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Unconventional Wisdom - Week 7
Fritz Schlottman
October 20, 2006


Denver vs. Cleveland

Denver should win this game by about 10 points.  Looking at the statistics, after five games the Browns’ numbers are pretty average on defense (21.8 points per game against), but the offense struggles to score averaging only 16.2 points per game.  That puts Cleveland’s average winning margin per game at -5.6 points per game.  Only Oakland (-15.2 ppg.), Houston (-15.0 ppg.), Tennessee (-12.0 ppg.), Green Bay (-10.5 ppg.), Tampa Bay (-8.4 ppg.), and Detroit (-8.3 ppg.) have worse winning margins than Cleveland.  On the other hand Denver’s average winning margin is +5.0 ppg.  for a 10th best in the NFL ranking.  Using those numbers as averages you would expect Denver to be a 10.5 point favorite on a neutral field and a 7.5 point favorite in Cleveland.  The spread on this game in Las Vegas is Denver -4.5 which leads me to believe that there is some value with the Broncos this week.

Looking more closely at the numbers, it’s pretty difficult to make a case for the Browns.  Cleveland is a net -9 in turnover margin which is tied for last in the NFL.  That spells disaster against a Bronco offense that averages nearly 150 yards per game running the ball and a Denver defense giving up only seven points per game.  If the Browns cough up the football deep in there own end of the field just once and Denver converts that turnover into points, the Broncos will cover the number.  The Browns average just 75 rushing yards per game (29th in the NFL) making it unlikely that Cleveland will be able to sustain drives by running the ball to avoid that turnover.

Not that many of you have Browns on your fantasy roster (and this is not the spot to start them if you have them), but Denver’s team defense might be an interesting play here.  The Browns’ willingness to turnover the football could present the opportunity for a defensive score in the game, and if not a defensive score then multiple sacks and turnovers.  Also, the Browns will be hard pressed to score more than 10 points in this game.  If you need a bye week defense and the Broncos defense are available on the waiver wire, they’re definitely worth a spot play here.

Washington at Indianapolis

This is a nice spot for the Redskins.  Statistically, this game is a dead heat.  The Skins are averaging 326 yards per game on offense and the Colts are averaging 357 yards per game.  Washington is giving up 333 yards per game and Indy is giving up 325.  Washington is better at running the ball (131 to 111) and stopping the run (111 to 161).  Why are the Colts favored by nearly 10 points? I have no idea.  My best guess is that everyone is down on the Redskins and the public believes the Colts are a much better football team then they really are.

The situation couldn’t be better for Washington.  Coming off the bad home loss to Tennessee, this should have been one hard week of practice.  I would think the ‘Skins players can’t wait for the chance to redeem themselves on Sunday.  The Colts should be less motivated.  They come off the bye week at 5-0 having not played well all season (winning four of their five games by a touchdown or less) and could be rusty.

If the Colts win this football game, it won’t be by much…maybe three points.  This is a nice spot to start your Redskins.

San Diego at Kansas City

The Chargers averaging winning margin is 19.2 and the Chiefs average winning margin is -2.0 putting the spread at SD -21 on a neutral field.  The Sports Gods put the number at SD -5.5 on the road which looks like an absolute gift or the sucker line of the week depending on your point of view.

This looks like an ugly mismatch on the stats sheet.  The Chiefs are averaging only 92 rushing yards per game while giving up 130.  Ouch!  If you’re fortunate enough to have LT in your line-up, you have to be salivating.  On the other hand, if you have Chiefs on your roster and you have to go against a defense giving up only 72 rushing yards per game and destroying opposing quarterbacks, you have to be thinking “Here we go again….”

The only bone being thrown to the Chiefs here is that they play exceptionally well on their home field.  In fact, KC has won 8 of their last 9 meeting in this series at Arrowhead.  However, this version of the Chiefs statistically looks more like the Cleveland Browns than the previous versions of KC.  I don’t see how the 2006 Kansas City Chiefs are going to keep pace with the Chargers’ offense, and make no mistake about it the Chargers are going to score at least 24 points in this game unless the weather’s really unpleasant. 

I know a number of ‘cappers on the other side of this game.  If you believe in Voodoo, you’re on KC here.  Me, I’m a numbers guy.  Give me the Chargers.


Green Bay at Miami

Ugh!  How and why the Sports Gods put a 41 total on this football game is beyond me.  Neither team can score (the Packers average just over 17 points per game and the Dolphins average 13 points per game) so give me a good reason why either offenses is going to come alive this week? 

The only way this game gets to the number is by turnovers.  And yes, you can make the case that with QBs Brett Favre and Joey Harrington on the field, a pick-six or two is definitely possible.  But if I know it, the HC of both teams certainly know it, and my best guess is that they will game plan to limit the potential for mistakes.  Neither team needs a win by margin…they just need a win.  To make matters worse, neither the Packers probable number 3 nor 4 WRs have ever caught a pass in the NFL.  If you were coaching Green Bay, would you trust either of these guys to run the right route or Brett Favre to know where they’re going?  Nope, neither would I.

Miami was picked by many to be the preseason favorites.  The Dolphins have to win this game to have any chance of salvaging their season.  GB has never won in Miami, and they won’t win this low-scoring game either.  Dolphins 20-13.