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.
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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

Week 11 NFL Machine Learning Point Spread Picks

Home team favorites are covering 45% ATS this year. Models detect two opportunities in this trend. Two other picks find undervalued teams. First week where all the data used to predict is in 2020. Models are 58% ATS overall since week 5. We bet all top picks and honorable mentions this week. Let's dig in.

Last week wasn't great. Only one of the top 3 picks hit and 2 of the 3 honorable picks. Seattle's crumbling and the weather in Baltimore didn't help and we paid for it. We did bank on fading the 49ers and Indy on TNF. My Chicago-born wife told me to never bet on the Bears and she was right. On MNF their offense looked as bad as their DVOA or worse. This week, we make all seemingly good picks official picks and we got 4 solid ones.

Miami -3.5

The typical 3.5 trap to bet the other side. Don't fall for it. The models have the underrated Dolphins winning by almost a TD and other models have it by 2 TDs. This spread will move higher as Miami is getting lots of money from the sharps.

  • Captain + Injuries: Tua > Driskel
  • Trends: Away favorites by 3.5 are 57% ATS since 2010
  • DVOA: Denver has the worst rank offense in the NFL. They won't score much against a slightly above average and hot Miami defense.
  • SOS: One point for Denver. The Broncos have had a tougher schedule than Miami according to teamrankings.com, but it hasn't been that easy. They've faced the Cardinals, Rams, Seahawks, and Bills. While the Broncos have lost against the Steelers, Titans, Bucaneers, and Chiefs.
All picks are available on Rokfin.com/nflpickles.

Week 10 NFL Machine Learning Point Spread Picks

We stick to two basic philosophies this week: 1) weak teams get beat out badly by strong teams with single digit spreads and 2) spot recency bias with strong teams that didn't perform last week. Let's dig in.

Let's be honest, the top picks weren't good last week. We hit 1 of 4 with Green Bay on TNF being the only win. The Monday morning QB in me should've known better. McCaffrey was coming back to Carolina and Thomas to New Orleans changing those teams offenses significantly. Both should've been stay away games. The more you know... The next games based on confidence covered (BUF, LV, BAL) which made me this week at least come back to these honorable mentions. 

As we know and was reinforced from last week, not everything is analytical. The analytics help detect possible opportunities, but digging deeper into the factors below and know how many of them go to the side that the anlytics point is important. Here are other factors that I like seeing agreeing with the models:

  • Injuries - This is the #1 issue. Is the team the model is picking better or worse off injury-wise when compared to previous weeks?
  • DVOA - Does the matchup make sense? A good passing offense vs a weak passing defense? etc.
  • Captain Class - We talked about this a lot last year. It's based on a book. But essentially I'm trying to see if the QB for the team we're on is a significantly better player and leader
  • Trends - Are there any significantly biased ATS trends for the situation or the team? I'm not talking 3-0 ATS in last 3 games, a bigger sample. 
  • Strength of Schedule - Analytics maybe biased if teams have had a significantly different schedule. We look at teamrankings.com for this info.
This will also help me structure the analysis around the models. I don't like long paragraphs and articles. I'm a straight to the point kind of person. Maybe one day I'll have more visual tables with check marks, for now I'll stick to bullet points. Here we go!

Baltimore -7
Quick review: Strong team vs a weak ass Patriots team who should've lost against the Jets last week. 
  • Injuries - Mark Ingram will play. The list for the Ravens is much smaller for the Patriots. Advantage: Ravens
  • DVOA - Baltimore is #1 against the run which is all the Patriots can do. 
  • Captain Class - I'll take the 2019 MVP any day over Cam.
  • Trends - The Ravens are 14-5 (73%) ATS since 2018 on the road
  • SOS - Baltimore has had a tougher schedule.
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Week 9 Machine Learning Point Spread Picks

66.7% ATS on locks last week. This week we keep pounding weak and banged up teams and find opportunities based on trends and recency bias. 

Last week we should've been perfect if Bruce Arians listened to Tom Brady and had gone on 4th & 1 at the 20. I still think it was the right spot and fortunately Daniel Jones missed so many long ball if not Tampa loses that game. This week a dug deep because there are so many injuries and new QBs that forced me out of many games. At the same time, if the models are pointing to the right direction and the team is banged up, we're going to take advantage. Which is why the first team I'm gonna talk about is Green Bay. Raiders and Chiefs were money. 

