Last Year Recap and This Year's Improvements

What can I do for you? It's the question many business ask their clients for customer retention. Most companies don't know the answer but for this blog the answer is easy. Accurate NFL spread predictions! Yet last year was one of the most horrendous years in my 8 year career doing this. It all started as a research project and now is a part-time job, a hobby, an obsession.

The Bad
Lets analyze last year's results and discuss what we'll be doing to improve accuracy and deliver great free picks to all of you. We ended with a miserable 46% ATS, week 14 went 0-4 and there were only two weeks with perfect 3-0 picks. Although we never bet the bottom 3 teams in terms of ATS Standings, we did losing bets on San Francisco, Atlanta, and Tampa Bay. Imagine if we would've bet on Minnesota and Cincinnati every week?!

The Good
From week 15 to the Super Bowl we went 14 of 21 for 67% ATS! That's a huge improvement and I did one major thing we've never done before that we'll continue doing this year. I started including an NFLpickles expert average into our models. That is, we took the top 15 handicappers from a site, scraped their average spread, included in our models to adjust our predictions. What this does is reassure a prediction of our that's accurate (something distant from the spread) and remove games that may seem good but after the prediction adjustments they do seem too close to the spread. Other things we'll do to improve:
  • Change the algorithms to treat outliers differently
  • Pick a pony (team) early on and bet on them more often
  • Integrate experts average spread into scoring models
I always want to give you more stats on historical information. Things like average passing yards difference for spread winners or  defensive stats. Stats that you can use to benchmark specific games. I need to spend time developing this and provide an easy interface. I'm trying to do something different than what you see on most sites which usually analyze a team's last 10 games.

The Ugly
This year, as we used to do, will not post official picks until week 5. I will run the data and give you results but I suggest waiting to week 5. Good luck! 

2015 NFL Point Spread Picks - Super Bowl 50

Pick: Denver +6 correct NFL point spread pick

I don't have any intuitively sane way to talk about this pick. Without looking at any predictions or statistical model results, I don't see how Carolina is not going to roll past the Broncos. A simple qualitative analysis would say: both defenses are not that different, the offenses are extremely different, therefore Carolina wins by a lot. Yet the spread is at 6 and it doesn't seem to move much more. But the numbers are the numbers and betting emotional picks have bit me in the ass way many times before. So close your eyes, bet Denver and prey that Peyton Manning does one final push to prove he's a hall of famer. Oh and wait til Sunday, the spread is not going lower, if anything it might creep up to a touchdown.

The bet will be 30% of bankroll which is about $1,500 for the game. Good luck!

GameVegas LineEstimatePrediction-VegasConfidence
DENVER - CAROLINA -6 -4.1 1.9 55.0%

How to read the table:
  • Vegas Line: A NEGATIVE number implies the point spread favors the HOME team
  • Estimate: NFL Pickles' point spread prediction
  • Pred-Vegas: Subtraction: POSITIVE implies VISITING team will cover point spread.
  • Confidence: The probability that the point spread pick is on the correct side.

2015 NFL Point Spreads - Conference Champioship Playoffs

Pick 1: New England -3 incorrect NFL point spread pick
Pick 2: Arizona +3 incorrect NFL point spread pick

This was probably the most exciting set of playoffs games in a week! Aaron Rodgers stole another perfect week for us. I just couldn't believe that Arizona won by 6 and not by 7 (and force the push). That's what makes this so interesting. I guess we got paid back with the last minute useless field goal by the Steelers. The Carolina/Seattle game got really interesting and nerve wrecking in the second half but ended on the right side.

This NFL Divisional playoff week is so obvious that it makes me nervous. Who in their minds would bet Denver and Peyton "noodle arm" Manning against the reigning champions? I almost don't care what the numbers say, but I'm glad that my models are picking the Patriots. The public is definitely seeing this bias by far as more than 70% of the money is going to the Patriots.

As for the Arizona game, I'm very surprised sixty something percent of the public is picking Carolina. Maybe because they haven't lost at home this year? Or because they were up 31-0 against a weak Seattle team? Seattle shouldn't have even been there if it wasn't for the Vikings kicker. I'm not convinced on Carolina. They've had close games with weak teams. Arizona is solid and I'm glad my statistical models are picking the Cardinals.

