Each week, Neil Greenberg makes NFL game predictions based on a multitude of factors that will have an impact on game day. These include efficiency stats such as success rates, yards per play and yards allowed per play, plus points scored based on strength of opponent. Point spreads are the consensus odds from multiple sports books in Vegas.
Season results: 84-85-5 against the spread; 20-9-5 against the cats (see video above).
Green Bay Packers @ Detroit Lions
Winner: Packers 65.7 percent
Pick: Packers -3
As much as Detroit has improved over the past few weeks, they are still 18 of 32 in Football Outsiders’ Defense-adjusted Value Over Average, which measures a team’s efficiency by comparing success on every single play to a league average based on situation and opponent. Green Bay ranks ninth.
Houston Texans @ Buffalo Bills
Winner: Bills 66.7 percent
Pick: Bills -3
Houston’s offense has not traveled this year. They rush for 3.7 yards per carry at home compared to 3.0 on the road, and see a similar disparity in their passing: 6.6 adjusted net yards versus 5.5.
San Francisco 49ers @ Chicago Bears
Winner: Bears 77.6 percent
Pick: Bears -7
The 49ers secondary allows 94.3 yards per game to the opposition’s No. 1 receiver, so look for Chicago’s Alshon Jefferey, who is averaging 3.1 yards per route run, to have his name called early and often.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Cleveland Browns
Winner: Bengals 86.7 percent
Pick: Bengals -9.5
Austin Davis will be become the Browns’ 24th starting quarterback since 1999 and have to debut against a pass rush ranked eighth in adjusted sack rate (7.1 percent), which gives sacks (plus intentional grounding penalties) per pass attempt adjusted for down, distance and opponent.
Baltimore Ravens @ Miami Dolphins
Winner: Dolphins 56.3 percent
Pick: Ravens +4
Miami’s defense is not much better than Cleveland’s, and Baltimore was able to produce almost six yards per play against the Browns in Week 12 with quarterback Matt Schaub and running back Javorius Allen as their primary skill players.
Seattle Seahawks @ Minnesota Vikings
Winner: Seahawks 52.6 percent
Pick: Seahawks Pick ’em
Adjusting margin of victory for strength of schedule shows the Seahawks (5.3 points per game above average) are better than the Vikings (3.7) despite the win-loss record suggesting otherwise.
Carolina Panthers @ New Orleans Saints
Winner: Panthers 64.7 percent
Pick: Saints +7
The Panthers’ defense is for real, but Drew Brees averages the fifth most net yards per play in the passing game (7.0). That will be enough to keep it close.
New York Jets @ New York Giants
Winner: Giants 52.6 percent
Pick: Giants +2
The Jets will be without both their top cornerback Darrelle Revis, who remains in the concussion protocol, and his backup Marcus Williams, which sets up the Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr. for a big day.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Tennessee Titans
Winner: Titans 53.2 percent
Pick: Jaguars +2.5
Tennessee has one of the worst offense in the NFL, averaging 1.5 points per drive (30 out of 32 teams). They may win, but not by a sizable margin.
Arizona Cardinals @ St. Louis Rams
Winner: Cardinals 65.8 percent
Pick: Cardinals -5.5
It is going to be tough for the Rams to stop their losing skid against a Cardinals team that leads the league in net yards per drive (11.5), which is almost double the next best team (Panthers, 5.5).
Atlanta Falcons @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Winner: Buccaneers 54.3 percent
Pick: Buccaneers -2
The Bucs have been at least one net yard per play better than their opponent in each of their last four games.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Oakland Raiders
Winner: Chiefs 60.8 percent
Pick: Chiefs -3
Kansas City ranks No.5 in Football Outsiders’ adjusted sack rate (7.3 percent) and Raiders’ quarterback Derek Carr isn’t as good when facing the pass rush.
Denver Broncos @ San Diego Chargers
Winner: Broncos 63.2 percent
Denver has the superior defense, causing three-and-out drives 25.0 percent of the time, good enough to be in the top 10. The Chargers are 28th in the league at 19.5 percent.
Philadelphia Eagles @ New England Patriots
Winner: Patriots 62.1 percent
Pick: Eagles +9.5
The Patriots’ offense is suffering from a multitude of injuries, including wide receiver Julian Edelman and tight end Rob Gronkowski, their top two red-zone targets.
Indianapolis Colts @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Winner: Steelers 74.4 percent
Pick: Steelers -7
The Steelers have averaged more than 7.1 yards per play in each of their last three games.
Dallas Cowboys @ Washington Redskins
Winner: Redskins 64.9 percent
Pick: Redskins -4.5
The Cowboys will be without quarterback Tony Romo and the Redskins get to play Kirk Cousins at home, which makes a difference.