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 Covers.com 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.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Week 15 Picks

5-4 last week (1-0 on the only "big play" after -- unfortunately -- scratching the Seattle pick). Usual setup -- no consideration of injuries, weather or matchup. Lines are from covers.com as of 15 minutes ago. "Big Plays" are games with edge>4 points, "Other Plays" are games with edge=2-4 points.

Short slate and no big plays this week -- our lines are right on top of the market's (6 games are within 0.6 points).

Big Plays (20-10 YTD)

None this week.

Other Plays (34-28-2 YTD)

Hou (-6.5) vs Car [MP= -10.2]
NYJ (+3) at Phi [MP= +0.4]
Cin (-6) at STL [MP= -8.5]
NO (-7) at Min [MP= -9.0]

Monday, December 12, 2011

Week 14 Picks (Addendum)

We're scratching the Seattle pick (-5 on Wed, now -10) vs. St. Louis Monday night, since Bradford is out for the game. To stay consistent with our policy of scratching games the week after a team loses its starting QB.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Week 14 Picks

One of our only bad weeks of the season last week: 2-4 (1-1 on big plays). Look to rebound this week with a huge slate - picks on 10 games. As usual, these don't consider injuries, weather, matchups, etc. Lines from Covers.com as of 15 minutes ago. 

Big Plays

*Hou (+3) at Cin [MP= -4.3]
Sea (-5) vs STL [MP= -10.3]

Other Plays
Jac (+1) vs TB [MP= -2.8]
Det (-7) vs Min [MP= -10.7]
Chi (+3.5) at Den [MP= -0.1]
NO (-3.5) at Ten [MP= -7.1]
NYJ (-9) vs KC [MP= -12.3]
Buf (+7) at SD [MP= 4.3]
SF (-3.5) at Ari [MP= -5.7]
Dal (-3) vs NYG [MP= -5.2]

*Clearly the reason we disagree so much with the market on Hou/Cin is because of the Texans' QB situation.As discussed in previous weeks, we scratch games only the first week after a team loses its QB. So we have Houston on the board as an official pick, but we can't say we like it much. Same for the Chicago pick, due to the Cutler injury.

Fewer lines moves this week, and they're more balanced for/against us. A line move on the Dallas game cost us a pick last week, but is giving us one this week, as the 1/2-point shift toward the Giants was needed to get this pick over the 2-point threshold. Are the Giants one of the only teams out there with as much sentiment in the spread as the Cowboys?

The biggest line move has been on the Baltimore-Indy game. We have it 16.8. The market opened at 15 but has since moved to 16.5. I'm entertained by the move to almost our exact line, but also the absurdity of the (shared!) precision on a game that should be such a blowout. "88% chance of winning is not quite right, let's make it 90%."

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Week 13 Picks

3-2 last week (again!). Missed on the only big bet. See the "Performance" tabs for much more detail.

Onto the picks. Usual setup - we do not consider matchups, weather or injuries (one QB exception noted below). Lines are from Covers.com as of 15 minutes ago.

Big Plays [18-9 YTD]:

Chi (-7.0) vs. KC (MP= -12.1)
SF (-13) vs. STL (MP= -17.7)

Other Plays [29-21-2 YTD]:

Jac (+3.0) vs. SD (MP= -0.3)
Det (+9.0) at NO (MP= +6.1)
Car (+3.0) at TB (MP= +0.4)
Buf (-1.5) vs. Ten (MP= -4.0)

We're scratching Houston-Atlanta since Houston lost their starting QB last week (for the second week in a row). We're also not thrilled with the Chicago pick since we have only one week of data since Cutler's been out. But as we discussed in last week's blog, our policy is to scratch only the first week following a QB injury.

Earlier this week we thought we'd have a pick on Arizona (vs. Dallas). We have that line at 3.2. It opened at 6 but has since moved to 4.5. As we've said before, it's frustrating to lose those picks but a good sign overall when lines move toward you.  OTOH, the Chicago line moved big against us this week, taking it from "Other Plays" into "Big Plays". If we're lucky the market's over-valuing the Cutler injury.

A bit more on line moves. Just looked at the other 8 games we're NOT picking this week (because the edge is too small). In 5 of those games the line has moved since it opened, and in all 5 cases it moved toward us. Definitely what you want to see. Off-season we'll do a more systematic analysis.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Week 12 Picks

3-1-1 last week, 1-0 on big picks. For detail on yearly performance, see this summary graph and/or this spreadsheet. As usual, lines are from Covers.com as of 15 minutes ago.

