After underdogs defeated favored teams in nearly half the games two weeks ago (six of 14 games), week nine was a bit more predictable, with favorites winning ten times and only four mild (3½ point odds or less) upsets.
This week brings what appears to be one of the very best games of the season on Sunday night in what could very realistically be a Super Bowl preview when the Houston Texans take on the Bears in Chicago in a matchup of a pair of 7-1 teams. It is only the fifth time since the merger that one or fewer losses have met this late in the year; coincidentally both of those losses were to the Green Bay Packers.
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3-5 Buffalo Bills at 5-3 New England Patriots
early game on CBS and DirecTV channel 710
The total in games played by the Pats has gone over in six straight games. While the Pats offense is very good and Buffalo’s is very bad, I can’t help but wonder if the timing will be just a bit off due to the bye week, resulting in a slow start. On the other hand in the last three meetings between these two the total has been 65, 70 and 80 points; in their last five games against Buffalo the Pats have scored 38, 34, 31, 49 and 52 points. The Pats defense usually plays well coming off a bye; in the last twelve years the Pats have held opponents to 17 or less ten times, and the two other times they gave up not much more, 20 and 21 points.
Prediction: Patriots 31, Bills 23
Bills +13, over 52½
– final score: Patriots 37, Bills 31
6-3 New York Giants at 3-5 Cincinnati Bengals
early game on Fox and DirecTV channel 704
The Bengals made the playoffs despite not beating any winning teams last year. This year they have lost to the only good teams they have faced, and overall are much worse than they were in 2011. The Giants rarely lose back-to-back games; I can’t see any of those trends not continuing.
Prediction: Giants 28, Bengals 21
Giants -3½ (1 Unit), over 48½
– final score: Bengals 31, Giants 13
4-4 San Diego Chargers at 4-4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
early game on CBS and DirecTV channel 711
I’m not a fan of teams crossing three time zones to play at what amounts to being 10 a.m. their time; even more so when they are an inconsistent team like the Chargers. Tampa Bay may have issues on defense, but their offensive line is playing very well, which is leading to solid play in both the running game and passing game. In the last four weeks the Bucs have scored 38, 28, 36 and 42 points.
Prediction: Bucs 30, Chargers 21
Bucs -2½ (2 Units), over 47½ (1 Unit)
– final score: Bucs 34, Chargers 24
5-3 Denver Broncos at 2-6 Carolina Panthers
early game on CBS and DirecTV channel 708
Carolina is one of those teams that keep things close but find usually find a way to lose; before beating Washington last week they four straight games by five point or less, including two at home where they blew second half leads. The Panthers defense is slowly improving, thanks in large part to Luke Kuechly. Denver is the opposite, often starting slowly but finishing strong. On one hand the Broncos are overdue to play down to their competition and have a bad game; on the other hand they have outscored their opponents 100-37 in the last 2½ games.
Prediction: Broncos 28, Panthers 24
Panthers +4½, over 47 (1 unit)
– final score: Broncos 36, Panthers 14
3-6 Tennessee Titans at 4-4 Miami Dolphins
early game on CBS and DirecTV channel 709
Tennessee has allowed 30 or more points in seven of their nine games. Jake Locker returns at QB for the Titans, which is the right long-term move but doesn’t really help today, despite Matt Hasselbeck’s performance. Rather than counting on Ryan Tannehill to win the game with his arm, all he’ll have to do is hand it off to Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas against a Titans defense that is allowing 142 rushing yards per game. I like Miami to bounce back with a win, but I don’t like having to give up so may points.
Prediction: Miami Dolphins 21, Tennessee Titans 17
Titans +6 (1 unit), under 45 (1 unit)
– final score: Titans 37, Dolphins 3
3-5 Oakland Raiders at 6-2 Baltimore Ravens
early game on CBS and DirecTV channel 707
The Raiders were just gashed by Doug Martin so I’m guessing they will be selling out to stop Ray Rice. Joe Flacco hasn’t looked great recently but I still don’t like west coast teams when they have to play an early game. Baltimore has been winning, but not by much; their last four wins have been by 1, 7, 4, and 2 points.
