Weekend Football Review (10/04/10)

By Paul Bessire

Monday, October 4 at 3:38 PM ET
I will always recap the weekend in football each Monday afternoon. It is very important to us to be transparent and to be honest about our picks. This will be a little shorter than normal - not because the picks did not perform well, we freely admit that the week was not up to our standards - because we are also in the process of running numbers and producing quite a bit of free content for the MLB playoffs.

The Football Numbers (after College Football Week 5 and NFL Week 4):
It was not a tremendous week for us. We were under .500 ATS picking all games both college and the NFL. That is the first week that has ever happened for us. Every now and then, these type of weeks happen. We cannot fully hide from them. We can just assume that with our increased knowledge of each team as we get deeper in the season, our confidence and our accuracy will improve significantly from a week like this. It's been the most difficult environment for NFL picks that the business has seen as long as I've been involved. There are some legitimate reasons, some bad luck and then, sometimes the likely scenarios just don't happen more than not in any given week. Fortunately, our aggregate numbers are still solid on the season and we expect to bounce back and be very strong and remain profitable through the end of the year.

  • ATS Locks of the Week: 1-1 (Louisville -4.5 over Arkansas State covered by 5.5 points, Philadelphia -6 lost outright to Washington)
  • Year-to-Date ATS Locks of the Week: 7-2
  • All-Time ATS Locks of the Week: 56-13-2
  • YTD Daily Top ATS Plays: 16-6
  • Paul's Picks ATS Week: 4-3 (with one game remaining)
  • YTD Paul's Picks ATS: 28-9
  • YTD Picks 60%+: 60.2%
  • YTD ATS All Games: 54.2%
  • YTD O/U All Games: 54.2%
  • YTD SU: 80.9%

Today's Notes on Money Management
Before we get into the college best and worst, here is another note on money management that came out of customer support questions this week:

Question: Last week i played a two team parlay with the Bengals/Jets ATS. Obviously, before the Jets game started I had one side already won. What is the right play here - to let the bet stand and count on the 62.3% predictor, or to make a hedge bet on the Dolphins and guarantee a win?

Answer: To me, I would view this with respect to expected value. It's difficult to fully judge without specifics, but I can use an example.

Let's say that you bet $50 on the parlay to win ~$132 and you are considering a play of $50 on Miami -135 (to win $37) then your expected net output (assuming we don't just view the original wager as a sunk cost - which would actually benefit my argument even more) from that given that you had already won half the parlay is:

.623 * 132 - 50 * (.566 + .377) + .444 * 37 = $51.54

That's 62.3% likelihood of winning parlay times the parlay payout minus the original $50 bets times the chance that the Dolphins lose plus the chance that the Jets don't cover, then plus the chance the Dolphins win times the to win amount.

Not making that second bet would have an expected outcome of:

.623 * 132 - 50 * .377 = $63.39

With the extra bet, you have a:
26.5% chance of breaking even a,
56.6% chance of netting $82 and a
5.7% chance of netting $169...

Without the extra bet, you have a:
62.3% chance of netting $132 and a
37.7% chance of netting -$50

The piece of mind of guaranteeing that you don't lose, costs about $12 in expected value. I believe in expected value, to do what is mathematically best and that everything will work out best in the long-run. In this case, every bet essentially functions individually. If Miami -135 adds value, I can play it. If not, I'll stay away. It's not a guaranteed win, but the more I do that, the more I will win.

Not everyone likes the idea of the "long-run" though, so it can depend on aversion to risk and goals. If the goals are short-term growth - like most who wager on sports - your suggestion may make more sense because it minimizes exposure.

Everything is relative and I'm sure I didn't come up with the exact values you used, but the example will still make sense. To me, if the Miami -135 doesn't return a positive net value in it's own right, I'm not going to play it. My viewpoint is different than most though because losing is OK when I know I'll win out over time.

I hope that makes some sense. I don't think you did anything wrong, because that makes a lot of sense in a lot of circumstances. I just would not call that optimal if maximizing value of the long-term investment is the goal.

College Best and Worst:

Best Wins: We hit the Lock of the Week again to start the year 4-1 now in college football Locks of the Week. Louisville -4.5 @ Arkansas State, won by a score and in a way that was almost exactly what we expected. Our predicted score was 36-26. The Cardinals won 34-24. In the Paul's Picks, we talked about Louisville's ability to run the ball and the Red Wolves difficulty in stopping it. Two Cardinals ran for over 100 yards as Louisville rushed 50 times for 267 yards in the win. We seemed to be spot-on with that game... As of game-day, according to the Customizable Predictalator, the best pick ATS was actually Tulane +17.5 over Rutgers. The line had moved two important points in Rutgers direction and now we liked the Green Wave to cover 63%+. Tulane won outright... Iowa State was another underdog that we loved that won straight-up... Navy, Idaho, Utah State and UNLV do not get as much attention as Miami (FL) and Arizona State, but all six are probably better than most would think and covered pretty in a way we expected... We did not have the strongest opinions on either game, but it's always great to be on the right side of big matchups like Alabama-Florida and Oregon-Stanford. We had both favorites winning by double-digits and they cruised.