Big Plays [18-8 YTD]:

Det (+6.5) vs. GB (MP= +1.8)

Other Plays [26-20-2 YTD]:

Mia (+7) at Dal (MP= +3.6)
SF (+3) at Bal (MP= -0.3)
Buf (+9) at NYJ (MP= +5.9)
Den (+6) at SD (MP= +3.5)

We scratched two games this week -- Jacksonville/Houston & Oakland/Chicago - because of injuries to Schaub and Cutler. Our policy is to scratch the first game after a team loses its starting QB. That's it. We need something simple and objective to add to our system, which does not account for injuries. We consider that the minimum necessary adjustment. The system is handicapped beyond that but we just live with it, expecting our models to "catch up"quickly as soon as post-injury data start coming in.

A very happy Thanksgiving to all.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Week 11 Picks

5-5 last week, 2-1 on Big Picks.  You can view a spreadsheet with all of our picks and results this season here.  The big limitation of the Massey-Peabody rankings is that they do not account for injuries.  So with all the QB carnage in Week 10, there are some teams that our rankings will have inflated.  How well Tyler Palko will perform filling in for Matt Cassel is anybody's guess.  We'll do our best to determine which QB changes skew our ratings, and omit those from picks.

On to the games.  Lines from Covers.com as of 3:00pm PST.  Injuries and matchup factors not accounted for in M-P lines.

Big Plays [17-8 YTD]:

Den +6.5 vs NYJ (M-P= +2.3)

Other Plays [24-19-1 YTD]:

Cin +7 at Bal (M-P= +3.3)
GB -14 vs TB (M-P= -17.1)
Was +7.5 vs Dal (M-P= +4.7)
Chi -3.5 vs SD (M-P= -6.1)

*We're omitting Phi +4.5 at NYG (M-P= +0.4) since Michael Vick's status is uncertain.  Might add this pick later in the week depending on how the Vick injury sorts itself out.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Week 10 Picks

Went 5-3 last week (2-1 on top picks).  Cincy had a nice second half rally to cover and win.  Got a bit of a lucky break with the Arizona punt return TD in OT to win that one, but we'll take it.  We have now had winning weeks in 6 of the 7 weeks we've been making these picks this season.  And the one losing week was only 3-4-1.  It's been surprisingly consistent from week to week.

On to this week's picks; lines from Covers.com as of Thursday at 2pm PST.  Big picks have edges of >4 points; Other picks have edges of 2-4 points.  As always, these picks do not take into account injuries or matchup factors.

Big Picks [16-7 YTD]:

Buf +5.5 at Dal (MP= +0.4)
SF -3.5 vs NYG (MP= -8.4)
Hou -3 at TB (MP= -7.8)

Other Picks [21-15-1 YTD]:

Cle -3 vs STL (MP= -6.7)
Mia -4 vs Was (MP= -7.6)
*Oak +7 at SD (MP= +3.8)
Cin +3 at PIT (MP=+0.0)
Car -3.5 vs Ten (MP= -6.2)
Det +3 at Chi (MP= +0.6)
Den +3 at KC (MP= +0.8)

*Carson Palmer starting his 2nd game in place of Jason Campbell; Oakland has played 2 games without Campbell, but we're going to include this pick, as Palmer is not a significant downgrade.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Week 9 Picks

Just a heads up...MP rankings not in the WSJ until Saturday this week.  Another solid week last week at 6-3 overall (1-1 on Big Picks, 5-2 on Other Picks).  On to this week's picks where we have a few we really like.  Lines are from Covers.com as of 15 minutes ago; Big Picks are >4 pt edges; Other Picks are 2-4 pt edges.

Big Picks [13-6 YTD]:
Ari -3 vs Stl (MP= -10.6)
Cin +3 at Ten (MP= -3.5)
Buf -2 vs NYJ (MP= -7.0)

Other Picks [18-13-1 YTD]:
SF -3.5 at Was (MP= -7.0)
Sea +11.5 vs Dal (MP= +8.4)
SD +5.5 vs GB (MP= +2.8)
Ind +7 vs Atl (MP= +4.4)
Chi +7.5 vs Phi (MP= +5.0)

Once again, we're on Buffalo and Indy.  Seems like it's a weekly thing.  One is proving us right; the other...not so much.  It does seem (to me at least) that the market has been slow to react to the early successes of Cincinnati, Buffalo, and San Francisco.  MP rankings have bought into all three teams, with Buf and SF as top-5 teams, and Cin almost 2 points above average.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Week 8 Picks

3-2 last week. 1-0 on our Big Pick. Remember, we did not count Oakland as a pick. The distinction we made between MIN and OAK's QB changes was that MIN made the decision to change their QB, the implication being that it gave them a better chance to win (and develop their rookie QB), whereas OAK's QB change was due to injury and we'd expect a substantial downgrade there.  Naturally, our rankings would overvalue Oakland.

