Tony’s Picks: Week 2

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Tony tells you where to put your money for this week’s NFL games.

 

Last week: 10-6

Overall: 10-6

Home Teams (Benchmark): 6-10

Vegas Favorites (Benchmark): 8-8

This week: 16-0

EAGLES (-7) over Vikings

10-6 is normally a mediocre week, but considering favorites went a horrid 8-8 that’s actually quite good.

Speaking of which, I’d like to take this space to talk a little about how I think about picking games and ranking teams. I take a little bit of a different approach than most, as I look at teams analytically. That doesn’t mean using analytics, but instead processing the information in an analytical way.

For example, take the Chiefs, which I maintained at #1 in the power rankings this week despite losing. Why? The first step is my previous rankings. The analytical approach has to assume that my previous rankings (which were also the result of an analytical approach) has a good amount of predictive value. Not only the rankings themselves, but a hidden value of certainty in the rankings. For a team like the Chiefs, that has had one of the best 5 years streaks ever and no losses that would indicate that they are due to decline, we can be very confident that they will be one of the top teams in the NFL again this year.

But as actual games get played we need to adjust the preseason rankings to account for the on the field results. When the results are in line with the rankings (for example, the 49ers blowing out the Steelers) it’s no problem, it justifies those rankings. But when the results contradict the rankings (like the Lions beating the Chiefs) we have to weigh that result against our previous history to see if it justifies movement. A big part of that is the magnitude of the discordance with the rankings (like the Colts loss last year was way out of line with what you’d expect), but also how predictive the events in the game itself was. If there were a lot of fluky plays then the game isn’t going to have as much sway in changing the rankings.

So when you look at the games I got wrong last week, a lot of them did change the rankings (like Rams-Seahawks) because of how dramatic they were, or because the rankings of the teams were low confidence going into the season. Others didn’t change the rankings, like the Bills and Bengals losing. They lost to the Jets and Browns last year as well, so we have a history that tells us not to overreact to those games.

Overall when I have a good week, especially outperforming the favorites by 2 games like this week, my rankings won’t change much.

The Eagles are actually an example of the reverse. I correctly predicted they’d win, but their performance was not very good. It wasn’t enough to move them in the rankings, but it does decrease the confidence that they’re good. So if they have another poor performance against a weaker team this week then they will actually move down.

Packers (-2) over FALCONS

This game started out as a Pick ‘Em, which I thought was outrageous. Green Bay being favored by 2 is a little better, and they are on the road. But if the Falcons manage to win then I might have to revise my opinion on them.

BILLS (-9.5) over Raiders

For the 2nd week in a row the Raiders are a must-win game for their opponent. Last week their victory over Denver proved the Broncos weren’t back. This week a victory over the Bills will mean the Bills should be in panic mode about their window being shut before they even made a Super Bowl. That betting line should speak volumes about how much better they should be than the Raiders.

BENGALS (-3.5) over Ravens

I don’t feel good about this pick at all. There is every possibility that Baltimore comes out and spanks the Bengals in their own stadium. I mean Tyler Huntley almost beat them in the playoffs, and Lamar is significantly better. I’ll go with Cincinnati since they should be better and they’re at home, but I wouldn’t put money on it.

LIONS (-6) over Seahawks

Good thing this wasn’t week 1, otherwise I would have been all over the Seahawks. Maybe their game against the Rams was a fluke, but if Geno has returned to his previous form then the Seahawks are a step below a decent team like Detroit.

Chargers (-3) over TITANS

Nobody’s talking about it because nobody cares about the Saints and Titans, but Tannehill looked horrible. He threw 3 interceptions and had several more bounce off defenders’ hands. Tennessee can always be a tricky team, but the Chargers are clearly better if that’s how Tannehill is going to be now.

Bears over BUCCANEERS (-3)

Am I underrated Tampa Bay? Apparently Vegas thinks they’re a lot better than I do, because I’m way lower on the Bears than everybody else yet I’m still picking them to win.

Chiefs (-3) over JAGUARS

Am I missing something, or is this line way smaller than it should be? I know we’re on the road but what about the Jaguars makes people think that they are close to the Chiefs? Or are people now down on the Chiefs because of the opening game?

Colts (-1) over TEXANS

Shockingly Anthony Richardson, the supposed project of the top 3 quarterbacks in the last draft, looked the best and most comfortable last week. Vegas seems to have noticed since the Colts were rewarded with being road favorites in Houston.

49ers (-8) over RAMS

This line is absolutely outrageous. The gap between the Chiefs and Jaguars is the grand canyon compared to the gap between the 49ers and Rams, so why are the 49ers the 8 point favorites? I actually wouldn’t be surprised if the Rams won.

