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 (stats based) and ESPN (voter based) did. Although not discounted by M-P in the slightest, PIT was the darling of 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. 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 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 (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