Weekend Football Review (12/13/11)

By Paul Bessire

Tuesday, December 13 at 5:00 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 areas of weakness - honing in on what this means to subscribers as it applies and touching on other, "big picture" topics in the process.

This blog will focus on a college football playoff with updates and reminders on the NFL numbers, daily fantasy tools (with an upcoming PM only freeroll), the NBA launch and bowl picks.

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 Football Playoffs: To me, the most logical approach to a college football FBS playoff includes 16 teams. This ensures that the 11 conference champions each make the playoffs. It also allows for four weeks of playoff football - which happens to be the exact duration of the bowls. Neutral field sites of actual bowls are assumed throughout the duration of the playoff. No more than two teams from any conference can get into this system. We use our final regular season College Football Team Rankings to seed teams (bracket below).

To achieve these results, each matchup was played in two different ways: 1) Results of 50,000 simulations of the game and 2) Results of one simulation of the game. I advanced teams based on the latter in order to illustrate what one playoff possibility could look like (and to differentiate the results from our power rankings or actual bowl results). The bold results are from one simulation, while the results in parentheses are from the 50,000 simulations.

Just look at the matchups at every level... Isn't this significantly more intriguing and enjoyable than the current system?

Here is what happened in the college football playoffs:

First Round Results:
1) Alabama Crimson Tide 41 (wins 94.2% of the time in 50,000 simulations)
16) Arkansas State Red Wolves 3

8) Michigan State Spartans 24
9) Boise State Broncos 31 (wins 56.6% of the time)

5) Wisconsin Badgers 45 (wins 70.1% of the time)
12) Southern Miss Golden Eagles 21

4) Oregon Ducks 49 (wins 71.0% of the time)
13) West Virginia Mountaineers 31

6) Oklahoma Sooners 23 (wins 63.2% of the time)
11) TCU Horned Frogs 26

3) Oklahoma State Cowboys 63 (wins 88.2% of the time)
14) Northern Illinois 31

7) Stanford Cardinal 31 (wins 65.3% of the time)
10) Clemson Tigers 33

2) LSU Tigers 30 (wins 92.4% of the time)
15) Louisiana Tech 10

Round 2 Results:
1) Alabama Crimson Tide 31 (wins 71.6% of the time)
9) Boise State Broncos 17

5) Wisconsin Badgers 37
4) Oregon Ducks 47 (wins 51.5% of the time)

6) TCU Horned Frogs 21
3) Oklahoma State Cowboys 45 (wins 80.1% of the time)

10) Clemson Tigers 13
2) LSU Tigers 36 (wins 83.5% of the time)

Semifinal Results:
1) Alabama Crimson Tide 31 (wins 61.8% of the time)
4) Oregon Ducks 24

3) Oklahoma State Cowboys 30
2) LSU Tigers 27 (wins 58.5% of the time)

College Football Championship Results
1) Alabama Crimson Tide 24 (wins 61.2% of the time)
3) Oklahoma State Cowboys 13

College Basketball:
Here is a recap of the last three weeks - the final week of the trial and the first two weeks of the picks package - of college basketball regular season picks information (more information is available in the TrendFinder Database):

  • Playable ATS (53%+ to cover): 222-177 (57.1%)
  • Normal+ ATS (57%+ to cover): 57-44 (56.4%)
  • Playable O/U (53% to cover): 165-151 (52.2%)
  • Normal+ O/U (57%+ to cover): 38-31 (56.7%)

Week 5 (last week) was not as strong with the "normal" or better ATS picks as it had been in Weeks 3 and 4, but sample size (last week and this week are particularly light on games due to finals weeks and Winter breaks) and (likely - as we discussed last week) unsustainable performance during those previous weeks play a role there. While we do expect that normal+ picks ultimately perform better than all playable picks, our general expectation is that the numbers above should appear similar to our final numbers at the end of the season.

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. Packages for January 15 through the end of the regular season will be available next week. Watch for more to come as we can begin to work on teams.

