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    Site Updates (8/19/14)

    from Paul Bessire, General Manager, PredictionMachine.com
    By Paul Bessire
    Tuesday, August 19 at 11:30 PM ET

    Each year around this time, we unveil new tools and products built from listening to feedback and extensive research. In 2014, the updates are more significant and valuable than ever and we could not be happier with the results. Launching with this blog posting, the site has a brand new design, layout and added functionality to go with a couple new, powerful and invaluable products. The two new products are the Trend Machine and the Fantasy Football Draft Machine. While not everyone may be interested in using both, we feel that the Trend Machine is the perfect supplement to any handicapping analysis, whether in correlation with our picks or otherwise. Meanwhile, fantasy football fans should benefit greatly from access to the Fantasy Football Draft Machine - ideal for both mock and live drafts.

    Trend Machine

    The Trend Machine is an accessible, interactive and user-friendly (and inexpensive!), comprehensive wagering database that is launching with information on over 9,000 NFL games from throughout history and will grow to eventually include every sport that we cover (consider it our version of this).

    Want to know how frequently the Green Bay Packers have covered the spread at home in December and January in NFL history (60%)? Wondering how well an underdog NFL team does after failing to cover by two touchdowns or more the previous week (36% straight-up, 55% against-the-spread)? Curious about how often the total in a game involving teams that have gone OVER the total in their four most recent games goes UNDER (83%)?

    There is incredible power in understanding history. Though not predictive in nature, understanding how teams, players, leagues and markets have reacted to various scenarios for over 35 years - as is the case with the information available here for the NFL - is a tremendous supplement to any analysis of an upcoming matchup.

    Many professionals base their entire analysis and business off of access to a database with such information and power. At PredictionMachine.com, the Trend Machine, which is an ultra-user-friendly way to look up historical results for any NFL game since 1978 (other sports coming soon), is available year round for just $49.95 (or monthly for only $19.95).

    There is a social element to this as well, which should benefit everyone as searches can be saved for personal and/or public use in the future. View Shared Searches to access findings from the PredictionMachine.com community (including some examples from the staff).

    The Trend Machine puts the power of NFL history at your fingertips. With 40 searchable categories ranging from Home and Away, to the Week of the season, to ATS, SU or O/U streak, to Favorite or Underdog, you can find any historical result from any situation in NFL regular or postseason history with the Trend Machine. Not only can you find out something as specific as road underdogs in week 10 since 2009 are 26-18 (59% ATS), but you can also see the actual game-by-game results of each specific search query.

    Learn more about the Trend Machine.

    Fantasy Football Draft Machine

    The Fantasy Football Draft Machine allows for the easy creation of mock drafts as well as an innovative evaluation process to instantly know which players to select and which teams are drafting well or poorly as the draft is happening.

    The Fantasy Football Draft Machine allows anyone to maximize fantasy drafting in four quick steps: League Settings, Player Rankings, Selections and Evaluation.. At each point in a live draft, the optimal player to select is recommended based on 50,000 simulations of the 2014 NFL season as well as a few other options to consider based on factors including risk tolerance and likelihood of injury.

    Once the draft is complete, the Predictalator implements its Draft Evaluation process. Instantly, after players have been selected, the Predictalator grades each team based on its optimal lineups through the regular season and full season.

    Site Redesign

    Just under five years into our business, we are redesigning the overall look and layout of the site, while still keeping the same objective, analytical tools and content you have grown to expect (and have hopefully aided you in the past). Here are some of the highlights of the site redesign (starting with a critical one for many of us):
    • Mobile Friendly – Responsive design knows what type of device you are using and delivers correct dimensions and optimized size (smart phone, tablet or full sized for desktop or laptop).
    • Navigation – More pronounced navigation bar allows for fastest access to articles, picks and data.
    • The Ticker – The first-of-its-kind, in-game scoreboard, which appears on every article page, provides current scores for all games as well as a projected final score and team win percentage based on Live ScoreCaster technology.
    • Related Content – Recommendations and easy access for content relevant to you.
    • Easy to Read – A clean layout and upgraded use of font, typography and negative space make reading text, charts and graphs simple to digest.
    • Updated Shop – Improved Buy Picks and Checkout experience that also allows for saved billing information.

    Other New-ish Site Updates (mostly from the 2013 Football Updates Blog):

    Predicteform.com - PredictionMachine.com's horse racing spin-off, Predicteform.com is up running and off to the races. The Predicteform.com Pace Figures can tell if a horse is likely to improve or regress in its next start. Pace Figures are not just a single speed number, but rather a series of numbers that are incredibly powerful in identifying the form cycle patterns of a horse.

    It is the relationship between these numbers that creates clear patterns to provide an advantage in predicting what a horse will do in its next race. How will your horse run today? Predicteform.com knows. Get started with a short Introduction Video.

