Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Future of NFL Predictions

Announcement: effective this season, I've decided to go tout and set up a subscription service for my NFL picks.

I know, I know...you're thinking it had to happen sooner or later. I mean, who sets up a handicapping blog without that intention, right??

Ok, that was a bad joke. Tout is something I never intended to do when I began this, and that's not really the future of this blog.

What I did half-joke about last year was that we should all skip NFL betting in September. With each passing year, the first month of the season has increasingly become a blood-bath for anyone looking to profit.

And the numbers back this up. Over the last 5 years I'm 41.9% ATS in September, and 52% the rest of the season. It's a similar story over at the similarly analytics-based Football Outsiders. Their picks are 45.6% in September, and 51.4% the rest of the way.

Without any data to start the year, we're relying too heavily on rough projections and perceived market value. Not a winning combination for a sport that has so much variance and turnover year-to-year.

So coming into this season, I was entirely content to sit out the first month, and go from there. That was until I considered everything on my plate, and the recent trends of NFL betting. 52% is certainly respectable for the NFL, but it's not awe-inspiring either. And given all the rule changes over the last 3 seasons, it's been a grind just to break even. Each year a higher portion of picks are being decided in the final minutes.

And then there is the time commitment that handicapping requires. *Spoiler alert* - it's a lot! Well, if you go about this the right way, that is. With the copious amounts of information available, there is no limit to the meticulous analysis one can delve into.

The other side of that coin is my NHL handicapping. Doing one sport is a handful, but once you begin adding more you immediately sacrifice time from the other. Just take one glance at the results from people who handicap 5-6 sports and you'll see what I'm talking about (if they even make their records available to you. Most don't...and for good reason). 

So essentially, this is all just a long-winded way of saying I needed to make a choice, and adaptation in this case means reduction. The NFL is King, and drives a good portion of the traffic on my blog, but the NHL is FAR more profitable, and a much easier market to exploit. For any handicapper, this decision is a no-brainer.

Does this subsequently spell the end of my NFL picks and analysis? No, not by any means. Even though the sport has become significantly harder to tackle in recent years, it's still the most fun sport to bet on. The league wouldn't have near the level of popularity that it does without it.

So I'm leaving the door open to pick things up once again at some point down the road. It could be as soon as this year's playoffs, but it could also mean I just stick with hockey from this point forward. What I do know is that for the time being I'm going to primarily focus on the NHL, and reallocate some necessary time to other pursuits.

In closing, I'd just like to just thank everyone who has followed along over the years. It's been a fun five years of capping this league, and hopefully I was able to provide you with beneficial analysis over that time.