Weekend Football Review (10/24/11)

By Paul Bessire

Monday, October 24 at 6:45 PM ET
It is very important to us to be transparent and honest about our picks. I always try to recap each football weekend. At this point, through Sunday, Paul's Picks, which include the top three ATS plays Saturday and Sunday as well as the top weekday college against-the-spread (ATS) plays and the Monday Night play, are 33-24-2 ATS (58%) to start the season. The ATS Top Plays of the Day, the strongest opinion ATS each day overall in football are 21-14 ATS (60%) and the "Locks of the Week" are 8-6 ATS (57%). Including last season, this brings our all-time record during football to 130-89 ATS (59%) for Paul's Picks, 94-50 ATS (65%) in ATS Top Plays of the Day and 36-18 ATS (67%) for Locks of the week.

As a reminder, at midnight ET each day, we make all of our previous day's subscriber content available for free 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 Football Numbers:
Below are our win/loss stats from Week 8 in College Football and NFL Week 7 using playable picks (53%+ to cover) from our published articles:

  • All Playable Games ATS: 38% (16-26)
  • All Playable Games O/U: 44% (19-24)
  • Paul's Picks ATS: 33% (2-4-1)
  • Lock of the Week: 50% (1-1)
  • ATS Top Plays of the Day: 50% (2-2)

And here are the combined numbers for the season thus far:

  • All Playable Games ATS: 50% (163-162)
  • All Playable Games O/U: 51% (155-149)
  • Paul's Picks ATS: 58% (33-24)
  • Lock of the Week: 57% (8-6)
  • ATS Top Plays of the Day: 60% (21-14)

NFL Performance:
With an overwhelmingly greater number of games in college as opposed to the NFL - and with the strong performance of the NFL to-date - here are NFL-specific ATS numbers:

  • All Playable Games ATS: 64% (55-31)
  • Paul's Picks ATS: 78% (21-6)
  • Lock of the Week: 57% (4-3)
  • ATS Top Plays of the Day: 79% (11-3... helped by a 6-0 ATS start to Monday Night Football)

On Wednesday evening, around the same time as this week's picks are published, we will be unveiling the new TrendFinder tool. As noted above, it is very important for us to be as transparent about our performance as possible. The TrendFinder takes this to the next level, exposing all of our performance numbers in just about any situation. In addition to the importance we put on transparency in being trustworthy and maintaining integrity, there are other reasons why it makes sense to open up a tool like this to anyone who comes to the site. I feel as though we do a good job of consistently promoting areas of performance that draw great interest (namely NFL ATS picks), while still acknowledging areas of weakness (NBA picks and college football ATS this season). The power will now also be in the hands of our customers/visitors to both learn about types of plays that may be stronger than others and help us uncover areas of strength and/or weakness that may legitimately warrant further review (and if so, please contact us with your findings).

For instance, did you know that, while it has essentially been the opposite for ATS (at least in the last five weeks), in every college football week so far this year, "normal" or better Over/Under picks have finished .500 or better (and are 39-27 on the season)? Or that we are 6-0 ATS in Jacksonville Jaguar games, yet just 2-4 O/U in those contests? We want anyone who makes the decision to subscribe to our picks to understand what history says about our pick performance, no matter how good or bad that information may look. Past performance does not always set perfect expectations for future performance and we will always do the best we can to ensure that the confidence we publish is equivalent to our confidence in the pick, but there will always likely be some situations for which we are more successful at gaining value and exploiting lines and vice versa. There is no reason (other than the complexity of, priority given to relative to other critical applications and resources utilized in building) for us not to allow everyone to see this information. Unfortunately, we do and will not have this information for picks before this season (trust me, I wish we could as, save for in the NBA, those numbers are strong). We are launching with 2011 football data and will add sports as we add those products going forward.

The TrendFinder launch will include a tutorial video as well. If you have any questions or concerns, please view that first. After doing so, if help is still needed or if you have any suggestions/feedback, we would love to hear from you about how to make this the best possible product for the user.

Play Analyzer
Aside from my weekly reminder message to please use the Play Analyzer to get the most accurate pick information at that time, we actually have news about an improvement to the application. Launching this week at the same time as the TrendFinder, we will be adding action arrows to note when line movement (by selecting "Consensus" lines and/or manually modifying) is moving in our favor or against our pick. A green arrow point up will note when a line moves away from the pick, adding value to the play. Similarly, a red arrow pointing down will note when a line moves in the direction of the pick, reducing value for the play. During testing last week, I used this feature extensively to help me pull the trigger earlier on plays where our value was being reduced, while remaining patient and waiting for additional value on plays that were trending in our favor. For instance, with tonight's Monday Night Football game that originally saw Baltimore favored by 7.5 points, it was very easy to tell in the Play Analyzer, that that pick was losing value throughout the week, warranting early action. Baltimore is now a ten point favorite and has become a "no pick" (fortunately, there is still value in the total).

College Basketball
The college basketball season starts on Monday, November 7 (two weeks from today). As some of you have seen from tweets and our initial, preseason College Basketball Power and Team Rankings, I/we have been hard at work preparing the 346 DI teams for the onset of regular season play. As this is our first season projecting college basketball games for an entire season (in 2009-10, we only projected NCAA Tournament games and in 2010-11, we launched basketball picks after the Super Bowl), we will be offering an extended FREE trial for all users who visit the site from November 7 - November 27. College basketball packages will be available for the rest of the entire season, including any games from 11/28/11 through the conference tournaments. The trial will include FREE access to college basketball information via the Predictalator Picks, Customizable Predictalator, Play Analyzer and TrendFinder for every game (with a rotation number) for three weeks. Please note that this is unchartered territory for us and that, while we have worked very hard to address the rosters for all 346 teams, pick performance may not be as strong early in the season as later when we build stronger representations of teams and players (of course, as seen with college football each season thus far, we may be further ahead of the public/linesmakers in our analysis of these teams and succeed early - we just do not have any past evidence about what to expect in November-January college basketball games).

