2008 Week 1 NFL Picks

The data is clean, the statistical model is ready, and the picks are out! In previous years, I would not make picks during the first few weeks to give time to gather data. This year, I am going to put my butt on the line and make picks from the beginning! The reason being that handicappers as well as I, have the same disadvantage, we do not have data for this year. We do not know how the off-season changes have affected the team's performance. So we have to put together a bit more error into the estimates, use last year's data carefully, rely on our knowledge of the teams, players, coaches, and the organization as a whole.

Our advantage is that we do not have to make a picks or point spread estimates for every game, we just choose the ones that look like a good opportunity. This week I have 3 free NFL picks for you based on my robust statistical predictor for NFL games.


Pick 1: Detroit -3incorrect point spread pick
Again, it is probably wise to wait a couple of weeks, especially because both teams have new faces in key positions. Atlanta has their 3rd round pick QB Matt Ryan and RB Michael Turner, both excellent prospects, but will they come out swinging or will they ease into the league? Who knows, but I just do not see Atlanta starting the season with a win.

Detroit on the other hand has veteran Rudi Johnson who together with rookie Kevin Smith, can build up Detroit's running game (that is if Rudi gets his luggage back). Detroit's WR are back and QB Jon Kitna will be hitting quality targets in Calvin Johnson and Roy Williams. Detroit's offensive line and coaching staff is more stable.

Looking just to 2 years of data, my model found this game as a bargain. Unfortunately, 72% of bettors agree with me according to covers.com. I like to swim against the current but betting against Atlanta is tempting and even more so when a computer tells me to, you can't pass this opportunity.Both teams ended last year with a 0-4 ATS record, but I do believe Detroit is a much better team and 3-point spread against Atlanta in Atlanta is just no enough, 67% confidence.

Pick 2: Cincinnati -1incorrect point spread pick
There is no Chad Johnson anymore, he is legally now Ocho Cinco. Que bueno! If 85 is focused and ready to play, I see Carson Palmer, who will play Sunday despite suffering a broken nose during the preseason, hitting hisfavorite targets Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. They have an untested Chris Perry starting at RB who, if healthy, can be hard to catch.

Baltimore did terribly last year against the spread. Will the market adjust for that this year? It does not seem to be doing that this week. A team that was 19% ATS last year playing at home should be a bit more underrated in my models opinion with 63% confidence. Go Bengals!

Pick 3: Houston +6.5incorrect point spread pick
A dangerous pick, but I will stick my guns although the wager amount should not be as big as the previous 2 games. Pittsburgh is coming from a 3-1 preseason with Ben Roethlisberger showing signs that he could come back to his Super Bowl years performance. Houston on the other hand, has new coaches and an army full of young ambitious young players. Tough pick, but the model expects the Steelers to win, but not by more than a TD with 61% confidence.


Mike d. said…
Very interesting....keep it up! I'll be following all season.
Unknown said…
Jaime - can you help me find some raw data / statistics? I'm looking for NFL stats with point spreads, final scores, and home/away data. I want to run some raw analysis but not to beat point spreads; just to pick the winner of a game. Where can I go for this?
Jaime said…
There exists many sources for data. From software you buy to that contains much data to free, but limited data.

This site has historical point spreads, http://www.repole.com/sun4cast/indexframes.html. What I did was then attach NFL.com and sports.yahoo.com data to have a more complete data set.

The next thing I want to do is obtain player level data. For each game, who played, what were their stats, etc. This I do not have, if anyone know how I could obtain such information, please let me know.

Unknown said…
your crazy Jaime. Improve upon 61%, if you do the Mrs better let you start making wagers in Vegas!!!
jjo_chicago said…
I was referred to your blog by one of your fellow stats heads that you work with. I'm in Vegas this weekend, and if your picks come through, I'm heading to the spa.