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Sept. 13 – Week 1 Review

Well, it was not a good Week 1 for the model. Overall, it went 4-8-2, and 0-2-2 on the top 4 confidence picks. Still, I would always rather have a bad Week 1 result as opposed to a Week 4 or 5 result, when the model has more current data to work with. The model went 7-7 on over/unders, continuing last year’s coin-flip theme. Anyway, here are quick 2-3 line reviews for each game:

16) Minnesota at New Orleans (Line : NOR – 4.5, O/U : 48) The model was .06 away from the line in predicting this game. It likes a high scoring affair, and a similar result to last year’s NFC Championship. The Saints win, but do not cover (barely) : Saints 29 Vikings 25.  Actual Score: Saints 14 Vikings 9.  Even though this counts as a loss, the model was pretty dead on here. The model said it would be close to the line, and it was as close as it gets. A Longwell extra point and it’s a win. The biggest shock here was the total 23 points scored.

15) Dallas at Washington (Line : DAL – 4, O/U : 40.5) The Boys start the quest to play in a home Super Bowl with a game in Washington. The new Redskins regime will fall just short. The model has Dallas covering the 4 , but not by much. : Cowboys 21 Redskins 16. Actual Score: Redskins 13 Cowboys 7.  NBC must be thrilled that their first 2 games totaled 43 points. This game was pretty ugly. The Boys O-Line made the Redskins D look  very good, and that’s not easy. Another loss for the model, although it was on point with the low score.

14) Oakland at Tennessee (Line : TEN – 6, O/U : 40.5) The Titans are hoping to start the 2010 campaign with a win (not 6 losses). Oakland is a better team than last year, and should put up some points. The Titans cover the six here, but again, it’s close:  Titans 29 Raiders 22. Actual Score: Titans 38 Raiders 13.  Well, this Tennessee team wont start 0-6. The titans looked good in all facets – young had a nice game, CJ proved the pre-season is pointless, and the defense held strong. Then again, they did play the Raiders. A win for the model on all accounts here.

Rashard Mendenhall - courtesy NBC Sports

13) Atlanta at Pittsburgh (Line : ATL – 2.5, O/U : 38) The Steelers play the first of 4 games without Big Ben. It’s at home, but unfortunately against a tough Falcon team. The model likes the Falcons here in a defensive affair: Falcons 20 Steelers 16. Actual Score: Steelers 15 Falcons 9.  A good defensive battle in Pittsburgh, which ultimately ended in OT on a big run by Mendenhall. Say what you want about Big Ben missing, but this team starts and stops with Polamalu. That was an amazing INT. A loss for the model here, but an over/under win.

12) Cincinnati at New England (Line : NEP – 4.5, O/U : 45) The Patriots typically struggle at the beginning of the year, and the line reflects that. This Cincy team will have to prove that the struggles at the end of 2009 were an aberration. The model likes the Pats at home:  Patriots 25 Bengals 18. Actual Score: Patriots 38 Bengals 24.  The Pats built a big lead here, before the Cats chipped away and made it a 2 TD differential. Reports that Welker lost a step look foolish now. This was not the strong Bengals defense of last year. A win for the model, but an over/under loss.

11) Miami at Buffalo (Line : MIA – 3, O/U : 38.5) The Fins start the season with a game against the division rival Bills. Buffalo looks to generate more offense with a new offensive system, while Miami hopes to gain an all important road win within the division. The model likes Miami:  Dolphins 21 Bills 16. Actual Score: Dolphins 15 Bills 10.  These are the games (unfortunately too few) that make me smile. The model predicted a 5 point Dolphin win and the under. I’m not too sure how the Bills will generate offense this year. For a “go to” guy, Brandon Marshall does drop a significant number of balls.

9) Detroit at Chicago (Line : CHI – 6, O/U : 43)Two NFC North teams that struggled in 2009 face off in the 2010 opener. Both teams have some new faces on offense. Mike Martz will try to get more points and less turnovers out of Jay Cutler. The model gives the Bears a good start:  Bears 27 Lions 18. Actual Score: Bears 19 Lions 14.  I don’t think the Lions could have had much worse of a Sunday. That rule needs to be looked at – Johnson almost looked like he got rid of the ball to celebrate. Losing Stafford for 4-6 weeks hurts this team immensely. The Bears looked anemic, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see them get theirs next week in Dallas. A loss on both ends for the model.