Giants (-5.5) over CARDINALS

The Giants are better than the Cardinals, but they have no right being 5.5 road favorites over anybody. Surely this isn’t people still believing in Daniel Jones after last week, right?

COWBOYS (-8.5) over Jets

Poor Jets. They didn’t even get to watch Rodgers complete a single pass before he suffered a season ending (and potentially career ending) injury. They have a great roster, but with Zach Wilson taking snaps they have little hope against the Cowboys.

Commanders over BRONCOS (-3.5)

The Broncos for some inexplicable reason were favored in 8 games last year and naturally went 3-5 in those games. Now they’re favored in the first 2 games this season and already lost the first one. I appreciate the free money but I have to shake my head at Vegas’ foolishness.

Dolphins (-2.5) over PATRIOTS

The Dolphins offense looked incredible last week, now we get to see how they’ll perform against Belichick on the road. Last year they only put up 20 in Tua’s only start against the Patriots, but that could be enough against Mac Jones.

Saints (-3) over PANTHERS

I was disappointed in Bryce Young’s performance in his first game. The expectation was that he had a high floor and should be ready to play at a competent level immediately. Through one game, he has not reached that level. He looked significantly worse than the quarterback on the other sideline, which is never a good thing when that other quarterback is Desmond Ridder.

STEELERS over Browns (-2.5)

Like the AFC North battle, I don’t feel confident in this pick, but this time for the opposite reason. I think both teams are bad, but it’s hard to know who’s worse yet. I’m going with the Browns being worse just because of how steady the Steelers have been with Tomlin.

 

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probablyamistake
probablyamistake
09/14/2023 12:50 pm

AZ will beat the midgets at home.

upamtn
09/14/2023 12:19 pm

I like Texans, Bears, Ravens and Broncos to win this week … other than those four, we agree on the picks

my “analytics” are a bit different, of course, and I put more stock in where a team is THIS season than last year (Rams are not as bad as they showed in 2022, but I don’t yet think they’re the SB contenders they were in 2021)

upamtn
Reply to  upamtn
09/14/2023 12:30 pm

from last night’s OT:

my weekend picks, home team in CAPS, my pick bold

Min @ PHIL
Eagles just have too much for the Vikings

Green Bay @ ATL
I’m more sold on Jordan Love than the Falcons

Las Vegas @ BUFF
Bills are too good to lose at home, esp to the Raiders

Bal @ CIN
Ravens looked so much better last week than the Bengals, just a hunch that continues

Sea @ DET
Lions are legit

Bolts @ TEN
Chargers too much firepower for the Titans

Bears @ BUCS
Bears should be better than last week and the Bucs just don’t impress me at all

Chiefs @ JAGS
KC WRs catch everything in a 10-mile radius b/c Mahomes won’t allow them to do anything else

Indy @ HOU
Had to pick one of these teams, and the Texans will likely win at least ONE game this season and why not THIS one?

Niners @ RAMS
Niners are legit, Rams not sure of yet

Jets @ DAL
Jets are gonna have some issues moving forward, like finding an offense …

Wash @ DEN
The Broncos finally get a win against EB

Giants @ ARI
G-Mean simply have to be better than that showing against Dallas, and the Cards are a hot mess

Mia @ NE
Tua & Co are for real

Saints @ CAR
Not convinced the Panthers have anything going for them just yet, and Carr is better than Bryce Young at the moment

Cle @ PITT
Tomlinson will NOT allow Watson and the Browns to win this game, hide and watch

Team Player
Team Player
Reply to  upamtn
09/14/2023 1:03 pm

Tomlinson?!? Oh. Tomlin.

upamtn
Reply to  Team Player
09/14/2023 3:29 pm

yeah … whatshisname

DenverDonkeyHater
DenverDonkeyHater
Reply to  Tony Sommer
09/14/2023 3:08 pm

Washington has a good defense. Denver has a bad offense. I’d be surprised if denver can score over 14 pts without the help their special teams and defense. Speaking of which. Their special teams still sucks and their defense, especially pass rush, is still declining since the chubb trade.

I see little reason to think the donkeys can “win” this game. Question is can washington (who’s their qb. Nevermind I don’t care) “lose” this game?

upamtn
Reply to  DenverDonkeyHater
09/14/2023 3:31 pm

well said, my friend

upamtn
Reply to  Tony Sommer
09/14/2023 3:31 pm

ok, so yeah, just three different

Denver is Denver, but they ARE at home and just not sure about WFT, so there’s that … we’ll see how it plays out

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