We continue betting to 35% of bankroll split evenly across the 2 picks to give us a bet of $1,300 per game. Slide in a parlay if I were you...

GameVegas LineEstimatePrediction-VegasConfidence
NEW ENGLAND @ DENVER 3 6.9 3.9 60.2%
ARIZONA @ CAROLINA -3 2.9 5.9 58.3%

How to read the table:
  • Vegas Line: A NEGATIVE number implies the point spread favors the HOME team
  • Estimate: NFL Pickles' point spread prediction
  • Pred-Vegas: Subtraction: POSITIVE implies VISITING team will cover point spread.
  • Confidence: The probability that the point spread pick is on the correct side.

2015 NFL Point Spread Picks - Divisional Playoffs

Pick 1: Carolina -2.5 correct NFL point spread pick
Pick 2: Arizona -7 incorrect NFL point spread pick
Pick 3: Pittsburgh +7.5 correct NFL point spread pick

What an exciting first week of playoffs! The games were exhilarating to watch, except for the Houston/KC one. Of course it helps to go 3-0 to say how exciting the games were.

This week it's totally different. The biggest difference is having all home favorites vs last week only Washington was favorite. My picks also was favoring visiting teams but not this week. Pittsburgh is all beat up and Denver is starting Peyton, that should be a no pick. But 1) the model is picking PIT, 2) Ben and Antonio will probably play,a nd 3) Peyton sucks (and he can't take his drugs anymore). Arizona as a 7 point favorite seems high and most bets are on Green Bay, but beating Washington shouldn't suddenly make the Packers a Super Bowl team. Seattle looked terrible at Minnesota and it may have been the weather, but Carolina's winning consistency makes me more comfortable about this pick. Finally, I can't bet against the Patriots as 5 point favorites on the divisional round of the playoffs so that's my no bet of the week.

We continue betting to 35% of bankroll split evenly across the 3 picks to give us a bet of $765 per game.

GameVegas LineEstimatePrediction-VegasConfidence
SEATTLE @ CAROLINA -2.5 -5.2 -2.7 59.6%
PITTSBURGH @ DENVER -7.5 1 8.5 59.1%
GREEN BAY @ ARIZONA -7 -9.3 -2.3 58.1%
KANSAS CITY @ NEW ENGLAND -5 -6.5 -1.5 51.0%

How to read the table:
  • Vegas Line: A NEGATIVE number implies the point spread favors the HOME team
  • Estimate: NFL Pickles' point spread prediction
  • Pred-Vegas: Subtraction: POSITIVE implies VISITING team will cover point spread.
  • Confidence: The probability that the point spread pick is on the correct side.

2015 NFL Point Spread Picks - Wild Card Playoffs

Pick 1: Green Bay 0 correct NFL point spread pick
Pick 2: Minnesota +5.5 correct NFL point spread pick
Pick 3: Kansas City -3.5 correct NFL point spread pick

The playoffs are here! I'm excited to see great games and my teams win. This week the model is picking Packers, Vikings and Chiefs. Green Bay makes intuitive sense because who would've known that Washington would have made the playoffs. Green Bay has the playoffs experience and their receivers will finally get open. Minnesota is a dangerous pick because the Super Bowl losers are coming back strong. The numbers are the numbers and Seattle hasn't shown consistency while this young Minnesota team is eager for a win. Houston's D is strong, but KC is a much stronger team and should have no issues here (but I will buy the half point just in case). The only no bet this week is Pittsburgh. The numbers show Cinci, but without Dalton they are misleading so we sit out.

We will increase the betting to 35% of bankroll split evenly across the 3 picks to give us a bet of $580 per game.

GameVegas LineEstimatePrediction-VegasConfidence
GREEN BAY @ WASHINGTON 0 3.0 3 61.0%
SEATTLE @ MINNESOTA 5.5 -3.5 -9.0 59.1%
KANSAS CITY @ HOUSTON 3.5 6.0 2.5 56.1%
PITTSBURGH @ CINCINNATI 3 -7.1 -10.1 42.1%

How to read the table:
  • Vegas Line: A NEGATIVE number implies the point spread favors the HOME team
  • Estimate: NFL Pickles' point spread prediction
  • Pred-Vegas: Subtraction: POSITIVE implies VISITING team will cover point spread.
  • Confidence: The probability that the point spread pick is on the correct side.

