I really wish the NFL would do away with divisions. Keep the conferences, but divisions need to go.

I’ve been a proponent of this in all sports for quite some time. They do not really make any sense to me.

Why have a division when a team with a mediocre or non-winning record gets to make the playoffs? Why wouldn’t you want the best teams from your product to face off at your most important part of the season?

The NBA has it all wrong. Baseball nearly has it right. Football is in between.

There’s no way the NBA should allow half of its league to reach the postseason, especially how top heavy the West has been for years.

Baseball allows very few teams in, but has recently expanded the number of postseason entrants. Four from each league was the correct number, but additional wild card teams has bumped that number up. Four playoff teams puts a lot of emphasis on the regular season, even though there are way too many games in baseball (uh oh, I probably hurt someone’s tushy a bit with that statement. Sorry, just an opinion).

As for the NFL. They have a solid playoff format with just 6 teams and a bye-week incentive for the top tier.

However, no teams from the NFC East should have a legitimate shot to host a first-round playoff game let alone actually grab a postseason berth.

I love the Cowboys, but being one-game back and actually having a shot at the playoffs and the division is a joke. If they pull it off (I use the phrase pull it off loosely, by the way), then that does not bode well for them trying to keep the ship afloat for the future. Their first-round pick drops significantly, which could hurt their chances for a top-tier quarterback. Let’s face it, they need a franchise QB of the future.

Divisions keep rivalries intact, I suppose, but I think they would remain more than people believe. I have no proof or any evidence to back up that statement, but those people don’t have any evidence it would ruin rivalries.

The best teams with the best records should make the playoffs, and that’s all I have to say about that.

For some unbiased words, here’s a look at what happened in Vegas for Week 13.

Week 13Opening O/UOpening SpreadOpening MLClosing O/UClosing SpreadClosing MLProjected ScoreFinal ScoreGrade
Atlanta at Tampa Bay45Even-145 – TB46.5EvenEven23.25 – 23.2523-18 – TB3 pts. – C
Cincinnati at Cleveland44-7.5 – Cin-435 – Cin44.5-7.5 – Cin-350 – Cin26 – 18.5 – Cin37-3 – Cin4 pts. – B
NY Jets at NY Giants45Even-125 – NYJ46.5-2.5 – NYJ-135 – NYJ24.5 – 22 – NYJ23-20 – NYJ4 pts. – B
Seattle at Minnesota41Even-125 – Sea43-3 – Sea-155 – Sea23 – 20 – Sea38-7 – Sea6 pts. – B
Houston at Buffalo41.5-3 – Buf-150 – Buf42-3 – Buf-150 – Buf22.5 – 19.5 – Buf30 – 21 – Buf1 pt. – F
Arizona at St. Louis44.5-5.5 – Ari-245 – Ari43-3.5 – Ari-180 – Ari23.25 – 19.75 – Ari27-3 – Ari2 pts.- D
San Francisco at Chicago42-6.5 – Chi-350 – Chi43-7 – Chi-275 – Chi25 – 18 – Chi26-20 – SF4 pts. – B
Jacksonville at Tennessee43Even-150 – Ten43.5-3 – Ten-150 – Ten23.25 – 20.25 – Ten42-39 – Ten1 pt. – F
Baltimore at Miami44-4.5 – Mia-225 – Mia43.5-3.5 – Mia-170 – Mia23.5 – 20 – Mia15-13 – Mia3 pts. – C
Kansas City at Oakland44-3 – KC-165 – KC45.5-3 – KC-155 – KC24.25 – 21.25 – KC34-20 – KC1 pt. – F
Carolina at New Orleans49.5-7 – Car-260 – Car50.5-6 – Car-275 – Car28.25 – 22.25 – Car41-38 – Car4 pts. – B
Philadelphia at New England47.5-13 – NE-480 – NE49-8 – NE-400 – NE28.5 – 20.5 – NE35-28 – Phi1 pt. – F
Indianapolis at Pittsburgh50.5-6 – Pit-270 – Pit50.5-9.5 – Pit-450 – Pit30 – 20.5 – Pit45-10 – Pit5 pts. – B
Dallas at Washington42-3 – Was-235 – Was43-2 – Wash-125 – Was22.5 – 20.5 – Was19-16 – Dal3 pts. – C
Denver at San Diego43.5-3 – Den-225 – Den45-5.5 – Den-260 – Den25.25 – 19.75 – Den17-3 – Den4 pts. – B

Vegas had a nice rebound from last week’s debacle. Ten out of the 15 games received a C grade or higher, a very strong performance.