On to this week--lines are from Covers.com as of 15 minutes ago; "Big Picks" are >4-point edges, "Other Picks" have 2-4 point edges, no consideration of injuries, weather, etc.

Big Picks [12-5 YTD]:

Ind +9 at Ten (MP= +3.9)
Ari +12.5 at Bal (MP= +8.2)

Other Picks [13-11-1 YTD]:

Hou -9 vs Jac (MP= -12.1)
Mia +9.5 at NYG (MP= +5.8)
*Buf -5.5 vs Was (MP= -8.1)
Den +3 vs Det (MP= -0.5)
Pit +3 vs NE (MP= -0.4)
SF -9 vs Cle (MP= -11.1)
Dal +3 at Phi (MP= -0.5)

*Buffalo is playing their yearly "home" game in Toronto.  Home field advantage probably not as strong, but we'll leave it as a pick.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Week 7 Picks

3-4-1 last week. This week injuries and line moves are killing us but we still have a few edges. As usual, lines are from Covers.com as of about 15 minutes ago.

Big Picks [11-5 YTD]:

*Oak (-5.5) vs KC {MP= -10.3)
Min (+9) vs GB (MP= +4.6)

* Obviously the Oakland edge is not considering the injury to their starting QB. We're reporting the numbers but are not counting it as a pick. We don't feel that we have the same leeway with the Minnesota pick, which seems influenced by the QB switch there (the line has moved strongly away from us).

Other Picks [11-9-1 YTD]:

Hou (+3) at Ten (MP= 0.0)
Ind (+14) at NO (MP= +11.1)
TB (+1) vs Chi (MP= -1.7)
NYJ (+2) vs. SD (MP= -0.3)

Of course we liked the Jets even more at the opening line of 2.5. Other line moves cost us bets on Dal (-13 vs. STL) and Was (+2.5 at Car), both of which we had more than 2-point edges on before 1/2-point moves toward us. We need to do a systematic study of line moves. As painful as they are, you like to see lines move toward you -- means you're doing something right.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Week 6 Picks

4-2 last week, 19-10 YTD. Winning record all 3 weeks. We'll get a full season analysis up soon.

Big slate of picks again this week. The usual scoop: lines are from Covers.com as of 15 minutes ago, "Big Picks" are >4-point edge, "Other Picks" have 2-4 point edges, no consideration of injuries/weather/etc.

Big Picks [11-3 YTD]:

Min (+3) at Chi (MP= -2.6)
Was (+1.5) vs Phi (MP= -3.9)

Other Picks [8-7 YTD]:

SF (+4) at Det (MP= +0.2)
GB (-14.5) vs STL (MP= -18.0)
Hou (+7.5) at Bal (MP= +4.5)
Buf (+3) at NYG (MP= +0.3)
Car (+3.5) at Atl (MP= +1.4)
Cin (-7) vs Ind (MP= -9.0)

Amazed we like the Packers even though they're giving 14.5 points. St. Louis, ala Carolina last year, is getting some serious separation from the pack. Buffalo still looks underrated and Philly overrated.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Week 5 Picks

Not bad last week - 7-5 overall, including our 3 biggest edges. Not as much action this week but that's only compared to that ridiculous 12-game set. Still plenty. As always, "Big Picks" are those where we have more than a 4-point edge and "Other Picks" are those with 2-4-point edges. Lines are from Covers.com as of ~6pm Saturday night.

Remember that our rankings do not consider injuries, weather, etc., just this season's on-the-field stats.