2015 NFL Point Spread Picks - Week 17

Pick 1: Houston -6.5 correct NFL point spread pick
Pick 2: Minnesota +3 correct NFL point spread pick
Pick 3: Kansas City -7 incorrect NFL point spread pick
Pick 4: Seattle +7 correct NFL point spread pick

Betting on week 17 is a dangerous endeavor. This year things are quite different so we'll change things for this week. We're betting! We'll try to be as smart as we can and also lower the percentage of bankroll.

This week we have Houston coming back with Hoyer to try to look good (if they can) before the playoffs. Green Bay is looking ever so terrible, the Vikings coach assured that the starters will play and Peterson will run for the rushing crown. That bet will go at the last minute, the spread might move half a point. The Chiefs will murder their divison rivals at home. Finally, Seattle will prove they will be a tough team to beat in the playoffs and although Arizona is playing amazingly, the Seahawks have more to prove on this game. I also like the Redskins, but they are likely to sit the starters. Other games with large margins are off the table most likely because there isn't much for them to play for.

We will lower the betting to 20% of bankroll split evenly across the 4 picks to give us a bet of $250 per game.

GameVegas LineEstimatePrediction-VegasConfidence
JACKSONVILLE @ HOUSTON -6.5 -12.3 -5.8 62.0%
MINNESOTA @ GREEN BAY -3 3.0 6.0 57.7%
OAKLAND @ KANSAS CITY -7 -8.9 -1.9 57.2%
SEATTLE @ ARIZONA -7 -3.8 3.2 56.4%
WASHINGTON @ DALLAS -3 4.3 7.3 55.9%
TAMPA BAY @ CAROLINA -10.5 -13.3 -2.8 54.9%
NY JETS @ BUFFALO 3 1.6 -1.4 54.8%
BALTIMORE @ CINCINNATI -7.5 -14.1 -6.6 50.0%
ST LOUIS @ SAN FRANCISCO 4 9.3 5.3 50.0%
NEW ENGLAND @ MIAMI 10 11.0 1.0 50.0%
DETROIT @ CHICAGO -1 0.4 1.4 50.0%
NEW ORLEANS @ ATLANTA -4 -0.9 3.1 50.0%
SAN DIEGO @ DENVER -9 -9.8 -0.8 50.0%
PHILADELPHIA @ NY GIANTS -3 -1.5 1.5 49.9%
PITTSBURGH @ CLEVELAND 10 6.8 -3.2 NA
TENNESSEE @ INDIANAPOLIS NA -8.8 NA NA

How to read the table:
  • Vegas Line: A NEGATIVE number implies the point spread favors the HOME team
  • Estimate: NFL Pickles' point spread prediction
  • Pred-Vegas: Subtraction: POSITIVE implies VISITING team will cover point spread.
  • Confidence: The probability that the point spread pick is on the correct side.

2015 NFL Point Spread Picks - Week 16

Pick 1: San Francisco +10 incorrect NFL point spread pick
Pick 2: Carolina -7 incorrect NFL point spread pick
Pick 3: Kansas City -10.5 incorrect NFL point spread pick
Pick 4: Arizona -4.5 correct NFL point spread pick
Pick 5: Cincinnati +3.5 correct NFL point spread pick

Finally! But looks like everyone cashed in last week. Apparently casinos took a bad hit on week 15, making all of us winners. So at least, I got some easy action. On to this week... SF under-valued, Carolina to continue its streak, KC to blow Cleveland away, Arizona at home and Denver to continue struggling.

We will continue betting close to 27% of bankroll split evenly across the 5 picks to give us a bet of $300 per game.