The biggest surprise of the week was the second straight loss for the Patriots, to the Eagles of all teams. Last week, I was half right about that game. I didn’t like the projected points because I felt the Patriots would suffer because of injuries while the Eagles would play up against the Pats. The Eagles defense did most of the scoring, so that’s really a fluky point total for the Eagles. The Pats did hang 28 on that defense though, so I suppose I underestimated Brady a bit (although they were in comeback mode most of the game instead of being ahead).

Favorites, as you will see in the records section below, went 11-3. That’s an astounding number that should’ve been 12-2 had the Pats played better against the mediocre Eagles.

So not a lot of surprises this week. The high totals actually posted high scores while 78 percent of the favorites won.

The 12-0 Panthers got the best out of the Saints, but left the Superdome victorious. The rest of the Panthers’ schedule is pretty soft, especially having to play a floundering Atlanta team twice down the stretch.

Tennessee and Jacksonville scored the most points of the week. After a lackluster matchup in round one of this divisional rivalry, these two threw all kinds of punches in Week 13 for a whopping 81 points, only two more than Carolina/New Orleans.

My biggest disappointment of the week goes to Jay Cutler. Up against a team that struggles mightily on the road, Cutler managed just over 7 DraftKings fantasy points with zero touchdowns to Alshon Jeffrey. Instead, the 49ers, led by the “rejuvenated” Blaine Gabbert at QB, stole a win in overtime from the Bears, one of the largest favorites on the board.

All in all though, impressive performance from Vegas this week. Can it mount a streak in Week 14? I sure hope so. Below is the collective grading total for the week and for the year.

ScaleWeek 13 GradesTotal Grades
1 or less – FA – 0A – 5
2 – DB – 7B – 56
3 – CC – 3C – 33
4-6 – BD – 1D – 41
7-8 – AF – 4F – 40

Now let’s move on to Week 14. At the time of publishing, lines had not been posted for Indy/Jacksonville and Seattle/Baltimore. Matt Hasselbeck’s availability was postponing the release of this line. He has practiced with first-teamers this week. The same goes for Baltimore/Seattle as the Ravens are waiting to see if Matt Schaub will be healthy enough to start at QB against the once-lackluster-now-boisterous Seattle Seahawks.

Below the table? The usual. Buying and selling for Week 14.

Week 14Opening O/UOpening SpreadOpening ML
Indianapolis at JacksonvilleN/A-1.5 – IndN/A
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati47-3.5 – Cin-170 – Cin
Washington at Chicago44-1 – Chi-180 – Chi
Detroit at St. Louis40.5-2.5 – Stl-125 – Stl
San Francisco at Cleveland40.5Even-125 – Cle
Buffalo at Philadelphia46.5-1 – Phi-135 – Phi
San Diego at Kansas City46.5-7.5 – KC-510 – KC
Atlanta at Carolina47-6.5 – Car-360 – Car
New Orleans at Tampa Bay50.5-2.5 – TB-225 – TB
Tennessee at NY Jets43.5-6 – NYJ-345 – NYJ
Seattle at BaltimoreN/A-5 – SeaN/A
Oakland at Denver44-6 – Den-360 – Den
Dallas at Green Bay44-5 – GB-450 – GB
New England at Houston44.5-3.5 – NE-195 – NE
NY Giants at Miami47.5Even-120 – Mia