Green Bay -7 TNF 
The Packers and Aaron Rodgers coming off a loss are 31-15 ATS. The list of injured players in SF is too long for me to write. The 49ers are a totally different and weaker team than when they started this year and especially who they were last week. Green Bay couldn't stop the run last week and their defense has been pretty bad against the pass. This week Kittle is out and Bourne tested positive. Mostert is out so they won't be able to run the rock. Packers should be ok on defense. Their #2 offense will score +35 points against a pass D ranked #17 and sinking. Also, road teams on TNF this year have covered 5-2 ATS and road favorites since 2000 have gone 42-31 (57%). Not a high confidence game from a model perspective, but this week the market realizes how bad the 49ers have become.

Get all my picks at Rokfin.com/NFLpickles

Week 8 Machine Learning Point Spread Picks

Models in general did well again last week going 9 of 14 across all games. Next week we up the ante. This week we analyze some of these big spread games and capitalize on spotted trends.

Quick Review of Last Week's Top 5 Picks

Philadelphia was a bust on Thursday night. They had their chances and 3 turnovers but couldn't capitalize. I should've know better that divisional TNF games stay tight.

The Rams D was too much for Chicago and their defense couldn't stop the run. This week we look closely at these metrics as we make the picks.

Tampa Bay was money and dominated as they should've.

Green Bay rebounded from their loss as expected and blew out a Houston team that was over-rated.

Fade the Cowboys at a pick was legit. Not sure if at +9 against the Eagles is a good idea, but we caught it just in time.

Las Vegas +2.5

This is the models' favorite game but not necessarily mine. Can't put emotions or opinions on it so I'm running it as the top pick (even though I spread the love evenly across games). Vegas' weakness is the rush defense and if Kareem Hunt plays along with Chubb, they could run past the Raiders. The Raiders' passing offense and Derek Carr are ranked 8th in the league and are playing a passing defense ranked 25th. Both defenses are pretty bad but the passing game from the Raiders travels faster than the Browns running game. With Odell being out, that's one less weapon in their arsenal. All my models have Vegas winning this game outright and the 2.5 point spread to me seems like a trap to go after the Browns. The Raiders getting most of the action when the line opened at 3.5, I wouldn't be surprised if it goes back to 3.

Get all picks at rokfin.com/nflpickles

Week 7 Machine Learning Point Spread Picks

The miraculous Titans cover on Sunday and a perfect 2 for 2 on MNF put us at 75% ATS for the top 4 picks last week. The models' overall accuracy of 71% ATS across all games gives me lots of confidence going into week 7. This week, 3 games with high confidence and a few more worth mentioning. Let's talk about it.

Philadelphia -4.5
The predictions across the ensemble range from 7 to 10 all with great confidence of 60%+. The Eagles have had a much tougher schedule this year already faced Rams, Steelers, and the Ravens last week. This week they get DeSean Jackson back playing against a #23 passing defense in the Giants. Doug Pederson will out-coach the Giants and has done so on TNF twice in his career and is 5-0 with the Eagles on TNF. Eagles getting 65% of the tickets and 72% of the money. Fly Eagles Fly!

Bet Eagles on TNF. If it's right, signup you won't regret it. You'll make 1000x than the cost of $9.99/mo and since there's only 3 months left it'll be $30 for the season. Get all picks at rokfin.com/nflpickles

Week 6 NFL Machine Learning Point Spread Picks

One of my favorite spots with a 60% ATS trend since 2013 is picked up by the models in 3 games. The 4th pick shows home field AND recency bias. This week looks big with opportunity. Let's dig. Get all picks at rokfin.com/nflpickles

Green Bay -1 
The best offense by far gets back Davante Adams and is facing a cry baby back-to-last year Brady. Although Godwin is back for the Buccaneers, they're "great" defense finally gets to defend a good offense (Bears, Chargers, Broncos and Panthers all have below avg offenses). This looks like a shoot out and Rodgers looks like the likely winner here. All my models have this game going GB by over 10, the average close to 13. The confidence is high because of the situation (model high on the visiting team and successful across years). Although the Packers are getting the majority of the tickets, it's a good sign that even a higher percentage of the money (big bets) are also going to the Packers.

Week 5 NFL Machine Learning Point Spread Picks

Last week, we stuck to our strategy of finding stronger teams beat much weaker teams with single-digit spreads and it paid off big time last week. Bills, Seahawks, Saints, Packers, KC, and Cincinnati all covered. The only disappointment being the Cardinals. This week there's a bit of that, but mostly the theme this week is recency bias. 

Recency bias is a plague and we have spotted it. Line makers and the public seem to only remember one week. You're smarter than that. 4 great opportunities spotted, let's roll.

