There are times when the noise must be blocked out, and the games must be allowed to stand on their own. Even through analysis, however, preconceived notions are ever-present.
"The 49ers are better than the Raiders." They are. It's a valid thought. If the two teams played a seven-game series, San Francisco would quickly be resting its players for the next round. But just because a team should win, doesn't mean they will. Just because they need to win to keep pace in a playoff race, doesn't mean they won't stumble.
Just because the favorites have earned that title, does not mean they will collectively remain unscathed.
Evidence of this is not just found in the 10-6 record for underdogs against the spread last week. Instead, it is noteworthy because the breakdown of the games, themselves, proved to indicate upsets in the making - at least, against the spread. This recognition countered our intuition that the time had come for favorites to pull away. Once we accepted that bias had driven analysis, the objective numbers stood alone, telling the true story.
We have long believed that a push in one direction was coming before season's end. As the trend has now leaned largely toward underdogs, the spreads for some teams - Denver, Cincinnati, and Philadelphia, to name a few - have shrunk enough to make them more than manageable. Furthermore, upsets from the week prior puts everyone on high alert. The Raiders won't catch the Chiefs napping now that they have poked a sleeping bear.
Nor will most of the underdogs, this week.
Now, it's the favorites' turn to deliver the knockout punch.
Below are predictions for each game against the spread. Spreads have been taken from various websites and are subject to change. The spread in parenthesis denotes the selected team and an asterisk denotes one of the week's most confident picks.
*Confidence Picks: 5-2-1 (Season: 52-35-1)
All Picks Against Spread: 11-4-1 (Season: 119-87-2)
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