffin for Colt McCoy this week. McCoy isn’t as talented as Griffin, but he’s a better fit for this offense and he’s played well in limited action this season, completing 85.7% of his passes for an average of 10.17 YPA, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception on 42 attempts. I’m still confident in the Redskins even with McCoy under center.

Unlike last week, the Redskins are in their 2nd straight road game this week, which is an added benefit. Teams are 110-74 ATS as road underdogs off a road loss since 2008, including 93-52 ATS when it’s their 2nd straight (and not 3rd straight) road game and they next play a home game. Historically, teams cover at about a 65% rate in that situation. This is because teams tend to do better in their 2nd straight road game than their first one, but lines don’t really adjust for this. Teams are 187-191 in their 2nd of two road games since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 0.36 points per game, as opposed to 262-380 in their 1st of one road game since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 3.34 points per game.

The only reason this isn’t a higher confidence pick is twofold. For one, the Colts go to Cleveland next week. While Cleveland has a solid record, the Colts will still be road favorites there next week and teams are 113-75 ATS as non-divisional home favorites before being non-divisional road favorites since 2002. Two, the Colts have a very solid homefield advantage. They are 15-7 ATS at home since 2012, when Chuck Pagano and Andrew Luck came in. However, I still like the Redskins’ chances of playing another close road game.

Indianapolis Colts 24 Washington Redskins 20

Pick against the spread: Washington +10

Confidence: Medium

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New England Patriots at Green Bay Packers: 2014 Week 13 NFL Pick

New England Patriots (9-2) at Green Bay Packers (8-3)

The Patriots have been the better of these two teams this season, ranking 2nd in rate of moving the chains differential, while the Packers rank 7th. They’ve moved the chains at a 77.75% rate, as opposed to 72.42% for their opponents, a differential of 5.33%, while the Packers have moved them at an 80.17% rate, as opposed to 75.89% for their opponents, a differential of 4.28%. The Patriots have especially been good over the past 7 weeks, moving the chains at an 82.40% rate, as opposed to 72.65% for their opponents, a differential of 9.75%. Their offense has gotten significantly better with the offensive line settling in and Rob Gronkowski returning to form, while their defense hasn’t really missed much of a beat without Chandler Jones and Jerod Mayo.

Despite that, the Patriots are underdogs here by a field goal. The Patriots generally thrive in situations like that. Tom Brady is 46-18 ATS in his career as an underdog or a favorite of fewer than 3 points. However, the usual conditions that accompany the Patriots being in this situation are not in play. They aren’t coming off a loss. They’re not playing a team with a better record than them. They’re also on the road, where they haven’t been that good recently, going 5-9 ATS on the road since the start of last season. Even in situations where they are underdogs or small favorites on the road, they are 4-4 ATS on the road in that time period.

While the Patriots have had struggles on the road, the Packers have been dominant at home this season, so dominant in fact that this line of a field goal seems warranted, as good as the Patriots have been this season and especially since week 5. The Packers move the chains at an 80.37% rate at home, as opposed to 68.67% for their opponents, a differential of 11.69%. This home dominance is nothing new. Aaron Rodgers is 25-9-1 ATS at home since 2010 and 31-4 straight up, with an absurd +543 point differential, meaning they outscore opponents, on average, by 15.51 points per game.

Both of these teams are in good spots in terms of not having any significant distractions on the horizon. This is the toughest game of the season for either of these teams and a potential Super Bowl matchup. The Packers host Atlanta next week, while New England goes to San Diego. Teams are 98-80 ATS since 2008 before being double digit home favorites, as the Packers will be, while teams are 87-57 ATS since 2012 before being road favorites of 3 or more, including 55-33 ATS road favorites of 4 or more. The Patriots will be significant road favorites next week. This is really tough to pick, but I’m going with the Packers to fade the public underdog Patriots.

Green Bay Packers 27 New England Patriots 23

Pick against the spread: Green Bay -3

Confidence: None

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Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs: 2014 Week 13 NFL Pick

Denver Broncos (8-3) at Kansas City Chiefs (7-4)

The Chiefs lost to the Raiders last week. How are they going to beat the Broncos this week? The public is all over the Broncos as small road favorites here so that’s clearly what they’re thinking. I love fading the public whenever it makes sense as they always lose money in the long run and it makes sense to do so here. Yes, the Chiefs lost to the Raiders last week, but that doesn’t completely erase everything they’ve accomplished this season and all the times they proved they were a legitimate contender. The Broncos lost to the Rams two weeks ago and that didn’t erase all their accomplishments either. Fluky things happen in the NFL and the Chiefs were undoubtedly caught off guard last week after a win over the Seahawks with a game against the Broncos on deck. Teams are actually 57-41 ATS as home underdogs off of a loss as road favorites, including 5-1 ATS off of a loss as road favorites of a touchdown or more.