Here are the games that my models have picked with significantly higher confidence:

Indianapolis -1.5

A home field and recency bias all in one. Cleveland is home therefore they get at least 3 points but probably more by line setters. 49 points last week for the Browns! WOW. Try that against the #1 defense according to DVOA. All my models have the Colts winning by at least 10 points. A better spread would probably be -3 so I'll jump on those points. I've hated on Rivers before and his 24th ranked offense is nothing to be impressed about. The Browns have won 3 in a row (vs Bengals, "W Team", and Cowboys), seems like a great spot to fade them.

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Week 4 NFL Machine Learning Point Spread Picks

The models have detected 5 opportunities. Double-digit predictions on single-digit point spreads. It's only week 4, I know we're just warming up. We're sprinkling some here and there, nothing serious yet. Still, these are some eye-opening numbers. Let's dig in.

New Orleans -4.5

I get it, the Saints defense isn't good. Surprisingly they're still ranked #12 in DVOA. Mostly because they can stop the run, but are having issues with passing. But you know what, Michael Thomas is back! Without him, they still were able to put 30 points on the board. This team scores 40 and Detroit won't be able to get anywhere near that. Detroit's D is the opposite. First, they aren't good either. They're better at stopping the pass which might be bad for Drew Brees. This might either mean they haven't faced a Thomas or that they will depend more on Kamara. This smells blowout, the Saints by two TDs.

Arizona -3.5

A big asterisk here for Hopkins. If he plays, then it's a play if not stay away. I like Arizona coming off a loss and the Panthers coming off a win. People including myself talk a lot about Murray and Hopkins and how dynamic they are. But the Cardinals defense has allowed 61 points in 3 games ranked 7th close to KC and PIT. They're defense DVOA is also ranked 7th and is 22% better against the run. Initial money is going to Carolina which is another reason to wait and see if you can get it at 3. I got Arizona also by more than 2 TDs against potentially the worst defense in the NFL.

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Week 3 NFL Machine Learning Point Spread Picks

Last week's most confidence pick, the Rams, was such an easy win. A strong offense and pretty good defense against a weak Eagles team all around. Money.

We have two weeks of data under our database. DVOA metrics are out. The strength of schedule is a bit wild but we're starting to look at it. We use all of the tools at hand to continue to dump on mismatch ups with single-digit spreads being careful of a week heavy with injuries. 

LA Chargers -6.5

Carolina is not looking good and now MacCaffrey is out. Chargers according to DVOA are about 5% below average vs Carolina at -20%. They rank similar in offense and the defense is their differentiator. With MacCaffrey out, that offense DVOA should be a lot less. The models even by weighing recent games more heavily, all project the Chargers to win by over two TDs. Chargers are at home too, which is weird why this isn't even a TD for a spread. Milk the weak team. Carolina is 0-2 ATS and will be one of the teams that stays at 0-3 while the Chargers are 2-0 and the market doesn't seem to have caught up. Interesting that most of the money is on Carolina, that's good!

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NFL Point Spread Picks Week 2, 2020

With only one week in the bag, some of these week's spreads scream recency bias. There are teams that are hyped up too much and others that are just plain garbage. Let's dig in. 

We got 4 visiting teams covering the spread this week. Last year as you may know, we pounded visiting teams because the home field advantage was over rated for some teams. One of the main trends was that strong teams on the road was a killer strategy and it worked. We had over 70% ATS success with visiting teams we found undervalued. Not sure some of these visiting teams are strong, but the home teams seem week. Here are the picks:


I've never been a huge fan of Carson Wentz. Last year they covered 7 of 17 (41%) and last week didn't seem like an improvement. Yes, they have some guys in the OL coming back this week but without Jeffrey they don't seem to be a big threat offensively. They also allowed 27 points against Washington. Meanwhile the Rams looked solid especially on defense. They're gonna come crashing and I expect a few turnovers from the Eagles. The models really like this game and so do the sharps and everyone on the planet but like about 18% which is probably all Eagles fans. Should be an easy win for the Rams.

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NFL Point Spread Model Results - Week 1, 2020

Week 1 model results are out! They are very interesting. Last year we picked on a lot of visiting teams, but this week the 3 of the top 4 picks with most confidence are home teams. I usually don't bet on week 1 through 4. Definitely when the pick includes teams which changed QBs (e.g. Tampa, Indianapolis) or made significant trades (e.g. Arizona). Stay away would be my advice or sprinkle it in just to make it more fun to watch. 

