2019 NFL Point Spread Picks - Wild Card

We close out the regular season going 58.5% ATS across all games and 61.7% for locks, game where model shows high confidence.

Now we're going to the playoffs! In 12 years of doing this, my models have gone 60% ATS during playoffs and over performed at 15-7 during Wild Card week since 2010 as shown here. Enough bragging, lets get to these week's games.

Seattle -2 correct NFL point spread pick
This is the game with the most confidence! When visiting teams are favorite under 3 points and the models predict a 9 to 12 point win for the visiting team, they perform 63% ATS. Here are some other reasons why I'm liking the Seahawks in this spot:
  • Seattle has had a much tougher schedule by over two stds
  • The #3 passing offense can blow this game out against the #17 passing D. 
  • Seattle is getting 85% of the bets but 66% of the money. Sharps still liking the Seahawks
  • Captain Wilson >>> Wentz 
  • There's some home field bias going on here and it happened a lot this year. Road teams went 57% ATS this year and 59% when they were favorite
  • According to this article, QBs making playoff debuts (e.g. Wentz) are 12-31 ATS 
  • All models point at SEA with an avg of 6 and best one at 9.
  • Both teams pretty banged up but the Eagles without Jeffrey and Sproles (Ertz & Agholor questionable but I think they'll probably play) will suffer more
  • Beast mode could've finished last Sunday's game, but my conspiracy theory is that the delay of game was on purpose to go against the Eagles
Minnesota +8 correct NFL point spread pick
Drew Brees' last 3 games have been close to perfect, but that's only 3 games. The last one probably driving recency bias was against the Panthers who have one of the worst defenses in the league. All my models have this game much closer and within a TD. Sure I don't like Kirk Cousins against Brees and the fact that the sharps are all over the Saints, but I stay true to my methodology. Here are a few other reasons to like the Vikings: 
  • Both schedules have been about the same in terms of toughness
  • Home teams favorite by 7 or more are 45% ATS since 2000 (62 games)
  • Saints are 5-8 (38.5%) ATS during playoffs since Drew Brees 
  • Kirk Cousins had one playoff game in 2015. Lost to Packers 17-31, 3 Fum, 1 TD/0 INT. But at least it's not his playoff debut
  • The Vikings defense is ranked 7th in the league  
  • Dalvin Cook is going to play 
Houston -2.5 correct NFL point spread pick
This is not going to be a blowout so I'm not as excited to bet this game. Probably will, but half the units from the two above. Actually, I'm thinking of putting say 3 units on Seattle, 2 on the Vikings and one on this one. Fuller is not likely to play and this offense needs him to open up Hopkins more often. Regardless, my top performing model has the game ending by close to 5 points and now that the spread dropped from 3 to 2.5, I'm in. Also, we got another QB making his playoff debut in Josh Allen so I'll ride that 72% ATS trend here. Now JJ Watt is going to play?!!! He's energetic and a great captain so he's going to get this defense pumped. Which they need bc that's the weakness, Houston is ranked 24th in defense and is specifically bad against the pass so Beasley could have a bit of a party here. If they cover him well, Buffalo's offense won't have many other weapons.

New England or Tennessee???
My models (all of them) have Tennessee covering, but none of them with high confidence. It's a tough spot when the home team is favorite by more than 3 but less than 7. I can't bet against them. 
  • NE offense as bad as it is, might be ok vs TEN's #19 defense
  • NE's strength is in pass D, but TEN off strength is Henry
  • It's Brady, Bellicheck and Edelman...again.
  • Patriots are 9-6 (60%) ATS since 2009 during playoffs when favorite by more than 3
  • Another QB making its playoff debut. Can you bet against that trend? The defense could easily win the game for the Patriots. 
Here are the models' output for the 2019 NFL Wild Card point spread picks.

Game Vegas Line Estimate Diff Confidence
SEATTLE @ PHILADELPHIA 2.0 9.2 7.2 63.0
MINNESOTA @ NEW ORLEANS -8.0 -2.7 5.3 59.7
BUFFALO @ HOUSTON -2.5 -4.6 -2.1 57.7
TENNESSEE @ NEW ENGLAND -5 -2.6 2.4 48.8

2019 NFL Point Spread Picks - Week 17

Add another huge week going 4-1 ATS. The best point spread data scientist having a year to remember. Great blowout spots detected in Baltimore vs Cleveland, ATL, KC @ Chicago and Arizona @ Seattle. The only loss being Pittsburgh where the confidence in the models weren't even as high so a bit of discipline and it would've been a perfect week. 

