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The inputs to the 10,001 simulations of each upcoming game are based on a rigorous analysis of each team that considers strength-of-schedule-adjusted team and player ratings and then makes modifications for injuries and depth at each position. To see other picks like our Upset and Locks of the Week, as well as our season-to-date performance, click here.
Last week, our picks were 92.3% accurate against the spread to keep us above 60% ATS - with a 73% success rate on our "lock of the week" - and just under 70% (69.4%) straight-up for the season. To see other picks like our Upset and Locks of the Week, as well as our season-to-date accuracy, click here.
Game of the Week: #4 New England 24 @ #1 New Orleans 33
Another week, another huge quarterback battle.
Two weeks after Bill Belichick made the Call of the Year to help Peyton Manning and the Colts beat Tom Brady and the Patriots to help Indianapolis remain undefeated, the Patriots find themselves in a nearly identical situation.
This time, Brady and the Pats get their shot against Drew Brees and the perfect 10-0 New Orleans Saints.
New England, 7-3, rebounded from the debacle against the Colts with a 17-point victory over the New York Jets on Sunday. The Patriots have won four of their last five games and their schedule will only get easier from here on out.
With Brady back at the helm after missing all but a few minutes of last season, they boast one of the top offenses in the league in both passing and scoring. New England's signal-caller has thrown 20 touchdowns and just six interceptions and is averaging an impressive 7.7 yards per pass attempt. Brady is one of five quarterbacks in the league to have a rating of 100 or higher for the season. New England's rushing attack has left something to be desired. No running back has eclipsed the 500-yard mark 10 games into the season and #1 back Laurence Maroney is averaging less than 4.0 yards per carry. The team itself is averaging exactly 4.0, but that hasn't hindered a highly productive offense from averaging 5.9 yards per offensive play.
The Patriots' defense seems to mirror its offense, stopping the pass at one of the highest rates in the NFL but struggling more against the run. That fact should come into play this week as the Saints bring a multiply dangerous offense. New England has allowed less than 2,000 passing yards all season and opponents are averaging just 6.4 yards per pass attempt against them. Against the run, however, the Patriots are allowing nearly 4.5 yards per touch.
Brees is one of just a few quarterbacks to have outplayed Brady to this point. New Orleans boasts the top offense in the league and it bounced back from a close call against St. Louis by thrashing Tampa Bay on Sunday. This week's game is the Saints' toughest hurdle standing between them and a perfect regular season.
The Saints have more offensive weapons than any other team in the league this season. With Brees at the helm, they don't have quite as many passing yards as Brady in the Pats, but they arenít far behind and they're actually averaging more yards per attempt, at 8.6. And whereas New England has zero backs with 500 yards at this point, New Orleans has two and a third dynamic playmaker who averages 5.0 yards per carry. Mike Bell has seen the most carries, but is averaging the lowest yardage of the bunch at 4.5 yards per carry. Pierre Thomas also has more than 500 yards and averages an impressive 5.6 yards per touch. Reggie Bush, who wasn't able to play last week due to injury, is the third of the three-headed monster. Together, the rushing attack averages 4.8 yards per carry for an offense that averages an impressive 6.4 yards per snap.
Defensively, the Saints' numbers are nearly identical to those of the Patriots. New Orleans is allowing just 6.2 yards per pass attempt, but will see one of its toughest challenges of the season this week. The Saints will likely have the most success if they try to keep Brady and the Pats one-dimensional, and they could do that by continuing to stifle the New Englandís run-game. But they haven't exactly been dominant against the run, giving up 4.6 yards per carry.
But let's be honest. For the second time in three weeks, all eyes will be on Brady in another quarterback battle. And for the second time in that span, Brady loses out. And this time, a fourth-quarter, fourth-down call won't likely factor into the outcome.
In 10,001 simulations (view predicted boxscore), Brees and the Saints take care of Brady and the Pats 69.9% of the time of an average final score of 33-24. With New Orleans giving three points, they cover the spread 66.8% of the time. The total, at 55.5, is a much weaker play as the teams make the over at a 52.9% clip.
The Saints' rushing attack seems to make the difference as two different backs each average a touchdown in 50% of the simulations. Brees also tops Brady in both yardage and touchdowns.
Click on the Boxscore below to the average results from 10,001 simulations of that game. Or click on Simulate Game to play the game once and view stats and play-by-play from that simulation.
NFL Week 12
|Kansas City Chiefs||13.8||14||Boxscore|
|@ San Diego Chargers||86.2||29||Simulate Game|
|@ Minnesota Vikings||86.0||30||Simulate Game|
|@ Cincinnati Bengals||85.5||27||Simulate Game|
|@ Philadelphia Eagles||73.5||26||Simulate Game|
|@ Dallas Cowboys||72.3||25||Simulate Game|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||28.1||18||Boxscore|
|@ Atlanta Falcons||71.9||28||Simulate Game|
|New England Patriots||30.1||24||Boxscore|
|@ New Orleans Saints||69.9||33||Simulate Game|
|@ San Francisco 49ers||55.5||22||Simulate Game|
|@ Tennessee Titans||53.7||24||Simulate Game|
|@ St. Louis Rams||52.6||25||Simulate Game|
|@ Baltimore Ravens||51.6||24||Simulate Game|
|@ New York Jets||41.2||22||Simulate Game|
|@ Buffalo Bills||35.2||20||Simulate Game|
|New York Giants||69.1||27||Boxscore|
|@ Denver Broncos||30.9||23||Simulate Game|
|Green Bay Packers||69.4||29||Boxscore|
|@ Detroit Lions||30.6||24||Simulate Game|
|@ Houston Texans||25.0||20||Simulate Game|
Other Notable Games in Week 12
In a battle of teams fighting to keep their status as playoff contenders, the New York Giants - fresh off finally winning again - travel to face the Denver Broncos - hoping to follow the Giants' lead by ending a month-long skid. The Giants win back-to-back games 69.1% of the time, but by less than a touchdown, making the Broncos +6.5 look pretty good at 59%.
Baltimore and injury-riddled Pittsburgh square off in a game that could end up playing a huge role in sorting out the playoff picture as well. The two teams will have to meet again in a few weeks, but could have the closest game this week as the host Ravens win just 51.6% of the time by just a field goal.
Other Notable Names in Week 12
Brady Quinn finally had the monster game that Browns fans have been waiting for since he was drafted. Then again, it did come against the Lions and somehow Cleveland still found a way to lose. The former Notre Dame quarterback likely returns to his struggling ways against the Cincinnati Bengals as he averages less than 200 yards per game over 10,000 simulations an likely matches his touchdown passes with picks.
Miami running back Ricky Williams couldn't have been bigger while stepping up in relief of the injured Ronnie Brown. Williams put the Dolphins on his back, scoring twice on the ground and once through the air to single-handedly beat Carolina. Expect another big game from him as he averages well over 100 yards and scores a touchdown.
Eric Schmoldt is a writer and Paul Bessire is the Product Manager of Content and Quantitative Analysis for WhatIfSports.com, a division of FOX Sports Interactive specializing in fantasy football simulation analysis and football sim games. With any comments, questions or topic suggestions, Paul and Eric can be reached at BtB@whatifsports.com. Thanks!