Friday, November 2, 2018

NFL Week 9 Primer (With Picks): Halfway Point Power Poll

These two guys are pretty good at quarterback-ing.
By Jeremy Conlin (@jeremy_conlin) and Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

Just like we did following Week 5, we're going to use this space to break down the league into tiers and try to make sense of where each team stands. For fun, I also included a breakdown of how much each team moved, so you can laugh about how wrong we were a month ago.

The Mount Rushmore of Sucking

32. Buffalo Bills (-1)
31. Oakland Raiders (-1)
30. Arizona Cardinals (+2)
29. San Francisco 49ers (0)

They At Least Possess Some Semblance of Talent

28. New York Giants (0)

The Good Bad Teams

27. Miami Dolphins (-6)
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-4)
25. Cleveland Browns (-2)
24. Tennessee Titans (-4)
23. Detroit Lions (+4)

Wait, Are They Just Bad?

22. Jacksonville Jaguars (-19)

Wait, Are They Actually Decent?

21. New York Jets (+4)

The Superior Bad Teams

20. Denver Broncos (-3)
19. Indianapolis Colts (+5)
18. Atlanta Falcons (-4)

Lurking, Technically

17. Dallas Cowboys (+1)
16. Cincinnati Bengals (-9)

Actually Lurking, Probably

15. Green Bay Packers (-5)
14. Minnesota Vikings (-1)
13. Philadelphia Eagles (-2)
12. Seattle Seahawks (+7)


 11. Houston Texans (+15)

The Bad Good Teams

10. Washington Redskins (+5)
9. Chicago Bears (0)
8. Baltimore Ravens (0)

The Old Guard

7. Pittsburgh Steelers (+5)
6. Carolina Panthers (-1)

Maybe Actually Legit 

5. Los Angeles Chargers (+11)

The Contenders

4. New England Patriots (+2)
3. New Orleans Saints (+1)
2. Kansas City Chiefs (0)

The De Facto Favorite

1. Los Angeles Rams (0)

All in all, this seems to make sense, at least to us. The biggest drops are for Jacksonville, Cincinnati, and Miami, and the biggest jumps are for Houston, the Chargers, and the Seahawks. Overall, the top of the standings and the bottom of the standings haven't changed much (and probably don't need to). Even Jeremy the Patriots fan admits that the Chiefs still belong above New England - the Patriots have two road wins since their head-to-head win but neither was overly impressive. New Orleans gets the slight nod over New England also with their road wins over Baltimore and Minnesota.

If you disagree with our assessment of your favorite team, all complaints can be sent to our attorneys at the law firm of Could, Not, Possibly, & Care.

After a solid run of over-.500 picks the last few weeks, Week 8 saw another downswing. We agreed on nine picks and went just 4-5. Joe crawled back to an even week with a 3-2 advantage on disagreements, but again Jeremy took the plunge and finished the week 6-8. Here are the Week 9 Picks.

Here Are The Picks We Agree On (Home Teams In CAPS)

MINNESOTA (-5) over Detroit

JC: I finally did it. I finally picked a Detroit game correctly. I'm now 1-for-The Season. The Detroit defense is actually really bad - one of the worst units in all of football. They're not Buffalo's Offense bad or Tampa Bay's Defense bad, but they're probably the next level down from that. They don't look that bad because they actually do a decent job of getting off the field on third down and in the Red Zone, but they've been pretty brutal on first and second down. Minnesota should torch them pretty easily. 

JP: Minnesota's passing game is a true joy, and it should be extra entertaining this week.

Kansas City (-8.5) over CLEVELAND

JC: Man, I really want to take Cleveland here, as a huge underdog at home the week after they fire their coach, but I just can't pull the trigger. The line opened above 10, and if it somehow creeps back up that high, I'm all over it, but at this price I'm too much of a chicken. 

JP: I feel the opposite. Gregg Williams is a nut, the top two offensive coaches on the team (Hue Jackson and Todd Haley) are out the door, and they're still starting a rookie QB who is struggling to find his way. This has blowout written all over it.

BALTIMORE (-3) over Pittsburgh

JC: Even after two rough weeks, Baltimore still has the league's best scoring and yardage defense. They're 6th in DVOA. Pittsburgh, since their loss to Baltimore a month ago, has moved the ball well and picked up three straight wins (and actually seen their defense show up), but going on the road in Baltimore is another story. 

JP: The Steelers look like a playoff contender again, but they couldn't figure out Baltimore's defense the first time around, and had no answer for Joe Flacco off of play action. Hard not to see a similar script unfolding this time, despite some obvious adjustments Pittsburgh will make offensively (uh, run the ball).

CAROLINA (-6.5) over Tampa Bay

JC: It's tempting to take Tampa Bay with Ryan Fitzpatrick back under center, but I have to think that Cam Newton just steamrolls this terrible defense and controls the chains and the clock for most of the game. 

JP: I doubt we see much more Fitzmagic, especially against this defense and ground game.

New York Jets (+3) over MIAMI

JC: I think the Dolphins stink. I'm not willing to lay points with them against anyone the rest of the year save for their home game against Buffalo later this year. Like, I get that they started 3-0, but it's unclear what they actually do well. 