 There were times I didn't even run the models the first few weeks because only start keeping track of ATS % and ROI until week 5. People have asked me for the results and I think it's good for newcomers to start getting familiar with the system. I didn't deep dive on these as I usually do in looking at DVOA, sharp money, trends and other data I like to geek on. Here are the point spread model outputs for week 1 of the NFL!

You can get the whole list of games from week 1 to week 6 FREE on my channel on Rokfin. Why Rokfin? It's a long story, but it's only $9.99. You get emails and notifications when I post and a bunch of other channels included for the same subscription. If you've been tracking me over the years, you know $50 for the whole year it's a deal when compared to the many fake handicappers out there. I do the research and we all win money.


Why is NFL Pickles so Damn Good?

 Who doesn't like to brag about their accomplishments? I'll make it short, I promise. First a bit of history.

In 2005, as I was finishing my doctoral thesis in Stochastic Games, I met a finance professor who had just published a paper on how he could predict the outcomes of figure skating results. His paper explained the use of an ensemble of models with traditional regression components, human bias, and a situational component. My mind was spinning with ideas and we talked for hours. The ensemble component was amazing and is probably the beginnings of what today is called AI. Human Bias is market inefficiencies; aka prices determined by people. Finally, the situational component (location, ice, competitors) is all the situations that could be captured at the beginning of a game. Although I didn't have much knowledge of the NFL at the time, in a short time I got access to over 20 years of NFL Point Spread Data, and the rest is money.

2019 Results
Thank you to all who support and profit from my work. Last year was an amazing season. Here are some quick highlights:
  • 62.5% ATS for the season
  • 80% ROI if you followed my rules, but likely doubled your money if you spent more during the playoffs
  • 67% during the playoffs with a correct prediction for the Super Bowl which puts me at 12 of 13 during the last 13 years

2019 NFL Spread Record

2019 NFL Super Bowl Point Spread Pick

First a bit of context of who am I and how I've picked the Super Bowl in the past. In 12 years doing this, I've picked correctly the Super Bowl winner 10 of 11 times. Yes, that's 90.9% ATS in the big game. Let that sink in. This season, I got 2nd place in a 1,400 entries content picking every game at 58% ATS. Games with high situational confidence are at 61% ATS and over 60% ROI. Ok enough bragging, good luck going against Mahomes. Here's why the Chiefs are going to win and cover Super Bowl 54.

Kansas City -1 correct NFL point spread pick here's why:
  • Models are detecting a huge superiority in stats for KC. Probably due to the strong offense, but as of late not so bad defense. The situational confidence is at 66.9%.
  • Offense wins championships as analyzed in my previous post. 22 of the last 30 Super Bowls are teams with DVOA higher than 10 aka very strong offense but not necessarily strong defenses.
  • Andy Reid. He's the veteran coach hungry for a ring. His record coming off a bye is 18-3 SU speaks for itself
  • The 49ers defense is amazing, no doubt. The 49ers did struggle against offensive powerhouses in the last few weeks of the season (Saints, Falcons and Rams).
  • KC already had a test in stopping the run against the Titans and they did.
  • The 49ers recently played against a poor coach and depleted Green Bay Packers team. The Packers kept running the ball without success, unable to adjust. Recency bias.
  • Patrick Mahomes vs Jimmy Garappolo, if you bet the 49ers you somehow disregard that the Chiefs have the better captain
  • Experience matters and losing last year in the AFC Championship has given this team the experience needed to win this year. This energized their confidence and attitude which is going to be what matters in this game
I don't do props or other guessing bets. But I still hit 7 of 10 on the podcast double dipping on the Chiefsl I do stick to what I know, the NFL point spread. Here are the models' output for the Super Bowl LIV point spread pick. Let's goooooooo!

Game Vegas Line Estimate Diff Confidence
SAN FRANCISCO - KANSAS CITY -1 -12.6 -11.6 66.9

Defense Wins the Super Bowl: Myth or Fact?

We all want to make a big wager on the big day. I've been really lucky on Super Bowl Sunday in my career going 10-1 ATS. Nevertheless, this year I'm doing a lot more analysis. In a series of posts of deep analysis of this year's Super Bowl 54 posted on my Rokfin channel, we first tackle the elephant in the room.

Does defense wins championships in the NFL?  We couldn't help but noticing that this year's Super Bowl teams are a strong offense against a strong defense. Then the quick thought was "defense wins championships", everyone knows that.  Remember Super Bowl 50 when Payton Manning sucked and yet won the Super Bowl and linebacker Von Miller won the MVP? But as a data scientist, I can't take a mantra and a game I remember and believe it's true.