8) Indianapolis at Houston (Line : IND – 2, O/U : 47) The Colts begin the defense of their AFC crown, while the Texans begin the quest for their first playoff berth. There should be a lot of firepower in this matchup, with two top quarterbacks facing each other – but the model actually predicts a more defensive affair, and a Colts cover:  Colts 22 Texans 17. Actual Score: Texans 34 Colts 24.  A very nice win to open the season for Houston. This Colts team has a lot of questions to answer: Where’s the running game? Can Manning throw for 400+ yards every game? If Arian Foster can run for over 200 yards against them, what will MJD and CJ do? Again, a loss for the model on both ends.

6) Green Bay at Philadelphia (Line : GBP – 3, O/U : 47.5) The Eagles try to start the post-McNabb era off on the right foot. The Packers ended last season scoring a monstrous number of points, but also giving up plenty. The model likes that trend to continue here, in what it predicts is the biggest difference from the over/under line:  Packers 41 Eagles 31. Actual Score: Packers 27 Eagles 20.  Despite a bad game by Rodgers, the Pack still notched a win on the road. Michael Vick played very well in Kolb’s absence, and we will see more of him in 2010. A win for the model, and a narrow miss on the over/unders.

5) Denver at Jacksonville (Line : JAX – 2.5, O/U : 39.5) The Jags finished last season pretty poorly. Should be some interesting battles: MJD vs. a fair Denver D-Line – and Orton vs. a weak Jags secondary. The model gives the advantage to the road Broncos in a mild upset:  Broncos 29 Jaguars 23. Actual Score: Jaguars 24 Broncos 17.  A good first win for Jacksonville at home, but to me this was a battle of two teams who will struggle this year. Garrard had a nice game with 2 TD throws. The most exciting part about this game was the lightning delay. A loss for the model, but an over/under win.

 4) Cleveland at Tampa Bay (Line : TAM – 3, O/U : 37)An opening battle of two teams that struggled mightily last year. However, both teams managed to come on stronger at the end of the year with big wins. Still, the model doesn’t like many points here, and gives the edge to the Browns: Browns 21 Buccaneers 15. Actual Score: Buccaneers 17 Browns 14.  You can put lipstick on an INT machine, but it’s still an INT machine. I’m not sure how far the Browns will go with Delhomme at QB. The Browns actually looked pretty good in this game before he handed the Bucs the ball. Caddy Williams had a nice game for Tampa. A push on the line here, and a win on the over/under.

3) Arizona at St. Louis (Line : ARZ – 4, O/U : 39) Sam Bradford will be thrown into the fire right away, while the Cards try to move on in the post-Warner era. This might be a prime “Week 1 is hard to predict” example- the Cards scored 68 points in their last 2 games of 2009. Even with Anderson plugged in instead of Warner, the model heavily favors Arizona:  Cardinals 34 Rams 19. Actual Score: Cardinals 17 Rams 13 .  A late TD from Derek Anderson gave the Cards a win on the road. Still, this was another game where both teams looked weak. Sam Bradford had a couple of nice throws, but he really only has one or maybe two guys to throw to. Arizona put the ball on the ground too much. A push for the model, and an over/under loss.

2) San Francisco at Seattle (Line : SFO – 3, O/U : 37.5) Pete Carroll starts the season at home against a hungry Niners team, which now looks like the favorite in their weak division. Hasselbeck and company will look to open it up against a stingy 49ers D, while Frank Gore will try to carve up a weak Seattle D-Line. The model likes San Francisco – Big:  49ers 30 Seahawks 13. Actual Score: Seahawks 31 49ers 6.  This was the biggest stunner of the day to me. For all the hype, San Francisco was plain flat. Alex Smith made many mistakes. What was supposed to be a vaunted defense was shredded by Matt Hasselbeck. It looks like Seattle will continue to be the enigma they were last year. A big loss for the model, and a narrow loss on the over/under.

1) Carolina at N.Y. Giants (Line : NYG – 7, O/U : 41) This is another case of what the model does not know. The model is using last year’s results, where the Giants gave up points to anyone who came calling. In fact, one of those games was a 41-9 whipping by these same Panthers. The model does not know about the new stadium, nor the defensive additions. Even so, 7 seems like it may be a lot of points for a team that went 8-8 last year. It’s definitely an unusual 24 points off of the line, but the model likes Carolina to win big:  Best bet – Panthers 34 Giants 17. Actual Score: Giants 31 Panthers 18.  The Giants won here, but it was hardly pretty. Eli threw several picks, and the running game was good, not great. The star for New York was Hakeem Nicks, pulling in 3 scores. Carolina looked plain awful, and now with Moore possibly out for a couple of games, rookie Jimmy Claussen will be handed the reins. A loss for the model, and an over/under win.

I will have the reviews for the Monday Night games tomorrow, as well as an initial look at the Week 2 games. Also, a post this week on the valuation of home-field advantage.

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