Week 1 in the Dr. Bob versus House Advantage Challenge saw me take an early lead with a 3-1-1 performance versus Dr. Bob's 2-3. You can review our picks from last week here. As always all of Dr. Bob's free analysis can be found at www.drbobsports.com.
On to this week's picks...
SOUTHERN MISS (-5 ½) 29 Kansas 18
My initial ratings on these teams would have favored Southern Miss by 8 points and my updated ratings also favor the Eagles by 8 points. In addition to what looks like some line value, the Jayhawks apply to a negative 19-68 ATS letdown situation that is based on last week's upset win. I will consider Southern Miss a Strong Opinion at -6 1/2 or less.
OKLAHOMA STATE (-7) 40 Tulsa 29
I won with Oklahoma State as a Best Bet in their week 1 65-17 win over Washington State and the Cowboys failed to cover as a Strong Opinion last week against Troy State in their 41-38 win over Troy. Oklahoma State actually dominated that game more than the 3-point win would indicate, as the Cowboys averaged 6.9 yards per play while allowing just 4.9 yppl, and they enter this game still underrated. Tulsa has been more than 1.0 yppp worse than average against the pass for each of the last 3 seasons and they don't appear to have changed that this season. The Cowboys should be able to exploit that weakness and move the ball with ease just as they've done the last two weeks. Overall, Tulsa has given up 5.8 yppl to teams that would average just 4.9 yppl against an average defensive team. My updated ratings favor Oklahoma State by 11 points in this game and using this year's games only I get the Cowboys by 10 ½ points.
MICHIGAN STATE (-3 ½) 32 Notre Dame 24
Notre Dame's offense has only averaged 23.5 points over the first two games, but that unit is moving the ball at a very good 6.9 yards per play with starting Dayne Crist in the game (he missed a good portion of Saturday's loss to Michigan). The Irish attack will get a test in this game from a Michigan State defense that has given up just 4.1 yppl this season to Western Michigan and Florida Atlantic, who would combine to average 4.8 yppl against an average defensive team. The Spartans have also been good on the offensive side of the ball, as they averaged 8.4 yppl against Western Michigan and 8.3 yppl against Florida Atlantic. Those are not good defensive team, but averaging 8.3 yppl is very good regardless of who you've played. Michigan State was 0.9 yppl better than average last season and they've been 1.3 yppl better than average so far this season after compensating for opposing defenses. The Spartans have been particularly successful running the football, averaging an incredible 9.1 yards per rushing play and that success should continue against a Notre Dame defensive front that has surrendered 6.1 yprp to Purdue and Michigan. A lot of that damage was done by the running of Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson (258 yards on 28 rushes last week) and the Irish have only allowed an average of 3.5 yards per rush to non-quarterbacks this season and Michigan State's Kirk Cousins is not a running quarterback. I still think Michigan State will do some damage on the ground in this game and Cousins' passing is better than Notre Dame's good pass defense (5.0 yards per pass play allowed). My ratings actually favor Michigan State by only 2 ½ points (4 ½ points using this season's stats only) but the Spartans apply to a 61-21-1 ATS subset of a 126-62-3 ATS statistical matchup indicator that has worked well for me over the years.
Pittsburgh (+5) 21 TENNESSEE 17
My ratings favor Tennessee by only 3 points and the Steelers apply to a very strong 110-42-4 ATS statistical match up indicator that is 16-4 ATS in week 2 games. The Steelers are also 17-6 ATS as an underdog, including 6-0 ATS recently (5-1 straight up).
Philadelphia (-6) 24 DETROIT 10
They'll be two new starting quarterbacks in this game, as Michael Vick takes over the Eagles for concussed starter Kevin Kolb while Shaun Hill takes the reigns of the Lions from an injured Matthew Stafford. Vick is not as good of a passer as Kolb (Vick has averaged just 5.4 yards per pass play in his career), but his running almost makes up for the less efficient passing. Vick has averaged 7.2 yards per run over his career (much higher if you take out kneel downs) and he ran for 103 yards on 11 scrambles last week (and averaged a decent 6.0 yards per pass play) while nearly bringing the Eagles back from a huge deficit in their 20-27 loss to the Packers. Vick should have good success throwing the ball against the perennially bad Lions' secondary that was torched for 362 yards at 9.3 yppp last week by Chicago. Don't be fooled by the 19-14 final score of that game, as the Lions allowed 464 yards at 6.7 yards per play and were only close because of 3 Bears fumbles and a pick. Detroit's offense was horrible last week, running for just 20 yards on 21 rushes and totaling just 168 yards at 3.0 yppl. Shaun Hill didn't play well off the bench last week (just 9 for 19 passing and 4.0 yppp), but I think he's actually an upgrade over Stafford, who throws way too many interceptions (20 in 11 career games). Hill's 5.5 yppp career average is better than Stafford's 5.2 yppp career average and Hill has a very good 2.2% interception rate. The Lions should be a better team with Hill not making the mistakes that Stafford would likely make. Detroit's offense is still bad, however, and Philadelphia has a good defensive unit that held a very good Packers' attack to just 302 yards at 4.8 yppl in last week's loss. My ratings favor Philly by 9 ½ points in this game and the Eagles apply to a very good 20-2 ATS week 2 bounce-back situation as well as an 80-38-2 ATS week 2 statistical indicator. Detroit is just 3-38 straight up in their last 41 games and only 5-20-1 ATS when not getting more than 10 points, so I don't mind taking the Eagles in a good situation against a bad team - especially given that fact the Philly is 47-22-1 ATS since 2000 when not favored by more than 9 points against a team coming off a loss (19-5-1 ATS if the Eagles are also coming off a loss)
Now on to my picks...
CLEVELAND (-2) 24 Kansas City 17
Short week for the nice story Chiefs but looking beyond the score in their 21-14 victory of the Chargers will show you an offense that did very little besides a long Jamal Charles run. Classic letdown spot for the Chiefs against a Browns that will be more focused.
CINCINNATI (+2.5) 20 Baltimore 17
The knock against Baltimore this season was the health of their secondary and a victory against the passing-challenged Jets does nothing to alleviate my concerns. Cincy knows how to attack this team and Carson Palmer has more weapons and skills than Mark Sanchez.
Pittsburgh (+5.5) 17 TENNESSEE 19
Love getting points in this rivalry game which will be low scoring and likely turn on turnovers. Dixon wasn't terrible in his 2nd game as a starter and as long as he can avoid the picks will keep this game close.
DENVER (-3) 28 Seattle 17
The Niners handed Pete Carroll a victory in his return to the NFL but this week will be a different story for the Hawks who can't play on the road and have no one at the WR position. Just a waste of Champ Bailey's skills.
WASHINGTON (+3) 24 Houston 20
Battle of two teams due for a letdown. Just like the home team here who had a more impressive victory last week and are getting points.