Week 17 is a tough week for data science as teams are either not playing for a better spot in the draft or like Baltimore resting their players for the playoffs. That's why this week, the results from my analysis and models are for everyone to see. The models detect 3 games that are likely blowouts and teams are either both eliminated or have something to play for. Bet with discipline as we're trying to save for the playoffs where in 12 years I've had slightly over 60% ATS and 11-1 for the Super Bowl. Here are week 17 game results:

Denver -3.5 
Models have the Broncos winning by about 10 points with 62% confidence. That means that in this situation where the home team has a 3.5 spread but it should be more, models are pretty good ATS. Denver has also had a tougher schedule than Oakland. Denver's offense is non-existent, but could find opportunities against a 31st pass defense. The Broncos' 12th ranked defense could score some points here to help cover. The public is currently on Oakland but money is starting to shift towards the Broncos. We're agreeing with sharps here and a bit contrarian with 38% of the money.

Kansas City -9 correct NFL point spread pick
Man who doesn't like KC? Their defense is undervalues and their offense looks great. Kelce was asked about his QB and his response was that Mahomes works harder than anyone and the energy in the locker room is electrifying. I love hearing that. KC has something to play for while the Chargers are complaining about moving to LA and how there are more visitors' fans on their home games. All the models have this game over 9 and some even at 21 points. KC has the tougher strength of schedule, DVOA, coaching advantage, and like last week 92% of bets and money. Something is off and moving this to 13 would make sense to me but they won't. Grab it.

Indianapolis -3.5 
The Jaguars are trash and likely trying to get one of the top spots in the draft. Their 31st ranked rush D will be killed by Indi's 9th ranked rush offense. At first I thought something was off because of the 14 point estimate, but I couldn't find any injuries or major set backs so it must be money. Let's Gooooo and Feliz Navidad!

Game Vegas Line Estimate Diff Confidence
OAKLAND @ DENVER -3.5 -11.9 -8.4 62.5
LA CHARGERS @ KANSAS CITY -9.0 -13.0 -4.0 60.9
INDIANAPOLIS @ JAGUARS 3.5 14.7 11.2 58.6
TENNESSEE @ HOUSTON 4.0 0.6 -3.4 55.1
PHILADELPHIA @ NY GIANTS 4.0 1.0 -3.0 55.1
ATLANTA @ TAMPA BAY 0.0 7.9 7.9 50.0
NEW ORLEANS @ CAROLINA 13.0 10.5 -2.5 49.7
SAN FRANCISCO @ SEATTLE 3.0 6.7 3.7 48.1
CLEVELAND @ CINCINNATI 2.5 -2.7 -5.2 47.6
CHICAGO @ MINNESOTA -7.5 -14.3 -6.8 NA
GREEN BAY @ DETROIT 10.0 4.4 -5.6 NA
NY JETS @ BUFFALO -1.5 -11.5 -10.0 NA
MIAMI @ NEW ENGLAND -15.5 -13.3 2.2 NA
WASHINGTON @ DALLAS -11.0 4.6 15.6 NA
ARIZONA @ LA RAMS -7.5 -4.1 3.4 NA

2019 NFL Point Spread Picks - Week 16

Another huuuge week last week. This is unreal. In 12 years of picking games against the spread supported by machine learning models, this year so far has been by far the best. The playoffs is usually where we perform best, but this regular season is paying off big time. Official picks went 3-1 ATS last week. Although overall the picks went 8-7 ATS, the confidence metric and deeper analysis picked 4 great games to take a side on and paid off.

Now we're off to week 16. It gets a bit tricky here because some teams don't have anything to play for and others are just bad on purpose to get a better draft pick. The models were able to find 3 games (plus another one depending on game time injury reports) that look like money. All stars aligning in these games: model estimates, confidence, strength of schedule, recency bias, sharps money, you name it. It's gonna be a 3-0 ATS week. Let's goooo!

Free pick of the week!

Atlanta -7 correct NFL point spread pick
This team has beaten the 49ers and the Saints but yet for some reason are only a one TD favorite against arguably the worst team in the NFL right now. The Jaguars will probably hand it to Fournette in order to get something going, yet as bad as the ATL defense is, they are ranked 13th in rush D. DJ Chark, their leading WR, is questionable and Atlanta with Julio Jones is a totally different team. The strength of schedule is also on ATL's side having almost 2 standard deviations tougher schedule than the Jaguars. My machine learning models are averaging a spread of 24 for this game with a confidence of situational cover of 64.9%. Jaguars don't give a damn as they are playing for the 1st pick in the draft. Go Falcons!
Kansas City -5.5 correct NFL point spread pick
We gotta keep fading the Bears. Now they're facing an even tougher team that's been on a tear (4-0 ATS in last 4 games) lately. There's playoff implications for KC to get a bye on the first round. Andy Reid > Bears coaching staff. Strength of schedule favors the Chiefs with a difference of about 1.5 standard deviations. All my models have KC winning by more than 9 (averaging close to 10). The Bears defense is still banged up and will have issues against Mahomes. Everyone is on KC which worries me a bit, but the sharps aren't bringing it down giving about the same pct ~ 90% of tickets and money. The #4 team vs #16 in DVOA, should be more than a TD.

