Monday Night Chaser: Steelers-49ers 

December, 19, 2011

First, let's do some grades.

I went into great detail on Friday about how The SportsBoss calculates his ratings system. I also pointed out that, going back to the start of the 2010 season, he's noticed a pretty remarkable winning trend for teams that grade out at 80 or higher based on his formula. (You can link to the story from here, but briefly, he breaks down the offense and defense into 32 statistical categories -- 16 on offense and 16 on defense -- ascribes a 0-5 grade and then adds up the points. 160 is the highest possible, which has never been achieved. This season's best is 144 points, earned by the Texans heading into Week 7.)

This weekend, The Sports Boss had these teams rated the highest according to his system (table to the right).

We didn't break down the Houston game because the rating was based on season-long numbers, not just those with T.J. Yates under center. That game was a pass. We also passed on analyzing the Green Bay Packers because it felt like a trap -- new coach for the Kansas City Chiefs with Kyle Orton under center. Those were good decisions because, sometimes, the best move you can make is passing.

We did examine the Cincinnati Bengals' game, which The Sports Boss saw as an easy Cincy cover. And he was right about the cover -- it wasn't easy, though. Same with the New Orleans Saints, Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons, which we also didn't review because the Falcons had smacked down the Jacksonville Jaguars the night before we spoke.

Of the eight games listed in the chart, I like that he was smart enough to ignore Houston and Green Bay. I like that he had the right numbers for Cincy, the Saints, the Boys and the Falcons.

Now, for the bad news: His analysis was slightly off on the Tennessee Titans, one of his higher rated teams for the day, against the winless Indianapolis Colts. And he missed on the Baltimore Ravens, whose defense he thought would dominate the San Diego Chargers based on his projections. "Really that Titans game seemed like a mixed issue for both teams: The Titans passed way too much and the Colts had so much success on ground that Dan Orlovsky didn't have to do much," says The Sports Boss. "The Ravens, on other hand, I loved and that was a just a big fat loss."

But 4-2 with two "no bets" is a record anyone would take to the bank.

The "80-20 rule" roundup

You also might remember a couple of weeks ago I spent a lot of time on the podcast with Dan Fabrizio of and then in the Monday Night Chaser column examining the "80-20 rule". This is the contrarian betting philosophy in which bettors take home dogs if they are getting 20 percent or less of the action. In other words, it's betting against the public. Three games closed within these parameters this weekend: Green Bay (83 percent) at -14 over Kansas City (17 percent), New Orleans (82 percent) at -7 over Minnesota (18 percent) and Cincy (86 percent) at -7 over St. Louis (14 percent).

On Sunday morning I was looking at these stats and didn't feel that comfortable making plays purely based on the 80-20 philosophy. In fact, two of my SuperContest plays were the Bengals and Saints. So I emailed Fabrizio asking, when you have multiple games in this scenario, what are the filters you should use? His answer: Dogs of eight points or more. One game filled that bucket: Green Bay vs. Kansas City. This was a game that the sharps had steamed from the opening with Green Bay as two-touchdown favorites to closing with the Pack as just 10-point favorites. A lot of money came in on the Chiefs. Turns out everyone who made that choice was right.

And if you didn't, well, you're probably chasing tonight.

Pittsburgh Steelers at San Francisco 49ers

Spread: Off the board all week, now 49ers minus-3, could be minus-5 if Charlie Batch starts
Over/under: Opened at 38.5, now 37.5