Prior to last week, the Chiefs beat the Seahawks, as I mentioned. They went into San Diego and won. They went into Buffalo and won. They blew out a solid Miami team in Miami (34-15). They blew out a Patriots team that has looked fantastic since (41-14). They took care of business against the Jets (24-10) and the Rams (31-7). Meanwhile, their three losses came by a combined 19 points and two of them came in Denver and San Francisco. On the season, the Chiefs still rank 3rd in rate of moving the chains differential. They move the chains at a 76.35% rate, as opposed to 71.47% for their opponents, a differential of 4.87%.

The Broncos still lead the league, moving the chains at a 78.80% rate, as opposed to 71.83% for their opponents, a differential of 6.96%, but no one, not even them, deserves to be favored over the Chiefs in Kansas City. The wrong team is favored here. The Broncos haven’t exactly looked good on the road this season anyway, losing in St. Louis, Seattle, and New England and needing a late pick six to cover over the Jets. Their only clean cover on the road was in Oakland. The Chiefs should be the right side. Don’t worry about the Chiefs losing Eric Berry. He hadn’t been playing that well this season and the Chiefs could give 110% this week to honor Berry. I wish Berry the best as he faces a possible lymphoma diagnosis.

Kansas City Chiefs 24 Denver Broncos 20 Upset Pick +110

Pick against the spread: Kansas City +2

Confidence: High

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San Diego Chargers at Baltimore Ravens: 2014 Week 13 NFL Pick

San Diego Chargers (6-5) at Baltimore Ravens (7-4)

This line is way too low. The Ravens rank 5th in the NFL in rate of moving the chains differential, moving the chains at a 76.84% rate, as opposed to 72.29% for their opponents, a differential of 4.55%. The Chargers, meanwhile, rank 15th, moving the chains at a 73.39% rate, as opposed to 72.56% for their opponents, a differential of 0.84%. The Chargers have been especially bad of late, moving the chains at a 68.09% rate since week 7, as opposed to 74.19% for their opponents, a differential of -6.10%. They’ve just had so many injuries, the most serious one being to talented rookie cornerback Jason Verrett, who was playing so well before his injury.

The Ravens are significantly better than the Chargers, especially at home. The Ravens move the chains at a 79.52% rate at home this season, as opposed to 65.91% for their opponents, a differential of 13.61%. This home dominance is nothing new. Since Joe Flacco and John Harbaugh came in before the 2008 season, the Ravens are 45-10 straight up, outscoring opponents by an average of 10.58 points per game, at home, as opposed to 33-32, outscoring opponents by an average of 1.03 points per game on the road, a swing of about 9.5 points. It also hurts the Chargers that they are a West Coast team playing a 1 PM ET game on the East Coast. The Ravens should be favored by more than 5.5 here everything considered.

Speaking of the Ravens’ home dominance and the fact that they’re favored by just 5.5 here, the Ravens have done very well at home as underdogs or favorites of 7 or less since that 2008 season, going 22-11 ATS in that situation. The Ravens do have a tough game next week in Miami, where they’ll be underdogs, as non-divisional home favorites are 73-99 ATS before being non-divisional road underdogs since 2002 However, the Chargers have an even tougher game at home for New England next week. Non-divisional road underdogs are 92-126 ATS before being non-divisional home underdogs since 2002. Going off of that, teams are 57-89 ATS before being 3+ point home underdogs since 2012 and 29-62 ATS before being home underdogs of 4 or more. In a tough week for games, this is my Pick of the Week.

Baltimore Ravens 31 San Diego Chargers 17

Pick against the spread: Baltimore -5.5

Confidence: Pick of the Week

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Rate of Moving the Chains – Week 13

What is this? This is rate of moving the chains, which is my primary statistic for handicapping games. It holds the assumption that the goal of any team on any given 1st and 10 (or 1st and goal) is to move the chains (or score). In order to figure out how often teams meet that goal, I take first downs plus touchdowns and divide it by first downs plus touchdowns plus failures to move the chains (successes divided by attempts). Failures to move the chains include punts, turnovers, failed 4th downs, and field goal attempts (being forced to kick a field goal is a failure). I have this sorted by percent for (to evaluate offenses), percent against (to evaluate defenses), and differentials (to evaluate teams).

