Weekend Football Review (11/15/11)

By Paul Bessire

Tuesday, November 15 at 11:10 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, 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.

Last week may have been the best week that we have ever had on this site ("normal" or better picks in football went 22-5 ATS and O/U; "normal" or better picks in college basketball games with the noted up to 16.5 point spreads went 16-5 ATS and O/U). This week's blog, like last week's, will touch on the previous week's performance, discuss some of the tweaks and efforts put into place for football, review the second half NFL projections we unveiled last week (including delving further into Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers), note a schedule change for next week's picks, review the first week of college basketball and update the ATS numbers for every football team.

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...

Weekly Recap:
We've had an undefeated NFL playoff run, some huge opening rounds of the NCAA basketball tournament, a notable turnaround early in the MLB season and several other high-profile wins, yet no day may have been enjoyable in the 18 or so months that we have been in existence than Saturday - partly because it was needed, but mostly because of all of the hard work and effort went into getting those picks right. On the day, "normal" or better college picks went 5-0 ATS and 9-2 O/U (with wins during the week, normal+ picks went 16-2 last week). With ten straight previous weeks of .500 or better normal+ O/U performance (now a streak of 11 total), having a good O/U week was nothing new. Coupling that with the undefeated normal+ ATS picks was a very welcome turn of events and, hopefully/presumably, representative of our recent abilities to leverage the TrendFinder data to find commonality in wins and losses and act upon our findings. We/I spent a lot of time researching and updating/tweaking where appropriate in effort to optimize the way that data is input into and handled by the Predictalator in a way that would result in performance that should, at the least, mirror our performance.

Last week's blog was a little later than usual due to the time and effort put into that exercise. (This week's blog is similar - with most of the research/updating focus turned to college basketball and NHL... and only some if it recovering from "cheering for points" on Saturday night.) Do we expect to go undefeated with the "normal" or better picks every week? Obviously not. The chances are good that we see another day like Saturday again at some point (especially as our confidence nears the likelihood of events); however, it's not fair to expect that any specific week will be that good. For now, I feel as though we are headed in the right direction (and then some) with the ATS picks, without jeopardizing the integrity of the O/U college picks.

In the NFL, we did have our 13 consecutive week streak of .500 or better NFL ATS pick performance snapped. We went 6-8 ATS, meaning that we were just one pick away from at least reaching .500 (which would have just been our second such week in that span). I'm blaming myself for allowing the machine to pick against the Packers and for the Chargers (both with weak picks, but playable nonetheless). I am not blaming Mike Smith for his decision to go for it, but I would blame him for the play call (Bill Barnwell, a colleague long ago and now of Grantland, has a good explanation highlighting my thoughts. In essence, if the ball needs to move an inch forward, don't start the play five yards behind the line of scrimmage). I cannot say that I am too deterred by losing that streak. We still went 6-3 on ATS and O/U normal+ plays for the week, are 25-15 ATS on Paul's Picks (25-13 ATS on Paul's Picks that were also normal+) on the year and have gone 86-51 ATS over the almost 11 month stretch in the NFL from the time that streak started. With the information that we discussed last week (and present again below) relative to team ATS performance - where we succeed and where there are potential pitfalls - further ingrained into the NFL numbers as well, we anticipate continued NFL success.

Thanksgiving Schedule:
With Thanksgiving taking place next week (Thursday, November 24), our picks schedule will be a little different than most weeks. Instead of waiting until Wednesday night at 8:00 PM ET to release the football picks - a potential issue for those traveling and/or unavailable that night and the next day, especially for those who may be interested in playing Thursday's games - weekly football picks will be released on Tuesday, November 22nd at 8:00 PM ET. Because of this, the blog will probably go up on Monday night, yet may not be nearly as extensive as usual. NFL Power Rankings and Playoff Probabilities will be updated after 8:00 pm ET on Tuesday. Also, since we will be using Tuesday's consensus lines, the Play Analyzer will be of even greater value to review picks against updated lines. Lines may change more often and to a greater degree than usual. We/I will still update picks in the allowable windows as necessary. College basketball picks will be posted on a daily basis as normal (4:00 pm ET or two hours before first tip-off, whichever comes first).

