Sharp or Square

Another 3-2 week from my 5 Supercontest picks last week in the NFL. Out of 122 contestants in the contest I’ve entered I’m currently tied for 16th place on 10 points. The leader has 13 points. Not bad so far. When you’ve got a site called Winners Win on Sports you better not suck!

Looking at this past week’s picks from all contestants I was surprised at how few people chose Carolina -4.5 at home to New Orleans. Out of 122 contestants only 45 made this obvious pick.

In the official LVH Supercontest; 41% of contestants chose Carolina. In the LVH you have to make you picks before 11am on Saturday, either in person or via a proxy, so someone has to physically be at the LVH in Las Vegas to make your picks and once they’re in they can’t be amended.

In the contest I’m in, only 37% chose Carolina. The picks have to be in by 12pm on Saturday, done online and you can change your picks as many times as you want before the deadline.

I’m amazed that only 37% picked Carolina. It was most obvious pick to make all season. As mentioned in the previous post you were getting the Panthers at -4.5 when they should have been -10. If you said that Carolina -10 was a fair line, and discounting the chance of a push (for which you would get a ½ point), then falling either side of that line was 50%. If instead you could get Carolina -4.5 then by my numbers that would have around a 64% chance of covering.

So why the hell would you not pick Carolina?!:

  • What’s going on? You weren’t aware that Drew Brees was ruled out. You’re not on Twitter, or you were under a rock for a week, or all your attention wasn’t on an ultimately unimportant Supercontest!
  • Better value elsewhere. You found 5 other games where you thought the line was out by 5.5 points or more! You could fill this one under the category of “Deluded”.
  • I know best. Despite the betting market being at -10, you knew better and still thought that Carolina -4.5 was a fair line. (There were actually 2 guys in my league that went with New Orleans +4.5, one of which is bottom of the league).
  • Fuck Cam Newton! You hate cheering for Cam Newton. When you see him do his “stupid” Superman celebration you have this unrelenting urge to put your foot through the TV.
  • Preciousness. You’re a fan of the Saints and for illogical reasons cannot pick against that particular group of football players.
  • Laziness. “I’ve already submitted 5 picks this week. I can’t be bothered to pick up my smart phone and do that shit all over again!”

Perhaps I’m holding everyone to a high standard. But by the time of the deadline, if you have actively not chosen Carolina -4.5 then you’re not a Sharp.

NFL Week 3

Unsurprisingly, I’ve made the extremely easy but boring choice to select the Panthers -4.5 as my first pick this week. Seriously, if anyone’s taking part in any NFL Supercontest, and is not choosing the Panthers then they’re either stupid or they just don’t know what they’re doing or they’ve forgotten to amend their picks. The line is -4.5 when most bookies haven’t had a line up until Drew Brees was ruled out of the game with an injury. Right now the Panthers are -10.

In the official LVH Supercontest the Panthers this weekend are the most picked team in Supercontest history with 713 picks out of 1727 contestants (41%). The previous record was the Cardinals in week 9 of 2014 with 685 picks out of 1403 contestants (49%). That was when the Cardinals (+3.5) won 28-17 at Dallas with Tony Romo out for Cowboys.

So only 41% of LVH contestants chose the Panthers. I was going to say there’s a lot of idiots taking part but I’ve checked the LVH rules and picks have to be before 11am on Saturday at the latest. If you’re making a pick on the Thursday night game they all have to be in before then. Plus you can only submit picks once, no amendments. Drew Brees was ruled out on Friday. So logistically if a contestant couldn’t’ delay making their picks until after Brees was ruled out then that’s fine. But if they made their picks after he was ruled out and didn’t choose the Panthers…then they’re an idiot.

There’s actually 46 people who chose the Saints this weekend, so they should be disqualified from taking further part in the competition to save them embarrassing themselves further.

I mentioned in my previous post that I’ve got money on the Colts at -3.5. I’ve chosen them with my second pick which was –3. For me this is an obvious pick to make, hopefully normality will resume with the Colts not committing 5 turnovers and beating a mediocre team.

Denver -3 at Detroit on Monday night is my 3rd pick. There’s been some injury worries about Matthew Stafford but he’s expected to play.

Oh no the elite QB  Matthew Stafford’s potentially injured?

Said no one ever.

Stafford Dan
Spot the Difference: Matthew Stafford & Desperate Dan

I’m not a fan of Stafford. Anyone could look good playing with Calvin Johnson. All you have to do is throw it in the vague, general direction of Megatron and he’ll somehow catch it. Anyway, I think the market’s still has too little faith in Peyton Manning.

Next up, the Bills +2.5 at Miami. I haven’t been impressed with Miami so far this season. The HFA in the NFL is 2.8 points. So this line is roughly saying that if Miami were to play Buffalo on a neutral field it would be 50/50. I’m not having that, Buffalo are the better team.