Offense

First Downs Touchdowns Field Goals Punts Turnovers Failed 4ths Safeties
1 NO 291 34 18 35 20 5 0 80.65%
2 GB 236 39 18 37 8 3 2 80.17%
3 DEN 259 42 13 50 12 6 0 78.80%
4 NE 261 36 27 45 9 4 0 77.75%
5 PIT 259 29 20 45 14 5 0 77.42%
6 IND 276 36 25 42 19 6 1 77.04%
7 BAL 241 31 24 37 15 6 0 76.84%
8 KC 226 29 17 49 10 3 0 76.35%
9 DAL 234 32 21 40 19 2 1 76.22%
10 SEA 227 28 26 40 9 5 1 75.89%
11 MIA 247 28 25 38 17 8 0 75.76%
12 CHI 236 28 11 45 21 10 0 75.21%
13 ATL 228 28 19 49 17 6 1 73.56%
14 SD 214 26 19 53 12 3 0 73.39%
15 NYG 237 29 10 56 22 10 0 73.08%
16 ARZ 210 23 20 61 8 1 0 72.14%
17 CIN 215 26 25 50 15 4 0 71.94%
18 CAR 228 22 22 54 19 3 0 71.84%
19 PHI 249 29 25 53 27 4 0 71.83%
20 SF 216 22 24 51 15 5 0 71.47%
21 WAS 219 24 20 52 21 4 0 71.47%
22 CLE 232 25 24 59 13 8 0 71.19%
23 HOU 214 21 24 54 16 4 1 70.36%
24 STL 201 20 20 54 19 4 0 69.50%
25 DET 204 19 28 51 14 5 0 69.47%
26 TB 195 21 17 49 24 6 1 69.01%
27 MIN 201 18 24 58 14 4 0 68.65%
28 NYJ 201 18 20 57 19 6 0 68.22%
29 TEN 182 22 15 59 17 5 2 67.55%
30 BUF 190 22 26 59 14 7 2 66.25%
31 JAX 193 18 16 64 24 7 0 65.53%
32 OAK 167 19 14 70 21 2 0 63.48%

 

Defense

First Downs Touchdowns Field Goals Punts Turnovers Failed 4ths Safeties
1 BUF 215 19 23 61 22 3 0 68.22%
2 ARZ 206 20 20 55 20 5 0 69.33%
3 PHI 225 30 18 65 19 7 0 70.05%
4 CLE 237 24 21 60 20 6 1 70.73%
5 MIA 204 23 22 42 20 8 1 70.94%
6 SF 201 24 12 53 22 5 0 70.98%
7 DET 215 20 17 59 15 4 1 71.00%
8 WAS 202 28 16 61 12 3 0 71.43%
9 KC 214 19 22 52 9 10 0 71.47%
10 DEN 226 29 20 62 13 4 1 71.83%
11 SEA 206 22 19 50 15 3 1 72.15%
12 BAL 217 23 20 49 16 6 1 72.29%
13 NE 237 23 24 43 20 12 0 72.42%
14 SD 205 25 16 50 13 7 1 72.56%
15 IND 223 30 12 58 17 8 0 72.70%
16 JAX 229 28 24 51 14 5 1 73.01%
17 HOU 245 26 17 52 24 6 0 73.24%
18 PIT 217 27 24 48 14 1 1 73.49%
19 OAK 229 29 26 54 8 5 0 73.50%
20 NYJ 206 33 19 58 7 2 0 73.54%
21 MIN 220 28 16 54 14 4 0 73.81%
22 DAL 210 27 11 48 18 7 0 73.83%
23 CHI 214 30 28 35 18 5 0 73.94%
24 STL 223 25 19 47 17 4 0 74.03%
25 CIN 254 23 25 46 16 7 2 74.26%
26 TB 241 31 29 47 16 1 0 74.52%
27 NYG 229 32 22 44 19 3 0 74.79%
28 ATL 251 29 30 40 21 1 0 75.27%
29 GB 251 26 16 38 23 11 0 75.89%
30 CAR 240 33 21 45 17 3 0 76.04%
31 TEN 264 29 27 47 14 4 0 76.10%
32 NO 233 29 21 42 11 1 1 77.51%

