We are back for another season of NFL excitement. Last season was a successful one for the blog here but it is always important to keep in mind that the NFL is a short season and most of the lines are not that bad, especially somewhat late in the week, so we probably just ran good. Over 50-100 plays, anyone can win or lose. Going forward I will probably post these picks early Thursday but we are late today.
The model for the early season is similar to last year except I added in regular season wins data to the model which led to a modest improvement.
Historically the "worse" teams by last year's record and underdogs have done well in week 1. Also, the home advantage is slightly larger early season, which is probably because there are no divisional rematch games, where the home advantage is known to be smaller, and maybe also because all teams have more hope early on so the fans are more involved.
In JAC-KC, the play is mostly based on the talent level of the two defenses. Of course we use Madden to measure this defense but even if you think Madden sucks, just going by cap hit, KC has the second lowest cap hit on defense in the league (OAK is lowest) while JAC is in the top third. The difference between KC and OAK is that they spent their cap dollars on good offensive players plus they won the draft lottery at QB, so KC is favored on the road at an okay team, while OAK is getting points at home to DEN.
The other three plays seem kind of gross but honestly I just punch the stuff in to the model and only veto plays when there are super good players hurt. There is not much difference between the Jets and Buffalo, Avery Williamson out will hurt the Jets, but I still have them just slightly better on D and flat with Buffalo elsewhere so we lay -2.5 there. Chargers are a "obvious public" play that I did not like before the Luck injury. Finally, the Giants suck and the Cowboys paid Zeke his money so obviously they are covering -7.5 in that one.
Good luck to all this season.