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Weekend Football Review (11/8/11)

By Paul Bessire

Tuesday, November 8 at 10:25 PM ET
It is very important to us to be transparent and honest about our picks. I always try to recap each football weekend. With the addition of the TrendFinder database, however, as has been the plan dating back to the start of last season, if there are no pressing topics, the blog will focus more on topics beyond performance and will likely be more sporadic than in previous weeks. Our performance is now as transparent as it can possibly get. We will still do our best to note areas of strength, while acknowledging times of weakness - honing in on what this means to subscribers as it applies. Specifically, now that we are past halfway of the the NFL season, today's blog will expand on the recently updated NFL Playoff Probabilities and NFL Power Rankings to center around some takeaways from the first half of the NFL season and what to look for in the second half. In addition to that, I will offer some thoughts on the college basketball season (which kicked off last night with the free trial) and, since I have spent the better part of the last week poring over these numbers in search of significant conclusions and appropriate tweaks, I will present our performance records for every college football and NFL team ATS.

As a reminder, at midnight ET each day, we make all of our previous day's subscriber content available for free for registered users. Performance is also tracked in the TrendFinder Database (updated every morning from the previous day). We're never going to hide anything. So even though we have to swap out articles in the archive to focus on new ones, articles never go away. Just make sure to use the correct week and date in the URL - or ask us for the link...

Quick Weekend Recap:
By far the most notable and best part about the weekend is that we extended the two streaks that we have noted in the blog and emails in recent weeks. In college football, which was free to all last week (concluding tonight), "normal" or better O/U picks went 9-3 (75%) to extend the streak of consecutive weeks of .500 or better normal+ O/U picks in college to ten (the entire regular season thus far). During that span, there was only one week (Week 5) that was exactly .500 with O/U normal+ college picks. In the NFL, after a 7-6 week ATS and dating back to Week 17 of last season (typically a difficult week to predict), all playable ATS picks have now finished .500 or better in 13 consecutive weeks. During that span, there was only one week (Week 7) that was exactly .500 picking every NFL game ATS. In the last 13 weeks of the NFL, our playable ATS picks are 80-44 (65% ATS). While this performance, especially in its consistency, is never guaranteed or necessarily expected and I do not know why we have not been able to reach similar strength in performance for college ATS and NFL O/U, it seems impossible to ignore these two runs.

That was the good news. Fluke special teams plays - return TDs, blocked kicks, shanked punts, multiple missed field goals - and defensive scores rarely make a difference in 50,000 simulations like they do in the one game that counts. The weekend was riddled with them, and, this week at least, we didn't catch those breaks (I will admit St. Louis +3.5 is personally the worst beat that I have taken). That's not meant as an excuse - Kansas City did not lose outright to Miami because of any LSU related special teams plays - but more to set expectations about what we can and cannot account for and how simple randomness, especially from unlikely plays like those, can skew the final results, even if the prediction is right (though, as hard as I/we work to make them so, I'm not saying that all of our predictions are perfect absent of randomness). Unfortunately, we lost our Paul's Picks in the NFL. I wish that that had not happened but it was bound to sometime. The 80% performance with the NFL Paul's Picks that we experienced through Week 6 did not directly impact what happened with those picks this week, yet, it also should not have been assumed that we would maintain that pace (60%+, sure, as that is in line with our confidence). There is no reason to expect that we will do that again. The expectation should be that, if our average confidence for an NFL Paul's Pick is 60%, we should hit 60% of them going forward.

Somewhere in between the two extremes of the two paragraphs below, the college ATS picks can be spun just about any way possible: in the Wednesday-Saturday free trial (tonight is for free included as well, but games are still going on as I finish writing this), we hit two of three ATS Top Plays of the Day, but we lost the Lock of the Week. We hit three of our top five plays, yet went just 2-2 in Paul's Picks and 4-4 in "normal" or better picks (ATS at least - all normal+ picks went 13-7). The top 18 overall picks (in this case, everything 54.8% of greater, which, to the overall point, is an arbitrary number) went, 12-6, but all playable picks were just 17-16. We missed on most of the high profile games, yet did well early and late. All in all, it was actually a good step in the right direction for the ATS picks, building upon some knowledge we gathered from the TrendFinder and worked into the engine. We expect further improvement as we better account for the team-by-team ATS performance (and reasons for it) noted below.

NFL Superlatives:
About halfway through the NFL season as our Preseason Super Bowl Favorites, the Green Bay Packers, have cruised to an 8-0 start and, having updated our NFL Playoff Probabilities, we thought it would be a fun exercise to look at the season so far and what to expect going forward.