Prediction: Ravens 24, Raiders 20
Raiders +7½, under 47½
– final score: Ravens 55, Raiders 20
8-0 Atlanta Falcons at 3-5 New Orleans Saints
early game on Fox and DirecTV channel 706
Their offense gets the headlines but Atlanta’s defense has been quietly efficient, holding five of their last six opponents to 20 points or less. Atlanta has settled for a lot of field goals this year but look for their red zone offense to improve against this defense. The Saints on the other hand have regressed defensively, which didn’t really seem possible considering how bad their D has been the last two years; they are allowing 471 yards per game, which ranks dead-last in the NFL.
Prediction: Falcons 34, Saints 27
Falcons -2½, over 53 (2 units)
– final score: Saints 31, Falcons 27
4-4 Detroit Lions at 5-4 Minnesota Vikings
early game on Fox and DirecTV channel 705
The last time these two met Minnesota came out on top thanks to two special teams touchdowns. Since then the Vikings have lost three of their last four games while the Lions have rebounded from a 1-3 start to even their record at 4-4. Teams seem to have figured out Minnesota’s defense as well as QB Christian Ponder; now Percy Harvin is doubtful with an ankle injury. There has been a huge movement in the line on this game, which began with the Vikings favored by 2½.
Prediction: Lions 27, Vikings 23
Lions -3, over 45½ (1 Unit)
– final score: Vikings 34, Lions 24
3-5 New Jersey Jets at 5-4 Seattle Seahawks
late game on CBS and DirecTV channel 712
For the first time this year Seattle was gashed on the ground last week; I’ll write that off as a one-time anomaly, since Shonn Green is no Adrian Peterson. Red Bryant and the rest of the Seahawks front seven are going to force Mark Sanchez into multiple turnovers.
Prediction: Seahawks 24, Jets 10
Seahawks -5½ (2 units), under 39½ (3 units)
– final score: Seahawks 28, Jets 7
3-5 Dallas Cowboys at 3-5 Philadelphia Eagles
late game on Fox and DirecTV channel 713
Two under achieving teams that rank 30th and 31st in turnover differential. I don’t like the fact that the Eagles are missing four starting offensive linemen; they may have gotten away with that against a mediocre New Orleans defense, but not against this Dallas D, which is actually playing pretty well.
Prediction: Dallas Cowboys 24, Philadelphia Eagles 19
Cowboys -1½, under 46
– final score: Cowboys 38, Eagles 23
3-5 St. Louis Rams at 6-2 San Francisco 49ers
late game on Fox and DirecTV channel 714
Based on their last several games, especially the one in London, the Rams seem like they should be totally overmatched. However division games tend to stay close, plus the Rams get WR Danny Amendola and LT Rodger Saffold back from injuries. I think Chris Long and the Rams will get better pressure on Alex Smith than they did against the Pats OL as well. While 38½ points may seem really low, but the point total has gone under in six of eight games the 49ers have played.
Prediction: 49ers 20, Rams 16
Rams +12½ (4 units), under 38½ (1 unit)
– final score: 49ers 24, Rams 24
7-1 Houston Texans at 7-1 Chicago Bears
sunday night game on NBC
It looks like TE Owen Daniels is a no go for Houston, which hurts as the short passing game as well as blocking. I like Arian Foster just a bit more than Matt Forte, and Matt Schaub more than Jay Cutler; on the other hand Brandon Marshall is much better than Andre Johnson at this point, and due to their uncanny ability to force turnovers I would give the nod to the Bears’ defense over Houston’s. If the teams are even, isn’t the home team supposed to be favored by three?
