Weekend Football Review (9/20/10)

By Paul Bessire

Monday, September 20 at 2:08 PM ET
While I may also get the opportunity to live blog during games in future weeks, I will always recap the weekend in football each Monday afternoon. It is very important to us to be transparent and to honest about our picks. Soon after last game of each day has started, we move all of our subscriber content to be available for registered users. 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).

The Numbers after College Football Week 3 and NFL Week 2 (One top pick remaining):

  • ATS Locks of the Week: 2-0 +$189 (Indiana covered by 4.5, KC won outright as underdog)
  • All-Time NFL ATS Locks of the Week: 51-11-2
  • Year-to-Date Daily Top ATS Plays: 11-3 +$465
  • Weekly Top 21 Picks NFL and College (anything covering 59.0%+): 14-7 (67%) +$419
  • Top 9 CFB Picks ATS: 77.8% +$378
  • YTD All Football Picks Covering 60%+: 62.1% +$566
  • YTD College Football ATS All Games: 60.3% +$1035
  • YTD College Football O/U All Games: 55.1% +$345
  • YTD College Football SU All FBS vs. FBS Games: 84.3%

College Best and Worst:

Best Wins: Not only were we very confident (62.8%) that Indiana was more than 12.5 points better than Western Kentucky, we almost got this score exactly correct. Our 40-22 projection became 38-21 on the field. Better yet, this line moved against us, so those subscribers who used the Customizable Predictalator and Play Value Calculator benefited even more... Air Force was a 17.5 point underdog that we had keeping it within two touchdowns on average and covering that line 60% of the time at Oklahoma. To see the Falcons give the Sooners a scare and threaten to win the game outright was a bonus... Washington may be historically better at home than any other team in the country (relative to how they play elsewhere), but this Nebraska offense is for real. We were not the biggest believers in the Cornhuskers' offense going into the season, yet we still knew this team was more than 3.5 points better than Washington on Saturday. Count the Predictalator on the Nebraska bandwagon... Arkansas is a top ten team. Pay attention. Of course, the Razorbacks get Alabama next, so you'd better pay attention... Iowa State had one of the flukier 2009 seasons of any team in the country. How they beat Nebraska and made (and won) a bowl will remain a mystery. Kansas State is not a great team, but I am surprised this game was in doubt as long as it was... Texas' defense was ranked number one in our metrics going into the season. It looked that way against Texas Tech (one of our top ATS and O/U picks that both hit).

Toughest Losses: Iowa battled Arizona late into the game (and into the night) with a comeback that eventually tied the score after being down 27-7 at half. We only missed two of our top nine picks, but this one really hurt, especially after Arizona burned us the other way last year against Cal. Nick Foles found away to complete passes (and no more than one per play) and move his team down the field for a clinching score. A pick-six from Arizona early was the biggest difference, yet the most surprising outcome was how unsuccessful Iowa was in controlling tempo with its ground game (though that was partly due to the early Arizona lead)... BYU's offense has yet to look good, but making the Florida State defense look great is no easy task... Houston is down to its third-string quarterback. Injury issues to the QBs made the Cougars' game against UCLA pretty brutal to watch. The rest of the season may not be better... Where did all of those points come from in the Navy-LaTech game? I still can't figure it out. I know that Navy moved the ball at will against Maryland, yet just didn't score, but the simulations account for that. The Midshipmen still only scored 13 points against Georgia Southern and had a defense that only allowed 24 points in two previous games. And Louisiana Tech opened with just 20 points against Grambling. Two teams that scored 33 combined points against FCS schools put up 60 on each other.

