On Thanksgiving, the San Francisco 49ers got smoked by the Seattle Seahawks.
This isn’t too surprising since the Seahawks are the defending champions. The Seahawks, after a bumpy start to the year, are rounding into form. They’re in contention to go back to the Super Bowl.
However, the 49ers were playing at home, so it was surprising that they played so poorly. Home field advantage is supposed to be a thing.
Why did home field advantage do nothing for San Francisco? I have a theory!
The 49ers are playing in a new stadium in Santa Clara, which is almost an hour south of San Francisco. The new stadium cost $1.3 billion to build. It has all the modern bells and whistles — solar panels, wifi, and fancy food.
While all of that’s nice, it doesn’t do much for the home team, at least not initially.
I have zero statistical evidence to back this up, but I believe that the first year of a new stadium’s life mitigates home field advantage.
An NFL season is short. A team only gets 8 games in their stadium per year. When it’s a new stadium, there’s no major advantage since the team is still getting used to the new space. The fans that are coming to the game are going to spend a chunk of their time exploring the new stadium, thus making them absent when it’s time to cheer loudly. And, anything new is going to attract a different, perhaps less enthusiastic fanbase.
With that out of the way, let’s make some picks! Last week was rough. I was 2-4, which made my record for the year 40-43-1. Hopefully I bounce back this week!
All lines come from Vegas Insider and are current as of Friday morning:
The Indianapolis Colts are 3.5-point favorites on the road against the Cleveland Browns.
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
A few years ago, I heard someone describe Tiger Woods as a “flat course bully”. What does that mean? When he plays flat courses he shoots a great score and wins the tournament.
I would call the Colts flat course bullies, too. When they play bad teams they post an eye popping score and look great.
The Browns are not a good team. So, I am expecting a lot of points from the Colts.
The pick: Colts -3.5
The Arizona Cardinals are a pick ’em at home against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Peter Aiken/Getty Images
All year, the Cardinals were the least respected team in the NFL. In the past two weeks, they’ve shown why. With Drew Stanton running the offense, the team as fallen apart.
The Cardinals are a low scoring, defensive team. So are the Chiefs. So, I’m expecting a low scoring defensive game.
I think the Chiefs have a little more talent, and they win this game, so in a pick em, I am going to take the road team, although it makes me nervous.
The pick: Chiefs
The Detroit Lions are 9.5-point favorites at home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Jason Miller/Getty Images
The Bucs have played a lot of close games lately. So, it would make sense to take them and the points here. But, I think the Lions offense is going to open up against the Bucs defense and run up the score.
The pick: Lions -9.5
The Philadelphia Eagles are 1-point favorites at home against the Seattle Seahawks.
The Seahawks are really good once again. On a neutral field, they’re probably the better team right now.
But, they’re not playing on a neutral field. They’re on the road, which is where they are not that good.
This is actually a good match up for the Eagles. The Eagles get smoked by teams like the Broncos and Packers with strong passing attacks. They can hang with a run-based team like the Cowboys or the Seahawks.
The challenge for the Eagles will be containing Russell Wilson. Running quarterbacks give them a hard time. And power running backs give the Eagles a bit of a hard time, so if the Seahawks get inside the 10 yard line, I expect they’ll shove it down the Eagles throat and score.
But, I think the Eagles defense will be good enough to limit the Seahawks offense.
What about the other side of the ball? St. Chip knows how to make his offense hum, and I think he’ll figure some things out against the fantastic Seahawks defense. Hopefully, he figures out enough things to win this game.
The pick: Eagles -1
The Denver Broncos are 10-point favorites at home against the Buffalo Bills.
I expect the Broncos to win this game. I just don’t know by how much though. The Buffalo Bills have a strong defense that can get to Manning and make him uncomfortable throwing the ball. And Kyle Orton has been serviceable as a Bills’ QB. The question is whether he can play well enough to keep his team in the game. I think the answer to that question is yes. I’m taking the points.
The pick: Bills +10
The New England Patriots are 3.5-point favorites on the road against the San Diego Chargers.
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
The Patriots are really, really good. So, they’re definitely 3.5-points better.
How do the Chargers win, or cover this spread? They’re home and the Patriots are traveling west. Chargers QB Phil Rivers is playing well, so he’ll have to shred the Patriot defense. But, he’s not as good as Aaron Rodgers, who didn’t totally shred the Patriots last week. So, it’s hard to see Rivers demolishing the Patriots.
The pick: Patriots -3.5
The Green Bay Packers are 12.5-point favorites at home against the Atlanta Falcons.
Mike McGinnis/Getty Images
This is one giant line. I hate big lines like this. The Packers at their best beat the Falcons by 20 at their best. But, will the Packers be at their best, or will they sleepwalk through this game? I am hoping that Rodgers continues his assault and racks up the points.
The pick: Packers -12.5
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