GameVegas LineEstimatePrediction-VegasConfidence
SAN FRANCISCO @ DETROIT -10 -6.4 3.6 59.1%
CAROLINA @ ATLANTA 7 10.2 3.2 59.0%
CLEVELAND @ KANSAS CITY -10.5 -15.5 -5.0 58.9%
GREEN BAY @ ARIZONA -4.5 -6.7 -2.2 57.7%
CINCINNATI @ DENVER -3.5 5.8 9.3 57.1%
NEW ENGLAND @ NY JETS 3 6.2 3.2 53.5%
JACKSONVILLE @ NEW ORLEANS -3.5 -6.5 -3.0 52.7%
ST LOUIS @ SEATTLE -13.5 -6.3 7.2 52.2%
DALLAS @ BUFFALO -6 -6.4 -0.4 50.0%
INDIANAPOLIS @ MIAMI -2.5 10.0 12.5 50.0%
PITTSBURGH @ BALTIMORE 10 6.0 -4.0 50.0%
CHICAGO @ TAMPA BAY -3 -0.4 2.6 44.3%
WASHINGTON @ PHILADELPHIA -3 -1.1 1.9 44.3%
NY GIANTS @ MINNESOTA -5.5 -8.9 -3.4 40.0%
SAN DIEGO @ OAKLAND -6 -1.4 4.6 38.5%
HOUSTON @ TENNESSEE -4.5 10.0 14.5 35.0%

How to read the table:
  • Vegas Line: A NEGATIVE number implies the point spread favors the HOME team
  • Estimate: NFL Pickles' point spread prediction
  • Pred-Vegas: Subtraction: POSITIVE implies VISITING team will cover point spread.
  • Confidence: The probability that the point spread pick is on the correct side.

2015 NFL Point Spread Picks - Week 15

Pick 1: St. Louis -2 correct NFL point spread pick
Pick 2: Arizona -3 correct NFL point spread pick
Pick 3: Green Bay -3 correct NFL point spread pick

Ok the boat hopefully has hit bottom. You're definitely now better off doing the opposite. I of course need to keep believing and continue posting my picks. We'll continue running the models and making picks until the end of the season. Hopefully we have a good run during the playoffs were we place a higher percent of whatever is left of the bankroll at that point.

We will continue betting 27% of bankroll split evenly across the 3 picks to give us a bet of $400 per game.

GameVegas LineEstimatePrediction-VegasConfidence
TAMPA BAY @ ST LOUIS -2 -4.6 -2.6 63.6%
ARIZONA @ PHILADELPHIA 3 6.0 3.0 58.1%
GREEN BAY @ OAKLAND 3 7.2 4.2 57.0%
DETROIT @ NEW ORLEANS -3 -3.6 -0.6 56.0%
HOUSTON @ INDIANAPOLIS 3 1.2 -1.8 54.8%
MIAMI @ SAN DIEGO -1.5 -6.0 -4.5 52.3%
NY JETS @ DALLAS 3 6.6 3.6 50.0%
CAROLINA @ NY GIANTS 5 8.9 3.9 50.0%
KANSAS CITY @ BALTIMORE 7.5 6.9 -0.6 50.0%
TENNESSEE @ NEW ENGLAND -14 -19.2 -5.2 50.0%
BUFFALO @ WASHINGTON 0 3.8 3.8 50.0%
DENVER @ PITTSBURGH -6 5.4 11.4 49.1%
ATLANTA @ JACKSONVILLE -3 1.2 4.2 48.9%
CLEVELAND @ SEATTLE -14.5 -15.0 -0.5 47.4%
CHICAGO @ MINNESOTA -5.5 -10.6 -5.1 47.3%
CINCINNATI @ SAN FRANCISCO 4.5 17.3 12.8 NA

How to read the table:
  • Vegas Line: A NEGATIVE number implies the point spread favors the HOME team
  • Estimate: NFL Pickles' point spread prediction
  • Pred-Vegas: Subtraction: POSITIVE implies VISITING team will cover point spread.
  • Confidence: The probability that the point spread pick is on the correct side.

2015 NFL Point Spread Picks - Week 14

Pick 1: Indianapolis +1 incorrect NFL point spread pick
Pick 2: Denver -7 incorrect NFL point spread pick
Pick 3: San Francisco +1.5 incorrect NFL point spread pick
Pick 4: Cincinnati -3 incorrect NFL point spread pick

The ship keeps on sinking and there seems to be no turning back. This week we scale it back to three hopefully solid picks. We are buying the half points on both the Denver and Carolina game if we need to. Will probably wait until right before kickoff to see if we can get it without having to buy the points. I'm actually glad all of you keep putting your picks on the comments, it helps with some last minute personal placements.

We will raise betting to 25% of bankroll split evenly across the 3 picks to give us a bet of $500 per game. But again, the failure of this year's analysis of NFL point spread would lead you to think you may put a bet on the opposite. I won't but I'm just saying.

