Posted 12/23/2013 at 06:33 PM
As is often the case, NFL teams late in the season in ‘need to win’ situations often come up short. Playing for their playoff lives, Miami, Dallas, and Detroit all failed to cover against teams well out of the playoff picture. Green Bay and Chicago also fell in big games last week as the NFC North went 0-4 last week, allowing a combined total of 157 points. With everyone losing, this week’s game between the Packers and Bears will decide the division title. The Lions have lost five of the last six games after a 6-3 start to the season and it seems likely that changes will be coming. Also hanging in the balance is our NFL win total pick from the Preseason Annual, taking Detroit ‘over’ 7½ wins at the beginning of the season, a bet that has looked like a complete lock most of the season until now. It will be a big weekend for our season win total picks, picks that have gone 53-23-2 the last 13 seasons for a nearly 70% success rate. We were way off taking Seattle ‘under’ but did correctly call ‘under’ seasons in big collapses for both Houston and Atlanta this season. We cashed an ‘over’ ticket on the Jets last week and we will wait on the Lions and a pick on the Rams ‘under’ 7½ with St. Louis rallying the last two weeks to reach 7-8. At worst we’ll finish 3-3 and could get to 5-1 if Detroit wins and St. Louis loses to maintain great historical results in those picks made in our Preseason Annual.
Even with the disastrous finish, the Lions will in all likelihood still be the only team in the NFC North to finish with a positive point differential, currently +20 while Green Bay is -16 and Chicago is -28. In the current playoff format one of those teams will still be hosting a wild card game. Look for talks of changing the playoff format to escalate this offseason as a Chiefs team that could have the third best record in the NFL will open on the road as a #5 seed and both NFC wild cards could potentially each have three more wins than the division champions that will host the games. Also look for changes in the replay system with a notable bizarre play Sunday with the Steelers blocking a field goal only to hand the Packers a first down three yards closer in a play that was unreviewable. The referees applied the rules correctly but it was a blown call.
In early bowl action teams with the rushing edge have won all four games with the winners having a rushing edge of at least 66 yards. Colorado State had the most pronounced advantage, out-gaining Washington State on the ground by 236 yards. While teams with a rushing edge often have success in college football, especially in the underdog role, there certainly are many exceptions. It is also worth noting that the Rams needed perhaps the most miraculous finish in bowl history to win as they trailed by 15 with less than three minutes to go in the game as a crazy ATS finish that rivals last season’s incredible finish in the Duke/Cincinnati Belk Bowl opened up 2013-14 bowl season. After blowing an early lead UL-Lafayette also had some good fortune to escape with the win. Best of Luck and onto this week’s slate…