NFL Picks and Betting Strategies - Week 3

Overrated home teams, Goliath beats David, and other opportunities on week 3 of the NFL.

Wild & exciting week 2! One of my favorite strategies that we've talked in the past came true in two games and if you follow me on Twitter, you could've capitalized on MNF. Strong teams blow out weak teams. The spread is hardly ever above 14 and many strong teams blowout their opposition by more than two touchdowns.

On MNF we saw the undermined by recency bias Green Bay Packers cover a double digit spread against a weak prey in the Detroit Lions & Jared Goff. Tampa Bay also took care of their double digit spread against Atlanta triggered by their defense and Tom Brady wanting to get TDs under his belt. The Bills and Miami a similar story but one could argue Miami wasn't as weak as the latter two but the Bills were also under rated from their first week loss. 

Unfortunately this week there's only one double digit spread and it's Denver which wouldn't be categorized as "strong" just yet. The second highest spread, Baltimore against Detroit, could be an interesting one. At 8.5 road favorites, the Ravens are coming off a big win and should cruise in Detroit and players will be eager to gather stats into their game logs. 

The machines were trained and the numbers crunched. Below are the model outputs. We talk about 4 games that look interesting against the spread. There were like 4 QBs that went down last week so we have to be careful with back QBs and just sit out of those games to see how they perform. 

Here's the breakdown on games where there seems to be something off with the spread:

NEW ORLEANS +3
The Saints are going to Foxborough and these two teams are considered equal by putting a spread of 3 for the home team. But are they? The Saints are coming off a really poor offensive performance against the Panthers. Winston threw 0 TD and 2 INT and they rushed for a total of 48 yards, 19 from Winston himself. Maybe we are underestimating the Panthers D? The Patriots beat the Jets, c'mon man! In terms of ranking of defenses and offenses they might be the same, but the variability is worth noting. New Orleans has been the most night and day team so far while New England has been consistently ranked upper 20s on both sides of the ball on both games. It won't be another dark night for the Saints and they not only cover but win outright. 

GREEN BAY +3.5
Another prime time game for Aaron Rodgers and he's an underdog? Against Garoppolo? This is too good to be true. Sure they have also been night and day, but Rodgers won't be consistently bad. There's no other QB that can throw like he did on Monday. The defense might be the issue for the Packers especially on the ground where SF can take advantage. The 49ers are currently ranked 13th in defense but that's just two games and in one of them they allowed 33 points to the Lions. This means that GB will score big which will force SF to throw the ball and with Garoppolo that means game over, Packers roll. 

Get my other two takes and the results of the statistical models free on Rokfin

NFL Point Spread Model Outputs 2021 - Week 2

All statistical models need data. Without counting the pre-season, this year has given us 1 week of data. Although one can use data from last season, which we do, there's just not enough to make conclusive decisions for this week. 

If you have followed my blog for the past 14 years, you know I stay away in any significant way from week 1 to 5. To have fun watching games, throwing a .1 unit is fine, but even that, you know it's lost, could get lucky though. 

Last week we got a glimpse of a few surprises. 

The RAMS are good or the Bears are horrible
Could definitely be a little bit of both. The Bears defense, especially the secondary, is no good. Fade them against good QBs, yeah Stafford included. The Rams with Stafford might be a big deal, but the cat is not out of the hat yet. 

The Saints Still the Most Balanced Team
Winston looked good. He will throw the picks, but he will keep throwing. Stopping the Packers offense is no easy feat. They have good defense, a good offense, and even a top 10 special teams. They will, at some point, be over-rated but probably not yet for week 2. 

Arizona and Philadelphia Surprise
Both teams played well. Both ranked top 5 in offense and defense for last week. But this smells like low sample size bias and they should regress to the mean.

TEN, ATL, DET, JAX, GB Sucked
Mostly expected except for the Packers and Tennessee. I expected Julio Jones to be a bigger presence in Tennessee and probably they will target him more this week. The other 3 teams seems like fade every week type of teams.