Big Picks [Last week: 3-2]:

Buf (+3) vs Phi (MP= -5)
Den (+3.5) vs SD (MP= -0.9)

Other Picks [Last week: 4-3]:

Cin (+1.5) at Jac (MP= -2.2)
Car (+6.5) vs NO (MP= +3.7)
Ari (+3) at Min (MP= +0.4)
Det (-5) vs Chi (MP= -7.3)

That 8-point edge in the Buffalo game is about as big as we ever see, btw.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Week 4 Picks

We post our rankings early each week, and the WSJ publishes them on Thur/Fri, so you can always run these numbers for yourself. But to make it a bit easier, and to figure out who I'm supposed to be pulling for, we'll try to detail the picks each week. If you ran the #s last week you'll know we had a ridiculously good week. Sometimes small samples break your way.

As with last year, we consider a pick any game with an "edge" of at least 2 points. The edge is the difference between the line implied by our ratings and the one offered by sportsbooks. Here I'm using an average of the lines posted at covers.com as of 15 minutes ago.  Remember that home teams get an extra 2.44.

Lots of picks this week...

Big picks (> 4-point edge):

SF +10 @ Phi (MP= +2.4)
Car +6.5 @ Chi (MP= 0.0)
Sea +5 vs. Atl (MP= -1.3)
Oak +6 vs. NE (MP= 0.0)
Jac +8 vs. NO (MP= +3.3)

Other picks (2-4-point edge)

Den +12 @ GB (MP= +8.6)
Wash -3 @ STL (MP= -5.9)
Mia +7 @ SD (MP= +4.2)
Bal -4.5 vs. NYJ (MP= -7.4)
Ind +10.5 @ TB (MP= +7.7)
Cin +3 vs. Buf (MP= +0.5)
Ari +1.5 vs. NYG (MP= -0.8)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Massey-Peabody Super Bowl prediction

We're with those who say this should be a pick. Our numbers are Pittsburgh 20.225, Green Bay 20.075, making it one of the closest lines of the year.

I'm a slave to the numbers.  But it seems silly to predict an overtime game. Obviously worried about Pouncey being out, since MP knows nothing of injuries, especially new ones. Anyone know what how many points the loss of an All-Pro center is worth? One of these days. Guessing that's an easy thing to over-weight.

Let's make it 21-20 Pittsburgh. Laughably precise. Edge!

- Cade 

Sunday, January 30, 2011

M-P's Super Bowl

It all comes down to this. For the teams, for M-P, for all rankings. All year M-P has loved the Packers, and while the Steelers may have closed out the regular season second in week 17’s ranking (GB was fourth), the Pack hold claim to the highest average rank and highest average points over the course of the regular season. What sets the relationship between GB and M-P apart, however, is in comparison to other ranking systems. Here we’ll take a look at how M-P treated the Super Bowl combatants over the course of the season relative to how Covers.com (stats based) and ESPN (voter based) did. Although not discounted by M-P in the slightest, PIT was the darling of Covers.com and ESPN more so than M-P. Interestingly, though, M-P liked GB overwhelmingly more than the other systems.

We’ll toot our own horn second, and first take a look at PIT.

Covers.com clearly had a thing for the Steelers all season. PIT was Covers’ highest rank team on average, had the lowest variance in rank over the course of the season, and had the highest average point total (note that Covers.com ranks teams on the opposite scale as M-P). Likewise, ESPN had PIT ranked highest on average over the course of the season and the Steeler’s had the fourth lowest rank variance in the Power Ranking system of the monopolist of sport’s news.

Not to be outdone, M-P liked PIT, too, but perhaps not as much. At the end of the regular season, the Steeler’s had the third highest avg rank (4.8), third highest average points (4.4), and were top 10 in lowest rank variance. In fact, M-P liked PIT more and more each week as the team quickly accumulated points, but the team had to earn M-P’s respect. For instance, despite a Week 1 OT win over Atlanta that impressed ESPN and Covers.com (to say nothing of the prior success or high expectations bias those two systems may or may not have had for PIT, or more accurately the “surprise” reflected in those systems of the success of PIT in the absence of Big Ben), M-P scoffed at PIT’s low scoring efficiency (a highly weighted factor) of 15 points on 354 net yards, and over reliance on the run (a low weighted factor – PIT won on a 50 yard Mendenhall run in OT). However, as the team improved over the course of the season, M-P duly took notice.

As for the Packers, M-P was never far off the trail while ESPN and Covers jumped off the bandwagon fast and early. The Packers arrival in the Super Bowl is great validation for the team M-P ranked highest on average and to which M-P awarded, on average, the most points. Instead of my words, let the figures speak for themselves.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Conference Championship Picks

Chicago Bears +3.5 vs. Green Bay Packers (M-P Line: CHI +1.5; M-P Total: 41.7)

For the second week in a row, the Packers had the best performance of any team, as determined by the single-game Massey-Peabody rankings. The Bears also cruised to victory last week against a subpar Seahawks team that brought its C- game. Chicago should get a huge lift playing at home, as the grass playing surface--which has not been in great shape--and weather should slow down the Packers speedy wide receivers. As long as bad Cutler doesn't show up, this game is close to a coin flip.