Baltimore -10 correct NFL point spread pick
We were going to fade Cleveland last week bc they're bad against the run, but stayed away. Lesson learned. This team has way too many issues in the locker room with leading complainer Odell Jr. On the other hand, the Ravens are too tough and are one win away from securing a bye and potentially the #1 seed. Cleveland is ranked #28 in rush D. This is going to be a running party for the #1 rush offense. They covered 17 last week, they can cover 10 here. Cleveland has nothing to play for. They win again by 21.

***Honorable Mentions***

Arizona +9.5 correct NFL point spread pick
The confidence in some models was above 60%, but not in the one below, the best performer. All models though have this game closer than 10 points. Seattle is banged up. They are the team with the least differential points of all 10 win teams, that means they win close. The #2 rush offense in the Cardinal seems like a good matchup against the #22 rush D. 

Buffalo +6.5 
I wouldn't be surprised if Buffalo wins this game. The key would be no turnovers. We know the Patriots offense won't do much against the #4 defense. Sounds like a close defensive game. Buffalo to run the ball a bit more here and keeps it in reach. Patriots are trending down and Buffalo is hungrier. My shirt (bet against us) won't let me fade the Patriots.

Game Vegas Line Estimate Diff Confidence
JACKSONVILLE @ ATLANTA -7.0 -14.1 -7.1 64.9
KANSAS CITY @ CHICAGO 5.5 12.8 7.3 58.3
BALTIMORE @ CLEVELAND 10.0 21.2 11.2 58.2
ARIZONA @ SEATTLE -9.5 -5.4 4.1 56.8
BUFFALO @ NEW ENGLAND -6.5 2.4 8.9 56.1
PITTSBURGH @ NY JETS 3.0 10.1 7.1 55.1
OAKLAND @ LA CHARGERS -6.5 -16.6 -10.1 54.9
CAROLINA @ INDIANAPOLIS -6.5 -3.5 3.0 53.8
DETROIT @ DENVER -6.5 -10.5 -4.0 51.9
CINCINNATI @ MIAMI -1.0 -10.2 -9.2 51.3
LA RAMS @ SAN FRANCISCO -6.5 -9.6 -3.1 51.0
NEW ORLEANS @ TENNESSEE 3.0 10.7 7.7 50.0
HOUSTON @ TAMPA BAY -3.0 7.1 10.1 50.0
DALLAS @ PHILADELPHIA 3.0 9.8 6.8 50.0
GREEN BAY @ MINNESOTA -4.5 -7.5 -3.0 NA
NY GIANTS @ WASHINGTON -2.0 -9.5 -7.5 NA

2019 NFL Point Spread Picks - Week 15

Another huge week last week. Sunday we went 3-0 ATS and the only loss was picking Dallas on TNF, ugh. Overall, the models performed extremely well going 11-3-1 ATS in all games. We were really successful at finding blowouts in Atlanta and Tennessee. Baltimore looked like a blowout but it got close at the end and still covered. 

This great week pushed NFL Pickles to 2nd place (out of 1400 entries) in the Football Freeroll Content run by my 2nd preferred podcast the Sports Gambling Podcast. O
bviously this is a better and more accurate picks podcast, but admittedly theirs is funnier.

Let's get right to it! 3 solid picks and a couple that the models picked but a closer look makes me want to stay away.

Baltimore -14.5 
correct NFL point spread pick
The obvious one right? Baltimore is getting all the bets and the money (over 80% on both). Should that be a reason to fade them? I don't think so, here's why:

  • The Jets have 13 players on injury reserve; they are banged up. Lamar isn't, don't believe the hype, just look at his press conference video. It wasn't pulled just a bruise
  • The Jets' strength of schedule is 5 standard deviations lighter than Baltimore's
  • Home favorites by more than 14 are 57% (52 games) since 2010. This year they are 2-3, and one of those wins was Eagles covering vs Jets on Oct 6
  • The offenses are best and worst
  • Should we be worried that the Jets rush D is 2nd against the rush? No, look at their schedule plus Baltimore's passing offense is ranked #2 in DVOA
Don't fade the sharps, don't over think it. This game is a blowout. Let's gooooo! 

