October 25, 2012 - by Matt Woods
After a relatively calm Week 7, this week presents a few more chances to gain ground on the public. Most notably, we see the Philly-Atlanta battle of the birds as a relatively even matchup. With a significant portion of the public on one side, we see significant value in that NFC showdown.
Here is where our game winner pick’em strategies currently stand on ESPN (not confidence points based) heading into Week 8. Our game winner picks maintained their solid positions, with all three strategies remaining fairly consistent in the standings. All three are now in the top 10% nationally, and two of our strategies are now in the top 3%:
Our against the spread picks enjoyed a similarly solid week, buoyed by an impressive 10-2-1 record for our official ATS picks, which were reflected the most in our Conservative strategy — although not perfectly because we currently “freeze” our weekly office pool picks on Thursday, but our official site predictions continue to update until about an hour before kickoff. We’re working on changing that in the future.
Like the game winner picks, all three of our ATS strategies currently rank in the top 10% nationally. Our Aggressive strategy has excelled, and currently ranks in the top 3% in the country despite a very slight slide this past week:
(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.)
Unfortunately, on the game winner side our three highlighted upset picks all fell just a bit short, as favorites dominated the week. There were no games last week in which we disagreed with the public as to who would win, so it did not come as much of a surprise when “chalk” ruled. We saw Cleveland, Jacksonville and St. Louis as upset picks with value, and all three lost competitive games.
Our biggest public imbalance point spread value picks didn’t have a distinguishing week either. Jacksonville covered the spread in an overtime game against Oakland, but St. Louis and Tampa Bay failed to cover.
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|
|Philadelphia||vs Atlanta||54.1%||28.0%||26.1%||-1.0||Odds-On Contrarian|
|Miami||at New York Jets||50.9%||26.0%||24.9%||-1.0||Odds-On Contrarian|
|Cleveland||vs San Diego||49.3%||13.0%||36.3%||+1.0||Low Risk Upset|
|Dallas||vs New York Giants||45.9%||21.0%||24.9%||+1.0||Low Risk Upset|
|Arizona||vs San Francisco||28.9%||8.0%||21.9%||+6.5||Long Shot Upset|
After a week with no odds-on contrarian picks, this week we have two. These occur when a majority of the public picks against our projected winner, providing a nice chance to gain ground against other pool competitors without even having to make an upset pick.
We see both Philadelphia and Miami as slight favorites to win, and Vegas sees both of these teams as relative toss-ups to win outright. However, less than 30% of the public has picked the Eagles or Dolphins in pools this week. Consequently, we see both of these teams as solid picks for any pool size.
This week also presents a couple of great upset picks without too much risk. We give Cleveland and Dallas close to even odds to win their respective games, and each is only a 1 point underdog in Vegas. Yet, just 13% and 21% of the public, respectively, has picked the Browns and Cowboys so far. Both are great selections for anyone looking to take on a bit more risk this week to try to gain ground in a pool.
Finally, for those in bigger pools or looking to make up some ground, Arizona is undervalued since such a high percentage of the public is picking them to lose. Still, with the number of other contrarian picks available, we wouldn’t recommend taking the Cardinals unless you feel like you’re extremely close to having no chance to finish in the money in your pool this year, and have a ton of ground to make up.
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 Sunday 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, which could indicate “free points” opportunities in your pool. Highlights can also be found on on the right side of our NFL odds page.
|Team||Opponent||Opening Line||Current Line||Movement|
|New York Giants||at Dallas||+1||-1 or -2||2 or 3|
|Denver||vs New Orleans||-4.5||-6||1.5|
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 a large majority of your opponents are picking a certain team to beat the spread, that team is probably 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 only about one-third or less of the public is selecting them to cover:
|Team||Opponent||Public Pick%||TR Cover Odds||Current Spread|
|Jacksonville||at Green Bay||5%||53%||+16|
|Dallas||vs New York Giants||24%||46%||+1 or +2|
|Cleveland||vs San Diego||26%||53%||+1|
|St. Louis||vs New England (neutral)||31%||50%||+7|
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, only one of which is playing a true road game 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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