First Half Awards:

  • MVP/Offensive Player of the Year: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers (the best half season we have ever seen from an NFL quarterback - period)
  • Defensive Player of the Year: Jared Allen, DE, Minnesota Vikings (I really want to put George Wilson here because of how much his performance has meant to the Bills' wins, but Allen's season thus far trumps all)
  • Coach of the Year: Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco 49ers (from 6.7 projected wins to 99.9% likely to make the playoffs)
  • Offensive Rookie of the Year: Cam Newton, QB, Carolina (sorry, Andy Dalton and A.J. Green, the Panthers have our 4th ranked overall offense)
  • Defensive Rookie of the Year: Von Miller, OLD, Denver Broncos (the top two picks in the draft are the top two rookies)
  • Special Teams Rookie of the Year: Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals (this award does not exist - and if it did, Dan Bailey may actually be in the conversation as well - but Peterson warrants commendation for something)
  • Fantasy Football MVP (QB): Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (overall - standard MVP)
  • Fantasy Football MVP (RB): Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills (standard and PPR)
  • Fantasy Football MVP (WR): Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions (standard); Wes Welker, New England Patriots (PPR)
  • Fantasy Football MVP (TE): Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints (overall - PPR MVP)
  • Biggest Surprise (Team): San Francisco 49ers (only three teams, San Francisco, Cincinnati and Buffalo are currently projected to win 3+ more games than in our preseason projections)
  • Biggest Surprise (Player): Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
  • Biggest Disappointment (Team): Philadelphia Eagles (only three teams, Philadelphia, Indianapolis and Miami are currently projected to lose 3+ more games than in our preseason projections)
  • Biggest Disappointment (Player): Two Peytons - Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Hillis, RB, Cleveland Browns (and Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans is right there as well)
  • Most Frustrating Team: San Diego Chargers (PM picks are 1-7 ATS in games featuring preseason AFC favorite)
  • Most Profitable Team: Houston Texans (PM picks are 8-1 ATS in games featuring a Houston Texans team expected to win the division even if Peyton Manning played full season)

Second Half Expectations:

  • Most Likely Division Winners (AFC): Houston (93%), Baltimore (55%), San Diego (44%), New England (40%)
  • Projected Playoff Seeds (AFC): 1. Baltimore 2. Houston 3. New England 4. San Diego 5. Pittsburgh 6. New York
  • Teams with greater than 25% to make playoffs: 8 (Cincinnati and Buffalo are only other teams with legitimate shot at playoffs)
  • Most Likely Division Winners (NFC): San Francisco (99.9%), Green Bay (84%), New Orleans (55%), New York (42%)
  • Projected Playoff Seeds (AFC): 1. Green Bay 2. San Francisco 3. New Orleans 4. New York 5. Detroit 6. Chicago
  • Teams with greater than 25% to make playoffs: 8 (Atlanta and Dallas are only other teams with legitimate shot at playoffs)
  • Chances Green Bay Packers Finish 16-0: 13.4% (toughest remaining game: @ Detroit in Week 12)
  • Chances Indianapolis Goes 0-16: 10.1% (easiest remaining game: vs. Jacksonville in Week 10)
  • Chances Colts "Earn" Top Pick/Andrew Luck: 59.7% (Miami at 13.4%, St. Louis at 12.0% and Arizona at 7.7% are next)
  • Sleeper to Watch (Team): Dallas Cowboys (finish 5.2-2.8, favorites in every remaining game)
  • Sleeper to Watch (Fantasy QB): Tim Tebow, Denver Broncos (projected: 1507 passing yards, 12 passing TDs, 10 INTs, 385 rush yards, 5 rush TDs)
  • Sleeper to Watch (Fantasy RB): Roy Helu, Washington Redskins (projected: 712 total yards, 4 TDs, 32 receptions)
  • Sleeper to Watch (Fantasy WR): David Nelson, Buffalo Bills (projected: 460 receiving yards, 3 TDs, 39 receptions)
  • Tough Road Ahead (Team): Cincinnati Bengals (finish 3.5-4.5, favorites in only two remaining games)
  • Projected NFL Leaders (Pass Yards): Tom Brady, 5,277 passing yards, 44 TDs, 20 INTs (assuming he plays and starts all remaining games, Aaron Rodgers projects to finish with 5,193 passing yards, 49 TDs, 10 INTs)
  • Projected NFL Leaders (Rushing Yards): Adrian Peterson, 1,617 rushing yards, 19 TDs
  • Projected NFL Leaders (Receiving Yards): Wes Welker, 118 receptions, 1,689 receiving yards, 13 TDs

College Basketball Free Trial:
As a reminder, our free trial has begun (and was undefeated in picks last night). As this is's first full college basketball season providing straight-up, against-the-spread and over/under picks for every DI game (with a rotation number), we are offering a three week free trial. Picks are available to all from November 7 - November 27. The full season picks package is available for the rest of the regular season (including conference tournaments) from November 28, 2011 - March 11, 2012. Picks will also be sold on a monthly basis. Daily picks are posted at 4:00 pm ET or two hours before the first game tips off, whichever comes first.