BUYING

As many Buccaneers as possible – If you haven’t figured it out already, the Saints defense is by far the worst in all of football. They are first in rushing yards allowed per game (137), second in passing yards allowed per game (287) and first in points allowed per game (31.7). Doug Martin is the real Muscle Hamster (or Douggernaught if you prefer that nickname) again and he gets the best matchup on the board. I expect this game to be competitive as the Bucs secondary is no holy grail itself. But even if it’s a blowout, Martin is going to be the hammer late in the game. Charles Sims probably also worthy of a look in DFS as a salary saver. My favorite play in this game is Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, although I don’t know how much of a sleeper he will be against the Saints. He came back last week and was in just 21 snaps, but was targeted a lot by Winston anyway. His usage should get ramped up this week against the 32rd-ranked team against tight ends, according to ESPN PPR scoring. He’s super cheap on DraftKings ($2700) and could be the Scott Chandler of Week 14. Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans, oh and of course QB Winston, are al viable options against the Rob Ryan-less Saints D.

All things Jaguars – Blake Bortles, Allen Hurns, Julius Thomas, Allen Robinson and T.J. Yeldon all should be welcome to your DFS rosters this week. Bortles is probably my favorite play to generate points. He is at home, has all kinds of weapons to throw to and the Colts allow the 3rd most yards passing per game (286). The Colts also are 9th in rushing yards allowed and 7th in points allowed per game. Last time, Hurns went buck wild against the Colts, most likely due to Robinson seeing coverage from the once spectacular Vontae Davis at CB. Hurns is probable to play again, making Bortles that much more fantasy viable with an extra weapon. Hurns’ return could eat into Robinson’s and TE Thomas’ production. Yeldon will still get the touches at RB, but maybe not see as much usage in the passing game as he would’ve if Hurns was out (see last week). All in all, the Jags are fighting for the playoffs (how awesome would that be if they reached the postseason?) and are a fun team to watch (yes, I just said that). You probably can’t go wrong with Colts receivers in this game despite Hasselbeck at QB. The Jags rank 7th in yards allowed per game through the air.

Russell Wilson – QB – Seahawks vs. Ravens – Quietly the Seahawks have been playing their best football late in the season. Russell Wilson has been on fire, scoring 40+ points in two of his last three games (the other was a 30-point effort). Now he gets to face the nothing-left-to-play-for Ravens, who allowed more than 260 yards passing per game. In the Ravens’ last four off the bye week though, they have allowed more than 200 yards passing just once, however, they have faced the Rams, Browns, Dolphins and Jags in those four games. Bortles was the best QB they faced in that stretch and he hung two TDs on them while the Browns had 280 and two TDs (much of that coming with Josh McCown at the helm before injury). The other two came against a Dolphins team that was dedicated to running the ball last week and the Rams…oh, the Rams… Now they get an elite QB at home. Yes, the Seahawks are traveling West to East, but they look like a team on a mission – to prove they are one of the best teams in the NFC. Doug Baldwin has been lights out without Jimmy Graham at TE, but he gets a tough matchup against slot corner LaDarius Webb who held Jarvis Landry to just two catches last week. Wilson will use his legs and his arm as the Ravens are stout against the run. Rookie Tyler Lockett and Jermaine Kearse look to benefit from the uptick in passing. Baldwin also will get looks from Russell, but his recent outbreak should be tempered this week.

Buffalo – Here are four reasons why I am all over Buffalo this week: 1. LeSean McCoy revenge game. 2. Tyrod Taylor/Sammy Watkins. 3. Eagles defense that has allowed at least 27 points in 6 of last 7 games. 4. Let down for Eagles after big win against New England.

Cincinnati/Pittsburgh total – Last time I bought into this game going over and it was a complete dud. The Steelers defense has been bad on the road, and Andy Dalton has risen his game to another level, especially at home. Neither team should be able to run the ball very well, so I feel this game will take to the air. The Steelers have been playing much better offensively, scoring at least 40 points in four straight games since the 16-10 loss to the Bengals. The Bengals have a chance to clinch the division against their rival this week at home. If Tyler Eifert returns, I like this offense even more. Dalton should feast against a secondary that’s allowed 6 300-yard passers this season.