GameVegas LineEstimatePrediction-VegasConfidence
INDIANAPOLIS @ JACKSONVILLE -1 5.2 6.2 61.4%
OAKLAND @ DENVER -7.5 -10.0 -2.5 58.2%
SAN FRANCISCO @ CLEVELAND -1.5 2.8 4.3 57.8%
PITTSBURGH @ CINCINNATI -3 -11.3 -8.3 57.5%
ATLANTA @ CAROLINA -9 -13.1 -4.1 55.0%
SAN DIEGO @ KANSAS CITY -10 -11.6 -1.6 54.0%
DALLAS @ GREEN BAY -7.5 -8.4 -0.9 53.9%
TENNESSEE @ NY JETS -7 -9.5 -2.5 53.2%
MINNESOTA @ ARIZONA -9 -5.7 3.3 52.1%
WASHINGTON @ CHICAGO -3.5 -3.0 0.5 50.0%
NEW ORLEANS @ TAMPA BAY -3.5 1.0 4.5 50.0%
NEW ENGLAND @ HOUSTON 3.5 3.0 -0.5 50.0%
NY GIANTS @ MIAMI 1.5 1.5 0.0 50.0%
BUFFALO @ PHILADELPHIA 1 0.6 -0.4 50.0%
SEATTLE @ BALTIMORE 9 7.1 -1.9 48.5%
DETROIT @ ST LOUIS 1 -0.3 -1.3 48.7%

How to read the table:
  • Vegas Line: A NEGATIVE number implies the point spread favors the HOME team
  • Estimate: NFL Pickles' point spread prediction
  • Pred-Vegas: Subtraction: POSITIVE implies VISITING team will cover point spread.
  • Confidence: The probability that the point spread pick is on the correct side.

2015 NFL Point Spread Picks - Week 13

Pick 1: Carolina-7 incorrect NFL point spread pick
Pick 2: Chicago -7 incorrect NFL point spread pick
Pick 3: Houston +3 incorrect NFL point spread pick
Pick 4: Baltimore +4 correct NFL point spread pick

How low can you go? I can't believe Arizona and Buffalo didn't cover. As soon as the Giants game started I was skeptical. Everything is easy in retrospect. My confidence is on the floor right now. All of you new visitors, you are better off betting the opposite of what I say. I'm really hoping for a good streak here, even if it's just two winning weeks, that's not too much to ask is it? Ok c'mon, if the Bears and Texans can turn it around so could I :)

We will continue betting 20% of bankroll split evenly across the 4 picks to give us a bet of $400 per game. Buyer beware, these NFL point spread picks aren't getting any better as the season progresses.

GameVegas LineEstimatePrediction-VegasConfidence
CAROLINA @ NEW ORLEANS 7 13.5 6.5 59.7%
SAN FRANCISCO @ CHICAGO -7 -15.0 -8.0 59.0%
HOUSTON @ BUFFALO -3 3.1 6.1 58.0%
BALTIMORE @ MIAMI -4 4.8 8.8 57.4%
ARIZONA @ ST LOUIS 6 1.8 -4.2 53.1%
ATLANTA @ TAMPA BAY -2 1.1 2.9 52.5%
CINCINNATI @ CLEVELAND 10 15.4 5.4 51.7%
DENVER @ SAN DIEGO 4.5 8.3 3.8 51.2%
KANSAS CITY @ OAKLAND 3 1.7 -1.3 50.0%
INDIANAPOLIS @ PITTSBURGH -6.5 -0.1 6.4 50.0%
GREEN BAY @ DETROIT 3 2.8 -0.2 50.0%
PHILADELPHIA @ NEW ENGLAND -9.5 -11.8 -2.3 50.0%
JACKSONVILLE @ TENNESSEE -2.5 -0.8 1.7 50.4%
DALLAS @ WASHINGTON -4.5 -8.1 -3.6 49.0%
SEATTLE @ MINNESOTA 0 -8.9 -8.9 49.0%
NY JETS @ NY GIANTS 2 2.0 0.0 NA

How to read the table:
  • Vegas Line: A NEGATIVE number implies the point spread favors the HOME team
  • Estimate: NFL Pickles' point spread prediction
  • Pred-Vegas: Subtraction: POSITIVE implies VISITING team will cover point spread.
  • Confidence: The probability that the point spread pick is on the correct side.