What the Data Saw: Week Two

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The Model’s Day

The model recommended five bets this weekend. It had one side on TNF and four sides on Sunday. It was not a great weekend as the model went two and three. Hopefully, nobody tailed the TNF play since the total never again reached 41. Hopefully, everyone jumped the Raiders as they touched +6 many times again. With thirteen total sides in the books, the model is 9-4 (69.23%) and +4.6 units. 

The chart below breaks down every play the model has suggested this season.

SideResultRiskedResult
Week One
TNF Over 52Won1.1 units1
Seattle -2.5Won1.1 units1
San Diego -1Won1.1 units1
Miami + 3Won1.1 units1
Denver -2.5Won1.1 units1
J Williams Over 38.5Won1.61 units1
Cleveland + 6Won1.1 units1
Baltimore -4Lost1.1 units-1.1
Week Two
TNF UnderLost1.1-1.1
Bills OverLost1.1-1.1
Rams -3.5Lost1.1-1.1
49ers -3Won1.11
Raiders +6Won1.11
TOTALS69.23%4.6

The model has been in existence in one form or another since 1997. Its expected performance falls between 59% and 64% against a -110 line. So there is likely a slight regression to that range.

“I am not superstitious, but I am a little stitcious“- Michael Scott

As I watched Philly fall to the 49ers, I thought about all those Philly backers at home rearranging their remote controls for the “good juju” like DeNiro in Silver Linings Playbook:

As I argued in my write-up, my problem with that side was that it was wildly out of character for people who tend to be thoughtful about their positions. It made no sense to have that much confidence in Hurts and that little in the 49ers. A person I know well and respect went so far as claiming on a national podcast this week that Philly should be favored! The lunacy reached a fever pitch. In the echo chamber of self-proclaimed sharps, a line in the sand was drawn. Meanwhile, and not surprisingly, Philly regressed to the mean.

Taking Philadelphia goes against the very fiber of their philosophy. You could never buy Philly at a higher price than them coming off the drubbing of Atlanta. There was absolutely zero value. As I explained in an article I published on Saturday:

The spread in this game, before last week’s games, was SF -4. It is now -3. Anyone truly ahead of the curve on the Eagles would have bet it before last Sunday.

The play, getting a bad team at the worst number, made no sense. Yet, very smart people pounced on +3.

I think they forced that play because they wanted it to be true. These are many of the same people that cheered the Garrapolo trade as a win for the 49ers. Then they screamed, “I told you so,” when he got the 49ers to the Super Bowl. Then, it all fell apart in the 4th quarter. They built him up to be something he was not, and then blamed him for failing them. They have never forgiven Shanahan or Garrapolo from a betting perspective. I am not really saying the side was a grudge play. They are too smart for that, but sometimes it is hard to see past our own bias.

When are we going to talk about this…

I know I am not big on running the ball. Well, that is not true. I am against running in predictable situations against a loaded box. I am against drafting a back in the first round. I am against paying a running back a second contract. I am not against spreading out a defense horizontally and running vertically. Dallas took advantage today and ran correctly:

The more significant takeaway is not that Dallas seemed to finally figure that running into a stacked box is a bad idea. It is that Tony Pollard is a better running back than Zeke Elliot. Pollard, that 4th round pick that counts 800K against the cap, is better than Zeke. You know Zeke, the fourth overall pick with 50 million dollars in guaranteed money. If you wonder why you cannot win a championship, Dallas, Zeke is why. It is not just this game. Pollard has been better since last season. 

Although it is not surprising they drafted Zeke so high, teams at the top of the draft get there by making bad decisions.

Never trusts teams that pay running backs. 

Didn’t Anyone Tell Lamar?

You never leave your feet to make a pass. You learn that the first day of basketball camp…

That is not normal. I have no data for that…

I do have data for the fumble that cost Kansas City the win. I wrote about teams likely to regress this season for BLS. I included Kansas City on that list because they were a net +7 win in one-score games last season. That is not sustainable. I understand a large number of people want to believe that they are just “clutch.” They are not. There is no such thing as “clutch,” it exists solely in the fantastical imaginations of fans. Oh, and in the movie Swingers, but those guys are so money and they don’t even know it. Tonight was an example of the predictable regression the Chiefs will experience this season.

Defense Doesn’t Win Championships

I know, right? Everyone lied to me too. If defense won championships, it would be easier for a middle linebacker to get into Canton than a quarterback. It isn’t – because quarterbacks win championships, not defenses. 

Defenses, even above average ones, are notoriously inconsistent in the league. This is as it should be. Defenses do not get to act. They have to react. Remember all the shine Washington’s defense has received. Well, Daniel Jones smoked them. Daniel Jones. Daniel Jones. 

Before the game today between the Raiders and Steelers, a commentator (I cannot remember who) suggested that the Steelers’ defense is not just the best in the league, but “perhaps the best of all time.” I threw up a little in my mouth and then hit mute. After traveling across the country on a short week due to an overtime MNF game, Carr carved up the greatest defense in the history of the NFL. Good on ya, Derek…

Defense matters far less and is subject to more significant variance than offense. You do not need a great defense, nor should you spend heavily on that side of the ball. 

This just in, offense wins championships.   

…Sticking with the Steelers

The model has banged the drum all preseason that they are not a good football team. They are slightly below average. The first eleven games of last season had everything to do with their competition and very little to do with their talent level. Ben is washed. The only reason this is not common knowledge is that he has too many ex-player friends in the national media singing his praises, “Ben looked good, do not doubt Ben, Ben looks skinny.”

Ben looks bad, And he will continue to look bad all season. The offense has produced 30 points through eight quarters this season. That is horrendous. Ben is part of the problem. I have no idea why they allowed him to come back. Here are Ben’s numbers today, side by side with Carr’s numbers. 

In this week’s analysis, the model told us that the Steelers would not outscore anyone by six points without a defensive or special teams touchdown. And they didn’t. 

Fade the Steelers. 

Mac Jones Wins the Rookie of the Day (Part Deux)

Last week in this section, I said Mac Jones had the inside track to OROY. It is a 17 round fight, and Jones is now up 2-0. This makes me happy since the model suggested buying Jones at 12-1 if he was named the starter. The excellent news is that everything he has done thus far appears repeatable. The questions concern the quality of his opponents. 

Lawrence struggled again:

Wilson completed a high percentage of his passes, but four of them went to Patriot players:

Fields did not look good in relief of Dalton. I am not calling the race, but Mac Jones is in the driver’s seat, barring injury. 

About the author:

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I write about data and sports. I created my first model in 1997 using nothing more than Excel. Currently, I have data-driven models for the NFL, NBA, and World Cup Soccer.

Mathematics is the music of reason.
— James Joseph Sylvester, English mathematician

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