Toughest Losses: I did not get to see as much of the college games live this week as usual as I spent most of Saturday at a wedding where the groom and father of the groom may or may not have been asking me for updates on the Louisville - Arkansas State game. I've obviously caught up since then, but I'm glad that I did not have to sit through the agony of the Army and NC State debacles. Both underdogs looked ready to win out-right and then failed to even cover... The toughest loss though was with THE Ohio State Buckeyes, our only Paul's Pick Top ATS play to lose in college this week. I did watch that game. Jim Tressel can coach the way he wants to coach, but his conservative style is not too far away from seeing Chip Kelly and the Oregon Ducks jump over the Buckeyes. Of course, style points would have given us the cover and I get that Terrelle Pryor was banged-up, but his approach, the anti-style points method, could have lost him the game, let alone the style points he could have had when Alabama, Oregon and Boise State were destroying their competition. Not that I root for the team or that I expect we'll picking them so strongly again (especially on the road), but Ohio State fans may want to hope that that was just an overly conservative (even for Tressel) game because of Pryor's health and not the way that team is going to try to win the rest of its games. After the Buckeyes' last two performances in BCS title games, they are going to have look like they can play with Alabama. Oregon is doing a much better job of that so far... Similar frustration can be laid upon all favorites we liked in Big Ten openers (except Iowa - who the numbers really love)... Boise State couldn't score one more point? Or allow any?

Most intriguing games of Week 6: Nebraska @ Kansas State (Thursday), Indiana @ Ohio State, Baylor @ Texas Tech, Michigan State @ Michigan, Clemson @ North Carolina, Arkansas @ Texas A&M, Alabama @ South Carolina, Oregon State @ Arizona, Utah @ Iowa State, LSU @ Florida, Florida State @ Miami (FL), USC @ Stanford, Tulsa @ SMU

NFL Best and Worst:

Best Wins: At least we were pretty confident that the Jets and Chargers would blow-out their opponents... We also had Carolina playing New Orleans much closer than the line. There were too many other games like that that we did not see coming though to feel great about that win... I'm not sure people are paying attention, but our totals have consistently been above 50% and making money for people on the year. Our Locks of the Week have always referred to ATS picks, so I'm never going to change that definition, but we did have the Houston/Oakland covering at a higher rate than any team ATS and that covered by 13.5 points... Of the playable picks, we had three more totals that covered by double-digits in CAR/NO UNDER by 14.5 points, IND/JAC OVER by 12.5 points and NYJ/BUF OVER by 15 points... I've mentioned it in previous blogs, the NFL Preview and in every radio interview I did before the season, the Kansas City Chiefs

Toughest Losses: It was a brutal NFL week for just about everyone but the books again. So many teams in the league found a way to play at the opposite extremes from what we had come to learn about them in their numbers, that the numbers did not pull through. Green Bay, Philadelphia, Chicago, Indianapolis, Tennessee, Atlanta, New Orleans and Pittsburgh all looked like clear top ten teams before yesterday and all struggled mightily. Washington, St. Louis, Cleveland, Carolina, San Francisco and Detroit all looked like clear bottom ten teams before the week and all played well... Michael Vick, Jay Cutler, Terrelle Pryor and Joe Flacco (though he stayed healthy) essentially ruined my weekend. I wish I had better answers, but this can happen. In-game injuries don't happen in the simulation. If they did, everyone would have a similar chance of getting hurt so it would mostly cancel out and it would give us inflated fantasy numbers for backups. When major in-game injuries happen, or when the weather changes or is drastically different than expected, there is nothing we can do about it. We just have to hope we get lucky and the backups win us games... How can the best defense to-date in football make a goal-line stand against an offense than had been horrible to-date and then allow that same offense to walk down the field against it just about two minutes later? Actually, Baltimore benefited greatly from moving backwards so that Flacco had more room to throw... Jacksonville was probably the worst team in football in Weeks 2 and 3... San Francisco's defense played better than it had all year, but Atlanta is so much better than that... What a week for survivor pool participants. Everyone (who did not pick San Diego or the Jets) still alive in a survivor pool had to sweat to the last minute as Green Bay, Atlanta, New Orleans and Indianapolis went down the wire against vastly inferior opponents. There is no analytical reason that I can make that those teams should not have dominated their competition (though at least had the Panthers covering the 13.5 point line)... Sam Bradford is getting better a lot quicker than he should. We'll catch up a little bit, but I'm not sure that's totally here to stay.

Most intriguing games of Week 4: TB @ CIN, STL @ DET, KC @ IND, DEN @ BAL, TEN @ DAL

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