That's it for this week's take. Sorry for the late Thursday night post (not before TNF), but did wanted to share what the model outputs are using last week and last year's second half of the season.

As always, give my channel a follow on Rokfin.com/nflpickles and subscribe to get my premium picks starting on week 5; oh and you also get access to a bunch of political and wrestling content. 

Game Vegas Line Estimate Diff % Conf.
LAS VEGAS @ PITTSBURGH -5.5 -10.8 -5.3 68.2
NEW ORLEANS @ CAROLINA 3.5 15.0 11.5 60.8
KANSAS CITY @ BALTIMORE 3.5 11.5 8.0 60.8
ATLANTA @ TAMPA BAY -12.5 -11.6 0.9 60.7
LA RAMS @ INDIANAPOLIS 3.5 7.2 3.7 60.4
CINCINNATI @ CHICAGO -2.5 -7.3 -4.8 56.5
NEW ENGLAND @ NY JETS 5.5 1.7 -3.8 54.9
TENNESSEE @ SEATTLE -5.5 4.0 9.5 53.6
MINNESOTA @ ARIZONA -3.5 -5.2 -1.7 52.4
DENVER @ JACKSONVILLE 6.0 -5.5 -11.5 50.8
DALLAS @ LA CHARGERS -3.5 0.7 4.2 50.7
BUFFALO @ MIAMI 3.0 4.5 1.5 48.1
DETROIT @ GREEN BAY -11.0 -8.1 2.9 46.2
NY GIANTS @ WASHINGTON -3.5 -1.6 1.9 45.6
SAN FRANCISCO @ PHILADELPHIA 3.0 2.8 -0.2 44.9

6 Teams Covered Over 60% of the Time, Who Will It Be in 2021?

There were also 6 other teams that only covered less than 40%. Accurately finding these teams from the beginning is a jackpot strategy for the season.

Pick your pony! Or ponies... Last year there were 6 teams that didn't cover the spread over 60% of the time and and 6 teams that covered the spread 60% of the time. If you bet against and for these teams respectively all season long, you come out winning big. Let's take a look:

2020 Over-rated teams (covered the spread <40%)

CLEVELAND 6-10 37.5%

NY JETS 6-10 37.5%

MINNESOTA 6-10 37.5%

ARIZONA 6-10 37.5%

DALLAS 5-11 31.2%

HOUSTON 5-11 31.2%


CLEVELAND

Does Cleveland's "stacked" team continue to be over-rated in 2021? It might not. Many "experts" gave their first pick of the draft an A by grabbing Newsom who will protect against the pass more effectively than they have. On their second pick, they selected Anthony Schwartz who could've been the fastest player in the whole draft giving Baker a shot at long passes. Not a big fan on the volatility of the Browns, but they might get out of the <40% ATS in 2021.

NY JETS

Zach Wilson already being compared to Mahomes? He's got worked to do, but it was the right move for the Jets to pick the best QB available. On their second pick, they select an offensive lineman in Alijah Vera-Tucker to protect the young QB. Their defense wasn't horrible (a bit below avg) so I think the Jets will be out of these and won't finish as one of the teams under 40. 

MINNESOTA

I'm not a fan of Kirk Cousins so that makes me biased. They have plenty of weapons in the offense with Jefferson and Thielen and finished last year with one of the top 10 offenses in the league. Despite that, they were able to finish just below 40% even with an impressive run in the end. Kirk will be Kirk and this team stays under 40.

ARIZONA

Kyler Murray is too short to be a franchise QB, there I said it. Even though I'm 5'7" and always looking for short athletes to succeed, I'm not getting the Altuve vibe from Murray. The offense finished 20th overall in the league and they drafted a LB on their first pick. For their second pick, the selected a 5'7" receiver in Moore. This midget team is going nowhere and it might be a good strategy to just bet against every week and come out +60% on it.


Keep reading on Rokfin and see my picks for which ponies I'm gonna ride this year.




