Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Super Bowl Pick

0-1 last week. Turns out recovering fumbled punts is about as effective as hitting Hail Mary's. Not that we're bitter. Sometimes the breaks don't go your way. But we are still short the Giants. We've been wrong or unlucky in that position for weeks now but are going to hold to it.

NE (-3) vs NYG [MP= -6.13]

That's a 3.13-point edge, putting it squarely in the "Other Plays" category. And gives us a little room for liking the Pats even if you grant that the Giants are better than they were in the regular season. And we grant less of that than most people. Over the last 12 years, there is very little movement in the playoffs from a team's regular-season performance. There is SLIGHT regression to the mean, but actually suprisingly slight. And performance at the end of the year -- whether last 1, 2, 3 or 4 games -- doesn't predict anything at all.

Of course there is a lot of noise in playoff performance -- regular season performance is far from deterministic. We just find that our regular season #s go through more or less in full, and that late-season trends don't matter. There's just a bit of research out there that suggests people will "see" it otherwise.

Are the Giants an exception? Entirely possible. Certainly out of those last 144 playoff teams there have been some that got better over time. As there have been some that got worse. It's just that the trend generally doesn't matter, so you're favoring some bits of evidence here and there over the base rate. Again, there is years of research on the tendency to do that and how well it works out (in short: it doesn't).

With a 3-point edge you have to be VERY sure of those bits to like the Giants. We're going with the base rates.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Conference Championship Picks

1-0 last week. Only three games left in the season and happily we do have a pick this weekend. In fact it's very nearly in the "Big Play" category (more than a 4-point edge). Usual deal - no weather, injuries or matchups considered here. Lines are from 15 minutes ago.

Big Plays (22-12 YTD)

No big plays this week.

Other Plays (40-35-2 YTD)

SF -2.5 vs. NYG [MP= -6.4]

In the AFC we have New England by -5.6 vs. Baltimore, while the market has them at -7. That line opened at 7.5 so has moved toward us a bit.

In short, we think the Niners are a little more likely to win than the Patriots, while the market thinks they are considerably less likely to.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Divisional Playoff Picks

A painful 0-2 last week. With Denver, in particular, a great reminder of how difficult this prediction business is. But here we go again, with our typical set of considerations - no regard for weather, injuries or matchups. Lines are from as of 15 minutes ago.

Big Plays (22-12 YTD)

No big plays this week.

Other Plays (39-35-2 YTD)

Hou (+7.5) at Bal [MP= +4.8]

In the other games we have New Orleans by 1.6 (line=3.5), Green Bay by 8.2 (v. 7.5) and New England by 11.8 (v. 13.5).

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wildcard Picks

2-3 last week. Ended with a whimper, alas. We'll see if we can pick it back up for the playoffs. Hate to slide more chips in on so few plays, but, on the other hand, the lines are a little softer this time of year. Lines are from as of 15 minutes ago. As usual, no consideration of weather, matchups and injuries (though see note on Texans/Schaub below).

Big Plays (22-12 YTD)

No big plays this week.

Other Plays (39-33-2 YTD)

Det (+10.5) at NO [MP= +7.99]
Atl (+3) at NYG [MP= -0.99]

Other Games

We have Pittsburgh an 8-point favorite at Denver. Line is 9. If you allow a (downward) Tebow effect in Denver's season, it's not hard to understand the extra point.

We have Houston a 3.3-point favorite hosting Cincinnati. Line is 3. We essentially downgraded Houston this week by considering only the 6 post-Schaub games in our ratings for them. This is the only injury adjustment in the numbers. A crude one, but it looks like we landed right on top of the market.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Week 17 Picks

3-2 last week (2-2 on Big Plays). Going into the last weekend our Big Plays are 64.7% YTD and Other Plays are 55.2%. 5 games on tap this week, with the usual considerations -- injuries, weather and matchups are not factored in. Lines are from as of 15 minutes ago.

Big Plays (22-12 YTD)

None this week.

Other Plays (37-30-2 YTD)

Dal (+3) at NYG [MP= -0.4]
SF (-10.5) at STL [MP= -13.5]
Den (-3) vs KC [MP= -5.9]
Chi (pick) at Min [MP= -2.9]
SD (+3) at Oak [MP= +0.4]

We're scratching two games because of final weekend oddities. The Packers-Lions and Texas-Titans both match teams with nothing to gain against teams with a lot on the line. The market lines are completely disconnected from any kind of power rankings.

The Steelers-Browns game is currently off the board because of Roethlisberger's unknown status. We show that as a 9-point game if Roethlisberger is fully active.

One large, interesting line move so far this week: Saints opened -7 against Carolina, but have since moved to -9. We have them at -10.3.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Week 16 Pick Notes

So, we're going to scratch the PIT pick, since Roethlisberger is out with an injury.  Charlie Batch in for Roethlisberger.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Week 16 Picks

2-2 last week. The usual protocol this week re injuries, weather, lines, etc. And as always, "Big Plays" are games with a 4+ point edge, and "Other Plays" are games with 2-4 point edges.

Getting to be a tough time of year for a system that doesn't account for injuries -- be sure to see the notes below.

Big Plays (20-10 YTD)

Hou (-5.5) at Ind [MP= -11.1]
Oak (+1.0) at KC [MP= -3.9]
Jac (+7.5) at Ten [MP= +3.0]
Chi (+13.5) at GB [MP= +9.3]

Other Plays (36-30-2 YTD)

Pit (-16) vs. STL [MP= -19.0]
Buf (+3.0) vs Den [MP= +0.3]

A number of these picks deserve caution. We continue to like the Texans & Bears better than the market, at least partly because our system doesn't know they're playing with a different QBs than they started the season with. Their offensive stats have taken a dive since their injuries. Even though we weigh recent games more heavily, we use the whole season, which means our numbers will lag these kinds of discrete changes. To some extent this may also be true of the Steelers with a gimpy Roethlisberger. And of course we do not account for coaching changes -- will be interesting to see if KC's performance last week is truly a regime change.

We calculated the Jets-Giants as a neutral site game, figuring the true homefield advantage to the Jets was likely closer to 0 than our usual 2.44. On a neutral field we'd favor the Jets by 3.8, which is close to the market (3.0).

We liked Miami at +10.5 at New England (we have them at +7.6), but the line has already moved to 9.5, taking our edge below 2 points.