NFL ATS Performance by Team:
Actual, real-life ATS, O/U and SU performance by team can be found on each team's schedule page. However, as we continue to leverage the TrendFinder database to find opportunities to improve our engines, we have spent a considerable amount of time recently looking at team-by-team ATS performance of our own picks. While this information is interesting, it important to note that a) we are doing our best to "fix" the areas uncovered by this analysis where we believe there may be weaknesses and b) along those lines, we would not recommend blindly picking against our information when teams are involved for which we have not had a strong record this season. In the NFL, there are only four teams - Arizona, Minnesota, Kansas City and San Diego - for which we have an ATS record below .500 this season. In the tables below, "Games" represents all games that the team has played that did not result in an ATS push (including games that were not considered "playable" by the Predictalator - that info is still of great interest). "PM ATS Wins" is the number of games involving that team that resulted in an accurate ATS win by the Predictalator this year.

Team Games PM ATS Wins PM ATS%
Houston Texans 9 8 88.9%
Jacksonville Jaguars 8 7 87.5%
Oakland Raiders 8 7 87.5%
Washington Redskins 8 7 87.5%
Cleveland Browns 7 6 85.7%
Denver Broncos 8 6 75.0%
New York Giants 8 6 75.0%
St. Louis Rams 8 6 75.0%
New York Jets 7 5 71.4%
Seattle Seahawks 7 5 71.4%
Indianapolis Colts 9 6 66.7%
Pittsburgh Steelers 9 6 66.7%
Cincinnati Bengals 8 5 62.5%
Miami Dolphins 8 5 62.5%
Philadelphia Eagles 8 5 62.5%
Carolina Panthers 7 4 57.1%
Dallas Cowboys 7 4 57.1%
New England Patriots 7 4 57.1%
San Francisco 49ers 7 4 57.1%
New Orleans Saints 9 5 55.6%
Atlanta Falcons 8 4 50.0%
Baltimore Ravens 8 4 50.0%
Buffalo Bills 8 4 50.0%
Chicago Bears 8 4 50.0%
Detroit Lions 8 4 50.0%
Green Bay Packers 8 4 50.0%
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 8 4 50.0%
Tennessee Titans 8 4 50.0%
Arizona Cardinals 7 3 42.9%
Minnesota Vikings 8 2 25.0%
Kansas City Chiefs 8 1 12.5%
San Diego Chargers 8 1 12.5%

College ATS Performance by Team:

Team Games PM ATS Wins PM ATS%
Michigan State Spartans 8 7 87.5%
Georgia Bulldogs 7 6 85.7%
Miami (OH) RedHawks 9 7 77.8%
Marshall Thundering Herd 8 6 75.0%
Akron Zips 8 6 75.0%
Temple Owls 8 6 75.0%
Tennessee Volunteers 8 6 75.0%
Vanderbilt Commodores 8 6 75.0%
Stanford Cardinal 9 6 66.7%
Florida Gators 9 6 66.7%
Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns 9 6 66.7%
North Texas Mean Green 9 6 66.7%
San Jose State Spartans 9 6 66.7%
Minnesota Golden Gophers 8 5 62.5%
Nebraska Cornhuskers 8 5 62.5%
Penn State Nittany Lions 8 5 62.5%
Houston Cougars 8 5 62.5%
Southern Methodist Mustangs 8 5 62.5%
TCU Horned Frogs 8 5 62.5%
USC Trojans 8 5 62.5%
Kentucky Wildcats 8 5 62.5%
Mississippi Rebels 8 5 62.5%
Mississippi State Bulldogs 8 5 62.5%
Nevada Wolf Pack 8 5 62.5%
Baylor Bears 7 4 57.1%
Cincinnati Bearcats 7 4 57.1%
Eastern Michigan Eagles 7 4 57.1%
UNLV Rebels 7 4 57.1%
Michigan Wolverines 9 5 55.6%
Ohio State Buckeyes 9 5 55.6%
Tulsa Golden Hurricane 9 5 55.6%
UAB Blazers 9 5 55.6%
Notre Dame Fighting Irish 9 5 55.6%
Central Michigan Chippewas 9 5 55.6%
Northern Illinois Huskies 9 5 55.6%
Alabama Crimson Tide 9 5 55.6%
FIU Golden Panthers 9 5 55.6%
New Mexico State Aggies 9 5 55.6%
Boston College Eagles 8 4 50.0%
Maryland Terrapins 8 4 50.0%
Wake Forest Demon Deacons 8 4 50.0%
Missouri Tigers 8 4 50.0%
Purdue Boilermakers 8 4 50.0%
Wisconsin Badgers 8 4 50.0%
Army Black Knights 8 4 50.0%
Buffalo Bulls 8 4 50.0%
Kent State Golden Flashes 8 4 50.0%
Ohio Bobcats 8 4 50.0%
Toledo Rockets 8 4 50.0%
Boise State Broncos 8 4 50.0%
Wyoming Cowboys 6 3 50.0%
Arizona Wildcats 8 4 50.0%
Arkansas State Red Wolves 8 4 50.0%
Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks 8 4 50.0%
Troy Trojans 8 4 50.0%
Oklahoma Sooners 9 4 44.4%
Oklahoma State Cowboys 9 4 44.4%
Rice Owls 9 4 44.4%
Tulane Green Wave 9 4 44.4%
Western Michigan Broncos 9 4 44.4%
UCLA Bruins 9 4 44.4%
Louisville Cardinals 7 3 42.9%
South Florida Bulls 7 3 42.9%
Air Force Falcons 7 3 42.9%
Utah State Aggies 7 3 42.9%
Clemson Tigers 8 3 37.5%
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 8 3 37.5%
Kansas Jayhawks 8 3 37.5%
Texas Tech Red Raiders 8 3 37.5%
Connecticut Huskies 8 3 37.5%
Northwestern Wildcats 8 3 37.5%
Memphis Tigers 8 3 37.5%
Southern Miss Golden Eagles 8 3 37.5%
UCF Knights 8 3 37.5%
Brigham Young Cougars 8 3 37.5%
Navy Midshipmen 8 3 37.5%
Bowling Green Falcons 8 3 37.5%
New Mexico Lobos 8 3 37.5%
Arizona State Sun Devils 8 3 37.5%
Oregon Ducks 8 3 37.5%
Oregon State Beavers 8 3 37.5%
LSU Tigers 8 3 37.5%
South Carolina Gamecocks 8 3 37.5%
Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders 8 3 37.5%
Fresno State Bulldogs 8 3 37.5%
Hawaii Warriors 8 3 37.5%
Texas A&M Aggies 9 3 33.3%
East Carolina Pirates 9 3 33.3%
Auburn Tigers 9 3 33.3%
North Carolina State Wolfpack 7 2 28.6%
Rutgers Scarlet Knights 7 2 28.6%
Colorado State Rams 7 2 28.6%
San Diego State Aztecs 7 2 28.6%
Duke Blue Devils 8 2 25.0%
Florida State Seminoles 8 2 25.0%
Iowa State Cyclones 8 2 25.0%
Kansas State Wildcats 8 2 25.0%
Texas Longhorns 8 2 25.0%
Pittsburgh Panthers 8 2 25.0%
Illinois Fighting Illini 8 2 25.0%
Iowa Hawkeyes 8 2 25.0%
UTEP Miners 8 2 25.0%
Washington Huskies 8 2 25.0%
Washington State Cougars 8 2 25.0%
Arkansas Razorbacks 8 2 25.0%
Florida Atlantic Owls 8 2 25.0%
Idaho Vandals 8 2 25.0%
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs 8 2 25.0%
North Carolina Tar Heels 9 2 22.2%
West Virginia Mountaineers 7 1 14.3%
Utah Utes 7 1 14.3%
Miami (FL) Hurricanes 8 1 12.5%
Virginia Cavaliers 8 1 12.5%
Syracuse Orange 8 1 12.5%
California Golden Bears 8 1 12.5%
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers 8 1 12.5%
Indiana Hoosiers 9 1 11.1%
Ball State Cardinals 10 1 10.0%
Colorado Buffaloes 10 1 10.0%
Virginia Tech Hokies 8 0 0.0%

As usual, if you have any of your own comments about this article or suggestions about how to improve the site, please do not hesitate to contact us at any time. We respond to every support contact as quickly as we can (usually within a few hours) and are very amenable to suggestions. I firmly believe that open communication with our customers and user feedback is the best way for us to grow and provide the types of products that will maximize the experience for all. Thank you in advance for your suggestions, comments and questions.

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Weekend Football Review (11/29/11)
Weekend Football Review (10/17/11)
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