Weekend Football Review (11/29/11)

By Paul Bessire

Tuesday, November 29 at 11:50 M 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, the blog will focus more on topics beyond performance. 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.

As I have been alluding to for a few weeks, travel cost me some time over the last few days, so, since the picks, power rankings, playoff probabilities, etc. take precedence, this blog will be filled with quick-hitters and data regarding the college basketball trial and regular season, the NBA launch, college bowls, the NFL numbers and daily fantasy tools.

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...

College Basketball:
Here is a recap of the free college basketball trial that concluded on Sunday (most engine tweaks and additional resources mostly went into place November 18th, two days before Week 3 began; also, "normal" or better is any pick that covers 57% and is highlighted as such on the site):

  • Playable ATS (Overall Free Trial): 175-156 (52.9%)
  • Playable ATS (Week 3): 98-61 (61.6%)
  • Normal+ ATS (Overall Free Trial): 40-38 (51.3%)
  • Normal+ ATS (Week 3): 21-14 (60.0%)
  • Playable O/U (Overall Free Trial): 143-123 (53.4%)
  • Playable O/U (Week 3): 68-49 (58.1%)
  • Normal+ O/U (Overall Free Trial): 33-25 (56.9%)
  • Normal+ O/U (Week 3): 19-9 (67.9%)

Week 3 picks finished 166-110 (60% ATS and O/U). Picks packages are available for the full season and December only. Now that we have completed the preseason tournaments with early (or very late) games, weekday picks will publish at 4:00 pm ET. Along those lines, any games that tip-off between midnight at 8:00 AM ET will now be listed on the previous day's article (as 11:59 PM ET games if between midnight and 1:00 AM ET).

NBA Picks:
The NBA is coming back on Christmas with an abbreviated, 66 game schedule. Similar to what we saw with college basketball, as this is also our first season covering the NBA from the beginning of the season, we will open with a three week free trial of NBA picks from December 25-January 15. Watch for more to come as we can begin to work on teams. All player movement should be able to begin December 9th.

College Football Picks:
Like last season, the Army-Navy game in Week 15 and the BCS National Championship game will be free to all. In between that, we will have college bowl picks as part of a package that will be available on Monday. The Predictalator Picks, Play Analyzer and Customizable Predictalator content will be available at 8:00 pm ET next Wednesday (12/7). All playable picks will be considered "Paul's Picks" with write-ups that will be posted three days before the game. Picks will be updated as necessary.

In terms of college football performance, with a 5-4 record that saw us cover three of the top four overall O/U picks, we extended our streak of .500 or better normal+ O/U college picks to 13 weeks (aka all of them in 2011). Also, while the Paul's Picks continue to struggle, playable ATS picks were also above .500 for the fourth consecutive week in college football. Last season during the bowls - a time period when we expect to succeed due to the anticipated motivation, neutral fields, full season of data and ability to adjust for strength of schedules - we hit four of our top five overall choices (all four covering by 17+ points) and 64% ATS of the 60%+ bowl picks (yes, there were many more 60%+ picks, including some "2X"/green choices, since value can often be found in lines that involve large amounts of public opinion and where teams from different conferences competed). Weak bowl picks were not nearly as strong, yet this has not been true for me in the past.

And when it comes to the aforementioned BCS National Championship game, it has to be LSU vs. Alabama. No matter what happens to LSU in the SEC Championship game (save for multiple significant injuries), LSU and Alabama will both be the two best teams in the country (by a wide margin) and the two most deserving. There is nothing else to say. The best two teams do not always get to play in the BCS National Championship, but the two most deserving tend to and it is very difficult to argue that any other teams are more deserving of the bid than these two. Even if all the favorites besides LSU win this weekend, the only other teams in FBS with less than two losses would be Oklahoma State, which lost to Iowa State as 27.5 point favorites, Stanford, which lost at home by three touchdowns to a team that LSU destroyed (and also did not get a chance to play for its conference title) and a group of teams in Virginia Tech, Boise State and Houston that will have all played below average FBS schedules (Alabama and LSU have played top 25 schedules). We'll have more with the bowls and a simulated playoff next week, but expect LSU and Alabama to face off in our simulated championship just as they will in the BCS Championship game.

NFL Projections Updated:
We continue our weekly projections update on notable NFL topics. To see more team projections, check out our updated NFL Playoff Probabilities.

  • Most Likely Division Winners (AFC): Houston (99%), New England (98%), Baltimore (62%), Oakland (51%),
  • Projected Playoff Seeds (AFC): 1. Baltimore 2. New England 3. Houston 4. Oakland 5. Pittsburgh 6. Cincinnati
  • Teams with greater than 25% to make playoffs: 8 (New York for the Wild Card and Denver for the AFC West division are only other legitimate playoff contenders)
  • Most Likely Division Winners (NFC): San Francisco (100%), Green Bay (100%), New Orleans (85%), Dallas (80%)
  • Projected Playoff Seeds (NFC): 1. Green Bay 2. San Francisco 3. New Orleans 4. Dallas 5. Atlanta 6. Chicago
  • Teams with greater than 25% to make playoffs: 8 (New York and Detroit are only other teams with legitimate shot at playoffs)
  • Chances Green Bay Packers Finish 16-0: 49.7% (toughest remaining game: @ New York Giants in Week 13)
  • Chances Indianapolis Goes 0-16: 50.5% (easiest remaining game: vs. Tennessee in Week 15)
  • Chances Colts "earn" Top Pick/Andrew Luck: 93.5%
  • Pass Yards (rest of season): Tom Brady, 1,611 passing yards, 16 TDs, 5 INTs
  • Rush Yards (rest of season): DeMarco Murray, 544 rushing yards, 2 TDs
  • Receiving Yards (rest of season): Wes Welker, 475 receiving yards, 5 TDs

From a performance standpoint, the NFL had another strong week. The Paul's Picks went 3-1 to extend their record on the season to 31-17 ATS (65%), while all ATS picks were profitable despite going 0-for-Thanksgiving (and we missed hitting all 16 games on a 7-point teaser for the second time this season by only losing out on Philadelphia +11 against New England). Obviously, Thanksgiving performance was unfortunate, but it became an interesting study in discipline, patience and randomness. The teams we were picking to cover on that day threw 9 interceptions to their opponents' one interception - and one team even ended up with its best defensive player kicked out and a receiver playing cornerback. There were seven stronger picks on Sunday than anything on Thursday (it was even more on the specific days in the Play Analyzer where Detroit +4 was no longer playable and Carolina -3.5 because our top opinion of the week). Those seven picks went 5-2 ATS and O/U on Sunday.

Daily Fantasy Sports:
Daily salary cap fantasy sports leagues comprise an industry that has grown significantly over the past year. Given that our content is built around opportunities to find value in the sports market, specifically with fantasy football projections, with tomorrow's football content, we will unveil a sortable dollars-per-fantasy-point category ($/FP) in the Fantasy Football projections to help users identify value. In this case, the less it costs for every fantasy point, the better the value in the salary cap fantasy league (we will be using DraftDay's Salaries). We have aspirations of greatly increasing the tools and content devoted to these types of games. Please let us know if you have any feedback, suggestions and/or notable experiences regarding this content and potential future applications to support it.

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.