Green Bay -4.5 correct NFL point spread pick
Fading the Bears again? Yes, they're not good against tough teams. That win on TNF is probably driving recency bias. This is one where I'm happy to fade the Bears when they're so hyped up. Here are a few other reasons:

  • Green Bay owns Chicago going 12-5 ATS against them since 2010
  • Bears are still dead last in ATS standings. Some argue that's a reason to bet Bears, but I think the spread takes time to catch up
  • Green Bay has had a slightly tougher schedule than Chicago
  • Once the spread hit 4.5, the sharps money is going to GB and the spread hasn't moved back up. Opened at 7.
  • The Packers D's weakness is the rush (26th), which lines up well with Chicago's 29th DVOA rush offense 
Rams -1 
Another chalky play? Maybe but man did this line move. Opened at 3 or 4 for Dallas and crossed to 1 for the Rams. My models predict Rams by two TDs with 66% confidence! 
  • Rams have had a much tougher schedule than the Cowboys (by 2 stds)
  • Home underdogs between 0 and 1.5 are 37% ATS in 153 games!
  • Rams have the best ATS record in the league. Still undervalued.
  • Jared Goff won't suck as much against the 24th DVOA passing D
  • Dallas offense is somehow still #2 in DVOA, but declining fast.
  • With all the talk about firing the coach and the frustrations from the bench, there isn't a good vibe in Dallas while there's a whole lot of momentum in LA. 
Minnesota -2.5 correct NFL point spread pick
Wow, how disrespectful. The Vikings are playing great and the Chargers have rejuvenated by beating the Jaguars? There can't be a more clear recency bias here. Rivers sucks against good defenses, expect 2 or 3 INTs. Do they even have a home field advantage in LA? My best/favorite model which is the one I usually post here has the Vikings winning by 10. The more I write, the more I like this game. I might not put in a bunch of units, but it should be an entertaining game to watch.

***Honorable Mentions***

Arizona +2.5 correct NFL point spread pick
Models have Arizona winning by 3 with 57% confidence. Arizona has the 2nd rush offense and Cleveland the 25th rush defense. That's a big gap. Cleveland is a tough team to predict. They've won and gotten beat up against the best teams in the league. Cleveland has had a slightly tougher schedule. Good model prediction but too many insecurities, I'm out.

Tennessee -3 
Houston is banged up and Fuller might not play. Since Houston beat the Patriots, they carry a bit of recency bias even if it was 2 weeks ago. Tennessee is 6-1 ATS and 3-0 ATS at home against the Texans. Models are slightly mix with one giving it high confidence. I like how Tennessee is playing and momentum is on their side to cover just 3 points. Because not all the stars are aligning here, I'm probably going to stay out.

Game Vegas Line Estimate Diff Confidence
LA RAMS @ DALLAS 1.0 14.3 13.3 66.9
NY JETS @ BALTIMORE -14.5 -20.1 -5.6 62.5
CHICAGO @ GREEN BAY -4.5 -10.3 -5.8 59.5
MINNESOTA @ LA CHARGERS 2.0 11.3 9.3 57.0
HOUSTON @ TENNESSEE -3.0 -5.5 -2.5 56.1
CLEVELAND @ ARIZONA 2.5 -5.8 -8.3 55.4
NEW ENGLAND @ CINCINNATI 9.5 8.0 -1.5 53.9
INDIANAPOLIS @ NEW ORLEANS -9.0 -7.6 1.4 56.1
DENVER @ KANSAS CITY -10.0 -8.2 1.8 55.6
SEATTLE @ CAROLINA 6.0 6.8 0.8 55.6
JACKSONVILLE @ OAKLAND -6.5 -9.1 -2.6 54.9
PHILADELPHIA @ WASHINGTON 4.5 -1.5 -6.0 52.4
ATLANTA @ SAN FRANCISCO -11.0 -6.8 4.2 50.6
TAMPA BAY @ DETROIT 3.5 9.8 6.3 NA
MIAMI @ NY GIANTS -3.5 -3.1 0.4 Eli

NFL Machine Learning Picks - Week 14

Admittedly, it was a disappointing week last week. The "locks" didn't perform as well, yet all other picks (honorable mentions and others) did perform. The Rams (free pick of the week) was an easy pick and so money. But what was I thinking to bet against Russel Wilson during primetime? He's the captain of the Captain's class, can't do that. As much as I enjoy betting the Patriots, they are on timeout until I see that offense do something. We did have BUF, CIN, and SF (risky) clear the ATS and Atlanta as bad as they looked didn't cover by a point.

