Today on their new “Regressing” blog, Deadspin republished a blog post by Michael Lopez that looked at NFL point spread pick performance so far this season by some of the higher profile data-driven prediction sites, TeamRankings included. What originally was meant to be a few sentences turned into a blog post of its own, so I’ve put it here for everyone to read, and am interested to hear any comments.
I had seen Michael’s original post yesterday on his blog, and was pondering a response, but got distracted by other work. Once the piece hit the front page of Deadspin, though, I felt compelled to reply. I actually thought the premise of the article was quite interesting: Are number crunching sites really doing poorly this year on NFL betting picks? If so, how widespread is this phenomenon and what could be some possible reasons for it?
However, the more into it I got, the more problems I had with the actual content of the piece. So if you’re curious to hear “the other side of the story,” read the link above, and here’s my response below.
In just a couple days the march to Super Bowl XVLIII kicks off. Although we had our nose to the grindstone this summer developing our new and improved NFL survivor pool picks and NFL office pool picks (both completely free for Week 1, so please check ‘em out), we haven’t forgotten our old staples: our successful NFL projections and NFL preseason rankings.
Our preseason NFL ratings are unique because they are entirely based off custom-built mathematical algorithms. We’ve tested hundreds of statistics and data points to find which aspects of a team best predict its future performance.
Conventional wisdom, media hype and “expert” opinion matters nothing to us.
We spent the summer figuring out how to dominate football pick’ems and NFL survivor pools.
This post is going to explain what we did and why we did it.
And why you’re missing out if you don’t pay attention.
If you hate to read and just want to cut to the chase, here are the links to sign up for our groundbreaking new picks and analysis packages for football pools:
After 256 regular season games and 10 playoff games, we’re down to just the 49ers and Ravens left fighting for the Lombardi trophy. With the Super Bowl almost here, we wanted to present a breakdown of all the Super Bowl predictions and prop bet advice we have available on the site. Some of this information is free and open to the public, but most is only available as part of our new premium packages.
Super Bowl Betting Picks
Including playoff games, both playable (2-star or better) NFL spread picks and playable NFL over/under picks are profitable for the season. Our playable totals picks have particularly excelled, going 56-33-4 (62.9%, +17.9 units) for the year so far. For the Super Bowl, as of Wednesday evening, our models see a spread of San Francisco -3.5 as relatively efficient, but the over/under is playable at 47. All of our 2013 Super Bowl betting picks are available to our All Star level subscribers.
Over in our premium NFL forum, which is available to TeamRankings subscribers (sign up now), we’ve been posting daily, data-driven analysis of Super Bowl prop bets. We take care to do a deep, thorough analysis of each of the props we look into, and wanted to post one of our analyses on the blog to give all of our readers an example.
If you like what you see here, there are seven other props broken down in the NFL forum so far, with more coming. And if you’re a subscriber and you want us to look at a specific prop, just ask us in the forum! We love fielding questions.
Super Bowl Prop Analysis: Which Team Will Score First?
TR’s David Hess has rolled up his sleeves and jumped headlong into the data to explore this prop. The lines mean that San Francisco is the favorite to score first, but where is the value?
- San Francisco: -135 (5Dimes), -132 (Pinnacle), -130 (Bovada)
- Baltimore: +115 (5Dimes), +117 (Pinnacle), +100 (Bovada)
The NFL regular season has come to an end, 20 teams have been sent home and seven coaches have been fired. It’s now playoff time in the NFL, and as the Wild Card round kicks off, we wanted to break down all of the playoff related predictions and contest advice we have available on the site. Some of this information is free and open to all, but most is available as part of our new premium packages.
Algorithmic NFL Playoffs Betting Picks
Playable NFL spread picks (2-star or better) from our computer models are 68-56-4 (54.8%, +5.8 units) so far this season, and playable NFL totals picks are 54-31-4 (63.5%, +18.1 units). For the Wild Card round, as of Saturday morning, our models see three of the eight available spread and totals bets as playable. All of our 2012 NFL playoff betting picks including the Super Bowl are available to our All Star level subscribers.