NFL Projections Updated:
Last week's blog featured some second half projections that were interesting and enjoyable to review and discuss. After a full slate of NFL games (no bye weeks last week; this week, with the Colts, Saints, Steelers and Texans off, is the last NFL week with any byes) as well as some significant season-ending/season-threatening injuries (Matt Schaub, Leon Hall, Matt Cassel, etc.), there is value in updating some of the more pertinent topics. To see more team projections, check out our updated NFL Playoff Probabilities.

  • Most Likely Division Winners (AFC): Houston (91% - despite easy win, down from last week with loss of Matt Schaub), Baltimore (46%), Oakland (44%), New England (73%)
  • Projected Playoff Seeds (AFC): 1. Pittsburgh (the Steelers are projected for a better record than Baltimore, so become a more likely #1, but Ravens have current edge in division having won both games against Steelers) 2. New England 3. Houston 4. Oakland 5. Baltimore 6. New York
  • Teams with greater than 25% to make playoffs: 7 (Cincinnati is only other teams with legitimate shot at Wild Card - all four teams in AFC West are very alive)
  • Most Likely Division Winners (NFC): San Francisco (99.9%), Green Bay (90%), New Orleans (75%), Dallas (51%)
  • Projected Playoff Seeds (NFC): 1. Green Bay 2. San Francisco 3. New Orleans 4. Dallas 5. Chicago 6. Detroit
  • Teams with greater than 25% to make playoffs: 8 (New York and Atlanta are only other teams with legitimate shot at playoffs)
  • Chances Green Bay Packers Finish 16-0: 24.6% (toughest remaining game: @ Detroit in Week 12)
  • Chances Indianapolis Goes 0-16: 27.1% (easiest remaining game: vs. Carolina in Week 12)
  • Chances Colts "earn" Top Pick/Andrew Luck: 84.7%
  • Pass Yards (rest of season): Tom Brady, 1980 passing yards, 16 TDs, 7 INTs
  • Rush Yards (rest of season): Maurice Jones-Drew, 681 rushing yards, 5 TDs
  • Receiving Yards (rest of season): Wes Welker, 619 receiving yards, 4 TDs
  • Aaron Rodgers Final Stats (if he starts all 16 games): 350-505 4,786 passing yards, 49 TDs, 8 INTs, 14-2 record, 250 rush yards, 3 rush TDs... (Note: This would definitively be the greatest season by any player in NFL history. The question would not be if it is, but if anyone has or will ever be close. Also, with all of the love being shown to Rodgers, consider Mike McCarthy the best play caller in the league. This brain-trust is changing the game and elite, amongst the likes of Walsh/Montana, Brady/Belichick, Coryell/Fouts, Moore/Manning, Lombardi/Starr, Brown/Graham, Staubach/Landry, Warner/Martz and Unitas/Ewbank.)

College Basketball Free Trial:
As a reminder, our free trial has begun. As this is PredictionMachine.com'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.

Week 1 of the free trial was decent, yet not spectacular (see: TrendFinder results). Normal+ picks went 11-8 ATS (58%), while normal+ O/U were 4-4 (50%). Picking every game, Week 1 picks were almost exactly .500 for both ATS and O/U (a little better than .500 in games with spreads between 0-16.5 and a little worse than 50% in games with spreads greater than 16.5). All game picks pages have notes about the concerns we have in games with spreads greater than 16.5. In normal+ ATS picks in Week 1 where the spreads were 16.5 or less, we were 10-4 ATS (71%). In normal+ O/U Week 1 picks in games with spreads 16.5 or less, picks went 2-1 O/U (67%). In other words, normal+ picks in games where motivation is not a concern went 16-5 ATS and O/U (76%). There was one green "2X" pick, Missouri State (+7.5) @ Nevada on Friday. That covered by winning straight-up, 68-46, so that's a good sign. There were some other green/2X picks that showed up in the Play Analyzer. To the best of my knowledge from checking and tracking, these have done pretty well on the sides (ATS), yet not with totals (O/U). Today, the 24-hour marathon of college basketball, has not been nearly as successful as previous days. I'm not sure if that is related to the nature of these game times or if the lines are getting tighter/more appropriate and either we have not found a way to get much value out of them (only two 60%+ picks today) or someone has caught on to something that we have yet to include. I do not believe that today's performance will be the norm (couple brutal beats in there), yet it is early in the season, we have never been in this position before and this is the free trial period. We want to win every pick (period - always), but it's also a learning experience for everyone, with the goal that we will be providing the best possible product and information (even if tweaks are necessary based on what we have uncovered) by November 28th.