We dig into the data to prove or debunk this mantra by looking at the last 30 Super Bowl games and each of the team's DVOA.

Check out the article here. It's FREE, but you do have to create an account to read it. It's worth it.

2019 NFL Conference Championship Point Spread Picks

Seven winning weeks in a row! 5-1 ATS during the playoffs. Now we're going into a week were both home teams are favorite by 7.5. Both games will be awesome to watch and hard to pick. Let's rely on machine learning, as we've done all year, to give us the winning picks. Ok, lets get to these week's games.

There are two trends that I want to point out that my models might be picking on from this year's data and historical:
  1. Road dogs in the playoffs with a 7.5 line are 5-2 ATS (small sample). Two of those games, the home team ended up winning by 7. Make sure to get it at 7.5!
  2. With a line of 7 or higher, road dogs in playoffs are 36-30 (54.5%)

Tennesse +7.5 

This is the game with the most confidence this week! Having said that, let's pocket some of those winnings from the season and stick to 20% of bankroll. All my models are predicting Tennessee to win outright and my best model has the situational confidence at 66%. 

Tennessee has shocked the world and they have potentially the best running back in NFL history yet they are underdogs by 7.5? The line seems to have also forgotten about their win at Tennessee against the Chiefs. Chiefs at home as a slightly better team, so why isn't the spread 3.5 or 4.5, lots of value here. Here's trends to think about:
  • Since Tannehill, TEN is 9-3 ATS
  • The Titans' defense has forced more than 2 TO in last 7 games
  • KC's #29th rushing defense will have their hands full against Henry and the #4 rush offense (#1 imo)
  • Derrick Henry is the only NFL player in history to...": that should just be my point but...
    - Rush for 180+ yards in two post season games
    - Rush for 180+yards games in 3 consecutive games
  • Recency bias for KC after scoring 51 points in the last game, but it was against the horrible Texans defense.

Green Bay +7.5 
Whaaaat? After they lost on week 12 by a landslide? If you watch that game again, it was over after the first Packers drive where Rodgers got sacked and fumbled on the 49ers 5 yard line. The Packers sacked Garoppolo 3 times and Rodgers got sacked 5 times. The Packers will definitely need to protect Rodgers better in this game. 

Rodgers looks determined. His mental game and confidence you can see from last week's final play on 3rd and 10 is at his highest. There's a huge mismatch here in QBs and I like betting the better captain. The San Francisco D is legit so Rodgers knows that to win, he needs to make big plays and protect the ball. He wants this more.

All my models but one have Green Bay covering 7.5. Half of them have the 49ers winning outright so there's less value than in the previous game. The situational confidence is at 59% which is an official bet. Trust the models, I say to myself. Besides the road dogs trends we talked there, here are some other points I like about this game.
  • Garappalo's first playoff appearance wasn't great. 11/19, 131 yds, 1TD, 1INT. The Vikings did way to many errors and this game got unreachable against a solid D.
  • The Packers are 11-6 ATS (64%) this year, 3-1 ATS as dogs. One loss was vs SF (38-7)
  • Green Bay's #4 rush offense needs to attack the "weakness" in SF's #11 rush D (#2 in passing D)
  • Recency bias alert on a 38-7 loss that started with a fumble

Here are the models' output for the 2019 NFL Conference Championship point spread picks. Let's goooooooo1

Game Vegas Line Estimate Diff Confidence
TENNESSEE @ KANSAS CITY -7.5 3.1 10.6 66.7
GREEN BAY @ SAN FRANCISCO -7.5 -3.5 4.0 59.3

2019 NFL Divisional Round Playoff Picks

Another awesome week last week for the best NFL point spread data scientist. The models predicted 4-0 ATS all games with 3 of them being locks. They were too close for comfort, but in the playoffs it's hard to find blowouts (although I think we spotted one this week).