Pittsburgh Steelers -3.5 vs. New York Jets (M-P Line: PIT -5.7; M-P Total: 37.0)

The Jets visit Heinz Field for the second time this season, where they won a nail-biter late in the regular season. After knocking off the two best quarterbacks in the NFL on the road in back-to-back weeks, how aren't they favored? First, the Jets played above their baseline level, and regression towards their season baseline performance is likely. Second, the Jets beat two teams (IND and NE) that have mediocre rush defenses. They were able to rely heavily on the run, and won largely despite Mark Sanchez (although to be fair to Sanchez, he didn't do anything to cause the Jets to lose). Against a run-stopping Steelers defense, Sanchez will need to turn in one of his best performances of the year for the Jets to have a chance.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

NFL Playoffs: Divisional Round Picks

Seattle Seahawks +10 @ Chicago Bears (M-P Line: SEA +6.5)

The Seahawks proved all the "experts" wrong last week...or did they? After upsetting the Saints as a double-digit underdog, Seattle is once again getting no respect from the betting public as a 10-point dog. Want proof that the 'Hawks can win in Chicago? How about their 23-20 win at Soldier Field on October 17th. While we at Massey-Peabody are not predicting a win, we believe the Seahawks will cover (and have a 29.8% chance winning outright against a Bears team that is only slightly better than average).

Green Bay Packers +2.5 @ Atlanta Falcons (M-P Line: GB -1.0)

For the second straight week, Massey-Peabody will ride the Packers on the road against a good but not great team. This is an especially interesting matchup, as the Packers are a great team on paper--the best in the NFC according to M-P--but have failed to do the little things in their 6 losses. The Falcons, on the other hand, do not have particularly impressive numbers, but have excelled on special teams, won the turnover battle, and made the most of their opportunities on offense. Much of Atlanta's success M-P attributes to luck. However, it is worth noting that Atlanta has one of the most innovative coaches in the league, Mike Smith, who has gone for it on 4th-down-and-short in opponent's territory a higher percentage of the time than any other coach. Mike McCarthy, Green Bay's head coach, has struggled with play calling inside the red zone, clock management, and late-game strategy throughout his tenure. The Packers are the play here--hopefully their superior talent is able to trump Atlanta's superior coaching.

Other Lines (edges not sufficient to bet):

PIT -4.6 vs. BAL
NE -9.7 vs. NYJ

Thursday, January 6, 2011

NFL Playoffs: Wild Card Round Picks

The playoffs are finally here. And we at Massey-Peabody are very happy about this. See, the Massey-Peabody system has been at its best during the postseason. In games where the Massey-Peabody line differed from the point spread by at least 2 points, M-P has posted a sterling 36-19 record the past decade (a return of 25.5% per bet against the point spread). We're not cherry-picking that 2 point difference either--the side M-P favors is 61-37 in all postseason games.

Seattle Seahawks +10.5
vs. New Orleans Saints (M-P Line: SEA +4.0)

The defending Super Bowl champions against the worst playoff team in NFL history. A complete mismatch, right? The market seems to think so, but Massey-Peabody begs to differ. The Seahawks is a bad team--they are substantially worse than their 7-9 record would indicate. They have a negative ranking in all 8 statistical categories that determine M-P and their closest loss was by a whopping 15 points! But Seattle is playing at home, against a banged-up Saints team that is very good, but not elite.

Green Bay Packers +2.5 @ Philadelphia Eagles (M-P Line: GB -0.6)

Massey-Peabody has been very high on the Pack all season long. The matchup to watch in this game is the Packers rush defense (23rd in NFL according to M-P) against the Eagles rush offense (1st in the NFL). Many NFL "experts" have urged Michael Vick to slide more often and temper his running impulses. But the Eagles are going to need explosive plays from the running game to beat the Packers, and those will be hard to come by without Vick's involvement. With their WRs all healthy, Packers have the weapons in the passing game (3rd in the NFL) to exploit an Eagles secondary that has been average at best.

Other Lines:

BAL -2.8 @ KC
IND -1.9 vs. NYJ