Game Flowbotics: Week 16 Picks Against the Spread
Happy holidays, everyone. We’ve made it to Week 16. COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on player and coach availability around the NFL, so forecasting how matchups will play out is even more challenging than normal. Hopefully, the Game Flowbotics spreadsheet can help. It gathers pace and efficiency data from Football Outsiders and color-codes the various offense-versus-defense matchups on both sides of the ball to give a holistic overview of each contest on the slate. I’ll use the spreadsheet to make a few picks against the spread below, but before we get there, let’s review how last week went.
I continued to tread water again last week, going 3-3 with my picks for a loss of 0.28 units. Year to date, my record is 60-52-1 (53.6%) and I’m up 5.43 units overall. With last week’s picks, I hit on Kansas City (-3), but considering their six-point victory over the Chargers required overtime, that win felt a little lucky. Meanwhile, Patriots (+2.5) was a loss for me, but I wonder how much different that matchup might have played out if the Colts hadn’t managed an early special teams score. In any case, we found out that when Jonathan Taylor is given a full game’s worth of touches, not even Bill Belichick can contain him.
I also missed on the team total over (20.5) for Cincinnati, but that was a weird game. Teddy Bridgewater got hurt, and there simply wasn’t much urgency from the Bengals to push their pace and put up points. That lack of aggression from Bengals coach Zac Taylor is something to remain wary of going forward, though.
We could say the same thing about Mike Zimmer and the Vikings, too. They could have easily scored more than 17 points against Chicago, but Minnesota played conservatively, content to win without cracking their team total of 23.5. Thankfully, the Vikes still managed to cover the 3.5-point spread, so I was only half-wrong with my picks for that particular matchup.
Lastly, I correctly made the quick and dirty case for Buffalo to lay 10.5 points against Carolina. I was confident in the pick but filed it under “Rapid-Fire” because the analysis was more straightforward and concise. But after last week, I’ve realized the whole concept of my “Rapid-Fire” picks isn’t really that helpful. I need to be discerning when I recommend picks, and if I feel strongly enough to write up a particular angle, it might as well be considered a “Best Bet.” Apologies for taking all season to figure this out. I often have a problem with “fancy play syndrome” when it comes to content creation, but I’m always trying to improve, so the “Rapid-Fire” section will be eliminated from this week forward.
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