As for this week, I'm excited about the picks the models arrived at. Although my models use offensive and defensive stats, it's educational to look at the difference DVOA metrics for each game. That's why now in every analysis, you will see me make a case or double down on say a weak rushing D against a strong rushing offense.  

As it's been throughout the season, my full results and analysis are available on the NFL Pickles Rokfin channel. I gave you the Rams last week, here's this week's pick and it's TNF. If you make money off it, come support me at Rokfin, it's only $9.99 and you can cancel at any time. This week we go 3-0. Let's goooooo!

Baltimore -6 correct NFL point spread pick
Lamar Jackson is a QB freak and the point spread hasn't caught up yet. The most confidence game from my models to the best team in the league right now? I'm all in. Buffalo's defense is good, but it won't be able to stop this rush threat from the Ravens just like the Patriots defense wasn't able to either. Their weakness is the rush (Buf ranked #22 in rush D) and against by far the #1 rush offense on the league. The strength of schedule is 4 standard deviations different, the easiest schedule (Buf) against the toughest schedule yet (Bal). The sharps so far are also all over Baltimore. This is a game the books are going to regret they didn't put at double digits and yet it's at less than a TD. Money!

Dallas -3 

For the first time this year, the Bears are homedogs. Part of that it's probably because they are dead last in the ATS Standings sitting at 3-9 ATS (2-4 at home). This Chicago defense is ranked 11th because it hasn't been consistent. It's overrated by the public. Now it's facing one of the toughest offenses in the NFL (Dallas #2 offense in DVOA). The Cowboys just had a tough loss (as predicted here) against Buffalo which signals recency bias. Before that, they only scored 9 points against the Patriots. They have scored lots more against good defenses like the Eagles and the Vikings. Their defense isn't that good, but their weakness is mostly against the pass. That means the Bears will depend heavily on Trubisky. Do I need to say more? I love the Bears, they're my team, but Trubisky isn't the guy and just like Cutler, they will stick to their horrible decision for years to come. My models have the Cowboys winning by a TD and covering the spread with 60% confidence.

Tennessee -3 correct NFL point spread pick
My models love this situation and that's why it's at over 58% confidence. A road favorite by 3 mainly getting only 3 because they're on the road and over estimating the home field advantage. The Titans have another freak in Derrick Henry. He's averaging over 150 yards per game in the last 3 games with 5 TD. How is Oakland's #26 rush defense going to stop this beast? Since Ryan Tannehill is taking care of the ball better and hitting the endzone a couple of times a game, opening up the running game. This team is on a streak since Mariotta left and it's a serious contender for the wildcard, while Oakland looks like they're already in a Vegas mindset. Love this situation. Let's goooo!

Atlanta -3 correct NFL point spread pick

Julio Jones is playing! Without him, Matt Ryan is a disaster. Josh Allen is horrible. Tight End Greg Olsen isn't playing for the Panthers and coach Rivera is out. Carolina's defense is bottom 5 in the league, especially against the pass. Atlanta has a passing field day and covers the 3 points. Lock this up.

***Honorable Mentions***

Washington +13 correct NFL point spread pick
Not in love with the situation, but didn't want to take it out based on pure emotions. My models think that 13 points is just too much. The Redskins as bad as they are, especially their offense, have managed to stay under 13 against the Vikings, 49ers, and Cowboys. Yes, they got blown out by the Jets, Bills and Patriots. Not too excited either about the QB matchup here. 57% doesn't make my cut for betting so I'll probably pass on this one.

Kansas City +3 correct NFL point spread pick
When the Patriots won the Super Bowl last year, I won a friendly bet that paid with the Bet Against Us t-shirt. The models are mixed some having still the Patriots covering but on average and the better ones have KC with decent confidence. The Chiefs have the two Williams RBs questionable for Sunday so we'll have to where that goes. I am worried that Bellichick will run the ball more on this game and exploit the #30 rush D. It probably won't be enough for #3 offense in the NFL. Tom Brady yelling at his receivers is probably bad blood in the locker room. Never bet against them, but this seems to be the point where the Patriots truly collapse.

GameVegas LineEstimateDiffConfidence
BALTIMORE @ BUFFALO6.022.316.363.6
TENNESSEE @ OAKLAND3.08.85.858.7
CAROLINA @ ATLANTA-3.0-10.5-7.558.0
WASHINGTON @ GREEN BAY-13.0-310.057.1
CINCINNATI @ CLEVELAND-9.0-11.4-2.456.1
SF @ NEW ORLEANS-2.59.411.953.2
SEATTLE @ LA RAMS1.0-5.9-6.942.7