Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Market Watch
Season overall records to date:
Public Consensus Picks: 80-100-9 (44.4%)
Hilton Contest Consensus Picks: 31-33-2 (48.4)

Here we are at the three quarter mark with the final 4 weeks to go.  Just like every season it goes by at warp speed and it's over before we know it.  I might be one of those people who will be looking forward to an 18 game schedule because when you hit at 74% over the last two months it's difficult to see it coming to an end.

Given the success of my system over the last 8-9 weeks, not much will change in the final 4 weeks.  Home field advantage will be worth a little bit more from here on out though because of magnitude of some of the games.  Weather has also become a significant factor as sharps have jumped back into the over/under game.  Last week they went with unders early in the week in weather-affected games and they have done the same this week.

In the marketplace, you can see that the public picks continue to struggle against the spread this year and it's unlikely that they reach the magic break even number of 52.4% this season.  Hilton consensus picks have done slightly better, but still well below the expected average.  Most good handicappers will finish between 55-60% in a minimum of 100 plays.  Any number of plays below that should be taken with a grain of salt due to the high variance within small sample sizes.  

So let's take a closer look at how I've been doing in all the prediction categories with a month to go...

Sides

The last 5 weeks have shown that my hot streak leading up to the mid-season point wasn't a fluke as I hit 19-9-3.  Sides and teasers are the primary areas of my focus so it's good to know that my system of predictions has continued to be successful after 5 years of use.  There might even be some signs that it has improved as I continue to tweak it each year.  In fact, next season I might consider cutting down on my picks in the first 4 weeks and wait until there has been enough data to put my system into full effect.  A similar pattern happened last year as I had 3 bad weeks during the season, with only 1 of them coming after week 4. This year,  I haven't had a losing week with sides since week 4 so I'm looking to keep this going into the playoffs.  

Totals

Much like the sharps, this is an area that I've stayed away from for the most part since the midway point of the season.  I only made 4 picks over the last 5 weeks going 2-2.   It has continued to be an unprecedented year for overs which has made traditional total strategies useless.  However, with bad weather coming back into the picture some of those approaches should become applicable once again, so I will try a few more before the season winds down.  It's doubtful that I will make it back to the break even point in this category though.  The hole dug early in the season was enough evidence for me to stay away and is a good example of why it's important to focus on current trends instead of blindly following old ones.

Teasers

There is a lot of debate among people about the value of teasers.  Some think they are a useless bet and it's more profitable to just take the teams in consideration in regular picks rather than combining them in a teaser.  I strongly disagree and most sharps will tell you there is significant value in this category if you know how to play them.   I continued to prove this as I went 14-2 over the last 5 weeks.  As long as you cross critical numbers like 3, 7, 10, etc, they are a great way to pad the pocket book.  As the lines become sharper during the season, teasers become even more important to include on the weekly card.

Player Props

This is a category I include every week, but like I have been saying they are more intended for fun.  There is far too much variance with player production from week to week to reliably put our regular units into.  As you can see I am still hovering around .500 for the year.  I play a lot of fantasy football with great success, so after evaluating all the matchups and reviewing the fantasy news each week, I put out what should be the best favorable plays.  Never bet more than a half a unit on these and depending on your bankroll - maybe even less than that.  However, I will continue to include them because I know that some people love the extra "action".

Division Winners

In the AFC, my division winners are in serious question at the moment.  The Bengals have been out of the winning for a long time now as they crashed and burned in what could be one of the bigger surprises of the season.   It also looks like the Jets won't be taking over the East this year like I predicted they would before the season started.  Given what was going on with the Patriots defense, along with all the off-season additions in NY, I really thought this would be the year.  However, Brady and Belichick showed us last Monday that they haven't been winning Super Bowls and division crowns by accident over the last decade.  The Colts still have a great shot to win the South and I'd be shocked if they faltered down the stretch.  The last division in doubt is the West.  I've been high on KC this year, but I still believed SD would eventually overtake them.  This one will come down to the wire if the Chargers can close the game this week.

In the NFC, things look a little bit more promising.  PHI currently have the lead, but still have a game remaining with NY.  I feel pretty good about this one considering the whole planet had already penciled in the Cowboys before the season.  NY have played better than expected, but I still think they will come up short when all is said and done.  The Saints and Packers both sit one game back of ATL and CHI, but there is a strong chance that both could wind up on top after week 17.  It will be a great race to the finish, but I expect to win at least one of them.   The final team in this conference is SF.  Much like CIN, they crashed and burned in a big way this season.  They are an even bigger surprise because there is so much talent on the roster.  I think Singletary has worn out his welcome in the Bay and he should take his rant and rave approach to college because it clearly doesn't work with millionaires.

Season Win Totals

We are finally at the point in the season where these predictions come into clearer view. Season win totals are always a fun prediction because it tells me how my picks differed from Vegas over the course of the year.   These numbers should be used as preliminary power rankings rather than the garbage lists you'll find on sites like ESPN.   If you can consistently beat these numbers then you know you are doing something right in your evaluations.

In the AFC, I have already missed on IND, SD, JAX, PIT, and CIN.   All of these teams either underachieved or overperformed based on early projections.  On the winning side I have DEN, MIA, NYJ, TEN, and BUF.   The swing team that could determine things in this conference is BAL.  Right now they sit at 8-4 so they would need to go 3-1 in the final four weeks for me to lose this one. 

In the NFC, things look good with PHI, ARI, ATL, CAR, and GB.  Barring a late season slump or streak, these teams should cover.   I missed on SF and NY.   SF has been a universal surprise this year, but I knew NY would be close.  I give them credit for overcoming a difficult schedule to be where they are.  The main team in doubt is NO, but if they can go 2-2 and that will cover too.  

Overall it looks like I will turn a nice profit in this category and there isn't a lot I would change if I had to do it over again.   In hindsight, I would have liked to add DAL and MIN to the card because I had serious doubts about Favre this year and I expected DAL to struggle with their schedule.   Having said that I feel good about most of the teams I skipped this year.


Conclusion

All in all the season is going as planned.  My hot streak over the last two months has overcome my slow start to leave me with a nice average for the season.  The only area that has hurt me this year is totals, but I pulled the plug before it did too much damage to my profit margin.  I'm looking forward to the final month of the season and playoffs.  I've enjoyed sharing my picks this season and I have recently joined www.sbrforum.com.  I publish some of my weekly free picks there and I recommend you check out the rest of the site.  There are some great people there and some useful tools to help you find an edge.   Thanks for all the emails and I think I've been able to answer every one of them up to this point.  Best of luck to all the rest of the way!