October 10, 2012 - by Matt Woods
Last week proved to be the worst in memory for our point pread based office pool picks, and all three strategies took a hit. The good news is our game winner picks had another solid week, and two of our three spread strategies are still in the top ten percent nationally.
Here is where our game winner pick’em strategies currently stand on ESPN (not confidence points based) heading into Week 6. Our game winner picks enjoyed an excellent week 5, as both the Conservative and Aggressive strategies rose in the standings while the Very Aggressive stayed at the top. All three strategies remain very strong, highlighted by the continued success of our Very Aggressive strategy:
In stark contrast to our game winner picks, our against the spread picks suffered by far their worst week of the season. All three strategies dropped in the national standings, especially the abysmal Conservative picks, which only got three games right. (Luckily for those in confidence point pools, they were at least 3 of the top 5 confidence picks.)
Despite the down week, though, both our Aggressive and Very Aggressive strategies still held on to a top 6% position nationally. Those in bigger pools using the riskier strategies should still be in good shape after 5 weeks.
Here is where we stand on ESPN with our point spread pick’em strategies:
(Keep in mind that we occasionally “flip” picks if the point spread listed on ESPN is significantly different than the point spread listed on our site.)
Overall, five of these six pick sets are in the top 10% of ESPN, four are in the top 6%, and one is in the top 1%. Except for the Conservative ATS strategy, following any of these strategies in your pool should have you in good position heading into Week 6.
Just a friendly reminder; here’s where you can find our computer generated picks for NFL office pools:
OK, time for our handy Game Winner table, which summarizes a few teams that look like they could be smart picks for people that need to take some risks. It’s based on our detailed pick’em analysis page.
|Team||Opponent||Adj Win Odds||Public %||Value||Spread||Value Indicator|
|New York Jets||Indianapolis||64.8%||~40%||24.8%||-3.5||Odds-On Contrarian|
|Cleveland||vs Cincinnati||47.6%||~25%||22.6%||+1.0||Low Risk Upset|
|Dallas||at Baltimore||38.0%||~10%||28.0%||+3.5||High Risk Upset|
|Seattle||vs New England||37.5%||~15%||22.5%||+3.5||High Risk Upset|
|Oakland||at Atlanta||23.5%||<5%||~20%||+9.5||Long Shot Upset|
|Tennessee||vs Pittsburgh||30.3%||~5%||25.3%||+6.0||Long Shot Upset|
There is significant value in picking the New York Jets to beat Indy this week. The Jets are favored by 3.5 and we give them about a 65% to win outright. A majority of the public, however, has picked the Colts to pull the upset, as only about 40% favor the Jets to rebound this week from a tough Monday night loss. Despite their tumultuous start, New York still ranks #13 in our Overall Power Ratings, and should be worth some high confidence points in pools that use them.
If you’re looking for an underdog this week, Cleveland looks like a solid pick without too much risk. We see this game as a relative tossup, as the Bengals are only favored by 1, and we give the Browns almost even odds to win. Conversely, the picking public sees this as a mismatch and only about one-quarter nationally are siding with the Browns. Picking Cleveland means you’re taking a coin flip’s chance at gaining some ground on three quarters of your pool.
For a much bigger risk, Seattle and Dallas have some value as well. It appears the public has undervalued both teams, each of whom we give better than a one in three shot to win. For very large pools or for players who have significant ground to make up, both the Seahawks and the Cowboys present good upset picks.
It seems almost no one is picking Oakland or Tennessee this week, and while we certainly see an imbalance there, we wouldn’t recommend taking a shot with either. There are four other chances to go against the public this week without injecting such a significant risk.
A lot of point spread based pick’em contests publish the games and associated point spreads at the beginning of the week, but give you until the end of the week (or close to it) to submit your picks. This means a great strategy is to look for a game where the official spread in your contest is different from the current spread offered at most sports books, and take the “free points.”
In general, the edge you get from those free points is going to be stronger than any lean you have on who is favored to cover, especially if the difference is more than one point.
Below are the biggest line movements from earlier in the week. Highlights can also be found on on the right side of our NFL odds page.
|Team||Opponent||Opening Line||Current Line||Movement|
|Detroit Lions||Philadelphia Eagles||+5.5||+4||1.5|
(Yes, it feels a little silly showing you a table for one game, but we wanted to keep the format the same, week to week.)
The other major source of value in ATS pick’ems is finding teams that a huge majority of your opponents are picking, and then taking the other side. Most Vegas point spreads are pretty efficient, so if 85% of your opponents are picking a certain team to beat the spread, that team is probably incredibly overvalued. And that means you’ve got roughly a 50/50 shot of pulling ahead of a huge chunk of your opponents by picking against them, no matter what your personal opinion is of that game.
Here are five teams where the lines for the Yahoo! ATS pick’em are the within half a point of those found at Pinnacle sports book on Wednesday afternoon (or better), yet under about 25% of the public is selecting them to cover:
|Team||Opponent||Public Pick%||TR Cover Odds||Current Line Spread|
|Seattle||vs New England||~25%||51%||+3.5|
|Kansas City||at Tampa Bay||~25%||49%||+4.0|
If the lines in your pick’em contest are the same or better as those shown above, and if you think your competitors will be picking teams in roughly the same manner as the general public (e.g., in line with the Yahoo! contest picking trends), we’d recommend playing all five of these teams, four of which are at home this week.
As always, please feel free to ask questions in the comment section below. We’ll do our best to answer as many as possible, and we look forward to a fun and interactive college football weekly pick’em advice column this season.
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