The NFL Divisional playoffs are here and the #1 and #2 seeds will be making their playoff debuts. We will again lock 3 of the 4 games and analyze the 4th one and tell you why that one in particular is so hard to predict. Enough chit chat, here are the 2019 NFL Divisional Playoff Picks:

Tennessee +9 
correct NFL point spread pick
You gotta trust data science and trends to bet against the Lamar Jackson and the Ravens. I've said all season he's an outlier and these guys are hard to predict. On the other side you got another outlier in Derrick Henry who looked unstoppable all year and especially last week against arguably the best defense in the league. For my models, it was also a tough decision. Two of my 5 statistical models had Tennessee even winning, but not my best one (displayed below). Nine points seems like a lot for the #3 vs #1 offense, the difference is in the defense. The question is if the #19 defense in Tennessee will be able to keep it close, maybe if the offense is on the field a lot they will. If you think about it, the pressure is on Lamar. He's the MVP, the one everyone is expecting to blow this team out. If at 23 he's not mentally prepared, he will flop. Here are some other reasons why I like Tennessee in this spot:
  • Road underdogs are 8-3 (40%) ATS against Lamar Jackson
  • Since Tannehill, the Titans is 7-3-1 ATS
  • Divisional round underdogs are 36-24 ATS since 2003
  • Ravens had big spreads this year against the Dolphins, Cardinals, Bengals, Jets and Browns (they lost 2 of those)
  • The Ravens #19 rush D will have their hands full against Henry
  • Tannehill might struggle against the #4 pass D, but with185 yds and 4 TD he can run
  • The pressure to perform is on Lamar Jackson's shoulders, no one else
Kansas City -9.5 correct NFL point spread pick
This could be a blowout. The Chiefs #2 offense (arguably #1 if Hill would've been healthy all season) is going against the #27 defense. Sure they have JJ Watt now, but what you saw was a performance against a poor Buffalo offense. All my models have KC covering (some by just a half point) but the situational confidence is the highest of all games. This is the one game where the road team heavy favorite doesn't cover. Other reasons to like KC: 
  • Kansas City's defense is quietly ranked #13, similar to the Eagles who performed 
  • Andy Reid after a bye week is 59% ATS during playoffs
  • Bill O'Brien is 3-8 (27%) as an underdog of a TD or more during playoffs
  • The #2 passing offense vs the #26 passing defense is a recipe for a blowout
  • Houston especially bad against the TE so Kelce to have a party
  • Models are predicting this game at an average of 13 point spread, but when considering games where Kelce and Hill were playing it shoots up to 17
  • The sharps agree giving KC 52% of the bets but 57% of the money

Vikings +7 
The Vikings are playing awesome and it's because they have a bunch of weapons. Cook, Theilen and Rudolph can put any defense on its feet. Kirk Cousins wasn't supposed to be good, but he's performing and maybe all he needed was players of the caliber of the above 3 mentioned. All my models have the Vikings covering and one of them even winning this game. The situational confidence is not as high as I would like it, but here some other trends that could help boost your confidence in this bet:
  • Overall both teams are ranked similarly at 7 vs 5 so why is it a 7 point spread?
  • Garappalo's first playoff appearance, follow the trend. Last week 2 of 3 lost and overall it is still at close to 28%. Hard to bet against this trend imo
  • Road dogs by 7+ are 19-14 (57.6%) and 6 of last 8 during playoffs
  • At first SF was getting close to 65% of the money and that's now down to 54%

Seattle or Green Bay???
For some this may seem like the lock of the week. Certainly it is for many bettors since Seattle is getting over 60% of the bets and money. To me Seattle is not performing well, their offense looked unimpressive last week. I think they're running game has suffered a lot after losing their 3 RBs. Sure it's fun to watch Beast Mode go in at the goal line, but that's all he's going to be able to do. Rodgers is 10-5 ATS during playoffs and the skills and the mentality to win these types of games. My models have Seattle not only covering, but winning at low situational confidence which is why I'm going to spread the wealth across the 3 games above, go 3-0, and stay away from this one. Here's some other random facts:
  • Russel Wilson is 7-6 ATS and Rodgers is 10-5 ATS during playoffs
  • Two other teams that are evenly ranked and both with poor rushing defenses which will benefit GB more
  • This is the only game where SOS is statistically different between the two teams. Seattle with 1.5 standard deviations tougher of a schedule
  • Seattle's offense wasn't impressive against Phi (#12) and now against GB (#15), not so different. That's why the under is so popular, but Rodgers and company will figure out how to outscore them
Here are the models' output for the 2019 NFL Divisional Playoffs point spread picks.

Game Vegas Line Estimate Diff Confidence
HOUSTON @ KANSAS CITY -9.5 -12.4 -2.9 62.1
MINNESOTA @ SAN FRANCISCO -7.0 0.8 7.8 59.6
TENNESSEE @ BALTIMORE -9.0 -3.0 6.0 58.1
SEATTLE @ GREEN BAY -3.5 2.4 5.9 52.5