    Halftime Picks powered by Live ScoreCaster™ - Our extensive research from previous picks suggests that halftime picks perform in line with our pregame picks. Considering the objective books and those who tend to make such plays, the market should be more exploitable because bettors often overreact to what happens in the first half of games and books have to consider "total game risk" with halftime lines so balancing action is almost as important to them as getting the line "right."

    Launching on its own page (under Live ScoreCaster in the navigation menu) for NFL (all regular and postseason games) and College Football (all games involving AP Top 25 teams and other nationally televised games), Halftime Picks will leverage our ability to simulate the game as it happens to compare halftime projections to available lines. Like the Customizable Predictalator, users will be able to simulate games at halftime against any line. When a game reaches halftime and a pick is ready, icons will appear in the Halftime Picks and Live ScoreCaster sections of the site.

    As part of our continuing goal to offer less expensive options for those who may not be able to commit yet to our more thorough products, access to Halftime Picks will cost just $19.95 a week.

    Futures Picks - With our ability to fairly account for future schedules and performance, simulating the rest of the season and postseason can help us find considerable value in NFL Futures plays. For this weekly article, we will compare consensus Super Bowl, Conference Win and Division Win odds to our most recent output for the season to uncover recommended plays. Access to Team Over/Under Season Win Total picks in the NFL comes as part of the full season Futures Picks package. For me personally, though my investment tends to be greater with Over/Under Win Total plays when value is greater before anyone has taken a snap, Futures picks represent my strongest area of in-season investments/wagering. All futures picks come with Play Value Calculator and Key.

    As part of our continuing goal to offer less expensive options for those who may not be able to commit yet to our more thorough products, access to Futures Picks will cost just $9.95 a week (or $149.95 for the year including Over/Under Win Total Picks).

    Fantasy Football (Including Daily Fantasy Analysis) - Fantasy rankings of the Top 400 players before the season and the Top 250 players each week will remain free and available to all throughout the season. With the advancement of Daily Fantasy sites such as FanDuel and Draft Kings, has come ample opportunity for profits using simulation technology to exploit the market. Thus, this year, we will have significantly amplified coverage of fantasy football. This will include:
    • Value Rankings
      PredictionMachine.com has ten years of experience simulating NFL games to create, publish and leverage fantasy football projections. By comparing PredictionMachine.com's player projection fantasy point output (using Draft Kings and FanDuel's default scoring option) to the default Draft Kings and FanDuel salary structure for each player, we will rank and publish all players at each position by “value.” Value will be determined by the number of “dollars” it costs for each projected fantasy point. A top 200 overall, top 32 qbs, top 64 rbs, top 100 wrs, top 32 tes, top 32 kickers and top 32 defenses list will be published and accessible to fantasy subscribers weekly on Wednesday evenings.
    • Optimized Lineup
      Simply picking the best values at each position does not guarantee a roster that will fit under the salary cap or that the highest total of possible projected fantasy points has been accumulated by that roster. Leaning on its experience with quantitative financial models, PM has developed an optimization tool that maximizes projected fantasy points to fit within the salary cap limitations of Draft Kings and FanDuel's default weekly game structure. We will publish this lineup each week for fantasy subscribers on Friday mornings.
    • Expert Analysis
      Brian Harnisch, who achieved his MS in Statistics by completing a thesis on optimizing daily fantasy lineups with point projection services will expound on the two items of content above to share his weekly thoughts for fantasy subscribers on strategy for default and customized Draft Kings and FanDuel leagues. For instance, when there may be injury risk associated with players chosen as high values and/or in the optimized lineup, Brian will outline those risks and make roster suggestions. He will also overview the different risk and economic strategies associated with the size of the participant pool and related to the payout structure (50/50, etc.). Brian will have an introductory column available within the next two weeks.
    As part of our continuing goal to offer less expensive options for those who may not be able to commit yet to our more thorough products, access to Fantasy Picks will cost just $19.95 a week.

    In-Depth Analysis (this has been upgraded for 2014 as well) - 2014 will be the second year of our In-Depth Analysis section. Though the "Paul's Picks" had a successful run over three NFL and college football seasons and four NCAA Tournaments, we found that their usage was not necessarily consistent with the theme of this site or our money management goals. By labeling certain plays as Paul's Picks, focus was often taken off of the confidence of those plays as well as other plays that ultimately had more value - such as those identified as stronger picks in the Play Analyzer (if you subscribe to our information, the Play Analyzer is the most valuable tool we have) closer to game day or Over/Under picks that, most notably in college football, yield higher confidence and a strong track record of success.

    Rather than choose four games to identify as "Paul's Picks," we will give a more in-depth breakdown of EVERY NFL game, including play value recommendations, easy-to-use team comparison charts, a few nuggets to consider with each game, the impact of relevant injuries to watch and a market report on the direction we anticipate lines to move accompanied by when would be most appropriate to make certain plays. We endorse all of our picks as published at the exact percent that they are noted (and at the exact percent confidence that they become in the Play Analyzer when lines change) and we understand the interest in additional support. We feel that the new, In-Depth Analysis section on the site will add appropriate commentary on our extensive NFL pick information.

