Monday, October 4, 2010

Market Watch
Season totals to date:
Public ATS: 24-35-3 (39.6%)
Favorites ATS: 22-37-3 (36.2%)
Hilton Contest Consensus Picks: 10-9-1
Back-to-back Hilton Champion Steve Fezzik: 10-9-1

Taking one look at these numbers, it's safe to say the books and those taking underdogs are making a fortune.  The public love to take favorites and as you can see this has meant major profits for Vegas.  The sharps haven't done nearly as bad, but they are barely staying afloat in the treacherous waters of the NFL point spread.  I had a really good preseason, but I haven't escaped the jaws of the NFL season either.   I was 3-5 with totals, and 9-14-1 on sides.   Teasers were doing well until I put all my eggs in the Indianapolis Colts basket this week.

A lot of people out there are pretty alarmed at what has happened so far and some of it is merited, some not.  The first four weeks of the NFL season are always tricky to navigate because no one really knows how things will shake out - not even Vegas.   Last season I had 3 pretty bad weeks in the regular season, but 2 of them came within the first month of the season.   However, this year the scale has been uncharacteristically tilted towards the underdog.  Usually underdogs are good for a 2-5% percent overall advantage, but underdogs have never won at this season's rate over the past 10 years.   Underdogs have won 51.1% of the games over the last 5 years and 53.3% when the public is 75%+ on a favorite.  Regression to the mean tells us that this month has been an anomaly of sorts and I expect it to be more even from here on out.

In review of my picks, there is not a lot I would change if I had to go back and do it over again.   There are a few I would like to have back, but for the most part I was on the right side of the line.  Some handicappers rely entirely on statistical models and avoid the first few weeks altogether.  I prefer to use system plays as a starting point and adjust based on other intangibles (variance, trend indicators, 'rule of 50'/drive points, recency, injuries, QB changes, flat favorites, etc).

Looking over my season predictions, it's too early to tell for most division winners.  I'm feeling good about most of them with the only exception being the 49ers (but even that race isn't over yet).   Reviewing my season win totals, some are well on their way to cashing (NYJ, BUF, ATL and CAR).   I'm a little concerned about SD and IND, but both teams are capable of long winning streaks.   The only 2 teams that I would say I missed are SF and PIT and its safe to say both have been pretty big surprises for most people.   For the rest it's too early to say either way.   Most of these picks will come into greater focus by the halfway mark.  There are also many teams that I decided to skip because of large question marks.   Early season favorites have struggled (DAL, MIN) while other bottom-feeders are better than people thought (STL, KC, TB).   These props are a good way to see how my original power rankings compared with Vegas's power rankings and what adjustments are being made in the week to week spreads.

Three-quarters of the year remain as the NFL season is a marathon, not a sprint.   Best of luck to all the rest of the way!