SELLING

San Diego/Kansas City point total – This game opened up at 46.5 points. While I think San Diego’s defense is atrocious, its offense is just as bad. The Chiefs have ramped up their play defensively and get a home game against a West Coast team that has nothing to play for. I smell blowout, but I don’t think the Chargers score many points in this one. I believe the Chiefs will score a lot early, then run the clock out with West and Ware.

San Francisco/Cleveland point total – Two bad defenses versus two offenses that also aren’t very good. Cleveland will be led by Johnny Football at QB once again. I believe he has a high ceiling any time he takes the field, however he has yet to show that he can be a mainstay at QB. I am tempering my usage of JFF this week even though he has a great matchup against the 49ers who get another road contest after a big win in Chicago. As for the Browns, they are second in rushing yards allowed (insert Shaun Draughn) and are top-10 in passing yards allowed. Blaine Gabbert has been a flash in the pan for the 49ers so far and could continue his better-than-average play against a less-than-average defense. Both teams face bad offenses that give up a ton of yards. I think this always boosts average offenses, thus I am taking the over.

Marcus Mariota – After last week’s extravagant performance (he was facing Jacksonville), Mariota gets a tough test on the road against the Jets. While the Jets’ defense hasn’t been what we all expected, it can still holds its own. I expect Mariota’s ownership to go up based on recency bias, but with a porous run game, I expect the Jets to put lots of pressure on Mariota and force him to make rookie mistakes. It’s a tough task for the Oregon product who also has to deal with coverage from Darrelle Revis, who returned to practice his week. Revis hasn’t been himself this year, but he’s still solid and Tennessee still doesn’t have a solid No. 1 or No. 2 receiver you can count on week in and week out. Delanie Walker is the most reliable option for Mariota, but outside of a Gronking, this defense holds TEs in check.

Atlanta/Carolina Point Total – The Falcons are not good. They can’t put the ball in the endzone anymore and get a tough matchup against the No. 2 fantasy defense on the road. At 47 points, with a projected total 20.25 points, the Falcons are going to be hard pressed to match that opening line. Since a 25-19 win in Week 5 over the Redskins, here are the Falcons’ point totals – 21, 10, 20, 16, 21, 10, 19. Only three times have they hit 20 points in that stretch and those were against plum matchups. This week is anything but plum. It’s more of a prune. The Panthers clearly play better football at home and they are still being disrespected for their 12-0 record, so the fire will remain for this club. I like the Panthers to put up points, but I don’t think this game hits 47 total points with the Falcons playing so poorly.

Moving on to the record books. See commentary below table.

Week 13Overall
O vs. U – 8-7O vs. U – 86-83-5
Favorite vs. Underdog – 11-3-1Favorite vs. Underdog – 106-64-1
Favorite Wins with <120 Money Line – 0-0Team Wins with <120 Money Line – 6-1
Favorite Wins with 120-139 Money Line – 1-1Team Wins with 120-139 Money Line – 11-14
Favorite Wins with 140-169 Money Line – 4-0Team Wins with 140-169 Money Line – 19-7
Favorite Wins with 170-199 Money Line – 2-0Team Wins with 170-199 Money Line – 14-8
Favorite Wins with 200-299 Money Line – 2-1Team Wins with 200-299 Money Line – 30-18
Favorite Wins with 300+ Money Line – 2-1Team Wins with 300+ Money Line – 29-12
Spread Increased, Favorite Won – 5-1Spread Increased, Favorite Won – 53-30
Spread Decreased, Underdog Won – 2-3Spread Decreased, Underdog Won – 28-32
Favorite vs. Underdog When Spread Remains Constant – 3-0Favorite vs. Underdog When Spread Remains Constant – 19-4
High O/Us (48+) Meet Or Exceed 48 Pts. – 3-0High O/Us (48+) Meet Or Exceed 48 Points – 19-22
Low O/Us (<42) Meet or Finish Under 42 pts. – 0-1Low O/Us (<42) Meet or Finish Under 42 pts. – 7-15
Divisional Games O vs. U – 2-5Divisional Games O vs. U – 27-27-1
Division O/U 48+ O vs. U – 0-0Division O/U 48+ O vs. U – 6-7
Division O/U 42-49.5 O vs. U – 2-5Division O/U 42-47.5 O vs. U – 20-16-1
Division O/U 41.5 or Less O vs. U – 0-0Division O/U 41.5 or Less O vs. U – 2-2