 

"Defense Wins Championships" - Part 2 - Myth or Fact for Super Bowl


Last year, I wrote a piece on whether defense wins championships in the Super Bowl. It was an interesting analysis, given that last year's Super Bowl was clearly a big offense in KC vs a strong defense in the 49ers. We busted that myth, bet on the Chiefs, and put another Super Bowl win under our belt. This year, things are a little bit different. Let's get into it. 

We have arguably the best offense in the 2020 Chiefs against the best defense in the Bucs. But the buc doesn't stop there. It's not like the Bucs have a weak offense or the Cheifs have a weak defense. The plot above has the last 31 Super Bowl winners by DVOA and take a look. You can quickly see where KC falls on the chart. Pretty close to where they were last year but better on offense. 

Read the rest at https://rokfin.com/article/3292/Defense-Wins-Championships--Part-2--Myth-or-Fact-for-Super-Bowl

Conference Championship NFL Point Spread Picks

You're not gonna like this week's picks. You could be better off betting against them. I'm sticking to the models and either going down with the ship or ending the season with a solid 3-0 ATS. They are contrarian, you could find 10 reasons why not to do it, but I'm here to tell you why I'm sticking to it.

Buccaneers +3.5

Betting against Aaron Rodgers at home? You're crazy. Betting against Aaron Rodgers (6-2 ATS last 8 games) during the playoffs is absurd. The public surely thinks so. As of Tuesday, they have 57% of the bets and 60% of the money. This means that there's no clear sharp action on the Packers but the general public are cheeseheads. He beat the Rams defense, good for him. But played a mediocre offense without its top receiver and a QB with a broken thumb. Let's see how the Bucs challenge will pan out.

  • Machine learning models (ALL of them) have the Bucs winning outright with high confidence. Through 20 years of data, the models have seen this situation 74 times and have been correct 64.9% of the time.
  • Bucs pass offense is top 3 in the league. #3 in pts/gm and #2 in pass yards/gm. The Green Bay pass defense is decently ranked #8. If they fall asleep in the back or get tricked with a play action, Brady will catch on and throw long.
  • Bucs will run the ball a lot. It worked for them last week and it did in week 6 against the Packers (158 yards and 2 TDs). Runs the clock out and keeps the game close.
  • The Bucs weakness in defense is the run, but they were able to hold their ground against Kamara last week and against the Packers in week 6 (94 rushing yards and 1 TD).
  • Will Rodgers again have a hard time against them? Possibly. The answer is in the blitz.
  • Tampa Bay had the toughest schedule in the league according to teamrankings. Green Bay's schedule is ranked #18. Point Bucs.
  • The Green Bay offense is in full speed. Against the #1 defense, they were still able to score 32 points, rushing for 188 and passing for 296. They have a lot more weapons now that the Bucs need to figure out. Point Packers.
  • Who's the real goat? I'm gonna go with the guy with 6 rings vs. 1. Aaron Rodgers hasn't won a Super Bowl in 10 years and was humiliated by SF last year who I never thought had that good of an offense. Now, although a much better team, they face an even tougher defense and top 5 offense. Brady > Rodgers.
  • LaFleur is a great coach and in two years has built one of the best offenses in the league. Arians takes more risks, sometimes not good ones. But no risk no reward. Experience > 2 year coach.
  • Trends: Since 2006 (51 games) road dogs between 0 and 4 points are 64.6% against the spread. 7-2-1 (77.8%) in the last 10 games.
  • Intangible: Tampa is one game away from playing the Super Bowl at home.
As the locals in Tampa Bay would say, Tampaaaaaaaa!

For all other picks, visit rokfin.com/nflpickles

Wild Card NFL Point Spread Picks

A historical 61% ATS during playoffs in 13 years of experience. The real ride starts this week. Up your bankroll % because we're going to win big. Wildcard weekend is here and we've found 3 solid opportunities. Let's roll!

Subscribe today. It's the best $9.99 you will invest in sports. The Super Bowl is in Feb 7th so if you subscribe today, you only have to stay for one month. That's all playoff picks + Super Bowl for $9.99. Why so cheap? Because Rokfin is the best place to monetize content. You win and I win. 

The first one is a freebie.