 

Differential

1 DEN 6.96%
2 NE 5.33%
3 KC 4.87%
4 MIA 4.82%
5 BAL 4.55%
6 IND 4.34%
7 GB 4.28%
8 PIT 3.93%
9 SEA 3.74%
10 NO 3.13%
11 ARZ 2.81%
12 DAL 2.39%
13 PHI 1.78%
14 CHI 1.27%
15 SD 0.84%
16 SF 0.49%
17 CLE 0.46%
18 WAS 0.04%
19 DET -1.53%
20 ATL -1.71%
21 NYG -1.71%
22 BUF -1.97%
23 CIN -2.32%
24 HOU -2.88%
25 CAR -4.21%
26 STL -4.53%
27 MIN -5.16%
28 NYJ -5.31%
29 TB -5.51%
30 JAX -7.48%
31 TEN -8.55%
32 OAK -10.02%

2014 Week 12 NFL Pick Results

Last week

Against the Spread: 4-11

Straight Up: 10-5

Pick of the Week: 1-0

High Confidence: 1-0

Medium Confidence: 1-4

Low Confidence: 1-3

No Confidence: 0-4

Upset Picks: 0-1

On the season

Against the Spread: 104-71-1 (.594)

Straight Up: 116-59-1 (.663)

Pick of the Week: 8-4

High Confidence: 8-7

Medium Confidence: 40-17

Low Confidence: 24-20-1

No Confidence: 24-23

Upset Picks: 13-13

Cleveland Browns at Atlanta Falcons: 2014 Week 12 NFL Pick

Cleveland Browns (6-4) at Atlanta Falcons (4-6)

This is probably the game I have a least feel for this week. On one hand, the Browns are a little bit better than the Falcons and this line at 3 suggests that these two teams are even with homefield advantage. The Browns rank 17th in rate of moving the chains differential, moving the chains at a 70.40% rate, as opposed to 70.12% for their opponents, a differential of 0.29%. The Falcons, meanwhile, rank 20th, moving the chains at a 73.19% rate, as opposed to 75.00% for their opponents, a differential of -1.81%. However, this isn’t normal homefield advantage as Matt Ryan is 31-20 ATS at home in his career dating back to 2008. I’m taking the Falcons, but I’m not confident at all.

Atlanta Falcons 24 Cleveland Browns 20

Pick against the spread: Atlanta -3

Confidence: None

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St. Louis Rams at San Diego Chargers: 2014 Week 12 NFL Pick

St. Louis Rams (4-6) at San Diego Chargers (6-4)

I’m completely split on this. On one hand, the Rams could easily be overconfident and off of a fluky win over the Broncos last week. The Broncos had more first downs (21 and 16) and an equal amount of offensive touchdowns (1), as the Rams were overly reliant on a +2 turnover margin. The Broncos moved the chains at a 68.75% rate, as opposed to 60.71% for the Rams. Road underdogs of 3 or more are 21-35 ATS since 1989 off of a win as 7+ point home underdogs. Teams can be not just overconfident, but also overvalued off of what’s usually a fluky victory.

I think the Rams are definitely overvalued here. They still only rank 27th in rate of moving the chains differential, moving the chains at a 69.76% rate, as opposed to 74.43% for their opponents, a differential of -4.67%. Meanwhile, the Chargers rank 16th, moving the chains at a 73.74% rate, as opposed to 73.10% for their opponents, a differential of 0.63%. That suggests this line should be much more than 5. It should at least be where it was last week, when the early line was 7, if not higher. I love fading big line movements because they’re often unwarranted and I think it is unwarranted here too.

On the other hand, the Chargers are in a terrible spot. While the Rams only have to play the Raiders next week, the Chargers have to go across the country and play the Ravens in Baltimore. Non-divisional home favorites are as non-divisional home favorites before being non-divisional road underdogs since 2008, while teams conversely are 76-106 ATS as non-divisional home favorites before being non-divisional road underdogs since 2008. Combining the two, teams are 100-61 ATS since 2010 as underdogs before being favorites when their opponent will next be underdogs. I’m still taking the Chargers, but I’m not confident at all.

San Diego Chargers 30 St. Louis Rams 24

Pick against the spread: San Diego -5

Confidence: None

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