As I mentioned, favorites were dominant this week, and probably should’ve faired even better had Pats AND the Bears not let things get away from them.

I am highlighting a trend that has become VERY reliable so far this season. Look at the record for favorites when the point spread remains the same from opening day to close. They are a whopping 19-4 on the season with a 3-0 effort in Week 13.

I was all over this last week, but another perfect week only solidifies this trend in my book. Keep tabs on these spreads closer to kickoff. It might be a very good stat to use to your advantage when rostering players in DFS, that’s assuming we have one of those games this week.

Divisional games continue to be unreliable for points as many fall into the under category (could spell trouble for Cincy/Pittsburgh? I don’t think so of course). New Orleans/Carolina went over, but New Orleans is a very poor defensive team. San Diego/KC has under written all over it, as does Carolina/Atlanta. New Orleans/Tampa and Cincy/Pitt are the best bets to see lots of points scored. Denver and Oakland has a 44-point total, but again, not liking lots of points to come from one side, making the upside for the other team limited.

Teams with money lines between 140-169 are fairing very well in the win/loss column as are teams that saw an increase in spread points by closing time. At opening, no team fell into that money line range, but that could change by kick off.

Lastly, we briefly look at Vegas’ team records and actual regular season records.

TeamVegas Records Through Week 13Actual Records Through Week 13
Atlanta Falcons8 – 3 – 16 – 6
Arizona Cardinals11 – 110 – 2
Baltimore Ravens8 – 43 – 9
Buffalo Bills4 – 6 – 16 – 5
Carolina Panthers9 – 312 – 0
Chicago Bears1 – 115 – 7
Cincinnati Bengals9 – 2 – 110 – 2
Cleveland Browns3 – 92 – 10
Dallas Cowboys5 – 74 – 8
Denver Broncos9 – 310 – 2
Detroit Lions2 – 104 – 8
Green Bay Packers11 – 18 – 4
Houston Texans6 – 66 – 6
Indianapolis Colts7 – 56 – 6
Jacksonville Jaguars2 – 104 – 8
Kansas City Chiefs7 – 57 – 5
Miami Dolphins5 – 76 – 6
Minnesota Vikings7 – 58 – 4
New England Patriots12 – 010 – 2
New Orleans Saints5 – 74 – 8
New York Giants6 – 65 – 7
New York Jets10 – 26 – 6
Oakland Raiders4 – 85 – 6
Philadelphia Eagles8 – 35 – 7
Pittsburgh Steelers4 – 7 – 18 – 4
San Diego Chargers5 – 73 – 9
San Francisco 49ers1 – 114 – 8
Seattle Seahawks10 – 26 – 6
St. Louis Rams6 – 65 – 7
Tampa Bay Buccanneers2 – 9 – 15 – 6 – 1
Tennessee Titans3 – 8 – 13 – 9
Washington Redskins2 – 105 – 7

 

Like I’ve said, I’ll be interested to see how Vegas’ regular season picks finish out compared to preseason projections. Vegas hasn’t liked Chicago, Washington, Tampa Bay, San Francisco, or Detroit, but all have played much better than projected. Tennessee hasn’t seen much love and they haven’t been able to prove anyone wrong.

Too much love this season for Baltimore, Seattle, Philly, New York Jets and Atlanta.

That wraps it up. Good luck in DFS and your season-long playoffs this week. Only three more weeks remain after the completion of Week 14. Football season is drifting away too fast!

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