Upset Watch appears every Thursday for ESPN Insider, as Football Outsiders uses a proprietary formula to forecast the expected point spread of each game based on current DVOA ratings (explained here) and, early in the season, our DVOA projections. Each week we highlight the most likely upset on a game with a line over three points, plus an additional game where a significant underdog has a strong chance to cover.
As we near the end of the regular season, we're getting a lot of really good divisional matchups, some with serious playoff implications. While it certainly feels like division rivalries lead to upsets more than other games, our past research suggests this is not the case. Nonetheless, there are reasons to believe that some big upsets could happen in these big divisional games. A couple of them are among our most likely candidates for upsets in Week 14 (three-point spread or greater):
• Atlanta (+3) at Green Bay
• Carolina (+3.5) at New Orleans
• Jacksonville (+3) vs. Houston
• Miami (+3) at Pittsburgh
• St. Louis (+6.5) at Arizona
Keeping with the theme of divisional rivalries, both our Upset Watch and Cover Watch choices this week feature divisional matchups in the NFC, starting with one that could decide a division champion.