College Basketball Play Analyzer:
As mentioned, the Play Analyzer is available for every college basketball game. We have seen some situations where lines changed wildly throughout the day. We do our best to make sure that every team is up-to-date with injury/eligibility information, but it is impossible to address everything for every team after the picks are posted. This is why we wait until 4:00 pm ET when possible to post the picks. We want to have incorporated as much as we possibly can when the picks go up on the site. Furthermore, we need to give the market credit for the information that it might know as well. A similar factor to what we added to the Play Analyzer for football (especially college football) has now (as in for Wednesday's games and beyond) been included in the basketball Play Analyzer. This should help to temper opinions when lines swing for reasons beyond bettor bias.

ATS Performance by Team (football updated):
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 do our best to "fix" the areas uncovered by this analysis where we believe there may be weaknesses (see: last week's picks, our first since fully incorporating this data) 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. For this week, in the tables below, "Games" represents only playable games that the team has played that did not result in an ATS push (last week, we looked at all games, regardless of whether or not the picks were "playable"/covered 53%, yet are showing just playable games to illustrate a slightly different angle). "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 8 8 100.00%
Cleveland Browns 8 7 87.50%
Denver Broncos 9 7 77.78%
Jacksonville Jaguars 9 7 77.78%
Oakland Raiders 9 7 77.78%
St. Louis Rams 9 7 77.78%
New York Giants 8 6 75.00%
Washington Redskins 8 6 75.00%
New York Jets 7 5 71.43%
Cincinnati Bengals 9 6 66.67%
New England Patriots 6 4 66.67%
Pittsburgh Steelers 9 6 66.67%
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6 4 66.67%
Buffalo Bills 8 5 62.50%
Dallas Cowboys 8 5 62.50%
Green Bay Packers 8 5 62.50%
Miami Dolphins 8 5 62.50%
San Francisco 49ers 8 5 62.50%
Philadelphia Eagles 7 4 57.14%
New Orleans Saints 9 5 55.56%
Carolina Panthers 8 4 50.00%
Indianapolis Colts 8 4 50.00%
Seattle Seahawks 6 3 50.00%
Atlanta Falcons 9 4 44.44%
Baltimore Ravens 9 4 44.44%
Detroit Lions 9 4 44.44%
Arizona Cardinals 7 3 42.86%
Chicago Bears 7 3 42.86%
Minnesota Vikings 7 3 42.86%
Tennessee Titans 7 3 42.86%
Kansas City Chiefs 8 2 25.00%
San Diego Chargers 8 1 12.50%

College ATS Performance by Team:

Team Games PM ATS Wins PM ATS%
Georgia Bulldogs 7 7 100.00%
Vanderbilt Commodores 7 7 100.00%
New Mexico Lobos 1 1 100.00%
Michigan State Spartans 6 5 83.33%
Central Michigan Chippewas 6 5 83.33%
Baylor Bears 5 4 80.00%
Wyoming Cowboys 5 4 80.00%
Florida Gators 8 6 75.00%
Tennessee Volunteers 8 6 75.00%
Houston Cougars 4 3 75.00%
Bowling Green Falcons 4 3 75.00%
Eastern Michigan Eagles 4 3 75.00%
Utah State Aggies 4 3 75.00%
TCU Horned Frogs 7 5 71.43%
New Mexico State Aggies 7 5 71.43%
San Jose State Spartans 7 5 71.43%
Miami (OH) RedHawks 6 4 66.67%
Arizona Wildcats 6 4 66.67%
USC Trojans 6 4 66.67%
Kentucky Wildcats 6 4 66.67%
North Texas Mean Green 6 4 66.67%
Temple Owls 3 2 66.67%
Colorado State Rams 3 2 66.67%
FIU Golden Panthers 8 5 62.50%
Missouri Tigers 5 3 60.00%
Penn State Nittany Lions 5 3 60.00%
Rice Owls 5 3 60.00%
Air Force Falcons 5 3 60.00%
Oregon State Beavers 5 3 60.00%
Arkansas State Red Wolves 5 3 60.00%
Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks 5 3 60.00%
Ohio State Buckeyes 7 4 57.14%
Marshall Thundering Herd 7 4 57.14%
Brigham Young Cougars 7 4 57.14%
Northern Illinois Huskies 7 4 57.14%
Stanford Cardinal 7 4 57.14%
Alabama Crimson Tide 7 4 57.14%
Mississippi Rebels 7 4 57.14%
Nevada Wolf Pack 7 4 57.14%
Western Michigan Broncos 8 4 50.00%
UCLA Bruins 8 4 50.00%
Mississippi State Bulldogs 8 4 50.00%
Oklahoma Sooners 6 3 50.00%
Oklahoma State Cowboys 6 3 50.00%
Iowa Hawkeyes 6 3 50.00%
Wisconsin Badgers 6 3 50.00%
San Diego State Aztecs 6 3 50.00%
LSU Tigers 6 3 50.00%
Hawaii Warriors 6 3 50.00%
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 4 2 50.00%
Connecticut Huskies 4 2 50.00%
Akron Zips 4 2 50.00%
Buffalo Bulls 4 2 50.00%
Boise State Broncos 4 2 50.00%
UNLV Rebels 4 2 50.00%
Fresno State Bulldogs 4 2 50.00%
Notre Dame Fighting Irish 9 4 44.44%
Boston College Eagles 7 3 42.86%
Kansas State Wildcats 7 3 42.86%
Texas Longhorns 7 3 42.86%
Texas Tech Red Raiders 7 3 42.86%
Michigan Wolverines 7 3 42.86%
Tulane Green Wave 7 3 42.86%
Tulsa Golden Hurricane 7 3 42.86%
UAB Blazers 7 3 42.86%
Ohio Bobcats 7 3 42.86%
Oregon Ducks 7 3 42.86%
Washington Huskies 7 3 42.86%
Troy Trojans 7 3 42.86%
Auburn Tigers 10 4 40.00%
North Carolina Tar Heels 5 2 40.00%
Louisville Cardinals 5 2 40.00%
South Florida Bulls 5 2 40.00%
West Virginia Mountaineers 5 2 40.00%
Nebraska Cornhuskers 5 2 40.00%
Southern Methodist Mustangs 5 2 40.00%
Toledo Rockets 5 2 40.00%
Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders 5 2 40.00%
Maryland Terrapins 8 3 37.50%
Texas A&M Aggies 8 3 37.50%
Arkansas Razorbacks 8 3 37.50%
Florida State Seminoles 6 2 33.33%
Wake Forest Demon Deacons 6 2 33.33%
Iowa State Cyclones 6 2 33.33%
Pittsburgh Panthers 6 2 33.33%
Rutgers Scarlet Knights 6 2 33.33%
East Carolina Pirates 6 2 33.33%
UCF Knights 6 2 33.33%
Army Black Knights 6 2 33.33%
Navy Midshipmen 6 2 33.33%
Kent State Golden Flashes 6 2 33.33%
Arizona State Sun Devils 6 2 33.33%
South Carolina Gamecocks 6 2 33.33%
Idaho Vandals 6 2 33.33%
Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns 3 1 33.33%
Southern Miss Golden Eagles 7 2 28.57%
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers 7 2 28.57%
Clemson Tigers 8 2 25.00%
Washington State Cougars 8 2 25.00%
Duke Blue Devils 4 1 25.00%
Cincinnati Bearcats 4 1 25.00%
Minnesota Golden Gophers 4 1 25.00%
Purdue Boilermakers 4 1 25.00%
Memphis Tigers 4 1 25.00%
UTEP Miners 4 1 25.00%
Ball State Cardinals 4 1 25.00%
North Carolina State Wolfpack 5 1 20.00%
Virginia Cavaliers 5 1 20.00%
Kansas Jayhawks 5 1 20.00%
Indiana Hoosiers 5 1 20.00%
Utah Utes 5 1 20.00%
Miami (FL) Hurricanes 6 1 16.67%
Illinois Fighting Illini 6 1 16.67%
Northwestern Wildcats 6 1 16.67%
California Golden Bears 7 1 14.29%
Colorado Buffaloes 7 1 14.29%
Virginia Tech Hokies 6 0 0.00%
Syracuse Orange 5 0 0.00%
Florida Atlantic Owls 5 0 0.00%
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs 4 0 0.00%

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