Football Performance
No Best Wins/Toughest Losses today because a) I've rambled long enough other topics already and b) you can see the numbers above; I can't figure out a way to break the games down from the weekend without it coming off like "we got really lucky with Tim Tebow and really unlucky in EVERY college game." (Clearly, that's not exactly how I feel, but we don't want to give the impression that we think this is was a successful college weekend - can't imagine anyone is playing just our totals and, even then, blindly picking the "over" for every college game was about as successful. Similarly, though it can be cathartic to discuss, we do not want the analysis of each loss to sound like an excuse.)

As the son of two educators (and a brother to two more), I/we started this site as a way to combine passions (sports, finance, communication), skills (simulation technology, math, experience in this field) and interests (education, helping others, winning) to aid people in making smart decisions related to fantasy sports and sports gaming. I think we are doing the right thing and, just as importantly, I am very happy with how we are going about it as an honest business that listens to our customers and genuinely wants them to succeed. Reaching levels where our pick performance reflects our confidence (or betters it) is the most important thing to us and for us to get right. Fortunately, for the most part, this has been the case since we launched. Unfortunately, we have hit a prolonged bump in the road with college football ATS picks over the last five weeks. No one puts more pressure on me than me and no one wants to win/hates to lose more than me. There are some things that we may be able to adjust and some things that should eventually even out (like why couldn't Cameron Chism play for Wake Forest? ...eerie how similar those plays are and so much for Duke being smart, the Blue Devils should have let Wake score there). We expect things to smooth out and for our confidence to more accurately translate into performance in college football. Trust that we will do everything we can to get it back to that level, the levels we experienced in 2010 and ultimately with each sport (besides the NBA) over many seasons. Believing/knowing that we will bounce back in college (while still staying strong in the NFL, college basketball, etc.) and providing tools like the updated Play Analyzer and new TrendFinder, as well as the Play Value and Parlay Calculators, makes me trust that we are making the most of the feedback we receive and providing our readers/subscribers with the best possible resources to maximize value and make the right money-management decisions.

I do want to make one quick note about probability and reiterate a note that I included in a blog a few weeks ago. On probability, if we have a sample of 100 picks and we have exactly 60% confidence that each will win, our belief/assumption/hope is that we will win 60. However, if 40 of those picks have already completed, whether we have won them all, lost them all or something in between, our belief/assumption/hope is that we will win 36. In other words, if we have won all 40 of those picks, I do not expect us to finish with a 20-40 record in our last 60 picks. And, if we have lost all 40 of those picks, I do not expect us to hit all 60 of the remaining picks. What has happened in the past for similar picks does not directly make us more or less likely to win those picks. While the confidence may be the same, the picks are completely independent of each other (for example, if one game is Wake @ Duke and another game is Fresno State @ Nevada, for instance, Derek Carr does not refrain from throwing a TD with 1:06 left to go in the game because he knows that we lost with Wake @ Duke).

And a note from a previous blog... As many previous seasons of data and personal performance supports this technology is not going to continue being this rough in college football, nor will it likely sustain 64%+ picking every NFL game against-the-spread. Over seven seasons predicting the NFL ATS, four previous seasons predicting college football ATS, four NCAA Tournaments, two MLB Playoffs, two NBA playoffs, one college basketball regular season, one NBA regular season and one MLB regular season (all documented professionally), our only events that have not turned a profit have been in the NBA (every season and postseason in all other sports has been successful/profitable). Last year, through two weeks, our NFL accuracy picking every game ATS was below 40%. We ended up at 56.9% ATS for the year (through the playoffs - and not including Week 17). In college, in the first two weeks, we were hitting 65% picking every game ATS and ended the season accurately picking 54.6% of all games correctly ATS. Do we expect to be a little better in the NFL than college? Yes, our confidence and performance suggests this is accurate. It also makes sense given the massive public response to the NFL that is exploitable. Do we expect to do worse going forward than our confidence suggests in the NFL because we have performed so well thus far and things need to "even out?" No. Similarly, do we expect to do better than our confidence suggests in college because of the last three weeks of poor performance? No. Our confidence is our confidence and we fully expect that will be reflected in our performance numbers. Great and terrible weeks will happen and they may even happen in bunches, but, unless there are obvious reasons for them (which I would not contend there are in either sport right now - but we will delve into a couple possible areas for improvement), when it is all said and done, performance should match expectations.

The Baseball Numbers:
The MLB Playoffs have been doing well. Over/under picks are out-performing money-line and run-line plays, but performance across the board has been better with stronger picks. As seen previously with other postseason tournaments (outside of the NBA as noted above), there is something to be said for clear motivation, a full season of data and trustworthy lineup and pitching staff information. Below are win/loss stats from MLB Playoff picks using the published Play Value Calculator recommendations for a $50 bettor.

  • All Playable Games: +$535 (41-28, 59%)
  • Normal+ Plays: +$470 (11-2, 85%)
  • "Half-Bet" Plays (when PVC recommendation is greater than $25): +$571 (25-16, 61%)

And lastly, with baseball, on the World Series, at 2-2, the Texas Rangers are currently 56.2% likely to win the World Series. If Texas wins tonight (assuming no major lineup, rotation or bullpen changes), the Rangers will be 75.2% likely to win it all. If St. Louis wins tonight, the Cardinals will be 77.2% likely to win the World Series.

For those who may have missed out on purchasing the MLB Playoff Package, the World Series Package still available in the Shop.

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.