- NFL Playoffs Point Spread Picks
- NFL Playoffs Over/Under Totals Picks
- NFL Playoffs Money Line Value Picks
This is a guest post by Greg Matthews (Twitter: @StatsInTheWild), founder of Stats In The Wild, a blog focused on sports analytics and data visualization. If you’re interested in guest posting on TeamRankings, email us your post and we’ll consider it.
Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers both turned in 140+ passer rating performances to lead all quarterbacks in the final week of the NFL regular season. While Manning’s and Rivers’ passer ratings were similar in Week 17 (144.8 and 142.0, respectively), that’s about where the similarities stop between the two.
In Week 17 Manning led his team to a 38-3 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs by throwing for 304 yards on 23 of 29 passing, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. The win was the thirteenth of the season and eleventh in a row for the Broncos, who claimed the number one seed in the AFC for the playoffs.
Alternatively, the San Diego Chargers finished the season 7-9 after their Week 17 victory over the lowly Oakland Raiders. In that game, Rivers only threw the ball 17 times completing 13 of his attempts for 151 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. This kind of stat line leads to a good passer rating, but it doesn’t really stand out on the graph like Russell Wilson.
(Just click the graph below to enlarge it…)
Welcome to the Week 17 installment of our NFL Survivor contest advice column. We apply a data-driven strategy to get an edge in Survivor pools, using analysis based on NFL predictions from our algorithmic Team Rankings models, public picking trends, future team schedules, and other data.
As the season progresses, Survivor pool elimination rates usually increase. People use up all the good teams at the beginning of the year, and their choices over the last few weeks become more difficult.
Week 16 bucked that trend, as over 98% of Yahoo! contestants survived. It was the second safest week of the season, behind Week 11. Our pick, the Denver Broncos, breezed past the Cleveland Browns by a 34-12 score.
We’re now entering the final week of the season. The decision-making process becomes much simpler this week, as there is no future value to consider. If you’ve got a big favorite available, it’s now or never.
It’s the final week of the regular season, so you need to assess your position and act accordingly. If you’re not near the very top of your pool, you’re almost certainly not going to win it. If the contest awards weekly prizes, though, should try to maximize your odds of winning this week’s prize by rolling the dice with very aggressive, unpopular picks.
In smaller pools, if you’ve been using our Conservative game winner picks, you may be finding yourself around 5th place in a 100-person pool, or even better if you’re in a spread based pool. In that case, your pool’s prize structure is the most important factor at this point.
If you’re in position to win some money (or only 1-2 wins out of the money) and are happy with that, you should probably play it conservatively. In that case, you should look to pick teams that you think many of your close competitors will also pick, regardless of which team you think will win, in order to minimize opportunities for opponents to gain ground on you. Making a risky, unpopular pick isn’t a good way to defend a lead.
If you’re more than a few games behind the money positions then you need to take some risks. How much risk depends on how far out of the money you are, so feel free to ask questions about your specific situation in the comments and we’ll do our best to answer.
Where We Stand After Week 16
Here is where our game winner pick’em strategies currently stand on ESPN (not confidence points based) heading into Week 17. While the more aggressive strategies basically held their positions, our Conservative strategy dropped slightly, yet still continues to rank in the top 5% nationally on ESPN:
- Conservative: 95th percentile (-1.4 from last week)
- Aggressive: 87th percentile (+0.2)
- Very Aggressive: 81.5th percentile (-0.2)
Well, it’s December 21st, and there have been no signs of an alpacalypse (though it may feel differently if your $200K Survivor prize pool was just seized by the feds). That means you still need to make a Survivor pick this week.
There have been quite a few shifts in the money lines and win odds since Wednesday. If, like us, you’ve still got one last trump card that you’re using this week, then those changes probably won’t make a big difference to you.
On the other hand, if you’re dipping into the Tier 2 pot, you’ll probably want to pay close attention.