Prediction: Bears 20, Texans 17
Bears -1, under 40½
– final score: Texans 13, Bears 6
1-7 Kansas City Chiefs at 5-3 Pittsburgh Steelers
monday night game on espn
The Chiefs don’t just turn the ball over more than any other team, no other team is even remotely close to being as bad as KC in turnover differential. To put it into perspective if you added the turnover differential of the two next worst teams in the NFL (Dallas, -11, Philadelphia, -9), that would equal where the Chiefs are (-20). Oh yeah, then there’s former Chiefs’ coach Todd Haley, who was fired last December, looking for a bit of revenge. The Steelers have re-discovered their ground game; after averaging 75 yards per game through week 6 they have averaged 155 yards per game since then. They are also finishing better, allowing just 15 point in the second half of the last three games combined. The only reason I’m not more confident in the outcome is that Pittsburgh may have a bit of a letdown after beating the Giants, while simultaneously looking ahead to playing the Ravens next week.
Prediction: Steelers 31, Chiefs 17
Steelers -12 (1 unit), over 42 (2 units)
– final score: Steelers 16, Chiefs 13 in OT
Three-Team Teaser (9 points, two units): Seahawks +3½ vs Jets, Rams +21½ vs 49ers, Steelers -3 vs Chiefs
– final scores: Seahawks won 28-7; Rams tied 24-24; Steelers won 16-13
Three-Team Teaser (9 points, one unit): Falcons-Saints over 44, Jets-Seahawks under 48½, and Texans-Bears under 49½
– final scores: Saints won 31-27 (58); Seahawks won 28-7 (35); Texans won 13-6 (19)
Favorites went 8-4 against the spread as Vegas had a really bad day last weekend; the public tends to put their money on the favorites, even though underdogs have covered 61% of the time this season. It’s not unusual for a person who doesn’t really follow teams that closely to parlay say ten favorites with a small wager, not much different than buying a lottery ticket; in this case those paid out 800-to-1.
Tale Of The Tape
I had a two-unit, two-team teaser that I got both games correct, and a three-team, two-unit teaser in which I got all three games wrong; I guess I should consider myself fortunate that all the incorrect predictions were on one play, and all the correct guesses were on a different play rather than being spread out between both, and therefore losing both.
There were no games that I felt extremely confident about, but if I had simply bet the chalk I would have done great. In review, here were my two unit plays:
Colts-Dolphins under 43 (push)
Broncos -3½ at Cincy (w 31-23)
Panthers-Redskins over 46½ (l, 21-13)
Bears-Titans under 43½ (l, 51-20)
Bucs +2 at Raiders (w, 42-32)
Bucs +8 at Oakland, Packers -4 vs Cardinals
(Bucs won by 10, Packers won by 14)
Panthers-Redskins over 37½; Vikings-Seahawks under 47½; Eagles-Saints over 42½
(totals of 34, 50 and 41)
Results for Week 9 (and the season):
Straight Up: 11-3 (79%) last week, 91-41 (69%) for the season
Against The Spread: 8-6 (57%) / 61-70-1 (47%)
Over/Under: 7-6-1 (54%) / 75-53-4 (58%)
1 Unit Plays: 3-1 (+190) / 25-17
2 Unit Plays: 3-3-1 (-40) / 24-22-3
3 Unit Plays: 0-0 / 15-8-2
4 Unit Plays: 0-0 / 0-2
5 Unit Plays: 0-0 / 2-1
Weekly Total: 5-3-1 regular; 1-1 teasers
All Confidence Picks: 6-4-1 (59%) / 72-38-5 (65%)
Week 8 Total: +150
Season Total: +6120
6-2, +5 Units, +480
Season Grand Total
This Day In Patriots History
November 11, 1960:
Boston Patriots 38, New York Titans 21 at Nickerson Field
The Pats get a sweep in their inaugural season against the team that would later become known as the Jets despite a 100-yard receiving day by future Hall of Famer Don Maynard.
FB Alan Miller had five receptions for 83 yards, including a 48-yard pass from Butch Songin to open up scoring in the first quarter. Songin also had two touchdown passes (31 yards, 9 yards) to Jim Colclough, who finished with six catches for 85 yards. After Maynard scored to cut the Titans’ deficit to three at the end of three quarters, HB Dick Christy (11 rushes for 105 yards) scored on a 46-yard run, and then threw a 10-yard option pass to TE Thomas Stephens to ice the game.