Final pick, which is my least favourite of the 5 is the Jets -2.5 at home to Philly. As previously mentioned in my Turnovers post. I did want to change this pick for San Diego at the Vikings but I missed the pick-change deadline. This is another game where the line suggests that Viking Chargers on a neutral field would be a pick’em. BS, the Chargers are a better team. But I’m fine with the Jets.

Other non picked games thoughts:

I would choose the Steelers over the Rams if I had to. I wouldn’t want to pick the Texans at -7 against anyone, even a bad team like Tampa. I quite like the Bears +14.5 over Seattle. I’d also choose Jacksonville +13.5 if I had to. It’s very rare that I’d choose to lay that many points.

The Ravens -2.5 Cincinnati line is fair. The Ravens haven’t looked good in 2 games while the Bengals have. But I don’t expect the Ravens to have shown their true selves yet and I would side with them.

I like Arizona -6.5 over the 49ers. The Cards, especially with Palmer back, are underrated. They’ve stuffed 2 bad teams already, now they play another bad team at home. Finally, I’d go with Kansas +7 over Green Bay. Betting market loves Green Bay at home. Value’s on KC.


I went 3-2 in week 2 in the NFL. For my Supercontest picks the Colts let me down losing at home to the Jets on Monday night. But when you lose 5 turnovers and only gain 1 it’s nearly impossible to win that game. I can’t whinge too much about that when I put actual real life money on Denver to beat the Chiefs the previous Thursday, and they were on the right side of a 5-1 turnover differential.

Turnovers are key

Bet you’ve heard that cliché plenty of times already this season? Well it’s true. I’m always harping on about it too. Check out the table below on turnovers:

TO Diff
Data from 1991 to 2010

So the table above shows that the bigger the turnover differential, you more likely you are to win. Sorry if I’ve blown your mind. I’ve mentioned 2 games this past week where the winners had 4 more turnovers in their favour. In that data there’s only 15 teams from 310 games that have won the game despite having turned the ball over 4 more times.

But that table above does not account for the context of those turnovers. If a team is losing and there’s very little time left, then they’re in desperation mode and are more likely to throw riskier passes, thus increasing the chance of an interception. Case in point was in the Ravens Raiders game. The Ravens were down by 4 points with only 26 seconds left in the game. Flacco had to throw a long pass down field which got intercepted. So the game stats show the Ravens had 1 more turnover than the Raiders, but that last turnover wasn’t the reason that they lost.

Nevertheless turnovers are very important. A game of NFL is pretty random (“Any given Sunday”). One of the reasons for the “randomness” is turnovers. Some turnovers are a product of skill, but most are due to luck. Any team can beat another team as there’s only about 12-15 possessions for each team per game, so one turnover or more is going to have an important bearing on the result. In the aforementioned Colts Jets game; there were 22 total possessions, 11 possessions for each team. So out of 11 Colts possessions they turned it over 5 times. It really is no wonder why they lost this game.

After only 2 games let’s look at the totals turnovers so far by team:

2015Week2 TO table

Top of the table are a bunch of 2-0 teams lead by the Jets while rock bottom are the Colts who currently have no luck at all (sorrynotsorry). Both the Jets and Colts have totally unsustainable turnover differentials which are the main reasons for their current records. Coming into this week I was hoping for value backing the Colts and opposing the Jets. Well the Jets are only -2.5 at home to the Eagles. So the betting market must still have a raging hard-on for that “Chip Kelly offence”. All things considered; that Jets D, but 1st choice QB out and the unsustainable TOs; the Jets are probably still underrated and I like the -2.5 on them.

But the bet of the week in my eyes is the Colts at -3/-3.5 at the Titans.

Remember before the start of the season the Colts season wins total was 10.5, the Titans was only 5.5? Well, 2 games later the line is only -3.5! The overreaction is due to Marcus Mariota having a great game against the er, mighty Buccaneers and the Colts giving up 8 TOs. Sure the Colts O line is looking terrible, but there’s no way they’re going to continue to give away turnovers at this rate. They’re still a playoff-quality team and the Titans certainly are not, even with a promising rookie QB. I’ve put some money on the Colts at -3.5.

NFL Week 2

Week 2 in the NFL could be called “Overreaction Week”. After only one round of games the media and fans have been quick to decide who’s finished, who’s the next big thing, which team is definitely going to the Superbowl and which teams are ball-achingly bad. It’s understandable; under-reactions don’t sell newspapers or get those clicks, do they?

Last post I mentioned how the main area of overreaction was to Peyton Manning’s poor game against an excellent defence. While I bet on Denver on the ML, I didn’t pick them +3 in my supercontest. I hope that won’t be a decision I regret…

Joe Flacco played worse than Manning in the low scoring game between their 2 sides last Sunday. I am siding with the Ravens -5.5 at the Raiders. Those points aren’t enough to show the disparity between the 2 teams here. The Ravens are somewhat underrated coming into this game, and Flacco should at least play closer to his mean level of performance considering the defence he’s against this week. Oakland have a injured QB in Carr who should start against one of the league toughest defences, even without Suggs. The betting market now has the Ravens at -6.5.

