Weekend Football Review (11/1/10)

By Paul Bessire

Monday, November 1 at 6:42 PM ET
I will always recap the weekend in football each Monday afternoon. It is very important to us to be transparent and to honest about our picks. I know that I say this every week, but today's blog will be much shorter than usual because I'm trying to get over a flu bug that hit me hard yesterday. I'll spare you the details because you definitely do not want an account of my day from when I started working on the World Series Game 4 preview around 9:30 am and when it went up around 3:30 pm. Needless to say, football was on, but I did not get to watch much of it.

Fortunately, I do not think it was the performance of our picks that made me sick. This week was definitely not as strong in college as the last several, but the weekend overall was not crushing. In fact, it's kind of the opposite of a couple weeks ago when I know that most of our college subscribers did not get the value that they have come to expect from our picks, yet many turned profits on our information. As we'll get into below, it was a better day in the NFL. Unfortunately, for the first time ever, we missed both our college and NFL Locks of the Week. The odds were overwhelming that that would happen at some point, but that's still extremely disappointing. That being said, the Locks were our only two losses in the Paul's Picks. We are 4-2-1 ATS for the week heading into tonight. If we hit our sixth straight MNF side, we'll get to 5-2-1 - which is the 70%+ clip that we have been hitting on average. And we are guaranteed that we will not have a .500 or worse week. In nine weeks of the football Paul's Picks, we have only been .500 or worse ONE time. I'm definitely proud of that. And after so many consecutive weeks of hitting 60%+ with our picks, the "bad" week is more in a relative sense than anything else. Across the board, picking every game, we are exactly at 50% ATS and O/U right now. That's not even close to the goal, but it doesn't hurt nearly as much as the others have helped.

The Football Numbers (after College Week 8 and NFL Week 7):

  • ATS Locks of the Week: 0-2 (FIU -5.5 lost straight-up and Pittsburgh Steelers PK lost straight-up)
  • Year-to-Date ATS Locks of the Week: 10-6-1 (62.5%)
  • All-Time ATS Locks of the Week: 59-17-3 (77.6%)
  • YTD Daily Top ATS Plays: 31-12 (72.1%)
  • Paul's Picks ATS Week: 4-2-1 (with one game remaining)
  • YTD Paul's Picks ATS: 47-21 (69.1%)
  • YTD ATS All Games: 55.5%
  • YTD O/U All Games: 54.4%
  • YTD SU (NFL and FBS vs FBS College): 74.0%

The MLB Numbers:
Through Game 4 of the World Series, 19-12 on straight-up value plays and 17-10-4 O/U. As of right now, with the series favoring the Giants 3-1, San Francisco has an 84.5% chance to win it all.

College Best and Worst:

Best Wins: Auburn is really good. The Tigers may not have a great defense, but their offense is the most well-rounded in the nation, ranking in the top three nationally in pass AND rush offense. It's a pretty close race between Auburn and Oregon for the best offense in the country... We love Hawaii. I think that I have led with the Warriors the previous two weeks and could have done so again this week as they were our fourth best play and covered by 21. Preliminary lines and our numbers suggest that we will like Hawaii to cover again this week when it takes on Boise State on the blue turf. However, it does not appear to be a strong pick. Boise State is pretty goo too - especially at home... Pitt is also pretty good. I went on record (on-air in Louisville) two weeks ago with our projection that the Panthers would win the Big East. That's looking very likely at this point (the Panthers already beat the current second place team, Syracuse, by 31 points in Syracuse)... Toledo and Kent State have been very good to us. Double-digit lines in MAC games can be scary, but the Rockets and Golden Flashes (really MAC mascots?) held up... I don't think that Louisiana-Monroe is a very good football team, but how again were the Warhawks 16.5 point underdogs at home against Troy? That's a ton of points... NC State was a huge win for the Paul's Picks on the side and the total. Actually, one of our best plays the entire week was the UNDER on 57.5 points in that game because the line kept moving up all the way to 59.5 in most places. Thank you Christian Ponder for dropping the ball when you had a tight end wide open in the endzone... The West Virginia - UConn game from Friday night was very similar in that we had it at over 60% to cover and the line moved away from our pick. We continue our domination of weekday games (NFL and college)... Penn State over Michigan was a predicted upset and Baylor over Texas was one almost one according to the numbers. Both underdogs looked great. I love Robert Griffin. If he had not lost a year to injury (and if he played an pretty much any other BCS school), we would be talking much more about him. The track star is leading his team far more with his arm than his legs. In 24 career starts, Griffin has completed 63.7% of his passes for 5,164 yards (8.2 yards-per-attempt), 39 TDs and 8 INTs. The 6'2", 220 lb QB with sophomore status also has a winning record (13- 11) - for Baylor. Griffin has three of our top 25 teams remaining on his schedule, with a berth in the Big 12 Championship game if he wins them all, so this shouldn't be the last we talk about him... We went 28-14 ATS and O/U in "Weak" games this week... That's good and bad. With so many "normal" or better games, I cannot imagine many people were playing those, but most of the week's marquee games were in there, so it never hurts to be on the right side of the games everyone asks about. I just wish the Predictalator had had a little more confidence in each.