Bowl Picks:
Bowl Picks packages are now available. PredictionMachine.com concluded the regular season 74-48 in "normal" or better O/U plays. And last season, during bowl season, four of the top five ATS picks covered (each of them by 17+ points). Of the 35 bowl games, 16 have "normal" or better O/U opinions, while 21 against-the-spread picks also cover 57%+, including TEN predicted upsets. Gain the edge you need for bowl season. Buy Bowl Picks now.

Picks will be updated for injury and roster information as needed, while the Play Analyzer and Customizable Predictalator will remain available to evaluate line movement on each game. Paul's Picks breakdowns (every ATS pick that covers 57%+) and individual day bowl pages and packages (packages available for days with at least two games) will be made available three days before the bowls.

NFL Performance:
Week 14 was another strong week for the Predictalator against-the-spread. Paul's Picks, the top three plays on Sunday and the Monday Night selection, finished 3-1 ATS (3-0-1 on the closing number with Denver at -3 on Sunday), while all playable picks went 8-3 ATS. For the third time this season, at least 15 of the 16 picks covered on a seven point teased line. In this case, our 11th best pick (KC +9) failed to cover. The other two ATS losses (Denver -3.5 and Tennessee +3.5) failed to cover by a total of two points. Paul's Picks this season are 36-20 (64% ATS), while all playable picks are 116-71 (62% ATS) in 2011. More specifically, there has only been one week (Week 9) in which the Paul's Picks were below .500 and one week, Week 10, in which all playable picks were below .500. Utilizing Play Value Calculator recommendations would have returned a profit in 11 of 14 weeks in Paul's Picks and 12 of 14 weeks for all playable ATS picks.

We have not discussed it in a while because it is more difficult to track (and we drilled home the point over the first few weeks), but the Play Analyzer remains a valuable tool. This Sunday, the top four plays at the consensus closing lines were Jacksonville (+3), Minnesota (+10), Denver (-3) and Houston (+2.5). While Houston lost some value, the other three gained in value and all four covered over 59% of the time in the numbers. Those picks ultimately went 3-0-1 ATS and +$282 for a $50 player using the Play Value recommendations. On the consensus closing lines (something we hope/intend to track more definitively in the future), the Predictalator's picks went 8-2-1 ATS and +$348 for a $50 player using the recommendations.

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): New England (100%), Houston (100%), Denver (87%), Baltimore (69%)
  • Projected Playoff Seeds (AFC): 1. Baltimore 2. Houston 3. New England 4. Denver 5. Pittsburgh 6. New York
  • Teams with greater than 25% to make playoffs: 6 (Tennessee, 19%, Cincinnati, 14%, and Oakland 14% are the only other teams with a 10%+ chance)
  • Most Likely Division Winners (NFC): San Francisco (100%), Green Bay (100%), New Orleans (96%), New York (51%)
  • Projected Playoff Seeds (NFC): 1. Green Bay 2. New Orleans 3. San Francisco 4. New York 5. Atlanta 6. Detroit
  • Teams with greater than 25% to make playoffs: 7 (Dallas is only other team with legitimate shot at playoffs)
  • Chances Green Bay Packers Finish 16-0: 69.2%
  • Chances Indianapolis Goes 0-16: 56.4%
  • Chances Colts "earn" Top Pick/Andrew Luck: 93.2%
  • Pass Yards (rest of season): Drew Brees, 1,000.2 passing yards, 8 TDs, 2 INTs
  • Rush Yards (rest of season): Maurice Jones-Drew, 305 rushing yards, 2 TDs
  • Receiving Yards (rest of season): Wes Welker, 261 receiving yards, 2 TDs

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 publish 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.

We will discuss and promote this more next week, but, as a special opportunity to earn some extra funds during the holidays - and to give those who are out of their fantasy football playoffs something to do - we will be conducting a $250 freeroll tournament pool for Week 16 on DraftDay. More info to come in next week's blog and emails.

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.