    Access to In-Depth Analysis is available to anyone with NFL Picks package access.

    Live ScoreCaster™: Free and available to all, Live ScoreCaster allows anyone to view current scores and play-by-play of all NFL, MLB and select college football games as well as live, continuous projections from 50,000 simulations of the remaining time. After each play in a game, the Predictalator simulates the rest of the game 50,000 times to determine the projected score and the likelihood of either team winning. We hope Live ScoreCaster will be of value to the average fan who wants to know his/her team's chances of winning a game after every play. We also expect it to be valuable with live, in-running wagering as that market grows in Vegas and we lead the way with innovative technology designed to exploit live market inefficiencies…

    Team and Player Stats: Among the items in the Data tab are comprehensive Team and Player Stats. I often reference “sack rate,” “interception rate,” “points-per-play,” “yards-per-play” and other statistics that I am constantly looking at yet are difficult to find elsewhere. Now there is no need to look elsewhere as we will provide all of that information and more for teams (including league averages – i.e.. context) and players and broken down even further for situational splits. Team stats are presented in 36 different categories for NFL and FBS college football, while player stats are segmented into 18 different options. All “normal,”
    conventional, boxscore stats will be available in addition to the more in-depth information that is of more importance to our projections.

    ATS and O/U Team Stats: In addition to what a team does in the boxscore and play-by-play, it can be at least as valuable to know how teams are performing relative to public/Vegas' opinion. For NFL and FBS college football, we present team performance against-the-spread and with over/under total lines under ten unique circumstances. There is some great information here about which teams are under/overvalued each season.

    Strength-of-Schedule Rankings: “It does not just matter what a player has done, but against whom he has done it.” I have said that many, many times. Now, not only do you get to see the Team and Player Stats that frame the way that I look at what a player has done, you will also see the general way that I put that into context with our Strength-of-Schedule Rankings. Strength-of-schedule rankings are based on the strength of the opponents that the team has played in the season to-date. For this reason, they will not be published for the first time in a football season until at least three games have been played. Factors considered in these rankings include: margin of victory and wins and losses of opponents and the opponents of a team's opponents.

    Injuries: Traditionally, for NFL games it has been easy to know which offensive, skill position players are considered healthy for our simulations. However, for non-skill position player and for any player in any other sport, this has not been as obvious. On the Injuries page, we highlight the notable/relevant players with injuries that have been removed from the simulations for all game predictions that appear on our site. If a player does not appear as injured on a team, he was either utilized in the simulation or he does not provide a significant impact to his team's chances either way. In football, with several days before the game predictions that we post at 8 pm ET on Wednesdays, we have the ability to update game outcomes when absolutely necessary (and let you know that we have done so), but with football, as with our daily sports, we do not make modifications to game information within two hours of the first game of the day. The injury report will keep track of who is out of the games we project.

    Play Analyzer: Please use the Play Analyzer. Going hand-in-hand with the injury conversation, we have added something to the Play Analyzer that should protect those with access from sketchy (for lack of a better term) line movements. Any time a consensus line in any sport shifts dramatically from our pick, a Caution Sign will appear to note this change. Whether due to a major injury, weather, suspension or just major action, these games warrant both caution and research. With football, we consistently pay attention to news and make modifications due to roster/depth chart changes or weather when necessary. When this is done, it will be noted. That being said, to retain the integrity of our pick tracking and information, we do not change picks within two hours of the first game of the day. Please proceed with caution around picks like this. If concerning information does not arise for a game and/or we don't make modifications to it given ample time, it may just be gaining great value. Still, remember that this is place to protect our users in unforeseen circumstances.

    The Blog: If you have not been checking out the PM Analytics Blog recently, I highly recommend it. While I have not added many of my long-winded diatribes in the last few months, we have averaged more than an article a day this year. Mostly the brainchild of our Director of Research and Analytics, John Ewing, the new PM Blog has featured consistent content on the general sports, sports betting, sports analytics and fantasy sports worlds. For the most part, these articles are short (with pictures!) and easy to consume. If you've made it this far into this blog update, you could easily click around and check out all of the cool stuff that we (mostly John) have been doing recently. Expect similar content throughout the season (in addition to what should be a weekly-or so blog entry from me).

    We also want to reinforce to you how valuable the ResultsFinder can be. This feature is vital in the research, discovery and reaction to results from every sports and every season as we look for consistent strengths and weaknesses of our approach. Fortunately, the numbers were very good and consistently so with football last season and rule changes were at a minimum, so little was done to modify the engines (though no season has gone by without some update), but our review was just as extensive as ever. The ResultsFinder was built to not only provide total transparency for site results but also to allow our subscribers a search tool that can be modified with simple drop down menus to expose situations that may consistently produce strong ROI.

    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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