Another overreaction has been to the debut of Marcus Mariota. Yeah he may be the next “elite” QB but let’s remember that he played Tamp Bay. I reckon I could throw a couple TD passes against those mugs… but I do have an arm like a traction engine, honest. The Titans are at -1 at Cleveland. I’m leaving that game alone as I don’t know how good Mariota or the Titans really are yet. But if I had to pick a side it would be the Titans, simply because Johnny Manziel will start and he looks terrible.

He looks terrible, even nowhere near a football field

Following the result between the Titans and Tampa Bay there’s been a strong reaction in the opposite way for Tampa. They were expected to be around +7 at New Orleans, but after getting walloped they’re +10. This isn’t the New Orleans team of a few years ago, Superstar Jimmy Graham suits up for another team now so I’m not touching this game with a cattle prod. But if I had to, it would be TB +10.

Dallas +5.5 at Philly is my second choice this week. The market seems to love Philly and “Chip Kelly’s offense blah blah blah”. Dallas won a game against the Giants that they should have lost. But they did win a game where they lost 3 TOs and didn’t win 1 themselves. Yes Philly’s a good team but so too are Dallas and 5.5 points is too much, so give them to me thank you.

I backed Minny last week at San Fran. The 49ers had the audacity to beat them 20-3! Prior to that game some people were saying that the 49ers were the worst team in football. Plenty of money was on the under 6.5 games too. One good result and the 49ers are “only” +5.5 points at Pittsburgh?! I’m taking the Steelers at -5.5.

The Buffalo Bills had an impressive win against the Colts last Sunday. For me, one of the most important stats from that victory between 2 good teams was the 3-0 TOs to the Bills. The Bills are a good team, but not as good as the Patriots. -1 on the Patriots doesn’t seem enough. One good game and Rex Ryan goes from roundly mocked to universally praised? Have people forgot that he has a tattoo of his wife wearing a no.6 Mark Sanchez Jets jersey for Christ sakes?!

What sort of a man would do such a thing?!

Final selection is the Colts -7 at home to the Jets. They had a bad game away to a good team. The Jets beat up a team with Johnny Manziel  at QB. If this was the first game of the seeason that line would probably be -9.5. I know, it’s not the first game of the season. There’s the information of the first game that has now been taken into account…too much so I reckon.

Update:  3-2. Dallas won at Philly. The Patriots and Steelers covered in their wins. But Baltimore lost at Oakland, and the Colts lost to the Jets.

Easy Money

Week one of the NFL is in the books. I got off to a good start in my Supercontest going 4-1, with the Vikings letting me down at San Francisco. Nice start, but I’m sure some nightmare weeks will come.

I sided with 5 favourites this week all between -3.5 and -2.5, it was generally a good week all round for the favourites, going 8-5 ATS on Sunday. As a result there’s been plenty of stories about how Vegas had a terrible weekend on the NFL. Favourites winning is usually bad for bookies. Their worst hits coming with Green Bay and Miami winning ATS.

A story about Vegas losing money?

Boo. Hoo.

Don’t shed too many tears, they’ll be millions in profit soon enough. These stories are great PR for bookies though. With the implication being that gambling is a get rich-quick scheme that everyone should be taking part in. Quite often you’ll read an article about some bloke who won thousands on a parlay/accumulator, which attracts more people to join the masses who fill out these out every weekend and never win anything.

Generally speaking, gambling stories are about people winning money. The bookies don’t want to promote stories about losers. In the media I think you’re far more likely to hear when bookies have a bad event than a good one. This is definitely the case in real life interactions with people. Whenever your friends/work colleagues/random guy at the bar start talking about gambling, it’s always about how much money they’ve won.

“Hey, I made $ betting on the football this weekend” (I’m a winner!)

You’ll never hear this:

“I lost $ on the football this weekend” (what a loser I am!)

It’s understandable. If you’ve lost money, you’ve not going to want to talk about it. Spend a game day on Twitter and you’d think everyone makes money!

Quick tip: I like Denver at Kansas City on Thursday night. ML around 2.45 (+145 US) or +3 on the spread. Sure Manning has had 17 neck surgeries, has no feelings in his finger tips and played poorly against Baltimore (who have a great defence)… but he’s still a good QB and there’ll be some reversion towards to mean, hopefully immediately. Kansas City beat a poor team in Houston. They got a great defence too but an average QB at best in Alex Smith. It’ll be a low scoring game but I think the value’s on the Broncos.

Update: Peyton Manning played better and Denver beat Kansas City 31-24.