Buffalo -6.5 Saturday 12pm CST
Buffalo is unstoppable right now and there are no signs of stopping. We have picked them 2 weeks in a row now out of a 8-0 ATS streak their in. Now they face noodle arm Philip Rivers and the Colts as a 6 and a half point home favorite. Although most of my models hover around a 10 point win for Buffalo, here are some reasons why I think this could get ugly for the Colts quick:
  • The Colts have had the easiest schedule of all the teams. Of their 11 wins, only 3 were against playoff teams (Bears, Titans, Packers).
  • Josh Allen's story of being rejected by universities (Fresno State) over and over until Wyoming gave him a chance is amazing. The guy is a fighter and will continue to prove his haters wrong. Captain Class type of guy.
  • My favorite angle here is that the Colts weakness in the defense is in the pass while we all know the strength of the Bills offense is in that same spot. Colts rank 19th in pass D while the Bills are 3rd in the league.
  • The Bills D is playing much better as of late especially against the run game. 
  • Home teams favorite between 6 and 7 are 57% ATS in the last 216 games. That's a big sample! About the same percentage in 2020.
Buffalo rolls past the Colts, Philip Rivers retires.

Get all picks at rokfin.com/nflpickles







Week 16 NFL Point Spread Picks

Great week last week 3-0 ATS and two push. Keep it rolling. Huge upsets last week, are they creating recency bias? Some teams are checked out and we capitalize on it. Let's break down 4 solid picks for week 16.

Miami -3

Looks like Derrek Carr is back at the helm this week. With 5 interceptions in last 4 complete games, looks like Miami's defense which ranks #2 in interceptions will have itself a feast. The Raiders are one of those teams that seem to have checked out of this season. Although Miami is winning in ugly ways, Tua is getting better. The covering machine of the Dolphins are 11-3 ATS and are only a 3 point favorite against a bad defense. Couple more points for why I like the Dolphins in this spot:

  • Raiders defense ranks 29th in the league and 30th against the rush
  • Raiders fired defensive coordinator Ryan Guenther showing signs of a debacle of the team
  • Not only is Miami good ATS this year, but Brian Flores is 20-6 ATS since he got the head coaching job
  • The statistical models predicted the Dolphins last week right on the nose. This week posted it at 6 but models fluctuate more closely to 10 and 13 point differential
  • Since 2010 road favorites by 3 are 54.4% ATS across 190 games. This year they are 11-1 ATS.
Don't miss out on another great playoff run. Picks are only $9.99/mo and you can cancel at any time. Just the Super Bowl pick (12-1 last 13 years) will be worth all your money.

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Week 14 NFL Machine Learning Picks

3-1 for the top picks and 10 of 15 ATS all games last week. Better days are around the corner and we started rounding the corner last week. This week I got 5 top picks the models are excited about and a few others worth mentioning for teasers. Let's get right to it.


Atlanta -2.5

The Chargers are done and out. Usually, I wouldn't be too excited to bet against a team that just lost 45-0, but in the case of the Chargers I think they're hanging up the towel while Atlanta players want to put up stats. After an 0-5 start, the Falcons are 4-3 and interim coach Raheem Morris is probably thinking the same. Julio Jones as usual is questionable so we'll have to monitor that. Atlanta will need all its weapons. The Chargers D is ok ranking 9th in pass yds per game and 6th in pass yds per attempt. Yet they still allow over 28 points per game. On the other hand, the Falcons are ranked 29th in passing D which is the Chargers strong suit. Yet the model is up to something here and the momentum seem to be on the visiting team.

Green Bay -9

Don't overthink it. Detroit sucks. Galloday is out. The Packers are eyeing that #1 spot in the conference. The Packers are blowing out their opponents. Their offense is ranked #2 in DVOA and #1 in points scored. They are +80 point differential, 4th in the league. Aaron Rodgers is leading in TDs and passer rating and their rushing attack isn't something to dismiss either. All my models had this game over 10 points. Catching it at a single digit is a blessing. I believe the line quickly moved to 9 after opening at 7.5.

All other picks on my Rokfin channel.




