Despite some losses by the top teams we have no movement in the top 5 rankings. At this time of year it takes more than one loss to significantly move a team in the rankings.
Denver keeps the top spot but comes back to the pack just a little bit. While continuing to win they have not been as impressive their last two games as they were in prior weeks. So we now see the top 3 teams all within .7 points of each other.
The AFC North surpasses the NFC South and NFC East. No longer do we have every NFC division ahead of all the AFC divisions. A big help to the AFC North has been the play of Cincinnati and also Cleveland. Cincinnati has moved from the bottom portion of the rankings up to 12th now. The defense has played great as of late. In their last 4 they have not given up more than 13 points. Now they only played one good offense, the NY Giants, in that stretch but nonetheless it has been an impressive run. They get a Dallas offense this week that is ranked 10th and has been hot. Dallas has scored 71 points in its last two games.
Indianapolis remains the most overrated team in the league. Their record is far better than it should be. A lot of that has to do with Luck being very good at the end of games. But they have played a very weak schedule, the weakest in the league so far. In a division that is not very strong they have yet to play the only team worth anything the Houston Texans. They have two left with Houston, Tennessee this week and Kansas City. With Houston possibly clinching a 1 seed by week 17 that final game may be meaningless to Houston. So the Colts are potentially favorites in 3 of the last 4 games. They should make the playoffs but as our rankings show they are not much better than Cleveland.
Game of the Week
Houston @ New England -3.5
There is no doubt about the best matchup this week. Houston comes into Foxboro on Monday night with a ton on the line. A Houston win will all but clinch a 1 seed but a New England win puts them a game back of the Texans with a head to head win. That leaves Houston no room to slip in their upcoming games against Indy twice and the Vikings. New England comes in the best offense on my rankings by far. They are 4.5 points better than Denver in second place. The Pats can pass it as we all know but this season they are ranked 7th in rushing. That is making this offense very dangerous. But Houston can move the ball as well. Houston ranks 6th in offense, 9th in rushing and 14th in passing. But against New England’s poor defense expect Houston to move it better than usual. New England is 25th in defense. The models have both teams around 400 total yards for the game. No doubt the line is tight and New England gets a slight edge for the home field. Weather can always be a factor when a team in a warm climate comes north, especially for a prime time game when it figures to be a bit colder. Forecast is for temps in the low 40’s with rain.
Worst Game of the Week
NY Jets @ Jacksonville Jaguars +2.5
The Jaguars have shown glimpses of good things but they have been few and far between. They have a firm grasp on the bottom spot in the rankings, 2 points worse than anyone else. At home they are averaging a 17 point loss. The Jets come in the game 5-7 and 7-6 winner over Arizona last week. The Jets were awful on offense but somehow Arizona was much worse gaining just 137 total yards. The Jets will go back to Mark Sanchez after benching him in the second half last week. Sanchez has responded well in the past to having his job in jeopardy. The Jets had Mark Brunell take snaps with the first team last season and after that Sanchez and the Jets scored 28, 34 and 37 in successive weeks.
Denver @ Oakland +10
Denver is our top ranked team while Oakland is next to last. Sometimes you can throw that out when divisional rivals meet. We saw that with Kansas City almost upsetting Denver a couple weeks ago. Denver is 5th in defense, and 2nd in offense. Giving Manning a defense this strong is scary for the rest of the league. Their earlier losses can be chalked up to a team getting to know its QB. A few mistakes led to short fields and defensive scores. That is not happening now. Oakland is one dimensional. They are 29th in rushing but 7th in passing. Defensively they are not good. Ranked 25th in passing defense is a scary proposition against this offense. Denver is predicted to put up 429 yards of total offense, 302 of that in the air.
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It has been a great run for the Statsational model. Over a 4 week span the model has gone 34-10-2 including 9-2-2 last week.
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