November 11, 1962:
Boston Patriots 33, Denver Broncos 29 at Bears Stadium
The Pats rallied for two 4th quarter to break open a tie game late and improve their record to 6-2-1.
Babe Parilli (15-23, 236 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT) threw touchdown passes of 7 yards and 67 yards to Jim Colclough (123 yards) to give the Patriots a first half lead. The Broncos scored twice to tie the game and looked to take the lead when Ron Burton returned a missed field goal attempt 91 yards for the game winning score. Burton finished with a grand total of 264 yards: 81 rushing, 25 receiving, 67 on kickoff returns, plus the 91 yards on the field goal return.
November 11, 1973:
New York Jets 33, New England Patriots 13 at Shea Stadium
TE Bob Windsor scored two touchdowns on 22 and 21 yard passes from Jim Plunkett, but the Pats could not hang on to the ball and gifted the Jets a victory.
The Patriots fumbled the ball six times, losing five of those drops, and Plunkett was picked off three times in the game. The defense did its job, forcing the Jets to settle four field goals, but the turnovers were too much to overcome. WR Reggie Rucker had five catches for 55 yards and Mack Herron had 187 return yards for the Pats.
November 11, 1979:
Denver Broncos 45, New England Patriots 10 at Mile High Stadium
The Denver defense totally shut down the Pats and rolled to an easy win. Sam Cunningham scored on a 2-yard run and Don Calhoun had 61 yards from scrimmage for the Pats.
November 11, 1984:
New England Patriots 38, Buffalo Bills 10
The Pats cruised to an easy victory over the winless Bills to improve to 7-4. Cedric Jones scored on 17 and 7 yard passes from Tony Eason; Tony Collins ran for two touchdowns; Stanley Morgan had five receptions for 68 yards, including a 24-yard TD; and Ronnie Lippett had two interceptions for the Patriots.
November 11, 1990:
Indianapolis Colts 13, New England Patriots 10 at Foxboro
Jeff George threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Bill Brooks with 2:05 remaining as the Colts came from behind to beat the Pats. In a strong wind the Patriots offense mostly stayed on the ground, led by 11th round pick Marvin Allen (71 yards and a TD), John Stephens (64 yards), and FB George Adams (37 yards rushing, 1 yards on two receptions). If you are a diehard Pats fan but don’t recall either Allen or Adams, don’t worry about it; you are not alone.
November 11, 2001:
New England Patriots 21, Buffalo Bills 11 at Foxboro Stadium
For the first time since Bill Belichick became head coach of the Patriots the team had a winning record, and they matched the previous season’s win total, upping their record to 5-4.
The Pats offense was fueled by RB Antowain Smith, who ran for touchdowns of 1 and 42 yards against the team he played for the previous year, as part of a 100-yard rushing game.
New England’s defense sacked Rob Johnson five times before he left with a shoulder injury, but his replacement, Alex Van Pelt, threw a 17-yard TD to Peerless Price to bring the Bills within three points with 2:43 left to play. Buffalo tried an onside kick but that was recovered by Mike Vrabel; with everyone up close to the line of scrimmage Smith then burst through the line for his 42-yard TD to clinch the victory. For the first time in four meetings between the two teams the game did not go in to overtime. Kevin Faulk had seven receptions for the Pats, including a 6-yard TD from Tom Brady.
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November 11, 1946:
Chris Dreja, rhythm guitar player and then bass player for the Yardbirds, was born in Surbiton, England
November 11, 1972:
Berry Oakley, bass player for the Allman Brothers, was killed when his motorcycle hit a bus; it was the very same intersection where band mate Duane Allman had also died in a motorcycle accident one year earlier.
November 11, 1978:
The Cars released My Best Friend’s Girlfriend
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