Week 13 Machine Learning Picks

Totally forgot to post this here last week...I'll post week 14 right after 

Great teaser opportunities this week with some heavy favorites. A dog money line is screaming bet me based on recency bias and players returning. We discuss 4 opportunity games and 3 honorable mentions that are worth some units.

Arizona should've covered last week. We on the right side of a game where everything that had to go wrong did. Vegas was a bad pick. I should've seen it coming when I saw the Raiders sack rate and how they weren't going to get close to Matt Ryan, lesson learned. Seattle was money if you bet it before Sunday at 5 and even 6.

This week we take advantage of back up QBs, recency bias, and note some key players returning. Here we go!

Miami -11.5

That's a lot of points, but this spread should be 14 when Cincinnati has Brandon Allen as its QB. The difference here will be the Miami defense which allows 18pts per game and is ranked 9th against the pass. Fitzpatrick gives the Dolphins an even better chance to cover. He throws deeper and has thrown for 417 yards against these Bengals last year.
  • Miami is 6-1 ATS the last 7 games
  • Cincinnati with a back up QB against a tough hungry top 5 defense
  • Cincinnati's defense is bottom 5. 3.2% sack rate ranks 29th
  • More confident if Fitzpatrick starts the game
  • Both teams have had easy schedules
  • Models very confident on spotting a blowout in this game

Las Vegas -9

Vegas gets blown out last week but have beaten the Chiefs (almost twice) and yet they are a single digit favorite against the spread? This spread should also be 14. Huge recency bias here.
  • Sam Darnold sucks, no need to say more.
  • Vegas has played the toughest schedule in the league
  • Vegas is 6-0 ATS when they score more than their average (26.8)
  • Vegas is 7-4 ATS and the Jets are 3-8
  • Road teams favorite by more than 6 are 62% ATS since 2015 in 106 games

Cleveland +5.5

I'm not a money line guy but this games screams upset. Although the model displayed below with a confident of 57% has Tennessee winning anywhere between 3 and 4, most of the other ones had Cleveland winning. Note also that Tennessee is coming off a big win last week.
  • Myles Garret is back in the line up and will add to his 9.5 sacks for the year
  • These are similar teams in terms of overall defense and offensive rushing yards
  • The only risk is Baker, he does need to step up against a Titans defense that allows more than 268 yards in the air and are ranked 30th in adjusted sack rate
  • Titans coming off two big wins against the Colts and the Ravens screams recency bias

Indianapolis -3.5

What happens when Watson has no one to pass to? He scrambles and throws the ball away. This Houston team just lost its steam because Fuller took some PEDs. The 3.5 spread is an indication that the books want you to take Houston but it doesn't seem to be working as Indi is getting 68% of the bets and 90% of the money. Usually that would be something to worry, but this spread should've moved more when Houston's number 1 and 2 target are out. Easy money!





Week 12 Machine Learning Point Spread Picks

This week we stick to the strategy that made us winners last year. Find games with crappy teams facing tough teams with a single digit spread. The models certainly found some and we're going to make money off of it. 

I can't hide that it has sucked this year so far. But I know it will get better and hoping it does this week and the coming ones to build confidence to make big bets during the playoffs. Mistakes last week included putting money on single digit weak teams like the Eagles and the Patriots. Miami was a tough one, not sure if I would've changed it except that Tua is a small sample QB and now even smaller. Lessons learned, moving on to week 12.

I'm going to be very short and concise this week and just stick to the models. Mostly because I've had a lot of work this week and can't wait to sit back and eat turkey with the family. Next week I'll be back with more detailed analysis. Also, I might bring back high-stakes poker player for a short podcast tomorrow to debate these 3 picks and the 3 honorable mentions. 

Las Vegas -3

The Raiders look good and should've beaten the Chiefs again. Not sure how Derek Carr got so good from one year to the next but he's being real smart. Vegas has something to play for but not the Falcons. The models range anywhere from 5 to 15 point estimate for Vegas. Go Raiders!

All picks available here: https://rokfin.com/article/2307/Week-12-NFL-Point-Spread-Picks