Week 10: Picking Winners, Thinking Outside the Box
Tony is a former retail manager turned full-time sports investor. This is a new column at 4for4 designed to help those of you in weekly pickem and survivor pools gain an edge on the competition. Tony wants winners and is glad to field questions on Twitter or through email.
What Have We Learned?
Andy Dalton is the biggest reason the Cincinnati Bengals are 6-2. The MGM in Vegas opened the Bengals season win total at 7.5, and money poured in on the under 7.5 wins. The Hilton decided to open the Bengals win total at 5.5 and money still poured in on the under. Everyone thought the Bengals with a rookie quarterback and a below average running game, currently ranked 21st, were going to be lucky to win 3 games and not have a chance to make the playoffs.
Andy Dalton has thrown 12 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, and has completed 61.5% of his passes. Two other rookie quarterbacks drafted ahead of Dalton have taken the majority of the snaps for teams that are 2-6.
Cam Newton, who has thrown for almost 700 more yards than Dalton, has only thrown 11 touchdowns and 9 interceptions, and has completed 60.6% of his passes. Newton also has 7 rushing touchdowns. Carolina does have the 32nd ranked defense compared to Cincinnati’s 10th ranked defense, but the Panthers are the 3rd best rushing team in the NFL. I believe Dalton is doing more with less in Cincinnati.
Blaine Gabbert has been awful for Jacksonville, throwing 5 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, and has completed only 45.7% of his passes. Jacksonville has the 6th ranked defense. Gabbert is statistically the worst starting quarterback in the NFL. If he was just mediocre, Jacksonville would be in the playoff race.
Andy Dalton has a higher quarterback rating than Mark Sanchez, Joe Flacco, and Matt Ryan, who all play for teams that are considered Super Bowl contenders. Cincinnati still has to play Pittsburgh and Baltimore twice each, but the rest of their schedule is very manageable. I believe Andy Dalton will be up to the task and Cincinnati will get at least two wins in those four games. Cincinnati is going to win 10 or 11 games this year when all the experts thought they would be lucky to win 5, and Andy Dalton is the main reason why.
With San Francisco’s win over Washington, they are now 4-0 in the Eastern time zone. The 49ers have one game left this year out east, week 12 at Baltimore.
Arian Foster is now the Texans' all-time leader for rushing touchdowns after just 29 starts with Houston.
For people that play in pick-the-winner pools, home teams are 76-54 SU, home favorites 60-25 SU, and home dogs 16-29 SU.
A couple of against-the-spread (ATS) numbers: unders went 10-4 in week 9. YTD overs are 66-63 (51.16%).YTD against-the-spread 66-66 -6(50%), with 43 of those underdogs who covered, being outright winners. Double digit dogs are 12-6-1 ATS (66.67%).
Teams off of byes went 4-2 SU and 4-2 ATS last week. For the year teams off of byes are 12-12 SU and 12-11-1 ATS. Carolina, Detroit, Jacksonville, and Minnesota had byes last week.
Picking Unpopular Winners
For pick’em, against-the-spread type pools (Office Football Pool, Pick 5 formats, etc.), a key to winning is often finding the unpopular public plays and going against the grain. Here are some unpopular plays I like this week that may help you win your pool.
NEW YORK Jets -1: This is a battle between two teams going in opposite directions. The Jets have won three straight while the Patriots have won the last two. The New England offense hasn’t been as potent lately scoring 20 or less in three straight games. New England has no real deep threat or running game to take the pressure off of Brady and the short passing game. Brady is now 34 years old and I believe his skills are starting to diminish a little. The Jets have the best pass defense in the NFL, and are one defense that has given the Patriots trouble the in past few years. The Jets are ranked 17th in offense, but have looked much better in recent weeks, scoring at least 24 points in each of their last three games. New England is giving the most yards per game in the NFL and are 26th in third down conversion percentage. A rowdy Sunday night crowd will help the Jets cruise to a victory by at least a touchdown.