I am feeling pretty good about my return to publishing my weekly picks after last week's 85% accuracy on winners. I won't pretend that that was typical week, but it sure is nice to have that number to brag about. Since I have a jump on getting the picks up early this week, I might as well focus on the Thursday night game.
The QB darlings of the 2008 draft meet this week as 3rd overall pick Matt Ryan plays host to 18th overall pick Joe Flacco and his Baltimore Ravens. These two QBs have certainly earned their position as the top 2 QBs taken in their draft as they have 47 starts between them and the rest of the QB class of '08 has a combined 11 starts (with Henne logging 8 of those). Both teams sit atop their divisions with 6 wins and are coming off of important home wins. To further drive the point home about the evenness of the matchup, the point spread is 0.
The fact that neither team is favored though tells us something about how the bettors see these teams. Since home field advantage is a well established concept, if these teams were even, we would expect the Falcons to be favored by two to three points. Since they are not favored, it seems that those with money on the line, believe the Ravens are the better team - and the data agrees.
My model has the Ravens winning 21 to 18, and while the Ravens are known for their defense, it is the offense that is going to make the difference in this one. Flacco is picking up 7.3 yards per attempt and he will be facing a defense that is giving up 7.9 yards per attempt. Add to that that the Falcons are giving up over 5 yards per rush attempt on first down, and you have a recipe for the Ravens to control this game from the beginning. On the other side of the ball, Ryan is picking up 6.7 yds/att and the Ravens are giving 6.8 yds/att - not too much mystery here.
And the rest of the picks:
Tampa Bay (21) vs. Carolina (20)
Indianapolis (22) vs. Cincinnati (20)
Buffalo (16) vs. Detroit (17)
Jacksonville (14) vs. Houston (13)
Denver (10) vs. Kansas City (13)
Chicago (16) vs. Minnesota (10)
Pittsburgh (21) vs. New England (10)
Washington (17) vs. Philadelphia (20)
Arizona (17) vs. Seattle (16)
San Francisco (7) vs. St Louis (12)
Miami (20) vs. Tennessee (22)