Since I have nothing on the game tonight, I figured I’d write this now. I went 3-2 to maintain my 60% winning percentage. Let’s see if I can figure out what I got wrong. If you want to write this all off as arbitrary and variance, feel free to skip the rest.
BUFFALO (+3 vs. New England)
Result: New England 37, Buffalo 22
What went right: My analysis of the trenches matchup when New England had the ball had some merit, as the Bills’ defensive line was to hold the Patriots to 1.9 yards rushing (even if you throw out Tom Brady’s carries, the running backs still had 23 carries for only 47 yards).
What went wrong: Even with the advantage in that matchup, and even though the Bills were able to get to Brady (six hits and two sacks), he still was dynamite through the air, with 361 yards and 4 TDs. All three of the Patriots’ top targets had at least 90 yards receiving; the Bills secondary has some problems.
Also, I completely neglected the matchup of the Bills’ offense vs. the Patriots’ defense. The Bills’ o-line was insufficient to stop the pass rush, Sammy Watkins found himself on Revis Island all day, and that was that.
CAROLINA (+7 vs. Cincinnati)
Result: Carolina 37, Cincinnati 37
What went right: Cam Newton is really good and exploited the Bengals’ weakness at defending the zone read. Cincinnati led by 7 at halftime but never more than that, so this bet was never in any significant danger. Since the extra half-point I got from the closing line was the major reason I chose this bet, I don’t have much in the way of thorough analysis.
What went wrong: Carolina gave up 37 points, which would have been terrible for me if Cam wasn’t the kind of talent who could put a team on his back.
MIAMI (+3.5 vs. Green Bay)
Result: Green Bay 27, Miami 24
What went right: Basically everything, including getting the extra half-point as the game’s final score was exactly the margin where the line settled. I was right that Miami had the advantage in the trenches; I forgot to mention that this was true on the other side of the ball as well, helped by the Dolphins’ ability to run the zone read (and the Packers’ continued inability since the 2013 divisional playoff against San Francisco to stop it).
What went wrong: Joe Philbin continued to build on the case he’s made for himself in the last 12 months as the worst coach in the league with his cowardly “Don’t run plays that have a chance to get first downs, so we can give the ball back to Aaron Rodgers and let him win the game” strategy on the Dolphins’ final drive. At least I didn’t bet the Dolphins to win outright.
MINNESOTA (+2 vs. Detroit)
Result: Detroit 17, Minnesota 3
What went right: The Lions were only winning 10-0 until the fourth quarter, so getting a break or two could have given the Vikings a legit chance to win.
What went wrong: Everything except that absurdly optimistic previous sentence. Even a rookie quarterback as talented as I think Teddy Bridgewater is is going to struggle in his second start ever against possibly the league’s best defense, especially with his offensive line playing poorly. That was the overwhelming factor in this game– Bridgewater was hounded all day, but only one of his interceptions was really a bad decision. I just plain didn’t think this one through.
PHILADELPHIA (-2.5 vs. New York Giants)
Result: Philadelphia 27, New York Giants 0
What went right: “I don’t think the Giants are objectively better than the Eagles” – check. “I think the Giants are mistake-prone and have a crummy defense” – check. “I think Andre Williams is overrated and will prove a liability in the passing game” – check. (The Giants had to use Peyton Hillis when they wanted to pass, which surely helped tip off the Eagles.) When it comes down to it, I think these teams are still closer to their 2013 level than the spread indicated. I also think that while Tom Coughlin is a solid coach, he’s just not Chip Kelly.
That said, I’d be lying if I said I expected the game to be this thorough a domination.
What went wrong: The half-point was not important. Also, poor Victor Cruz. Hopefully Odell Beckham Jr. will step up and validate our faith in him.