Most intriguing games of Week 3: Miami (FL) @ Pitt (Thursday), Virginia Tech @ Boston College, NC State @ Georgia Tech, UAB @ Tennessee, Alabama @ Arkansas (one of the biggest regular season games of the year nationally), Stanford @ Notre Dame, Kentucky @ Florida, Oklahoma vs. Cincinnati, South Carolina @ Auburn, West Virginia @ LSU, Cal @ Arizona

NFL Best and Worst:

Best Wins: Our Lock of the Week, KC +1.5, won outright 16-14. Kansas City was one of our favorite Over/Under win total picks preseason (to go over 6.5 wins) and our top Monday Night play in what we saw as essentially a tie going into the Chiefs' game against San Diego. Now they are 2-0 and making all of our picks look good. That being said, we've never thought Kansas City was markedly improved. With road games against the Browns, Seahawks and Rams and home games against the Bills and Jaguars, as well as a compressed and winnable division, the schedule just sets up so well for the Chiefs. This win had at least as much to do with how bad the Browns are as how good the Chiefs are... Arizona is not a very good football team. A team with a 7-9 record could win the NFC West - seriously (and the AFC West is not that much better). The Cardinals lost Karlos Dansby, Antrel Rolle, Anquan Boldin and Kurt Warner, all staples and mainstays of the successful Ken Whisenhunt era - and all replaced by drastically inferior players. Atlanta and Oakland were two sneaky survivor plays. The Packers were the safe bet in Week 2, but they also should be great survivor plays in later weeks... Miami is not really 2-0 good, but the teams they have played are playing 0-2 bad. Four of the underdogs we were on, won outright... Tampa Bay is another team that we liked more than most going into the year and for whom we thought the future was bright. That future may be now as the defense looks very good and Josh Freeman is not making mistakes that hurt the team. This still probably is not better than a 6 or 7 win team in 2010, but it's a great start and we're glad to have been on the right side of the Buccaneers to date. Will the Over/Under total line be able to go low enough when Tampa Bay hosts Pittsburgh next week?... We definitely knew that Chicago and Dallas would be able to put up points on each other, so it's good to win the total (the side was a "no pick"), but Dallas' 0-2 start makes underachieving look like the norm for the Cowboys... When breaking down the Washington-Houston game on-air last week, I consistently talked about it's extraordinarily high likelihood of a push. Houston won by 3. Works for me.

Toughest Losses: When you live in this world, 3:30 pm ET on NFL Sundays rarely lacks excitement. Far more so than in college where games and plays are not usually in doubt late in the game, ATS and O/U outcomes often come down to the last drive or two in the NFL. That has definitely been the case so far. For all the luck we are having in the few similarly close games in college, the opposite is happening in the first two weeks of the NFL. Traditionally, this technology has been 4-5% better picking games against-the-spread in the NFL than in college, so I fully expect that our non-Lock of the Week picks will bounce back and finish very well this year as we learn more about teams (the Locks of the Week should stay strong). In college, there are far more teams, far more games and far fewer eyeballs on each game, so it is easy to spot the inefficiencies in the market, particularly early and late in the season. In the NFL, it actually works the other way to some extent. We rarely have very strong opinions against the market until teams start to play different what the general public expected of them after the early weeks. This could start as early as Week 3 if a team like Dallas turns it around or Miami stumbles. For Week 2, the fact that no pick was greater than 60% to cover should not be a surprise. That will definitely change in future weeks (I'll try to draw an expectation chart in future blog posts)... We have been victim of some pretty brutal losses to-date. There were times into the second halves of their respective games when Baltimore, Philadelphia, Oakland, Washington, New England and Buffalo all seemed likely to cover. Washington pushed, while the other games found a way to go against us. Add to that, the "meaningless" Giants' touchdown at the end of the Manning Bowl, and Week 2 is probably going to be the toughest we will face all year. It's definitely not likely that that many close games break against the picks. Last year, we had a 15-1 week ATS that was not all that dissimilar to this week. We had a several wins that covered easily, while the few close games broke our way... But you can't ever expect to go 15-1 ATS in the NFL (or 14-1 in college as we did with top picks last week) by throwing darts. Our wins this week, including two of our four picks, averaged covering by 16.4 points. Coupling those strong opinions with the close losses and the fact that our numbers should only get better and our opinions stronger as we learn more about teams in the NFL, makes me believe we were not too far from a really big day and that we will have plenty of big days in the near future. Hopefully that starts tonight with New Orleans @ San Francisco.