As friends and readers know, I’ve been making picks historically based primarily on a few pieces of data. First, there are the purely objective systems like the Sagarin ratings and the Massey Ratings, which work mostly off of pure points scored, points allowed data, along with strong opponent adjustments. Then there are the Football Outsiders (FO) ratings, which work largely off drive data, scoring teams based off in large part off their success rates on things like 3rd and 7. I also look at Brian Burke’s data over at Advanced NFL Stats (ANFLS), which is mostly yards per play based. Finally, I apply a personal fudge factor based on matchups, injuries, and estimates of home field, and you get my picks.
This week I’m also going to debut another element, purely proprietary, based mostly off a similar principle as the PECOTA ratings over at Baseball Prospectus, and look to similarity scores. Without going into too many details, this system, DEGEN, looks at how historically similar games have played out. This system for instance, called last night’s Ravens game for both the Browns and the Under, while most of the other data I was working off of liked the Ravens. Without further ado, here are the Week 4 picks:
1. New England Patriots -4 @ Buffalo Bills:
Sagarin likes the Patriots, while Massey and the rest of the public systems like the Bills. DEGEN says take New England.
I’m going to ride DEGEN and Sagarin here. The Patriots have lost two games by a combined three points now, and are probably looking to make a statement here. The data is largely split about this game, so while that probably means no bet overall, if forced to pick, I’ll go with the team with a chip on their shoulder. Degen picks: Patriots and the over 50.5.
2. Vikings + 4.5 @ Lions
This might be the best bet of the week. Every piece of public data says go with the Vikings here. Many systems like the Vikings to win, every system likes them to cover. Just from having watched these two teams, that sounds about right. The Lions look pretty mediocre, and so do the Vikings, but this spread reflects a reality where the Lions are the better team. I’m not sure that’s the reality we live in, so take the Vikes. DEGEN picks: Vikings and the under 47.5
3. Panthers + 7 @ Falcons
Everybody but ANFLS stats likes the Falcons here. The numbers over at Advanced NFL Stats meanwhile are fond of the Panthers on a per play average, and say you should go with Cam Newton. I like the counterintuitive opinion, but ultimately, that’s a little too much for me, especially since I don’t even need to give up the hook on this line. I like the Falcons to cover fairly easily over a Panthers team moving the wrong direction. DEGEN Picks: Falcons and the Under 48.5.
4. 49ers -4.5 @ Jets
Sagarin and Massey both like the Jets. The other two systems are a bit more mixed on this game. The big question if what is the impact of no Revis for the Jets. How much does he even matter against a QB like Alex Smith? My instinct is that he’s their best player, and thus even against a team that rarely passes, there might be catastrophic effects with him off the field. Accordingly, I think I like San Francisco in spite of the data. DEGEN takes: Jets and Over 41.5.
5. Chargers -1 @ Chiefs
This line actually opened with the Chiefs as a one or a two point favorite. It has rightly switched around, and probably still not gone far enough. A win against the Saints aside, the Chiefs have looked as bad as any team in football. All the computer systems say take Phil Rivers, and so that’s the pick. DEGEN takes: Chargers and the over 44.
6. Titans + 12 @ Texans
All the computers like the Texans here. I’m not particularly in love with that pick honestly, given I think the Titans can kind of play a bit. Jake Locker has shown signs of competence, and the Titans defensive line can get push from time to time. This line tells me the Titans are as bad as any team in football, which is just not something I believe. I’m going to buck the numbers, and take the points. DEGEN takes: Titans and the over 44.5
7. Seahawks – 3 @ Rams
Pistol Pete showed the NFL something about doing it with Hail Marys, so you gotta give that to him. All the computers say the Seahawks are actually a quality team, and who am I to argue. I think the Rams are in that zone of “can’t possibly be good”, so I like the road favorite here, which is never a good sign. DEGEN says: Rams and the under 39.
8. Dolphins + 5.5 @ Arizona
Everybody but Football Outsiders likes Arizona here. Who am I to argue with the trend of taking all the favorites (uh, this doesn’t seem like a good sign). I think the Cardinals might have a truly elite defense, which might be enough to overcome even an incompetent offense. Ultimately, I’m just going off the numbers here, but I say take the Cardinals. DEGEN picks: Dolphins and the over 39.
9. Raiders + 7 @ Broncos
All the computer say Peyton still has it. Now, all of that has been garbage yards towards the end of these games, and I don’t really believe the Broncos are all that good. That said, without the hook here, I think I need to trust the computers and take the home team. DEGEN picks: Broncos and the under 48.5.
10. Bengals -2.5 @ Jaguars.
The first home dog on the board I’m taking, which is never a good sign. All the computers like the Jags, or more specifically don’t like the Bengals. I think the Jaguars might be kind of decent on the defensive side of the ball, so this pick passes the smell test for me. DEGEN says: Jaguars and the over 43.5
11. Saints + 9 @ Packers
The computers are pretty much split here, but if anything, that means you should go with the Packers, since the computers don’t know that the Saints don’t have a coach. I’ve honestly got no sense here, so I’m just going with the DEGEN pick. DEGEN says: Packers and the Under 53.
12. Redskins +1.5 @ Bucs
No particularly strong opinions here, but the Redskins don’t seem to be able to get a stop on defense since losing Orakpo and Carriker. Accordingly, take the Bucs, who have intermittently looked okay, and not okay. All the computers slightly like the Bucs here. DEGEN says Redskins and the over 47.5.
13. Giants + 2.5 @ Eagles
I would take the Giants here regardless of what the numbers said, and I am actually faced with that decision a bit. Massey and Sagarin both like the Giants, while ANFLS prefers the Eagles. I think the Eagles kind of stink, and have just yet to be exposed. This is the game that might end the Vickadelphia experience. DEGEN says Giants and the over 47.5.
I’ll do a breakdown of the Monday night game separately, in order to better incorporate how stuck we are, and how badly we need the Boys to win. Generally, you should count on betting the Bears if these picks went well, and the Boys if they didn’t though. G’luck.