JP: Both of these teams have had their great and terrible moments this year, so gimme the points.

WASHINGTON (-1.5) over Atlanta

JC: Is Washington good? Washington might actually be good. If you ignore their clunker at New Orleans, they have one of the most impressive resumes in the league. They have a stellar defense and an offense that's good enough - they grind out yards on the ground and don't turn the ball over (I mean, they are an Alex Smith team). Atlanta has been blessed with an easy schedule during the first half (only two road games, both losses), so I can't imagine the second half will be much better. Their defense is in real trouble, I have to imagine Washington will be able to move the ball easily.

JP: Washington is good. Alex Smith is good (in his own way). Atlanta hasn't played a complete game all year.

Houston (+1) over DENVER

JC: Houston has won five straight games. That seems relevant. Denver's offense wasn't good to begin with and they just shipped their best offensive player to... (checks notes) ...Houston. That also seems relevant. Houston's ground defense is one perhaps the best in the league, so making an already mediocre offense one-dimensional seems pretty good.

JP: The Texans are coming alive offensively, and are good enough defensively to shut down one-dimensional teams. They should take care of business in Denver.

Los Angeles Chargers (+1) over SEATTLE

JC: I like the Chargers on the road, I like the Chargers against pretty much anyone in the league short of the top four teams, and I think Seattle might be a touch overrated after beating up on two bad teams (Oakland and Detroit). The Chargers are healthy for the first time since 1987, so I'll ride with them until they bite me.

JP: Chargers are good, Seahawks are pretty good. Advantage: Chargers.

NEW ENGLAND (-5.5) over Green Bay

JC: The Patriots weren't overly impressive on Monday night, but got the job done. The Packers still don't have everything figured out. They SHOULD be better, but for some reason, they're 3-3-1.This seems to me like a game where New England sits with a 10-14 point lead for most of the game, the Packers make it a token fight towards the end, but the Patriots still win easily.

JP: In a battle of two future First Ballot Hall of Fame QBs, Brady just has the far better supporting cast.

Here Are The Picks We Disagree On (Home Teams Still In CAPS)

JC: Oakland (+1) over SAN FRANCISCO

Yet another Thursday night clunker. Is it just me or has it been a more miserable slate than usual this year? Either way, I'm writing these sentences before the game starts, even though you'll read them after the game has finished, and I'm telling you that as I write this, I don't care what happens in this game, and as you read this, I still don't care what happened in this game.

JP: SAN FRANCISCO (-1) over Oakland

I don't know why I was so confident about these. Maybe it's just because I have faith in Jon Gruden being the worst (re)hiring of the decade.

JC: CHICAGO (-10) over Buffalo

Derek Anderson has a concussion, and Josh Allen is still out, which means Nathan Peterman is back under center for the Bills. Honestly, I don't understand how he's still on an NFL roster. He's unquestionably the worst quarterback I've ever seen in my life, to the point where I openly wonder if Buffalo would be better of just snapping the ball to LeSean McCoy every down (they kind of tried it against New England and it kind of worked). Either way, I'm not gambling on Nathan Peterman under any circumstances. They'd have to be getting like, more than three touchdowns before I even thought about it.

JP: Buffalo (+10) over CHICAGO

While Buffalo's quarterback situation may be the worst I've ever seen, the Bills have actually taken some steps forward defensively. That, combined with the fact that the coaching staff showed they're willing to empty the clop, running whacky formations and trick plays galore against the Patriots last week, makes me think the Bills can hang against an inconsistent offense.

JC: NEW ORLEANS (+1) over Los Angeles Rams

The Rams are still undefeated, but have covered just one spread in their last five games (and that was against the 49ers). They've been playing close games and not really putting teams away. Meanwhile, the Saints have won six straight games, are coming off two consecutive impressive road wins, and they're getting points at home? This seems too good to be true.

JP: Los Angeles Rams (-1) over NEW ORLEANS

I know this game is in the dome, and that I've been betting on the Saints pretty much every week, but these are the Rams, and they're only giving a point (it's essentially a Pick'em). They haven't been blowing people out lately, but they're still the best team in football, and can win so many different ways.

JC: DALLAS (-5.5) over Tennessee

Tennessee has a really bad offense. Their defense seems okay until you remember their schedule (Miami, Buffalo, Jacksonville the bad version of Houston). Both of these teams are coming off a bye week, which probably benefits Dallas because it's not like Tennessee's problems were injury-related anyway. They just don't have enough talent.

JP: Tennessee (+5.5) over DALLAS

I don't know. Call me crazy, but I still kinda like this Titans team when they aren't turning the ball over. Dallas is meh to me, so 5.5 seems like a decent value for a team that isn't awful.

Jeremy's Record:
Last Week: 6-8
Season: 48-68-5
Last Week's Disagreements: 2-3
Season's Disagreements: 16-22-1

Joe's Record:
Last Week: 7-7
Season: 54-62-5
Last Week's Disagreements: 3-2
Season's Disagreements: 22-16-1

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