Toughest Losses: I believe that FIU-FAU was the only FBS vs. FBS game last week with no live video and no Gamecast that I could find. So I checked in with these guys early in the fourth quarter. The first play that I heard announced was Willie Floyd's 65-yard TD run to ice the game for the Owls and kill our Lock. I still don't think FAU is the better team. The Golden Panthers had played significantly better and against significantly better competition. They even out-gained the Owls on Saturday. But, despite completing over 60% of his passes for the fourth time this season, Wesley Carroll threw three interceptions - something he had not done against Rutgers, Texas A&M, Maryland or Pittsburgh - in the loss... Cal belongs down here just like Hawaii belongs above. Has there ever been a team just as likely get completely destroyed as to blow the other team out? The Bears may also have the greatest homefield advantage in the history of football. In its wins (all home games), Cal is out-scoring opponents 47-9. In its four losses (all road games), Cal has been outscored 40-15. That doesn't help the numbers. Whether Kevin Riley can make it back for any part of the season or not, Cal should (in order): blowout Washington State on the road, get blown out at home against Oregon and Stanford and blowout Washington at home to end the year 6-6. However, given the Bears recent home history, they could lose at Washington State next week and still be a threat to take down Oregon and/or Stanford. Fortunately, the lines in the next three games will probably be so big that you should just stay away... If not for a last-minute, 39-yard bomb from Ben Chappell on fourth-and-ten in the Indiana-Northwestern game that Indiana still lost 20-17, we would have hit another one of our Paul's Picks. Instead, we pushed. That hurt because it looked like it was definitely going to come through for us - and it's not like that gave us the OVER... Can't do much about Jacory Harris and Dayne Crist going down... ECU, Georgia, UTEP, San Jose State and Tulane were ALL 50/50 or better to cover with two minutes left in their games (Kentucky was almost 50% to cover with two minutes left, but missed by half a point). If half those games went our way, it would have been a much better looking Saturday... I really thought we were going to make it through the last 14:24 of the Arizona-UCLA game without any points scored. But, in another horrific use of timeouts and downs, UCLA went for it on fourth-and-11 from its own 19 down five with more than two minutes left. UCLA had all three timeouts and one of the better special teams units in the country... Remember when USC had the lead in the third quarter against Oregon?

Most intriguing games of Week 10*: UCF @ Houston (Friday), NC State @ Clemson, Louisville @ Syracuse, Baylor @ Oklahoma State, TCU @ Utah (on CBSCS), Hawaii @ Boise State (on ESPNU - biggest MWC and WAC games of the year are on CBSCS adn ESPNU at the same time on the same day), UNC @ Florida State, Oklahoma @ Texas A&M, Arkansas @ South Carolina, Alabama @ LSU, Arizona @ Stanford, Texas @ Kansas State and Arizona State @ USC. Tomorrow's Middle Tennessee State @ Arkansas State game is part of the Week 9 package. Toledo @ Northern Illinois is part of Week 10.

NFL Best and Worst:

Best Wins: I did not get to watch too much this week, but I did follow along much more in the later games. We went 3-1 ATS in the 4:15 pm ET games, so that was nice. Included in those three wins were two of our Paul's Picks top plays... The most entertaining game of the day from what I can tell was Tampa Bay @ Arizona. We had the Buccaneers winning outright as underdogs. That looked awesome when they were up 31-14 with twenty minutes left in the game. It did not look as awesome ten minutes later when Cardinals took a four point lead. But, as we have learned this season, it's fun to root for Josh Freeman and against Arizona's quarterbacks... Brett Favre leaving the game had absolutely nothing to do with the final outcome of that contest. Tarvaris Jackson was in the game for eight plays. He accounted for 71 yards and eight points - and on two of those plays he only had two yards he could gain. The Vikings lost (and the Patriots/Pauls Pick won/covered) because Minnesota's defense gave up too many big plays. They are fun to watch, but Danny Woodhead, Brandon Tate and Benjarvus Green-Ellis shouldn't be dominating opponents... In related news, Randy Moss helped the Minnesota Vikings offense. He may not have caught many passes, but Percy Harvin was wide open all day because the Patriots double-teamed Moss on every play but one. Moss is not the kind of headache that hurts a team from a "football chemistry" standpoint like Terrell Owens is (again this year). Yes, he should have tried harder/at all to catch that pass on the play before Favre was knocked out of the game. And yes, he can be a pain. But he was the only reason that team had any legitimate playoff aspirations. To me, that means that the Vikings just gave up on 2010... The Oakland Raiders had a fun cover. Darren McFadden could make a case for MVP. With the numbers that Peyton Manning is putting up and with where Tom Brady and the Patriots are, McFadden wouldn't top my vote list right now, but the offense is clearly better when he is in the game, especially in conjunction with Michael Bush and Jason Campbell. In the two games that those three have played in together this year, the Radiers have put up 92 points, including 567 yards rushing on 91 carries (6.2 yards-per-carry) and 514 passing yards on 47 pass attempts (10.9 yards-per-pass). McFadden has accounted for 331 of those 1,000+ total yards. Seattle had the top rushing defense going into the game yesterday. Several doubted our prediction that the Raiders would still be able to succeed, but the offensive numbers were just too overpowering for the defense to stop. Did I just say all that about the Raiders? And this is not the 1970s, right?... Bet on Sam Bradford - especially at home. The St. Louis Rams are currently our most likely team to win the NFC West - tied with the Seattle with 7.3 wins to end the season. Other projected division winners include: New York Giants (11.9 wins), Pittsburgh Steelers (11.0 wins), New York Jets/New England Patriots (tie with 10.8 wins), Atlanta Falcons (10.8 wins), Indianapolis Colts (10.4 wins), Kansas City Chiefs (9.9 wins) and Green Bay Packers (9.5 wins). Top AFC Wild Card Contenders include: NYJ/NE, Baltimore Ravens (10.9 wins), Tennessee Titans (10.2 wins), Miami Dolphins (9.2 wins) and San Diego Chargers (8.8 wins). Oakland and Houston are both looking at .500 records. Top NFC Wild Card contenders include: Philadelphia Eagles (9.9 wins), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9.1 wins), New Orleans Saints (9.1 wins) and Chicago Bears (8.1 wins). With the way that the Bears have looked and how good the (non-NFC West) division winners have looked, it's really down to Philadelphia, Tampa Bay and New Orleans for the two NFC Wild Card spots.

Toughest Losses: Heath Miller. A Pittsburgh straight-up win may have immediately cured my illness. It's not really Heath Miller's fault that the Pittsburgh Steelers lost. The defense still have a chance to stop Drew Brees and the Saints' offense coming back. Miller just simultaneously gave me hope and then took it away with his 25-yard catch, run into game-tying field goal range and then fumble with about 6:30 left in the game and down 13-10 to the Saints. Even going back as far as we do (still heavily weighting games from last season), the numbers do not suggest that New Orleans is the better team in this matchup, even at home. The Steelers had several chances to win it. They should have... Denver was the other tough loss. The Broncos were good enough to play the New York Jets even at home and the blowout by the Raiders does not even look as bad in retrospect. The Week 1 -6 Broncos were notably better than anything that the 49ers put on the field this year. And looking at the numbers, Kyle Orton was still able to move the ball effectively through the air, which was Denver's calling card to start the season. The Broncos just couldn't find a way to win. Teams that fall into the "should be winning these games" category - Dallas, San Diego, Denver - tend not to have the most stable coaching situations... When are the Bills and Chiefs going to start scoring all those points? Interestingly, many of the players from this game we highlighted to pick-up/start this week in fantasy (Ryan Fitzpatrick, Steve Johnson, Jamaal Charles, Matt Cassel, Dwayne Bowe) all had decent fantasy football numbers. Their teams just didn't score points... And somehow, Jon Kitna was still a solid fantasy play, despite the fact that his receivers kept handing ball to the other team. If Sunday is any indication of what the Cowboys will look like with Kitna going forward, it makes sense to hold onto him if you picked him up for this week. Dallas threw the ball on 69% of its plays... In the race for the first overall draft pick, Buffalo runs away with 2.5 projected wins. Carolina (4.2 wins), Dallas (4.3 wins), Denver (5.3 wins) and San Francisco (5.7 wins) are next... Trust me, that was a short blog.

Most intriguing games of Week 9: CHI @ BUF (Could Bills' first win derail Bears?), TB @ ATL, SD @ HOU, MIA @ BAL, IND @ PHI and KC @ OAK

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