An American Football Prediction

I decided to keep experimenting with my “Enemy at the Gates” conflict-resolution spread to predict the outcome of sporting events, specifically the American football match-ups for Sunday, November 6. In looking at the standings, I wanted to pick two adversaries with winning records that at least have a chance against one another. Although most of the interesting teams either have a “bye” this week or are involved in lop-sided match-ups, the Kansas City Chiefs (6-2) are leading the American Football Conference West, and the Dallas Cowboys (4-3) are in second place in the National Football Conference East. I don’t know anything about these teams, except that the Chiefs beat the AFC-East-leading, 2016 Super-Bowl-champion New England Patriots earlier in the season, while the Cowboys prevailed only against patently weaker opponents in every one of their wins. I’m not much of a football fan except at Super Bowl time, and then only if the Patriots are in it, but football’s scoring model makes an ideal target for the mechanics of this spread. The fact that the outcome is empirical rather than anecdotal (although the analysis might be unscientific) and promptly rendered is another advantage.

Once again, I have a dilemma regarding which team to place in the top row of the layout. There is no ready-made solution as in Major League Baseball since the team that gets the first crack at running the ball is customarily chosen by a coin-toss. I decided to put the team with the best record (the Chiefs) at the top, and change that if necessary following the toss at the beginning of the game. I will again use reversed cards to show potentially scoreless quarters for each team. Depending on the nature of the cards involved, upright Air cards will show a superior passing game, but if reversed they will indicate the possibility of frequent incompletions and interceptions; upright Earth cards will suggest a commanding ground offense,  while reversed they will reflect the possibility of numerous sacks and fumbles; upright Fire cards will imply an exceptional offensive strategy, while reversal brings the possibility of succumbing to top-notch defensive logistics; upright Water cards will show a stalwart defensive line (think “tidal wave”), while reversal means a more porous defense. Kings and Knights can describe either effective (upright) or ineffective (reversed) offensive quarterbacking, while Queens and Pages can indicate either effective (upright) or ineffective (reversed) defensive tactics. Trump cards (other than the derived “quints”) will serve as game-changing “surprise” events that override all other considerations. I will round the scores up or down to agree with standard scoring increments (touchdowns, field goals, safeties, etc).

Here is the layout design:

Here is the reading spread. This time I used my new Star Tarot deck for the main reading and stayed with the Thoth for the secondary cards. I once again selected the Chariot (“Victory; triumph”) as the Significator. In deriving the quintessence cards, I considered the court cards to be “11” through “14,” and subtracted reversed-card values.

All images copyright U.S. Games Systems, Inc, Stamford, CT and Cathy McClelland

Even if there is ultimately no truth in it, this is an utterly fascinating spread. For the purpose of convenience, at this point we will call the top row the “Chiefs” and the bottom one the “Cowboys.” The most notable thing here is that the Cowboys have an upright and reversed King, and an upright and reversed Knight, which works out numerologically to zero for a point total, with the Fool as quint. Since all of the suits are represented, it looks like the team will try numerous offensive maneuvers but may still come up empty (and look a little “foolish” doing it). It’s doubtful they will score no points, but stranger things have happened and the Chiefs are a powerful opponent. The reversed King of Swords and Knight of Pentacles could mean that both the passing and running games are problematic, and the upright Knight of Wands suggests a desperate, overly aggressive offense late in the game that may lead to numerous pass interceptions and fumbles. On the plus side, the upright King of Cups could reflect a defense that holds the Chiefs to a relatively low score (the Chiefs’ series yields a total score of 13, which I would round up to 14, or two touchdowns) while also providing good protection to the Cowboys’ QB. There is very little Air influence in this spread; the Chiefs have none, making me think they will dominate on the ground, while the Cowboys have only the King of Swords reversed and the Fool, neither of which inspires much confidence. It looks like a toe-to-toe slug-fest, with the Chiefs the more sluggish of the two on offense. On to the quarterly analysis.

In the 1st Quarter the Chiefs’ quarterback looks like he wants to dominate all by himself (the Hermit portrays a “one-man show”), while mounting an intricate, inventive ground attack (the Hermit’s Virgo correspondence). The Cowboys’ King of Cups (Fire of Water) is all about a more fluid offense that probes the defensive line for weaknesses and capitalizes on them. Overall, though, this looks like an inconclusive, back-and-forth period, with each team feeling out the other.

In the 2nd Quarter, the King of Swords reversed indicates that the Cowboys’ passing game will sputter, while the Chiefs’ upright 8 of Cups suggests an enveloping pass rush that may force interceptions but still manages to seem a bit sloppy in execution and fails to make the most of its opportunities. There is nothing to indicate break-away scoring in this quarter either.

In the 3rd Quarter, the Knight of Pentacles reversed projects a similarly dismal fate for the Cowboys’ running attack, with damaging turnovers possible, while the Chiefs’ 8-of-Pentacles offense meticulously picks apart the Cowboys’ defensive line for more yardage on the ground. It looks like the Chiefs could grind out a hard-won score or two in this period.

In the 4th Quarter, the Chiefs’ reversed Hanged Man makes me think there will be a momentous event that has repercussions for the rest of their season, even if it has little impact on the current game. There is an expression in wrestling called “getting clothes-lined,” where one wrestler straight-arms the other in the throat, instantly taking him down. The Hanged Man reversed could mean that one of the Chiefs’ key players gets “hung out to dry” in this manner, eliminating him from the game and possibly the season. This card reversed also reminds me of a soldier sticking his head out of a foxhole and getting it shot off. Even if the mechanism is different, a crucial set-back of some sort is entirely possible. The Cowboys upright Knight of Wands shows a renewed offensive vigor, but it may be too little, too late with the Chiefs’ stingy defense buckling down. This seems to be the Cowboy’s best chance to get on the board.

The quints are both uninspiring. The Chiefs come up with Death, which could have something to do with the debilitating “Hanged Man moment” in the 4th Quarter. The Cowboys’ quint has them looking totally hapless as the Fool. On balance, though, the Scorpionic  Death and Cancerian Chariot harmonize in a watery detente to seal the fate of the feckless Fool, while the latter isn’t much of a foot-soldier for the Chariot’s campaign. The Chiefs’ defense could be insurmountable, even if their offense is blunted. The Grand Quintessence was also Death, but I reduced it from 13 to 4, the Emperor, to offer a more illuminating perspective. Interestingly, all of the “royalty” in the Cowboys’ row aligns rather nicely with the regal Emperor, but they may not have the wherewithal to pull off an upset, and the Fool affords the Emperor very little support as well. For their part, the Chiefs can capitalize on the foursquare stability of the Emperor to augment their compelling Earth emphasis (translation: “ground game”)

The final tally indicates that the Chiefs should prevail by at least one touchdown or – more likely – a couple, but the scores could be fairly anemic on both sides. I just checked NFL prediction websites and found that Fox Sports gives the Chiefs a 76.3% chance to win by 8.5 points (approximately one touchdown); the statistically averaged score of 25.3 to 16.8 is a bit higher than my estimate.

UPDATE: I decided to leave the spread arrangement as-is even though Dallas got their hands on the ball first. It’s now the middle of the third quarter and Kansas City is on top, 17-to-14. Dallas is moving the ball much better than expected; it looks like having Elliot in the offensive line-up is making a difference.

FINAL: Once again, I should have followed my original thought and gone with the team that won the coin-toss (Dallas) for the top row in the spread. The final score was 28-17, not quite a two-touchdown span as predicted, but the Cowboys came out on top. Unsupported guesswork hasn’t worked out well with this layout. I’ll try again next week-end.

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